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´╗┐Title: Janice Meredith: A Story of the American Revolution
Author: Ford, Paul Leicester
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Janice Meredith: A Story of the American Revolution" ***

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Janice Meredith

Paul Leicester Ford


Wallack's
Theatre
100th Performance

Mary Mannering
as
Janice Meredith

February 15th
1901


Janice Meredith

Volume I.


Books by Mr. Ford

The Honorable Peter Stirling
The Great K & A Train Robbery
The Story of an Untold Love
The True George Washington
Tattle-Tales of Cupid
The Many-Sided Franklin
The New England Primer


[Illustration: Janice Meredith (Miniature in color)]


Janice Meredith
A Story of the
American Revolution
by
Paul Leicester Ford
Author of "The Honorable Peter Stirling"

With a Miniature by Lillie V. O'Ryan
and numerous Scenes from the Play

Mary Mannering Edition



To George W. Vanderbilt

My dear George:
Into the warp and woof of every book an author weaves much
that even the subtlest readers cannot suspect, far less discern.
To them it is but a cross and pile of threads interlaced to
form a pattern which may please or displease their taste.
But to the writer every filament has its own association:
How each bit of silk or wool, flax or tow, was laboriously
gathered, or was blown to him; when each was spun by the
wheel of his fancy into yarns; the colour and tint his imagination
gave to each skein; and where each was finally woven
into the fabric by the shuttle of his pen. No thread ever quite
detaches itself from its growth and spinning, dyeing and weaving,
and each draws him back to hours and places seemingly
unrelated to the work.
And so, as I have read the proofs of this book I have found
more than once that the pages have faded out of sight and in
their stead I have seen Mount Pisgah and the French Broad
River, or the ramp and terrace of Biltmore House, just as
I saw them when writing the words which served to recall
them to me. With the visions, too, has come a recurrence to
our long talks, our work among the books, our games of chess,
our cups of tea, our walks, our rides, and our drives. It is
therefore a pleasure to me that the book so naturally gravitates
to you, and that I may make it a remembrance of those
past weeks of companionship, and an earnest of the present
affection of
                       PAUL LEICESTER FORD


ILLUSTRATIONS

Volume I.
       Janice Meredith (Miniature in color)
       "'T is sunrise at Greenwood"
       "Nay, give me the churn"
       "The British ran"
       "It flatters thee"
       "You set me free"
       "The prisoner is gone
       "Here's to the prettiest damsel"
       "I'm the prisoner"
       "Trenton is unguarded. Advance"
       "He'd make a proper husband"
       "Stay and take his place, Colonel"
       "Thou art my soldier"
       "'T is to rescue thee, Janice"
Volume II.
       George Washington (In color)
       "There's no safety for thee"
       "The despatch!"
       "Who are you?"
       "Art comfortable, Janice?"
       "Where is that paper?"
       "Victory"
       "Washington has crossed the Delaware!"
       "I love you for your honesty, Janice"
       "Don't move!"
       "Have I won?"
       "Where are you going?"


JANICE MEREDITH
A TALE OF THE REVOLUTION

VOLUME I

A HEROINE OF MANY POSSIBILITIES

"Alonzo now once more found himself upon an element
that had twice proved destructive to his happiness, but
Neptune was propitious, and with gentle breezes wafted
him toward his haven of bliss, toward Amaryllis.
Alas, when but one day from happiness, a Moorish zebec--"

"Janice!" called a voice.

The effect on the reader and her listener, both of whom
were sitting on the floor, was instantaneous. Each started and
sat rigidly intent for a moment; then, as the sound of approaching
footsteps became audible, one girl hastily slipped a little
volume under the counterpane of the bed, while the other
sprang to her feet, and in a hurried, flustered way pretended
to be getting something out of a tall wardrobe.

Before the one who hid the book had time to rise, a woman
of fifty entered the room, and after a glance, cried--

"Janice Meredith! How often have I told thee that it is
ungenteel for a female to repose on the floor?"

"Very often, mommy," said Janice, rising meekly, meantime
casting a quick glance at the bed, to see how far its smoothness
had been disturbed.

"And still thee continues such unbecoming and vastly indelicate
behaviour."

"Oh, mommy, but it is so nice!" cried the girl. "Did n't
you like to sit on the floor when you were fifteen?"

"Janice, thou 't more careless every day in bed-making,"
ejaculated Mrs. Meredith, making a sudden dive toward the
bed, as if she desired to escape the question. She smoothed
the gay patchwork quilt, seemed to feel something underneath,
and the next moment pulled out the hidden volume, which was
bound, as the bookseller's advertisements phrased it, in "half
calf, neat, marbled sides." One stern glance she gave the two
red-faced culprits, and, opening the book, read out in a voice
that was in itself an impeachment, "The Adventures of Alonzo
and Amaryllis!"

There was an instant's silence, full of omen to the culprits,
and then Mrs. Meredith's wrath found vent.

"Janice Meredith!" she cried. "On a Sabbath morning,
when thee shouldst be setting thy thoughts in a fit order for
church! And thou, Tabitha Drinker!"

"It 's all my fault, Mrs. Meredith," hurriedly asserted Tabitha.
"I brought the book with me from Trenton, and 't was I suggested
that we go on reading this morning."

"Six hours of spinet practice thou shalt have to-morrow,
miss," announced Mrs. Meredith to her daughter, "and this
afternoon thou shalt say over the whole catechism. As for
thee, Tabitha, I shall feel it my duty to write thy father of his
daughter's conduct. Now hurry and make ready for church."
And Mrs. Meredith started to leave the room.

"Oh, mommy," cried Janice, springing forward and laying a
detaining hand on her mother's arm in an imploring manner,
"punish me as much as you please,--I know 't was very,
very wicked,--but don't take the book away! He and
Amaryllis were just--"

"Not another sight shalt thou have of it, miss. My daughter
reading novels, indeed!" and Mrs. Meredith departed, holding
the evil book gingerly between her fingers, much as one might
carry something that was liable to soil one's hands.

The two girls looked at each other, Tabitha with a woebegone
expression, and Janice with an odd one, which might
mean many things. The flushed cheeks were perhaps due to
guilt, but the tightly clinched little fists were certainly due to
anger, and, noting these two only, one would have safely
affirmed that Janice Meredith, meekly as she had taken her
mother's scolding, had a quick and hot temper. But the eyes
were fairly starry with some emotion, certainly not anger, and
though the lips were pressed tightly together, the feeling that
had set them so rigidly was but a passing one, for suddenly the
corners twitched, the straight lines bent into curves, and flinging
herself upon the tall four-poster bedstead, Miss Meredith
laughed as only fifteen can laugh.

"Oh, Tibbie, Tibbie," she presently managed to articulate,
"if you look like that I shall die," and as the god of Momus
once more seized her, she dragged the quilt into a rumpled
pile, and buried her face in it, as if indeed attempting to suffocate
herself.

"But, Janice, to think that we shall never know how it
ended! I could n't sleep last night for hours, because I was
so afraid that Amaryllis would n't have the opportunity to vindicate
herself to--and 't would have been finished in another
day."

"And a proper punishment for naughty Tibbie Drinker it
is," declared Miss Meredith, sitting up and assuming a judicially
severe manner. "What do you mean, miss, by tempting
good little Janice Meredith into reading a wicked romance on
Sunday?"

"'Good little Janice!'" cried Tibbie, contemptuously. "I
could slap thee for that." But instead she threw her arms
about Janice's neck and kissed her with such rapture and energy
as to overbalance the judge from an upright position, and the
two roiled over upon the bed laughing with anything but discretion,
considering the nearness of their mentor. As a result
a voice from a distance called sharply--

"Janice!"

"O gemini!" cried the owner of that name, springing off
the bed and beginning to unfasten her gown,--an example
promptly followed by her room-mate.

"Art thou dressing, child?" called the voice, after a
pause.

"Yes, mommy," answered Janice. Then she turned to her
friend and asked, "Shall I wear my light chintz and kenton
kerchief, or my purple and white striped Persian?"

"Sufficiently smart for a country lass, Jan," cried her friend.

"Don't call me country bred, Tibbie Drinker, just because
you are a modish city girl."

"And why not thy blue shalloon?"

"'T is vastly unbecoming."

"Janice Meredith! Can't thee let the men alone?"

"I will when they will," airily laughed the girl.

"Do unto others--" quoted Tabitha.

"Then I will when thee sets me an example," retorted Janice,
making a deep curtsey, the absence of drapery and bodice
revealing the straightness and suppleness of the slender rounded
figure, which still had as much of the child as of the woman in
its lines.

"Little thought they get from me," cried Tabitha, with a
toss of her head.

      "'Tell me where is fancy bred,
      In the heart or in the head?'"

hummed Janice. "Of course, one does n't think about men,
Mistress Tabitha. One feels." Which remark showed perception
of a feminine truth far in advance of Miss Meredith's years.

"Unfeeling Janice!"

"'T is a good thing for the oafs and ploughboys of Brunswick.
For there are none better."

"Philemon Hennion?"

"'Your servant, marms,'" mimicked Janice, catching up a
hair brush and taking it from her head as if it were a hat, while
making a bow with her feet widely spread. "'Having nothing
better ter do, I've made bold ter come over ter drink a dish of
tea with you.'" The girl put the brush under her arm, still
further spread her feet, put her hands behind some pretended
coat-tails, let the brush slip from under her arms, so that it fell
to the floor with a racket, stooped with an affectation of clumsiness
which seemed impossible to the lithe figure, while
mumbling something inarticulate in an apparent paroxysm of
embarrassment,--which quickly became a genuine inability to
speak from laughter.

"Janice, thee should turn actress."

"Oh, Tibbie, lace my bodice quickly, or I shall burst of
laughing," breathlessly begged the girl.

"Janice," said her mother, entering, "how often must I tell
thee that giggling is missish? Stop, this moment."

"Yes, mommy," gasped Janice. Then she added, after a
shriek and a wriggle, "Don't, Tabitha!"

"What ails thee now, child? Art going to have an attack of
the megrims?"

"When Tibbie laces me up she always tickles me, because
she knows I'm dreadfully ticklish."

"I can't ever make the edges of the bodice meet, so I
tickle to make her squirm," explained Miss Drinker.

"Go on with thy own dressing, Tabitha," ordered Mrs.
Meredith, taking the strings from her hand. "Now breathe
out, Janice."

Miss Meredith drew a long breath, and then expelled it,
instant advantage being taken by her mother to strain the
strings. "Again," she said, holding all that had been gained,
and the operation was repeated, this time the edges of the
frock meeting across the back.

"It hurts," complained the owner of the waist, panting, while
the upper part of her bust rose and fell rapidly in an attempt
to make up for the crushing of the lower lungs.

"I lose all patience with thee, Janice," cried her mother.
"Here when thou hast been given by Providence a waist that
would be the envy of any York woman, that thou shouldst
object to clothes made to set it off to a proper advantage."

"It hurts all the same," reiterated Janice; "and last year I
could beat Jacky Whitehead, but now when I try to run in my
new frocks I come nigh to dying of breathlessness."

"I should hope so!" exclaimed her mother. "A female
of fifteen run with a boy, indeed! The very idea is indelicate.
Now, as soon as thou hast put on thy slippers and goloe-shoes,
go to thy father, who has been told of thy misbehaviour, and
who will reprove thee for it." And with this last damper on
the "lightness of young people," as Mrs. Meredith phrased it,
she once more left the room. It is a regrettable fact that
Miss Janice, who had looked the picture of submission as her
mother spoke, made a mouth, which was far from respectful,
at the departing figure.

"Oh, Janice," said Tabitha, "will he be very severe?"

"Severe?" laughed Janice. "If dear dadda is really angry,
I'll let tears come into my eyes, and then he'll say he's sorry
he hurt my feelings, and kiss me; but if he's only doing it to
please mommy, I'll let my eyes shine, and then he'll laugh
and tell me to kiss him. Oh, Tibbie, what a nice time we could
have if women were only as easy to manage as men!" With
this parting regret, Miss Meredith sallied forth to receive the
expected reproof.

The lecture or kiss received,--and a sight of Miss Meredith
would have led the casual observer to opine that the latter
was the form of punishment adopted,--the two girls mounted
into the big, lumbering coach along with their elders, and were
jolted and shaken over the four miles of ill-made road that
separated Greenwood, the "seat," as the "New York Gazette"
termed it, of the Honourable Lambert Meredith, from the village
of Brunswick, New Jersey. Either this shaking, or something
else, put the two maidens in a mood quite unbefitting the
day, for in the moment they tarried outside the church while the
coach was being placed in the shed, Miss Drinker's face was
frowning, and once again Miss Meredith's nails were dug deep
into the little palms of her hands.

"Yes," Janice whispered. "She put it in the fire. Dadda
saw her."

"And we'll never know if Amaryllis explained that she had
ever loved him," groaned Tabitha.

"If ever I get the chance!" remarked Janice, suggestively.

"Oh, Jan!" cried Tabitha, ecstatically. "Would n't it be
delightsome to be loved by a peasant, and to find he was a
prince and that he had disguised himself to test thy love?"

"'T would be better fun to know he was a prince and torture
him by pretending you did n't care for him," replied
Janice. "Men are so teasable."

"There's Philemon Hennion doffing his hat to us, Jan."

"The great big gawk!" exclaimed Janice. "Does he want
another dish of tea?" A question which set both girls laughing.

"Janice! Tabitha!" rebuked Mrs. Meredith. "Don't be
flippant on the Sabbath."

The two faces assumed demureness, and, filing into the Presbyterian
meeting-house, their owners apparently gave strict heed
to a sermon of the Rev. Alexander McClave, which was later
issued from the press of Isaac Collins, at Burlington, under the
title of:--

"The Doleful State of the Damned, Especially such as go to
Hell from under the Gospel."


II
THE PRINCE FROM OVER THE SEAS

Across the water sounded the bells of Christ Church
as the anchor of the brig "Boscawen," ninety days
out from Cork Harbour, fell with a splash into the
Delaware River in the fifteenth year of the reign of
George III., and of grace, 1774. To those on board, the chimes
brought the first intimation that it was Sunday, for three months
at sea with nothing to mark one day from another deranges the
calendar of all but the most heedful. Among the uncouth and
ill-garbed crowd that pressed against the waist-boards of the
brig, looking with curious eyes toward Philadelphia, several, as
the sound of the bells was heard, might have been observed
to cross themselves, while one or two of the women began to
tell their beads, praying perhaps that the breadth of the just-crossed
Atlantic lay between them and the privation and want
which had forced emigration upon them, but more likely
giving thanks that the dangers and suffering of the voyage
were over.

Scarcely had the anchor splashed, and before the circling
ripples it started had spread a hundred feet, when a small boat
put off from one of the wharfs lining the water front of the
city, with the newly arrived ship as an evident destination; and
the brig had barely swung to the current when the hoarse voice
of the mate was heard ordering the ladder over the side. The
preparation to receive the boat drew the attention of the crowd,
and they stared at its occupants with an intentness which implied
some deeper interest than mere curiosity; low words were
exchanged, and some of the poor frightened creatures seemed
to take on a greater cringe.

[Illustration: "'T is sunrise at Greenwood."]

Seated in the sternsheets of the approaching boat was a
plainly dressed man, whose appearance so bespoke the mercantile
class that it hardly needed the doffing of the captain's cap
and his obsequious "your servant, Mr. Cauldwell, and good
health to you," as the man clambered on board, to announce
the owner of the ship. To the emigrants this sudden deference
was a revelation concerning the cruel and oath-using tyrant at
whose mercy they had been during the weary weeks at sea.

"A long voyage ye've made of it, Captain Caine," said the
merchant.

"Ay, sir," answered the captain. "Another ten days would
have put us short of water, and--"

"But not of rum? Eh?" interrupted Cauldwell.

"As for that," replied the captain, "there 's a bottle or two
that's rolled itself till 't is cruelty not to drink it, and if you'll test
a noggin in the cabin while taking a look at the manifests--

"Well answered," cried the merchant, adding, "I see ye set
deep."

"Ay," said the captain as they went toward the companion-way;
"too deep for speed or safety, but the factors care little
for sailors' lives."

"And a deep ship makes a deep purse."

"Or a deep grave."

"Wouldst die ashore, man?"

"God forbid!" ejaculated the mariner, in a frightened voice.
"I've had my share of ill-luck without lying in the cold
ground. The very thought goes through me like a dash of
spray in a winter v'y'ge." He stamped with his foot and
roared out, "Forrard there: Two glasses and a dipper from
the rundlet," at the same time opening a locker and taking
therefrom a squat bottle. "'T is enough to make a man bowse
himself kissing black Betty to think of being under ground."
He held the black bottle firmly, as if it were in fact a sailor's
life preserver from such a fate, and hastened, so soon as the
cabin-boy appeared with the glasses and dipper, to mix two
glasses of rum and water. Setting these on the table, he took
from the locker a bundle of papers, and handed it to the
merchant.

Twenty minutes were spent on the clearances and manifests,
and then Mr. Cauldwell opened yet another paper.

"Sixty-two in all," he said, with a certain satisfaction in his
voice.

"Sixty-three," corrected the captain.

"Not by the list," denied the merchant.

"Sixty-two from Cork Harbour, but we took one aboard ship
at Bristol," explained the captain.

"Ye must pack them close between decks."

"Ay. The shoats in the long boat had more room. Mr.
Bull-dog would none of it, but slept on deck the whole v'y'ge."

"Mr. Bull-dog?" queried Cauldwell.

"The one your factor shipped at Bristol," explained Caine,
and running over the bundle, he spread before the merchant the
following paper:--

This Indenture, Made the Tenth Day of March in the
fifteenth Year of the Reign of our Sovereign Lord George the
third King of Great Britain, etc. And in the Year of our Lord
One Thousand Seven Hundred and seventy-four, Between
Charles Fownes of Bath in the County of Somerset Labourer of
the one Part, and Frederick Caine of Bristol Mariner of the
other part Witnesseth That the said Charles Fownes for the
Consideration hereinafter mentioned, hath, and by these Presents
doth Covenant, Grant and Agree to, and with the said Frederick
Caine, his Executors, Administrators and Assigns, That the said
Charles Fownes shall and will, as a Faithful Covenant Servant
well and truly serve said Frederick Caine his Executors,
Administrators or Assigns, in the Plantations of Pennsylvania
and New Jersey beyond the Seas, for the space of five years next
ensuing the Arrival in the said Plantation, in the Employment
of a servant. And the said Charles Fownes doth hereby
Covenant and declare himself, now to be of the age of Twenty-one
Years and no Covenant or Contract Servant to any Person
or Persons. And the said Frederick Caine for himself his
Executors, and Assigns, in Consideration thereof do hereby Covenant,
Promise and Agree to and with the said Charles Fownes
his Executors and Administrators, that he the said Frederick
Caine his Executors, Administrators or Assigns, shall and will
at his or their own proper Cost and Charges, with what Convenient
Speed they may, carry and convey or cause to be carried
and conveyed over unto the said Plantations, the said Charles
Fownes and also during the said Term, shall and will at the
like Cost and Charges, provide and allow the said Charles
Fownes all necessary Cloaths, Meat, Drink, Washing, and
Lodging, and Fitting and Convenient for him as Covenant
Servants in such Cases are usually provided for and allowed.
And for the true Performance of the Premises, the said Parties
to these Presents, bind themselves their Executors and Administrators,
the either to the other, in the Penal Sum of Thirty
Pounds Sterling, by these Presents. In Witness whereof they
have hereunto interchangeably set their Hands and Seals, the
Day and Year above written.
                                      The mark of
                                   Charles X Fownes [Seal].

  Sealed and delivered in
     the presence of
  J. Pattison, C. Capon.

These are to certify that the above-named Charles Fownes
came before me Thomas Pattison Deputy to the Patentee at
Bristol the Day and Year above written, and declared himself
to be no Covenant nor Contracted Servant to any Person or
Persons, to be of the Age of Twenty-one Years, not kidnapped nor
enticed but desirous to serve the above-named or his assigns five
Years, according to the Tenor of his Indenture above written
All of which is Registered in the office for that Purpose appointed
by the Letters Patents. In witness whereof I have affixed the
common Seal of the said office.
                                      Thomas Pattison, D. P.

"And why Mr. Bull-dog?" asked Cauldwell, after a glance
at the paper.

"By the airs he takes. Odd's life! if we'd had the Duke of
Cumberland aboard, he'd not have carried himself the stiffer.
From the day we shipped him, not so much as a word has he
passed with one of us, save to threat Mr. Higgins' life, when he
knocked him down with a belaying pin for his da--for his
impertinence. And he nothing but an indentured servant not
able to write his name and like as not with a sheriff at his
heels." The captain's sudden volubility could mean either dislike
or mere curiosity.

"Dost think he's of the wrong colour?" asked the merchant,
looking with more interest at the covenant.

"'T is the dev--'t is beyond me to say what he is. A good
man at the ropes, but a da--a Dutchman for company.
'Twixt he and the bog-trotters we shipped at Cork Harbour
't was the dev--'t was the scuttiest lot I ever took aboard ship."
The rum was getting into the captain's tongue, and making his
usual vocabulary difficult to keep under.

"Have ye no artisans among the Irish?"

"Not so much as one who knows the differ between his two
hands."

"'T is too bad of Gorman not to pick better," growled the
merchant. "There's a great demand for Western settlers, and
Mr. Lambert Meredith writes me to pick him up a good man at
horses and gardening, without stinting the price. 'T would be
something to me to oblige him."

'T is a parcel of raw teagues except for the Bristol man."

"And ye think he's of the light-fingered gentry?"

"As for that," said the captain, "I know nothing about him.
But he came to your factor and wanted to take the first ship
that cleared, and seemed in such a mortal pother that Mr.
Horsley suspicioned something, and gave me a slant to look
out for him. And all the time we lay off Bristol, my fine fellow
kept himself well out of sight."

"Come," said the merchant, rising, "we'll have a look at him.
Mr. Meredith is not a man to be disappointed if it can be
avoided."

Once on deck the captain led the way to the forepart of the
ship, where, standing by himself, and, like the other emigrants,
looking over the rail, but, unlike them, looking not at the city,
but at the water, stood a fellow of a little over medium height,
with broad shoulders and a well-shaped back, despite the ill
form his ragged coat tried to give it. At a slap on the shoulder
he turned about, showing to the merchant a ruddy, sea-tanned
skin, light brown hair, gray eyes, and a chin and mouth hidden
by a two months' beard, still too bristly to give him other than
an unkempt, boorish look.

"Here 's the rogue," announced the captain, with a suggestion
of challenge in the speech, as if he would like to have the
epithet resented. But the man only regarded the officer with
steady, inexpressive eyes.

"Now, my good fellow," asked the merchant, "to what kind
of work have ye been bred?"

The steady gray eyes were turned deliberately from the captain
until the questioner was within their vision. Then, after a
moment's scrutiny of his face, they were slowly dropped so as
to take in the merchant from head to foot. Finally they came
back to the face again, and once more studied it with intentness,
though apparently without the slightest interest.

"Come," said the merchant a little heatedly, and flushing at
the man's coolness. "Answer me. Are ye used to horses and
gardening?"

As if he had not heard the question, the man turned, and
resumed his staring at the water.

"None of your damned impertinence!" roared the captain,
catching up the free part of a halyard coiled on the deck, "or
I'll give you a taste of the rope's end."

The young fellow faced about in sudden passion, which
strangely altered him. "Strike me at your peril!" he challenged,
his arm drawn back, and fist clinched for a blow.

"None but a jail-bird would be so afraid of telling about
himself," cried the captain, though ceasing to threaten. "The
best thing you can do will be to turn the cursed son of a sea
cook over to the authorities, Mr. Cauldwell."

"Look ye, my man," warned the merchant, "ye only bring
suspicion on yourself by such conduct, and ye know best how
far ye want to have your past searched into--"

The man interrupted the merchant.

"Ar bain't much usen to gardening, but ar knows--" he
hesitated for a moment and then went on, "but ar bai willin'
to work."

"Ay," bawled the captain. "Fear of the courts has made
him find his tongue."

"Well," remarked the merchant, "'t is not for my interest
to look too closely at a man I have for sale." Then, as he
walked away with the captain, he continued: "Many a convict
or fugitive has come to the straightabout out here, but hang me
if I like his looks or his manner. However, Mr. Meredith
knows the pot-luck of redemptioners as well as I, and he can
say nay if he chooses." He stopped and eyed the group of
emigrants sourly, saying, "I'll let Gorman hear what I think
of his shipment. He knows I don't want mere bog cattle."

"'T is a poor consignment that can't be bettered in the advertisement,"
comforted the captain, and apparently he spoke
truly, for in the "Pennsylvania Gazette" of September 7th appeared
the following:--

"Just arrived on board the brig 'Boscawen,' Alexander
Caine, Master from Ireland, a number of likely, healthy, men
and women Servants; among whom are Taylors, Barbers,
Foiners, Weavers, Shoemakers, Sewers, Labourers, etc., etc.,
whose indentures are to be disposed of by Cauldwell & Wilson,
or the master on board the Vessel off Market Street Wharff--
Said Cauldwall & Wilson will give the highest prices for good
Pot-Ashes and Bees-Wax."


III
MISS MEREDITH DISCOVERS A VILLAIN

Breakfast at Greenwood was a pleasant meal at a
pleasant hour. For some time previous to it, the family
were up and doing, Mr. Meredith riding over his farm
directing his labourers, Mrs. Meredith giving a like
supervision to her housekeeping, and Janice, attired in a wash
dress well covered by a vast apron, with the aid of her guest,
making the beds, tidying the parlour, and not unlikely mixing
cake or some dessert in the kitchen. Before the meal, Mr. Meredith
replaced his rough riding coat by one of broadcloth, with
lace ruffles, while the working gowns of the ladies were discarded
for others of silk, made, in the parlance of the time, "sack
fashion, or without waist, and termed "an elegant negligee,"--
this word being applied to any frock without lacing strings.

Thus clothed, they gathered at seven o'clock in the pleasant,
low-ceiled dining-room whose French windows, facing westward,
gave glimpses of the Raritan, over fields of stubble and corn-stacks,
broken by patches of timber and orchard. On the
table stood a tea service of silver, slender in outline, and curiously
light in weight, though generous in capacity. Otherwise,
a silver tankard for beer, standing at Mr. Meredith's place
beside a stone jug filled with home brew, balanced by another
jug filled with buttermilk, was all that tended to decoration, the
knives and forks being of steel, and the china simplicity itself.
For the edibles, a couple of smoked herring, a comb of honey,
and a bunch of water-cress, re-enforced after the family had
taken their seals by a form of smoking cornbread, was the
simple fare set forth. But the early rising, and two hours of
work, brought hunger to the table which required nothing more
elaborate as a fillip to tempt the appetite.

While the family still lingered over the meal one warm
September morning, as if loth to make further exertion in the
growing heat, the Sound of a knocker was heard, and a moment
later the coloured maid returned and announced:--

"Marse Hennion want see Marse Meredith."

"Bring him in here, Peg," said Mr. Meredith. "Like as not
the lad 's not breakfasted."

Janice hunched her shoulders and remarked, "Never fear
that Master Hennion is not hungry. He is like the roaring
lion, who 'walketh about seeking whom he may devour.'"

"Black shame on thee, Janice Meredith, for applying the
Holy Word to carnal things," cried her mother.

"Then let me read novels," muttered Miss Meredith, but so
indistinctly as not to be understood.

"Be still, child!" commanded her mother.

"And listen to Philemon glub-glub-bing over his victuals?"

"Philemon is no pig," declared Mrs. Meredith.

"No," assented Janice. "He 's too old for that,"--a remark
which set Mr. Meredith off into an uproarious haw-haw.

"Lambert," protested his wife, "I lose patience with thee
for encouraging this stiff-necked and wayward girl, when she
should be thankful that Providence has made one man who
wants so saucy a Miss Prat-a-pace for a wife."

Miss Meredith, evidently encouraged by her father's humour,
made a mouth, and droned in a sing-song voice: "'What doth
every sin deserve? Every sin deserveth God's wrath and
curse, both in this life and that which is to come.'" Such a
desecration of the Westminster Assembly of Divines' "Shorter
Catechism" would doubtless have produced further and severer
reproof from Mrs. Meredith, but the censure was prevented by
the clump of heavy boots, followed by the entrance of an over-tall,
loosely-built fellow of about eighteen years, whose clothes
rather hung about than fitted him.

"Your servant, marms," was his greeting, as he struggled to
make a bow. "Your servant, squire. Mr. Hitchins, down ter
Trenton, where I went yestere'en with a bale of shearings, asked
me ter come araound your way with a letter an' a bond-servant
that come ter him on a hay-sloop from Philadelphia. So--"

"Having nothing better to do, you came?" interrupted
Janice, with a gravely courteous manner.

"That 's it, Miss Janice; I'm obleeged ter you for sayin' it
better nor I could," said the young fellow, gratefully, while
manifestly straining to get a letter from his pocket.

"Hast breakfasted, Phil?" asked the squire.

Producing the letter with terrible effort, and handing it to
Mr. Meredith, Hennion began, "As for that--"

Here Janice interrupted by saying, "You breakfasted in
Trenton--what a pity!"

"Janice!" snapped her mother, warningly. "Cease thy
clack and set a chair for Philemon this instant."

That individual tried to help the girl, but he was not quick
enough, except to get awkwardly in the way, and bring his
shins in sharp contact with the edge of the chair. Uttering an
exclamation of pain, he dropped his hat,--a proceeding which
set the two girls off into ill-suppressed giggles. But finally,
relieved of his tormenting head-gear, he was safely seated, and
Janice set the dishes in front of him, from all of which he
helped himself liberally. Meanwhile, the squire broke the
seal of the letter and began to read it.

"Wilt have tea or home brew?" asked Mrs. Meredith.

"Beer for me, marm, thank you. An' I think it only kindly
ter say I've hearn talk concernin' your tea drinkin'."

"Let 'em talk," muttered the squire, angrily, looking up
from the letter. "'T is nothing to me."

"But Joe Bagby says there 's a scheme ter git the committee
of Brunswick township ter take it up."

"Not they," fumed Mr. Meredith. "'T is one thing to write
anonymous letters, but quite another matter to stand up and be
counted. As for that scamp Joe--"

"Anonymous letters?" questioned Philemon.

"Ay," sputtered the squire, taking from his pocket a paper
which he at once crushed into a ball, and then as promptly
smoothed out again as a preliminary to handing it to the youth.
With difficulty, for the writing was bad, and the paper old and
dirty, Philemon read out the following:--

Mister Muridith,--
Noing that agenst the centyments of younited Amurika you
still kontiyou to youse tea, thairfor, this is to worn you that
we konsider you as an enemy of our kuntry, and if the same
praktises are kontinyoud, you will shortly receeve a visit from
the kommitty of Tar And Fethers,
                                     Brunswick Township.

"The villains!" cried Janice, flushing. "Who can have
dared to send it?"

"One of my tenants, like as not," snapped the squire.

"They 'd never dare," asserted Janice.

"Dare!" cried the squire. "What daring does it take to
write unsigned threats and nail 'em at night on a door? They
get more lawless every day, with their committees and town
meetings and mobs. 'T is next to impossible to make 'em pay
their rents now, and to hear 'em talk ye'd conclude that they
owned their farms and could not be turned off. A pretty state
of things when a man with twenty thousand acres under leaseholds
has to beg for his rentals, and then does n't get 'em."

"You 'd find it easier ter git your rents, squire, if you only
sided more with folks, an' wa'n't so stiff," suggested the youth.
"A little yieldin' now an' then--"

"Never!" roared Mr. Meredith. "I'll have no Committee
of Correspondence, nor Sons of Liberty, nor Town Meeting
telling me what I may do or not do at Greenwood, any more
than I let the ragtag and bobtail tell me what I was to buy in
'69. Till I say nay, tea is drunk at Greenwood," and the
squire's fist came down on the table with a bang.

"Folks say that Congress will shut up the ports," said the
young man.

"Ay. And British frigates will open 'em. The people are
mad, sir, Bedlam mad, with the idea of liberty, as they call it.
Liberty, indeed! when they try to say what a man shall do in
his own house; what he shall eat; what he shall wear. And
this Congress! We, A and B, elect C to say what the rest of
the alphabet shall do, under penalty of tar and feathers, burned
ricks, or--don't talk to me, sir, of a Congress. 'T is but an
attempt of the mobility to override the nobility of this land, sir.
Once again the plates rattled on the table from the squire's fist,
and it became evident that if Miss Meredith had a temper it
came by inheritance.

"Now, Lambert," interposed his wife, "stop banging the
table and getting hot about nothing. Remember how thee hadst
the colonies ruined in Stamp Act times, and again during the
Association, and it all went over, just as this will. Pour thy
father another tankard of small beer, Janice."

Clearly, what the Committee of Correspondence, and even
the approaching Congress could not do, Mrs. Meredith could,
for the squire settled back quietly into his chair, took a long
swallow of beer, and resumed his letter.

"What does Mr. Cauldwell say, dadda?" inquired the
daughter.

"Hmm," said Mr. Meredith. "That he sends me the likeliest
one from his last shipment. What sort of fellow is he,
Phil?"

Hennion paused to swallow an over-large mouthful, which
almost produced a choking fit, before he could reply. "He
han't a civil word about him, squire--a regular sullen dog."

"Cauldwell writes guardedly, saying it was the best he could
do. Where d' ye leave him, lad?"

"Outside, in my waggon."

"Peg, bid him to come in. We'll have a look at--" Mr.
Meredith consulted the covenant enclosed and read, "Charles
Fownes heigh?"

A moment later, preceded by the maid, Fownes entered.
He took a quick, almost furtive, survey of the room, then
glanced in succession at each of those seated about the table,
till his eyes rested on Janice. There they fixed themselves in
a bold, unconcealed scrutiny, to the no small embarrassment of
the maiden, though the man himself stood in an easy, unconstrained
attitude, quite unheeding the five pairs of eyes staring
at him, or, if conscious, entirely unembarrassed by them.

"Well, Charles, Mr. Cauldwell writes me that ye don't know
much about horses or gardening, but he thinks ye have parts
and can pick it up quickly."

Still keeping his eyes on Miss Meredith, Fownes nodded his
head, with a short, quick jerk, far from respectful.

"But he also says ye are a surly, hot-tempered fellow, who
may need a touch of a whip now and again."

Without turning his head, a second time the man gave a jerk
of it, conveying an idea of assent, but it was the assent of contempt
far more than of accord.

"Come, come," ordered the squire, testily. "Let 's have a
sound of your tongue. Is Mr. Cauldwell right?"

Still looking at Miss Meredith, the man shrugged his shoulders,
and replied, "Bain't vor the bikes of ar to zay Mister
Cauldwell bai a liar." Yet the voice and manner left little doubt
in the hearers as to the speaker's private opinion, and Janice
laughed, partly at the implication, but more in nervousness.

"What kind of work are ye used to?" asked Mr. Meredith.

The man hesitated for a moment and then muttered crossly,
"Ar indentured vor to work, not to bai questioned."

"Then work ye shall have," cried the squire, hotly. "Peg,
show him the stable, and tell Tom--"

"One moment, Lambert," interjected his wife, and then she
asked, "Hast thou had breakfast, Charles?"

Fownes shook his head sullenly.

"Take him to the kitchen and give him some at once, Peg,"
ordered Mrs. Meredith.

For the first time the fellow looked away from Janice, fixing
his eyes on Mrs. Meredith. Then he bowed easily and gracefully,
saying, "Thank you." Apparently unconscious that for
a moment he had left the Somerset burr off his tongue and
the rustic pretence from his manner, he followed Peg to the
kitchen.

If he were unconscious of the slip, it was more than were his
auditors, and for a moment they all exchanged glances in silent
bewilderment.

"Humph!" finally growled the squire. "I like the look of
him still less."

"He holds himself like a gentleman," asserted Tabitha.

"This fellow will need close watching," predicted Mr. Meredith.
"He 's no yokel. He moves like a gentleman or a
house-servant. Yet he had to make his mark on the covenant."

"I think, dadda," said Miss Meredith, in her most calmly
judicial manner, "that the new man is a born villain, and has
committed some terrible crime. He has a horrid, wicked
face, and he stares just as--as--so that one wants to
shiver."

Mrs. Meredith rose. "Janice," she chided, "thou 't too
young to make thy opinions of the slightest value. Go to thy
spinet, child, and don't let me hear any more such foolish
babble. Charles has a good face, and will make a good
servant."

"I don't care what mommy thinks," Miss Meredith confided
to Tabitha in the parlour, as the one took her seat at an embroidery
frame and the other at the spinet. "I know he's a
bad man, and will end by killing one of us and stealing the
silver and a horse, just as Mr. Vreeland's bond-servant did. He
makes me think of the villain in 'The Tragic History of Sir
Watkins Stokes and Lady Betty Artless.'"


IV
AN APPLE OF DISCORD

In the week following his advent the new servant was the
cause of considerable discussion, and, regrettably, of not
a little controversy, among the members of the household
of Greenwood. The squire maintained that "the fellow is
a bad-tempered, lazy, deceitful rogue, in need of much watching."
Mrs. Meredith, on the contrary, invariably praised the
man, and promptly suppressed her husband whenever he began
to rail against him. To Janice, with the violent prejudices of
youth still unmodified by experience and reason, Charles was almost
a special deputy of the individual she heard so unmercifully
thrashed to tatters each Sunday by the Rev. Mr. McClave.
And again, to the contrary, Tabitha insisted with growing fervour
that the servant was a gentleman, possessed of all the
qualities that word implied, plus the most desirable attribute of
all others to eighteenth-century maidens, a romantic possibility.

As a matter of fact, these diverse and contradictory views
had a crossing-point, and accepting this as their mean, Charles
proved himself to be a knowing man with horses, an entirely
ignorant and by no means eager labourer in the little farm work
there was to do, a silent though easily angered being with every
one save Mrs. Meredith, and so clearly above his station that
he was viewed with disfavour, tinctured by not a little fear, by
house-servants, by field hands, and even by Mr. Meredith's
overseer.

[Illustration: "Nay, give me the churn."]

For the most part, Fownes spoke in the West of England
dialect; but whenever he became interested, this instantly slipped
from him, as did his still more ineffective attempt to move and
act the rustic. Indeed, the ease of his movements and the
straightness of his carriage, with a certain indefinable precision
of manner, led to a common agreement among his fellow-labourers
that he had earlier in life accepted the king's shilling.
Granting him to be but one and twenty years of age, as his
covenant stated, and as in fact he looked, his service must have
been shorter than the act of Parliament allowed, and this seeming
bar to their hypothesis caused many winks and shrugs over
the tankards of ale consumed of an evening at the King George
tavern in the village of Brunswick. Furthermore, for some
months the deserter columns of such stray numbers of the
"London Gazette" as occasionally drifted to the ordinary were
eagerly scanned by the loungers, on the possibility that they
might contain some advertisement of a fellow standing five feet
ten, with broad shoulders, light brown hair, straight nose, and
gray eyes, whose whereabout was of interest to His Majesty's
War Office, Whitehall. Neither from this source, however,
nor from any other, did they gain the slightest clue to the
past history of the bond-servant, spy upon the fellow who
would.

Nor was talk of the man limited to farm hands and tavern
idlers, for dearth of new topics in the little community made
him a subject of converse to the two girls during the hours of
spinet practice, embroidery, and sewing, which were their daily
occupations between breakfast and dinner, and, even extended
into the afternoon, if the stint was not completed. Yet all
their discussion brought them no nearer to agreement, Janice
maintaining that Fownes was a villain in posse, if not in esse,
while Tabitha contended that Charles had been disappointed
in a love which he still, none the less, cherished, and which to
her mind accounted in every particular for his conduct. As
such a theory allowed considerable scope to the imagination,
she promptly created several romances about him, in all of
which he was of noble birth, with such other desirable factors
as made him a true hero; and having thus endowed him with
a halo of romance, she could not find words strong enough to
express her thorough-going contempt for the woman whose
disregard and cruelty had driven him across the seas.

"Thee knows, Janice," she argued, when the latter expressed
scepticism, "that the Earl of Anglesey was kidnapped, and
sold in Maryland, so it 's perfectly possible for a nobleman to
be a bond-servant."

"That 's the one case," answered Janice, sagely.

"But things like it are very common in novels," insisted
Tabitha. "And what is more likely for a man disappointed in
love than, in desperation, to indenture himself?"

"I can easily credit a female of taste--yes, any female--
refusing the ill-mannered, bold-staring rogue," said Janice, giving
the coarse osnaburg shirt she was working upon a fretted jerk;
"but to suppose him to be capable of a grand, devoted passion
is as bad as expecting--expecting faithfulness in a dog like
Clarion."

"Clarion?" questioned Tabitha.

"Yes. Have n't you seen how--how--that he--the man,
has taken possession of him? Thomas says the two sneak off
together every chance they get, and sometimes are n't back
till eleven or twelve. I wish dadda would put a stop to it.
Like as not, 't is for pilfering they are bound." Miss Meredith
began anew on the buttonhole, and had she been thrusting
her needle into either man or dog, she could not have sewed
with a more vicious vigour.

"That must be the way he got those rabbits for thy mother."

"I should know he had been a poacher," asserted Janice,
as she contemptuously held up and surveyed at arms-length
the completed shirt. Then she laid it aside with another, and
sighed a weary, "Heigh-ho, those are done. Here I have to
work my fingers to the bone making shirts for him, just because
mommy says he has n't enough clothes,"--a sentence which
perhaps partly accounted for the maiden's somewhat jaundiced
view of Charles.

"Are those for him?" cried Tabitha. "Why didst thou
not tell me? I would have helped thee with them."

"You 'd have been welcome to the whole job. As it is, I've
done them so carelessly that I know mommy will scold me.
But I wasn't going to work myself to death for him!"

"I should have loved--I like shirt-making," fibbed Tabitha.

"And I hate it! Forty-two have I made this year, and
mommy has six more cut out."

There was a moment's silence, and then Tabitha said, "Janice."
For some reason the name seemed to embarrass her, for the
moment it was spoken she coloured.

"What?"

"Dost thee not think--perhaps--if we steal out and take
the shirts to the stable, thy mother will never--?"

"Tibbie Drinker! Go out of the house in a sack? I'd as
soon go out in my night-rail."

"Thee breakfasts in a negligee, even when Philemon is here,"
retorted Miss Drinker. "Wouldst as lief breakfast in thy
shift?"

"No," said Miss Janice, with a wicked sparkle in her eyes,
"because if I did Philemon would come oftener than ever."

"Fie upon thee, Janice Meredith!" cried her friend, "for a
froward, indelicate female."

"And why more indelicate than the men who'd come?"
demanded Janice.

              "'Immodest words admit of no defence,
              For want of modesty is want of sense,'"

quoted Miss Drinker.

"Rubbish!" scoffed Janice, but whether she was referring
to the stanza of the reigning poet of the eighteenth century, or
simply to Miss Tabitha's application of it, cannot be definitely
known. "You know as well as I, Tibbie, that I'd rather have
Philemon, or any other man, see me in my shroud than in my
rail. Come, we'll change our frocks and take a walk."

A half hour later, newly clothed in light dimity gowns, cut
short for walking, and which, in combination with slippers, then
the invariable footgear of ladies of quality, served to display the
"neatly turned ankles" that the beaux of the period so greatly
admired, the girls sallied forth. First a visit was paid to the
stable, to smuggle the shirts from the criticism of Mrs. Meredith,
as well as to entice Clarion's companionship for the walk.
But Thomas, with a grumble, told them that Fownes had stolen
away from the job that had been set for him after dinner, and
that the hound had gone with him.

Their rambling walk brought the girls presently to the river,
but just as they were about to force their way through the fringe
of willows and underbrush which hid the water from view, a
sudden loud splashing, telling of some one in swimming,
gave them pause. Yelps of excitement from Clarion a moment
later served to tell the two who it probably was, and the probability
was instantly confirmed by the voice of Charles, saying:

"'T is sport, old man, is 't not? To get the dirt and transpiration
off one! 'S death! What a climate! 'Twixt the
sun and osnaburg and fustian my skin feels as if I'd been triced
up and had a round hundred."

Exchanging glances, the girls stole softly away from the bank,
neither venturing to speak till out of hearing. As they retired
they came upon a heap of coarse garments, and Tabitha, catching
the arm of her friend, exclaimed:--

"Oh, Jan, look!"

What had caught her eye was the end of a light gold chain
that appeared among the clothes, and both girls halted and
gazed at it as if it possessed some quality of fascination. Then
Tabitha tip-toed forward, with but too obvious a purpose.

"Tibbie!" rebuked Janice, "you shouldn't!"

"Oh, but Jan!" protested Eve, junior. "'T is such a
chance!"

"Not for me," asserted Miss Meredith, proudly virtuous, as
she walked on.

If Miss Drinker had searched for a twelve-month she could
scarce have found a more provoking remark than her spontaneous
exclamation, "Oh! how beautiful she is!"

Janice halted, though she had the moral stamina not to
turn.

"What? The chain?" she asked.

"No! The miniature," responded her interlocutor, in a
tone expressing the most unbounded admiration and delight.
"Such an elegant creature, Jan, and such--"

Her speech ended there, as a crashing in the bushes alarmed
her, and she darted past Janice, who, infected by the guilt of
her companion, likewise broke into a run, which neither ceased
till they had covered a goodly distance. Then Tabitha, for
want of breath, came to a stop, and allowed her friend to overtake
her.

She held up the chain and miniature in her hand. "What
shall I do?" she panted.

"Tibbie, how could you?" ejaculated her horrified friend.

"His coming frighted me so that--oh, I didn't drop it!"

"You must take it back!"

"I'd never dare!"

"Black shame on--!"

"A nice creature, thou, Jan!" interrupted Miss Drinker,
with a sudden carrying of the war into the enemy's camp.
"To tell me to go back when he's sure to be dressing! No
wonder thee makes indelicate speeches."

Miss Meredith, without deigning to reply to this shameful
implication, walked away toward the house.

That Tibbie intended to shirk the consequences of her misdemeanour
was only too clearly proved to Janice, when later
she went to her room to prink for supper, for lying on her
dressing stand was the miniature. Shocked as Miss Meredith
was at the sight, she lifted and examined the trinket.

Bred in colonial simplicity, it seemed to the maid that she
had never seen anything quite so exquisite. A gold case,
richly set with brilliants, encompassed the portrait of a girl of
very positive beauty. After a rapt dwelling on the portrait for
some minutes, further examination revealed the letters W. H.
J. B. interlaced on the back.

Taking the miniature when her toilet had been perfected,
Janice descended to the parlour. As she entered, Tabitha,
already there, jumped up from a chair, in which, a moment
previous she had been carrying on a brown study that apparently
was not enjoyable, and tripped nonchalantly across the
room to the spinet. Seating herself, she struck the keys, and
broke out into a song entitled, "Taste Life's Glad Moments as
They Glide."

Not in the least deflected from her intention, Miss Meredith
marched up to the culprit, the bondsman's property in her
hand, and demanded, "Dost intend to turn thief?"

"Prithee, who 's curious now?" evaded Tibbie. "I knew
thee 'd look at it, for all thy airs."

"Very well, miss," threatened Janice, with much dignity.
"Then I shall take it to him, and narrate to him all the
circumstances."

"Tattle-tale, tattle-tale!" retorted Tabitha, scornfully.

With even greater scorn her friend turned her back, and
leaving the house, walked toward the stable. This took her
through the old-fashioned, hedge-begirt kitchen garden, in
which flowers were grown as if they were vegetables, and
vegetables were grown as if they were flowers. The moment
Janice had passed within the tall row of box, her expression of
mingled haughtiness and determination ended; she came to a
sudden halt, said "Oh!" and then pretended to be greatly
interested in a butterfly. The bravest army can be stampeded
by a surprise, and after having screwed up her spirit to the
point of facing Fownes in his fortress, the stable, Miss Meredith's
courage deserted her on almost stumbling over him a
hundred yards nearer than she expected. So taken aback was
she that all the glib explanation she had planned was forgotten,
and she held out the miniature to him without a single word.

Charles had been walking to the house, and only paused
at meeting Miss Meredith. He glanced at the outstretched
hand, and then let his eyes come back to the girl's face, without
making the slightest motion to take his property.

Tongue-tied and doubly embarrassed by his calm scrutiny,
the young lady stood with flushed cheeks, and with long
black lashes dropped to hide a pair of very shamed eyes,
the personification, in appearance, of guilt.

Whether the girl would have found her tongue, or would
have ended the incident as she was longing to do by taking to her
heels, it is impossible to say. Ere she had time to do either,
the angry voice of the squire broke in upon them.

"Ho, there ye are! Twice have I looked for ye this afternoon,
and I warn ye I'm not the man to take such conduct
from any one, least of all from one of my own servants," he
said as he came toward the pair, the emphasis of his walking
stick and his heels both telling the story of his anger. "What
mean ye, fellow," he continued, "by neglecting the work I
set ye?"

Absolutely unmoved by the reproof, Charles stood as heedless
of it as he had been of the outstretched hand of the
daughter, a hand which had promptly disappeared in the folds
of Miss Meredith's skirt at the first sound of her father's voice.

"A taste of my walking stick ye should have if ye had your
deserts!" went on the squire, now face to face with the
servant.

Without taking his eyes from the girl, Charles laughed.
"Is it fear of me," he challenged, "or fear of the law that prevents
you?"

"What know ye of the law, sirrah?" demanded Mr. Meredith.

"Nothing, when I was fool enough to indenture myself,"
snapped the servant; "but Bagby tells me that 't is forbidden,
under penalty of fine, for a master to strike a servant."

"Joe Bagby!" roared the squire, more angry than ever.
"And how come ye to have anything to do with that scampy
lawyer! Hast been up to some mischief already?"

Again the man laughed. "That is for His Majesty's
Justices of the Peace to discover. Till they do, I shall maintain
that I consulted him concerning the laws governing bond-servants."

"A pretty state the country 's come to!" raged the squire.
"No wonder there is no governing the land, when even servants
think to have the law against their masters. But, harkee, my
fine fellow. If I may not punish ye myself, the Justices may
order ye whipped, and unless ye change your manners I will
have ye up before their next sitting. Meantime, saddle
Joggles as soon as supper is done, and take this paper over
to Brunswick, and post it on the proclamation board of the
Town Hall. And no tarrying, and consulting of tricky lawyers,
understand. If ye are not back by nine, ye shall hear from me."

Striking a sunflower with his cane as a slight vent to his
anger, the master strode away to the house.

His back turned. Janice once again held out the miniature.
"Won't you please take it?" she begged.

"Art tired of it already?" jeered the man.

"I did not take it, Charles," she stammered, "but I knew
of its taking and so brought it back to you."

The man shrugged his shoulders. "'T is not mine, nor
is it aught to me," he said, and passing the girl, walked to the
house.


V
THE VALUE OF HAIR

At the evening meal the farm hands and negro house-servants
remarked in Fownes not merely his customary
unsocial silence, but an abstraction more
obvious than usual. A gird or two from the rougher
of his fellow-labourers was wholly unnoted by him, and though
he ate heartily, it was with such entire unconsciousness of what
he was eating as to make the cook, Sukey, who was inclined to
favour him, question if after all he deserved special consideration
at her hands.

The meal despatched, Charles took his way to the stable,
but some motive caused him to stop at the horse trough, lean
over it, and examine the reflection of his face. Evidently what
he saw was not gratifying, for he vainly tried to smooth down
his short hair, and then passed his hand over the scrub of his
beard. "'T is said clothes make the gentleman," he muttered,
"but methinks 't is really the barber. How many of the belles
of the Pump Room and the Crescent would take me for other
than a clodhopper? 'T was not Charles Lor--Charles what?
--to whom they curtesied and ogled and smirked, 't was to
a becoming wig and a smooth chin." Snapping his fingers
contemptuously, he went in and began to saddle the horse.

A half-hour later, the man rode up the village street of
Brunswick. Hitching Joggles to a post in front of the King
George tavern, he walked to the board on the side of the Town
Hall and Court House. Here, over a three months' old proclamation,
he posted the anonymous note recently received by
the squire, which had been wafered to a sheet of pro patria
paper, and below which the squire had written--

This is to give notice that I despise too much the cowardly
villain who wrote and nailed this on my door to pay any
attention to him. A Reward of two pounds will be given
for any information leading to the discovery of said cowardly
villain.
                                Lambert Meredith.

For a moment the servant stood with a slight smile on his
face at the contradiction; then, with a shrug of his shoulders,
he entered the public room of the tavern. Within the air was
so thick with pipes in full blast, and the light of the two dips
was so feeble, that he halted in order to distinguish the dozen
figures of the occupants, all of whom gave him instant attention.

"Ar want landlord," he said, after a pause.

"Here I be," responded a man sitting at a small table in the
corner, with two half-emptied glasses and a bowl of arrack
punch before him. Opposite to mine host was a thick-set man
of about forty, attired in a brown suit and heavy top-boots, both
of which bore the signs of recent travel.

The servant skirted the group at the large table in the centre
of the room, and taking from his pocket a guinea, laid it on the
table. "Canst 'e give change for thiccy?" he asked.

"I vum!" cried the landlord, as he picked up the coin and
rang it on the table. "'T ain't often we git sight o' goold here.
How much do yer want fer it?"

"Why, twenty-one shillings," replied the servant, with some
surprise in his voice.

"I'll givit you dirty-two," spoke up a Jewish-looking man at
the big table, hurriedly pulling out his pouch and counting
down a batch of very soiled money from it, which he held out
to the servant just as the landlord, too, tendered him some
equally ragged bills.

"Trust Opper to give a shilling less than its worth," jeered
one of the drinkers.

"Bai thiccy money, Bagby?" questioned Charles, looking
suspiciously at both tenders.

"Not much," answered Bagby from the group about the
large table, not one of whom had missed a word of the foregoing
conversation. "'T is shaved beef,"--a joke which called
forth not a little laughter from his companions.

"Will it buy a razor?" asked Fownes, quickly, turning to the
lawyer with a smile.

"Keep it a week and 't will shave you itself," retorted the
joker, and this allusion to the steady depreciation of the colony
paper money called forth another laugh.

"Then 't is not blunt?" responded Charles, but no one save
the traveller at the small table caught the play on words, the
Cockney cant term for money being unfamiliar to American
ears. He smiled, and then studied the bond-servant with more
interest than he had hitherto shown.

Meanwhile, at the first mention of razor, the Jew had left the
room, and he now returned, carrying a great pack, which he
placed upon the table.

"Sir," he said, in an accent which proved his appearance did
not belie his race, while beginning to unstrap the bundle, "I
haf von be-utiful razor, uf der besd--" but here his speech
was interrupted by a roar of laughter.

"You've a sharper to deal with now," laughed the joker,
and another called, "Now ye'll need no razor ter be shaved."

"Chentlemen, chentlemen," protested the peddler, "haf n't
I always dealt fair mit you?" He fumbled in his half-opened
pack, and shoving three razors out of sight, he produced a
fourth, which he held out to the servant. "Dot iss only dree
shillings, und it iss der besd of steel."

"You can trust Opper to know pretty much everything 'bout
steals," sneered Bagby, who was clearly the local wit. "It 's
been his business for twenty years."

"I want a sharp razor, not a razor sharp," said Charles, good-naturedly,
while taking the instrument and trying its edge with
his finger.

"What business hez a bond-servant tew spend money fer a
razor?" demanded the tavern-keeper, for nothing then so
marked the distinction between the well-bred and the unbred
as the smooth faces of the one and the hairy faces of the
other.

"Hasn't he a throat to cut?" demanded one of the group,
"an' hasn't a covenant man reason to cut it?"

"More likes he's goin' a sparkin'," suggested one of the idlers.
"The gal up ter the squire's holds herself pooty high an'
mighty, but like as not she's as plaguey fond of bundling with
a good-looking man on the sly as most wenches."

"If she 's set on that, I'm her man," remarked Bagby.

"Bundling?" questioned the covenant servant. "What 's
that?"

The question only produced a roar of laughter at his ignorance,
during which the traveller turned to the publican and
asked:--

"Who is this hind?"

"'T is a new bond-servant o' Squire Meredith's, who I hearn
is no smouch on horses. Folks think he's a bloody-back who 's
took French leave."

"A deserter, heigh?" said the traveller, once more looking
at the man, who was now exchanging with the peddler the
three-shilling note for the razor. He waited till the trade had
been consummated, and then suddenly said aloud, in a sharp,
decisive way, "Attention! To the left--dress!

Fownes' body suddenly stiffened itself, his hands dropped to.
his sides, and his head turned quickly to the left. For a second
he held this position, then as suddenly relaxing himself,
he turned and eyed the giver of the order.

"So ho I my man. It seems ye have carried Brown Bess,"
said the traveller, giving the slang term for the musket.

Flushed in face, Fownes wheeled on the man hotly, while
the whole room waited his reply in silence. "Thou liest!" he
asserted.

"Thou varlet!" cried the man so insulted, flushing in turn,
as he sprang to his feet and caught up from the table a heavy
riding-whip.

As he did so, the bond-servant's right hand went to his hip,
as if instinctively seeking something there. The traveller's eyes
followed the impulsive gesture, even while he, too, made a
motion more instinctive than conscious, by stepping backward,
as if to avoid something. This motion he checked, and
said--

"No. Bond-servants don't wear bayonets."

Again the colour sprang to Fownes' face, and his lips parted
as if an angry retort were ready. But instead of uttering it, he
turned and started to leave the room.

"Ay," cried the traveller, "run, while there 's time, deserter."

Fownes faced about in the doorway, with a smile on his face
not pleasant to see, it was at once so contemptuous and so
lowering. Yet when he spoke there was an amused, almost
merry note in his voice, as if he were enjoying something.

"Ar bain't no more deserter than thou baist spy," he retorted,
as he left the tavern and went to where his horse was
tethered. Unfastening him, he stood for a moment stroking
the animal's nose.

"Joggles," he confided, "I fear, despite the praise the fair
ones gave of my impersonation of 'The Fashionable Lover,'
that I am not so good an actor as either Garrick or Barry. I
forget, and I lose my temper. So, a bond-servant should cut
his throat," he continued, as he swung lightly into the saddle.
"I fear 't is the only way I can go undiscovered. Fool that I
was to do it in a moment of passion. Five years of slavery!"
Then he laughed. "But then I'd never have seen her! Egad,
if she could be painted as she looked to-day by Reynolds or
Gainsborough, 'twould set more than my blood glowing!
There's a prize, Joggles! Beauty, wealth, and freedom, all in
one. She'd be worth a tilt, too, if for nothing but the sport of
it. We'll shave, make a dandy of ourselves, old man--"
Then the servant paused--"and, like a fool, be recognised by
some fellow like Clowes--what does he here?--but for my
beard, and that he'd scarce expect to meet Charles--" Fownes
checked himself, scowling. "Charles Nothing, a poor son of
a gun of a bond-servant. Have done with such idiot schemes,
man," he admonished. "For what did you run, if 't was not
to bury yourself? And now you 'd risk all for a petticoat."
Taking from his pocket the razor, he threw it into the bushes
that lined the road, saying as he did so, "Good-by, gentility."


VI
MEN ARE DECEIVERS EVER

The departure of the bond-servant, leaving the sting
of innuendo behind him, had turned all eyes toward
the traveller, and Bagby but voiced the curiosity of
the roomful when he inquired, "What did Fownes
call you spy for?"

"Nay, man, he called me not that," denied the stranger,
"unless he meant to call himself a deserter as well. Landlord,
a bowl of swizzle for the company! Gentlemen, I am
Lincolnshire born and bred. My name is John Evatt, and I
am travelling through the country to find a likely settling place
for six solid farmers, of whom I am one. Whom did you say
was yon rogue's master?"

"Squire Meredith," informed mine host, now occupied in
combining the rum, spruce beer, and sugar at the large table.

"And what sort of man is he?" asked Evatt, bringing his
glass from the small table and taking his seat among the rest.

"He 's as hot-tempered an' high an' mighty as King George
hisself," cried one of the drinkers. "But I guess his stinkin'
pride will come down a little afore the committee of Brunswick 's
through with him."

"Let thy teeth keep better guard over thy red rag, Zerubbabel,"
rebuked Joe Bagby, warningly. "We want no rattlepates
to tell us--or others--what 's needed or doing."

"This Meredith 's a man of property, eh?" asked Evatt.

"He 's been so since he married Patty Byllynge," replied the
publican. "Afore then he war n't nothin' but a poor young
lawyer over tew Trenton."

"And who was Patty Byllynge?"

"You don't know much 'bout West Jersey, or I guess you 'd
have heard of her," surmised Bagby. "'T is n't every girl brings
her husband a pot of money and nigh thirty thousand acres of
land. Folks tell that before the squire got her, the men was about
her like--" the speaker used a simile too coarse for repetition.

"So ho!" said the traveller. "Byllynge, heigh? Now I
begin to understand. A daughter--or granddaughter--of one
of the patentees?"

"Just so. In the old man's day they held the lands all along
this side of the Raritan, nigh up to Baskinridge, but they sold a
lot in the forties."

"Then perhaps this is the place to bargain about a bit?
The land looked rich and warm as I rode along this afternoon."

"'T ain't no use tryin' ter buy of the new squire," remarked
one man. "He won't do nothin' but lease. He don't want no
freemen 'bout here."

"Yer might buy o' Squire Hennion. He sells now an' agin,"
suggested the innkeeper."

"Who's he?" demanded Evatt.

"Another of the monopolisers who got a grant in the early
days, before the land was good for anything," explained Bagby.
"His property is further down."

"Ye 'd better bargain quick, if ye want any," spoke up an
oldster. "Looks like squar's son was a-coortin' squar's daughter,
an' mayhaps her money'll make old Squar Hennion less
put tew it fer cash."

"So Squire Meredith is n't popular?"

"He'll find out suthin' next time he offers fer Assembly,"
asserted one of the group.

"He 's a member of Assembly, is he?" questioned Evatt.
"Then he's all right on--he belongs to the popular party?"

"Not he!" cried several.

"He was agin the Association, tried tew prevent our sendin'
deputies tew Congress, an' boasts that tea 's drunk at his table,"
said the landlord.

"'T won't be for long," growled Bagby.

"Then how comes it that ye elect him Assemblyman?"

"'T is his tenants do it," spoke up the lawyer. "They don't
have the pluck to vote against him for fear of their leaseholds.
And so 't is with the rest. The only way we can get our way is
by conventions and committees. But get it we will, let the
gentry try as they please."

"Well, gentlemen," said Evatt, "here 's the swizzle. Glasses
around, and I'll give ye a toast ye can all drink: May your freedom
never be lessened by either Parliament or Congress!"

Two hours of drinking and talking followed, and when the
last of the tipplers had staggered through the door, and Evatt,
assisted by the publican, had reeled rather than walked upstairs
to his room, if he was not fully informed as to the locality of
which the tavern was the centre, it was because his brain was
too fuddled by the mixed drink, and not because tongues had
been guarded.

Eighteenth-century heads made light of drinking bouts, and
Evatt ate a hearty breakfast the next morning. Thus fortified,
he called for his horse, and announced his intention of seeing
Squire Meredith "about that damned impertinent varlet."

Arrived at Greenwood, it was to find that the master of the
house was away, having ridden to Bound Brook to see some of
his more distant tenants; but in colonial times visitors were
such infrequent occurrences that he was made welcome by the
hostess, and urged to stay to dinner. "Mr. Meredith will be
back ere nightfall," she assured him, "and will deeply regret
having missed thee if thou rides away."

"Madam," responded Evatt, "American hospitality is only
exceeded by American beauty."

It was impossible not to like the stranger, for he was a capital
talker, having much of the chat of London, tasty beyond all
else to colonial palates, at his tongue's tip. With a succession
of descriptions or anecdotes of the frequenters of the Park and
Mall, of Vauxhall and Ranelagh, he entertained them at table,
the two girls sitting almost open-mouthed in their eagerness
and delight.

The meal concluded, the ladies regretfully withdrew, leaving
Evatt to enjoy what he chose of a decanter of the squire's best
Madeira, which had been served to him, visitors of education
being rare treats indeed. Like all young peoples, Americans
ducked very low to transatlantic travellers, and, truly colonial,
could not help but think an Englishman of necessity a superior
kind of being.

The guest filled his glass, unbuttoned the three lower buttons
of his waistcoat, and slouched back in his chair. Then he put
the wine to his lips, and holding the swallow in his mouth to
prolong the enjoyment, a look of extreme contentment came over
his visage. And if he had put his thoughts into words, he
would have said:--

"By Heavens! What wine and what women! The one
they smuggle, but where get they the other? In a rough new
country who'd think to encounter greater beauty and delicacy
than can be seen skirting the Serpentine? Such eyes, such a
waist, and such a wrist! And those cheeks--how the colour
comes and goes, telling everything that she would hide! And
to think that some bumpkin will enjoy lips fit for a duke. Burn
it! If 't were not for my task, I'd have a try for Miss Innocence
and--" The man glanced out of the window and let his
eyes wander over the landscape, while he drained his glass--
"Thirty thousand acres of land!" he said aloud, with a smack
of pleasure.

His eyes left off studying the fields to fix themselves on
Janice, who passed the window, with the garden as an evident
destination, and they followed her until she disappeared within
the opening of the hedge. "There's a foot and ankle," he exclaimed
with an expression on his face akin to that it had worn
as he tasted the Madeira. "'T would fire enough sparks in
London to set the Thames all aflame!" He reached for the
Madeira once more, but after removing the stopper, he hesitated
a moment, then replacing it, he rose, buttoned his waistcoat,
and taking his hat from the hall, he slipped through the window
and walked toward the garden.

Finding that Janice was not within the hedge-row, Evatt
passed across the garden quickly and discovered the young
lady standing outside the stable, engaged in the extremely
undignified occupation of whistling. Her reason for the action
was quickly revealed by the appearance of Clarion; and still
unconscious that she was watched, after a word with the dog,
they both started toward the river.

A few hasty strides brought the man up with the maiden,
and as she slightly turned to see who had joined her, he said,
"May I walk with you, Miss Meredith? I intended a stroll
about the farm, and it will be all the pleasanter for so fair a
guide."

Shyly but eagerly the girl assented, and richly rewarded was
she in her own estimate by what the visitor had to tell. More
gossip of court, of the lesser world of fashion, and of the
theatre, he retailed: how the king walked and looked, of the
rivalry between Mrs. Barry and Mrs. Baddeley, of Charles Fox's
debts and eloquence, of the vogue of Cecilia Davis, or
"L'Inglesina." To Janice, hungry with the true appetite of
provincialism, it was all the most delicious of comfits. To
talk to a man who could imitate the way the Duke of
Gloucester limped at a levee when suffering from the gout, and
who was able to introduce a story by saying, "As Lady Rochford
once said to me at one of her routs--" was almost like
meeting those distinguished beings themselves. Janice not
merely failed to note that the man paid no heed whatever to the
land they strolled over, but herself ceased to give time or
direction the slightest thought.

"Oh!" she broke out finally, in her delight, "won't Tibbie
be sorry when she knows what she's missed? And, forsooth, a
proper pay out for her wrong-doing it is!"

"What mean ye by that?" questioned Evatt.

"She deserves to have it known, but though she called me
tattle-tale, I'm no such thing," replied Janice, who in truth
was still hot with indignation at Miss Drinker, and wellnigh
bursting to confide her grievance against her whilom friend
to this most delightful of men. "Doubtless, you observed
that we are not on terms. That was why I came off without
her."

Evatt, though not till this moment aware of the fact, nodded
his head gravely.

"'T is all her doings, though she'd be glad enough to make
it up if I would let her. A fine frenzy her ladyship would be
in, too, if she dreamt he'd given me the miniature."

"A miniature!" marvelled the visitor, encouragingly. "Of
whom?"

"'T is just what--Oh, I think I'll tell thee the whole tale
and get thy advice. I dare not go to mommy, for I know
she'd make me give it up, and dadda being away, and Tibbie
in a snip-snap, I have no one to--and perhaps--I'd never
tell thee to shame Tibbie, but because I need advice and--"

"A man with half an eye would know you were no tale-bearer,
Miss Janice," her companion assured her.

Thus prompted and enticed, the girl poured out the whole
story. "I wish I could show you the picture," she ended.
"She is the most beautiful creature I ever saw."

"Hast never looked in a mirror, Miss Janice?"

"Now thou 't just teasing."

"I' faith, 't is the last thought in my mind," said Evatt, heartily.

"You really think me pretty?" questioned the girl, with
evident delight if uncertainty.

Evatt studied the eager, guileless face questioningly turned to
him, and had much ado to keep from smiling.

"'T is impossible not to think it," he replied.

"Even after seeing the court beauties?" demanded Janice,
half doubtful and half joyous.

"Not one but would have to give the pas to ye, Miss Janice,"
protested Evatt, "could ye but be presented at St. James's."

"How lovely!" cried Janice, ecstatically, and then in sudden
abasement asserted, "Oh, I know you are--you are
only making fun of me!"

"Now, burn me, if I am!" insisted the man, with such
undoubted admiration in his manner as to confirm his words to
the girl. "By Heaven!" he marvelled to himself. "Who 'd
have believed such innocence possible? 'T is Mother Eve
before the fall! She knows nothing." A view of woman
likely to get Mr. Evatt into trouble. There is very little
information concerning the ante-prandial Eve, but from later
examples of her sex, it is safe to affirm that the mother of the
race knew several things before partaking of the tree of knowledge.
Man only is born so stupid as to need education.

"Why canst thou not let me have sight of this wondrous
female?" he went on aloud. "Surely thou art not really
fearsome to brave comparison."

"'T is not that, indeed," denied Janice, colouring, "but--
well--in a moment." The girl turned her back to Mr. Evatt,
and in a moment faced him once more, the miniature in her
hand. "Isn't she beautiful?"

Evatt looked at the miniature. "That she is," he assented.
"And strike me dumb, but she reminds me of some woman
I've once seen in London."

"Oh, how interesting!" exclaimed the girl. "What was
her name?"

"'T is exactly that I am asking myself."

"He must be well-born," argued Janice, "to have her
miniature; look at the jewels in her hair."

"Ah, my child, there 's more than the well-born wear--"
the man stopped short. "How know ye," he went on, "that
the bondsman comes by it rightly? The frame is one of price."

"I don't," the girl replied, "and the initials on the back
are n't his."

"'W. H. J. B.,'" read Evatt.

"He may have changed his name," suggested Janice.

"True," assented the man, with a slight laugh; "that 's a
mighty clever thought and gives us a clue to his real one."

"Perhaps you've heard of a man in London with a name to
fit W. H. J. B.?" said the maid, inquiringly.

Evatt turned away to conceal an unsuppressable smile,
while thinking, "The innocent imagines London but another
Brunswick!"

"Dost think I should make him take it back?" asked Janice.

"Certainly not," replied her advise; responding to the only
too manifest wish of the girl.

"Then dost think I should speak to mommy or dadda?"

"'T is surely needless! The fellow refuses it, and so 't is
yours till he demands it."

"How lovely! Oh, I'd like to be home this instant, to see
how 't would appear about my neck. Last night I crept out of
bed to have a look, but Tibbie turned over, and I thought me
she was waking. I think I'll go at once and--"

"And end our walk?" broke in Evatt, reproachfully.

"'T is nearly tea-time," replied Janice, pointing to the sun.
"How the afternoon has flown!"

"Thanks to my charming companion," responded the man,
bowing low.

"Now you are teasing again," cried Janice. "I don't like to
be made fun--"

"'T is my last thought," cried Evatt, with unquestionable
earnestness, and possessing himself of Janice's hand, he stooped
and kissed it impetuously and hotly.

The colour flooded up into the maiden's face and neck at the
action, but still more embarrassing to her was the awkward
pause which ensued, as they set out on their return. She could
think of nothing to say, and the stranger would not help her.
"Let her blush and falter and stammer," was his thought. "Every
minute of embarrassment is putting me deeper in her thoughts."


VII
SPIDER AND FLY

Fortunately for the girl, the distance to the house
was not great, and the rapid pace she set in her stress
quickly brought them to the doorway, which she
entered with a sigh of relief. The guest was at once
absorbed by her father, and Janice sought her room.

As she primped, the miniature lay before her, and occasionally
she paused for a moment to look at it. Finally, when properly
robed, she picked it up and held it for a moment. "I wonder
if she broke his heart?" she soliloquised. "I don't see how he
could help loving her; I know I should." Janice hesitated for
a moment, and then tucked the miniature into her bosom. "If
only Tibbie wasn't--if--we could talk about it," she sighed,
as she pinned on her little cap of lace above the hair dressed
high a la Pompadour. "Why did she have to be--just as so
many important things were to happen!" Miss Meredith
looked at her double in the mirror, and sighed again. "Mr.
Evatt must have been laughing at me," she said, "for she is so
much prettier. But I should like to know why Charles always
stares so at me."

In the meantime, Evatt, without so much as an allusion to the
bond-servant, had presented a letter from a New Yorker, introducing
him to the squire, and by the confidence thus established
he proceeded to question Mr. Meredith long and carefully, not
about farming lands and profits, but concerning the feeling of
the country toward the questions then at issue between Great
Britain and America. He made as they talked an occasional
note, and the interview ended only with Peg's announcement of
supper. Nor was this allowed to terminate the inquiry, for the
squire, as Mrs. Meredith had foreseen, insisted on Evatt's
spending the night, and Charles was accordingly ordered to ride
over to the inn for the traveller's saddlebags. After the ladies
had left the two men at the table, the questioning was resumed
over the spirits and pipes, and not till ten o'clock was passed
did Evatt finally rise. Clearly he must have pleased the squire
as well as he had the dames, for Mr. Meredith, with the
hospitality of the time, pressed him heartily to stay for more
than the morrow, assuring him of a welcome at Greenwood for
as long as he would make it his abiding spot.

"Nothing, sir, would give me greater pleasure," responded
Evatt, warmly, "but in confidence to ye, as a friend of government,
I dare to say that my search for a farm is only the ostensible
reason for my travels. I am executing an important and
delicate mission for our government, and having already journeyed
through the colonies to the northward, I must still travel
through those of the south. 'T is therefore quite impossible for
me to tarry more than the night. I should, in fact, not have
dared to linger thus long were it not that your name was on the
list given me by Lord Dartmouth of those to be trusted and
consulted. And the information ye have furnished me concerning
this region has proved that his Lordship did not err in his
opinion as to your knowledge, disposition, and ability."

This sent the squire to his pillow with a delightful sense of
his own importance, and led him to confide to the nightcap on
the pillow beside him that "Mr. Evatt is a man of vast insight
and discrimination." Regrettable as it is to record, the visitor,
before seeking his own pillow, mixed some ink powder in a mug
with a little water and proceeded to add to a letter already
begun the following paragraph:--

[Illustration: "The British ran!"]

"From thence I rode to Brunswick, a small Town on the
Raritan. Here I find the same division of Sentiment I have
already dwelt upon to your Lordship. The Gentry, consisting
hereabouts of but two, are sharply opposed to the small Farmers
and Labourers, and cannot even rely upon their own Tenantry
for more than a nominal support. Neither of the great Proprietors
seem to be Men of sound Judgment or natural Popularity,
and Mr. Lambert Meredith--a name quite unknown
to your Lordship, but of some consequence in this Colony
through a fortunate Marriage with a descendant of one of the
original Patentees--at the last Election barely succeeded in
carrying the Poll, and is represented to be a Man of much
impracticality, hot-tempered, a stickler over trivial points, at
odds with his Neighbours, and not even Master of his own
Household. To such Men, my Lord, has fallen the Contest, on
behalf of Government, while opposed to them are self-made
Leaders, of Eloquence, of Force, and; most of all, of Dishonesty.
Issues of Paper Money, escape from all Taxation, free Lands,
suspensions of Debts--such and an hundred other tempting
Promises they ply the People with, while the Gentry sit helpless,
save those who, seeing how the Tide sets, throw Principles to
the Wind, and plunge in with the popular Leaders. Believe
me, my Lord, as I have urged already, a radical change of
Government, and a plentiful sprinkling of Regiments, will
alone prevent the Disorders from rising to a height that
threatens Anarchy."

Though the visitor was the last of the household abed, he was
early astir the next morning, and while Charles was beginning
his labours of the day, by leading each horse to the trough in
the barnyard, Evatt joined him.

"We made a bad start at our first meeting, my man," he
said in a friendly manner, "and I have only myself to blame
for 't. One should keep his own secrets."

"'T is a sorry calling yours would be if many kept to that,"
replied Fownes, with a suggestion of contempt.

Evatt bit his lip, and then forced a smile. "The old saying
runs that three could keep a secret if two were but dead."

Charles smiled. "My two will never trouble me," he said
meaningly, "so save your time and breath."

"Hadst best not be so sure," retorted Evatt, in evident irritation.
"'Twixt thine army service, the ship that fetched thee
on, and that miniature, I have more clues than have served to
ferret many a secret."

"And entirely lack the important one. Till you have that, I
don't fear you. What is more, I'll tell you what 't is."

"What?" asked the man.

"A reward," sneered Fownes.

"I see I've a sly tyke to deal with," said the man. "But
if ye choose not--" The speaker checked himself as Janice
came through the opening in the hedge, and the two stood
silently watching her as she approached.

"Charles," she said, when within speaking distance, while
holding out the miniature, "I've decided you must take this."

Charles smiled pleasantly. "Then 't is your duty to make
me, Miss Meredith," he replied, folding his arms.

"Won't you please take it?" begged Janice, not a little non-plussed
by her position, and that Evatt should be a witness of
it. "We know it belongs to you, and 't is too valuable for
me to--"

"How know you that?" questioned the man, still smiling
pleasantly.

"Because 't was with your clothes when you went in swimming,"
said Janice, frankly.

"Miss Meredith," replied Charles, "the word of a poor devil
of a bond-servant can have little value, but I swear to you that
that never belonged to me, and that I therefore have no right
to it. If it gives you any pleasure, keep it."

"That is as good as saying ye stole it," asserted Evatt.

Charles smiled contemptuously. "'All are not thieves
whom dogs bark at,'" he retorted. "Nor are all of us sneaks
and spies," he added, as, turning, he led away the horse toward
the stable.

"Yon fellow does n't stickle at calling ye names, Miss Meredith,"
said Evatt.

"He has no right to call me a spy," cried the girl, indignantly.

"His words deserve no more heed than what he said t'other
night at the tavern of ye."

"What said he at the tavern?" demanded Janice.

"'T is best left unspoken."

"I want to know what he said of me," insisted Miss Meredith.

"'T would only shame ye."

"He--he told of--he did n't tell them I took the miniature?"
faltered Janice.

Again Evatt bit his lip, but this time to keep from smiling.
"Worse than that, my child," he replied.

"Why should he insult me?" protested Janice, proudly,
but still colouring at the possibility.

"Ye do right to suppose it unlikely. Yet 't is so, and while
I can hardly hope that my word will be taken for it, his lies to
us a moment since prove that he is capable of any untruth."

Evatt spoke with such honesty of manner, and with such an
apparent lack of motive for inventing a tale, that Janice became
doubtful. "He could n't insult me," she said, "for I--I
have n't done anything."

"'T is certain that he did. Had I but known ye at the time,
Miss Janice, he should have been made to swallow his coarse
insult. 'T was for that I sought him this morning. Had ye
not interrupted us, 't would have fared badly for him."

"You were very kind," said Janice, dolefully, beginning, more
from his manner than his words, to believe Evatt. "I did n't
know there were such bad men in the world. And for him to
say it at the tavern, where 't will be all over the county in no
time! Was it very bad?"

"No one would believe a redemptioner," replied Evatt.
"Yet had I the right--"

"Marse Meredith send me to tell youse come to breakfast,"
interrupted Peg from the gateway in the box.

"Why!" exclaimed the girl. "It can't be seven."

"The squire ordered it early, that I might be in the saddle
betimes," explained Evatt, and then as the girl started toward
the house, he checked the movement by taking her hand.
"Miss Janice," he said, "in a half-hour I shall ride away--not
because 't is my wish, but because I'm engaged in an important
and perilous mission--a mission--can ye keep a secret--even
from--from your father and mother?"

Janice was too young and inexperienced to know that a
secret is of all things the most to be avoided, and though her
little hand, in her woman's intuition that all was not right, tried
feebly to free itself, she none the less answered eagerly if half-doubtfully,
"Yes."

"I am sent here under an assumed name--by His Majesty.
Ye--I was indiscreet enough with ye, to tell--to show that I
was other than what I pretend to be, but I felt then and now
that I could trust ye. Ye will keep secret all I say?"

Again Janice, with her eyes on the ground, said, "Yes."

"I must do the king's work, and when 't is done I return to
England and resume my true position, and ye will never again
hear of me--unless--" The man paused, with his eyes fixed
on the downcast face of the girl.

"Unless?" asked Janice, when the silence became more
embarrassing than to speak.

"Unless ye--unless ye give me the hope that by first returning
here--as your father has asked me to do--that I
may--may perhaps carry ye away with me. Ah, Miss Janice,
't is an outrage to keep such beauty hidden in the wilds of
America, when it might be the glory of the court and the toast
of the town."

Again a silence ensued, fairly agonising to the bewildered
and embarrassed girl, which lengthened, it seemed to her, into
hours, as she vainly sought for some words that she might
speak.

"Please let go my hand," she begged finally.

"Not till you give me a yea or nay.

"But I can't--I don't--" began Janice, and then as footsteps
were heard, she cried, "Oh, let me go! Here comes
Charles."

"May I come back?" demanded Evatt.

"Yes," assented the girl, desperately.

"And ye promise to be secret?"

"I promise," cried Janice, and to her relief recovered her
hand, just as Charles entered the garden.

Like many another of her sex, however, she found that to
gain physical and temporary freedom she had only enslaved
herself the more, for after breakfast Evatt availed himself of a
moment's interest of Mrs. Meredith's in the ordering down of
his saddle-bags, and of the squire's in the horse, to say to Janice,
aside:--

"I gave ye back your hand, Janice, but remember 't is mine,"
and before the girl could frame a denial, he was beside Mr.
Meredith at the stirrup, and, ere many minutes, had ridden
away, leaving behind him a very much flattered, puzzled, and
miserable demoiselle.


VIII
SEVERAL BURNING QUESTIONS

The twenty-four hours of Evatt's visit troubled Janice
in recollection for many a day, and marked the beginning
of the most distinct change that had come to
her. The experience was in fact that which befalls
every one somewhere between the ages of twelve and thirty,
by which youth first learns to recognise that life is not mere
living, but is rather the working out of a strange problem compounded
of volition and necessity, accident and fatality. The
pledge of secrecy preyed upon her, the stranger's assumption
that she had bound herself distressed her, and the thought
that she had been the subject of tavern talk made her furious.
Yet she had promised concealment, she was powerless to write
to Evatt denying his pretension, and she could not counteract
a slander the purport of which was unknown to her. Had she
and Tibbie but been on terms, she might have gained some
relief by confiding her woes to her, but that young lady's visit
came to an end so promptly after the departure of Evatt that
restoration of good feeling was only obtained in the parting
kiss. For the first time in her life, Janice's head would keep
on thinking after it was resting on its pillow, and many a time
that enviable repository was called upon to dry her tears and
cool her burning cheeks. Never, it seemed to her, had man
or woman borne so great a burden of trouble.

The change in the girl was too great not to be noticed by
the household of Greenwood. Mrs. Meredith joyfully confided
to the Rev. Mr. McClave that she thought an "effectual
calling" had come to her daughter, and that Janice was in a
most promising condition of unhappiness. Thus encouraged,
the divine, who was a widower of forty-two, with five children
sadly needing a woman's care, only too gladly made morning
calls on the daughter of his wealthiest parishioner, and in place
of the discussions with Tibbie over romance in general, and
the bond-servant in particular, as they sewed or knitted, Janice
was forced to attend to long monologues specially prepared
for her benefit, on what to the presbyter were the truly burning
questions of justification, adoption, and sanctification. What
is more, she not only listened dutifully, but once or twice was
even moved to tears, to the enormous encouragement of Mr.
McClave. The squire, who highly resented the lost vivacity
and the new seriousness, insisted that the "girl sha'n't be made
into a long-faced, psalm-singing hypocrite;" but not daring to
oppose what his wife approved, he merely expressed his irritation
to Janice herself, teasing and fretting her scarcely less
than did Mr. McClave.

Not the least of her difficulties was her bearing toward the
bondsman. Conditions were still so primitive that the relations
between master and servant were yet on a basis that
made the distinctions between them ones of convenience rather
than convention, and thus Janice was forced to mark out a
new line of conduct. At first she adopted that of avoidance
and proud disregard of him, but his manner toward her continued
to convey such deference that the girl found her attitude
hard to maintain, and presently began to doubt if he
could be guilty of the imputation. Nor could she be wholly
blind to the fact that the groom had come to take a marked
interest in her. She noted that he made occasion for frequent
interviews, and that he dropped all pretence of speaking to
her in his affected Somerset dialect. When now she ventured
out of doors, she was almost certain to encounter him, and
rarely escaped without his speaking to her; while he often
came into the kitchen on frivolous pretexts when she was
working there, and seemed in no particular haste to depart.

Several times he was detected by Mrs. Meredith thus idling
within doors, and was sharply reproved for it. Neither to this,
nor to the squire's orders that he should put an end to his
"night-walking" and to his trips to the village, did he pay
the slightest heed.

Fownes entered the kitchen one morning in November
while Janice and Sukey were deep in the making of some
grape jelly, carrying an armful of wood; for the bond-servant
for once had willingly assumed a task that had hitherto been
Tom's. Putting the logs down in the wood-box, he stood
with back to the fire, studying Miss Meredith, as, well covered
with a big apron, with rolled up sleeves, flyaway locks, and
flushed cheeks, she pounded away in a mortar, reducing loaf
sugar to usable shape.

"Now youse clar right out of yar," said Sukey, who, though
the one servant who was fond of Charles, like all good cooks,
was subject to much ferment of mind when preserving was to
the fore. "We uns doan want no men folks clutterin' de fire."

"Ah, Sukey," besought Charles, appealingly, "there 's a
white frost this morning, and 't is bitter outside. Let me
just warm my fingers?"

Sukey promptly relented, but the chill in Fownes' fingers was
clearly not unendurable, for in a moment he came to the
table, and putting his hand over that of Janice, which held
the pestle, he said:--

"Let me do the crushing. 'T is too hard work for you."

"I wish you would," Miss Meredith somewhat breathlessly
replied. "My arms are almost ready to drop off."

"'T would set the quidnuncs discussing to which of the
Greek goddesses they belonged," remarked Fownes. Then
he was sorry he had said it, for Miss Meredith promptly
unrolled her sleeves; not because in her secret heart she did
not like the speech, but because of a consciousness that
Charles was noticing what the Greek goddesses generally
lack. A low-cut frock was almost the unvarying dress of the
ladies, there was nothing wrong in the display of an ankle,
and elbow sleeves were very much the vogue, but to bare the
arms any higher was an immodesty not permitted to those
who were then commonly termed the "bon ton."

This addition to the working staff promptly produced an
order from Sukey for Janice to assume the duty of stirring a
pot just placed over the fire, "while I 'se goes down cellar an'
cars a shelf for them jellies to set on. Keep a stirrin',
honey, so 's it won't burn," was her parting injunction.

No sooner was the cook out of hearing than Charles spoke:
"For two days," he said in a low voice, "I have tried to get
word with you. Won't you come to the stable when I am
there?"

"Are you going to crush that sugar?" asked Miss Meredith.

"Art going to come to the stable?" calmly questioned
Charles.

"Give me the pestle!" said Janice, severely.

"Because if you won't," continued the groom, "I shall
have to say what I want now."

"I prefer not to hear it," Janice announced, moving from
the fire.

"You must keep on stirring, or 't will burn, Miss Janice,"
the man reminded her, taking a mean advantage of the
situation.

Janice came back and resumed her task, but she said, "I
don't choose to listen."

'T is for thy father's sake I ask it."

"How?" demanded the girl, looking up with sudden
interest.

"I went to the village t' other night," replied the man, "to
drill--" Then he checked himself in evident disconcertion.

"Drill?" asked Janice. "What drill?"

"Let us call it quadrille, since that is not the material part,"
said Charles. "What is to the point is that after--after
doing what took me, I stayed to help in Guy Fawkes' fun on
the green."

"Well?" questioned the girl, encouragingly.

"The frolickers had some empty tar barrels and an effigy
of the Pope, and they gave him and a copy of the Boston
Port Bill each a coat of tar and leaves, and then burned
them."

"What fun!" cried Janice, ceasing to stir in her interest.
"I wish mommy would let me go. She says 't is unbecoming
in the gentility, but I don't see why being well born should
be a reason for not having as good a time as--"

"As servants?" interrupted Fownes, hotly, as if her words
stung him.

"I'm afraid, Charles," reproved Janice, assuming again a
severe manner, "that you have a very bad temper."

Perhaps the man might have retorted, but instead he let
the anger die from his face, as he fixed his eyes on the floor.
"I have, Miss Janice," he acknowledged sadly, after a
moment's pause, "and 't is the curse of my life."

"You should discipline it," advised Miss Meredith, sagely.
"When I lose my temper, I always read a chapter in the
Bible," she added, with a decidedly "holier than thou" in
her manner.

"How many times hast thou read the good book through,
Miss Janice?" asked Fownes, smiling, and Miss Meredith's
virtuous pose became suddenly an uncomfortable one to the
young lady.

"You were to tell me something about Mr. Meredith,"
she said stiffly.

"After burning the Pope and the bill, 't was suggested by
some to empty the pot of tar on the fire. But objection was
made, because

"Because?" questioned Janice.

"Someone said 't would be needed shortly to properly
season green wood, and therefore must not be wasted."

"You don't think they--?" cried Janice, in alarm.

The servant nodded his head. "The feeling against the
squire is far deeper than you suspect. 'T will find vent in
some violence, I fear, unless he yield to public sentiment."

"He'll never truckle to the country licks and clouted
shoons of Brunswick," asserted Janice, proudly.

"'T will fare the worse for him. 'T is as sensible to run
counter to public opinion as 't is to cut roads over mountains."

"'T is worse still to be a coward," cried Janice, contemptuously.
"I fear, Charles, you are very mean-spirited."

Fownes shrugged his shoulders. "As a servant should be,"
he muttered bitterly.

"Even a servant can do what is right," answered the
girl.

"'T is not a question of right, 't is one of expediency," replied
the bondsman. "A year at court, Miss Janice, would
teach you that in this world 't is of monstrous importance to
know when to bow."

"What do you know of court?" exclaimed Janice.

"Very little," confessed the man. "But I know it teaches
one good lesson in life,--that of submission,--and an important
thing 't is to learn."

"I only bow to those whom I know to be my superiors,"
said Janice, with her head held very erect.

"'T is an easy way for you to avoid bowing," asserted the
groom, smiling.

Again Janice sought a change of subject by saying, "Think
you that is why we are being spied upon?"

"Spied?" questioned the bondsman.

"Last week dadda thought he saw a face one evening at the
parlour window, and two nights ago I looked up suddenly and
saw--Well, mommy said 't was only vapours, but I know I
saw something."

The servant turned his face away from Janice, and coughed.
Then he replied, "Perhaps 't was some one watching you.
Didst make no attempt to find him?"

"Dadda went to the window both times, but could see
nothing."

"He probably had time to hide behind the shrubs," surmised
Charles. "I shall set myself to watching, and I'll
warrant to catch the villain at it if he tries it again." From
the savageness with which he spoke, one would have inferred
that he was bitterly enraged at any one spying through the
parlour window on Miss Meredith's evening hours.

"I wish you would," solicited Janice. "For if it happened
again, I don't know what I should do. Mommy insisted it
was n't a ghost, and scolded me for screaming; but all the same,
it gave me a dreadful turn. I did n't go to sleep for hours."

"I am sorry it frightened you," said the servant, and then
after a moment's hesitation he continued, "'T was I, and if I
had thought for a moment to scare you--"

"You!" cried Janice. "What were you doing there?"

The man looked her in the eyes while he replied in a low
voice, "Looking at paradise, Miss Janice."

"Janice Meredith," said her mother's voice, sternly, "thou
good-for-nothing! Thou'st let the syrup burn, and the smell
is all over the house. Charles, what dost thou mean by loafing
indoors at this hour of the day? Go about thy work."

And paradise dissolved into a pot of burnt syrup.


IX
PARADISE AND ELSEWHERE

While Charles was within hearing, Mrs. Meredith
continued to scold Janice about the burnt syrup,
but this subject was ended with his exit.
"I'm ashamed that a daughter of mine should
allow a servant to be so familiar," Mrs. Meredith began anew.
"'T is a shame on us all, Janice. Hast thou no idea of what
is decent and befitting to a girl of thy station?"

"He was n't familiar," cried Janice, angrily and proudly,
"and you should know that if he had been I--he was telling
me--"

"Yes," cried her mother, "tell me what he was saying
about paradise? Dost think me a nizey, child, not to know
what men mean when they talk about paradise?"

Janice's cheeks reddened, and she replied hotly, "If men
talked to you about paradise, why should n't they talk to me?
I'm sure 't is a pleasant change after the parson's everlasting
and eternal talk of an everlasting and eternal--"

"Don't thee dare say it!" interrupted Mrs. Meredith.
"Thou fallen, sin-eaten child! Go to thy room and stay
there for the rest of the day. 'T is all of a piece that thou
shouldst disgrace us by unseemly conduct with a stable-boy.
Fine talk 't will make for the tavern."

The injustice and yet possible truth in this speech was too
much for Janice to hear, and without an attempt at reply, she
burst into a storm of tears and fled to her room.

Deprived of a listener, Mrs. Meredith sought the squire,
and very much astonished him by a prediction that, "Thy
daughter, Mr. Meredith, is going to bring disgrace on the
family."

"What's to do now?" cried the parent.

"A pretty to do, indeed," his wife assured him. "Dost
want her running off some fine night with thy groom?"

"Tush, Matilda!" responded Mr. Meredith. "'T is
impossible."

"Just what my parents said when thou camest a-courting."

"I was no redemptioner."

"'T was none the less a step-down for me," replied Mrs.
Meredith, calmly. "And I had far less levity than--"

"Nay, Matilda, she often reminds me very--"

"Lambert, I never was light! Or at least never after
I sat under Dr. Edwards and had a call. The quicker we
marry Janice to Mr. McClave, the better 't will be for
her."

"Now, pox me!" cried the squire, "if I'll give my lass to
be made the drudge of another woman's children."

"'T is the very discipline she needs," retorted the wife.
"But for my checking her a moment ago I believe she'd
have spoken disrespectfully of hell!"

"Small wonder!" muttered her husband. "Is 't not
enough to ye Presbyterians to doom one to everlasting
torment in the future life without making this life as bad?"

"'T is the way to be saved," replied Mrs. Meredith. "As
Mr. McClave said to Janice shortly since, 'Be assured that
doing the unpleasant thing is the surest road to salvation, for
tho' it should not find grace in the eyes of a righteously angry
God, yet having been done from no carnal and sinful craving
of the flesh, it cannot increase his anger towards you.' Ah,
Lambert, that man has the true gift."

"Since he's so damned set on being uncarnal," snapped
the squire, "let him go without Janice."

"And have her running off with an indentured servant, as
Anne Loughton did?"

"She'll do nothing of the kind. If ye want a husband for
the lass, let her take Phil."

"A bankrupt."

"Tush! There are acres enough to pay the old squire's
debts three times over. She'd bring Phil enough ready
money to clear it all, and 't is rich mellow land that will
double in value, give it time."

"I tell thee her head 's full of this bond-servant. The two
were in the kitchen just now, talking about paradise, and I
know not what other foolishness."

"That" said Mr. Meredith, with a grin of enjoyment,
"sounds like true Presbyterian doctrine. The Westminster
Assembly seem to have left paradise out of the creation."

"Such flippancy is shameful in one of thy years, Mr.
Meredith," said his wife, sternly, "and canst have but one
ending."

"That is all any of us can have, Patty," replied the squire,
genially.

Mrs. Meredith went to the door, but before leaving the
room, she said, still with a stern, set face, though with a break
in her voice, "Is 't not enough that my four babies are enduring
everlasting torment, but my husband and daughter must
go the same way?"

"There, there, Matilda!" cried the husband. "'T was
said in jest only and was nothing more than lip music. Come
back--" the speech ended there as a door at a distance
banged. "Now she'll have a cry all by herself," groaned the
squire. "'T is a strange thing she took it so bravely when
the road was rough, yet now, when 't is easy pulling, she lets
it fret and gall her."

Then Mr. Meredith looked into his fire, and saw another
young girl, a little more serious than Janice, perhaps, but still
gay-hearted and loved by many. He saw her making a stolen
match with himself; passed in review the long years of alienation
from her family, the struggle with poverty, and, saddest of
all, the row of little gravestones which told of the burial of the
best of her youth. He saw the day finally when, a worn, saddened
woman, she at last was in the possession of wealth, to
find in it no pleasure, yet to turn eagerly, and apparently with
comfort, to the teachings of that strange combination of fire
and logic, Jonathan Edwards. He recalled the two sermons during
Edwards's brief term as president of Nassau Hall, which
moved him so little, yet which had convinced Mrs. Meredith
that her dead babies had been doomed to eternal punishment
and had made her the stern, unyielding woman she was. The
squire was too hearty an animal, and lived too much in the
open air, to be given to introspective thought, but he shook
his head. "A strange warp and woof we weave of the skein,"
he sighed, "that sorrow for the dead should harden us to the
living." Mr. Meredith rose, went upstairs, and rapped at a
door. Getting no reply, after a repetition of the knock, he
went in.

A glance revealed what at first sight looked like a crumpled
heap of clothes upon the bed, but after more careful scrutiny
the mass was found to have a head, very much buried between
two pillows, and the due quantity of arms and legs. Walking
to the bed, the squire put his hand on the bundle.

"There, lass," he said, "'t is nought to make such a pother
about."

"Oh, dadda," moaned Janice, "I am the most unhappy
girl that ever lived."

It is needless to say after this remark that Miss Meredith's
knowledge of the world was not of the largest, and the squire,
with no very great range of experience, smiled a little as he
said--

"Then 't will not make you more miserable to wed the
parson?"

"Dadda!" exclaimed the girl, rolling over quickly, to get
a sight of his countenance. When she found him smiling, the
anxious look on the still red and tear-stained face melted
away, and she laughed merrily. "Think of the life I'd give
the good man! How I would wherrit him! He 'd have to
give up his church to have time enough to preach to me."
Apparently the deep woe alluded to the moment before was
forgotten.

"I've no manner of doubt he'd enjoy the task," declared
the father, with evident pride. "Ah, Jan, many a man would
enter the ministry, if he might be ordained parson of ye."

"The only parson I want is a father confessor," said Janice,
sitting up and giving him a kiss.

"Then what 's this maggot your mother has got in her
head about ye and Charles and paradise?" laughed her
father.

"Indeed, dadda," protested the girl, eagerly, "mommy was
most unjust. I was to stir some syrup, and Charles came into
the kitchen and would talk to me, and as I could n't leave the
pot, I had to listen, and then--well

"I thought as much!" cried the squire, heartily, when
Janice paused. "Where the syrup is, there'll find ye the
flies. But we'll have no horse-fly buzzing about ye. My
fine gentleman shall be taught where he belongs, if it takes
the whip to do it."

"No, dadda," exclaimed Janice. "He spoke but to warn
me of danger to you. He says there 's preparation to tar
and feather you unless you--you do something."

"Foo!" sniffed the squire. "Let them snarl. I'll show
them I'm not a man to be driven by tag, long tail, and
bobby."

"But Charles--" began the girl.

"Ay, Charles," interrupted Mr. Meredith. "I've no doubt
he's one of 'em. 'T is always the latest importations take
the hottest part against the gentry."

"Nay, dadda, I think he--"

"Mark me, that's what takes the tyke to the village so
often."

"He said 't was to drill he went."

"To drill?" questioned the squire. "What meant he by
that?"

"I asked him, and he said 't was quadrille. Dost think he
meant dancing or cards?"

"'T is in keeping that he should be a dancing master or a
card-sharper," asserted Mr. Meredith. "No wonder 't is a disordered
land when 't is used as a catchall for every man not
wanted in England. We'll soon put a finish to his night-walking."

"I don't think he's a villain, dadda, and he certainly
meant kindly in warning us."

"To make favour by tale-bearing, no doubt."

"I'm sure he'd not a thought of it," declared Janice,
with an unconscious eagerness which made the squire knit
his brows.

"Ye speak warmly, child," he said. "I trust your mother
be not justified in her suspicion."

The girl, who meanwhile had sprung off the bed, drew herself
up proudly. "Mommy is altogether wrong," she replied.
"I'd never descend so low."

"I said as much," responded the squire, gleefully.

"A likely idea, indeed!" exclaimed Janice. "As if I'd
have aught to do with a groom! No, I never could shame
the family by that."

"Wilt give me your word to that, Jan?" asked the squire.

"Yes," cried the girl, and then roguishly added, "Why,
dadda, I'd as soon, yes, sooner, marry old Belza, who at
least is a prince in his own country, than see a Byllynge marry
a bond-servant."


X
A COLONIAL CHRISTMAS

For some weeks following the pledge of Janice, the life
at Greenwood became as healthily monotonous as of
yore. Both Mr. and Mrs. Meredith spoke so sharply
to both Sukey and Charles of his loitering about the
kitchen that his visits, save at meal times, entirely ceased.
The squire went further and ordered him to put an end to
his trips to the village, but the man took this command in
sullen silence, and was often absent.

One circumstance, however, very materially lessened the
possible encounters between the bond-servant and the maiden.
This was no less than the setting in of the winter snows, which
put a termination to all the girl's outdoor life, excepting the
attendance at the double church services on Sundays, which
Mrs. Meredith never permitted to be neglected. From the
window Janice sometimes saw the groom playing in the drifts
with Clarion, but that was almost the extent of her knowledge
of his doings. It is to be confessed that she eagerly longed
to join them or, at least, to have a like sport with the dog.
Eighteenth-century etiquette, however, neither countenanced
such conduct in the quality, nor, in fact, clothed them for it.

A point worth noting at this time was connected with one
window of the parlour. Each afternoon as night shut down, it
was Peg's duty to close all the blinds, for colonial windows not
being of the tightest, every additional barricade to Boreas was
welcome, and this the servant did with exemplary care. But
every evening after tea, Janice always walked to a particular
window and, opening the shutter, looked out for a moment, as
if to see what the night promised, before she took her seat at
her tambour frame or sewing. Sometimes one of her parents
called attention to the fact that she had not quite closed the
shutters again, and she always remedied the oversight at once.
Otherwise she never looked at the window during the whole
evening, glance where she might. Presumably she still remembered
the fright her putative ghost had occasioned her,
and chose not to run the chance of another sight of him.
Almost invariably, however, in the morning she blew on the
frost upon the window of her own room and having rubbed
clear a spot, looked below, much as if she suspected ghosts
could leave tracks in the snow. In her behalf it is only fair
to say that the girls of that generation were so shut in as far
as regarded society or knowledge of men that they let their
imaginations question and wander in a manner difficult now
to conceive. At certain ages the two sexes are very much
interested in each other, and if this interest is not satisfied
objectively, it will be subjectively.

Snow, if a jailer, was likewise a defence, and apparently
cooled for a time the heat of the little community against the
squire. Even the Rev. Mr. McClave's flame of love and love
of flame were modified by the depth of the drifts he must
struggle through, in order to discourse on eternal torment
while gazing at earthly paradise. Janice became convinced
that the powers of darkness no longer had singled her out as
their particular prey, and in the peaceful isolation of the winter
her woes, when she thought of them, underwent a change
of grammatical tense which suggested that they had become
things of the past.

One of her tormenting factors was not to be so treated.
Philemon alone made nothing of the change of season, riding
the nine miles between his home and Greenwood by daylight
or by moonlight, as if his feeling for the girl not merely
warmed but lighted the devious path between the drifts. Yet
it was not to make love he came; for he sat a silent, awkward
figure when once within doors, speaking readily enough in
response to the elders, but practically inarticulate whenever
called upon to reply to Janice. Her bland unconsciousness
was a barrier far worse than the snow; and never dreaming
that he was momentarily declaring his love for her in a
manner far stronger than words, he believed her wholly ignorant
of what he felt, and stayed for hours at a time, longing
helplessly for a turn of events which should make it possible
for him to speak.

Philemon was thus engaged or disengaged one December
morning when Peg entered the parlour where the family were
sitting as close to the fire as the intense glow of the hickory
embers would allow, and handing Janice a letter with an air
of some importance, remarked, "Charles he ask me give you
dat." Then, colonial servants being prone to familiarity, and
negro slaves doubly so, Peg rested her weight on one foot,
and waited to learn what this unusual event might portend.
All present instantly fixed their eyes upon Janice, but had
they not done so it is probable that she would have coloured
much as she did, for the girl was enough interested and
enough frightened to be quite unconscious of the eyes upon
her.

"A letter for thee, lass!" exclaimed the squire. "Let 's
have the bowels of it."

The necessity for that very thing was what made the occurrence
so alarming to Janice, for her woman's intuition had at
once suggested, the moment she had seen the bold hand-writing
of the superscription, that it could be from none other
than Evatt, and she had as quickly surmised that her father
and mother would insist upon sight of the missive. Unaware
of what it might contain, she sat with red cheeks, not daring
to break the seal.

"Hast got the jingle brains, child?" asked her mother,
sharply, "that thou dost nothing but stare at it?"

Janice laid the letter in her lap, saying, "'T will wait till I
finish this row." It was certainly a hard fate which forced her
to delay the opening of the first letter she had ever received.

"'T will nothing of the sort," said her mother, reaching out
for the paper. "Art minded to read it on the sly, miss?
There shall be no letters read by stealth. Give it me."

"Oh, mommy," begged the girl, desperately, "I'll show
it to you, but--oh--let me read it first, oh, please!"

"I think 't is best not," replied her mother. "Thy anxiety
has an ill look to it, Janice."

The girl handed the letter dutifully, and with an anxious
attention watched her mother break it open, all pleasure in
the novelty of the occurrence quite overtopped by dread of
what was to come.

"What nonsense is this?" was Mrs. Meredith's anything
but encouraging exclamation. Then she read out--

"'T is unworthy of you, and of your acceptance, but 't is the
fairest gift I could think of, and the best that I could do. If
you will but put it in the frame you have, it may seem more
befitting a token of the feelings that inspired it."

Janice, unable to restrain her curiosity, rose and peered over
her mother's shoulder. From that vantage point she ejaculated,
"Oh, how beautiful she is!"

What she looked at was an unset miniature of a young girl,
with a wealth of darkest brown hair, powdered to a gray, and
a little straight nose with just a suggestion of a tilt to it, giving
the mignon face an expression of pride that the rest of the
countenance by no means aided. For the remaining features,
the mouth was still that of a child, the short upper lip projecting
markedly over the nether one, producing not so much
a pouty look as one of innocence; the eyes were brilliant
black, or at least were shadowed to look it by the long lashes,
and the black eyebrows were slender and delicately arched
upon a low forehead.

"Art a nizey, Janice," cried her mother, "not to know thine
own face?"

"Mommy!" exclaimed the girl. "Is--am I as pretty
as that?"

"'T is vastly flattered," said her mother, quickly. "I should
scarce know it."

"Nay, Matilda," dissented the squire, who was now also
gazing at the miniature. "'T is a good phiz of our lass, and
but does her justice. Who ever sent it ye, Jan?"

"I suppose 't was Mr. Evatt," confessed Janice.

"Let's have sight of the wrapper," said the father. "Nay,
Jan. This has been in no post-rider's bag or 't would bear the
marks."

"Peg, tell Charles to come here," ordered Mrs. Meredith,
and after a five minutes spent by the group in various surmises,
the bond-servant, followed by the still attentive Peg,
entered the room.

"Didst find this letter at the tavern?" demanded the squire.

The groom looked at the wrapper held out to him, and
replied, "Mayhaps."

"And what took ye there against my orders?"

Charles shrugged his shoulders, and then smiled. "Ask
Hennion," he said.

"What means he, Phil?" questioned the squire.

"Now you've been an' told the whole thing," exclaimed
Philemon, looking very much alarmed.

"Not I," replied the servant. "'T is for you to tell it,
man, if 't is to be told."

"Have done with such mingle-mangle talk," ordered Mr.
Meredith, fretfully. "Is 't not enough to have French gibberish
in the world, without--"

"Charles," interrupted Mrs. Meredith, "who gave thee
this letter?"

"Ask Miss Meredith," Fownes responded, again smiling.

"It must be Mr. Evatt," said Janice. Then as the bond-servant
turned sharply and looked at her, she became conscious
that she was colouring. "I wish there was no such
thing as a blush," she moaned to herself,--a wish in which no
one seeing Miss Meredith would have joined.

"'T was not from Mr. Evatt," denied the servant.

Without time for thought, Janice blurted out, "Then 't is
from you?" and the groom nodded his head.

"What nonsense is this?" cried Mr. Meredith. "Dost
mean to say 't is from ye? Whence came the picture?"

"I was the limner," replied Charles.

"What clanker have we here?" exclaimed the squire.

"'T is no lie, Mr. Meredith," answered the servant. "In
England I've drawn many a face, and 't was even said in jest
that I might be a poor devil of an artist if ever I quitted the
ser--quitted service."

"And where got ye the colours?"

"When I went to Princeton with the shoats I found Mr.
Peale painting Dr. Witherspoon, and he gave me the paints
and the ivory."

"Ye'll say I suppose too that ye wrote this," demanded
the squire, indicating the letter.

"I'll not deny it."

"Though ye could not sign the covenant?"

Fownes once more shrugged his shoulders. "'T is a fool
would sign a bond," he asserted.

"Better a fool than a knave," retorted Mr. Meredith, angered
by Charles' manner. "Janice, give the rogue back
the letter and picture. No daughter of Lambert Meredith
accepts gifts from her father's bond-servants."

The man flushed, while evidently struggling to control his
temper, and Janice, both in pity for him, as well as in desire
for possession of the picture, for gifts were rare indeed in
those days, begged--

"Oh, dadda, mayn't I keep it?"

"Mr. Meredith," said Charles, speaking with evident repression,
"the present was given only with the respect--"
he hesitated as if for words and then continued--"the respect
a slave might owe his--his better. Surely on this day it
should be accepted in the same spirit."

"What day mean ye?" asked Mr. Meredith.

The servant glanced at each face with surprise on his own.
When he read a question in all, he asked in turn, "Hast forgotten
't is Christmas?"

Mrs. Meredith, who was still holding the portrait, dropped
it on the floor, as if it were in some manner dangerous.
"Christmas!" she cried. "Janice, don't thee dare touch
the--"

"Oh, mommy, please," beseeched the girl.

"Take it away, Charles," ordered Mrs. Meredith. "And
never let me hear of thy being the devil's deputy again.
We'll have no papish mummery at Greenwood."

The servant sullenly stooped, picked up the slip of ivory
without a word, and turned to leave the room. But as he
reached the door, Philemon found tongue.

"I'll trade that 'ere for the fowlin'-piece you set such
store by," he offered.

The bondsman turned in the doorway and spoke bitterly.
"This is to be got for no mess of pottage, if it is scorned," he
said.

"I don't scorn--" began Janice, but her father broke in there.

"Give it me, fellow!" ordered the squire. "No bond-servant
shall have my daughter's portrait."

An angry look came into the man's eyes as he faced his
master. "Come and take it, then," he challenged savagely,
moving a step forward,--an action which for some reason
impelled the squire to take a step backward.

"Oh, dadda, don't," cried Janice, anxiously. "Charles,
you would n't!"

Fownes turned to her, with the threat gone from his
face and attitude. "There's my devil's temper again, Miss
Janice," said he, in explanation and apology.

"Please go away," implored the girl, and the man went to
the door. As he turned to close it, Janice said, "'T was very
pretty, and--and--thank you, just the same."

The formalism of bygone generations was no doubt conducive
to respectful manners, but not to confidential relations,
and her parents knew so little of their daughter's nature as
never to dream that they had occasioned the first suggestion
of tenderness for the opposite sex the young girl's heart had
ever felt. And love's flame is superior to physical law in that,
the less ventilation it has, the more fiercely it burns.


XI
"'T IS AN ILL WIND THAT BLOWS NOBODY GOOD"

The next ripple in the Greenwood life was due to
more material circumstances, being inaugurated by
the receipt of the Governor's writ, convening the
Assembly of New Jersey. A trivial movement of
a petty pawn on the chess-board of general politics, it nevertheless
was of distinct importance in several respects to the
Meredith family. Apparently the call meant only a few weeks'
attendance of the squire's at Burlington, in the performance
of legislative duties, and Janice's going with him to make a
return visit to the Drinkers at Trenton. These, however, were
the simplest aspects of the summons, and action by the citizens
of Middlesex County quickly injected a more serious
element into the programme.

The earliest evidence of this was the summoning by the
Committee of Observation and Correspondence of a gathering
to "instruct" the county representatives how they should vote
on the question as to indorsing or disapproving the measures
of the recent Congress. The notice of the meeting was read
aloud by the Rev. Mr. McClave before his morning sermon
one Sunday, and then he preached long and warmly from 2
Timothy, ii. 25,--"Instructing those that oppose themselves,"
--the purport of his argument being the duty of the
whole community to join hands in resisting the enemies of
the land. The preacher knew he was directly antagonising
the views of his wealthiest parishioner and the father of his
would-be wife, but that fact only served to make him speak
the more forcefully and fervently. However hard and stern
the old Presbyterian faith was, its upholders had the merit of
knowing what they believed, and of stating that belief without
flinch or waver.

[Illustration: "It flatters thee."]

As he sat and listened, not a little of the squire's old Madeira
found its way into his face, and no sooner were the family
seated in the sleigh than the wine seemed to find expression
in his tongue as well.

"'T is the last time I set foot in your church, Mrs. Meredith,"
he declared, loudly enough to make it evident that he
desired those filing out of the doors to hear. "Never before
have I--"

"Hold thy tongue, Lambert!" interrupted Mrs. Meredith,
in a low voice. "Dost think to make a scene on the Sabbath?"

"Then let your parson hold his," retorted Mr. Meredith,
but like a well-trained husband, in so low a voice as to be
inaudible to all but the occupants of the sleigh. "Ge wug,
Joggles! What is the land coming to, when such doctrines
are preached in the pulpits; when those in authority are told
't is their duty to do what the riff-raff think best? As well let
their brats and bunters tell us what to do. They'll not force
me to attend their meeting, nor to yield a jot."

In fulfilment of his assertion, the squire sat quietly at home
on the afternoon that the popular opinion of the county
sought to voice itself, nodding his head over a volume of
"Hale's Compleat Body of Husbandry." But as night drew
near he was roused from his nap by the riding up of Squire
Hennion and Philemon. Let it be confessed that, despite Mr.
Meredith's contempt for what he styled the "mobocracy,"
his first question concerned the meeting.

"A pooty mess yer've made of it, Meredith," growled Mr.
Hennion.

"I!" cried the squire, indignantly. "'T is naught I had to
do with it."

"An' 't is thet 'ere keepin' away dun the harm," scolded
the elder Hennion. "Swamp it, yer let the hotheads control!
Had all like yer but attended, they 'd never hev bin
able to carry some of them 'ere resolushuns. On mor'n one
resolve a single vote would hev bin a negative."

"Pooh!" sneered the squire. "Sit down and warm thy
feet while thee cools thy head, man. Ye'll not get me to
believe that one vote only was needed to prevent 'em indorsing
the Congress association."

"Sartin they approved the Congress doins, nemine contradicente,
as they wuz baound ter do since all aginst kep away,
but--"

"Dost mean to say ye voted for it?" demanded Mr.
Meredith.

Squire Hennion's long, shrewd face slightly broadened as
he smiled. "I wuz jest stepped over ter the ordinary ter git
a nipperkin of ale when thet ere vote wuz took."

"Who let the hotheads control, then?" jerked out Mr.
Meredith.

"'T ain't no sort of use ter hev my neebours set agin me."

"And ye'll vote at Burlington as they tell ye?" fumed the
squire.

"I'm rayther fearsome my rheumatiz will keep me ter hum
this winter weather. I've had some mortal bad twinges naow
an' agin."

"Now damn me!" swore the squire, rising and pacing the
room with angry strides. "And ye come here to blame me
for neglecting a chance to check 'em."

"I duz," responded Hennion. "If I go ter Assembly,
't won't prevent theer votin' fer what they wants. But if yer
had attended thet 'ere meetin', we could hev stopped them
from votin' ter git up a militia company an' ter buy twenty
barrels--"

"Dost mean to say they voted rebellion?" roared Mr.
Meredith, halting in his angry stride.

"It duz hev a squint toward it, theer ain't no denyin'.
But I reckon it wuz baound ter come, vote ay or vote nay.
Fer nigh three months all the young fellers hev been drillin'
pooty reg'lar."

"Oh!" spoke up Janice. "Then that 's what Charles
meant when he said 't was drill took him to the village."

"What?" demanded the squire. "My bond-servant?"

"Ay. 'T is he duz the trainin', so Phil tells me."

Mr. Meredith opened the door into the hall, and bawled,
"Peg!" Without waiting to give the maid time to answer
the summons he roared the name again, and continued to
fairly bellow it until the appearance of the girl, whom he then
ordered to "find Charles and send him here." Slightly relieved,
he stamped back to the fire, muttering to himself in
his ire.

A pause for a moment ensued, and then the elder Hennion
spoke: "Waal, Meredith, hev yer rumpus with yer servant,
but fust off let me say the say ez me and Phil come fer."

"And what 's that?"

"I rayther guess yer know areddy," continued the father,
while the son's face became of the colour of the hickory
embers. "My boy 's in a mighty stew about yer gal, but he
can't git the pluck ter tell her; so seem' he needed some help
an since I'd come ez far ez Brunswick, says I we'll make one
ride of it, an' over we comes ter tell yer fair an' open what
he's hangin' araound fer."

Another red face was hurriedly concealed by its owner
stooping over her tambour-frame, and Janice stitched away as
if nothing else were worth a second thought. It may be
noted, however, that, as a preliminary to further work the next
morning, a number of stitches had to be removed.

"Ho, ho!" laughed the squire, heartily, and slapping Phil
on the shoulder. "A shy bird, but a sly bird, eh? Oh, no!
Mr. Fox thought the old dogs did n 't know that he wanted
little Miss Duck."

Already in an agony of embarrassment, this speech reduced
Phil to still more desperate straits. He could look at his
father only in a kind of dumb appeal, and that individual,
seeing his son 's helplessness, spoke again.

"I'd hev left the youngsters ter snook araound till they wuz
able ter fix things by themselves," Mr. Hennion explained.
"But the times is gittin' so troublous thet I want ter see Phil
sottled, an' not rampin' araound as young fellers will when
they hain't got nuthin' ter keep them hum nights. An' so I
reckon thet if it ever is ter be, the sooner the better. Yer
gal won't be the wus off, hevin' three men ter look aout fer
her, if it duz come on ter blow."

"Well said!" answered the squire. "What say ye,
Matilda?"

"Oh, dadda," came an appeal from the tambour-frame,
"I don't want to marry. I want to stay at home with--"

"Be quiet, child," spoke up her mother, "and keep thine
opinion to thyself till asked. We know best what is for thy
good."

"He, he, he!" snickered the elder Hennion. "Gals hain't
changed much since I wuz a-courtin'. They allus make aout
ter be desprit set agin the fellers an' mortal daown on marryin',
but, lordy me! if the men held off the hussies 'ud do
the chasm'."

"Thee knows, Lambert," remarked his better half, "that I
think Janice would get more discipline and greater godliness
in--"

"I tell ye he sha'n't have her," broke in the squire. "No
man who preaches against me shall have my daughter; no,
not if 't were Saint Paul himself."

"For her eventual good I--"

"Damn her eventual--"

"I fear 't will come to that."

"Well, well, Patty, perhaps it will," acceded the squire.
"But since 't is settled already by foreordination, let the lass
have a good time before it comes. Wouldst rather marry the
parson than Phil, Janice?"

"I don 't want to marry any one," cried the girl, beginning
to sob.

"A stiff-necked child thou art," said her mother, sternly.
"Dost hear me?"

"Yes, mommy," responded a woful voice.

"And dost intend to be obedient?"

"Yes, mommy," sobbed the girl.

"Then if thee'll not give her to the parson, Lambert, 't is
best that she marry Philemon. She needs a husband to rule
and chasten her."

"Then 't is a bargain, Hennion," said Mr. Meredith, offering
a hand each to father and son.

"Yer see, Phil, it 's ez I told yer," cried the elder.
"Naow hev dun with yer stand-offishness an' buss the gal.
Thet 'ere is the way ter please them."

Philemon faltered, glancing from one to another, for Janice
was bent low over her work and was obviously weeping,--
facts by no means likely to give courage to one who needed
that element as much as did the suitor.

"A noodle!" sniggered Mr. Hennion. "'T ain't ter be
wondered at thet she don't take ter yer. The jades always
snotter first off but they 'd snivel worse if they wuz left
spinsters--eh, squire?"

Thus encouraged, Phil shambled across the room and put
his hand on the shoulder of the girl. At the first touch Janice
gave a cry of desperation, and springing to her feet she fled
toward the hall, her eyes still so full of tears that she did not
see that something more than the door intervened to prevent
her escape. In consequence she came violently in contact with
Charles, and though to all appearance he caught her in his
arms only to save her from falling, Janice, even in her despair,
was conscious that there was more than mere physical support.
To the girl it seemed as if an ally had risen to her need, and
that the moment's tender clasp of his arms was a pledge of
aid to a sore-stricken fugitive.

"How now!" cried the squire. "Hast been listening,
fellow?"

"I did not like to interrupt," said Charles, drily.

"I sent for ye, because I'm told ye've been inciting rebellion
against the king."

The man smiled. "'T is little inciting they need," he
answered.

"Is 't true that ye've been drilling them?" demanded the
squire.

"Ask Phil Hennion," replied the servant.

"What mean ye?"

"If 't is wrong for me to drill, is 't not wrong for him to be
drilled?"

"How?" once more roared the squire. "Dost mean to
say that Phil has been drilling along with the other villains?"

"Naow, naow, Meredith," spoke up the elder Hennion.
"Boys will be boys, yer know, an'--"

"That's enough," cried the father. "I'll have no man at
Greenwood who takes arms against our good king. Is there
no loyalty left in the land?"

"Naow look here, Meredith," Mr. Hennion argued. "Theer
ain't no occasion fer such consarned highty-tighty airs. Yer
can't keep boys from bein' high-sperited. What 's more--"

"High-spirited!" snapped the squire. "Is that the name
ye give rebellion, Justice Hennion?"

"Thet 'ere is jest what I wuz a-comin' ter, Meredith,"
went on his fellow-justice. "Fust off I wuz hot agin his
consarnin' himself, an' tried ter hold him back, but, lordy
me! young blood duz love fightin', an' with all the young
fellows possest, an' all the gals admirin', I might ez well a-tried
ter hold a young steer. So, says I, 't is the hand of Providence,
fer no man kin tell ez what 's ahead of us. There
ain't no good takin' risks, an' so I'll side in with the one side,
an' let Phil side in with t' other, an' then whatsomever comes,
't will make no differ ter us. Naow, ef the gal kin come it
over Phil ter quit trainin', all well an' good, an'--"

"I'll tell ye what I think of ye," cried Mr. Meredith.
"That ye're a precious knave, and Phil 's a precious fool,
and I want no more of either of ye at Greenwood."

"Now, squire," began Phil, "'t ain't--"

"Don't attempt to argue!" roared Mr. Meredith. "I say
the thing is ended. Get out of my house, the pair of ye!"
and with this parting remark, the speaker flung from the
room, and a moment later the door of his office banged with
such force that the whole house shook. Both the elder and
younger Hennion stayed for some time, and each made an
attempt to see the squire, but he refused obstinately to have
aught to do with them, and they were finally forced to ride
away.

Though many men were anxiously watching the gathering
storm, a girl of sixteen laid her head on her pillow that night,
deeply thankful that British regiments were mustering at
Boston, and that America, accepting this as an answer to her
appeal, was quietly making ready to argue the dispute with
something more potent than petitions and associations.


XII
A BABE IN THE WOOD

The following morning the squire went to the stable,
and after soundly rating Charles for his share in
the belligerent preparation of Brunswick, ordered
him, under penalty of a flogging, to cease not only
from exercising the would-be soldiers, but from all absences
from the estate "without my order or permission." The man
took the tirade as usual with an evident contempt more irritating
than less passive action, speaking for the first time when
at the end of the monologue the master demanded:--

"Speak out, fellow, and say if ye intend to do as ye are
ordered, for if not, over ye go with me this morning to the
sitting of the justices."

"I'm not the man to take a whipping, that I warn you,"
was the response.

"Ye dare threaten, do ye?" cried the master. "Saddle
Jumper and Daisy, and have 'em at the door after breakfast.
One rascal shall be quickly taught what rebellion ends in."

Fuming, the squire went to his morning meal, at which he
announced his intention to ride to Brunswick and the purport
of the trip.

"Oh, dadda, he--please don't!" begged Janice.

"And why not, child?" demanded her mother.

"Because he--oh! he is n't like most bondsmen and--"

"What did I tell thee, Lambert?" said Mrs. Meredith.

"Nonsense, Matilda," snorted the squire. "The lass gave
me her word for 't--"

"Word!" ejaculated the wife. "What 's a word or anything
else when--Since thee 's sent Phil off, the quicker thee
comes to my mind, and gives her to the parson, the better."

"What mean ye by objecting to this fellow being flogged,
Jan?" asked the father.

Poor Janice, torn between the two difficulties, subsided, and
meekly responded, "I--Well, I don't like to have things
whipped, dadda. But if Charles deserves it, of course he--
he--'t is right."

"There!" said Mr. Meredith, "ye see the lass has the
sense of it."

The subject was dropped, but after breakfast, as the crunch
of the horse's feet sounded, Janice left the spinet for a
moment to look out of the window, and it was a very doleful
and pitiful face she took back to her task five minutes
later.

When master and man drew rein in front of the Brunswick
Court-house, it was obvious to the least heedful that something
unusual was astir. Although the snow lay deep in front of the
building and a keen nip was in the air, the larger part of the
male population of the village was gathered on the green.
Despite the chill, some sat upon the steps of the building,
others bestowed themselves on the stocks in front of it, and
still more stood about in groups, stamping their feet or swinging
their arms, clearly too chilled to assume more restful
attitudes, yet not willing to desert to the more comfortable
firesides within doors.

Ordering the bond-servant to hitch the two horses in the
meeting-house shed and then to come to the court-room, the
squire made his way between the loafers on the steps, and
attempted to open the door, only to discover that the padlock
was still fast in the staple.

"How now, Mr. Constable?" he exclaimed, turning, and
thus for the first time becoming conscious that every eye was
upon him. "What means this?"

The constable, who was one of those seated on the stocks,
removed a straw from between his lips, spat at the pillory post,
much as if he were shooting at a mark, and remarked, "I
calkerlate yer waan't at the meetin', squire?"

"Not I," averred Mr. Meredith.

"Yer see," explained the constable, "they voted that there
should n't be no more of the king's law till we wuz more
sartin of the king's justice, an' that any feller as opposed that
ere resolution wuz ter be held an enemy ter his country an'
treated as such. That ain't the persition I'm ambeetious ter
hold, an' so I did n't open the court-house."

"What?" gasped Mr. Meredith. "Are ye all crazy?"

"Mebbe we be," spoke up one of the listeners, "but we ain't
so crazy by a long sight as him as issued that." The speaker
pointed at the king's proclamation, and then, either to prove
his contempt for the symbol of monarchy, or else to show the
constable how much better shot he was, he neatly squirted a
mouthful of tobacco juice full upon the royal arms.

"And where are the other justices?" demanded the squire,
looking about as if in search of assistance.

"The old squire an' the paason wuz at the meetin', an' I
guess they knew it 'ud only be wastin' time to attend this
pertiklar sittin' of the court."

"Belza take them!" cried the squire. "They're a pair of
cotswold lions, and I'll tell it them to their faces," he added,
alluding to a humorous expression of the day for a sheep.
"Here I have a rebellious servant, and I'd like to know how
I'm to get warrant to flog him, if there is to be no court.
Dost mean to have no law in the land?"

"I guess," retorted Bagby, "that if the king won't regard the
law, he can't expect the rest of us to, noways. What 's sauce
for the goose is sauce for the gander, and if there ever was a
gander it's him,"--a mot which produced a hearty laugh from
the crowd.

"As justice of the peace I order ye to open this door,
constable," called the squire.

The constable pulled out a bunch of keys and tossed it in
the snow, saying, "'T ain't fer me to say there sha'n't be no
sittin' of the court, an' if yer so set on tryin', why, try."

The squire deliberately went down two steps to get the keys,
but the remaining six he took at one tumble, having received
a push from one of the loafers back of him which sent his
heavy body sprawling in the snow, his whip, hat, and, worst of
all, his wig, flying in different directions. In a moment he
had risen, cleared the snow from his mouth and eyes, and
recovered his scattered articles, but it was not so easy to
recover his dignity, and this was made the more difficult by
the discovery that the bunch of keys had disappeared.

"Who took those keys?" he roared as soon as he could
articulate, but the only reply the question produced was
laughter.

"Don't you wherrit yourself about those keys, squire," advised
Bagby. "They 're safe stowed where they won't cause
no more trouble. And since that is done with, we'd like to
settle another little matter with you that we was going to
come over to Greenwood about to-day, but seeing as you 're
here, I don't see no reason why it should n't be attended to
now."

"What's that?" snapped the squire.

"The meeting kind of thought things looked squawlish
ahead, and that it would be best to be fixed for it, so I offered
a resolution that the town buy twenty half-barrels of grain,
and that--"

"Grain!" exclaimed the squire. "What in the 'nation
can ye want with grain?"

"As we are all friends here, I'll tell you confidential sort,
that we put it thataways, so as the resolutions need n't read
too fiery, when they was published in the 'Gazette.' But the
folks all knew as the grain was to be a black grain, that 's not
very good eating."

"Why, this is treason!" cried Mr. Meredith. "Gunpowder!
That 's--"

"Yes. Gunpowder," continued the spokesman, quite as
much to the now concentrated crowd as to the questioner.
"We reckon the time 's coming when we'll want it swingeing
bad. And the meeting seemed to think the same way, for they
voted that resolution right off, and appointed me and Phil Hennion
and Mr. Wetman a committee to raise a levy to buy it."

"Think ye a town meeting can lay a tax levy?" contemptuously
demanded Mr. Meredith. "None but the--"

"'T is n't to be nothing but a voluntary contribution," interrupted
Bagby, grinning broadly, "and no man 's expected to
give more than his proportion, as settled by his last rates."

"An' no man 's expected ter give less, nuther," said a voice
back in the crowd.

"So if you've nine pounds seven and four with you, squire,"
went on Bagby, "'t will save you a special trip over to pay it."

"I'll see ye all damned first!" retorted the squire, warmly.
"Why don't ye knock me down and take my purse, and have
done with it?"

"'T would be the sensible thing with such a tarnal cross
tyke," shouted some one.

"Everything fair and orderly is the way we work," continued
the committee man. "But we want that nine pounds
odd, and 't will be odd if we don't get it."

"You'll not get it from me," asserted the squire, turning to
walk away.

As he did so, half a dozen hands were laid upon his arms
from behind, and he was held so firmly that he could not
move.

"Shall we give him a black coat, Joe?" asked some one.

"No," negatived Bagby. "Let 's see if being a 'babe in
the wood' won't be enough to bring him to reason.

The slang term for occupants of the stocks was quite suggestive
enough to produce instant result. The squire was
dragged back till his legs were tripped from under him by the
frame, the bunch of keys, which suddenly reappeared, served
to unlock the upper board, and before the victim quite realised
what had transpired he was safely fastened in the ignominious
instrument. Regrettable as it is to record, Mr. Meredith began
to curse in a manner highly creditable to his knowledge
of Anglo-Saxon, but quite the reverse of his moral nature.

So long as the squire continued to express his rage and to
threaten the bystanders with various penalties, the crowd stood
about in obvious enjoyment, but anger that only excites amusement
in others very quickly burns itself out, and in this particular
case the chill of the snow on which the squire was
sitting was an additional cause for a rapid cooling. Within
two minutes his vocabulary had exhausted itself and he relapsed
into silence. The fun being over, the crowd began to
scatter, the older ones betaking themselves indoors while the
youngsters waylaid Charles, as he came from hitching the
horses, and suggested a drill.

The bondsman shook his head and walked to the squire.
"Any orders, Mr. Meredith?" he asked.

"Get an axe and smash this--thing to pieces."

"They would not let me," replied the man, shrugging his
shoulders. "Hadst best do as they want, sir. You can't
fight the whole county."

"I'll never yield," fumed the master.

Charles again shrugged his shoulders, and walking back to
the group, said, "Get your firelocks."

In five minutes forty men were in line on the green, and as
the greatest landholder of the county sat in the stocks, in a
break-neck attitude, with a chill growing in fingers and toes,
he was forced to watch a rude and disorderly attempt at company
drill, superintended by his own servant. It was a clumsy,
wayward mass of men, and frequent revolts from orders occurred,
which called forth sharp words from the drill-master.
These in turn produced retorts or jokes from the ranks that
spoke ill for the discipline, and a foreign officer, taking the
superficial aspect, would have laughed to think that such a
system could make soldiers. Further observation and thought
would have checked his amused contempt, for certain conditions
there were which made these men formidable. Angry
as they became at Fownes, not one left the ranks, though presence
was purely voluntary, and scarce one of them, ill armed
though he might be, but was able to kill a squirrel or quail at
thirty paces.

When the drill had terminated, a result due largely to the
smell of cooking which began to steal from the houses facing
the green, Charles drew Bagby aside, and after a moment's
talk, the two, followed by most of the others, crossed to the
squire.

"Mr. Meredith," said Charles, "I've passed my word to
Bagby that you'll pay your share if he'll but release you, and
that you won't try to prosecute him. Wilt back up my pledge?"

The prisoner, though blue and faint with cold, shook his
head obstinately.

"There! I told you how it would be," sneered Bagby.

"But I tell you he'll be frosted in another hour. 'T will be
nothing short of murder, man."

"Then let him contribute his share," insisted Bagby.

"'T is unfair to force a man on a principle."

"Look here," growled Bagby. "We are getting tired of
your everlasting hectoring and attempting to run everything.
Just because you know something of the manual don't make
you boss of the earth."

The bondsman glanced at the squire, and urged, "Come,
Mr. Meredith, you 'd better do it. Think how anxious Mrs.
Meredith and--will be, aside from you probably taking a
death cold, or losing a hand or foot."

At last the squire nodded his head, and without more ado
Bagby stooped and unlocked the log. Mr. Meredith was so
cramped that Charles had to almost lift him to his feet, and
then give him a shoulder into the public room of the tavern,
where he helped him into a chair before the fire. Then the
servant called to the publican:--

"A jorum of sling for Mr. Meredith, and put an extra pepper
in it."

"That sounds pretty good," said Bagby. "Just make that
order for the crowd, and the squire'll pay for it."

While the favourite drink of the period was sizzling in the
fire, Mr. Meredith recovered enough to pull out his purse and
pay up the debatable levy. A moment later the steaming
drink was poured into glasses, and Bagby said:--

"Now, squire, do the thing up handsome by drinking to the
toast of liberty."

"I'll set you a better toast than that," offered the bondsman.

"'T ain't possible," cried one of the crowd.

The servant raised his glass and with an ironical smile
said:--

"Here 's to liberty and fair play, gentlemen."

"That 's a toast we can all drink," responded Bagby, "just
as often as some one'll pay for the liquor."


XIII
THE WORLD IN MINIATURE

The exposure of the squire brought on a sharp attack
of the gout which confined him to the house for
nigh a month. Incidentally it is to be noted that
his temper during this period was not confined,
and when Philemon appeared one morning he was met with a
reception that drove him away without a chance to plead his
cause. Mrs. Meredith and Janice were compelled to listen to
many descriptions as to what punitive measures their particular
lord of creation intended to set in motion against the villagers
when he should attend the Assembly, or when King George
had reduced the land to its old-time order.

One piece of good fortune the attack brought its victim was
its putting him in bed on the particular day selected for the
committee of the town meeting to inform the squire as to the
instruction voted by that gathering for his conduct in the
Assembly. In default of an interview, they merely left an
attested copy of the resolution, and had to rest satisfied, without
knowing in what way their representative received it. Mrs.
Meredith, Janice, and Peg did not remain in any such doubt.

Another unfortunate upon whom the vials of his wrath were
poured out was the parson, who came a-calling one afternoon.
News that he was in the parlour was sufficient to bring Mr.
Meredith downstairs prematurely, where he enacted a high scene,
berating the caller, and finally ordering him from the house.

A relapse followed upon the exertion and outburst, but even
gout had its limitations, and finally the patient was sufficiently
convalescent for preparations to begin for the journey to
Trenton and Burlington.

It did not take Janice long one morning to pack her little
leather-covered and brass-nail studded trunk, and, this done,
her conduct became not a little peculiar. After dinner she spent
some time in spinet practice, and then rising announced to the
elders that she must pack for the morrow's journey. Her
absence thus explained, she left the room, only to steal through
the kitchen, and catch Sukey's shawl from its hook in the passage
to the wood-shed. Regardless of slippers and snow, she
then sped toward the concealing hedge, and behind its friendly
protection walked quickly to the stable. The door was rolled
back enough to let the girl pass in quietly, and when she had
done so, she glanced about in search of something. For an
instant a look of disappointment appeared on her face, but the
next moment, as a faint sound of scratching broke upon her ear,
she stole softly to the feed and harness room, and peeked in.

The groom was sitting on a nail barrel, in front of the meal-bin,
the cover of which was closed and was thus made to
serve for a desk. On this were several sheets of what was
then called pro patria paper, or foolscap, and most of these
were very much bescribbled. An ink-horn and a sand-box
completed the outfit, except for a quill in the hands of the bond-servant,
which had given rise to the sound the girl had heard.
Now, however, it was not writing, for the man was chewing
the feather end with a look of deep thought on his face.

"O Clarion," he sighed, as the girl's glance was momentarily
occupied with the taking in of these details, "why canst
thou not give me a word to rhyme with morn? 'T will not
come, and here 't is the thirteenth."

A low growl from Clarion, sounding like anything more
than the desired rhyme, made the servant glance up, and the
moment he saw the figure of some one, he rose, hastily bunched
together the sheets of paper, and holding them in his hand
cried, "Who 's that?" in a voice expressing both embarrassment
and anger. Then as his eyes dwelt on the intruder, he
continued in an altered tone, "I ask your pardon, Miss Janice;
I thought 't was one of the servants. They are everlastingly
spying on me. Can I serve you?" he added, rolling the
papers up and stuffing them into his belt.

Janice's eyes sought the floor, as she hesitatingly said, "I
--I came to--to ask a favour of you."

"'T is but for you to name," replied the man, eagerly.

"Will you let me--I want--I should like Tibbie to see
the--the picture of me, and I wondered if--if you would
let me take it to Trenton--I'll bring it back, you know,
and--"

"Ah, Miss Janice," exclaimed the servant, as the girl halted,
"if you 'd but take it as a gift, 't would pleasure me so!"
While he spoke, without pretence of concealment he unbuttoned
the top button of his shirt and taking hold of a string
about his neck pulled forth a small wooden case, obviously
of pocket-knife manufacture. Snapping the cord, he offered
its pendant to Janice.

"I--I would keep it, Charles," replied Janice, "but you
know mommy told me--"

"And what right has she to prevent you?" broke in Charles,
warmly. "It does her no wrong, nor can it harm you to keep
it. What right have they to tyrannise over you? 'T is all
of a piece with their forcing you to marry that awkward, ignorant
put. Here, take it." The groom seized her hand, put
the case in her palm, closed her fingers over, and held them
thus, as if striving to make her accept the gift.

"Oh, Charles," cried the girl, very much flustered, "you
should n't ask--"

"Ah, Miss Janice," he begged, "won't you keep it?
They need never know."

"But I only wanted to show it to Tibbie," explained the
girl, "to ask her if mommy was right when she said 't was
monstrous flattered."

"'T is an impossibility," responded the man, earnestly,
though he was unable to keep from slightly smiling at the
unconscious naivete of the question. "I would she could see
it in a more befitting frame, to set it off. If thou 't but let me,
I'd put it in the other setting. Then 't would show to proper
advantage."

"Would it take long?"

"A five minutes only."

The girl threw open the shawl, and thrusting her hand
under her neckerchief into the V-cut of her bodice, produced
the miniature.

The servant recoiled a step as she held it out to him.
Then snatching rather than taking the trinket from her hand,
he said, "That is no place for this."

"Why not?" asked Janice.

"Because she is unfit to rest there," cried the man. He
pulled out a knife, and with the blade pried up the rim, and
shook free the protective glass and slip of ivory. "Now
't is purged of all wrong," he said, touching the setting to his
lips. "I would it were for me to keep, for 't has lain near
your heart, and 't is still warm with happiness."

The speech and act so embarrassed Janice that she hurriedly
said, "I really must n't stay. I've been too long as 't is,
and--"

"'T will take but a moment," the servant assured her
hastily. "Wilt please give me t' other one?" Throwing the
miniature he had taken from the frame on the floor, he set
about removing that of Janice from its wooden casing and
fitting it to its new setting.

"Don't," cried Janice, in alarm, stooping to pick up the slip
of ivory. "'T is not owing to you that 't was n't spoiled," she
added indignantly, after a glance at it.

"Small loss if 't were!" responded the man, bitterly.
"Promise me, Miss Janice, that you'll not henceforth carry
it in your bosom?"

"'T is a monstrous strange thing to ask."

"I tell thee she's not fit to rest near a pure heart."

"How know you that?"

"How know I?" cried the man, in amazement. "Why--"
There he stopped and knit his brows.

"I knew thou wert deceiving us when thee said 't was not
thine," charged the girl.

"Nay, Miss Janice, 't was the truth I told you, though
a quibble, I own. The miniature never was mine, tho' 't was
once in my possession."

"Then how came you by it?"

"I took it by force from--never mind whom." The old bitter
look was on the man's face, and anger burned in his eyes.

"You stole it!" cried the girl, drawing away from him.

"Not I," denied the man. "'T was taken from one who
had less right to 't than I."

"You knew her?" questioned the girl.

"Ay," cried the man, with a kind of desperation. "I
should think I did!"

"And--and you--you loved her?" she asked with a
hesitancy which might mean that she was in doubt whether
to ask the question, or perhaps that she rather hoped her
surmise would prove wrong.

The young fellow halted in his work of trimming the ivory
to fit the frame, and for a moment he stood, apparently looking
down at his half-completed job, as it lay on the top of
the meal-box. Then suddenly he put his hand to his throat
as if he were choking, and the next instant he leaned forward,
and, burying his face in his arms, as they rested on the
whilom desk, he struggled to stifle the sobs that shook his
frame.

"Oh, I did n't mean to pain you!" she cried in an agony
of guilt and alarm.

Charles rose upright, and dashing his shirt sleeve across his
eyes, he turned to the girl. "'T is over, Miss Janice," he
asserted, "and a great baby I was to give way to 't."

"I can understand, and I don't think 't was babyish," said
Janice, her heart wrung with sympathy for him. "She is so
lovely!"

The man's lips quivered again, despite of his struggle to
control himself. "That she is," he groaned. "And I--I
loved her--My God! how I loved her! I thought her an
angel from heaven; she was everything in life to me. When
I fled from London, it seemed as if my heart was--was dead
for ever."

"She was untrue?" asked Janice, with a deep sigh.

The servant's face darkened. "So untrue--Ah! 'T is
not to be spoken. The two of them!"

"You challenged and killed him!" surmised Janice, excitedly.
"And that's why you came to America."

The groom shook his head sadly. "Not that, Miss Janice.
They robbed me of both honour and revenge. I was powerless
to punish either--except by--Bah! I've done with them
for ever."

"Foh mussy's sakes, chile," came Sukey's voice, "what
youse dam' hyar? Run quick, honey, foh your mah is 'quirin'
foh youse."

"Oh, Luddy!" cried the girl, reaching out for the miniature.

"'T is not done, but I'll see to 't that you get it this evening,"
exclaimed Charles.

The girl turned and fled toward the house, closely followed
by Sukey.

"Peg she come to de kitchen foh youse," the cook explained;
"an' 'cause I dun see youse go out de back do', I
specks whar youse gwine, an' I sens her back to say dat young
missus helpin' ole Sukey, an' be in pretty quick, an' so dey
never know."

"Oh, Sukey, you're a dear!"

"But, missy dear, doan youse do nuthin' foolish 'bout dat
fellah, 'cause I 'se helped youse. Doan youse--"

"Of course I won't," asserted the girl. "I could n't,
Sukey. You know I couldn't."

"Dat 's right, honey. Ole Sukey knows she can trust
youse. Now run right along, chile."

"What have you been doing, Janice?" asked her mother, as
the girl entered the parlour.

"I've been in the kitchen with Sukey, mommy," replied
Janice. And if there was wrong in the quibble, both father
and mother were equally to blame with the girl, for "Ole
Sukey" was actually better able to enter into her feelings and
thoughts than either of them; and where obedience is enforced
from authority and not from sympathy and confidence,
there will be secret deceit, if not open revolt.

Left to himself, the bondsman finished trimming the ivory
to a proper size, and neatly fitted it into the frame. Then he
spread the papers out, and in some haste, for the winter's day
was fast waning, he resumed his scribbling, varied by intervals
of pen-chewing and knitting of brows. Finally he gave a sigh
of relief, and taking a blank sheet he copied in a bold hand-writing
what was written on the paper he had last toiled over.
Then picking up the miniature, he touched it to his lips.
"She was sent to give me faith again in women," he said, as
he folded the miniature into the paper.

"Well, old man," he remarked, as he passed from the stable,
to the dog, who had followed in his footsteps, and sought to
attract his attention by fawning upon him, "has blindman's
holiday come at last? Wait till I bestow this, and get a bite
from Sukey to put in my pocket, and we'll be off for a look at
the rabbits. 'T is a poor sport, but 't will do till something
better comes. Oh for a war!"

The bondsman passed into the kitchen, and made his plea
to Sukey for a supper he could take away with him. The
request was granted, and while the cook went to the larder to
get him something, Charles stepped into the hall and listening
intently he stole upstairs and tapped gently on a door. Getting
no reply, he opened it, and tiptoeing hastily to the dressing-stand,
he tucked the packet under the powder-box. A
minute later he was back in the kitchen, and erelong was
stamping through the snow, whistling cheerfully, which the
hound echoed by yelps of excited delight.

Janice was unusually thoughtful all through supper, and
little less so afterwards. She was sent to her room earlier than
usual, that she might make up in advance for the early start
of the journey, and she did not dally with her disrobing, the
room being almost arctic in its coldness. But after she had
put on the short night-rail that was the bed-gown of the period,
the girl paused for a moment in front of her mirror, even
though she shivered as she did so.

"I really thought 't was for me he cared," she said. "But
she is so much more beautiful that--" Janice tucked the flyaway
locks into the snug-fitting nightcap, which together with
the bed-curtains formed the protections from the drafts inevitable
to leaky windows and big chimneys, and having thus
done her best to make herself ugly, she blew out her candle,
and as she crept into bed, she remarked, "'T was very foolish
of me."


XIV
A QUESTION CONCERNING THALIA

All was animation at Greenwood the next morning,
while yet it was dark, and as Janice dressed by
candle-light, she trembled from something more
than the icy chill of the room. The girl had been
twice in her life to New York, once each to Newark and to
Burlington, and though her visits to Trenton were of greater
number, the event was none the less too rare an occurrence
not to excite her. Her mother had to order her sharply to
finish what was on her plate at breakfast, or she would scarce
have eaten.

"If thou dost not want to be frozen, lass, before we get to
Trenton," warned the squire, "do as thy mother says. Stuff
cold out of the stomach, or 't is impossible to keep the scamp
out of the blood."

"Yes, dadda," said the girl, obediently falling to once more.
After a few mouthfuls she asked, "Dadda, who was Thalia?"

"'T was a filly who won the two-year purse at the Philadelphia
races in sixty-eight," the squire informed her, between
gulps of sausage and buckwheat cakes.

"Was she very lovely?" asked Janice, in a voice of surprise.

"No. An ill-shaped mare, but with a great pace."

The girl looked thoughtful for a moment and then asked,
"Is that the only one there is?"

"Only what?" demanded her mother.

"The only Thalia?"

"'T is the only one I've heard of," said the squire.

"Thou 'rt wrong, Lambert," corrected his spouse, in wifely
fashion. "'T was one of those old heathens with horns, or
tail, or something, I forget exactly. What set thy mind on
that, child? Hast been reading some romance on the sly?"

"No, mommy," denied the girl.

"Put thy thoughts to better uses, then," ordered the mother.
"Think more of thy own sin and corruption and less of what
is light and vain."

It had been arranged that Thomas was to drive the sleigh,
the squire preferring to leave Fownes in care of the remaining
horses. It was Charles, however, who brought down the two
trunks, and after he had put them in place he suggested, "If
you'll take seat, Miss Janice, I'll tuck you well in." Spreading
a large bearskin on the seat and bottom of the sleigh, he put in
a hot soapstone, and very unnecessarily took hold of the little
slippered feet, and set them squarely upon it, as if their owner
were quite unequal to the effort. Then he folded the robe
carefully about her, and drew the second over that, allowing the
squire, it must be confessed, but a scant portion for his share.

"Thank you, Charles," murmured the girl, gratefully. "Of
course he's a bond-servant and he has a horrid beard," she
thought, "but it is nice to have some one to--to think of your
comfort. If he were only Philemon!"

The bondsman climbed into the rear of the sleigh, that he
might fold the back part of the skin over her shoulders. The
act brought his face close to the inquirer, and she turned her
head and whispered, "Who was Thalia?"

"'T was one of--"

"Charles, get out of that sleigh," ordered Mrs. Meredith,
sharply. "Learn thy place, sir. Janice, thou 'rt quite old
enough to take care of thyself. We'll have no whispering or
coddling, understand."

The bondsman sullenly obeyed, and a moment later the
sleigh started. The servant looked wistfully after it until the
sound of the bells was lost, and then, with a sigh, he went to
his work.

With all the vantage of the daylight start, it took good driving
among the drifts to get over the twenty-eight miles that lay
between Greenwood and Trenton before the universal noon
dinner, and as the sleigh drew up at the Drinkers' home on
the main street of the village, the meal was in the air if not on
the table.

[Illustration: "You set me free."]

For this reason the two girls had not a chance for a moment's
confidence before dinner; and though Janice was fairly
bursting with all that had happened since Tibbie's visit, the
departure of the squire for Burlington immediately the meal
was ended, and the desire of Tabitha's father and aunt to have
news of Mrs. Meredith and of the doings "up Brunswick way,"
filled in the whole afternoon till tea time--if the misnomer
can be used, for, unlike the table at Greenwood, tea was a
tabooed article in the Drinker home. One fact worth noting
about the meal was that Janice asked if any of them knew
who Thalia was.

"Ay," said Mr. Drinker, "and the less said of her the
better. She was a lewd creature that--"

"Mr. Drinker!" cried Tabitha's aunt. "Thee forgets there
are gentlewomen present. Wilt have some preserve, Janice?"

"No, I thank you," said the girl. "I'm not hungry." And
she proved it by playing with what was on her plate for the rest
of the meal.

Not till the two girls retired did they have an opportunity to
exchange confidences. The moment they were by themselves,
Tabitha demanded, "What made thee so serious to-night?"

"Oh, Tibbie," sighed Janice, dolefully," I'm very unhappy!"

"What over?"

"I--he--Charles--I'm afraid he--and yet--'T is
something he wrote, but whether in joke or--Mr. Evatt said
he insulted me at the tavern--Yet 't is so pretty that--and
mommy interrupted just--"

"What art thou talking about, Jan?" exclaimed Tibbie.

Janice even in her disjointed sentences had begun to unlace
her travelling bodice,--for with a prudence almost abnormal
this one frock was not cut low,--and she now produced from
her bosom a paper which she unfolded, and then offered to
Tibbie with a suggestion of hesitation, asking "Dost think he
meant to insult me?"

Tabitha eagerly took the sheet, and read--

                      TO THALIA
           These lines to her my passion tell,
           Describe the empire of her spell;
           A love which naught will e'er dispel,
                That flames for sweetest Thalia.

             The sun that brights the fairest morn,
             The stars that gleam in Capricorn,
             Do not so much the skies adorn
                   As does my lovely Thalia.

             The tints with which the rose enchants,
             The fragrance which the violet grants;
             Each doth suggest, but ne'er supplants,
                   The charms of dainty Thalia.

             To gaze on her is sweet delight:
             'T is heaven whene'er she 's in my sight,
             But when she's gone, 't is endless night--
                   All 's dark without my Thalia.

             I vow to her, by God above,
             By hope of life, by depth of love,
             That from her side I ne'er will rove,
                   So much love I my Thalia.

"How monstrous pretty!" cried Tabitha. "I'm sure he
meant it rightly."

"I thought 't was a beautiful valentine," sighed Janice,--
"and 't was the first I ever had--but dadda says she was an
ill-shaped mare--and mommy says 't was something with a
tail--and 't is almost as bad to have her a wicked woman--
so I'm feared he meant it in joke--or worse--"

"I don't believe it," comforted Tibbie. "He may have
made a mistake in the name, but I'm sure he meant it; that
he--well--thee knows. And if thee copies it fair, and puts
in 'Delia,' or 'Celia,' 't will do to show to the girls. I wish
some one would send me such a valentine."

Made cheerful by her friend's point of view, Janice went
on with more spirit,--

"Nor is that the end." She took from her trunk a handkerchief
and unwrapping it, produced the unset miniature.
"He let me keep it," she said.

"How mighty wonderful!" again exclaimed Tibbie, growing
big-eyed. "Who--"

"Furthermore, and in continuation, as Mr. McClave always
says after his ninthly," airily interrupted Janice, drawing from
her bosom the portrait of herself. "Who 's that, Tibbie
Drinker?"

"Janice!" cried the person so challenged. "How lovely!
Who--Did Mr. Peale come to Greenwood?"

"Not he. Who, think you, did it?"

"I vow if I can guess."

"Charles!

"No!" gasped Tibbie, properly electrified. "Thee is
cozening me."

"Not for a moment," cried Janice, delightedly.

"Tell me everything about all" was Tabitha's rapturous
demand.

It took Janice many minutes, and Tibbie was called upon
to use many exclamation and question marks, ere the tale of
all these surprises was completed. Long before it had come
to a finish, the two girls were snuggled together in bed, half
in real love, as well as for the mutual animal heat, and half
that they might whisper the lower. The facts, after many
interruptions and digressions, having been narrated, Janice
asked,--

"Whom, think you, Charles loves, Tibbie?"

"'T is very strange! From his valentine and miniature I
should think 't was thee. But from what he told thee--"

"'T is exactly that which puzzles me."

"Oh, Janice! He--Perhaps thee was right. He may
be a villain who is trying to beguile thee."

"For what could--Then why should he tell me about
her?"

"That--well--'t is beyond me."

"If't had not been for coming away, I--that is--" The
girl hesitated and then said, "Tibbie?"

"What?"

"Dost think--I mean--" The girl drew her bedfellow
closer, and in an almost inaudible voice asked, "Would it
be right, think you--when I go back, you know--to--to
encourage him--that is, to give him a chance to tell me--so
as to find out?"

The referee of this important question was silent for long
enough to give a quality of consideration to her opinion, and
then decided, "I think thee shouldst. 'T is a question that
thou hast a right to know about." Having given the ruling,
this most upright judge changed her manner from one conveying
thought to one suggesting eagerness, and asked, "Oh,
Janice, if he does--if thee finds out anything, wilt thee tell
it me?"

"Ought I?" asked Janice, divided between the pleasure of
monopolising a secret and the enjoyment of sharing it.

"Surely thee ought," cried Tabitha. "After telling me so
much, thou shouldst--for Charles' sake. Otherwise I might
misjudge him."

"Then I'll tell you everything," cried Janice, clearly happy
in the decision.

"And if he does love you, Jan?" suggestively remarked
Tibbie.

"'T will be vastly exciting," said Janice. "You know,
Tibbie, it frightens me a little, for he's just the kind of man to
do something desperate."

"And--and you would n't--"

"Tibbie Drinker! A redemptioner!"

"But Janice, he must have been a gentle--"

"What he was, little matters," interrupted the girl. "He's
a bond-servant now, and even if he were n't, he'd have a
bristly beard--Ugh!"

"Poor fellow," sighed Tabitha. "'T is not his fault!"

"Nor is 't mine," retorted Janice.

A pause of some moments followed and then Janice asked:
"Dost think I am promised to Mr. Evatt, Tibbie?"--for
let it be confessed that every incident of what she had pledged
herself not to tell had been poured out to her confidant.

"I think so," whispered the girl, "and he being used to
court ways would surely know."

"He 's--well, he's a fine figure of a man," owned Janice.
"And tho' I ne'er intended it, I'd rather 't would be he than
Philemon Hennion or the parson."

"What if thy father and mother should not consent?" said
Tabitha.

"'T would be lovely!" cried Janice, ecstatically. "Just
like a romance, you know. And being court-bred, he'd know
how to--well--how to give it eclat. Oh, Tibbie, think of
making a runaway match and of going to court!"

Much as Tabitha loved her friend, the little green-eyed
monster gained possession of her momentarily. "He may
be deceiving thee," she suggested. "Perhaps he never was
there."

"Nay. He knows all the titled people. He was at one
of Lady Grafton's routs, Tibbie, and was spoke to by the
Duke of Cumberland!"

For a man falsely to assert acquaintance with a royal duke
seemed so impossible to the girl that this was accepted as
indisputable proof; driven from her first position, Tibbie remarked,
"Perhaps he won't return. Many 's the maid been
cozened and deserted by the men."

For a moment, either because this idea did not please
Janice or because she needed time to digest it, there was
silence.

"Oh, Janice," sighed Tibbie, presently, "'t is almost past
belief that thee has had so much happen to thee."

But a few weeks before the girl thought the chief part of
her experiences the most cruel luck that had ever befallen
maiden. Yet so quickly does youth put trouble in the past,
and so respondent is it to the romantic view of things, that
she now promptly answered,--

"Is 't not, Tibbie! Am I not a lucky girl? If I only
was certain about Thalia, I should be so happy."


XV
QUESTIONS OF DELICACY

Of the time Janice spent at Trenton little need be
said. Compared with Greenwood, the town was
truly almost riotous. Neither Presbyterian nor
Quaker approved of dancing, and so the regular
weekly assemblies were forbidden fruit to the girls, and Janice
and Tibbie were too well born to be indelicately of the throng
who skated long hours on Assanpink Creek, or to take part in
the frequent coasting-parties. But of other amusements they
had, in the expression of the day, "a great plenty." Four
teas,--but without that particular beverage,--two quilting-bees,
one candy-pulling and one corn-popping, three evenings
at singing-school, and a syllabub party supplied such ample
social dissipation to Janice that life seemed for the time fairly
to whirl.

Not the least of the excitement, it must be confessed, was
the conquest by Janice of a young Quaker cousin of Tabitha's
named Penrhyn Morris. Two other of the Trenton lads, too,
began to behave in a manner so suspicious to the girls as to
call for much discussion. Tibbie as well had several swains,
who furnished still further subjects of conversation after sleeping
hours had come. Several times sharp reproofs were
shouted through the partition from Miss Drinker's room, but
the whispering only sank in tone and not in volume.

One incident not to be omitted was the appearance of
Philemon, nominally on business, in Trenton; but he called
upon the Drinkers, and remained to dinner when asked. He
stayed on and on after that meal, wearying the two girls beyond
measure by the necessity of maintaining a conversation,
until, just as the desperation point was reached, Tibbie introduced
a topic which had an element of promise in it.

"Hast thou seen Charles Fownes of late?" she asked of
the mute awkward figure; and though Janice did not look
up, there was a moment's flicker of her eyelashes.

"All I wants ter," said Phil, sulkily. "An' I guess that
ere's the feelin' pretty generally."

"Why?" demanded Tabitha, after a glance at Janice.

"'Cause of the airs he takes. He called me a put because
I was a bit slow--ter his mind--in learnin' the manual, an'
he's got a tongue an' a temper like a hedgehog. But the
fellers paid him off come Saturday week."

"How?" asked Janice, dropping her pose of indifference.

"He 's been expectin' ter be appointed captain of the
Brunswick Invincibles, when they was trained, but he put on
such airs, an' was so sharp an' bitin' with his tongue, that
when they voted for officers last week I'll be dinged if they
did n't drop him altogether. He did n't get a vote for so
much as a corporal's rank. He was in a stew, I tells you."

"What did he do?" questioned Tabitha.

"He was so took aback," snickered Philemon, "that he
up and says 't was the last he'd have ter do with 'em, an'
that they was a lot of clouts an' clodpates, an' they 'd got a
captain ter match."

"Was that you?" cruelly asked Janice.

"No. 'T was Joe Bagby," replied Phil, not so much as
seeing the point.

"The village loafer and ne'er-do-weel," exclaimed Janice,
reflecting her father's view.

"He ain't idlin' much these-a-days," asserted Philemon,
"and the boys all like him for his jokes an' good-nature. I
tell you 't was great sport ter see him an' your redemptioner
give it ter each other. Fownes, he said that if 't were n't
better sport ter catch rabbits, he'd mightily enjoy chasm' the
whole company of Invincibles with five grenadiers of the
guard, an' Bagby he sassed back by sayin' that Charles need n't
be so darned cocky, for he'd run from the regulars hisself, an'
then your man tells Joe ter give his red rag a holiday by
talkin' about what he know'd of, for then he'd have ter be
silent, an' then the captain says he was a liar, and Charles
knocks him down, an' stood over him and made him take it
back. An' Bagby he takes it back, sayin' as how his own
words was very good eatin' anyways. I tell you, the whole
town enjoyed that 'ere afternoon."

"I suppose they made you an officer?" said Miss Meredith,
with unconcealed contempt.

"No, Miss Janice," Philemon eagerly denied, "an' that 's
what I come over to tell you. Seem' that you an' the squire
did n't like my drillin', I've left the company, an I won't go
back, I pass you my word."

"'T is nothing to me what you do," responded Janice,
crushingly.

"Don't say that, Miss Janice," entreated Phil.

"Is thee not ashamed," exclaimed Tabitha, "to seek to
marry a girl against her wishes? If I were Janice, I'd never
so much as look at thee."

"She never said as how she--" stammered Hennion.

"That was nothing," continued Tibbie. "Thee shouldst
have known it. The idea of asking the father first!"

"But that 's the regular way," ejaculated Phil, in evident
bewilderment.

"To marry a girl when she does n't choose to!" snapped
Tibbie. "A man of any decency would find out--on the
sly--if she wanted him."

"She never would--"

"As if the fact that she would n't was n't enough!" continued
Tibbie, with anything but Quaker meekness. "Dost
think, if she wanted thee, she'd have been so offish?"

Phil, with a sadly puzzled look on his face, said, "I know
I ain't much of a sharp at courtin', Miss Janice, an' like as
not I done it wrong, but I loves you, that 's certain, an' I
would n't do anything ter displeasure you, if I only know'd
what you wanted. Dad he says that I was n't rampageous
enough ter suit a girl of spirit, an' that if I'd squoze you now
an' again, 'stead of--"

"That 's enough," said Janice. "Mr. Hennion, there is
the door."

"Thou art a horrid creature!" added Tibbie.

"I ain't goin' till I've had it all out with you," asserted
Phil, with a dogged determination.

"Then you force us to leave you," said Janice, rising.

Just as she spoke, the door was thrown open, and Mr.
Meredith entered. His eye happened to fall first on Philemon,
and without so much as a word of greeting to the girls, he demanded
angrily, "Ho! what the devil are ye doing here?
'T is all of a piece that a traitor to his king should work by
stealth."

Even the worm turns, and Philemon, already hectored to
desperation by the girls, gave a loose to his sense of the wrong
and injustice that it seemed to him every one conspired to
heap upon him. "I've done no hugger-muggery," he roared,
shaking his fist in the squire's face, "an' the man 's a tarnal
liar who says I have."

"Don't try to threaten me, sir!" roared back the squire,
but none the less retiring two steps. "Your father's son can't
bully Lambert Meredith. But for his cowardice, and others
like him, but for the men of all sides and no side, we'd have
prevented the Assembly's approving the damned resolves of
the Congress. Marry a daughter of mine! I'll see ye and
your precious begetter in hell first. Don't let me find ye
snooking about my girl henceforth, or 't will fare ill with ye
that I warn ye."

"If 't war n't that you are her father an' an old man, I'd
teach you a lesson," growled Phil, as he went to the door;
"as 't is, look out for yourself. You has enemies enough
without makin' any more."

"There's a good riddance to him," chuckled the squire.
"Well, hast a kiss for thy dad, Jan?"

"A dozen," responded the girl. "But what brought you
back? Surely the Assembly has not adjourned?"

"'T is worse than that," asserted the squire. "For a week
we held the rascals at bay, but yesterday news came from
England that the ministry had determined not to yield, and
in a frenzy the Assembly indorsed the Congress's doings on
the spot. As a consequence this morning the king's governor
dissolved us, and the writs will shortly be out for a new election.
So back I must get me to Brunswick to attend to my
poll. I bespoke a message to Charles by Squire Perkins, who
rid on to Morristown, telling him to be here with the sleigh
to-morrow as early as he could; and meanwhile must trust to
some Trenton friend or to the tavern for a bed, if thy father,
Tabitha, can't put me up."

Charles reported to the squire at an hour the following
morning which indicated either a desire for once to please his
master, or some other motive, for an obedience so prompt
must have necessitated a moonlight start from Greenwood in
order to reach Trenton so early. He was told to bait his
horses at the tavern, and the time this took was spent by the
girls in repeating farewells.

"'T is a pity thee hast to go before Friend Penrhyn hath
spoken," said Tibbie, regretfully.

"Isn't it?" sighed Janice. "I did so want to see how
he'd say it."

"You may--perhaps Charles--" brokenly but suggestively
remarked Tibbie.

"Perhaps," responded Janice, "but 't will be very different.
I know he'll--well, he'll be abrupt and--and excited,
and will--his sentences will not be well thought out before-hand.
Now Penrhyn would have spoken at length and feelingly.
'T would have been monstrously enjoyable."

"At least thee'll find out who Thalia is."

"Oh, Tibbie, I fear me I sha'n't dare. I tried to ask Mr.
Taggart, who, being college-bred, ought to know, but I was so
afraid she was a wicked woman, that I began to blush before
I'd so much as got out the first word. I wish I was pale
and delicate like Prissy Glover. 'T is mortifying to be so
healthy."

"Thy waist is at least two inches smaller than hers, when
't is properly laced."

"But I have red cheeks," moaned Janice," and, oh, Tibbie,
at times I have such an appetite!"

"Oh, Jan! so have I," confided Miss Drinker in the lowest
of whispers, as if fearing even the walls. "Sometimes when
the men are round, I'd eat twice as much but for the fear
they 'd think me coarse and--"

"Gemini, yes!" assented Janice, when the speaker paused.
"Many and many 's the time I've wanted more. But 't is all
right as long as the men don't know that we do."

"Here 's the sleigh," interrupted Tabitha, going to the door.
"Come out quickly, while thy father is having the stirrup cup,
and I'll ask him about Thalia."

"Oh, will you?" joyfully cried Janice. "Tibbie, you're a--"

Miss Meredith's speech was stopped by the two coming
within hearing of the redemptioner, who promptly removed
his cap. "'T will be good to have you back at Greenwood,
Miss Janice," he said with a bow.

"How gracefully he does it!" whispered Tabitha, as they
approached the sleigh. Then aloud she asked, "Charles,
wilt tell me who--who--who was chosen captain of the 'Invincibles'?"

The question brought a scowl to the man's face, and both
girls held their breath, expecting an outbreak of temper, while
Tabitha to herself bemoaned that so unfortunate a subject
sprang first into her thoughts to replace the question she
dared not put. But before the groom replied, the scowl
changed suddenly into a look of amusement, and when he
spoke, it was to say,--

"'T is past belief, Miss Tabitha, except they want to save
their skins by never fighting. 'T was Joe Bagby the bumpkins
chose--a fellow I've knocked down without his resenting
it. A cotswold lion, who works his way by jokes and by
hand-shakes. He 's the best friend of every one who ever
lived, and I make no doubt, if a British regiment appears,
he'll say he loves the lobsters too much to lead the 'Invincibles'
against them."

"No doubt," agreed Tibbie. "Canst tell me also who--
who--how Clarion is?"

But this question was never answered, for the squire appeared
at this point, and the sleigh was quickly speeding
towards Greenwood. It was after dark when it drew up at
its destination, for the spring thaw was beginning, and the
roads soft and deep. Janice was so stiff with the long sitting
and the cold that she needed help both in alighting and in
climbing the porch steps. This the groom gave her, and
when she was safely in front of the parlor fire, he assisted in
the removing of her wraps, while Mrs. Meredith performed a
like service for the squire in the hallway.

"Dost remember your question, Miss Janice," asked
Charles, "just as you drove away from Greenwood?"

"Yes."

"She was one of the three graces."

"Was she very beautiful?"

"The ancients so held her, but they had never seen you,
Miss Janice."

The girl had turned away as she nonchalantly asked the last
question, and so Charles could not see the charmingly demure
smile that her face assumed, nor the curve of the lips, and
perhaps it was fortunate for him that he did not. Yet all
Miss Meredith said was,--

"Not that I cared to know, but I knew Tibbie would be
curious."


XVI
A VARIETY OF CONTRACTS

The spring thaw set in in earnest the day after the
squire's return to Greenwood, and housed the
family for several days. No sooner, however, did
the roads become something better than troughs of
mud than the would-be Assemblyman set actively to work for
his canvass of the county, daily riding forth to make personal
calls on the free and enlightened electors, in accordance with
the still universal British custom of personal solicitation. What
he saw and heard did not tend to improve his temper, for
the news that the Parliament was about to vote an extension
to the whole country of the punitive measures hitherto directed
against Massachusetts had lighted a flame from one end of
the land to the other. The last election had been with difficulty
carried by the squire, and now the prospect was far
more gloomy.

When a realising sense of the conditions had duly dawned
on the not over-quick mind of the master of Greenwood, he
put pride in his pocket and himself astride of Joggles, and
rode of an afternoon to Boxley, as the Hennions' place was
named. Without allusion to their last interview, he announced
to the senior of the house that he wished to talk over the
election.

"He, he, he!" snickered Hennion. "Kinder gettin' anxious,
heigh? I calkerlated yer 'd find things sorter pukish."

"Tush!" retorted Meredith, making a good pretence of
confidence. "'T is mostly wind one hears, and 't will be another
matter at the poll. I rid over to say that tho' we
may not agree in private matters, 't is the business of the
gentry to make head together against this madness."

"I see," snarled Hennion. "My boy ain't good enuf fer
yer gal, but my votes is a different story, heigh?"

"Votes for votes is my rule," rejoined the squire. "The
old arrangement, say I. My tenants vote for ye, and yours
for me."

"Waal, this year theer 's ter be a differ," chuckled Hennion.
"I've agreed ter give my doubles ter Joe, an' he's ter give
hisn ter me."

"Joe! What Joe?"

"Joe Bagby."

"What!" roared the squire. "Art mad, man? That
good-for-nothing scamp run for Assembly?"

"Joe ain't no fool," asserted Hennion. "An' tho' his
edication and grammer ain't up ter yers an' mine, squire, he
thinks so like the way folks ere jest naow a-thinkin' thet it
looks ter me as if he wud be put in."

"The country is going to the devil!" groaned Mr. Meredith.
"And ye'll throw your doubles for that worthless--"

"I allus throw my doubles fer the man as kin throw the
most doubles fer me," remarked Hennion. "An' I ain't by
no means sartin haow many doubles yer kin split this year."

"Pox me, the usual number!"

"Do yer leaseholds all pay theer rents?"

"Some have dropped behind, but as soon as there 's law in
the land again they'll come to the rightabout."

"Exactly," sniggered Hennion. "As soon as theer 's law.
But when 's thet 'ere goin' ter be? Mark me, the tenants
who dare refuse ter pay theer rent, dare vote agin theer landlord.
An' as Joe Bagby says he'll do his durndest ter keep
the courts closed, I guess the delinquents will think he's theer
candidate. Every man as owes yer money, squire, will vote
agin yer, come election day."

"And ye'll join hands with these thieves and vote with
Bagby in Assembly?"

"Guess I mought do wus. But if thet 'ere 's displeasin'
ter yer, jest blame yerself for 't."

"How reason ye that, man?"

"Cuz I had it arranged thet I wuz ter side in with the
king, and Phil wuz ter side in with the hotheads. But yer gal
hez mixed Phil all up, so he's turned right over an' talks ez
ef he wuz Lord North or the Duke of Bedford. Consumaquently,
since I don't see no good of takin' risks, I bed ter
swing about an' jine the young blood."

What the squire said in reply, and continued to say until he
had made his exit from the Hennion house, is far better
omitted. In his wrath he addressed a monologue to his
horse, long after he had passed through the gate of Boxley;
until, in fact, he met Phil, to whom, as a better object
for them than Joggles, the squire at once transferred his
vituperations.

Instead of going on in his original direction, Philemon
turned his horse and rode along with the squire, taking the
rating in absolute silence. Only when Mr. Meredith had
expressed and re-expressed all that was in him to say did the
young fellow give evidence that his dumbness proceeded from
policy.

"Seems ter me, squire," he finally suggested, "like you 're
layin' up against me what don't suit you 'bout dad. I've done
my bestest ter do what you and Miss Janice set store by, an'
it does seem ter me anythin' but fairsome ter have a down on
me, just because of dad. 'T ain't my fault I've got him for a
father; I had n't nothin' ter do with it, an' if you have any one
ter pick a quarrel with, it must be with God Almighty, who
fixed things as they is. I've quit drillin'; I've spoke against
the Congress; an' there ain't nothin' else I would n't do ter
get Miss Janice."

"Go to the devil, then," advised the squire. "No son
of--" There the squire paused momentarily, and after a
brief silence ejaculated, "Eh!" After another short intermission
he laughed aloud, as if pleased at something which
had occurred to him. "Why, Phil, my boy," he cried, slapping
his own thigh, "we'll put a great game up on thy dad.
We'll show him he's not the only fox hereabout."

"And what 'ere 's that?'

"What say ye to being my double in the poll, lad?"

"Run against father?" ejaculated Phil.

"Ay. We'll teach him to what trimming and time-serving
come. And be damned to him!"

"That 'ere 's all very well for you," responded Hennion,
"but he hain't got the whip hand of you like he has of me.
He would n't stand my--"

"He 'd have to," gleefully interrupted the squire. "Join
hands with me, lad, and I'll fix it so ye can snap your fingers
at him."

"But--" began Phil.

"But," broke in the squire. "Nonsense! No but, lad.
Butter--ay, and cream it shall be. Let him turn ye off.
There's a home at Greenwood for ye, if he does--and something
better than that too. Sixteen, ye dog! Sweet sixteen,
rosy sixteen, bashful sixteen, glowing sixteen, run-away-and-want-to-be-found
sixteen!"

"She don't seem ter want me ter find her," sighed Phil.

"Fooh!" jeered the father. "There's only two kinds of
maids, as ye'd know if ye'd been out in the world as I have
--those that want a husband and those that don't. But six
months married, and ye can't pick the one from t' other, try
your best. There's nothing brings a lass to the round-about
so quick as having to do what she does n't want. They are
born contrary and skittish, and they can't help shying at
fences and gates, but give 'em the spur and the whip, and
over they go, as happy as a lark. And I say so, Janice will
marry ye, and mark my word, come a month she'll be complaining
that ye don't fondle her enough."

Mr. Meredith's pictorial powers, far more than his philosophy,
were too much for Philemon to resist. He held out his
hand, saying, "'T is a bargain, squire, an' I'll set to on a
canvass to-day."

"Well said," responded the elder, heartily. "And that 's
not all, Phil, that ye shall get from it. I've a tidy lot of
money loaned to merchants in New York, and I'll get it from
'em, and we'll buy the mortgages on your father's lands.
Who'll have the whip hand then, eh? Oh! we'll smoke the
old fox before we've done with him. His brush shall be well
singed."

The compact thus concluded to their common satisfaction,
the twain separated, and the squire rode the remaining six
miles in that agreeable state of enjoyment which comes from
the sense of triumphing over enemies. His very stride as he
stamped through the hall and into the parlour had in it the
suggestion that he was planting his heel on some foe, and it
was with evident elation that he announced:--

"Well, lass, I've a husband for ye, so get your lips and
blushes ready for him against to-morrow!

"Oh, dadda, no!" cried the girl, ceasing her spinet practice.

"Oh, yes! And no obstinacy, mind. Phil 's a good enough
lad for any girl. Where 's your mother that I may tell her?"

"She's in the attic, getting out some whole cloth," answered
the girl; and as her father left the room, she leaned forward
and rested her burning cheek on the veneer of the spinet for an
instant as if to cool it. But the colour deepened rather than
lessened, and a moment later she rose, with her lips pressed
into a straight line, and her eyes shining very brightly. "I'll
not marry the gawk. No! And if they insist I'll--"
Then she paused.

"How did Janice take it?" asked Mrs. Meredith, when the
squire had broken his news to her.

"Coltishly," responded the father, "but no blubbering this
time. The filly's getting used to the idea of a bit, and will go
steady from now on." All of which went to show how little
the squire understood the nature of women, for the lack of
tears should have been the most alarming fact in his daughter's
conduct.

When Phil duly put in an appearance on the following day,
he was first interviewed by what Janice would have called the
attorney for the prosecution, who took him to his office and
insisted, much to the lover's disgust, in hearing what he had
done politically. Finally, however, this all-engrossing subject
to the office-seeker was, along with Philemon's patience,
exhausted, and the squire told his fellow-candidate that the
object of his desires could now be seen.

"The lass jumped to her feet as ye rid up, and said she'd
some garden matters to tend, so there 's the spot to seek her."
Then the father continued, "Don't shilly-shally with her,
whate'er ye do, unless ye are minded to have balking and
kicking for the rest of your days. I took Matilda--Mrs.
Meredith--by surprise once, and before she knew I was there
I had her in my arms. And, egad! I never let her go, plead
her best, till she gave me one of my kisses back. She began
to take notice from that day. 'T is the way of women."

Thus stimulated, Phil entered the garden, prepared to perform
most valiant deeds. Unfortunately for him, however, the
bondsman had been summoned by Janice to do the digging,
and his presence materially altered the situation and necessitated
a merely formal greeting.

Having given some directions to Charles for continuation of
the work, Janice walked to another part of the garden,
apparently quite heedless of Philemon. Her swain of course
followed, and the moment they were well out of hearing of the
servant, Janice turned upon him and demanded:--

"Art thou gentleman enough to keep thy word?"

"I hope as how I am, Miss Janice," stuttered Phil, very
much taken aback.

"Wilt give me your promise, if I tell thee something, to
repeat it to no one?"

"Certain, Miss Janice, I'll tell nothin' you don't want folks
ter know."

"Even dadda and mommy?"

"Cross my heart."

"You see that man over there?"

"Yer mean Charles?"

"Yes. He is desperately in love with me," announced the
girl.

"Living jingo! He 's been a-troublin' you?"

"No. He loves me too much to persecute me, and,
besides, he's a gentleman."

"Now, Miss Janice, you know as how I--"

"Am trying to marry me against my will."

"But the squire says you'll be gladsome enough a month
gone; that--"

"Ugh!"

"Now please don't--"

"And what I am going to tell you and what you've given
your word not to repeat is this: If you persist in trying to
marry me, if you so much as try to--to--to be familiar, that
moment I'll run off with him--there!"

"You never would!"

"In an instant."

"You 'd take a bondsman rather than me?"

The girl coloured, but replied, "Yes."

"I'll teach him ter have done with his cutty-eyed tricks,"
roared Phil, doubling up his fists, and turning, "I'll--"

"Mr. Hennion!" exclaimed the girl, her cheeks gone very
white. "You gave me your word that--"

"I never gave no word 'bout not threshing the lick."

"Most certainly you did, for you--you would have to tell
him before--and if you do that, I'll--"

"But, Miss Janice, you must n't disgrace--Damn him!
Then Bagby wasn't lyin' when he told me how there 'd been
talk at the tavern of his bundlin' with you."

For a moment Janice stood speechless, everything about her
suggesting the shame she was enduring. "He--he never
said that!" she panted more than spoke, as if she had ceased
to breathe.

"I told Bagby if he said that he was lyin'; but after--"

"Mr. Hennion, do you intend to insult me as well?"

"No, no, Miss Janice. I don't believe it. 'T was a lie for
certain, and I'm ashamed ter have spoke of it."

With unshed tears of mortification in her eyes Janice turned
to go, every other ill forgotten in this last grief.

"Miss Janice," called Phil, "you can't go without--"

The girl faced about. "You men are all alike," she cried,
interrupting. "You tease and worry and torture a girl you
pretend to care for, till 't is past endurance. I hate you, and
before I'll--"

"Now, Miss Janice, say you'll not run off with him. I'll
--I'll try ter do as you ask, if only you--"

"So long as you--as you don't--don't bother me, I
won't," promised Janice; "but the instant--"

And leaving the sentence thus broken, the girl left Philemon,
and fled to her room.


XVII
IN THE NAME OF LIBERTY

The scheme devised by Janice to keep Philemon
at arm's length would hardly have succeeded for
long, had not the squire been so preoccupied with
the election and with the now active farm work
that he paid little heed to the course of true love. Poor
Phil was teased by him now and again for his "offishness;"
but Janice carefully managed that their interviews were not
held in the presence of her parents, and so the elders did not
come to a realising sense of the condition, but really believed
that the courtship was advancing with due progress to the port
of matrimony.

Though this was a respite to Janice, she herself knew that
it was at best the most temporary of expedients, and that
the immediate press of affairs once over, her marriage with
Philemon was sure to be pushed to a conclusion. Already her
mother's discussions of clothes, of linen, and of furniture were
constant reminders of its imminence, and the mere fact that
the servants of Greenwood and the neighbourhood accepted
the matter as settled, made allusions to it too frequent for
Janice not to feel that her bondage was inevitable. A dozen
times a day the girl would catch her breath or pale or flush over
the prospect before her, frightened, as the bird in the net, not
so much by the present situation, as by what the future was
certain to bring to pass.

A still more serious matter was further to engross her parents'
thoughts. One evening late in April, as the squire sat
on the front porch resting from his day's labour, Charles, who
had been sent to the village on some errand, came cantering
up the road, and drew rein opposite.

[Illustration: "The prisoner is gone!"]

"Have better care how ye ride that filly, sir," said the
squire, sharply. "I'll not have her wind broke by hard
riding."

"I know enough of horses to do her no harm," answered
the man, dismounting easily and gracefully; "and if I rode a
bit quick, 't is because I've news that needs wings."

"What's to do?" demanded the master, laying down the
"Rivington's Royal Gazette" he had been reading.

"As I was buying the nails," replied the servant, speaking
with obvious excitement, "Mr. Bissel rode up to the tavern
with a letter from the Massachusetts Committee of Safety to
the southward; and as 't was of some moment, while he baited,
I took a copy of it." The groom held out a paper, his hand
shaking a little in his excitement, and with an eager look on
his face he watched the squire read the following:--

     Water Town Wednesday Morning near 11 of Clock.
To all friends of american liberty, be it known, that this
morning before break of day, a Brigade, consisting of about
1,000 or 1,200 Men, landed at Phipp's Farm at Cambridge
and marched to Lexington, where they found a Company of
our Militia in Arms, upon whom they fired without any provocation
and killed 6 Men & wounded 4 others--By an express
from Boston we find another Brigade are now upon
their march from Boston, supposed to be about 1,000--The
bearer Israel Bissel is charged to alarm the Country quite to
Connecticut; and all Persons are desired to furnish him with
fresh Horses, as they may be needed--I have spoken with
several, who have seen the dead & wounded.
                  J. Palmer one of the Committee of safety.
Forwarded from Worcester April 19, 1775.
   Brooklyn--Thursday                       11 o Clock
   Norwich                                    4 o Clock
   New London                                 7 o Clock
   Lynne--Friday Morning                       1 o Clock
   Say Brook                                  4 o Clock
   Shillingsworth                             7 o Clock
   E. Gillford                                8 o Clock
   Guilford                                  10 o Clock
   Bradford                                  12 o Clock
   New Haven--April 21
Recd & fowarded on certain Intelligence
   Fairfield April 22d                        8 o Clock
   New York Committee Chamber                 4 o Clock
                             23d April 1775 P. M.
Recd the within Acct by Express, forwd by Express to
N Brunswick with directions to stop at Elizabeth Town &
acquaint the Committee there with the foregoing particulars by
order
                                       J. S. Low, Chairman.

"Huh!" grunted the squire. "I said the day would come
when British regulars would teach the scamps a lesson. The
rapscallions are getting their bellyful, no doubt; 't is to be
hoped that it will bring law and quiet once again in the land."

"'T will more likely be the match that fires the mine.
You've little idea, Mr. Meredith, how strong and universal
the feeling is against Great Britain."

"'T is not as strong as British bayonets, that ye may tie to,
fellow."

The servant shook his head doubtfully. "'T will take a
long sword to reach this far, and Gage is not the man to
handle it."

"Odd's life!" swore the squire. "What know ye of Gage?
If every covenant man does n't think himself the better of a
major-general or a magistrate!"

"Had you ever made the voyage from England, you 'd
appreciate the difficulties. 'T is as big a military folly to
suppose that if America holds together she can be conquered
by bayonets, as 't is to suppose that she'll allow a rotten Parliament,
three thousand miles away, to rule her."

"Have done with such talk! What does a rogue like ye
know of Parliament, except that it passes the laws ye run
from? 'T is the like of ye--debtors, runaways, and such
trash--that is making all this trouble."

The servant laughed ironically. "Fools do more harm in
the world than knaves."

"What mean ye by that?" demanded the squire, hotly.

"'T is as reasonable to hold the American cause bad because
a few bad men take advantage of it as 't is to blame the flock
of sheep for giving the one wolf his covering. What the
Whigs demand is only what the English themselves fought
for under Pym and Hampden, and to-day, if the words 'Great
Britain' were but inserted in the acts of Parliament of which
America complains, there 'd be one rebellion from Land's End
to Duncansby Head."

"Didst not hear my order to cease such talk?" fumed the
squire. "Go to the stable where ye belong, fellow!"

The man coloured and bit his lip in a manifest attempt to
keep his temper, but he did not move, saying instead, "Mr.
Meredith, wilt please tell me what you paid for my bond?"

"Why ask ye that?"

"If I could pay you the amount--and something over--
wouldst be willing to release me from the covenant?"

"And why should I?" demanded the squire.

The servant hesitated, and then said in a low voice: "As
a gentleman, you must have seen I'm no groom--and think
how it must gall me to serve as one."

"Thou shouldst have thought of that before thou indentured,
rather--"

"I know," burst out the man, "but I was crazed--was
wild with--with a grief that had come to me, and knew not
what I was doing."

"Fudge! No romantics. Every redemptioner would have
it he is a gentleman, when he's only caught the trick by
waiting on them."

"But if I buy my time you--"

"How 'd come ye by the money?"

"I--I think I could get the amount."

"Ay. I doubt not ye know how money 's to be got by
hook or by crook! And no doubt ye want your freedom to
drill more rebels to the king. Ye'll not get it from me, so
there 's an end on 't." With which the squire rose, and
stamped into the hall and then to his office.

Charles stood for a moment looking at the ground, and
then raised his head so quickly that Janice, who had joined
the two during the foregoing dialogue and whose eyes were
upon him, had not time to look away. "Can't you persuade
him to let me go, Miss Janice?" he asked appealingly.

"Why do you want your freedom?" questioned Janice,
letting dignity surrender to curiosity.

"I want to get away from here--to get to a place where
there 's a chance for a quicker death than eating one 's heart
by inches."

"How beautifully he talks!" thought Janice.

"Nor will I bide here to see--to see--" went on the
bondsman, excitedly, "I must run, or I shall end by--'T will
be better to let me go before I turn mad."

"'T is as good as a romance," was Janice's mental opinion.
"How I wish Tibbie was here!"

"'T is no doubt a joke to you--oh! you need not have
avoided me as you've done lately to show me that I was
beneath you. I knew it without that. But who is this put
you are going to marry?"

"Mr. Hennion is of good family," answered Janice, with
Spirit.

"Good family!" laughed the man, bitterly. "No doubt he
is. Think you Phil Hennion is less the clout because he has
a pedigree? There are hogs in Yorkshire can show better
genealogies than royalty."

"'T is quite in keeping that a bond-servant should think
little of blood," retorted Janice, made angry by his open
contempt.

"Blood! Yes, I despise it, and so would you if you knew
it as I do," exclaimed Charles, hotly, cutting the air with his
whip. "That for all the blood in the world, unless there be
honour with it," he said.

"The fox did n't want the grapes."

"'T is no case of sour grapes, as you 'd know if I told you
my story."

"Oh! I should monstrous like to hear it," eagerly ejaculated
Janice.

The man dropped the bridle and came to the porch. "I
swore it should die with me, but there 's one woman in the
world to whom--" he began, and then checked himself as a
figure came into view on the lawn out of the growing darkness.
"Who's there?" Charles demanded.

"It's me--Joe Bagby," was the answer, as that individual
came forward. "Is the squire home, miss?" he asked; and,
receiving the reply that he was in his office, Joe volunteered
the information that a wish to talk with the lord of
Greenwood about the election was the motive of his call. "I
want to see if we can't fix things between us."

Scarcely had he spoken when there was a sudden rush of
men, who seemed to appear from nowhere, and at the same
instant Joe gave a shove to the bond-servant, which, being entirely
unexpected, sent him sprawling on the grass, where he
was pinioned by two of the party.

"Keep your mouth shut, or I'll have to choke you," said
Bagby to Janice, as she opened her mouth to scream. "Two
of you stand by her and keep her quiet. Sharp now, fellows,
he's in his office. Have him out, and some of you start a
fire, quick."

The orders were obeyed with celerity, and as some rushed
into the hall and dragged forth the squire, struggling, the
scene was lighted by the blazing up of a bunch of hay, which
had appeared as if by magic, and on which sticks of wood
were quickly burning. Over the fire a pot, swung on a stick
upheld by two men, was placed, telling a story of intention
only too obvious.

"There is n't any sort of use swearing like that, squire," said
Bagby. "We've got a thing or two to say, and if you won't
listen to it quiet, why, we'll fill your mouth with a lump of tar,
to give you something to chew on while we say it. Cussing
did n't prevent your being a babe in the wood, and it won't
prevent our giving you a bishop's coat; so if you don't want
it, have done, and listen to what we have to propose."

"Well?" demanded the squire.

"We've stood your conduct just as long as it was possible,
squire," went on Bagby, "and been forbearing, hoping you 'd
mend your ways. But it 's no use, and so we've come up this
evening to give you a last chance to put yourself right, for
we're a peace-loving, law-abiding lot, and don't want to use
nothing but moral suasion, as the parson puts it, unless you
make us."

"That 's it. Give it to him, Joe," said some one, approvingly.

"Now that the regulars of old Guelph have begun slaughtering
the sons of liberty, we have decided to put an end to
snakes in the grass, and so you can come to the face-about,
or you can have a coat of tar and a ride on a rail out of the
county. And what 's more, when you 're once out, you 're to
stay out, mind. Which is your choice?"

"What do you want me to do?" demanded the squire,
sullenly.

"First off we're tired of your brag that tea 's drunk on your
table. You 're to give us all you've got, and you 're not to
get any new, whether 't is East India or smuggled."

"I agree to that."

"Secondly," went on Bagby, in a sing-song voice, much as
if he was reading a series of resolutions, "you 're to sign the
Congress Association, and live up to it."

The squire looked to right and left, as if considering some
outlet; but there were men all about him, and after a pause he
merely nodded his head.

"You 're getting mighty reasonable, squire," remarked
Bagby, with a grin. "Lastly, we don't want to be represented
in Assembly by such a king's man, and so you're to decline a
poll."

"If the electors don't want me, let them say so at the
election."

"Some of your tenants are 'feared to vote against you, and
we intend that this election shall be unanimous for the friends
of liberty. Will you decline a poll?"

"Now damn me if--" began the squire.

"Come, come, squire," interrupted an elderly man.
"Yer've stud no chance of election from the fust, so what 's
the use of stickling?"

"I wash my hands of ye," roared the squire. "Have
whom ye want for what ye want. I've done with serving a
lot of ingrates. Ye can come to me in the future on your
knees, but ye'll not get me to--"

"That's just what we wants," broke in Joe. "If you 'd
always been so open to public opinion, we'd have had no
cause for complaint against you. And now, squire, since
a united land is what we wants, while your daughter gets
the tea and a pen to sign the Association, do the thing up
handsome by singing us the liberty song."

"Burn me if I will," cried the owner of Greenwood, like
many another yielding big points without much to-do, but
obstinate over the small ones.

"Is that tar about melted?" inquired Bagby.

"Jest the right consistency, Joe," responded one of the
pole-holders.

"Better sing it, squire," advised Bagby. "We know you 're
not much at a song, but the sentiments is what we like."

Once again the beset man looked to right and left, rage and
mortification united. Then, with a remark below his breath,
he sang in a very tuneless bass, that wandered at will between
flat and sharp, with not a little falsetto:--

     "Come join Hand in Hand, brave Americans all,
      And rouse your bold Hearts at fair Liberty's Call;
      No tyrannous Acts shall suppress your just Claim
      Or stain with Dishonour America's Name--
        In Freedom we're born and in Freedom we'll live.
          Our Purses are ready--
          Steady, Friends, Steady--
        Not as Slaves, but as Freemen our Money we'll give."

"That 's enough!" remarked the ringleader. "Now,
Watson, let the squire sign that broadside. Take the pot
off, boys, and dump the tea on the fire. Good-evening,
squire, and sweet dreams to you; I hope 't will be long before
you make us walk eight miles again. Fall in, Invincibles.
You've struck your first blow for freedom."

For a moment the steady tramp of the departing men was
all that broke the stillness of the night; but as they marched
they fell into song, and there came drifting back to the trio
standing silent about the porch the air of "Hearts of Oak,"
and the words:--

     "Then join Hand in Hand, brave Americans all!
      To be free is to live, to be Slaves is to fall;
      Has the Land such a Dastard, as scorns not a Lord,
      Who dreads not a Fetter much more than a Sword?
        In Freedom we're born, and, like Sons of the Brave,
          We'll never surrender,
          But swear to defend her,
        And scorn to survive, if unable to save."


XVIII
FIGUREHEADS AND LEADERS

The squire's mood in the next few days was anything
but genial, and his family, his servants, his farm-hands,
his tenants, and in fact all whom he encountered,
received a share of his spleen.

His ill-nature was not a little increased by hearing indirectly,
through his overseer, that it was the elder Hennion who had
planned the surprise party; and in revenge Mr. Meredith set
about the scheme, already hinted at, of buying assignments of
the mortgages on Boxley. For this purpose he announced
his intention of journeying to New York, and ordered Philemon
to be his travelling companion that he might have the
advantage of his knowledge of the holders of the elder Hennion's
bonds. The would-be son-in-law at first objected to
being made a cat's-paw, but the squire was obstinate, and
after a night upon it, Phil acceded. No other difficulty was
found in the attainment of Mr. Meredith's purpose, the money-lenders
in New York being only too glad, in the growing insecurity
and general suspension of law, to turn their investments
into cash. It was a task of some weeks to gather them all in,
but it was one of the keenest enjoyment to the squire, who
each evening, over his mulled wine in the King's Arms Tavern,
pictured and repictured the moment of triumph, when, with
the growing bundle of mortgages completed, he should ride to
Boxley and inform its occupant that he wished them paid.

"We'll show the old fox that he's got a ferret, not a goose,
to deal with," he said a dozen times to Phil,--a speech which
always made the latter look very uneasy, as if his conscience
were pricking.

This absence of father and lover gave Janice a really restful
breathing space, and it was the least eventful time the girl had
known since the advent of the bondsman nearly a year before.
Even he almost dropped out of the girl's life, for the farm-work
was now at its highest point of activity, and he was little
about house or stable. Furthermore, though twenty thousand
minutemen and volunteers were gathered before Boston, though
the thirteen colonies were aflame with war preparations, and
though the Continental Congress was voting a declaration on
taking up arms and appointing a general, nothing but vague
report of all this reached Greenwood.

In Brunswick, however, Dame Rumour was more precise,
and one afternoon as the bondsman rode into the town, with
some horses that needed shoeing, he was hailed by the tavern-keeper.

"Say! Folks tells that yer know how tew paint a bit?"
And, when Charles nodded, he continued: "Waal, we've
hearn word that the Congress has appinted a feller named
George Washington fer ginral, who 's goin' tew come through
here tew-morrer on his way tew Boston, an' I want tew git
that ere name painted out and his'n put in its place. Are yer
up tew it, and what 'ud the job tax me?" As the publican
spoke he pointed at the lettering below the weather-beaten
portrait of George the Third, which served as the signboard
of the tavern.

"Get me some colours, and bide till I leave these horses at
the smith's, and I'll do it for nothing," said Charles, smiling;
and ten minutes later, sitting on a barrel set in a cart, he was
doing his share toward the obliteration of kinghood and the
substitution of a comparatively unknown hero.

"'T is good luck that they both is called George," remarked
the tavern-keeper; "fer yer've only got tew paint out the
'King' an' put in a 'Gen.' in the first part, which saves
trouble right tew begin on."

Charles smilingly adopted the suggestion, and then measured
off "the III." "'T is a long name to get into such
space," he said.

"Scant it is," assented the publican. "I'll tell yer what.
Jist leave the 'the' an' paint in 'good' after it. That'll
make it read slick." Pleased with this solution of the difficulty,
the hotel-keeper retired to the "public," with a parting
invitation to the painter to drink something for his
trouble.

While Charles was doing the additional work, he was interrupted
by a roar of laughter, and, twisting about on his barrel,
he found a group of horsemen, who had come across the green
and drawn rein just behind him, looking at the newly lettered
sign. From the one of the three who rode first came the
burst of laughter--a man of medium size and thinly built,
perhaps fifty years of age, with a nose so out of proportion
to his face, in its size and heaviness, that it came near enough
to caricature to practically submerge all his other features.
The second man was evidently trying not to smile, and as
Charles glanced at him, he found him looking at the third of
the trio, as if to ascertain his mood. This last, a man of
extreme tallness, and in appearance by far the youngest of the
group--for he looked not over thirty at most--was scrutinising
the signboard gravely, but his eyes had a gleam of
merriment in them, which neutralised the set firmness of the
mouth. All the party were in uniform, save for a couple of
servants in livery, and all were well mounted.

"Haw, haw, haw!" laughed the noisy one. "Pray God
mine host be not as chary with his spit as he is with his paint
or 't will be lean entertainment."

"I said 't was best to make a push for 't to Amboy," remarked
the second.

"Nay, gentlemen," responded the third, smiling pleasantly.
"A man so prudent and economical must keep a good ordinary.
Better bide here for dinner and kill a warm afternoon,
and then push on to Amboy, in the cool of the evening, with
rested cattle."

"Within there!" shouted the noisy rider, "hast dinner and
bait for a dozen travellers?"

The call brought the publican to the door, and at first he
gasped a startled "By Jingo!" Then he jerked his cap off, and
ducked very low, saying: "'T was said, yer--yer--Lordship,
that yer 'd not come till the morrow. But if yer'll honour my
tavern, yer shall have the bestest in the house." He kept
bowing between every word to the man with the big nose.

"Then here we tarry for dinner," said the young-looking
man, gracefully swinging himself out of the saddle, a proceeding
imitated by all the riders. "Take good heed of the
horses, Bill," he said, as a coloured servant came forward.
"Wash Blueskin's nose and let him cool somewhat before
watering him." He turned toward the door of the tavern,
and this bringing Charles into vision again, he looked up at
the painter to find himself being studied with so intent a gaze
that he halted and returned the man's stare.

"Art struck of a heap by the resemblance?" demanded the
noisy officer.

"Go in, gentlemen," replied the tall one. "Well, my
man," he continued to Charles, "ye change figureheads
easily."

"Ay, 't is easier to get new figureheads than 't is to be true
to old ones."

A grave, almost stern look came into the officer's face,
making it at once that of an older man. "Then ye think
the old order best?" he asked, scanning the man with his
steady blue eyes.

The bondsman put his hand on the signboard. "'T is
safest to stick to an old figurehead until one can find a true
leader," he answered.

"And think you he is one?" demanded the officer, pointing
at the signboard.

Charles laughed and laid a finger on the chin of royalty.
"No man with so little of that was ever a leader," he asserted.
He reached down and picked up a different pot of paint from
the one he had been using, dipped his brush in it, and with
one sweep over the lower part of the face cleverly produced
a chin of character. Then he took another colour and gave
three or four deft touches to the lips, transforming the expressionless
mouth into a larger one, but giving to it both strength
and expression. "There is a beginning of a leader, I think,"
he said.

"Thou art quick with thy brush and quick with thy eyes,"
replied the man, smiling slightly and starting to go. In the
doorway he turned and said with a sudden gravity, quite as
much to himself as to the bondsman: "Please God that thou
be as true in opinion."

Left alone, the bondsman once more took his brush and
broadened and strengthened the nose and forehead. Just as
he had completed these, the tavern-keeper came bustling out
of the door. "Wilt seek Joe Bagby an' tell him tew git the
Invincibles tewgether?" he cried. "He intended tew review
'em tew-morrer fer the ginral, an' their Lordships says they'll
see 'em go through--Why, strap me, man, what hast thou
been at?"

"I've been making it a better portrait of the general than
it ever was of the king."

"But yer've drawn the wrong man!" exclaimed the publican.
"That quiet young man is not him. 'T is the heavy-nosed
man is his Excellency."

"Nonsense!" retorted the bondsman. "That loud-voiced
fellow is Leftenant-Colonel Lee, a half-pay officer. Many and
many 's the time I've seen him--and if I had n't, I'd have
known the other for the general in a hundred."

"I tell yer yer're wrong," moaned the hotel-keeper. "Any
one can see he's a ginral, an' 't is he gives all the orders fer
victuals an' grog."

Charles laughed as he descended from the barrel and the
cart. "'T is ever the worst wheel in the cart which makes the
most noise," he said, and walked away.

Two hours later the Invincibles were bunched upon the
green. As the diners issued from the inn, Bagby gave an
order. With some slight confusion the company fell in, and
two more orders brought their guns to "present arms."

"Bravo!" exclaimed Lee. "Here are some yokels who
for once don't hold their guns as if they were hoes."

Joe, fairly swelling with the pride of the moment, came
strutting forward. When he was within ten feet of the officers
he took off his hat and bowed very low. "The Invincibles is
ready to be put through their paces, your honour," he
announced.

"Damme!" sneered Lee, below his breath. "Here 's a
mohair in command who does n't so much as know the salute."

The tall officer, despite his six feet and three inches of
height, swung himself lightly into the saddle without using a
stirrup, and rode forward.

"Proceed with the review, sir," he said to Joe.

"Yes, sir--that is, I mean--your honour," replied Joe;
and, turning, he roared out, "Get ready to go on, fellows.
Attention! Dress

Instant disorder was visible in the ranks, some doing one
thing, and some another, while a man stepped forward three
or four steps and shouted: "Yer fergot ter git the muskets
back ter the first persition, Joe."

"Get into line, durn you!" shouted Joe; "an' I'll have
something to say to you later, Zerubbabel Buntling."

"O Lord!" muttered Lee to the other officers, most of
whom were laughing. "And they expect us to beat regulars
with such!"

"Attention!" once more called Joe. "To the right face--
no--I mean, shoulder firelocks first off. Now to the left
face." But by this time he was so confused that his voice sank
as he spoke the last words, and so some faced right and some
left; while altercations at once arose in the ranks that broke
the alignment into a number of disputing groups and set the
captain to swearing.

"Come," shouted one soldier, "cut it, Joe, an' let Charles
take yer place. Yer only mixes us up."

The suggestion was greeted by numerous, if various, assenting
opinions from the ranks, and without so much as waiting
to hear Bagby's reply, Charles sprang forward. Giving the
salute to the mounted officers, he wheeled about, and, with two
orders, had the lines in formation, after which the manoeuvres
were gone through quickly and comparatively smoothly.

The reviewing officer had not laughed during the confusion,
watching it with a sternly anxious face, but as the drill proceeded
this look changed, and when the parade was finished,
he rode forward and saluted the Invincibles. "Gentlemen,"
he said, "if you but conduct yourselves with the same steadiness
in the face of the enemy as you have this afternoon, your
country will have little to ask of you and much to owe." He
turned to Joe, standing shamefaced at one side, and continued:
"You are to be complimented on your company,
sir. 'T is far and away the best I have seen since I left
Virginia."

"And that is n't all, your honour," replied Joe, his face
brightening and his self-importance evidently restored. "We
are a forehanded lot, and we've got twenty half-barrels of
powder laid in against trouble."

After a few more words with Bagby, which put a pleased
smile on his face, the officer wheeled his horse. "Well, gentlemen,
we'll proceed," he called to the group; and, as they
were mounting, he rode to where Charles stood. "You have
served?" he said.

Charles, with the old sullen look upon his face, saluted, and
replied bitterly: "Yes, general, and would give an eye to be
in the ranks again."

The general looked at him steadily. "If ye served in the
ranks, how comes it that ye give the officer's salute?" he
asked.

Charles flushed, but met the scrutinising eye to eye, as he
answered: "None know it here, but I held his Majesty's
commission for seven years."

"You look o'er young to have done that," said the
general.

"I was made a cornet at twelve."

"How comes it that you are here?"

"My own folly," muttered the man.

"'T is a pity thou 'rt indentured, for we have crying need
of trained men. But do what you can hereabouts, since you
are not free to join us."

"I will, general," said Charles, eagerly, and, as the officer
wheeled his horse, he once more saluted. Then as the travellers
rode toward the bridge, the bondsman walked over and
looked up at his crude likeness of the general.

"Yer wuz right," remarked the innkeeper. "The young-lookin'
feller wuz Ginral Washington."

"Ay," exclaimed the man; "and, mark me, if a face goes
for aught, he's general enough to beat Gage--and that
the man paused, and then added: "that sluggard Howe.
And would to God I could help in it!"


XIX
SPIES AND COUNTER-SPIES

It was the middle of July when the squire and Phil returned
from New York, bringing with them much news
of the war preparations, of Washington's passing through
the city, and of the bloody battle of Bunker Hill. Of
far more importance, however, to the ladies of Greenwood,
were two pieces of information which their lord and master
promptly announced. First, that he wished the marriage to
take place speedily, and second, that at New York he had met
Mr. Evatt, just landed from a South Carolina ship, and intending,
as soon as some matter of business was completed, to
repeat his former visit to Greenwood,--an intention that the
squire had heartily indorsed by the warmest of invitations.
Both brought the colour to the cheeks of Janice, but had the
parents been watchful, they would have noted that the second
bit of news produced the higher tint.

Although Phil was still on apparently good terms with his
father, he was, from the time of his return, much at Greenwood;
and, his simple nature being quite incapable of deceit,
Janice very quickly perceived that his chief motive was not so
much the lover's desire to be near, as it was to keep watch of
her. Had the fellow deliberately planned to irritate the girl,
he could have hit upon nothing more certain to enrage her,
and a week had barely elapsed when matters reached a
crisis.

Janice, who, it must be confessed, took pleasure in deliberately
arousing the suspicion of Philemon, and thus forcing him
to reveal how closely he spied upon her, one evening, as they
rose from the supper-table, slipped out of the window and
walked toward the stable. Her swain was prompt in pursuit;
and she, quite conscious of this, stepped quickly to one side
as she passed through the last opening in the box, and stood
half-buried in the hedge. Ignorant of her proximity, Philemon
came quickly through the hedge, and was promptly made
aware of it by her hot words.

"'T is past endurance. I'll not be spied on so."

"I--I--Why, Janice, you know how I likes ter be with
you," falteringly explained Hennion.

"Spy, spy, spy--nothing but spy!" rebuked Janice; "I
can't so much as--as go to pick a flower but you are hiding
behind a bush."

"'Deed, Janice, you 're not fairsome ter me. After you
sayin' what you did about that rake-helly bondsman, 't is only
human ter--"

"To treat me as if I was a slave. Why, Peg has more
freedom than I have. If you--I'm going to the stable--to
see Charles--and if you dare to follow me, I'll--" The
girl walked away and disappeared through the doorway, leaving
Philemon standing by the box, the picture of indecision and
anxiety. "He does n't know that Charles was sent to the
village," thought Janice, laughing merrily to herself as she went
to a stall, and pulling the horse's head down put her cheek
against it. "Oh, Joggles dear," she sighed, "they are all
against me but you." She went from one horse to another,
giving each a word and a caress. Then she stole back to the
door and peeked through the crack, to find that her shadow
had disappeared; this ascertained, she went and sat down on
the hay. "If he tortures me, I'll torture him," was her
thought.

Janice waited thus for but a few minutes, when she heard
the rapid trot of a horse, which came to a halt at the stable
door. As that sound ceased, the voice of Charles broke the
silence, saying, "You stall the horse, while I see the
squire;" and, in obedience to this direction, some one led
Daisy into the stable. The gloom of nightfall made the
interior too dark for the girl to recognise the man, and,
not wishing it to be known that she was there, she sat
quiet.

For a good ten minutes the man waited, whistling softly the
while, before Charles returned.

"Waal, what luck?" asked the stranger ere Charles had
come through the doorway.

"Luck!" growled the bondsman. "The devil's own, as
mine always is, curse it!"

"From which I calkerlate that old Meredith wuz obstinate
and wud n't set yer free."

"Not he, plead my best. But that 's the last I ask of him;
and 't would have served him as well to let me go, for go I will."

"You'll go off without--"

"I will."

"Yer know what it means if brought back?"

"Double the time. Well, treble it, and still I'll do it. I
gave my word I'd help, and the general shall have the powder,
if for nothing else than to spite that dirty coward Bagby
though I serve thrice five years for' t. Tell the lads I'll lead
them, and if they'll meet me at Drigg's barn to-morrow evening
at ten we'll scheme out how to do it."

Without further parley the stranger walked away, and no
sooner had the crunch of his boots ceased than Janice came
forward.

Charles gave a startled exclamation as she appeared, and
caught the girl roughly by the wrist. "Who's this?" he
exclaimed.

"You hurt," complained Janice.

The bondsman relaxed but not released his hold at the
sound of her voice. "You've heard all I said?" he demanded.

"Yes. I--I did n't like to come out while the man was here."

"And you'll tell your father?"

"No," denied the girl. "I did n't want to listen by stealth,
but since I did, I'm no tale-bearer."

Raising the hand he held by the wrist, Charles kissed it.
"I should have known you were no eavesdropper, Miss
Janice," he said, releasing his hold.

"But--Oh, what is it you are going to do?" asked Janice.

"I have your word that it goes no further?"

"Yes."

"A secret letter came to the Brunswick Committee yester-morn
from General Washington, saying that it had just been
discovered that their powder account was a lie, and that there
were less than ten rounds to each man in stock. He knew by
some means of what is here, and he begged the committee to
send it to him; for if the British attacked him in his present
plight, 't would be fatal. And yet what think you the committee
did?"

"They asked you to take it to him?"

"Not they, the--Ah! there 's no words to fit them. Old
Hennion, mean hunks that he is, wanted them to write and
offer to sell it at double what had been paid for 't, while
Bagby would n't part with it on any terms, because he said
't was needed by the 'Invincibles' to defend the town. The
two voted down Parson McClave, who declared that Brunswick
should be laid in ashes rather than that Washington should
not be helped. Ah, Miss Janice, that 's a man for these
times."

"Then what dost intend?"

"The parson came to me to counsel what was best, and
'tween us we concocted a plan to outwit the time-servers.
There are plenty of fellows of spirit in the 'Invincibles,' and
't is our scheme to steal the powder some night, put it on a
sloop, and be to sea before daylight."

"How monstrous exciting!" exclaimed Janice, her eyes
sparkling. "And you--"

"I'll lead them. I'm desperate enough to do anything
that has risk. There's real fighting there, if the accounts
speak true, and perhaps a bullet will cancel both my shame
and my bond--ay, and my--my love for you. For I love
you, Miss Janice, love you more

Though taken very much by surprise, Janice drew herself
up proudly, and interrupted: "You forget--" she began.

"Of course I forget!" broke in the groom. "What would
love be worth if it did n't forget everything but itself? I
forget I'm a bond-servant, you 'd say. So I should if I were
a king. But you are too heartless to know what love is," he
ended bitterly.

"'T is not so," denied Janice, angrily; "but I'll love no
redemptioner, though he be as good-looking and good-tempered
as you are ill-natured and ugly."

"And who are you," demanded the man, passionately, "to
take such mighty airs? A daughter of a nobody, dubbed
Esquire because he is the biggest bubble in a pint pot."

"I shall not stay here to be insulted," cried Janice, moving
away. But in the doorway her exasperation got the better of
her dignity, and she faced about and said: "You evidently
don't know that my great-grandfather was Edward Byllynge."

The man laughed contemptuously. "Why, you little ninny,"
he retorted, "my great-grandfather was king of England!"

Janice caught hold of the lintel, and stood as if transfixed
for a moment, even the mortifying epithet of the groom forgotten
in her amazement. "A likely tale!" she ejaculated
finally when the first mute surprise was conquered.

The bond-servant had gained control of himself in the
pause, for he quietly rejoined: "'T is true enough, though
nothing to make boast of, save to those who set great store
by grandfathers." Then, in a sadder tone, he added:
"'T was a foolish brag I never thought to make, for it carries
more shame than honour, and 't is therefore best forgotten.
Moreover, I ask your pardon for saying what else I did; 't was
my tongue and not my heart which spoke."

The insult being atoned, Janice came back. "You said
you would tell me your history."

"But then--that was when I hoped--a fool I was." The
redemptioner paused, and then took a quick step toward
Janice with an eager look on his face and his hand outstretched.
"There is but one woman in the world can gain
the right to hear my sorry tale. May I tell it to you?"

Young and inexperienced as the girl was, the implication
of the question was too obvious for her to miss, and she
replied, "No."

The man dropped his arm and stood quietly for a moment,
then gave a short, abrupt laugh. "Either 't is my lot to
worship clay idols," he said, "or no woman is worth loving."

"Small blame to them for not loving you," rejoined Janice.

"Electing to marry a put like Hennion! There's a husband
of whom to be proud."

"At least he is no indentured servant," retorted the girl,
in her irritation, walking away from the stable. Once through
the garden and in sight of the house, she halted, her attention
attracted by some to-do about the porch. Coming
swiftly forward, it was to discover the squire there, candle in
hand, to light the dismounting of a horseman, and that no less
than Mr. Evatt.

"A welcome to ye," the host was saying. "Peg, tell
Charles to come and take this horse. Get ye into the house,
man; I'll hold him. Ah! Jan. Take Mr. Evatt in, lass,
and tell your mother we've a visitor."

Janice, feeling strangely shy, led the way to the parlour, and
when her mother, after the briefest of greetings, promptly
bustled off to order a glass of wine and to inspect the best
lodging-room--as guest chambers were then termed--her
embarrassment was sufficient to bring the blood glowing into
her cheeks, while, not daring so much as to meet Evatt's
eye, she hung her head and had much ado to keep from
trembling.

Evatt stood with a broad smile on his face and unconcealed
pleasure in his eyes, for in truth the girl made a picture to
charm any man; and not till Janice lifted her eyes, and shot
a furtive look at him, did he move toward her. He took her
hand and whispered: "For nine months I've thought me of
those lips and wondered when I should have taste of them.
Quickly, or thy father will--"

"You must n't!" gasped Janice, hanging her head more
than ever. "I'm to marry Philemon."

"Tush!" exclaimed the man. "I heard that tarradiddle
in York City. Why, thou 'rt promised to me, dost not remember,
and I'll not release thee, that I bind to. Wouldst rather
have that clout than me, Janice?"

Very falteringly and still with downcast face the girl murmured,
"No."

"Then I'll save ye from him, mark my word. Come, up
with your lips, and give me a kiss for the promise. What!
still frightened? 'T is nothing so terrible. A court lady
would have had a dozen kisses in the time I've pleaded.
And ye are no mere country hoyden, without manners or--"

Already Janice was raising her head, the possibility of
seeming countrified being worse even than a man's caress;
but her intended submission and Evatt's speech were both
interrupted by the clump of boots in the hall, and the pair
had barely time to assume less tell-tale attitudes when the
squire and Phil were standing in the doorway.

"Friend Evatt," ejaculated Mr. Meredith, "come to my
office at once. I've a matter needing your advice. Lass,
tell your mother to send us the Madeira and rum, with some
hot water, but let us not be disturbed."

Evatt made a grimace as he followed, and threw himself
into a chair with a suggestion of irritation.

"This lad, for a reason he won't tell," began the squire, as
he closed the door, "has kept eye on a bondsman of mine,
and this evening, as luck would have it, he stood upon a barrel,
by one of the stable windows, and overheard a pretty story the
fellow told to some one whom Phil could n't see. Tell it o'er,
lad, as ye told it me."

Hennion, thus admonished, retold the story of the powder,
as the bond-servant had related it to Janice. But two omissions
he made: the first being a failure to mention the connection
of his father with the matter, and the second the
presence of Janice in the stable.

"Here 's news indeed!" exclaimed Evatt.

"Ay. But what to do with it is the question."

"Do! Why, get word of it to Howe as quick as may be,
so that he may take advantage of their plight. We must send
him a letter."

"'T is easier said than done. Boston is encompassed, and
no man can get through the lines."

"I have it. The 'Asia' frigate, with her tender, lies in the
lower bay at New York; the latter can be sent round with a
letter to Boston. And ye shall bear it, lad," added Evatt,
turning to Phil.

"'T ain't no wish of mine," ejaculated Philemon.

"There is no one else we can trust. 'T will be but a
month's affair, at worst."

"But I don't care ter go," dissented Hennion. "I want
ter get married ter Miss Janice right off, an' not--"

"Come, squire, tell the fellow he must n't shirk his duty to
his king. He can marry your daughter any time, but now
the moment to do a service to his country. Why, man, if it
ends this rebellion, as it seems like to, they'll give ye a title--
and ye, too, squire, I doubt not."

"He speaks true, Phil. Here 's a chance, indeed. Put
the girl out of thy head for a time, and think a man's
thoughts."

"Ay," cried Evatt. "Don't prove the old saying:

            'He who sighs for a glass without G,
            Take away L and that is he.'"

It took much more urging to get Phil to yield, but finally,
on a promise of the master of Greenwood that he should wed
so soon as he returned, he gave a half-hearted consent. Over
the rum a letter to Sir William Howe was written by Evatt,
and he and Phil arranged to be up and away betimes in
the morning.

"That gets him well out of the way," remarked Evatt, as
in his bedroom he stripped off his clothes. "Now to be as
successful with Miss Blushing Innocence."


XX
THE LOGIC OF HONOURED PARENTS AND DUTIFUL CHILDREN

Philemon and Evatt were in the saddle by five the
next morning and a little more than an hour later held
consultation with Bagby. Everything except Phil's
intended mission was quickly told him.

"Jingo!" he remarked, and then whistled. "Why, 't is
stealing? Is n't there to be no law in the land? When do
they plot to rob us?"

"They meet this evenin' ter scheme it, an' a body can't tell
when they'll act."

"'T won't likely be to-night, but I'll keep guard myself, all
the same, and some of the Invincibles shall watch every night."

This warning given, and a bite taken at the tavern by way of
breakfast, the ride to Amboy was made in quick time. Here
a boat was secured, and the two were rowed off to the "Asia"
as she lay inside the Hook. Evatt had a long conference with
her captain in his cabin, and apparently won consent to his
plan; for when he returned on deck, a cutter was cleared away,
and Phil was told it would put him on the tender which was
to carry him to Boston. With many a longing glance at the
shore, he bade good-by to Evatt, who cheered him by predictions
of reward and speedy return.

Philemon gone, Evatt remained a short time in conference
with the chaplain of the man-of-war, and then returned to
Amboy. Once more taking horse, he set off on his return
to Greenwood, arriving there in the heat of the afternoon.
He was forced, by the absence of all the working force in the
hayfield, to stable his horse himself, and then he walked toward
what he had already observed from the saddle,--Janice, seated
upon a garden bench under a poplar on the lawn, making
artificial flowers. Let it be acknowledged that until the appearance
of Evatt the girl had worked languidly, and had allowed
long pauses of idleness while she meditated, but with his advent
she became the embodiment of industry.

"Odd's life!" the man ejaculated as he sat down beside the
worker. "'Twixt love's heat and an August sun, your lover,
Janice, has come nigh to dissolving."

Janice, with hands that shook, essayed to snip out a rose
petal which her own cheeks matched in tint.

Evatt removed first his hat and then his wig, that he might
mop his head. Having replaced the hirsute ornament, he
continued: "And thy father is as hot for thy marriage with
that yokel. He set the day yestere'en."

"When?" demanded the girl, looking up anxiously.

"What say ye to this day week?"

"Oh!" cried Janice. "Was ever maid born under such
a ha'penny planet?"

"Don't make outcry 'gainst your star when it has sent ye
a lover in the nick of time, ready to save ye from the
bumpkin."

Janice took a shy come-and-go glance at him and said:
"You mean

"What say ye to an elopement?"

"Oh!" exclaimed the girl, meeting Evatt's gaze eagerly.
"'T would be monstrous delightsome to be run off with, of
course; but--"

"But what?"

"Well--I--Mommy told me that in the province no
maid could be lawfully wed without her parents' consent."

"True," assented the tempter, "if she wed where the colony
law holds good. But we'll get round that by having the knot
tied on royal ground."

"Not in England?" said the girl, drawing back a little.

"Think ye I'd treat the lass I love like that?" responded
Evatt, reproachfully. "Nay. A friend of mine is chaplain on
the 'Asia' man-of-war, and he'll make no bones about helping
us. And as the king's flag and broad arrow puts the ship out
of the colony jurisdiction, 't will make the thing legal despite
the law."

[Illustration: "Here's to the prettiest damsel!"]

"How romantic!" exclaimed Janice. "To think of making
a stolen match, and of being wed on a king's ship!"

"Now dost want to rail at thy star?"

"'T is great good fortune," ecstatically sighed the girl.
"Think you 't would be right?"

"Would I ask it if 't were not?" rejoined Evatt, heartily.

"But dadda and mommy--" began the falterer.

"Will be pleased enough when the job's done. Think ye,
if they were n't bound they 'd not rather have a titled son-in-law
than that gawk?"

"A what?" cried Janice.

"Thou dost not know thy lover's true name, Janice. 'T is
John Ombrey, Lord Clowes, who sits beside thee."

Janice sprang to her feet. "And I've spoke to you as if
you were just--just a man," she cried in a horrified voice.

"'T was not fair so to beguile me!"

Evatt looked at the ground to hide the smile he could not
suppress. "'T was done for the king, Janice," he said. "And
't is all the more romantic that I've won ye without your knowing.
Sit down again; if 't were not in view of the house I
should be kneeling to ye."

Janice sank back on the garden seat. "I can't believe it yet!"
she gasped breathlessly. "I knew of course thou wast a court
gentleman, but--"

"And now I suppose ye'll send me packing and wed the
yokel?" suggested the lover.

"Oh, no!" cried Janice. "If you--if you really--" the
girl gave a glance at the man, coloured to the temples, and,
springing to her feet, fled toward the house. She did not stop
till she reached her room, where she flung herself on the bed
and buried her cheeks in the pillow. Thus she lay for some
time, then rose, looked at herself in the mirror, and finding her
hair sadly disordered, she set about the task of doing it over.
"'T is beyond belief!" she murmured. "I must be very beautiful!"
She paused in her task, and studied her own face.
"Now I know why he always makes me feel so uncomfortable
--and afraid--and--and gawky. 'T is because he is a lord.
Sometimes he does look at me as if--as if he were hungry--
ugh! It frights me. But he must know what 's the mode.
'Lady Janice Clowes.' 'T is a pity the title is not prettier.
Whatever will Tibbie say when she hears!"

It was a little after ten that evening when the squire and
Evatt parted for the night in the upper hail, the former being,
as usual, not tipsy, but in a jovial mood toward all things; and
as this attitude is conducive to sleep, his snores were ere long
reverberating to all waking ears. One pair of these were so
keenly alive to every noise that not the chirp of a cricket escaped
them, and from time to time their owner started at the smallest
sound. Owing to this attention, they heard presently the creak
of the stairs, the soft opening of the front door, and even the swish
of feet on the grass. Then, though the ears fairly strained to
catch the least noise, came a silence, save for the squire's
trumpeting, for what seemed to the girl a period fairly interminable.

Finally the rustling of the grass told of the return of the
prowler, and as the girl heard it she once more began trembling,
"Oh!" she moaned. "If only I had n't--if only he'd go
away!" She rose from the bed, and stole to the window.

"Mr. Evatt, I'm so frightened, I don't dare," she whispered
to the figure standing below. "Wait till to-morrow
night!

"Nonsense!" said the man, so loudly that Janice was more
cared than ever. "I told ye it must be to-night. Come down
quickly."

"Oh, please!" moaned Janice.

"Dost want to be the wife of that gawk?" demanded Evatt,
impatiently.

Though he did not know it, the girl vacillated. "At least
I'm not frightened of Phil," was her thought.

"Well," called the man more loudly, "art going to keep me
here all night?"

"Hush!" whispered Janice. "Thee'll wake--"

"Belike I will," he retorted irritably. "And if they ask me
what 's in the wind, they shall have the truth. Odd's life!
I'm not a man to be fooled by a chit of a girl."

"Oh, hush!" again she begged, more frightened at the prospect
of her parents knowing than by any other possibility. "I'll
come if you'll only be quiet."

She took a small bundle, hurriedly stole downstairs, and
passed out of the house.

"Now ye've come to your senses," said the man. "Give
me the bundle and your hand," he continued, and set out at a
rapid pace across the lawn, having almost to drag the girl, her
feet carried her so unwillingly. "Over with ye," he ordered,
as they reached the stile at the corner, and when Janice descended
she found two horses hitched to the fence and felt a
little comforted by the mere presence of Daisy. She was
quickly mounted, and they set off, the girl so helpless in her
fright that Evatt had to hold her horse's bridle as well as his
own.

"Burn it!" exclaimed Evatt, presently, "art never going to
end thy weeping?"

"If you would only have waited till--" sobbed Janice.

"'T was no time for shilly-shallying," interrupted the man.
"Dost not see that we had to take to-night, when the groom
was gone, for there 'd have been no getting the horses with him
sleeping in the stable?"

"What if we meet him returning?" cried the girl, her voice
shaking.

"'T would little matter. Think ye he could catch us afoot?"

"But he could tell dadda."

"And by that time we shall be two-thirds of the way to
Amboy. 'T is but a twenty miles, and we should be there by
three. Then if we meet no delay in getting a boat, we shall
be on the 'Asia' near seven. By eight the chaplain will have
made us twain one."

"Oh!" moaned the girl, "what ever will dadda say?"

As this was a question no one could answer, a silence ensued,
which lasted until they rode into Brunswick. Guiding the
horses upon the green, to reduce the beat of their hoofs to a
minimum, Evatt turned off the grass at the river road and
headed toward the bridge across the Raritan. As they approached,
a noise of some kind arrested Evatt's attention, and
he was just checking the horses when a voice cried:--

"Stand!"

Janice gave a startled cry which instantly set a dog barking.

"Keep silence!" again ordered the unseen man.

Evatt, after an oath below his breath, demanded, "By what
right do ye stop us, whoever ye are?"

"By the right of powder and ball," remarked the voice, drily.

Again the dog barked, and both Evatt and the unseen man
swore. "Curse the beast!" said the latter. "Hist, Charles!
Call the dog, or he'll wake the town."

Another voice from a little distance called, "Clarion!" in a
guarded inflection; meantime the hound had discovered his
mistress, and was jumping about her horse, giving little yelps
of pleasure.

In another instant Charles came running up. "What's
wrong?" he questioned.

"'T is a couple of riders I've halted," said the voice from
the shadow.

"Out of the way!" ordered Evatt. "Ye've no right to
prevent us from going forward. I've pistols in my holsters,
and ye'd best be careful how ye take the law into your own
hands."

The groom gave an exclamation as he recognised the riders;
and paying no attention to Evatt, he sprang to the side of the
girl and rested his hand on the bridle, as if to prevent her horse
from moving, while he asked in amazement: "What brings
you here?"

Speechless and shamed, the girl hung her head.

"Let go that bridle, ye whelp!" blustered Evatt, throwing
back the flap of his holster and pulling out a heavy horse pistol.

As he made the motion, the bondsman dropped the rein and
seized the hand that held the weapon. For a moment there
was a sharp struggle, in which the third man, who sprang from
the shadow, joined. Nor did Evatt cease resistance until three
men more came running up, when, overborne by numbers, he was
dragged from his horse and held to the ground. In the whole
contest both sides had maintained an almost absolute silence,
as if each had reasons for not waking the villagers.

"Stuff a sod of grass in his mouth to keep him quiet,"
ordered Charles, panting, "and tie him hand and foot." Taking
a lantern from one of the men, he walked back to the speechless
and frightened girl and held the light to her face. "'T is
not possible you--you--oh! I'll never believe it of you."

With pride and mortification struggling for mastery, Janice
replied: "What you think matters not to me."

"You were eloping with this man?"

Though the groom's thoughts were of no moment to the
girl, she replied: "To escape marrying Philemon Hennion."

"What things women are!" he exclaimed contemptuously.
"You deserve no better than to be his doll common, but--"

"We were to be married," cried Janice.

"In the reign of Queen Dick!"

"This very day on the 'Asia' frigate."

"A likely tale," jeered the man. "Bring that fellow down
to the boat," he called, and catching hold of the bridle, he
started walking.

"Whither are you taking me?" inquired Janice, in fright.

"The parson is down by the river, helping transfer the powder,
and I'm going to leave you with him to take back to
Greenwood."

"Oh, Charles," besought the girl, "you'll not be so
cruel! I'd sooner die than--than--Think what mommy--
and dadda--and the whole village--I did n't want to go
with him--but--Please, oh, please! You'll not disgrace
me? I'll promise never to go off with him--indeed--"

"Of that I'll be bound," sneered the servant, with a harsh
laugh, "for I'm going to take him with me to Cambridge."

For a moment Janice was silent, then cried: "If you only
knew how I hate you."

The man laughed bitterly. "I do--from the way I hate--
ay, and despise you!"

Another moment brought them to the edge of a wharf, where
a number of men were busying themselves in stowing barrels on
board a small sloop. "Hold this horse," ordered the servant,
while he joined one of the toilers and drew him apart in
consultation.

"Powder aboard, cap'n," presently called some one.

"Take that man and stow him below decks along with it,"
ordered Charles. "Good-by, parson. I hope to send good
news from Cambridge of this night's work. Boys, take Bagby
out of the stocks before daylight, and tell him if the Invincibles
want their powder to follow us, and they shall have fifty
rounds of it a man, with plenty of fighting to boot. All aboard
that are for the front!"

Half a dozen men followed, while those on the wharf cast off
the fasts. But all at once stood still when the parson, with
bowed head, began a prayer for the powder, for the adventurers
who took it, and for the general and army it was designed to
serve. Sternly yet eloquently he prayed until the boat had
drifted with the tide out of hearing, and the creak of the blocky
came across the water, showing that those on board were making
sail. Then, as the men on the wharf dispersed, he mounted
the horse Evatt had ridden.

"Janice Meredith," he said sternly," I propose to occupy
this ride with a discourse upon the doctrine of total depravity,
from which downward path you have been saved this night,
deducing therefrom an illustration of the workings of grace
through foreordination,--the whole with a view to the saving
of your soul and the admonishment of your sinful nature."


XXI
A SUDDEN SCARCITY OF BEAUX

It was daylight when the parson and Janice rode through
the gate of Greenwood, and the noise of hoofs brought
both the girl's parents to the window of their bedroom
in costumes as yet by no means completed. Yet when,
in reply to the demand of the squire as to what was the meaning
of this arrival, it was briefly explained to him that his daughter
had attempted to elope with his guest, he descended to the
porch without regard to scantiness of clothing.

A terrible ten minutes for Janice succeeded, while the squire
thundered his anger at her, and she, overcome, sobbed her grief
and mortification into Daisy's mane. Then, when her father
had drained the vials of his wrath, her mother appeared more
properly garbed, and in her turn heaped blame and scorn on
the girl's bowed head. For a time the squire echoed his wife's
indignation, but it is one thing to express wrath oneself and
quite another to hear it fulminated by some one else; so presently
the squire's heart began to soften for his lass, and he attempted
at last to interpose in palliation of her conduct. This
promptly resulted in Mrs. Meredith's ordering Janice off the
horse and to her room. "Where I'll finish what I have to
say," announced her mother; and the girl, helped down by Mr.
Meredith, did as she was told, longing only for death.

The week which succeeded was a nightmare to Janice, her
mother constantly recurring to her wickedness, the servants addressing
her with a scared breathlessness which made her feel
that she was indeed declassed for ever, while the people of the
neighbourhood, when she ventured out-of-doors, either grinned
broadly or looked dourly when they met her, showing the girl
that her shame was town property.

Mrs. Meredith also took frequent occasion to insist on the
girl's marriage with Mr. McClave, on the ground that he alone
could properly chasten her; but to this the squire refused to
listen, insisting that such a son-in-law he would never have, and
that he was bound to Philemon. "We'll keep close watch on
her for the time he's away, and then marry her out of hand the
moment he's returned," he said.

Had the parents attempted to carry out the system of espionage
that they enforced during the first month they would have
had their hands full far longer than they dreamed. Week after
week sped by, summer ripened into fall, and fall faded into
winter, but Philemon came not. Little by little Janice's misconduct
ceased to be a general theme of village talk, and the
life at Greenwood settled back into its accustomed groove.
Even the mutter of cannon before Boston was but a matter of
newspaper news, and the war, though now fairly inaugurated,
affected the squire chiefly by the loss of the bondsman, for
whom he advertised in vain.

One incident which happened shortly after the proposed
elopement, and which cannot be passed over without mention,
was a call from Squire Hennion on Mr. Meredith. The master
of Boxely opened the interview by shaking his fist within a few
inches of the rubicund countenance of the master of Greenwood,
and, suiting his words to the motion, he roared: "May
Belza take yer, yer old--" and the particular epithet is best
omitted, the eighteenth-century vocabulary being more expressive
than refined--"fer sendin' my boy ter Boston, wheer,
belike, he'll never git away alive."

"Don't try to bully me!" snorted the squire, shaking his fist
in turn, and much nearer to the hatchet-face of his antipathy.
"Put that down or I'll teach ye manners! Yes, damn ye,
for the first time in your life ye shall be made to behave like a
gentleman!"

"I defy yer ter make me!" retorted Hennion, with unconscious
humour.

"Heyday!" said Mrs. Meredith, entering, "what 's the
cause of all this hurly-burly?"

"Enuf cause, an' ter spare," howled Hennion. "Here
this--" once more the title is left blank for propriety's sake--
"hez beguiled poor Phil inter goin' on some fool errand ter
Boston, an' the feller knew so well I would n't hev it thet all he
dun wuz ter write me a line, tellin' how this--insisted he
should go, an' thet he'd started. 'Twixt yer whiffet of a gal an'
yer old--of a husband, yer've bewitched all the sense the
feller ever hed in his noddle, durn yer!"

"Let him talk," jeered the squire. "'T will not bring Phil
back. What's more, I'll make him smile the other side of his
teeth before I've done with him. Harkee, man, I've a rod in
pickle that will make ye cry small." The squire took a bundle of
papers from an iron box and flourished them under Hennion s
nose "There are assignments of every mortgage ye owe, ye
old fox, and pay day 's coming."

"Let it," sneered the owner of Boxely. "Yer think I
did n't know, I s'pose? Waal, thet 's wheer yer aout. Phil,
he looked so daown in the maouth just afore yer went ter
York thet I knew theer must be somethin' ter make him act so
pukish, an' I feels araound a bit, an' as he ain't the best hand
at deceivin' I hez the fac's in no time. An' as I could n't hev
them 'ere mortgages in better hands, I tell 'd him ter go ahead
an' help yer all he could. 'T was I gave him the list of them
I owed."

The squire, though taken aback, demanded: "And I suppose
ye have the money ready to douse on pay day?"

Hennion sniggered. "Yer won't be hard, thet I know,
squire. I reckon yer'll go easy on me."

"If ye think I'm going to spare ye on account of Phil ye are
mightily out. I'll foreclose the moment each falls due, that I
warn ye."

"Haow kin yer foreclose whin theer ain't no courts?"

"Pish!" snapped the creditor. "'T is purely temporary;
within a twelve-month there'll be law enough. Think ye England
is sleeping?"

"We'll see, we'll see," retorted Hennion. "In the meantime,
squire, I hope yer won't wont because I don't pay
interest. Times is thet onsettled thet yer kain't sell craps naw
nothin,' an' ready money 's pretty hard ter come by."

"Not I," rejoined the squire. "'T will enable me to foreclose
all the quicker."

"When theer 's courts ter foreclose," replied Hennion, grinning
suggestively. With this parting shot, he left the house and
rode away.

On the same day this interview occurred, another took place in
the Craigie House in Cambridge, then occupied as the headquarters
of General Washington. The commander-in-chief was
sitting in his room, busily engaged in writing, when an orderly
entered and announced that a man who claimed to have important
business, which he refused to communicate except to the
general, desired word with him. The stranger was promptly
ushered in, and stood revealed as a fairly tall, well-shaped young
fellow, clad in coarse clothing, with a well-made wig of much
better quality, which fitted him so ill as to suggest that it was
never made for his head.

"I understand your Excellency is in dire need of powder,"
he said as he saluted.

A stern look came upon Washington's face. "Who are you,
and how heard you that?" he demanded.

"My name is John Brereton. How I heard of your want
was in a manner that needs not to be told, as--"

"Tell you shall," exclaimed Washington, warmly. "The fact
was known to none but the general officers and to the powder
committee, and if there has been unguarded or unfaithful speech
it shall be traced to its source."

"Your Excellency wrote a letter to the committee of Middlesex
County in Jersey?"

"I did."

"The committee refused to part with the powder."

Washington rose. "Have they no public spirit, no consideration
of our desperate plight?" he exclaimed.

"But your Excellency, though the committee would not part
with the powder, some lads of spirit would not see you want for
it, and--and by united effort we succeeded in getting and
bringing to Cambridge twenty half-barrels of powder, which is
now outside, subject to your orders."

With an exclamation mingling disbelief and hope, the commander
sprang to the window. A glance took in the two carts
loaded with kegs, and he turned, his face lighted with
emotion.

"God only knows the grinding anxiety, the sleepless nights, I
have suffered, knowing how defenceless the army committed to
my charge actually was! You have done our cause a service
impossible to measure or reward." He shook the man's hand
warmly.

"And I ask in payment, your Excellency, premission to
volunteer."

"In what capacity?"

"I have served in the British forces as an officer, but all I
ask is leave to fight, without regard to rank."

"Tell me the facts of your life."

"As I said, my name is John Brereton. Nothing else about
me will ever be known from me."

Washington scrutinised the man with an intent surprise.
"You cannot expect us to trust you on such information."

"An hour ago it would have been possible for me to have
sneaked by stealth into the British lines with this letter," said
the man, taking from his pocket a sheet of paper and handing
it to the general. "What think you would Sir William Howe
have given me for news, over the signature of General Washington,
that the Continental Army had less than ten rounds of
powder per man?"

Washington studied the face of the young fellow steadily for
twenty seconds. "Are you good at penmanship?" he asked.

"I am a deft hand at all smouting work," replied Brereton.

"Then, sir," said Washington, smiling slightly, "as I wish to
keep an eye on you until you have proved yourself, I shall for
the present find employment for you in my own family."

Thus a twelve-month passed without Philemon Hennion, John
Evatt, Charles Fownes, Parson McClave, or any other lover so
much as once darkening the doors of Greenwood.

"Janice," remarked her mother at the end of the year, "dost
realise that in less than a twelve-month thou 'lt be a girl of
eighteen and without a lover, much less a husband? I was wed
before I was seventeen, and so are all respectably behaved
females. See what elopements come to. 'T is evident thou 'rt
to die an old maid."


XXII
THE OLIVE BRANCH

If this year was bare of courtships, of affairs of interest it
was far otherwise. Scarcely was 1776 ushered in than
news came that the raw and ill-equipped force, which
for nine months had held the British beleaguered in
Boston, had at last obtained sufficient guns and powder to assume
the offensive, and had, by seizing Dorchester Heights,
compelled the evacuation of the city. Howe's army and the
fleet sailed away without molestation to Halifax, leaving behind
them a rumour, however, that great reinforcements were
coming from Great Britain, and that upon their arrival, New
York would be reduced and held as a strategic base from
which all the middle colonies would be overrun and reduced
to submission.

This probability turned military operations southward. General
Lee, who early in the new year had been given command
of the district around Manhattan Island, set about a system of
fortifications, even while he protested that the water approaches
made the city impossible to hold against such a naval force as
Britain was certain to employ. At the same time that this
protection was begun against an outward enemy, a second was
put in train against the inward one, and this involved the
household of Meredith.

One morning, while the squire stood superintending two of
his laborers, as they were seeding a field, a rider stopped his
horse at the wall dividing it from the road and hailed him
loudly. Mr. Meredith, in response to the call, walked toward
the man; but the moment he was near enough to recognise
Captain Bagby, he came to a halt, indecisive as to what course
to pursue toward his enemy.

"Can't do no talking at this distance, squire," sang out
Bagby, calmly; "and as I've got something important to say,
and my nag prevents me from coming to you, I reckon you'll
have to do the travelling."

After a moment's hesitation, the master of Greenwood came
to the stone wall. But it was with a bottled-up manner which
served to indicate his inward feelings that he demanded crustily,
"What want ye with me?"

"It's this way," explained Joe. "If what's said is true,
Howe is coming to York with a bigger army than we can raise,
to fight us, if we fights, but with power to offer us all we
wants, if we won't. Now there 's a big party in Congress as is
mortal afraid that there'll be a reconciliation, and so they is
battling tooth and nail to get independence declared before
Howe can get here, so that there sha'n't be no possibility of
making up."

"The vile Jesuits!" exclaimed the squire, wrathfully,
"and but a three-month gone they were tricking their constituents
with loud-voiced cries that the charge that they
desired independence was one trumped up by the ministry to
injure the American cause, and that they held the very thought
in abhorrence."

"'T is n't possible to always think the same way in politics
straight along," remarked the politician, "and that 's just what
I come over to see you about. Now, if there 's going to be
war, I guess I'll be of some consequence, and if there 's going
to be a peace, like as not you'll be on top; and I'll be concerned
if I can tell which it is like to be."

"I can tell ye," announced Mr. Meredith. "'T is--"

"Perhaps you can, squire," broke in Bagby, "but your
opinions have n't proved right so far, so just let me finish what
I have to say first. Have you heard that the Committee of
Safety has arrested the Governor?"

"No. Though 't is quite of a piece with your other lawless
proceedings."

"Some of his letters was intercepted, and they was so tory-ish
that 't was decided he should be put under guard. And
at the same time it was voted to take precautionary proceedings
against all the other enemies of the country."

"Then why are n't ye under arrest?" snapped the squire.

"'Cause there 's too many of us, and too few of you," explained
Bagby, equably. "Now the Committee has sent orders
to each county committee to make out a list of those we think
ought to be arrested, and a meeting 's to be held this afternoon
to act on it. Old Hennion he came to me last night
and said he wanted your name put on, and he'd vote to
recommend that you be taken to Connecticut and held in
prison there along with the Governor."

"Pox the old villain!" fumed Mr. Meredith. "For a six-months
I've sat quiet, as ye know, and 't is merely his way of
paying the debts he owes me. A fine state ye've brought the
land to, when a man can settle private scores in such a
manner."

"There is n't no denying that you 're no friend to the
cause, and if any one 's to be took up hereabouts, it should be
you. Still, I'm a fair-play fellow, and so I thought, before I
let him have his way, I'd come over and have a talk with you,
to see if we could n't fix things."

"How?"

"If the king 's come to his senses and intends to deal fair
with us," remarked Bagby, with a preliminary glance around
and a precautionary dropping of his voice, "that 's all I ask,
and so I don't see no reason for attacking his friends until we
are more certain of what 's coming. At the same time, if
Hennion wants to jail you, I think you'll own I have n't much
reason to take your part. You've always been as stuck up
and abusive to me as you well could be. So 't is only natural
I should n't stand up for you."

The lord of Greenwood swallowed before he said, "Perhaps
I've not been neighbourly, but what sort of revenge is
it to force me from my home, and distress my wife and
daughter?"

"That's it," assented the Committeeman. "And so I
came over to see what could be done. We have n't been the
best of friends down to now, but that is n't saying that we
could n't have been, if you 'd been as far-seeing as me, and
known who to side in with. It seemed to me that if I stood
by you in this scrape we might fix it up to act together. I
take it that my brains and your money could run Middlesex
County about as we pleased, if we quit fighting, and work
together. Squire Hennion would have to take a back seat in
politics, I guess."

The squire could not wholly keep the pleasure the thought
gave him from his face. "'T would be a god-send to the
county," he cried. "Ye know that as well as I."

"As to that, I'll say nothing," answered Joe. "But of
course, if I'm going to throw my influence with you, I expect
something in return."

"And what 's that?" asked Mr. Meredith, still dwelling on
his revenge.

"I need n't tell you, squire, that I'm a rising man, and I'm
going to go on rising. 'T won't be long before I'm about
what I please, especially if we make a deal. Now, though
there has n't been much intercourse between us, yet I've had
my eye on your daughter for a long spell, and if you'll give
your consent to my keeping company with her, I'll be your
friend through thick and thin."

For a moment Mr. Meredith stood with wide-open mouth,
then he roared: "Damn your impudence! ye--ye--have
my lass, ye--be off with ye--ye--" There all articulate
speech ended, the speaker only sputtering in his wrath, but his
two fists, shaken across the wall, spoke eloquently the words
that choked him.

"I thought you 'd play the fool, as usual," retorted the
suitor, as he pulled his horse's head around. "You'll live to
regret this day, see if you don't." And with this vague threat
he trotted away toward Brunswick.

Whether Bagby had purposely magnified the danger with
the object of frightening the squire into yielding to his wishes,
or whether he and Hennion were outvoted by Parson McClave
and the other members of the Committee, Mr. Meredith never
learned. Of what was resolved he was not left long in doubt,
for the morning following, the whole Committee, with a contingent
of the Invincibles, invaded the privacy of Greenwood,
and required of him that he surrender to them such arms as
he was possessed of, and sign a parol that he would in no way
give aid or comfort to the invaders. To these two requirements
the squire yielded, at heart not a little comforted that
the proceedings against him were no worse, though vocally he
protested at such "robbery and coercion."

"Ye lord it high-handedly now," he told the party, "but
ye'll sing another song ere long."

"Yer've been predictin' thet fer some time," chuckled
Hennion, aggravatingly.

"'T will come all the surer that it comes tardily. 'Slow and
sure doth make secure,' as ye'll dearly learn. We'll soon see
how debtors who won't pay either principal or interest like
the law!"

Hennion chuckled again. "Yer see, squire," he said, "it
don't seem ter me ter be my interest ter pay principal, nor
my principle ter pay interest. Ef I wuz yer, I would n't het
myself over them mogiges; I ain't sweatin'."

"I'll sweat ye yet, ye old rascal," predicted the creditor.

"When'll thet be?" asked Hennion.

"When we are no longer tyrannised over by a pack of
debtors, scoundrels, and Scotch Presbyterians," with which
remark the squire stamped away.

It must be confessed, however, that bad as the master of
Greenwood deemed the political situation, he gave far more
thought to his private affairs. Every day conditions were becoming
more unsettled. His overseer had left his employ to
enlist, throwing all care of the farm on the squire's shoulders;
a second bondsman, emboldened by Charles' successful levanting,
had done the same, making labourers short-handed; while
those who remained were more eager to find excuses taking
them to Brunswick, that they might hear the latest news, and
talk it over, than they were to give their undivided attention to
reaping and hoeing. Finally, more and more tenants failed to
appear at Greenwood on rent day, and so the landlord was
called upon to ride the county over, dunning, none too successfully,
the delinquent.

Engrossing as all this might be, Mr. Meredith was still too
much concerned in public events not to occasionally find an
excuse for riding into Brunswick and learning of their progress;
and one evening as he approached the village, his eyes and
ears both informed him that something unusual was in hand,
for muskets were being discharged, great fires were blazing
on the green, and camped upon it was a regiment of troops.

Riding up to the tavern, where a rushing business was being
done, the squire halted the publican as he was hurrying
past with a handful of mugs, by asking, "What does all this
mean?"

"Living jingo, but things is on the bounce," cried the landlord,
excitedly. "Here 's news come that the British fleet of
mor'n a hundred sail is arrived inside o' Sandy Hook, an' all
the Jersey militia hez been ordered out, an' here 's a whole
regiment o' Pennsylvania 'Sociators on theer way tew Amboy
tew help us fight 'em, an' more comin'; an' as if everythin' was
tew happen all tew once, here 's Congress gone an' took John
Bull by the horns in real arnest." The cupbearer-to-man
thrust a broadside, which he pulled from his pocket, into the
squire's hand, and hastened away cellar-ward.

The squire unrumpled the sheet, which was headed in bold-faced
type:--

                   In Congress, July 4, 1776,
  A Declaration by the Representatives of the United States
       of America in General Congress assembled.

Ere he had more than seen the words, he was interrupted by
Joe, who, glass in hand, left the bench and came to the rider,
where, in a low voice, he said:--

"You see, squire, the independents has outsharped the
other party, and got the thing passed before Howe got here.
It was a durned smart trick, and don't leave either side nothing
but to fight. I guess 't won't be long before you'll be sorry
enough you did n't take up with my offer."

Mr. Meredith, who had divided his attention between what
his interlocutor was saying and the sentence, "When, in the
course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people
to dissolve the political bands which have connected them
with another," concluded that human events could wait, and
ceasing to read, he gave his attention to the speaker.

"If ye think to frighten or grieve me, ye are mightily out,"
he trumpeted loudly. "Hitherto Britain has dealt gently
with ye, but now ye'll feel the full force of her wrath. A six
weeks will serve to bring the whole pack of ye to your knees,
whining for pardon."

The prediction was greeted with a chorus of gibes and protests,
and on the instant the squire was the centre of a struggling
mass of militiamen and villagers, who roughly pulled him
from his horse. But before they could do more, the colonel
of the troops and the parson interfered, loudly commanding
the mob to desist from all violence; and with ill grace and with
muttered threats and angry noddings of heads, the crowd, one
by one, went back to their glasses. That the interference was
none too prompt was shown by the condition of the squire, for
his hat, peruke, and ruffles were all lying on the ground in
tatters, his coat was ripped down the back, and one sleeve
hung by a mere shred.

"You do wrong to anger the people unnecessarily, sir,"
said Mr. McClave, sternly. "Dost court ducking or other violence?
Common prudence should teach you to be wiser."

The squire hastily climbed into the saddle. From that
vantage point he replied, "Ye need not think Lambert Meredith
is to be frightened into dumbness. But there are some who
will talk smaller ere long." Then, acting more prudently than
he spoke, he shook his reins and started Joggles homeward.

It was little grief, as can be imagined, that the events of the
next few weeks brought to Greenwood; and the day the news
came that Washington's force had been outflanked and successfully
driven from its position on the hills of Brooklyn, with a loss
of two of its best brigades, the squire was so jubilant that nothing
would do but to have up a bottle of his best Madeira,--
a wine hitherto never served except to guests of distinction.

"Give a knave rope enough and he'll hang himself" he
said gloatingly. "Because the land favoured them at Boston,
they got the idea they were invincible, and Congress would
have it that New York must be defended, though a hundred
thousand troops could not have done it against the fleet, let
alone Howe's army. Ho! By this time the rogues have
learned what fifteen thousand butchers and bakers and candlestick-makers
can do 'gainst thirty thousand veterans. And
they've had but the first mouthful of the dose they'll have to
swallow."

The jubilation of the prophet was short-lived, for even as
he spoke, and with decanter but half emptied, the tramp of
feet sounded in the hallway, and the door was flung open to
admit four men, armed with muskets.

"In the name of the Continental Congress, and by orders
of General Washington, I arrests yer, Lambert Meredith,"
announced the spokesman.

"For what?" cried Janice.

"For treason."


XXIII
HEADQUARTERS IN 1776

On September 15, a group of horsemen, occupying a
slight eminence of ground on the island of Manhattan,
were gazing eastward. Below and nearer
the water were spread lines of' soldiers behind intrenchments,
while from three men-of-war lying in the river
came a heavy cannonade that swept the shore line and spread
over the water a pall of smoke which, as it drifted to leeward,
obscured the Long Island shore from view.

"'T is evidently a feint, your Excellency," presently asserted
one of the observers, "to cover a genuine attack elsewhere
--most likely above the Haarlem."

The person addressed--a man with an anxious, careworn
face that made him look fifty at least--lowered his glass, but
did not reply for some moments. "You may be right, sir,"
he remarked, "though to me it has the air of an intended
attack. What think you, Reed?"

"I agree with Mifflin. The attack will be higher up.
Hah! Look there!"

A rift had come in the smoke, and a column of boats, moving
with well-timed oars, could for a moment be seen as it
came forward.

"They intend a landing at Kip's Bay, as I surmised," exclaimed
the general. "Gentlemen, we shall be needed below."
He turned to Reed and gave him an order concerning
reinforcements, then wheeled and, followed by the rest, trotted
over the ploughed field. Once on the highway, he spurred
his horse, putting him to a sharp canter.

"What troops hold the works on the bay, Muffin?" asked
one of the riders.

[Illustration: "I'm the prisoner!"]

"Fellows' and Parsons' brigades, Brereton."

"If they are as good at fighting as at thieving, they'll distinguish
themselves."

"Ay," laughed Muffin. "If the red coats were but chickens
or cattle, the New England militia would have had them
all captured ere now."

"They'll be hearn from to-day," said a third officer.
"They've earthworks to git behind, and they'll give the
British anuther Bunker Hill."

"Then you ought to be quick, General Putnam," said
Brereton, "for that 's the fighting you like."

The road lay in the hollow of the land, and not till the
party reached a slight rise were they able once more to get a
glimpse of the shores of the bay. Then it was to find the
flotilla well in toward its intended landing-place, and the
American troops retreating in great disorder from their breastworks.

Exclamations of surprise and dismay sprang from the lips
of the riders, and their leader, turning his horse, jumped the
fence and galloped across the fields to intercept the fugitives.
Five minutes brought them up to the runaways, who, out of
breath with the sharpness of their pace, had come to a halt,
and were being formed by their officers into a little less
disorder.

"General Fellows, what was the reason for this shameful
retreat?" demanded the general, when within speaking
distance.

"The men were seized with a panic on the approach of the
boats, your Excellency, and could not be held in the lines."

Washington faced the regiments, his face blazing with scorn.
"You ran before a shot had been fired! Before you lost a
man, you deserted works that have taken weeks to build, and
which could be held against any such force." He paused for
a moment, and then, drawing his sword, he called with spirit:
"Who's for recovering them?"

A faint cheer passed down the lines; but almost as it
sounded, the red coats of fifty or sixty light infantry came into
view on the road, a skirmishing party thrown forward from
the landing to reconnoitre. Had they been Howe's whole
army, however, they could not have proved more effective, for
instantly the two brigades broke and dissolved once more into
squads of flying men.

At such cowardice, Washington lost all control of himself,
and, dashing in among the fugitives, he passionately struck
right and left with the flat of his sword, thundering curses at
them; while Putnam and Muffin, as well as the aides, followed
his example. It was hopeless, however, to stay the rush; the
men took the blows and the curses unheeding, while throwing
away their guns and scattering in every direction.

Made frantic by such conduct, Washington wheeled his
horse. "Charge!" he cried, and rode toward the enemy,
waving his sword.

If the commander-in-chief had hoped to put some of his
own courage into the troops by his example, he failed. Not
a man of the runaways ceased fleeing. None the less, as if
regardless of consequences in his desperation, Washington
rode on, until one of the aides dashed his spurs into his horse
and came up beside his general at a mad gallop.

"Your Excellency!" he cried, "'t is but hopeless and will
but end in--" Then, as his superior did not heed him, he
seized the left rein of his horse's bridle and, pulling on it,
swung him about in a large circle, letting go his hold only
when they were riding away from the enemy.

Washington offered no resistance, and rode the hundred
yards to where the rest of his staff were standing, with bowed
head. Nothing was said as he rejoined the group, and Blueskin,
disappointed in the charge for which he had shown as
much eagerness as his rider, let his mind recur to thoughts of
oats; finding no control in the hand that held his bridle, he
set out at an easy trot toward headquarters.

They had not ridden many yards ere Washington lifted his
head, the expression of hopelessness, which had taken the
place of that of animation, in turn succeeded by one of stern
repose. He issued three orders to as many of the riders,
showing that his mind had not been dwelling idly on the
disaster, slipped his sword into its scabbard, and gathered up
his reins again.

"There!" thought Blueskin, as a new direction was indicated
by his bit, "I'm going to have another spell of it
riding all ways of a Sunday, just as we did last night. And
it 's coming on to rain."

Rain it did very quickly; but from post to post the horsemen
passed, the sternly silent commander speaking only when
giving the necessary orders to remedy so far as possible the
disaster of the afternoon. Not till eleven, and then in a
thoroughly drenched condition, did they reach the Morris
House on Haarlem Heights. It was to no rest, however,
that the general arrived; for, as he dismounted, Major Gibbs
of his life guards informed him that the council of war he had
called was gathered and only awaited his attendance.

"Get you some supper, gentlemen," he ordered, to such of
his aides as were still of the party, "for 't is likely that you
will have more riding when the council have deliberated."

"'T is advice he might take himself to proper advantage,"
said one of the juniors, while they were stripping off their wet
coverings in a side room.

"Ay," asserted Brereton. "The general uses us hard,
Tilghman, but he uses himself harder." Then aloud he
called, "Billy!"

"Yis, sah!"

"Make a glass of rum punch and take it in to his
Excellency."

"Foh de Lord, sah, I doan dar go in, an' yar know marse
neber drink no spirits till de day's work dun."

"Make a dish of tea, then, you old coward, and I'll take
it to him so soon as I get these slops off me. 'Fore George!
How small-clothes stick when they 're wet!"

"You mean when a man 's so foppish that he will have
them made tight enough to display the goodness of his thighs,"
rejoined Gibbs, who, being dry, was enjoying the plight of the
rest. "Make yourselves smart, gentlemen, there are ladies at
quarters to-night."

"You don't puff that take-in on us, sirrah," retorted
Tilghman.

"'Pon honour. They arrived a six hours ago, and have
been waiting to see the general."

"You may be bound they are old and plain," prophesied
Brereton, "or Gibbs would be squiring them, 'stead of wasting
time on us."

"There you 're cast," rejoined the major, "I caught but a
glimpse, yet 't was enough to prove to me that all astronomers
lie."

"How so?"

"In saying that but twice in a century is there a transit of
Venus."

"Then why bide you here, man?"

"That's the disgustful rub. They were with a man under
suspicion, and orders were that none should hold converse
with him before the general examined into it. A plague
on't!"

Discussion of Venus was here broken by the announcement
of supper, and the make-shift meal was still unfinished when
the general's body-servant appeared with the tea. Taking it,
Brereton marched boldly to the council door, and, giving a
knock, he went in without awaiting a reply.

The group of anxious-faced men about the table looked up,
and Washington, with a frown, demanded, "For what do you
interrupt us, sir?"

The young officer put the tea down on the map lying in
front of the general. "Billy didn't dare take this to your
Excellency, so I made bold to e'en bring it myself."

"This is no time for tea, Colonel Brereton."

"'T is no time for the army to lose their general," replied
the aide. "I pray you drink it, sir, for our sake if you won't
for your own."

A kindly look supplanted the sternness of the previous
moment on the general's face. "I thank you for your
thoughtfulness, Brereton," he said, raising the cup and pouring
some of the steaming drink into the saucer. Then as the
officer started to go, he added, "Hold!" Picking up a
small bundle of papers which lay on the table, he continued:
"Harrison tells me that there is a prisoner under guard for
my examination. I shall scarce be able to attend to it this
evening, and to-morrow is like to be a busy day. Take
charge of the matter, and report to me the moment the
council breaks up. Here are the papers."

Standing in the dim light of the hallway, the aide opened
the papers and read them hastily. Either the strain on the
eyes, or some emotion, put a frown on his face, and it was
still there as he walked to the door before which stood a
sentry, and passed into a badly lighted room.

"Powerful proud ter meet yer Excellency," was his greeting
from a man in civilian shorts and a military coat, who held
out his hand. "Captain Bagby desired his compliments ter
yer, an' ter say that legislative dooties pervented his attindin'
ter the matter hisself."

Paying no heed to either outstretched hand or words, the
officer looked first at a man standing beside the fireplace and
then at the two women, who had risen as he entered. He
waited a moment, glancing from one to the other, as if expecting
each of them to speak; but when they did not, he asked
gruffly of the guard, though still with his eyes on the prisoners:
"And for what were the ladies brought?"

"Becuz they wud n't be left behind on no accaount. Yer
see, yer Excellency, things hez been kinder onsettled in
Middlesex Caounty, an' it hain't been a joyful time to them
as wuz Tories; so when orders cum ter bring old Meredith ter
York Island, his wife an' gal wuz so scar't nothin' would do
but they must come along."

"Ay," spoke up the man by the fireplace, bitterly. "A
nice pass ye've brought things to, that women dare not tarry
in their own homes for fear of insult."

"You may go," said the officer to the captor, pointing at
the door.

"Ain't I ter hear the 'zamination, yer Excellency?" demanded
the man, regretfully. "The hull caounty is sot on
known' ther fac's." But as the hand still pointed to the
entrance, the man passed reluctantly through it.

Taking a seat shadowed from the dim light of the solitary
candle, the officer asked: "You are aware, Mr. Meredith, on
what charge you are in military custody?"

"Not I," growled the master of Greenwood. "For more
than a year gone I've taken no part in affairs, but 't is all
of a piece with ye Whigs that--to trump up a charge
against--"

"This is no trumpery accusation," interrupted the officer.
"I hold here a letter to Sir William Howe, found after our
army took possession of Boston, signed by one Clowes, and
conveying vastly important information as to our lack of
powder, which he states he obtained through you."

"Now a pox on the villain!" cried the squire. "Has he
not tried to do me enough harm in other ways, but he must
add this to it? Janice, see the evil ye've wrought."

"Oh, dadda," cried the girl, desperately, "I know I was--
was a wicked creature, but I've been sorry, and suffered for
it, and I don't think 't is fair to blame me for this. 'T was not
I who brought him--"

"Silence, miss!" interrupted her mother. "Wouldst sauce
thy father in his trouble?"

"I presume you obtained the knowledge Clowes transmitted
from your daughter?" surmised the officer.

"My daughter? Not I! How could a chit of a girl know
aught of such things? Clowes got it from young Hennion,
and devil a thing had I really to do with it, write what he
pleases."

"Pray take chairs, ladies," suggested the aide, with more
politeness. "Now, sir, unravel this matter, so far as 't is
known to you."

When the squire's brief tale of how the information was
obtained and forwarded to Boston was told, the officer was
silent for some moments. Then he asked: "Hast had word
of Clowes since then?"

"Not sight or word since the night the--"

"Oh, dadda," moaned Janice, "please don't!"

"Since he attempted to steal my girl from me. And if
e'er I meet him I trust I'll have my horsewhip handy."

"Is Hennion where we can lay hold upon him?"

"Not he. 'T was impossible for him to get out of Boston,
try his best, and the last word we had of him--wrote to his
rascally father--was that he'd 'listed in Ruggles' loyalists."

"Then the only man we can bring to heel is this bond-servant
of thine."

"Not even he. The scamp took French leave, and if ye
want him ye must search your own army.

"Canst aid us to find him?"

"I know naught of him, or his doings, save that last June
I received the price I paid for his bond, through Parson
McClave, who perhaps can give ye word of him."

The officer rose, saying: "Mr. Meredith, I shall report on
your case to the general, so soon as he is free, and have small
doubt that you will be acquitted of blame and released. I
fear me you will find headquarters' hospitality somewhat wanting
in comfort, for we're o'ercrowded, and you arrive in times
of difficulty. But I'll try to see that the ladies get a room,
and, whatever comes, 't will be better than the guard-house."
He went to the hall door and called, "Grayson!"

"Well?" shouted back some one.

"There are two ladies to be lodged here for the night.
May I offer them our room?"

"Ay. And my compliments to them, and say they may
have my company along with it, if they be youngish."

"Tut, man," answered Brereton, reprovingly. "None of
your Virginian freeness, for they can hear you." He turned and
said: "You must be content with a deal feather-bed on the
floor here, Mr. Meredith, but if the ladies will follow me I
will see that they are bestowed in more comfortable quarters;"
and he led the way upstairs, where, lighting a candle, he
showed them to a small room, very much cluttered by military
clothes and weapons, thrown about in every direction. "I
apologise, ladies," he remarked; "but for days it 's been ride
and fight, till when sleeping hours came 't was bad enough to
get one's clothes off, let alone put them tidy."

"And indeed, sir, there is no need of apology," responded
Mrs. Meredith, warmly, "save for us, for robbing you of the
little comfort you possess."

"'T is a pleasure amid all the strife we live in to be able to
do a service," replied the officer, gallantly, as he bowed low
over Mrs. Meredith's hand and then kissed it. He turned to
the girl and did the same. "May you rest well," he added,
and left the room.

"Oh, mommy!" exclaimed Janice, "didst ever see a more
distinguished or finer-shaped man? And his dress and manners
are--"

"Janice Meredith! Wilt never give thy thoughts to something
else than men?"

"Well, Brereton," asked Tilghman as the aide joined his
fellow-soldiers, "how did his Excellency take your boldness?"

"As punishment he sent me to examine Gibbs' Venus."

"Devil take your luck!" swore Gibbs. "I'll be bound
ye made it none too short. Gaze at the smug look on the
dandy's face."

Brereton laughed gleefully as he stripped off his coat and
rolled it up into a pillow. "I've just kissed mamma's hand,"
he remarked.

"I can't say much for thy taste!"

"In order," coolly went on Brereton, as he stretched himself
flat on the floor, "that I might then kiss that of Venus--
and over hers I did not hurry, lads. Therefore, gentlemen,
my present taste is, despite Gibbs' slur, most excellent, and I
expect sweet dreams till his Excellency wants me. Silence in
the ranks."


XXIV
THE VALUE OF A FRIEND

As the sun rose on the following morning, Brereton
came cantering up to headquarters.
"Is his Excellency gone?" he demanded of the
sentry, and received reply that Washington had
ridden away toward the south ten minutes before. Leaving
his horse with the man, the aide ran into the house and returned
in a moment with a great hunk of corn bread and two
sausages in his hand. Springing into the saddle, he set off at
a rapid trot, munching voraciously as he rode.

"Steady, dear lass," he remarked to the mare. "If you
make me lose any of this cake, I'll never forgive you, Janice."

Fifteen minutes served to bring the officer to a group of
horsemen busy with field-glasses. Riding into their midst, he
saluted, and said: "The Maryland regiments are in position,
your Excellency." Then falling a little back, he looked out
over the plain stretched before them. Barely had he taken
in the two Continental regiments lying "at ease" half-way
down the heights on which he was, and the line of their
pickets on the level ground, when three companies of red-coated
light infantry debouched from the woods that covered
the corresponding heights to the southward. As the skirmishers
fell back on their supports, the British winded their bugles
triumphantly, sounding, not a military order, but the fox-hunting
"stole away,"--a blare intended to show their utter
contempt for the Americans.

Washington's cheeks flushed as the derisive notes came
floating up the hills, and he pressed his lips together in an
attempt to hide the mortification the insult cost him. "They
do not intend we shall forget yesterday," he said.

"We'll pay them dear for the insult yet," cried Brereton,
hotly.

"'T is a point gained that they think us beneath contempt,"
muttered Grayson; "for that is half-way to beating them."

"Colonel Reed, order three battalions of Weedon's and
Knowlton's rangers to move along under cover of the woods,
and endeavour to get in the rear of their main party," directed
the commander-in-chief after a moment's discussion with
Generals Greene and Putnam. "As you know the ground,
guide them yourself."

"Plague take his luck!" growled Brereton.

"Ha, ha!" laughed Tilghman, jeeringly. "Some of us
have hands to kiss and some regiments to fight. Harkee,
macaroni. The general thinks 't would be a pity to spot those
modish buskins and gloves. So much for thy dandyism."

"Colonel Brereton," said the general, "order the two Maryland
regiments to move up in support of Knowlton."

Brereton saluted, and, as he wheeled, touched his thumb to
his nose at Tilghman. "You are dished," he whispered.
"The general dresses too well himself to misjudge a man
because he tries to keep neat and a la mode."

A quarter of an hour later, as battalions of Griffiths' and
Richards' regiments advanced under guidance of Brereton,
the sharpness of the volleys in their front showed that the
fighting was begun; and in response to his order, they broke
into double-quick time. Once out of the timber, it was
to find the Connecticut rangers scattered in small groups
wherever cover was to be had, but pouring in a hot fire at
the enemy, who had been reinforced materially.

"Damn them!" cried Brereton. "Will they never fight
except under cover?" Louder he shouted: "Forward!
Charge them, boys!" The order given, he rode toward the
rangers. "Where's your colonel?" he shouted.

"Dead," cried one, "and there 's no one to tell us what
to do."

"Do?" roared the aide. "Get out from behind that
cover, and be damned to you. Show that Connecticut
does n't always skulk. Come on!"

A cheer broke out, and, without even stopping to form,
the men went forward, driving the enemy into the woods for
shelter, and then forcing them through it. The fire of the
British slackened as they fell back, and when new Continental
troops appeared on their right flank as well, the retreat
became almost a rout.

"We'll drive them the length of the island," yelled Brereton,
frantic with excitement, as the men went clambering up
the rocks after the flying enemy.

"Colonel Brereton, his Excellency directs you to call in the
regiments to their former position," shouted Grayson, cantering
up.

Brereton swore forcibly before he galloped among the men,
and even after they, in obedience to his orders, had fallen back
slowly and taken up their original position, he growled to the
aide as they began the ascent, "I'm sick of this over-caution,
Grayson! What in--"

"The general was right," asserted Grayson. "Look there."
He pointed over the treetops that they had now risen above to
where columns of Royal Highlanders and Hessian Yagers
were hastening forward at double-quick. "You would have
had a sharp skimper-scamper hadst been allowed to go another
half-mile."

"'T is too bad, though," sighed the young officer, "that
when the men will fight they have to be checked."

"Be thankful you did your double-quick in the cool of the
morning, and are done with it. Lord! it makes me sweat
just to see the way they are hurrying those poor Yagers. 'T is
evident we've given them a real scare."

Upon reaching the top of the height Brereton rode forward
to where Washington still stood. "I tried to have the'stole
away' sounded, your Excellency," he said exultingly, "but
those who knew it were so out of breath chasing them that
there was not a man to wind it."

Washington's eyes lighted up as he smiled at the enthusiasm
of the young fellow. "At least you may be sure that they
had less wind than you, for they ran farther. They've had
the best reply to their insult we could give them."

"Thet there fox they wuz gwine tu hunt did a bit of huntin'
hisself," chuckled Putnam.

"They are still falling back on their supports," remarked
Greene. "Evidently there is to be no more fighting to-day."

"They've had their bellyful, I guess," surmised Putnam.

"Then they 're better off than I am," groaned Brereton.
"I could eat an ox."

When the fact became obvious that the British had no intention
of renewing their intended attack, a general move was
made toward quarters, and as they rode Brereton pushed up
beside Washington and talked with him for a moment.

The commander ended the interview by nodding his head.
"Colonel Tilghman," he ordered, as Brereton dropped behind,
"ride on to announce our coming; also present my
compliments to Mr. Meredith and bespeak his company and
that of his ladies to dinner."

Mrs. Meredith and Janice, not having gone to bed till after
one the previous night, slept until they were wakened by the
firing; and when they had dressed and descended it was to
find headquarters practically deserted, save for the squire and
a corporal 's guard. At the suggestion of the servant who gave
them breakfast, they climbed to the cupola of the house, but
all they could see of the skirmish were the little clouds of
smoke that rose above the trees and the distant advance of
the British reinforcements. Presently even these ceased or
passed from view, and then succeeded what Janice thought a
very "mopish" two hours, terminated at last by the arrival of
the aide with his invitation, which sent her to her room for a
little extra prinking.

"If I had only worn my lutestring," she sighed. Her toilet
finished,--and the process had been lengthened by the trembling
of her hands,--Janice descended falteringly to go through
the hall to the veranda. In the doorway she paused, really
taken aback by the number of men grouped about on the grass;
and she stood there, with fifty eyes turned upon her, the
picture of embarrassment, hesitating whether to run away
and hide.

"Come hither, child," called her mother; and Janice, with
a burning face and down-turned eyes, sped to her side.
"This is my daughter Janice, your Excellency," she told the
tall man with whom she had been speaking.

"Indeed, madam," said Washington, bowing politely over
the girl 's hand, and then looking her in the face with
pleasure. "My staff has had quite danger enough this morning
without my subjecting them to this new menace. However,
being lads of spirit, they will only blame me if I seek
to spare them. Look at the eagerness of the blades for the
engagement," he added with a laugh, as he turned to where
the youngsters were idling about within call.

"Oh, your Excellency!" gasped Janice, "I--I--please
may n't I talk to you?"

"Janice!" reproved her mother.

"Oh! I did n't mean that, of course," faltered the girl.
"'T was monstrous bold, and I only wanted--"

"Nay, my child," corrected the general. "Let an old man
think it was intended. Mrs. Meredith, if you'll forgive the
pas, I'll glad General Greene with the privilege of your hand
to the table, while the young lady honours me with hers.
Never fear for me, Miss Janice," he added, smiling; "the
young rascals will be in a killing mood, but they dare not
challenge their commander. There, I'll spare your blushes
by joking you no more. I hope you were not greatly discomforted
in your accommodation?" he asked, as they took their
seats at the long table under the tent on the lawn.

"No, indeed, your Excellency. One of thy staff--I know
not his name, but the one who questioned dadda--was vastly
polite, and gave his room to us."

"That was Colonel Brereton,--the beau of my family.
Look at him there! Wouldst think the coxcomb was in
the charge this morning?"

Janice, for the first time, found courage to raise her eyes
and glance along what to her seemed a sea of men's faces, till
they settled on the person Washington indicated. Then she
gave so loud an exclamation of surprise that every one looked
at her. Conscious of this, she was once more seized with
stage fright, and longed to slip from her chair and hide herself
under the table.

"What startled thee, my child?" asked the general.

"Oh--he--nothing--" she gasped. "Who--what didst
thou say was his name?"

"John Brereton."

"Oh!" was all Janice replied, as she drew a long breath.

"'T will ne'er do to let him know you've honoured him by
particular notice," remarked the commander; "for both at
Boston and New York the ladies have pulled caps for him to
such an extent that 't is like he'll grow so fat with vanity that
he'll soon be unable to sit his horse."

"Is--is he a Virginian, your Excellency?"

"No. 'T is thought he's English."

Janice longed to ask more questions, but did not dare, and
as the bottle passed, the conversation became general, permitting
her to become a listener. When the moment came for the
ladies to withdraw, she followed her mother.

"Oh, mommy!" she said the instant she could, "didst
recognise Charles?"

"Charles! What Charles?"

"Charles Fownes--our bond-servant--Colonel Brereton."

"Nonsense, child! What maggot idea hast thee got now?"

"'T is he truly--and I never thought he could be handsome.
But his being clean-shaven and wearing a wig--"

"No more of thy silly clack!" ordered her mother. "A
runaway bond-servant on his Excellency's staff, quotha!
Though he does head the rebels, General Washington is a
man of breeding and would never allow that."

Before the men rose from the table the ladies were joined
by Washington and Mr. Meredith.

"I have already expressed my regrets to your husband, Mrs.
Meredith," said the general, "that a suspicion against him
should have put you all to such material discomfort, and I desire
to repeat them to you. Yet however greatly I mourn the
error for your sake, for my own it is somewhat balanced by the
pleasure you have afforded me by your company. Indeed, 't is
with a certain regret that I received Colonel Brereton's report,
which, by completely exonerating Mr. Meredith, is like to
deprive us of your presence."

"Your Excellency is over-kind," replied Mrs. Meredith,
with an ease that excited the envy of her daughter.

"The general has ordered his barge for us, my dear," said
the squire, "and 't is best that we get across the river while
there 's daylight, if we hope to be back at Greenwood by
to-morrow evening."

Farewells were promptly made, and, under the escort of
Major Gibbs, they set out for the river. Once in the boat,
Janice launched into an ecstatic eulogium on the commander-in-chief.

"Ay," assented Mr. Meredith; "the general 's a fine man in
bad company. 'T is a mortal shame to think he's like to come
to the gallows."

"Dadda! No!"

"Yes. They put a bold face on 't, but after yesterday's defeat
they can't hold the island another week; and when they
lose it the rebellion is split, and that 's an end to 't. 'T will be
all over in a month, mark me."

Janice pulled a very serious face for a moment, and then
asked: "Didst notice Colonel Brereton, dadda?"

"Ay. And a polite man he is. He not merely had us released,
but I have in my pocket a protection from the general
he got for me."

"Didst not recognise him?"

"Recognise? Who? What?"

"Oh, nothing," replied Janice.


XXV
FREEDOM IN RETROGRADE

The departure of the Merediths for headquarters
under arrest had set Brunswick agog, and all
sorts of surmises as to their probable guilt and fate
had given the gossips much to talk of; their return,
three days later, not merely unpunished, but with a protection
from the commander-in-chief, set the village clacks still more
industriously at work.

Events were moving so rapidly, however, that local affairs
were quickly submerged. News of Washington's abandonment
of the island of New York and retreat into Westchester,
pursued by Howe's army, of the capture of Fort Washington
and its garrison, of the evacuation of Fort Lee, of the steady
dwindling of the Continental Army by the expiration of the
terms of enlistment, and still more by wholesale desertions,
reached the little community in various forms. But interesting
though all this was for discussion at the tavern of an
evening, or to fill in the vacant hour between the double
service on a Sunday, it was still too distant to seem quite
real, and so the stay-at-home farmers peacefully completed
the getting in of their harvests, while the housewives baked
and spun as of yore, both conscious of the conflict more
through the gaps in the village society, caused by the
absences of their more belligerently inclined neighbours,
than from the actual clash of war.

The absent ones, it is needless to say, were the doughty
warriors of the "Invincibles," who had been called into service
along with the rest of the New Jersey militia when Howe's
fleet had anchored in the bay of New York three months
before, and who had since formed part of the troops defending
the towns of Amboy and Elizabethport, but a few miles
away, from the possible descent of the British forces lying on
Staten Island. This arrangement not only spared them from
all active service, thus saving the parents and wives of Brunswick
from serious anxiety, but also permitted frequent home
visits, with or without furlough, thus supplying the town with
its chief means of news.

An end came, however, to this period of quiet. Early in
November vague rumours, growing presently to specific statements,
told the villagers that their day was approaching. The
British troops on Staten Island were steadily reinforced; the
small boats of the line-of-battle ships and frigates were gathered
opposite Amboy and Paulus Hook; large supplies of
forage and cattle were massed at various points. Everything
betokened an intended descent of the royal army into New
Jersey; that the new-made State was to be baptised with
blood.

The successive defeats of the Continental army wonderfully
cooled many of the townspeople who but a few months before
had vigorously applauded and saluted the glowing lines of the
Declaration of Independence, when it had been read aloud to
them by the Rev. Mr. McClave. One of the first evidences
of this alteration of outward manner, if not of inward faith,
was shown in the sudden change adopted by the community
toward the household of Greenwood. When the squire had
departed in custody he apparently possessed not one friend in
Brunswick, but within a month of his return the villagers, the
parson excepted, were making bows to him, in the growing
obsequiousness of which might be inferred the growing desperation
of the Continental cause. Yet another indication
was the appearance of certain of the," Invincibles," who came
straggling sheepishly into town one by one--"Just ter see how
all the folks wuz"--and who, for reasons they kept more
private, failed to rejoin their company after having satisfied
their curiosity. Most incriminating of all, however, was the
return of Bagby from the session of the Legislature then being
held in Princeton, and his failure to go to Amboy to take
command of his once gloried-in company.

"'T would n't be right to take the ordering away from
Zerubbabel just when there 's a chance for fighting, after he's
done the work all summer," was the captain's explanation of
his conduct; and though his townsmen may have suspected
another motive, they were all too bent on staying at home
themselves, and were too busy taking in sail on the possibility
of having to go about on another tack, to question his
reasons.

If the mountain would not go, Mahomet would come; and
one evening late in November, while the wind whistled and
the rain beat outside the "Continental Tavern," as it was now
termed, the occupants of the public room suddenly ceased
from the plying of glasses and pipes, upon the hurried entrance
of a man.

"The British is comin'!" he bellowed, bringing every man
to his feet by the words.

"How does yer know?" demanded Squire Hennion.

"I wuz down ter the river ter see if my boat wuz tied fast
enuf ter stand the blow an' I hearn the tramp of snogers
comin' across the bridge."

"The bridge!" shouted Bagby. "Then they must be--
Swamp it! there is n't more than time enough to run."

Clearly he spoke truly, for even as he ended his sentence
the still unclosed door was filled by armed men. A cry of
terror broke from the tavern frequenters, but in another
moment this was exchanged for others of relief and welcome,
when man after man entered and proved himself to be none
other than an invincible.

"How, now, Leftenant Buntling?" demanded Bagby, in
an attempt to regain his dignity. "What is the meaning of
this return without orders?"

"The British landed a swipe o' men at Amboy this mornin',
makin' us fall back mighty quick ter Bonumtown, an' there,
arter the orficers confabulated, it wuz decided thet as the
bloody-backs wuz too strong ter fight, the militia and the
flyin' camp thereabouts hed better go home an' look ter their
families. An' so we uns come off with the rest."

"You mean to say," asked Joe, "that you did n't strike
one blow for freedom; did n't fire one shot at the tools of the
tyrant?"

"Oh, cut it, Joe," growled one of the privates. "Thet 'ere
talk duz fer the tavern and fer election times, but 't ain't
worth a darn when ye've marched twenty miles on an empty
stomick. Set the drinks up fer us, or keep quiet."

"That I will for you all," responded Bagby, "and what 's
more, the whole room shall tipple at my expense."

No more drinks were ordered, however; for a second time
the occupants of the room were startled by the door being
thrown open quickly to give entrance to a man wrapped in a
riding cloak, but whose hat and boots both bespoke the officer.

"Put your house in readiness for General Washington and
his staff, landlord," the new-comer ordered sharply. "They
will be here shortly, and will want supper and lodgings." He
turned in the doorway and called: "Get firewood from where
you can, Colonel Hand, and kindle beacon fires at both ends
of the bridge, to light the waggons and the rest of the forces;
throw out patrols on the river road both to north and south,
and quarter your regiment in the village barns." Then he
added in a lower voice to a soldier who stood holding a horse
at the door: "Put Janice in the church shed, Spalding; rub
her down, and see to it that she gets a measure of oats and
a bunch of fodder." He turned and strode to the fire, his
boots squelching as he walked, as if in complaint at their besoaked
condition. Hanging his hat upon the candle hook on
one side of the chimney breast and his cloak on the other,
he stood revealed a well-dressed officer, in the uniform of a
Continental colonel.

It had taken the roomful a moment to recover their equipoise
after the fright, but now Squire Hennion spoke up:

"So yer retreatin' some more, hey?"

The officer, who had been facing the fire in an evident
attempt to dry and warm himself, faced about sharply:
"Retreat!" he answered bitterly. "Can you do anything
else with troops who won't fight; who in the most critical
moment desert by fifties, by hundreds, ay, by whole regiments?
Six thousand men have left us since we crossed into Jersey.
A brigade of your own troops--of the State we had come to
fight for--left us yesterday morning, when news came that
Cornwallis was advancing upon our position at Newark.
What can we do but retreat?"

"Well, may I be dummed!" ejaculated Bagby, "if it is n't
Squire Meredith's runaway bondsman, and dressed as fine
as a fivepence!"

The officer laughed scornfully. "Ay," he assented. "'T is
the fashion of the land to run away, so 't is only a la mode
that bondsmen and slaves should imitate their betters."

"Yer need n't mount us Americans so hard, seem' as yer
took mortal good care ter git in the front ranks of them as
wuz retreatin'," asserted an Invincible.

I undertook to guide the retreat, because I knew the
roads of the region," retorted the officer, hotly, evidently
stung by the remark; then he laughed savagely and continued:
"And how comes it, gentlemen all, that you are not gloriously
serving your country? Cornwallis, with nine thousand picked
infantry, is but a twenty miles to the northward; Knyphausen
and six thousand Hessians landed at Perth Amboy this morning,
and would have got between us and Philadelphia but for
our rapid retreat. Canst sit and booze yourself with flip and
swizzle when there are such opportunities for valour? Hast
forgotten the chorus you were for ever singing?" Brereton
sang out with spirit:--

   "'In Freedom we're born, and, like Sons of the Brave,
         We'll never surrender,
         But swear to defend her,
       And scorn to survive, if unable to save.'"

"'T ain't no good fighting when we hav n't a general,"
snarled Bagby.

"Now damn you for a pack of dirty, low-minded curs!"
swore the officer, his face blazing with anger. "Here you've
a general who is risking life, and fortune, and station; and
then you blame him because he cannot with a handful of raw
troops defeat thirty thousand regulars. There's not a general
in Europe--not the great Frederick himself--who'd so
much as have tried to make head against such odds, much
less have done so much with so little. After a whole summer
campaign what have the British to show? They've gained
the territory within gunshot of their fleet; but at White Plains,
though they were four to one, they dared not attack us,
and valiantly turned tail about, preferring to overrun undefended
country to assaulting our position. I tell you General
Washington is the honestest, bravest, most unselfish man in
the world, and you are a pack of--"

"Are my quarters ready, Colonel Brereton?" asked a tall
man, standing in the doorway.

"This way, yer Excellency," obsequiously cried the landlord,
catching up a candle and coming out from behind the
bar. "I've set apart our settin'-room and our bestest room
--thet 'ere with the tester bed--for yer honourable Excellency."

"Come with me, Colonel Brereton," ordered the general, as
he followed the publican.

Motioning the tavern-keeper out of the room, Washington
threw aside his wet cloak and hat, and taking from a pocket
what looked like a piece of canvas, he unfolded and spread
it out on the table, revealing a large folio map of New Jersey.

"You know the country," he said; "show me where the
Raritan can be forded."

"Here, here, and here," replied Brereton, indicating with
his finger the points. "But this rain to-night will probably so
swell it that there'll be no crossing for come a two days."

"Then if we destroy the bridge Cornwallis cannot cross for
the present?"

"No, your Excellency. But if 't is their policy to again try
to outflank us, they'll send troops from Staten Island by boat
to South Amboy; and by a forced march through Monmouth
they can seize Princeton and Trenton, while Cornwallis holds
us here."

"'T is evident, then, that we can make no stand except at
the Delaware, should they seek to get in our rear. Orders
must be sent to secure all the boats in that river, and
to--"

A knock at the door interrupted him, and in reply to his
"Come in," an officer entered, and, saluting, said hurriedly:
"General Greene directs me to inform your Excellency that
word has reached him that a brigade of the New Jersey militia
have deserted and have seized and taken with them the larger
part of the baggage train. The commissary reports that the
stores saved will barely feed the forces one day more."

Washington stood silent for a moment. "I will send a
message back to General Greene by you presently. In the
meantime join my family, who are Supping, Major Williams."
Then, when the officer had left the room, the commander sat
down at the table and rested his head on his hand, as if weary.
"Such want of spirit and fortitude, such disaffection and
treachery, show the game to be pretty well up," he muttered
to himself.

Brereton who had fallen back at the entrance of the aide,
once more came to the table. "Your Excellency," he said,
"we are but losing the fair-weather men, who are really no
help, and what is left will be tried troops and true."

"Left to starve!"

"This is a region of plenty. But give me the word, and in
one day I'll have beef and corn enough to keep the army for
a three months."

"They refuse to sell for Continental money."

"Then impress."

"It must come to that, I fear. Yet it will make the farmers
enemies to the cause."

"No more than they are now, I wot," sneered the aide.
"And if you leave them their crops 't will be but for them to
sell to the British. 'T is a war necessity."

Washington rose, the moment's discouragement already
conquered and his face set determinedly. "Give orders to
Hazlett and Hand to despatch foraging parties at dawn, to
seize all cattle, pigs, corn, wheat, or flour they may find, save
enough for the necessities of the people, and to impress horses
and wagons in which to transport them. Then join us at
supper."

Brereton saluted, and turned, but as he did so Washington
again spoke:--

"I overheard what you were saying in the public room,
Brereton," he said. "Some of my own aides are traducing
me in secret, and making favour with other generals by praising
them and criticising me, against the possibility that I may
be superseded. But I learned that I have one faithful
man."

"Ah, your Excellency," impulsively cried the young officer,
starting forward, "'t is a worthless life,--which brought disgrace
to mother, to father, and to self; but what it is, is yours."

"Thank you, my boy," replied Washington, laying his hand
affectionately on Brereton's shoulder. "As you say, 't is a
time which winnows the chaff from the wheat. I thank God
He has sent some wheat to me." And there were tears in
the general's eyes as he spoke.


XXVI
NECESSITY KNOWS NO LAWS

While the family of Greenwood were still at the
breakfast-table on the following morning, they
were startled by a shriek from the kitchen, and
then by Peg and Sukey bursting into the room
where they sat.

"Oh, marse," gasped the cook, "de British!"

Both the squire and Janice sprang to the windows, to
see a file of soldiers, accompanied by a mounted officer, drawn
up at the rear of the house. As they took this in, the line
broke into squads, one of which marched toward the stable,
a second toward the barn, while the third disappeared round
the corner of the house. With an exclamation the squire
hurried to the kitchen and intrenched himself in the door
just as the party reached it.

"Who are ye, and by what right do ye trespass on my
property?" he demanded.

"Git out of the way, ole man," ordered the sergeant.
"We hev orders ter take a look at yer store-room and cellar,
an' we ha'n't got no time to argify."

"Ye'll not get into my cellar, that I can tell--" began
the squire; but his remark ended in a howl of pain, as the
officer dropped the butt of his musket heavily on the
squire's toes. The agony was sufficient to make the owner of
Greenwood collapse into a sitting position on the upper step
and fall to nursing the injured member.

Janice, who had followed her father into the kitchen, sprang
forward with a cry of sympathy and fright, just as the mounted
officer, who had heard the squire's yell, came trotting round
the corner.

"No violence, sergeant!" he called sternly.

[Illustration: "Trenton is unguarded. Advance!"]

"Not a bit, sir," replied the aggressor. "One of the boys
happened ter drop his muskit on the old gentleman's corns,
an' I was apologisin' fer his carelessness."

"You dreadful liar!" cried Janice, hotly, turning from her
attempted comforting of the squire. "He did it on--oh!"
She abruptly ended her speech as the mounted officer uncovered
and bowed to her, and the "Oh!" was spoken as
she recognised him. "Charles--Colonel Brereton!" the
girl exclaimed.

"Charles!" exclaimed Mrs. Meredith, coming to the door.
"Hoighty toighty, if it is n't!"

"I am very sorry that we are compelled to impress food,
Mrs. Meredith," said the aide; "but as it is useless to resist I
trust you will not make the necessity needlessly unpleasant."

"Ye 're a pack of ruffians and thieves!" cried the
squire.

"Nay, Mr. Meredith," answered the aide, quietly; "we
pay for it."

"In paper money that won't be worth a penny in the
pound, come a month."

"That remains to be seen," responded the officer.

"'T is quite of a piece that a runaway redemptioner should
return with other thieves and rob his master!" fumed the
owner of Greenwood.

Brereton grew red, and retorted: "I am not in command
of this force, and rode out with them at some sacrifice to save
you from possible violence or unnecessary discomfort. Since
you choose to insult me, I will not remain. Do your duty,
sergeant," was the officer's parting injunction as he wheeled
his horse and started toward the road.

"Stick him with yer bagonet, Pelatiah," ordered the
sergeant, motioning toward the squire, who, still sitting in the
doorway, very effectually blocked the way. Pelatiah, duly
obedient, pricked the well-developed calf of the master of
Greenwood, bringing that individual to his feet with another
howl, which drew sympathetic shrieks from Mrs. Meredith and
Janice.

Evidently the cries made it impossible for Colonel Brereton
to hold to his intention, for he once again turned his horse
and came riding back. By the time he reached the door the
squire had been shoved to one side, and the men could be
heard ransacking the larder and cellar none too quietly.

"Though you slight my services," the aide explained, "I'll
bide for the present."

Meanwhile the parties that had been detached to the other
points could be seen harnessing oxen and horses to the hay
cart, farm waggons, and even the big coach, and loading them
from the corn-crib and barn. Presently the cortege started for
the house, and here more stores of various kinds were loaded.

During the whole of this operation the squire kept busily
expressing his opinions of the proceedings of the foragers, of
the army to which they belonged, and of the Continental
cause generally, which, but for the presence of the staff officer,
would have probably led to his ducking in the horse trough,
or to some other expression of the party's displeasure.

"I see ye take good care to steal all my horses, so that I
shall not be able to ride to Brunswick and report ye to the
commander," he railed, just as the last armful of hams and
sides of bacon was thrown into the coach. "We heard tales
of how ye robbed and plundered about York, unbeknownst to
the general, and I've no doubt ye are thieving now without
his knowledge."

"If you want to get to Brunswick you shall have a lift,"
offered the aide. "We'll drive you there, and I'll see to it
that you have a horse to bring you back."

"Ay. And leave my wife and daughter to be outraged by
you villainous Whigs."

Again Brereton lost his temper. "I challenge you to prove
one case of our army insulting a woman," he cried. "And
hast heard of the doings of the last few days? Of the conduct
of British soldiers to the women of Hackensack and
Elizabethtown, or of the brutality of the Hessians at Rahway?
At this very moment Mr. Collins is printing for us broadsides
of the affidavits of the poor miserable victims, in the hopes
that we can rouse the country by them."

"'T is nothing but a big Whig clanker, I'll be bound!"
snorted Mr. Meredith.

"I would for the sake of manhood they were!" said the
officer. "I was once proud to be a British soldier--" he
checked himself sharply, and then went on: "If you fear for
Mrs. Meredith and Miss Janice, take them with you. I'll
see to it that you all return in comfort."

Although the squire had no particular fear of the safety of
his womankind, he did not choose to confess it after what he
had said; and so, without more ado, his wife and daughter
were ordered to don their calashes and cloaks. Then the
odd-looking caravan, of five vehicles, nine cows, and four
squealing pigs, started,--Mrs. Meredith and Janice and the
squire seated on the box of the coach, while the driver
bestrode one of the horses.

The excitement of the drive was delightful to Janice, and it
was not lessened by what she heard. The aide rode beside
the coach, and at first tried to engage her in conversation, but
the girl was too shy and self-conscious to talk easily to him,
and so it ended in chat between the officer and Mr. and Mrs.
Meredith, in which he told of how he had secured his position
on the staff of the general, and gave an outline history of the
siege of Boston, the campaigning about New York, and the
retreat to Brunswick.

"I knew the rake-hells 'ud never fight," asserted the squire,
at one point.

"Like all green troops, they object to discipline, and have
shown cowardice in the face of the enemy. But the British
would not dare say as much as you say, after the lessons
they've had. The fault is mainly with the officers, who, by
the system of election or appointment, are chiefly politicians
and popularity-seekers not fit to black boots, much less command
companies and regiments. Here in this town, the life
was sapped out of the 'Invincibles' by their own officers; but
the parson went among the men this morning, and the best of
them formed a new company under him and enlisted for the
year. And those who helped me take the powder to Cambridge
volunteered, and have proved good men. All they
need are good officers to make them good soldiers."

"What did ye with that rogue Evatt?" demanded the
squire, his mind recalled to the subject by the allusion to the
powder; and Janice hastily caught hold of the fore-string of
her calash to pull the headgear forward so that her face should
be hidden from the aide. Yet she listened to the reply with
an attentive if red face.

"Our kidnapping of him not being easy to justify, I did not
choose to take him to Cambridge and so, when we spoke a
brig outside Newport, bound for Madeira, I e'en bargained his
passage on her. 'T is naturally the last I ever heard of him."

Then poor Janice had to hear her father and mother express
their thanks to the officer and berate the runaway pair;
and the painful subject was abandoned only when they drove
into Brunswick, where its interest could not compete with that
of the masses of soldiers camped on the green, the batteries of
artillery planted along the river front, and the general hurly-burly
everywhere.

"You had best sit where you are, ladies," the aide remarked,
"for the inn is full of men;" and the two accepted
his suggestion, and from their coign of vantage surveyed the
scene, while the squire, tumbling off the waggon, demanded
word with the commander-in-chief.

"I'll tell him you wish speech with him," said Brereton,
dismounting and going into the tavern.

It is only human when one is in misery to take a certain
satisfaction in finding that misfortune is not a personal monopoly.
While the squire waited to pour out his complaint, he
found farmer after farmer standing about with similar intent;
and, greatly comforted by the grievances of his neighbors, he
became almost joyous when Squire Hennion, following a long
line of carts loaded with his year's harvest, added himself to
the scene, and with oaths and wails sought in turn to express
his anger and misery.

"Tew rob a genuine Son o' Liberty," he whined, "ez hez
allus stood by the cause! The general shall hear o' 't. I'm
ruined. I'll starve. I'll--"

"Ho, ho!" laughed Mr. Meredith, heartily. "So sitting on
both sides don't pay, eh? And a good serve out it is to ye, ye
old trimmer. What! object to paper dollars, when ye are so
warm a Whig? What if they are only worth two shillings in
the pound, specie? Liberty for ever! Ho, ho! This is
worth the trip to Brunswick alone."

Colonel Brereton came out of the tavern with a paper in his
hand, and called the squire aside.

"Mr. Meredith," he said in a low voice, his face eager, yet
worn with anxiety, "I find that since I left camp this morning
the rest of the New Jersey and all of the Maryland flying
camps have refused to stay, and have left us, though Cornwallis's
advance is at Piscataway, and as he is pushing forward
by forced marches he will reach the Raritan within two hours."

"No doubt, no doubt," assented the squire, gleefully.
"Another week will put him in Philadelphia, and then ye
rebels will dance for it. No wonder ye look frighted,
man."

"I am not scared on my own account," replied the officer,
bitterly. "A dozen bullets, whether in battle or standing
blindfold against a white wall, are all the same to me. I'll
take the gallows itself, if it comes, and say good quittance."

"Ay," grunted Mr. Meredith, "go on. Tip us a good
touch of the heroics."

The aide smiled, but then went on anxiously: "But what I
do fear, and why I tell you what I do, is for--for--for Mrs.
Meredith and--The loss of this force leaves us barely three
thousand men to fight Cornwallis's and Knyphausen's fifteen
thousand. We shall burn the bridge within the hour, but
that will scarce check them, and so we must retreat to the
Delaware."

"And how does this affect me?"

"Every hour brings us word of the horrible excesses of the
British soldiery. No woman seems safe from--For God's
sake, Mr. Meredith, don't remain here! But go with our
army, and I'll pledge you my word you shall be safe and as
comfortable as it is in my power to make you."

"Tush! British officers never--"

"'T is not the officers, but the common soldiers who straggle
from the lines for plunder and--while the pigs of Hessians
and Waldeckers, sold by their princes at so much per head,
cannot be controlled, even by their own officers. See, here, is
the broadside of which I spoke. I have seen every affidavit,
and swear to you that they are genuine. Don't--you can't
risk such a fate for Mrs. Meredith or--" Brereton stopped,
unable to say more, and thrust the paper he held in his hand
into that of the squire.

"I'll have none of your Whig lies puffed on me!" persisted
the squire, obstinately.

The officer started to argue; but as he did so the gallop of a
horse's feet was heard, and Colonel Laurens came dashing up.
Throwing himself from the saddle, he flung into the tavern;
and that he brought important news was so evident that
Brereton hurriedly left Mr. Meredith and followed. Barely a
moment passed when aide after aide issued from the inn, and,
mounting, spurred away in various directions. The results
were immediate. The carts were hurriedly put in train and
started southward on the Princeton post-road, smoke began to
rise from the bridge, the batteries limbered up, and the regiments
on the green fell in and then stood at ease.

While these obvious preparations for a retreat were in progress
a coloured man appeared, leading so handsome and
powerful a horse that Janice, who had much of her father's
taste, gave a cry of pleasure and, jumping from her perch,
went forward to stroke the beast's nose.

"What a beauty!" she cried.

"Yes, miss, dat Blueskin," replied the darky, grinning
proudly. "He de finest horse from de Mount Vernon stud,
but he great villain, jus' de same. He so obstropolus when he
hear de guns dat the gin'l kian't use him, an' has tu ride ole
Nelson when dyars gwine tu be any fightin'."

Janice leaned forward and kissed the "great villain" on his
soft nose, and then turned to find the general standing in the
doorway watching her.

"I have not time to attend to your complaints, gentlemen,"
he announced to the two esquires and the group of farmers, all
of whom started forward at his appearance. "File your
statements and claims with the commissary-general, and in due
time they'll receive attention." Then he came toward his
horse, and as he recognised the not easily forgotten face he
uncovered. "I trust Miss Janice remembers me!" he said, a
smile succeeding the careworn look of the previous moment,
and added: "Had ye been kind, ye'd have kept that caress
for the master."

Janice coloured, but replied with a mixture of assurance
and shyness: "Blueskin could not ask for it, but your Excellency--"
Then she paused and coloured still more.

Washington laughed, and, stooping, kissed her hand.
"Being a married man, must limit the amount of his yielding
to temptation," he said, finishing the sentence for the girl.
"I would I were to have the honour of your company at dinner
once more, but your friends, the British, will not give us
the time. So I must mount and say farewell."

Janice turned an eager face up to the general, as he swung
himself into the saddle. "Oh, your Excellency," she exclaimed
below her breath, "dadda would think it very wicked
of me, but I hope you'll beat them!"

Washington's face lighted up, and, leaning over, he once
more kissed her hand. "Thank you for the wish, my child,"
he said, and, giving Blueskin the spur, rode toward the river.

"If Philemon was only like his Excellency!" thought the
girl.


XXVII
A CHECK TO THE ENEMY

There followed a weary hour of waiting, while first
the carts, then the artillery, and finally the few
hundred ill-clad, weary men filed off on the post-road.
Before the rear-guard had begun its march,
British regiments could be discerned across the river, and presently
a battery came trotting down to the opposite shore, and
a moment later the guns were in position to protect a crossing.
This accomplished, a squadron of light dragoons rode into the
water and struck boldly across, a number of boats setting out
at the same moment, each laden with redcoats. While they
were yet in mid-stream the Continental bugles sounded the retreat,
and the last American regiment marched across the green
and disappeared from view.

Owing to the fact that the coach had not been parked with
the waggons, but had been brought to the tavern door, the baggage-train
had moved off without it,--a circumstance, needless
to say, which did not sadden the squire. It so happened that
the vehicle had stopped immediately under the composite portrait
sign-board of the inn; and no sooner was the last American
regiment lost to view than the publican appeared, equipped
with a paint-pot and brush, and, muttering an apology to the
owner of the coach, now seated beside his wife and daughter
on the box, he climbed upon the roof and, by a few crude
strokes, altered the lettering from "Gen. George the Good
into "King George the Good." But he did not attempt to
change the firm chin and the strong forehead the bondsman
had added to the face.

Barely was the operation finished when the British light
horse came wading out of the water and cantered up the river
road to the green, the uniforms and helmets flashing brilliantly,
the harness jingling, and the swords clanking merrily.

"There are troops worth talking about," cried the squire,
enthusiastically.

He spoke too quickly, for the moment the "dismount"
sounded, twenty men were about the coach.

"Too good horses for a damned American!" shouted one,
and a dozen hands were unharnessing them on the instant.
"A load of prog, boys!" gleefully shouted a second, and
both doors were flung open, and the soldiers were quickly
crowding each other in their endeavours to get a share.
"Egad!" announced another, "but I'll have a tousel and a
buss from yon lass on the box." "Well said!" cried a fourth,
and both sprang on the wheel, as a first step to the attainment
of their wishes.

Mr. Meredith, from the box, had been shrieking affirmations
of his loyalty to King George without the slightest heed being
paid to him; but there is a limit to passivity, and as the two men
on the wheel struggled which should first gain the desired
prize, the squire kicked out twice with his foot in rapid succession,
sending both disputants back into the crowd of troopers.
Howls of rage arose on all sides; and it would have fared
badly with the master of Greenwood had not the noise brought
an officer up.

"Here, here!" he cried sharply, "what 's all this pother
about?"

"'T is a damned Whig, who is--"

"A lie!" roared the squire. "There is no better subject
of King George living than Lambert Meredith."

The officer jeered. "That's what every rebel claims of
late. Not one breathes in the land, if you'd but believe the
words of you turncoats."

"'T is not a lie," spoke up Janice, her face blazing with
temper and her fists clinched as if she intended to use them.
"Dadda always--"

"Ho!" exclaimed the officer, "what a pretty wench! Art
a rebel, too? for if so, I'll see to it that guard duty falls to
me. Come, black eyes, one kiss, and I'll send the men to
right about."

Janice caught the whip from its socket and raised it threateningly,
just as another officer from a newly arrived company
came spurring up and, without warning, began to strike right
and left with the flat of his sword. "Off with you, you
damned rapscallions!" he shouted. "Leftenant Bromhead,
where are your manners?"

"And where are yours, Mr. Hennion, that ye dare speak so
to your superior officer?" demanded the lieutenant.

There was no mistaking Philemon, changed though he was.
He wore a fashionable wig, and his clothes fitted well a figure
that, once shambling and loose-jointed, had now all the erectness
of the soldier, but the face was unchanged.

"I'll not quarrel with you now," swaggered Philemon.
"If you want ter fight later I'm your man, an' if you want
ter go before Colonel Harcourt with a complaint I'll face you.
But now I've other matters." He turned to the trio on the
box, and exclaimed as he doffed his hat: "Well, squire, didst
ever expect sight of me again? An' how do Mrs. Meredith
and Janice? Strap my vitals, if I've seen such beauty since I
left Brunswick," he added airily, and making Janice feel very
much put out of countenance.

"Welcome, Philemon!" cried Mrs. Meredith, "and doubly
welcome at such a moment."

"Ay," shouted the squire, heartily. "Ye arrived just in the
nick o' time to save your bride, Phil." A remark which sent
the whip rattling to the ground from the hands of Janice.
"An' ye a king's officer!" he ended. "Bubble your story
to us, lad."

"There ain't much ter tell as you don't know already. Sir
William put no faith in the news I carried, thinkin' it but a Whig
trick, and so they held me prisoner. But later, when 't was
too late ter use it, they learned the word I brought them
was true; so they set me free, and as there was no gettin'
away from Boston, the general gave me a cornetcy, that I
should not starve."

"I'll lay to it that there'll be no more starvation now that
you 're back home," cried the squire, "though betwixt your
cheating old sire, who'll pay no interest on his mortgages,
and the merchants gone bankrupt in York, and now this loss
of harvest and stock, 't is like Greenwood will show but a lean
larder for a time. But mayhaps now that ye've gone up in
the world, ye'd like to cry off from the bargain?"

"But let me finish the campaign by capturin' Philadelphia,
and dispersin' Washington's pack of peddlers and jail-birds,
which won't take mor'n a fortnight, and then you can't name
a day too soon for me, an' I hope not for your daughter.
You can't call me gawk any longer, I reckon, Janice?"

"Thou camst nigh to losing her, Phil," declared Mrs.
Meredith.

"Ay," added the squire. "Hast heard of how that scoundrel
Evatt schemed

"Oh, dadda!" moaned Janice, imploringly.

"No scoundrel is he, squire, nor farmer neither; he bein' Lord
Clowes," asserted Phil. "He joined our army at New York,
and is Sir William's commissary-general an' right-hand man."

A more effectual interruption than that of the girl's prevented
Mr. Meredith from enlarging upon the theme, for
the bugle sounded in quick succession the "assembly" and
"boots and saddles."

"That calls me," announced Phil, with an air of importance.
"We ain't goin' ter give the runaways no rest, you see."

"But Phil," cried the squire, "ye'll not leave us to be
again--And they've stole Joggles and Jumper, and all my
hams and sides. Ye must--"

"I can't bide now," called back the cornet, hurriedly taking
his position just as the bugle called the marching order,
and the squadron moved off after the retreating Continentals.

Helpless to move, the Merediths sat on their coach while
an officer, accompanied by a file of soldiers and half a dozen
drummers, took station at the Town Hall. First a broadside
was posted on the bulletin-board, and the drums beat the
"parley" long and loudly. Then the drummers and the file
split into two parties, and marching down the village street in
opposite directions, the non-commissioned officers, to the beat
of drum, shouted summons to all the population to assemble
at the hall to take the oath of allegiance to "King George the
Third, by the grace of God, of Great Britain, France, and Ireland,
King, Defender of the Faith, and so forth."

The first man to step forward to take the oath, sign the
submission, and receive his pardon was the Hon. Joseph
Bagby, erstwhile member of the Assembly of New Jersey, but
now loudly declaring his loyalty to the crown, and his joy
that "things were to be put in order again." The second
signer was the publican; the third was Esquire Hennion; and
after him came all the townsmen, save those who had thrown
in their lot along with the parson that morning by marching
off with Washington.

Mr. Meredith descended from his seat and waited his turn
to go through what was to him a form, and during this time
the ladies watched the troops being ferried across the river.
Presently an officer rode up the river road, issuing orders to
the regiments, which promptly fell in, while the rider halted
at the tavern, announced the soon-to-be-expected arrival of
Generals Howe and Cornwallis, and bade the landlord prepare
his best cheer. While he spoke a large barge landed its
burden of men and horses on the shore, and a moment later
a dozen officers came trotting up to the tavern between lines
of men with their guns at "present arms."

"What ho! Well met, friend Meredith," cried one of the
new-comers, as the group halted at the tavern. "I was but
just telling Sir William that the king had one good friend in
Brunswick town, and now here he is!" Evatt, or Clowes,
swung out of the saddle and extended his hand.

Although the squire had just recovered the whip dropped
by Janice, he did not keep to his intention of laying it across
the shoulders of the would-be abductor, but instead grasped
the hand offered.

"Well met, indeed," he assented cordially. "'T is a glad
sight to us to see our good king's colours and troops."

"Sir William," called the baron, "thou must know Mr.
Lambert Meredith, first, because he's the one friend our king
has in this town, and next, because, as thy commissary, I forbid
thee to dine at the tavern on the vile fried pork or bubble
and squeak, and the stinking whiskey or rum thou'lt be served
with, and, in Mr. Meredith's name, invite thee and his Lordship
to eat a dinner at Greenwood, where thou'lt have the
best of victuals, washed down with Madeira fit for Bacchus."

"Ay," cried Mr. Meredith, "the rebels have done their
best to bring famine to Greenwood, but it shall spread its best
to any of his Majesty's servants."

"Here 's loyalty indeed," said Sir William, heartily, as he
leaned in his saddle to shake the squire's hand. "Damn
your rebel submissions and oaths, not worth the paper they 're
writ on; but good Madeira,--that smacks loyal and true on a
parched tongue and cannot swear false. Lead the way, Mr.
Meredith, and we'll do as much justice to your wine as later
we'll do to Mr. Washington, if we can ever come up with him.
Eh, Charles?"

The officer addressed, who was frowning, gave an impatient
movement in the saddle that seemed to convey dissent. "Of
what use was our forced march," he demanded, "if not to
come up with the fox before he finds cover?"

"Nay, the rebels are so little hampered by baggage that
they can outstrip all save our light horse. And because they
have the legs of us is no reason for our starving ourselves; the
further they run, the more exhausted they'll be."

"Well argued," chimed in Clowes. "And your Excellency
will find more at Greenwood than mere meat and drink.
Come, squire, name your dame and Miss Janice to Sir
William. In playing quadrille to win, man, we never hold
back the queens."

All the horsemen uncovered to the ladies, as they were
introduced, and Howe uttered an admiring epithet as his eyes
fixed on the girl. "The Queen of Hearts scores, and the
game is won," he cried, bowing low to Janice. "Ho, Charles,
art as hot for the rebels as thou wert a moment since?"

"I still think the light horse had best be pushed, and
should be properly supported by the grenadiers."

"Nay, wait till Knyphausen comes up, and then we'll--"

"'T is no time to play a waiting game."

"Tush! Lord Cornwallis," replied Sir William, irritably.
"The infantry have done their twenty miles to-day. I'll not
jade my troops into the runaway state of the rebels. What
use to kill our men, when the rebellion is collapsing of
itself?" During all his argument the commander-in-chief
kept his eyes fixed on Janice.

"I can't but think--" began the earl.

"Come, come, man," interjected Howe, "we must n't
let the Whigs beat us by starvation. Must we, eh, Mr.
Meredith?"

"'T would be a sad end to all our hopes," assented the
squire. "And while we have to do with the rebels, let me
point out to ye the two most malignant in this town. There
stand the precious pair who have done more to foment disloyalty
than any other two men in the county." It is needless
to say that Mr. Meredith was pointing at Squire Hennion and
Bagby, who, more curiously than wisely, had lingered at the
tavern.

"He lies!" and "'T ain't so! shrieked Bagby and Hennion
in unison, and each began protestations of loyalty, which were
cut short by Sir William, who turned to Cornwallis and ordered
the two under arrest, pending further information.

"Now we'll see justice," chuckled the master of Greenwood,
gleefully. "If ye'll not pay interest on your debts, I'll pay
interest on mine--ay, and with a hangman's cord belike."

"But I signed a submission and oath, and here 's my
pardon," protested Bagby, producing the paper, an example
that Hennion imitated.

"Damn Campbell's carelessness!" swore Howe. "He
deals pardons as he would cards at piquet, by twos, without so
much as a look at their faces. A glance at either would have
shown both to be rapscallion Whigs. However, 't is done, and
not to be undone. Release them, but keep eye on each, and
if they give the slightest cause, to the guardhouse with them.
Now, Mr. Meredith."

"I must ask your Excellency's assistance to horse my coach,
and his Majesty owes me a pair not easy to match, stole by
your troops this very morning."

"Make note of it, Mr. Commissary, and see to it that Mr.
Meredith has the two returned, with proper compensation. And,
Charles, if the theft can be fixed, let the men have a hundred
stripes apiece. Unless a stop can be put to this plundering
and raping, we'll have a second rebellion on our hands."

Cornwallis shrugged his shoulders and issued the necessary
orders. Then horses being secured for the carriage, the
squire and dames, accompanied by the generals, set out for
Greenwood.

It was long past the customary dining hour when the house
was reached, and though Mrs. Meredith and Janice joined
Sukey and Peg in the hurried preparation of the meal, it
was not till after three that it could be announced. As a
consequence, before the men had tired of the Madeira, dark
had come. One unfortunate of the staff was therefore despatched
to order the regiments to bivouac for the night.

"Tell the commissaries to issue an extra ration of rum,"
directed Sir William, made generously minded by the generous
use of the wine. "And now, friend Lambert, let 's have in the
spirits, and if it but equal thy Madeira in quality we'll sing a Te
Deum and make a night of it."

Janice, at a call from the host, brought in the squat decanters;
and the general insisted, with a look which told his
admiration, that his first glass should be mixed by the girl.

"Nay, nay," he cried, checking her as she reached for the
loaf sugar." "Put it to thy lips, and 't will be sweeter than
any sugar can make it. Take but a sip and give us a toast
along with it." And the general caught at the girl's free hand
and tried to put his other arm about her waist.

"Oh, fie, Sir William!" called Clowes, too flushed with wine
to guard his tongue. "What will Mrs. Loring think of such
talk?"

"Think! Let her think what she may," retorted the general,
with a laugh. "Dost thou not know that woman is never
sweeter than when she is doubtful of her empire?"

Janice, with heightened colour and angry eyes, eluded Howe's
familiarities by a backward step, and, raising the glass, defiantly
gave, "Success to Washington!" Then, scared at her own
temerity, she darted from the room, in her fright carrying
away the tumbler of spirits. But she need not have fled, for
her toast only called forth an uproarious burst of laughter.

"I always said 't was a rebellion of petticoats," chuckled
Sir William. "And small blame to them when they sought
to tax their only drink. 'Fore George, I'd rebel myself if
they went to taxing good spirits unfairly. Ah, gentlemen,
after we have finished with Mr. Washington next week, what
sweet work 't will be to bring the caps to a proper submission!
No wonder Cornwallis is hot to push on and have done with
the men."

The morrow found Sir William no less inclined to tarry than
he had been the day before, and, using the plea that they
would await the arrival of Knyphausen's force, he sent orders
to the advance to remain bivouacked at Brunswick, much to
the disgust of Cornwallis, who was little mollified by the consent
he finally wrung from his superior to push forward the
Light Horse on a reconnoissance,--a task on which he at
once departed.

Thus rid of his disagreeable spur, the general settled down
before the parlour fire to a game of piquet with Clowes, not
a little to the scandalising of card-hating Mrs. Meredith.
Worse still to the mother, nothing would do Sir William but
for Janice to come and score for him, and it is to be confessed
that his attention was more devoted to the black of her eyes and
the red of her cheeks than it was to the same colours on the
cards. Three times he unguarded a king in the minor hand,
and twice he was capoted unnecessarily. As a result, the
baron won easily; but the gain in purse did not seem to
cheer him, for he looked discontented even as he pocketed
his winnings. And as every gallant speech his commander
made the girl had deepened this look, the cause for the feeling
was not far to seek.

Dinner eaten, the general, without leaving the table, lapsed
into gentle, if somewhat noisy, slumber; and his superior thus
disposed of for the moment, Clowes sought Janice, only to
find that two young fellows of the staff, having abandoned the
bottle before him, had the longer been enjoying her society.
He joined the group, but, as on the preceding evening, Janice
chose to ignore his presence. What he did not know was
something said before his entrance, which had much to do
with the girl's determination to punish him.

"Who is this person who is so intimate with Sir William?"
she had asked the staff secretary.

McKenzie gave his fellow-staffsman a quick glance which,
manlike, he thought the girl would not perceive. "He 's
commissary-general of the forces," he then replied.

Janice shrugged her shoulders. "Thank you for enlightening
my ignorance," she said ironically. "Let me add in payment
for the information that this is a spinet."

Again McKenzie exchanged a look with Balfour. The latter,
however, after a glance at the door, said, in a low voice:
"He 's no favourite with us; that you may be sure."

"He--Is he--Is Baron Clowes his true name?" Janice
questioned.

"More true than most things about him," muttered
McKenzie.

"Then he has another name?" persisted the girl.

"A half-dozen, no doubt," assented Balfour. "There are
dirty things to be done in every kind of work, Miss Meredith,
and there are always dirty men ready to do them. I'd not
waste thought on him. Knaves go to make up a complete
pack as much as kings, you know," he finished, as Lord Clowes
entered the room.

Cornwallis returned at nightfall, with word of the junction
of reinforcements; but, despite the news, it required all the
urgence of himself and Clowes to induce the commander-in-chief
to give the marching order for the next morning. Nor,
when the hour of departure came, was Howe less reluctant,
lingering over his adieux with his host and hostess, and especially
with their daughter, to an extent which set the earl
stamping with impatience and put a scowl on Clowes' face.
Even when the general was in the saddle, nothing would do
him but he must have a stirrup cup; and when this had been
secured, he demanded another toast of the girl.

"You gave Mr. Washington your good wishes last time, Miss
Janice, runaway though he was. Canst not give a toast for the
troops that don't run?" he pleaded.

Janice, with a roguish look in her eyes that boded no good
to the British, took the glass, and, touching it to her lips, said:
"Here 's to the army which never runs away, and which
never--" Then she paused, and caught her breath as if
wanting courage.

"Out with it! Complete the toast!" cried the general,
eagerly.

"And which never runs after!" ended Janice.


XXVIII
THE EBB-TIDE

Clowes lingered behind for a brief moment after the
departure of Howe, in pretended desire to advise
Mr. Meredith concerning the British policy about
provisions and forage, but in truth to say a word of
warning which proved that he already regretted having secured
for his commander-in-chief the entree of Greenwood.

"I heard Sir William say he'd bide with ye on his return
from Philadelphia," the commissary told the squire in parting.
"Have an eye to your girl, if he does. Though a married
man, his Excellency is led off by every lacing-string that
comes within reach."

The master of Greenwood privately thought that the precautionary
advice as to his daughter might come with better
grace from some other source; but both guest and host, for
reasons best known to each, had tacitly agreed to ignore the
past, and so the squire thanked his counsellor.

"Ye'll not forget to seek out my horses!" he added, when
the commissary picked up his bridle.

"Assuredly not," promised Clowes. "How many didst
say ye lost?"

"Two. All the Whig thieves left to me of the nine I had."

"Fudge, man! Say nothing of the Whig thieves, but lay
them all to our account. We've plunderers in plenty in our
own force, let alone the dirty pigs of Hessians, and King
George shall pay for the whole nine."

"Nay, Lord Clowes, because I've been robbed, I'll not
turn--" began the squire.

[Illustration: "He'd make a proper husband."]

"What is more," went on the benevolently-inclined officer,
"I will tell ye something that will be worth many a pound.
'T was decided betwixt Sir William and myself that we should
seize all provisions and fodder throughout the province. But
I need scarce say--"

"Surely, man, thou wilt do nothing as crazy as that," burst
out Mr. Meredith. "Dost not see that it will make an enemy
of every man, from one end--"

"Which they are already," interrupted the baron, in turn.
"'T is our method of bringing punishment home to the scamps.
We'll teach them what rebellion comes to ere we have finished
with them. But, of course, such order does not extend to my
personal friends, and if ye have any fodder or corn, or anything
else ye can spare, I will see to it that his Majesty buys it at prices
that will more than make good to ye what ye lost through the
rebels."

The squire made a motion of dissent. "The Whig rascals
have swept my barn and storehouses so clean that I'll have to
buy for my own needs, and--"

"Then buy what ye can hereabout before we begin seizing,
and see to it that ye buy a good surplus which ye can sell to
us at a handsome advance. Our good king is a good pay-master,
and I'll show ye what it is to have a friend in the
commissariat." With this Clowes put spurs to his horse, confident
that he had more than offset any prejudice against him
that might still exist in Mr. Meredith's mind. None the less,
that individual stood for some moments on the porch with
knitted brows, gazing after the departing horseman and when
he finally turned to go into the house he gave a shake to his
head that seemed to express dissatisfaction.

Although Mr. Meredith did not act upon the commissary's
suggestion in securing a supply of provisions, there was quickly
no lack of food or forage at Greenwood. From the moment
that Brunswick was occupied by the British, every one of Mr.
Meredith's tenants, who for varying periods had refused to
pay rent, adopted a different course and wholly or in part
settled up the arrears owing. Most of them first endeavoured
to liquidate the claim in the Continental currency, now depreciated
through the desperation of the American cause to a
point that made it scarcely worth the paper on which its
pseudo-value was stamped. The squire, however, with many
a jeer and flout at each would-be payer for his folly in having
taken the money, and his still greater foolishness in expecting
to pay rent on leaseholds with it, declined to accept it. His
refusal of each tender, which indeed had been expected, was
usually followed by a second offer of payment in the form of
fodder or provisions, or "in kind," as the leases then expressed
it; and the moment the rumour went through the community
that the British were forcibly seizing provisions, every
farmer hastened to save his entire surplus by paying it to his
landlord.

Nothing better proved the hopeless outlook of the American
cause than the conduct of Esquire Hennion, for that worthy
rode to Greenwood, and after a vain attempt, like that of the
tenants, to pay in the worthless paper money the arrears of
interest on his mortgages, with a like refusal by Mr. Meredith,
he completely broke down, and with snivels and wails besought
his "dear ole friend" to be lenient and forbearing. "I made
a mistake, squire," he pleaded; "but I allus liked yer, an' Phil
he likes yer, an' naow yer're too ginerous ter push things too
far, I knows."

"Huh!" grunted the creditor. "I said I'd make ye cry
small, ye old trimmer. So it 's no longer to your interest to
pay principal, or your principle to pay interest, eh? No, I
won't push ye too far! I'll only turn ye out of Boxely and
let ye be farmed on the town as a pauper. If I had the dealing
with ye, ye'd be in the provost prison at York awaiting
trial as a traitor. And my generosity would run to just six
feet of rope."

Of the tide of war only vague rumours came back to the
non-combatants, until at noon, a week later, Sir William,
accompanied by two aides and an escort of dragoons, came
cantering up.

"In the king's name, dinner!" he cried cheerily, as he
shook the welcoming hand of the squire. "You see, Mr.
Meredith, we've forgot neither your loyalty nor your Madeira.
No, nor your dainty lass, either; and so we are here again to
levy taxation without representation on them all. 'T is to be
hoped, Mrs. Meredith, that 't will be met more kindly than
our Parliamentary attempt at the same game. Ah, Miss
Janice, your face is a pleasant sight to look at after the bleak
banks of the Delaware, at which we've been staring and
cursing for the last five days."

"We hoped to hear of ye as in Philadelphia before this,
Sir William," said the squire, so soon as they were seated at
the table.

"Ay, and so did we all; but Mr. Washington was too quick
and sharp for us. By the time we had reached Trenton, he
had got safely across the river, and had taken with him or
destroyed all the boats."

"Could ye not have forded the river higher up?"

"Cornwallis was hot for attempting something of the sort,
but sight of the ice-floes in the river served to cool him, so he
is going into winter quarters and will not stir from his cantonments
until spring, unless the river freeze strong enough for
him to cross on the ice."

"And what of the rebels?"

"'T is sudden gone so out of fashion there is scarce one
left. Washington has a few ragged troops watching us from
across the river; but, except for these, there 's not a man in
the land who will own himself one. How many pardons have
we issued in the Jerseys alone, Henry?" demanded the
general, appealing to his secretary.

"Nigh four thousand; and at Trenton and Burlington, Mr.
Meredith, the people are flocking in in such numbers that
over four hundred took the king's oath yesterday," responded
McKenzie.

"That shows how the wind holds, and what a summer's
squall the whole thing has been," answered the host, gleefully;
"I always said 't was a big windy bubble, that needed but the
prick of British bayonets to collapse."

"There'll be little left of it by spring, I doubt not," asserted
Howe. "In faith, we may take it as a providence
that we could not cross the Delaware, for a three-months will
probably put an end to all armed opposition, and we may
march into Pennsylvania with beating drums and flying colours.
Even Cornwallis himself confesses that time is playing our
game."

"Miss Meredith will be put to 't to find a new toast,"
suggested Balfour.

"Well spoke," laughed his superior. "What will it be, fair
rebel?"

"However," asserted Janice.

"Bravo!" vociferated the general. "Now indeed rebellion
is on its last legs. You make me regret I can tarry but the
meal, for when submission is so near 't is a pity not to stay
and complete it."

"Was that why you left the Delaware, your Excellency?"
asked Janice, archly.

The colour came flushing into Howe's cheeks, while both
father and mother spoke sharply to the girl for her boldness
and impertinence. But in a moment the general's good-nature
was once more in the ascendant, and he interfered to save her
from the scolding.

"Nay, nay," he interjected. "'T was but a proper retort to
my teasing. I left the Delaware, Miss Janice, because the
'Brune' frigate sails for England in three days, and there are
despatches to be writ and sent by her. And for the same
reason I can tarry here but another hour, much as I should
like to stay. Mr. Meredith, 't is a man's duty to aid a creditor
to pay his debts. May I not hope to see you and Mrs. Meredith
and Miss Janice at headquarters ere long? For if you
come not willingly, I'll put Miss Janice under arrest as an
arrant and avowed rebel, and have her brought to York under
guard."

The departure of these guests gave but a brief quiet to the
household, for two days later, at dusk, Clowes rode up, and his
coming was welcomed all the more warmly that his escort of
half a dozen dragoons led with them Joggles and Jumper.

"Have in, have in, man," cried the host, genially, "to where
there 's a fire and something to warm your vitals."

"Curse thy climate!" ejaculated the new-comer, as he
stamped and shook himself in the hallway, to rid his shoulders
and boots of their burden of snow. "The storm came on
after we started; and six hours it 's took us to ride from
Princeton, while the wind blew so I feared the cattle would
founder. But here 's warmth enough to make up for the
weather," he added, as he entered the parlour, all aglow with
the light of the great blazing logs, and of the brushwood and
corn-cobs which Janice had thrown on their top when the
horses had first been heard at the door. He shook Mrs.
Meredith's hand, and then extended his own to Janice, only
to have it ignored by her. In spite of this, and of an erect
attitude, meant to express both distance and haughtiness, her
flushed cheeks, and eyes that looked everywhere except into
those of the visitor, proved that the girl was not as unmoved as
she wished to appear.

"Where are thy manners, Jan?" reproved the father, who,
having declared an amnesty as regarded the past, forgot that
his daughter might not be equally forgiving.

"Give Mr.--Lord Clowes thy hand, child," commanded
her mother, sternly, "and place a seat for him by the fire."

Janice pulled one of the chairs nearer to the chimney
breast, and then returned to the quilting-frame, at which she
had been working when the interruption came.

"Didst hear me?" demanded Mrs. Meredith.

Janice turned and faced the three bravely, though her voice
trembled a little as she replied: "I will not shake his
hand."

"Yoicks! Here 's a kettle of fish!" ejaculated the commissary.
"What's wrong?"

"Janice, do as thou art told, or go to thy room," ordered
the mother.

The girl opened her lips as if about to protest, but courage
failed her, and she hurriedly left the parlour, and flying to her
room, she threw herself on the bed and wept out her sense of
wrong on her pillow.

"I never would have, if he had n't--and it was n't I asked
him to the house--and he took a mean advantage--and he
was n't scolded for it, nor shamed to all the people--and now
they show him every honour, though he--though for a year it
was held up to me."

Presently the girl became conscious of the clatter of knives
and forks on plates in the room beneath her, and of an accompaniment
of cheerful voices and laughter. Far from lessening
her woe, they only served to intensify it, till finally she rose in
a kind of desperation, wishing only to escape from the merry
sounds. "I'll go and see Clarion and Joggles and Jumper,"
she thought. "They love me, and--and they don't punish
me when others are to blame."

Not choosing to pass through the kitchen, where the dragoons
would probably be sitting, she stole out of the front door,
without wrap or calash, and in an instant was almost swept off
her feet and nearly blinded by the rush of wind and snow.
Heeding neither, nor the instant wetting of her slippered feet,
she struggled on through the waxing drifts to the stable door.
With a sigh of relief that the goal was attained, she passed
through the partly open doorway and paused at last, breathless
from her exertion.

On the instant she caught her breath, however, and
then demanded, "Who 's there?" A whinny from Joggles
was the only response. Taking no heed of the horse's greeting,
Janice stood, listening intently for a repetition of the
sound that had alarmed her. "I heard you," she continued,
after a moment. Then she gave a little cry of fright, which
was scarcely uttered when it was succeeded by a half-sob and
half-exclamation of mingled joy and relief. "Oh, Clarion!"
she exclaimed, "you gave me such a turn, with your cold nose.
And what was mommy's darling doing with the harness? I
thought some one was here."

Again Joggles whinnied, and, her fright entirely gone,
Janice walked to his stall. "Was my precious glad to get
back?" she asked, patting him on the back as she went into
the stall. "Why, my poor dear! Did they go to their supper
without even taking his saddle off? Well, he should--
and his bridle, too, so that he could n't eat his hay! 'T was a
shame, and--" Once again, Janice uttered an exclamation
of fright, as her fingers, moving blindly forward in search of
the buckle, came in contact with some cloth, under which she
felt a man's arm. Nor was her fright lessened, though she
did not scream, when instantly her arm in turn was seized
firmly. The unknown peril is always the most terrifying.

"I did not want to frighten you, Miss Janice--" began the
interloper.

"Charles!" ejaculated the girl. "I mean, Colonel Brereton."

"I thought you 'd scarcely come into the stall, and hoped
to get away undiscovered."

"But what are you--I thought you were across--How
did you get here?"

"I had business to the northward," explained the officer,
"and meant to have been in Bound Brook by this time. But
the cursed snow came on, and, not having travelled the westerly
roads, I thought best to keep to those with which I was
familiar, though knowing full well that I ran the risk of landing
in the arms of the British. Fortunately their troops are no
fonder of facing our American weather than our American
riflemen, and tucked themselves within doors, leaving it to
us--" There the aide checked his flow of words.

"But why did you come here?"

Brereton laughed. "Does not a runaway servant always
turn horse thief? My mare has covered near forty miles to-day,
the last ten of it in the face of this storm, and so I left her
at the Van Meter barn, and thought to borrow Joggles to ride
on to Morristown to do the rest." Colonel Brereton's hand,
which had continued on the girl's arm, relaxed its firm hold,
and slipped down till it held her fingers. "And then, I--I
wanted word of you, for the stories of Hessian doings that
come to us are enough to make any man anxious." Janice felt
his lips on her hand. "All is well with you?" he asked
eagerly, after the caress.

Janice, forgetful of her recent woe, answered in the affirmative,
as she tried to draw herself away. Her attempt only led
to the man's hand on hers tightening its grip. "I can't let you
go, Miss Janice, till you give me your word not to speak of this
meeting. They could scarce catch me such a night, but my
mission is too vital to take any risks."

"I promise," acceded Janice, readily.

Brereton let go her hand at once, and his fingers rattled the
bit, as he hastily completed the buckling the girl's entrance
had interrupted. "If I never return, you will claim your namesake,
my mare, Miss Janice," he suggested as he backed Joggles
out of the stall. "And treat her well, I beg you. She's
the one thing that has any love for me. God knows if I ever
see her again.

Forgetting that Brereton could not see her, Janice nodded
her head. "You are going for good?" she asked.

"I fear for anything but that! For good or bad, however,
I must ride my thirty miles to-night."

"Thirty miles!" cried Janice, with a shiver. "And your
hands are dreadfully cold, and your teeth chatter."

"'T is only the chill of inaction after hard and hungry riding.
Ten minutes of cantering will set the blood jumping
again."

"Can't you wait a moment while I get something for you to
eat?" besought the girl.

"Bless you for the thought," replied the aide, with a little
husk in his voice. "But my mission is too important to risk
delay, much more the nearness of yon dragoons."

"For what are you going?" questioned Janice.

"To order--to get the dice for a last desperate main."

"General Washington is going to try--?"

"Ay. Ah, Miss Janice, they have beaten our troops, but
they've still to beat our general, and if I can but make Lee--
I must not linger. Wilt give me a good-by and God-speed
to warm me on the ride?"

"Both," answered Janice, holding out her hand, which the
officer once again stooped and kissed. "And to-night I'll
pray for his Excellency.'

Brereton shoved open the door wide enough for the horse
to pass through. "And not for his Excellency's aide?" he
asked.

Janice laughed a little shyly as she replied: "Does not the
greater always include the lesser?"

Barely were the words spoken, when a sound from the outside
reached them, making both start and listen intently. It
needed but an instant's attention to resolve the approaching
noise into the jingle of bits and sabres.

"Hist!" whispered the officer, warningly. "Cavalry."
He threw back the holster-flap of the saddle to free a pistol,
and, grasping his scabbard to prevent it from clanking, he
stepped through the doorway, leading Joggles by the bridle.

"Ho, there!" came a voice out of the driving snow.
"We've lost sight and road. Which way is 't to Greenwood?"

Brereton put foot in the stirrup and swung into the saddle.
"Away to the right," he responded, as he softly drew his
sabre, and slipped the empty scabbard between his thigh and
the saddle. Gathering up the reins, he wheeled Joggles to the
left.

"Can't ye give us some guidance, whoever ye be?" asked
the voice, now much nearer, while the sound of horses' breathing
and the murmur of men's voices proved that a considerable
party were struggling through the deepening snow. "Where
are you, anyway?'

Brereton touched Joggles with the spur gently, and the
steed moved forward. Not five steps had been taken before
the horse shied slightly to avoid collision with another, and,
in doing so, he gave a neigh.

"Here 's the fellow, Hennion," spoke up a rider. "Now
we'll be stabled quick enough." He reached out and caught
at the bridle.

There was a swishing sound, as Brereton swung his sword
aloft and brought it down on the extended arm. Using what
remained of the momentum of the stroke, the aide let the
flat of the weapon fall sharply on Joggles' flank; the horse
bounded forward, and, in a dozen strides, had passed through
the disordered troop.

A shrill cry of pain came from the officer, followed by a
dozen exclamations and oaths from the troopers, and then a
sharp order, "Catch or kill him!"

"Ha, Joggles, old boy," chuckled his rider, "there 's not
much chance of our being cold yet a while. But we know the
roads, and we'll show them a trick or two if they'll but stick
to us long enough."

Bang! bang! bang! went some horse-pistols.

"Shoot away!" jeered the aide, softly, though he leaned
low in the saddle as he wheeled through the small opening
in the hedge and galloped over the garden beds. "'T is only
British dragoons who'd blindly waste lead on a northeaster.
'T is lucky the snow took no offence at my curses of it an
hour ago."

XXIX
ON CONTINENTAL SERVICE

Once across the garden, the aide rode boldly, trusting
to the snow overhead to hide his doings and the
snow underfoot to keep them silent. Turning
northward, he kept Joggles galloping for five
minutes, then confident that his pursuers had been distanced,
or misled, he varied the pace, letting the horse walk where the
snow was drifted, but forcing him to his best speed where the
road was blown clear.

"We know the route up to Middlebrook, Joggles; but after
that we get into the hills, and blindman's work 't will be for
the two of us. So 't is now we must make our time, if we are
to be in Morristown by morning."

The rider spoke truly, for it was already six o'clock when he
reached the cross-roads at Baskinridge. Halting his horse at
the guide-post, he drew his sword and struck the crosspiece a
blow, to clear it of its burden of snow.

"Morristown, eight miles," he read in the dark grayness of
approaching day. "Hast go enough in thee left to do it, old
fellow? Damn Lee for his tardiness and folly, which forces
man and beast to journey in such cold." Pulling a flask from
his pocket, he uncorked it. "There's scarce a drop left, but
thou shouldst have half, if it would serve thee," he said, as he
put it to his lips and drained it dry. "'T is the last I have,
and eight miles of Lee way still to do!" He laughed at his
own pun, and pricked up the horse. Just as the weary animal
broke into a trot, the rider pulled rein once more and looked
up at a signboard which had attracted his notice by giving a
discordant creak as the now dying storm swung it.

"A tavern! Here 's luck, for at least we can get some more
rum." Spurring the horse up to the door, he pulled a pistol
from its holster and pounded the panel noisily.

It required more than one repetition of the blows to rouse
an indweller, but finally a window was enough raised to permit
the thrusting out of a becapped head.

"Who's below, and what do yez want?" it challenged
gruffly.

"Never mind who I am. I want a pint of the best spirits
you have, and a chance to warm myself for a ten minutes, if
you've a spark of fire within."

"Oi've nothin' for anny wan who comes routin' me out av
bed at such an hour, an' may the devil fly off wid yez for that
same," growled the man. "Go away wid yez, an' niver let me
see yez more."

The head was already drawn in, when Brereton, with quick
readiness, called lustily: "Do as I order, or I'll have my
troopers break in the door, and then look to yourself."

"Just wan minute, colonel," cried the man, in a very different
tone; and in less than the time asked for the bolts were
slipped back and the door was opened by a figure wrapped in
a quilt, which one hand drew about him, while the other held
a tallow dip aloft.

In the brief moment it took to do this, the officer not so
much dismounted as tumbled from his horse, and he now
walked stiffly into the public room, stamping his feet to lessen
their numbness.

"Where 's thim troopers yez was talkin' av?" questioned
the landlord, peering out into the night.

"Throw some wood on those embers, and give me a drink
of something, quickly," ordered Brereton, paying no heed to
the inquiry.

"Bad 'cess to yea lies," retorted the man, shutting the door.
"It's not wan bit av firing or drink yez get this night from--
Oh, mother in hivin, don't shoot, an' yez honour shall have the
best in the house, an' a blessin' along wid it! Only just point
it somewheer else, darlin', for thim horse-pistols is cruel fond
av goin' off widout bein' fired. Thank yez, sir, it 's my wife
in bed will bless the day yez was born." The man hastily
raked open the bed of ashes and threw chips and billets on
the embers. Then he unlocked a corner cupboard. "Oi've
New England rum, corn whiskey, an' home-made apple-jack,
sir."

"Give me the latter, and if you've any food, let me have
it. Brrrew! From nigh Brunswick I've rid since nine last
night and thought to perish a dozen times with the cold, dismount
and run beside my horse as I would."

"Drop that pistol, or I shoot!" came a sharp order,
spoken from the gloom of a doorway across the room.
"You are a prisoner."

Brereton had been stooping over the fire, as it gained fresh
life, but with one spring he was behind the chimney breast.

"'T is idle to resist," persisted the hidden speaker. "The
way is barred in both directions, and there are three of us."

Brereton laughed recklessly. "Come on, most courageous
three. I've a bullet for one, and a sword for two."

"Howly hivin! just let me out first off," besought the
publican.

"If I had lead to spare, you should have the first of it
for letting me into this trap," Brereton told him viciously.
"Why did you not warn me there were British hereabout?"

"Hold!" came the distant voice. "If you think us
British, who are you?"

The officer hesitated, pondering on the possibility of being
tricked, or of possibly tricking. "If you were a gentleman,"
he said, after a pause, "you 'd give me a hint as to which side
you belong."

The unseen man laughed heartily at Jack's reply. "Set me
an example, then."

"That I will," said Jack, "though I don't guarantee the
truth of it. I am an aide of General Washington, riding on
public service.

"Time enough it took you to know it. And if so, what
were you doing near Brunswick?"

"I took the route I knew best."

"Thy name is?"

"Jack Brereton."

"Art thou a green-eyed, carrot-faced put, who frights all
the women with his ill looks?" cried the man, entering.

Brereton laughed as he stepped out from the sheltering
projection. "Switch you, whoever you are, for keeping me
from the fire when I am chilled to the marrow. Why, Eustace,
this is luck beyond belief! But hast swallowed a frog?
You croak so that I knew you not."

"Not I," responded the new-comer, shaking his fellow-officer's
hand, "but I swallowed enough of yesterday's storm to
spoil my voice, let alone this creeping out of bed in shirt only,
to catch some malignant Tory or spy of King George."

"Where art thy comrades?" inquired Brereton, peering
past the major.

Eustace laughed. "They 're making acquaintance with
thy troop of horse."

"But what art thou doing here in this lonely hostel, with a
British force no further away than Springfield? Dost court
capture?"

"Just what I told the general when he said he'd bide here
till--"

"The general!" interrupted Brereton. "Is Lee here--in
this tavern?"

"Ay. And sleeping through all the rout you made as
sound--"

"'T is madness! However, I'll not throw blame, for it
has saved me eight miles of weary riding. Wake him at
once, as I must have word with him. And you, landlord,
stable my horse, and see to it that he has both hay and oats
in plenty."

There was some delay before Eustace returned with the
word that the major-general would see the aide, and with
what ill grace the interview was granted was shown by the
reception, for on Brereton being ushered into the room, it was
to find Lee still in bed, and so far under the counterpane that
only the end of a high-coloured but very much soiled nightcap
was in view, while on the top of the covering lay two dogs,
who rose with the entrance of the interloper.

"Who the devil are ye; why the devil did ye have me
waked; and what the devil do ye want?" was the greeting,
grumbled from the bedclothes.

Brereton flushed as he answered sharply: "Eustace has no
doubt told you who I am, and letters from his Excellency must
have already broke the purport of my mission. Finding you
paid no heed to his written orders, he has sent me with verbal
ones, trusting your hearing may not be as seriously defective
as your eyesight."

The head of the general appeared, as he sat up in bed. "Is
this a message from General Washington?" he vociferated.

"No. 'T is my own soft speaking, in recognition of your
complaisant welcome. But I bear a message of his Excellency.
He directs that you march the entire force under you,
without delay, by way of Bethlehem and Easton, and effect a
junction with him."

"To what end?"

"The British think us so bad beat, and are so desirous
to hold a big territory, for purposes of forage and plunder,
that they have scattered their troops beyond supporting distance.
Can we but get a force together sufficient to attack
Burlington, Trenton, or Princeton, 't will be possible to beat
them in detail."

"I have a better project than that," asserted Lee. "Let
Washington but make a show of activity on the Delaware, and
he shall hear of my doings shortly."

"But what better can be done than to drive them back
from a country rich with food supplies, relieve the dread of
their advancing upon Philadelphia, and give the people a
chance to rally to us?" protested the aide.

"Pooh!" scoffed Lee. "'T is pretty to talk of, but 't is
another thing to bring it off, and I make small doubt that
't will be no more successful than the damned ingenious
manoeuvres of Brooklyn and Fort Washington, which have
unhinged the goodly fabric we had been building. I tell you
we shall be in a declension till a tobacco-hoeing Virginian, who
was put into power by a trick, and who has been puffed up
to the people as a great man ever since, is shown to be most
damnably weak and deficient. He 's had his chance and
failed; now 't is for me to repair the damage he's done."

Brereton clinched his fist and scowled. "Do I understand
that you refuse to obey the positive orders of his Excellency?"

"'T is necessary in detachment to allow some discretion to
the commanding officer. However, I'll think on it after
I've finished the sleep you've tried to steal." The general
dropped back on the pillows, and drew up the bedclothes so
as to cover his nose.

The aide, muttering an oath, stamped noisily out of the
room, slamming the door with a bang that rattled every window
in the house.

"I read failure in your face," remarked Eustace, still
crouched before the fire.

"Failure!" snapped the scowling man, as he, too, stooped
over the blaze. "Nothing but failure. Here, when the
people have been driven frantic by the outraging of their
women and the plundering of their property, and want but
the smallest encouragement to rise, one man dishes all our
hopes by his cursed ambition and disobedience."

"How so?"

Too angry to control himself, even to Lee's aide, Jack continued
his tirade. "Ever since the general was put into office
his subordinates have been scheming to break him down, and
in Congress there has always been a party against him, who,
through dislike or incapacity, clog all he advises or asks. With
the recent defeats, the plotters have gained courage to speak
out their thoughts, and your general goes so far as to refuse to
obey orders that would make possible a brilliant stroke, because
he knows that 't would stop this clack against his
Excellency. Instead, he would have Washington sit passive
and freezing on the Delaware while he steals the honours by
some attempted action. And all the while he is writing to his
Excellency letters signed, 'Yours most affectionately,' or 'God
bless you,'--cheap substitutes for the three thousand troops
he owes us." The aide went to the cupboard and helped
himself to the apple-jack. "Canst get me a place to sleep,
for God knows I'm tired?"

"Thou shalt have my bed, and welcome to thee," offered
Eustace, leading the way upstairs. "Thou'lt not mind my
getting into my clothes, for 't is not shirt-tail weather."

"Sixty miles and upward I've come since five o'clock yesterday
morning, and I'd agree to sleep under a field-piece in
full action." Brereton took off his cap and wig to toss both
on the floor, unbuckled his belt, and let his sabre fall noisily;
then sitting on the bed, he begged, "Give me a hand with my
boots, will you?" Those pulled off without rising he rolled
over, and, bundling the disarranged bedclothes about him, he
was instantly asleep.

It was noon before consciousness returned to the tired body,
and only then because the clatter of horses' feet outside waked
the sleeper and startled him so that he sprang from the bed
to the window. Relieved by the sight of Continental uniforms,
Brereton stretched himself as if still weary, and felt certain
muscles, to test their various degrees of soreness, muttering
complaints as he did so. Throwing aside his jacket, waistcoat,
and shirt, he took his sword and pried out the crust of
ice on the water in the tin milk-pail which stood on the wash-stand.
Swashing the ice-cold water over his face and shoulders,
he groaned a curse or two as the chill sent a shiver
through him. But as he rubbed himself into a glow, he became
less discontented, and when resuming the flannel shirt,
he laughed. "Thank a kind God that it 's as cold to the
British as 't is to us, and there are more of them to suffer."
Another moment served to don his outer clothing and boots,
and to fit on his wig and sword. His toilet made, he went
downstairs, humming cheerily. He turned first to the kitchen
door, drawn thither by the smell that greeted his nostrils.

"Canst give a bestarved man a big breakfast and quickly?"
he asked the woman.

"Shure, Oi've all Oi can do now," was the surly response,
"wid the general an' his staff; an' his escort, an' thim as is
comin' an' goin', an'--"

Brereton came forward. "Ye 'd niver let an Oirishman go
hungry," he appealed, putting a brogue on his tongue.
"Arrah, me darlin', no maid wid such lips but has a kind
heart." The officer boldly put his hand under the woman's
chin and made as if he would kiss her. Then, as she eluded
the threatened blandishment, he continued, "Sure, and do ye
call yeself a woman, that ye starve a man all ways to wanst?"

"Ah, go long wid yez freeness and yez blarney," retorted
the woman, giving him a shove, though smiling.

"An', darlin'," persisted the unabashed officer, "it's owin'
me somethin' ye do, for it was meself saved yez father's life
this very morning."

"My father--shure, it 's dead he's been this--It 's my
husband yez must be afther spakin' av."

"He 's too old to be that same," flattered Brereton.

"'T is he, Oi make shure," acknowledged the woman, as
she nevertheless set her apron straight and smoothed her
hair. "An' how did yez save his loife?"

"Arrah, by not shooting him, as I was sore tempted to do."

The landlady melted completely and laughed. "An' what
would yez loike for breakfast?" she asked.

Brereton looked at the provisions spread about. "Just give
me four fried eggs wid bacon, an' two av thim sausages, an
corn bread, wid something hot to drink, an' if that 's buckwheat
batter in the pan beyant, just cook a dozen cakes or so,
for I've a long ride to take an' they do be so staying. Also,
if ye can make me up something--ay, cold sausages an'
hard-boiled eggs, if ye've nothing else, to take wid me; an'
then a kiss, to keep the heart warm inside av me, 't is wan
man ye'll have given a glimpse av hivin."

"Bless us all!" marvelled Eustace, when twenty minutes
later he entered the kitchen, to learn what delayed the general's
lunch. "How came you by such a spread, when it 's
all any of us can do to get enough to keep life in us? Is 't
sorcery, man?"

"No, witchery," laughed the aide. "If thy chief were but
a woman, Eustace, I'd have Washington reinforced within a
two days."

His breakfast finished, the aide secured pen and paper, and
wrote a formal order for Lee to march. This done, he sought
the general, and, interrupting a consultation he was holding
with General Sullivan, he delivered the paper into his hands.

"I ask General Sullivan to witness that I deliver you positive
instructions to march your force, to effect a junction with
General Washington."

"I've already writ him a letter that will convince him I act
for the best," answered Lee, holding out the missive.

The aide took it without a word, saluted, and left the room.
Going to the front door, where Joggles already awaited him,
he put a Continental bill into the hands of the publican, bade
adieu to Eustace, and rode away.

"'T is as bright a day as 't was dark a night, old man," he
said to the horse, "but it never looked blacker for the cause,
and I've had my long ride for nothing. Perhaps, though,
there may be pay day coming. She knows that I'm to be
at Van Meter's barn to-night. What say you, Joggles? Think
you will she be there?"


XXX
SOME DOINGS BY STEALTH

The sound of shots outside put a sudden termination
to the supper in both the dining-room and kitchen
of Greenwood, and served to bring inmates and
candles to the front and back doors. Beyond the
moment's rush of a body of horsemen past the house, no light
on the interruption was obtained, until some of the escort of
Clowes were despatched to the stable to learn if all was well with
their horses. There they found the wounded man stretched on
the snow, and just within the doorway lay Janice in a swoon,
with Clarion licking her face. Both were carried to the house,
and while Mrs. Meredith and the sergeant endeavoured to save
the officer by a rude tourniquet, the squire held Janice's head
over some feathers which Peg burned in a bed-warmer.

"Did they kill him?" was the first question the girl asked,
when the combined stench and suffocation had revived consciousness.

"He 's just expiring," her father replied. "His arm was
struck off above the elbow, and he bleeds like a stuck pig."

Janice staggered up, though somewhat languidly. "May--
"Did he ask to see me?"

"Not he," she was told. "Come, lass, sit quiet for a bit
till thy head is steady, and tell us what 't was all about."

Janice sank into the chair her father set beside the fire.
"He was on some mission for his Excellency," she gasped, "and
stopped here to get a fresh horse--that was how I came to
know it--and while we were talking we heard the dragoons coming,
so he mounted, to escape. Then I heard a cry--oh! such
a cry--and the pistols--and--and--that 's all I remember."

"Why went he to the stable rather than to the house in the
first case?" demanded her father.

Janice looked surprised. "He knew the troopers were
here," she explained.

The squire was about to speak, when Clowes' hand on his
shoulder checked him. "There's more here than we understand,"
the latter whispered. "Let me ask the questions."
He came to the fire and said:--

"Why did he take this route, if he was bearing despatches?"

The first sign of colour came creeping back into the pale
cheeks of the girl, as she recalled the double motive the aide
had given. "Colonel Brereton said he did not know the
westerly roads, and so--"

"Colonel Brereton!" rapped out her father. "And what
was he doing hereabout? Plague take the scamp that he must
be forever returning to worry us!"

"How much of a force had he with him?" asked the commissary.

"He was alone," replied Janice.

"Alone!" exclaimed the baron, incredulously; then his
face lost its look of surprise. "He came by stealth to see you,

There was enough truth in the supposition to destroy the
last visible signs of the girl's swoon, and she responded over-eagerly:
"I told you he was on a mission for his Excellency,
and but stopped here to get a fresh horse."

"Ay," growled the squire, "he steals himself, then steals my
crop, and now turns horse thief."

"He was not stealing, dadda," denied Janice. "His own
horse was tired, so he left her and said he'd return Joggles some
time to-morrow evening."

Clowes whistled softly, as he and the squire exchanged
glances. Just as the former was about to resume his questioning,
the sound of the front door being violently thrown open
gave him pause, and the next instant Phil hurriedly entered
the room.

"The troopers at the stable say ye found Captain Boyde.
Is he bad hurt?" he demanded.

"To the death," spoke up the squire, for once missing the
commissary's attempt to keep him silent. "Hast caught
Brereton?"

[Illustration: "Stay and take his place, Colonel!"]

Janice had sprung to her feet and now stood listening, with
a half-eager, half-frightened look.

"Brereton!" cried Philemon. "Did he head the party?"

The growing complexity was too much for the patience of
the simple-minded owner of Greenwood. "May Belza have us
all," he fumed, "if I can see the bottom or even the sides of
this criss-cross business. Just tell us a straight tale, lad, if we
are not to have the jingle brains."

"'T is a swingeing bad business," groaned Phil. "Our troop
rode over from Princeton ter-day, an' the houses at Brunswick
bein' full of soldiers, I tells 'em that we could find quarters
here. We was gropin' our way when the enemy set upon us,
an' in the surprise cuts down the captain, an' captures three of
our men."

"Dost mean to say ye let one man kill your captain and
take three of ye prisoners?" scoffed the squire.

"One man!" protested the dragoon. "Think you one man
could do that?"

"Janice insists that there was but Brereton--but Charles
Fownes, now a rebel colonel."

"You may lay ter it there was mor'n--" Then Philemon
wavered, for the sight of the flushed, guilty look on the
girl's face gave a new bent to his thoughts. "What was
he here for?" he vociferated, growing angrily red as he
spoke and striding to the fire. "So he's doin' the
Jerry Sneak about you yet, is he? I tell you, squire, I won't
have it."

"Keep thy blustering and bullying for the mess-room and
the tavern, sir," rebuked Clowes, sharply, also showing temper.
"What camp manners are these to bring into gentlemen's
houses and exhibit in the presence of ladies?"

"'S death, sir," retorted Phil, hotly, "I take my manners
from no man, nor--"

"Hoighty, toighty!" chided Mrs. Meredith, entering. "Is
there not wind enough outside but ye must bellow like mad
bulls within?"

"Ay," assented the squire, "no quarrelling, gentlemen, for
we've other things to set to. Phil, there is no occasion to go
off like touchwood; 't is not as thee thinks. What is true,
however, is that we've a chance to catch this same rogue of a
Brereton, if we but lay heads together."

"Oh, dadda!" expostulated Janice. "You'll not--for I
promised him to tell nothing--and never would have spoken
had I not been dazed--and thinking him dead. I should
die of--"

"Fudge, child!" retorted Mr. Meredith. "We'll have no
heroics over a runaway redemptioner who is fighting against
our good king. Furthermore, we must know all else he told
ye."

"I passed him my promise to keep secret--"

"And of that I am to be judge," admonished the parent.
"Dost think thyself of an age to act for thyself? Come: out
with it; every word he spake."

"I'll not break my faith," rejoined Janice, proudly, her eyes
meeting her father's bravely, though the little hands trembled
as she spoke, half in fright and half in excitement.

"Nay, Miss Janice, ye scruple foolishly," advised Lord
Clowes. "Remember the old adage, that 'A bad promise, like
a good cake, is better broken than kept.'"

"'Children, obey thy parents in the Lord, for this is right,'"
quoted Mrs. Meredith, sternly.

"God never meant for me to lie--and that 's what you
would have me do."

The squire stepped into the hail, and returned with his riding-whip.
"Thou 'rt a great girl to be whipped, Janice," he
announced; "but if thou 'rt not old enough to obey, thou 'rt
not too old for a trouncing. Quickly, now, which wilt thou
have?"

"You can kill me, but I'll keep my word," panted the
maiden, while shaking with fear at her resistance, at the threatened
punishment, and still more at the shame of its publicity.

Forgetful of everything in his anger, the squire strode toward
his daughter to carry out his threat. Ere he had crossed the room,
however, to where she stood, his way was barred by Philemon.

"Look a-here, squire," the officer remonstrated, "I ain't
a-goin' ter stand by and see Janice hit, no ways, so if there 's
any thrashin' ter be done, you've got ter begin on me."

"Out of my way!" roared Mr. Meredith.

Phil folded his arms. "I've said my say," he affirmed, shaking
his head obstinately; "and if that ain't enough, I'll quit
talkin' and do something."

"The boy 's right, Meredith," assented Clowes. "Nor do
we need more of her. Send the girl to bed, and then I'll
have something to say."

Reluctantly the squire yielded; and Janice, with glad tears in
her eyes, turned and thanked Philemon by a glance that meant
far more than any words. Then she went to her room, only
to lie for hours staringly awake, listening to the wild whirring
and whistling of the wind as she bemoaned her unintentional
treachery to the aide, and sought for some method of warning
him.

"I must steal away to-morrow to the Van Meters' barn at
nightfall," was her conclusion, "and wait his coming, to tell him
of my--of my mistake, for otherwise he may bring Joggles
back and be captured. If I can only do it without being discovered,
for dadda--" and the anxious, overwrought, tired
girl wept the rest of the sentence into her pillow.

Meantime, in the room below, Lord Clowes unfolded his plan
and explained why he had wished the maiden away.

"'T is obvious thy girl has an interest in this fellow," he surmised,
"and so 't is likely she will try to-morrow evening to see
him, or get word to him. Our scheme must therefore be to let
her go free, but to see to 't that we know what she's about,
and be prepared to advantage ourselves by whatever comes to
pass."

The storm ceased before the winter daylight, and with the
stir of morning came information concerning the missing dragoons:
the body of one was found close to the stable, with a
bullet in his back, presumably a chance shot from one of his
comrades; a second rode up and reported himself, having in
the storm lost his way, and wellnigh his life, which he owed
only to the lucky stumbling upon the house of one of the tenants;
and Clarion discovered the third, less fortunate than his
fellow, frozen stiff within a quarter of a mile of Greenwood.

"'T is most like that rebel colonel and horse-thief shared the
same fate, for 't was a wild night," remarked Clowes at the
breakfast table. "Howbeit, 't will be best to have some troops
hid in your stable against this evening, for he may have weathered
the storm."

The morning meal despatched, Philemon rode over to Brunswick
to report the death of his superior to the colonel, as well
as to unfold the trap they hoped to spring, and Harcourt considered
the news so material that he and Major Tarleton accompanied
Philemon on his return. After a plentiful justice to the
dinner and to the decanters, the men, as the early winter darkness
came on, settled down to cards, while Mrs. Meredith, in
mute protest against the use of the devil's pictures, left the
room, summoned Peg, and in the garret devoted herself to the
mysteries of setting up a quilting-frame. As for the dragoons,
they sprawled and lounged about the kitchen, playing cards or
toss, and grumbling at the quantity and quality of the Greenwood
brew of small beer, till Sukey was wellnigh desperate.

Had Janice been older and more experienced, the very unguardedness
would have aroused her suspicions. To her it
seemed, however, but the arrangement of a kind destiny, and
not daring to risk a delay till after tea, when conditions might not
again so favour her, she left the work she had sat down to in the
parlour after dinner, and tiptoeing through the hall, lest she
should disturb the card-players in the squire's office, she secured
her warmest wrap. Returning to the parlour, she softly raised
a window, and, slipping out, in another moment was within the
concealing hedge-row of box.

Speeding across the garden, the girl crept through a break in
the hedge, then, stooping low, she followed a stone wall till the
road was reached. No longer in sight of the house, she hurried
on boldly, till within sight of the Van Meter farm. She skirted
the house at a discreet distance and stole into the barn.
With a glance to assure herself that the mare was still there,
and a kindly pat as she passed, she mounted into the mow,
where for both prudence and warmth she buried herself deep in
the hay. Then it seemed to Janice that hours elapsed, the sole
sounds being the contented munching of horses and cattle,
varied by the occasional stamp of a hoof.

Suddenly the girl sat up, with a realising sense that she had
been asleep, and with no idea for how long. A sound below
explained her waking, and as she listened, she made out the noise
to be that of harnessing or unharnessing. Creeping as near the
edge of the mow as she dared, she peered over, but all was
blackness.

"Colonel Brereton?" she finally said.

A moment's silence ensued before she had an answer, though
it was eager enough when it came. "Is 't you, Miss Janice,
and where are you?"

The girl came down the ladder and moved blindly toward
the stalls. As she did so, somebody came in contact with her;
instantly she was enfolded by a pair of arms, and before she
could speak she felt a man's eager lips first on her cheek, and
next on her chin.

"Heaven bless you for coming, my darling," whispered
Brereton.

Janice struggled to free herself as Brereton tried to caress
her the third time. "Don't," she protested. "You--I--
How dare you?"

"A pretty question to ask an ardent lover and a desperate
man, whose beloved confesses her passion by coming to him!"

"I didn't!" expostulated the girl, as, desperate with mortification,
she broke away from the embrace by sheer strength
and fled to the other side of the barn. "How dare you think
such things of me?"

"Then for what came you?" inquired Jack.

"To warn you."

"Of what?"

"That you must not bring Joggles back, for they--the
soldiers--are watching the stable."

"You told them?"

The girl faltered, hating to acknowledge her mistake, now
that it was remedied. "If I had, why should I take the risk
and the shame of coming here?" she replied.

"Forgive me, Miss Janice, for doubting you, and for my
freedom just now. I did--for the moment I thought you
like other women. I wanted to think you came to me, even
though it cheapened you. And being desperate, I--"

"Why?" questioned the girl.

"I have failed in my mission, thanks to Lee's folly and
selfishness. Would to God the troopers who lie in wait for
me would go after him! A quick raid would do it, for he lies
eight miles from his army, and with no guard worth a thought.
There 'd be a fine prize, if the British did but know it."

"Thanks for the suggestion," spoke up a deep voice, and at
the first word blankets were tossed off two lanterns, followed
by a rush of men. For a moment there was a wild hurly-burly,
and then Brereton's voice cried, "I yield!"

As the confusion ended as suddenly as it had begun, he
added scornfully:--

"To treachery!"


XXXI
AN EXCHANGE OF PRISONERS

The prisoner's arms were hurriedly tied and he
was mounted behind one of the troopers. Janice,
meanwhile, who had been seized by Philemon
and drawn to one side out of the struggle, besought
permission of her special captor to speak to Brereton, her
fright over the surprise and her dread of what was to come
both forgotten in the horror and misery the last words of the
aide caused her. The jealousy of the lover, united to the
strictness of the soldier, made Philemon heedless of her
prayers and tears, and finally, when the cavalcade was ready
to start, she was forced to mount her namesake, and, with such
seat as she could keep in the man's saddle, ride between
Colonel Harcourt and Hennion.

No better fortune awaited her at Greenwood, the captive
being taken to the kitchen, while the culprit was escorted to
the parlour, to stand, shivering, frightened, and tearful, as her
father and mother berated her for most of the sins of the
Decalogue.

Fortunately for the maid, other hearts were not so sternly
disapproving; and Lord Clowes, after waiting till the girl's
distress was finding expression in breathless sobs, in order
that she might be the more properly grateful, at last interfered.

"Come, come, squire," he interjected, crossing to the
bowed form, and taking one of Janice's hands consolingly, "the
lass has been giddy, but 't is an ill wind, truly, for through it
we have one fine bird secured yonder, to say nothing of an
even bigger prize in prospect. Cry a truce, therefore, and
let the child go to bed."

"Ay, go to thy room, miss," commanded Mrs. Meredith,
who had in truth exhausted her vocabulary, if not her wrath.
"A pretty hour 't is for thee to be out of bed, indeed!"

Janice, conscious at the moment of but one partisan, turned
to the baron. "Oh, please," she besought, "may n't I say
just one word to Colonel Brereton--just to tell him that I
didn't--"

"Hast not shamed us enough for one night with thy stolen
interviews?" ejaculated her mother. "To thy room this
instant

Made fairly desperate, Janice was actually raising her head
to protest, when Harcourt and Philemon entered.

"One moment, madam," intervened the colonel. "I have
been plying our prisoner with questions, and have some to
ask of your daughter. Now, Miss Meredith, Lee's letter, that
we found on the prisoner, has told us all we need, but we
want to test the prisoner's statements by yours. Look to it
that you speak us truly, for if we find any false swearing or
quibbling, 't will fare ill with you." Then for three or four
minutes the officer examined the girl concerning her first
interview with the rebel officer, seeking to gain additional information
as to Lee's whereabout. Finding that Janice really
knew nothing more than had been overheard in the Van
Meter barn, he ended the examination by turning to Philemon
and saying:--

"Sound boots and saddles, Lieutenant Hennion. You can
guide us, I take it, to this tavern from which General Lee
writes?"

"That I kin," asserted Phil, "though 't will be a stiff
ride ter git there afore morning."

As the two officers went toward the door Janice made her
petition anew. "Colonel Harcourt, may I have word with
Colonel--with the prisoner, that he shall not think 't was my
treachery?" she pleaded.

"I advise agin it, Colonel Harcourt," interjected Philemon,
his face red with some emotion. "That prisoner's a sly,
sneaky tyke, and--"

"Get the troop mounted, Mr. Hennion," commanded his
superior. "Mr. Meredith, I leave our captive in charge of a
sergeant and two troopers, with orders that if I am not back
within twenty-four hours he be taken to Brunswick. Whether
we succeed or fail in our foray, Sir William shall hear of the
service you have been to us." Unheeding Janice's plea, the
colonel left the room, and a moment later the bugle sounded
in quick succession, "To horse," "The march," and "By
fours, forward."

Interest in the departing cavalry drew the elders to the
windows, and in this preoccupation Janice saw her opportunity
to gain by stealth what had been denied her. Slipping silently
from the parlour, she sped through hall and dining-room, pausing
only when the kitchen doorway was attained, her courage
wellnigh gone at the thought that the aide might refuse to
believe her protestations of innocence. Certainty that she
had but a moment in which to explain prevented hesitancy,
and she entered the kitchen.

The two troopers were already stretched at full length on
the floor, their feet to the fire, while the sergeant sat by the
table, with a pitcher of small beer and a pipe to solace his
particular hours of guard mount over the prisoner. The latter
was seated near the fire, his arms drawn behind him by a rope
which passed through the slats of the chair back. So far as
these fetters would permit, Brereton was slouched forward,
with his chin resting on his chest in a most break-neck attitude,
sound asleep. There could be no doubt about it, beyond
credence though it was to the girl! While she had been
miserably conceiving the officer as ablaze with wrath at her,
he, with the philosophy of the experienced soldier, had lost
not a moment in getting what rest he could after his forty-eight
hours of hard riding.

Such callousness was to Janice a source of indignation, and
as she debated whether she should wake the slumberer and
make her explanation, or punish his apathy by letting him
sleep, Mrs. Meredith's voice calling her name in a not-to-be-misunderstood
tone turned the balance, and, flying up the
servants' stairway, Janice was able to answer her mother's
third call from her own room. Worn out by excitement,
worry, and physical fatigue, the girl, like the soldier, soon
found oblivion from both past and future.

It was well toward morning when a finish was made to the
night's doings, and the early habits of the household were for
once neglected to such an extent that the dragoons at last lost
patience and roused Peg and Sukey with loudly shouted demands
for breakfast,--a racket which served to set all astir once more.

With the conclusion of the morning meal, Janice rose from
the table and went toward the kitchen,--an action which at
once caused Mrs. Meredith to demand: "Whither art thou
going, child?"

Facing about, the girl replied with some show of firmness:
"'T is but fair that Colonel Brereton should know I had no
hand in his captivation; and I have a right to tell him so."

"Thou shalt do nothing of the sort," denied Mrs. Meredith.
"Was not thy conduct last evening indelicate enough, but
thou must seek to repeat it?"

Janice, with her hand on the knob, began to sob. "'T is
dreadful," she moaned, "after his doing what he did for us
at York, and later, that he should think I had a hand in his
capture."

"Tush, Jan!" ejaculated the squire, fretfully, the more that
his conscience had already secretly blamed him. "No gratitude
I owe the rogue, if both sides of the ledger be balanced.
'T is he brought about the scrape that led to my arrest."

"Ay," went on Mrs. Meredith, delighted to be thus supported,
"I have small doubt thy indelicacy with him will land
us all in prison. Such folly is beyond belief, and came not
from my family, Mr. Meredith," she added, turning on her
husband.

"Well, well, wife; all the folly in the lass scarce comes
from my side, for 't is to be remembered that ye were foolish
enough to marry me," suggested the squire, placably, his anger
at his daughter already melted by the sight of her distress.
"Don't be too stern with the child; she is yet but a filly."

"Thee means but a silly," snapped Mrs. Meredith, made the
more angry by his defence of the girl. "Men are all of a
piece, and cannot hold anger if the eyes be bright, or the waist
be slim," she thought to herself wrathfully, quite forgetful of
the time when that very tendency in masculine kind had been
to her one of its merits. "Set to on the quilt, girl, and see to
it that there's no sneaking to the kitchen."

Scarcely had Janice, obedient to her mother's behest, seated
herself at the big quilting-frame, when Lord Clowes joined her.

"They treat ye harsh, Miss Janice," he remarked sympathetically;
"but 't is an unforgiving world, as I have good
cause to wot."

Janice, who had stooped lower over the patches when first
he spoke, flashed her eyes up for an instant, and then dropped
them again.

"And one is blamed and punished for much that deserves
it not. I' faith, I know one man who stands disgraced to the
woman he loves best, for no better cause than that the depth
of his passion was so boundless that he went to every length to
gain her."

The quilter fitted a red calimanco patch in place, and
studied the effect with intense interest.

"Wouldst like me to carry a message to the prisoner, Miss
Janice?"

"Oh, will you?" murmured the girl, gratefully and eagerly.
"Wilt tell him that I knew nothing of the plan to capture him,
and was only trying to aid his escape? That, after all his
kindness, I would never--"

Here the eager flow of words received a check by the re-entrance
of Mrs. Meredith. Dropping his hand upon the quilting-frame
so that it covered one of the girl's, the commissary
conveyed by a slight pressure a pledge of fulfilment of her wish,
and, after a few moments' passing chat, left the room. Before
a lapse of ten minutes he returned, and took a chair near the
girl.

Glancing at her mother, to see if her eyes wandered from
the sock she was resoling, Janice raised her eyebrows with
furtive inquiry. In answer the baron shook his head.

"'T is a curious commentary on man, "he observed thoughtfully,
"that he always looks on the black side of his fellow-creatures,
and will not believe that they can be honest and
truthful."

"Man is born in sin," responded Mrs. Meredith. "Janice,
that last patch is misplaced; pay heed to thy work."

"I lately had occasion to justify an action to a man," went
on Clowes, "but, no, the scurvy fellow would put no faith in
my words, insisting that the person I sought to clear was covinous
and tricky, and wholly unworthy of trust."

"The thoughts of a man who prefers to think such things,"
broke in Janice, hotly, "are of no moment."

"Ye are quite right, Miss Janice," assented the emissary,
"and I would I'd had the wit to tell him so. 'T is my intention
some day to call him to account for his words."

Further communion on this topic was interrupted by the
incoming of Mr. Meredith, and during the whole day the two
were never alone. His forgiveness partly won by his service,
the commissary ventured to take a seat beside the quilter, and
sought to increase his favour with her by all the arts of tongue
and manner he had at command. As these were manifold,
he saw no reason, as dusk set in, to be dissatisfied with the
day's results. Inexperienced as Janice was, she could not
know that the cooler and less ardent the man, the better he
plays the lover's part; and while she never quite forgot his
previous deceit, nor the trouble into which he had persuaded
her, yet she was thoroughly entertained by what he had to tell
her, the more that under all his words he managed to convey
an admiration and devotion which did not fail to flatter the
girl, even though it stirred in her no response. Entertained
as she might be, her thoughts were not so occupied by the
charm and honey of Lord Clowes's attentions as to pretermit
all dwelling on the aide's opinion of her, and this was shown
when finally an interruption set her free from observation.

It was after nightfall ere there was any variation of the monotonous
quiet; and indeed the tall clock had just announced
the usual bedtime of the family when Clarion's bark made the
squire sit up from his drowse before the fire, and set all listening.
Presently came the now familiar sound of hoof-beat and
sabre-clank; springing to his feet and seizing a candle, Mr.
Meredith was at the front door as a troop trotted in from the
road.

"What cheer?" called the master of Greenwood.

"'T was played to a nicety," answered the voice of Harcourt,
as he threw himself from the saddle. "Sound the
stable call, bugler. Dismount your prisoner, sergeant, and
bring him in," he ordered; and then continued to the host:
"We had the tavern surrounded, Mr. Meredith, ere they so
much as knew, bagged our game, and here we are."

The words served to carry the two to the parlour, and closely
following came a sergeant and trooper, while between them,
clothed in a very soiled dressing-gown and a still dirtier shirt,
in slippers, his queue still undressed, and with hands tied behind
his back, walked the general who but a few hours before
had been boasting of how he was to save the Continental cause.

"If you have pity in you," besought the prisoner, "let me
warm myself. What method of waging war is it which forces
a man to ride thirty miles in such weather in such clothes?
For the sake of former humanity, Mr. Meredith, give me
something hot to drink."

In the excitement and confusion of the new arrivals, Janice
had seen her chance, and, intent upon making her own statement
of justification, she once again stole from the parlour and
into the kitchen, so softly that the occupants of neither room
were aware of escape or advent. She found the prisoner still
tied to his chair, his body and head hanging forward in an
attitude denoting weariness, Sukey engaged in cutting slices
of bacon in probable expectation of demands from the new-comers,
while the single trooper on guard had just opened the
entry door, and was shouting inquiries concerning the success
of the raid to his fellow-dragoons as they passed to the stable.

Acting on a sudden impulse which gave her no time for
consideration, Janice caught the knife from the hand of
Sukey, and, with two hasty strokes, cut the cord where it was
passed through the slats of the chair-back, setting the prisoner
free.

"Fo' de good Lord in hebin--" began the cook, in amazement;
but, as the import of her young mistress's act dawned
upon her, she ran to the fireplace and, catching up a log of
wood, held it out to Brereton.

Owing to his stooping posture, the release of the cords had
caused the aide to fall forward out of the chair; but he instantly
scrambled to his feet, and without so much as a glance behind
him, seized the billet from the hands of the cook and sprang
toward the doorway, reaching it at the moment the dragoon
turned about to learn the cause of the sudden commotion.
Bringing the log down with crushing force on the man's head,
Jack stooped as the man plunged' forward, possessed himself
of his sabre, caught one of the long cavalry capotes from its
hook in the entry, and, banging to the door, vanished in the
outer darkness. There he stood for a moment, listening intently,
apparently in doubt as to his next step; then electing
the bolder course, he threw the coat about his shoulders,
fastened the sabre to his side, and ran to the stable, where
the tired troopers, in the dim light furnished by a solitary
lantern, were now dismounting from their horses. Without
hesitation the aide walked among them, and in a disguised
voice announced: "Colonel Harcourt orders me to look to
his horse."

"Here," called a man, and the fugitive stepped forward
and caught the bridle the trooper threw to him. He stood
quietly while the dragoons one by one led their horses into
the stable, then pulling gently on the reins, he slowly walked
the colonel's horse forward as if to follow their example, but,
turning a little to the left, he passed softly around the side of
the building. Letting down the bars into the next field, he
quickened his pace until the road was reached; swinging himself
into the saddle, he once more spurred northward.

"Poor brute," he remarked, "spent as thou art, we must
make a push for it until beyond Middle-Brook, if I am to
save my bacon. 'T is a hard fate that makes thee serve both
sides by turn, until there is no go left in thee. Luckily, the
other horses are as tired as thou, or my escape would be very
questionable, even though I had wit enough about me to see
to it that I got the officer's mount. Egad, a queer shift it is
that ends with Lee in their hands and me spurring northward
to repeat the general's orders to Sullivan. Who knows but
Mrs. Meredith and the parson may be right in their holding
to foreordination?"


XXXII
UNDER DURANCE

As Brereton slammed the kitchen door behind
him, the girl ran to the assistance of the injured
trooper, only to recoil at sight of the blood flowing
from his mouth and nose, and in uncontrollable horror
and fright she fled to her own room. Here, cowering and
shivering, she crouched on the floor behind her bed, her breath
coming fast and short, as she waited for the sword of vengeance
to fall. Ere many seconds the sounds below told her that the
escape had been discovered, bangings of doors, shouts, bugle
calls, and the clatter of horses' feet each in succession giving
her fresh terror. Yet minute after minute passed without any
one coming to find her, and at last the suspense became so
intolerable that the girl rose and went to the head of the stairs
to listen. From that point of vantage she could hear in the
dining-room the voice of Harcourt sternly asking questions, the
replies to which were so inarticulate and so intermixed with
sobs and wails that Janice could do no more than realise that
the cook was under examination. Harcourt's inquiries, however,
served to reveal that the faithful Sukey was endeavouring
to conceal her young mistress's part in the prisoner's escape;
and as Janice gathered this, the figure which but a moment
before had expressed such fear suddenly straightened, and without
hesitation she ran down the stairs and entered the dining-room
just in time to hear Sukey affirm:--

"I dun it, I tells youse, I dun it, and dat's all I will tells
youse."

"Colonel Harcourt," announced the girl, steadily, "Sukey
did n't do it. I took the knife from her and cut the prisoner
loose before she knew what I had in mind."

"Doan youse believe one word dat chile says," protested
Sukey.

"It is true," urged Janice, as eager to assume the guilt as
five minutes before she had been anxious to escape it; "and if
you want proof, you will find the knife on my bed upstairs."

"Oh, missy, missy!" cried Sukey, "wha' fo' youse tell dat?
Now dey kill youse an' not ole Sukey;" and the sobs of the
slave redoubled as she threw herself on the floor in the intensity
of her grief.

It took but few interrogations on the part of Harcourt to
wring all the truth from the culprit, and ordering her to follow
him to the parlour, he angrily denounced the girl to her parents.
Much to her surprise, she found that this latest enormity called
forth less of an outburst than her previous misconduct, her
father being quite staggered by its daring and seriousness; while
Mrs. Meredith, with a sudden display of maternal tenderness
that Janice had not seen for years, took the girl in her arms,
and tried to soothe and comfort her.

One more friend in need proved to be Clowes, who, when
Harcourt declared that the girl should be carried to Princeton
in the morning, along with Lee, that Lord Cornwallis might
decide as to her punishment, sought to make the officer take
less summary measures, but vainly, except to win the concession
that if Hennion recaptured the prisoner he would take a
less drastic course. The morrow brought a return of the pursuing
party, empty-handed, and in a hasty consultation it was
agreed that the squire should accompany Janice, leaving Mrs.
Meredith under the protection of Philemon,--an arrangement
by no means pleasing to the young lieutenant, and made the
less palatable by the commissary's announcement that he should
retrace his own steps to Princeton in the hope of being of
service to his friends. Philemon's protests were ineffectual,
however, to secure any amendment; and the sleigh, with Brereton's
mare and Joggles to pull it, received the three, and, together
with Lee and the escort, set out for headquarters about
noon.

With the arrival at Nassau Hall, then serving as barracks for
the force centred there, a fresh complication arose, for Colonel
Harcourt learned that Lord Cornwallis, having seen his force
safely in winter quarters at Princeton, Trenton, and Burlington,
had departed the day previous for New York, while General
Grant, who succeeded him, was still at Trenton. Taking the
night to consider what was best to be done, Harcourt made
up his mind to carry his prisoners to New York, a decision
which called forth most energetic protests from the squire,
who had contrived in the doings of the last two days to take
cold, and now asserted that an attack of the gout was beginning.
His pleadings were well seconded by the baron, and
not to harass too much one known to be friendly both to the
cause and to the commander-in-chief, the colonel finally consented
that the fate of Janice should be left to the general in
command. This decided, Lee was once more mounted, and
captive and captors set about retracing their steps, while the
sleigh carried the squire and Janice, under guard, on to
Trenton, Mr. Meredith having elected to make the short
trip to that town rather than await the indefinite return of
Grant.

It was dusk when they reached Trenton, and once more they
were doomed to a disappointment, for the major-general had
departed to Mount Holly. Mr. Meredith's condition, as well as
nightfall, put further travel out of the question, and an appeal
was made to Rahl, the Hessian colonel commanding the brigade
which held the town, to permit them to remain, which, thanks
to the influence of the commissary, was readily granted, on
condition that they could find quarters for themselves.

"No fear," averred the squire, cheerily. "I'll never want
for sup or bed in Trenton while Thomas Drinker lives."

"Ach!" exclaimed the colonel. "Dod iss mein blace ver I
sleeps und eats und drinks. Und all bessitzen you will it
find."

Notwithstanding the warning, the sleigh was driven to the
Drinkers' door, now flanked by a battery of field-pieces, and in
front of which paced sentries, who refused to let them pass.
Their protests served to attract the attention of the inmates,
and brought the trio of Drinkers running to the door; in another
moment the two girls were locked in each other's arms,
while Mr. Meredith put his question concerning possible
hospitality.

"Ay, in with thee all, Friend Lambert," cried Mr. Drinker,
leading the way. "Thou'lt find us pushed into the garret,
and forced to eat at second table, while our masters take
our best, but of what they leave us thou shalt have thy
share."

"Is 't so bad as that?" marvelled Mr. Meredith, as, passing
by the parlour, he was shown into the kitchen, and a chair set
for him before the fire.

"Thee knows the tenets of our faith, and that I accept
them," replied the Quaker. "Yet the last few days have made
me feel that non-resistance--"

"Thomas!" reproved his sister. "Say it not, for when the
curse is o'er, 't will grieve thee to have even thought it."

If the tempered spirit of the elders spoke thus, it was more
than the warm blood of youth could do, and Tabitha gave a
loose to her woes.

"'T is past endurance!" she cried, "to come and treat us
all as if we were enemies who had no right even to breathe.
They take possession of our houses and turn them into pig-sties
with their filthy German ways; they eat our best and make us
slave for them day and night; they plunder as they please, not
merely our cattle and corn, so that we are forced to beg back
from them the very food we eat, but take as well our horses,
our silver, our clothes, and whatever else happens to please
their fancy. The regiment of Lossberg has at this moment nine
waggon-loads of plunder in the Fremantle barn. No woman is
safe on the streets after sundown, and scarcely so in the day-time,
while night after night the town rings with their drunken
carousals. I told Friend Penrhyn the other night that if he
had the spunk of a house cat he would get something to fight
with, if 't were nothing better than a toasting-fork tied to a stick,
and cross the river to Washington; and so I say to every man
who stays in Trenton. I only wish I were not a female!"

"Hush, Tabitha!" chided Miss Drinker, "'t is God's will
that we suffer as we do, and thee shouldst bow to it."

"I don't believe it 's God's will that we should be turned out
of our rooms and made to live in the garret, or even in the
barns, as some are forced to do; I don't believe it's God's will
that they should have taken our silver tea-service and spoons.
If God is just, He must want Washington to beat them, and so
every man would be doing God's work who went to help him."
Evidently with whatever strength her father and aunt held to
the tenets of their sect, Tabitha's was not sufficiently ingrained
to stand the test of the Hessian occupation.

"Dost think it is God's work to kill fellow-mortals?" expostulated
Miss Drinker. "No more of such talk, child; it is
time we were making ready for supper."

There was, however, very much more talk of this kind over
the hastily improvised meal, and small wonder for it. In a town
of less than a thousand inhabitants, nearly thirteen hundred
troops, with their inevitable camp followers, were forcibly quartered,
filling every house and every barn, to the dire discomfort
of the people. As if this in itself were not enough, the Hessian
soldiery, habituated to the plundering of European warfare, and
who had been sold at so much per head by their royal rulers
to fight another country's battles, brought with them to America
ideas of warfare which might serve to conquer, but would
never serve to pacify, England's colonies. Open and violent
seizure had been made, without regard to the political tenets of
the owner, of every kind of provision; and this had generally
been accompanied with stealthy plundering of much else by the
common soldiery, and, indeed, by some of the officers. Thus,
in every way, despite their submissions and oaths of allegiance
to King George, the Jerseymen were being treated as if they
were enemies.

Of this treatment the Drinker family was a fair example.
Without so much as "by your leave," Colonel Rahl had taken
possession of the first two floors of their house for himself and
the six or seven officers whom he made his boon companions.
Moreover, Mr. Drinker was called upon to furnish food, firewood,
and even forage for them; while his servants were compelled to
labour from morning till night in the service of the new over lords.

When the squire, after his fatiguing day, was compelled,
along with his host and hostess and the girls, to climb two flights
of stairs to an ice-cold garret, his loyalty was little warmer than
the atmosphere; and when the five were further forced to make
the best they could of two narrow trundle-beds, but a brief
time before deemed none too good for the coloured servitors,
with a scanty supply of bedclothes to eke the discomfort, he
became quite of the same mind with Tabitha. Even the most
flaming love of royalty and realm serves not to keep warm toes
extended beyond short blankets at Christmas-tide. It is not
strange that late in December, 1776, all Jersey was mined with
discontent, and needed but the spark of Continental success to
explode.

Clowes had left his friends, after the interview with Rahl, to
quarter himself upon an army acquaintance, and thus knew
nothing of the hardships to which they were subjected. When
he heard in the morning how they had fared, he at once sought
the commander, and by a shrewd exaggeration of the Merediths'
relations with Howe, supplemented by some guineas, secured
the banishment of enough officers from the house to restore to
the Drinkers two of their rooms.

To contribute to their entertainment, as well as to their comfort,
he brought them word that Colonel Rahl, by his favour, bid
them all to a Christmas festival the following day; and when
Mr. and Miss Drinker refused to have aught to do with an unknown
German, and possibly Papistical, if not devilish orgy, he
obtained the rescinding of this veto by pointing out how unwise
it would be to offend a man on whom their comfort for the
winter so much depended.

It was, as it proved, a very novel and wonderful experience
to the girls. After the two o'clock dinner which the invading
force had compelled the town to adopt, the three regiments of
Anspach, Lossberg, and Rahl, and the detachments of the
Yagers and light horse, with beating drums and flying colours,
paraded from one end of the town to the other, ending with a
review immediately in front of the Drinkers' house. Following
this the regimental bands of hautboys played a series of German
airs which the now disbanded rank and file joined in vocally.
Then, as night and snow set in, a general move was made indoors,
at Rahl's quarters, to the parlour, where a tall spruce tree,
brilliant with lighted tallow dips, and decorated with bits of
coloured paper, red-tinted eggs, and not a little of the recent
plunder, drew forth cries of admiration from both Janice and
Tabitha, neither of whom had ever seen the like.

After a due enjoyment of the tree's beauty, the gifts were
distributed; and then the company went to the dining-room,
where the table sagged with the best that barnyard and pantry
could be made to produce, plus a perfect forest of bottles,--
tall, squat, and bulbous. The sight of such goodly plenty was
irresistible, and the cheer and merriment grew apace. The
girls, eagerly served and all the time surrounded by a host of
such officers as could speak English, and in fact by some who,
for want of that language, could only show their admiration by
ardent glances, were vastly set up by the unaccustomed attentions;
the squire felt a new warmth of loyalty creep through his
blood with the draining of each glass; and even Miss Drinker's
sallow and belined spinster face took on a rosy hue and a cheerful
smile as the evening advanced.

A crescendo of enjoyment secured by means of wine is apt
to lack restraint and presently, as the fun grew, it began to
verge on the riotous. The officers pressed about the girls until
the two were separated, and Janice found herself in a corner
surrounded by flushed-faced men who elbowed and almost
wrestled with one another as to which should stand closest to her.
Suddenly one man so far forgot himself as to catch her about
the waist; and but for a prompt ducking of her head as she
struggled to free herself, she would have been forcibly kissed.
Her cries rose above the sounds of conviviality; but even before
the first was uttered, Clowes, who had kept close to her the
whole evening, struck the officer, and the whole room was instantly
in a turmoil, the women screaming, the combatants
locked, others struggling to separate them, and Rahl shouting
half-drunken orders and curses. Just as the uproar was at its
greatest came a loud thundering at the door; and when it was
opened a becloaked dragoon, white with snow, entered and gave
Rahl a despatch. Both the dispute and the conviviality ceased,
as every one paused to learn what the despatch portended.

The commander was by this time so fuddled with drink that
he could not so much as break the seal, much less read the
contents; and the commissary, who for personal reasons had
been drinking lightly, came to his assistance, and read aloud as
follows:--

                                Burlington, Dec. 25, 1776.
Sir,--By a spy just come in I have word that Mr.
Washington, being informed of our troops having marched into
winter quarters, and having been reinforced by the arrival of a
column under the command of Sullivan, meditates an attack on
some of our posts. I do not believe that in the present state of
the river a crossing is possible, but be assured my information is
undoubtedly true, and in case the ice clears, I advise you to be
upon your guard against an unexpected attack at Trenton.
             I am, sir, your most obed't h'ble serv't,
                             James Grant, Major-General.

"Nein, nein," grunted Rahl, tipsily, "I mineself has vort dat
Vashington's mens hass neider shoes nor blankets, und die mit
cold und hunger. Dey vill not cross to dis side, mooch ice or
no ice, but if dey do, ye prisoners of dem make."

And once more the toasting and merry-making was resumed.

With not a little foresight the three ladies had availed themselves
of the lull to escape from the festival to their own room,
where, not content with locks and bolts, nothing would do Miss
Drinker, as the sounds below swelled in volume and laxity, but
the heavy bureau should be moved against the door as an
additional barrier.

"Our peril is dire," she admonished the girls; "and if to-morrow's
sun finds me escaped unharmed I shall thank Heaven
indeed." Then she proceeded to lecture Janice. "Be assured
thee must have given the lewd creatures some encouragement,
or they would never have dared a familiarity. Not a one
of them showed me the slightest disrespect!"

"Oh, Jan," whispered Tibbie, once they were in bed and
snuggled close together, "if thee hadst been kissed!"

"What then?" questioned the maiden.

"It would be so horrible to be kissed by a man!" declared
the friend.

"Wilt promise to never, never tell?" asked Janice, with bated
breath.

"Cross my heart," vowed Tabitha.

"It--well--I--It is n't as terrible as you 'd think,
Tibbie!"


XXXIII
ANOTHER CHRISTMAS PARTY

At the same hour that the Hessians were parading
through the village streets a horseman was speeding
along the river road on the opposite side of the
Delaware. As he came opposite the town, the blare
of the hautboys sounded faintly across the water, and he checked
his horse to listen for a moment, and then spurred on.

"Ay, prick up your ears," he muttered to his steed. "Your
friends are holding high carnival, and I wonder not that you
long to be with them, 'stead of carrying vain messages in a lost
cause. But for this damned floe of ice you 'd have had your
wish this very night."

A hundred rods brought the rider within sight of the cross-road
at Yardley's Ferry, just as a second horseman issued from
it. The first hastily unbuckled and threw back his holster flap,
even while he pressed his horse to come up with the new arrival;
while the latter, hearing the sound of hoofs, halted and
twisted about in his saddle.

"Well met, Brereton," he called when the space between had
lessened. "I am seeking his Excellency, who, I was told at
Newtown, was to be found at Mackonkey's Ferry. Canst give
me a guidance?"

"You could find your way, Wilkinson, by following the track
of Mercer's brigade. For the last three miles I could have
kept the route, even if I knew not the road, by the bloody footprints.
Look at the stains on the snow."

"Poor fellows!" responded Wilkinson, feelingly.

"Seven miles they've marched to-day, with scarce a sound
boot to a company, and now they'll be marched back with not
so much as a sight of the enemy."

"You think the attack impossible?"

"Impossible!" ejaculated Brereton. "Look at the rush of
ice, man. 'T would be absolute madness to attempt a crossing.
The plan was for Cadwallader's brigade to attack Burlington at
the same time we made our attempt, but I bring word from
there that the river is impassable and the plan abandoned. His
Excellency cannot fight both the British and such weather."

"I thought the game up when my general refused the command
and set out for Philadelphia," remarked Wilkinson.

"Gates is too good a politician and too little of a fighter to
like forlorn hopes," sneered Brereton. "He leaves Washington
to bear the risk, and, Lee being out of the way, sets off at once
to make favour with Congress, hoping, I have little doubt, that
another discomfiture or miscarriage will serve to put him in the
saddle. If we are finally conquered, 't will not be by defeat in
the field, but by the dirty politics with which this nation is riddled,
and which makes a man general because he comes from
the right State, and knows how to wire-pull and intrigue.
Faugh!"

A half-hour served to bring them to their destination, a rude
wooden pier, employed to conduct teams to the ferry-boat.
Now, however, the ice was drifted and wedged in layers and
hummocks some feet beyond its end, and outside this rushed
the river, black and silent, save for the dull crunch of the ice-floes
as they ground against one another in their race down the
stream. On the end of the dock stood a solitary figure watching
a number of men, who, with pick and axe, were cutting
away the lodged ice that blocked the pier, while already a
motley variety of boats being filled with men could be seen at
each point of the shore where the ground ice made embarkation
possible. Along the banks groups of soldiers were clustered
about fires of fence-rails wherever timber or wall offered the
slightest shelter.

[Illustration: "Thou art my soldier."]

Dismounting, the two aides walked to the dock and delivered
their letters to the commander. Taking the papers, Washington
gave a final exhortation to the sappers and miners: "Look
alive there, men. Every minute now is worth an hour to-morrow,"
and, followed by Brereton, walked to the ferry-house
that he might find light with which to read the despatches. By
the aid of the besmoked hall lantern, he glanced hastily through
the two letters. "General Gates leaves to us all the honour to
be gained to-night. Colonel Cadwallader declares it impossible
to get his guns across," he told his aide, without a trace of
emotion in his voice, as he refolded the despatches and handed
them to him. Then his eye flashed with a sudden exultation
as he continued: "It seems there are some in our own force,
as well as the enemy, who need a lesson in winter campaigning."

"Then your Excellency intends to attempt a crossing?"
deprecated Brereton.

"We shall attack Trenton before daybreak, Brereton; and
as we are like to have a cold and wet march, stay you within
doors and warm yourself after your ride. You are not needed,
and there is a good fire in the kitchen."

Brereton, with a disapproving shake of his head, stepped from
the hallway into the kitchen. Only one man was in the room,
and he, seated at the table, was occupied in rolling cartridges.

"Ho, parson, this is new work for you," greeted Brereton,
giving him a hearty slap on the shoulder. "You are putting
your sulphur and brimstone in concrete form."

"Ay," assented McClave, "and, as befits my calling, properly
combining them with religion."

"How so?" demanded Brereton, taking his position before
the fire.

"You see, man," explained the presbyter, "it occurred to me
that, on so wet a night, 't would be almost impossible for the
troops to keep their cartridges dry, since scarce a one in ten
has a proper cartouch-box; so I set to making some new ones,
and, having no paper, I'm e'en using the leaves of my own
copy of Watts' Hymns."

"A good thought," said Brereton; "and if you will give them
to me I will see to it that they be kept dry and ready for use.
Not that they will need much care; there is small danger that
Watts will ever be anything but dry."

"Tut, tut, man," reproved the clergyman. "Dry or not dry,
he has done God's work in the past, and, with the aid of
Heaven, he'll do it again to-night."

The rumble of artillery at this point warned the aide that the
embarkation was actually beginning, and, hastily catching up
the cartridges already made, he unbuttoned the flannel shirt he
wore and stuffed them in. Throwing his cloak about him, he
hurried out.

The ice had finally been removed, and a hay barge dragged
up to the pier. Without delay two 12-pounders were rolled
upon it, with their complement of men and horses; and, leaving
further superintendence of the embarkation to Greene and
Knox, Washington and his staff took their places between the
guns. Two row galleys having been made fast to the front, the
men in them bent to their oars, and the barge moved slowly
from the shore, its start being the signal to all the other craft to
put off.

The instant the shelter of the land was lost, the struggle with
the elements began. The wind, blowing savagely from the
northeast, swept upon them, and, churning the river into foam,
drove the bitterly cold spray against man and beast. Masses
of ice, impelled by the current and blast, were only kept from
colliding with the boat by the artillerymen, who, with the rammers
and sponges of the guns, thrust them back, while the
bowsmen in the tractive boats had much ado to keep a space
clear for the oars to swing. To make the stress the greater,
before a fifty yards had been compassed the air was filled with
snow, sweeping now one way and now another, quite shutting
out all sight of the shores, and making the rushing current of
the black, sullen river the sole means by which direction could
be judged.

"Damn this weather!" swore Brereton, as an especially
biting sweep of wind and water made him crouch the lower
behind his shivering horse.

"Nothing short of that would serve to put warmth into it,"
asserted Colonel Webb. "You 're not like to obtain your wish,
Jack, though your cursing may put you where you'll long for a
touch of it."

"Thou canst not fright me with threat of hell-fire damnation
on such a night as this, Sam," retorted Brereton.

"Gentlemen," interposed Washington, drily, "let me call
your attention to the General Order of last August, relative to
profane language."

"Can your Excellency suggest any more moderate terms to
apply to such a night?" asked Brereton, with a laugh.

"Be thankful you've something between you and the river,
my boy. Twenty-four years ago this very week I was returning
from a mission to the Ohio, and to cross a river we made a raft
of logs. The ice surged against us so forcibly that I set out my
pole to prevent our being swept down the stream; but the
rapidity of the current threw the raft with so much violence
against the pole that it jerked me out into ten feet of water, and
I was like to have drowned. This wind and sleet seem warm
when I remember that; and had Gates and Cadwallader been
there, the storm and ice of to-night would not have seemed to
them such obstacles. 'T was my first public service," he added
after a slight pause. "Who knows that to-night may not be my
last?"

"'T is ever a possibility," spoke up Webb, "since your Excellency
is so reckless in exposing yourself to the enemy's fire."

Washington shrugged his shoulders. "I am in more danger
from the rear than from the enemy," he said equably.

"Ay," agreed Jack, "but we fight both to-night. Give us
victory at Trenton, and we need not spend thought on Baltimore."

"Congress is too frightened itself--" began Baylor, but a
touch on his arm from the commander-in-chief checked the
indiscreet speech.

Departure had been taken from the Pennsylvania shore before
ten; but ice, wind, and current made the crossing so laborious
and slow that a landing of the first detachment was not effected
till nearly twelve. Then the boats were sent back for their
second load, the advance meanwhile huddling together wherever
there was the slightest shelter from the blast and the hail that
was now cutting mercilessly. Not till three o'clock did the
second division land, and another hour was lost in the formation
of the column. At last, however, the order to march could be
given, and the twenty-four hundred weary, besoaked, and wellnigh
frozen men set off through the blinding storm on the nine-mile
march to Trenton.

At Yardley's Ferry the force divided, Sullivan's division
keeping to the river turnpike, intending to enter Trenton from
the south, while the main division took the cross-road, so as to
come out to the north of the town, the plan being to place the
enemy thus betwixt two fires.

Owing to the delay in crossing the river, it was daylight when
the outskirts of the town were reached, but the falling snow
veiled the advance, and here the column was halted temporarily
to permit of a reconnoissance. While the troops stood at ease
an aide from Sullivan's detachment reported that it had arrived
on the other side of the village, and was ready for the attack,
save that their cartridges were too damp to use.

"Very well, sir," ordered Washington. "Return and tell
General Sullivan he must rely on the bayonet."

"Your Excellency," said Colonel Hand, stepping up, "my
regiment is in the same plight, and our rifles carry no bayonets."

"We kin club both them and the Hessians all the same,"
spoke up a voice from the ranks.

"Here are some dry cartridges," broke in Brereton.

"Let your men draw their charges and reload, Colonel Hand,"
commanded Washington.

In a moment the order to advance was issued, and the column
debouched upon the post road leading toward Princeton. The
first sign of life was a man in a front yard, engaged in cutting
wood; the commander-in-chief, who was leading the advance,
called to him:--

"Which way is the Hessian picket?"

"Find out for yourself," retorted the chopper.

"Speak out, man," roared Webb, hotly, "this is General
Washington."

"God bless and prosper you, sir!" shouted the man. "Follow
me, and I'll show you," he added, starting down the road
at a run. As he came to the house, without a pause, he swung
his axe and burst open the door with a single blow. "Come
on," he shrieked, and darted in, followed by some of the
riflemen.

Leaving them to secure the picket, the regiments went forward,
just as a desultory firing from the front showed that
the alarm had been given by Sullivan's attack. Pushing on,
a sight of the enemy was gained,--a confused mass of men
some three hundred yards away, but in front of them two guns
were already being wheeled into position by artillerists, with
the obvious purpose of checking the advance till the regiments
had time to form.

"Capture the battery!" came the stern voice of the
commander.

"Forward, double quick!" shouted Colonel Hand.

Brereton, putting spurs to his horse, joined in the rush of
men as the regiment broke into a run. "Look Out, Hand!"
he yelled. "They'll be ready to fire before we can get there,
and in this narrow road we'll be cut to pieces. Give them a
dose of Watts."

"Halt!" roared Hand, and then in quick succession came
the orders, "Deploy! Take aim! Fire!"

"Hurrah for the Hymns!" cheered Brereton, as a number of
the gunners and matross men dropped, and the remainder, deserting
the cannon, fell back on the infantry. "Come on!" he
roared, as the Virginia light horse, taking advantage of the
open order, raced the riflemen to the guns. Barely were
they reached, when a mounted officer rode up to the Hessian
regiments and cried: "Forwarts!" waving his sword toward
the cannon.

"We can't hold the guns against them!" yelled Brereton.
"Over with them, men!"

In an instant the soldiers with rifles and the cavalry with
the rammers that had been dropped were clustered about the
cannon, some prying, some lifting, some pulling, and before
the foe could reach them the two pieces of artillery were tipped
over and rolled into the side ditches, the Americans scattering
the moment the guns were made useless to the British.

This gave the Continental infantry in the rear their opportunity,
and they poured in a scathing volley, quickly followed by the
roar of Colonel Forrest's battery, which unlimbered and opened
fire. A wild confusion followed, the enemy advancing, until
the American regiments charged them in face of their volleys.
Upon this they broke, and falling back in disorder, endeavoured
to escape to the east road through an orchard. Checking the
charge, Washington threw Stevens' brigade and Hand's riflemen,
now re-formed, out through the fields, heading them
off. Flight in this direction made impossible, the enemy retreated
toward the town, but the column under Sullivan now
blocked this outlet. Forrest's fieldpieces were pushed forward,
Washington riding with them, utterly unheeding of both the
enemy's fire, though the bullets were burying themselves in
the snow all about him, and of the expostulations of his staff.
Indicating the new position for the guns, he ordered them
loaded with canister.

Colonel Forrest himself stooped to sight one of the 12-pounders,
then cried: "Sir, they have struck."

"Struck!" exclaimed Washington.

"Yes," averred Forrest, exultingly. "Their colours are
down, and they have grounded their arms."

Washington cantered toward the enemy.

"Your Excellency," shouted Baylor, who with the infantry
had been well forward, "the Hessians have surrendered. Here
is Colonel Rahl."

Washington rode to where, supported by two sergeants, the
officer stood, his brilliant uniform already darkened by the
blood flowing from two wounds, and took from his hand the
sword the Hessian commander, with bowed head, due to both
shame and faintness, held out to him.

"Let his wounds receive instant attention," the general ordered.
Wheeling his horse, he looked at the three regiments
of Hessians. "'T is a glorious day for our country, Baylor!"
he said, the personal triumph already forgotten in the greater
one.


XXXIV
HOLIDAY WEEK AT TRENTON

The Christmas revel of the Hessians had held far
into morning hours; and though the ladies so
prudently retired, it was not to sleep, as it proved,
for the uproar put that out of the question. At
last, however, the merry-making ceased by degrees, as man
after man staggered off to his quarters, or succumbing to
drink, merely took a horizontal position in the room of the
festivity, and quiet, quickly succeeded by slumber, descended
upon the household.

To the women it seemed as if the turmoil had but just
ended, ere it began anew. The first alarm was a thundering
on the front door, so violent that the intent seemed to be to
break it down rather than to gain admission from the inside.
Then came a rush of heavy boots pounding upstairs, followed
by a renewal of the ponderous blows on every door, accompanied
now by the stentorian shouting of hasty sentences in
German.

As if the din were not sufficient, Miss Drinker, in her fright
at the assault directed against the barrier to which she had
pinned her own reliance of safety, promptly gave vent to a
series of shrieks, intermixed, when breath failed, with gasping
predictions to the girls as to the fate that awaited them,
scaring the maidens most direfully. Their terror was not
lessened by the growing volume of shouts outside the house,
and by the rub-a-dub-dub of the drums, and the tantara of
the bugles, as the "To arms" was sounded along the village
street. Barely had they heard Rahl and the other officers go
plunging downstairs, when the scattering crack of muskets
began to be heard, swelling quickly into volleys and then into
the unmistakable platoon firing, which bespoke an attack in
force. Finally, and as a last touch to their alarm, came the
roar of artillery, as Forrest's and Knox's batteries opened fire.

The whole conflict took not over thirty-five minutes, but to
the three bedfellows it seemed to last for hours. The silence
that then fell so suddenly proved even more awful, however, and
became quickly so insupportable that Janice was for getting
out of bed to learn its cause, a project that Miss Drinker prohibited.
"I know not what is transpiring," she avowed, "but
whatever the disturbance, our danger is yet to come."

The event verified her opinion, for presently heavy and hurried
footsteps of many men sounded below stairs, terminating
the brief silence. With little delay the tramp of boots came
upstairs, and a loud rap on the door drew a stifled cry from
the spinster as she buried her head under the bedclothes, and
made the two girls clutch each other with fright.

"Open!" called a commanding voice. "Open, I say!" it
repeated, as no answer came. "Batter it in, then!" and at
the order the stocks of two muskets shattered the door panels;
the bureau was tipped over on its face with a crash, and
Brereton, sword in hand, jumped through the breach.

It was an apparently empty room into which the aide
entered, but a mound under the bedclothes told a different tale.

"Here are other Hessian pigs who've drunk more than
they've bled," he sneered, as he tossed back the counterpane
and blankets with his sword-point, thus uncovering
three becapped heads, from each of which issued a scream,
while three pairs of hands wildly clutched the covering.

The nightcaps so effectually disguised the faces that not a
one did the officer recognise in his first hasty glance.

"Ho!" he jeered. "Small wonder the fellow lay abed.
Come, up with you, my Don Juan," he added, prodding Miss
Drinker through the bedclothes with his sword. "'T is no
time for bearded men to lie abed."

"Help, help!" shrieked Janice, and "'T is my aunt!"
cried Tabitha, in unison, but the spinster's fear was quite
forgot in the insulting allusion to the somewhat noticeable
hirsute adornment on her face; sitting up in bed, she pointed
at the door, and sternly ordered, "Cease from insulting gentlewomen,
brute, and leave this chamber!"

"Zounds!" burst out Jack, in his amazement; then he
turned and roared to the gaping and snickering soldiers,
"Get out of here, every doodle of you, and be--to
you!" Keeping his back to the bed, he said, "I pray your
pardon, ma'am, for disturbing you; our spies assured us that
only Hessian officers slept here."

"Go!" commanded the offended and unrelenting old
maid.

The officer took a step toward the door, halted, and remarked
savagely, "Our positions are somewhat reversed,
Miss Meredith. 'T is poetic justice, indeed, which threatens
you a taste of the captivity you schemed in my behalf; 'he
cries best who cries last.'"

"I had naught to do with thy captivation!" protested
Janice, indignantly, "though thou wouldst not believe me;
and but for me thou'dst still be a prisoner."

"A well-dressed-up tale, but told too late to gain credence,"
sneered the officer. "You made a cully of me once. I defy
you to ever again."

"A man who thinks such vile thoughts is welcome to them,"
retorted the girl, proudly.

"Dost intend to put a finish to thy intrusion upon the privacy
of females?" objurgated Miss Drinker; and at the question
Brereton flung out of the room without more words.

The ladies made a hasty toilet, and descended to the
kitchen, to find the maids deep in the preparation of breakfast,
while standing near the fire was a coloured man in a
brown livery who ducked low to Janice as he grinned a
recognition.

"Oh!" exclaimed the girl, and then, "How's Blueskin?"

"Lor' bless de chile, she doan forget ole Willium nor dat
horse," chuckled the darkey. "Dat steed, miss, hardly git a
good feed now once a week, but he knows dat he carries his
Excellency, an' dat de army 's watchin' him, an' he make
believe he chock full of oats all de time. He jus' went offen
his head when Ku'nel Forrest's guns wuz a-bustin' de Hessians
all to pieces dis mornin', an' de way he dun arch his neck
an' swish his tail when Gin'l Howe give up his sword made de
enemy stare."

"You'll purvey my compliments to his Highness, Mr. Lee,"
requested the cook, "an' 'spress to him de mortification we
'speriences at being necessitated to tender him his tea outen
de elegantest ob best Japan. 'Splain to him dat we 'se a real
quality family, an' regularly accustomed to de finest ob plate,
till de Hessians depredated it."

"Is this for General Washington?" questioned Janice, with
sudden interest in the tray upon which the cook had placed a
china tea-service, some hot corn bread, and a rasher of bacon.

"Yes, miss," explained William. "His Excellency 's in de
parlour, a-lookin' over de papers of de dead gin'l, an' he say
see if I kian't git him some breakfast."

"Oh," begged the girl, eagerly, "may n't I take it to
him?"

"Dat yo' may, honey," acceded the black, yielding to the
spell of the lass. "Massa allus radder see a pooty face dan
black ole Billy's. Jus' yo' run along with it, chile, an' s'prise
him."

Catching up the waiter, the maiden carried it to the parlour,
which she entered after knocking, in response to Washington's
behest. The general looked up from the paper he was conning
and instantly smiled a recognition to the girl.

"You are not rid of us yet, you see, Miss Janice," he
said.

"Nor wish to be, your Excellency," vouched the girl, as she
set the tray on the table.

"I remember thy wish for our cause when last we met,"
went on the commander, "and who knows but it has served
us in good stead this very morning? I had the vanity that
day to think thy interest was for the general, but I have just
unravelled it to its true source."

"Indeed," protested Janice, sorely puzzled by his words,
"'t was only thy--"

"Nay, nay, my dear," chided Washington, smiling pleasantly;
"'t is nothing to be ashamed of, and I ought to have
suspected that thy interest was due to some newer and brighter
blade than an old one like myself. He is a lucky fellow to
have won so charming a maid, and one brave enough to take
such risk for him."

"La, your Excellency," stammered the girl, completely
mystified, "I know not what you mean!"

Still smiling, Washington set down the tea he was now
drinking and selected a paper from a pile on the table. "I
have just been perusing Colonel Harcourt's report to General
Grant, in reference to the traitorous conduct of one Janice
Meredith, spinster, and it has informed me of much that
Colonel Brereton chose to withhold, though he pretended to
make me a full narration. The sly beau said 't was the cook
cut him loose, Miss Janice."

"Oh, prithee, General Washington," beseeched a very
blushing young lady, "wilt please favour me by letting Colonel
Brereton--who is less than nothing to me--read the
report?"

"Thou takest strange ways to prove thy lack of interest,"
rejoined the general, his eyes merry at the seeming contradiction.

"'T is indeed not as thou surmisest," protested Janice,
redder than ever; "but Colonel Brereton thought I was concerned
in his captivation, and would not believe a message I
sent to him, and but just since he has cruelly insulted me, and
so I want him to learn how shamefully he has misjudged me,
so that he shall feel properly mean and low."

"That he shall," Washington assented, "and every man
should be made to feel the same who lacks faith in your face,
Miss Janice. The rascal distinguished himself in this morning's
affair, so I let him bear my despatches and the Hessian
standard to Congress; however, as soon as he returns he shall
smart for his sins, be assured. But, my dear," and here the
eyes of the speaker twinkled, "when due punishment has
been meted out, remember that forgiveness is one of your
sex's greatest excellences." Washington took the hand of
the girl and bent over it. "Now leave me, for we have
much to attend to before we can set to getting our prisoners
across the river, out of the reach of their friends."

Twenty-four hours later the village which had been so over-burdened
with soldiers was stripped as clear of them as if
there were not one in the land. It took a day to get the
thousand prisoners safely beyond the Delaware, and three
more were spent in giving the Continentals a much-needed
rest from the terrible exposure and fatigue they had under-gone;
but this done, Washington once more crossed the river
and reoccupied Trenton, induced to take the risk by the word
brought to him that the militia of New Jersey, driven to desperation
by the British occupation, and heartened by the success
of Trenton, were ready to rise if they had but a fighting
point about which to rally.

The expectation proved erroneous, for the presence of the
little force at Trenton was more than offset by the prompt
mobilisation of all the British troops in the State at Princeton,
and the hurrying of Cornwallis, with reinforcements, from
New York, to resume the command. As Washington's army
mustered less than five thousand, one-third of whom were raw
Pennsylvania militia, while that of the British general when
concentrated exceeded eight thousand, the prudent elected to
stay safely within doors and await the result of the coming
conflict before deciding whether they should forget their recently
signed oaths of allegiance and cast in their lot with the
Continental cause.

Yet another difficulty, too, beset the commander-in-chief.
The terms of the New England regiments expired on the last
day of the year, and though the approach of the enemy made
a speedy action certain, the men refused to re-enlist, or even
to serve for a fortnight longer. Such was the desperate plight
of the general that he finally offered them a bounty if they
would but remain for six weeks, and, after much persuasion,
more than half of them consented to stay the brief time. The
army chest being wholly without funds, Washington pledged
his personal fortune to the payment of the bounty, though in
private he spoke scornfully of the regiments' "noble example"
and "extraordinary attachment to their country," the fighting
spirit too strong within him to enable him to understand
desertion of the cause at such an hour. Quite a number,
even, who took the bounty, deserted the moment the money
was received.

Cornwallis lost not a moment, once his troops were gathered,
in seeking vengeance for Trenton; and on January 2 spies
brought word to Washington that the British were approaching
in force by the Princeton post-road. A detachment was
at once thrown forward to meet their advance, and for several
hours every inch of ground was hotly contested. Then, the
main body of the enemy having come up, the Americans fell
back on their reserves, and the whole Continental army retreated
through the village and across the bridge over Assanpink
Creek,--a tributary stream emptying into the Delaware
just east of Trenton. Here the troops were ranged along the
steep banks to renew the contest, the batteries being massed
at the bridge and at the two fords, and some desultory firing
occurred. But it was now dark, and Cornwallis's troops having
marched fifteen miles, the commander postponed the attack
till the morrow, and the two armies bivouacked for the night
on opposite sides of the brook, within a hundred and fifty
yards of each other.

"My Lord," protested Sir William Erskine, when the order
to encamp was given, "may not the enemy escape under
cover of the night?"

"Where to?" demanded Cornwallis. "This time there
will be no crossing of the Delaware, for we are too close on
their heels; and if they retreat down the river, we can fight
them when we please. A little success has undone Mr.
Washington, and the fox is at last run to cover."

While at supper, the British commander was informed by
an orderly that two civilians desired word with him, and
without leaving the table he granted an audience.

"A petticoat, eh?" he muttered, as a man and woman
entered the room; and then as the lady pushed back her
calash, he ordered: "A chair for Miss Meredith, sergeant."
The girl seated, he went on: "Sir William spoke of you to
me just as I was leaving New York, and instructed me, if you
were findable, to send you to New York. I' faith, the general
had more to say of your coming than he had of my teaching
Mr. Washington a lesson. He told me to put you under
charge of Lord Clowes without delay."

"But he was captivated," announced Mr. Drinker.

"So I learned at Princeton; therefore the matter must
await my return."

"I have come with the young lady, my Lord," spoke up Mr.
Drinker, "to ask thy indulgence in behalf of herself and her
father."

"Yes, Lord Cornwallis," said Janice, finding her tongue
and eager to use it. "We came here to see General Grant,
but he was away, and dadda had a slight attack of the gout,
from a cold he took, and then he very rashly drank too much
at Colonel Rahl's party, and that swelled his foot so that he's
lain abed ever since, till to-day, when we thought to set out
for Brunswick; but the snow having melted, our sleigh could
not travel, and every one expecting a battle wanted to get out
of town themselves, so we could get no carriage, nor even a
cart." Here Miss Meredith paused for breath with which to
go on.

"Friend Meredith," said Mr. Drinker, taking up the explanation,
"though not able to set foot to the ground, conceives
that he can travel on horseback by easy riding; and
rather than risk remaining in a town that is like to be the scene
of to-morrow's unrighteous slaughter, he hopes thee will grant
him permission and a pass to return to Brunswick."

"There will be no fight in the town to-morrow," asserted
Cornwallis; "but there may be some artillery firing before we
can carry their position, so 't is no place for non-combatants,
much less women. You can't do better than get back to
Greenwood, where later I'll arrange to fulfil Sir William's
orders. Make out a pass for two, Erskine. When do you
wish to start, Miss Meredith?"

"Dadda said we'd get away before daylight, so as to be
well out of town before the battle began."

"Wisely thought. The second brigade lies at Maidenhead
and the fourth at Princeton; and as both have orders to join
me, you'll meet them on the road. This paper, however,
will make all easy."

"Thank you," said the girl, gratefully, as she took the pass.

"Didst see Mr. Washington when he was in town?"
inquired the earl of Mr. Drinker.

"Not I," replied the Quaker; "but friend Janice had word
with him."

"You seem to play your cards to stand well with both commanders,
Miss Meredith," intimated the officer, a little
ironically. "Did the rebel general seem triumphant over his
easy victory?"

"He said naught about it to me," answered Janice.

"Within a few hours he'll learn the difference between
British regulars and half-drunk Hessians." Cornwallis glanced
out of the window to where, a quarter of a mile away, could be
seen the camp-fires of the Continental force burning brightly.
"He 'd best have done his bragging while he could."


CHAPTER XXXV
THE "STOLE AWAY"

It was barely four o'clock the following morning when,
after a breakfast by candle-light, the squire and Janice,
the former only with much assistance and many groans,
mounted Joggles and Brereton's mare. Mr. Drinker
rode with them through the village, on his way to join the
Misses Drinker, who, two days before, on the first warning of
a conflict, had been sent away to a friend's, as would Janice
have been also, had she not insisted on staying with her
father. At the crossroads, therefore, after a due examination
of their passes by the picket, adieux were made, and the
guests, with many thanks, turned north on the Princeton post-road,
while the host trotted off on the Pennington turnpike.

It was still dark when, an hour later, the riders reached
Maidenhead, to find the second brigade of the British clustered
about their camp-fires; but in the moment's delay,
while the officer of the day was scrutinising the safe-conduct,
the drums beat the reveille, and the village street was alive
with breakfast preparations as father and daughter were permitted
to resume their journey. It was a clear, cold morning,
and as the twilight slowly brightened into sunshine, the whole
landscape glistened radiantly with a heavy hoar-frost that for
the moment gleamed and shimmered as if the face of the
country had been rubbed with some phosphorescent substance,
or as if the riders were viewing it through prism glasses.

"Oh, dadda, isn't it beautiful?" exclaimed Janice, delightedly,
as they rode down the hill to the bridge over Stony
Creek.

"What? Where?" demanded that worthy, looking about
in all directions.

[Illustration: "'T is to rescue thee, Janice."]

"The fields, and the trees, and--"

"Can't ye keep your thoughts from gadding off on such
nonsense, Jan?" cavilled her father, fretfully, his gouty foot
putting him in anything but a sweet mood. "One would
think ye had never seen pasture or woodland be--Ho!"
he ejaculated, interrupting his reproof, "what 's that sound?"

The words were but spoken when the front files of a regiment
just topping the hill across the brook came in view and
descended the road at quick step to the bridge, their gay
scarlet uniforms, flying colours, and shining gun barrels adding
still more to the brilliancy.

"Halt!" was the order to the troops as they came up to
the riders, and the officer took the pass that the squire held
out to him. "What hour left you Trenton?" he demanded.

"Four o'clock."

"And heard you any firing after leaving?" asked Colonel
Mawhood, eagerly.

"Not a sound."

"I fear none the less that the fighting will be all over ere
the Seventeenth can get there, much more the Fortieth and
Fifty-fifth," he grumbled, as he returned the paper. "Attention!
Sections, break off! Forward--march!"

The order, narrowing the column, allowed the squire and
Janice to ride on and cross the bridge. On the other side of
the stream a by-road joined the turnpike, and as Janice glanced
along it, she gave a cry of surprise. "Look, dadda," she
prompted, "there are more troops!"

"Ay," acceded Mr. Meredith, "'t is the rest of the brigade
just coming in view."

"But that leads not from Princeton," observed Janice.
"'T is the roundabout way to Trenton that joins the river road
on the other side of Assanpink Creek. And, oh, dadda, look
at the uniforms! Is 't not the hunting shirt of the Continental
riflemen?"

"Gadsbodikins, if the lass is not right!" grunted the squire,
when he had got on his glasses. "What the deuce do they
here?"

An equal curiosity apparently took possession of the British
colonel, for when the Seventeenth had breasted the hill to a
point where the American advance could be seen, the regiment
was hastily halted, and in another moment, reversing
direction, returned on its route at double quick, its commander
supposing the force in sight a mere detachment
which he could capture or cut to pieces, and little recking
that Washington's whole army, save for a guard to keep their
camp-fires burning, had stolen away in the night from the
superior force of British at Trenton, with the object of attacking
the fourth brigade at Princeton.

"By heavens!" snorted the squire, in alarm. "Quicken
thy pace, Jan. We are out of the frying-pan and into the fire
with a vengeance." Then as the horses were put to a trot,
he howled with the pain the motion caused his swathed foot.
"Spur on to Princeton, Jan. The pace is more than I can
bear, and I'll turn off into this orchard for safety," he
moaned, as he indicated a slope to the right of the road.

"I'll not leave thee, dadda," protested the girl, as she
guided the mare over the let-down bars of the fence, through
which her father put Joggles, and in a moment both horses
were climbing the declivity under the bare apple-trees.

The squire's knowledge of warfare was never likely to win
him honour, for with vast circumspection he had selected the
strongest strategic position of the region; and though his back
to the British and the rising land in his front prevented him
from realising it, both commanders, with the quick decision
of trained officers, put their forces to a run, in the endeavour
to occupy the hill. The Continental riflemen, having the
advantage of light accoutrements and little baggage, were
successful; and just as the two riders reached the crest, it was
covered by green and brown shirted men.

"Get to the rear!" stormed an officer at the pair; while,
without stopping to form, the men poured in a volley at the
charging British, who, halting, returned the fire, the bullets
hurtling and whistling about the non-combatants in a way
that made the squire forget the agonies of his gout in the
danger of his position.

Ere the riflemen could reload, the Seventeenth, with fixed
bayonets, were upon them, and the two American regiments,
having no defensive weapon, broke and fled in every direction.
A mounted officer rode forward and attempted to stay the
flight of the riflemen, then fell wounded from his horse. As
he came to the ground, Janice and her father found themselves
once more on the other side of the conflict, as the
charging British swept by them; and the girl screamed as
she saw two of the soldiers rush to where the wounded man
lay, and repeatedly thrust their bayonets into him, though she
was ignorant that it was Washington's old companion in arms,
General Mercer.

As the riflemen fell back down the hill, Washington in person
headed two regiments of Pennsylvania militia, supported by a
couple of pieces of artillery from the right flank to cover the
fugitives. Although conscious by now that he had no mere
detachment to fight, Colonel Mawhood, with admirable coolness,
ordered the recall sounded, and re-forming his regiment,
led a charge against the new foe. Seeing the Seventeenth
advancing at double quick, in the face of the guns, so fearlessly
and steadily, the militia wavered, and were on the point
of deserting the battery, when Washington spurred forward,
thus placing himself between the two lines of soldiers. His
splendid and reckless courage steadied the raw militia; they
gave a cheer and levelled their muskets just as the Seventeenth
halted and did the same. Within thirty yards of the enemy,
and well in advance of his own men, Washington stood exposed
to both volleys as the two lines fired, and for a moment
he was lost to view in the smoke which, blown about
him, united in one dense cloud. Slowly the mass lifted, revealing
both general and horse unhurt, and at the sight the
Pennsylvania regiments cheered once more.

The time lost by the British in halting and firing proved
fatal to the capture of the guns. Hand's riflemen, advancing,
threw in a deadly, scattering fire of trained sharpshooters,
while two regiments under Hitchcock came forward at a run.
One moment the Seventeenth held its ground, then broke and
fled toward the road, leaving behind them two brass cannon.
For four miles the fugitives were pursued, and many prisoners
were taken.

Musketry on the right showed the day not yet won, however,
the Fifty-fifth having pressed forward upon hearing the fusillade,
and but for the check it met from a New England
brigade would have come to the aid of its friends. The flight
of the Seventeenth enabled Washington to mass his force
against the new arrival; and it was driven in upon the Fortieth,
and then both fell back into the town, taking possession of the
college building, with the evident hope of finding in its walls
protection sufficient to make a successful stand. But when
the Continental artillery was brought up and wheeled into
position, at the first shot the British abandoned the stronghold
and fled in disorder along the road leading to Brunswick, hotly
pursued by a force which Washington joined.

"It's a fine fox chase, my boys!" he shouted to the men,
in the excitement of the moment.

Brereton, who was riding within hearing, called something
to a bugler; and the man, halting in the race, put his trumpet
to his lips and blew a fanfare.

"There are others can sound the 'Stole Away,' your Excellency,"
shouted Jack, triumphantly. "That insult is paid in
kind."

The Continental soldiers were too exhausted by their long
night march and their morning fight to follow the fugitives far,
the more that the English, by throwing away their guns, knap-sacks,
and other accoutrements, and by being far less fatigued,
were easily able to outstrip their pursuers. Perceiving this, the
general ordered the bugles to sound the recall, and the men
fell back on Princeton village.

"With five hundred fresh troops, or a proper force of light
horse, we could have captured every man of them," groaned
Brereton, "and probably have seized Brunswick, with all its
stores."

Washington nodded his head in assent. "'T is idle to repine,"
he said calmly, "because the measure of our success
might have been greater. The troops have marched well and
fought well."

"What is more," declared Webb, "a twelve hours ago, the
enemy thought us in a cul-de-sac. We have not merely
escaped, but turned our flight into a conquest. How they
will grit their teeth when they find themselves outgeneralled!"

"Less a couple of hundred prisoners to boot," chimed in
Brereton, pointing at the village green, where the captives
were being collected.

"Your Excellency," reported General Greene, as Washington
came up to the college building, "we have found a store of
shoes and blankets in the college, and all of the papers of the
Lord Cornwallis and General Grant."

"Look to them, Brereton, and report to me at once if there
is anything needing instant attention," directed Washington.

Jack, tossing his reins to a soldier, followed Greene into
Nassau Hall, and was quickly running over the bundles of
papers which the British, with more prudence than prescience,
had for safety left behind. Presently he came upon a great
package of signed oaths of allegiance, which he was shoving to
one side as of no immediate importance, when the name signed
at the bottom of the uppermost one caught his eye.

"Oh, Joe, Joe!" he laughed, taking up the paper, "is
this thy much-vaunted love of freedom?" Glancing at the
second, he added, "And Esquire Hennion! Well, they deserve
it not; but I'll do the pair a harmless service all the
same, merely for old-time days," he muttered, as he folded up
the two broadsides and stuffed them into his pocket.

While the aide was thus engaged, Washington rode over to
inspect the prisoners. Here it was to discover the squire and
Janice, the former having been made a prize of by a more
zealous than sagacious militiaman. Giving directions to march
the prisoners at once under guard to Morristown, the commander
turned to the girl.

"Thou 'rt not content to give us thy good wishes, Miss
Janice," he said, motioning to the guard to let the two go free,
"but addest the aid of thy presence as well."

"And were within an ace of getting shot thereby," complained
the squire, still not entirely over his fright. "Egad,
general, we were right between the shooting at one minute,
and heard the bullets shrieking all about us."

"But so was his Excellency, dadda," protested Janice.
"Oh, General Washington," she added, "when you rode up
so close to the British, and I saw them level their guns, I was
like to have fell off my horse with fear for you."

"Ay," remarked the squire, for once unprecedentedly diplomatic.
"The lass stood her own peril as steadily as ever I
did, but she turned white as a feather when the infantry fired
at you, and, woman-like, burst into tears the moment the smoke
had lifted enough to show you still unhurt."

"And now has tears in her eyes because I was not shot, I
suppose," Washington responded, with a smiling glance at the
maiden.

"No, your Excellency," denied the girl, in turn smiling
through the tears. "But dadda is quite wrong: 't was not
anxiety for you that made me weep, but fear that they might
have killed Blueskin!"

Washington laughed at the girl's quip. "It seems my
vanity is so great that I am doomed ever to mistake the source
of your interest. Come," he added, "the last time we met I
was beholden to you for a breakfast. Let me repay the kindness
by giving you a meal. One of my family reports that the
lunch of the officers' mess of the Fortieth was just on the table
at the provost's house when our movements gave them other
occupation. 'T is fair plunder, and I bid you to share in it."

During the repast the father and daughter told how they had
come to be mixed in the conflict, and the squire grumbled
over the prospect before him.

"I've no place to go but Greenwood, and now they threat
to take my lass to New York over this harebrain scrape
she's got us all into."

"'T would be gross ingratitude," asserted Washington, "if
we let Miss Meredith suffer for her service to us, and 't is a
simple matter to save her. Get me pen, ink, and a blank
parole, Baylor."

The paper brought, Washington filled in a few words in his
flowing script, and then placed it before the girl. "Sign
here," he told her, and when it was done he took back the
document. "You are now a prisoner of war, released on
parole, Miss Janice," he explained, "and pledged not to go
more than ten miles from Greenwood without first applying to
me for permission. Furthermore, upon due notice, you are
again to render yourself my captive."

Janice, with a shy glance, which had yet the touch of impertinence
that was ingrain in her, replied, "I was that the
first time I met your Excellency, and have been so ever
since."

An end was put to the almost finished meal at this point by
the clatter of hoots, followed by the hurried entrance of
Brereton. "General St. Clair sends word, sir, that a column
of British is advanced as far as Stony Brook, and is--"
There the aide caught sight of Janice, and stopped speaking
in his surprise.

"Go on, sir!" ordered Washington, sternly.

"And is driving in our skirmishes. He has report that 't is
the first of the whole English army, which is pressing on by
forced marches."

"'T is time, then, that we were on the wing," asserted the
general, rising. "Colonel Webb, tell General St. Clair to hold
the enemy in check as long as he can. You, Baylor, direct
Colonel Forrest to plant his guns on the green, to cover the
rearguard. General Greene, let the army file off on the road
to Somerset Court-house."

The orders given, he turned to make his farewell to Janice.
"This time Lord Cornwallis did not cheat us of our meal,
though he prevents our lingering long at table. You should
know best, sir," he said to the esquire, "what course to pursue,
but I advise you to start for Greenwood without delay,
for there will be some skirmishing through the town, and
the British commander is not likely to be in the best of
moods."

"We'll be off at once," assented Mr. Meredith.

"Then Miss Janice will allow me the office of mounting
her," solicited the general, as they all went to the door. "Is
not that Colonel Brereton's mare?" he continued, as the
orderly brought up the horses.

"Yes, your Excellency," stammered Janice. "'T was by a
strange chance--"

"No doubt, no doubt--" interrupted Washington, smiling.

"Belike he wants her back," intimated the squire, glancing
anxiously at the aide, who stood, with folded arms, watching
the scene.

"I think he'll not grudge the loan, in consideration of the
rider," insinuated Washington. "The more that Congress
has just voted him a sword and horse for his conduct at
Trenton. How is it, Brereton?"

With a shrug of the shoulders Jack muttered, "'T is no
time to demand her back, got though she was by a trick,"
and walked away.

"You have not shown him the paper?" questioned Janice,
as she settled herself in the saddle.

"No, my child," replied Washington. "He returned from
Baltimore only last evening, and there has been no time since.
But rest easy, he shall see it. Keep good wishes for us, and
fare thee well."

Two hours later the British marched into Princeton. But
the Continental forces had made good their retreat, and all
that was left to their pursuers was to march on wearily to
Brunswick to save the broken regiments and the magazines
that had been lost in spite of them, had Washington possessed
but a few fresh troops. The English general had been out-manoeuvred,
his best brigade cut to pieces, and the army he
had thought to annihilate was safe among the hills of New
Jersey.

"Confound the fox!" stormed Cornwallis. "Can I never
come up with him?"

"He 's got safe off twice, my lord; the third time is proverbial,
and the odds must turn," urged Erskine.

"Pray Heaven that some day we may catch him in a cul-de-sac
from which there can be no retreat."


Janice Meredith

VOLUME II.


[Illustration: George Washington (In color)]


JANICE MEREDITH
A TALE OF THE REVOLUTION

VOLUME II

BETWIXT MILLSTONES

The reunion of the Merediths was so joyful a one
that little thought was taken of the course of public
events. Nor were they now in a position easily to
learn of them. Philemon and his troop had
hastened to rejoin at the first news of the British reverses,
the remaining farm servants had one by one taken advantage
of the anarchy of the last eight months secretly to desert, or
boldly enlist, the squire's gout prevented his going abroad,
and the quiet was too great a boon to both Mrs. Meredith and
Janice to make them wish for anything but its continuance.

If there was peace at Greenwood, it was more than could
be said for the rest of the land. The Continental success at
Princeton, small though it was in degree, worked as a leaven,
and excited a ferment throughout the State. Every Whig
whom the British successes had for a moment made faint-hearted,
every farmer whose crops or stock had been seized,
every householder on whom troops had been quartered, even
Joe Bagby and the Invincibles took guns from their hiding-places
and, forming themselves into parties, joined Washington's
army in the Jersey hills about Morristown, or, acting on
their own account, boldly engaged the British detachments
and stragglers wherever they were encountered. Withdrawn
as the Merediths might be, the principal achievements were
too important not to finally reach them, and by infinite filtration
they heard of how the Waldeckers had been attacked at
Springfield and put to flight, how the British had abandoned
Hackensack and Newark without waiting for the assaults, and
how at Elizabethtown they had been surprised and captured.
Less than a month from the time that the royal army had
practically held the Jerseys, it was reduced to the mere possession
of Brunswick, Amboy, and Paulus Hook, and every
picket or foraging party sent out from these points was almost
certain of a skirmish.

It was this state of semi-blockade which gave the Merediths
their next taste of war's alarums. Late in February a company
of foot and a half troop of horse, with a few waggons, made
their appearance on the river road, and halted opposite the
gate of Greenwood. Painful as was the squire's foot, this
sight was sufficient to make him bear the agony of putting it
to the ground, and bring him limping to the door.

"How now! For what are ye come?" he shouted at a
detachment which was already filing through the gate.

At the call, two officers who had been seemingly engaged
in a discussion, rode toward the porch, and the moment
they were within speaking distance one of them began an
explanation.

"I was just a-tellin' Captain Plunkett that we'd done a
mighty bad stroke this mornin', but that this 'ud be a worse
one, for--"

"Why, it 's Phil!" cheerfully exclaimed Mr. Meredith.
"Welcome, lad, and all the more that I feared 't was another
call the thieving Whigs were about to pay my cribs and barn.
Where have ye been, lad? But, rather, in with ye and your
friend," he said, interrupting his own question, as the other
officer approached, "and tell your errand over a bottle where
there's more warmth."

"It's such a mighty sorry errand, squire," replied Philemon,
with evident reluctance, and reddening, "that it won't take
many words ter tell. We was sent out yestere'en toward
Somerset Court-house, a-foragin', and this mornin' as we was
returnin', we was set upon by the rebels."

"Devil burn it!" muttered the captain, "what do you call
such mode of warfare? At Millstone Ford, where they attacked
us, they scattered like sheep as we deployed for a
charge. But the moment we were on the march in column,
ping, ping, ping from every bit of cover, front, flank, and rear,
and each bullet with a billet at that, no matter what the distance.
Not till we reached Middle Brook did their stinging
fire cease."

"And 'stead of bringin' into Brunswick forty carts of food
and forage, and a swipe of cattle," groaned Philemon, "we
has only four waggon-loads of wounded ter show for our
raid."

"With the post nigh to short commons," went on Plunkett.
"Therefore, Mr. Meredith, we are put to the necessity of
taking a look at your barn and granaries.

"What!" roared the squire, incredulously, yet with a wrath
in his voice that went far to show that conviction rather than
disbelief was his true state of mind. "'T is impossible that
British regulars will thieve like the rebels."

Both the officers flushed, and Philemon began a faltering
explanation and self-exculpation, but he was cut short by his
superior saying sharply: "Tush, sir, such language will not
make us deal the more gently with your cribs; so if you 'd
save something, mend your speech."

"I done my best, squire," groaned Philemon, "ter dissuade
Captain Plunkett, but General Grant's orders was not
ter come back without a train."

"Then at least ye'll have the grace to pay for what ye
take? Ye'll be no worse than the rebel, that I'll lay to."

"Ay, and so we should, could we pay in the same worthless
brown paper. In truth, sir, 't was General Howe's and
the commissary's orders that nothing that we seize was to
be paid for, so if thou hast a quarrel 't is with those whom Mr.
Hennion says are thy good friends. Here 's a chance, therefore,
to exhibit the loyalty which the lieutenant has been dinging
into my ears for the last half-mile."

"Belza burn the lot of ye!" was the squire's prompt expression
of his loyalty.

Neither protests nor curses served, however, to turn the
marauders from their purpose. Once again the outbuildings
and store-rooms of Greenwood were ransacked and swept
clear of their goodly plenty, and once again, as if to deepen
the sense of injury, the stable was made to furnish the means
with which the robbery was to be completed.

While the troops were still scattered and occupied in piling
the loot upon the sleighs and sledges, a volley of something
more potent than the squire's oaths and objurgations interrupted
them. From behind the garden hedgerow of box
came a discharge of guns, and a dozen of the foraging party,
including both the captain and the lieutenant of foot, fell. A
moment of wild confusion followed, some of the British rushing
to where the troopers' steeds were standing, and, throwing
themselves into the saddles, found safety in flight, while the
rest sought shelter in the big barn. Here Lieutenant Hennion
succeeded in rallying them into some order, but it was
to find that numbers of the infantry had left their muskets,
and that many of the light horse were without their sabres,
both having been laid aside to expedite the work.

Not daring offensive operations with such a force, the young
officer, aided by the one subaltern, made the best disposition
possible for defence, trusting to hold the building until the
fugitives should return with aid from Brunswick. Those who
had their muskets were stationed at the few windows, while
the dragoons with drawn swords were grouped about the door,
ready to resist an attack.

The Jersey militia had too often experienced the effectiveness
of British bayonets and sabres to care to face them, and
so they continued behind the hedge, and coolly reloaded their
guns. Yet they, as well as their opponents, understood that
time was fighting against them, and as soon as it became obvious
that those in the barn intended no sortie they assumed
the initiative.

The first warning of this to the besieged was another volley,
which sent bullets through the windows and the crack in the
door, without doing the slightest injury. At the same moment
four men trailing their rifles appeared from behind the hedge,
and, scattering and dodging as they ran, made for the cow
yard. Two of the infantry who guarded the window that over-looked
this movement, thrust out their muskets and fired; but
neither of their shots told, for the moment they appeared five
flashes came from the hedge, and one of the defenders, as his
hand pressed the trigger, was struck in the forehead by a rifle
ball, and, staggering sidewise, he clutched his comrade's gun,
so that it sent its bullet skyward. Before new men could take
their places, the four runners had leaped the low fence and
dashed across the yard to the shelter under the barn.

Knowing that they must be dislodged, the lieutenant commanded
that the manure trap should be raised and a number
of the dragoons drop down it; but no sooner had one started
to swing himself through the opening than a gun cracked below,
and the man, relaxing his hold, fell lifeless on his face.
Another, not pausing to drop, jumped. He landed in a heap,
but was on his feet in a flash, only to fall backward with a
bullet through his lung. The rest hung back, unwilling to
face such certain death, though their officers struck them with
the flat of their swords.

Another moment developed the object of the attack, for
through the trap-door suddenly shone a red light, and with it
came the sound of crackling faggots. A cry of terror broke
from the British, and there was a wild rush for the door, which
many hands joined in throwing open. As it rolled back a
dozen guns spoke, and the seven exposed men fell in a confused
heap at the opening,--a lesson sharp enough to turn the
rest to right about.

All pretence of discipline disappeared at once, the men
ceasing to pay the slightest heed to their officers; and one,
panic-stricken with fear, threw off his coat and, fairly tearing
his shirt from his back, tied it to his bayonet and waved it
through the door. Hennion, with an oath, sprang forwards,
caught the gun and wrenched it out of the fellow's hands, at
the same moment stretching him flat with a blow in the neck;
but as he did so one of the troopers behind him cut the
officer down with his sabre. The subaltern of foot who rushed
to help his superior was caught and held by two of the men,
and the officers thus disposed of, the white flag was once
more held through the doorway.

At the very instant that this was accomplished, the fire
below found some crevice in the flooring under the hay, and
in a trice the mow burst into spitting and crackling flame.
With the holder of the white flag at their head, the men
dashed through the doorway, those with arms tossing them
away, and most of them throwing themselves flat upon the
ground, with the double purpose of signalling their surrender
and of escaping the bullets that might greet their exit.

In a moment they were the centre of a hundred men, who,
but for their guns, might have been taken for a lot of farmers
and field hands. One alone wore a military hat with a
cockade, and it was he who demanded in a voice of self-importance:--

"Have you surrendered, and where is your commanding
officer?"

"Yes," shouted a dozen of the British, while the three men
still holding the subaltern dragged him forward, without releasing
their hold on his arms.

"Give up your sword, then," demanded the wearer of the
cockade.

"I'll die first!" protested the young fellow,--a lad of not
over seventeen at most,--still struggling with his soldiers.
"You'll not see an officer coerced by his own men, sir," he
sobbed, as another of the soldiers caught him by the wrist and
twisted his sword from his hand.

"A mighty good lesson it is for your stinking British
pride," was the retort of the militia officer, as he accepted
the sword. "I guess you 're the kind of man we've been
looking for to make an example of. We'll teach you what
murdering our generals and plundering our houses come to--
eh, men?"

"Hooray fer Joe Bagby!" shouted one of the conquerors.

"Some of you tie the prisoners, except him, two and two,
and start them down the road at double quick," ordered Captain
Bagby. "Collect all the guns and sabres and throw
them on the sledges. Look alive there, for we've no time to
lose. Well, squire, what do you want?" he demanded, as he
turned and found the latter's hand on his sleeve.

"I've to thank ye for arriving in the nick o' time to save
me from being plundered," said Mr. Meredith, speaking as if
he were taking a dose of medicine. "Now can't ye set to
and save my outbuildings from taking fire?"

"Harkee, squire, replied Joe, dropping his voice to a confidential
pitch, while at the same time leading his interlocutor
aside out of hearing. "The sledges and what they hold is our
prize, captivated from the British in a fair fight, yet we'll get
around that if you'll say the right word."

"And what 's that?" queried the squire.

"You know as well as I what 't is. The sledges are yours,
and we'll do our prettiest to prevent the stables and cribs
from catching, if you'll but say what I want said as to Miss
Janice."

"I'd see her in her grave first."

"Some of you fellows start those sleighs and sledges up the
road!" shouted Bagby. "Now then, have you got that
officer ready?"

"He ain't ready, but we is, cap," answered one of the
little group about the prisoner.

"Up with him, then!" ordered Bagby. "See-saw 's the
word: down goes Mercer, up goes a bloody-back."

At the command, half a dozen men pulled on a rope which
had been passed over the bough of a tree, and the young subaltern
was swung clear of the ground. He struggled so
fiercely for a moment that the cords which bound his wrists
parted and he was able to clutch the rope above his head in a
desperate attempt to save himself. It was useless, for instantly
two rifles were levelled and two bullets sent through him; his
hands relaxing, he hung limply, save for a slight muscular
quiver.

"If your friends, the British, come back, you can tell them
that 's only the beginning," Bagby told the squire. "And
look out for yourself, or it 's what will come to you. Now
then, fellows, fall in," he called. "The line of retreat is to
Somerset Court-house, and you are to guard the prisoners and
the provisions if you can, but scatter if attacked in force.
March!"

The motley company, without pretence of order, set off on
their long, weary night tramp through the snow. Behind
them the flame of the barn, now towering sixty feet in the air,
made the whole scene bright with colour, save where the swinging
body of the lad threw a shifting shadow across a stretch of
untrampled snow.


XXXVII
BLUES AND REDS

As the squire still stood gloomily staring, now at the
departing Whigs, now at the blazing barn, and now
at his stable and other buildings, Clarion, who had
taken a great interest in the last hour's doings,
suddenly pricked up his ears and then ran forward to a snow-drift
within a few yards of the burning building. Here he
halted and gave vent to a series of loud yelps. Limping forward,
the squire heard his name called in a faint voice, and the
next instant discovered Philemon hidden in the snow.

"I'm bad hurt, squire," he groaned; "but I made out to
crawl from the barn."

"Gadsbodikins!" exclaimed Mr. Meredith. "Why, Phil, I
e'en forgot ye for the moment. Here 's a pass, indeed. And
none but women and a one-legged man to help ye, now ye re
found."

It took the whole household to carry Philemon indoors,
and as it was impossible, in the squire's legless and horseless
condition, to send for aid, Mrs. Meredith became the surgeon.
The wound proved to be a shoulder cut, serious only from the
loss of blood it had entailed, and after it was washed and
bandaged the patient was put to bed. Daylight had come by
the time this had been accomplished, and the squire was a
little cheered to find that the snow on the roofs of his farm
buildings had prevented the sparks of the barn from igniting
them.

[Illustration: "There's no safety for thee!"]

Twenty-four hours elapsed before help came to the household,
and then it was in the form of Harcourt's dragoons.
From Tarleton it was learned that the fugitives, on their
arrival at Brunswick, asserted that Washington's whole army
had attacked them, and was in full advance upon the post,--
news which had kept the whole force under arms for hours, and
prevented any attempt to come to the assistance of the detachment.
When the major learned that eighty picked troops had
been killed or captured by a hundred raw militia, his language
was more picturesque than quotable. There was nothing to be
done, however; and after they had vowed retaliation for the
subaltern, buried the dead, and the surgeon had looked at
Phil's wound and approved of Mrs. Meredith's treatment, the
squadron rode back to Brunswick.

This and other like experiences served to teach the English
that it was not safe to send out foraging parties, and for a
time active warfare practically ceased. The Continental forces,
reduced at times to less than a thousand men, were not strong
enough to attack the enemy's posts, and the British, however
much they might grumble over a fare of salt food, preferred it
to fresher victuals when too highly seasoned with rifle bullets.

The Merediths were somewhat better provided, Sukey's
store-rooms proving to have many an unransacked cupboard,
while the farmers in the vicinity, however bare they had
apparently been stripped, were able, when money was offered,
to supply poultry, eggs, milk, and many other comforts, which
through lack of stock and labour Greenwood could no longer
furnish.

His wound was therefore far from an ill to the lieutenant of
horse, since it not merely relieved him from the stigma of the
surrender, but saved him from the privation of the poor food
and cramped quarters his fellow troopers were enduring at
Brunswick. Nor did he count as the least advantage the tendance
that Janice, half by volition and half by compulsion, gave
him. When at last he was able to come downstairs, the days
were none too long as he sat and watched her nimble fingers
sew, or embroider, or work at some other of her tasks.

One drawback there was to this joy. In spite of strict
orders against straggling, many a red-coated officer risked
punishment for disobedience, and capture by the enemy, by
sneaking through the pickets and spending long hours at
Greenwood. Though Phil's service had given him much more
tongue and assurance than of yore, he was still unable to cope
with them; and, conscious that he cut but a poor figure to the
girl when they were present, he was at times jealous and
quarrelsome.

Twice he laid his anxieties and desires before the squire
and begged for an immediate wedding, but that worthy was by
no means as ready as once he had been; for while convinced
of the eventual success of the British, he foresaw unsettled
times in the immediate future, and knew that the marriage of
his girl to an officer of the English army was a serious if not
decisive step. Yet delay was all he wished, being too honest
a man to even think of breaking faith with the young fellow;
and finally one evening, when he had become genial over a
due, or rather undue, amount of Madeira and punch, he was
won over by Philemon's earnest persuasions, and declared that
the wedding should take place before the British broke up
their winter quarters and marched to Philadelphia.

The next morning the squire had no remembrance of his
evening's pledge, but he did not seek to cry off from it when
reminded by Philemon. Mrs. Meredith was called into conclave,
and then Janice was summoned and told of the edict.

"And now, lass, thou hast got thyself and us into more than
one scrape," ended the father, "so come and give thy dad a
kiss to show that thou 'rt cured of thy wrong-headedness and
will do as thy mother and I wish."

Without a word Janice went to her father and kissed him;
then she flung her arms about his neck, buried her head in his
shoulder, and burst into tears.

The squire had been quite prepared for the conduct of two
years previous and had steeled himself to enforce obedience,
but this contrary behaviour took him very much aback.

"Why, Jan," he expostulated, "this is no way to carry on
when a likely young officer bespeaks ye in marriage. Many 's
the maid would give her left hand to--"

"But I don't love him," sobbed the girl.

"And who asked if thou didst, miss?" inquired her mother,
who by dint of nursing Phil had become his strong partisan.
"Dost mean to put thy silly whims above thy parents'
judgments?"

"But you would n't do as your father wished, and married
dadda," moaned Janice.

"A giddy, perverse child I was," retorted Mrs. Meredith;
"and another art thou, to fling the misbehaviour in thy
mother's face."

"Nay, nay, Patty--" began the squire; but whether he was
stepping forward in defence of his wife or his daughter he was
not permitted to say, for Mrs. Meredith continued:--

"We'll set the wedding for next Thursday, if that suits thee,
Philemon?"

"You can't name a day too soon for me, marm," assented
Philemon, eagerly; "and as I just hearn the sound of hoofs
outside, 't is likely some officers has arrived, and I'll speak ter
them so 's ter get word ter the chaplain, and ter my regiment.
You need n't be afraid, Miss Janice, that 't won't be done in
high style. Like as not, General Grant will put the whole post
under arms." In truth, the lover was not at his ease, and was
glad enough for an excuse which took him from the room.
Nor was he less eager to announce his success to his comrades,
hoping it would put an end to their attentions to his bride.

"Then ye'll do as I bid ye, Jan?" questioned her father.

"Yes, dadda," Janice assented dutifully, while striving to
stifle her sobs. "I--I've been a--a--wicked creature, I
know, and now I'll do as you and mommy tell me."

If Philemon had been made uneasy by the girl's tears, her
manner during the balance of the day did not tend to make
him happier. Her sudden gravity and silence were so marked
that his fellow-officers who had come to supper, and who did
not know the true situation, rallied them both on Miss Meredith's
loss of spirits.

"I' faith," declared Sir Frederick Mobray, moved perhaps
by twinges of the little green monster, "but for the lieutenant's
word I'd take oath 't was a funeral we were to attend, and
issue orders for the casing of colours and muffling of drums.
In the name of good humour, Mr. Meredith, have in the spirits,
and I'll brew a punch that shall liquidate the gloom."

After one glass of the steaming drink, the ladies, as was
the custom, rose to leave the room. At the door Janice was
intercepted by Peg, with word that Sukey wished to advise
with her anent some matter, so the maid did not follow her
mother, but turned and entered the kitchen.

The cook was not in view; but as the girl realised the fact,
a cloaked man suddenly stepped from behind the chimney
breast, and before the scream that rose to Janice's lips could
escape, a firm hand was laid on them. Yet, even in the moment
of surprise, the girl was conscious that, press as the fingers
might, there was still an element of caress in their touch.

"I seem doomed to fright you, Miss Meredith," said
Brereton, "but, indeed, 't is not intentional. Twice in the
last week I've tried to gain speech of you without success,
and so to-night have taken desperate means." He took his
hand from her mouth. "This time I know myself safe in
your hands. Ah, Miss Janice, wilt not forgive me the suspicion?
for not one easy hour have I had since I knew how I
had wronged you. I was sent to eastward with despatches to
the New England governors, or nothing would have kept me
from earlier seeking you to crave a pardon."

"Yet thou wouldst not believe me, sir, when I sent thee
word."

"Sent me word, when?"

"By Lord Clowes."

"Clowes?"

"Yes. The morning after you were captivated."

"Not one word did he speak to me from the moment I
was trapped until--until you, like a good angel, as now I
know, came to my rescue." He bowed his head and pressed
his lips upon the palm of her hand.

The girl was beginning an explanation when a loud laugh
from the dining-room recalled to her the danger. "You
must not stay," she protested, as she caught away her hand,
which the aide had continued holding. "There are five--"

"I know it," interrupted Jack; "and if you 'd not come to
me, I'd have burst in on them rather than have my third
ride futile."

"Oh, go; please go!" begged the girl, his reckless manner
adding yet more to her alarm.

"Say that you forgive me," pleaded the officer, catching
her hands.

"Yes, yes, anything; only go!" besought Janice, as a second
laugh from the dining-room warned her anew of the peril.

Jack stooped and kissed each hand in turn, but even as he
did so one of the officers in the next room bawled:--

"Here 's a toast to Leftenant Hennion and his bride,--
hip, hip, hip, bumpers!"

Janice felt herself caught by both shoulders, with all the
tenderness gone from the touch.

"What does that mean?" the aide demanded, his face
very close to her own.

The girl, with bowed head, partly in shame, and partly to
escape the blazing eyes which fairly burned her own, replied:
"I am to marry Mr. Hennion next Thursday."

"Willingly?" burst from her questioner, as if the word
were shot from a bomb.

"No."

"Then you'll do nothing of the kind," denied Brereton,
with a sudden gaiety of voice. "My horse is hid in the
woods by the river; but say the word, and you shall be under
Lady Washington's protection at Morristown before daylight."

"And what then?" questioned the girl.

"Then? Why, a marriage with me the moment you'll
give me ay."

"But I care no more for you than I do for Mr. Hennion;
and even--"

"But I'll make you care for me," interrupted Jack, ardently.

"And even if I did," concluded Janice, "you yourself
helped to teach me what the world thinks of elopements."

"Ah, don't let--don't deny--"

"No, once for all; and release me, sir, I beg."

"Not till you swear to me that this accursed wedding is
not to take place till Thursday."

"Of course not."

"And where is it to be?"

"At the church in Brunswick."

"And is the looby with his regiment or staying here?"

"Here."

Brereton laughed gaily, and more loudly than was prudent.
"A bet and a marvel," he bantered: "a barley-corn to Miss
Janice Meredith, that the sweetest, most bewitching creature
in the world lacks a groom on her wedding day! I must not
tarry, for 't is thirty miles to Morristown, and three days is
none too much time for what I would do. Farewell," Jack
ended, once more catching her hands and kissing them. He
hurriedly crossed the room, but as he laid hold of the latch
he as suddenly turned and strode back to the maid. "Has
he ever kissed you?" he demanded, with a savage scowl on
his face.

"Never!" impulsively cried the girl, while the colour flooded
into her cheeks.

"Bless him for a cold-blooded icicle!" joyfully exclaimed
the officer; and before Janice could realise his intention she
was caught in his arms and fervently kissed. The next
moment a door slammed, and he was gone, leaving the girl
leaning for very want of breath against the chimney side,
with redder cheeks than ever.

The colour still lingered the next morning to such an extent
that it was commented upon by both her parents, who found
in it proof that she was now reconciled to their wishes. Had
they been closer observers, they would have noticed that
several times in the course of the day it waxed or waned
without apparent reason, that their daughter was singularly
restless, and that any sound out of doors caused her to start
and listen. Not even the getting out and trying on of her
wedding gown seemed to interest her. Yet nothing occurred
to break the usual monotony of the life.

Her state of nervous expectancy on the second day was
shown when the inevitable contingent of English officers
arrived a little before dinner; for as they appeared without
previous warning in the parlour door, Janice gave a scream,
which startled Philemon, who was relying upon but two legs
of his chair, into a pitch over backward, and brought the
squire's gouty foot to the floor with a bump and a wail of
pain.

"Body o' me!" ejaculated one of the new-corners. "Dost
take us for Satan himself, that ye greet us so?"

"Tush, man!" corrected Mobray. "Miss Meredith could
not see under our cloaks, and so, no doubt, thought us rebels.
Who wouldn't scream at the prospect of an attack of the
Continental blue devils--eh, Miss Janice?"

"Better the blue devils," retorted Janice, "than a scarlet
fever."

"Hah, hah!" laughed a fellow-officer. "'T was you got
us into that, Sir Frederick. Lieutenant Hennion, your first
task after to-morrow's ceremony is plain and clear.

"Would that I had the suppression of this rebellion!" groaned
the baronet, "'stead of one which fights us with direst cold and
hunger, to say nothing of the scurvy and the putrid fever."

For the next few hours cold and hunger and disease were
not in evidence, however; and it took little persuasion from
the squire, who dearly loved jovial company, to induce the
visitors to stay on to tea, and then to supper.

While they were enjoying the latter, the interruption Janice
had expected came at last. In the midst of the cheer, the
hall door was swung back so quietly that no one observed it,
and only when he who opened it spoke did those at table
realise the new arrival. Then the sight of the blue uniform
with buff facings brought every officer to his feet and set
them glancing cornerward, to where their side arms were
stood.

"I grieve to intrude upon so mirthful a company," apologised
the new arrival, bowing. "But knowing of the unstinted
hospitality of Greenwood, I made bold, Mrs. Meredith, to
tell a friend that we could scarce fail of a welcome." Brereton
turned to say, "This way, Harry, after thou'st disposed
thy cloak and hat," and entered the room.

"Odds my life!" burst out the baronet, as the second
interloper, garbed in Continental dragoon uniform, entered
and bowed respectfully to the company. "What 's to pay
here?"

"But nay," went on Brereton, "I see your table is already
filled, so we'll not inconvenience you by our intrusion. Perhaps,
however, Miss Janice will fill us each a glass from you
bowl of punch. 'T is a long ride to Morristown, and a stirrup
cup will not be amiss. Yet stay again. Let me first puff off
my friend to you. Ladies and gentleman, Captain Henry
Lee, better known as Light Horse Harry."

"May I perish, but this impudence passes belief!" gasped
one of the officers. "Dost think thou 'rt not prisoners?"

"Ho, Jack! I told thee thy harebrainedness and love of
adventure would get us into the suds yet," spoke up Lee.
"Then the ninety light horse whom we left surrounding the
house are thy troops?" he questioned laughingly, of the four
officers.

"Devil pick your bones, the two of you!" swore Mobray.
"Wast not enough that we should be so confoundedly gapped,
but you must come with the bowl but half emptied. Hast
thou no bowels for gentlemen and fellow-officers?"

"Fooh!" quizzed Brereton. "Pick up the bowl and down
with it at a gulp, man. Never let it be said that an officer of
the Welsh Fusileers made bones of a half-full--" There the
speaker caught himself short, and suddenly turned his back
on the table.

"Whom have we here?" demanded the baronet. "By
Heavens, Charlie, who'd think--Does Sir William know
of--?"

"'S death!" cried Jack, facing about, and meeting the
questioner eye to eye. "Canst not hold thy tongue,
man?" Then he went on less excitedly: "I am Leftenant-Colonel
John Brereton, aide-de-camp to his Excellency
General Washington."

For a moment Sir Frederick stood speechless, then he held
out his hand, saying: "And a good fellow, I doubt not, despite
a bad trade. Fair lady," he continued after the handshake,
"since we are doomed for the moment to be captives
of some one other than thee, help to cheer us in the exchange
by filling us each a parting glass. Come, Charlie, canst give
us one of thy old-time toasts?"

Brereton laughed, as he took a glass from the girl. "'T is
hardly possible, with ladies present, to fit thy taste, Fred.
However, here goes: Honour, fame, love, and wealth may
desert us, but thirst is eternal."

"Even in captivity, thank a kind Providence," ejaculated
one of the officers, as he set down his drained tumbler.

"Now, gentlemen, boots and saddles, an' it please you,"
suggested Lee, politely.

"Thee'll not force a wounded man to take such exposure,"
protested Mrs. Meredith. "Lieutenant Hennion--"

Brereton carried on the speech: "Can drink punch and
study divinity. I'll warrant he's not so near to death's door
but he can bear one-half the ride of our poor starved troopers
and beasts."

"Farewell, Miss Janice," groaned the baronet; "'t was thy
beauty baited this trap."

Jack lingered a moment after Lee and the prisoners had
passed into the hallway.

"Can I have a moment's word with you apart, Miss Meredith?"
he asked.

"Most certainly not," spoke up the squire, recovering from
the dumbness into which the rapid occurrences of the last
three minutes had reduced him. "If ye have aught to say
to my lass, out with it here."

"'T is--'t is just a word of farewell."

"I like not thy farewells," answered the girl, colouring.

"For once we agree, Miss Janice," replied the officer,
boldly; "and did it rest with me, there should never be
another." He bowed, and went to the door. "Mr. Meredith,"
he said, "I've stolen a husband from your daughter.
'T is a debt I am ready to pay on demand."


XXXVIII
BLACK AND WHITE

How much the squire would have grieved over the
capture of his almost son-in-law was never known,
for events gave him no opportunity. Spring was
now come, and with it the breaking up of winter
quarters. The moment the roads were passable, the garrison
of Brunswick, under the command of Cornwallis, marched up
the Raritan to Middle Brook, driving back into the Jersey hills
a detachment of the Continental army. In turn Washington's
whole force was moved to the support of his advance, but the
British had fallen back once more to their old position. Early
in June, Howe himself arrived at Brunswick, bringing with
him heavy reinforcements, and first threatened a movement
toward the Delaware, hoping to draw Washington from his
position; but the latter, surmising that his opponent would
never dare to jeopardise his communications, was not to be
deceived. Disappointed in this, the British faced about
quickly, and tried to surprise the Americans by a quick
march upon their encampment, only to find them posted
along a strong piece of ground, fully prepared for a conflict.
Although the British outnumbered the Continentals almost
twice over, the deadly shooting of the latter had been so often
experienced that Howe dared not assault their position, and
after a few days of futile waiting, his army once more fell back
on Brunswick, crossed the Raritan to Amboy, and then was
ferried across to Staten Island. Washington, by holding his
force in a menacing position, without either marching or
attacking, had saved not merely his troops, but Philadelphia
as well; and Howe learned that if the capital was to be captured,
it could not be by the direct march of his command
across the Jerseys, but must be by the far slower way of conveying
it by ships to the southward.

Before the campaign opened, Mr. Meredith had been loud
and frequent in complaints over his lack of stock and labour
with which to cultivate his farm. Had he been better situated,
however, it is probable that his groans would have been
multiplied fivefold, for he would have seen whatever he did
rendered useless by this march and counter-march of belligerents.
Thrice the tide of war rolled over Greenwood; and
though there was not so much as a skirmish within hearing of
the homestead, the effects were almost as serious to him and to
his tenantry. When the British finally evacuated the Jerseys,
scarce a fence was to be found standing in Middlesex County,
having in the two months' manoeuvring been taken for camp-fires,
and the frames of many an outbuilding had been used
for similar purposes.

The depleted larders of Greenwood, together with the small
prospect of replenishing them from his own farm, drove the
squire to the necessity of pressing his tenants for the half.
yearly rentals. Whatever his needs, the attempt to collect
them was thoroughly unwise; Mr. Meredith, as a fact, being
in better fortune than many of his tenants, for they had seen
their young crops ridden over, or used as pasture, by the
cavalry of both sides, and were therefore not merely without
means of paying rent, but were faced by actual want for their
own families. The surliness or threats with which the squire's
demands were met should have proven to him their impolicy;
but if to the simple-minded landlord a debt was a debt and
only a debt, he was quickly to learn that there are various
ways of payment. No sooner had the Continental army followed
Howe across the Raritan, and thus left the country-side
to the government, or lack of government, of its own people,
than the tenants united in a movement designed to secure
what might legally be termed a stay of proceedings, and which
possessed the unlegal advantage of being at once speedy and
effective.

One night in July the deep sleep of the master of Greenwood
was interrupted by a heavy hand being laid on his
shoulder, and ere he could blink himself into effective eyesight,
he was none too politely informed by the spokesman
of four masked men who had intruded into his conjugal
chamber, that he was wanted below. While still dazed, the
squire was pulled, rather than helped, out of bed, and Mrs.
Meredith, who tried to help him resist, was knocked senseless
on the floor. Down the stairs and out of the house he was
dragged, his progress being encouraged by such cheering
remarks as, "We'll teach you what Toryism comes ter."
"Where 's them tools of old George you've been a-feeding,
now?" "Want your rents, do you? Well, pay day's
come."

On the lawn were a number of men similarly masked,
grouped about a fire over which was already suspended the
tell-tale pot. To this the squire was carried, his night-shirt
roughly torn from his back; and while two held him, a coating
of the hot tar was generously applied with a broom, amid
screams of pain from the unfortunate, echoed in no minor
key by Janice and the slave servants, all of whom had been
wakened by the hubbub. Meantime, one of the law-breakers
had returned to the house, and now reappeared with Mrs.
Meredith's best feather-bed, which was hastily slashed open
with knives, and the squire ignominiously rolled in the feathers,
transforming that worthy at once to an appearance akin
to an ill-plucked fowl of mammoth proportions.

Although, as already noted, the fences had disappeared
from the face of the land, with the same timeliness which
had been shown in the production of the mattress, a rail was
now introduced upon the scene, and the miserable object
having been hoisted thereon, four men lifted it to their
shoulders. A slight delay ensued while the squire's ankles
were tied together, and then, with the warning to him that,
"If yer don't sit right and hold tight, ye'll enjoy yer ride
with yer head down and yer toes up," the men started off at
a trot down the road. Sharing the burden by turns, the
squire was carried to Brunswick, where, daylight having
come, he was borne triumphantly twice round the green,
amid hoots and yells from a steadily growing procession, and
then was finally ferried across the river and dumped on the
opposite bank with the warning from the spokesman that
worse would come to him if he so much as dared show his
face again within the county.

Lack of apparel and an endeavour to revive Mrs. Meredith
had kept Janice within doors during the actual tarring and
feathering; but so soon as the persecutors set off for Brunswick,
the girl left her now conscious though still dizzy mother, hastily
dressed, and started in pursuit, the alarm for her father quite
overcoming her dread of the masked rioters. Try her best,
they had too long a start to be overtaken, and when she
reached the village, it was to learn from a woman to whom
she appealed for information what Mr. Meredith's fate had
been. Still suffering the keenest anxiety, the girl went to the
ferryman's house, and begged to be rowed across the river, but
he shook his head.

"Cap' Bagby 's assoomed command, ontil we gits resottled,
an' his orders wuz thet no one wuz ter be ferried onless they
hez a pass; so, ef yer set on followin' yer dad, it 's him yer
must see. I guess he ain't far from the tavern."

This proved a correct inference, for Joe, glass in hand, was
sitting on a bench near the doorway, watching and quizzing
the publican as that weather-cock laboured to unscrew the rings
which suspended his sign in the air.

"Who 's name are you going to paint in this time, Si?" he
questioned, as the girl came within hearing.

The tavern-keeper, having freed the sign-board from the
support, descended with it. "This 'ere tavern's got tew git
along without no sign," he said, as he mopped his brow. "I'm
jus' wore out talkin' first on one side o' my mouth, an' next on
t' other."

"You ain't tired, I guess, of lining first one pocket and then
the other?" surmised Bagby.

"'T ain't fer yer tew throw that in my teeth," retorted the
publican. "It 's little money o' yours has got intew my
pocket, Joe, often as yer treat yerself an' the rest."

Janice went up to the captain. "Mr. Bagby, I want to go
across the river to my father, and--" so far she spoke steadily,
her head held proudly erect; but then, worn out with the
anxiety, the fatigue, and the heat, her self-control suddenly
deserted her, and she collapsed on the bench and began to sob.

"Now, miss," expostulated Bagby, "there is n't any call to
take on so." He took the girl's hand in his own. "Here,
take some of my swizzle. 'T will set you right up."

Before the words had passed his lips, Janice had jerked her
hand away and was on her feet. "Don't you dare touch me,"
she said, her eyes flashing.

"I was only trying to comfort you," asserted Joe, while the
tavern loungers gave vent to various degrees of laughter.

"Then let me go to my father."

"Can't for a moment," answered Bagby, angrily. "He 's
shown himself inimical to his country, and we must n't on no
account allow communications with the enemy. That 's the
rule as laid down in the general orders, and in a Congress
resolution."

Bagby's voice, quite as much as his words, told the girl that
argument was useless, and without further parley she walked
away. She had not gone ten paces when the publican overtook
her and asked:--

"Say, miss, where be yer a-goin'?"

"Home," answered Janice.

"Then come yer back an' rest a bit in the settin'-room, an'
I'll have my boy hitch up an' take yer thar. 'T is a mortal
warm day, an' I calkerlate yer've walked your stent." He
put his hand kindly on her arm, and the girl obediently turned
about and entered the tavern.

"You are very kind," she said huskily.

"That's all right," he replied. "The squire 's done me a
turn now an' agin, an' then quality 's quality, though 't ain't fer
the moment havin' its way."

While she awaited the harnessing, Bagby came into the
room.

"I wanted to say something to you, miss, but I guessed it
might fluster you with all the boys about," he said. "Has the
squire ever told you anything concerning a scheme I proposed
to him?"

"No," Janice replied, coldly.

"Well, perhaps he would have, if he could have seen forward
a little further. It's being far-seeing that wins, miss." The
speaker paused, as if he expected a response, but getting none,
he continued, "Would you like to see him home, and everything
quiet and easy again?"

"Oh!" said the girl, starting to her feet. "I'd give anything
if--"

"Now we're talking," interjected the captain, quite as
eagerly. "Only say that you'll be Mrs. Bagby, and back he
is before sundown, and I'll see to it that he is n't troubled no
more."

Janice had stepped forward impulsively, but she shrank back
at his words as if he had struck her; then without a word she
walked from the room, went to where the cart was being got
ready, and rested a trembling hand upon it, as if in need of
support, while her swift breathing bespoke the intensity of her
emotion.

At Greenwood she found her mother still suffering from the
fright and the blow too much to allow the girl to tell her own
troubles, or to ask counsel for the future, and the occupation of
trying to make the sufferer more comfortable was in fact a
good diversion, exhausted though she was with her fruitless
journey.

Before Mrs. Meredith was entirely recovered, or any news of
the squire had reached the household, fresh trouble was upon
them. Captain Bagby and two other men drove up the third
morning after the incursion, and, without going through the.
form of knocking, came into the parlour.

"You'll get ready straight off to go to Philadelphia," the
officer announced.

"For what?" demanded Mrs. Meredith.

"The Congress's orders is that any one guilty of seeking to
communicate with the enemy is to be put under arrest, and
sent to Philadelphia to be examined."

"But we have n't made the slightest attempt, nor so much
as thought of it," protested the matron.

"Oh, no!" sneered Joe; "but, all the same, we intercepted
a letter last night written to you by your old Tory husband,
and--"

"Oh, prithee," broke in Janice, without a thought of anything
but her father, "was he well, and where is he?"

"He was smarting a bit when he wrote," Bagby remarked
with evident enjoyment, "but he's got safe to his friends on
Staten Island, so we are n't going to let you stay where you can
be sneaking news to the British through him. I'll give you
just half an hour to pack, and if you are n't done then, off you
goes."

Protests and pleadings were wholly useless, though Joe
yielded so far as to suggestively remark in an aside to the girl,
that "there was one way that you know of, for fixing this
thing." Getting together what they could in the brief time
accorded to them, and with vague directions to Peg and Sukey
as to the care of all they were forced to leave behind, the two
women took their places in the waggon, and with only one man
to drive them, set out for their enforced destination.

How little of public welfare and how much of private spite
there was in their arrest was proven upon their arrival the following
day in the city of brotherly love. The escort, or captor,
first took them to the headquarters of the general in command
of the Continental forces of the town, only to find that
he was inspecting the forts down the Delaware. Leaving the
papers, he took his charges to the Indian King Tavern, and
after telling them that they 'd hear from the general "like as
not to-morrow," he departed on his return to Brunswick.

Whether the papers were mislaid by the orderly to whom
they had been delivered, or were examined and deemed too
trivial for attention, or, as is most probable, were prevented
consideration by greater events, no word came from headquarters
the next day, or for many following ones. Nor could the
initiative come from the captives, for Mrs. Meredith sickened
the second day after their arrival, and developed a high fever
on the third, which the physician who was called in declared
to be what was then termed putrid fever,--a disease to which
some three hundred of the English and Hessian soldiery at
Brunswick had fallen victims during the winter. Under his
advice, and without hindrance from the innkeeper, who took
good care to forget that he was to "keep tight hold on the
prisoners till the general sends for 'em," she was removed to
quieter lodgings on Chestnut Street.

The nursing, the anxiety, and the isolation all served to
make public events of no moment to Janice, though from the
doctor or her loquacious landlady she heard of how Burgoyne's
force, advancing from Canada, had captured Ticonderoga,
and of how Sir William had put the flower of his army on
board of transports and gone to sea, his destination thus
becoming a sort of national conundrum affording infinite
opportunity for the wiseacres of the taverns.

Mrs. Meredith, for the sake of the quiet, had been put in
the back room, the daughter taking that on the street, and
this arrangement, as it proved, was a fortunate one. Late
in August, after a hard all-night's tendance of her mother,
Janice was relieved, once the sun was up, by the daughter of
the lodging-house keeper, and wearily sought her chamber,
with nothing but sleep in her thoughts, if thoughts she had
at all, for, too exhausted to undress, she threw herself upon
the bed. Scarcely was her head resting on the pillow when
there came from down the street the riffle of drums and the
squeaks of fifes, and half in fright, and half in curiosity, the
girl sprang up and pushed open her blinds.

Toward the river she could see what looked like an
approaching mob, but behind them could be distinguished
horsemen. As she stood, the rabble ran, or pattered, or,
keeping step to the music, marched by, followed by a drum-and-fife
corps. After them came the horsemen, and the
girl's tired eyes suddenly sparkled and her pale face glowed,
as she recognised, pre-eminent among them, the tall, soldierly
figure of Washington, sitting Blueskin with such ease, grace,
and dignity. He was talking to an odd, foreign-looking
officer of extremely youthful appearance--whom, if Janice
had been better in touch with the gossip of the day, she would
have known to be the Marquis de Lafayette, just appointed
by Congress a major-general; and while the commander-in-chief
bowed and removed his hat in response to the cheers
of the people, this absorption prevented him from seeing the
girl, though she leaned far out of the window in the hope
that he would do so. To the lonely, worried maid it seemed
as if one glance of the kindly blue eyes, and one sympathetic
grasp of the large, firm hand, would have cut her troubles in half.

After the group of officers came the rank and file,--lines
of men no two of whom were dressed alike, many of them
without coats, and some without shoes; old uniforms faded
or soiled to a scarcely recognisable point, civilian clothing
of all types, but with the hunting-shirt of linen or leather
as the predominant garb; and equipped with every kind
of gun, from the old Queen Anne musket which had seen
service in Marlborough's day to the pea rifle of the frontiers-man.
A faint attempt to give an appearance of uniformity
had been made by each man sticking a sprig of green leaves
in his hat, yet had it not been for the guns, cartouch boxes,
powder horns, and an occasional bayonet and canteen, only
the regimental order, none too well maintained, differentiated
the army from the mob which had preceded them.

While yet the girl gazed wistfully after the familiar figure,
her ears were greeted with a still more familiar voice.

"Close up there and dress your lines, Captain Balch. If
this is your 'Column in parade,' what, in Heaven's name, is
your 'March at ease'?" shouted Brereton, cantering along
the column from the rear.

He caught sight of Janice as he rode up, and an exclamation
of mingled surprise and pleasure burst from him. Throwing
his bridle over a post, he sprang up the three steps, lustily
hammered with the knocker, and in another moment was in
the girl's presence.

"This is luck beyond belief," he exclaimed, as he seized
her hand. "Your father wrote me from New York, begging
that I see or send you word that he was well, and asking that you
be permitted to join him. At Brunswick I learned you were
here, but, seek you as I might, I could not get wind of your
whereabout. And now I cannot bide to aid you, for we are
in full march to meet the British."

"Where?"

"They have landed at the head of the Chesapeake, so we
are hastening to get between them and Philadelphia, and only
diverged from our route to parade through the streets this
morning, that the people might have a chance to see us, so
't is given out, but in fact to overawe them; for the city is
none too loyal to us, as will be shown in a few days, when
they hear of our defeat."

"You mean?" questioned the girl.

"General Washington, generous as he always is, has sent
some of his best regiments to Gates, and so we are marching
eleven thousand ill-armed and worse officered men, mostly
new levies, to face on open ground nineteen thousand picked
troops. What can come but defeat in the field? If it
depended on us, the cause would be as good as ended, but
they are beaten, thanks to their dirty politics, before they
even face us."

"I don't understand."

"'T is simple enough when one knows the undercurrents.
Germaine was against appointing the Howes, and has always
hated them. So he schemes this silly side movement of
Burgoyne's from Canada, and plans that the army at New
York shall be but an assistant to that enterprise, with no share
in its glory. Sir William, however, sloth though he be, saw
through it, and, declining to be made a cat's-paw, he gets
aboard ship, to seek laurels for himself, leaving Burgoyne to
march and fight through his wilderness alone. Mark me, the
British may capture Philadelphia, but if we can but keep them
busy till it is too late to succour Burgoyne, the winter will see
them the losers and not the gainers by the campaign. But
there," he added, "I forget that all this can have but small
interest to you."

"Oh," cried Janice, "you would n't say that if you knew
how good it is just to hear a friend's voice." And then she
poured out the tale of her mother's illness and of her own
ordeal.

"Would that I could tarry here and serve and save you!"
groaned Brereton, when she had ended; "but perhaps luck
will attend us, and I may be able to hurry back. Have you
money in plenty?"

The girl faltered, for in truth there had been little cash at
Greenwood when they were called upon to come away, and
much of that little was already parted with for lodgings and
medicines. Yet she managed to nod her head.

Her pretence did not deceive Jack, and in an instant his
purse was being forced into her unwilling fingers. "The
fall in our paper money gives a leftenant-colonel a lean scrip
in these days, but what little I have is yours," he said.

"I can't take it," protested Janice, trying to return the
wallet.

Brereton was at the door ere her hand was outstretched.
"Thy father's letters to me are in the purse, so thou must
keep it," he urged. "It's a toss whether I ever need
money again, but if I weather this campaign, we'll consider it
but a loan, and if I don't, 't is the use of all others to which
I should wish it put." This he said seriously, and then more
lightly went on: "And besides, Miss Janice, I owe you far more
than I can ever pay. We Whigs may forcibly impress, but at
least we tender what we can in payment. Keep it, then, as a
beggar's poor thanks for the two happiest moments of his life."
The aide passed through the doorway, and the next moment
a horse's feet clattered in the street.

Janice stood listening till the sound had died out of hearing,
then, overcome by this first kindness after such long weeks
of harshness and trial, she kissed the purse. And if Brereton
could have seen the flush of emotion that swept over her face
with the impulsive act, it is likely that something else would
have been kissed as well.


XXXIX
SHORT COMMONS

The moment's cheer that the brief dialogue with
Brereton brought Janice was added to by the
reading of the two letters from her father to
him, which reaffirmed and amplified the little the
aide had told her, and ended that source of misery. And,
as if his advent in fact marked the turn of the tide, the doctor
announced the next day that Mrs. Meredith's typhoid had
passed its crisis, and only good nursing was now needed to
insure a safe recovery. The girl's prayers suddenly changed
from ones of supplication to ones of thanksgiving; and she
found herself breaking into song even when at her mother's
bedside, quite forgetful of the need for quiet. This she was
especially prone to do while she helped the long hours of
watching pass by knitting on a silken purse of the most complicated
pattern.

The materials for this trifle were purchased on the afternoon
following the march of the Continental army, and for some
days the progress was very rapid. Public events then interfered
and checked both song and purse. On September 11
the low boom of guns was heard, and that very evening word
came that the Continental army had been defeated at Brandywine.
The moment the news reached Philadelphia an exodus
of the timid began, which swelled in volume as the probability
of the capture of the city grew. The streets were filled with
waggons carting away the possessions of the people; the Continental
Congress, which had been urging Washington to fight
at all hazard, took to its heels and fled to Lancaster; and all
others who had made themselves prominent in the Whig cause
deserted the city. Among those who thought it necessary to
go was the lodging-house keeper; for, her husband being an
officer of one of the row galleys in the river, she looked for
nothing less than instant death at the hands of the British.
With a plea to Janice, therefore, that she would care for the
house and do what she could to save it from British plundering,
the woman and her daughter departed. Her example was
followed by the doctor, not from motives of fear, but from a
purpose to join Washington's army as a volunteer. This
threw upon the girl's shoulders the entire charge of her
mother, and the cooking and providing as well; the latter by
far the most difficult of all, for the farmers about Philadelphia
were as much panic-stricken as the townspeople, and for
a time suspended all attempts to bring their produce to
market.

The two weeks of this chaos were succeeded by a third of
unwonted calm, and then one morning as she opened the front
door on her way to make her daily purchases, Janice's ears
were greeted with the sound of military music. Turning up
Second Street, curiosity hastening her steps, she became part
of the crowd of women and children running toward the
market, and arrived there just in time to see Harcourt's dragoons,
followed by six battalions of grenadiers, march past to
the tune of "God Save the King." Following these came
Lord Cornwallis, and then four batteries of heavy artillery;
and the crowd cheered the conquerors as enthusiastically and
joyfully as they had Washington's ragged regiments so short a
time before.

The advent of the British did not lessen the difficulties of
Janice, as they not only promptly seized all the provisions of
the town, but their main army, camped outside the city at
Germantown, intercepted the few fresh supplies which the
farmers successfully smuggled through Washington's lines above
the city. Fresh beef rose to nine shillings the pound, bread
to six shillings the quartern loaf and everything else in like
ratio. Though Brereton's loan furnished her with the where-withal
for the moment, each day's purchases made such inroads
into it that the girl could not but worry over the future.

[Illustration: "The despatch"]

The stress she had foreseen came far sooner than even she
had feared, or had reason to expect. Without warning, the
tradespeople united in refusing to sell for Continental money;
and Janice, when she went to make her usual purchases one
day, found that she could buy nothing, and had but stinted
and pinched herself only to husband what in a moment had
become valueless.

At first the girl's distress was so great that she could think
of no means of relief; but after hours of miserable and tearful
worrying over her helplessness, her face suddenly brightened,
and the cause of the change was revealed by her thrusting her
hand into her neckerchief, to draw out the miniature of herself.
With her knitting needle she pried up the glass and, removing
the slip of ivory, laid it carefully in her housewife,
heaving, let it be confessed, a little sigh, for it was hard to
part with the one trinket she had ever owned. Unconscious
of how many hours she had been dwelling on her troubles, she
caught up her calash, and with the miniature frame in her
hand, hurried to the front door; but the moment she had
opened it, she was reminded that it was long after the closing
of the markets, and so postponed whatever she had in mind
for another day.

On the following morning she sallied forth, so engrossed in
her difficulties, or her project, that she paid no heed to the
distant sound of cannon, nor to the groups of townspeople who
stood about on corners or stoops, evidently discussing something
of interest; and it was only when she turned into the
market-place, and found it empty alike of buyers and sellers
that she was made to realise that something unusual was
occurring.

"Why are all the stands closed this morning?" she asked
of an urchin.

"'Cause nawthing 's come ter town along of the fightin'."

"Fighting?"

"Guess you 're a deefy," contemptuously suggested the
youngster. "Don't you hear them guns? The grenadiers
went out lickety split this mornin' and folks says they've got
Washington surrounded, an'll have him captured by night.
All the other boys hez gone out on the Germantown road ter
see the fun, but daddy said he'd lick me if I went, so I did n't
dare," he added dejectedly. "Hurrah! There come some
more wounded!" he cried, with sudden cheerfulness and breaking
into a run as an army van came in sight down Second
Street.

The girl turned away and went into one of the few shops
which had opened its shutters.

"You would not take Continental money yesterday," she
said to the proprietor; "but perhaps you--you will--I
thought--I have no other kind of money, but perhaps you
will accept this in payment?" Janice, with a flushed, anxious
face, unwrapped from her handkerchief and laid down on the
counter the miniature frame.

The man took it up and eyed it for a moment, then raised
it to his mouth and pressed his teeth on the edge; satisfied
by the experiment, he scrutinised the brilliants. "How d' ye
come by this?" he demanded suspiciously.

"Oh, indeed, sir," explained Janice, growing yet redder, "it is
mine, I assure you, given me by--that is, he said I might keep it."

"'Tain't for me to say it ain't yourn," responded the shop-keeper;
"but the times is bad times and there 's roguery of
all sorts going on in the city." He looked it over again,
and demanded, "Who does 'W. H. J. B.' mean?"

"I don't--I never knew," faltered Janice.

"Then where 's the picture that was in it?"

"I--I took it out," explained the girl, "not wishing to
part with that."

"That's just what ye would have done if ye'd not come by
it by rights, "replied the man.

"Then I'll put it back," hastily offered Janice, very much
alarmed and flustered. "I--I never dreamed that--that
the picture would make it worth any more."

"'T would have made it look more regular. How much
d' ye want for it?"

"I thought--Would five pounds be too much?"

The shop-keeper laid the frame down on the counter and
shoved it toward Janice. "No, I don't want it," he said.

"Would three pounds--?"

"I don't want it at no such price," interrupted the man.

"Oh," bewailed the girl, "what am I to do? The doctor
said she was to have nourishing food; and I have nothing but
a little corn meal left. Would you give me one pound for it?"

"I tell ye, I won't buy it at any price. And I don't even
want it in the shop, so take it away. And if you want to keep
out of jail, I would n't be offering it about; I've most a
mind to call the watch myself, as 't is."

The threat was enough to make Janice catch up the bijou
and leave the shop almost at a run; nor did her pace lessen
as she hurried homeward, and, safely there, she fast bolted the
door. This done, with hands which trembled not a little, she
replaced her portrait in the frame, hoping dimly from what
the shopkeeper had said, that this would help to prove her
ownership. Yet all that day and the succeeding one she
stayed within doors, dreading what might come; and any
unusual noise outside set her heart beating with fear that it might
portend the approach of a danger all the more terrible that
it was indefinite. As if her suffering were not great enough,
an added horror was the army vans loaded with groaning
wounded, which rumbled by her door during the sleepless
night she spent.

As time lessened her fright, her necessities grew more
pressing, and finally became so desperate, that, braving everything,
she went boldly to headquarters, and asked for Lord
Cornwallis.

She was referred by the sentry at the stoop to a room on
the ground floor, her entrance being accompanied by the man
shouting down the hallway: "Here 's wan more av thim
townsfolks, sir." Entering, Janice discovered two men seated
at a table, each with a little pile of money at his elbow, passing
the time with cards.

"Well," growled the one with his back to the door, "I
suppose 't is the usual tale: No bread, no meat, no firewood;
sick wife, sick baby, sick mother, sick anything that can be
whined about. Body o' me, must we not merely die by bullets
or starvation, but suffer a thousand deaths meantime with endless
whimpering!

"Slowly, slowly, Mobray," advised he who faced Janice.
"This is no nasal-voiced and putty-faced cowardly old Quaker.
'T is a damned pretty maid, with eyes and a waist and an ankle
fit to be a toast. Ay, and she can mantle divinely, when she's
admired!"

"Ye don't foist that take-in on me, John Andre! I score
six to my suit, and a quint is twenty-one, and a card played is
twenty-two.--Well, graycoat, say your say, and don't stand
behind me as a kill-joy."

"I wish to see Lord Cornwallis, Sir Frederick," faltered
Janice, nerved only by thought of her mother, and ready to
sink through the floor in her mortification.

At the sound of a woman's voice the officer turned his head
sharply, and with the first glance he was on his feet. "Miss
Meredith," he cried, "a thousand pardons! Who 'd have
thought to find you here? How can I serve you?"

"I wish to see Lord Cornwallis," repeated Janice.

"'T is evident you pay little heed to what has been occurring,"
replied Mobray, as he placed a chair for her. "We
thought we had all the spirit beat out of Mr. Washington's
pack o' ragamuffins; but, egad, day before yesterday, quite
contrary to all the rules of polite warfare, and in a most un-gentlemanly
manner, they set upon us as we lay encamped at
Germantown, and wellnigh gave us a drubbing. Lord Cornwallis
went to Sir William's assistance, running his grenadiers at
double quick the whole distance, and he has not yet returned."

"We deemed rebellion well under our heel when we gained
possession of its capital," chimed in Captain Andre; "but
Mr. Washington seems in truth to make a fourth with 'a dog,
a woman, and a chestnut-tree, the more they are beat the
better they be.' Our very successes are teaching his army how
to fight, and I fear me the day will come when we shall have
thrashed them into a victory."

"But all this is not helping Miss Meredith," spoke up
Mobray. "Lord Cornwallis being beyond reach, can I not
be of aid?"

In a few words the girl poured out the tale of her mother's
sickness, and then with less glibness, and with reddened
cheeks, of her moneyless and foodless condition.

Before she had well finished, the baronet swept up his pile
of money on the table and held out the handful of coins to
the girl.

"Oh, no," cried Janice, shrinking back. "I--Oh, I
thank you, but I can't take your--"

"Ah, Miss Meredith," pleaded Sir Frederick, "I was less
proud last winter when we were half starving in scurvy-plagued
and fever-stricken Brunswick."

"But food was nothing," exclaimed Janice, "and that is
all I want; just enough for my mother. I thought Lord Cornwallis
might--"

"In truth, Miss Meredith, you ask for what is far scarcer
than guineas in these days," said Andre. "The rebels hold
the forts in the lower Delaware so tenaciously that our supply
ships have not yet been able to get up to us, and as Washington's
army is between us and the back country, we are as near
in a state of siege as nineteen thousand men were ever put
by an inferior force."

"Our men are on quarter rations, and we officers fare but
little better," grumbled Mobray.

"Then what am I to do?" cried Janice, despairingly.

"Come, Fred," said Andre, "can't something be
done?"

Mobray shook his head gloomily. "I did my best yesterday
to get the wounded rebels given some soup and wine, or
at least beef and biscuit that was n't rotten or full of worms,
but 't was not to be done; there 's too much profit in buying
the worst and charging for the best."

"Damn the commissary! say I," growled Andre, "and let
his fate be to starve ever after on the stuff he palms on us
as fit to eat."

"Amen," remarked a voice outside, and Lord Clowes
stepped into the room. "I'll take hell and army rations,
Captain Andre, rather than lose the pleasure of your society,"
he added ironically.

"Small doubt I shall be found there," retorted Andre, derisively;
"but I fear me we shall be no better friends, Baron
Clowes, than we are here. There is a special furnace for
paroled prisoners!"

"Blast thy tongue, but that insult shall cost thee dear!"
returned the commissary, white with rage. "To whom shall I
send my friend, sir?"

"Hold, Andre," broke in Mobray, "let me answer, not for
you, but for the army." He faced Clowes and went on.
"When you have surrendered yourself into the hands of the
rebels, and have been properly exchanged, sir, you may be
able to find a British officer to carry a challenge on your
behalf; until then no man of honour would lower himself by
fighting you."

"I make Sir Frederick's answer mine, my Lord," said Andre,
"and I suggest, as a lady is present, that we put a finish to
our war of words, which can come to nothing."

The commissary gave a quick glance about the room, and
as he became aware of the presence of Janice, he uttered an
exclamation and started forward with outstretched hand.
"Miss Meredith!" he ejaculated. "By all that 's wonderful!"

Mobray made an impulsive movement as Clowes stooped
and kissed the girl's hand, almost as if intending to strike the
baron; but checking himself; he sarcastically remarked, with a
frowning face: "If you enjoy the favour of his Lordship, Miss
Meredith, you need not look further for help. We fellows
who fight for our country barely get enough to keep life in us,
but the commissariat knows not short commons. Mr. Commissary-General,
you have an opportunity to aid Miss Meredith
that you should not have were it in my power to forestall
you."

"Come to my office, Miss Janice," requested Clowes, perhaps
glad to get away from the presence of the young officers.
He led the way across the hallway to another room, and, after
the two were seated, would have taken the girl's hand again
had she not avoided his attempt.

In the fewest possible words Janice retold her plight, broken
only by interjections of sympathy from her listener, and by
two futile endeavours to gain possession of her hand.

"Have no fear of any want in the future," he exclaimed
heartily. "In truth, Miss Meredith, on our entrance we
seized much that was unfit for the troops, while since then the
military necessities have compelled the destruction of many of
the finest houses about Germantown, and I took good care
that what store of delicacies and wines they might hold should
not be destroyed along with them. But give me thy number,
and thy mother shall have all that she needs." Clowes caught
the maiden's hand, and though she rose with the action, and
slightly shrank away from him, this time he had his will and
kissed it hotly.

Janice gave the address and thanked him with warm words
of gratitude, somewhat neutralised by her trying to free her
hand.

Instead of yielding to her wish, the commissary only tightened
his grasp. "Ye have owed me something for long," he
said, drawing her toward him in spite of her striving. "Surely
I have earned it to-day."

"Lord Clowes, I beg--" began Janice; but there she ended
the plea, and, throwing her free arm as a shield before her
face, she screamed.

Instantly there was a sound of a falling chair, and both the
card-players burst into the room.

Quick as they were, Clowes had already dropped his hold,
and at a respectful distance was saying: "The wine and food
shall reach ye within the hour, Miss Meredith."

Janice silently curtseyed her thanks, and darted past the
young officers, alike anxious to escape explanation to them, or
further colloquy with her persecutor.

In this latter desire the girl secured but a brief postponement,
for she was not long returned when the knocker summoned
her to the front door, and on the steps stood the
commissary and two soldiers laden with a basket apiece.

"Ye see I'm true to my word, Miss Meredith," said Lord
Clowes. "Give me the whiskets, and be off with ye," he
ordered to the men; and then to the girl continued: "Where
will ye have them bestowed?"

"Oh, I'll not trouble thee," protested Janice, blocking the
entrance, "just hand them to me."

"Nay, 't is no trouble," the officer assured her, setting one
foot over the sill. "And, besides, I have word of your father
to tell ye."

Reluctantly the maiden gave him passage, and pointed out
a place of deposit in the entry for his burden. Then she fell
back to the staircase, and went up a few steps. Yet she
eagerly questioned: "What of my father?"

Clowes came to the foot of the ascent. "He is on one of
the transports in the lower Delaware, and as soon as we can
reduce the rebel works, and break through their cursed chevaux-de-frise,
he will come up to Philadelphia."

"Oh," almost carolled Janice, "what joyous news!"

"And does the bringer deserve no reward?"

"For that, and for the food, I thank you deeply, Lord
Clowes," said the girl, warmly.

"I'm not the man to take my pay in mere lip music,"
answered the commissary. "Harkee, Miss Meredith, there is
a limit to my forbearance of thy skittishness. Thou wast ready
enough to wed me once, and I have never released thee from
the bargain. Henceforth I expect a lover's privileges until
they can be made those of a husband." Clowes took two
steps, upward.

"I think, Lord Clowes, that 't is hardly kind of you to remind
me of my shame," replied Janice, with a gentle dignity
very close to tears. "Deceitful I was and disobedient, and
no one can blame me more than I have come to blame myself.
But you are not the one to speak of it nor to pretend
that my giddy conduct was any pledge."

"Then am I to understand that I was lover enough when
thy needs required it, but that now I am to be jilted?" demanded
the man, harshly.

"Your version is a cruel one that I am sure you cannot
think just."

"Ye hold to it that ye are not bound to me?"

"Yes."

The commissary fell back to where he had set the baskets.
"In your necessity ye felt otherwise, and I advise ye to remember
that ye still require my aid. I am not one of those
who lavish favours and expect no return, though a good friend
to those who make it worth my while. If I am to have naught
from ye, ye shall have naught from me." He picked up the
baskets. "Here is milk, bread, meat, jellies, and wines, to be
had for a price, and only for a price."

"Oh, prithee, Lord Clowes," begged Janice, despairingly,
"you cannot seek to advantage yourself of my desperate plight.
All I had to give my mother this morning was some water
gruel, and I have not tasted food myself for a twenty-four
hours."

"Your anxiety for your mother cannot be over great. I
only ask ye to avow that ye consented to become my wife, and
should have done so, had we been left free."

The girl wavered; then buried her face in her hands, and
in a scarcely audible voice said: "I did intend--for a brief
space--did think to--to marry you."

"And ye've never given a promise to another man?"

"Never."

Clowes set down the baskets. "That is all I wished acknowledged,"
he said. "I'll ask no more till ye have decided
whether ye will be true to the troth ye have just confessed,
Janice." He opened the front door, and added as he passed
out: "When these supplies are exhausted, ye know where
more is to be had."


XL
THE BATTLE FOR FOOD AND FORAGE

When Janice came to examine the contents of the
baskets, she was somewhat disappointed at the
mess of pottage for which she had half bartered
herself. Though every article the commissary
had enumerated was to be found, it was in meagre quantities,
and the girl was shrewd-witted enough to divine the giver's
intention,--that she should be quickly forced again to appeal
to him. Her mother's requirements and her own hunger,
however, prevented dwelling on the future, and scarcely had
these been attended to, when Mobray and Andre appeared, to
inquire if her immediate needs were supplied, and with a plan
of assistance.

"Miss Meredith," said Mobray, "Captain Andre and I have
had assigned to us for quarters the Franklin house down on
Second Street; and he and I have agreed that, if Mrs. Meredith
can be moved, you are to come and share it with us."

"We ask it as a favour, which, if granted, will make us the
envy of the army," remarked Andre. "And it will, I trust,
not be an entirely one-sided benefit. The old fox's den is
more than comfortable, Mobray and I have a couple of rankers
as servants, one of whom has more or less attached to
him a woman who cooks well enough to make even the present
ration eatable, and, lastly, though our presence may be something
of a handicap, yet in such unsettled times one must
tolerate the dogs if they but keep out the wolves. Hang and
whip as we may, the men will plunder, and some in high office
are little better. Alone here, you are scarcely safe, but with us
you need have no fear."

Janice attempted some objections, but her previous helplessness
and loneliness, as well as her recent fright from the
commissary, made them faint-hearted, and it needed little
urgence to win her consent to the plan. Her mother approving,
a surgeon and an ambulance were secured, and before
nightfall the removal was safely accomplished.

When, after the first good night's sleep she had enjoyed
since her mother sickened, the girl was summoned to breakfast,
she found that others had been more wakeful. In the
middle of the table was a pail of milk, a pile of eggs, four unplucked
fowls, and two sucking pigs, arranged with some
pretence of ornament, with two officer's sword-knots to better
the attempt at decoration, and the whole surmounted by a
placard reading: "Only the brave deserve the fare."

"Gaze, Miss Meredith!', cried Andre, jubilantly. "See
the results of a valour of which you were the inspiration!
Marathon, Cressy, Fontenoy, and Quebec pale before the march,
the conflict, and the retreat of last night, the glories of which
would ne'er be credited, even alas! were it not necessary that
they should ne'er be told."

"We held counsel concerning our larder," Sir Frederick
explained, as the girl looked questioningly from man to man,
"and agreed that since you had honoured us, we could not dare
to starve you and Mrs. Meredith on salt pork and sea biscuit.
So, last night, Andre and I, with our two servants, laid hold of
a boat, crossed the Delaware, levied tribute on a fat Jersey
farm, and returned ere day had come. Item.--To disobeying
the general orders by stealing through the lines: one hundred
lashes on the bare back. Item.--For ordering a soldier
to break the rules of war: ten days in the guardhouse. Item.
--For plundering, contrary to proclamation: death by shooting.
Wilt drop a tear o'er my grave, fair lady?"

"Oh, sirs!" exclaimed Janice, "you should not--to take
such risk--"

"Not since I went birds-nesting in Kent have I had such a
night's sport," declared Andre, gleefully. "And the thought
that we were checkmating that scoundrel Clowes did not bate
the pleasure. If he were fit company for gentlemen we
have him to dinner to-day, just to spoil his appetite with sight
of our cates."

"You do not like-- Why do you call Lord Clowes
scoundrel?" asked Janice.

Mobray shrugged his shoulders as he made answer: "On
enough grounds and to boot. But 't is sufficient that he gave
his parole to the rebels, and then broke it by escaping to our
lines. He is a living daily disgrace to the uniform we all
wear, and yet his influence is so powerful with Sir William
that we can do nothing against him. Pray Heaven that some
day he'll not be able to keep in the rear, and that the rebels
recapture and give him the rope he merits."

In contrast to the past, the next few days were very happy
ones to Janice. Her mother mended steadily, and was soon
able to come to meals and to stay downstairs. The servants
relieved the girl of all the household drudgery, and spared
her from all dwelling on her empty purse. As for the young
officers, they could not do enough to entertain her, and, it is
to be suspected, themselves. Piquet was quite abandoned,
and in place of it nothing would do Andre but he must teach
Janice to paint. Not to be thrown in the background,
Mobray produced his flute, and, thanks to a fine harpsichord
Franklin had imported for his daughter, was able to have
numberless duets with the maiden. Then they took short
rides to the south of the city, where the Delaware and Schuylkill
safeguarded a restricted territory from rebel intrusion, and
daily walks along the river-front or in the State House
Gardens, where one of the bands of a few regiments garrisoning
the city played every afternoon for the amusement of the
officers and townspeople, and where Janice was made acquainted
with many a young macaroni officer or feminine
toast. Save for the high price of provisions, and the constant
war talk, Philadelphia bore little semblance to being in a state
of semi-siege, and the prize which two armies were striving to
hold or win, not by actual conflict, but by a strategy which
aimed to keep closed or to open sources of supplies.

Late in October Howe's army fell back from Germantown
and took position just outside the city, where it was set to
work throwing up lines of fortifications. And a startling
rumour which seemed to come from nowhere, but which, in
spite of denials from headquarters, spread like wildfire, supplied
a reason for both the retrograde movement and the
construction of blockhouses and redoubts.

"The rebels have the effrontery to give it out that they
have captured General Burgoyne's whole force," sneeringly
announced Mobray, as he returned from guard mount.
"There seems no limit to the size of their lies."

"La! Sir Frederick," exclaimed Janice, "'t is just what
Colonel--what somebody predicted. He said that if General
Washington could but keep Sir William busy until it would
be too late for him to go General Burgoyne's aid, all would be
well at the end of the campaign."

"And having conceived the hope, they seek to bolster their
cause by spreading the tale abroad," scoffed the baronet.

"'Facile est inventis addere,'" laughed Andre. "They are
merely settling the moot point as to who is the father of
invention."

"What rebel was it bubbled the conceit to you, Miss Meredith?"
inquired Mobray.

"'T was Colonel Brereton," replied the girl, with a faint
hesitation. Then she added, as if a new idea occurred to
her, "So you see the American is not the father of invention,
Colonel Brereton being an Englishman." Though spoken as
an assertion, the statement had a definite question in it.

"Who is this fellow, who, like Charles Lee, fights against
his own country?" asked Andre.

"No one you ever knew, John," replied Mobray; "but I,
who do, have it not in my heart to blame him."

"Wilt not tell us his history?" begged Janice, eagerly.
"Once he said his great-grandfather was King of England,
and since then I've so longed to know it!"

"'T is truth he spoke, poor fellow, but he was an old-time
friend of mine, which would be enough to seal my lips respecting
his sorry tale, since he wishes oblivion for it. But I am
his debtor as well, for he it was who helped me to a prompt
exchange when I was taken prisoner last spring."

"Of course I would not have thee tell me anything that is
secret," remarked Janice. Then, after a moment, she went
on, "There is, however, something of which you may be able
to inform me?"

"But name your desire."

"I must get it," announced the girl, and she left the room
and went upstairs. But once in the upper hallway, she did
not go to her room, merely pausing long enough to take the
miniature from its abiding spot, and then returned. "Wilt
tell me if the diamonds are false?" she requested, placing the
ornament in Andre's hand.

"No, for a certainty," replied the captain.

"Then is it not worth five pounds?" exclaimed Janice.

"Five pounds," laughed Andre, derisively. "'T is easily
worth five hundred!"

"Oh, never!" cried the girl.

"Ay. Am I not right, Mobray?"

"Beyond question. And then 't is not worth the portrait it
encircles," asserted Mobray, gallantly.

"And yet I could not get one pound for it," marvelled
Janice, and told the two officers how she had sought to
barter it.

"'T is evident you asked too little, Miss Meredith," surmised
Andre, "and so made him suspect your title."

"Would that you might offer it to me at a hundred times
five pounds!" bemoaned the baronet. "To think of such a
pearl being cast before such swine

"Who painted it, Miss Meredith?" asked Andre.

"'T was Colonel Brereton."

Mobray looked up quickly at her, then once more at the
miniature. He turned it over, and as the initials on the back
caught his eye, he frowned, but more with intentness than
anger. For a moment he held it, then handed it to Janice
with the remark, "Know you the frame's history?"

"Only that it once held another portrait, and that of a
most beautiful girl."

"Whom he forgot, it appears, once you were seen, for
which small blame to him, Miss Meredith," replied Mobray,
as he rose and left the room, his face set sternly, as if he were
fighting some emotion.

For two days the young officers continued to get infinite
amusement out of the rebel news, but on the third their gibes
and flouts ceased, and a sudden gravity ensued, the cause of
which was explained to the women that evening when the
time had come for "good-night."

"Ladies," said Andre, "the route is ordered before daybreak
to-morrow, so we must say a farewell to you now, and
leave you for a time to the sole charge of Mrs. O'Flaherty.
She has orders from us, and from her putative spouse, to take
the greatest care of you both, and we have endeavoured to
arrange that you shall want for nothing during what we fervently
hope will be but a brief absence."

"For what are you leaving us?" asked Mrs. Meredith.

"In truth, 't is a sorry business," growled Mobray. "Confirmation
came last night of Burgoyne's capitulation, and this
means that General Gates's army will at once effect a juncture
with Washington's, and the combined force will give us more
than we bargained to fight. Burgoyne's fiasco makes it all
the more necessary that we hold Philadelphia, and so, as our
one chance, we must, ere the union is effected, capture the
forts on the Delaware, that our warships and supplies may
come to us, lest, when the moment arrives for our desperate
struggle, we be handicapped by short commons and no line
of retreat."

"Wilt pray for our success, Miss Meredith?"

"Ay," urged the baronet, "for whatever your sympathies,
remember that we fight this time to reunite you with your
father."

And that night Janice made her first plea in behalf of the
British arms.

The absence of Mobray and Andre brought the commissary
once again to the fore. Previous to their departure he had
dropped in upon the Merediths, only to receive a cool greeting
from Janice, and such cold ones from the two captains as
discouraged repetition. Now, relieved of their supercilious
taunts and affronts, the baron became a daily visitor. He
always brought gifts of delicacies, paid open court to Mrs.
Meredith, and never once recurred to the words he had wrung
from Janice, for the time making himself both useful and entertaining.
From his calls the ladies learned the course of the
war and of what the distant cannonading meant: of the bloody
repulse of Donop's Hessians at Red Bank, of the burning of
the Augusta 64, of the bombardment of the forts on Mud
Island, and of the other desperate fighting by which the British
struggled to free their jugular vein, the river, from the
clutch of Washington's forces.

It was Clowes who brought them the best proof of the final
triumph of the royal army, for one November morning he
broke in upon their breakfast, unannounced, and with him
came Mr. Meredith.

Had the squire ever doubted the affection of his wife and
daughter, the next few minutes of inarticulate but ecstatic delight
would have convinced him once for all. Mrs. Meredith,
who, since her fever, had been unwontedly gentle and affectionate,
welcomed him as he had not been greeted in years;
and Janice, shifting from tears to laughter and back again,
wellnigh choked him in her delight. Breakfast was forgotten,
while the exile was made to tell all his adventures, and of how
finally he had escaped from the ship on which perforce he
had been for three months.

"'T was desperate fighting on both sides, but we were too
many for them, and the river is free at last. The transport
'Surrey' was third to come up to the city, and the moment I
was ashore I sought out Lord Clowes, hoping to get word of
ye, and was not disappointed. Pox me! but I'd begun to
think that never again should I see ye!"

There was so much to tell and to listen to in the next few
days that the reunited family gave little heed to public events,
though warm salutations and thanks were lavished on Mobray
and Andre upon the return of the regiments which had operated
against the forts.

An enforced change speedily brought them back to the
present. The mustering of all the royal army, now swelled by
reinforcements of three thousand troops hurriedly summoned
from New York, compelled a rebilleting of the troops, and nine
more officers were assigned by the quartermaster-general to
the Franklin house, overcrowding it to such an extent as to
end the possibility that it should longer shelter the Merediths.
The squire went to Sir William Erskine, only to be told that as
he was a civilian, the Quartermaster's Department could, or
at least would, do nothing for him. An appeal to Clowes resulted
better, for that officer offered to share his own lodgings
with his friends,--a generosity which delighted Mr. Meredith,
but which put an anxious look on his daughter's face and a
scowl on that of Mobray.

"I make no doubt 't was a well-hatched scheme from the
start," he asserted. "Lord Clowes and Erskine are but Tom
Tickle and Tom Scratch."

With the same thought in her own mind, Janice took the
first opportunity to beg her father to seek further rather than
accept the commissary's hospitality.

"Nay, lass," replied Mr. Meredith. "Beggars cannot be
choosers, and that is what we are. Remember that I am
without money, and have been so ever since those rascals
hounded me from home. Had not Lord Clowes generously
stepped forward as he has, we should be put to it to get
through the winter without being frozen or starved. And
your mother's health is not such as could stand either, that
ye know."

"You are quite right, dadda," assented the girl, as she
stooped and kissed him. "I--I had a reason--which now
I will not trouble you with--and selfishly forgot both mommy
and our poverty." Then flinging her arms about his neck, she
hid her head against his shoulder and said: "I am promised
--you have given Philemon your word, and you'll not go
back on it, will you, dadda?" almost as if she were making a
prayer.

"Odds my life! what scatter-brains women are born with!"
marvelled Mr. Meredith. "No wonder the adage runs that
'a woman's mind and a winter's wind oft change'! In the
name of evil, Jan, what started ye off on that tangent?"

"You will keep faith with him, dadda?" pleaded the daughter.

"Of course I will," affirmed the squire. "And glad I am,
lass, to find that ye've come to see that I knew not merely
what was best for ye, but what would make ye happiest. If the
poor lad is ever exchanged, 't will be glad news for him."

The removal to the commissary's quarters might have
been for a time postponed, for barely had the new arrangement
been achieved when another manoeuvre wellnigh
emptied the city of the British troops. Massing fourteen
thousand soldiers, Howe sallied forth to attack the Continental
army in its camp at Whitemarsh.

"We have word," Lord Clowes explained, "that Gates is
playing his own game, and, instead of bringing his army to
Mr. Washington's aid, he keeps tight hold of it, and has, after
needless delay, sent him but a bare four thousand men. So,
in place of waiting for an attack, Sir William intends to drive
the rebels back into the hills, that we may obtain fresh provisions
and forage as we need them."

The movement proved but a march up a hill to march
down again, and four days later saw the British troops back in
Philadelphia with only a little skirmishing and some badly
frosted toes and ears to show for the sally, the young officers
tingling and raging with shame at not having been allowed to
fight the inferior Continental army.

The commissary, however, took it philosophically. "Their
position was too strong, and they shoot too straight," he told
his guests. "It will all turn for the best, since no army can
keep the field in such weather, and Washington will be forced
to go into winter quarters. He must then fall back on Lancaster
and Reading, out of striking distance, leaving us free to
forage on the country at will."

Once again his prediction was wrong. "That marplot of a
rebel general has schemed a new method of troubling us," he
grumbled angrily a week later. "Instead of wintering his
troops in a town, as any other commander would, our spies
bring us word that he has marched them to a strong position
on Valley Creek, a bare twenty miles from here, and has them
all as busy as beavers throwing up earthworks and building
huts. If God does n't kindly freeze the devil's brood, they'll
tie us into our lines just as they did last winter, and give us an
ounce of lead for every pound of forage we seek. No sooner
do we beat them, and take possession of a town, than they
close in and put us in a state of siege, just as if they were the
superior force. Small wonder that Sir William has written the
Ministry that America can't be conquered, and asking his
Majesty's permission to resign. A curse on the man who
conceived such a mode of warfare!"


XLI
WINTER QUARTERS

No sooner had the British returned from their brief
sally than they settled into winter quarters, and
gave themselves up to such amusements as the
city afforded or they could create.

The commissary had taken good heed to have one of the
finest of the deserted Whig houses in the city assigned to him,
and whatever it had once lacked had been supplied. A
coach, a chair, and four saddle-horses were at his beck and
call; a dozen servants, some military and some slave, performed
the household and stable work; a larder and a cellar,
filled to repletion, satisfied every creature need, and their
contents were served on plate and china of the richest.

"I' faith," explained the officer, when Mr. Meredith commented
on the completeness and elegance of the establishment,
"'t is something to be commissary-general in these times; and
since the houses about Germantown were to be destroyed, 't was
contrary to nature not to take from them what would serve to
make me comfortable. Their owners, be they friends or foes,
are none the poorer, for they think it all perished in the flames,
as it would have done but for my forethought."

However lavish the hospitality of Lord Clowes could be
under these circumstances, it was not popular with the army,
and such officers as came to eat and drink at his table were
more remarkable for their gastronomic abilities than for their
wits and manners. In his civilian guests the quality was
better, the man being so powerful through his office that the
best of the townsfolk only too gladly gathered about his table
when they were bidden,--an eagerness at which the commissary
jeered even while he invited them.

"They are all to be bought," he sneered. "There is Tom
Willing, who made the most part of his money importing
Guinea niggers, and now is in a mortal funk lest some of it,
like them, shall run away. Two years ago he was a member
of the rebel Congress and a partner of that desperate speculator
Morris, with a hand thrust deep in the Continental
treasury rag-bag. Now he has trimmed ship better than any
of his slavers ever did, gone about on the opposite tack, and
is so loyal to British rule that his greatest ambition is to get
his other hand in some government contracts. He and his
pretty wife will dine here every time they are asked, and so
will all the rest, ye'll see."

During the first days in their new domiciliary, Janice
showed the utmost nervousness, seldom leaving her mother's
or father's side, and never venturing into the hallways without
a previous peep to see that they were empty. As the
weeks wore on without any attempt on the commissary's part
to surprise her into a tete-a-tete, to recur to the words he had
forced her to utter, or to be anything but a polite, entertaining,
and thoughtful host, the girl gained courage, and little
by little took life more equably. She would have been been
less easy, though better able to understand his conduct, had
she overheard or had repeated to her a conversation between
Lord Clowes and her father on the day that they first took up
their new abode.

"A beggar's thanks are lean ones, Clowes," the squire had
said, over the wine; "but if ever the dice cease from throwing
me blanks, ye shall find that Lambert Meredith has not
forgot your loans of home and money."

"Talk not to me in such strain, Meredith," replied the
host, with the frank, hearty manner he could so well command.
"I ask no better payment than your company, but
't is in your power to shift the debt onto my shoulders at any
time, and by a single word at that."

"How so?"

"It has scarce slipped thy memory that in a moment's
mistrust of thee--which I now concede was both unfriendly
and unjustifiable--I sought to run off with thy beautiful maid.
She was ready to marry me out of hand; but give thy consent
as well, and I shall be thy debtor for life."

"Ye know--" began Mr. Meredith.

[Illustration: "Who are you?"]

"And what is more," went on the suitor, "though 't is not
for me to make boast, I can assure ye that Lord Clowes is no
bad match. In the last two years I've salted down nigh sixty
thousand pounds in the funds and bank stock."

"Adzooks!" aspirated the squire. "How did ye that?"

"Hah, hah!" laughed the commissary, triumphantly.
"That is what it is to play the cards aright. 'T was all from
being carried on that cursed silly voyage to the Madeiras
which at that moment I deemed the work of the Evil One
himself. I could get but a passage to Halifax, and by luck I
arrived there just as Sir William put in with the fleet from
Boston. We had done a stroke or two of business in former
times, and so I was able to gain his ear, and unfold a big
scheme to him."

"And what was that?"

"Hah! a great scheme," reiterated Clowes, smacking his
lips, after a long swallow of spirits. "Says I, make me commissary-general,
and I'll make our fortunes. We'll impress
food and forage, and the government shall pay us for every
pound of--"

"'T was madness," broke in Mr. Meredith. "Dost not
know that nothing has so stirred the people as the taking
their crops without payment?"

"Like as not," assented the commissary; "but 't is also the
way to subdue them. They began a war, and they must pay
the usual penalty until they are sickened of it. And since the
seizures were to be made, 't was too good a chance not to turn
an honest penny. Pray Heaven they don't lay down their
arms too soon, for I ambition to be wealthier still. Canst
hope better for your daughter than that she be made Lady
Clowes, and rich to boot?"

"She's promised--" began the squire, but once again
the suitor cut him off.

"She herself told me she is pledged to no one but me."

"Nay, I've passed my word to Leftenant Hennion."

"Chut! A subaltern who'll bless his stars if he ever is
allowed to starve on a captain's pay. Thou canst not really
mean to do thy daughter such an injury?"

My word is passed; and Lambert Meredith breaks not
that. The lad 's a good boy, too, who'll make her a good
husband, with a fine estate, if peace ever comes again in the
land."

The officer thrummed a moment on the table. "Then 't is
only thy word to this fellow, and no want of friendliness that
leads thee to give me nay?" he asked.

"Of that ye may be sure," assented Mr. Meredith, eagerly
availing himself of the easy escape from the quandary that his
host made for him.

"And but for the promise ye'd give her to me?"

The father hesitated and swallowed before he made reply,
and when the words came, it was with an observable reluctance
that he said: "Ye should know that."

"That is all I ask," cried the commissary. "I knew ye
were not the man to eat another's bread and not do what ye
could for him. We'll not hope for harm to the lad, but if
the camp fever or small-pox or aught else should come to him,
I'll remind ye of the promise ye've just spoken, sure that the
man who won't break his word to one won't to t' other."

"That ye may tie to," acceded Mr. Meredith, though with
a dubious manner, as if something perplexed him. And in
his own room that evening he paused for a moment after
removing his wig and remarked to himself: "Promise I suppose
I did, though I ne'er intended it. Well, let 's hope that
Phil gets her; and if some miscarriage prevents, 't is something
that she should be made great and rich, though I wish
the money had come in some more honest way to a more
honest man."

As for the commissary, once retired to his own room, he
wrote a letter which he superscribed "To David Sproat, Deputy
Commissary of Prisoners at New York." But this done, he
tore it up, and tossed the fragments into the fire, with the
remark: "Why should I put my name to it, when Loring or
Cunningham can give the order just as well? I'll see one or
t' other to-morrow, and so prevent all chance of its being
traced to me." Then he sat looking for a time at the embers
reflectively. "'T is folly to want her," he said finally, as he
rose and began the removal of his coat, "now that ye need
not her money; but she's enough to tempt any man with
blood in his veins, and I can afford the whim. Keep that
blood in check, however, till ye have her fast; and do not
frighten her as ye have done. To think of Lord Clowes,
cool enough to match any man, losing his head over a whiffling
bit of woman-flesh! What devil's baits they are!"

Put at ease by the commissary's conduct toward her, Janice
entered eagerly into the gaiety with which the army beguiled
the tedium of winter quarters. Dislike of Clowes precluded
Andre and Mobray from coming to the house, but they saw
much of the maiden elsewhere. She and Peggy Chew had
been made known to each other by Andre early in the
British occupation, and they promptly established the warm
friendship that girls of their age so easily form, and spent
many hours together. The two captains were quick to discover
that the Chew house was a pleasant one, and became
almost as constant visitors there as Janice herself. At Andre's
suggestion the painting lessons were resumed, with Miss Chew
as an additional pupil, and he undertook to teach them French
as well; the music, too, was revived for Mobray's benefit,
though now more often as a trio or quartette; and many other
pleasures were shared in common. Both young officers were
deeply concerned in the series of plays for which the theatre
was being made ready; and the girls not merely heard them
rehearse their respective parts, but with scissors and needles
helped to make costumes for the amateur actors.

"Oh!" sighed Janice one day, after hearing Mobray
through his lines in "The Deuce is in Him," "I'd give a
finger but to see it played."

"See it!" exclaimed the baronet. "Of course you'll
see it."

"They say there 's a great demand for places," demurred
Peggy.

"Have no fear as to that," said Andre. "Do you think
I've risked my neck painting the curtain and scenery, and
worked myself thin over it generally, not to get what I deserve
in return. My name was next down after Sir William's for a
box, and in it such beauty shall be exhibited that 't is likely
we poor Thespians will get not so much as a look from the
exquisites of the pit."

"Lack-a-day!" grieved Janice, "mommy will never hear of
my going to see a play. I've not so much as dared to tell
her that I'm helping you."

"Devil seize me, but you shall attend, if it takes a provost
guard to do it," predicted Mobray.

Neither the protests nor prayers of the baronet, however,
served to gain Mrs. Meredith's consent that her daughter
should enter what she called "The Devil's Pit," but what he
could not bring to pass the commissary did.

"I have bespoke a box for the first performance at the
theatre," Lord Clowes announced at dinner one evening,
"and bid ye all as my guests."

"'T is a sinful place, to which I will never lend my countenance,"
said Mrs. Meredith, with such promptness as to
suggest a forestalling of her husband and daughter.

The commissary bowed his head in apparent acquiescence,
but when he and the squire were left to their wine he recurred
to the matter.

"I look to ye, Meredith," he said, "to overcome your
wife's absurd whimsey."

"'T is useless to argue with Matilda when her mind 's made
up," answered the husband, dejectedly. "That I have learned
time and again."

"And so 't is with all women, if a man 's so foolish as to
argue. Didst ever hear of ignorance paying heed to reason?
There's but one way to deal with the sex: 'Do this, do that;
ye shall, ye sha'n't,' is all the vocabulary a man needs to make
matrimony agreeable. Put your foot down, and, mark me,
she'll come to heel like a spaniel. But go ye must, for Sir
William makes it a positive point that all of prominence attend
the theatre and assembly, that the public may learn that
the gentry are with us."

"They brought no clothes for such occasions," objected the
squire, falling back on a new line of defence.

"Take fifty pounds more from me; 't will be money well
spent."

"I like not to increase my borrowings, and especially for
female fallals and furbelows."

"Nonsense, man; don't shy at a few hundred pounds. Ye
know one year of order and rents will pay all ye owe me twice
over. Ye must not displeasure Sir William for such a sum."

So it came to pass that the squire, when they rejoined the
ladies, emboldened by his wine, promptly let fall the observation
that he had decided they were all to go to the
theatre.

"Thou heardst me say that I am principled against it,"
dissented Mrs. Meredith.

"Tush, Matilda! I gave in to your Presbyterian swaddling
clothes and lacing-strings at Greenwood, but now ye must do
as I say. So get ye to a mercer's to-morrow, and set to on
proper clothes."

"Dost wish to see thy wife and daughter damned,
Lambert?"

"Ay, if that 's to be my fate, and so should ye. Go I shall
to the theatre, and so shall Janice. If ye prefer salvation to
our company, stay at home."

"Oh, mommy, please, please go," eagerly implored Janice.
"Captain Andre assures me that 't is not in the least evil."

With tears in her eyes, Mrs. Meredith rose. "'T is not
right; but if sin thou must, I too will eat of the fruit, rather
than be parted from thee." She kissed both Mr. Meredith
and Janice with an almost savage tenderness, and passed
hurriedly from the room, leaving a very astounded husband
and a very delighted daughter.

The girl's delight was not lessened the next day when they
went a-shopping, and with the purchases a sudden end was
put to her help of the theatricals, and even, temporarily, to
the French and painting lessons. If ever maid was grateful
for the weary hours of training in fine sewing and embroidery,
Janice was, as she toiled, with cheeks made hectic by excitement,
over the frock in which her waking thoughts were
centred. When finally the day came for the trying on, and it
fulfilled her highest expectation, her ecstasy, unable to contain
itself, was forced to find expression, and she poured the rapture
out in a letter to Tabitha, though knowing full well that
only by the luckiest chance could it ever be sent.


"Only to think of it, Tibbie!" she wrote. "We are to have
plays given by the officers, and weekly dancing assemblies, and
darling dadda says I am to go to both; and all my gowns being
monstrous nugging and frumpish, he told mommy to see that I
had a new one, though where the money came from (for though
I did every stitch myself, it cost a pretty penny--no less than
seventeen pounds and eight shillings, Tibbie!) I have puzzled
not a little to fancy. I fear me I cannot describe it justly to
you, but I will do my endeavour. 'T is a black velvet with pink
satin sleeves and stomacher, and a pink satin petticoat, over
which is a fall of white crape; the sides open in front, spotted
all over with gray embroidery, and the edge of the coat and
skirt trimmed with gray fur. Oh, Tibbie, 't is the most elegant
and dashy robing that ever was! Pray Heaven I don't dirt it
for it is to serve for the whole winter! Peggy has three new
frocks, and Margaret Shippen four, but mine is the prettiest,
and by tight lacing (though no tighter than theirs) I make my
waist an ell smaller than either. In addition, I have a nabob
of gray tabby silk trimmed with the same fur, which has such
a sweet and modish air that I could cry at having to remove it
but for what it would conceal. I intend to ask Peggy if 't would
be citified and a la mode to keep it on for a little while after
entering the box by the plea that the playhouse is cold. The
high mode now is to dress the hair enormous tall--a good
eight inches, Tibbie--over a steel frame, powdered mighty
white, and to stick a mouchet or two on the face. It seems to
me I cannot wait for the night, yet my teeth rattle and my hands
tremble and I am all in a shake whenever I think of it; if I
can but keep from being mute as a stock-fish, and gawkish, for
I am all alive with fear that I shall be both, and shame us all!
Peggy has taught me the minuet glide and curtsey and languish,
and I am to step it at the first Assembly with Captain Andre,--
such a pretty, engaging fellow, Tibbie, who will never swing for
want of tongue; and Lord Rawdon has bespoke my hand for
the quadrille,--a stern, frowning man, who frights me greatly,
but 't is a monstrous distinction I need scarce say to be asked
by one who will some day be an earl, Tibbie--and I dance the
Sir Roger de Coverley with Sir Frederick Mobray, who is delightsome,
too, by his rallying, performs most entrancingly on
the flute, and is one of the best bowlers in the weekly cricket
matches, but who is said to play very deep at Pharaoh in the
club the officers have established; and to keep a great number
of fighting cocks on which he wagers vast sums--if rumour
speaks true, as high as a hundred guineas on a single main,
Tibbie--at the cock-pit they have set up. A great crowd assembled
yesterday to see him and Major Tarleton ride their
chargers from Sixth Street to the river on a bet, and he lost
because a little girl toddled out from the sidewalk and he pulled
up, while the major, who is a wonderful horseman, spurred
and leaped over her. But he was blamed for taking the risk,
for his horse might not have risen, so Colonel Harcourt told
Nancy Bond. 'T was Major Tarleton, I daresay you recollect;
who was at our house when General Lee was captivated; and
P. Hennion then told me he was considered the most reckless
and dare-devil officer in the cavalry, but a cruel man. 'Mr.
Lee,' as they all term him, here,--for they will not give the
Whigs any titles,--has just been brought to Philadelphia and
is at large on parole, pending an exchange, which has been delayed
because 't is feared by the British that any convention may
be taken as a recognition of the rebels, and be so considered by
France and Spain.

"So much has happened," the letter-writer continued a week
later, "I scarce know where to begin, Tibbie, nor how to convey
to you the wondrous occurrences. Oh, Tibbie, Tibbie, plays
are the most amazing and marvellous things in the world! Not
a one of the officers could I recognise, so changed they were, and
they did us females to the life. 'T was so enchanting that at
times I found myself gasping through very forgetfulness to breathe,
and I was dreadfully rallied and quizzed because I burst into
tears when the poor minor seemed to have lost both his love and his
property. But how can I touch off my feelings, when, in the
fourth act; the villain was detected; and all ended as it should!
And, oh! Tibbie, mommy enjoyed it nearly as much as I,
though the farce at the end vastly shocked her--and, indeed,
Tibbie, 't was most indelicate, and made me blush a scarlet, and
all the more that Sir William whispered that he enjoyed the
broad parts through my cheeks--and she says if dadda insists,
we'll go again, though not to stay to the farce. We had to sit
in Lord Clowes' box--which sadly affronted Captain Andre
--and Sir William, who has hitherto kept himself muck secluded;
made his first appearance in public, and, as you wilt
have inferred, visited our box during a part of the performance,
drawing all eyes upon us, which agitated me greatly. Dadda
told him I was learning to sketch, and nothing would do but I
must give him an example, so on the back of the play-bill I
made a caricature of General Lee, which was extravagantly
praised, and was passed from hand to hand all over the house,
and excited a titter wherever it went, for the general was in attendance;
but judge of my feelings, Tibbie, when an officer
passed it to Lee himself! He fell into a mighty rage, and demanded
aloud to know who had thus insulted him, and but for
Lord Clowes and Sir William preventing me, I'd have fled
from the place, I was in such a panic. Pray Heaven he never
learn! I dare not repeat to thee half the civil things which
were said of this 'sweet creature,' as they styled me, for fear
thou'lt think me vain. 'As thee is, I doubt not,' I hear thee
say. Saucy Tibbie Drinker!"

At the very time that this account was being penned, some
twenty miles away, a man was also writing, and a paragraph in
his letter read:--

"Our going into winter quarters, instead of keeping the field,
can have been reprobated only by those gentlemen who think
soldiers are made of stocks and stones and equally insensible to
frost and snow; and, moreover, who conceived it easily practicable
for an inferior army, under the disadvantages we are
known to labour under, to confine a superior one, in all respects
well appointed and provided for a winter's campaign, within
the city of Philadelphia, and to cover from depredation and
waste the States of Pennsylvania and Jersey. But what makes
this matter still more extraordinary in my eye is that those very
gentlemen--who well know that the path of this army from
Whitemarsh to Valley Forge might have been tracked by the
blood of footprints, and that not a boot or shoe had since been
issued by the commissaries: who are well apprised of the
nakedness of the troops from ocular demonstration; whom I
myself informed of the fact that some brigades had been four
days without meat, and were unsupplied with the very straw to
save them from sleeping on the bare earth floors of the huts, so
that one-third of this army should be in hospitals, if hospitals
there were, and that even the common soldiers had been forced
to come to my quarters to make known their wants and suffering
--should think a winter's campaign and the covering of
these States from the invasion of an enemy so easy and practical
a business. I can assure those gentlemen that it is a much
easier and less distressing thing to draw remonstrances in a
comfortable room by a good fireside than to keep a cold, bleak
hill and sleep under frost and snow without clothes or blankets.
However, although they seem to have little feeling for the naked
and distressed soldiers, I feel superabundantly for them, and
from my soul I pity those miseries which it is neither in my
power to relieve nor prevent.

"It is for these reasons that I dwelt upon the subject to Congress;
and it adds not a little to my other difficulties and distress
to find that much more is expected of me than it is possible
to perform, the more that upon the ground of safety and policy
I am obliged to conceal the true state of this army from public
view, and thereby expose myself to detraction and calumny."

The letter completed, the man took up the tallow dip, and
passed from the cramped, chilly room in which he had sat to
a still more cold and contracted hallway. Tiptoeing up a
stairway, he paused a moment to listen at a door, then
entered.

"I heard your voice, Brereton, so knew you were waking.
Well, Billy, how does the patient?"

"Pohly, massa, pohly. De doctor say de ku'nel 'ud do
fus-class ef he only would n't wherrit so, but he do nothin'
but toss an' act rambunctious, an' dat keep de wound fretted
an' him feverish."

"And fret I will," came a voice from the bed, "till I've
done with this feather-bed coddling and am allowed to take
my share of the work and privation."

"Nay, my boy," said Washington, coming to the bedside
and laying his hand kindly on Jack's shoulder; "there is
naught to be done, and you are well out of it. Give the
wound its chance to heal."

Brereton gave a flounce. "Do, in the name of mercy, Billy,
get me a glass of water," he begged querulously. Then, after
the black had departed, he asked: "What has Congress
done?"

"They have voted Gates president of the Board of War,
with almost plenary powers."

"A fit reward for his holding back until too late the troops
that would have put us, and not the British, in Philadelphia
this winter. You won't let their ill-treatment force you into a
resignation, sir?"

"I have put my hand to the plough and shall ne'er turn
back. If I leave the cause, it will be by their act and not
mine.

"Congress may hamper and slight you, sir, but will not
dare to supersede you, for very fear of their own constituents.
The people trust you, if the politicians don't."

"Set your mind on more quieting things, Brereton," advised
Washington, taking the young fellow's hand affectionately.
"May you have a restful night."

"One favour before you go, your Excellency," exclaimed
Jack, as the general turned. "I--Could n't--Does McLane
still get his spies into the city?"

"Almost daily."

"Could he--Wilt ask him--to--to make inquiry--if
possible--of one--concerning Miss Janice Meredith, and
let me know how she fares?"

The general pressed the aide's hand, and was opening his
lips, when a figure, covered by a negligee night-gown of green
silk, appeared at the door.

"I've heard thee exciting John for the last half-hour, Mr.
Washington," she said upbraidingly. "I am amazed at thy
thoughtlessness."

"Nay, Patsy, I but stopped in to ask how he did and to
bid him a good-night," replied Washington, gently.

"A half-hour," reiterated Mrs. Washington, sternly, "and
now you still tarry."

"Only because you block the doorway, my dear," said the
husband, equably. "If I delayed at all, 't was because Brereton
wished to set in train an inquiry concerning his sweetheart."

"His what?" exclaimed the dame. "Let me pass in, Mr.
Washington. John must tell me all about her this moment."

"You said he should sleep, Patsy," replied the general,
smiling. "Come to our room, my dear, and I'll tell you
somewhat of her."

But however much may have been told in the privacy of
the connubial chamber, one fact was not stated: That far
back in the bottom drawer of the bureau in which Janice
kept her clothes lay a half-finished silk purse, to which not
a stitch bad been added since the day that the muttering
of the guns of Brandywine had sounded through the streets
of Philadelphia.


XLII
BARTER AND SALE

The first check to Janice's full enjoyment of the
novel and delightful world into which she had
plunged so eagerly came early in March.
"I have ill news for thee, my child," Mr. Meredith
apprised her, as he entered the room where she was sitting.
"I just parted from Mr. Loring, the Commissary of Prisoners,
and he asked if Philemon Hennion were not a friend of ours,
and then told me that the deputy-commissary at Morristown
writ him last week that the lad had died of the putrid fever."

"I am very sorry," the girl said, with a genuine regret in
her voice. "He--I wish--I can't but feel that 't is something
for which I am to blame."

"Nay, don't lay reproach on yeself, Jan," advised the
father, little recking of what was in his daughter's mind. "If
we go to blaming ourselves for the results of well-considered
conduct, there is no end to sorrow. But I fear me his death
will bring us a fresh difficulty. We'll say nothing of the news
to Lord Clowes, and trust that he hear not of it; for once
known, he'll probably begin teasing us to let him wed ye."

"Dadda!" cried Janice, "you never would--would give
him encouragement? Oh, no, you--you love me too much."

"Ye know I love ye, Jan, and that whatever I do, I try to
do my best for ye. But--"

"Then don't give him any hope. Oh, dadda, if you knew
how I--"

"He 's not the man I'd pick for ye, Jan, that I grant.
Clowes is--"

"He beguiled me shamefully--and he broke his parole--
and he takes mean advantage whene'er he can--and he
crawls half the time and bullies the rest--and when he's
polite he makes me shudder or grow cold--and when
he's--"

"Now, don't fly into a flounce or a ferment till ye've listened
to what I have to say, child. 'T is--"

"Oh, dadda, no! Don't--"

"Hark to me, Janice, and then ye shall have all the speech
ye wish. By this time, lass, ye are old enough to know that
life is not made up of doing what one wishes, but doing what
one can or must. The future for us is far blacker than I
have chosen to paint to ye. Many of the British officers
themselves now concede that the subduing of the rebels will
be a matter of years, and that ere it is accomplished, the
English people may tire of it; and though I'll ne'er believe
that our good king will abandon to the rule and vengeance of
the Whigs those who have remained loyal to him, yet the outlook
for the moment is darkened by the probability that
France will come to the assistance of the rebels. The Pennsylvania
Assembly has before it an act of attainder and forfeiture
which will drive from the colony all those who have held
by the king, and take from them their lands; and as soon as
the Jersey Assembly meets, it will no doubt do the same, and
vote us into exile and poverty. Even if my having taken no
active part should save me from this fate, the future is scarce
bettered, for 't will take years for the country to recover from
this war, and rents will remain unpaid. Nor is this the depth
of our difficulties. Already I am a debtor to the tune of nigh
four hundred pounds to Lord Clowes--"

"Dadda, no!" cried the girl. "Don't say it!"

"Ay. Where didst thou suppose the money came from on
which I lived in New York and all of us here? Didst think
thy gown came from heaven?"

"I'd have died sooner than owe it to him," moaned Janice.
"How could you let me go to the expense?"

"'T was not to be avoided, Jan. As Sir William's wish
was that we should lend our countenance to the festivities,
't would not have done to displeasure him, and since I was to
be debtor to Lord Clowes, another fifty pounds was not worth
balking at. More still I'll have to ask from him, I fear, ere
we are safe out of this wretched coil."

"Oh, prithee, dadda," implored the girl, "do not take
another shilling. I'll work my fingers to the bone--do anything
--rather than be indebted to him!"

"'T is not to be helped, child. Think ye work is to be
obtained at such a time, with hundreds in the city out of
employment and at the point of starvation? Thank your
stars, rather, that we have a friend who not merely gives us a
shelter and food, but advances us cash enough to make us
easy. Dost think I have not tried for employment myself?
I've been to merchant after merchant to beg even smouting
work, and done the same to the quartermaster's and commissary's
departments, but nothing wage-earning is to be had."

"'T is horrible!" despairingly wailed Janice.

"That it might be blacker can at least be said, and that is
why I wish thee not to let thy feelings set too strongly against
Lord Clowes. Here 's a peer of England, Jan, with wealth as
well, eager to wed thee. He is not what I would have him,
but it would be a load off my mind and off thy mother's to
feel that thy future at least is made safe and--"

"I'd die sooner than live such a future," cried the girl.
"I could not live with him!"

"Yet ye ran off with this man."

"But then I did not know him as I know him now. You
won't force me, will you, dadda?"

"That I'll not; but act not impulsively, lass. Talk with
thy mother, and view it from all sides. And meantime, we'll
hope he'll not hear of the poor lad's death."

Left alone by her father to digest this advice, Janice lapsed
into a despondent attitude, while remarking: "'T is horrible,
and never could I bring myself to it. Starvation would be
easier." She sat a little time pondering; then, getting her
cloak, calash, and pattens, she set forth, the look of thought
displaced by one of determination. A hurried walk of a few
squares brought her to the Franklin house, where she asked
for Andre.

"Miss Meredith," cried the captain, as he appeared at the
door, "this is indeed an honour! But why tarry you
outside?"

"I fear me, Captain Andre, that I am doing a monstrous
bold thing, and therefore will not enter, but beg of you instead
that you walk with me a little distance, for I am in a real
difficulty and would ask your help."

The officer caught up his hat and sword, and in a moment
they were walking down Second Street. Several times Janice
unsuccessfully sought to begin her tale, but Andre finally had
to come to her assistance.

"You surely do not fear to trust me, Miss Meredith, and
you cannot doubt the surety of assistance, if it be within my
power?"

For a moment the girl's lips trembled; then she said," Dost
truly think the miniature frame I showed thee is worth as much
as five hundred pounds?"

"I think 't is, beyond doubt."

"And dost thou think that thee couldst obtain four hundred
pounds for it?"

"Of that I can scarce give assurance, for 't is a question
whether a purchaser can be found for it. Yet I make small
doubt, Miss Meredith," he added, "that if you will leave
your portrait in it, one man there is in Philadelphia will
gladly buy it at that price, though he run in debt to do it.
If you desire to sell it, why do you not offer it to Mobray?"

The girl had coloured with Andre's first remark, and ere he
had completed his speech, her cheeks were all aglow. "I--
I could not offer it to him. Surely you can understand that
't would be impossible?" she stammered.

"I suppose I am dull-witted not to know it," said Andre,
hurriedly, in evident desire to lessen her embarrassment.
"However, 't was but a suggestion, and if you desire to sell,
I will gladly undertake to negotiate it for you."

"Oh, will you?" cried the girl, eagerly. "'T will so
greatly service me."

Without more ado, she held out her hand, which contained
the miniature, and after a second outburst of thanks, quite
unconscious of the fact that she was leaving him abruptly,
she hurried away, not homeward, but in a direction which
presently brought her to a house before which a sentry paced,
where she stopped.

"Is Sir William within?" she asked of the uniformed
servant who answered her knock; and when told that he was,
added: "Wilt say that Miss Meredith begs speech with him?"

The servant showed her into the parlour, then passed into
the room back of it, and Janice heard the murmur of his
words as he delivered her message.

"Miss Meredith," cried a woman's voice. "What does
that puss want with you, Sir William?"

The bass of a masculine reply came to the visitor's ears,
though pitched too low for her to distinguish words.

"I know better than to take any man's oath concerning
that," retorted the feminine speaker; and on the last word
the door was flung wider open, and a woman of full figure and
of very pronounced beauty burst into the room where the girl
sat, closely followed, if not in fact pursued, by the British
commander-in-chief. "What do you want with Sir William?"
she demanded.

Janice had risen, half in fright and half in courtesy; but
the cry she uttered, even as the inquiry was put, was significant
of something more than either.

"Well," went on the questioner, "art struck with a syncope
that thou dost nothing but gape and stare at me?"

"I beg your pardon," faltered the girl. "I recognised--
that is--I mean, 't was thy painting that--"

"Malapert!" shrieked the woman. "How dare you say
I paint! Dost have the vanity to think thou 'rt the only one
with a red and white skin?"

"Oh, indeed, madam," gasped Janice, "I alluded not to
thy painting and powdering, but to the miniature that--"

"Sir William," screamed the dame, too furious even to
heed the attempted explanation, "how can you stand there
and hear this hussy thus insult me?"

"Then in Heaven's name get back to the room from which
you should ne'er have come," muttered Howe, crossly.

"And leave you to the tete-a-tete you wish with this bold
minx."

"Ay, leave me to learn why Miss Meredith honours me with
this visit."

"You need not my absence, if that is all you wish to know.
'T would be highly wrong to leave a miss, however artful,
unmatronised. Here I stay till I see cause to change my
mind."

Sir William said something below his breath with a manner
suggestive of an oath, shrugged his shoulders, and turned to
Janice. "Old friends are not to be controlled, Miss Meredith,"
he said, "and since we are to have a third for our interview,
let me make you known to each other. Mrs. Loring, Miss
Meredith."

"I pray you, madam, to believe," entreated Janice, even as
she made her curtsey, "that you entirely misinterpreted--"

"I care not what you meant," broke in Mrs. Loring, without
the pretence of returning the obeisance. "Say your say
to Sir William, and be gone."

"Damn you, Jane!" swore the general, bursting into a
rage. "If you cannot behave yourself I will call in the
servants and have you put from the room. Please be seated,
Miss Meredith, and tell me in what manner I can serve you."

"I came, Sir William, to beg that you would give my father
some position by which he could earn a living. We are
totally without money, and getting daily deeper in debt."

"Your wish is a command," replied Sir William, gallantly,
"but are you sure 't is best? Remember that the moment
your father takes position from me he commits himself far
more in the cause than he has hitherto, and the rebels are
making it plain they intend to punish with the utmost severity
all who take sides with us."

"But even that is better than--than--than living on charity,"
exclaimed Janice. "I assure you that anything is better--"

"Enough!" declared the general, as the girl hesitated.
"Your father shall be gazetted one of the wardens of abandoned
property at once. 'T will give him a salary and fees
as well."

"Ah, Sir William, how can I ever thank you enough?"
murmured the girl, feeling, indeed, as if an end had come to
her troubles. She made a deep curtsey to Mrs. Loring, a
second to the general, and then took the hand he offered her
to the front door. "I beg, Sir William," she said at parting,
"that you will assure Mrs. Loring that I really did not--"

The general interrupted her with a laugh. "A man with
an evil smell takes offence at every wrinkled nose," he asserted,
"and you hit upon a subject on which my friend has perhaps
cause to be sensitive."

Janice ran rather than walked the whole way home, and,
not stopping when she reached the house to tell her father
of her successful mission, or even to remove her cloak and
calash, she tripped upstairs to her room, went straight to her
bureau, and, pulling open the bottom drawer, took from it the
unset miniature, and scrutinised it closely for a moment.
"'T is she beyond question!" the girl ejaculated. "And I
always thought of her as a young female, never suspecting it
might have been some time painted. Why, she is a good ten
years older than Colonel Brereton, or at least eight, let alone
that she paints and powders! If that is the ill-mannered
creature he gave his love to, I have little pity for him."

This decided, the maiden sought out her father and informed
him of her mission and its successful result.

"Why, Jan," exclaimed her father, "thou 'rt indeed a
wonderful lass to have schemed and carried it through. I'd
have spoken to Sir William myself, but he keeps himself so
secluded that never a chance have I had to speak to him
save in public. It is for the best, however, for I doubt not
he paid more heed to thy young lips than ever he would to
mine. Hadst thou told me, however, I would have gone with
thee, for it must have been a tax on thy courage to have
ventured alone."

I did n't even let myself think of it," replied the daughter,
"and, indeed, 't was so much easier than the thought of your
further increasing your debt to Lord Clowes that 't was
nothing." Then, after a slight pause, she asked: "Dadda,
who is the Mrs. Loring I found at Sir William's?"

"Humph!" grunted the squire, with obvious annoyance.
"'T is the wife of Joshua Loring, commissary of prisoners."

"Has she been long married to him?" asked Janice.

"That I know not; and the less ye concern yourself, Jan,
with her, the better."

Despite this recommendation, Janice once again repeated
her question, this time making it to Andre at the Assembly
that evening.

"I know not," the captain told her, pursing up his lips and
raising his eyebrows. Then he called to his opposite in the
quadrille: "Cathcart, can you tell me how long Mrs. Loring
has rejoiced in that title of honour?"

The earl laughed as if Andre had said something witty, and
made reply: "Since ever I can remember, and that is a full
five years."

When later the dancers adjourned to the supper-room,
Lord Cathcart tossed a billet across the table to Andre, and
he in turn passed it to Mobray, who was squiring Janice.
The baronet held it so that she could see the message as well,
and inscribed on the paper were the lines:--

      "Your question don't think me a moment ignoring:
      'How long has she honoured the surname of Loring?'
      Wiseacre, first tell, how a man without honour
      Could ever confer that fair jewel upon her?"

Sir Frederick, before handing it back, took Janice's pencil
from her dancing-card, and scribbled on the back of the
quip:--

   "The answer is plain, for by means of her face,
    The lady secured him an honourable place.
    In return for the favour, by clergy and vow,
    She made sure of her honour, but who knows when or Howe?"

And from that interchange of epigrams Janice asked no
further questions relative to Mrs. Loring, unless it might be
of herself.


XLIII
A CHOICE OF EVILS

At this ball Janice was gladdened by word from
Andre that he had effected the sale of the miniature,
though he maintained absolute silence as to who
the purchaser was, nor did she choose to inquire.
The next morning brought a packet from him containing
a rouleau of guineas, and so soon as they were counted, the
girl hurried to the room on the ground floor which the commissary
had taken as a half office, and, after an apology for
the unannounced intrusion, said,--

"You have been good enough, Lord Clowes, to favour us
with sundry loans, for which we can never be grateful enough,
but 't is now in our power to repay them."

"Pay me!" cried the baron, incredulously.

"Yes," replied Janice, laying down the pile of gold on the
desk. "Wilt tell me the exact amount?"

The guineas were too indisputable for Clowes to question
the girl's ability to carry out her intention, but he demanded,
"How came you by such a sum of gold?"

"'T is--That concerns thee not," replied the girl, with
spirit.

"And does thy father know?"

"I ask you, Lord Clowes," Janice responded, "to tell me
the amount we owe you."

For a moment the officer sat with a scowl on his face, then
suddenly he threw it off, and with a hearty, friendly manner
said: "Nay, Miss Meredith, think naught of it. You 're
welcome ten times over to the money, and what more ye
shall ever need." He rose as he spoke, and held out his
hand toward the girl. "Generosity is not the monopoly of
razorless youngsters of twenty."

Janice, ignoring the hand, said: "Once again, Lord
Clowes, I ask you to inform me of the amount of our debt,
which if you will not tell me, you will force me to leave all
the money."

The angry frown returned to the commissary's face, and all
the reply he made was to touch a bell. "Tell Mr. Meredith
I would have word with him in my office," he said to the
servant. Then he turned to Janice and remarked, "If ye
insist on knowing the amount, 't is as well that your father
give it to ye, since clearly ye trust me in nothing."

"Oh, Lord Clowes," begged Janice, "wilt thou not let me
pay this without calling in dadda? I--I acted without first
speaking to him, and I fear me--" There her words were
cut short by the entrance of the squire.

"I sent for ye, man, to help us unsnarl a coil. Your
daughter insists on repaying the money I have loaned ye, and
I thought it best ye should be witness to the transaction."
As he ended he pointed to the pile of coin.

"Odds bodikins!" exclaimed Mr. Meredith, as his eye
followed the motion. "And where got ye such a sum,
Jan?"

"Oh, dadda," faltered the girl, "'t is a long story, of which
I promise to make you a full narration, once we are alone,
though I fear me you will think that I have done wrong.
But, meantime, will you not tell me how much you owe Lord
Clowes, and let me pay him? Believe me, the money is
honestly come by."

"No doubt, no doubt," said the commissary, with a rough
laugh. "Young macaronis are oft known to give girls hundreds
of pounds and get nothing in return."

All the reply Janice made was to go to the door. "Whenever
you will come to the parlour, dadda, you shall know all,
but I will not stay here to endure such speeches."

Without thought of the gold, Mr. Meredith was hurrying
after his daughter, when Clowes interrupted him.

"The explanation is simple enough, Meredith," he said,
"and I cannot but take it in bad part that your maid should
borrow of Mobray in order to repay my loan to you."

"I cannot believe that that is the explanation, Clowes,"
protested Mr. Meredith. "But if it is, be assured that the
money shall be returned him, and we will still stand your
debtors." Then he sought his daughter, and she poured out
to him the whole story of the miniature.

"Wrong I may have been, dadda, to have taken it to begin
with, but Colonel Brereton refused to receive it from me, and
when he himself placed it about my picture, I could not but
feel that it had truly become mine, and that I could dispose
of it."

"But who bought it of ye, Jan?" inquired the parent.

"That I know not," said the girl, though hesitating and
colouring at the question in her own mind whether she were
not prevaricating, for Andre's face and her own suspicions had
really convinced her who was the nameless buyer. "Captain
Andre assured me that the frame was fully worth five hundred
pounds."

"That I will not gainsay, lass," replied the squire, "and
the only blame I will lay on ye is that ye did not consult me
before acting, for I could have negotiated it as well, and should
have so managed as not to have offended Clowes. However, I
make no doubt he'll not hold rancour when he knows that
the money came by the sale of a piece of jewelry, and was not
merely borrowed. Did ye take your picture from the frame?"

"No, dadda. I did so once before, only to bring suspicion
on myself; so this time I let it remain."

"Ye might as well have removed it," said Mr. Meredith,
"for it could have added no money value to it." Yet the
squire had once been a lover, and should have known otherwise.
This said, he returned to Clowes, and sought to mollify
him by a statement of how the money had been obtained.

"Humph!" grunted the baron. "She'd better have brought
the trinket to me, for I'd gladly have been the purchaser, for
more even than she got by it."

"I told the lass she should have left the sale of it to me,"
answered the squire, "but ye know what women are."

"Egad, I sometimes think, shallow as the sex is, no man fully
knows that. However, we will waste no further parley on the
matter. Put the money in your purse, man, for your future
needs, and think naught about the debt to me."

"Nay, Clowes. Since the money is here, 't is as well to
pay up." And protest and argue as the commissary would,
nothing would do the squire but to count out the amount on
the spot from the heap of guineas, and to pocket, not without
some satisfaction, the small surplus that remained. Then he
left the room in great good cheer; but for some time after he
was gone, the baron, leaving the gold piled on the table, paced
the room in an evident fit of temper, while muttering to himself
and occasionally shaking his head threateningly.

The gazetting of Mr. Meredith served only to increase this
half-stifled anger, and on the very evening his appointment
was announced in the "Pennsylvania Ledger," the commissary
recurred to his proposal.

"I heard by chance to-day that young Hennion had fallen
a victim to the camp fever," he told the squire, "and only
held my tongue before the ladies through not wishing to be
the reporter of bad tidings--though, as I understood it,
neither Mrs. Meredith nor Miss Janice really wished the
match."

The father took time over a swallow of Madeira, then said:
"'T is a grievous end for the good lad."

"Ay, though I am not hypocrite enough to pretend that
it affects me save for its freeing of your daughter, and so
removing the one objection ye made to my taking her to
wife."

Once more the squire gained a moment's breathing space
over his wine before he replied: "Ye know, Clowes, that I'd
willingly give ye the girl, but I find that she will have none
of it, and 't is a matter on which I choose not to force her
inclination."

"Well said; and I am the last man to wish an unwilling
spouse," responded the aspirant. "But ye know women's
ways enough not to be their dupes. In truth, having no stability
of mind, the sex resemble a ship without a rudder, veering
with every shift of the wind, and never sailing two days alike.
But put a man at the helm, and they steer as straight a course
as could be wished. Janice was hot to wed me once, and
though she took affront later because she held me responsible
for her punishment, yet she herself owned, but a few weeks
ago, that she was still bound to me, which shows how little her
moods mean. Having your consent secured, it will take me
but a brief wooing to gain hers, that ye shall see."

"Well," rejoined Mr. Meredith, "she's now old enough to
know her own mind, and if ye can win her assent to your suit,
mine shall not be lacking. But 't is for ye to do that."

"Spoken like a true friend, and here 's my hand on it,"
declared the commissary. "But there is one matter in which
I wish ye to put an interfering finger, not so much to aid me
as to save the maid from hazard. That fopling Mobray is
buzzing about her and pilfering all the sweets that can be had
short of matrimony--"

"Nay, Clowes, he's no intriguer against my lass, that I am
bound to say. 'T was only this morning, the moment he had
news of Hennion's death, he came to me like a man, to ask
permission to address her."

"Ho, he's deeper bitten by her charms than I thought!
retorted the suitor. "Or, on second thought, more like 't is
a last desperate leap to save himself from ruin. Let me warn
ye that he has enough paper out to beggar him thrice over,
and 't is only a question of time ere his creditors come down
on him and force him to sell his commission; after which he
must sink into beggary."

"I sorrow to hear it. He 's a likely lad, and has kindly
stood us in stead more than once."

"And just because of his taking parts, he is likely to keep
your girl's heart in a state of incertitude, for 't is only mortal
for eighteen to fancy twenty more than forty-four. Therefore,
unless ye want a gambling bankrupt for a son-in-law, give
him his marching orders."

"I'll not do that after his kindness to my wife and child;
but I'll take good care to warn Janice."

"Look that ye don't only make him the more interesting to
her. Girls of her age think little of where the next meal is to
come from, and dote on the young prodigal."

"Have no fear on that score," replied the father.

On the morning following this conversation Janice was
stopped by the commissary as she was passing his office.
"Will ye give me the honour of your presence within for a
moment?" he requested. "I have something of import to
say to ye."

With a little trepidation the girl entered, and took the seat
he placed for her.

Taking a standing position at a respectful distance, Lord
Clowes without circumlocution plunged at once into the object
of the interview. "That I have long wished ye for my wife,
Miss Meredith," he said with frank bluffness, "is scarce worth
repeating. That in one or two instances I have given ye
cause to blame or doubt me, I am full conscious; 't is not in
man, I fear, to love such beauty, grace, and elegance, and keep
his blood ever within bounds. 'T was this led me to suggest
our elopement, and to my effort to bind ye to the troth. In
both of these I erred, and now crave a pardon. Ye can scarce
hold me guilty that my love made me hot for the quickest marriage
I could compass, or that, believing ye in honour pledged to
me, I should seek to assure myself of the plight from your
own lips, ungenerous though it was at the moment. It has
since been my endeavour to show that I regretted my impulsive
persecution, and I trust that my long forbearance and self-effacement
have proved to ye that your comfort and happiness
are the first object of my heart."

"You have been very good to us all," answered Janice,
"and I would that I were able to repay in full measure all we
owe to you. But--"

"Ye can, and by one word," interjected the suitor.

"But, Lord Clowes," she continued, with a voice that trembled
a little, "I cannot yield to thy wish. Censurable I know
myself to be--and no one can upbraid me more than I upbraid
myself--yet between the two wrongs I must choose,
and 't is better for both of us that I break the implied promise,
entered into at a moment when I was scarce myself than
to make a new one which I know to be false from the beginning,
and impossible to fulfil."

"Of the old promise we will say naught, Miss Meredith,"
replied the baron. "If your sense of right and wrong absolve
ye, Baron Clowes is not the man to insist upon it. But there
is still a future that ye must not overlook. 'T will be years,
if ever, ere ye once again enjoy your property, and though
this appointment--which is like to prove dear-bought--for
the moment enables ye to face the world, it is but a short-lived
dependence. To ye I will confide what is as yet known
to but a half-dozen: his Majesty has accepted Sir William
resignation, and he leaves us so soon as Sir Henry Clinton
arrives. The new commander will have his own set of hungry
hangers-on to provide with places, and your father's days will
be numbered. In my own help I shall be as unstinting as in the
past, but it is quite on the cards that I, too, lose my appointment,
in which case I shall return to England. Would not
a marriage with me make--"

"But I love you not," broke in Janice.

"Ye have fallen in love with that--"

"I love no one, Lord Clowes; and indeed begin to fear
that I was born without a heart."

"Then your objection is that of a very young girl who
knows nothing of the world. Miss Meredith, the women
who marry for love are rare indeed, and but few of them fail
of a bitter disappointment. I cannot hope that my arguments
will convince ye of this, but counsel with your parents, and ye'll
find they bear me out. On the one side stands eventual penury
and perhaps violence for ye all; on the other, marriage with
a man who, whatever his faults, loves ye hotly, who will give ye
a title and wealth, and who will see to it that your parents
want for nothing. 'T is an alternative that few women would
hesitate over, but I ask no answer now, and would rather
that ye give none till ye have taken consideration upon it."

Janice rose. "I--I will talk with dadda and mommy,"
she said, "and learn their wishes." But even as she spoke
the words a slight shiver unsteadied her voice.


XLIV
A CARTEL OF EXCHANGE

After Janice left him the commissary-general
mounted a horse, and, riding to the Franklin house,
asked for Captain Mobray.
"I have called, sir," he announced, as the baronet
entered the room, "on two matters--"

"Have they to do with the service, my Lord?" interrupted
Mobray; "for otherwise I must decline--"

"First," the caller went on unheedingly, "a number of past-due
bills of yours have come into my possession in exchange
for special victuals or stores, and I wish to learn your intention
concerning them."

"I--In truth--I--" haltingly began Sir Frederick, his
face losing colour as he spoke. "I have had the devil's turn
of luck of late, and--and I am not in a position to take them
up at the moment. I trust that you'll give me time, and not
press me too harshly."

With a smile that expressed irony qualified by enjoyment,
the creditor replied: "'T is a pleasure to aid a man to whom
I am indebted for so much courtesy."

Sir Frederick's ashen hue changed to a ruddy one, as he
said: "Lord Clowes, 't is a bitter mouthful for a man to eat,
but I ask your clemency till my luck changes, for change it
must, since cards and dice cannot always run against one.
I know I deserve it not at your hands, after what has
passed--"

"Cease your stuttering, man," ordered the commissary.
"Had I revenge in my heart I'd have sent the bailiff not
come myself. The bills shall wait your convenience, and all
I ask for the lenience is that ye dine with me and do me one
service. Ye did me a bad stroke with Miss Meredith; now
I ask ye to offset it by telling her what my vengeance has
been."

Mobray hesitated. "Lord Clowes, I will do nothing to
trick Miss Meredith, desperately placed as I am."

"Chut! Who talks of trickery? Ye told her the facts of
my parole; therefore ye owe it to me, even though it may not
serve your own suit, to tell her as well what is in my favour."

"And so help you to win her. I cannot do her that wrong,
my Lord."

"Is it worse to tell her only the truth about me than to
seek to persuade her into a marriage with a bankrupt?"

"You state it unsparingly."

"Not more so, I doubt not, than ye did the matter of my
parole--which some day I shall be able to justify, and the
gentlemen of the army will then sing a very altered tune--
with this difference, that I say it to your face and ye did
not."

With bowed head Sir Frederick answered: "You are right,
my Lord, and I will say what I can in your favour to Miss
Meredith."

"Spoke like an honest man. Fare ye well till next Wednesday,
when I shall look for ye to a three-o'clock dinner."

Whatever pain and shame the words cost him, honourably
the baronet fulfilled his promise by going to the commissary's
quarters the following day and telling Janice the facts. The
girl listened to his explanation with a face grave almost to
sadness. "I--What you have told me, Sir Frederick,"
she said gently at the end, "is of much importance to me just
at this time, and I thank you."

"I know, I know," groaned the young officer, miserably,
"and 't is only part of my horrible run of luck that I
should--that--ah--Take him, Miss Meredith, and end
my torture."

"Can you advise me to marry Lord Clowes?"

"After his generosity to me, in honour I must say nothing
against him, but 't is asking too much of human nature for me
to aid his suit."

[Illustration: "Art comfortable, Janice?"]

"I--oh, I know not what to do!" despairingly wailed the
girl. "Mommy says 't is for me to decide, and dadda thinks
I cannot do better, and to the ear it seems indeed the only
thing to do. Yet I shudder every time I think of it, and
twice, when I have dreamed that I was his wife, I have waked
the whole house with my screams to be saved from him."

"Miss Meredith," burst out the baronet, "give me the right
to save you. You know I love you to desperation; that I
would live to make you--"

"Ah, pray, Sir Frederick," begged Janice, "do not add to
my pain and difficulty. What you wish--"

"I crave a pardon for my words. 'T was a moment's selfish
forgetfulness of you and of my own position, that shall not
occur again." Mobray stooped and kissed a loose end of the
handkerchief the girl held, and hurried from the room.

As he was catching up his cloak and sabre in the hallway,
the door of the office opened. "Come in here a moment,
Sir Frederick," requested the commissary.

"I have done as I promised, and that is all I can do at the
moment," almost sobbed the young fellow. "Nor will I dine
here Wednesday, though you do your worst."

"Tush! Do as ye please as to that, but come in here now,
for I have a thing to say that concerns Miss Meredith's
happiness."

"And what is that?" demanded the baronet, as he
entered.

"I see by the G. O. that ye are named one of the commissioners
to arrange a cartel of exchange with the rebels at
Germantown to-day."

"Would to God it were to arrange a battle in which I
might fall!"

"'T is likely lists of prisoners will be shown, and should ye
chance to see the name of Leftenant Hennion on any of those
handed in by the rebels I recommend that ye do not advertise
the fact when ye return to Philadelphia."

"But the fellow's dead."

"Ye have been long enough in the service to know that
some die whose names never get on any return, and so some
are reported dead who decline to be buried. Let us not beat
about the bush as to what I mean. We are each doing our
best to obtain possession of this lovely creature, but the father
holds to his promise to the long-legged noodle, and, if he
is alive, our suits are hopeless. So let them continue to
suppose him--"

"Mine is so already," groaned Mobray. "But if 't were
not, I would not filch a woman's love by means of a deceit.
Nor--"

"Fudge! Hear me through. The girl has always hated
the match, which was one of her old fool of a father's conceiving,
and will thank any one who saves her from the fellow.
Let her say nay to us both, and it please her, but don't force
her to a marriage of compulsion by needless blabbing."

"I will hold my peace, if that seems best for Miss Meredith;
not otherwise, my Lord," answered Mobray, flinging from the
room.

The baronet mounted his horse, and, stabbing his spurs into
him, galloped madly down Market Street, and then up Second
Street to where it forked into two country roads. Here the
lines of British fortifications intersected it, and a picket of
cavalry forced the rider to draw rein and show his pass. This
done, he rode on, though at a more easy pace, and an hour
later entered the village of Germantown. In front of the
Roebuck Inn a guidon, from which depended a white flag,
had been thrust into the ground, and grouped about the door
of the tavern was a small party of Continental light horse.
Trotting up to them, Mobray dismounted, and, after an inquiry
and a request to one of them to take his horse, he
entered the public room. To its one occupant, who was
seated before the fire, he said: "The dragoons outside told
me the reb--the Continental commissioners were here.
Canst tell me where they are to be found, fellow?"

The person addressed rose from his seat, revealing clothes
so soiled and tattered, and a pair of long boots of such shabby
appearance, as to give him the semblance of some runaway
prentice or bond-servant, but over his shoulder passed a green
ribbon and sword sash which marked their wearer as a field
officer; and as the baronet realised this he removed his hat
and bowed.

"Since when did you take to calling your superior officers
'fellows,' Sir Frederick?" asked the other, laughing.

With a cry of recognition, Mobray sprang forward, his hand
outstretched. "Charlie!" he exclaimed. "Heavens, man,
we have made a joke in the army of the appearance of thy
troops, but I never thought to see the exquisite of the Mall
in clothes not fit for a tinker."

"My name, Fred, is John Brereton," corrected the officer,
"which is a change for the better, I think you will own. As
for my clothes, I'll better them, too, if Congress ever gives us
enough pay to do more than keep life in us. Owing to depreciation,
a leftenant-colonel is allowed to starve at present
on the equivalent of twenty-five dollars, specie, a month."

"And yet you go on serving such masters," burst out
Mobray. "Come over to us, Charl--John. Sir William
would give you--"

"Enough," interrupted Brereton, angrily. "For how long,
Sir Frederick, have you deemed me capable of treachery?"

"'T is no treachery to leave this unnatural rebellion and
take sides with our good king."

"Such talk is idle, and you should know it, Mobray. A
word with you ere Grayson and Boudinot--who have gone
to look at that marplot house of Cliveden which frustrated all
our hopes four months since--return and interrupt us. I
last saw you at the Merediths'; can you give me word of
them?"

"Only ill ones, alas!" answered the captain. "Their
necessities are such that I fear me they are on the point of
giving their daughter to that unutterable scoundrel, Clowes."

Jack started as if he had been stung. "You cannot mean
that, man! We sent you word he had broke his parole."

"Ay," replied the baronet, flushing. "And let me tell you,
John, that scarce an officer failed to go to Sir William and
beg him to send the cur back to you."

"And you mean that Mr. Meredith can seriously intend to
give Miss Janice to such a creature?"

"I fear 't is as good as decided. You know the man, and
how he gets his way, curse him!"

"I'd do more than that, could I but get into Philadelphia,"
declared Jack, hotly. "By heavens, Fred--"

But here the entrance of other officers interrupted them,
and Colonel Brereton was set to introducing Boudinot and
Grayson to the British officer.

Scarcely had they been made known to each other when
Mobray's fellow-commissioners, Colonel O'Hara and Colonel
Stevens, with a detail of dragoons, came trotting up; and so
soon as credentials were exchanged the six sat down about a
table in a private room to discuss the matter which had
brought them together. One of the first acts of Mobray was
to ask for a look at the Continental lists of prisoners; and
after a hurried glance through them, he turned and said to
Brereton in a low voice: "We had word in Philadelphia that
Leftenant Hennion died of a fever."

"'T is a false rumour," replied Brereton. "If I could I'd
see that he failed of an exchange till the end of the war; and
I would that one of our officers in your hands could be kept
by you for an equal term."

"Who is that?" asked Mobray.

"That rascal, Charles Lee," muttered Brereton. "But,
though he openly schemed against General Washington, and
sought to supersede him, his Excellency is above resentment,
and has instructed us to obtain his exchange among the first."

In the arrangement of details of the cartel Brereton showed
himself curiously variable, at times sitting completely abstracted
from what was being discussed, and then suddenly entering
into the discussions, only to compel an entire going over of
points already deemed settled, and raising difficulties which
involved much waste of time.

"Confound it!" said O'Hara presently, after a glance at
his watch. "At this rate we shall have to take a second day
to it."

"Beyond question," assented Jack, with a suggestion of
eagerness. "Gentlemen, I invite you to dinner, and there
are good sleeping-rooms above."

"'T is out of the question," replied Stevens. "We officers
give a masked ball in the city to-night, and I am one of the
managers."

"Well, then," urged Brereton, "at least stay and dine with
me at three, and you shall be free to leave by six. 'T is not
much over an hour's ride to the city."

"That we'll do with pleasure," assented O'Hara.

"Go on with the discussion, then, while I speak to the landlord,"
remarked Jack, rising and passing to the kitchen. "We
wish a dinner for six," he informed the publican, "by three
o'clock" Then in a low voice he continued: "And hark
you! One thing I wish done that is peculiar. Give us such
whiskey as we call for of thy best, with lemons and sugar, but
in place of hot water in the kettle, see to it that as often as it
is replenished, it be filled with thy newest and palest rum.
Understand?"

"Jerusalem!" ejaculated mine host. "You gentlemen of
the army must have swingeing strong heads to dilute whiskey
with raw rum."

"I trust not," replied the aide, drily.

When dinner was announced Brereton drew Grayson aside
for a moment and whispered: "'T is a matter of life and
death to me that these fellows be made too drunk to ride,
Will, yet to keep sober myself. You've got the head and
stomach of a ditcher; wilt make a sacrifice of yourself for my
sake?"

"And but deem it sport," replied Grayson, with a laugh;
and as he took his place at the table he remarked: "Gentlemen,
we have tested British valour, we have tested British.
courtesy, and found them not wanting, but we understand
that, though you turn not your backs to either our soldiery or
our ladies, there is one thing which can make you tremble,
and that is our good corn whiskey."

"Odds life!" cried O'Hara, "who has so libelled us?
Man, we'd start three glasses ahead of you, and then drink
you under the table, on a challenge, but for this ball that we
are due at."

"A pretty brag," scoffed Brereton, "since you have an excuse
to avoid its test. But come, we have three good hours; but
drink Grayson even in that time, and I will warrant you'll
not be able to sit your horses. Come, fill up your glasses
from decanter and kettle, and I will give you a toast to
begin, to which you must drink bumpers. Here 's to the
soldier who fights and loves, and may he never lack for
either."

Four hours later, when Brereton rose from the table,
Stevens and O'Hara were lying on the floor, Boudinot was
fallen forward, his head resting among the dishes on the table,
fast asleep, and Mobray and Grayson, clasped in each other's
arms, were reeling forth different ditties under the impression
that they were singing the same song. Tiptoeing from the
room, the aide went to the kitchen door and said to the
publican, "Order one of the dragoons to make ready Captain
Mobray's horse, as he wishes to ride back to Philadelphia."
In the passageway he took from the hook the hat, cloak, and
sword of the young officer, and, removing his own sash and
sabre, donned the three. Stealing back to the scene of the
revel, he found Mobray and Grayson now lying on the floor
as well, unconscious, though still affectionately holding each
other. Kneeling gently, he searched the pockets of the unconscious
man until the passport was lighted upon. Thrusting
it into his belt, he stole from the room.

"What are the orders for us, sir?" asked the dragoon who
held Mobray's horse, as the aide mounted.

With an almost perfect imitation of the baronet's voice,
Brereton answered, "Colonel O'Hara will issue directions
later," and then as he cantered down the road he added
gleefully: "Considerably later. What luck that it should be
Fred, whose voice I know so well that I can do it to the life
whenever I choose!" Then he laughed with a note of
deviltry. "I am popping my head into a noose," he said;
"but whether 't is that of hangman or matrimony, time only
will show."


XLV
IN THE JAWS OF THE LION

The ball had been in full progress for an hour when
a masker, who from his entrance had stood leaning
against the wall, suddenly left his isolated position
and walked up to one of the ladies.

"Conceal your face and figure as you will, Miss Meredith,
you cannot conceal your grace. Wilt honour me with this
quadrille?"

"La, Sir Frederick! That you should know me, and I never
dream it was you!" exclaimed the girl, as she gave her hand
and let him lead her to where the figures were being formed.
"There have been many guesses among the caps as to the
identity of him who has held himself so aloof, but not a one
suggested you. The disguise makes you look a good three
inches taller."

As they took position a feminine domino came boldly across
the room to them. "Is this the way you keep your word, Sir
William?" she demanded in a low voice, made harsh and
grating by the fury it expressed.

"You mistake me, madam," answered the dancer, "though
I would such a rapid promotion were a possibility."

The interloper made a startled step backward. "I have
watched you for a quarter hour," she exclaimed, as she turned
away, "and would have sworn to your figure."

"'T is wonderful," remarked Janice, "how deceiving a
domino can be."

The dance ended, her partner said: "Miss Meredith, I
have something to say to you of deepest consequence. Will
you not come away from this crowd?"

"Ah, Sir Frederick," pleaded the girl, "do not recur to it
again. Though you importune me for a day, I could but
make the same reply."

"Sir Frederick passes his word that he will not tease you
on that subject to-night; but speak I must concerning this
match with Lord Clowes."

"'T is in vain, sir," replied Janice; "for every moment
convinces me the more that I must wed him, and so you will
but make my duty the harder."

"I beg you to give me a word apart, for I have a message
to you from Colonel Brereton."

Janice's hand dropped from the officer's arm. "What is
it?" she asked.

"'T is not to be given here," urged the man. "I pray you
to let me order your equipage and take you away. Another
dance will be beginning on the moment, and some one will
claim you."

The girl raised her hand and once more placed it on her
partner's arm; taking the motion as a consent to his wishes,
the officer led her to the doorway.

"Call Miss Meredith's chair," he ordered of the guard
grouped about the outer door, and in a moment was able to
hand her into the vehicle.

"Where to?" he asked. "I mean--Home!" he cried,
in a far louder voice, as if to drown the slip, at the same
moment jumping in and taking his seat beside her.

As he did so, the girl shrank away from him toward her
corner of the gig. "Who are you?" she cried in a frightened
voice.

"Who should I be but John Brereton?"

"Are you mad," cried the girl, "to thus venture within the
lines?"

"The news which brought me was enough to make me so,"
answered Jack. "You cannot know what you are doing that
you so much as think of marrying that scum. For years he
has been nothing but a spy and mackerel, willing to do the
dirtiest work, and the scorn of every decent man in
London, as here. Are you, are your father and mother,
are your friends, all Bedlam-crazed that you even consider
it?"

"'T is as horrible to me as it is to you," moaned Janice;
"but it seems the only thing possible. Oh, Colonel Brereton,
if you but knew our straits,--dependent for all we have, and
with a future still more desperate,--you would not blame me
for anything I am doing." The girl broke into sobs as she
ended, and turning from him leaned her head against the
leathern curtain, where she wept, regardless of the fact that
the aide possessed himself of her hand, and tried to comfort
her, until the chaise drew up at its destination. Lifting rather
than helping her from the carriage, Jack supported the maiden
up the steps and into the hallway; but no sooner were they
there than she freed herself from his supporting arm and exclaimed,
"You must not stay here. Any instant you might
be discovered."

"Then take me to a room where we can be safe for a
moment. I shall not leave you till I have said my say."

"Ah, please!" begged the girl. "Some one is like to enter
even now."

Jack's only reply was to turn to the first door and throw it
open. Finding that all was dark within, he caught Miss
Meredith's fingers, and drew her in after him, saying, as he
did so, "Here we are safe, and you can tell me truly of your
difficulties."

With her hand held in both of the aide's, Janice began a
disconnected outpouring of the tale of her difficulties intermixed
by an occasional sob, caused quite as much by the
officer's exclamations of sympathy as by the misery of her position.
Before a half of it had been spoken one of the hands
grasping hers loosened itself, and she was gently drawn by an
encircling arm till her head could find support on his shoulder;
not resenting and indeed, scarcely conscious of the clasp, she
rested it there with a strange sense of comfort and security.

"Alas!" grieved Brereton, when all had been told, "I am
as deep, if not deeper, in poverty than you, and so I can
give you no aid in money. Bad as things are, however, there
is better possible than selling yourself to that worm, if you
will but take it."

"What?"

"The French have come to our aid at last, and are sending
us a fleet. If Howe will but be as slow as usual, and the
States but hasten their levies, we shall catch him between the
fleet and army and Burgoyne him. Even if he act quickly,
he can save himself only by abandoning Philadelphia and consolidating
his forces at New York. They may then fight on,
for both the strength and the weakness of the British is a natural
stupidity which prevents them from knowing when they are
beaten, but all doubt as to the outcome will be over. Once
more it will be possible for you to dwell at Greenwood, if you
will but--"

"But dadda says they will take it away and exile us,"
broke in Janice.

"I have no doubt the rag-tag politicians, if not too busy
scheming how to cripple General Washington, will set to on
some such piece of folly, for by their persecutions and acts of
outlawry and escheatage they have driven into Toryism enough
to almost offset the Whigs the British plundering has made.
But from this you can be saved if you will but let me." As
the officer ended, the clasp of his arm tightened, though it lost
no element of the caress.

"How?"

"I stand well in the cause; and though I could not, I fear,
save your property to you, they would never take it once it
were in Whig hands, and so by a marriage to me you can secure
it. Ah, Miss Meredith, you have said you do not love
me, and I stand here to-night a beggar, save for the sword I
wear; but I love you as never man loved woman before, and
my life shall be given to tenderness and care for you. Surely
your own home with me is better than exile with that cur!
And I'll make you love me! I'll woo you till I win you, my
sweet, if it take a life to do it." Raising the hand he held,
the aide kissed it fondly. "I know I've given you reason to
think me disrespectful and rough; I know I have the devil's
own temper; but if I've caused you pain at moments, I've
suffered tenfold in the recollection. Can you not forgive
me?" Once again he eagerly caressed her hand; and finding
that she offered no resistance to the endearments, Jack,
with an inarticulate cry of delight, stooped and pressed his
lips to her cheek.

On the instant Janice felt a hand laid on her shoulders, then
on her head, as if some one were feeling of her.

"Who is this?" demanded Jack, lifting his head with a
start.

The question was scarce uttered when the sound of a blow
came to the girl's ears, and the arm which had been supporting
her relaxed its hold, as the lover sank rather than fell to
the floor. With loud screams the girl staggered backward,
groping her way blindly in the dark. There came the sound
of feet hurrying down the hallway, and the door was thrown
open by one of the men servants, revealing, by the shaft of
light which came through it, the figure of Jack stretched on
the floor, with the commissary kneeling upon him, engaged in
binding his wrists with a handkerchief.

"Out to the stables, and get me a guard!" ordered Lord
Clowes. "I have a spy captured here. No; first light those
candles from the lamp in the hall. I advise ye, Miss Meredith,"
he said scoffingly, "that next time ye arrange an assignation
with a lover that ye take the precaution to assure yourself
that the room is unoccupied."

"Oh, Lord Clowes," implored the girl, "won't you let him
go for my sake?"

"That plea is the least likely of any to gain your wish,"
responded the baron, derisively.

"I will promise that I will never wed him, will never see
him again," offered Janice.

"Of that I can give ye assurance," retorted the commissary,
rising and picking up from where he had dropped it the horse
pistol with which he had stunned the unconscious man. "A
drum-head court-martial will sit not later than to-morrow
morning, Miss Meredith, and there will be one less rebel in the
world ere nightfall. Your promise is a fairly safe one to
make. Here," he continued, as the soldiers came running
into the room, "fetch a pail of water and douse it over this
fellow, for I want to carry him before Sir William. Ye were
wise not to remove your wraps, Miss Meredith, for I shall have
to ask your company as well."

When the aide was sufficiently conscious to be able to stand,
he was put between two of the soldiers, and ten minutes later
the whole party reached the house of the commander-in-chief.
Given entrance, without waiting to have their arrival announced,
the commissary led the way through the parlour into
the back room, where, about a supper table, the British commander,
Mrs. Loring, and two officers were sitting.

"Ye must pardon this intrusion, Sir William," explained
Lord Clowes, as Howe, in surprise, faced about, "but we have
just caught a spy red-handed, and an important one at that,
being none less than Colonel Brereton, an aide of Mr. Washington.
Bring him forward, sergeant."

As Jack was led into the strong light, Mrs. Loring started
to her feet with a scream, echoed by an exclamation of "By
God!" from one of the officers, while the three or four glasses
at Howe's place were noisily swept into a jumble by the impulsive
swing of the general's arm as he threw himself backward
and rested against the table.

"Charlie, Charlie!" cried Mrs. Loring. "You here?"

Standing rigidly erect, the aide said coldly, "My name is
John Brereton; nor have I the honour of your acquaintance."

"What's to do here?" ejaculated Lord Clowes. "I know
the man to be what he says, and that he has come in disguise
within our lines to spy."

Without looking at the commissary, Jack answered: "I
wore no disguise when I passed through your lines, nor have
I for a moment laid aside my uniform."

"Call ye those rags a uniform?" jeered the commissary.

Howe gave a hearty laugh. "Why, yes, baron," he
answered. "Know you not the rebel colours by this
time?"

"And how about the domino he wears over them, and the
mask I hold in my hand?" contended Lord Clowes.

"I procured them this evening at the Franklin house in
Second Street, as you will learn by sending some one to
inquire, merely to attend the ball."

A second exclamation broke from Mrs. Loring: "Then
't was you I mistook for--Sir William, I thought 't was you
from his figure."

Again the general laughed. "Ho, Loring," said he
to one of the officers. "What say you to that?"

"Take and hang me, or send me to the pest hole you kill
your prisoners in, but let me get away from here," raged Jack,
white with passion, as he gave a futile wrench in an attempt
to free his hands.

"Art so anxious to be hanged, boy?"

"'T is a fit end to a life begun as mine was!" answered
the aide.

"Oh, Sir William," spoke up Janice," he did not come to spy,
but only to see me. You will not hang him for that, surely?"

"Yoicks! Must you snare, even into the hangman's noose,
every one that looks but at you, Miss Janice? If the day
ever comes when the innocent no longer swing for the guilty,
't is you will be hung."

"We lose time over this badinage, Sir William," complained
the commissary, angrily. "The fellow is a spy without
question."

"He is not," cried Mrs. Loring; "and he shall not even
be a prisoner. You will not hold him, Sir William, when he
came but to see the maid he loves?"

"Come, sir," said the general. "Wilt ask thy life of me?"

"No. And be damned to you!"

"You see, Jane."

"I care not what he says; you shall let him go free."

"Are ye all mad?" fumed the commissary.

"He ever had the art of getting the women on his side,
Clowes," laughed Sir William, good-naturedly. "How the
dear creatures love a man of fire! Look you, boy, with such
a friend as Mrs. Loring--to say nothing of others--no limit
can be set to your advancement, if you will but put foolish
pride in your pocket, and throw in your lot with us."

"I'd sooner starve with Washington than feast with you."

"That 's easily done!" remarked Loring, jeeringly.

"Not so easily as in your prisons," retorted Jack.

"Don't be foolish and stick to your tantrums, lad," persuaded
Howe.

"Is a man foolish who elects to stick to the winning side?
For you are beaten, Sir William, and none know it better than
you."

"Damn thy tongue!" roared Howe, springing up.

"Don't blame him for it, William," cried Mrs. Loring.
"How can he be other than a lad of spirit?"

Howe fell back into his seat. "There 't is again. Ah,
gentlemen, the sex beat us in the end! Well, Jane, since
thou 't commander-in-chief, please issue thy orders."

"Set him free at once."

"We can scarce do that, though we'll not hang him as a
spy, lest all the caps go into mourning. Commissary Loring,
he is yours; we will hold him as a prisoner of war."

"Do that and you must answer for it," said Jack. "You
can hang me as a spy, if you choose, but yesterday I rode into
Germantown under a flag of truce, and on your own pass, as
one of the commissioners of exchange. What word will you
send to General Washington if you attempt to hold me
prisoner?"

"Well done!" exclaimed Howe. "One would almost
think it had been prearranged. Release his arms, sergeant.
Loring, let the boy have a horse and a pass to Germantown.
I rely on your honour, sir, that you take no advantage of what
you have seen or heard within our lines."

Jack bowed assent without a word.

"And now, sir, that you are free," went on Sir William,
"have you no thanks for us?"

"Not one."

"Ah, Charlie," begged Mrs. Loring, "just a single word of
forgiveness."

Without a sign to show he heard her, Jack went to Janice
and took her hand. "Don't forget my pledge. Save you I
can, if you will but let me." He stooped his head slightly
and hesitated for a moment, his eyes fixed on her lips, then
he kissed her hand.

And as he did so, Mrs. Loring burst into tears. "You are
killing me by your cruelty," she cried.

"Ah, Colonel Brereton, say something kind to her!"
begged the girl, impulsively.

Wheeling about, Jack strode forward, till he stood beside
the woman. "This scoundrel," he began, indicating Clowes
with a contemptuous gesture, "is seeking to force Miss Meredith
into a marriage: save her from that, and the wrong you
did me is atoned."

"I will; I will!" replied Mrs. Loring, lifting her head
eagerly. "I'll--Ah, Charlie, one kiss--just one to show
that I am forgiven--No, not for that," she hurriedly added,
as the aide drew back--"to show--for what I will do for
her. Everything I can I will--Just one."

For an instant Brereton hesitated, then bent his head; and
the woman, with a cry of joy, threw her arms about his neck,
and kissed him not once, but five or six times, and would
have continued but for his removing her hands and stepping
backward.

"Come, sir,", said Loring, irritably, "if the whole army is
not to have wind of this, follow me. Daybreak is not far
away, and you should be in the saddle."

The aide once more went to Janice, and would have again
taken her hand; but the girl shrank away, and turned her back
upon him.

"One farewell," pleaded Jack.

"You have had it," replied Janice, without turning.

"Ay. Be off with you," seconded Howe, and without a
word Brereton followed Loring from the room.

As the front door banged, and ere any one had spoken, the
thunder of a cannon sounded loud and clear, and at short
intervals other booms succeeded, as if the first was echoing
repeatedly. But the trained ear of the general was not
deceived.

"'T is the water battery saluting," he said, rising. "So Sir
Henry Clinton has evidently arrived. Come, gentlemen, 't is
only courteous that we meet him at the landing."


XLVI
THE FAREWELL TO HOWE

In the movement that ensued, Janice slipped into the
hallway, and in a moment she was scurrying along
the street, so busy with her thoughts that she forgot
the satin slippers which had hitherto been so carefully
saved from the pavements. She had not gone a square when
the sound of footsteps behind her made the girl quicken her
pace; but instantly the pursuer accelerated his, and, really
alarmed, Janice broke into a run which ended only as she
darted up the steps of her home, where she seized the
knocker and banged wildly. Before any one had been roused
within, the man stood beside her, and with his first word the
fugitive recognised Lord Clowes.

"I meant not to frighten ye," he said; "but ye should not
have come away alone, for there are pretty desperate knaves
stealing about, and had ye encountered the patrol, ye would
have been taken to the provost-marshal for carrying no
lantern."

Relieved to know who it was, but too breathless to make
reply, Janice leaned against the lintel until a sleepy soldier
gave them entrance. There was a further delay while Lord
Clowes ignited a dip from the lamp and lighted her to the
stairway. Here he handed it to her, but retaining his own
hold, so as to prevent her departing, he said--

"I lost my temper at hearing that young scamp make such
ardent love, and so I spoke harshly to ye. Canst not make
allowance for a lover's jealousy?"

"Please let me have the light."

[Illustration: "Where is that paper?"]

"Whether ye pardon me or no, of one thing I am sure,"
went on Clowes, still holding the candle, "ye are not so love-sick
of this rogue as to overlook his seeking the aid of his discarded
mistress in his suit of ye. I noted your look as she
kissed him."

"'T is not a subject I choose to discuss with you, nor is it
one for any gentlewoman," said Janice, dropping her hold on
the candle and starting upstairs. At the top she paused long
enough to say, "Nor do I trust your version," and then
hurried to her room and bolted the door.

Here, dark as it was, she went straight to the bureau, and
pulling open the bottom drawer fumbled about in it. Her
hands presently encountered the unfinished purse, and for a
moment they closed on it, while something resembling a sob
escaped her. But with one hand she continued searching;
and so soon as her groping put her fingers on the miniature
of Mrs. Loring she rose, and feeling the way to a window, she
opened it and threw out the slip of ivory. The girl made a
motion as if to send the purse after it, but checked the impulse,
and forgetting to close the window, and without a
thought of her once treasured gown, she threw herself on the
bed, and began to sob miserably. Before many minutes, worn
out with excitement, fatigue, and the lateness, she fell asleep, but
it was only to dream uneasily over the night's doings, in which
all was a confused jumble, save for the eager tones of her
lover's voice as he pleaded his suit, the sight of him as he lay
on the floor after the candles had been lighted, and, finally,
the look in his eyes as he made his farewell. Yet no sooner
did these recur than they were succeeded by that of Mrs.
Loring's eager and passionate kissing of Brereton, and each
time this served to bring Janice back into a half-awake
condition.

After breakfast the next morning, as she was pretendedly
reading Racine's "Iphigenie," lest her mother should find her
doing nothing and order her to some task, a letter was
handed her by one of the servants, with word that it had
been brought by a soldier; and breaking the seal, Janice read:

My deer child
pleas do forgiv al i spoke to yu a bout the furst time i see yu
for i did not understan it at al i was dredful up set bi last nite
and feel mitey pukish this mawning, but i hope yu will cum to see
me soon for i want much to tawk with yu a bout how i can help
yu and to kiss and hugg yu for yu ar so prity that i shud
lov just to tuck yu lik sum one else did yu see how his eys lovd
yu when he was going a way he yused to look that way at me
and i cried mitey hard al nite at his krulty pleas cum soon
to unhapy
                                             Jane Loring.
ps. i shal cum to yu if yu dont cum quick

"There is no answer," the maiden told the servant; then,
as he went to the door she added, "And should a Mrs. Loring
wish to see me, you will refuse me to her."

Left alone, Janice went to the fireplace, in which the
advance of spring no longer made a fire necessary, and, taking
from its niche the tinder box, she struck flint on steel, and
in a moment had a blaze started. Not waiting to let it gain
headway, she laid the letter upon the flame, and held it there
with the tongs till it ignited. "I knew without your telling
me," she said, "that he no longer loved you, and great wonder
it is, considering your age, that he ever could."

"Hast turned fire-worshipper?" demanded Andre's voice,
merrily, as she still knelt, "for if so, 't will be glad news for
the sparks."

The girl sprang to her feet. "I--I was just burning a
--a--some rubbish," she answered.

"Here I am, not in the lion's den, but in the jackal's, and
my stay must be brief. Canst detect that I am big with
news?"

"Of what?"'

"This morning Sir Henry Clinton arrived, and for the first
time the army learns that Sir William has resigned his
command, and is leaving us. The field officers wish to mark
his departure by a farewell fete in his honour, and as it would
be a mockery without the ladies, we are appealing to them to
aid us. We plan to have a tourney of knights, each of whom
is to have a damsel who shall reward him with a favour at the
end of the contest. I have bespoken fair Peggy for mine,
and I am sure Mobray, who is not yet returned, will ask you.
Wilt help us?"

"Gladly," assented Janice, eagerly, "if dadda will let me."

"I met him in High Street on my way here, made my
plea, and, though at first he pulled a negative look, when I
reminded him he owed Sir William for a good place, he
relented and said you could."

"And what am I to do?"

"You are to be gowned in a Turkish costume, in the--"

"Nay, Captain Andre" replied Janice, shaking her head,
"we are too poor to spend any money in such manner."

"Think you the knights are so lacking in chivalry that we
could permit our guests to pay? The subscription is large
enough to cover all expenses, the stuffs are already purchased,
and all you will have to do is to make them up in the manner
of this sketch."

"Then I accept with pleasure and thanks."

"'T is we owe the thanks. And now farewell, for I have
much to do."

"Captain Andre," said the girl, as he opened the door, "I
have a question--Wilt answer me something?"

"Need you ask?"

"I suppose 't is a peculiar one, and so--Do you--is it
generally thought by--Do the gentlemen of the army deem
Mrs. Loring beautiful?"

"Too handsome for the good of our--of the army."

"Even though she paints and powders?"

"But in London and Paris 't is the mode."

"I think 't is a horrid custom."

"And so would every woman had she but thy cheeks. Ah,
Miss Meredith, 't is easy for the maid whose tints are a daily
toast at the messes to blame those to whom nature has not
given a transparent skin and mantling blood."

When Mobray returned from Germantown, he at once
sought out Janice and confirmed Andre's action. Though he
found her working on the costume, it was with so melancholy
a countenance that he demanded the cause.

"T is what you know already," moaned the girl, miserably.
"Lord Clowes is pressing me for an answer, and now dadda is
urgent that I give him ay."

"Why?"

"He went to see Sir Henry, and had so cold a reception
that he thinks 't is certain he is to lose his place, let alone the
report that General Clinton was heard to say Sir William's
friends were to be got rid of. What can we do?"

"But Char--Brereton assured me he had spoked the
fellow's wheel by securing the aid of--"

"'T is naught to me what he has done," interrupted Janice,
proudly; "nor did I give him the right to intervene."

"You must not give yourself to Clowes. 'T is--ah--
rather than see that I'll speak out."

"About what?"

"Leftenant Hennion is not dead! 'T was but another of
Clowes' lies, and your father shall know it, let him do his
worst." Without giving his courage time to cool, the young
fellow dashed across the hallway to the office where the commissary
and squire were sitting, and announced: "News, Mr.
Meredith. Leftenant Hennion is alive, for his name was on
the rebel lists of prisoners to be exchanged."

"Oddsbodikins!" ejaculated the squire. "Here 's an upset,
Clowes, to all our talk."

"Ye'll not be fool enough to let it make any difference,"
growled the baron, his eyes resting on Mobray with a look that
boded no good. "Ye'll only increase your difficulties by
holding to that old folly."

"Nay, Clowes, Lambert Meredith ne'er broke his word to
any man, and, God helping, he never will."

With a real struggle, the commissary held his anger in check.
"I'll talk of this later," he said, after a pause, "when I can
speak less warmly than now I feel. As for ye, sir," he said,
facing Mobray, "I will endeavour--the favour ye have done
shall not be forgotten."

"Take what revenge you please, my Lord," replied Mobray,
his voice shaking a little none the less, "I have done what as a
gentleman I was compelled to do, and am ready for the consequences,
be they what they may."

"A fit return for my lenience," remarked Clowes to the
squire after Sir Frederick had made his exit. "He has long
owed me money, for which I have never pressed him, yet now
he would have it that if I but ask payment, 't is revenge."

One result of Mobray's outbreak was to give Janice another
knight for the pageant.

"'T is a crying shame," Andre told her; "but poor Fred
has gone to the wall at last, and is to be sold up. Therefore he
chooses to withdraw from the tourney, and begs me to make
his apologies to you, for he is too dumpish to wish to see any
one. 'T will make no difference to you, save that you will
have Brigade Major Tarleton in place of the baronet."

"Can nothing be done for him?" asked Janice.

"Be assured, if anything could be, his fellow-officers would
not have allowed the army to lose him, for he is loved by
every man in the service; but he is in for over eight thousand
pounds."

"'T is very sad," sighed Janice. "I thought him a man of
property," she added aloud, while to herself she said, "Then it
could not have been he who bought my miniature."

"Nay, he was sometimes in funds by his winnings, but he
long since scattered his patrimony."

Janice's letter to Tabitha had long before, by its length, become
in truth a journal, and to its pages were confided an
account of the farewell fete to the British general:--

"'The Mischianza,' as 't is styled; Tibbie, began at four
o clock in the afternoon with a grand regatta, all the galleys and
flatboats being covered with awnings and dressed out with colours
and streamers, making a most elegant spectacle. The embarkation
took place at the upper end of the city, mommy and I entering
the 'Hussar' which bore Sir William Howe. Preceded by
the music boats, the full length of the town we were rowed,
whilst every ship was decked with flags and ensigns, and the
shores were crowded with spectators, who joined in 'God save
the King' when the bands played it; and the 'Roebuck' frigate
fired a royal salute. About six we drew up opposite the Wharton
house, and landing, made our way between files of troops and
sailors to a triumphal arch that ushered to an amphitheatre
which had been erected for the guests, of whom, Tibbie, but four
hundred were invited. Behind these seats spectators not to be
numbered darked the whole plain around; held in check by a
strong guard which controlled their curiosity. The fourteen
knights' ladies (selected, Tibbie, so 't was given out, as the fore-most
in youth, beauty, and fashion, and into a fine frenzy it threw
those maids who were not asked) were seated in the front, and
though 't is not for me to say it, we made a most pleasing display.
Our costume was fancy, and consisted of gauze turbans, spangled
and edged with gold and silver, on the right side of which a veil
of the same hung as low as the waist, and the left side of the
turban was enriched with pearls and tassels of gold or silver,
crested with a feather. The jacket was of the polonaise kind; of
white silk with long sleeves, and sashes worn around the waist
tied with a large bow on the left side, hung very low and trimmed,
spangled; and fringed according to the colours of the knight.
But, wilt believe it, Tibbie, instead of skirts, 't was loose trousers,
gathered at the ankle, we wore, and a fine to-do mommy made at
first over the idea, till dadda said I might do as the other girls
did; though indeed, Tibbie, 't is to be confessed I felt monstrous
strange, and scarce enjoyed a dance through thought of them.
And here let me relate that this was the ostensible reason for Mr.
Shippen refusing to allow Margaret and Sarah to take part
after they had their gowns made (and weren't they dancing
mad at being forbid!), but 't is more shrewdly suspected that
't was because of a rumour (which no thinking person credits) that
Philadelphia is to be evacuated, and so, being a man of no opinions,
he chose not to risk offending the Whigs.

"Once seated; the combined bands of the army sounded a very
loud and animated march, which was the signal for the beginning
of the ceremony of the carousel. The seven knights of The
Blended Rose, most marvellously dressed in a costume of the
Henry IV. period of France (which, being so beyond description,
I have endeavoured a sketch), on white horses, preceded by a herald
and three trumpeters, entered the quadrangle, and by proclamation
asserted that the ladies of The Blended Rose excelled in
wit, beauty, and accomplishment those of the whole world, and
challenged any knight to dispute it. Thereupon appeared the
seven knights of The Burning Mountain, and by their herald
announced that they would disprove by arms the vainglorious
assertions of the knights of The Blended Rose and show that the
ladies of The Burning Mountain as far excelled all others in
charms as the knights themselves surpassed all others in prowess.
Upon this a glove of defiance was thrown, the esquires presented
their knights with their lances, the signal for the charge was
sounded, and the conflict ensued, until on a second signal they fell
back, leaving but their chiefs in single combat. These fighting
furiously, were Presently parted by the judges of the field, with
the announcement that they were of equal valour, and their ladies
of equal beauty. Forming in single file, they advanced and
saluted, and a finish was put to this part of the entertainment.

"We now retired to the house for tea, where the knights,
having dismounted, followed us, and paid homage to their fair
ones, from each of whom they received a favour. The ball then
succeeded, which lasted till nine, when the company distributed
themselves at the windows and doors to view fireworks of marvellous
beauty, ending with a grand illumination of the arch.
More dancing then occupied us, till we were summoned to supper,
which was served in a saloon one hundred and eighty feet
long, gaily painted and decorated; and made brilliant by a great
number of lustres hung from the roof, while looking-glasses,
chandeliers, and girandoles decked the walls, the whole enlivened
by garlands of flowers and festoons of silk and ribbons. Here
we were waited upon by twenty-four negroes in blue and white
turbans and party-coloured clothes and sashes, whilst the most
pathetic music was performed by a concealed band. Toasts to
the king and queen, the royal family, the army and navy, with
their respective commanders, the knights and their ladies, and
the ladies in general, were drunk in succession, each followed
by a flourish of music, when once again the dancing was resumed,
and lasted till the orb of day intruded his presence
upon us.

"Sir William left us at noon to-day, regretted by the whole
army, and, as I write this, I can hear a salute of guns in
honour of Sir Henry Clinton's assuming the command. Pray
Heaven he does not remove dadda.

"At last I know, Tibbie, what court life must be like."

Three days after the departure of Howe, the squire came into
dinner, a paper in hand, and with a beaming face. "Fine
news!" he observed. "I am not to be displaced."

"Good!" cried the commissary, while Janice clapped her
hands. "I spoke to Sir Henry strongly in your favour, and
am joyed to hear that it has borne fruit."

"How dost thou know, Lambert?" asked Mrs. Meredith.

"I have here an order to load the 'Rose' tender with such
rebel property as the commissaries shall designate, and superintend
its removal to New York. They 'd ne'er employ me
on so long a job, were I marked to lose my employment, eh,
Clowes?"

"Well reasoned. For 't is not merely a task of time, but one
of confidence. But look ye, man, if ye 're indeed to make a
voyage to York and back, which will likely take a month, 't is
best that we settle this question of marriage ere ye go. I've
given Miss Janice time, I think ye'll grant, and 't will be an
advantage in your absence that she and Mrs. Meredith have
one bound to protect them."

"I'd say ay in a moment, Clowes, but for my word to
Hennion."

"'T is a promise thou shouldst ne'er have made, and which
it is now thy every interest to be quit of, let alone that 't is so
distasteful to thy daughter."

"A promise is a promise," answered the father, with an
obstinate motion of head.

"And a fool 's a fool," retorted Clowes, losing his temper.
"In counsel and aid I've done my best for ye; now go your
gait, and see what comes of it."

A week later, Mr. Meredith bade farewell to wife and
daughter.

"I wish you were n't going, dadda," Janice moaned. "'T is
so akin to last summer that it frights me."

"Nay, lass, be grateful that I have the job to do, and that
with good winds I shall return within a fortnight. Clowes
has passed his word that ye shall want for nothing. I'll be
back ere ye know I've gone."

There was a good cause, however, for the girl's fear of the
future, for in less than a week from her father's sailing, on every
street corner, in every tavern, and in every drawing-room of
the town the news that Philadelphia was to be evacuated was
being eagerly and anxiously discussed.


XLVII
THE EVACUATION

Confirmation of the rumour, so far as Mrs. Meredith
and Janice were concerned, was first received
through the commissary.

"Ay," he told them, when questioned; "'t was
decided at a council of war the very day Howe left us, and
that was why we at once began transferring our stores and the
seized property to New York, one cargo of which your husband
was put in charge. 'T will tax our shipping to the utmost to
save it all."

"But why didst thou not warn us, so that we might have
embarked with him?" asked Mrs. Meredith.

"'T was a military secret to be told to no one."

"Can dadda return ere the evacuation begins?"

"'T is scarce possible, even if his orders permit it."

"Then what are we to do?"

"Thou hadst best apply at once to the deputy quartermaster-general
for transports."

Mrs. Meredith acted on this advice the following day, but
without success.

"Think you the king's ships and transports have naught to
do but act as packet-boats for you Americans?" the deputy
asked. "Hundreds of applications have been filed already,
and not another one will we receive. If you 'd for New York,
hire a passage in a private ship."

This was easier to recommend than to do, for such was the
frantic demand for accommodation that the prices had been
raised to exorbitant figures, quite beyond their means. So
appeal was made once more to Clowes.

"'T is something of a quandary," he remarked; "but there is
a simple way out."

"What?"

"I'd have saved ye all worry over the matter but that I
wished ye to learn the difficulties. I have never made pretence
to doing favours out of mere kindness of heart, and ye
know quite as well as I why I have given ye lodging and other
aids. But for that very reason I am getting wearied of doing
all and receiving nothing, and have come to the end. Give me
Miss Janice, and my wife and mother shall have passage in the
ship I sail in."

"You take a poor way, Lord Clowes, to gain your wish,"
said Janice. "Generosity--"

"Has had a six months' trial, and brought me no nearer to
a consummation," interrupted the baron. "Small wonder I
sicken of it and lose patience."

"'T is not to be expected that I would let Janice wed thee
when her father has given thee nay."

"Because he has passed his word to another, and so holds
himself bound. He said he'd consent but for that, and by acting
in his absence ye can save him a broken oath, yet do the
sensible thing. He'll be glad enough once done; that I'll
tie to."

"It scarce betters it in a moral sense," replied Mrs. Meredith.
"However, we will not answer till we have had a chance to discuss
it by ourselves."

"Janice," said her mother, once they were alone, "thy
dread of that man is a just one, and I--"

"I know--I know," broke in the daughter, miserably; "but
I--if I can make us all easy as to money and future--"

"Those are but worldly benefits, child."

"But, mommy," said the girl, chokingly, as she knelt at her
mother's feet and threw her arms about Mrs. Meredith's waist,
"since live we must, what can we do but--but--Oh, would
that I had never been born!" and then the girl buried her
head in her mother's lap.

"'T is most unseemly, child, to speak so. God has put us here
to punish and chasten us for Adam's sin; and 't is not for us,
who sinned in him, to question His infinite wisdom."

"Then I wish He 'd tell me what it is my duty to do!"
lamented Janice.

"Thinkest thou he has nothing to do but take thought of thy
affairs?"

"Wouldst have me marry him, mommy?" asked the girl,
chokingly.

"Let us talk no further now, child, but take a night's thought
over it."

They were engaged in discussing the problem the following
afternoon, when Lieutenant Hennion burst in upon them.

"Why, Phil!" cried Mrs. Meredith; and Janice, springing
from her chair, met him half-way with outstretched hand, while
exclaiming, "Oh, Mr. Hennion, 't is indeed good to see an old
friend's face."

"'T is glad tidings ter me ter hearn you say that," declared
Philemon, eagerly. "Yestere'en General Lee and the other
rebel prisoners came out from Philadelphia, and we, having
been brought from Morristown some days ago, were at once set at
liberty; but 't was too late ter come in, so we waited for daylight.
I only reported at quarters, and then, learning where you lodged,
I come--I came straight ter--to find how you fared."

Alternating explanation and commentary, the women told of
their difficulties.

"I can't aid you to get aboard one of the ships, for I've had
ter draw my full pay all the time I was prisoner, the rebels nigh
starving us, let alone freezing, so money 's as scarce with me as
with you. But I'll go ter--to my colonel, and see if I can't
get permission that you may go with our baggage train."

"'T will be a benefit indeed, if you can do that," exclaimed
Mrs. Meredith.

"Then I'll not tarry now, but be off about it at once, for
there was a rumour at brigade headquarters that three regiments
had been ordered across the river this afternoon, and that it
meant a quick movement." He picked up his hat as if to go,
then paused, and haltingly continued, "I hope, Ja--Ja--
Janice, that you've come ter--to like--not to be so set
against what I wants so much. It 's nigh a year since I seen--
saw you last, but it 's only made me love you the better."

The girl, with a look of real contrition, answered, "Oh, Mr.
Hennion, do not force--'T would be wrong to us both if I
deceived you."

"You can't love me?"

"I--oh, I believe I am a giddy, perverse female, for I seem
able to care for no man."

"The world I'd give ter win you, Janice; but I'll not tease
you now, the more that I can be doing you a service, and that 's
joy enough."

Philemon went toward the door; but ere he had reached it
Janice had overtaken him and seized his hand in both of hers.
"You deserve to love a better maid," she said huskily, "and I
wish you might; but perhaps 't will be some comfort to you to
know that dadda holds to his promise, and--and that I am
less wilful and more obedient, I hope, than once I was."

As Philemon opened his mouth to make reply, he was cut
short by the entrance of the commissary, who halted and
frowned as he took in the hand-clasp of the two.

"Humph!" he muttered, and then louder remarked, "Yet
another! Ye'll be pleased to know, sir, that Miss Meredith's
favours mean little. But a month since I caught that fellow
Brereton regaling himself with her lips."

"That's a lie, I know," retorted Philemon, angrily; but as
he glanced at the girl and saw her crimson, he exclaimed,
"You just said you cared for no man!"

"It--it was at a moment when I scarce knew what I did"
faltered Janice, "and--and--now I would not be kissed by
him for anything in the world. I--I am--I was honest in
what I said to you, Philemon."

"I'll believe anything you say, Janice," impulsively replied
the lieutenant, as with unprecedented boldness he raised her
hand to his lips. Then facing Clowes he said: "And I advise
you ter have a care how you speak of Miss Meredith. I'll
not brook hearing her aspersed." With this threat he left the
room.

"I regret to have been an intruder on so tender a scene,"
sneered the commissary; "but I came with information that was
too important to delay. Orders have been issued that all ships
make ready to drop down the river with the tide at daybreak
to-morrow, and 't is said that the army will begin its march
across the Jerseys but a twenty-four hours later. So there is
no time to lose if ye wish to sail with me. The marriage must
take place by candle-light this evening, and we must embark
immediately after."

"Philemon has promised us his aid, Lord Clowes," replied
Mrs. Meredith, "and so we need not trouble thee."

"Hennion! But he must go with his regiment."

"He offers us a place in the baggage train."

"Evidently he has not seen the general orders. Clinton is
too good an officer to so encumber himself; and the orders
are strict that only the women of the regiments be permitted
to march with the army. I take it ye scarce wish to class
yourselves with them, however much it might delight the
soldiery."

"They could scarce treat us worse than thee, Lord Clowes,"
said Mrs. Meredith, indignantly. "Nor do I believe that even
the rank and file would take such advantage of two helpless
women as thou art seeking to do."

"Tush! I may state it o'er plainly; but my intention is
merely to make clear for your own good that ye have no other
option but that I offer ye."

"Any insults would be easier to bear than yours," declared
Janice, indignantly; "and theirs would be for once, while
yours are unending."

"Such folly is enough to make one forswear the whole sex,"
the commissary angrily replied. "Nor am I the man to put up
with such womanish humoursomeness. "I've stood your caprice
till my patience is exhausted; now I'll teach ye what--"

"Heyday!" exclaimed Andre, as a servant threw open the
door and ushered him in. "What have we here? I trust I
am not mal apropos?"

"Far from it," spoke up Janice. "And thou 'rt welcome."

"I come laden with grief and with messages," said Andre, completely
ignoring Clowes' presence. "Mr. Hennion, whom I met
at headquarters, asked me to tell you his request was refused,
that his regiment was even then embarking to cross the Delaware,
and that therefore he could not return, whatever his wish.
The Twenty-sixth is under orders to follow at daybreak to-morrow,
and so we plan an impromptu farewell supper this
evening at my quarters. Will you forgive such brief notice
and help to cheer our sorrow with your presence?"

"With more than pleasure," assented Mrs. Meredith; "and
if 't will not trouble thee, we will avail ourselves of thy escort
even now."

"Would that such trouble were commoner!" responded
Andre, holding open the door.

"Then we'll get our coverings without delay."

Lord Clowes, with a deepened scowl on his face, intercepted
them at the door. "One word in private with these ladies," he
said to the captain. Then, as Andre with a bow passed out first,
he continued, to the women: "I have warned ye that we must
be aboard ship ere ten. Refuse me my will, and ye'll not be able
to rejoin Mr. Meredith. Take my offer, or remain in the city."

"We shall remain," responded Mrs. Meredith.

"With your husband a warden of the seized property of the
rebels, and known to have carried away a ship-load of it? Let
me warn ye that the rebels whom we drove out of Philadelphia
will be in no sweet mood when they return and find what we
have destroyed or carried off. Hast heard how the Bostonians
treated Captain Fenton's wife and fifteen-year-old daughter?
Gentlewomen though they were, the mob pulled them out of
their house, stripped them naked in the public streets, smeared
them with tar and feathers, and then walked them as a spectacle
through the town. And Fenton had done far less to make himself
hated than Mr. Meredith. Consider their fate, and decide
if marriage with me is the greater evil."

"Every word thou hast spoken, Lord Clowes," replied Mrs.
Meredith, "has tended to make us think so."

"Then may you reap the full measure of your folly," raged
the commissary.

"Come, Janice," said her mother; and the two, without a
parting word, left him. Once upstairs, Janice flung her arms
about Mrs. Meredith's neck.

"Oh, mother," she cried, "please, please forgive me! I
have ever thought you hard and stern to me, but now I know
you are not."

Strive as those at the supper might, they could not make it a
merry meal. The officers, with a sense of defeat at heart, and
feeling that they were abandoning those who had shown them
only kindness, had double cause to feel depressed, while the
ladies, without knowledge of what the future might contain,
could not but be anxious, try their all. And as if these were
not spectres enough at the feast, a question of Mrs. Meredith as
to Mobray added one more gloomy shadow.

"Fred? alas!" one of the officers replied. "He was sold
out, and the poor fellow was lodged in the debtors' prison, as
you know. As we chose not to have them fall into the hands
of the rebels, a general jail delivery was ordered this morning,
which set him at large."

"And what became of him?" asked Janice.

"Would that I could learn!" groaned Andre. "As soon
as I was off duty, I sought for him, but he was not to be heard
of, go to whom I would. Bah! No more of this graveyard
talk. Come, Miss Meredith, I'll give you the subject for a
historical painting. I found of Franklin's possessions not a
little which took my fancy, and such of it as I chose I carry
with me to New York, as fair spoil of war. Prithee, draw a
picture of the old fox as he will appear when he hears of his
loss. 'T will at least give him the opportunity to prove himself
the 'philosopher' he is said to be. I have taken his oil portrait,
and when I get fit quarters again I shall hang it, and
nightly pray that I may live long enough to do the same to the
original. Heaven save me if ever I be captured, though, for I
make little doubt that in his rage he would accord me the very
fate I wish for him!"

When at last the evening's festivities, if such they might be
termed, were over, it was Andre, preceded by a couple of
soldiers with lanterns, who escorted them back to their home,
and at Janice's request he ordered the two men to remain in
the now deserted house.

"They must leave you before daybreak," the officer warned
them; "but they will assure you a quiet night. I would that
you were safe in New York, however, and shall rest uneasy till
I welcome you there. Ladies, you have made many an hour
happier to John Andre," ended the young officer, his voice
breaking slightly. "Some day, God willing, he will endeavour
to repay them."

"Oh, Captain Andre," replied Janice, "'t is we are the
debtors indeed!"

"We'll not quarrel over that at parting," said Andre, forcing
a merry note into his voice. "When this wretched rebellion is
over, and you are well back at Greenwood, and may that be
soon, I will visit you and endeavour to settle debit and credit."

Just as he finished, the sound of drums was heard.

"'T is past tattoo, surely?" Mrs. Meredith questioned with a
start.

"Ay," answered Andre. "'T is the rogue's march they are
ruffling for a would-be deserter who was drum-headed this evening,
and whom they are taking to the State House yard to hang.
Brrew! Was not the gloom of to-night great enough without
that as a last touch to ring in our ears? What a fate for a
soldier who might have died in battle! Farewell, and may it
be but a short au revoir," and, turning, the young officer hurried
away, singing out, in an attempt to be cheery, the soldier's
song:--

            "Why, soldiers, why
              Should we be melancholy, boys?
            Why, soldiers, why,
            Whose business 't is to die?
            What, sighing? fie!
              Drown fear, drink on, be jolly, boys.
           'T is he, you, or I!"


XLVIII
A TIME OF TERROR

The Merediths were awakened the next morning by
sounds which told of the movements of troops, and
all day long the regiments were marching to the
river, and as fast as they could be ferried, were
transferred to the Jersey side, the townspeople who, by choice
or necessity, were left behind being helpless spectators meanwhile.
Once again the streets of Philadelphia assumed the
appearance of almost absolute desertion; for as the sun went
down the prudent-minded retired within doors, taking good
heed to bar shutters and bolt doors, and the precaution was
well, for all night long men might be seen prowling about the
streets,--jail-birds, British deserters, and other desperadoes,
tempted by hope of plunder.

Fearful for their own safety, Mrs. Meredith and Janice
failed not to use every means at hand to guard it, not merely
closing and securing, so far as they were able, every possible
entrance to the house, but as dark came on, their fear
led them to ascend to the garret by a ladder through a trap,
and drawing this up, they closed the entrance. Here they sat
crouched on the bare boards, holding each other, for what
seemed to them immeasurable hours; and such was the intensity
of the nervous anxiety of waiting that it was scarcely added
to, when, toward daybreak, both thought they detected the
tread of stealthy footsteps through the rooms below. Of this
they presently had assurance, for when the pound of horses'
hoofs was heard outside, the intruders, whoever they might be,
were heard to run through the hall and down the stairs with a
haste which proved to the miserable women that more than
they had cause for fear.

Hardly had this sound died away when a loud banging on
the front door reached even their ears, and after several repetitions
new fear was given them by the crashing of wood and
splintering of glass, which told that some one had broken in a
shutter and window to effect an entrance. Once again footsteps
on the stairs were heard, and a man rushed into the room
underneath them and came to a halt.

"Do you find them?" he shouted to some companion,
whose answer could not be heard. "What ho!" he went on
in stentorian voice. Is there any one in this house who
can give me word of a family of Merediths?"

Janice reached forward and raised the trap, but her mother
caught her arm away, and the door fell with a bang.

"'T is all right, mommy," the girl protested. "Didst not
hear the jingle of his spurs? 'T is surely an officer, and we
need not fear any such."

Even as she spoke the trap was raised by a sabre from below.
"Who 's above?" the man demanded, and as Janice
leaned forward and peeked through the opening, he went on,
"I seek--" There he uncovered. "Ah, Miss Meredith,
dark as it is above, I could pick you from a thousand by Colonel
Brereton's description. I was beginning to fear some misfortune
had overtaken you. I am Captain McLane of the light
horse. You can descend without fear."

With a relief that was not to be measured, the two dropped
the ladder into place and descended.

"Is Colonel Brereton here?" asked Mrs. Meredith.

"Not he, or I suspect he'd never have given me the thrice-repeated
charge to make sure of your safety. He is with the
main army, now in full pursuit of the British, and we'll hope
to come up with the rats ere they get safely to their old hole.
Since you are safe I must not tarry, for there is much to--"

"Oh, Captain McLane, can't you stay?" beseeched Janice.
"Do not leave us unprotected. I can't tell you what we have
suffered through thought of possible violence, and even now--"

[Illustration: "Victory!"]

"I will station a trooper at the door," the officer promised;
"but have no fear. Already patrols are established, and within
an hour broadsides will be posted about the city warning all
plunderers or other law-breakers that they will be shot or hanged
on sight. General Arnold, who is given command of the city,
intends there shall be no disturbance, and he is not the man
to have his orders broke."

Set at ease as to their safety, the first concern of the women
was a hastily improvised breakfast from the scantily supplied
larder which Clowes' servants had abandoned to them. In the
kitchen, as well as all over the house, they found ample signs
that pilferers had been at work, for every receptacle had been
thrown open, drawers dragged out, and the floor littered with
whatever the despoilers elected not to take. A month before
Janice would probably have been moved to tears at the discovery
that her "elegant and dashy robing," as well as her
Mischianza costume, had been stolen, but now she scarcely
gave either of them a thought, so grateful was she merely to
feel that they were safe from violence and insult.

In reinstating her own meagre possessions in their proper receptacles,
which was the girls after-breakfast occupation, she
came upon an unfinished silk purse, and this served to bring an
end for a time to the restoration of order, while she sat upon the
floor in a meditative attitude. Presently she laid it on the
bureau with a little sigh and returned to her task. Once this
was completed, she again took the purse, and seating herself, set
about its completion.

Afraid to stir out of doors, and with little to occupy her. the
next three days served to complete the trifle, elaborate and
complicated as the pattern was. Meantime, a steady stream of
Whigs flooded into the city, and from Captain McLane, who
twice dropped in to make sure of their well-being, they learned
that the Continental Congress was about to resume its sessions
in the city. Ocular proof that the rulers of America were assembling
was very quickly brought home to the two, for one
morning Janice, answering a rap of the knocker, opened the
door to the Honourable Joseph Bagby.

"Well, miss. I guess you 're not sorry to see an old friend's
face, are you. now that the dandiprat redcoats you've been
gallivanting with have shown that they prefer running away to
fighting?" was his greeting, as he held out his hand.

Janice, divided in mind by the recollection of his treatment
of them and by her fear of the future, extended her own and
allowed it to be shaken, as the easiest means of escaping the
still more difficult verbal response.

"Are n't you going to ask me in?" inquired the caller, "for
I've got something to say."

"I did n't know that you would want to," faltered Janice,
making entrance for him. "Mommy will be gla--will be in
the parlour," she said, leading the way to that room.

Without circumlocution, Bagby went at the object of his call
the moment the equally embarrassing meeting with Mrs. Meredith
was over.

"I came up to town," he announced," to 'tend Congress,
of which I'm now a member;" and here the speaker paused
as if to let the new dignity come home to his hearers. "Did n't
I tell you I was a rising man? But I had another object in
view in being so prompt, and that was to have a talk with you
to see if we can 't arrange things. 'T is n't given to every girl
to marry a Congressman, eh, miss?"

"I--I--suppose not," stammered Janice, frightened, yet
with an intense desire to laugh.

"Before I say anything as to that," went on Bagby, "I want
to tell you that I've been a good friend of yours. Old Hennion,
who 's come out hating your dad the worst way, was for introducing
a bill in Assembly last session declaring his lands forfeited,
but I told him I'd not have it."

"'T is but a duty man owes to prevent evil deeds," said Mrs.
Meredith.

"We are very grateful, Mr. Bagby," Janice thought it was
necessary to add, with not a little surprise in her voice.

"That's what I guessed you'd be," said the legislator.
"Says I to myself, 'They've made a mistake as to the side
they took but when they see that the British is beat, they'll do
most anything to put themselves right again and save their
property.' Now, if Miss Janice will marry me, there is n't any
reason why you should n't all come back to Greenwood and live
as fine as a fivepence."

"We should not be willing to give thee our daughter, Mr.
Bagby, even were she."

"But I am--for the compliment you offer, sir, I thank you,"
interjected Janice.

"Now, you just listen to reason," protested Joe. "You
must n't think it 's only the property I'm set on. I've made a
swipe of money in the last year--nigh forty thousand dollars--
Continental--so I can afford to marry whom I like; and though
I own that thirty thousand acres is no smouch of land, yet I'm
really soft on Miss Janice, and would marry her even if she
had n't money, now that I've got some of my own."

"It can make no difference, Mr. Bagby," replied the mother.
"Neither her father nor I would consent to her wedding thee,
and I know her wishes accord with ours."

Joe, with a somewhat bewildered face and a decidedly awkward
movement, picked up his hat. "It don't seem possible,"
he said, "that you'll throw away all that property; for, of
course, I'm not going to stand between you and old Hennion
when you show yourselves so unfriendly."

"'T is in the hands of One who knows best."

Bagby went to the door. "The Assembly meets on the
twenty-eighth," he remarked, "and I promised some of the
members I'd quit Congress to 'tend the early part of the session,
so I've got to go back to Trenton in three days. If you change
your mind before then, let me know."

"Oh, mommy," groaned the girl the moment the door closed,
"I wish there were no such things in the world as lovers!"
Then she told a yet greater untruth: "Or would that I had
been born as plain as Tibbie's aunt!"

"'T is ingratitude to speak thus, child. Hast already forgot
the help Philemon tried to give us, and what we owe to
Colonel Brereton?"

The girl made no response for a little, then said hurriedly,
"Mommy, dost think dadda, and wouldst thou wish me to wed
Colonel Brereton, provided 't would save us our lands and let
us live in peace at Greenwood?"

"I know not what to say, Janice. It would be a deliverance,
indeed, from a future black with doubt and trouble; but thy
father holds to his promise to Philemon, and I question if he'd
ever consent to have a rebel for a son-in-law. Nor do we
know that Colonel Brereton was not but speaking in jest when
he said what he did at Greenwood."

"He meant it, mommy," answered the daughter, "for--for
at grave risk he stole into Philadelphia last April to see me;
and then he vowed he could save us from the Whigs if--if--"

"And wouldst thou wed him willingly?" asked the mother,
when Janice lapsed into silence with the sentence unfinished.

With eyes on the floor and cheeks all aflame, the girl answered:
"I--I scarce know, mommy. At times when I am
with him I feel dreadfully excited and frightened--though
never in the way I am with Lord Clowes--and want to get
away; but the moment he is gone I--I wish him back, if only
he would do but what I'd have him--and yet I like him for--
for having his own way--as he always does--though I know
he'd do mine if--if I asked him."

"Janice, canst thou not speak less lightly and foolishly?"
chided Mrs. Meredith. "If thou lovest the man, say so without
such silly maunderings, which are most unbefitting of thy years."

"But I--I don't love Colonel Brereton, mommy," protested
the girl; "and I never could, after his--after knowing that he
once gave his love to that--"

"And art thou so foolish, Janice," demanded her mother, "as
to pretend that thou dost not care for him?"

"Really it--it would only be for you and dadda, and to save
the property, mommy," persisted Janice.

"Then why didst thou draw back from Lord Clowes and
Bagby?" asked the mother, sternly.

"But I--I could never have--have--Oh, mommy, there
is a cart just stopped at the door, and I'll see what is wanted,--
an excuse conveniently present for the flustered maiden to
escape an explanation.

As it proved, the arrival of the cart was of very material
moment, for by the time Janice was at the door a lean-visaged
woman had been helped from it, and her salutation was anything
but promising.

"Who are you. that you are in my house?" she demanded,
and then entered the hall, and, womanlike, would not listen to
the explanations that both Janice and her mother sought to
make. "Be off with you at once!" she ordered. "I'll not
have you here a minute. My son died of fever and starvation
in a freezing prison last winter while you made free of his
mother's home not a half-mile away. Be thankful I don't have
you arrested for the rent, or hound the people into treating you
Tory snakes as you deserve. No, you shall not stay to get
your clothes; into the street I'll bundle them when I have
got them together, and there you'll find them. Out with
you!"

Janice was for obeying, but Mrs. Meredith refused positively
to leave without packing. Hastily their scanty belongings were
bestowed in the two little leathern trunks they had brought
originally from Greenwood; these they dragged to the porch,
and, sitting upon them, held debate as to their next step.

Ere they had been able to hit upon some escape from the
nonplus, their attention was distracted by a rabble of men,
women, and boys, who suddenly swept around a corner and
flooded down the street toward them. With a premonition of
coming evil, Janice sprang to the knocker, and rapped desperately,
but their evictor paid no attention to the appeal. In a
moment the mob, which numbered not less than a thousand
people, reached the steps, hissing, hooting. and caterwauling,
and from the din rose such cries as: "Tory, Tory!" "Turn-coats!"
"Where are the bloody-backs?" "Ain't we draggle-tails now?"

"Order!" shouted a man in a cart pulled by some of the
crowd, for which a way was made by all so that it could be
wheeled up to the sidewalk opposite where the two women,
holding each other's hands, were despairingly facing the crowd.
"Remember, I passed my oath to General Arnold that there 'ud
be no violence; an' if we don't keep it, the troops will be down
on us. an' some on you will spend a night in the guard-house"

"Hooray!" cheered some one, and the mass echoed the
cry.

The spokesman turned to the Merediths. "We know'd the
Fourth o' July ain't no joyous day to you-alls, so we've done
our bestest to keep you from thinkin' of it by bringin' some
one to call on you. Ain't you glad to see again your old friend,
Miss Shy Anna?"

As the speaker finished, he stepped to one side, bringing
into view of the porch a woman seated upon the head of a
barrel in the cart. A poor army drab, left behind in the evacuation,
had been decked out in what Janice instantly recognised
as her Mischianza costume; and with hair dressed so that
it stood up not less than two feet above her forehead, splashed
over with white paint, a drink-coloured face, doubly red in contrast,
and bare feet, with an expanse of more than ankle in a
similar nakedness below the trousers, she made up in all a
figure so droll that under any other circumstances Janice would
have laughed.

"We are escortin' Miss Shy Anna--who ain't really very
shy--to see all her friends of The Blended Rose and of
The Burning Mountain, an' as we hate airs an' pride, we
demands that each give her a kiss. Just make a way for Miss
Meredith to come and give her the chaste salute," he ordered
of the throng.

"Thou wilt not insist on such a humiliation for my daughter,"
appealed Mrs. Meredith.

"Insult!" cried the leader. "Who dares to say 't ain't an
honour to kiss one dressed in such clothes? Give the miss a
little help, boys, but gently. Don't do her no harm."

A dozen men were through the gate before the sentence was
finished, but outcries and a surge of the mob at this point gave
a new bent to the general attention. A horseman from the
direction opposite to that from which the crowd had come was
spurring, with little heed, through the mass, and the clamour
and movement were due to the commotion he precipitated.

In twenty seconds the rider, who was well coated with dust,
and whose horse was lathered with the sweat of fast riding, had
come abreast of the cart, and Janice gave a cry of joy. "Oh,
Colonel Brereton," she called, "save us, I beg!"

"What are you about?" demanded the new-comer, sternly,
of the crowd.

"We 're celebratin' independence," explained he in the cart,
"and all we wants of this miss is that she buss her friend Miss
Shy Anna. They both is British sympathisers."

"Be off with you, every doodle and rag-tail of you!" ordered
the officer, angrily.

"And who are you?" demanded one; and another, emboldened
by distance, recommended, "Pull him off his
horse."

Twenty hands seized hold of Brereton; but as they did so,
the aide, realising his mistake, retrieved it by a sudden change
of manner. "I am an aide of General Washington," he
shouted, "and I bring news of a great battle."

An uproar of questions broke out, drowning every other
sound, till, by raising his hand, the aide procured silence.

"I must carry the despatches to Congress; but come with
me, and I'll give you the tale the moment they are safe
delivered."

With a rush the crowd followed him, as he moved forward,
deserting the cart and its occupants, who hastily descended,
and hurried after the throng. But Jack was not so forgetful,
and turning in his saddle, he called back, "I'll return as soon
as I can."


XLIX
PLATO vs. CUPID

The patience of the two homeless women was
heavily taxed before Brereton returned, but finally,
after nearly two hours' waiting, he came, almost
running along the street.

"Neither the Congress nor the populace were to be put off,"
he began to explain, ere he was within the gate, "and I have
had to retail again and again the story of the fight, and tell
'how our army swore in Flanders.' But I dared not break
away from them through fear they would follow me back and
force me to play hare to their hounds once more. 'T is a great
relief to know that you are safe," Jack declared, as he shook
their hands warmly.

"Thanks to you," replied Mrs. Meredith "'T was indeed
a mercy of God that thou cam'st when thou didst."

Pray give my mare, who has done her seventy miles since
daylight, some share," laughed the officer, heartily.

"Oh, Colonel Brereton, what do we not owe to you?" exclaimed
Janice, warmly.

A few words told their champion of their plight and stirred
him to hot anger.

"By heavens!" he growled; "I would that my general
were here to curse the beldame, as he did Lee at Monmouth.
Once you are cared for, I'll return and see that she hear one
man's opinion of her. Follow me, and I'll soon put you in
comfort." Getting a trunk on each shoulder, he set off down
the street.

Did I understand thee aright in inferring that General Washington
so far forgot himself as to use profane language?" asked
Mrs. Meredith as they walked.

"Ay, Laus Deo!"

"I can't think of him as doing that," ejaculated Janice.

"'T was glorious to hear him, for he spoke with righteous
anger as an angel from heaven might, and his every word was
well deserved. Indeed, had I been in command, Lee should
have had a file of soldiers before sundown for his conduct."

"What did he?"

"Everything that an honourable man should not," answered
the aide, warmly. "Finding that Gates had lost favour with
Congress, and had failed in his attempt to supplant Washington,
he at once resumed his old intriguing. But, worse still, once
we were across the Delaware and in full cry after the British, he
persisted in the Council of War in asserting that 't would he madness
to bring on a general engagement, and that we should
keep at a comfortable distance and merely annoy them by
detachment,--counsel that would have done credit to the most
honourable Society of Midwives, and to them only, and which
could mean naught but that he did not wish my general to reap
the glory of defeating the British. Voted down, my fine gentleman
at first refused the command of the advance; but once he
saw that the attack had promise of success, he asserted his claim
as senior officer to command it, only, it would seem, with the
object of preventing its success, for at the moment of going
into action he predicted to Lafayette that our troops could not
stand against the British, and instead of supporting those
engaged, he allowed them to be thrown into confusion and was
the first to join in the retreat which he himself had brought
about. 'T was at this moment, when he was actually heading
the rout, that my general cantered up to him and demanded,
'By God, sir, what is the meaning of this disorderly retreat?'
Lee began a stuttering explanation that did n't explain, so his
Excellency repeated his question. 'You know that the attack
was contrary to my advice and opinion,' stammered Lee, and
then Washington thundered out, 'Then you should not have
insisted on the command. You're a damned poltroon!' And
't was what the whole army thought and wanted said."

"'T is too bad General Washington was beat," sighed Janice.

"That he was not," answered Brereton, triumphantly.
"When we rode up, not a one of us but thought the day lost,
but the general, with a quickness and decision I never before
saw in him, grasped the situation, rallied the broken regiments,
seized on a strong piece of ground, and not merely checked the
British advance, but drove them back on their reserves, where,
after nightfall, they were glad enough to sneak away, leaving
their wounded and dead behind them. But for Lee's cowardice,
or treachery, as I believe it to be, they 'd have never
reached the protection of their fleet at Sandy Hook. Yet
one benefit of his conduct will be that 't will end all talk of
making him commander-in-chief. In seeking to injure his
Excellency, he has but compassed his own discrediting, and
the cabal against my general in Congress will break down for
very lack of a possible successor. We did more than beat the
English at Monmouth."

The tale served to bring the trio to the City tavern, where
Brereton led the way at once to a room on the second floor, and
deposited the two trunks.

"You'll have no more than time to freshen yourselves for
dinner, and we'll leave talk till we've eaten that," he suggested,
as he picked up a pair of saddlebags and left the room.

"Oh, mommy," sighed Janice, rejoicefully, "is n't it a relief
to be told what to do, and not have to worry one's self?
He did n't make us think once."

Their self-chosen guardian was equally decisive as to the
future, when the subject was taken up after the meal. "I must
stay here two days for some despatches Congress wishes me to
bear, and 't is fortunate, for I shall have time to procure a second
horse and a pillion, so that you may journey with me."

"Whither?"

"To Brunswick."

"I suppose there is naught else left for us," said Mrs. Meredith,
doubtingly, "but we have little reason to feel secure
there."

"Do not give yourself a moment's discomposure or dolour.
We shall find the army there; but, better still, I possess a means
to secure your safety, whether it remains or no."

"And what is that?" inquired Mrs. Meredith, eagerly, while
Janice, feeling her cheeks begin to burn, suddenly sprang to her
feet, with a pretended interest in something to be seen from one
of the windows, which enabled her to turn her back to the table.

"By good luck I have a hold over both Esquire Hennion
and Bagby, and I'll threat them that unless they let you live at
peace I'll use it."

Janice came back to the table. "'T was only the rounds,"
she remarked with a note of half surprise, half puzzlement, in her
voice, which was not lost to her mother's ears.

"Art thou as sure as thou wert, Janice," Mrs. Meredith
asked, once they were in their room again, "that Colonel
Brereton wishes to wed thee?"

"I--I thought--he said he did," replied the girl, hanging
her head with mortification; "but he may have changed his
mind."

"I fear me, child, that thy vanity, which has ever led thee to
give too much heed to the pretty speeches of men, has misled
thee in this instance."

Janice's doubt grew in the next two days, for by not a word
or act did the aide even hint that such a hope was present in
his thoughts. Their every need was his care, and all his spare
time was passed in their company; but his manner conveyed
only the courtesy of the friend, and never the tenderness of the
lover. Even when the maiden presented him with the silk
purse to which she had given so many hours of toil, his thanks,
though warm, were distinctly platonic. Both piqued and
humiliated at his conduct, the girl was glad enough when, on
the morning of the third day, they set out on their journey, and
she almost welcomed the advent of Bagby, who overtook them
as they were taking their noon baiting at Bristol, and who made
the afternoon ride with them.

Another familiar face greeted them, as, toward nightfall, they
rode into Trenton and drew rein in front of the Drinkers' house,
whither the ladies had asked to be taken; for ere Janice had
been lifted from the horse's back, or Mrs. Meredith had descended
from the pillion, they were accosted by Squire Hennion.

"I hoped ez haow we wuz well quit of yer," he began; "an'
yer need n't 'spect, after all yer goin's on, an' those of yer--
ole Tory husband, thet ye're goin' ter be allaowed ter come
back ter Greenwood. I persume Joe 's told yer thet he an' I
is goin' ter git a bill through this Assembly declarin' yer lands
escheated."

"You have n't any right to talk for me, squire," protested
Joe. "I can do my own talking; and my sympathies is always
with the female sex."

"He, he!" snickered Hennion. "Ain't we doin' the gallant
all of a suddint! An' ain't we foxy? Joe, here," he continued,
turning to the ladies, "come ter me jest afore we left Brunswick,
with a bill he'd draw'd ter take yer lands, an' he says ter
me he wuz a-goin' ter push it through Assembly. But by the
time we gits ter Trenton, word come thet the redcoats wuz a
scuttlin' fer York, so Joe he set off like a jiffy ter see, I persume,
if yer wuz ter be faound. Did he offer ter buy yer lands
cheap, or did he ask ter be bought off? Or is the sly tyke
snoopin' araound arter yer darter?"

Bagby had the grace to grow a brick red at this revelation and
home thrust, and he began an attempted explanation. But
Brereton, who had helped both his charges to the ground, did
not let them give ear to it. "I will bide at the tavern, and
we'll start to-morrow as soon after daybreak as we can," he
said, as he escorted them to the door, then turned back to the
two assemblymen, who were busy expressing frank opinions of
each other. "Quarrel as you like," he broke in, "but understand
one thing now. That bill must never be introduced, or
the pair of you shall hear from me. I warn you both that I
have in my possession your signed oaths of allegiance to King
George, and if you dare to push your persecution of the Merediths
I'll ride from one end of Middlesex County to t' other,
and prove to your constituents what kind of Whigs you are,
over your own hands and seals." He took the two bridles and
walked toward the tavern.

"Thet 'ere is a lie!" cried Hennion, yet following the
officer.

"It is, if you never signed such a paper," remarked Jack,
drily.

"I defy yer ter show it." challenged Hennion.

"If you want sight of it, introduce the bill," retorted the
aide.

"Say, colonel," said Bagby, with a decided cringe, "you
won't use those documents against your old friends, will you?"

"'T ain't fer a Continental officer ter injure them cairn ginooine
Whigs," chimed in Hennion, "an' only swore an oath cuz it
seemed bestest jest then."

"If you don't want those papers known, stop persecuting the
Merediths."

"So thet gal 's caught yer, too, hez she? Look aout fer
them. They'll use yer ter save theer lands, an' then they'll
send yer ter right-abaout, like they done with my Phil. I warns
yer agin 'em, an' ef yer don't listen ter me, the day'll come
when yer'll rue it."

Meanwhile the Drinkers had made the new arrivals most
welcome; and the two girls, with so much to tell each other,
found it difficult to know where to begin. They had not talked
long, however, when Janice became conscious that there was a
rift in the lute.

"My letter," she said, "would have told you better than ever
I now can all about the routs and the plays, and everything
else; but, alas! some one broke into our house the night the
British left Philadelphia, and search as I would the next day,
I could not find what I had written you."

"I should think thee 'd be glad," replied Tibbie; "for surely
thou 'rt ashamed of having been so Toryish."

"Not I," denied Janice. "And why should I be?"

"Shame upon thee, Janice Meredith, for liking the enemies
of thy country!"

"And pray, madam," questioned Janice, "what has caused
this sudden fervour of Whigism in you?"

"I never was unfaithful to my country, nor smiled on its
persecutors."

"Humph!" sniffed Janice. "One would think, to hear you
talk, that you have given those smiles to some rebel lover."

"Better a Whig lover than one of your popinjay British
officers," retorted Tibbie, crimsoning.

"Gemini!" burst from the other. "I believe 't is a hit from
the way you colour."

"And if 't was--which 't is not--'t is naught to feel ashamed
of." resentfully answered the accused.

The two girls had been spatting thus in lowered voices on
the sofa, and as Tibbie ended, her disputant's arm was about
her waist, and she was squeezed almost to suffocation.

"Oh, Tibbie, wilt tell me all about it--and him--once we
are in bed to-night?" begged Janice, in the lowest but most
eager of whispers.

Whether this prayer would have been granted was not to
be known, for as it was uttered Mr. Drinker interrupted their
dialogue.

"Why, Tabitha," he called from across the room, "here 's a
great miscarriage. Mrs. Meredith tells me that Colonel Brereton
rode with them from Philadelphia, but thinking to o'ercrowd
us he has put up at the Sun tavern."

Had the daughter merely remarked that "'T was a monstrous
pity," or suggested that her father should at once set off to the
hostel to insist on his coming to them, Janice would have
thought nothing of the incident; but in place of this Tibbie
said, "'T is well," with a toss of her head, even as she grew
redder still, and realising this, she pretended that some supper
preparation required her attention, and almost fled from the
room.

"Colonel Brereton," explained Mr. Drinker, "stopped with
us last summer each time he rode through Trenton on public
business, and we came to like him much; so glad were we
when he was well enough from his wound this spring to once
more drop in upon us."

"His wound!" exclaimed Janice.

"Ay," said Miss Drinker. "Didst thee not know that he
was hit at Whitemarsh, and was weeks abed?"

Mr. Drinker gave a hearty laugh as the girl shook her head
in dissent. "I'll tell thee a secret, Jan," he said, "and give
thee a fine chance to tease. There was a girl not a hundred
miles from this house who was sorely wounded by that same
British bullet, and who pilfered every goody she could find
from our pantry, and would have it that I should ride myself to
Valley Forge with them all, but that I found a less troublesome
conveyance."

"'T was very good of her," said Janice, gravely. "I--I did
not know that he had been wounded."

"Thou wert hardly in the way of it," replied Mr. Drinker.
"British officers were scarce news sheets of our army."

However praiseworthy Miss Meredith may have thought her
friend's kindness to Brereton, one action conveyed the contrary
import, for when the bed hour came she said to Tabitha: "I
think I'll sleep with mommy, and not with thee, after all."

"Oh, Jan, and I have so much to tell thee!"

"We make so early a start," explained Miss Meredith, "that
the sleep is more valuable to me." Then the girl, after a swallow,
said: "And I thank you, Tibbie, for being so good to
Colonel Brereton, to whom we owe much kindness; for even
had we known he was injured, we could have done nothing for
him." She kissed her friend and followed her mother.

When Brereton appeared the next morning, Janice mounted
the horse which was to bear her while the aide was exchanging
greetings with the Drinkers; and when these quickly changed
into farewells, she heeded not Tabitha's protest that they had
not kissed each other good-by.

"I thought to save time by mounting," explained Janice,
"and for this once it does not matter." And during the
whole morning's ride the aide found her strangely silent and
unresponsive.

Both these qualities disappeared with marvellous suddenness
once they were within the Greenwood gate. All along the
Raritan the fields were dotted with tents and parks of artillery,
and on Greenwood lawn stood a large marquee, from which
floated the headquarters' flag, while groups of officers and soldiers
were scattered about in every direction. But all this
panoply of war was forgotten by the girl, as Sukey, who was
carrying some dish from the house to the tent, dropped it with
a crash on the ground, and with a screech of delight rushed
forward. Janice slid, rather than alighted, from her horse; and
as if there were no such things as social distinctions, mistress
and slave hugged each other, both rendered inarticulate by
their sobs of joy. Further to prove that hearts have nothing to
do with the colour of the skin, Billy Lee, who had been following
in Sukey's train with another dish, was so melted by the
sight that he proceeded to deposit his burden of a large ham
on the grass, and began a loud blubbering in sympathy. Their
united outcries served to bring two more participants on the
scene, for Peg and Clarion came running out of the house and
with screams and yelps sought to express their joy.

While this spectacle was affording infinite amusement to the
officers and sentinels, Brereton, after helping Mrs. Meredith
alight, went in search of Washington and in a few moments returned
with him.

"We have made free with your home, as you see, Mrs. Meredith,"
apologised the commander-in-chief, as he shook her
hand, "and I scarce know now whether to bid you welcome, or
to ask leave for us to tarry till to-morrow. May we not effect a
compromise by your dining and supping with me, and, in
return, your favouring me and my family with a night's
lodging?"

"Thou couldst not fail of welcome for far longer, General
Washington," said Mrs. Meredith, warmly, "but thou art doubly
so if Lady Washington is with thee."

"Nay; I meant my military family," explained the general.
"Mrs. Washington retreated, ere the campaign opened, to
Mount Vernon." Then he turned to the daughter and shook
her hand. "Ah, Miss Janice," he said, "sorry reports we've
had of thy goings on, and we greatly feared we had lost thee to
the cause."

"Ah, no. your Excellency," protested the girl. "Though I
did once pray that the British should capture Philadelphia,
't was not because I wished you beaten, but solely because it
would bring dadda to us, and--and many a prayer I've made
for you."

The general smiled. "'T will be glad news to some," he
said, with a sidelong look at Brereton, "that thy sympathies
have always been with us. I presume thou hast simply been
doing the British soldiery all the harm that thou couldst under
guise of friendliness. I'll warrant thou'st a greater tale of
wounded officers than any of Morgan's riflemen, sharpshooters
though they be."

"I would I could say I had been ever faithful, your Excellency,
but I must own to fickleness."

"These are times that test loyalty to the full," replied
Washington, "and there has been many a waverer in the
land."

"Of that I know full well, your Excellency."

"Nay, Miss Meredith, thou needest not pretend that thou hast
any knowledge of inconstancy. From that particular failing of
mankind I'll agree to hold thee harmless."

"Your Excellency but compliments me," answered Janice,
"in presuming me exempt from forgetfulness." And as she
spoke the girl gave an unconscious glance at Brereton.


L
ROSES AND HONEYSUCKLE

Dinner, which was actually being placed on the table
in the tent at the moment the ladies arrived, cut
short further conversation with either Washington
or Sukey. Utterly forgetful of her duties to spit
and oven, nothing would do the former cook but to follow
Janice to her old room, where she summarily ordered Billy to
clear out the clothing and accoutrements of its military tenants.

"Don't you stay, Sukey," said Janice, "if you are needed
in the kitchen. His Excellency--"

"Dat I ain't, chile. Gin'l Washington he trabell wid his
own cook, an' Peg an' I 'se only helpin' Mr. Lee set de table
and carry de dishes. Now I help ma honey."

"Oh, Sukey," carolled Janice, "it is so good to be home
again!"

"Guess Missus Sukey tink dat too," said William, halting in
his labours. "She dun talk about nuthin' else but her pooty
young missus."

"And how 's Blueskin, Billy?" questioned Janice.

"Lor' bless us, miss, dyar ain't no restrainin' ob dat steed
wid de airs he put on since he dun took part at Monmouth an'
hear the gin'l say what he tink oh dat feller Lee. I tell him if he
doan behave better, de next time dyar 's goin' to be a battle,
I jus' saddle up Nelson an' leave him behind."

"Now youse stop a-talkin' an' tote dem men's tings somewhars
else. Missy Janice gwine to change her gown, an' we doan
want nuttin' oh dat sort in hyar."

"I'll only smart myself a little and not change my frock,
Sukey, because--"

"Dat youse must, honey, for I dun praise youse so dat I
ain't gwine to have dem disappointed in youse. Who'll be to
dinner to-day, Mr. Lee?"

[Illustration: "Washington has crossed the Delaware!"]

"Gen'l Greene an' Lord Sterlin', an' de staff, an' de field an'
brigades major ob de day."

"Dere, chile, now doan youse depreciate yourself to all dem.
Jus' youse put on de pootiest dress youse hab an' do ole
Sukey proud." Then, as she helped Janice to bedeck herself
she poured out the story of their makeshift life, telling how,
with what had been left of the poultry, and with the products
of the small patch of the garden they had been able to till,
the two slaves had managed to live the year through, taking
the best care they could of their master's property, and hoping
and praying daily for what had at last come to pass. The
arraying would have been more speedy with the volunteer
abigail out of the room; but not once did the mistress even
suggest it, and, on the contrary, paused several times in the
process to give the black a hug.

Finally, a call from her mother put an end to this frittering
and hurried the girl downstairs. Washington gave his hand to
Mrs. Meredith, and there was a contest of words among the
numerous officers for the privilege of the girl's, till Lord Sterling
asserted his prerogative of rank and carried her off. Her
presence was indeed a boon to the twenty men who sat down
at the table, and, accustomed as Janice was by this time to the
attention of officers, she could not but be flattered by the
homage and deference paid her, all the more, perhaps, that
it was witnessed by Brereton. Nor did this cease with the
withdrawal of the ladies, for a number of the younger blades
elected for her society rather than for that of the bottle, and
made themselves her escort in the tour of inspection which
Janice insisted on making about the place; and had she needed
to be helped or lifted over every fence, or even stone, they
encountered, there would have been willing hands to do it.
It is true she was teased not a little for her supposed British
sympathies, but it was not done ill-naturedly, and the girl was
now quick-witted and quick-tongued enough to protect herself.

This plurality of swains did not lessen as the afternoon
advanced, for not one of the diners departed, and when tea-time
had come, their ranks were swelled by a dozen new
arrivals, giving both Mrs. Meredith and Janice all they could do
to keep the assembly supplied with "dishes" of the cheerful but
uninebriating beverage which had been so material a cause in
the very embodying of this army. Then the officers idled
about the lawn, each perhaps hoping for an invitation to stay
on to the supper which so quickly followed the tea-drinking;
and those who were fortunate enough to attain their wish did
not hurry away once the meal was concluded. Only when
Mrs. Meredith excused herself and her daughter on the ground
of fatigue, did the youngsters recollect that there were camp
duties which called them away.

"I fear me, Miss Janice," said the commander-in-chief, as
the good-nights were being said, "that discipline would be
maintained with difficulty were we long to remain encamped here.
Personally, I cannot but regret that we move northward to-morrow;
but for the good of the service I think 't is fortunate."

Drum beat and bugle call, sounding reveille, brought Janice
back to consciousness the next morning; and it is to be suspected
that she took some pains with her morning toilet, for
by the time she descended tents were already levelled and regiments
and artillery were filing past on the road.

"We have reason to believe that Sir Henry meditates a
move up the Hudson against our post of West Point," Washington
explained to Janice; "and so it is our duty to put ourselves
within protecting distance, though I myself think he will
scarce venture a blow, the more that he is strengthening his
lines about New York. 'T is not a little pleasing to us that,
after two years' fighting and manoeuvring, both armies are
brought back to the very point they set out from, and that
from being the attacking party, the British are now reduced to
the use of spade and pick-axe for defence."

"I wish you were not leaving us, your Excellency," sighed
Janice.

"'T is one of the penalties of war," replied the general,
"that we are doomed to see little of the fair sex, and must be
content with an occasional sip of their society. Should we
winter near here, as now seems possible, I trust you will honour
Mrs. Washington and myself with your company at headquarters.
And one word ere we part, Mrs. Meredith. You
must not think that we make free with people's property, as we
seem to have done in your case. Finding your home unoccupied,
I made bold to take it for my headquarters; but the
quartermaster-general will pay you before we leave for such
use as I have made of it."

"We could not accept anything, your Excellency," protested
the hostess. "The obligation is with us, and I beg--"

"Be off with you to your stations, gentlemen," ordered
Washington, as he rose from the table; and having cleared the
room, he continued: "Nay, Mrs. Meredith, Congress allows
me my expenses, and 't is only just that you should be paid.
And however well provided you may be, a little ready money
will surely not be amiss?"

"Your Excellency is more thoughtful of our future than we
are ourselves," responded Mrs. Meredith. "For a moment I
had forgot our position; we will gladly accept payment."

"Would that I could as easily pay you for the pleasure you
have given me," said the general, shaking her hand. "Miss
Janice, we'll do our best," he went on, "to tie the British soldiery
into New York; but, whether we succeed or no, I wish
to hear of no more philandering with their officers. 'T is hard
enough to fight them in the field, without encountering them
in our softer moments; so see to it that you save your smiles
and blushes for us."

"I will, your Excellency," promised Janice, as she did both.

"Nay, nay, my child," he corrected, smiling. "I did not
mean that thou shouldst blush and smile for me. I am a
married man, and old enough to be thy father."

"'T is fortunate you are the first, your Excellency," laughed
the girl in turn, "or the latter should not protect you." And
as the general held out his hand she impulsively kissed it.

"I shall write Mrs. Washington that 't will never do for her
to leave me during another campaign," replied the commander,
reciprocating the salute. "Not but she will be very proud to
think that so charming a maid honours her husband with such
favours."

At the door the staff were already mounted and waiting their
chief. Farewells were completed with all save Brereton, who
for some reason had withdrawn a little from the group; and
these done, the cavalcade trotted off.

No sooner was it upon the road than Brereton spurred up
alongside of his superior, and, saluting, said in a dropped voice:
"Your Excellency, I had something of moment to say to the
Merediths, but 't was impossible to get private word, with all the
idlers and racketers and Jack-a-dandies of the army running in
and out upon them. May I not turn back? I will overtake
you ere many hours."

"Think you, sir," asked Washington, gravely, "I have no
occasion for my aides, that you make such a request?"

Jack flushed with mortification and temper. "I supposed
that, on the march, you could spare--"

"I can, my boy," interrupted the commander-in-chief with
a change of manner, "and was but putting off a take-in on you.
My own courting was done while colonel of the First Virginia regiment,
and well I remember how galling the military duties were.
'T is to be feared I was not wholly candid in the reasons calling
me from the regiment to Williamsburg, that I alleged to my
superiors, for my business at the capital took few hours, and
both going and returning I managed to stay many at 'White
House.' May your wooing speed as prosperously," he finished,
extending an arm and pressing his junior's hand warmly.
"And if by chance you should not overtake us till to-morrow,
I'll think of twenty years ago and spare you a reprimand."

"God save you, sir!" exclaimed Jack, in an undertone of
gratitude. "I--I love--She is--is so dear to me, that I
could not bear the thought of waiting." Wheeling his horse,
the rider gave him the spur.

The moment the general and staff had trotted away, Mrs.
Meredith turned to her daughter and asked, "Hast thou refused
Colonel Brereton, Janice?"

"No, mommy," faltered the girl.

"Then why did he ride off without a word to either of us?"

"I--'t is--I can only think that--that he has come to
care for Tibbie--being in and out of love easily--and so is
ashamed of the part he has played."

"'T is evident that I was right in my view that thy vanity had
misled thee," replied the mother. "But we'll not discuss its
meaning now, for I must find out how we stand. Try to make
thyself a task, child."

Her search for this took the maiden, closely followed by
Clarion, to the garden, where she found that weeds, if nothing
else, had thriven, though the perennials still made a goodly
show. Before beginning a war on the former, she walked to a
great tangle of honeysuckle that clustered about and overtopped
a garden seat, to pluck a bunch and stick it in the neckerchief
that was folded over her bosom; then she went to her favourite
rose-bush and kissed the one blossom July had left to it. "I'll
not pick you," she said, "since you are the only one."

The sound of galloping caught her attention as she raised
her head and though she could not see the rider, her ears told
her that he turned into Greenwood gate, even before the pace
was slackened. Not knowing what it might bode, the girl stood
listening, with an anxious look on her face. The cadence of
the hoof-beats ended suddenly, and silence ensued for a time;
then as suddenly, quick footsteps, accompanied by a tell-tale
jingle and clank, came striding along the path from the kitchen
to the port in the hedge. One glance Janice gave at the opposite
entrance, as if flight were in her thoughts, then, with a hand
resting on the back of the seat to steady herself, she awaited
the intruder.

Brereton paused in the opening of the box, as his eyes rested
on his love. "Would to Heaven," he exclaimed, "that I had
my colours and the time to paint you as you stand!"

Both relieved and yet more frightened, Janice, in an attempt
to conceal the latter feeling, remarked, "I thought you had
departed, sir."

"Think you I'd rest content without farewell, or choose to
have one with the whole staff as witnesses?" answered Jack, as
he came forward. "Furthermore, I had some matters of which
to speak that were not to be published to the world."

"Mommy is--"

"Where I'd have her," interjected the officer; "for what I
have to say is to you. First: I put the screws on old Hennion
and Bagby, and have their word that they will not push their
forfeiture bill, or in any other way molest you."

"We thank you deeply, Colonel Brereton."

"I rode to Brunswick and saw Parson McClave yesterday
afternoon, to bespeak his aid, and he says he is certain you
may live at peace here, if you will not seek to be rigorous with
your tenants, and that he will do his best to keep the community
from persecuting you."

"'T is glad news, indeed."

"Knowing how you were circumstanced, I then rode about
your farms and held interview with a number of your tenants
and pleaded with them that they pay a part of their arrears
in supplies; and several of the better sort gave me their word
that you should not want for food."

"'T was most thoughtful of you."

"Finally, I wrote a letter to your father, and have sent it
under a flag that was going to New York, telling him that you
were safe arrived at Greenwood."

"Ah, Colonel Brereton, how can we ever repay your kindness?"
murmured the girl, her eyes brightened and softened
by a mist of unshed tears.

"'T was done for my own ease. Think you I could have
ridden away, not knowing what risk or privation you might
have to suffer in my absence?"

"'T is only the greater cause for gratitude that you make
your ease depend on ours."

"That empties my packet of advices," said the aide; "and
--and--unless you have something to tell me, I'll--we'll
say a farewell and I'll rejoin the army."

"Would that I could thank you, sir, as you deserve; but
words mean so little that you have rendered me dumb," replied
Janice, feelingly.

"Can you not--Have you nothing else to say to me?"
he begged pleadingly.

"I--Indeed, I can think of nothing, Colonel Brereton,"
replied the maiden, very much flustered.

"Then good-by, and may God prosper you," ended Jack,
sadly, taking her hand and kissing it gently. He turned with
obvious reluctance, and went toward the house, but before he
had reached the hedge he quickly retraced his steps. "I--I
could not force my suit upon you when I found you in such
helplessness--not even when you gave me the purse--though
none but I can know what the restraint meant in torture," he
burst out; "and it seems quite as ungenerous to try to advantage
myself now of your moment's gratefulness. But my passion
has its limits of control, and go I cannot without--without--
Give me but a word, though it be a sentence of death to
my heart's desire."

Janice, whose eyes had been dropped groundward during
most of this colloquy, gave the pleader a come-and-go glance,
then said breathlessly, "I--'T is--Wha--wha--What
would you wish me to say?"

"What you can," cried the officer, impetuously.

"I--I would--'T is my desire to--to say what you
would have me."

Both her hands were eagerly caught in those of the suppliant.
"If you could--If--'T would be everything on earth--
more than life itself to me--could you but give me the faintest
hope that I might win you. Have you such an abhorrence
of me that you cannot give me the smallest guerdon
of happiness?"

"You err in supposing that I dislike you," protested Janice.

"Then why do you refuse all that is dearest to me? Why
turn from a devotion that would make your happiness its
own?"

"But I have n't," denied the girl, her heart beating wildly
and her breath coming quickly.

As the words passed her lips, she was impulsively yet tenderly
caught in her lover's arms and drawn to him. "What
have you done, then?" he demanded almost fiercely.

"I--I--oh! I don't know," she gasped.

"Then, as you have pity in you, grant my prayer?"

For a moment Janice, with down-bent head, was silent.
Then she raised her eyes to Jack's and said, "I will marry
you, Colonel Brereton, if dadda will let me."


LI
A FAREWELL AND A WELCOME

There was little weeding of the garden that fore-noon,
unless the brushing off with Jack's gauntlets
of some green moss from the garden seat, about
which clustered the honeysuckle, can be considered
such. Possibly this was done that more sprays of the vine
might be plucked, for when Sukey, after repeated calls from
the entry, finally came to summon them to dinner, Jack had a
bunch of it, and a single rose, thrust in his sword knot.

There was a pretence of affected unconsciousness at the
meal on the part of the three, and even of Peg, though the
servant made it difficult to maintain the fiction by several times
going off into fits of reasonless giggles not easy for those at
table to ignore. The repast eaten, Brereton drew Mrs. Meredith
aside for a word, and Janice took advantage of the freedom
to escape to her room, where she buried her face in the pillow,
as if she had some secret to confide to it.

From this she was presently roused by her mother's entrance,
and as the girl, with flushed cheeks and questioning look, met
her eyes, Mrs. Meredith said: "I think, my child, thou hast
acted for the best, and we will hope thy father will think so."

"Oh, mommy, dost think he'll consent?"

"I fear not, but that must be as God wills it. Go down
now, for Colonel Brereton says he must ride away, and only
tarries for a word with thee."

Janice gave one glance at the mirror, and put her hands
to her hair, with a look of concern. "'T is dreadfully disordered."

"He will not notice it, that I'll warrant," prophesied the
matron.

With his horse's bridle over his arm, the lover was waiting
for her on the front porch. "Will you not walk with me down
the road a little way?" he begged. "'T is so hard to leave
you."

"I--I think I had better not," urged the girl, showing
trepidation. "'T would surely delay you too--"

"Ah, Janice," interrupted the lover, "why--what have I
done that you should show such fear of me?"

"I'm not afraid of you," denied Janice, hurriedly; "and of
course I'll go, if--if you think it best."

"Then what is it frightens you, sweetheart?" persisted Jack,
as they set off.

The maiden scrutinised the ground and horizon as if seeking
an explanation ere she replied shyly, "'T is--'t is indeed
no fear of you, but you--you never ask permission."

The officer laughed exultingly. "Then may I put my arm
about you?" he requested.

"'T will make walking too difficult."

"How know you that?" demanded Jack.

"'T is--'t is easily fancied."

Brereton's free arm encircled the girl. "Try to fancy it,"
he entreated. "And never again say that I do not ask permission."

A mile down the road Jack halted. "I'll not let you go
further," he groaned; "nor must I linger, for reminder of my
wound still troubles me if I ride too quick."

"Why did you not tell me you had been wounded when you
took me away from the ball?" asked Janice, reproachfully.

"'T was not once in my thoughts that evening, nor was
anything else save you."

"I can make all sorts of preserves and jellies and pickles,
and next winter I'll send you some to camp."

"That you shall not," asserted the aide; "for the day we
go into winter quarters sees me back here to dance at your
wedding."

"Hadst better wait till thou art invited, sir?" suggested
Janice, saucily.

"What? A revolt on my hands already!" exclaimed the
officer.

"T is you are the rebel."

"Then you are my prisoner," retorted Jack, catching her in
his arms.

"You Whigs are a lawless lot!"

"Toward avowed Tories, ay--and a good serve-out to
them."

"But I gave my word to his Excellency that from henceforth
I'd be Whiggish, so you've no right to treat me as one."

"Then I'll not," agreed the lover. "And since I plundered
from you while you were against us, 't is only right that I should
return what I took." He kissed her thrice tenderly. "Good-by,
my sweet," he said, and, releasing her, mounted. "'T is
fortunate I depend not on my own legs, for they 'd never consent
to carry me away from you." He started his horse, but
turned in his saddle to call back: "'T will not be later than
the first of November, with or without permission," and throwing
a last kiss with his hand, spurred away.

Till Jack passed from view, the girl's eyes followed him
then, with a look of dreaminess in her eyes, she walked slowly
back to Greenwood, so abstracted by her thoughts that she
spoke not a word to the attendant hound.

Whatever might be the inclination of the girl, her mother
gave her little chance to dream in the next few days. Not
merely was there much about house and garden to be brought
into order, but Mrs. Meredith succeeded in bargaining their
standing crop of grass in exchange for a milch cow, and to
Janice was assigned both its milking and care, while the
chickens likewise became her particular charge. From stores
in the attic the mother produced pieces of whole cloth, and
Janice was set at work on dresses and underclothes to resupply
their depleted wardrobes. Not content with this, Mrs. Meredith
drew from the same source unspun wool and unhatchelled
flax, and the girl was put to spinning both into thread and yarn,
that Peg might weave them into cloth, against the need of winter.
From five in the morning till eight at night there was
occupation for all; and so tired was the maiden that she gladly
enough heard her mother's decree that their small supply of
candles should not be used, but that they should go to bed
with the sun.

They were thus already asleep by ten o'clock one August
evening, when there came a gentle knocking on the back door,
which, after several repetitions, ceased, but only to be resumed
a moment later on the front one. Neither summons receiving
any attention, a succession of pebbles were thrown against
Janice's window, finally bringing the sleeper back to wakefulness.
Her first feeling, as she became conscious of the cause,
was one of fear, and her instinct was to pay no attention to the
outsider. After one or two repetitions, however, of the disquieting
taps, she stole to the window, and, keeping herself hidden,
peeped out. All she could see was a man standing close
to a shrub, as if to take advantage of its concealment, who
occasionally raised an arm and tossed a pebble against the
panes. Really alarmed, the girl was on the point of seeking
her mother, when her eyes took in the fact that Clarion was
standing beside the cause of her fright, and seeking, so far as
he could, to win his attention. Reassured, the girl raised the
sash, and instantly her father's voice broke upon her ears.

"Down with ye, Jan," he said, "and let me get under
cover."

Both anxious and delighted, the girl ran downstairs and
unbarred the door.

"I had begun to fear me that I had been misinformed and
that ye and your mother were not hereabout," the squire began;
"so 't is indeed a joy to find ye safe." And then, after
Mrs. Meredith had been roused, he explained his presence.
"Though I could not get back to ye in Philadelphia, no worry
I felt on your account, making sure that Lord Clowes would
look to your safety. An anxious week I had after the army
reached New York, till I received Colonel Brereton's letter telling
me of your safety, though that only assured me as to the
past, and I knew that any moment the rascally Whigs might
take to persecuting ye again."

"Nay, Lambert," said Mrs. Meredith, "not a one has offered
us the slightest annoyance. On the contrary, some of
thy tenants have tendered us food in payment of rent, though I
own that they insist upon hard bargains."

"I would I had as little complaint to make," responded the
husband. "No sooner did Clinton reach New York than my
appointment was taken from me, and but for Phil's kindness I
should like to have starved. Though with little money himself,
the boy would let me want for nothing, and but for him I
should not even have been able to be here to-night"

"How was that, dadda?" asked Janice.

"'T is not to be whispered outside, Jan, but some of these
same rebel Jerseymen--ay, and the Connecticut Yankees--
much prefer the ring of British guineas to the brustle of the worthless
paper money of the Whigs, so almost nightly boat-loads of
provisions and forage steal out of the Raritan for New York,
but for which the British army would be on short commons.
Phil, who knew of this traffic, secured me passage on one of
the empty boats."

"Then the villagers know thou hast returned?" exclaimed
Mrs. Meredith, anxiously.

"Not they, for those in the business are as little anxious to
have it known they have been in New York as I am to have it
advertised that I am here at Greenwood, and there is little
danger that either of us will blab."

"Had Lord Clowes arrived in New York, Lambert?" inquired
Mrs. Meredith.

"That he had, and in a mighty dudgeon he was at first
against all of us: with ye for what he took offence at in Philadelphia,
and with me because I hold to my promise to Phil.
But when he had word that I was coming here, he sought me
out in a great turn-over, and said if I brought ye back to New
York his house should be at our service, and that we should
want for nothing. There is no doubt, lass, that he loves ye
prodigious."

The girl shivered, August night though it was, but merely
exclaimed, "You 'd not think of making us go to New York
when we are under no necessity?"

"Not I, now that I know ye to be well off, which I feared ye
were not. The nut to crack is to know whether I hadst best
find safety by returning to New York, to live like a pauper on
Phil, or seek to lie hid here for a three-months."

"And why three months, Lambert?" asked his wife.

"'T is thought that will serve to bring about a peace. Have
ye not heard how this much-vaunted alliance with France has
resulted? The French fleet and soldiers, united to a force
under Sullivan, attempted to capture the British post at Newport,
but oil and vinegar would not mix. The Parley-voos
wanted to monopolise all the honour by having the Americans
play second fiddle to them, but to this they 'd not consent; and
while the two were quarrelling over it, like dogs over a bone, in
steps the British, drubs the two of them, and carries off the
prize. That gone, they've set to quarrelling as to whose fault
it was. The feeling now is as bitter against the French as
't was against the British, and 't is thought that with this end to
their hopes from the frog-eaters, they'll be glad enough to
make a peace with us, the more that their paper money, the
only thing that has kept them going this long, loses value daily,
and they will soon have nothing with which to pay bills and
soldiers."

"Thou hadst best stay here, Lambert," advised Mrs. Meredith.
"'T will be more comfortable for thee, and far happier
for us."

"Remember that I run the risk of capture, wife."

"Thou canst be kept concealed from all but Peg and Sukey,
who are as faithful as we."

"And I am sure if by chance you were discovered," suggested
Janice, haltingly, "that Colonel Brereton would--would
--save you from ill treatment."

"Colonel Brereton?"

"Ay, Lambert," spoke up Mrs. Meredith, as her daughter
looked appealingly to her. "There is something yet to be
told, which has won us a strong friend who would never permit
thee to suffer. Colonel Brereton, to whom we owe all our
present safety, has declared his attachment to Janice, and
seeks her--"

"Small doubt he has," derisively interjected the squire. "I
make certain that every rebel, seeing the game drawing to a
close, is seeking to feather his nest."

"Nay, Lambert. 'T is obvious he truly loves our--"

"He may, but it shall not help him to her or her acres,"
again interrupted the father. "The impudence of these Whigs
passes belief. I hope ye sent him off with a bee in his breeches,
Matilda."

"That we did not," denied Mrs. Meredith. "Nor wouldst
thou, hadst thee been with us to realise all his goodness to us."

"Well, well," grumbled the father, resignedly, "I suppose
if the times are such that we must accept favours of the rebels,
we must not resent their insults. But 't is bitter to think of our
good land come to such a pass that rogues like this Brereton
and Bagby should dare obtrude their suits upon us."

"Oh, dadda," protested Janice, pleadingly, "'t was truly no
insult he intended, but the--the highest--he spoke as if--as
if--There was a tender respect in his every word and action,
as if I might have been a queen. And I could not--Oh,
mommy, please, please, tell it for me!"

"'T is best thou shouldst know at once, Lambert, that Janice
favours his wooing."

"What!" roared the squire, looking incredulously from
mother to daughter, and then, as the latter nodded her head,
he cried, "I'll not believe it of ye, Jan, however ye may wag
your pate. Wed a bondman! Have ye forgot your old pledge
to me? Where 's your pride, child, that ye should even let
the thought occur to ye?"

"But he is well born, dadda, far better than we ourselves,
for he told me once that his great-grandfather was King of
England," cried the girl, desperately.

"And ye believed the tale?"

"He would not lie to me, dadda, I am sure."

"Why think ye that?"

"Oh--he never--loving me, he never--can't you understand?
He 'd not deceive me, dadda."

"Ye 're the very one he would, ye mean, and small wonder
he takes advantage of ye if ye talk as foolishly to him as to me.
Have done with all thought of the fellow and of his clankers
concerning his birth. Whate'er he was, he is to-day a run-away
bondservant and--"

"But, dadda, he is now a lieutenant-colonel and--"

"Of what? Where 's the honour in being in command of the
riff-raff of the land? Dost not know that the most of their
officers are made out of tapsters and tinkers and the like? Does
it make a tavern idler or a bankrupt the less of either, that a
pack of dunghills choose to dub him by another title? Once
peace and law are come again, this same scalawag Brereton, or
Fownes, or whatever he will then be, must return to my service
and fulfil his bond, with a penalty of double time to boot.
Proud ye'd be to see your spouse ordered to field or stable
work every morning by my overseer!"

"'T would grieve me, dadda," replied the girl, gently, "because
I know how proud he is, and how it would make him
suffer; but 't would not lessen my respect or--or affection for
him."

"What?" snorted Mr. Meredith once more. "Dost mean to
tell me that thy heart is in this?"

"I--indeed, dadda," stammered Janice, colouring, "until--
until this moment I thought 't was only for yours and mommy's
sakes--though at times puzzled by--by I know not what
--but now--"

"Well, out with it!" ordered the squire, as his daughter
hesitated.

Janice faltered, then hurried to where her father sat, and,
throwing herself on her knees, buried her face in his waistcoat.
Something she said, but very sharp ears it needed to resolve the
muffled sounds into the words, "Oh, dadda, I'm afraid that I
care for him more than I thought."

"What!" for a third time demanded Mr. Meredith. "'T is
not possible I hear ye aright, girl. Why, a nine-months ago ye
were beseeching me, with your arms about my neck, to fulfil
my word to Phil."

"But that was because I feared Lord Clowes," eagerly explained
Janice, with her face withdrawn from its screen; "and
then I did not love--or at least did not dream that I did."

"Pox me, but I believe Clowes is right when he says the
sex are without stability," growled the squire, irascibly. "Put
this fellow out of your thoughts, and remember that ye were
promised long since."

"Oh, dadda, I want to be dutiful, and obedient I promise to
be, but you would not have me marry with my heart given elsewhere.
You could not be so cruel or--"

"Cease such bibble-babble, Jan. 'T is for your own good I
am acting. Not merely is this fellow wholly beneath ye in
birth and fortune, besides a rebel to our king, but there are facts
about him of which ye have not cognisance that should serve to
rouse your pride."

"What?"

"What say ye to an intimacy twixt this same Brereton and
Mrs. Loring?"

With the question the girl was on her feet, yet with down-hung
head. "He--I know he does not care for her," she
declared.

"Ye know nothing of the kind," retorted the squire. "I
bear in my pocket a letter from her to him of so private a
nature that she would not trust it to a flag, because then it must
be read, which Lord Clowes brought to me with the request that
I would in some way smuggle it to him."

"That means little," said Janice.

"And what say ye to his meeting her in New York, for that
is the purpose of her letter to him?"

"How know you that?" cried Janice.

"Because she writ on the outside that the commander at
Paulus Hook had been sent orders to pass him to New York."

"That proves no wrong on his part," answered the girl, her
head proudly erect. "Nor will I believe any of him." And
without further words she went from the room. But though
she went to bed, she tossed restless and wakeful till the sun
rose.


LII
SCANT WELCOME FOR MAN AND BEAST

The concealment of the master of Greenwood proved
easy affair, for it was now the harvest season and
the neighbouring farmers were far too engaged by
their own interests to have thought of anything else,
while the four miles was distance sufficient to deter the villagers
from keeping an eye on the daily household life. For their
own comfort, a place of concealment was arranged for the
squire in the garret behind the big loom; but thus assured of
a retreat, he spent his time on the second floor, his only precautions
being to avoid the windows in daylight hours and to
keep Clarion at hand to give warning of any interloper.

In the next few days Mrs. Meredith twice reverted to the
subject of their midnight discussion, but each time only to find
her husband unyieldingly persistent that Janice was pledged to
Philemon, and that if this bar did not exist, he would never
countenance Brereton's suit. As for the girl, she shunned all
allusion to the matter, taking refuge in a proud silence.

In September an unexpected event brought the difficulty to
a crisis. One evening, after the work of the day was over, as
they sat in Mrs. Meredith's room, waiting for the dusk to
deepen enough for beds to become welcome, a creak of the
stairs set all three to listening, and brought Clarion to his feet.
Though no repetition of the sound followed, the dog, after a
moment's attention, dashed out of the room and was heard
springing and jumping about, with yelps betokening joyful
recognition of some one. Reassured by this, yet wishing to
know more, Janice hurried into the hall. Coming from the
half-light, it was too dark for her to distinguish anything, so
she was forced to grope her way to the stairs; but other eyes
were keener, and Janice, without warning, was encompassed by
a man's arms, which drew her to him that his lips might press
an eager kiss upon hers.

"Who is it?" whispered the pilferer, after the theft.

"Oh, Colonel Brereton!" exclaimed the girl, in an undertone;
"I knew at once, but--"

"Forgive me if I frightened you, sweetheart," begged the
officer, softly. "I could not resist the impulse to surprise you,
and so tied my horse down the road a bit, that I might steal in
upon you unaware."

"But what brings you?" questioned the girl, anxiously.

Brereton, with a touch of irritation, answered: "And you can
ask? Even my vanity is forced to realise you waste little love
on me that you need explanation. Sixty miles and over I
have rid to-day solely that I might bide the night here, and
not so much as a word of welcome do you give me. But I
vow you shall love me some day even as I love you; that
you too shall long for sight of me when I am away, and caress
me as fondly when I return."

"I did not mean that I was not glad to see you," protested
the maiden; "but--I thought I thought you could not
leave the army."

"Know then, madam," banteringly explained the lover,
"that the court-martial which has been trying Lee for his conduct
at Monmouth has come to a verdict, which required
transmission to Congress, for confirmation, and as I enjoy
nothing better than two hundred and forty miles of riding in
September heats and dust, I fairly went on my knees to his
Excellency for permission to bear it. And now do you ask
why I wished it? Do I not deserve something to lighten the
journey? Ah, my sweet, if you care for me a little, prove it
by once returning me one of my kisses!"

"With whom art thou speaking, daughter?" demanded Mrs.
Meredith, losing patience at the continuance of the dialogue
she could just realise.

"'T is I, John Brereton, Mrs. Meredith," spoke up the intruder,
"come in search of a night's lodgings."

[Illustration: "I love you for your honesty, Janice."]


The information was enough to make the squire forget
prudence, in the spleen it aroused. "Have done with your
whispered prittle-prattle, Jan, and let me have sight of this
fellow," he called angrily.

"Mr. Meredith! you here?" cried the officer, springing to
the doorway, to make sure that his ears did not deceive
him.

"Ay, and no wonder 't is a sad surprise to ye," went on
Mr. Meredith, irascibly. "There shall be no more stolen
interviews--ay, or kisses--from henceforth, ye Jerry Sneak!
Come out of the hall, Janice, and have done with this courting
by stealth."

"I call Heaven to witness," retorted Jack, hotly, "if once
I have acted underhand; and you have no right--"

"Pooh! 't is not for a jail-bird and bond-servant and rebel
to lay down the right and wrong to Lambert Meredith."

"Oh, dadda--" expostulatingly began Janice.

"What is more," continued the father, regardless of her
protest, "I'll have ye know that I take your behind-back
wooing of my daughter as an insult, and will none of it."

"Is it prudent, Lambert, needlessly to offend Colonel
Brereton?" deprecated Mrs. Meredith.

"Ay. Let him give me up to the authorities," sneered the
husband. "'T will be all of a piece with his other doings."

"To such an imputation I refuse to make denial," said
Brereton, proudly; "but be warned, sir, by the trials for
treason now going on in Jersey and Pennsylvania, what fate
awaits you if you are captured. Even I could not save you,
I fear, after your taking office from the king, if you were
caught thus."

"Wait till ye 're asked, and we'll see who first needs help,
ye or I," retorted the squire. "Meantime understand that
I'll not have ye at Greenwood, save as a bond-servant. My
girl is promised to a man of property and respectability, and
is to be had by no servant who dare not so much as let the
world know who were his father and mother!"

It was now too dark to distinguish anything, so the others
did not see how Brereton's face whitened. For a moment he
was silent, then in a voice hoarsely strident he said: "No man
but you could speak thus and not pay the full penalty of his
words; and since you take so low an advantage of my position,
further relations with you are impossible. Janice, choose between
me and your father, for there can be but the one of us
in your future life."

"Oh, Jack," cried the girl, imploringly, "you cannot--if
you love me, you cannot ask such a thing of me."

"He puts it well," asserted Mr. Meredith. "Dost intend
to obey me, child, or--"

"Oh, dadda," chokingly moaned Janice, "you know I have
promised obedience, and never will I be undutiful, but--"

The aide, not giving her time to complete the sentence,
vehemently exclaimed, "'T is as I might have expected!
Lover good enough I am when you are in peril or want, but
once saved, I am quickly taught that your favours are granted
from policy and not from love."

"'T is not so," denied the girl, indignantly yet miserably;
"I--"

"Be still, Jan," ordered the father. "Think ye, sir, Lambert
Meredith's daughter would ever bring herself to wed a no-name
and double-name fellow such as ye? Here is a letter I
fetched to ye from that--Mrs. Loring: take it and go to
her. She's the fit company for gentry of your breed, and not
my girl."

"Beg of me forgiveness on your deathbed, or on mine, and
I'll not pardon you the words you have just spoken," thundered
the officer; "and though you stand on the gallows itself I will
not stir finger to save you. Once for all, Janice, take choice
between us."

"'T is an option you have no right to force upon me," responded
the girl, desperately.

"Ay, pay no heed to what he says, Jan. Hand him this
letter and let him go."

"If he wants it, he must take it himself," cried Janice.
"I'll not touch her letter."

The indignant loathing in the tone of the speaker was too
clearly expressed not to be understood, and Brereton replied
to it rather than to her words. "I tried to speak to you of
her--to tell you the whole wretched story, when last I saw
you, but I could not bring myself in such hap--at such an
hour--the moment was too untimely--and so I did not.
Little I suspected that you already knew the facts of my
connection with her."

"Despite the proof I myself had, I have ever refused to
credit when told by others what you have just owned," declared
the girl. "Nor will I listen to you. From the first I
scorned and hated her, and now wish never to hear of the
shameful creature again."

Without a word the officer passed into the hall, and began
the descent. Before he had reached the foot of the stairs
Janice was at its head.

"You'll not go without a good-by, Jack," she pleaded.
"Obey dadda I ought--but--Oh, Jack--I will--if you
will but come back--Yes, I will kiss you."

Brereton halted and clutched the banister, as if to prevent
either departure or return, and could the girl have seen the
look on his face she would have been in his arms before he
had time to conquer himself. But in doubt as to what the
pause indicated, she stood waiting, and after a moment's
struggle Jack strode through the hallway and was gone. So
long as his footsteps could be heard Janice stood listening to
them, but when they had died out of hearing she went into
her own room, and the parents heard the bolt shot.

There was something in the girl's eyes the next morning
which prevented either father or mother from recurring to the
scene, and time did not make it easier; for Janice, with a
proudly sad face, did her tasks in an almost absolute silence,
which told more clearly than words her misery. Probably the
matter would have eventually been reopened, but two days
brought a new difficulty which gave both Mr. and Mrs. Meredith
something else for thought.

Its first warning was from the hound, who roused his master,
as he dozed in an easy-chair one sleepy afternoon, by a growl,
and the squire's own ears served to tell him that horsemen
were entering the gate. The women on the floor below also
heard the sounds, and with a call to make sure that the
refugee was seeking his hiding-place, the mother and daughter
hurried to the front door to learn what the incursion might
portend.

From the porch they could see a half-dozen riders in uniform,
who had drawn rein just inside the gateway, while yet
another, accompanied by two dogs, rode up to where they
were standing.

"'T is General Lee," exclaimed Mrs. Meredith, as he came
within recognising distance. "Probably he wishes a night's
lodging."

It was far from what the officer wanted, as it proved; for
when he had come within good speaking distance he called
angrily, "Ho! ye are there, are ye, hussy? Still busily seeking,
I suppose, to be a pick-thanks with those in power by
casting ridicule on those they are caballing to destroy."

"I know not the cause for thy extraordinary words, General
Lee," replied Mrs. Meredith, with much dignity, "and
can only conclude that a warm afternoon has tempted thee
into a too free use of the bottle."

"Bah!" ejaculated Lee. "My bicker is not with ye, but
with your girl, who, it seems, has a liking for mischief and
slander."

"I am ignorant to what thee refers, sir, and cannot
believe--" began the mother.

"Deny if you can that she limned the caricature of me
which was handed about the theatre, and made me and my
dogs the laugh of the town for a week?" interrupted Lee.
"Only three days since I had a letter from a friend in Philadelphia,
telling me a journal of hers had been examined by
the council, and that therein she confessed it as her work."

"Indeed, General Lee," said Mrs. Meredith, apologetically,
"the child meant no--"

"I tell you I'm not to be mollified by any woman's brabble,"
blustered Lee. "I know 't is part and parcel of an attempt
to ruin my character. Even to this silly witling, all are endeavouring
to break me down by one succession of abominable,
damnable lies. The very court that has been trying
me would not believe that white was white as regards me, or
that black was black as regards this G. Washington, whom the
army and the people consider as an infallible divinity, when
he is but a bladder of emptiness and pride. I am now on
my way to get their verdict against me, and in favour of this
Great Gargantua, or Lama Babek--for I know not which to
call him--set aside, and I stopped in passing to tell you
that I--"

What the general intended was not to be known, for at this
point there came that which turned his thoughts. One of his
dogs, an English spaniel, neither interested in Janice's caricature
of Lee, nor in Lee's abuse of Washington, took advantage
of his master's preoccupation to steal into the house,--
a proceeding which Clarion evidently resented, for suddenly
from within came loud yaps and growls, which told only too
plainly that if there was no protector of the household from
the anger of the general, there was one who objected to the
intrusion of his dog. Scarcely had the sounds of the fight
begun than shrill yelps of pain indicated that one participant
was getting very much the worst of it, and which, was quickly
shown by the general roaring an oath and a command that
they stop the "murder of my Caesar." The din was too great
within, however, for Clarion to hear the order that both ladies
shouted to him, though it is to be questioned if he would have
heeded them if he had; and with another oath Lee was out of
his saddle and into the house, his riding-whip raised to take
summary vengeance.

Just as the general entered the hallway, the spaniel, wriggling
free from the hound's onslaught, fled upstairs, closely
pursued by the other dog, and after the two stamped the
officer. On the second floor the fugitive faltered, to cast an
agonised glance behind him, but sight of Clarion's open mouth
was enough, and up the garret stairs he fled. At the top he
once more paused, looking in all directions for a haven of
refuge; and seeing a man in the act of retreating behind the
loom in the corner, he fled to him for protection. When Lee
entered the garret, only Clarion, every bristle on end, was in
view, standing guard over a corner of the room; and striding
to him, the general lashed him twice with his riding-whip ere
the transgressor, with howls of surprised pain, fled. Then
Lee peered behind the loom in search of his favourite.

"Devil seize me!" he exclaimed. "What have we here?
Ho! a good find," he jeered, as he made out the squire. He
rushed to one of the windows, threw it up, and called a summons
to the group of horsemen, then came back as the squire
crawled from his retreat. "Little did I reck," gloated Lee,
"when I read at the tavern this very day the governor's proclamation
attainting you, that ye'd come to be my prize. And
poetic justice it is that I should have the chance to avenge in
you the insult of your daughter."


LIII
UNDER SHADOW OF THE GALLOWS

No prayer the women could make served to sway
Lee from his purpose, and without delay the
prisoner was mounted behind one of the escort,
taken to Brunswick, and handed over to the
authorities. When Mrs. Meredith and Janice, who followed
on foot, reached the town, it was to find that the squire was
to be carried to Trenton the next morning. A plea was made
that they should be permitted to accompany him, but it was
refused, and a bargain was finally made with the publican
to carry them.

The following evening saw them all in Trenton, Mr. Meredith
in jail, and the ladies once more at the Drinkers'. It
was too late for anything to be attempted that night; but early
the next day Mrs. Meredith, with Mr. Drinker, called on
Governor Livingston to plead for mercy.

"Had he come in and delivered himself up, there might
have been some excuse for special lenience," the Governor
argued; "but captured as he was, there can be none. The
people have suffered so horribly in the last two years that they
wish a striking example made of some prominent Tory, and
will not brook a reasonless pardon. He must stand his trial
under the statute and proclamation, and of that there can
be but one outcome."

When the suppliants returned with this gloomy prediction,
Janice, who held herself accountable for the calamity, primarily
by having secured the appointment of her father, and still
more by drawing the caricature which had brought such disaster,
was so overcome that for a time the mother's anxieties were
transferred to her. Realising this, after the first wild outburst
of grief and horror were over, Janice struggled desperately
to regain self-control; and when the two had gone
to bed, she successfully resisted her longing to give way once
more to tears, though no sleep came to her the night through.
Yet, if she brought pale cheeks and tired eyes to the breakfast
table, there was determination rather than despair in her
face and manner, as if in her long vigil she had thought out
some deliverance.

In what this consisted was shown by her whispered request
to Mr. Drinker, the moment the meal had been despatched,
to learn for her if Joe Bagby was in town, and to arrange
for an interview. Within the hour her emissary returned with
the member of Assembly.

"I suppose you have heard, Mr. Bagby, of my father's
capture," she said, without even the preliminary of a greeting.

"Yes, miss," said Bagby, awkwardly and shamefacedly;
"'t is news that did n't stop travelling, and 't was all over
Trenton before he'd been an hour in town. One way or
another, he and I have n't got on well, but I did n't wish him
or you any such bad luck, and I'm real sorry it 's come about."

"I wished to see you to ask--to beg," went on the girl,
"that you would persuade the Governor to set him free."

"But he'd not have the right to do that," replied Joe.
"He only can pardon the squire after the trial. And right
now I want to say that if you have n't settled on any lawyer,
I will take the case and do my best for your dad, and let you
take your own time as to paying me."

"Oh, Mr. Bagby," pleaded Janice, "Mr. Drinker is sure
that he will be convicted of treason. Can you not do something
to stop it?"

"I am afraid he is right, miss. About his only chance will
be for the Governor to pardon him."

"But only yesterday he said he should not," wailed Janice.
"Can you not persuade him?"

"Guess 't would be only be a waste of my time," answered Joe.
"He and I have disagreed over some appointments, and we
are n't much of friends in consequence. But aside from that,
he's a great trimmer for popularity, and the people just now
are desperate set on having the Tories punished."

"Don't say that," besought the girl. "Surely, if--if--
if I promise to marry you, cannot you save him?"

"If 't was a bridge to be built, or a contract for uniforms,
or something of that sort, I'd have real influence in the
Assembly; but I am afraid I can't fix this matter. The
Governor's a consarned obstinate man most times, and I don't
believe he'll listen to any one in this. What I can do, though,
if you'll just do what you offered, miss, will be to save your
property from all risk of being taken from you."

"Don't speak of it to me," cried Janice, wildly. "Do you
think we could care for such a thing now?"

"Property 's property," said Joe, "and 't is n't a good thing
to forget, no matter what happens. However, that can wait.
Now, about my being your lawyer?"

"I will speak to my mother," replied the girl, sadly, "and
let you know her wishes." And the words were so evidently
a dismissal that Bagby took his departure.

Without pausing to mourn over the failure, Janice procured
paper and pen, and set about a letter; but it was long in the
writing, for again and again the pages were torn up. Finally,
in desperation, she let her quill run on, regardless of form,
grammar, erasures, or the blurs caused by her own tears, until
three sheets had been filled with incoherent prayers and promises.
"If only you can save him," one read, "nothing you
ask of me, even to disobeying him, even to running off with
you, will I refuse. I will be your very slave." If ever a proud
girl humbled herself, Janice did so in this appeal.

The reading of the missive was begun the next day by an
officer seated in the "public" of the City Tavern of Philadelphia,
but after a very few lines he rose and carried it to
his own room, and there completed it. Then folding it up,
he thrust it into his pocket, once more descended the stairs,
and inquired of the tavern-keeper: "'T was reported that
General Lee came to town yesterday; dost know where he
lodges?"

"I hearn he was at the Indian King."

"Thanks," responded the questioner, and then asked:
"One thing more. Hast a stout riding-whip you can lend me
for a few minutes?"

"Ay, Colonel Brereton. Take any that suits you from the
rack."

The implement secured, the officer set out down the street,
with a look that boded ill for somebody.

Five minutes later, with one hand held behind his back, he
stood in the doorway of the public room of another ordinary,
arriving just in time to hear a man proclaim in stentorian
tones:--

"I tell ye, any other general in the world than General
Howe would have beat General Washington; and any other
general in the world than General Washington would have
beat General Howe."

"Hush!" said a man. "Here is one of his aides."

"Think ye I care?" roared Lee. "Colonel Brereton and
all others of his staff know too well the truth of what I say to
dare resent it. The more that hear me, the better."

Brereton strode forward to within three feet of Lee. "You
owe your immunity," he said, struggling to speak quietly,
"to the very man you are abusing, for not one of his family
but would have challenged you after your insulting letters to
him, had not General Washington commanded us all to refrain,
lest, if any of his staff called you out, it should seem like his personal
persecution. Your conduct to him was outrage enough
to make me wish to kill you, but now you have given me a
stronger reason, and this time there is no high-minded man
to save you from my vengeance, you cur!" There was a
quick motion of Jack's arm, a swishing sound, and the whip
was furiously lashed full across the general's face.

Lee, white with rage, save where a broad red welt stretched
from ear to chin, staggered to his feet, pulling at his sword as
he rose, but his three companions united to restrain him.

"Take your satisfaction like a gentleman, sir," insisted one,
"and not like a tavern broiler."

"I shall see Major Franks within the hour," remarked Brereton,
"and have no doubt he will represent me. But if you
wish a meeting, you must act promptly, for I shall not remain
in the city later than noon to-morrow."

It was just after dawn the next morning that five horsemen
turned off from the Frankford road into a meadow, and
struck across it to a piece of timber on the other side. One
of them was left with the horses, and the remainder took
their way to an open spot, where the trees had been felled.
Here the four paired off; and the couples held a brief
consultation.

"I care not what the terms be," Brereton ended, "so long
as you secure the privilege of advancing, for one of us goes not
off the field unhurt."

The seconds held a conference, and then separated. Each
gave his principal a pistol, and stationed him so that they
stood some twenty paces apart.

"Gentlemen, with your weapons pointed groundward, on
the word, you will walk toward each other, and fire when it
pleases you," ordered Major Edwards. "Are you ready?
Go!"

The duellists, with their pistol hands dropped, walked steadily
forward, one, two, three, four, five strides.

"'T is murder, not satisfaction, they seek!" ejaculated
Franks, below his breath.

Another and yet another step each took, until there was
not twenty feet between the two; then Lee halted and coolly
raised his arm; one more step Brereton took as he did so,
and not pausing to steady his body, his pistol was swung upward
so quickly that it flashed first. Lee's went off a second
later, and both men stood facing each other, the smoking
barrels dropped, and each striving to see through the smoke
of his own discharge. Thus they remained for a moment,
then Lee dropped his weapon, staggered, and with the words,
"I am hit," went on one knee, and then sank to the ground.

Brereton walked back to his original position, and stood
calmly waiting the report of his second, who, with Edwards,
rushed to the wounded man's assistance.

"He is struck in the groin," Franks presently informed
him; "and while not dangerous, 't will be a month before he's
good for anything."

"You mean good for nothing," replied Jack. "I meant
to make it worse, but must rest content. As I told you, I
ride north without delay, so will not even return to the city.
Thank you, David, for helping me, and good-by."

Five hours later, Lee was lying in the Pennsylvania hospital,
and Brereton was riding into Trenton. Without the loss of a
moment, the aide sought an interview with the Governor,
clearly with unsatisfactory results; for when he left that
official his face was anxious, and not even tarrying to give
his mare rest, he mounted and spurred northward, spending
the whole night in the saddle. Pausing at Newark only to
breakfast, he secured a fresh horse, and reached Fredericksburg
a little before nightfall. Seeking out the commander-in-chief,
he delivered certain papers he carried; but before the
general could open them, he said:--

"Your Excellency, I wish speech with you on a matter of
life and death. To no other man in the world would I show
this letter, but I beg of you to read it, sir, and do what you
can for my sake and for theirs."

Washington took the sheets held out to him and slowly
read them from beginning to end. "'T is a sad tale the poor
girl tells," he said when he had finished; "but, my boy,
however much I may pity and wish to aid them, my duty to
the cause to which I have dedicated my life--"

"Ah, your Excellency," burst out Jack, "in just this one
instance 't will surely not matter. A word from you to Governor
Livingston--"

Washington shook his head. "I have ever refrained from
interfering in the civil line," he said, "and one breaking of
the rule would destroy the fabric I have reared with so much
pains. If I have gained influence with the people, with the
army, and with the State officials, it is because I have ever
refused to allow personal considerations to shape my conduct;
and that reputation it is my duty to maintain at all hazards,
that what I advise and urge shall never be open to the slightest
suspicion of any other motive than that of the public
good. It is a necessity which has caused me pain in the
past, and which grieves me at this moment, but I hold a
trust. Do not make its performance harder than it need be."

"Do I not deserve something at your hands, sir? Faithfully
I have served you to my uttermost ability."

"You ask what cannot be granted, Brereton; and from
this refusal I must not recede. Now leave me, my boy, to
read the despatches you have brought."

There was that in the general's manner which made impossible
further entreaty, and the aide obeyed his behest.
Yet such was the depth of his concern that he made a second
appeal, two days later, when he brought a bunch of circular
letters to the State governors, concerning quotas of provisions,
which he had written, to his chief for signature.

"Will you not, sir," he implored, "relent and add a postscript
to Governor Livingston in favour of mercy for Mr.
Meredith?"

"I have given you my reasons, Brereton, why I must not,
and all further petitions can but pain us both." Washington
signed the series, and taking the sand-box, sprinkled the wet
ink on each in turn. "Seal them, and see that they fail not
to get into the post," he ordered calmly. Yet as he rose to
leave the room, he laid his hand affectionately on Jack's
shoulder, and said: "I grieve not to do it, my boy, for your
sake and for hers."

The aide took the chair the general had vacated, and
began mechanically the closing of the letters; but when that
to the Governor of New Jersey was reached, he paused in the
process. After a little, he took from his pocket Janice's
frantic supplication, and reread it, his face displaying his response
to her suffering. "And ten words would save him,"
he groaned. His eye sought once more the unsealed letter,
and stared at it fixedly. "At worst it will be my life, and
that is worth little to me and nothing to any one else!" He
snatched a pen hastily, dipped it in the ink, but as he set the
tip to the paper, paused, his brow clouded. "To trick him
after all his generosity!" For a trice Jack hesitated. "He
stands too high to be injured by it," he exclaimed. "It
hurts not the cause, while 't will kill her if they hang him."
Again he set pen to the paper, and wrote a postscript of four
lines below Washington's name. "'T is the devil's work, or
her good angel's, that I had the writing of the letters, so the
penmanship agrees," he muttered, as he folded and sealed it.
Gathering up the batch, he gave a reckless laugh. "I said
I'd not lift finger to save him from the rope, and here I am
taking his place on the gallows. Well, 't is everything to do
it for her, scorn and insult me as they may, and to die with the
memory that my arms have held and my lips caressed her."


LIV
A GAIN AND A LOSS

It was two days of miserable doubt which Janice spent
after despatching her letter to Brereton. Then something
Mr. Drinker told his daughter brought some
cheer to the girl.

"Friend Penrhyn informed me that Colonel Brereton rode
into town this afternoon, Tabitha," he said, at the supper
table; "yet, though I went to the tavern to bespeak his company
here this evening, I could not get word of him. 'T is
neglectful treatment, indeed, of his old friends, that three times
in succession he should pass through without dropping in upon
us."

"He may still come, father," suggested Tabitha; and more
than she spent the evening in a state of expectancy. But
bedtime arrived; and the morrow came and went without
further news of him who had now become Janice's sole hope,
and then she learned that he had ridden northward.

"I knew his temper was hot," she sobbed in her own room,
"but never did I believe he could be so cruel as to come and
go without word or sign."

From the trial, which occurred but three days after this crushing
disappointment, the public were excluded, not even Mrs.
Meredith and Janice being permitted to attend. The result,
therefore, was first brought them by Bagby, who, though his
services had been refused by Mr. Meredith, had succeeded in
being present.

"The squire's lawyer," he told them, "was n't up to a trick
or two that I had thought out, and which might have done
something; but he made a pretty good case, if he could n't
save him. Morris's charge was enough to convict, but every
juryman was ready to vote 'Guilty' before the Chief Justice
had so much as opened his mouth."

"Is there nothing to do?" cried Mrs. Meredith.

"I'll see the Governor, and I'll get my friends to see him,"
promised Bagby; "but don't you go to raising your hopes,
for there is n't one chance in a hundred now."

Once again Mrs. Meredith sought interview with Livingston,
but the Governor refused to even see her; and both Mr.
Drinker's and Bagby's attempts succeeded little better, for
they could only report that he declined to further discuss
the matter, and that the execution was set for the following
Friday.

Abandoning all hope, therefore, Mrs. Meredith wrote a letter,
merely begging that they might spend the last night with
Mr. Meredith in the jail; and when the next morning she
received a call from the Governor, she only inferred that it was
in relation to her plea.

"It has been far from my wish, Mrs. Meredith," Livingston
said, "to bring suffering to you more than to any one else,
and the position I have taken as regards your husband was
only that which I deemed most for the good of the State, and
most in accord with public opinion. The vipers of our own
fireside require punishment; your husband had made himself
one of the most conspicuous and unpopular of these by the
office he held under the king, and no reason could I discover
why he should not reap the punishment he fitly deserved.
But this morning a potent one was furnished me, for I received
a letter from General Washington, speaking in high
terms of Mr. Meredith, and expressing a hope that we will not
push his punishment to the extreme of the law. It is the first
time his Excellency has ever ventured an opinion in a matter
outside of his own concern, and I conclude that he believes
stringent justice in this case will injure more than aid our
cause; and as the use of his name furnishes me with an explanation
that will satisfy the Assembly and people of this
State, I can be less rigorous. That you should not endure
one hour more of anxiety than need be, I have hurried to you,
to tell you that I shall commute his sentence to imprisonment
with the other political prisoners in Virginia."

The scene of gratitude and joy that ensued was not describable,
and some hours passed before either mother or daughter
became sufficiently composed to take thought of the future.
Then, by permission of the jailer, they saw Mr. Meredith and
discussed the problem before them. Neither wife nor daughter
could bear the thought of again being separated from the
squire, and begged so earnestly to be allowed to share the
half-captivity, half-exile, that had been decreed him, that he
could not deny them, the more that his own heart-strings in
reality drew the same way, and only his better judgment was
opposed to it.

"'T will be a hard journey, wife," he urged, "and little
comfort we're like to find at the end of it. For me there can
be no escape, but 't is not necessary that ye should bear it, for
't is to be hoped ye can live on at Greenwood, as ye have
already."

"We should suffer more, Lambert, in being separated from
thee."

"Oh, dadda, nothing could be worse than that," cried
Janice, her arms about his neck.

"Have your way, then," finally acceded their lord and
master.

This settled, they set about such preparations as were possible.
From Mr. Drinker a loan of five thousand dollars--
equal to a hundred pounds, gold--was secured, and a bargain
struck with a farmer to bring from Greenwood such supplies
of clothes as Mrs. Meredith wrote to Sukey to pack and send.
To most the prospect would not have been a cheering one,
but after the last few days it seemed truly halcyon, and Janice
was scarcely able to contain her happiness. She poured her
warmest gratitude and thanks out in a letter to Washington,
which would have surprised him not a little had he ever received
it, but the mail in which it went was captured, and
it was a British officer in New York who ultimately read it.
Nor did this effusion satisfy her.

"Oh, mommy," she joyfully bubbled, as they were preparing
for bed, "was there ever a greater or nobler or kinder
man than General Washington?"

And though the first frost of the season was forming crystals
on the panes, she knelt down in her short night-rail on a
lamb's wool rug, so small that her little feet rested on the cold
boards, and prayed for the general as he had probably never
been prayed for,--prayed until she was shivering so that her
mother interfered and ordered her to come to bed.

Her prayers were far more needed by some one else.
From the commission of his wrong, Brereton made it a point
to meet the post-rider as he trotted up to headquarters each
afternoon, and on the third day after the action of the Governor,
he found in the mail a letter which told him of the success
of his trick. While he was still reading, Colonel Hamilton
came to him with a message that Washington desired his
presence and, squaring his shoulders and setting his mouth as
if in preparation for an ordeal, Jack hastened to obey, though,
as he came to the closed doorway he hesitated for a moment
before he knocked, much as if his courage failed him.

Upon entrance, he found his superior striding up and down
the room, a newspaper in his hand, and without preliminary
word the general gave expression to his obvious anger.

"I would have you know, Colonel Brereton," sternly he
began, "that I am not the man to overlook disobedience of
my orders, nor pass over, without a rebuke, such disrespect as
you have shown me."

"I do not deny that your Excellency has cause for complaint,"
replied Jack, steadily; "and in acting as I did I was
fully prepared for whatever results might flow from it, even the
penalty of life itself; but, believe me, sir, my chief grief will
ever be the having deceived you, and my real punishment can
be inflicted by no court-martial you may order, but will be in
the loss of your trust and esteem."

"You speak in riddles, sir," responded Washington, halting
in his walk. "Cause for anger I have richly, for, as I told my
whole family, any challenge they might send General Lee
would, by the public, be ascribed to persecution. But you
know as well as I that your duel with him is no offence to
submit to a court-martial, and that you should pretend that I
have any such recourse is adding insincerity to the original
fault. You have--"

"That, sir, is a charge I indignantly deny," interrupted
Jack, warmly, "and I was referring--"

"No denial can justify your conduct, sir," broke in Washington,
wrathfully. "You have exposed me to the criticism
and misapprehension of the public. By your disregard of my
orders and my wishes, you have deservedly forfeited all right
to my favour or my affection."

"Your Excellency forgets--"

"I forget nothing," thundered the general. "'T is you
have forgotten the respect and obedience due me from all my
family and--"

"Think you an aide is but a slave," retorted Brereton, hotly,
"and that he possesses no right of independent action? Nor
did I conceive that your Excellency would ever judge me
unheard. I did--"

"The case is too palpable for--"

"Yet misjudge me you have, for I did not challenge Lee
because he had insulted you, but because he was shamefully
persecuting the woman I love."

Washington, who had resumed his angry pacing of the room,
once again halted. "Explain your meaning, sir."

"In your heat, your Excellency has clearly forgot the tale
Miss Meredith's letter told of General Lee's conduct as regards
herself and her father. With the feeling I bear for
her, human nature could not brook such behaviour, and it
was that for which I challenged him."

The general stood silent for a moment, then said, "I have
been too hasty in my action, Brereton, and have drawn a conclusion
that was not justified. I owe you an apology for my
words, and trust that this acknowledgment will end the misunderstanding."
He offered his hand, as he ended, to the aide.

"I thank your Excellency," answered Jack, "for your
prompt reparation, but before accepting it and taking your
hand, sir, it is my painful necessity to tell you that I have fully
merited all the anger you have expressed. Guiltless as I am
of fault as regards General Lee, I have committed a far greater
offence against you,--a wrong, sir, which, done with however
much deliberation, has caused me unending pain and remorse."

"Explain yourself, my boy," said Washington, kindly.

"Despite your decision, sir, I added a postscript in your
letter to Governor Livingston touching upon the case of Mr.
Meredith, and made you express a good opinion of him and a
recommendation that he be dealt with leniently. I now hold
in my hand a letter from a Trenton friend informing me that
this recommendation induced the Governor to commute the
death sentence into imprisonment. It is but the news I
awaited before informing your Excellency of my breach of trust;
and I should have made full confession to you within the hour,
had you not sent for me, as I supposed, to charge me with
this very treachery. And 't was this of which I was thinking
when I spoke expectingly of a court-martial."

During the whole explanation, Washington had stood fixedly,
his brows knit, and when the aide paused, he said nothing for
a minute; then he asked:--

"Has there been aught in the past, sir, to have made me
merit from you such a stab?"

"None, sir," answered Jack, gravely. "And whatever reason
I can find for the action in my own heart, there is nothing
I can offer in its defence to you."

Washington sat down at his desk and leaned his head on
his hand. "Is it not enough," he said, "that Congress is
filled with my enemies, that the generals on whom I must
depend are scheming my ruin and their own advancement,
but that even within my own family I cannot find those who will
be faithful to me? My God! is there no one I can trust?"

"Your Excellency's every word," said Jack, with tears in
his eyes, "cuts me to the heart, the more that nothing you can
say can increase the blame I put upon myself. I beg of you,
sir, to believe me when I say that, be your grief what it may, it
can never equal mine. And I beg that if my past relations to
you plead ever so little for a merciful judgment of my conduct,
you will remember that my betrayal was committed from no
want of affection for you, but because one there was, and but
one alone, whom I loved better."

Washington rose and faced Brereton, his self-control regained.
"Your lapse of duty to the cause we are engaged in,
sir, and my sense of it, make it out of the question that I
should ever again trust you; it is therefore impossible for me
longer to retain you upon my staff. But your loyalty and past
service speak loudly in your favour, and I shall not, therefore,
push your public punishment further than to demand your
resignation from my family, and so soon as there is a vacancy
among the officers of the line you will take your place according
to the date of your commission. The wrong you have
done me personally is of a different nature, and ends from this
moment the affection I have borne you and such friendship as
has existed between us."


LV
PRISONERS OF WAR

The Governor had warned the Merediths that the removal
to Charlottesville must await the chance of an
empty army transport, or other means of conveyance,
and for more than a month they waited, not
knowing at what hour the order would come.

Finally they were told to be ready the following morning;
and at daybreak the three, with a guard, were packed into a
hay cart, the larger part of the townsfolk collecting to view
their departure. Nor did Mr. Bagby, who had made a number
of calls upon them in the interval, fail to appear for a
good-by.

"Just you remember, miss," he urged, "that my arguments
and General Washington's was what saved your dad, and that
I can still do a lot to save your property. Don't forget either
that I'm going to go on rising. Only think it over well, and
you'll see which side your bread is buttered on, for, if you are
mighty good-looking, you 're no fool."

"Thank you, Mr. Bagby, for everything you have done or
tried to do," replied the girl; and the squire, who had heard
the whole speech, said nothing, though the effort to remain
silent was clearly a severe one.

"Whither do we go first?" asked Mrs. Meredith of the
driver, after the ferry-boat had left the Jersey shore and the
spectators both behind.

"Our orders is to take you to Reading, an' hand you over
to the officer in charge of the Convention snogers, pervided
the last detachment hev n't left theer; if they hev, we are to
lick up till we overtake them."

"What regiment is that?" questioned Janice.

"Guess ye 're a bit green on what 's goin' on," chuckled
one of the guard. "Them 's poppy-cock, hifalutin, by-the-grace-of-God
an' King Georgie, come-in-an'-surrender-afore-we-extirpate-yer,
Johnny Burgoyne's army, as did a little capitulatin'
themselves. We've kep' 'em about Boston till we've
got tired of teamin' pork an' wheat to 'em, an' now we're
takin' 'em to where the pigs an' wheat grows, to save us money,
an' to show 'em the size of the country they calkerlated to
overrun. I guess they'll write hum that that job 's a good
one to sub-let, after they've hoofed it from Cambridge to
Charlottesville."

The departure had been well timed, for when they drove
into Reading, about five, long lines of men, garbed in green or
red uniforms, were answering the roll-call as a preliminary to
having quarters for the night assigned to them in the court-house,
churches, and school. After much search, the officer in
command was found, and the prisoner turned over to him, to
his evident displeasure.

"Heavens!" he complained, "is it not bad enough to move
two thousand troops, a third of whom no man can understand
the gibberish of, to say nothing of General de Riedesel's wife and
children, but I must have other women to look out for? I wish
that Governor Livingston would pardon less and hang more!"

Unpromising as this beginning was, it proved a case of growl
and not of bite, for the colonel speedily secured a night's lodging
for them in a private house, and the next morning made a
place for the two women beside the driver of one of the carts
of the baggage train, the squire being ordered to march on
foot with the column.

[Illustration: "Don't move!"]

The journey proved a most trying one. The November
rains, which wellnigh turned the roads from aids into obstacles,
so impeded them that frequently they were not able to compass
more than six or seven miles in a day, and it sometimes
happened, therefore, that they were not able to reach the village
or town on which they had been billeted, and were compelled
to spend the night in the open fields, often with scanty
supplies of provisions as an additional discomfort. From the
inhabitants of the villages and farms, too, they met with more
kicks than ha'pence. Again and again the people refused to
sell anything to those whom they considered their enemies,
and some even denied them the common courtesy of a drink
of water. The chief amusement of the children along the
route was to shout opprobrious or derisive epithets as they
passed, not infrequently accompanied with stones, rotten
apples, and now and then the still more objectionable egg.
The squire's opinion of Whiggism went to an even lower pitch,
but his womenkind bore it unflinchingly and uncomplainingly,
happy merely in the escape from greater suffering.

As for Janice, she took what came with such merriness and
good cheer that she was soon friends not merely with a number
of their fellow-companions in misery, the British and Brunswick
officers, but with the officers of their escort of Continental
troops, and they were all quickly vying to do the little they
could to add to the Merediths' comfort and ease. Of the
miserable lodgings, whether in town or field, they were sure to
be given the least poor; no matter how short were the
commons, their needs were supplied; at every halting-place
they received the first firewood cut; and time and again some
one of the officers dismounted that Mr. Meredith might take
his place in the saddle for an hour.

The girl made a yet more fortunate acquaintance on a night
of especial discomfort and privation, after they had crossed the
Pennsylvania boundary and were well into the semi-wilderness
of the Blue Ridge Mountains. A washed away bridge so
delayed their morning progress that they had advanced only
a little over five miles, and were still four miles from their
appointed camping ground, when the first snowstorm of the
season set in, and compelled them to bivouac along the road-side.
The ration issued to each prisoner on that particular
afternoon consisted of only a half-pound of salt pork and a
handful of beans; and as she had frequently done before,
Janice set out to make a tour of the straggling farms of the
neighbourhood, in the hope of purchasing milk, eggs, or other
supplies to eke the scanty fare. At the first log cabin she
came to she made her request, and for a moment was hopeful,
for the woman replied:--

"Yes. I have eggs and milk and chickens, and vegetables
in a great plenty, but--"

"And what are your prices?"

"--But not a morsel of anything do you get. You come
to our land to kill us and to waste our homes. Now it is our
turn to torment you. I feed no royalists."

Her second application drew forth an even sterner rebuff,
for the housewife, before Janice had said half of her speech,
cried, "Be off with you, you Tory! think you I would give
help to such nasty dogs?"

The third attempt was equally futile, for she was told:
"Not for a thousand dollars would I give you anything, and if
you would all die of hunger, 't would be so much the better."

The maiden was long since too accustomed to this treatment
to let it discourage her, and in her fourth essay she was more
fortunate. While the woman was refusing, the farmer himself
appeared upon the scene, and moved by pity, or perhaps by the
youth and beauty of the petitioner, vetoed his wife's decision,
and not merely filled her pail with milk, but added a small
basket of eggs and apples, declining to accept the one hundred
dollars in Continental bills she tendered.

Her quest had taken Janice nearly two miles away from her
quarters, and in returning with this wealth she was compelled
to pass the length of the encampment. This brought her
presently to a large tent, from which issued the sobs of a child,
intermixed with complaints in French of cold and hunger, with
all of which a woman's voice was blended, seeking to comfort
the weeper.

On impulse, the girl turned aside and looked through the
half-closed flap. Within she saw a woman of something over
thirty years of age, with a decidedly charming face, sitting on a
camp-stool with a child of about three years old in her arms
and two slightly older children at her feet, from one of whom
came the wails.

"We do not know each other, Madame de Riedesel," Janice
apologised in the best French she could frame, "but Captain
Geismar and others have told me so much about you that I--
I--" There Janice came to a halt, and then in English,
colouring as she spoke, she went on, "'T is mortifying, but
though I thought I had become quite a rattler in French, the
moment I need it, I lose courage."

"Ach!" cried Madame de Riedesel. "Nevair think. I
speak ze Anglais parfaitement. Continuez."

"I was passing," explained Janice, mightily relieved, "and
hearing what your little girl was saying, I made bold to intrude,
in the hope that you will let me share my milk and eggs
with the children." As she spoke, Janice held out to each of
the three a rosy-cheeked apple, and the sobs had ended ere
her explanation had.

"Ah!" cried the woman, "zees must be ze Mees Meredeez
whom zay told me was weez ze waggons in ze rear, and who,
zay assure me, was a saint. Zat must you be, to offer your
leettle store to divide with me. Too well haf I learned how
difficile it ees to get anyzing from zeese barbarians."

"They are hard, madame," explained Janice, "because
they deem us foes."

"But women cannot be zare enemies, and yet ze women ze
worst are. Ma foi! Weez ze army I kept through ze wilderness,
ze bois, from Canada, and not one unkind or insult did
I receef, till I came to where zere were zose of my own sex.
Would you beleef it, in Boston ze femme zay even spat at me
when I passed zem on ze street. And since from Cambridge
we started, when I haf wished for anyzing, my one prayer zat
it shall be a man and not a woman I must ask it has been.
Ze women, I say it weez shame, are ze brutes, and ze men, zay
seek to be gentle, mais, helas! zay are born of ze women!

Janice, pouring half her milk into an empty bowl that was
on the table, and dividing her eggs, smiled archly as she said,
"I fear, then, that my call is not a welcome one, since, helas!
I am a woman."

The baroness spilled the little girl from lap to floor as she
sprang to her feet and clasped the caller in her arms. "You
are une ange," she cried," and I geef you my lofe, not for now,
but for ze all time for efer."

The acquaintance thus begun ripened rapidly. In her
gratitude for the kindness, Madame de Riedesel, who had a
roomy calash and a light baggage waggon, insisted that Janice
and Mrs. Meredith should quit the springless army van in the
rear and travel henceforth with the advance in one or the
other of her vehicles, giving them far greater ease and comfort.
Sometimes the children were sent with the baggage, and the
three ladies used the calash, but more often Janice and
Madame de Riedesel rode in it, with a child on each lap,
and one sandwiched in between them, and the squire took
the empty seat beside Mrs. Meredith in the waggon.

A second generosity of the new friend was her quickly offering
to share with them the large officer's marquee that her
husband's rank had secured for her, with the comfortable beds
that formed a part of her camp equipment; and as they had
hitherto been cramped into a small field tent, with only
blankets and dead leaves laid on the frozen ground to sleep
upon, the invitation was a still greater boon. Close packing
it was, but the weather was now so cold that what was lost in
space was made up for in warmth.

It was early in January that they finally reached their destination,
--an improvised village of log huts, some two miles
from Charlottesville, named Saratoga, from the capitulation
that had served to bring it into being; but so far as the
Merediths were concerned, it meant a change rather than a
lessening of the privation. The cabin to which they were
assigned consisted of one windowless room, and was without
a chimney. They were necessarily without furniture, their
sole stock beyond their own clothing being a few blankets and
cooking utensils, which they had brought with them. Nor
were they able to purchase much that they needed at the
neighbouring town, for their cash had been seriously depleted
by what they had bought in Trenton, and by the expenses of
the march, while what was left had shrunk in value in the two
months' march from fifty dollars to seventy-five dollars, paper,
for one in gold.

Seeking to make the best of it, the three set to work diligently.
From a neighbouring mill slabs were procured, which,
being cut the right length and laid on logs, were made to do
for beds, and others served to make an equally rough table.
Sections of logs were utilised for chairs, and the squire built
a crude fireplace a few feet from the doorway. At best, however,
the discomfort was really very great. Even with the
door closed, the cabin was cold almost beyond the point of
endurance, and if it was not left open, the only light that came
to them was through the chinks of the logs. Yet their suffering
was far less than that of the troops, for many of the huts were
unfinished when they arrived, and with three feet of snow on
the ground, most of them were compelled to roof their own
quarters and even in some cases entirely build them, as a first
step to protection.

General de Riedesel, who had gone before his wife with the
first detachment, that he might arrange a home in advance,
had rented "Colle," the large house of Philip Mazzei, close to
the log barracks. Madame de Riedesel was therefore at once
in possession of comfortable quarters, and upon hearing from
Janice how they were living, she offered her a home with them.

"Come to us, liebling," she begged. "Ze children zay
lofe you so zat almost jealous I am; alreaty my goot husband
he says ze Mees Meredeez ees charmant, and I--ah, I neet
not tell it, for it tells itself."

"If it were right I would, Frederica, and I cannot thank
you enough for wanting me; but ever since mommy had the
fever she has not been really strong, and both she and dadda
need me. Perhaps though, if you and the children--whom
I dearly love--truly like me, you will help me in another
way?"

"And how?"

"I heard you complaining to Baron de Riedesel yesterday
of not being able to get a nurse. Will you not give me the
place, and let my pay be for us all to live in your garret?
We will make as little trouble--"

"Ach! Why deet I not it think before?" cried the baroness,
boxing her own ear. "Cochon! Brute! You come,
ma pauvre! Mais not as bonne, non, non."

"Indeed, Frederica, 't is the only way that we can. We
could not live upon you without in some way making a return,
and the paper money with which we furnished ourselves has
gone on falling till now 't is worth but a threepence in the
pound, so that we could not hope to pay for--"

"Bah! Who asks? You come as our guests; when you
had ze plenty of milk and eggs you shared it weez us, and so
now we share our plenty weez you. You, a proud girl, to be
a nurse, indeet!"

"'T is that pride which asks it, my dear. Ah, if you only
would let me! Mommy suffers so with the cold, and has
such a frightful cough, that every day I fear to see it become
a pneumonia, and--"

"Stop! I was ze wrong. Come as you please, a l'instant.
Ah, ze leettle ones, zay will go craze for joy; ze baron he will
geef no more eyes to ze wife who is losing her shape, and all
ze officairs, zay will say, 'Gott! How I lofe children!'
Mais, I will not angree be, but kiss you so, and so, and so.
And to all will I say, 'Voila, deet efer woman haf such a
frent for herself and such a second mutter for her children?'"


LVI
A LIFE OF CAPTIVITY

The removal to Colle was made the same day, and
Janice assumed her new charge. It was, as it
proved, not a very onerous one, for the children
were well mannered for their years, and, young as
they were, in the German method they were kept pretty
steadily at tasks, while an old servant of the general, a German
Yager, was only too delighted at any time to assume care of
them. Janice herself slept in the nursery, and at first Mr. and
Mrs. Meredith were given, as suggested, accommodation in the
garret. But the baron, not content with the space at his command,
as soon as the weather permitted, had built a large
dining-room and salon, separate from the house, and this
supplied so much more space that the parents were given a
good room on a lower floor.

The new arrangement not merely brought them comfort,
but also pleasure. Mr. and Mrs. Meredith were treated as
guests; and Madame de Riedesel made Janice quite as much
her own companion as an attendant on the children. With
her, once her nervousness was conquered, Janice talked
French entirely; and more for amusement than for improvement,
she began the study of German, with her friend as
instructor; and, having as well the aid of every Brunswick
officer, who only too gladly frequented the house, she was
soon able to both read and speak it, to the delight of the
baron, who preferred his native tongue; though his wife, German-born
as she was, could not understand how any one who
could talk French would for a moment willingly use any other
tongue. Furthermore, they taught each other the various
stitches in embroidery and crocheting each knew; and the
German, who was an excellent housewife, not merely made
Janice her assistant in the household cares, but, after expressing
horror that the girl knew nothing of accounts, spent many
hours inducting her into the mysteries by which she knew to
a farthing how her money was expended.

Although these were all pastimes rather than labours to
Janice, there were lighter hours in which she made a fourth
at whist, learned chess from the general, and played on the
harpsichord or sang to him. Once a week there was a
musicale, at which all who could play on any instrument contributed
a share, and dances and dinners were frequently
given by the Riedesels and by General Phillips, the major-general
in command of the British part of the Convention
prisoners. Horses in plenty were in the stable, and the two
ladies, well escorted by officers, took almost daily rides, the
baroness making herself a figure of remark to the natives by
riding astride her horse in a short skirt and long boots.

With the advent of summer, their pleasures became more
pastoral. So soon as the weather permitted, the gentry of
the neighbourhood came to call upon their foes, and this led
to much dining about. Then, too, there were out-of-door
fetes and picnics, oftentimes at long distances from the cantonment;
so that ere many weeks the Riedesels and the
Merediths had come to know both the people and the region
intimately.

A sudden end came to these amusements by an untoward
event. Janice and General de Riedesel had made the flower-garden
at Colle their particular charge, working there, despite
the heat, for hours each day, till early in August, when one
day the baron was found lying in a pathway unconscious, his
face blue, his hands white, and his eyes staring. He was
hurriedly carried into the house, and when the army surgeon
arrived, it was found to be a case of sunstroke. Though he
was bled copiously, the sufferer improved but slowly, and before
he was convalescent developed the "river" or "breakbone
fever." Finally he was ordered over the mountains to the
Warm Springs, to see whether their waters might not benefit
him; and, leaving Mr. and Mrs. Meredith in charge, the
baroness and Janice went with him, half as companions and
half as nurses.

Upon their arrival there, they found the Springs so crowded
that all the log cabins, which, by custom, fell to the first comers,
were already occupied. Declining an offer from one of these
to share lodgings, they set to work in a proper spot to make
themselves comfortable; for, having foreseen this very possibility,
they had come amply supplied with tents. Before they
had well begun on their encampment, two negroes in white
and red livery appeared, and the spokesman, executing a bow
that would have done honour to a lord chamberlain, handed
Madame de Riedesel a letter which read as follows:--

"Mrs. Washington preasent's her most respectful complements
to the Barones de Reedaysell, and her sattisfacshon at being informed
of her arival at the Springs. She beggs that if the
barers of this can be of aney a sistance to the Barones in setling,
that she will yuse them as long as they may be of sarvis to
her.

"Mrs. Washington likewise bespeeks the honer of the Baroneses
party to dinner today and beggs that if it will be aney conveenence
to her, that she will sup as well."

Both offers Madame de Riedesel was only too glad to accept;
and at the dinner hour, guided by the darkies, they made
their way to Lady Washington's lodgings, to find a plump,
smiling, little lady, who received them with much dignity,
properly qualified with affability. The meal was spread
underneath the trees, and they were quickly seated about
the table and chatting genially over it.

Once the newness was taken off the acquaintance, the
baroness made an appeal to the hostess for a favour. "Ah,
Laty Washington," she begged, "ze surgeons, zay declare my
goot husband he cannot recovair ze fevair in ze so hot climate,
and zat ze one goot for him will be zat he to New York restores
himself. I haf written ze prediction to Sir Henry Clinton,
applicating zat he secure ze exchange of ze baron immediatement,
mais, will you not also write to ze General Washington
and ask him, also, zees zing to accomplish?"

"I would in a moment, gladly, baroness," replied Mrs.
Washington, "but I assure you that the general would highly
disapprove of my interfering in a public matter. Do not
hesitate, however, to write yourself, for I can assure you he
will do everything in his power to spare you anxiety or
discomfort."

"Zen you zink he will my prayer grant?"

"I am sure he will, if it is possible, for, aside from his generous
treatment of every one, let me whisper to you that 't is
not a quality in his composition to say 'No' to a pretty
woman."

"Oh, no, Frederika," broke in Janice; "you need not
have the slightest fear of his Excellency. He is everything
that is kind and great and generous!"

"What!" exclaimed Mrs. Washington. "You know the
general, then?"

"Oh, yes," cried Janice, rapturously; "and if you but knew,
Lady Washington, how we stand indebted to him at this very
moment!"

The hostess smiled in response to the girl's enthusiasm.
"'T is certain he refused you nothing, Miss Meredith," she
said.

"Indeed, but he did," answered Janice, merrily. "Wouldst
believe it, Lady Washington, though perhaps 't is monstrous
bold of me to tell it, 't is he that has had to keep me at a
distance, for I have courted him most outrageously!"

"'T is fortunate," replied the matron, "that he is a loyal
husband, and that I am not a jealous wife, for 't is a way all
women have with him. What think you a Virginian female,
who happened to be passing through camp, had the forwardness
to say to me but t' other day? 'When General Washington,'
she writ, 'throws off the hero and takes up the chatty,
agreeable companion, he can be downright impudent sometimes,
Martha,--such impudence as you and I, and every
woman, always like.'"

"Ah," asserted Madame de Riedesel, "ze goot men, zay
all lofe us dearly. Eh, Janice?"

"What!" demanded the hostess. "Is your name Janice?
Surely this is not my nice boy Jack's Miss Meredith?"

The girl reddened and then paled. "I beg, Lady Washington--"
she began; but the baroness, who had noted her
change of colour, cut her off.

"You haf a lofer," she cried, "and nevair one word to me
told? Ach, ingrate! And your lofe I zought it was mine.

"Miss Meredith is very different, then, from a certain gentleman,"
remarked Mrs. Washington, laughingly. "I first
gained his confidence when he lay wounded at headquarters
winter before last; but once his secret was unbosomed, I could
not so much as stop to ask how he did but he must begin and
talk of nothing but her till he became so excited and feverish
that I had to check or leave him for his own good."

"Indeed, Lady Washington," protested the girl, her lip
trembling in her endeavour to keep back the tears, "once
Colonel Brereton may have thought he cared for me, but, I
assure you, 't was but a half-hearted regard, which long since
died."

"'T is thy cruelty killed it, then," asserted Mrs. Washington,
"for, unless my eyes and ears deceived me, never was there
more eager lover than--"

"'T is not so; on the contrary, he won my heart and then
broke it with his cruelty," denied the girl, the tears coming in
spite of herself. "I pray you forgive my silly tears, and do
not speak more of this matter," she ended.

"I cannot believe it of him," responded Lady Washington.
"But 't was far from my thought to distress you, and it shall
never be spoke of more."

The subject was instantly dropped; and though Janice saw
much of Lady Washington during their three weeks' stay at
the Springs, and a mutual liking sprang up between the two,
never again was it broached save at the moment that they
set out on their return to Colic, when her new friend, along
with her farewell kiss, said, "I, too, shall soon leave the Springs,
my dear, and journey ere long to join the general at headquarters
for the winter. Have you any message for him?"

"Indeed, but I have," eagerly cried Janice. "Wilt take
him my deepest thanks?"

"And no more?"

"If your ladyship were willing," said Janice, archly, "I
would ask you to take him my love and a kiss."

"He shall have them, though I doubt not he would prefer
such gifts without a proxy," promised Mrs. Washington, smiling.
Then she whispered, "And can I not carry the same to
some one else?"

"Never!" replied the girl, grave on the instant. "Once I
cared for him, but such feeling as I had has long since died,
and nothing can ever restore it."

Keenly desirous as the Merediths were for the well-being
of the Riedesels, it was impossible for them not to feel a pang
of regret when, one morning, the baroness broke the news to
them that Washington had yielded to her prayer, that her
husband and General Phillips had at last been exchanged, and
that they were to set out within the week for New York. Yet,
even in the departure, their benefactors continued their kindness;
for, having rented Colle for two years, they placed
the house at their disposal for the balance of the lease; and
when, after tearful good-byes had been made and they were
well started on their northern journey, Janice went to her
room, she found a purse containing twenty guineas in gold as
a parting gift from the general, a breastpin of price from the
baroness, and a ring from Gustava, with a note attached to it
in the English print which Janice had taught her, declaring her
undying affection and her intention to ask God to change her
to a boy that when she grew up she might return and wed her.

The months that drifted by after this departure were lean
ones of incident. Succeeding as they did to the ample garden,
poultry, pigs, and two cows which the baron had donated to
them, they were quite at ease as to food. The junior officers
who still remained in charge of the troops saw to it that they
did not want for military servants, thus relieving them of all
severe labour; and while they deeply felt the loss of the
Riedesels, there was no lack of company.

The void the departure of the baroness and children made
in Janice's life was partly filled by an acquaintance already
made which now grew into a friendship. Soon after their settlement
at Colle, Mrs. Jefferson, wife of the Governor, who lived
but a few miles away at Monticello, had come to call on them,
a visit which she was unable to repeat, owing to her breaking
health, but this very invalidism, as it turned, tended to foster
the intimacy. Her husband being compelled by public events
to be at the capital, she was much alone, and often sent over
an invitation to Janice to come and spend a few days with
her. As a liking for the girl ripened, it induced an attempt
to serve them.

"I have spoke to Thomas of your hard lot," she told Janice,
"and repeated to him enough of the tale you told me to
convince him that your father was not the active Tory he is
reputed to be, and have at last persuaded him to write to
Governor Livingston bespeaking a permission for you to return
to your own home, if your father will but give his parole to
take no part in public affairs."

"Oh, Mrs. Jefferson, how can we ever thank you?"

"I do not deserve it, believe me, Janice, for I long postponed
what I knew I ought to do, through regret at the
thought of losing your visits."

"That but deepens our thanks. If you--"

"I'll not listen to them now," replied the friend, "for who
can say that they will come to aught? 'T will be time enough
when it has really accomplished something."

Distant as they were from the active operations of the war,
the inmates of Colle were kept pretty well informed of its
progress, for it was a constant theme of conversation, and the
movements were closely followed on the military maps of the
officers who frequented the house. From them Janice heard
how Clinton, despairing of conquering the Northern colonies
by force of arms, had resorted to bribery, but only to win the
services of an officer he did not wish, and not the desired post
of West Point; and with tears in her eyes she listened to the
news that Andre, setting ambition above honour, had paid for
the lapse with his life. Then, as the tide of war shifted, it
was explained to her why the British general, keeping tight
hold on New York as a base for operations, transferred a material
part of his forces to the South, where, in succession, he
captured Savannah and Charleston, and almost without resistance
overran the States of Georgia and the two Carolinas.

"You see, Miss Meredith," she was told, "the yeomanry of
the Northern States are so well armed that we have found it
impossible to hold the country against their militia; but in
the Southern States, aside from the difference between the
energetic Northerners and the more indolent Sonthrons, the
long distances between the plantations, and the fact that the
gentry don't dare to trust their slaves with weapons, make
them practically defenceless. The plan now seems to be,
therefore, to wear the Northern colonies out by our fleet and
by occasional descents upon the towns of the coast, while we
meantime conquer the Southern States. Had it been adopted
from the first, the strength would have been sapped out of
the rebellion and it would have been ended two years ago;
but the new strategy cannot fail, even at this late date, to
bring them to their knees in time."

An evidence of the truth of this surmise, and an abrupt ending
to the peaceful life at Saratoga, came to the little settlement
in the first week of the year 1781, when a post rider
spurred into Charlottesville with a despatch to the County
Lieutenant of Albemarle announcing that a British fleet had
entered the Capes of the Chesapeake and seized the town of
Portsmouth, and summoning the militia to embody, for Virginia
was threatened with the fate which had already befallen
her sister States to the southward.


LVII
A PAPER MONEY AND MILITIA WAR

The alarm of the British invasion was sufficient to
throw the whole of Virginia into a panic, but especially
the neighbourhood about Charlottesville, for
it was inferred that one purpose of their coming
was to attempt to liberate the Convention prisoners. The cantonment,
therefore, was hastily broken up, and all the troops
were marched over the mountains to Winchester, or northward
into Pennsylvania, scarcely time for them to pack their few
possessions being accorded to them. From this deportation
the Merediths were excepted, for as political prisoners, no
mention of them was made in the orders issued by Washington
and the Virginia Council; and so Colonel Bland left them unmolested,
the sole residents of the once overcrowded village
of huts. The removal of the prisoners proved a needless precaution,
for, after remaining but a few days, the British fleet
retired, having effected little save to frighten badly the people,
but the apprehension subsided as quickly as it had come.

The hope of quiet was a false one, for in a few months a
second expedition, under the command of Arnold, sailed up
the James River and captured and burned Richmond. To
face this new enemy, to which the militia of the State were
deemed inadequate, Washington detached a brigade under the
command of Lafayette from the Northern army, supposing
the movement, like the previous one, a mere predatory expedition,
which could be held in check by this number of
troops; and upon news that General Phillips, with reinforcements,
had joined Arnold, he further despatched a second
brigade under Wayne.

Meantime, the force under Cornwallis, after overrunning
North Carolina, now suddenly swung northward and effected a
juncture with the British force in Virginia, raising it to such
strength that Lafayette dared not risk a battle, and was left no
option, as the British advanced inland, but to fall back rapidly
toward the mountains.

These latter events succeeded one another with such rapidity
that the people of Charlottesville first heard of some of them
by the arrival of Governor Jefferson and the members of the
Assembly, to which place they had voted an adjournment just
previous to their being forced to abandon the capital. Sessions
had scarcely been begun, however, when word was brought
that the enemy was within a few miles of the town, and once
again they took to their heels and fled over the mountains into
the Shenandoah valley, escaping none too soon, as it proved,
for Tarleton's cavalry rode into the streets of Charlottesville so
close upon what was left of the government of Virginia that
some of the members were captured.

The Merediths, two miles away at Saratoga, first heard the
news of these latter events from a captain of militia, who, accompanied
by six sullen-looking companions, rode up early on
the morning of the raid and sharply ordered the three to mount
the led horses he brought with him.

"I'm ridin'," he explained, "to collect the horses and alarm
the hundreds towards Boswell's, and the county lieutenant
ordered me to take you away from here. No, I can 't wait
to have you pack."

"'T is surely not necessary that we should be treated so,"
pleaded Mr. Meredith. "My wife has not the strength to bear
along--"

"Can 't help that. Like as not the British horse ha'n't had
word that the Convention troops have been sent away, and will
ride this far, and we reckon we can't have you givin' them no
information," answered the man. "I don 't want no talk.
Into the saddle with you."

Protests and prayers were absolutely unavailing, and the
whole party hurriedly set off at the best pace the horses were
able to go. As they journeyed, a halt was made at each cabin
and each plantation, and every white man found was summarily
ordered by the captain to get his gun and join the party; while
at each place all the horses were impressed, not merely to
carry those unprovided with one, but to prevent their falling
into the hands of the foe. Nor did the captain pay more heed
to the expostulations and grumblings of the men, at being
called away from their crops at the busiest farming season, nor
of the women, at being deprived of their protectors in times of
such danger, than he had to the weaker ones of the Merediths.

"The invasion law just passed by the'sembly calls out every
man as can fight, and declares every one as won't a traitor, so
you can take your choice of shootin' at the British or bein' shot
by us," was the captain's unvarying formula, be the complaints
what they might.

As if to make the ill feeling the greater, too, he told the
whole party at one point of the route, "If you-alls had been
patriots and 'listed four weeks ago, you 'd every one of you've
got a bounty of five hundred dollars of the money my saddle-bags
is filled with; but you had n't spunk, so it serves you-ails
good and handsome that now you've got to fight for 'nary a
shillin'."

"We would n't have been a tinker's damn the richer if we
had," snarled one of the unwilling conscripts. "I'd rather
have a pound of hay than the same weight in cursed state
money, for you can feed the hay to a hoss, but I'm consarned
if t' other 's good for anythin'."

"Say, cap," asked a second, "has you ralely got them
saddle-bags o' yourn filled with the stuff?"

"Ay. The presses were at Charlottesville busy strikin' it,
and I was told to help save what was already printed
from capture."

"Lord! the British would n't have seized that, with all the
cord wood there is in Charlottesville, to say nothin' of grind-stones
and ploughs and chimbleys built of brick and other
things of value," asserted the original speaker.

"Might come handy along of all the terbacker they've took
down to Petersburg. Do to light a pipe with, I reckon," suggested
another.

"Say, cap," again spoke up the second speaker, "the
raison as why I asked that there question is that we'll be
gettin' to Hunker's ordinary at the four corners right smart
off now, and I was calculatin' if you had enough of the rags
with you to set us up a drink all round? 'T won't cost more 'n
ten thousand dollars if Hunkers ain't in an avaricious mood."

The officer had been absolutely inattentive to the complaints
and growls, but the quizzing made him lose his
temper. "You-alls shut your jaws, the lot of you, or when
we reach the roundyvous this evenin' I'll report you to
the kurnel and you'll get the guard-house or worse," he
threatened. "I'm danged if I don't believe every one of
you-alls is a Tory at heart."

"A little more o' this'll make me one," muttered a man
who hitherto had been silent, but he spoke so low as to be
heard by his fellow unfortunates only, and not by the captain.

"Don 't talk to me of the tyranny of Britain after this!"
responded his immediate neighbour.

The militia officer would have done better to let the dissatisfaction
find its vent in jokes; for, deprived of this outlet,
the malcontents took to whispering among themselves in
a manner that boded ill for something or somebody. But
he was too busy securing each new recruit and each horse
to give attention to the signs that might have warned him.

A rude awakening came to the captain when the motley
cavalcade drew up at the ordinary at the cross-roads, for as
he was in the act of dismounting, two of the party, who had
been more expeditious in their movements, caught him by the
leg as he swung it clear of the saddle, and brought him violently
to the ground. He was held in that position while his
hands and feet were tied with his own bridle, as many of the
men as could get about him assisting in the operation, while
the remainder, the Merediths excepted, kept up a chorus of
approving remarks, or of gibing and mocking comments on
the officer's half-smothered menaces and oaths. Once secured,
he was dragged to the guide-post, and with his stirrup
straps was fastened to it securely. This done, his saddle-bags
were pulled off his horse and the paper money was emptied
out and heaped about his feet. Meantime, and as an evidence
of how carefully every detail of their revenge had been
planned, one of the ring-leaders had disappeared into the
tavern, and now returned with a lighted brand.

"You can threat and cuss all you hanker," he chuckled.
"If we ain't to have no bounty, we'll give you some of ourn,"
he added malignantly, as he stooped and set fire to the pile
of bills.

"Oh, don't!" screamed Janice. "Dadda, stop them!

"For shame!" echoed Mr. Meredith, swinging out of his
saddle, in which hitherto he had remained a passive spectator.

"Hands off," warned the torch-bearer, "if you don't want
to be tied alongside of him."

There was nothing to do, and the ladies were only able to
turn their backs on the sight; but they could not thus escape
the howls of terror and pain that the miserable victim uttered,
though the squire sought to save them from this by taking
hold of the two bridles and leading their horses away.

This movement served to attract their attention to something
hitherto not observed, and which the absorption of the
militia in their revenge still prevented them from noting. On
the road by which they had come arose a thick cloud of dust,
out of which horsemen seemed to be riding, but, though they
came on at a hand gallop, the screen, swept onward by the
breeze, kept pace with the riders, and even at times hid now one,
now all, from view, causing the squire, who first caught sight
of the phenomenon, to rub his eyes, that he might have assurance
that it was not a phantasm of his brain. Of this another
sense furnished quick evidence, for even above the jeers of the
torturers and the shrieks of the tortured sounded the clatter of
hoofs. At the first warning, cries of alarm escaped from many
mouths, and with the fright of guilt, there was a wild stampede
for the horses; before the half of them were in the saddle,
the thunder of a column of horse was close upon them, and
as, mounted and unmounted, they scattered, there came a rush
of red-coated troopers in amongst them. Loud above the
tumult and uproar came the sharp order,--

"Capture what men you can, but don't let a horse
escape!"

Mr. Meredith, the moment the militia had deserted the fire,
rushed forward, and with three kicks scattered the flaming
currency from about the man's legs,--a proceeding which
attracted the attention of the officer who gave the order.

"What is the meaning of this?" he demanded, but all the
reply he received was a startled exclamation which burst from
the squire.

"What!" he ejaculated. "Why, this passes very belief!
Pox me, if 't is not Phil Hennion."


LVIII
FROM BLUE RIDGE TO TIDE WATER

For a few moments the mingled exclamations, greetings,
and questions were too broken and mixed to tell any
of them much, but the first surprise over, the Merediths
explained their presence.

"I knew from the baroness that you were at Colle, and
bitter was the disappointment when I found you gone this
morning. But my grief then makes me but the happier now."

"But how came ye here, lad?" questioned the squire.

"We were sent on a raid to Charlottesville, with orders
to rejoin the main army at Point of Fork, and I was detached
by Colonel Tarleton this morning to take this route, hoping
to get more information concerning Lafayette's whereabouts
and movements."

"I heard this fellow," said Mr. Meredith, indicating the
still captive and moaning man, "who is a captain of militia,
tell the men he was draughting that they were to march, as
soon as embodied, to join the rebel army at Raccoon Ford."

"Hah! the junction with Wayne's force emboldens him
to show us something more than his back at last. 'T is all
I wish to learn, and we can now take the shortest road to
rejoin Lord Cornwallis. Strap me! but 't was a heaven-sent
chance that we should come just in the nick o' time to rescue
you. There shall be no more captivity, that I can promise
you." He turned to the now reassembled squadron, and
ordered, "Parole your prisoners, Captain Cameron, and let
them go. You, Lieutenant Beatty, bring up the best extra
mount you have, and arrange as comfortable a place as
possible for the ladies in one of the baggage-waggons."

"A suggestion, major," spoke up another officer. "Sergeant
McDonald reports that there is a chaise in the tavern
barn, and--"

"Put horse to it, and have it out before you set fire to the
buildings," interrupted Hennion.

"What!" ejaculated Mr. Meredith. "Art thou a major,
Phil?"

"Ay, squire. I've fought my way up two grades since last
we met."

There was a greater change in the officer than of rank, for
his once long and ungainly frame had broadened and filled
out into that of a well-formed, powerful man. His face, too,
had lost its lankness, to its great improvement, for the
features were strong, and, with the deep tan which the
Southern campaigns had given it, had become, from being
one of positive homeliness, one of decided distinction. But
the most marked alteration was in his speech and bearing, for
all trace of the awkward had disappeared from both; he
spoke with facility and authority, and he sat his horse with
soldierly erectness and ease.

The ladies were soon bestowed in the chaise, the bugle
sounded, and the flying column resumed its movement. Little
they saw of the commander all day, for he rode now with the
foremost troop, and now with the rear one, keenly alert to all
that was taking place, asking questions at each farmhouse as to
roads, bridges, rivers, distances, the people, and everything
which could be of value. Only when the heat of the day
came, and they halted for a few hours' rest at a plantation, did
he come to them, and then only for a brief word as to their
accommodation. He offered Mrs. Meredith and Janice the
best the house afforded, but, with keen recollections of their
own sufferings, they refused to dispossess the women occupants
from their home, and would accept in food and lodgings only
what they had to spare. Indeed, though as far as possible it
had been kept from their sight, the march had brought a
realising sense to them, almost for the first time, of the full
horror of the war, and made them appreciate that their own
experience, however bad they had deemed it, was but that of
hundreds. The day had been one long scene of rapine and
destruction. At each plantation they had seen all serviceable
horses seized, and the rest of the stock, young or old, slaughtered,
all provisions of use to the army made prize of, and the
remainder, with the buildings that held it, put to the torch, and
the young crops of wheat, corn, and tobacco, so far as time
allowed, destroyed. Under cover of all this, too, there was
looting by the dragoons, which the officers could not prevent,
try their best.

There was a still worse terror, of which, fortunately, the
Merediths saw nothing. Large numbers of the negroes took
advantage of the incursion, and indeed were encouraged by
the cavalry, to escape from slavery by following in the rear of
the column; and as the white men were either with the Virginia
militia, or were in hiding away from the houses, the
women were powerless to prevent the blacks from plundering,
or from any other excess it pleased them to commit. The Old
Dominion, the last State of the thirteen to be swept over by the
foe, was harried as the Jerseys had been, but by troops made
less merciful by many a fierce conflict, and by its own servitors,
debased by slavery to but one degree above the brute. Only
with death did the people forget the enormities of those few
months, when Cornwallis's army cut a double swath from tide
water almost to the mountains, and Tarleton's and Simcoe's
cavalry rode whither they pleased; and the hatred of the
British and the fear of their own slaves outlasted even the
passing away of the generation which had suffered.

It was on the afternoon of the following day that the detachment
effected a juncture with the main army, and so soon as
Major Hennion had reported, Lord Cornwallis, who was quartered
at Elk Hill, an estate of Jefferson's, sent word that he
wished to see Mr. Meredith at once, and extended an invitation
to them all to share the house. He questioned the squire
for nearly an hour as to the whereabouts of the Convention
prisoners, the condition of the State, and the feeling of the
people.

"All you tell me tallies with such information as I have procured
elsewhere," he ended; "and had I but a free hand I
make certain I could destroy Lafayette and completely subjugate
the State in one campaign."

"Surely, my Lord, you could not better serve the king. Virginia
has been the great hot-bed of sedition, and if she were
once smothered, the fire would quickly die out."

"Almost the very words I writ to Sir Henry, but he declares
it out of the question to leave me the troops with which to effect
it. As you no doubt are aware, a French force has been
landed at Rhode Island, and is even now on its march to join
Mr. Washington; and, by a fortunate interception of some of
his despatches to Congress, we have full information that the
united force intend an attack on New York. So I am ordered
to fall down to a good defensive post on the Chesapeake and
to send a material part of my army to his aid."

When finally the interview was ended, and Mr. Meredith
asked one of the aides to take him to his room, it was explained
that Mrs. Meredith and her daughter had been put in
one and that he was to have a share of another.

"You 'd have had the floor or a tent, sir," his guide told
him, as he threw open the door, "but for Lord Clowes saying
he'd take you in."

Surely enough, it was the commissary who warmly grasped
the squire's hand as he entered, and who cried, "Welcome to
ye, friend Meredith! I heard of your strange arrival from
nowhere, and glad I was to be assured ye were still in the
flesh and once more among friends."

"Ye've clear surprised my breath out of my windpipe,"
returned the squire. "Who 'd have thought to find ye here?"

"And where else should I be, but where there 's an army to
be fed, and crops to feed them? I' faith, never was there a
richer harvest field for one who knows how to garner it.
Why, man, aside from the captures of tobacco, now worth a
great price, and other gains, over six thousand pounds I've
made in the last two years, by shipping niggers, who think
they are escaping to freedom, to our West India islands, and
selling them to the planters there. This war is a perfect gold
mine.

"Little of that it 's been to me," lamented his listener.

"Ye can make it such, an' it please ye. She perceived me
not, but I saw your daughter as ye rode up, and though I
thought myself well cured of the infatuation, poof! one gloat
was enough to set my blood afire, as if I were but a boy of
eighteen again. Lord Clowes, with a cool ninety thousand, is
ready to make her fortune and yours."

"Nay, Clowes, ye know I've passed my word to Hennion,
and--"

"Who'll not outlive the war, ye may make sure. The
fellow 's made himself known through the army by the way he
puts himself forward in every engagement. Some one of
these devilish straight-shooting riflemen will release that
promise for ye."

"I trust not; but if it so falls, there 'd still be a bar to your
wish. The girl dislikes ye very--"

"Dost not know that is no bad beginning? Nay, man, see
if I bring her not round, once I have a clear field. I've
thought it out even now while I've waited for ye. We'll sail
for New York on one of the ships that carries Lord Cornwallis's
reinforcements to Clinton, and as 't will be some years
still ere the country is entirely subdued, out of the question
't will be that ye go to Greenwood. I will resign my post, being
now rich enough, and we'll all go to London, where I'll
take a big house, and ye shall be my guests. Once let the
girl taste of high life, with its frocks and jewels and carriages,
and all that tempts the sex, and she'll quickly see their provider
in a new light."

"'T is little ye know of my lass, Clowes."

"Tush! I know women to the very bottom; and is she
more than a woman?"

Their conference was ended by the call to supper, and in
the hallway the baron attempted as hearty a greeting with the
ladies as he had with the squire. Though taken by surprise, a
distant curtsey was all he gained from them, and do his best,
he could get little of their conversation during the meal.

On rising, Philemon, who had been a guest at table, drew
the squire to one side. "The legion is ordered on a foray to
destroy the military stores at Albemarle Court-house, and in
this hot weather we try to do our riding at night, to spare our
cattle, so we shall start away about eleven o'clock. His Lordship
tells me that the army will begin to fall down to the coast
in a day or two, so it may be a some time before I see you
again. Have you money?"

"A bare trifle, but I'll not further rob ye, lad, till I get to
the end of my purse.

"Do not fear to take from me, sir. A major's pay is very
different from a cornet's. 'T will make me feel easier, and, in
fact, 't will be safer with you than with me," Phil said, as he
forced a rouleau of coin into the squire's palm. Then, not
waiting for Mr. Meredith's protests or thanks, he crossed to
where Janice was talking with three of the staff and broke in
upon their conversation: "Janice, a soldier goes or stays not
as he pleases, but as the bugle orders, and there is more work
cut out for us, but this evening I am free. Wilt come and
stroll along the river-bank for an hour?"

"Dash your impudence, Hennion!" protested one of the
group. "Do you think you fellows of the cavalry can plunder
everything? Pay no heed to him, Miss Meredith, I beg of
you."

"Ay," echoed another, 't is the artillery the major should
belong to, for he'd do to repair the brass cannon."

The girl stood irresolute for a breath, then, though she
coloured, she said steadily, "Certainly, if you wish it,
Philemon."

While they were passing the rows of camp-fires and tents,
the major was silent, but once these were behind them he
said:--

"'T would be idle, Janice, to make any pretence of why I
wished to see you apart. You must know it as well as I."

"I suppose I do, Philemon," assented the girl, quietly.

"A long time we've been parted, but not once has my love
for you lessened, and--and in Philadelphia you held out a
little hope that I've lived on ever since. You said that the
squire held to his promise, and that--did you--do you still
think as you--"

"Have you spoken to dadda?"

"No. For--for I was afraid he'd force you against your
will. Once I was eager to take you even so, but I hope you
won't judge me for that. I was an unthinking boy then."

"We all make mistakes, Philemon, and would that I could
outlive mine as well as you have yours," Janice answered
gently.

"Then--then--you will?"

"If dadda still--Before I answer--I--something must
be told that I wish--oh, how I wish, for your sake and for
mine!--had never been. I gave--I tried to be truthful to
you, Philemon, but, unknown to myself, some love I gave to
--to one I need not name, and though I--though he quickly
killed it, 't is but fair that you should know that the little
heart--for I--I fear me I am cold by nature--I had to
give was wasted on another. But if, after this confession,
you still would have me for a wife, and dadda and mommy
wish it, I will wed you, and try my best to be dutiful and
loving."

"'T is all I ask," eagerly exclaimed Philemon, as he caught
her hand, and drew her toward him. "Ah, Janice, if you but
knew how I love--"

"Ho! there ye are," came the voice of the commissary not
five paces away. "I saw ye go toward the river, and followed."

"My Lord, Miss Meredith and I are engaged in a private
conversation, and cannot but take your intrusion amiss."

"Fudge, man, is not the night hot enough but ye must
blaze up so? Nor is the river-bank your monopoly."

"Keep it all, then, and a good riddance to the society you
enjoy it with. Come, Janice, we'll back to the house."

At the doorway Philemon held out his hand. "We ride
away while you will be sleeping, but 't is a joyous heart you
let me carry."

"I am glad if I--if you are happy," responded the girl,
as she let him press her fingers. Then, regardless of the
sentry, she laid her free hand on Phil's arm impulsively and
imploringly, as she added, "Oh, Philemon, please--whatever
else you are, please don't be hard and cruel to me."

"I'll try my best not to be, though 't is difficult for a
soldier to be otherwise; but, come what may, I'll never pain
or deny you knowingly, Janice."

"'T is all I beg. But be kind and generous, and I'll love
you in time."

Rub-a-dub went the drums, sounding tattoo, and the beating
brought several officers scurrying out of the house. Philemon
kissed the girl's hand, and hurried away to his squadron.

Two days the army remained encamped at the Fork, then
by easy marches it followed the river down to Richmond,
where a rest was taken. Once again getting in motion, it fell
back on Williamsburg and halted, for it was now the height
of summer, and the heat so intense that the troops were
easily exhausted. Finally, the British retired across the James
River, and took up a position at Portsmouth.

In the month thus spent, not once was Major Hennion able
to get a word with Janice, for Lafayette followed closely upon
the heels of the invaders until they were safe over the James,
and there was constant skirmishing between the van and rear
and two sharp encounters, which kept Tarleton's and Simcoe's
cavalry, when they had rejoined, fully occupied in covering
the retreat, while the Merediths and other loyalists who had
joined the army travelled with the baggage in the advance.

The occupation of Portsmouth was brief, for upon the
engineers reporting that the site was not one which could be
fortified, the British general put his troops on board of such
shipping as he could gather and transferred them bodily to
Yorktown. Here he set the army, and the three thousand
negroes who had followed them, leisurely to laying out lines
of earthworks, that he might hold the post with the reduced
number which would be left him after he detached the reinforcements
needed at New York, and despatched a sloop-of-war
to Clinton, with word that he but awaited the arrival of
transports to send him whatever regiments he should direct.

If Hennion, by his constant service at the front, was helpless
to assist his friends, Clowes, who was always with the
baggage train, was unending in his favours. He secured them
a stock of clothing, and assigned to them two admirable
servants from the horde of runaway slaves; he promptly procured
for them a more comfortable travelling carriage, and he
made their lodgings a matter of daily concern, so that they
always fared with the best, while his gifts of wine and other
delicacies were almost embarrassingly frequent. At Yorktown,
too, where the village of about sixty houses supplied but the
poorest and scantiest accommodations for both man and beast,
he managed to have the custom-house assigned for his own use,
and then placed all the rooms the Merediths needed at their
disposal. If Janice's preferences had been spoken and regarded,
everything he did in their behalf would have been declined;
but her mother's real need of the comforts of life, and
her father's love of them, were arguments too strong for her
own wishes, and by placing them under constant obligation to
the baron made it impossible for her not to treat him with
outward courtesy whenever he sought their company, which
was with every opportunity. Yet it was in vain that the commissary
plied her with his old-time arts of manner and tongue.
Even the slow mind of the squire took note that he gained no
ground with his daughter.

"'T is a tougher task ye've undertaken even than ye
counted upon," he said, one evening over the wine, as Janice
left the table at the earliest possible instant.

"Tut! give me time. I'll bring her around yet."

"I warned ye the maid had ye deep in her bad books."

"What 's a month? If a woman yields in that time, a man
may save himself the parson's fee, and it please him."

"Still, though she is a good lass in most things, I must own
to ye that she bath a strange vein of obstinacy in her, which
she comes by from her mother."

"Then I'll use that same obstinacy to win her. Dost not
know that every quality in a female is but a means by which
to ensnare her? Let me once know a woman's virtues and frailties,
and I'll make each one of them serve my suit."

"'T is more than a month ye've been striving to win her
regard."

"Ay; but for some reason, in Philadelphia I could ne'er
keep my head when with her, and as often went back as
forward, curse it! 'Better slip with foot than with tongue,'
runs the old saying, and I did both with her. I've learned
my lesson now, and once give me a clear field and ye shall
see how 't will be."

The squire shook his head. "She's promised to Major
Hennion, and after much folly and womanishness at last
she's found her mind, and tells me she will cheerfully wed
him."

"And how will the lot of ye live, man?" asked Clowes,
crossly. "Hast not had word that Jersey has enacted a general
act of forfeiture and escheatage 'gainst all Royalists?"

"That I'd not," answered the squire, pulling a long face.
"I suppose that has taken Greenwood from us?"

"Ay, for I saw the very advertisement of the sale, and
have not told ye before merely to spare you distress. And
't will strip Hennion of his acres as well, I take it. Wilt deliberately
marry her to a penniless man?"

"Boxely never was his, and I doubt not his scamp of a
father will find some way to save it to him. I'll not tarry
longer, for 't is ill news ye have just broke to me, and I must
carry it to Matilda. It gives us but a black future to which to
look forward."

Mr. Meredith gone from the room, the commissary took
from his pocket a copy of Gaines' "New York Gazette and
Weekly Mercury," which had come to him but that morning,
and re-read an account it contained, taken from the "New
Jersey Gazette," of the sale of Greenwood to Esquire Hennion.
"'T is my devil's ill luck that he, of all men, should
buy it," he muttered. "However, if I can but get them to
New York, away from this dashing dragoon, and then persuade
them to cross the Atlantic, 't will matter not who owns it."
He rose, stretched himself, and as he did so, he repeated the
words:--

             "I and chance, against any two;
              Time and I against chance and you."


LIX
TRAITORS IN THE REAR

On a broiling August day in the year 1781, an officer
rode along the Raritan between Middle-Brook and
Brunswick. As he approached the entrance of
Greenwood, he slowed his horse, and after a moment's
apparent hesitation, finally turned him through the gateway.
Once at the porch he drew rein and looked for a time at
the paintless clap-boards, broken window-panes, and tangle of
vines and weeds, all of which told so plainly the story of
neglect and desertion. Starting his steed, he passed around
to the kitchen door, and rapped thrice with the butt of a
pistol without gaining any reply. Wheeling about, he was
returning to the road when an idea seemed to come to him,
for, altering direction, he pulled on his bridle, and turned his
horse into the garden, now one dense overgrowth. Guiding
him along one of the scarcely discernible paths, he checked
him at a garden seat, and leaning in his saddle plucked half
a dozen sprays of honeysuckle from the vine which surmounted
it. He touched them to his lips, and gave his horse the spur.
He held the sprays in his hand as he rode, occasionally raising
them to his face until he was on the edge of Brunswick
village, then he slipped them into his sword sash.

Giving his horse into the hands of the publican at the
tavern, he crossed the green to the parsonage and knocked.
"Is Parson McClave within?" he inquired of the hired girl.

"Come in, come in, Colonel Brereton," called a voice from
the sitting-room; "and all the more welcome are you that I
did not know you were in these parts."

"My regiment was ordered across the river to Chatham last
week, to build ovens for the coming attack on New York, and
I took a few hours off to look up old friends," Brereton answered
in a loud voice. "Where can we safely talk?" he
whispered.

"I'll leave my sermon even as it is," said the presbyter,
"and it being hot here, let us into the meeting-house yard,
where we'll get what breeze comes up the river. Eager I
am to learn of what the army is about."

Once they were seated among the gravestones, the colonel
said "I need not tell you that five times in the last two months
the continental post-riders have been waylaid 'twixt Brunswick
and Princeton by scoundrels in the pay of the British. Only
once, fortunately, was there information of the slightest importance,
but 't is something that must be stopped; and General
Washington, knowing of my familiarity with this neighbourhood,
directed me to discover and bring the wretches to punishment.
Because I can trust you, I come to ask if you have any
information or even inkling that can be of service?"

"Surely, man, you do not suspect any one in my parish?"
replied the clergyman.

Brereton smiled slightly. "There is little doubt that the
secret Tories of Monmouth County are concerned; but there is
some confederate in Brunswick, who, whether he takes an
active share, supplies them with information concerning the
routes, days, and hours of the posts. I see, however, you have
no light to shed on the matter."

"'T is all news to me," answered the minister, shaking his head.
"I knew that there was some illicit trading with New York, but
that we had real traitors amongst us I never dreamed."

"Trap them I will, before many weeks," asserted the
officer. "If in no other way, I'll--"

The sentence was interrupted by the clang of the church
bell above them.

"Bless me!" cried McClave, springing to his feet. "Your
call has made me forget the auction, which, as justice of the
peace, I must attend."

"What auction?"

"For the sale of Greenwood under the statute."

The officer frowned. "I feared it when I read of the
passing of a general act of forfeiture and escheatage," he
muttered, "though I still hoped 't would not extend to them."

[Illustration: "Have I won?"]

Together the two men crossed the green to the town hall,
where now a crowd, consisting of almost every inhabitant
of the village and of the outlying farms, was assembled. The
officer, a scowl on his face, paused in the doorway and glanced
about, then threaded his way to where two negresses stood
weeping, and began talking to them. Meanwhile, the clergyman,
pushing on through the throng, joined Esquire Hennion
and Bagby, who for some reason were suspiciously eying each
other on the platform.

"I intend to bid on the property, McClave," announced
the Honourable Joseph, "so 't is best that the squire takes
charge of the sale."

"Thet 'ere is jes what I'm a-calkerlatin' ter do, likewise,"
responded Hennion, with an ugly glance at Joe, "so I guess
yer'll hev ter assoom the runnin' of the perseedins yerself,
paason."

There was a moment's consultation, and then Justice
McClave stepped forward and read in succession the text
of an act of the New Jersey Assembly, a proclamation of the
Governor, and an advertisement from the "New Jersey
Gazette" by which documents, and by innumerable whereases
and therefores, it was set forth that a state of war existed with
Great Britain; that sundry inhabitants of the State, forgetful
of their just duty and allegiance, had aided and abetted the common
enemy; that by these acts they placed themselves outside
of the laws of the commonwealth, their property became forfeited,
and was ordered sold for the benefit of the State; that the
property of one Lambert Meredith, who had been attainted, both
by proclamation and by trial, of high treason, was therefore within
the act; and, finally, that there would be sold to the highest
bidder, at the court-house of the town of Brunswick, on the
sixteenth day of August next ensuing, the said property of the
said Lambert Meredith; namely, "Two likely negro women,
who can cook and spin," and thirty thousand acres of choice
arable farm and wood lands under cultivation lease, with one
house, one stable, and corn-cribs and other outbuildings
thereto appertaining.

It took not five minutes to sell the sobbing slaves, the
tavern-keeper buying Sukey for the sum of forty-one pounds,
and the clergyman announcing himself at the end of the
bidding as the purchaser of Peg for thirty-nine pounds, six.

Then amidst a silence which told of the interest of the
crowd, the auctioneer read out a description of the bounds
and acreage of Greenwood, and asked for bids.

"Nine thousand pounds," instantly offered Bagby.

"Five hunded more," rejoined Hennion.

"Ten thousand," snapped Joe.

"Five hunded more," snarled his rival bidder.

"Eleven thousand," came Joe's counter bid.

"Thirteen thousand."

"And five hundred."

"Fifteen thousand."

Bagby hesitated, scowling, then said, "Sixteen thousand."

"Seventeen."

"Seventeen, five."

"Yer might ez waal quit, Joe," interjected Squire Hennion.
"I hez more 'n' yer hev, an' I intends ter buy it. Nineteen
my bid, pa'son."

"Twenty," burst out Joe, malignantly.

"Twenty-one."

"Twenty-five."

Hennion's face in turn grew red with anger, and he half
rose, his fist clinched, but recollecting himself he resumed his
seat.

"Going at twenty-five," announced McClave. "Will any
one give more?"

A breathless pause came, while Bagby's countenance assumed
a look of sudden anxiety. "I did n't say twenty-five," he
quickly denied; "I said twenty-two."

A wave of contradiction swept through the hall.

Nothing daunted, the honourable Joseph repeated his
assertion.

"He, he, he!" chuckled Hennion, "thet comes of biddin'
more money than yers hev."

"We'll call it twenty-two thousand," said McClave, "since
Mr. Bagby persists. Will you give any more?"

"One hunded more," said Hennion; and nobody offering
above him, it was knocked down at that price.

As the sale was declared completed, Bagby rose. "At
least, I made you pay double for it," he growled spitefully to
his competitor.

"Yer did, consarn yer," was Hennion's reply; but then a
smile succeeded the angry look on the shrewd face. "I did n't
pay more 'n a third of what 't is wuth, then."

"'T will be a dear buy, that I warn you," retorted Joseph,
angrily. "I'll pay you off yet for bidding me out of it."

"Yer be keerful what yer do, or I'll do some payin' off myself,"
warned Hennion.

Brereton, who had stayed through the sale, with a contemptous
shrug of the shoulders, walked over to the ordinary. Here
he ate a silent supper, and then mounting his horse set off on
his evening ride back to his regiment.

Half-way between Brunswick and Greenwood, while his
thoughts were dwelling on the day's doings, and on what effect it
would have on those far away in the mountains of Virginia, he
was brought back to the present by hearing his name called
in a low voice from behind a wall.

"Who 's that?" he demanded, halting his horse.

"Are you alone?"

"Yes," replied the officer, as he drew out a pistol from the
holster.

"No occasion for that, colonel," said Joe Bagby's unmistakable
accents, as the man climbed over the stones and came
forward. "It's me," he announced. "Just walk your horse
slow, so I can keep beside you, for I've something to tell you,
and I don't want to stand still here in the road."

"Well, what is it?" questioned Brereton, as he started his
horse walking.

"I rather guess you came to town on business, did n't you?"

"Perhaps."

"Might be something to do with the sale of Greenwood."

"Possibly."

"But more likely 't was something to do with public
matters?"

"Well?"

"What would you give to catch them as was concerned in
the killing of the post-riders?"

Not a motion or sound did Jack give to betray himself.
"That lies outside of my work," he said. "'T is the business
of the secret service."

"Do you mean that, if I can put you in the way of laying
hands on the whole gang, you won't do it?"

"If you choose to tell me what you know, I'll report it, for
what it 's worth, to headquarters, and General Washington will
take such actions as he judges fit."

"There won't be time for that," asserted Joe. "It's to-morrow
the thing 's to be played."

"What thing?"

"The robbing of the mail."

"How know you that?"

"Well, being in politics, colonel, I make it my business to
know most things that is happening in the county. Now,
I've been ferreting for some time to get at this post-riding
business, and at last I've found out how it 's done. And
they 're going to do it again to-morrow night just this side
of Rocky Hill."

For a moment Brereton was silent. "How is it done?"
he asked.

"It's this way. One of Moody's gang is working with
Squire Hennion as hired man; and when Hennion knows that
a rider is due, he drops into the ordinary, and, casual like,
finds out all he can as to when he rides on, and by what road.
Then he hurries off home and tells his man, and he goes
and tells Moody, who gets his men together and does the
business."

"I see. And how can we know where they set the ambush,
so as to set a counter one?"

"It's easy as can be. When they have the mail, it 's to
Hennion's barn they all goes, where they cut it open and takes
out everything as Clinton will pay for, and sends it off at once
on one of the boats of provisions as old Hennion is stealing
into New York two or three times a week."

"Ah, that 's where he's got the money to buy Greenwood,
is it?"

"Yes; I tell you he's a traitor if there ever was one, colonel.
But I guess he'll be nabbed now. All you've got to do is to
hide your men in the barn to-morrow night, and you'll take
the whole lot red-handed."

"And I suppose you tell me this to get your revenge for
this afternoon."

"Just a little, colonel; but don't forget I'm a patriot, who 's
always trying to serve his country. Now I'll tell you how
we'll do it. You bring your men down t' other side of the
river to Meegan's place; and as soon as it 's dark, I'll come
across the river in a sloop I own and will bring you right over
to Hennion's wharf, from which it will be easy to steal into
his barn without no one seeing us."

Brereton made no answer for a minute, then said, "Very
well; I'll adopt your plan."

"I suppose there'll be some reward coming to me,
colonel?"

"Undoubtedly," replied Jack, but with a twitch of contempt.
"Is that all?"

"That's enough to do the business, I guess," rejoined Joe.
"About nine clock I'll allow to be at Meegan's," he said.

Without a word of assent, Jack quickened his pace. When
he had gone fifty feet he looked back, but already the informer
had disappeared. "What dirty work every man must
do on occasion!" he muttered. "I'd suspect the scoundrel
but for what I heard this afternoon, and he has it all so pat
that he's probably been in it himself more or less. However,
it promises well; and 't will he a service of the utmost importance
if we can but break up the murdering gang and
bring them to justice, for 't is no time to have Clinton reading
all our secrets."

It was midnight when Brereton trotted into Chatham and
dismounting from his horse walked wearily into his tent.

His servant, sleeping on the floor, waked, and hastily rose.
"A despatch, sir, from headquarters," he said, taking a paper
from his pocket.

"When did it arrive?" demanded Jack, as he examined the
seal, to make sure that it had not been tampered with, and
then broke the letter open.

"Four hours ago, sir, by special courier.'

 What Brereton read was this:--

                         Headquarters, August 16, 1781.
Sir,--Should you have already taken steps looking to the
discovery and seizure of those concerned in the late robbing of the
mails, you will hold all such proceedings in abeyance until further
orders. For military reasons it is even desired that the post-bag
which will be sent through to-morrow should fall into the hands
of the enemy, and you will act accordingly. I have the honour
to be,
                      Yr. Obedt. hble Servt.
                                             Go. Washington.
To Colonel Brereton,
   Commanding the 3rd. New Jersey Regt.,
        Stationed at Chatham.

Jack whistled softly, then smiled, "Joe will have a long
wait," he chuckled. "I wonder what 's up."

He knew three days later, for orders came to him to put his
regiment in motion and march for Philadelphia, and the
bearer of the despatch added that the united forces of Washington
and Rochambeau were already across the Hudson and
would follow close upon his heels.

"We've made Sir Henry Clinton buy the information
that we intend to attack New York," the aide told him, "and
now we are off to trap Cornwallis in Virginia."


LX
THE SPINNING OF THE WEB

Owing to the impossibility of the horses of Tarleton's
and Simcoe's legions being ferried on the small
boats which transported the foot troops from Portsmouth
to Yorktown, they had been left behind the
rest of the army, with directions to put themselves on board
the frigate and sloops of war and effect a landing at Hampton
or thereabouts. This gave the commissary still more time
free from the presence of Major Hennion, but he had little
reason to think it of advantage to him. At meal hours, since
they had but one table, Janice could not avoid his company,
but otherwise she very successfully eluded him. Much of each
day she spent with her mother, who was ailing, and kept her
room, and she made this an excuse for never remaining in those
shared by all in common. When she went out of doors, which,
owing to the August heats, was usually towards evening, she
always took pains that the baron should not be in a position to
join her, or even to know of her having sallied forth. With
the same object, she generally, as soon as she left the house,
hurried through the little village and past the rows of tents of
the encampment on the outskirts and the lines of earthworks
upon which the soldiery and negroes were working, until she
reached the high point of land to the east, which opened on
Chesapeake Bay, where, feeling secure, she could enjoy herself
in the orchard of the Moore house, in the woods to the
southward, or with sewing or a book, merely sit on the extreme
point gazing off at the broad expanse of water.

She was thus engaged on the afternoon of the 28th of
August, when the rustle of footsteps made her look up from
her book, only to find that her precautions for once were
futile, as it was the commissary who was hastening toward
her.

"I needed this," he began, "to prove to me that you were
not a witch, as well as a bewitcher, for, verily, I had begun to
think that by some black art ye flew out of your window at
will. Nay," he protested, as Janice, closing her book, rose,
"call ye this fair treatment, Miss Meredith? Surely, if ye
have no gratitude yourself, ye should at least remember what
I am doing for your father and mother, and not seek to shun
me as if I were the plague, rather than a man nigh mad with
love for ye."

"'T is that very fact, Lord Clowes," replied Janice, gravely,
"which has forced avoidance of you upon me. Surely you
must understand that, promised now as I am to another, both
by my father's word and by my own, your suit cannot fail to
distress me?"

"Is 't possible that, to please others, thee intends, then, to
force thyself to marry this long-legged dragoon?" protested
Clowes. "Hast thy father not told thee of thy own loss of
Greenwood and of his undoubted loss of Boxely?"

"Our loss of property, my Lord, but makes it all the more
important that we save our good name; and if our change of
circumstance does not alter Major Hennion's wishes, as I am
certain it will not, we shall keep faith with him."

"Even though Lord Clowes offers ye position, wealth, and
a home for your parents, not a one of which he can give?"

"Were I not promised, Lord Clowes, nothing could induce
me to marry you."

"Why not?" questioned the baron, warmly.

"Methinks, if you but search the past, sir, you cannot for
an instant be in doubt. Obligations you have heaped upon
us at moments, for every one of which I thank you, but never
could I bring myself to feel respect, far less affection for
you."

The commissary, with knitted brows, started to speak, but
checked himself and took half a dozen strides. Returning,
he said:--

"Miss Meredith, 't is not just to judge the future by the
past. Can ye not understand that what I did in Philadelphia,
ay, every act of mine at which ye could take offence in our
whole acquaintance, has been done on heated impulse? If
ye but knew a man's feelings when he loves as I love, and
finds no response to his passion in the object of it, ye would
pardon my every act."

"'T is not alone your conduct to us, Lord Clowes, but as
well that to others which has confirmed me in my conviction."

"Ye would charge me with--"

"'T is not I alone, my Lord, that you have deceived or
injured, and you cannot plead for those the excuse you plead
to me."

"'T is the circumstances of my parole of which ye speak?"
demanded the baron.

"Of that and other things which have come to my knowledge."

Again the suitor hesitated before saying, with a suggestion
of glibness: "Miss Meredith, every ounce of blame ye put
upon my conduct I accept honestly and regretfully, but did ye
but know all, I think ye would pity rather than judge me in
that heart which seems open to every one but me. From the
day my father died in the debtor's prison and I was thrown
a penniless boy of twelve upon the world, it has been one
long fight to keep head above water, till I got this appointment.
The gentlemen of the army have told ye that I was a
government spy, I doubt not. I wonder what they would
have been in my straits! Think ye any man is spy by choice?
Am I worse than the men who hired me to do the work, and
who gained praise and rewards, even to the blue ribbon, by
the information I had got for them, while only scorn and
shame was my portion? Think ye a life given to indirection
and worming, to prying and scheming, is one of self-choice?
Hitherto I have done the dirty work of ministers,--ay, of
kings; but from the day I leave this country, that is over and
done with for ever, and their once tool, now rich, will take his
place among the very best of England's peers, for money will
buy a man anything in London nowadays. 'T is not alone
that I love ye nigh to desperation that I beg your love; 't is
that your love will help to make me the honest-living man
I ambition to be. But grant the longing of my life, and I'll
pledge ye happiness. Ye shall write your own marriage settlement,
a house, carriages, jewels--"

"Indeed, Lord Clowes, even were my feelings less strong,
you ask for what is now impossible."

"Because your father, with a short-sightedness that is wellnigh
criminal, has tied ye to this fellow! Can't ye perceive
that the greatest service ye can render him will be to relieve
him of the promise he has not the courage to end? In a six-months
he'll bless ye for the deed, if ye will but do it."

Almost as if he had come to protect his rights, the voice of
Major Hennion broke in upon them. "Everywhere have I
sought you for upwards of an hour," he said, as he hurried
toward them, "and began to fear that some evil had befallen
you." He caught Janice's hand eagerly and kissed it.

"But when did you arrive?" exclaimed the girl.

"The legions were landed at Hampton Road this morning
and reached camp an hour gone," explained the major. Still
retaining her hand, he turned to Clowes and said, "If I
understood you aright, my Lord, you told me you knew not
where Miss Meredith was to be found?"

"And Miss Meredith will bear me out in the statement,
sir, though I am quite willing that my word should stand by
itself," retorted the commissary, tartly. "Nor am I in the
habit of having it questioned by colonial striplings," he added
insultingly.

"Nor am I--" began Philemon, heatedly; but Janice
checked him by laying her free hand on his arm.

"'T is naught to take umbrage at, Phil," she said dissuadingly,
"and do not by quarrelling over a foolish nothing spoil
my pleasure in seeing you."

"That I'll not," acceded the major, heartily. "Ah,
Janice," he cried, unable to contain himself even before the
baron, "if you knew the thrill your words give me. Are
you truly glad to see me?"

"Yes, Phil, or I would not say so," answered the girl,
ingenuously.

Lord Clowes, a scowl on his face, turned from the two, to
avoid sight of Hennion's look of gladness. This brought him
gazing seaward, and he gave an exclamation. "Ho! What 's
here?"

The two faced about at his question, to see, just appearing
from behind the curve of the land to the southward, a full-rigged
ship, one mass of canvas from deck to spintle-heads,
and with a single row of ports which bespoke the man-of-war.

"'T is a frigate," announced Clowes, "and no doubt sent
to convoy the transports we have been awaiting. Yes; there
comes another. 'T is the fleet, beyond question," he continued,
as the first vessel having opened from the land, the
bowsprit of a second began to appear.

The three stood silent as the two ships towering pyramids of
sails, making them marvels of beauty, swept onward with slow
dignity across the mouth of the York River, at this point
nearly three miles wide, toward the Gloucester shore. Before
they had gone a quarter of a mile, a third and larger vessel
came sweeping into view, her two rows of ports showing her
to be a line-of-battle ship. Barely was she clear of the land
when a string of small flags broke out from her mizzen rigging,
and almost as if by magic, the yard arms of all three vessels
were alive with men, and royals, top gallants, and mainsails
with machine-like precision were dewed up and furled, and
each ship, stripped of all but its topsails, rounded to, with its
head to the wind.

"That is a strange manoeuvre," remarked Philemon. "Why
stop they outside, instead of sailing up the river?"

"They've hove to, no doubt, to wait a pilot, being strangers
to the waters," surmised Clowes, wheeling and looking up the
river townwards. "Ay, there goes some signal from the 'Charon's'
truck," he went on, as the British frigate anchored off the
town displayed three flags at her masthead.

Janice, thankful for the diversion the arrivals had caused,
said something to Philemon in a low voice, and they set out
toward the town. Not noticing the obvious attempt to escape
from his society, or to outward appearance perturbed, the
baron put himself alongside the two, and walked with them
until the custom-house was reached.

"Will you come in, Philemon, and see dadda and mommy?"
questioned the girl, as the three halted at the doorway.

As she spoke, an orderly, who a moment before had come
out of headquarters, made towards the major, and, saluting,
said, "Colonel Tarleton directs that you report at headquarters
without delay, sir."

"My answer is made for me, Janice," sighed Philemon.
"I fear me 't is some vidette duty, and that once
again we are doomed to part, just as I thought my hour had
come. Many more of such disappointments will turn me
from a soldier into a Quaker. However, 't is possible his
Lordship wants but to put some questions, and, if so, I'll be
with you shortly." He crossed the street and entered the
Nelson house.

Shown by the orderly to the room where Cornwallis was, he
found with him his colonel and a man in the uniform of a
naval officer.

"Ah, here he is," said the British general. "Major Hennion,
the three ships which have taken station at the mouth
of the river pay no heed to the 'Charon's 'signals, nor are theirs
to be read by our book, so 't is feared that they are French
ships. As 't is impossible to believe they would thus boldly
venture into the bay if alone, we wish to know if there are
others below. Furnish Lieutenant Foley with a mount, and,
with an escort of a troop, guide him over the road you came
to-day to some spot where a view of the roadstead at Old
Point Comfort is to be commanded." Speaking to the naval
officer, he enjoined, "You will carefully observe any shipping
there may be, sir, and of what force, and report to me with
the least possible delay."

It was a little after ten o'clock on the following day when a
troop of hot and weary-looking horses and men clattered
along the main street of the town and drew up in front of
headquarters. Throwing himself from the saddle, Major
Hennion hurried into the house. The moment he was in the
presence of Cornwallis, he said: "'T is as you surmised,
general. Between thirty and forty sail stretch from Lynnhaven
Bay to the mouth of the James, and though 't was difficult to
exactly estimate their force, they are mostly men of war, and
some even three-deckers."

"Beyond question 't is the French West India fleet," burst
from Cornwallis. For a moment he was silent, then sternly
demanded, "Where is Lieutenant Foley?"

"The gentlemen of the navy, sir, are more used to oak than
to leather, and we set him such a pace that twelve miles back
he could no longer sit his saddle, and we left him leading his
horse, thinking this information could not be brought you too
soon."

"It but proves the old saying that 'Ill news has wings,'"
replied the earl, steadily, as he walked to the window and
looked out into the garden. Here he stood silently for so
long that finally Hennion spoke.

"I beg your pardon, general," he said, "but am I
dismissed?"

All the reply Cornwallis made him was to ask, "When you
first came amongst us, major, you spoke with the barbaric provincialism
and nasal twang of your countrymen, but in your
years with us you have lost them. Could you upon occasion
resume both?"

"Indeed, my Lord," replied the officer, smiling, "'t is even
yet a constant struggle to keep from it."

"The word you bring must be got to Clinton without question
of fail and with the least possible delay. Are you willing
to volunteer for a service of very great risk?"

"Does your Lordship for a moment question it?"

"Not I. To-night we will try to steal a small sloop out of
the river with a despatch for Clinton; but we must not place
our whole dependence on this means, and a second must be
sent him overland. Get you a meal, sir, and a fresh horse,
and from some civilian or negro procure such clothes as are
fitting for a travelling peddler. I will order you a pack and a
stock of such things as are appropriate from the public stores,
and you shall at once be rowed across the river and must
make your way as best you can northward to New York.
Dost understand?"

"Ay, my Lord," replied Major Hennion, his hand already
on the door-latch.

Left alone, Cornwallis stood for a moment, his lips pressed
together, then summoning an aide, he gave him certain
directions, after which, going to his writing-desk, he pulled
out a drawer and from it took quite a batch of Continental
and State currency. Seating himself at his desk, he laid one
of the notes upon it, and taking his penknife he very neatly
and dexterously split the bill through half its length. Taking
from his pocket a wallet, he drew from it a sheet of paper
covered with numbers and syllables, which was indorsed,
"Cipher No. I." Writing on a scrap of paper a few words,
he then alternately looked at what he had penned and at the
cipher, taking down on one of the inner surfaces of the bill a
series of numbers. Scarcely had he done his task when a
knock came at the door, and in response to his summons a
negress entered.

"'Scuse me, your Lordship," she said with a bob. "De
captain, he say youse done want a leetle flour gum."

"Yes. Give it to me and leave the room," answered the
earl.

Touching his finger in the saucer she had brought, Cornwallis
rubbed it inside the split along the three edges, and
then laying the bill on his desk, he patted the edges where
they had been split, together, wiping them clean with his
handkerchief. Running over the pile of currency, he sorted
out some fifty notes, then taking a sheet of paper, he began a
letter.

Before the earl had finished what he was writing, he was
again interrupted, and the new-comer proved to be Major
Hennion, clothed in an old suit of butternut-coloured linen.
And as if in laying aside his red coat, shorts, and boots he had
as well laid aside military rank, he seemed to have already
reverted to his old slouch.

"Good," exclaimed Cornwallis, as he rose. "Are your
other preparations all made?"

"Every one, general; and my horse and pack are already
at the river-side."

The earl took the pile of sorted bills from his desk and
handed them to Hennion. "There is the money to pay your
way," he said, "all Continental Loan office or Virginia currency,
save one of North Carolina for forty shillings, which on
no account are you to part with, even if any one in the States
to the northward will accept it, for I have split it open and
written within it to Sir Henry Clinton the news I have to tell.
Say to him that a few moments in water will serve to part the
edges where they have been gummed together. I give you
the note, that if you are caught, you may still find some means
to send it on. But lest by mischance it should be lost or
taken from you, and you should yet be able to reach New
York, I have here the words I have written in cipher within
the bill. Have you a good memory?"

"For facts, if not for words, my Lord."

The general took up from his desk the little memorandum
he had written before using his cipher and read out: "An
enemy's fleet within the Capes. Between thirty and forty
ships of war, mostly large." "Spare not your speed, sir, yet
take no unnecessary risk," ended the earl, as he held out his
hand.

As Hennion took it, he said: "I will endeavour not to fail
your Lordship in either respect; in going, however, I have one
favour to crave of you. I leave behind me my promised
bride, Miss Meredith; and I beg of you that she shall not
want for any service that your Lordship can render her, or that
I could do were I but here."

"'T is given," promised the earl, and on the word Hennion
hurried from the room. Crossing the street, he knocked at
the custom-house, and of the servant inquired, "Is Miss
Meredith within?"

"No, sir," replied the soldier.

Where is she?"

"I know not, sir. She left the house an hour ago."

With something suspiciously like an oath, the major turned
away and, hurrying along the street, descended that which
sloped down the bluff to the river. Here stood an officer,
while in the water lay a flatboat which already held, besides
two rowers, a horse and a pair of fat saddle-bags. Without a
word Phil jumped in and the rowers struck their oars into the
water.

At the same time that Major Hennion's party had been
despatched to gain news of the fleet, other troops of Tarleton's
and Simcoe's cavalry had been thrown out on scouting parties
across the peninsula to the James, and the following day they
brought word that the French were busily engaged in landing
troops from their ships at Jamestown, with the obvious intention
of effecting a junction with Lafayette's brigades, which were
at Williamsburg. A council of war was held that evening to
debate whether the British force should not march out and
attack them; but it was recognised that even if they completely
crushed the French and Americans, they had themselves made
escape southward impossible by the care with which they had
destroyed the bridges and ferries in their march into Virginia,
while if they fled northward, they would certainly have to
fight Washington's army long before they could reach New
York. It was therefore unanimously voted that the least hazardous
course was to remain passive in their present position.

Five days after this decision, a deserter from Lafayette's
camp came into the British lines, bringing with him the news
that it was openly talked in Williamsburg that Washington
and Rochambeau, with their armies, were coming to join the
troops already in Virginia. Nor were the British long able to
continue their doubting of his assertions, for a Tory brought in
the same tale, and with it a copy of the "Baltimore Journal,"
which printed the positive statement that the Northern army
was on the march southward and was already arrived at Wilmington.
A second council of war was therefore summoned
to debate once again their difficulties; but ere the general and
field officers had met, a schooner, eluding the French vessels
which blockaded the mouth of the river, arrived from New
York, bringing a despatch from Sir Henry Clinton, in which
he assured the encircled general that the British fleet would
quickly sail to relieve him, and that he himself, with four
thousand men, would follow close upon its heels. The order
for the council was therefore recalled; and Cornwallis turned
the whole energies of the force under his command to
strengthening his lines and in other ways making ready to
resist the gathering storm.


LXI
IN THE TOILS

On the morning of the 6th of October, twelve thousand
American and French soldiers lay encamped
in the form of a broad semi-circle almost a mile
from the British earthworks about Yorktown. Still
nearer, in a deep ravine, above which were some outworks
that had been abandoned by the British on the approach of
the allies, were the outposts; and these, lacking tents, had
hutted themselves with boughs. Intermittently came the roar
of a cannon from the British lines, and those in the hollow
could occasionally see and hear a shell as it screeched past
them overhead; but they gave not one-tenth the heed to
it that they gave to the breakfast they were despatching.
Indeed, their sole grumblings were at the meagreness of the
ration which had been dealt out to them the night before ere
they had been marched forward into their present position;
and as a field officer, coming from the American camp,
descended into the ravine, these found open expression.

"'T is mighty fine fer the ginral ter say in the ginral orders
that he wants us if attacked ter rely on the bagonet," spoke
up one of the murmurers loud enough to make it evident that
he intended the officer to overhear him; "but no troops kin
fight on a shred o' salt pork and a mouthful of collards."

The officer halted, and speaking more to all those within
hearing than to the man, said: "You got as good as any of
the Continental regiments, boys, and better than some."

"That may be, kun'l," answered the complainant, "but
how about the dandies?"

"Yes," assented the officer. "We sent the French regiments
all the flour and fresh meat the commissaries could lay
hands on, I grant you. Is there one of you who would have
kept it from them for his own benefit?"

"P'raps not," acknowledged another, "but that don't make
it any the less unfairsome."

"Remember they come to help us, and are really our
guests. Nor are they accustomed to the privation we know
too well. General Washington has surety that you can fight
on an empty stomach, for you've done it many a time, but he
is not so certain of the French."

The remark was greeted with a general laugh, which seemed
to dissipate the grievance.

"Lord!" exclaimed a corporal; "them fine birds do need
careful tending."

"'T ain't ter be wondered at thet the Frenchies is so keerful
ter bring their tents with 'em," remarked a third. "Whatever
would happen ter one o' them Soissonnais fellers, with his
rose-coloured facings an' his white an' rose feathers, if he
had ter sleep in a bowery along o' us? Some on 'em looks so
pretty, thet it don't seem right ter even trust 'em out in a heavy
dew." As he ended, the speaker looked down at his own
linen overalls. "T ain't no shakes they laughs a bit at us an
won't believe we are really snogers."

"'T is for us to make them laugh the other way before
we've done Cornwallis's business," remarked the officer.
"But make up your minds to one thing, boys, if their caps
are full of feathers and their uniforms more fit for a ball-room
than for service, these same fine-plumaged birds can fight; and
there must be no lagging if we are to prove ourselves their
betters, or even their equals."

"We'll show 'em what the Jarsey game-cocks kin do, an
don't you be afeared, kun'l."

As the assertion was made, a group of officers appeared on
the brow of the ravine, and the colonel turned and went forward
to meet them as they descended.

"How far in advance are your pickets, Colonel Brereton?"
one of them asked.

"About three hundred paces, your Excellency."

"And is the ground open?" demanded a second of the
party, with a markedly French accent.

"There is some timber cover, General du Portail, but 't is
chiefly open and rolling."

"We wish, sir, to advance as far as can be safely effected,"
said Washington, "and shall rely on you for guidance."

"This way, sir," answered Brereton; and the whole party
ascended out of the hollow through a side ravine which
brought them into a clump of poplars occupied by a party of
skirmishers, and which commanded a view of the British
earthworks. Halting at the edge of the timber, glasses were
levelled, and each man began a study of the enemy's lines.
Scarcely had they taken position when a puff of smoke rose
from one of the redoubts, and a shell came screeching towards
them, passing high enough to cut the branches of the trees over
their heads, and bringing them falling among the group. A
minute later a solid shot struck directly in their front, causing
all except the commander-in-chief to fall back out of sight
among the trees; but he, apparently unmoved by the danger,
calmly continued observing the enemies' works, and though
directly in their view, for some reason they did not fire again.

When Washington finally turned about and rejoined the
group, he said to Brereton: "Keep your men, sir, as they are
at present disposed, out of sight of the batteries, till evening;
then push your pickets forward as close to the town as they
can venture, with orders to fall back, unless attacked, only with
daylight. Last night the British put outside their lines a number
of blacks stricken with the small-pox; you will order your
skirmishers, therefore, to fire on them if they endeavour to repeat
the attempt, for even the dictates of humanity cannot allow us
to jeopardise the health of our army. Hold your regiment in
readiness to move out at nightfall in support of the pioneers
who will begin breaking ground this evening. Further and
specific orders will reach you later through the regular
channels."

It was already dark when Brereton, guiding General du
Portail and the engineers, once more came out upon the plain.
Following after them were a corps of sappers and miners, regiments
detailed as pioneers, carrying intrenching tools, regiments
armed as usual, to support them if attacked, and carts
loaded with bags of sand, empty barrels, fascines, and gabions.
Advancing cautiously, each man keeping touch with the one
in front of him, they went forward until within six hundred
yards of the British position. Without delay, by means of
lanterns which were screened from the foe by being carried in
half-barrels, the engineering tapes were laid down, and with
pick and shovel the fatigue party went to work, the eagerness
of the men being such that, despite of orders, the men from
the supporting regiments, leaving their muskets in charge of
their fellow-soldiers, would join in the toil. Nor did their
colonels reprove them for this; but, on the contrary, Brereton,
finding six men from one company engaged in rolling a large
rock out of the ditch and to the top of the rapidly waxing pile
of earth in its rear, said approvingly: "Well done, boys.
I've a wager with the Marquis de Chastellux that an American
battery fires the first shot, and I see you intend that I shall
win the bet."

"Arrah, 't is in yez pocket aready, colonel," cried one of
the sappers. "Sure, how kin a Frinchman expect to bate us
whin nary ground-hog nor baver, the aither av thim, is theer in
his counthry to tache him how to work wid earth an' timber?"

So well was the night spent that when morning dawned the
British found a long line of new earthworks stretched along
their front; and though instantly their guns began cannonading
them, the men were now protected and could dig on,
unheeding of the fire. Indeed, such was the enthusiasm that
when at six o'clock the order came for the regiments to fall
in, and it was found that they were to be replaced by fresh
troops, there was open grumbling. "'T is we did the work,"
complained a sergeant, "and now them fellows who slept all
night will steal the glory."

"Not a bit of it, boys," denied Brereton, as he was passing
down the lines preparatory to giving the order of march.
"There are still redoubts to be made and the guns are not up
yet. 'T will come our turn in the trenches again before they
are."

Their commander spoke wittingly, for two days it took to
get the trenches, and the redoubts thrown out in advance of
them, completed, and the heavy siege-guns were not moved
forward until after dark on the 8th. All night long and the
most of the following morning the men toiled, placing them in
position, paying no attention to the unceasing thunder of the
British guns, unless to stop momentarily and gaze with admiration
at the shells, each with its tail of fire, as they curved
through the air, or to crack a joke over some one which flew
especially near.

"Bark away," laughed one, as he affectionately patted a
twenty-four pounder just moved into its position, while shaking
his other fist toward Yorktown. "Scold while ye kin, for 't is
yer last chance. Like men, we've sat silent for nine days, an' let
ye, like women, do the talkin', but it 's to-morrow mornin' ye'll
find that, if we've kept still, it 's not been for want of a tongue."

It was noon when Brereton came hurrying into the battery
to find the men sleeping among the guns, where they had
dropped after their hard labour.

"How is it, Jack?" questioned the officer in command.

"General du Portail has reported the battery completed, and
he tells me we've beat the French by at least two hours."

A wild yell of joy broke from one of the apparently unconscious
men, bringing most of the sleepers scrambling to
their feet and grasping for their weapons. "I said they could
never dig in them clothes!" he cried.

"'T is however to be another 'Gentlemen of the guards,
fire first,'" went on Brereton. "General Washington, as a
compliment to the French, has decided that their guns shall
fire the first shot."

A growl came from the captain of the nearest cannon. "I
promised the old gal," he muttered discontentedly, his hand
on his thirty-two pounder, "that she should begin it, an'
she's sighted to knock over that twelve pounder that 's been
teasin' us, or may I never fire gun agin."

"She'll do it just as well on the second shot," said Colonel
Lamb, "and who cares which fires first, since we've beat them."

It was three o'clock when Washington and Rochambeau,
accompanied by their staffs, came out of the covert-way which
permitted entrance and egress to a French redoubt, from the
trenches in its rear, and infantry and gunners came to the
"present."

"Votre Excellence," said Colonel d'Aboville, saluting, "moi
cannoniers vous implorent de leur donner l'honneur immortel
en mettant feu au premier coup de cannon."

Washington, realizing that the speech was addressed to him,
turned to Rochambeau with a helpless and questioning look.

"Zay desire zat your Excellency does zem ze honneur to
fire ze first gun," explained the French general.

Washington removed his hat and bowed. "Try as we will,
count," he said, "we cannot equal your nation in politeness."
In silence he stepped forward to the gun the colonel indicated,
and the captain of the piece handed him the loggerhead with
a salute and then fell back respectfully.

Washington touched the red-hot iron to the port fire;
there was a puff of smoke, a deafening crash; and the great
gun gave a little jump, as if for joy. A thousand pairs of eyes
strained after the solid shot as it flew, then as it disappeared
over the British earthworks and was heard to go tearing its
way through some wall a great shout went up from one end of
the lines of the allies, to the other.

Instantly came the roar of the other five cannon, and two
ten-inch mortars echoed their thunder by sending ten-inch
shells curving high in the air. Ere they descended one of the
guns peeping from a British redoubt rose on end and disappeared;
raising another cheer. At last the siege was
begun.

As if to prove that the foe was nothing daunted, a solid
shot, just topping the redoubt, tore through the middle of the
group of generals, scattering sand and pebbles over them.
Colonel Cobb, who stood nearest Washington, turning impulsively,
said, "Sir, you are too much exposed here. Had
you not better step back a little?"

"If you are afraid, Colonel Cobb," quietly answered Washington,
"you have liberty to step back."

By dark three batteries were firing, and all through the
night the guns on both sides rained shot and shell at each
other. Two more batteries of thirty-two pounders opened fire
on the 10th, and by hot shot set fire that evening to the
"Charon" frigate, making a sight of marvellous grandeur, for
the ship became one mass of fire from the water's edge to
her spintle-heads, all her ports belching flame and each spar
and every rope ablaze at the same moment. The morning
of the 11th found fifty-two pieces of artillery mounted and
hurling a storm of projectiles into the British lines; and that
evening, a second parallel was opened, bringing the guns of
the besiegers less than three hundred yards from their earthworks,
and putting all parts of the town within range. After
this was completed, the defensive fire slackened, for every gun
with which the garrison sought to make reply was dismounted
the moment it was advanced into the embrasure, compelling
their withdrawal during daylight hours; and though each night
as soon as dark screened them from the accurate gunnery of
the Americans, they were restored and the firing renewed, it
was done with a feebleness that bespoke discouragement and
exhaustion. For two days shot and shell splintered and tore
through abattis and fraising, and levelled parapet and ditch,
almost unanswered.

To the right of the new parallel, and almost enfilading it
by their fire, were two detached redoubts of the British, well
in advance of their main lines. To end their destructive
cross fire, as well as to complete the investiture, it was
determined to carry them by assault; and as dark settled
down on the evening of the 14th, two storming parties, one of
French grenadiers and chasseurs, drawn from the brigade of
the Baron de Viomenil and under the command of the Comte
de Deuxponts, and the second, of American light infantry,
taken from the division of the Marquis de Lafayette and
commanded by Alexander Hamilton, were moved out of the
trenches, and, followed by strong supporting battalions, were
advanced as far as was prudent.

It was while the American forlorn hope was standing at ease,
awaiting the signal, that Colonel Brereton came hurrying up to
where Hamilton and Laurens were whispering final details.

"I could n't keep out of this," he explained; "and the
marquis was good enough to say I might serve as a volunteer."

"The more the merrier," responded Laurens. "Come
along with me, Jack. We are to take the fort in the rear,
and you shall have your stomach full of fighting, I'll warrant
you. Here, put this paper in your hat, if you don't want to
be stuck by our own men."

Hamilton, turning from the two, addressed the three battalions.
"Light infantry," he said, "when the council of war
reached the decision to carry the works in our front, Baron de
Viomenil argued that both should be left to his troops, as the
American soldiery could not be depended upon for an assault.
The commander-in-chief would not disgrace us by yielding
to his claim, and 't is for us to prove that he was right. We
have shown the French artillerists that we can serve our guns
quicker and more accurately; now let us see if we cannot
prove ourselves the swifter and steadier at this work. Let
the sergeants see to it that each man in his file has a piece
of paper in his hat, and that each has removed the flint from
his gun. I want you to carry the redoubt without a shot, by
the bayonet alone."

A murmur of assent and applause passed along the lines,
and then all stood listening for the signal. It was a night of
intense darkness, and now, after ten days of unending bombardment,
the cannonading had entirely ceased, giving place
to a stillness which to ears so long accustomed to the uproar
seemed to have a menacing quality in it.

Suddenly a gun boomed loud and clear; and as its echo
reverberated out over the river, every man clutched his
musket more firmly. Boom! went a second close upon the
first, and each soldier drew a deep breath as if to prepare for
some exertion. Boom! went a third, and a restless undulation
swept along the lines. Boom! for a fourth time roared a
cannon, and some of the men laughed nervously. Boom!
rolled out yet a fifth, and the ranks stood tense and rigid,
every ear, every sense, straining.

Boom! crashed the sixth gun, and not a man needed the
"Forward, light infantry!" of the commander, every one
of them being in motion before the order was given. Steadily
they advanced in silence, save only for muttered grumbles
here and there over the slowness of the pace.

Without warning, out of the blackness came a challenge,
"Who goes there?"

Making no answer, the stormers broke into a run and swept
forward with a rush.

"Bang!" went a single musket; and had it been fired into
a mine, the tremendous uproar that ensued could not have
come more instantaneously, for twenty cannon thundered,
and the redoubts fairly seemed to spit fire as the defenders'
muskets flashed. High in the air rose rockets, which lit up
the whole scene, and for the time they lasted fairly turned
the night into day.

As the main and flanking parties swept up to the redoubt, the
sappers and miners, who formed the first rank, attacked the
abattis with their axes; but the troops, mad with long waiting
and fretted by the galling fire of the foe, would not wait,
and, pushing them aside, clambering, boosting, and tumbling
went over the obstruction. Not pausing to form in the
ditch, they scrambled up the parapet and went surging over
the crest, pell-mell, upon the British.

Brereton, sword in hand, had half sprung, half been tossed
upon the row of barrels filled with earth which topped the
breastworks, only to face a bayonet which one of the garrison
lunged up at him. A sharp prick he felt in his chest; but as
in the quick thought of danger he realised his death moment,
the weapon, instead of being driven home, was jerked back,
and the soldier who had thrust with it cried:--

"Charlie!"

"Fred!" exclaimed Jack, and the two men caught each
other by the hand and stood still while the invaders poured
past them over the barrels.

It was Mobray who spoke first. "Oh, Charlie!" he almost
sobbed, "one misery at least has been saved me! My God!
You bleed."

"A pin-prick only, Fred. But what does this mean? You!
and in the ranks."

"Ay, and for three years desperately seeking a death which
will not come!"

"And the Fusileers?"

"Hold this redoubt. Oh, Charlie, to think that your
sword should ever be raised against the old regiment!"

As Mobray spoke, came a cry from the garrison, "We
yield!" and the clatter of their weapons could be heard as
they were grounded, or were thrown to the earth.

"Quick!" cried Brereton, fairly hauling Sir Frederick to
where he stood. "Run, Fred! At least, you shall be no
prisoner." Jack gave him a last squeeze of the hand and a
shove, which sent his friend fairly staggering down into the
ditch.

Mobray sprang through a break in the abattis, but had not
run ten feet when he turned and shouted back something
which the thundering of the artillery prevented Brereton from
entirely hearing, but the words he distinguished were sufficient
to make him catch at the barrels for support, for they were:--

"Janice Meredith ... Yorktown ... point of death
... small-pox."

For a moment Brereton stood in a kind of daze; but as the
full horror of Mobray's words came home to him, he groaned.
Turning, he plunged down into the fortress with a look of a
man bereft, and striding to the commander cried, "For God's
sake, Hamilton, give me something to do!"

"The very man I wanted," replied the little colonel.
"Carry word to the marquis that the redoubt is ours, and that
the supports may advance."

Dashing out of the now open sally port, Jack ran at his
top speed, and within two minutes delivered the report to
General de Lafayette.

"Ah, mes braves," ejaculated the marquis, triumphantly.
"My own countreemen they thought they would not it do,
and now my boys, they have the fort before Deuxponts has
his," he went on, as he pointed into the darkness, out of
which could be seen the flash of muskets. "Ah, we will teach
the baron a lesson. Colonel Barber," he ordered, turning to
his aide, "ride at your best quickness to General Viomenil;
tell him, with my compliments, that our fort, it is ours, and
that we can give him the assistance, if he needs it."

The help was not needed, for in five minutes the second
outpost was also in the possession of the allies. Working
parties were at once thrown forward, and before morning the
two captured positions were connected with and made part of
the already established parallel.

The fall of these two redoubts in turn opened an enfilading
fire on the British, and in desperation, just before dawn on the
15th a sortie was made, and the French were driven out of one
of the batteries, and the guns spiked but the advantage could
not be held against the reserves that came up at the first
alarm, and they were in turn forced out at the point of the
bayonet.

On the morning of the 16th almost a hundred heavy guns
and mortars were in position; and for twenty-four hours the
whole peninsula trembled, as they poured a torrent of destructive,
direct, and raking fire, at the closest range, into the
weakened defences and crumbling town, with scarcely pretence
of resistance from the hemmed in and exhausted British,
every shot which especially told being greeted with cheers from
the trenches of the allies.

One there was in the uniform of a field officer, who never
cheered, yet who, standing in a recklessly exposed position,
staringly followed each solid shot as it buried itself in the
earthworks, or, passing over them, was heard to strike in the
town, and each shell, as it curved upwards and downwards in
its great arc. Sometimes the explosion of the latter would
throw fragments of what it destroyed in the air,--earth,
shingles, bricks, and even human limbs,--raising a cry of
triumph from those who served the piece, but he only pressed
his lips the more tightly together, as if enduring some torture.
Nor could he be persuaded to leave his place for food or
sleep, urge who would, but with careworn face and haggard
eyes never left it for thirty hours. Occasionally, when for a
minute or two there would come an accidental break in the
firing, his lips could be seen to move as if he were speaking to
himself. Not one knew why he stood there following each shot
so anxiously, or little recked that, when there was not one to
fasten his attention, he saw instead a pair of dark eyes shadowed
by long lashes, delicately pencilled eyebrows, a low fore-head
surmounted by a wealth of darkest brown hair, a little
straight nose, cheeks scarcely ever two minutes the same tint,
and lips that, whether they spoke or no, wooed as never
words yet did. And as each time the vision flashed out before
him, he would half mutter, half sob a prayer:--

"Oh, God, rob her of her beauty if you will, but do not let
disease or shot kill her."

It was he, watching as no other man in all those lines
watched, who suddenly, a little after ten o'clock on the morning
of the 17th, shouted:--

"Cease firing!"

Every man within hearing turned to him, and then looked
to where his finger pointed.

On the top of a British redoubt stood a red-coated drummer,
to the eye beating his instrument, but the sound of it was
drowned in the roar of the guns. As the order passed from
battery to battery, the thunder gradually ceased, and all that
could be heard was the distant riffle of the single drum,
sounding "The Parley." Once the cessation of the firing was
complete, an officer, whose uniform and accoutrements flashed
out brilliantly as the eastern sun shone on them, mounted the
works, and standing beside the drummer slowly waved a white
flag.


LXII
WITHIN THE LINES

One there was in Yorktown whose suffering was to
the eye as great as he who had watched from the
outside. A sudden change came over Clowes with
the realisation of their danger. He turned white
on the confirmation of the arrival of the French fleet; and
when the news spread through the town that a deserter had
arrived from the American camp with word of Washington's
approach, he fell on the street in a fit, out of which he came
only when he had been cupped, and sixty ounces of blood
taken from him. Not once after that did he seek out Janice,
or even come to the custom-house for food or sleep, but pale,
and talking much to himself he wandered restlessly about
the town, or still more commonly stood for hours on the
highest point of land which opened a view of the bay, gazing
anxiously eastward for the promised English fleet.

Janice was too occupied, however, with her mother even to
note this exemption. The exposure and fatigue of the long,
hot march to Yorktown had proved too great a tax upon
Mrs. Meredith's strength, and almost with their arrival she
took to her bed and slowly developed a low tidal fever, not
dangerous in its character, but unyielding to the doctor's
ministrations.

It was on the day that the videttes fell back on the town,
bringing word that the allies were advancing, that the girl
noticed so marked a change in her mother that she sent for
the army surgeon, and that she had done wisely was shown
by his gravity after a very cursory examination.

"Miss Meredith," he said, "this nursing is like to be of
longer duration than at first seemed probable, and will over-tax
your strength. 'T is best, therefore, that you let us move
Mrs. Meredith into the army hospital, where she can be
properly tended, and you saved from the strain."

"I could not but stay with her, doctor," answered Janice;
"but if you think it best for her that she be moved, I can as
well attend her there."

The surgeon bit his lip, then told her, "I'll try to secure
you permission, if your father think it best." He went
downstairs, and finding the squire said: "Mr. Meredith, I
have very ill news for you. It has been kept from the army,
but there has been for some days an outbreak of small-pox
among the negroes, and now your wife is attacked by it."

"Don't say it, man!" implored the squire.

"'T is, alas! but too true. It is necessary that she be at
once removed on board the hospital ship, and I shall return
as quickly as possible with my assistants and move her. The
more promptly you call your daughter from her bedside, the
better, for 't will just so much lessen the chance of contagion."

Before the father had well broken the news to Janice, or
could persuade her to leave the invalid, the surgeon was
returned, and, regardless of the girl's prayers and tears, her
mother was placed upon a stretcher, carried to the river-side,
and then transferred to the pest-ship, which was anchored in
mid-stream. Against his better judgment, but unable to resist
his daughter's appeals, the squire sought out Cornwallis with
the request that she might be allowed to attend Mrs. Meredith
on the ship, but the British general refused.

"Not only would it be contrary to necessary rules, sir, but it
would merely expose her needlessly. Fear not that Mrs.
Meredith will lack the best of care, for I will give especial
directions to the surgeons. My intention was to send a flag,
as soon as the enemy approached, with a request that I might
pass you all through the lines, out of danger; and this is a sad
derangement to the wish, for General Washington would certainly
refuse passage to any one sick of this disease, and all
must justify him in the refusal. I still think that 't would be
best to let me apply for leave for you and Miss Meredith to go
out, but--"

"Neither the lass nor I would consider it for a moment,
though grateful to your Lordship for the offer."

[Illustration: "Where are you going?"]

"Then I will see that you have room in one of the bomb-proofs,
but 't will be a time of horror, that I warn you."

He spoke only too truly, and the misery of the next twenty
days are impossible to picture. The moment the bombardment
began, father and daughter were forced to seek the protection
of one of the caves that had been dug in the side of the bluff;
and here, in damp, airless, almost dark, and fearfully overcrowded
quarters, they were compelled to remain day and
night during the siege. Almost from the first, scarcity of
wood produced an entire abandonment of cooked food, every
one subsisting on raw pork or raw salt beef, or, as Janice chose,
eating only ship biscuit and unground coffee berries. Once
the fire of the allies began to tell, each hour supplied a fresh
tale of wounded, and these were brought into the bomb-proofs
for the surgeons to tend, their presence and moans adding to the
nightmare; yet but for them it seemed to Janice she would have
gone mad in those weeks, for she devoted herself to nursing
and feeding them, as an escape from dwelling on her mother's
danger and their own helplessness. Even news from the pest-ship
had its torture, for when her father twice each day
descended the bluff to get the word from the doctor's boat, as it
came ashore, she stood in the low doorway of the cave, and at
every shot that was heard shrieking through the air, and at
every shell which exploded with a crash, she held her breath,
full of dread of what it might have done, and in anguish till her
father was safe returned with the unvarying and uncheering
bulletin the surgeons gave him of Mrs. Meredith's condition.

Yet those in the bomb-proofs escaped the direst of the
horrors. Above them were enacted scenes which turned even
the stoutest hearts sick with fear and loathing. The least of
these was the slaughter of the horses, baggage, cavalry, and
artillery, which want of forage rendered necessary, one whole
day being made hideous by the screams of the poor beasts, as
one by one they were led to a spot where the putrefying of
their carcasses would least endanger the health of the soldiery,
and their throats cut. All pretence of care of the negroes
disappeared with the demand on the officers and soldiers to
man the redoubts, and on the surgeons to care for the sick
and wounded soldiers, who soon numbered upwards of two
thousand. Naked and half starving, they who had dreamed
of freedom were left for the small-pox and putrid fever and
for shot and shell to work their will among them. In the abandoned
houses and even in the streets, they lay, sick, dismembered,
dying, and dead, with not so much as one to aid or
bury them.

On the morning of the 17th a fresh number of wounded
men were brought into the already overcrowded cave; and
though Janice was faint with the long days of anxiety, fright,
bad air, poor food, and hard work, she went from man to
man, doing what could be done to ease their torments and
lessen their groans. The last brought in was in a faint, with
the lower part of his face and shoulder horribly torn and shattered
by the fragments of a shell, but a little brandy revived
him, and he moaned for water. Hurriedly she stooped over
him, to drop a little from a spoon between the open lips.

"Janice!" he startled her by crying.

"Who are--? Oh, Sir Frederick!" she exclaimed. "You!
How came you here?"

"They let me out of the prison Clowes me put in," Mobray
gasped; "and having nothing better, I enlisted in the
ranks under another name." There he choked with blood.

"Doctor," called Janice, "come quickly!"

"Humph!" growled the surgeon, after one glance. "You
should not summon me to waste time on him. Can't you see
't is hopeless?"

"Oh, don't--" began Janice.

"Nay, he speaks the truth," said Mobray; "and I thank
God 't is so. Don't cry. I am glad to go; and though I have
wasted my life, 't is a happier death than poor John Andre's."

For a moment only the sobs of the girl could be heard,
then the dying man gaspingly resumed: "A comrade I once
had whom I loved best in this world till I knew you. By a
strange chance we loved the same girl; I wish I might die
with the knowledge that he is to have the happiness that was
denied to me."

"Oh, Sir Frederick, you must not ask it! He--"

"His was so bitter a story that he deserves a love such as
yours would be to make it up to him. I can remember him
the merriest of us all, loved by every man in the regiment,
from batman to colonel."

"And what changed him?" Janice could not help asking.

"T was one evening at the mess of the Fusileers, when
Powel, too deep in drink to know what he was saying, blurted
out something concerning Mrs. Loring's relations with Sir
William. Poor Charlie was the one man in the force who
knew not why such favouritism had been shown in his being put
so young into Howe's regiment. But that we were eight to
one, he'd have killed Powel then and there. Prevented in
that, he set off to slay his colonel, never dreaming he was his
own father. He burst in on me late that night, crazed with
grief, and told me how he had found him at his mother's, and
how she had robbed him of his vengeance by a word. The
next day he disappeared, and never news had I of him until
that encounter at Greenwood. Does he not deserve something
to sweeten his life?"

"I feel for him deeply," replied the girl, sadly, "the more
that I did him a grave wrong in my thoughts, and by some
words I spoke must have cut him to the quick and added pain
to pain."

"Then you will make him happy?"

"No, Sir Frederick, that I cannot."

"Don't punish him for what was not his fault."

"'T is not for that," she explained. "Once I loved him, I
own. But in a moment of direst need, when I appealed to
him, he failed me; and though now I better understand his
resentment against my father and myself I could never bring
myself to forgive his cruelty, even were my love not dead."

"I will not believe it of him. Hot and impulsive he is by
nature, but never cruel or resentful."

"'T is, alas! but too true," grieved Janice.

Once again the baronet choked with blood and struggled
for a moment convulsively. Then more faintly he said: "Wilt
give him my love and a good-by?"

"I will," sobbed the girl.

Nothing more was said for some time, then Mobray asked
faintly: "Is it that I am losing consciousness, or has the firing
eased?"

Janice raised her head with a start. "Why, it has stopped,"
she exclaimed. "What can it mean?"

"That courage and tenacity have done their all, and now
must yield. Poor Cornwallis! I make no doubt he'd gladly
change places with me at this instant."

Here Mr. Meredith's voice broke in upon them, as standing
in the mouth of the cave he called: "Come, Janice. The
firing has ceased, to permit an exchange of flags with the
rebels. Up with ye, and get the fresh air while ye can."

"I will stay here, father," replied the girl, "and care for--"

"Nonsense, lass! Ye shall not kill yourself. I order ye to
come away."

"Go, Miss Meredith," begged Mobray. "You can do
naught for me, and--and--I would have--Do as he says."
His hand blindly groped until Janice placed hers within it,
when he gave it a weak pressure as he said, "'T is many a
long march and many a sleepless night that the memory of
you has sweetened. Thank you, and good-by."

Reluctantly Janice came out of the bomb-proof, blinking
and gasping with the novelty of sunlight and sea breeze, after
the darkness and stench of the last weeks; and her father, partly
supporting, led her up the bluff. It was a strange transformation
that greeted her eyes,--ploughed-up streets and ruins of
buildings dismantled by shot or left heaps of ashes by the
shell, everywhere telling of the fury of the siege.

Keep your eyes closed, lass," suggested the squire, "for
there are sights of horror. In a moment I'll have ye at
headquarters, where things have been kept more tidy. There,
now ye can look; sit down here and fill your lungs with this
good air."

Silently the two seated themselves on the steps of the
Nelson house, now pierced in every direction by the shot of
the allies, though less damaged than many others. Presently
Janice's attention was caught by the sound of shuffling footsteps,
as of one with only partial use of his legs, and glancing
up she gave a slight cry of fear. And well she might, for
there stood the commissary, with his face like one risen from
the dead, it was so white and staring.

"Meredith," he whispered, as if his larynx were parched
beyond the ability to speak aloud, while with one hand he held
his throat in a vain attempt to make his speech less weak and
raucous, "they say 'The Parley' has been beat and a flag
sent out, and that the post is to be surrendered. Tell me
that Cornwallis will never do that. He 's a brave man. Tell
me it is n't so."

"Nothing else is there for him to do, Clowes. He 's made
a splendid defence, but now scarce a gun is left mounted and
powder and shot are both exhausted; to persist longer would
be useless murder."

"No, no! Let him hold out a few days longer. Clinton
will relieve us yet. He must n't give up. God! Meredith,
they'll hang me! He must n't surrender. I can't die just as
life is worth something. No, no! I can't die now. I'm
rich. Ninety thousand pounds I've made. To be caught
like a rat! He must n't surrender the post." And muttering
to himself, the miserable man shambled away, to repeat the
same hopes and expostulations to the next one he found.

"He had another fit last night," remarked the squire; "and
no one has seen him eat or sleep in four days, nor can he be
persuaded to either, but goes wandering unceasingly about the
town, quite unminding of shot and shell. Ho! what 's here?"
he ended, pointing up the street.

Three officers were coming towards them, arm in arm, the
two outsiders in red coats, and the middle one in a blue
one, with buff facings. Occasionally as they advanced, he
in the blue uniform swerved or stumbled slightly, as if he
might be wounded or drunk. But one look at his face was
sufficient to show the cause, for across his eyes was tied a
broad white band.

"Oh, dadda," murmured Janice, suddenly paling, "'t is
Colonel Brereton they have captured!"

"Nonsense, Jan! 't is impossible to know any man, so covered."

The girl attempted no reassertion, and as the three officers
marched up to the headquarters, the two hastily rose from
the steps.

"Ha!" exclaimed one of the British officers. "Here
stands Miss Meredith now, Colonel Brereton, as if to end your
doubting of my assurances of her being alive."

The blindfolded man, with a quick motion, withdrew the
hand passed through the arm of his guide and raised it
impulsively to the bandage.

"Hold," warningly said the British officer, as he caught the
hand. "Small wonder the handkerchief becomes intolerable,
with her to look at, but stay on it must till you are within
doors."

Jack's hand clutched the officer's arm. "God! man, you
are not deceiving me?"

"Speak up, Miss Meredith, and convince the sceptic
that General O'Hara, though Irish, is yet a truth-teller on
occasion."

"Oh, Colonel Brereton," said Janice, "I have just left Sir
Frederick, who is at the point of death, and he gave me a
message of farewell to you. Can you not go to him for a
moment? 'T would be everything to him."

Jack hesitated. "My mission is so important--General
O'Hara, wilt deliver this letter with a proper explanation to
his Lordship, while I see this friend?"

"Certainly. If Miss Meredith will guide you and Lord
Chewton to where he lies, I'll see that Lord Cornwallis gets
the letter."

In the briefest possible time Brereton stood beside Mobray.
Yet when the officer in charge of him untied the handkerchief
and stepped back out of hearing, Jack's eyes did not seek his
friend, but turned instead to the face of the girl standing beside
him. For a moment they lingered in a gaze so steadfast,
so devouring, that, try as she would not to look at him, Janice's
eyes were drawn to his, despite herself. With a long breath,
as if relieved of some dread, Jack finally turned away and
knelt beside his friend. "Fred, old comrade," he said, as he
took his hand.

"Charlie!" gasped Mobray, weakly, as his eyes opened.
"Is 't really you, or am I wandering?"

"'T is I, Fred, come into town with a flag."

"You've beat old Britain, after all, have n't you?"

"No, dear lad," replied Jack, gently. "'T is the old spirit
of England that has conquered, as it ever will, when fighting
for its rights against those who would rob it of them."

"True. We forgot 't was our own whelps, grown strong, we
sought to subjugate. And you had the better man to lead
you, Jack."

"Ay, and so we ever shall, so long as Britain makes men
generals because they are king's bastards."

"Nay, Charlie, don't let the sore rankle through life. 'T is
not from whence you came that counts; 't is what you are.
I'd take your shame of birth, if I could rid myself of mine.
Fortune, position, and opportunity I've wasted, while you have
won rank and glory."

"And now have not one thing to make life worth the while."

"Don't say it, Charlie. There's something for you to live
for still. Put your hand into my shirt--yes--to the left--
now you have it."

Brereton drew forth a miniature set with brilliants; and as
his eyes lit upon it, he gave an exclamation of surprise.

"'T is the one thing I concealed from my creditors,"
moaned Sir Frederick, "and now I leave it to you. Watch
over and care for her for the sake of your love and of mine,
Charlie."

Brereton leaned down and kissed Mobray on the cheek, as
he whispered, "I will."

"Is--is Miss Meredith here, Charlie?" asked the dying
baronet.

"Yes, Sir Frederick," replied Janice, with a choke.

"I--I--I fear I am a ghastly object," he went on, "but
could you bring yourself--Am I too horrible for one kiss of
farewell from you? Charlie will not grudge it to me."

The girl knelt beside Brereton, and stooping tenderly kissed
the dying man on the same spot that Jack had kissed.
Mobray's left hand feebly took hers, and, consciously or unconsciously,
brought the one which still held Jack's to it.
Holding the two hands within his own so that they touched,
he said chokingly:--

"Heaven bless you, and try to forgive him. Good-by both.
I have served my term, and at last am released from the
bigger jail." A little shudder, a twitch, and he was dead.

For a minute the two remained kneeling, then Brereton
said sadly:--

"He was the only friend left me in the world, and I
know not why he is taken and I am left." He withdrew his
hand from contact with the girl's, and rose. "I cannot stay,
for my mission is not to be slighted, but I will speak to
O'Hara, and see that he gets a funeral befitting his rank."
Brereton squared his shoulders and raised his voice, to say:
"Lord Chewton, I am--"

With a quick motion, the girl rose to her feet and said: "I
have no right to detain you, Colonel Brereton, but--but I
want you to know that neither dadda nor I knew the truth concerning
Mrs. Loring when we said what we did on that fatal
night. We both thought--thought--Your confession to
me that once you loved her, and her looking too young to be
your mother, led me into a misconception."

"Then you forgive me?" he cried eagerly.

"For the words you spoke then I do not even blame you,
sir. But what was, can never be again."

"Ay," said the officer, bitterly. "You need not say it. You
cannot scorn me more than I scorn myself."

Not giving her time to reply, he crossed to where the
officer with the bandage stood waiting him, and once again was
blindfolded, and led to headquarters.

"This way," directed General O'Hara, leading him into a
room where stood Cornwallis.

"Are you familiar, sir, with the contents of General Washington's
letter?" asked the earl.

"No, my Lord; I was its bearer only because I begged the
Marquis de Lafayette to secure me the service."

"He grants a suspension of hostilities for two hours from
the delivery of this, for me to put my proposals in writing.
Did he say aught to you, sir, of the terms he would grant?"

"I am no longer on General Washington's staff" answered
Brereton, "so I know not his expectations."

"From all I hear of him," said the general, "he is not a
man to use a triumph ungenerously. He fought bravely under
the British standards, and surely will not now seek to bring
unnecessary shame on them." Seating himself at the table, he
wrote a few lines, which he folded and sealed. "Will you not,
use your influence with him to grant us the customary
honours, and spare the officers from the disgrace of giving up
their side arms?"

"I no longer possess influence with or the confidence of
his Excellency," replied Brereton, gravely; "but he is a generous
man, and I predict will not push his advantage merely
for your humiliation."

"Will he not forbear making our surrender a spectacle?"

"If the talk of the camp be of value, my Lord, 't is said
you are to be granted the exact terms you allowed to General
Lincoln at Savannah; and you yourself cannot but acknowledge
the justice of such treatment."

"'T was not I who dictated the terms of that surrender."

"Your observation, my Lord, forces the reply that 't is a
nation, not an individual, we are fighting."

The proud face of the British general worked for a moment
in the intensity of his emotion. "We have no right to complain
that we receive measure for measure," he said; "and yet
sir, though the lex talionis may be justified, it makes it none
the less bitter."

Colonel Brereton took the letter, his eyes were blindfolded
again, and he was led back beyond the lines.

With the expiration of the two hours, the firing was not
resumed; and all that day and the next flags were passing
and repassing between the lines, with the result that on the
afternoon of the latter, commissioners met at the Moore
house and drew up the terms of capitulation, which were
signed that evening.

At twelve o'clock on the 19th, the English colours were
struck on the redoubts, and the American were hoisted in their
stead. Two hours later the armies of the allies took up
position opposite each other on the level ground outside
the town, and the British troops, with shouldered arms,
cased colours, and bands playing, as stipulated, an English air,
"The World Turned Upside Down," came marching out of
their lines. As they advanced, Washington turned to an
officer behind him and ordered, "Let the word be passed
that the troops are not to cheer. They have fought too well
for us to triumph over them." In consequence not a sound
came from the American ranks as the British regiments
marched up and with tears in many a brave man's eyes
grounded their arms and colours. But the officers, through
Washington's generosity, were allowed to retain their swords,
sparing Cornwallis the mortification of having to be present
in person; and it was General O'Hara who spoke the formal
words of surrender, and who led the disarmed and flagless
regiments back into the town, once the formalities had been
completed. By nightfall twenty-four standards and over eight
thousand prisoners were in the possession of the allied forces.

But one had escaped them, for in a cellar, hidden behind a
heap of refuse and boxes, his body already stripped of its
clothes by pilfering negroes, his face horribly distorted, and
with froth yet on his lips, lay the commissary, dead.

And at the very moment the next day that two companies,
one of British Fusileers, and one of New Jersey Continentals,
were firing a volley over a new-made grave, in which, wrapped
in the flag of his country, and buried with every military
honor, had been deposited the body of him who had been
Sir Frederick Mobray, a fatigue party were rolling into a trench,
and carelessly covering with earth from the battered redoubts,
along with the bodies of negroes and horses, and of barrels of
spoiled pork and beef, the naked corpse of him who had been
John Ombrey, Baron Clowes.


LXIII
ON BRUNSWICK GREEN

On a pleasant June afternoon in the year 1782, the
loungers about the Continental Tavern in the village
of Brunswick were discussing the recent proclamations
of the governor and commander-in-chief forbidding
illicit trading with New York, both of which called
forth general condemnation, well voiced by Bagby, when he
remarked:--

"A man with half an eye can see what they are working
for, and that their objections to our supplying the Yorkers is
only a blind. What they really wants is that we patriots, who
don't spend our days idling about in camp all winter at Rocky-Hill
and now at Middle-Brook, doing nothing except eat the
people's food, and spend the people's money, but who earn a
living by hard work, sha' n't have no market but the continental
commissaries, and so will have to take whatever they
allow to offer us for our crops."

"'T aint the proclamations ez duz the rale injoory,"
asserted Squire Hennion; "fer printed orders duz n't hurt
nobody, but when the gin'ral sends a hull brigade of sogers
ter pervent us sellin' our craps then I consarned ef it aint
tyranny ez every freeman is baound ter resist, jest ez we did
in '65 an' '74."

Bagby, with a sour look at Hennion, said: "That 's one of
the biggest grievances, but not the way some pretended friends
of the people would have us think. What do your fellows say
to officers having been fixed, so that pickets are only put
where they'll stop us from sending boats to New York, while
there 's one right here is allowed to send cargoes just when he
likes?"

"Does yer mean that, Joe?" demanded a farmer.

"That I does," asserted Bagby, looking meaningly at
Hennion. "I was told as a chance was given to the army to
catch the man deepest in the business--and in worse--red
handed. But what 's done? Instead of laying a trap, and
catching him, they don't stir a finger, but wait ten months
and then sends the very officer who did n't do nothing to put
a stop to it. For weeks that high cock-a-lorum Brereton 's
been smelling about this town, and lining the river at night
with his pickets, when all the time he could have come here
any afternoon, and arrested the traitor."

"Thet 'eres lucky fer yer," snarled Hennion viciously.
"yer ain't the only one ez kin tell tales, I warns yer."

"I have n't done no bribing, and it was n't me as the information
was lodged against," retorted Joe, rancourously.

"You can't mean as General Brereton 's winking at the trade,
when scarce a boat 's got out of the river since his brigade
camped there," demanded one of the loungers, indicating
with his thumb Brunswick Green, whitened by rows of tents.

"I mean as Brereton could lay hands any time he pleased
on one traitor, and why he has n't done so is what I want to
know. What 's more, I'd like to know, why Washington
does n't take any notice of the charges that I've been told
was preferred against Brereton nigh six months ago for this
very matter. I tell you, fellows, that money 's being used, and
that some of those who hold themselves highest, is taking it."

"Don't seem like his Excellency 'ud do anythin' ez sneaky
ez that," observed the publican, glancing upwards with pride
at his signboard, now restored to its former position. "Folks
says he's a 'nation fine man."

I'm just sick of all this getting on the knees to a man,"
grumbled Joseph, "just because he went and captivated
Cornwallis. Washington is n't a bit better than some of us
right here and it won't be long before you'll find it out."

"How do you make that, Joe?"

"Is n't he trying to bully Congress into paying the army,
just as if he was king, as I suppose he hopes to be some day.
You wait till he gets his way, and I guess the tax collectors
will make the people sing a different tune about him. If
I'm elected to the Assembly this spring, I calculate to make
some ears buzz and tingle a bit, once the legislature meets.
I'll teach some of these swaggering military chaps--who
were n't nothing but bond-servants once yet who some of you
fellows is fools enough now to talk of sending to Congress--
that this is a nation of freemen, and that now that the British
is licked, we don't have no more use for them, and--"

"Waal, I declare, if thet don't favour Squire Meredith, an'
his darter," interjected a farmer, suddenly, pointing with his
pipe to where an army waggon was approaching on the
Princeton post-road.

"Swan, ef yer ain't right," cried Hennion. "I did hope we
wuz quit of them fer good an' all."

"Wonder what the gal 's in black fer?" observed a lounger.

"My nigger cook Sukey," said the landlord, "told me that
Gin'ral Brereton told her the ole lady wuz mortal sick o' the
small-pox an' that when he went aboard the pest-ship, she
wuz so weak it did n't seem like she could be moved, but he
an' the doctor got her safe ashore, an' when he last hearn,
'bout the first o' the year, she wuz gainin'."

The publican rose and went forward as the van stopped
in front of his door. "Glad tew see yer, squire," he said,
"an' yer, too, Miss Janice. Seems most like ole times.
Hope nuthin 's wrong with Miss Meredith?"

The squire slowly and heavily got down from the box seat.
"We have her body in the waggon," he said wearily and sadly.

"I vum, but that 's too bad!" exclaimed the landlord, and,
for want of words of comfort, he hesitatingly held out his
hand, but recollecting himself, he was drawing it back, when
Mr. Meredith, forgetful of rank, caught and squeezed it.

"She never really rallied," went on the squire, with tears in
his eyes, "and though she lived on through the winter, she
did n't have the strength to mend. She died three weeks
ago, and we have come back here to bury her."

"Naow yer an' Miss Janice come right intew my place, an
I'll fix yer both ez comfortable ez I kin," invited the publican,
warmly, once again forgetting himself so far as to pat Mr.
Meredith on the back. Then as he helped Janice down, he
shouted, "Abram, mix a noggin o' sling, from the bestest, an' tell
Sukey that she's wanted right off, no matter what she's doin'."

The last direction was needless, for the slave, in some way
informed of the arrival, had Janice in her arms ere the landlord
well completed his speech, and was carrying more than
leading her into the hotel and up the stairs to the room reserved
for people of quality only, where she lifted her on to
the bed and with her arms still clasped about the girl wept
over her, half in misery, and half in an almost savage joy,
while repeating again and again, "Oh, my missy, my Missy
Janice, my young missy, my pooty young missy, come back
to ole Sukey."

"Oh, Sukey," sobbed Janice, "but mommy is dead."

"Doan young missy pine," begged the slave. "De Lord
he know best, an' he bring my chile, dat I dun take care ob
from de day he dun gib her, back to ole black Sukey."

Meantime, the squire, after a question as to where the
coffin could be temporarily placed, and a direction to the
driver of the wagon, asked the publican: "We had word in
Virginia that Greenwood was sold by the state; is 't so?"

"Yes, squire, it wuz auctioned last August an' wuz bought
by ole squire Hennion, an' jes naow his Excellency 's usin' it
fer headquarters, till the army moves north'ard."

A sadder look came on Mr. Meredith's face. "That 's worse
news yet," he grieved, with a shake of his head; "but perhaps
he'll not carry his hatred into this." He walked over
to where the all-attentive loungers were sitting, and going up
to Hennion, said humbly: "We were once friends, Hennion,
and I trust that such ill feeling as ye bear for me will not lead
ye to refuse a request I have to make."

"An' what 'ere is thet?" inquired Hennion, suspiciously.

"'T was Matilda's--'t was my wife's dying prayer that we
should bring her back here, and lay her beside her four babies,
and to let her die happy I gave her my word it should be
done. Ye'll not refuse me leave, I'm sure, man, to bury her
in the private plot at Greenwood."

"Yer need n't expect ter fool me by no sich a story. I
ain't goin' ter let yer weaken my title by no sich a trick!"

"For shame!" cried Joseph, and a number of others
echoed his words.

"Yelp away," snarled Hennion, rising; "If't 't wuz yer
bull ez wuz ter be gored yer 'd whine t' other side of yer
teeth." With which remark he shuffled away.

Not stopping to listen to the expressions of sympathy and
disgust that the idlers began upon, Mr. Meredith entered the
public of the tavern.

"Here yer be, squire, jus' mixed from my very bestest
liquor, an' it'll set yer right up," declared the landlord, offering
him a pewter pot.

The squire made a motion of dissent, but seeing the publican's
look of disappointment, he took the cup and drained it.
"Ye've not lost your skill, Simon," he remarked kindly, as
he returned it. "Canst tell me if 't is possible for me to get
a letter into New York quickly?"

"'T aint ez easy ez it wuz afore the soldiers come here
fer they pervent the secret trade, but if yer apply tew Gin'ral
Brereton, ez lodges with the paason, I calkerlate he kin send
it in with a flag if he hez a mind tew"

Mr. Meredith shook his head in discouragement. "It
seems as if all I ask must be begged of enemies. However,
't is small grief, after what has passed. Wilt give me pen and
ink, man?"

While he was writing, Bagby came into the public, and
interrupted him.

"I did n't offer to shake hands, squire," he said, "seeing
as you were in trouble, and took up with other things, but I'm
glad to see you and Miss Janice back, and there 's my hand to
prove it."

Mr. Meredith laid down his pen, and took the proffered
handshake. "Thank ye, Mr. Bagby," he said, meekly.

"I would n't stop what you're at now," went on Joseph, sitting
down at the table, "if I had n't something in my mind
as I think 'll interest you big, and may make some things
easier that you want."

"What's that?"

"If I put you on to this, I guess you'll be so grateful that
I don't need to make no terms beforehand. You 'd give me
about what I asked, would n't you, if I can get you Greenwood
back again?"

"How could ye e'er do that?"

"It 's this way. That general act was n't drawn very careful,
and when old Hennion bid the place in, I looked it over
sharp, and I concluded there was a fighting chance to break
the sale. You see, the act declares certain persons traitors,
and that their property is forfeited to the state. Now what we
must do is to make out that Greenwood was Mrs. Meredith's
and that as she was n't named in the act, of course the sale
was n't valid and is void."

The squire wagged his head despondingly. "By the colony
law it became mine the moment she inherited it."

"You see if I can't make a case of it," urged Bagby. "I've
come out a great hand at tieing the facts up in such a snarl as
no judge or jury can get them straight again, and this time
the jury will be with us before we begin. You see old
Hennion's been putting the screws on his tenants tight as he
can twist them, and glad enough they 'd be if they could only
have you again, 'stead of him. The whole country's so down
on him that I've been planning to prevent his being re-elected
to Assembly this spring. Now, you know, as well as I, what
I would like, and I guess you won't be so set against it now,
for I've got nigh to twenty thousand pounds specie, laid out
in all sorts of ventures, so even if we don't get Greenwood,
I'll be all the better match, but we won't say nothing about
all that till we've seen what comes."

"Nay, Mr. Bagby, I'll not gain your aid by a deceitful
silence. I owe ye an apology for the way I treated your
overture before, but I must tell you that both my own, and
my girl's word is given to Major Hennion, and so--"

"But he's been attainted, an' 'll never be able to come back
here.

"Aye, and we too expect to accept exile with him. When
we left Williamsburg, we planned once we had buried our
dead, to go to New York, where the two will marry, and then
I shall follow them to wherever his regiment is ordered."

"But you don't need to go, now that General Brereton 's
persuaded the governor to pardon you," protested Joseph,
"and you--"

"Was it Brereton did that?" demanded Mr. Meredith.

"Between you and me, squire, I'd been at Livingston ever
since you was sent away, and had about won him over, when
Brereton got back from Virginia and went to see him."

"I'm glad to hear he's willing to do me a kindness, for
not once at Yorktown did he come nigh us, and so I feared
me he would refuse a favour I must shortly ask of him."

"What 's that?"

"I'm writing to Phil Hennion, begging him to intercede
with his father and get me permission to bury my wife at
Greenwood."

"You would n't need to do no asking if you 'd only let me
get the property back."

"You 're right, man, and if it does nothing more, we'll
perhaps frighten him into yielding us that much."

"'T will take time, you understand, squire, and it can't be
done if you go to York or out of the country."

"We'll stay here as long as there 's nothing better to do."

"That's the talk. And don't you wherrit about your
lodgings, if you 're short of cash. I'll fix it with Si, and chance
my getting paid somehow. I'll see him right off, and fix it
so you and Miss Janice has the best there is." He started
to go; then asked, "I hope--there is n't any danger--I
suppose--she'll keep, eh, squire?"

The husband winced. "Yes," he replied huskily. "The
Marquis de Lafayette, quite unasked, ordered the commissaries
to give us all we needed of a pipe of rum."

"That was mighty generous," said Bagby, "for I suppose
he had to pay for it. Even a major-general, I take it, can't
draw no such a quantity gratis."

"I writ him, asking that I might know the cost, but he
answered that 't was nothing. 'T is impossible to say what we
owe to him. 'T was he, so Doctor Craik told me, who asked
him to bring Mrs. Meredith off the pest-ship, and 't was he
who furnished us with the army-van in which we've journeyed
from Virginia. Had we been kinsmen, he could not have
been kinder."

"Now that only shows how a man tries to take credit for
what he has n't had a finger in. Brereton, who, since he was
made a general and got so thick with the governor, has put
on airs enough to kill a cat, told your Sukey, as now is cook
here, that 't was he went aboard the pest-ship with the doctor,
and brought her off."

"'T is the first I've heard of it," averred Mr. Meredith,
incredulously yet thoughtfully.

"I tell you that Brereton is a sly, sneaky fellow, as needs
watching in more than one matter. Nigh ten months ago I
showed him how he could nab old Hennion, so that like as
not he'd have gone to the gallows, but he did n't stir a
finger, durn him! Oh, here 's Si, now. Say, I want you to
treat Mr. Meredith and Miss Janice real handsome, and don't
trouble them with no bills, but leave me to square it," he said
to the landlord, who had come bustling in.

"Lor, Joe, yer duz n't think I wuz goin' tew make no
charge fer this? Why, the squire lent me the money ez
started me, an' I calkerlate he kin stay on here jus' about ez
long ez he elects tew." Then the publican laughed. "Like
ez not there won't be no supper tew-night, squire. That 'ere
Sukey hez got yer gal tucked in my best tester bed, an' is
croonin' her tew sleep jes' like she wuz a baby ag'in. She
most bit my head off when I went in tew tell her supper-time
wuz comin'. 'Stonishin' haow like white folks niggers kin feel
sometimes, ain't it?"

"I bought her when our first baby was coming, and she
saw four born and buried, and nigh broke her heart over
each one in turn," said the squire, huskily; "so when Janice
came, 't was as if she was her own child." He rose, his letter
completed, and with a word to explain his movements, walked
across the green to the parsonage, where his knock brought
Peg to the door, and resulted in a series of wild greetings and
exclamations. At last, however, the old-time master was permitted
to make known the object of his call, and was ushered
into a room where Brereton was sitting writing.

"Mr. Meredith!" exclaimed Jack, starting to his feet.
"How are you all--that--how is Miss Meredith?"

"She's stood the grief and--I know not if ye have heard
of Mrs. Meredith's death?"

"Yes; a friend in Virginia wrote me."

"She's borne up under that and under the hard journey
wonderfully, and has been braver and more cheerful, I fear,
than I myself. I've come to ye, General Brereton, to ask if
ye could send a letter for me, under flag, to New York?"

"Certainly, if 't is of a character that makes it allowable."

"I've not sealed it, that you might read it," answered the
squire, holding out his letter.

Brereton read it slowly, as if he was thinking between the
words. "It shall be sent in at once," he promised, his lips
set as if to conceal some emotion. Then he asked, "You
write to Colonel Hennion as if--are he and--you intend to
give Miss Meredith to him?"

"Yes."

Jack wheeled and looked out of a window for an instant;
without turning he said, "Is she--does she--she is
willing?"

"Ay, the lass has at last found she loves him, and is as
ready now as I ever was."

Again Brereton was silent for a breathing space. "When
will they wed?" he questioned finally.

"Once we can get to York."

"And that will be?"

"The burial of Mrs. Meredith and other matters will keep
us in Brunswick for an uncertain length of time."

"And you will lodge where?"

"At the tavern."

"'T is no place for Miss Meredith."

"Beggars cannot be choosers, sir."

For a moment Brereton said nothing; then remarked as he
faced about, "If I can serve you in any other way, Mr.
Meredith, hesitate to ask nothing of me."

"My thanks to ye, general," answered Mr. Meredith, gratefully.
"I fear me I little merit courtesy at your hands."

"'T is a peace-making time," replied Jack, "and we'll put
the ill feeling away, as 't is to be hoped Great Britain and
our country will do, once the treaty is negotiated and
ratified."

"'T is no country I have," rejoined the squire, sadly. "One
word, sir, and I will be gone. I was but just told that 't was
ye who got Mrs. Meredith off the pest-ship; and if--"

Brereton held up his hand. "'T was the Marquis who gave
the order, Mr. Meredith, and the Surgeon-General who
superintended the removal."

"So I was told at the time, but I feared that I might have
been misinformed. None the less, general, I am your present
debtor;" with which words the squire bowed himself out.

Left alone, Brereton stood like a stone for some minutes
ere he resumed his seat. He glanced down at the sheet, on
which was written:--

                              Brunswick, June 13th, 1782.
"SIR,--After three months' test, I can assure your Excellency
that it is possible to very materially if not entirely check
the illicit trade with New York, but only by the constant employment
of a considerable force of men in a service at once
fatiguing to them and irritating to the neighbourhood. I would
therefore suggest, in place of these purely repressive measures,
that others which will at once bring to justice those most deeply
concerned in the trade, and terrify by example those who are
only occasionally guilty, be employed, and therefore beg to submit
for your consideration the following plan of action.

Shoving the paper to one side, Brereton took a fresh sheet,
and wrote a hurried letter, which, when sealed, he addressed
to "Lady Washington, Headquarters at Greenwood Manor."
This done, he finished his official letter, and going to the rows
of tents on the green, he delivered the two into the hands of
an officer, with an order to ride with them at once.

On the following day a coach drew up in front of the Continental
Tavern, and with much dignity a negro in livery alighted
from the seat beside the driver.

"You will deliber Lady Washington's an' my deferential
complimen's to Miss Janice Meredith; likewise dis letter from
his Excellency," he said grandly to the tavern-keeper.

"Waal, of all airs fer a nigger!" snorted mine host. "Duz
his Excellency run yer jobs fer yer ter hum? Guess yer ain't
so fat, be yer, that yer keant carry that inter the settin'-room
yerself."

With a glance of outraged dignity that should have annihilated
the publican, the man went across the hall, and after a
knock, entered.

"Why, Billy!" exclaimed Janice, starting up from her
chair, her arm outstretched.

The intense dignity melted away in a breath, and the darky
chuckled and slapped himself with delight as he took the
hand. "Der, now!" he cried, "I dun assure her Ladyship
dat Missy would remember Billy. Here am a letter from his
Excellency, Miss."

Opening it, Janice read it out to her father:--

                           Headquarters, 14 June, 1782.
Dear Miss Janice,--In writing this I but act as Mrs.
Washington's scribe, she having an invincible dislike to the use
of a pen. She hopes and begs that you will favour us with the
honour of your company for a time at Headquarters, and to
this I would add my own persuasions were I not sure that hers
will count above mine. However, let me say that it will be a
personal gratification to me if you give us now the pleasure I
have several times counted upon in the past. Thinking to
make more certain of your granting this request, and that you
may make the journey without discomfort, Mrs. Washington
sends her coach.

I most sincerely regretted not seeing you at Yorktown, the
more that Lord Cornwallis assured me when he dined with
me on the evening after the surrender, that he would secure
your presence at the banquet he tendered to the French and
American officers; but I was still more grieved when told the
reason for your refusal to grace the occasion by your presence.
The sudden sickness of poor Mr. Custis, which compelled me
to hasten away from York, and the affecting circumstance
of his untimely death threw Mrs. Washington and Mrs.
Bassett, who were both present, into such deep distress that I
could not find it in my heart to leave Eltham, once the funeral
rites were performed. The Marquis has since assured me that
nothing was neglected which could be of comfort or service to
your mother, and I trust that he speaks informedly. I have
just learned of your loss, and hasten to tender you both Mrs.
Washington's and my own sympathy on this melancholy
occasion.

Be assured that your company will truly gratify both me and
the partner of all my Domestic enjoyments, and that I am, my
dear young lady, with every sentiment of respect and esteem,
                    Yr most obedt hble servt
                                             Go Washington.

"'T is the very thing I'd have for ye, Jan," exclaimed the
squire.

"Oh, dadda, I'll not leave you."

"That ye shall, for I'll be busy with this scheme of Bagby's,
and the tavern is no place for ye, child, let alone what ye'll be
forever dwelling on if ye have no distraction."

"An' his Excellency," said the messenger, "done tell me
to say dat he done holds you' parole ob honour, an' dat, if you
doan' come back with me in de coach, he done send de
provost gyard to fotch youse under arrest. What 's mo, Miss,
dat big villin, Blueskin, will be powerful joyed to see youse
again."


LXIV
A SETTLING OF OLD SCORES

On a night of the most intense darkness a strange-looking
craft was stealing slowly up the Raritan, quite
as much helped in its progress by the flood-tide as
by the silent stroke of the oars, about which were
wound cloths where they rubbed against the thole-pins. The
rowers knelt on the bottom of the boat, so that nothing but their
heads projected above the gunwale, which set low in the water,
and to which were tied branches of trees, concealing it so completely
that at ten feet distance on any ordinarily clear night it
would have been difficult to know that it was not a drifting limb.

Lying at full length in the bottom of the boat were two
men, one of whom from time to time moved impatiently.

"Will we never get there?" he finally whispered.

"Slow work it is," replied the other, in the lowest of voices,
"but it has to be done careful."

"I understood you the river was open once more."

"Ay. We had word the regiments had been withdrawn,
to go north with the main army; but this is only the second
night the boats have ventured in, and cautious we've always
had to be."

The note of a crow came floating over the water, and at
the sound the last speaker raised himself on his elbow and
deliberately began counting in a low voice. As he spoke the
number "ten," once again came the discordant "caw, caw,"
and instantly the counter opened his mouth and sent forth
an admirable imitation of the cry of a screech-owl. Counting
once again to ten, he repeated the shriek, then listened.

In a moment the first splash of oars reached them.

"This way," softly called the man, and put out his hand
to prevent a small boat colliding with the larger one.

"Thought I heard a bird just now," remarked the solitary
occupant.

"If you did, 't was a king bird."

"I have n't much to-night," announced the new arrival,
as he handed a small packet into the boat. "It contains a
paper from No. 2, giving the decisions of the last council
of war, and the line of march they have adopted for next
week."

The one in the larger boat pulled up a cleverly fitted board
in the bottom of the boat, and taking out a letter, slipped the
just received parcel into the cavity and dropped the plank
back into place. "There's a letter for you," he said, passing
it to the new-comer. Without another word the stranger
shoved off and in a moment was lost in the darkness.

"Was n't that Joe Bagby?" questioned the man's companion.

"'Sh! We don't mention no names, if it can be avoided."

"You need not fear me. I am in the general's confidence,
and know as well as you that No. 2 is Major-General
Parsons of the Connecticut line."

"That 's more than I knew," muttered the boatman; "so
you see, Colonel Hennion, 't is as well not to mention names."

In silence the boat drifted onward, save for an order presently
given that the rowers turn in toward the left bank.

"Seems like I hearn suthin'," suddenly came a voice out of
the darkness.

"'T is only we, fishin' for what 's to be caught!" said the
boatman.

"No danger of yer catchin' nuthin' here," asserted the
unseen speaker.

"Pull into the pier, boys! We 're got your son aboard,
Hennion."

A low exclamation came from the man standing on the rude
wharf that suddenly loomed into view. "Yer duz n't mean
my Phil

"Ay, dad," answered the colonel, as he rose and climbed
out of the boat; "'t is me."

"Lordy me, if I ever expected ter see yer ag'in, Phil," cried
the father, as he threw his arms about him. "This is a surprise
ez duz my ole bones a heap of good. Naow say yer've
come ter tell me thet I may make yer peace with the state, an'
yer'll come back ter Boxely fer good. Terrible lonesome I've
bin, lad, all these years yer ye bin off."

"Nay, dad, my heart 's too much in the service to ever let
me get interested in turnips or cabbages again. What I've
come for is to make you yield to Mr. Meredith's request, and
if possible to get a word with Janice. Tell me he's mistaken,
dad, in what he wrote. You never refused--"

"Look here, Hennion," growled the boatman, "we can't
waste all night while you--"

He was in turn interrupted by a sharp click, the spit of a
port fire sounded, and instantly came a glare of red light,
which brought those on the pier into full view, and showed to
them two boats full of soldiers on the river, and another party
of them rising from behind a fence a few rods away.

With a scream of terror, Squire Hennion started down the
wharf, hoping to escape before the troops closed in.

"Halt!" commanded some one; and when the old man
still ran, he ordered "Fire."

"Bang!" went a musket on the word; but Hennion reached
the end of the pier, and turned down the river bank. "Bang,
bang," went two more; and the runner staggered, then pitched
forward on his face.

"I surrender," announced Philemon, as the soldiers came
crowding on to the wharf. "Where is your commander?"

"I am sorry to see you here, Hennion," said Brereton's
voice. "You are the last man I wanted to take prisoner
under such circumstances."

"Wilt let me go to my father?" steadily requested the British
colonel. "I give my word not to escape."

"Let him go free," ordered Brereton; and together they
walked down to the prostrate body, which an officer had
already turned on its face, so that he might search the
pockets.

As the two came up, the squire opened his eyes. "They've
dun fer me, Phil," he moaned. "Yer ole dad 's gone ter the
well once too offen, an' a durn fool he wuz ter go on, when he
know'd they wuz arter them ez wuz consarned in it."

As he spoke, the keel of one of the boats which had rowed
in, grated on the river bottom. An officer, springing ashore,
joined the group, and saluting, reported: "General Brereton,
when you fired the light, it revealed, close upon us, a small
boat stealing up the river, in which we captured Mr. Bagby.
He declares he was out fishing; but he had no tackle, and the
bowsman swears that as we approached he saw him put something
into his mouth and swallow it."

"Bring him here," ordered the commander; and Bagby, his
hands and feet tied, was more speedily than politely spilled
into the shallow water and dragged ashore.

"I'll pay you military fellows up!" he sputtered angrily.
"Attacking and abusing citizens as is engaged in lawful occupations.
You wait till the Assembly meets. Hello! Well,
I'm durned, what 's happened to Squire Hennion?" he ejaculated.
"You don't mean to say he's got his deserts at last?
Now, I guess you see what your buying of Greenwood 's
brought you. No man makes an enemy of Joe Bagby but
lives to regret it."

A look of intense malignity came on the dying man's face,
and pushing his son, who was kneeling beside him, away,
he raised himself with an effort on one elbow. "So it
wuz yer ez betrayed me, wuz it," he cried, "yer ez took yer
share in it daown ter the time ez we split over Greenwood,
an' naow goes an' plays the sneak? Duz yer hearn that, Phil?
Ef yer care fer me one bit, boy, bide yer chance an' pay
him aout fer what he's done ter--" He beat the air wildly
with his free arm, in a vain attempt to steady himself, and then
once more pitched forward on his face, the blood pouring
from his mouth.

The sun had been up an hour when three companies of
Continentals, guarding five prisoners, marched into Brunswick,
and at the word of command halted on the green. The sight
was enough to draw most of the villagers to doors or
windows; but when the rumour spread like wild-fire that among
those prisoners were Joseph Bagby and Philemon Hennion,
every inhabitant who could, promptly collected about the
troops, where, as the soldiers and officers paid no attention to
their questions, they spent their time in surmises as to what
it meant, and in listening to the Honourable Joseph's threats
and fulminations against the military power.

Among those who thus gathered was Mr. Meredith; and
the moment he appeared Colonel Hennion called to Brereton,
who was busily engaged in conferring with the officer in actual
command of the half battalion.

"General Brereton," he requested, "may I have a few words
in private with Squire Meredith?"

"Withdraw your guards out of ear-shot, Captain Blaisdell,"
ordered Brereton.

"Why, Phil, this is a sad plight to find ye in," said the
squire, regretfully, as he held out his hand, forgetful that the
prisoner's cords prevented his taking it.

"'T is worse than you think, squire," answered Philemon,
calmly; "I came but to see my father about your wish, but,
caught as I was, they will never believe it, and will doubtless
hang me as a spy the moment a court-martial has sat."

"Nay, lad, 't is not possible they--"

"'T is what we should do in the same circumstances, so
't is not for me to complain. 'T was not this, however, of
which I desired to speak. My father was killed this morning,
and his death makes it possible for me to end your difficulties.
We had word in New York that the governor had pardoned
you; is't so?"

"Ay."

"Then 't is all right, if we but act quick enough to complete
it, ere I am sent to the gallows. Find a justice of the
peace without delay, and let him draw deeds from me to--
to Janice, of both Greenwood and Boxely, and bring them to
me to sign

"Surely, Phil, 't is--" protestingly began the squire.

"Waste not a moment," importuned Philemon. "If 't is
delayed till I am convicted, the state may claim that they
were in escheat, but for these few hours I have a good title,
and if ever they seek to invalidate the deeds, set up the mortgages
on Boxely that you hold, as the consideration."

"But--"

"In God's name, squire, don't lose the opportunity by
delay! 'T is best, whatever comes; for even if by the most
marvellous luck I can convince the court that I am no spy,
and so go free, the moment the legislature meets, they will
vote a bill of forfeiture against me; so 't is the one means
to save the property, whatever comes."

"Ye have the sense of it, lad," acceded Mr. Meredith,
"and I'll do as ye tell me, this instant. But I'll do all that's
possible to save ye as well, and if ye but go free, ye shall be
not a penny the worse off, that I swear to ye."

"And if not, 't is what I would do with the lands, were I
dying a natural death, squire."

"Don't lose hope, lad," said the squire, his hand on Phil's
shoulder. "Once the parson has drawn the deeds, I'll see
Washington himself; and we'll save ye yet." Then he hurried
away towards the parsonage.

During this dialogue other occurrences had been taking place,
which very much interested yet mystified the crowd of spectators.
When the conference between the general and major had
ended, Brereton walked to the doctor's house and entered it.
The major meantime went over to the constable, and in response
to something he said, the town official took out his keys, and
unlocked the stocks, a proceeding which set both soldiers and
townsfolk whispering curiously.

"Free the prisoner Bagby's hands and feet, Corporal Cox,
and set him in," commanded the major.

"What in the 'nation is comin'!" marvelled one of the
observers. "Of all rum ways o' treatin' a suspect, this 'ere
is the rummiest."

Another pause followed, save for a new outburst from Joe,
concerning the kinds of vengeance he intended to shortly
inaugurate; but presently Brereton and the doctor came
across the green, the latter carrying a bottle and spoon in his
hand.

"This is the one," said the general; and then, as the doctor
stepped forward and poured the spoon full from the bottle,
he ordered, "Open your mouth, Mr. Bagby."

"This is tyranny," shrieked Joe, "and I won't do no such
thing." He shut his mouth with a snap and set his jaws
rigidly.

"Hold his head," commanded Brereton; and the corporal
took it firmly and bent it back so that the helpless man
looked skyward. "Snuff," said Jack, and a second officer,
pulling out a small box, stepped forward, and placed a pinch
in Bagby's nose.

"A-chew!" went Joe, and as his mouth flew open, the officer
inserted the barrel of his pistol, so that when he tried to
close his jaws again they only bit on steel. Instantly the
spoon was put to his lips, and the contents emptied down
his throat.

"How long will it take?" the general asked.

"The lobelia ought to act in about five minutes," replied
the doctor.

Silence ensued, as soldiers and crowd stared at the immovable
Joseph, whose complexion slowly turned from ruddy to
white, and from white to greenish yellow, while into his eyes
and mouth came a hang-dog look of woebegone misery and
sickness.


LXV
PEACE IN SIGHT

The occupants of Greenwood were still at breakfast
that same morning, when word was brought to the
commander-in-chief that Mr. Meredith desired
speech with him.

"Set another place, Billy, and bid him to come in," ordered
the hostess.

"I'll tell him, Lady Washington," cried Janice, springing
up, and after she had nearly throttled her father on the porch,
he was led in.

"My thanks to ye, Lady Washington," said the squire, once
the introduction was made, "but I have broken fast already,
and have merely come to intercede with his Excellency on
a sad matter." In the fewest possible words he explained
Philemon's situation. "The lad assures me that he came but
to serve me, and with never a thought of spying," he ended.
"I trust therefore that ye'll not hold him as one, however
suspiciously it may appear."

"The matter shall have careful consideration at my hands,
Mr. Meredith," replied Washington.

"All the more, I trust, that ye are good enough to take
an interest in my Jan, who is his promised bride."

Both Washington and his wife turned to the girl, and the
former said,--

"What, Miss Janice, is this the way thou hast kept thy promise
to me to save thy smiles and blushes for some good Whig?"

"Janice Meredith! you are the most ungrateful creature
that ever I knew!" asserted Mrs. Washington, crossly.

The girl only looked down into her lap, without an attempt
at reply, but her father took up the cudgels.

"Nay!" he denied, "many a favor we owe to Mr. Hennion,
and now he has topped them all by signing deeds within the
hour that gives to the girl both Greenwood and Boxely."

Janice looked up at her father. "'T is like him," she
said, chokingly. "Oh, General Washington, will you not be
merciful to him?"

"What is done must depend wholly on General Brereton's
report, Miss Janice," answered Washington, gravely.

"Oh, not on him!" besought the girl. "He has reason to
dislike Major Hennion, and he is capable of such bitter
resentments."

"Hush, child, have you no eyes?" cried Mrs. Washington,
and Janice faced about to find Brereton standing behind her.

Not a feature of Jack's face showed that he had heard her,
as he saluted and began,--

"The manoeuvre was executed last night, your Excellency,
and I have the honour to hand you my report."

Washington took the document and began an instant
reading of it, while the new arrival turned to give and
receive a warm greeting with the hostess. "You'll eat
some breakfast, Jack," she almost begged, with affectionate
hospitality.

"Thank you, Lady Washington, I--I--some other morning,"
answered the officer.

An awkward silence fell, yet which no one attempted to
break, as the commander-in-chief slowly conned each page
of the report. Once finished, he turned to the squire, and
said, "I must ask, Mr. Meredith, that you go into the parlour,
where later I will see you. I have certain questions to put to
General Brereton." Mr. Meredith gone, he asked,--

"What was the paper you recovered from this Bagby?"

"'T was a slip of tissue silk, which proves beyond doubt
that he has been supplying the British with information,
though unluckily there is nothing to show from whom in our
army he received his information."

"'T is unfortunate, for we have long known that a leak existed
in our very councils. However, 't is something gained to have
broken the channel of communication, and to have brought
one traitor to the gallows. You will deliver the prisoners into
the hands of the provost-marshal, sir, and be at headquarters
at two this afternoon, prepared to give your testimony and
papers to the court I shall order."

Brereton saluted, and made a movement of departure, but
Washington spoke again,--

"In this report, sir, you speak of having taken Lieutenant
Colonel Hennion a prisoner of war. Under the circumstances
in which he was captured 't is a strange definition to
give to his footing."

Jack's bronzed face reddened slightly. "I so stated it,
your Excellency, because I overheard the colonel tell his
father that he had but stolen within our lines to do Mr.
Meredith a service, and having myself read the letter that
induced him to take the risk, I had every reason to believe
that he spoke nothing but the truth. Yet I knew that no
court-martial would take such a view, and so gave him that
quality in my report, to save him from a fate he does not
merit."

"Once, sir, you were guilty of a deceit," said Washington,
sternly, "and the present conditions are enough similar to
make me suspicious. Are you certain that the fact that Miss
Meredith's happiness is concerned in this officer's fate, has had
nothing to do with the quality you have given to his status?"

Despite the tan, General Brereton's cheeks paled. "My
God, your Excellency!" he burst out. "It has been one long
struggle from the moment I found him my prisoner, until my
report was safe in your hands not to--not to send him to the
gallows, as I could by mere silence so easily have done. That
I reported so promptly was due to the fact that I dared not
delay, lest the temptation should become too strong."

Washington's eye had never left Brereton during his outbreak,
and at the end he said: "You will remain at headquarters,
and report to me again, sir, in half an hour, after I
have duly considered the facts."

Making no reply, Jack saluted, and passed out of the room.
As he reached the doorway, Janice, who had risen, said:

"I pray you, General Brereton, to forgive me the grave
wrong I have just done you in both thought and speech."

Silently Jack bowed, and closed the door.

"I should think thee 'd be well ashamed of thyself; miss,"
declared Mrs. Washington, fretfully.

"I am, Lady Washington," replied the girl, humbly, "but
believe me, that wrong as I was in this instance, I am not so
wholly to blame as I seem, for one example of General
Brereton's temper which he gave me, proves that he can carry
his resentment to all lengths, and

"And is it because the man has a temper that you have
slighted his suit?" interrupted the matron, peevishly. "Child,
child, don't you know that every man that is worth his salt
has a warm constitution? Why, the tales and warnings that
were brought to me of the general's choleric nature when he
was wooing me were enough to fright any woman. And true
they were, for once roused, his wrath is terrible. Yet to me
he has ever been the kindest and most amiable of husbands."

Washington smiled, as he said, "Miss Janice will know who
deserves the credit for that. But my wife is right. A man
is not apt to vent his wrath on the woman he loves, unless
she gives him extreme cause."

"Bitter cause we gave to General Brereton, I own, but--
but I can never think that had he truly loved me he would
have refused his aid in our extremity."

"Refused thee aid!" snapped Jack's partisan. "Has he
done anything but help thee in every way he could? Who
was it brought thy poor mother off that dreadful ship? Who
was it has teased General Lafayette with such unending favours
for thee, that the marquis asked me what was the source of
General Brereton's interest in one Mr. Meredith? Who
only last week wrote me a letter that would have melted a
stone--anything, I believe, but thy heart--begging me to
offer thee a home, that thou might'st escape the tavern discomfort
and crowd? I declare, thy ingratitude nigh makes
me regret my having wasted any liking upon thee."

"Oh, Lady Washington," cried Janice, "not a one of these
did I know of; and if you but knew what gladness it brings me
to learn that, once he knew we had insulted him unwittingly,
he forgave us, and put his resentment away."

"Then you'll reward him as he deserves?" delightedly exclaimed
the match-maker.

"I am promised, Lady Washington," replied the girl,
gravely, "and were I not, I could never forget his once
cruelty

"What did he?"

"I cannot bear to tell, now he has, by his kindness, endeavoured
to atone for it."

"I make no doubt 't is more of his masked generosity.
Never will I believe that loving you as I know he does, he
could be hard-hearted or cruel to you."

"'T was not--'t was worse than if his anger had fallen on
me, Lady Washington. He refused to aid my father, and
but for his Excellency's untellable generosity and--"

Washington, who had been rereading the report, looked up,
and interrupted: "Did General Brereton tell you that it
was my act, Miss Janice?"

"No, your Excellency, 't was from Governor Livingston
that we learned of the debt we owed to you, for which no
thanks can ever--"

Once again Washington interrupted. "There are no thanks
due to me, Miss Janice," he said, "for, much as I may have
wished to service you, my public duties made it unwise.
Your gratitude is wholly due to Brereton."

"I do not understand--What do you mean?" exclaimed
the girl. "He--'t was your letter, so the governor said--"

"'T was my letter, but his act," replied Washington; and
in a few words explained. "General Brereton expected, and
should have been court-martialled and shot for what he did,"
he ended; "but he had served me faithfully, and so I refrained
from making his misconduct public, and punished him
no further than by demanding his resignation from my staff.
You lost me a good friend and servant, Miss Janice, but now,
with the war in effect ended, I scarce feel regret that his action,
however blamable, spared you the loss of your father."

"Now, what do you say, miss?" inquired Mrs. Washington,
triumphantly.

All the reply Janice made was to let her head fall forward
on the table, as she burst into tears.

"There, there, my child!" cried the matron, putting her
arms about and raising the girl, so that the down bent head
might find a resting-place on her bosom. "I did not mean
to pain thee."

"Oh, Lady Washington," sobbed Janice, as she threw her
arms about the dame's neck, "I--I am so miserable, an--
an--and so happy!"

Ten minutes later, Janice, with pale cheeks, but determined
air, sought her father in the parlour, and going on her knees
at his feet