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Title: The Sun of Saratoga - A Romance of Burgoyne's Surrender
Author: Altsheler, Joseph A. (Joseph Alexander)
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "The Sun of Saratoga - A Romance of Burgoyne's Surrender" ***

Town and Country

No. 216



A Romance of Burgoyne’s Surrender



[Illustration: Logo]




CHAPTER                               PAGE
    I.--ON WATCH                         1

   II.--A LIGHT IN THE WINDOW           16

  III.--A SHOT FROM THE WINDOW          29

   IV.--OUT OF THE HOUSE                49

    V.--MY SUPERIOR OFFICER             62

   VI.--BELT’S GHOST                    77

  VII.--IN BURGOYNE’S CAMP              91

 VIII.--A NIGHT UNDER FIRE             108

   IX.--MY GUIDE                       118

    X.--THE SUN OF SARATOGA            132

   XI.--THE NIGHT AFTER                143

  XII.--WE RIDE SOUTHWARD              155

 XIII.--WE MEET THE FLEET              169




 XVII.--MY THANKS                      232


  XIX.--THE MAN FROM CLINTON           259

   XX.--NOT A DROP TO DRINK            274

  XXI.--THE MESSENGER                  295

 XXII.--CAPITULATIONS                  310




“You will watch this hollow and the hill yonder,” said the general,
“and see that not a soul passes either to the north or to the south.
Don’t forget that the fate of all the colonies may depend upon your

Then he left me.

I felt much discomfort. I submit that it is not cheering to have the
fate of thirteen large colonies and some two or three million people,
men, women, and children, depend upon one’s own humble self. I like
importance, but not when it brings such an excess of care.

I looked to Sergeant Whitestone for cheer.

“We are not the only men on watch to cut off their messengers,” he
said. “We have our bit of ground here to guard, and others have

Then he sat down on the turf and smoked his pipe with provoking calm,
as if the troubles of other people were sufficient to take our own
away. I decided to stop thinking about failure and address myself to my
task. Leaving the sergeant and the four men who constituted my small
army, I took a look about me. The hollow was but a few hundred yards
across, sparse-set with trees and bushes. It should not be difficult to
guard it by day, but by night it would be a different matter. On the
hill I could see the walls and roof of the Van Auken house. That, too,
fell within my territory, and for reasons sufficient to me I was sorry
of it.

I walked part of the way up the hillside, spying out the ground and
seeing what places for concealment there might be. I did not mean to be
lax in my duty in any particular. I appreciated its full import. The
great idea that we might take Burgoyne and his whole army was spreading
among us, and it was vital that no news of his plight should reach
Clinton and the other British down below us.

I came back to Sergeant Whitestone, who was still sitting on the
ground, puffing out much smoke, and looking very content.

“I don’t think we need fear any attempt to get through until night,” he
said. “The dark is the time for messengers who don’t want to be seen.”

I agreed with him, and found a position of comfort upon the grass.

“There’s our weak point,” said the sergeant, waving his hand toward the
Van Auken house.

I was sorry to hear him say so, especially as I had formed the same

“But there’s nobody up there except women,” I said.

“The very reason,” replied the sergeant.

I occupied myself for a little while tossing pebbles at a tree. Then I
disposed my men at suitable distances along our line, and concluded to
go up to the house, which going, in good truth, was part of my duty.

I was near the top of the hill when I saw Kate Van Auken coming to meet

“Good morning, Dick,” she said.

“Good morning, Mistress Catherine,” I replied.

It had been my habit to call her Kate when we were children together,
but I could not quite manage it now.

“You are set as a guard upon us?” she said.

“To protect you from harm,” I replied with my most gallant air.

“Your manners are improving,” she said in what I thought rather a
disdainful tone.

“I must search the house,” I continued.

“You call that protecting us?” she said with the same touch of sarcasm.

“Nevertheless it must be done,” I said, speaking in my most positive

She led the way without further demur. Now I had every confidence in
Kate Van Auken. I considered her as good a patriot as myself, though
all her family were Tory. It did not seem to me to be at all likely
that any spy or messenger of the British had reached the concealment of
the house, but it was my duty to be sure.

“Perhaps you would not care to talk to my mother?” she asked.

“No!” I replied in such haste that she laughed.

I knew Madame Van Auken was one of the most fanatic Tories in New York
colony, and I had no mind to face her. It is curious how women are more
hard-set than men in these matters. But in my search of the house I
was compelled to pass through the room where she sat, most haughty and
severe. Kate explained what I was about. She never spoke to me, though
she had known me since I was a baby, but remained rigid in her armchair
and glowered at me as if I were a most wretched villain. I confess that
I felt very uncomfortable, and was glad when we passed on to another

As I had expected, I found nothing suspicious in the house.

“I hope you are satisfied?” said Miss Van Auken when I left.

“For the present,” I replied, bowing.

I rejoined Sergeant Whitestone in the hollow. He was still puffing at
his pipe, and I do not think he had changed his position by the breadth
of a hair. I told him I had found nothing at the house, and asked what
he thought of the case.

“We may look for work to-night, I think,” he replied very gravely.
“It’s most likely that the British will try to send somebody through
at this point. All the Van Aukens, except the women, are with Burgoyne,
and as they know the ground around here best they’ll go to Burgoyne and
have him send the men this way.”

That was my thought too. Whitestone is a man of sound judgment. I sent
two of our lads toward the house, with instructions to watch it, front
and rear. It was my intent to visit them there later.

Then I joined Whitestone in a friendly pipe and found much consolation
in the good tobacco. Kate’s manner had nettled me the least bit, but
I reflected that perhaps she was justified, as so many of her people
were with Burgoyne, and, moreover, she was betrothed to Chudleigh, an
Englishman. Chudleigh, an officer with Tryon in New York before the
war, had come down from Canada with Burgoyne. So far as I knew he had
passed safely through the last battle.

I had naught in particular against Chudleigh, but it seemed to me that
he might find a wife in his own country.

The day was slow. I would rather have been with the army, where there
was bustle and the hope of great things, but Whitestone, a pack of
lazy bones, grunted with content. He stretched his long body on the
ground and stared up at the sky through half-closed eyes. A mellow sun
shone back at him.

Toward noon I sent one of the men to the house with a request for some
small supply of provision, if they could spare it. We had food, a
little, but we wanted more. Perhaps I ought to have gone myself, but I
had my reasons. The man came back with two roast chickens.

“The old lady gave me a blessing,” he said with a sour face, “and said
she’d die before she’d feed rebels against the best king that ever
lived; but the girl gave me these when I came out the back way.”

We ate our dinner, and then I changed the sentinels at the house.
Whitestone relapsed into his apparent lethargy, but I knew that the
man, despite his seeming, was all vigilance and caution.

We looked for no happenings before dark, but it was yet a good four
hours to set of sun when we heard a noise in the south and saw some
dust rising far down the hollow.

Sergeant Whitestone rose quickly to his feet, smothered the fire in
his pipe, and put his beloved companion in an inside pocket of his

“A party coming,” I said.

“Yes, and a lot of ’em, too, I think,” he replied, “or they wouldn’t
raise so much dust.”

One of the men ran down from the hill where the view was better, and
announced that a large body of soldiers was approaching. I called all
the others and we stood to our arms, though we were convinced that the
men marching were our own. Either the British would come with a great
army or not at all.

The approaching troops, two hundred at least, appeared down the valley.
The dust encased them like armor, and one can not tell what a soldier
is by the dirt on his uniform. Whitestone took one long and critical
look and then unbuttoned his coat and drew out his pipe.

“What are they?” I asked.

“Virginians,” he replied. “I know their stride. I’ve served with ’em.
Each step they take is exactly two inches longer than ours. They got it
hunting ’possums at night.”

They were in loose order like men who have marched far, but their faces
were eager, and they were well armed. We halted them, as our duty bade
us, and asked who they were.

“Re-enforcements for the Northern army,” said the captain at their
head. He showed us an order from our great commander-in-chief himself.

“Where is Burgoyne?” he asked as soon as I had finished the letter. “Is
he still coming south?”

“He is but a few miles beyond you,” I replied, “and he will come no
farther south. There has been a great battle and we held him fast.”

They gave a cheer, and some threw up their hats. To understand our
feelings one must remember that we had been very near the edge of the
ice, and more than once thought we would go over.

All their weariness gone, these long-legged Southerners shouldered
their rifles and marched on to join the great belt of strong arms and
stout hearts that was forming around the doomed Burgoyne and his army.
As they passed, Sergeant Whitestone took his pipe out of his mouth and

“Good boys!”

Which was short, but which was much for him.

I watched their dusty backs as they tramped up the valley.

“You seem to admire them,” said some one over my shoulder.

“It is they and their fellows who will take Burgoyne, Mistress
Catherine,” I replied.

“They can’t stand before the British bayonet,” she said.

“Sorry to dispute the word of so fair a lady,” I replied, meaning to be
gallant, “but I was at the last battle.”

She laughed, as if she did not think much of my words. She said no
more, but watched the marching Virginians. I thought I saw a little
glow as of pride come in her face. They curved around a hill and passed
out of sight.

“Good-by!” said Mistress Kate. “That’s all I wanted to see here.”

She went back to the house and we resumed our tedious watch. Whitestone
had full warrant for his seeming apathy. After the passage of the
Virginians there was naught to stir us in the slightest. Though born
and bred a countryman, I have never seen anything more quiet and
peaceful than that afternoon, although two large armies lay but a short
distance away, resting from one bloody battle and waiting for another.

No one moved at the house. Everybody seemed to be asleep there. Some
birds chattered undisturbed in the trees. The air had the crisp touch
of early autumn, and faint tokens of changing hues were appearing
already in the foliage. I felt a sleepy languor like that which early
spring puts into the blood. In order to shake it off I began a thorough
search of the country thereabouts. I pushed my way through the bushes,
and tramped both to the north and to the south as far as I dared
go from my post. Then I visited the guards who adjoined my little
detachment on either side. They had to report only the same calm that
prevailed at our part of the line. I went back to Sergeant Whitestone.

“Better take it easy,” advised he. “When there’s nothing to do, do it,
and then be fresh to do it when there’s something to do.”

I took his advice, which seemed good, and again made myself comfortable
on the ground, waiting for the coming of the night. It was still
an hour to set of sun when we saw a mounted officer coming from the
north where our army lay. We seemed to be his destination, as he rode
straight toward us. I recognized Captain Martyn at once. I did not like
this man. I had no particular reason for it, though I have found often
that the lack of reason for doing a thing is the very strongest reason
why we do it. I knew little about Captain Martyn. He had joined the
Northern army before I arrived, and they said he had done good service,
especially in the way of procuring information about the enemy.

Whitestone and I sat together on the grass. The other men were on guard
at various points. Captain Martyn came on at a good pace until he
reached us, when he pulled up his horse with a smart jerk.

“Your watch is over,” he said to me without preliminary. “You are to
withdraw with your men at once.”

I was taken much aback, as any one else in my place would have been
also. I had received instructions to keep faithful guard over that
portion of the line for the long period of twenty-four hours--that is,
until the next morning.

“But this must be a mistake,” I protested. “There is nobody to relieve
us. Surely the general can not mean to leave the line broken at this

“If you have taken the direction of the campaign, perhaps you had best
notify our generals that they are superseded,” he said in a tone most

He aroused my stubbornness, of which some people say I have too much,
and I refused to retire until he showed me a written order to that
effect from the proper officer. Not abating his ironical manner one
whit, he held it toward me in an indifferent way, as much as to say,
“You can read it or not, just as you choose; it does not matter to me.”

It was addressed to me, and notified me briefly to withdraw at once
with my men and rejoin my company, stationed not less than ten miles
away. Everything, signature included, was most proper, and naught was
left for me to do but to obey. The change was no affair of mine.

“Does that put your mind at rest?” asked Martyn.

“No, it does not,” I replied, “but it takes responsibility from me.”

Sergeant Whitestone called the men, and as we marched over the hill
Martyn turned his horse and galloped back toward the army. When he had
passed out of sight behind the trees I ordered the men to stop.

“Whitestone,” said I to the sergeant, who, as I have said before, was a
man of most acute judgment, “do you like this?”

“Small liking have I for it,” he replied. “It is the most unmilitary
proceeding I ever knew. It may be that our relief is coming, but it
should have arrived before we left.”

I took out the order again, and after scanning it with care passed it
to Whitestone.

Neither of us could see anything wrong with it. But the sergeant’s
manner confirmed me in a resolution I had taken before I put the
question to him.

“Sergeant,” I said, “every man in our army knows of what great import
it is that no messenger from the British should get through our lines.
We are leaving unguarded a place wide enough for a whole company to
pass. I think I’ll go back there and resume guard. Will you go with

He assented with most cheerful alacrity, and when I put the question
to the others, stating that I left them to do as they pleased, all
joined me. For what they believed to be the good of the cause they were
willing to take the risks of disobedience, and I was proud of them.

I looked about me from the crest of the hill, but Martyn was out of
sight. We returned to the valley and I posted my men in the same
positions as before, my forebodings that it would be a night of action
increased by this event.



Two of my men were stationed near the house, but I had so placed them
that they could not be seen by any one inside. I had also concealed our
return from possible watchers there. I had an idea, which I confided to
Whitestone, and in which, with his usual sound sense, he agreed with
me. He and I remained together in the valley and watched the night come.

The sun seemed to me to linger long at the edge of the far hills, but
at last his red rim went out of sight, and the heavy darkness which
precedes the moonlight fell upon the earth.

“If anything happens, it will happen soon,” said Whitestone.

That was obvious, because if Martyn meditated treachery, it would be
important for him to carry it out before the unguarded point in the
line was discovered. Officially it was unguarded, because we were
supposed to have gone away and stayed away.

My suspicions were confirmed by the non-arrival of our relief.
Whitestone still took his ease, stretched out on the ground in the
valley. I knew he missed his pipe, but to light it would serve as a
warning in the dark to any one. I visited the two men near the house
and cautioned them to relax their watch in no particular.

The night was now well begun and I could see no great distance. As I
turned away from the last man I chanced to look up at the house, whose
shape was but a darker shadow in the darkness. At a narrow window high
up, where the sloping eaves converged, I saw a light. Perhaps I would
not have thought much of it, but the light was moved from side to side
with what seemed to me to be regular and deliberate motion. It faced
the north, where our army lay.

I walked twenty steps or so, still keeping the light in view. Its
regular swinging motion from side to side did not cease, and I could
not persuade myself that it was not intended as a signal to some one.
The discovery caused in me a certain faintness at the heart, for until
this night I had thought Kate Van Auken, despite mother, brother, and
all else, was a true friend to our cause through all.

I own I was in great perplexity. At first I was tempted to enter the
house, smash the light, and denounce her in my most eloquent language.
But I quickly saw the idea was but folly, and would stand in the way
of our own plans. I leaned against an oak tree and kept my eyes fixed
on the light. Though the windows in the house were many, no other
light was visible, which seemed strange to me, for it was very early.
Back and forth it swung, and then it was gone with a suddenness which
made me rub my eyes to see if it were not still there; nothing ailed
them. The building was a huge black shadow, but no light shone from it

I went in a mighty hurry to Whitestone and told him what I had seen. He
loosened the pistol in his belt and said he thought the time for us to
make discoveries had come. Once more I agreed with him.

I drew my own pistol, that it might be ready to my hand, if need be,
and we walked a bit up the valley. It was very dark and we trusted
more to our ears than to our eyes, in which trust we were not deceived,
for speedily we heard a faint but regular thump, thump, upon the earth.

“A horse coming,” I said.

“And probably a horseman, too,” said Whitestone.

How glad was I that we had stayed! It was not at all likely that the
man coming had any honest business there. We stepped a trifle to one
side and stood silent, while the tread of the horse’s hoofs grew
louder. In a few moments the horseman was near enough for us to see his
face even in the night, and I felt no surprise, though much anger, when
I recognized Captain Martyn. He was riding slowly, in order that he
might not make much noise, I supposed.

I stepped forward and put my hand upon his bridle rein. He saw who
it was and uttered an exclamation; but after that he recovered his
self-control with a quickness most astonishing.

“How dare you stop me in such a sudden and alarming manner?” he said
with an appearance of great wrath.

But, very sure now that I was right, I intended neither to be deceived
nor overborne. I ordered him to dismount and surrender himself.

“You are very impertinent, sir,” he said, “and need chastisement.”

I told him it mattered not, and ordered him again to dismount. For
reply he drew a pistol with such suddenness that I could not guard
against it and fired point-blank at my face. It was the kindly darkness
making his aim bad that saved me. The bullet passed me, but the smoke
and flash blinded me.

The traitor lashed his horse in an attempt to gallop by us, but
Whitestone also fired, his bullet striking the horse and not the man.
The animal, in pain, reared and struck out with his feet. Martyn
attempted to urge him forward but failed. Then he slipped from his back
and ran into the bushes. My eyes were clear now, and Whitestone and I
rushed after him.

I noted from the very first that the man ran toward the house, and
again, even in that moment of excitement, I congratulated myself that I
had expected treason and collusion and had come back to my post.

I saw the captain’s head appearing just above some of the short bushes
and raised my pistol to fire at him, but before I could get the proper
aim he was out of sight. We increased our efforts in fear lest we
should lose him, and a few steps further heard a shot which I knew came
from one of my men on guard. We met the man running toward us, his
empty rifle in his hand. He told us the fugitive had turned the corner
of the house, and I felt that we had trapped him then, for the second
man on guard there would be sure to stop him.

We pressed forward and met the man from behind the house, attracted
by the sound of shots. He said nobody had appeared there. I turned to
a side door, convinced that Martyn had found refuge in the house. It
was no time to stand upon courtesy, or to wait for an invitation to
enter. The door was locked, but Whitestone and I threw our full weight
against it at the same time, and it flew open under the impact of some
twenty-five stone.

We fell into a dark hall and scrambled in pressing haste to our feet. I
paused a moment that I might direct the soldiers to surround the house
and seize any one who came forth. Then we turned to face Madame Van
Auken, who was coming toward us, a candle in her hand, a long white
robe around her person, and a most icy look on her face.

She began at once a very fierce attack upon us for disturbing quiet
folks abed. I have ever stood in dread of woman’s tongue, to which
there is but seldom answer, but I explained in great hurry that a
traitor had taken refuge in her house, and search it again we must, if
not with her consent, then without it. She repelled me with extreme
haughtiness, saying such conduct was unworthy of men who pretended to
breeding; but, after all, it was no more than she ought to expect from
ungrateful rebels.

Her attack, most unwarranted, considering the fact that a traitor had
just hid in her house, stirred some spleen in me, and I bade her very
stiffly to stand out of the way. Another light appeared just then at
the head of the stairway, and Mistress Kate came down, fully dressed,
looking very fine and handsome too, with a red flame in either cheek.

She demanded the reason of our entry with a degree of haughtiness
inferior in no wise to her mother’s. Again I explained, angered at
these delays made by women who, handsome or not, may appear sometimes
when they are not wanted.

“Take the men, all except one to watch at the door, and search the
house at once, sergeant,” said I.

Whitestone, with an indifference to their bitter words most
astonishing, led his men upstairs and left me to endure it all. I
pretended not to hear, and taking the candle suddenly from Kate’s hands
turned into a side room and began to poke about the furniture. But they
followed me there.

“I suppose you think this is very shrewd and very noble,” said Kate
with a fine irony.

I did not reply, but poked behind a sideboard with my pistol muzzle.
Both Kate and her mother seemed to me, despite their efforts to repress
it, to manifest a very great uneasiness. I did not wonder at it, for I
knew they must fear to be detected in their collusion with the traitor.
Kate continued to gibe at me.

“Oh, well, it’s not Captain Chudleigh I’m looking for,” said I at last.

“And in truth if it were, you’d be afraid to find him,” replied she, a
sprightly flash appearing in her eye.

I said no more, content with my hit. I found no one below stairs, and
joined Whitestone on the second floor, the women still following me
and upbraiding me. I looked more than once at Kate, and I could see
that she was all in a tremor. I doubted not it arose from a belief that
I had discovered her treachery, as well as from a fear that we would
capture the chief traitor.

Whitestone had not yet found our man, though he had been in every room
on the second floor and even into the low-roofed garret. At this the
two women became more contumelious, crying out that we were now shamed
by our own acts. But we were confident that the man was yet in the
house. I pushed into a large room which seemed to serve as a spare
chamber. We had entered it once before, but I thought a more thorough
search might be made. In one corner, some dresses hanging against the
wall reached to the floor. I prodded one of them with my fist and
encountered something soft.

The dress was dashed aside and our man sprang out. There was a low
window at the end of the room, and with one bound he was through it.
Whitestone fired at his disappearing body, but missed. We heard a
second shot from the man on guard below, and then we rushed pell-mell
down the stairs to pursue him.

I bethought me at the door to bid one of the men stay and watch the
house, for I knew not what further treachery the women might meditate.
This stopped me only a moment, and then I ran after Whitestone, who was
some steps in the lead. We overtook the man who had fired at Martyn,
and he said he had hit him, so he thought.

“When he sprang from the window he rose very light from the ground,” he
said, “and I don’t think the fall hurt him much.”

We saw Martyn some twenty yards or more in advance of us, running
toward the south. It was of double importance now that we should
overtake him, for if we did not he would be beyond our lines, and,
barring some improbable chance, would escape to Clinton with a report
of Burgoyne’s condition.

The fugitive curved here and there among the shadows but could not
shake us off. I held my loaded pistol in my hand and twice or thrice
had a chance for a fair shot at him, but I never raised the weapon.
I could shoot at a man in the heat of battle or the flurry of a
sudden moment of excitement, but not when he was like a fleeing hare.
Moreover, I preferred to take him alive.

The moon was coming out, driving away part of the darkness, and on the
bushes I noticed some spots of blood. Then the fugitive had been hit,
and I was glad I had not fired upon him, for we would be certain to
take him wounded.

The course led over pretty rough ground. Whitestone was panting at my
elbow, and two of the men lumbered behind us. The fugitive began to
waver, and presently I noticed that we were gaining. Suddenly Martyn
began to cast his hands as if he were throwing something from him, and
we saw little bits of white paper fluttering in the air. I divined
on the instant that, seeing his certain capture, he was tearing up
traitorous papers. We wanted those papers as well as their bearer.

I shouted to him to halt lest I fire. He flung a whole handful of
scraps from him. Just then he came to a stump; he stopped abruptly,
sat down upon it with his face to us, and drawing a pistol from his
pocket, put it to his own head and fired.

I was never more shocked in my life, the thing was so sudden. He slid
off the stump to the ground, and when we reached him he was quite dead.
We found no letters upon him, as in the course of his flight he had
succeeded in destroying them all. But I had not the slightest doubt
the order he had given to me would soon prove to be a forgery. His own
actions had been sufficient evidence of that.

I directed Whitestone to take the body to some safe place and we would
give it quiet burial on the morrow. I did not wish the women to know of
the man’s terrible fate, though I owed them scant courtesy for the way
they had treated me.

Leaving Whitestone and one of the soldiers to the task, I went back to
the house alone.

Mistress Kate and her mother were at the door, both in a state of high

“Did he escape?” asked Madame Van Auken.

“No,” I replied, telling the truth in part and a lie in part. “We
captured him, and the men are now taking him back to the army.”

She sighed deeply. Mistress Kate said nothing, though her face was of a
great paleness.

“I will not upbraid you with what I call treachery,” I said, speaking
to them both, “and I will not disturb you again to-night. It is not

I said the last rather grimly, but I observed some of the paleness
depart from Mistress Kate’s countenance and a look strangely like that
of relief come into her eyes. I was sorry, for it seemed to me to
indicate more thought of her own and her mother’s peace than of the
fate of the man whom we had taken. But there was naught to say, and I
left them without the courtesy of a good night on either side.

Whitestone and the men returned presently from their task, and I posted
the guards as before, confident that no traitor could pass while I was
on watch there.



Whitestone and I held a small conference in the dark. Though regretting
that the matter had ended in such tragic way, we believed we had done
a great thing, and I am not loath to confess that I expected words of
approval the next day when we would take the news of it to the army. We
agreed that we must not relax our vigilance in the smallest particular,
for where there was one plot there might be a dozen. Whitestone went
down into the valley while I remained near the house.

In my lonely watch I had great space for thought. I was grieved by my
discoveries in regard to Kate Van Auken. Of a truth she was nothing
to me, being betrothed, moreover, to Chudleigh the Englishman; but we
had been children together, and it was not pleasing to believe her a
patriot and find her a traitor. I could get no sort of satisfaction
out of such thoughts, and turning them aside walked about with vigor in
an attempt to keep myself from becoming very sleepy.

The moon was still showing herself, and I could see the house very
well. No light had appeared in it since our last withdrawal, but
looking very closely I saw what appeared to be a dark shadow at one of
the windows. I knew that room to be Mistress Kate’s, and I surmised
that she was there seeking to watch us. I resolved in return that I
would watch her. I stepped back where I would be sheltered by a tree
from her sight, and presently had my reward. The window was opened
gently and a head, which could be none other than that of Kate, was
thrust out a bit.

I could see her quite well, even the features of her face. She was
looking very earnestly into the surrounding night, and of a truth
anxiety was writ plainly on her countenance. She stretched her head out
farther and examined all the space before the house. I was hidden from
her gaze, but down in a corner of the yard she could see the sentinel
pacing back and forth. She inspected him with much earnestness for
some time, and then withdrew her head, closing the window.

I was of the opinion that some further mischief was afoot or intended,
but the nature of it passed me. It seemed that what had happened
already was not a sufficient warning to them. I began to walk around
the house that I might keep a watch upon it from every point.
Sleepiness no longer oppressed me. In truth, I forgot all about it.

I passed to the rear of the building and spoke to the sentinel
stationed in the yard there. He had seen nothing of suspicious nature
so far. I knew he was a faithful, watchful man, and that I could trust
him. I left him and pushed my way between two large flower bushes
growing very close together. Standing there, I beheld the opening of
another window in the house. Again the head of Mistress Kate appeared,
and precisely the same act as before was repeated. She looked about
with the intentness and anxiety of a military engineer studying his
ground. She saw the sentinel as she had seen his fellow before the
house, and her eyes rested long upon him. Her examination finished, she
withdrew, closing the window.

I set myself to deciphering the meaning of this, and of a sudden it
flashed upon me with such force that I believed myself stupid not to
have seen it before. Kate Van Auken herself was planning to go through
our lines with the news of Burgoyne’s plight. She was a bold girl, not
much afraid of the dark or the woods, and the venture was not beyond
her. The conviction of the truth depressed me. I felt some regard for
Kate Van Auken, whom I as a little boy had liked as a little girl, and
I had slight relish for this task of keeping watch upon her. Even now I
had caught her planning great harm to our cause.

I confess that I scarce knew what to do. Perhaps it was my duty, if
the matter be considered in its utmost strictness, to arrest both the
women at once as dangerous to our cause, and send them to the army. But
such a course was quite beyond my resolution. I could not do it. Being
unable to decide upon anything else, I continued my watch, determined
that Mistress Kate should not escape from the house.

The moon withdrew herself and then there was an increase of darkness.
Again I was thankful that I had been vigilant, for I saw a small
door in the rear of the house open. I could not doubt that it opened
to let forth Catherine Van Auken upon her traitorous errand. I made
my resolution upon the instant. If she came out, I would seize her
and compel her to return to the house in all quiet, in order that
Whitestone and the others might not know.

My suspicions--my fears, in truth I may call them--were justified, for
in a few moments her well-known figure appeared in the doorway all
clothed about in a great dark cloak and hood, like one preparing for a
long night’s journey. I retreated a little, for it was my purpose to
draw her on and then catch her, when no doubt about her errand could

She stood in the doorway for perhaps two minutes repeating her actions
at the window; that is, she looked around carefully to note how we were
watching. I could not see her face owing to the increase of darkness
and her attitude, but I had no doubt the same anxiety and eagerness
were writ there.

Presently she seemed to arrange her dark draperies in a manner more
satisfactory and, stooping somewhat, came out of the house. The
sentinel in this part of the yard was doing his duty and was as
watchful as could be, but he could scarce see this shadow gliding along
in the larger shadow of the rose bushes. I deemed it good fortune
that I was there to see and prevent the flight. I would face her and
confound her with the proof of her guilt.

She came on quite rapidly, and I shrank a little farther back into the
rose bushes. Her course was directly toward me, and suddenly I rose
up in the path. I expected her to show great surprise and to cry out
after the fashion of women, but she did not. In truth I fancied I saw
a start, but that was all. In a moment she whirled about and fled back
toward the house with as little noise as the shadow she resembled. I
had scarce recovered my presence of mind when she was halfway to the
house, but I pursued in the effort to overtake her and confound her.

I observed that when she came forth she had shut the door behind her,
but as she fled swiftly back it seemed to open of its own accord for
her entrance. She passed within, disappearing like a ghost, and the
door was shut with a snap almost in my face. I put my hands upon it
and found it was very real and substantial--perhaps a stout two inches
in thickness.

I deliberated with myself for a moment or two and concluded to do
nothing further in the matter. Perhaps it had turned out as well as
might be, for I had stopped her errand, and her return, doubtless, had
released me from unpleasant necessities.

I made no effort to force the door or to enter the house otherwise, but
visited the sentinels, telling them to be of good caution, though I
gave them no hint of what had happened.

I found Whitestone in the valley sitting on a stump and sucking at
his pipe, which contained neither fire nor tobacco. He told me naught
unusual had happened there. I took him back to the house with me, and
together we watched about it until the coming of the day, without
further event of interest.

Sunrise found my men and me very tired and sleepy, as we had a right
to be, having been on guard near to twenty-four hours, with some very
exciting things occurring in that long space. I awaited the relief
which must come soon, for we were not iron men.

The sun had scarce swung clear of the earth when a door of the house
was opened and Mistress Kate coming out, a pail in hand, walked lightly
toward the well. I approached her, and she greeted me with an unconcern
that amazed me.

“I trust that you enjoyed your night watch, Master Shelby?” she said.

“As well as was likely under the circumstances,” I replied. “I hope
that you slept soundly?”

“Nothing disturbed us after your invasion of our house,” she said
with fine calmness. “Now, will you help me draw this water? Since the
approach of the armies there is no one left in the house save my mother
and myself, and we must cook and do for ourselves.”

I helped draw the water, and even carried the filled pail to the house
for her, though she dismissed me at the door. But she atoned partly for
her scant courtesy by bringing us a little later some loaves of white
bread, which she said she had baked with her own hands, and which we
found to be very good.

We had but finished breakfast when the soldiers who were to relieve us
came, and right glad were we to see them. They were followed a few
minutes later by the colonel in charge, to whom I related the affair
of Captain Martyn, and to whom I showed the order commanding us to
withdraw. He instantly pronounced it a forgery and commended us for

“It was a traitorous attempt to get through our line,” he said, “but we
are none the worse off, for it has failed.”

I said nothing of Kate Van Auken’s share in the conspiracy, but I told
him the women in the house inclined strongly to the Tory side.

“I will see that the house is watched every moment of the day and
night,” he said.

Then I felt easy in mind and went off to sleep.

When I awoke it was about two by the sun, and the afternoon was fine.
I heard that fresh troops had arrived from the Massachusetts and New
Hampshire provinces in the morning, and the trap was closing down on
Burgoyne tighter than ever. Everybody said another great battle was
coming, and coming soon. Even then I heard the pop-pop of distant
skirmishing and saw an occasional red flash on the horizon.

I was eager to be at the front, but such duty was not for me then. As
soon as I had eaten I was sent back with Sergeant Whitestone and the
same men to keep watch at precisely the same point.

“Best take it easy,” said the sergeant consolingly. “If the big
battle’s fought while we’re away we can’t get killed in it.”

Then he lighted the inevitable pipe, smoked, and was content.

I questioned very closely the men whom we relieved near the house,
and they said there had been nothing to note. The elder woman had
never come out of the house, but the younger had been seen in the yard
several times, though she had naught to say, and seemed to be concerned
not at all about anything.

I thought it best not to visit the house, and took my station with
Whitestone in the valley, disposing the men in much the same manner as
before. Whitestone puffed at his pipe with the usual regularity and
precision, but some of his taciturnity was gone. He was listening to
the sounds of the skirmishing which came to us fitfully.

“The bees are stinging,” said he. Then he added, with a fine mixture of
metaphors: “The mouse is trying to feel his way out of the trap. The
big battle can’t be far off, for Burgoyne must know that every day lost
is a chance lost.”

It seemed to me that he was right, and I regretted more than ever my
assignment to sentinel duty. I do not pretend to uncommon courage, but
every soldier will bear me out that such waiting as we were doing is
more trying than real battle.

Of a sudden the skirmishing seemed to take on an increase of vigor and
to come nearer. Flashes appeared at various points on the horizon.
Whitestone became deeply interested. He stood at his full height on a
stump, and I would have done likewise had there been another stump.
Presently he leaped down, exclaiming:

“I fancy there is work for us!”

I saw at once what he meant. A dozen men were coming down the valley
at full speed. The bright sun even at the distance brought out the
scarlet of their uniforms, and there was no mistaking the side to which
they belonged. Evidently a party of Burgoyne’s skirmishers had slipped
through our main line somehow and were bent upon escape southward,
with all its momentous consequences.

That escape we would prevent. I sent Whitestone in a run to the two men
near the house to bid them take refuge behind it and fight from its
shelter. He was back in a breath, and he and I and the other soldiers
prepared to hold the passage of the valley. Most fortunate for us, a
rail fence ran across this valley, and we took refuge behind it--a wise
precaution, I think, since the approaching party outnumbered us.

All of ours, except myself, had rifles, and I carried two good pistols,
with which I am no bad shot. The British came on with much speed. Two
of them were mounted.

I glanced toward the house. At one of the windows I saw a figure. I
trusted if it was Kate Van Auken that she would withdraw speedily from
such an exposed place. But I had no time to note her presence further,
for just then the British seemed to perceive that we barred the way,
for they stopped as if hesitating. I suppose they saw us, as we were
sheltered but in part by the fence.

Wishing to spare bloodshed I shouted to them to surrender, but one of
the men on horseback shook his head, said something to the others, and
they dashed toward us at all speed. I recognized this man who appeared
to be their leader. He was Chudleigh, the Englishman, the betrothed of
Kate Van Auken, and, so far as I knew, an honest, presentable fellow.

Whitestone poised his rifle on the top rail of the fence and I surmised
that it was aimed at Chudleigh. Were the matter not so desperate I
could have wished for a miss. But before Whitestone pulled the trigger
one of the men from the shelter of the house fired, and Chudleigh’s
horse, struck by the ball intended for his master, went down, tossing
Chudleigh some distance upon the ground, where he lay quite still.
Whitestone transferred his aim and knocked the other mounted man off
his horse.

The remainder, not daunted by the warmth of our greeting and the loss
of their cavalry, raised a cheer and rushed at us, firing their pistols
and muskets.

I do not scorn a skirmish. It may, and often does, contain more heat to
the square yard than a great battle with twenty thousand men engaged.
These men bore down upon us full of resolution. Their bullets pattered
upon the rails of the fence, chipping off splinters. Some went between
the rails and whizzed by us in fashion most uncomfortable. One man
cried out a bit as the lead took him in the fleshy part of the leg, but
he did not shrink from the onset.

Meanwhile we were not letting the time pass without profit, but fired
at them with as much rapidity and aim as we could. The two men at the
corner of the house helped us much with fine sharpshooting.

Our fortification, though but slender, gave us a great advantage, and
nearly a third of their number had fallen before they were within a
dozen feet of the fence. But it was our business not only to defeat
them but to keep any from passing us. I was hopeful of doing this, for
the sound of the firing had reached other portions of the line, and I
saw re-enforcements for us coming on the run.

Our fire had been so hot that the British when within a dozen feet of
us shrank back. Of a sudden one of them, a very active fellow, swerved
to one side, darted at the fence, and leaping it with a single bound
ran lightly along the hillside. I called to Whitestone and we followed
him at all speed. I was confident that the others would be taken by our
re-enforcements, who were coming up fast, and this man who had passed
our line must be caught at all hazards.

One of my men at the house fired at the fugitive, but missed. My
pistols were empty, and so was Whitestone’s rifle. It was a matter
which fleetness would decide and we made every effort.

The fugitive curved toward a wood back of the house, and we followed.
I heard a rifle shot from a new direction, and Whitestone staggered;
but in a moment he recovered himself, saying it was only a flesh wound.
I was amazed, not at the shot but at the point from which it came. I
looked up, and it was no mistake of hearing, for there was the white
puff of smoke rising from an upper window in the house. It was but the
glance of a moment, as the fugitive then claimed my attention. His
speed was slackening and he seemed to be growing very tired.

A little blood appeared on Whitestone’s arm near the shoulder, but he
gave no other sign that the wound affected him. Our man increased his
speed a bit, but the effort exhausted him; he stopped of a sudden,
dropped to the earth, and lay there panting, strength and breath quite

We ran up to him and demanded his surrender. He was too much exhausted
to speak, but he nodded as if he were glad the thing was over. We let
him rest until his breath came back. Then he climbed to his feet, and,
looking at us, said in the fashion of one defending himself:

“I did the best I could; you can’t say I didn’t.”

“I guess you did,” I replied. “You went farther than any of your

He was a most likely young fellow, not more than twenty, I should say,
and I was very glad he had come out of the affair unhurt. We took him
back to the valley, where the conflict was over. Our re-enforcements
had come up so fast that the remainder of the British surrendered after
a few shots. All the prisoners were delivered to one of our captains
who had arrived, and he took them away. Then I turned my attention to
Whitestone. Having some small knowledge of surgery, I asked him to let
me see his arm. He held it out without a word.

I pushed up his sleeve and found that the bullet had cut only a little
below the skin. I bound up the scratch with a piece of old white cloth,
and said:

“You needn’t bother about that, Whitestone; the bullet that cut it
wasn’t very well aimed.”

“It was aimed pretty well, I think, for a woman,” he said.

“You won’t say any more about that, Whitestone, will you?” I asked

“Not to anybody unless to you,” he replied.

There was a faint smile on his face that I did not altogether like; but
he thrust his hand into the inside pocket of his waistcoat, took out
his pipe, lighted the tobacco with great deliberation, and began to
smoke as if nothing had happened.

The prisoners taken away and other signs of conflict removed, we were
left to our old duty, and hill and hollow resumed their quiet. I
was much troubled, but at last I made up my mind what to do. Asking
Whitestone to keep a good watch, I went to the house and knocked with
much loudness at the front door. Kate opened the door, self-possessed
and dignified.

“Miss Van Auken,” I said with all my dignity, “I congratulate you upon
your progress in the useful art of sharpshooting. You have wounded
Sergeant Whitestone, a most excellent man, and perhaps it was chance
only that saved him from death.”

“Why should you blame me?” she said. “I wished the man you were
pursuing to escape, and there was no other way to help him. This is
war, you know.”

I had scarce expected so frank an admission.

“I will have to search the house for your weapon,” I said. “How do I
know that you will not shoot at me as I go away?”

“Do not trouble yourself,” she said easily, “I will bring it to you.”

She ran up the stairway and returned in a moment with a large, unloaded
pistol, which she held out to me.

“I might have tried to use it again,” she said with a little laugh,
“but I confess I did not know how to reload it.”

She handed me the pistol with a gesture of repulsion as if she were
glad to get rid of it. Her frankness changed my purpose somewhat, and I
asked her how her mother fared.

“Very well, but in most dreadful alarm because of the fighting,” she

“It would be best for both of you, for your own safety, to remain in
the house and keep the windows closed,” I said.

“So I think,” she replied.

I turned away, for I wished to think further what disposition to
make of Kate Van Auken and her mother. It seemed that they should
remain no longer at such a critical point of our line, where in an
unwatched moment they might do us a great evil. Moreover, I was much
inflamed against Kate because of the treacherous shot which had come
so near to ending Whitestone’s career. But even then I sought for some
mitigating circumstance, some excuse for her. Perhaps her family had so
long worked upon her that her own natural and patriotic feelings had
become perverted to such an extent that she looked upon the shot as a
righteous deed. Cases like it were not new.

I thought it best to take Whitestone into my confidence.

“We can not do anything to-day,” he said, “for none of us can leave
here; but it would be well to keep a good watch upon that house again

This advice seemed good, for like as not Kate Van Auken, not at all
daunted by her failure, would make another attempt to escape southward.

Therefore with much interest I waited the coming of our second night
there, which was but a brief time away.



The night came on and I was uneasy. Many things disturbed me. The house
was a sore spot in my mind, and with the dusk the signs of battle
seemed to increase. Upon this dark background the flashes from the
skirmishing grew in size and intensity. From under the horizon’s rim
came the deep murmur of the artillery. I knew that Burgoyne was feeling
his way, and more than ever it was impressed upon me that either he
would break out soon or we would close in upon him and crush him.
The faint pop-pop of the distant rifles was like the crackling that
precedes the conflagration.

To the south there was peace, apparent peace, but I knew Burgoyne must
turn his face hopefully many a time that way, for if rescue came at all
it must come thence.

“Another day nearer the shutting of the trap,” said Whitestone,
walking up and down with his arm in a sling. I found that he could
manage his pipe as well with one hand as with two.

The night was darker than usual, for which I was sorry, as it was
against us and in favor of the others. Again asking Whitestone to stand
sponsor for the hollow, I approached the house. I had repeated my
precautions of the day before, placing one sentinel in front of it and
another behind it. But in the darkness two men could be passed, and I
would watch with them.

From the hill top the flashes of the skirmishing seemed to multiply,
and for a few moments I forgot the house that I might watch them. Even
I, who had no part in the councils of my generals and elders, knew how
much all this meant to us, and the intense anxiety with which every
patriot heart awaited the result. More than ever I regretted my present

The house was dark, but I felt sure in my heart that Kate would make
another attempt to escape us. Why should she wait?

I thought it my best plan to walk in an endless circle around the
house; it would keep sleep away and give me the greater chance to see
anything that might happen. It was but dull and tiresome work at the
best. Around and around I walked, stopping once in a while to speak to
my sentinels. Time was so slow that it seemed to me the night ought to
have passed, when the size of the moon showed that it was not twelve.

I expected Kate to look from the windows again and spy out the ground
before making the venture; so I kept faithful watch upon them, but
found no reward for such vigilance and attention. Her face did not
appear; no light sparkled from the house. Perhaps after her failures
her courage had sunk. Certainly the time for her venture, if venture
she would make, was passing.

As I continued my perpetual circle I approached the beat of the
sentinel who was stationed behind the house. I saw him sooner than I
expected; he had come farther toward the side of the house than his
orders permitted him to do, and I was preparing to rebuke him when I
noticed of a sudden that he seemed to be without his rifle. The next
moment his figure disappeared from me like the shadow of something that
had never been.

Twenty yards away I saw the sentinel, upright, stiff, rifle on
shoulder, no thought but of his duty. I knew the first figure was
that of Kate Van Auken, and not of the sentinel. How she had escaped
from the house unseen I did not know and it was no time to stop for
inquiry. I stepped among the trees, marking as closely as I could that
particular blotch of blackness into which she had disappeared, and I
had reward, for again I saw her figure, more like shadow than substance.

I might have shouted to the sentinels and raised hue and cry, but I
had reasons--very good, it seemed to me--for not doing so. Moreover, I
needed no assistance. Surely I could hold myself sufficient to capture
one girl. She knew the grounds well, but I also knew them. I had played
over them often enough.

The belt of woods began about fifty yards back of the house, and was
perhaps the same number of yards in breadth. But the trees seemed not
to hinder her speed. She curved lightly among them with the readiness
of perfect acquaintance, and I was sure that the elation coming from
what she believed to be escape was quickening her flight.

She passed through the trees and into the stretch of open ground
beyond. Then for the first time she looked back and saw me. At least I
believe she saw me, for she seemed to start, and her cloak fluttered as
she began to run with great speed.

A hundred yards farther was a rail fence, and beyond that a stretch of
corn land. With half a leap and half a climb, very remarkable in woman,
who is usually not expert in such matters, she scaled this fence in a
breath and was among the cornstalks. I feared that she might elude me
there, but I, too, was over the fence in a trice and kept her figure in
view. She had shown much more endurance than I expected, though I knew
she was a strong girl. But we had come a good half mile, and few women
can run at speed so far.

She led me a chase through the cornfield and then over another fence
into a pasture. I noted with pleasure that I was gaining all the time.
In truth, I had enjoyed so much exercise of this kind in the last day
that I ought to have been in a fair way of becoming an expert.

Our course lengthened to a mile and I was within fifteen yards of her.
Despite my general disrelish for the position I felt a certain grim
joy in being the man to stop her plans, inasmuch as she had deceived me
more perhaps than any one else.

It was evident that I could overtake her, and I hailed her, demanding
that she stop. For reply she whirled about and fired a pistol at me,
and then, seeing that she had missed, made an effort to run faster.

I was astounded. I confess it even after all that had happened--but
she had fired at Whitestone before; now she was firing at me. I would
stop this fierce woman, not alone for the good of our cause, but for
the revenge her disappointment would be to me. The feeling gave me
strength, and in five minutes more I could almost reach out my hands
and touch her.

“Stop!” I shouted in anger.

She whirled about again and struck at me, full strength, with the butt
of her pistol. I might have suffered a severe, perhaps a stunning,
blow, but by instinct I threw up my right hand, and her wrist gliding
off it the pistol struck nothing, dashing with its own force from her
hand. I warded off another swift blow aimed with the left fist, and
then saw that I stood face to face not with Kate Van Auken but with
her brother Albert.

There was a look upon his face of mingled shame and determination. How
could he escape shame with his sister’s skirts around him and her hood
upon his head?

My own feelings were somewhat mixed in character. First, there was a
sensation of great relief, so quick I had not time to make analysis,
and then there came over me a strong desire to laugh. I submit that the
sight of a man caught in woman’s dress and ashamed of it is fair cause
for mirth.

It was dark, but not too dark for me to see his face redden at my look.

“You’ll have to fight it out with me,” he said, very stiff and haughty.

“I purpose to do it,” I said, “but perhaps your clothes may be in your

He snatched the hood off his head and hurled it into the bushes; then
with another angry pull he ripped the skirt off, and, casting it to one
side stood forth in proper man’s attire, though that of a citizen and
not of the British soldier that he was.

He confronted me, very angry. I did not think of much at that moment
save how wonderfully his face was like his sister Kate’s. I had never
taken such thorough note of it before, though often the opportunity was

Our pause had given him breath, and he stood awaiting my attack like
one who fights with his fists in the ring. My loaded pistol was in my
belt, but he did not seem to think that I would use it; nor did I think
of it myself. His, unloaded, lay on the ground. I advanced upon him,
and with his right fist he struck very swiftly at my face. I thrust my
head to one side and the blow glanced off the hard part of it, leaving
his own face unprotected. I could have dealt him a heavy return blow
that would have made his face look less like his sister Kate’s, but I
preferred to close with him and seize him in my grasp.

Though lighter than I he was agile, and sought to trip me, or by some
dexterous turn otherwise to gain advantage of me. But I was wary,
knowing full well that I ought to be so, and presently I brought him
down in a heap, falling upon him with such force that he lay a few
moments as if stunned, though it was but the breath knocked out of him.

“Do you give up?” I asked, when he had returned to speaking condition.

“Yes,” he replied. “You were always too strong for me, Dick.”

Which was true, for there never was a time, even when we were little
boys, when I could not throw him, though I do not say it as a boast,
since there were others who could throw me.

“Do you make complete and unconditional surrender to me as the sole
present representative of the American army, and promise to make no
further effort to escape?” asked I, somewhat amazed at the length of my
own words, and a little proud of them too.

“Yes, Dick, confound it! Get off my chest! How do you expect me to
breathe?” he replied with a somewhat unreasonable show of temper.

I dismounted and he sat up, thumping his chest and drawing very long
breaths as if he wished to be sure that everything was right inside.
When he had finished his examination, which seemed to be satisfactory,
he said:

“I’m your prisoner, Dick. What do you intend to do with me?”

“Blessed if I know,” I replied.

In truth, I did not. He was in citizens’ clothes, and he had been
lurking inside our lines for at least a day or so. If I gave him up to
our army, as my duty bade me to do, he might be shot, which would be
unpleasant to me as well as to him for various reasons. If I let him go
he might ruin us.

“Suppose you think it over while I rest,” he said. “A man can’t run a
mile and then fight a big fellow like you without getting pretty tired.”

In a few minutes I made up my mind. It was not a way out of the matter,
but it was the only thing I could think of for the present.

“Get up, Albert,” I said.

He rose obediently.

“You came out of that house unseen,” I resumed, “and I want you to go
back into it unseen. Do exactly as I say. I’m thinking of you as well
as of myself.”

He seemed to appreciate the consideration and followed close behind me
as I took my way toward the house. I had no fear that he would attempt
escape. Albert was always a fellow of honor, though I could never
account for the perversion of his political opinions.

He walked back slowly. I kept as good a lookout as I could in the
darkness. It was barely possible that I would meet Whitestone prowling
about, and that was not what I wanted.

“Albert,” I asked, “why did you shoot at Whitestone from the house? I
can forgive your shooting at me, for that was in fair and open strife.”

“Dick,” he said so earnestly that I could not but believe him, “to tell
you the truth, I feel some remorse about the shot, but the man you were
pursuing was Trevannion of ours, my messmate, and such a fine fellow
that I knew only one other whom I’d rather see get through with the
news of our plight, and that’s myself. I couldn’t resist trying to help
him. Suppose we say no more about it; let it pass.”

“It’s Whitestone’s affair, not mine,” I said. I was not making any
plans to tell Whitestone about it.

When we came to the edge of the wood behind the house I told him to
stop. Going forward, I sent the sentinel to the other side of the
building, telling him to watch there with his comrade for a little,
while I took his place. As soon as his figure disappeared behind the
corner of the house Albert came forward and we hurried to the side
door. We knocked lightly upon it and it was promptly opened by his
sister. I could guess the anxiety and dread with which she was waiting
lest she should hear sounds which would tell of an interrupted flight,
and the distress with which she would see us again. Nor was I deceived.
When she beheld us standing there in the dark, her lips moved as if she
could scarce repress the cry that rose.

I spoke first.

“Take him back in the house,” I said, “and keep him there until you
hear from me. Hurry up, Albert!”

Albert stepped in.

“And don’t forget this,” I continued, for I could not wholly forgive
him, “if you shoot at me or Whitestone or anybody else, I’ll see you
hanged as a spy, if I have to do it myself.”

They quickly closed the door, and recalling the sentinel, I went in
search of Whitestone.

I had some notion of confiding in Whitestone, but, after thought, I
concluded I had best not, at least not fully.

I found him walking up and down in the valley.

“Whitestone,” I said, “do me a favor? if anybody asks you how you got
that scratch on your arm, tell him it was in the skirmish, and you
don’t know who fired the shot.”

He considered a moment.

“I’ll do it,” he said, “if you’ll agree to do as much for me, first

I promised, and, that matter off my mind, tried to think of a plan to
get Albert out of the house and back to his own army unseen by any of
ours. Thinking thus, the night passed away.



The relief came early in the morning, bringing with it the news that
our army, which was stronger every day than on the yesterday, had moved
still closer to Burgoyne. My blood thrilled as ever at this, but I had
chosen a new course of action for myself. It would be an evil turn for
me if Albert Van Auken were taken at the house and should run the risk
of execution as a spy; it might be said that I was the chief cause of

I was very tired, and stretching myself on the turf beneath the shade
of a tree in the valley, I fell into a sound sleep in two minutes. When
I awoke at the usual time I found that the guard had been re-enforced,
and, what was worse, instead of being first in command I was now only
second. This in itself was disagreeable, but the character of the man
who had supplanted me was a further annoyance. I knew Lieutenant
Belt quite well, a New Englander much attached to our cause, but of a
prying disposition and most suspicious. The re-enforcements had been
sent because of the previous attempt to break through the line at this
point, the lay of the ground being such that it was more favorable for
plans of escape than elsewhere.

“You need not stay unless you wish,” said Belt. “No positive
instructions were given on that point. As for myself, I confess I would
rather be with the army, since much is likely to happen there soon.”

“I think things will drag for some time yet,” I said with as careless
an air as I could assume, “and I suspect that they have been more
active here than they are with the army. Another attempt to break
through our line may be made at this point, and I believe I’d rather
remain for a day or two.”

But just then, as if for the sole purpose of belying my words about
dullness at the front, there was a sharp crackle of distant skirmishing
and the red flare of a cannon appeared on the horizon. It called the
attention of both of us for a moment or two.

“The bullets appear to be flying over there, but if you prefer to
remain here, of course you can have your wish,” said Belt with sarcasm.

I did not answer, as no good excuse happened to my mind, and we
went up the hillside together. I looked about carefully to see what
arrangements he had made, but it was merely a doubling of the guard.
Otherwise he had followed my dispositions. Belt looked at the house.

“I hear that some people are there. Who are they?” he asked.

“Only two,” I replied, “women both--Madame Van Auken and her daughter.”

“For us, or against us?” he asked.

“Against us,” I replied. “The son and brother is in the English army
with Burgoyne, over there; moreover, the daughter is betrothed to an
Englishman who has just been taken prisoner by us.”

I thought it best to make no disguise of these matters.

“That looks suspicious,” he said, his hawk face brightening at the
thought of hidden things to be found.

“They might do us harm if they could,” I said, “but they have not the
power. Our lines surround the house; no one save ourselves can go to
them, nor can they go to any one.”

“Still, I would like to go through the house,” he said, some doubt yet
showing in his tone.

“I have searched it twice and found nothing,” I said indifferently.

He let the matter drop for the time and busied himself with an
examination of the ground; but I knew he was most likely to take it up
again, for he could not suppress his prying nature. I would have been
glad to give warning to Kate, but I could think of no way to do it.

“Who is the best man that you have here?” he asked presently.

“Whitestone--Sergeant Whitestone,” I replied, glad to place the
sergeant in his confidence, for it might turn out to my advantage.
“There is none more vigilant, and you can depend upon all that he says.”

We separated there, our work taking us in different directions. When
we returned to the valley, which we had made a kind of headquarters, I
heard him asking Whitestone about the Van Aukens.

“Tartars, both of ’em,” said the good sergeant; “if you go in there,
leftenant, they’ll scold you till they take your face off.”

The look on Belt’s face was proof that not even Whitestone’s warning
would deter him. At least it so seemed to me. In a half hour I
found that I had judged aright. He told me he was not in a state of
satisfaction about the house, and since the responsibility for it lay
with him he proposed to make a search of it in person. He requested me
to go with him.

“This seems to be the main entrance,” he said, leading the way to the
portico, which faced the north, and looking about with very inquiring
eyes. “Madame Van Auken and her daughter must be much frightened by the
presence of troops, for I have not yet seen the face of either at door
or window.”

He knocked loudly at the door with the hilt of his sword, and Kate
appeared, very calm as usual. I made the introductions as politely as I
was able.

“Lieutenant Belt is my senior, Miss Van Auken,” I said, “and therefore
has superseded me in command of the guard at this point.”

“Then I trust that Lieutenant Belt will relax some of the rigors of
the watch,” she said, “and not subject us to the great discomfort of
repeated searches of our house.”

She turned her shoulder to me as if she would treat me with the
greatest coldness. I understood her procedure, and marveled much at her
presence of mind. It seemed to be successful too, for Belt smiled, and
looked ironically at me, like one who rejoices in the mishap of his

She took us into the house, talking with much courtesy to Belt, and
ignoring me in a manner that I did not altogether like, even with the
knowledge that it was but assumption. She led us into the presence of
madame, her mother, who looked much worn with care, though preserving
a haughty demeanor. As usual, she complained that our visits were
discourtesies, and Belt apologized in his best manner. Glad that the
brunt did not now fall upon me, I deemed it best to keep silence, which
I did in most complete manner.

Madame invited us to search the house as we pleased, and we took her at
her word, finding nothing. I was much relieved thereat. I had feared
that Albert, knowing I would not make another search so long as I was
in command, would not be in proper concealment. With my relief was
mingled a certain perplexity that his place of hiding should evade me.

Belt was a gentleman despite his curiosity, which I believe the New
England people can not help, and for which, therefore, they are not
to be blamed, and when he had finished the vain quest he apologized
again to Madame Van Auken and her daughter for troubling them. He was
impressed by the fine looks of the daughter, and he made one or two
gallant speeches to her which she received very well, as I notice women
mostly do whatever may be the circumstances. I felt some anger toward
Belt, though there seemed to be no cause for it. When we left the house
he said:

“Miss Van Auken doesn’t look so dangerous, yet you say she is a red-hot

“I merely included her in a generality,” I replied. “The others of the
family are strong Tories, but Miss Van Auken, I have reason to think,
inclines to our cause.”

“That is good,” he said, though he gave no reason why it should seem
good to him. After that he turned his attention to his main duty,
examining here and there and displaying the most extreme vigilance. The
night found him still prowling about.

Directly after nightfall the weather turned very cool in that
unaccountable way it sometimes has in the late summer or early autumn,
and began to rain.

It was a most cold and discouraging rain that hunted every hole in our
worn uniforms, and displayed a peculiar knack of slipping down our
collars. I found myself seeking the shelter of trees, and as the cold
bit into the marrow my spirits drooped until I felt like an old man.
Even the distant skirmishers were depressed by the rainy night, for the
shots ceased and the hills and the valleys were as silent and lonely as
ever they were before the white man came.

I was thinking it was a very long and most dismal night before us,
when I heard a chattering of teeth near me, and turning about saw Belt
in pitiable condition. He was all drawn with the cold damp, and his
face looked as shriveled as if it were seventy instead of twenty-five.
Moreover, he was shaking in a chill. I had noticed before that the man
did not look robust.

“This is a little hard on me, Shelby,” he said, his tone asking
sympathy. “I have but lately come from a sick-bed, and I fear greatly
this rain will throw me into a fever.”

He looked very longingly at the house.

I fear there was some malice in me then, for he had put aspersions upon
my courage earlier in the day, which perhaps he had a right to do, not
knowing my secret motives.

“The weather is a trifle bad, one must admit, lieutenant,” I said, “but
you and I will not mind it; moreover, the darkness of the night demands
greater vigilance on our part.”

He said nothing, merely rattled his teeth together and walked on with
what I admit was a brave show for a man shaking in a bad chill. As his
assistant I could go and come pretty much as I chose, and I kept him in
view, bent on seeing what he would do.

He endured the chill most handsomely for quite a time, but the wet and
the cold lent aggravation to it, and presently he turned to me, his
teeth clicking together in most formidable fashion.

“I fear, Shelby, that I must seek shelter in the house,” he said. “I
would stick to the watch out here, but this confounded chill has me in
its grip and will not let go. But, as you have done good work here and
I would not seem selfish, you shall go in with me.”

I understood his motive, which was to provide that in case he should
incur censure for going into the house, I could share it and divide it
with him. It was no very admirable action on Belt’s part, but I minded
it not; in truth I rather liked it, for since he was to be in the
house, I preferred to be there too, and at the same time, and not for
matters concerning my health. I decided quickly that I must seem his
friend and give him sympathy; in truth I was not his enemy at all; I
merely found him inconvenient.

We went again to the front door and knocked many times before any
answer came to us. Then two heads--the one of Mistress Kate, the
other of her mother--were thrust out of an upper window and the usual
question was propounded to us.

“Lieutenant Belt is very ill,” I said, taking the word from his lips,
“and needs must have shelter from the cruelty of the night. We would
not trouble you were not the case extreme.”

I could see that Belt was grateful for the way I had put the matter.
Presently they opened the door, both appearing there for the sake of
company at that hour, I suppose. Belt tried to preserve an appearance
in the presence of the ladies, but he was too sick. He trembled with
his chill like a sapling in a high wind, and I said:

“Lieutenant Belt’s condition speaks for itself; nothing else could have
induced us to intrude upon you at such an untimely hour.”

I fancy I said that well, and both Madame Van Auken and her daughter
showed pity for Belt; yet the elder could not wholly repress a display
of feeling against us.

“We can not turn any one ill, not even an enemy, away from our door,”
she said, “but I fear the rebel armies have left us little for the uses
of hospitality.”

She said this in the stiff and rather precise way that our fathers and
mothers affected, but she motioned for us to come in, and we obeyed
her. I confess I was rather glad to enter the dry room, for my clothes
were flapping wet about me.

“Perhaps the lieutenant would like to lie down,” said Madame Van
Auken, pointing to a large and comfortable sofa in the corner of the
room that we had entered.

But Belt was too proud to do that, though it was needful to him. He sat
down merely and continued to shiver. Mistress Kate came presently with
a large draught of hot whisky and water which smelled most savorously.
She insisted that Belt drink it, and he swallowed it all, leaving none
for me. Madame Van Auken placed a lighted candle upon a little table,
and then both the ladies withdrew.

Belt said he felt better, but he had a most wretched appearance. I
insisted that he let me feel his pulse, and I found he was bordering
upon a high fever, and most likely, if precautions were not taken,
would soon be out of his senses. The wet clothes were the chief
trouble, and I said they must come off. Belt demurred for a while, but
he consented at last when I told him persistent refusal might mean his

I roused up the ladies again, explaining the cause of this renewed
interruption, and secured from them their sympathy and a large
bedquilt. I made Belt take off his uniform, and then I spread the quilt
over him as he lay on the sofa, telling him to go to sleep. He said he
had no such intention; but a second hot draught of whisky which Kate
brought to the door gave him the inclination, if not the intention. But
he fought against it, and his will was aided by the sudden revival of
sounds which betokened that the skirmishing had begun again. Through
the window I heard the faint patter of rifles, but the shots were too
distant, or the night too dark to disclose the flash. This sudden
spurt of warlike activity told me once again that the great crisis was
approaching fast, and I hoped most earnestly that events at the Van
Auken house would culminate first.

Belt was still struggling against weakness and sleep, and he complained
fretfully when he heard the rifle shots, bemoaning his fate to be
seized by a wretched, miserable chill at such a time.

“Perhaps after all the battle may be fought without me,” said he with
unintended humor.

I assured him that he would be all right in the morning. His resistance
to sleep, I told him, was his own injury, for it was needful to his
health. He took me at my word and let his eyelids droop. I foresaw that
he would be asleep very soon, but he roused up a bit presently and
showed anxiety about the guard. He wanted to be sure that everything
was done right, and asked me to go out and see Whitestone, whom we had
left in charge when we entered the house.

I was averse in no particular and slipped quietly out into the
darkness. I found Whitestone in the valley.

“All quiet,” he reported. “I’ve just come from a round of the sentinels
and there’s nothing suspicious. I’m going back myself presently to
watch in front of the house.”

I knew Whitestone would ask no questions, so I told him the lieutenant
was still very ill and I would return to him; I did not know how long
I would stay in the house, I said. Whitestone, like the good, silent
fellow he was, made no reply.

I returned to the front door. I was now learning the way into the house
very well. I had traveled it often enough. I stood for a moment in
the little portico, which was as clean and white as if washed by the
sea. The rain had nearly ceased to fall, and the blaze of the distant
skirmishing suddenly flared up on the dark horizon like a forest fire.
I wondered not that the two women in the house should be moved by all
this; I wondered rather at their courage. In the yard stood Whitestone,
his figure rising up as stiff and straight as a post.



I found Belt fast asleep. The two draughts of whisky, heavy and hot,
had been a blanket to his senses, and he had gone off for a while to
another world to think and to struggle still, for he muttered and
squirmed in his restless slumber. His hand when I touched it was yet
hot with fever. He might, most likely would, be better when he awoke in
the morning, but he would be flat aback the remainder of the night. He
could conduct no further search in that house before the next day.

I was uncertain what to do, whether to remain there with Belt or go out
and help Whitestone with the watch. Duty to our cause said the latter,
but in truth other voices are sometimes as loud as that of duty. I
listened to one of the other.

I drew a chair near to Belt’s couch and sat down. He was still
muttering in his hot, sweaty sleep like one with anger at things, and
now and then threw out his long thin legs and arms. He looked like a
man tied down trying to escape.

The candle still burned on the table, but its light was feeble at best.
Shadows filled the corners of the room. I like sick-bed watches but
little, and least of all such as that. They make me feel as if I had
lost my place in a healthy world. To such purpose was I thinking when
Belt sat up with a suddenness that made me start, and cried in a voice
cracked with fever:

“Shelby, are you there?”

“Yes, I’m here,” I replied with a cheeriness that I did not feel. “Lie
down and go to sleep, lieutenant, or you’ll be a week getting well.”

“I can’t go to sleep, and I haven’t been to sleep,” he said, raising
his voice, which had a whistling note of illness in it.

His eyes sparkled, and I could see that the machinery of his head was
working badly. I took him by the shoulders with intent to force him
down upon the couch; but he threw me off with sudden energy that took
me by surprise.

“Let me go,” he said, “till I say what I want to say.”

“Well, what is it?” I asked, thinking to pacify him.

“Shelby,” said he, belief showing all over his face, “I’ve seen a

A strong desire to laugh was upon me, but I did not let it best me, for
I had respect for Belt, who was my superior officer. I don’t believe in
ghosts; they never come to see me.

“You’re sick, and you’ve been dreaming, lieutenant,” I said. “Go to

“I’ll try to go to sleep,” he replied, “but what I say is truth, and
I’ve seen a ghost.”

“What did it look like?” I asked, remembering that it is best to fall
in with the humor of mad people.

“Like a woman,” he replied, “and that’s all I can say on that point,
for this cursed fever has drawn a veil over my eyes. I had shut them,
trying to go to sleep, but something kept pulling my eyelids apart, and
open they came again; there was the ghost, the ghost of a woman; it had
come through the wall, I suppose. It floated all around the room as
if it were looking for something, but not making a breath of a noise,
like a white cloud sailing through the air. I tell you, Shelby, I was
in fear, for I had never believed in such things, and I had laughed at

“What became of the ghost?” I asked.

“It went away just like it came, through the wall, I guess,” said Belt.
“All I know is that I saw it, and then I didn’t. And I want you to stay
with me, Shelby; don’t leave me!”

This time I laughed, and on purpose. I wanted to chirk Belt up a bit,
and I thought I could do it by ridiculing such a fever dream. But I
could not shake the conviction in him. Instead, his temper took heat
at my lack of faith. Then I affected to believe, which soothed him,
and exhaustion falling upon him I saw that either he would slumber
again or weakness would steal his senses. I thought to ease his mind,
and told him everything outside was going well; that Whitestone was
the best sentinel in the world, and not even a lizard could creep past
him though the night might be black as coal. Whereat he smiled, and
presently turning over on his side began to mutter, by which I knew
that a hot sleep was again laying hold of him.

After the rain it had turned very warm again, and I opened the window
for unbreathed air. Belt’s request that I stay with him, given in a
sort of delirium though it was, made good excuse for my remaining. If
ever he said anything about it I could allege his own words.

The candle burned down more on one side than on the other and its blaze
leaned over like a man sick. It served but to distort.

I looked at Belt and wondered why the mind too should grow weak, as
it most often does when disease lays hold of the body. In his healthy
senses, Belt--who, like most New Englanders, believed only what he
saw--would have jeered at the claims of a ghost. There was little
credulity in that lank, bony frame.

But I stopped short in such thoughts, for I noticed that which made my
blood quicken in surprise. Belt’s uniform was gone. I rose and looked
behind the couch, thinking the lieutenant in his uneasy squirmings
might have knocked it over there. But he had not done so; nor was it
elsewhere in the room. It had gone clean away--perhaps through the
wall, like Belt’s ghost. I wondered what Whitestone’s emotions would
be if a somewhat soiled and worn Continental uniform, with no flesh and
bones in it, should come walking down his beat.

I understood that it was a time for me to think my best, and I set
about it. I leaned back in my chair and stared at the wall in the
manner of those who do strenuous thinking. I shifted my gaze but once,
and then to put it upon Belt, who I concluded would not come back to
earth for a long time.

At the end of ten minutes I rose from my chair and went out into the
hall, leaving the candle still burning on the table. Perhaps I, too,
might find a ghost. I did not mean to lose the opportunity which might
never seek me again.

The hall ran the full width of the house and was broad. There was a
window at the end, but the light was so faint I could scarce see, and
in the corners and near the walls so much dusk was gathered that the
eye was of no use there. Yet, by much stealing about and reaching here
and there with my hands, I convinced myself that no ghost lurked in
that hall. But there was a stairway leading into an upper hall, and,
as silent as a ghost myself, for which I take pride, I stole up the

Just before I reached the top step I heard a faint shuffling noise like
that which a heavy and awkward ghost with poor use of himself would
most likely make. Nay, I have heard that ghosts never make noise, but I
see no reason why they shouldn’t, at least a little.

I crouched down in the shadow of the top step and the banisters. The
faint shuffling noise came nearer, and Belt’s lost uniform, upright and
in its proper shape, drifted past me and down the steps. I followed
lightly. I was not afraid. I have never heard, at least not with the
proper authenticity, that ghosts strike one, or do other deeds of
violence; so I followed, secure in my courage. The brass buttons on the
uniform gleamed a little, and I kept them in clear view. Down the steps
went the figure, and then it sped along the hall, with me after it. It
reached the front door, opened it half a foot and stood there. That was
my opportunity to hold discussion with a ghost, and I did not neglect
it. Forward I slipped and tapped with my fingers an arm of the uniform,
which inclosed not empty air but flesh and blood. Startled, the figure
faced about and saw my features, for a little light came in at the door.

“I offer congratulations on your speedy recovery from fever, Lieutenant
Belt,” I said, in a subdued tone.

“It was quick, it is true,” he replied, “but I need something more.”

“What is that?” I asked.

“Fresh air,” he replied. “I think I will go outside.”

“I will go with you,” I said. “Fevers are uncertain, and one can not
tell what may happen.”

He hesitated as if he would make demur, but I said:

“It is necessary to both of us.”

He hesitated no longer, but opened the door wider and stepped out into
the portico. I looked with much anxiety to see what sort of watch
was kept, and no doubt my companion did the same. It was good. Three
sentinels were in sight. Directly in front of us, and about thirty feet
away, was Whitestone. The skirmishers and their rifles had not yet gone
to sleep, for twice while we stood on the portico we saw the flash of
powder on the distant hills.

“Lieutenant, I think we had best walk in the direction of the firing
and make a little investigation,” I said.

“The idea is good,” he replied. “We will do it.”

We walked down the steps and into the yard. I was slightly in advance,
leading the way. We passed within a dozen feet of Whitestone, who

“Sergeant,” said I, “Lieutenant Belt, who feels much better, and
I, wish to inquire further into the skirmishing. There may be some
significance for us in it. We will return presently.”

Whitestone saluted again and said nothing. Once more I wish to commend
Whitestone as a jewel. He did not turn to look at us when we passed
him, but stalked up and down as if he were a wooden figure moving on

We walked northward, neither speaking. Some three or four hundred yards
from the house both of us stopped. Then I put my hand upon his arm

“Albert,” I said, “your fortune is far better than you deserve, or ever
will deserve.”

“I don’t know about that,” he replied.

“I do,” I said. “Now, beyond those hills are the camp-fires of
Burgoyne. You came thus far easily enough in your effort to get out,
though Martyn, who came with you, failed, and you can go back the same
way; but, before you start, take off Belt’s uniform. I won’t have you
masquerading as an American officer.”

Without a word he took off the Continental uniform and stood in the
citizen’s suit in which I had first seen him, Belt being a larger man
than he. I rolled them up in a bundle and put the bundle under my arm.

“Shake hands,” he said. “You’ve done me a good turn.”

“Several of them,” I said, as I shook his hand, “which is several more
than you have done for me.”

“I don’t bear you any grudge on that account,” he said with a faint
laugh, as he strode off in the darkness toward Burgoyne’s army.

Which, I take it, was handsome of him.

I watched him as long as I could. You may not be able sometimes to
look in the darkness and find a figure, but when that figure departs
from your side and you never take your eyes off it, you can follow it
for a long way through the night. Thus I could watch Albert a hundred
yards or more, and I saw that he veered in no wise from the course I
had assigned to him, and kept his face turned to the army of Burgoyne.
But I had not doubted that he would keep his word and would not seek to
escape southward; nor did I doubt that he would reach his comrades in

I turned away, very glad that he was gone. Friends cause much trouble
sometimes, but girls’ brothers cause more.

I took my thoughts away from him and turned them to the business
of going back into the house with the wad of uniform under my arm,
which was very simple if things turned out all right. I believed
that Whitestone would be on guard at the same place, which was what
I wanted. I knew Whitestone would be the most vigilant of all the
sentinels, but I was accustomed to him. One prefers to do business with
a man one knows.

I sauntered back slowly, now and then turning about on my heels as if I
would spy out the landscape, which in truth was pretty well hid by the
thickness of the night.

As I approached the yard my heart gave a thump like a hammer on the
anvil; but there was Whitestone on the same beat, and my heart thumped
again, but with more consideration than before.

I entered the yard, and Whitestone saluted with dignity.

“Sergeant,” said I, “Lieutenant Belt is looking about on the other side
of the house. He fears that his fever is coming on him again, and he
will re-enter the house, but by the back door. I am to meet him there.”

Sergeant Whitestone saluted again. I said naught of the bundle in the
crook of my arm, which he could plainly see.

“Sergeant,” said I, “what do you think of a man who tells all he knows?”

“Very little, sir,” he replied.

“So do I,” I said; “but be that as it may, you know that you and I are
devoted to the patriot cause.”

“Aye, truly, sir!” he said.

We saluted each other again with great respect, and I passed into the

Belt was still asleep upon the sofa and his fever was going down,
though he talked now and then of the things that were on his brain when
awake. The candle was dying, the tallow sputtering as the blaze reached
the last of it, and without another the thickness of the night would be
upon us.

I ascended the stairway into the upper hall again, but this time
with no attempt to rival a ghost in smoothness of motion. Instead, I
stumbled about like a man in whose head hot punch has set everything
to dancing. Presently Mistress Kate, bearing a candle in her hand and
dressed as if for the day--at which I was not surprised--appeared from
the side door.

I begged her for another candle, if the supply in the house were not
exhausted, and stepping back she returned in a moment with what I
desired; then in a tone of much sympathy she inquired as to the state
of Lieutenant Belt’s health. I said he was sleeping peacefully, and
suggested that she come and look at him, as she might have sufficient
knowledge of medicine to assist me in the case. To which she consented,
though ever one of the most modest of maidens.

I held the candle near Belt’s face, but in such position that the light
would not shine into his eyes and awaken him.

“But the lieutenant would rather be on his feet again and in these
garments,” I said, turning the light upon Belt’s uniform, which I had
carefully spread out again on the foot of the couch. Then I added:

“The wearer of that uniform has had many adventures, doubtless, but he
has not come to any harm yet.”

I might have talked further, but I knew that naught more was needed for
Kate Van Auken.

Moreover, no words could ever be cited against me.



Belt awoke the next morning in fairly good health, but very sour of
temper. Like some other people whom I know, he seemed to hold everybody
he met personally responsible for his own misfortunes, which I take it
is most disagreeable for all concerned. He spoke to me in most churlish
manner, though I am fair to say I replied in similar fashion, which
for some reason seemed to cause him discontent. Then he went out and
quarreled with Whitestone and the others, who had been doing their duty
in complete fashion.

But a few minutes after he had gone out, Madame Van Auken, who was a
lady in the highest degree, though a Tory one, came to me and said
she and her daughter had prepared breakfast; scanty, it is true, for
the rebels had passed that way too often, but it would most likely
be better than army fare, and would be good for invalids; would I be
so kind as to ask Lieutenant Belt to come in and share it with them,
and would I do them the further kindness to present myself at the
breakfast also? I would be delighted, and I said so, also hurrying
forth to find Belt, to whom I gave the invitation. He accepted in tone
somewhat ungracious, I thought, but improved in manner when he entered
the presence of the ladies; for, after all, Belt was a gentleman, and I
will admit that he had been unfortunate. As we went in to the breakfast
table I said to Belt:

“You’ve come out of that chill and fever very well, lieutenant. You
look a little weak, but all right otherwise.”

“You seem to have had your own worries,” he replied a bit slowly, “for
something has been painting night under your eyes.”

Well, it was natural; it had been an anxious time for me in truth. But
I suggested it was due to long night watches.

The ladies, as they had said, had not a great deal to offer, but it was
well prepared by their own hands. They had some very fine coffee, to
which I am ever partial, especially in the mornings, and we made most
excellent progress with the breakfast, even Belt waxing amiable. But
about the middle of the breakfast he asked quite suddenly of us all:

“Do you believe in ghosts?”

I was a bit startled, I will admit, but I rejoice to think that I did
not show it. Instead, I looked directly at Mistress Kate, who in truth
looked very handsome and light-hearted that morning, and asked:

“Do you believe in ghosts?”

“Of a certainty--of a certainty,” she said with emphasis.

“So do I,” said I with equal emphasis.

Madame Van Auken drank her coffee.

“I don’t,” said Belt. “I thought I did for a while last night. I even
thought I saw one while Shelby was away from me for a while.”

I rallied Belt, and explained to the ladies that the fever had given
him an illusion the night before. They joined me in the raillery, and
trusted that the gallant lieutenant would not see double when he met
his enemies. Belt took it very well, better than I had thought. But
after the breakfast, when we had withdrawn again, he said to me with a
sour look:

“I do not trust those ladies, Shelby.”

“Well, as for that,” I replied, “I told you that Madame Van Auken was a
hot Tory, of which fact she seeks to make no concealment. But I don’t
see what harm they could do us, however much they might wish it.”

“Maybe,” he said; then with a sudden change:

“Why did you say this morning that you believed in ghosts, when last
night you said you didn’t?”

I fixed upon him the sharp stare of one amazed at such a question.

“Belt,” said I, “I am a believer in ghosts. I am also a devout believer
in the report that the moon is made of moldy green cheese.”

He sniffed a bit, and let me alone on that point, but he returned
to the attack on the ladies. I do not know what idea had found
lodgment in his head; in truth it may have been due to biliousness,
but he suspected them most strongly of what he called treasonable
correspondence with the enemy. I asked him what course he intended to
take in the matter, and he returned a vague answer; but I soon received
intimation of his purpose, for in an hour, leaving me in charge for
the time, he returned to the army. He made a quick trip, and when he
came back he told me he had reported the case at headquarters. The
general, not knowing what else to do with the ladies, had directed
that they be sent to Burgoyne’s army, where, he understood, they had

“He said to me,” said Belt, “that at this time it would be just as well
for the British to take care of their own.”

Reflecting a little, I decided that the matter had fallen out very
well. If they were in Burgoyne’s camp it would release us all from some
troubles and doubts.

“You had best go into the house and notify them,” said Belt, “for they
are to be taken to Burgoyne under a white flag this very afternoon.”

I found Mistress Kate first and told her what Belt had done. She did
not seem to be much surprised. In truth, she said she had expected it.

“I trust, Mistress Kate,” I said, “that while you are in Burgoyne’s
army you will not let your opinions be influenced too much by your

“My opinions are my own,” she said, “and are not dependent upon time
and place.”

Then I said something about its being a pity that Captain Chudleigh was
a prisoner in our hands at such a time and was not with his own army,
but she gave me such a sharp answer that I was glad to shut my mouth.

Madame Van Auken said she was glad to go, but she would revisit her
house when she came southward with Burgoyne after he had scattered the
rebels, provided the rebels in the meantime had not burned the house
down. Which, considering many things, I felt I could overlook. Both
promised to be ready in an hour. I went outside and found that Belt was
able to surprise me again.

“You are to take the ladies into Burgoyne’s camp,” he said. “I wished
to do it myself, but I was needed for other work.”

I was not at all averse to this task, though it had never occurred to
me that I would enter the British lines, except possibly as a prisoner.

“I wish you luck,” said Belt, somewhat enviously. “I think the trip
into the British lines is worth taking.”

Right here I may say--for Belt does not come into this narration
again--that after the war I told him the whole story of these affairs,
which he enjoyed most heartily, and is at this day one among my best

The preliminaries about the transfer of the ladies to Burgoyne’s camp
were but few, though I was exposed on the way to much censure from
Madame Van Auken because of my rebel proclivities. In truth, Mistress
Catherine, I think, took after her deceased and lamented father rather
than her mother, who I knew had made the signal of the light to Martyn,
and to Albert, who was on foot near him. But I bore it very well,
inasmuch as one can grow accustomed to almost anything.

I found that during my few days’ absence our army had pushed up much
closer to Burgoyne, and also that we had increased greatly in numbers.
Nothing could save Burgoyne, so I heard, but the arrival of Clinton
from New York with heavy re-enforcements, and even then, at the best
for Burgoyne, it would be but a problem. My heart swelled with that
sudden elation one feels when a great reward looks certain after long

Protected by the flag of truce we approached Burgoyne’s lines. There
were but the three of us, the two ladies and I. Mistress Kate was
very silent; Madame Van Auken, for whom I have the utmost respect, be
her opinions what they may, did the talking for all three. She was
in somewhat exuberant mood, as she expected to rejoin her son, thus
having all her immediate family together under the flag that she loved.
She had no doubt that Burgoyne would beat us. I could not make out
Mistress Kate’s emotions, nor in truth whether she had any; but just
after we were hailed by the first British sentinel she said to me with
an affectation of lightness, though she could not keep her voice from
sounding sincere:

“My brother will never forget what you have done for him, Dick.”

“He may or may not,” I replied, “but I hope your brother’s sister will

Which may not have been a very gallant speech, but I will leave it to
every just man if I had not endured a good deal in silence. She did
not take any exceptions to my reply, but smiled, which I did not know
whether to consider a good or bad sign.

I showed a letter from one of our generals to the sentinel, and we
were quickly passed through the lines. We were received by Captain
Jervis, a British officer of much politeness, and I explained to him
that the two ladies whom I was proud to escort were the mother and
sister of Albert Van Auken, who should be with Burgoyne’s army. He
answered at once that he knew Albert, and had seen him not an hour
before. Thereat the ladies rejoiced greatly, knowing that Albert
was safe so far; which perhaps, to my mind, was better luck than he
deserved. But in ten minutes he was brought to us, and embraced his
mother and sister with great warmth; then shaking hands with me--

“I’m sorry to see you a prisoner, Dick, my lad,” he said easily,
“especially after you’ve been so obliging to me. But it’s your bad

“I’m not a prisoner,” I replied with some heat, “though you and all the
rest of Burgoyne’s men are likely soon to be. I merely came here under
a flag of truce to bring your mother and sister, and put them out of
the way of cannon balls.”

He laughed at my boast, and said Burgoyne would soon resume his
promenade to New York. Then he bestirred himself for the comfort of
his mother and sister. He apologized for straitened quarters, but said
he could place them in some very good company, including the Baroness
Riedesel and Madame the wife of General Fraser, at which Madame Van
Auken, who was always fond of people of quality, especially when the
quality was indicated by a title, was pleased greatly. And in truth
they were welcomed most hospitably by the wives of the British and
Hessian officers with Burgoyne’s army, who willingly shared with them
the scarcity of food and lodging they had to offer. When I left them,
Mistress Catherine said to me with a saucy curve of the lip, as if she
would but jest:

“Take good care of yourself, Dick, and my brother’s sister will try not
to forget you.”

“Thank you,” I said, “and if it falls in my way to do a good turn for
Captain Chudleigh while he is our prisoner, I will take full advantage
of it.”

At this she was evidently displeased, though somehow I was not.

Albert Van Auken took charge of me, and asked me into a tent to meet
some of his fellow officers and take refreshment; which invitation I
promptly accepted, for in those days an American soldier, with wisdom
born of trial, never neglected a chance to get something good to eat or
to drink.

On my way I observed the condition of Burgoyne’s camp. It was in truth
a stricken army that he led--or rather did not lead, for it seemed now
to be stuck fast. The tents and the wagons were filled with the sick
and the wounded, and many not yet entirely well clustered upon the
grass seeking such consolation as they could find in the talk of each
other. The whole in body, rank and file, sought to preserve a gallant
demeanor, though in spite of it a certain depression was visible on
almost every face. Upon my soul I was sorry for them, enemies though
they were, and the greater their misfortune the greater cause we had
for joy, which, I take it, is one of the grievous things about war.

It was a large tent into which Albert took me, and I met there Captain
Jervis and several other officers, two or three of whom seemed to be of
higher rank than captain, though I did not exactly catch their names,
for Albert spoke somewhat indistinctly when making the introductions.
There seemed to be a degree of comfort in the tent--bottles, glasses,
and other evidences of social warmth.

“We wish to be hospitable to a gallant enemy like yourself, Mr.
Shelby,” said Captain Jervis, “and are not willing that you should
return to your own army without taking refreshment with us.”

I thanked him for his courtesy, and said I was quite willing to be a
live proof of their hospitality; whereupon they filled the glasses with
a very unctuous, fine-flavored wine, and we drank to the health of the
wide world. It had been long since good wine had passed my lips, and
when they filled the glasses a second time I said in my heart that
they were gentlemen. At the same time I wondered to myself a bit why
officers of such high rank, as some of these seemed to be, should pay
so much honor to me, who was but young and the rank of whom was but
small. Yet I must confess that this slight wonder had no bad effect
upon the flavor of the wine.

Some eatables of a light and delicate nature were handed around by an
orderly, and all of us partook, after which we drank a third glass
of wine. Then the officers talked most agreeably about a variety of
subjects, even including the latest gossip they had brought with them
from the Court of St. James. Then we took a fourth glass of wine. I am
not a heavy drinker, as heavy drinkers go, and have rather a strong
head, but a humming of the distant sea began in my ears and the talk
moved far away. I foresaw that Richard Shelby had drunk enough, and
that it was time for me to exercise my strongest will over his somewhat
rebellious head.

“I suppose that you Americans are very sanguine just now, and expect to
take our entire army,” said the oldest and apparently the highest of
the officers--colonel or general, something or other--to me.

I noted that he was overwhelmingly polite in tone. Moreover, my
will was acquiring mastery over Dick Shelby’s humming head. I made
an ambiguous reply, and he went further into the subject of the
campaign, the other officers joining him and indulging slightly in
jest at our expense, as if they would lead me on to boast. To make a
clean confession in the matter, I felt some inclination to a little
vaunting. He said something about our hope to crush Burgoyne, and
laughed as if it were quite impossible.

“English armies are never taken,” said he.

“But they have never before warred with the Americans,” I said.

I recalled afterward that some of the officers applauded me for that
reply, which was strange considering their sympathies. The old officer
showed no offense.

“Have you heard that Sir Henry Clinton is coming to our relief with
five thousand men?” he asked.

“No; have you?” I replied.

I was applauded again, and the officer laughed.

“You take me up quickly. You have a keen mind, Mr. Shelby; it’s a pity
you’re not one of us,” he said.

“That would be bad for me,” I said, “as I do not wish to become a

This was a bit impertinent and ungenerous, I will admit, but I had
drunk four glasses of wine and they were nagging me. They filled up
the glasses again, and most of them drank, but I only sipped mine,
meanwhile strengthening my rule over Dick Shelby’s mutinous head. The
officer laughed easily at my reply and began to talk about the chances
of the next battle, which he was sure the British would win. He said
Burgoyne had six thousand men, English and Hessians, and in quite a
careless way he asked how many we had.

By this time I had Dick Shelby’s unruly head under complete control,
and his question, lightly put as it was, revealed their whole plan.
Right then and there I felt a most painful regret that I had not given
Albert Van Auken the worst beating of his life when I had the chance.

I replied that I could not say exactly how many men we had, but the
number was somewhere between a thousand and a million, and at any rate
sufficient for the purpose. He laughed gently as if he were willing
to tolerate me, and continued to put questions in manner sly and most
insidious. I returned answers vague or downright false, and I could
see that the officer was becoming vexed at his want of success. Albert
himself filled up my glass and urged me to drink again.

“You know, Dick, you don’t get good wine often,” he said, “and this
may be your last chance.”

Had not I been a guest I would have created, right then and there, a
second opportunity for giving Albert the worst beating of his life.
I pretended to drink, though I merely sipped the fumes. The elderly
officer changed his tactics a little.

“Do you think your generals are well informed about us?” he asked.

“Oh, yes,” I replied.


“We learn from prisoners,” I said, “and then, perhaps, we ask sly
questions from Englishmen who come to us under flags of truce.”

“What do you mean?” he asked, his face--and I was glad to see

“I mean,” said I, “that you have brought me into this tent with purpose
to intoxicate me and get valuable information from me. It was a plot
unworthy of gentlemen.”

He rose to his feet, his eyes flashing with much anger. But the
wine I had drunk made me very belligerent. I was ready to fight a
thousand--come one, come all. Moreover, I leave it to all if I did
not have just cause for wrath. I turned from the officer to Albert,
against whom my indignation burned most.

“I have just saved you from death, perhaps a most degrading death,” I
said, “and I am loath to remind you of it, but I must, in order to tell
your fellow officers I am sorry I did it.”

I never saw a man turn redder, and he trembled all over. It was the
scarlet of shame, too, and not of righteous anger.

“Dick,” he said, “I beg your pardon. I let my zeal for our cause go too
far. I--I----”

I think he would have broken down, but just then the elderly officer

“Be silent, Lieutenant Van Auken,” he said. “It is not your fault, nor
that of any other present except myself. You speak truth, Mr. Shelby,
when you say it was unworthy of us. So it was. I am glad it failed, and
I apologize for the effort to make it a success. Mr. Shelby, I am glad
to know you.”

He held out his hand with such frank manliness and evident good will
that I grasped it and shook it heartily. What more he might have said
or done I do not know, for just then we were interrupted by the sound
of a great though distant shouting.



The shouting begat curiosity in us all, and we left the tent, the
elderly officer leading. I perceived at once that the noise came from
our lines, which were pushed up very close to those of the British and
were within plain hearing distance. Among the trees and bushes, which
were very dense at points, I could see in the brilliant sunshine the
flash of rifle barrel and the gleam of uniform. The shouting was great
in volume, swelling like a torrent rising to the flood.

I remained by the side of the old officer. He seemed anxious.

“What is it? What can that mean? It must be something important,” he
asked as much of himself as of me.

The reply was ready for him, as some English skirmishers came forward
with an American prisoner whom they had taken but a few moments
before. The man was but a common soldier, ragged, but intelligent. The
officer put to him his question about the shouting, which had not yet

“That was a welcome,” said the prisoner.

“A welcome! What do you mean by that?”

“Simply that more re-enforcements have come from the south.”

The officer grew even graver.

“More men always coming for them and never any for us,” he said, almost
under his breath.

I had it in mind to suggest that I be returned at once to my own
army, but the arrival of the troops or other cause created a sudden
recrudescence of the skirmishing. Piff-paff chanted the rifles; zip-zip
chirped the bullets. Little blades of flame spurted up among the
bushes, and above them rose the white curls of smoke like baby clouds.
On both sides the riflemen were at work.

The officer looked about him as if he intended to give some special
orders, and then seemed to think better of it. A bullet passed through
the tent we had just left. I felt that my American uniform took me out
of the list of targets.

“Your sharpshooters seem to have come closer,” said the officer. “Their
bullets fell short this morning. I will admit they are good men with
the rifle--better than ours.”

“These are countrymen,” I said. “They have been trained through boyhood
to the use of the rifle.”

I was looking at the fringe of trees and bushes which half hid our
lines. Amid the boughs of a tall tree whose foliage was yet untouched
by autumn I saw what I took to be a man’s figure; but the leaves were
so dense and so green I was not sure. Moreover, the man, if man it
was, seemed to wear clothing of the hue of the leaves. I decided I was
mistaken; then I knew I had been right at first guess, for I saw the
green body within the green curtain of leaves move out upon a bough and
raise its head a little. The sun flashed upon a rifle barrel, and the
next instant the familiar curl of white smoke rose from its muzzle.

The officer had opened his mouth to speak to me, but the words remained
unspoken. His face went pale as if all the blood had suddenly gone
out of him, and he flopped down like an emptied bag at my feet, shot
through the heart.

I was seized with a shivering horror. He was talking to me one moment
and dead the next. His fall, seen by so many, created a confusion in
the British lines. Several rushed forward to seize the body and carry
it away. Just as the first man reached it, he too was slain by a hidden
sharpshooter, and the two bodies lay side by side.

Acting from impulse rather than thought, I lifted the officer by the
shoulders and began to drag him back into the camp. Whether or not my
uniform protected me I can not say, but I was hit by no bullet, though
the skirmishing became so sharp and so hot that it rose almost to the
dignity of a battle. The officer’s body was withdrawn beyond the range
of the sharpshooting and placed in a tent. Though he had sought to
entrap me he had made handsome apology therefor, and I mourned him as I
would a friend. Why should men filled with mutual respect be compelled
to shoot each other?

Albert came to me there, and said in a very cold voice:

“Dick, this sudden outburst will compel you to remain our guest some
time longer--perhaps through the night.”

I turned my back upon him, and when he left I do not know, but when I
looked that way again he was gone, for which I was in truth very glad.
Yet I would have liked to ask him about Kate and her mother. I wondered
if they were safe from the stray bullets of the sharpshooters.

In the stir of this strife at long range I seemed to be forgotten by
the British, as I had been forgotten by my own people. My Continental
uniform was none of the brightest, and even those who noticed it
apparently took me for a privileged prisoner. When I left the tent in
which the officer’s body lay I came back toward the American army, but
the patter of the bullets grew so lively around me that I retreated. It
is bad enough to be killed by an enemy, I imagine, but still worse to
be killed by a friend.

The day was growing old and the night would soon be at hand. Our
sharpshooters held such good positions that they swept most of the
British camp. I do not claim to be a great military man, but I was
convinced that if the British did not dislodge these sharpshooters
their position would become untenable. The night, so far from serving
them, would rather be a benefit to their enemies, for the lights in the
British camp would guide the bullets of the hidden riflemen to their

The bustle in the camp increased, and I observed that details of men
were sent to the front. They took off their bright coats, which were
fine marks for the riflemen, and it was evident that they intended to
match our sharpshooters at their own business. Many of these men were
Germans, who, I have heard, have always been accounted good marksmen in

Nobody caring about me, I took position on a little knoll where I could
see and yet be beyond range. The sun, as if wishing to do his best
before going down, was shining with marvelous brilliancy. The incessant
pit-pat of the rifle fire, like the crackling of hail, drew all eyes
toward the American line. It seemed to me that only the speedy coming
of the night could prevent a great battle.

The crackling flared up suddenly into a volley, betokening the arrival
of the fresh British skirmishers at the point of action. The little
white curls of smoke were gathering together and forming a great cloud
overhead. Presently some wounded were taken past.

There was a movement and gathering of men near me. Quite a body of
soldiers, a company, it seemed, were drawn up. Then, with fixed
bayonets, they advanced upon the American line. I guessed that the
skirmishers were intended to attract the attention of our people, while
this company hoped to clear the woods of the sharpshooters and release
the British camp from their galling fire. The British advanced with
gallantry. I give them credit for that always--that is, nearly always.

The firing had reached an exceeding degree of activity, but I did
not see any man in the company fall. By this I concluded that their
skirmishers were keeping our own busy, and I was in some apprehension
lest this strong squad should fall suddenly and with much force upon
our outposts. Forward they went at a most lively pace and preserving a
very even rank, their bayonets shining brightly in the late sun. The
British boast much about their ability with the bayonet. We know less
about ours, because almost our only way of getting bayonets was to take
them from the British, which we did more than once.

Two or three British officers gathered on the knoll to watch the
movement. Among these was Captain Jervis, whom I liked well. He spoke
pleasantly to me, and said, pointing at the company which was now very
near to the wood:

“That charge, I think, is going to be a success, Mr. Shelby, and your
sharpshooters will find it more comfortable to keep a little farther
away from us.”

He spoke with a certain pride, as if he would hold our people a little
more cheaply than his own.

I made no reply, for another and better answer from a different source
was ready. There was a very vivid blaze from the wood and the crash of
a heavy volley. The head of the column was shattered, nay, crushed,
and the body of it reeled like a man to whom has been dealt a stunning
blow. It was apparent that our people had seen the movement and had
gathered in force in the wood to repel it, striking at the proper

The company rallied and advanced most bravely a second time to the
charge; but the flash of the rifles was so steady and so fast that the
woods seemed to be spouting fire. The British fell back quickly and
then broke into a discreet run into their own encampment.

“You will perceive,” said I to Captain Jervis, “that our people have
not yet retired for the night.”

He laughed a little, though on the wrong side of his mouth. I could see
that he felt chagrin, and so I said no more on that point.

As if by concert our sharpshooters also pushed up closer, and being so
much better at that business drove in those of Burgoyne. The Germans,
in particular, knowing but little of forests, fared badly.

Though I was neither in it nor of it, I felt much elation at our little
triumph. In truth the consequences, if not important of themselves,
were significant of greater things. They showed that Burgoyne’s
beleaguered battalions could rest hope only on two things, the arrival
of Clinton or victory in a pitched battle. But now Burgoyne could not
even protect his own camp. It was reached in many parts by the fire of
the sharpshooters drawn in a deadly ring around it. The night came, and
as far as possible the lights in the camp were put out, but the firing
went on, and no British sentinel was safe at his post.



I remember no night in which I saw more misery. The sharpshooters never
slept, and the dark seemed to profit them as much as the day. They
enveloped the British camp like a swarm of unseen bees, all the more
deadly because no man knew where they hovered nor whence nor when the
sting would come. Men brave in the day are less brave at night, and
every British officer I saw looked worn, and fearful of the future. I
confess that I began to grow anxious on my own account, for in this
darkness my old Continentals could not serve as a warning that I was no
proper target. I have always preserved a high regard for the health and
welfare of Richard Shelby, Esq., and I withdrew him farther into the
camp. There I saw many wounded and more sick, and but scant means for
their treatment. Moreover, the list of both was increasing, and even
as I wandered about, the fresh-wounded were taken past me, sometimes
crying out in their pain.

There were many who took no part in the fighting--Tories who had come
to the British camp with their wives and little children, and the wives
of the English and Hessian officers who had come down from Canada with
them, expecting a march of glory and triumph to New York. For these I
felt most sorrow, as it is very cruel that women and children should
have to look upon war. More than once I heard the lamentations of women
and the frightened weeping of little children. Sometimes the flaring
torches showed me their scared faces. These non-combatants, in truth,
were beyond the range of the fire, but the wounded men were always
before them.

It was but natural that amid so much tumult and suspense I should
remain forgotten. My uniform, dingy in the brightest sun, was scarce
noticeable in the half-lit dusk, and I wandered about the camp almost
at will. The night was not old before I noticed the bustle of great
preparations. Officers hurried about as if time of a sudden had
doubled its value. Soldiers very anxiously examined their muskets
and bayonets; cannon were wheeled into more compact batteries; more
ammunition was gathered at convenient points. On all faces I saw

I thought at first that some night skirmish was intended, but the
bustle and the hurrying extended too much for that. I set about more
thorough explorations, and it was easy enough to gather that Burgoyne
intended to risk all in a pitched battle on the morrow. These were the
preparations for it.

Curiosity had taken away from me, for the moment, the desire to go back
to my own people, but now it returned with double force. It was not
likely that my warning of the coming battle could be of much value,
for our forces were vigilant; but I had the natural desire of youth to
be with our own army, and not with that of the enemy, at the coming of
such a great event.

But the chance for my return looked very doubtful. Both armies were too
busy to pay heed to a flag of truce even if it could be seen in the

I wandered about looking for some means of escape to our own lines,
and in seeking to reach the other side of the camp passed once more
through the space in which the women and children lay. I saw a little
one-roomed house, abandoned long since by its owners. The uncertain
light from the window fought with the shadows outside.

I stepped to the window, which was open, and looked in. They had
turned the place into a hospital. A doctor with sharp instruments in
his hand was at work. A woman with strong white arms, bare almost to
the shoulder, was helping him. She turned away presently, her help not
needed just then, and saw my face at the window.

“Dick,” she said in a tone low, but not too low to express surprise,
“why haven’t you returned to the army?”

“Because I can’t, Kate,” I said. “My flag of truce is forgotten, and
the bullets are flying too fast through the dark for me to make a dash
for it.”

“There should be a way.”

“Maybe, but I haven’t found it.”

“Albert ought to help you.”

“There are many things Albert ought to do which he doesn’t do,” I said.

“Don’t think too badly of him.”

“I think I’ll try to escape through the far side of the camp,” I said,
nodding my head in the way I meant to go.

“We owe you much, Dick, for what you have done for us,” she said, “and
we wish you safety on that account, and more so on your own account.”

She put her hand out of the window and I squeezed it a little.

Perhaps that was Chudleigh’s exclusive right.

But she did not complain, and Chudleigh knew nothing about it.

The British camp was surrounded, but on the side to which I was now
coming the fire of the sharpshooters was more intermittent. It was the
strongest part of the British lines, but I trusted that on such account
the way for my escape would be more open there. At night, with so much
confusion about, it would not be easy to guard every foot of ground. I
walked very slowly until I came almost to the outskirts of the camp;
then I stopped to consider.

In the part of the camp where I stood it was very dark. Some torches
were burning in a half-hearted fashion forty or fifty feet away,
but their own light only made the dusk around me the deeper. I was
endeavoring to select the exact point at which I would seek to pass the
lines, when some one touched me with light hand upon the shoulder.

I turned my head and saw Albert Van Auken, clad in the same cloak he
wore the night he tried to counterfeit his sister. I was about to walk
away, for I still felt much anger toward him, when he touched me again
with light hand, and said in such a low voice that I could scarce hear:

“I am going to pay you back, at least in part, Dick. I will help you to
escape. Come!”

Well, I was glad that he felt shame at last for the way in which he had
acted. It had taken him a long time to learn that he owed me anything.
But much of my wrath against him departed. It was too dark for me to
see the expression of shame which I knew must be imprinted upon his
face, but on his account I was not sorry that I could not see it.

He led the way, stepping very lightly, toward a row of baggage wagons
which seemed to have been drawn up as a sort of fortification. It
looked like a solid line, and I wondered if he would attempt to crawl
under them, but when we came nearer I saw an open space of half a yard
or so between two of them. Albert slipped through this crack without a
word, and I followed. On the other side he stopped for a few moments in
the shadow of the wagons, and I, of course, imitated him.

I could see sentinels to the right and to the left of us, walking about
as if on beats. On the hills, not so very far from us, the camp-fires
of the American army were burning.

I perceived that it was a time for silence, and I waited for Albert
to be leader, as perhaps knowing the ground better than I. A moment
came presently when all the sentinels were somewhat distant from us.
He stepped forward with most marvelous lightness, and in a few breaths
we were beyond the line of the sentinels. I thought there was little
further danger, and I was much rejoiced, both because of my escape and
because it was Albert who had done such a great service for me.

“I trust you will forgive me, Albert, for some of the hard words I
spoke to you,” I said. “Remember that I spoke in anger and without full
knowledge of you.”

He put his fingers upon his lips as a sign for me to be silent, and
continued straight ahead toward the American army. I followed. Some
shots were fired, but we were in a sort of depression, and I had full
confidence they were not intended for us, but were drawn by the lights
in the British camp. Yet I believed that Albert had gone far enough.
He had shown me the way, and no more was needed. I did not wish him to
expose himself to our bullets.

“Go back, Albert,” I said. “I know the way now, and I do not wish you
to become our prisoner.”

He would not pause until we had gone a rod farther. Then he pointed
toward our camp-fires ahead, and turned about as if he would go back.

“Albert,” I said, “let us forget what I said when in anger, and part

I seized his hand in my grasp, though he sought to evade me. The hand
was small and warm, and then I knew that the deception Albert had
practiced upon me a night or so before had enabled Albert’s sister to
do the same.

“Kate!” I exclaimed. “Why have you done this?”

“For you,” said she, snatching her hand from mine and fleeing so
swiftly toward the British camp that I could not stop her.

In truth I did not follow her, but mused for a moment on the great
change a slouch hat, a long cloak, and a pair of cavalry boots can make
in one’s appearance on a dark night.

As I stood in the dark and she was going toward the light, I could
watch her figure. I saw her pass between the wagons again and knew that
she was safe. Then I addressed myself to my own task.

I stood in a depression of the ground, and on the hills, some hundreds
of yards before me, our camp-fires glimmered. The firing on this side
was so infrequent that it was often several minutes between shots. All
the bullets, whether British or American, passed high over my head, for
which I was truly glad.

I made very good progress toward our lines, until I heard ahead of me a
slight noise as of some one moving about. I presumed that it was one
of our sharpshooters, and was about to call gently, telling him who I
was. I was right in my presumption, but not quick enough with my hail,
for his rifle was fired so close to me that the blaze of the exploding
powder seemed to leap at me. That the bullet in truth was aimed at me
there was no doubt, for I felt its passage so near my face that it made
me turn quite cold and shiver.

“Hold! I am a friend!” I shouted.

“Shoot the damned British spy! Don’t let him get away!” cried the

Two or three other sharpshooters, taking him at his word, fired at my
figure faintly seen in the darkness. None hit me, but I was seized with
a sudden and great feeling of discomfort. Seeing that it was not a time
for explanations, I turned and ran back in the other direction. One
more shot was fired at me as I ran, and I was truly thankful that I was
a swift runner and a poor target.

In a few moments I was beyond the line of their fire, and, rejoicing
over my escape from present dangers, was meditating how to escape from
those of the future, when a shot was fired from a new point of the
compass, and some one cried out:

“Shoot him, the Yankee spy! the damned rebel! Don’t let him escape!”

And in good truth those to whom he spoke this violent command obeyed
with most alarming promptness, for several muskets were discharged
instantly and the bullets flew about me.

I turned back with surprising quickness and fled toward the American
camp, more shots pursuing me, but fortune again saving me from their
sting. I could hear the Englishmen repeating their cries to each other
not to let the rebel spy escape. Then I bethought me it was time to
stop, or in a moment or two I would hear the Americans shouting to each
other not to let the infernal British spy escape. I recognized the very
doubtful nature of my position. It seemed as if both the British and
American armies, horse and foot, had quit their legitimate business of
fighting each other and had gone to hunting me, a humble subaltern, who
asked nothing of either just then but personal safety. Was I to dance
back and forth between them forever?

Some lightning thoughts passed through my mind, but none offered a
solution of my problem. Chance was kinder. I stumbled on a stone,
and flat I fell in a little gully. There I concluded to stay for
the while. I pressed very close against the earth and listened to a
rapid discharge of rifles and muskets. Then I perceived that I had
revenge upon them both, for in their mutual chase of me the British
and American skirmishers had come much closer together, and were now
engaged in their proper vocation of shooting at each other instead of
at me.

I, the unhappy cause of it all, lay quite still, and showered thanks
upon that kindly little gully for getting in my way and receiving my
falling body at such an opportune moment. The bullets were flying very
fast over my head, but unless some fool shot at the earth instead of
at a man I was safe. The thought that there might be some such fool
made me shiver. Had I possessed the power, I would have burrowed my way
through the earth to the other side, which they say is China.

It was the battle of Blenheim, at least, that seemed to be waged at
the back of my head, for my nose was pressed into the earth and my
imagination lent much aid to facts. I seemed to cower there for hours,
and then one side began to retreat. It was the British, the Americans,
I suppose, being in stronger force and also more skillful at this kind
of warfare. The diminishing fire swept back toward the British lines
and then died out like a languid blaze.

I heard the tramp of feet, and a heavy man with a large foot stepped
squarely upon my back.

“Hello!” said the owner. “Here’s one, at least, that we’ve brought

“English, or Hessian?” asked another.

“Can’t tell,” said the first. “He’s lying on his face, and, besides,
he’s half buried in a gully. We’ll let him stay here; I guess this
gully will do for his grave.”

“No, it won’t, Whitestone!” said I, sitting up. “When the right time
comes for me to be buried I want a grave deeper than this.”

“Good Lord! is it you, Mr. Shelby?” exclaimed Whitestone, in surprise
and genuine gladness.

“Yes, it is I,” I replied, “and in pretty sound condition too, when you
consider the fact that all the British and American soldiers in the
province of New York have been firing point-blank at me for the last
two hours.”

Then I described my tribulations, and Whitestone, saying I should deem
myself lucky to have fared so well, went with me to our camp.



Dangers and troubles past have never prevented me from sleeping well,
and when I awoke the next morning it was with Whitestone pulling at my

“This is the third shake,” said he.

“But the last,” said I, getting up and rubbing my eyes.

I have seldom seen a finer morning. The fresh crispness of early
October ran through the brilliant sunshine. The earth was bathed in
light. It was such a sun as I have heard rose on the morning of the
great battle of Austerlitz, fought but recently. A light wind blew from
the west. The blood bubbled in my veins.

“It’s lucky that so many of us should have such a fine day for leaving
the world,” said Whitestone.

The battle, the final struggle for which we had been looking so long,
was at hand. I had not mistaken the preparations in the British camp
the night before.

I have had my share, more or less humble, in various campaigns and
combats, but I have not seen any other battle begun with so much
deliberation as on that morning. In truth all whom I could see appeared
to be calm. A man is sometimes very brave and sometimes much afraid--I
do not know why--but that day the braver part of me was master.

We were ready and waiting to see what the British would do, when
Burgoyne, with his picked veterans, came out of his intrenchments and
challenged us to battle, much as the knights of the old time used to
invite one another to combat.

They were not so many as we--we have never made that claim; but they
made a most gallant show, all armed in the noble style with which
Britain equips her troops, particularly the bayonets, of which we have
had but few in the best of times, and none, most often.

They sat down in close rank on the hillside, as if they were quite
content with what we might do or try to do, whatever it might be. I
have heard many say it was this vaunting over us that chiefly caused
the war.

The meaning of the British was evident to us all. If this picked force
could hold its own against our attack, the remainder of their army
would be brought up and an attempt to inflict a crushing defeat upon
us would be made; if it could not hold its own, it would retreat into
the intrenchments, where the whole British army would defend itself at

Farther back in the breastworks I could see the British gazing out at
their chosen force and at us. I even imagined that I could see women
looking over, and that perhaps Kate Van Auken was one of them. I say
again, how like it was in preparation and manner to one of the old
tournaments! Perhaps it was but my fancy.

There was no movement in our lines. So far as we could judge just then,
we were merely looking on, as if it were no affair of ours. In the
British force some one played a tune on a fife which sounded to me like
“Won’t you dare?”

“Why did we take so much care to hem them in and then refuse to fight
them?” asked I impatiently of Whitestone.

“What time o’ day is it?” asked Whitestone.

“I don’t know,” I replied, “but it’s early.”

“I never answer such questions before sundown,” said Whitestone.

Content with his impolite but wise reply, I asked no more, noticing at
times the red squares of the British, and at other times the dazzling
circle of the red sun.

Suddenly the British began to move. They came on in most steady manner,
their fine order maintained.

“Good!” said Whitestone. “They mean to turn our left.”

We were on the left, which might be good or bad. Be that as it may,
I perceived that our waiting was over. I do not think we felt any
apprehension. We were in strong force, and we New Yorkers were on the
left, and beside us our brethren of New England, very strenuous men. We
did not fear the British bayonet of which our enemies boast so much.
While we watched their advance, I said to Whitestone:

“I will not ask that question again before sundown.”

“I trust that you will be able to ask it then, and I to answer it,”
replied he.

Which was about as solemn as Whitestone ever became.

Looking steadily at the British, I saw a man in their front rank fall.
Almost at the same time I heard the report of a rifle just in front of
us, and I knew that one of our sharpshooters had opened the battle.

This shot was like a signal. The sharp crackling sound ran along the
grass like fire in a forest, and more men fell in the British lines.
Their own skirmishers replied, and while the smoke was yet but half
risen a heavy jerky motion seized our lines and we seemed to lift
ourselves up. A thrill of varying emotions passed through me. I knew
that we were going to attack the British, not await their charge.

Our drummers began to beat a reply to theirs, but I paid small
attention to them. The fierce pattering from the rifles of the
skirmishers and the whistling of the bullets now coming about our ears
were far more important sounds. But the garrulous drums beat on.

“Here goes!” said Whitestone.

The drums leaped into a faster tune, and we, keeping pace with the
redoubled rub-a-dub, charged into a cloud of smoke spangled with
flaming spots. The smoke filled my eyes and I could not see, but I was
borne on by my own will and the solid rush of the men beside me and
behind me. Then my eyes cleared partly, and I saw a long red line in
front of us. Those in the first rank were on one knee, and I remember
thinking how sharp their bayonets looked. The thought was cut short
by a volley and a blaze which seemed to envelop their whole line. A
huge groan arose from our ranks. I missed the shoulder against my left
shoulder--the man who had stood beside me was no longer there.

We paused only for a moment to fire in our turn, and our groan found an
equal echo among the British. Then, officers shouting commands and men
shouting curses, we rushed upon the bayonets.

I expected to be spitted through, and do not know why I was not; but in
the turmoil of noise and flame and smoke I swept forward with all the
rest. When we struck them I felt a mighty shock, as if I were the whole
line instead of one man. Then came the joy of the savage when their
line--bayonets and all--reeled back and shivered under the crash of

I shouted madly, and struck through the smoke with my sword. I was
conscious that I stepped on something softer than the earth, that it
crunched beneath my feet; but I thought little of it. Instead I rushed
on, hacking with my sword at the red blurs in the smoke.

I do not say it as a boast, for there were more of us than of
them--though they used to claim that they did not care for numbers--but
they could place small check upon our advance, although they had cannon
as well as bayonets. Their red line, very much seamed and scarred now,
was driven back, and still farther back, up the hill. Our men, long
anxious for this battle and sure of triumph, poured after them like
a rising torrent. The British were not strong enough, and were swept
steadily toward their intrenchments.

“Do you hear that?” shouted some one in my ear.

“Hear what?” I shouted in reply, turning to Whitestone.

“The cannon and the rifles across yonder,” he said, nodding his head.

Then I noticed the angry crash of artillery and small arms to our left,
and I knew by the sound that not we alone but the whole battle front of
both armies was engaged.

If the British, as it seemed, wanted a decisive test of strength, they
would certainly get it.

For a few moments the smoke rolled over us in such volume that I could
not see Whitestone, who was but three feet from me, but I perceived
that we had wheeled a little, and nobody was before us. Then the smoke
drifted aside, and our men uttered a most tremendous shout, for all
the British who were alive or could walk had been driven into their
intrenchments, and, so far as that, we were going to carry their
intrenchments too, or try.

I think that all of us took a very long breath, for I still had the
strange feeling that our whole line was one single living thing, and
whatever happened to it I felt. The cannon from the intrenchments were
fired straight into our faces, but our bloody line swept on. I leaped
upon a ridge of newly thrown earth and struck at a tall cap. I heard a
tremendous swearing, long volleys of deep German oaths. We were among
the paid Hessians, whom we ever hated more than the British for coming
to fight us in a quarrel that was none of theirs.

The Hessians, even with their intrenchments and cannon, could not stand
before us--nor do I think they are as good as we. Perhaps our hatred
of these mercenaries swelled our zeal, but their intrenchments were no
barrier to us. For a space we fought them hand to hand, knee to knee;
then they gave way. I saw their slain commander fall. Some fled, some
yielded; others fought on, retreating.

I rushed forward and called upon a Hessian to surrender. For answer he
stabbed straight at my throat with his bayonet. He would have surely
hit the mark, but a man beside him knocked the bayonet away with his
sword, calling out at the same moment to me.

“That’s part payment of my debt to you, Dick.”

He was gone in the smoke, and as I was busy receiving the surrender of
the Hessian and his bayonet I could not follow him. I looked around for
more to do, but all the Hessians who had not fled had yielded, and the
fight was ours. Burgoyne had not only failed in the pitched battle in
the open field, but we had taken many of his cannon and a portion of
his camp. His entire army, no longer able to face us in any sort of
contest, lay exposed to our attack.

I wondered why we did not rush on and finish it all then, but I noticed
for the first time that the twilight had come and the skies were
growing dark over the field of battle. I must have spoken my thoughts
aloud, for Whitestone, at my elbow, said:

“No use having more men killed, Mr. Shelby; we’ve nothing to do now but
hold fast to what we’ve got, and the rest will come to us.”

Whitestone sometimes spoke to me in a fatherly manner, though I was his
superior. But I forgave him. I owed much to him.

The battle ceased as suddenly as it had begun. The long shadows of the
night seemed to cover everything and bring peace, though the cries of
the wounded reminded us of what had been done. We gathered up the hurt,
relieving all we could; but later in the night the sharpshooters began

I was exultant over our victory and the certainty of a still greater
triumph to come. I rejoiced that Albert had not forgotten his debt to
me and had found a way of repayment, but I felt anxiety also. In the
rush of the battle, with the bullets flying one knew not whither, not
even the women and children lying in that portion of the British camp
yet intact were safe.

The wounded removed, I had nothing more to do but to wait. Only then
did I remember to be thankful that I was unhurt. I had much smoke grime
upon my face, and I dare say I was not fine to look at, but I thought
little of those things. Whitestone, who also was free from active duty,
joined me, and I was glad. He drew his long pipe from the interior of
his waistcoat, filled it with tobacco, lighted it and became happy.

“It has been a good day’s work,” he said at length.

“Yes, for us,” I replied. “What will be the next step, Whitestone?”

“The British will retreat soon,” he said. “We will follow without
pressing them too hard. No use to waste our men now. In a week the
British will be ours.”

Whitestone spoke with such assurance that I was convinced.



But a dull murmur arose from the two camps, victor and vanquished. Both
seemed to sleep for the morrow. I had done so much guard duty of late
that I looked for such assignment as a matter of course, and this night
was no exception. With Whitestone and some soldiers I was to guard one
of the little passes between the hills. We were merely an alarm corps;
we could not stop a passage, but there were enough behind us whom we
could arouse for the purpose. The British might retreat farther into
the interior, but the river and its banks must be closed to them.

We stood in the dark, but we could see the wavering lights of either
camp. The murmur as it came to us was very low. The two armies rested
as if they were sunk in a lethargy after their strenuous efforts of the
day. I did not regret my watch. I did not care to sleep. The fever of
the fight yet lingering in my blood, I was not so old to battle that I
could lie down and find slumber as soon as the fighting ended.

“Mr. Shelby,” said Whitestone, “is there any rule or regulation against
a pipe to-night?”

“I know of none, Whitestone,” I said.

He was satisfied, and lighted his pipe, which increased his
satisfaction. I strolled about a little, watching the lights and
meditating upon the events of the day. The camps stood higher than I,
and they looked like huge black clouds shot through here and there
with bits of flame. I believed Whitestone’s assurance that Burgoyne
would retreat on the morrow; but I wondered what he would attempt after
that. Clinton’s arrival might save him, but it seemed to me that the
possibility of such an event was fast lessening. In this fashion I
passed an hour or two; then it occurred to me to approach the British
camp a little more closely and see what movements there might be on the
outskirts, if any. Telling Whitestone of my intent, I advanced some
forty or fifty yards. From that point, though still beyond rifle shot,
I could see figures in the British camp when they passed between me and
the firelight.

There was one light larger than the others--near the center of the camp
it seemed to be--and figures passed and repassed in front of it like a
procession. Presently I noticed that these shapes passed in fours, and
they were carrying something. It seemed a curious thing, and I watched
it a little; then I understood what they were doing: they were burying
the dead.

I could easily have crept nearer and fired some bullets into the
British camp, but I had no such intent. That was the business
of others, and even then I could hear the far-away shots of the

The sights of this stricken camp interested me. The ground was
favorable for concealment, and I crept nearer. Lying among some weeds I
could obtain a good view. The figures before indistinct and shapeless
now took form and outline. I could tell which were officers and which
were soldiers.

Some men were digging in the hillside. They soon ceased, and four
others lifted a body from the grass and put it in the grave. A woman
came forward and read from a little book. My heart thrilled when I
recognized the straight figure and earnest face of Kate Van Auken. Yet
there was no need for me to be surprised at the sight of her. It was
like her to give help on such a night.

I could not hear the words, but I knew they were a prayer, and I bowed
my head. When she finished the prayer and they began to throw in the
earth, she walked away and I lost sight of her; but I guessed that she
went on to other and similar duties. I turned about to retreat, and
stumbled over a body.

A feeble voice bade me be more careful, and not run over a gentleman
who was not bothering me but attending to his own business. A
British officer, very pale and weak--I could see that even in the
obscurity--sat up and looked reproachfully at me.

“Aren’t you rebels satisfied with beating us?” he asked in a faint
voice scarce above a whisper. “Do you want to trample on us too?”

“I beg your pardon,” I said. “I did not see you.”

“If any harm was done, your apology has removed it,” he replied most

I looked at him with interest. His voice was not the only weak thing
about him. He seemed unable to sit up, but was in a half-reclining
position, with his shoulder propped against a stone. He was young.

“What’s the matter?” I asked, sympathizing much.

“I’m in the most embarrassing position of my life,” he replied, with
a faint attempt at a laugh. “One of your confounded rebel bullets has
gone through both my thighs. I don’t think it has struck any bone, but
I have lost so much blood that I can neither walk, nor can I cry out
loud enough for my people to come and rescue me, nor for your people to
come and capture me. I think the bleeding has stopped. The blood seems
to have clogged itself up.”

I was bound to admit that he had truly described his position as

“What would you do if you were in my place?” he asked.

I didn’t know, and said so. Yet I had no mind to abandon him. The
positions reversed, I would have a very cruel opinion of him were he
to abandon me. He could not see my face, and he must have had some idea
that I was going to desert him.

“You won’t leave me, will you?” he asked anxiously.

His tone appealed to me, and I assured him very warmly that I would
either take him a prisoner into our camp or send him into his own. Then
I sat my head to the task, for either way it was a problem. I doubted
whether I could carry him to our camp, which was far off comparatively,
as he looked like a heavy Briton. I certainly could carry him to his
own camp, which was very near, but that would make it uncommonly
embarrassing for me. I explained the difficulty to him.

“That’s so,” he said thoughtfully. “I don’t want you to get yourself
into trouble in order to get me out of it.”

“What’s your name?” I asked.

“Hume. Ensign William Hume,” he replied.

“You’re too young to die, Hume,” I said, “and I promise not to leave
you until you are in safety.”

“I’ll do the same for you,” he said, “if ever I find you lying on a
hillside with a bullet hole through both your thighs.”

I sat down on the grass beside him, and gave him something strong out
of a little flask that I carried in an inside pocket. He drank it with
eagerness and gratitude and grew cheerful.

I thought a few moments, and my idea came to me, as good ideas
sometimes do. As he could neither walk nor shout, it behooved me to do
both for him. Telling him my plan, of which he approved most heartily,
as he ought to have done, I lifted him in my arms and walked toward the
British camp. He was a heavy load and my breath grew hard.

We were almost within reach of the firelight, and yet we were not
noticed by any of the British, who, I suppose, were absorbed in their
preparations. We came to a newly cut tree, intended probably for use in
the British fortifications. I put Ensign Hume upon this tree with his
back supported against an upthrust bough.

“Now, don’t forget, when they come,” I said. “to tell them you managed
to crawl to this tree and shout for help. That will prevent any
pursuit of me.”

He promised, and shook hands with as strong a grip as he could, for he
was yet weak. Then I stepped back a few paces behind him, and shouted:

“Help, help, comrades! Help! help!”

Figures advanced from the firelight, and I glided away without noise.
From my covert in the darkness I could see them lift Hume from the tree
and carry him into his own camp. Then I went farther away, feeling glad.

It was my intent to rejoin Whitestone and the soldiers, and in truth I
went back part of the way, but the British camp had a great attraction
for me. I was curious to see, as far as I could, what might be going
on in its outskirts. I also encouraged myself with the thought that I
might acquire information of value.

Thus gazing about with no certain purpose, I saw a figure coming toward
me. One of our sharpshooters or spies returning from explorations, was
my first thought. But this thought quickly yielded to another, in which
wonderment was mingled to a marked extent. That figure was familiar. I
had seen that swing, that manner, before.

My wonderment increased, and I decided to observe closely. I stepped
farther aside that I might not be seen, of which, however, there was
but small chance, so long as I sought concealment.

The figure veered a little from me, choosing a course where the night
lay thickest. I was unable to make up my mind about it. Once I had
taken another figure that looked like it for Albert, and once I had
taken it for Albert’s sister, and each time I had been wrong. Now I had
my choice, and also the results of experience, and remained perplexed.

I resolved to follow. There might be mischief afoot. Albert was quite
capable of it, if Albert’s sister was not. The figure proceeded toward
our post, where I had left Whitestone in command for the time being. I
fell in behind, preserving a convenient distance between us.

Ahead of us I saw a spark of fire, tiny but distinct. I knew very well
that it was the light of Whitestone’s pipe. I expected the figure
that I was following to turn aside, but it did not. Instead, after
a moment’s pause, as if for examination, it went straight on toward
the spark of light. I continued to follow. Whitestone was alone. The
soldiers were not visible. I suppose they were farther back.

The gallant sergeant raised his rifle at sight of the approaching
figure, but dropped it when he perceived that nothing hostile was

“Good evening, Miss Van Auken,” he said most politely. “Have you come
to surrender?”

“No,” replied Kate, “but to make inquiries, sergeant, if you would be
so kind as to answer them.”

“If it’s not against my duty,” replied Whitestone, with no abatement of
his courtesy.

“I wanted to know if all my friends had escaped unhurt from the
battle,” she said. “I was going to ask about you first, sergeant, but I
see that it is not necessary.”

“What others?” said the sergeant.

“Well, there’s Mr. Shelby,” she said. “Albert said he saw him in that
fearful charge, the tumult of which frightened us so much.”

“Oh, Mr. Shelby’s all right, ma’am,” replied the sergeant. “The fact
is, he’s in command of this very post, and he’s scouting about here
somewhere now. Any others, ma’am, you wish to ask about?”

“I don’t recall any just now,” she said, “and I suppose I ought to go
back, or you might be compelled to arrest me as a spy, or something of
that kind.”

The sergeant made another deep bow. Whitestone always thought he had
fine manners. Kate began her return. She did not see me, for I had
stepped aside. But I was very glad that I had seen her. I watched her
until she re-entered the British camp.

When I rejoined Whitestone he assured me that nothing whatever had
happened in my absence, and, besides the men of our immediate command,
he had not seen a soul of either army. I did not dispute his word, for
I was satisfied.

All night long the bustle continued in Burgoyne’s camp, and there was
no doubt of its meaning. Burgoyne would retreat on the morrow, in a
desperate attempt to gain time, hoping always that Clinton would come.
The next day this certainty was fulfilled. The British army drew off,
and we followed in overwhelming force, content, so our generals seemed,
to wait for the prize without shedding blood in another pitched battle.



But it is not sufficient merely to win a battle. One must do more,
especially when another hostile army is approaching and one does not
know how near that army is, or how much nearer it will be.

It was such a trouble as this that afflicted our generals after the
morning of the great victory. That other British army down the river
bothered them. They wanted exact information about Clinton, and my
colonel sent for me.

“Mr. Shelby,” he said, “take the best horse you can find in the
regiment, ride with all haste to Albany, and farther south, if
necessary, find out all you can about Clinton, and gallop back to us
with the news. It is an important and perhaps a dangerous duty, but I
think you are a good man for it, and if you succeed, those much higher
in rank than I am will thank you.”

I felt flattered, but I did not allow myself to be overwhelmed.

“Colonel,” I said, “let me take Sergeant Whitestone with me; then, if
one of us should fall, the other can complete the errand.”

But I did not have the possible fall of either of us in mind.
Whitestone and I understand each other, and he is good company.
Moreover, the sergeant is a handy man to have about in an emergency.

The colonel consented promptly.

“It is a good idea,” he said. “I should have thought of it myself.”

But then colonels don’t always think of everything.

Whitestone was very willing.

“I don’t think anything will happen here before we get back,” he said,
looking off in the direction of Burgoyne’s army.

In a half hour, good horses under us, we were galloping southward. We
expected to reach Albany in four hours.

For a half hour we rode along, chiefly in silence, each occupied with
his own thoughts. Then I saw Whitestone fumbling in the inside pocket
of his waistcoat, and I knew that the pipe was coming. He performed
the feat of lighting it and smoking it without diminishing speed, and
looked at me triumphantly. I said nothing, knowing that no reply was

My thoughts--and it was no trespass upon my soldierhood--were
elsewhere. I hold that I am not a sentimental fellow, but in the
ride to Albany I often saw the face of Kate Van Auken--Mrs. Captain
Chudleigh that was to be--a girl who was nothing to me, of course. Yet
I was glad that she was not a Tory and traitor, and I hoped Chudleigh
would prove to be the right sort of man.

“I’ll be bound you’re thinking of some girl,” said Whitestone suddenly,
as he took his pipe from his mouth and held the stem judicially between
his thumb and forefinger.

“Why?” I asked.

“You look up at the sky, and not ahead of you; you sigh, and you’re
young,” replied Whitestone.

But I swore that I was not thinking of any girl, and with all the more
emphasis because I was. Whitestone was considerate, however, and said
nothing more on the subject. Within the time set for ourselves we
reached Albany.

Albany, as all the world knows, is an important town of Dutchmen. It is
built on top of a hill, down a steep hillside, and then into a bottom
by the river, which sometimes rises without an invitation from the
Dutchmen and washes out the houses in the bottom. I have heard that
many of these Dutchmen are not real Dutchmen, but have more English
blood in them. It is not a matter, however, that I care to argue, as it
is no business of mine what hobby horse one may choose to ride hard.
All I know is that these Albany Dutchmen are wide of girth and can
fight well, which is sufficient for the times.

Whitestone and I rode along looking at the queer houses with their
gable ends to the street. We could see that the town was in a great
flurry, as it had a good right to be, with our army and Burgoyne’s
above it and Clinton’s below it, and nobody knowing what was about to

“We must gather up the gossip of the town first,” I said to Whitestone.
“No doubt much of it will be false and more of it exaggerated, but it
will serve as an indication and tell us how to set about our work.”

“Then here’s the place for us to begin gathering,” said Whitestone,
pointing to a low frame building through the open door of which many
voices and some strong odors of liquor came. Evidently it was a
drinking tavern, and I knew Whitestone was right when he said it was a
good place in which to collect rumors.

We dismounted, hitched our horses to posts, and entered. As plenty of
American soldiers were about the town, we had no fear that our uniforms
would attract special attention. In truth we saw several uniforms like
ours in the room, which was well crowded with an assemblage most mixed
and noisy. Whitestone and I each ordered a glass of the Albany whisky
tempered with water, and found it to be not bad after a long and weary
ride. I have observed that a good toddy cuts the dust out of one’s
throat in excellent fashion. Feeling better we stood around with the
others and listened to the talk, of which there was no lack. In truth,
some of it was very strange and remarkable.

The news of our great battle had reached the Albany people, but in a
vague and contrary fashion, and we found that we had beaten Burgoyne;
that Burgoyne had beaten us; that Burgoyne was fleeing with all speed
toward Canada; that he would be in Albany before night. Those who know
always feel so superior to those who don’t know that Whitestone and I
were in a state of great satisfaction.

But the conversation soon turned from Burgoyne to Clinton, and then
Whitestone and I grew eager. Our eagerness turned to alarm, for we
heard that Clinton, with a great fleet and a great army, was pressing
toward Albany with all haste.

Good cause for alarm was this, and, however much it might be
exaggerated, we had no doubt that the gist of it was the truth.

I made a sign to Whitestone, and we slipped quietly out of the tavern,
not wishing to draw any notice to ourselves. Despite our caution, two
men followed us outside. I had observed one of these men looking at
me in the tavern, but he had turned his eyes away when mine met his.
Outside he came up to me and said boldly, though in a low voice:

“Have you come from the south?”

“No,” I said carelessly, thinking to turn him off.

“Then you have come from the north, from the battlefield,” he said in a
tone of conviction.

“What makes you think so?” I asked, annoyed.

“You and your companion are covered with dust and your horses with
perspiration,” he replied, “and you have ridden far and hard.”

I could not guess the man’s purpose, but I took him and the others
with him to be Tories, spies of the British, who must be numerous
about Albany. I do not like to confess it, but it is true that in our
province of New York the Tories were about as many as, perhaps more
than, the patriots. We might denounce the men, but we had no proof at
all against them. Moreover, we could not afford to get into a wrangle
on such a mission as ours.

“You were at the battle,” said the man shrewdly, “and you have come in
all haste to Albany.”

“Well, what if we were?” I said in some heat. His interference and
impertinence were enough to make me angry.

“But I did not say from which army you came,” he said, assuming an air
of great acuteness and knowledge.

I was in doubt. Did the man take us for Tory spies--I grew angrier
still at the thought--or was he merely trying to draw us on to the
telling of what he knew? While I hesitated, he added:

“I know that Burgoyne held his own in a severe battle fought yesterday.
That is no news to you. But if you go about the town a little, you will
also know what I know, that Clinton, in overwhelming force, will soon
be at Albany.”

I was convinced now that the man was trying to draw from me the facts
about the battle, and I believed more than ever that he and his
comrades were Tory spies. I regretted that Whitestone and I had not
removed the dust of travel before we entered the tavern. I regretted
also that so many of our countrymen should prove faithless to us. It
would have been far easier for us had we only the British and the hired
Hessians to fight.

Whitestone was leaning against his horse, bridle in hand, looking at
the solitary cloud that the sky contained. Apparently the sergeant was
off in dreams, but I knew he was listening intently. He let his eyes
fall, and when they met mine, he said, very simply and carelessly:

“I think we’d better go.”

As I said, the sergeant is a very handy man to have about in an
emergency. His solution was the simplest in the world--merely to ride
away from the men and leave them.

We mounted our horses.

“Good day, gentlemen,” we said.

“Good day,” they replied.

Then we left them, and when I looked back, at our first turning, they
were still standing at the door of the tavern. But I gave them little
further thought, for Clinton and his advancing fleet and army must now
receive the whole attention of the sergeant and myself.

It was obvious that we must leave Albany, go down the river, and get
exact news about the British. It was easy enough for us to pass out of
the town and continue our journey. We had been provided with the proper
papers in case of trouble.

We had given our horses rest and food in Albany, and rode at a good
pace for an hour. Not far away we could see the Hudson, a great ribbon
of silver or gray, as sunshine or cloud fell upon it. I was occupied
with the beauty of the scene, when Whitestone called my attention and
pointed ahead. Fifty yards away, and in the middle of the road, stood
two horsemen motionless. They seemed to be planted there as guards, yet
they wore no uniforms.

I felt some anxiety, but reflected that the horsemen must be countrymen
waiting, through curiosity or friendship, for approaching travelers in
such troublous times. But as we rode nearer I saw that I was mistaken.

“Our inquiring friends of the tavern,” said Whitestone.

He spoke the truth. I recognized them readily. When we were within
fifteen feet they drew their horses across the way, blocking it.

“What does this mean, gentlemen? Why do you stop us?” I asked.

“We are an American patrol,” replied the foremost of the two, the one
who had questioned me at the tavern, “and we can not let anybody pass
here. It is against our orders.”

Both wore ragged Continental coats, which I suppose they had brought
out of some recess before they started on the circuit ahead of us.

I signed to Whitestone to keep silent, and rode up close to the leader.

“We ought to understand each other,” I said, speaking in a confident
and confidential tone.

“What do you mean?” he asked suspiciously.

I burst out laughing, as if I were enjoying the best joke in the world.

“I hate rebels,” I said, leaning over and tapping him familiarly on the
shoulder with my finger.

“I don’t understand you,” he said.

“I mean that you hate rebels too,” I replied, “and that you are just as
much of a rebel as I am.”

“Hi should think so! Hi could tell by the look hof their countenances
that they are hof the right sort,” broke in Whitestone, dropping every
h where it belonged and putting on every one where it did not belong.

It was Whitestone’s first and last appearance on any occasion as an
Englishman, but it was most successful.

A look of intelligence appeared on the faces of the two men.

“Of Bayle’s regiment in Burgoyne’s army, both of us,” I said.

“I thought it, back yonder in Albany,” said the leader, “but why did
you fence us off so?”

“One doesn’t always know his friends, first glance, especially in rebel
towns,” I said. “Like you, I thought so, but I couldn’t take the risk
and declare myself until I knew more about you.”

“That’s true,” he acknowledged. “These rebels are so cursedly sly.”

“Very, very sly,” I said, “but we’ve fooled ’em this time.”

I pointed to their Continental coats and to ours. Then we laughed all

“Tell me what really happened up there,” said the man.

“It was a great battle,” I said, “but we drove them off the field, and
we can take care of ourselves. Six thousand British and German veterans
care little for all the raw militia this country can raise.”

“That’s so,” he said. We laughed again, all together.

“How is everything down there?” I asked, nodding my head toward the

“Clinton’s coming with a strong fleet and five thousand men,” he
replied. “What they say in the town is all true.”

“Small thanks he will get from Burgoyne,” I said. “Our general will
like it but little when Clinton comes to strip him of part of his

“I suppose you are right,” he answered, “but I did not think Burgoyne
was finding his way so easy. I understood that the first battle at
Saratoga stopped him.”

“Don’t you trouble yourself about Burgoyne,” I said. “If he stopped, he
stopped for ample reasons.”

Which was no lie.

“But we must hasten,” I continued. “Our messages to Clinton will bear
no delay.”

“Luck with you,” they said.

“Luck with you,” we replied, waving our hands in friendly salute as we
rode away, still to the south.

Whether they ever found out the truth I do not know, for I never saw or
heard of either again.

We continued our journey in silence for some time. Whitestone looked

“What is the matter?” I asked.

“It was too easy,” he replied. “I always pity fools.”

He lighted his pipe and sought consolation.



The night soon came and was very dark. We were compelled to stop for
rest and for food, which we found at a farmer’s house. But we were
satisfied with our day’s work. We had started, and with the appearance
of fact too, the report that Burgoyne had beaten us in pitched battle.
We knew the report would be carried far and wide, and Clinton would
think haste was not needed. Let me repeat that to win a battle is not
to win a campaign, and I hold no general’s commission either.

In the morning we met a few countrymen in a state of much fright.
“Clinton is coming!” was all that we could get from them. We thought
it more than likely that Clinton was coming in truth, since all the
reports said he and his ships ought to be very near now.

“The river is the place to look,” said Whitestone.

We turned our horses that way, and in a few minutes stood upon its high

“See,” said Whitestone, pointing a long arm and an outstretched finger.

I saw, and I saw, moreover, that our search was ended. Far down the
river was the British fleet, a line of white specks upon the silver
bosom of the water. We could scarce trace hull or sail or mast, but
ships they were without mistake, and British ships they must be, since
we had none. It was not a pleasant sight for us, but it would have
rejoiced the heart of Burgoyne had he been there to see.

We knew that Clinton must have several thousand men either on board
the fleet or not far below, and we knew also that with such a strong
force nothing could prevent his speedy arrival at Albany if he chose to
hasten. I knew not what to do. Ought we to go back at once to our army
with the news of what we had seen, or ought we to stay and find out
more? On one side was time saved, and on the other better information.
I put it to Whitestone, but he was as uncertain as I.

Meanwhile the fleet grew under the horizon of the river. We could trace
masts and spars, and see the sails as they filled out with the wind.
The little black figures on the decks were men.

A quarter of a mile or more below us we saw a rocky projection into
the river. I proposed to Whitestone that we ride at least that far and
decide afterward on further action.

We rode rapidly, but before we were halfway to the place we met men
running--frightened men at that. Their condition of mind showed plainly
on their faces. They wore militia uniforms, and we knew them to be
some of our citizen soldiery, who are sometimes a very speedy lot,
not being trained to the military business. We tried to stop them and
find out why they were running and whence they came; but all we could
get out of them was, “The British are coming, with a hundred ships and
forty thousand men!” At last, half by persuasion and half by force,
we induced one man to halt; he explained that he had been sent with
the others to man a battery of four guns on the point. When they saw
the British fleet coming, some of the raw militia had taken fright and
fled, carrying the others with them.

“But the ships may not be here for an hour,” I protested.

“So much the better,” he said, “for it gives us the more time.”

We released him, and he followed his flying comrades. Whitestone and I
looked ruefully after them, but I suggested that we continue our ride
to the point. Even with the ships abreast us in the river, it would be
easy for us to ride away and escape the British. We rode as rapidly as
the ground would allow, and soon reached the point and the deserted

I could have sworn with vexation at the flight of our militia. It was
a pretty battery, well planted, four trim eighteen pounders, plenty of
powder, shot neatly piled, and a flag still flying from a tall pole.
Whoever selected the place for the battery knew his business--which
does not always happen in the military life. I looked again in the
direction of the fleeing militia, but the back of the last man had

“What a pity!” I said regretfully to Whitestone. “At least they might
have trimmed the rigging a little for those British ships down yonder.”

“I don’t understand one thing,” said Whitestone.

“What is it?” I asked.

He took his pipe from his mouth and tapped the bowl of it significantly
with the index finger of his left hand.

“I can smoke that pipe, can’t I?” he asked.

“I should think so!”

“So could you if you had a chance, couldn’t you?”


“Those men who ran away could fire a cannon; so could----”

“Do you mean it, Whitestone?” I asked, the blood flying to my head at
the thought.

“Mean it? I should think I did,” he replied. “I used to be in the
artillery, and I can handle a cannon pretty well. So can you, I think.
Here are the cannon, there’s ammunition a-plenty, and over us flies the
brand-new flag. What more do you want?”

He replaced his pipe in his mouth, sat down on the breech of a gun, and
gave himself up to content. I looked at him in admiration. I approve of
so many of Whitestone’s ideas, and I liked few better than this. I was

“Good enough, Whitestone,” I said. “I, as commander, indorse the
suggestion of my chief assistant.”

We took our horses out of the range of the guns on the ships and
fastened them securely, as we were thinking of our future needs. Then
we came back to our battery. Evidently the original defenders had
desired the battery to appear very formidable, for in addition to their
real guns they had planted eight Quaker guns, which, seen from the
center of the river, would look very threatening, I had no doubt. The
four guns, genuine and true, were charged almost to the muzzle.

“I think they have seen us,” said Whitestone, pointing to the ships.

It was a strong fleet--frigates and sloops. It was plain that they had
seen us and had not been expecting us, for the ships were taking in
sail and hovering about in an uncertain way. Officers in gilt and gold
stood on their decks watching us through glasses.

“Keep down, Whitestone,” I said. “We must not give them any hint as to
the size of our force.”

“But I think we ought to give ’em a hint that we’re loaded for bear,”
said Whitestone. “What do you say to a shot at the nearest frigate, Mr.
Shelby. I think she is within long range.”

I approved, and Whitestone fired. In the stillness of a country morning
the report was frightfully distinct, and the echo doubling upon and
repeating itself seemed to travel both up and down the river. The
shot was well aimed. It smashed right into the frigate, and there was
confusion on her decks. I fired the second gun, and down came some
spars and rigging on the same ship. Whitestone rubbed his hands in
glee. I shouted to him to lie close, and obeyed my own command as
promptly as he. The frigate was about to return our salute.

She swung around and let us have a broadside, which did great damage to
the rocks and the shore. But Whitestone and I remained cozy and safe. A
large sloop came up closer than the frigate and fired a volley, which
sailed peacefully over our heads and made a prodigious disturbance
among the trees beyond us.

“Can you get at that third gun, Whitestone?”

“Nothing easier!”

“Then give that spiteful sloop a shot. Teach her it isn’t safe for a
sloop to come where a frigate can’t stay.”

Whitestone obeyed, and his shot was most glorious. The chunk of lead
struck the sloop between wind and water and must have gone right
through her, for presently she began to sheer off, the signs of
distress visible all over her, as if she were taking in water at the
rate of a thousand gallons a minute. I clapped Whitestone on the back
and shouted “Hurrah!”

But our lucky shot had stirred up the full wrath of the fleet. The
ships formed in line of battle and opened their batteries on us, firing
sometimes one after the other, and sometimes nearly all together. I
dare say the cliffs of the Hudson, in all their long existence, have
never received such another furious bombardment. Oh, it was a bad day
for the trees and the bushes and the rocks, which were beaten and
battered and cut and crushed by eighteen-pound shot and twelve-pound
shot and six-pound shot, and the Lord knows what, until the river
itself fell into a rage and began to lash its waters into a turmoil!

But Whitestone and I, with all this infernal uproar around us, lay
in our brave earthworks as snug and cozy as chipmunks, and laughed to
think that we were the cause of it all. I rolled over to Whitestone and
shouted in his ear:

“As soon as the eruption diminishes a little we will try a fourth shot
at them!”

He grinned, and both of us embraced the earth for some minutes longer.
Then the fire of the enemy began to abate. We took the first chance to
peep out at them, but the volume of smoke over the river was so great
and so dense that we could see the ships but indistinctly.

As for ourselves, we had suffered little. One of our guns was
dismounted, but it was a Quaker, and no harm was done. The fire dying,
the clouds of smoke began to float away and the ships were disclosed.
Whitestone and I, peeping over our earthworks, beheld a scene of great
animation and excitement. The British were working hard; there was no
doubt of it. The bustle on the decks was tremendous. Officers were
shouting to men and to each other; men were reloading cannon and making
every preparation to renew the bombardment when their officers might
order it. One frigate had come too near, and was grounded slightly in
shallowing water. Her crew were making gigantic efforts to get her off
before our terrible battery could blow her to pieces.

The captains were using their glasses to see what was left of us, and I
could guess their chagrin when they beheld us looking as formidable and
as whole as ever, barring the dismounted Quaker. Our escape from injury
was not so wonderful after all. We defenders were only two, and we made
a very small target; while if the battery had been crowded with men the
death rate would have been prodigious.

“There goes the frigate!” I cried. “They’ve got her off! Give her a
good-by as she goes, Whitestone!”

He was lying next to the fourth gun, and he instantly sent a shot
smashing into the vessel. But the shot was like a veritable torch to
a powder magazine, for the fleet attacked us again with every gun it
could bring to bear. The first bombardment seemed to have aroused
fresh spirit and energy for the second, and Whitestone and I, taking
no chances with peeps, thrust our fingers into our ears and our heads
into the ground.

But we could not keep out the heavy crash-crash of the volleys,
blending now and then into a continuous roar, which the river and
the horizon took up and repeated. King George must have had a pretty
powder-and-shot bill to pay for that day’s work.

The clouds of smoke gathered in a vast black canopy over river and
ships, shore and battery. Under and through it appeared now and then
the dark lines of spars and ropes, and always the blazing flash of
many great guns. If the stony shores of the Hudson did not suffer
most grievously, let it not be charged against the British, for they
displayed a spirit and energy, if not a marksmanship, worthy of their

I rejoiced at the vigor of their fire. Its volume was so great, and
they must be working so hard, that they could not know the battery was
making no answer.

By and by the cannoneers waxed weary of loading and firing, and
the officers of giving orders. The crash of the great guns became
more infrequent. The flash of the powder bore less resemblance to
continuous lightning. The smoke began to drift away. Then the defenders
of the battery rose up in their courage and strength, reloaded their
guns, and opened fire on the fleet.

I love to think that the British were surprised most unpleasantly.
Their fire was waning, but ours was not, it seemed to them. The
mischievous little battery was still there, and they had neither
reduced it nor passed it. It was mirth to us to think how easily they
could pass us, and yet preferred to reduce us.

“By all that’s glorious,” exclaimed Whitestone, “they’re retreating!”

It was so. The ships were hauling off, whether to refit for another
attack or to consult for future action we did not know. We gave them a
few shots as they drew away, and presently they anchored out of range.
Boats were launched, and men in gold-laced caps and coats were rowed to
the largest frigate.

“The admiral has called a conference, I guess,” I said to Whitestone.

He nodded, and we inspected our battery to see how it had stood the
second bombardment. Two more Quaker guns were dismounted, but one
of them we were able to put again into fairly presentable condition.
That done, we took some refreshment from our knapsacks, and awaited
in calmness the next movement of our enemies. As it was, we flattered
ourselves that we had made a gallant fight.

We waited a half hour, and then a boat put out from the big frigate.
Besides the oarsmen, it contained a richly dressed officer and a white
flag. They came directly toward us.

“A flag of truce and a conference,” I said. “Shall we condescend,

“Oh, yes,” replied Whitestone. “We ought to hear what they have to say.”

“Then you remain in command of the battery,” I said, “and I will meet
the officer.”

I scrambled down the high cliff to the water’s edge and awaited the
boat, which I was determined should not come too near. When it came
within speaking distance, I hailed the officer and ordered him to stop.

“I am Captain Middleton,” he called, “and I am commissioned by our
commander to speak to your commander.”

“General Arnold saw you coming,” I said, “and sent me to meet you and
hear what you have to say.”

“General Arnold!” he exclaimed in surprise.

“Yes, General Arnold, the commander of our battery,” I replied.

I mentioned General Arnold because of his great reputation then as a
fighting general. And a fighting general he was, too; I will say it,
traitor though he afterward proved to be.

“I thought General Arnold was with Gates,” said the officer.

“Oh, they quarreled,” I replied airily, which was the truth, “and
General Arnold, being relieved of his command up there, has come down
here to fight this battery. You have seen for yourself that he knows
how to do it.”

“It is true,” he said, “your fire was very warm.”

He looked up at the battery, but I would not let him come within fifty
feet of the shore, and he could see nothing save the earthworks and
some of the gun muzzles.

“It can be made warmer,” I said confidently, not boastingly.

“I have come to summon you to surrender,” he said. “We will offer you
good terms.”

“Surrender!” I laughed in scorn. “Why, my dear captain, you have made
no impression upon us yet, while we have scarred your ships a bit.”

“That is a fact,” he said. “You have handled your eighteen-pounders

“Twenty-four pounders,” I corrected.

“I did not know they were so heavy,” he said. “That accounts for the
strength of your fire.”

He seemed pleased at the discovery. It made an excuse for his side.

“No doubt General Arnold can do something with a battery of twelve
twenty-four pounders,” he began.

“Eighteen twenty-four pounders,” I corrected. “You can not see all the

He looked very thoughtful. I knew that he was impressed by the
exceeding strength of our battery.

“But about the proposition to surrender,” he began.

“I will not take such an offer to General Arnold,” I exclaimed
indignantly. “In fact, I have my instructions from him. He’ll sink
every ship you have, or be blown to pieces himself.”

Captain Middleton, after this emphatic declaration, which I am sure I
made in a most convincing manner, seemed to think further talk would be
a waste, and gave the word to his oarsmen to pull back to his ship.

“Good day,” he said very courteously.

“Good day,” said I with equal courtesy. Then I climbed back up
the cliff and re-enforced the garrison. I watched Middleton as he
approached the flagship. He mounted to the deck and the officers
crowded around him. In a half hour the ships bore up again, formed
line of battle, and opened upon us a third terrific bombardment, which
we endured with the same calmness and success. When they grew tired
we gave them a few shots, which did some execution, and then, to our
infinite delight, they slipped their cables and fell back down the

“When they find out what we really are they’ll come again to-morrow and
blow us to splinters,” said Whitestone.

“Yes, but we’ll be far away from here then,” said I, “and we may have
held them back a day at least. Why, man, even an hour is worth much to
our army up yonder!”

We were in a state of supreme satisfaction, also in a state of hurry.
There was nothing more for us to do in the south, and it was our
business to hasten northward with the news we had. I rejoiced greatly.
I hoped that Clinton would continue to fiddle his time away below
Albany, impressed by the risks he was taking, thanks to our brave

We found our horses nearly dead from fright, but a few kicks restored
life, and we rode northward in all haste. At Albany we changed horses,
evaded questions, and resumed our ride. In the night we reached our
own camp, and as soon as we had reported sought the rest we needed so
badly, and, I think, deserved so well.



Having returned, I expected to share in the pursuit of Burgoyne,
and wondered to what particular duty I would be assigned. But a man
never knows at seven o’clock what he will be doing at eight o’clock,
and before eight o’clock had come I was called by the colonel of our

“Mr. Shelby,” he said, “you have already shown yourself intelligent and
vigilant on important service.”

I listened, feeling sure that I was going to have something very
disagreeable to do. You can depend upon it when your superior begins
with formal flattery. I had just finished one important task, but the
more you do the more people expect of you.

“One of our prisoners has escaped,” he said; “a keen-witted man who
knows the country. He has escaped to the south. As you know so well,
Sir Henry Clinton is, or has been, advancing up the Hudson with a
strong force to the aid of Burgoyne, whom nothing else can save from
us. This man--this prisoner who has escaped--must not be permitted
to reach Clinton with the news that Burgoyne is almost done for. It
was important before the last battle that no messenger from Burgoyne
should pass through our lines; it is still more important to-day. You

I bowed, as a sign that I understood.

“This escaped prisoner knows everything that has happened,” he resumed,
“and he must be overtaken. He will probably follow the direct road
along the river, as he knows that haste is necessary. How many men do
you want?”

I named Whitestone and a private, a strong, ready-witted fellow named

“What is the name of the man we are to capture?” I asked.

“Chudleigh--Captain Ralph Chudleigh,” he replied. “A tall man, dark
hair and eyes, twenty-six to twenty-eight years of age. Do you know

I replied that I knew him.

“So much the better,” said our colonel with much delight. “Aside from
your other qualifications, Mr. Shelby, you are the man of all men for
this duty. Chudleigh will undoubtedly attempt to disguise himself, but
since you know him so well he can scarce hide his face from you. But
remember that he must be taken, dead or alive.”

I had not much relish for the mission in the first place, and, for
reasons, less relish when I knew that Chudleigh was the man whom I was
to take. But in such affairs as these it is permitted to the soldier to
choose only the one thing, and that is, to obey.

We set out at once over the same road we had traveled twice so
recently. Three good horses had been furnished us, and we were well
armed. For a while we rode southward with much speed, and soon left
behind us the last detachment of our beleaguering army.

One question perplexed me: Would Chudleigh be in his own British
uniform, which he wore when he escaped, or did he manage to take away
with him some rags of Continental attire, in which he would clothe
himself first chance? I could answer it only by watching for all men
of suspicious appearance, no matter the cut or color of their clothing.

We galloped along a fair road, but we met no one. Quiet travelers shun
ground trodden by armies. It was past the noon hour when we came to a
small house not far from the roadside. We found the farmer who owned
it at home, and in answer to our questions, fairly spoken, he said
three men had passed that day, two going north and one going south, all
dressed as ordinary citizens. I was particularly interested in the one
going south, and asked more about him.

“He was tall, dark, and young,” said the farmer. “He looked like a man
of small consequence, for his clothing was ragged and his face not
overclean. He wanted food, and he ate with much appetite.”

I asked if the man had paid for his dinner, and the farmer showed me
silver fresh from the British mint. I could well believe that this was
Chudleigh. However wary and circumspect he might be he was bound to
have food, and he could find it only by going to the houses he saw on
his southern journey.

I was confirmed in my belief an hour later, when we met a countryman
on foot, who at first evinced a great desire to run away from us, but
who stopped, seeing our uniforms. He explained that he knew not whom
to trust, for a short while before he was riding like ourselves; now
he had no horse; a ragged man meeting him in the road had presented a
pistol at his head and ordered him to give up his horse, which he did
with much promptness, as the man’s finger lay very caressingly upon the
trigger of the pistol.

“That was Chudleigh without doubt,” I said to Whitestone, “and since he
also is now mounted we must have a race for it.”

He agreed with me, and we whipped our horses into a gallop again. In
reality I had not much acquaintance with Chudleigh, but I trusted that
I would know his face anywhere. Secure in this belief we pressed on.

“Unless he’s left the road to hide--and that’s not probable, for he
can’t afford delay--we ought to overhaul him soon,” said Whitestone.

The road led up and down a series of lightly undulating hills. Just
when we reached one crest we saw the back of a horseman on the
next crest, about a quarter of a mile ahead of us. By a species of
intuition I knew that it was Chudleigh. Aside from my intuition, all
the probabilities indicated Chudleigh, for we had the word of the
dismounted farmer that his lead of us was but short.

“That’s our man!” exclaimed Whitestone, echoing our thought.

As if by the same impulse, all three of us clapped spur to horse, and
forward we went at a gallop that sent the wind rushing past us. We
were much too far away for the fugitive to hear the hoof-beats of our
horses, but by chance, I suppose, he happened to look back and saw us
coming at a pace that indicated zeal. I saw him give his mount a great
kick in the side, and the horse bounded forward so promptly that in
thirty seconds the curve of the hill hid both horse and rider from
our view. But that was not a matter discouraging to us. The river was
on one side of us not far away, and on the other cultivated fields
inclosed with fences. Chudleigh could not leave the road unless he
dismounted. He was bound to do one of two things, outgallop us or yield.

We descended our hill and soon rose upon the slope of Chudleigh’s.
When we reached the crest, we saw him in the hollow beyond urging his
horse to its best speed. He was bent far over upon the animal’s neck,
and occasionally he gave him lusty kicks in the side. It was evident
to us that whatever speed might be in that horse Chudleigh would get
it out of him. And so would I, thought I, if I were in his place. A
fugitive could scarce have more inducement than Chudleigh to escape.

Measuring the distance with my eye, I concluded that we had gained a
little. I drew from it the inference that we would certainly overtake
him. Moreover, Chudleigh was making the mistake of pushing his horse
too hard at the start.

It is better to pursue than to be pursued, and a great elation of
spirits seized me. The cool air rushing into my face and past my ears
put bubbles in my blood.

“This beats watching houses in the night, does it not, Whitestone?” I

“Aye, truly,” replied the sober sergeant, “unless he has a pistol and
concludes to use it.”

“We will not fire until he does, or shows intent to do so,” I said.

Whitestone and Adams nodded assent, and we eased our horses a bit that
we might save their strength and speed. This maneuver enabled the
fugitive to gain slightly upon us, but we felt no alarm; instead we
were encouraged, for his horse was sure to become blown before ours put
forth their best efforts.

Chudleigh raised up once to look back at us. Of course it was too far
for us to see the expression of his face, but in my imagination anxiety
was plainly writ there.

“How long a race will it be, do you think?” I asked Whitestone.

“About four miles,” he said, “unless a stumble upsets our calculations,
and I don’t think we’ll have the latter, for the road looks smooth all
the way.”

The fugitive began to kick his horse with more frequency, which
indicated increased anxiety.

“It won’t be four miles,” I said to Whitestone.

“You’re right,” he replied; “maybe not three.”

In truth it looked as if Whitestone’s second thought were right. We
began to gain without the necessity of urging our horses. Chudleigh
already had driven his own animal to exhaustion. I doubted if the race
would be a matter of two miles. I wondered why he did not try a shot
at us with his pistols. Bullets are often great checks to the speed of
pursuers, and Chudleigh must have known it.

At the end of a mile we were gaining so rapidly that we could have
reached the fugitive with a pistol ball, but I was averse to such rude
methods, doubly so since he showed no intent on his own part to resort
to them.

A half mile ahead of us I saw a small house in a field by the roadside,
but I took no thought of it until Chudleigh reached a parallel point in
the road; then we were surprised to see him leap to the ground, leave
his horse to go where it would, climb the fence, and rush toward the
house. He pushed the door open, ran in, and closed it behind him.

I concluded that he had given up all hope of escape except through a
desperate defense, and I made hasty disposition of my small command. I
was to approach the house from one side, Whitestone from another, and
Adams from a third.

We hitched our horses and began our siege of the house, from which no
sound issued. I approached from the front, using a fence as shelter.
When I was within half a pistol shot the door of the house was thrown
open with much force and rudeness, and a large woman, a cocked musket
in her hand and anger on her face, appeared. She saw me, and began to
berate me rapidly and wrathfully, at the same time making threatening
movements with the musket. She cried out that she had small use for
those who were Tories now and Americans then, and robbers and murderers
always. I explained that we were American soldiers in pursuit of an
escaped prisoner of importance who had taken refuge in her house, and
commanded her to stand aside and let us pass.

For answer she berated me more than ever, saying that it was but a
pretext about a prisoner, and her husband was a better American than
we. That put a most uncomfortable suspicion in my mind, and, summoning
Whitestone, we held parley with her.

“You have pursued my husband until there is scarce a breath left in his
body,” she said.

Whereupon, having pacified her to some extent, we went into the house
and found that she spoke the truth. Her husband was stretched upon a
bed quite out of breath, in part from his gallop and more from fright.
We could scarce persuade him that we were not those outlaws who
belonged to neither army but who preyed upon whomsoever they could.

Making such brief apologies as the time allowed, we mounted our horses
and resumed the search.

“It was a mistake,” said Whitestone.

I admitted that he spoke the truth, and resolved I would trust no more
to intuitions, which are sent but to deceive us.

Anxiety now took me in a strong grip. Our mistaken chase had caused
us to come very fast, and since we saw nothing of Chudleigh, I feared
lest we had passed him in some manner. It therefore cheered me much, a
half hour later, when I saw a stout man, whom I took to be a farmer,
jogging comfortably toward us on a stout nag as comfortable-looking as
himself. He was not like the other, suspicious and afraid, and I was
glad of it, for I said to myself that here was a man of steady habit
and intelligence, a man who would tell us the truth and tell it clearly.

He came on in most peaceable and assuring fashion, as if not a soldier
were within a thousand miles of him. I hailed him, and he replied with
a pleasant salutation.

“Have you met a man riding southward?” I said.

“What kind of a man?” he asked.

“A large man in citizen’s dress,” I replied.

“Young, or old?”

“Young--twenty-six or twenty-eight.”

“Anything else special about him?”

“Dark hair and eyes and dark complexion; his horse probably very tired.”

“What do you want with this man?” he asked, stroking a red whisker with
a contemplative hand.

“He is an escaped prisoner,” I replied, “and it is of the greatest
importance that we recapture him.”

“Did you say he was rather young? Looked like he might be six and
twenty or eight and twenty?” he asked.

“Yes, that is he,” I said eagerly.

“Tall, rather large?”

“The very man.”

“Dark hair and eyes and dark complexion?”

“Exactly! Exactly!”

“His horse very tired?”

“Our man beyond a doubt! Which way did he go?”

“Gentlemen, I never saw or heard of such a man,” he replied gravely,
laying switch to his horse and riding on.

We resumed our journey, vexation keeping us silent for some time.

“Our second mistake,” said Whitestone at length.

As I did not answer, he added:

“But the third time means luck.”

“I doubt it,” I replied. My disbelief in signs and omens was confirmed
by the failure of my intuition.



We were forced to ride with some slowness owing to the blown condition
of our horses, and anxiety began to gnaw me to the marrow. We had come
so fast that the time to overtake Chudleigh, if in truth we had not
passed him already, had arrived. In such calculations I was interrupted
by the sight of a loose horse in the road, saddled and bridled, but
riderless. He was in a lather, like ours, and I guessed at once that
this was the horse Chudleigh had taken. In some manner--perhaps he had
seen us, though unseen himself--he had learned that he was pursued
hotly, and, fearing to be overtaken, had abandoned his horse and taken
to the woods and fields. Such at least was my guess.

I esteemed it great good luck when I saw a man standing in the edge
of a cornfield staring at us. He was a common-looking fellow with a
dirty face. Stupid, I thought, but perhaps he has seen what happened
here and can tell me. I hailed him, and he answered in a thick voice,
though not unfriendly. I asked him about the horse, and if he knew who
had abandoned him there. He answered with that degree of excitement a
plowboy would most likely show on such occasions that he was just going
to tell us about it. I bade him haste with his narration.

He said, with thick, excited tongue, that a man had come along the road
urging his horse into a gallop. When they reached the field the horse
broke down and would go no farther. The rider, after belaboring him in
vain, leaped down, and, leaving the horse to care for himself, turned
from the road.

This news excited Whitestone, Adams, and me. It was confirmation of our
suspicions, and proof also that we were pressing Chudleigh hard.

“How long ago was that?” I asked.

“Not five minutes,” replied the plowman.

“Which way did he go?” I asked, my excitement increasing.

“He took the side road yonder,” replied the plowman.

“What road?” exclaimed Whitestone, breaking in.

“The road that leads off to the right--yonder, at the end of the field.”

I was about to set off in a gallop, but it occurred to me as a happy
thought that this fellow, knowing the country so well, would be useful
as a guide. I ordered him to get on the loose horse, now somewhat
rested, and lead the way. He demurred. But it was no time to be
squeamish or overpolite, so I drew my pistol and warned him. Thereupon
he showed himself a man of judgment and mounted, and taking the lead
of us, obedient to my command, also showed himself to be a very fair

In a few seconds we entered the diverging road, which was narrow,
scarce more than a path. It led between two fields, and then through
some thin woods.

“You are military folks,” said our guide, turning a look upon me. “Is
the man you are after a deserter?”

“No,” said I, “a spy.”

“If you overtake him and he fights, I don’t have any part in it,” he

“You needn’t risk your skin,” I said. “It is enough for you to guide

I laughed a bit at his cowardice; but after all I had no right to
laugh. It was no business of his to do our fighting for us.

“Perhaps he has turned into these woods,” said Whitestone.

“No, he has gone on,” said our guide, “I can see his footsteps in the

Traces like those of human footsteps were in truth visible in the dust,
but we had no time to stop for examination. We rode on, watching the
country on either side of the road. The heat and animation of the chase
seemed to affect our guide, heavy plowman though he was.

“There go his tracks still!” he cried. “See, by the edge of the road,
by the grass there?”

“We’ll catch him in five minutes!” cried Adams, full of enthusiasm.

Our guide was ten feet in front of me, leaning over and looking about
with much eagerness. A curve in the road two or three hundred yards
ahead became visible. Suddenly I noticed an increase of excitement in
the expression of our guide.

“I see him! I see him!” he cried.

“Where? Where?” I shouted.

“Yonder! yonder! Don’t you see, just turning the curve in the road?
There! He has seen us too, and is drawing a pistol. Gentlemen, remember
your agreement: I’m not to do any of the fighting. I will fall back.”

“All right!” I cried. “You’ve done your share of the business. Drop
back.--Forward, Whitestone! We’ve got our man now!”

In a high state of excitement we whipped our horses forward, paying
no further attention to the plowman, for whom in truth we had use no
longer. Our horses seemed to share our zeal, and recalled their waning
strength and spirits. Forward we went at a fine pace, all three of us
straining our eyes to catch the first glimpse of the fugitive when we
should turn the curve around the hill.

“Two to one I beat you, Whitestone!” I said.

“Then you’ll have to push your horse more,” said the sergeant, whose
mount was neck and neck with mine.

In truth it looked as if he would pass me, but I managed to draw a
supreme effort from my horse and we went ahead a little. However, I
retained the advantage but a few moments. Whitestone crept up again,
and we continued to race neck and neck. Adams, upon whom we had not
counted as a formidable antagonist, overhauled us, though he could not
pass us.

Thus we three, side by side, swept around the curve, and the command to
the fugitive to halt and surrender was ready upon our lips.

The turn of the curve brought us into a wide and bare plain, and we
pulled up astonished. Nowhere was a human being visible, and upon that
naked expanse concealment was impossible.

We stared at each other in amazement, and then in shame. The truth of
the trick struck me like a rifle shot. Why did I wait until he was gone
to remember something familiar in the voice of that plowman, something
known in the expression of that face? I think the truth came to me
first, but before I said anything Whitestone ejaculated:


“Without doubt,” I replied.

“I told you the third time would not fail,” he said.

“I wish it had failed,” I exclaimed in wrath and fury, “for he has made
fools of us!”

We wheeled our horses about as if they turned on pivots and raced back
after the wily plowman. I swore to myself a mighty oath that I would
cease to be certain about the identity of anybody, even of Whitestone
himself. Whitestone swore out loud about a variety of things, and Adams
was equal to his opportunities.

We were speedily back in the main road. I doubted not that Chudleigh
had hurried on toward the south. In truth he could not afford to do
otherwise, and he would profit as fast as he could by the breathing
space obtained through the trick he had played upon us. I wondered at
the man’s courage and presence of mind, and it was a marvel that we had
not gone much farther on the wrong road before detecting the stratagem.

The road lay across a level country and we saw nothing of Chudleigh.
Nevertheless we did not spare our weary horses. We were sure he was
not very far ahead, and it was no time for mercy to horseflesh. Yet I
thought of the poor brutes. I said to Whitestone I trusted they would

“As long as his, perhaps,” replied Whitestone.

But the truth soon became evident that he was wrong in part. We heard
a great groan, louder than a man can make, and Adams’s horse went down
in a cloud of dust. I pulled up just enough to see that Adams was not
hurt, and to shout to him:

“Follow us as best you can!”

Then on we went. Far ahead of us in the road we saw a black speck.
Whether man, beast, or a stump, I could not say, but we hoped it was

“See, it moves!” cried Whitestone.

Then it was not a stump, and the chance that it was Chudleigh
increased. Soon it became apparent that the black object was not only
moving, but moving almost as fast as we. By and by we could make out
the figure of a man lashing a tired horse. That it was Chudleigh no
longer admitted of doubt.

“We’ll catch him yet! His trick shall not avail him!” I cried
exultingly to Whitestone.

The wise sergeant kept silent and saved his breath. I looked back once
and saw a man running after us, though far away. I knew it was Adams
following us on foot, faithful to his duty.

I felt a great shudder running through the horse beneath me, and then
the faithful animal began to reel like a man in liquor. I could have
groaned in disappointment, for I knew these signs betokened exhaustion,
and a promise that the pursuit would be left to Whitestone alone. But
even as my mind formed the thought, Whitestone’s horse fell as Adams’s
had fallen. My own, seeing his last comrade go down, stopped stock
still, and refused to stir another inch under the sharpest goad.

“What shall we do?” I cried to Whitestone.

“Follow on foot!” he replied. “His horse must be almost as far gone as

We paused only to snatch our pistols from the holsters, and then on
foot we pierced the trail of dust Chudleigh’s horse had left behind
him. The fine dust crept into eyes, nose, mouth, and ears. I coughed
and spluttered, and just as I was rubbing sight back into my eyes I
heard a joyful cry from Whitestone. I was able to see then through the
dust, and I beheld Chudleigh abandoning his horse and taking to the
woods on foot.

“It’s a foot race now, and not a horse race!” I said to Whitestone.

“Yes, and we must still win!” he replied.

Poor Adams was lost to sight behind us.

About two hundred yards from the road the woods began. I feared that
if Chudleigh reached these he might elude us, and I pushed myself as I
had pushed my horse. Being long-legged and country bred, I am a fair
runner; in fact, it is a muscular talent upon which I used to pride
myself. The sergeant puffed much at my elbow, but managed to keep his

I now perceived with much joy that we could outrun Chudleigh. When he
dashed into the woods we had made a very smart gain upon him, and in
truth were too near for him to elude us by doubling or turning in the
undergrowth. Despite the obstacle of the trees and the bushes we were
yet able to keep him in view, and, better acquainted with this sort
of work than he, we gained upon him even more rapidly than before. We
flattered ourselves that we would soon have him. Though it was a heavy
draught upon my breath, I shouted with all my might to Chudleigh to
stop and yield. For answer he whirled around and fired a pistol at us.
The sergeant grunted, and stopped.

“Go on and take him yourself!” he said hastily to me. “His bullet’s in
my leg! No bones broke, but I can’t run any more! Adams will take care
of me!”

Obedient to his command and my own impulse I continued the chase.
Perhaps if I had been cooler in mind I might not have done so, for
Chudleigh had proved himself a man; he probably had another pistol, and
another bullet in that other pistol; in case that other bullet and I
met, I knew which would have to yield, but I consoled myself with the
reflection that I too had a pistol and some acquaintance with its use.

Chudleigh did not look back again, and perhaps did not know that he
was now pursued by only one man. He continued his flight as zealously
as ever. As I may have observed before, and with truth too, it incites
one’s courage wonderfully to have a man run from him, and seeing
Chudleigh’s back I began to feel quite competent to take him alone. We
wound about among the trees at a great rate. I was gaining, though I
was forced to pump my breath up from great depths. But I was consoled
by the reflection that, however tired I might be, surely he fared no
better. I shouted to him again and again, to stop, but he ran as if he
were born deaf.

Presently I noticed that he was curving back toward the road, and I
wondered at his purpose. A moment later he burst from the trees into
the open ground. I was within fair pistol shot, and, with trees and
bushes no longer obstructing, he was a good target. I doubted not that
I could hit him, and since he would not stop for my voice, I must see
if a bullet would make him more obedient.

I raised my pistol and took the good aim which one can do running
if he has had the practice. But my heart revolted at the shot. If I
could risk so much for Kate Van Auken’s brother, surely I could risk
something for Kate Van Auken’s lover. I do not take praise to myself
for not shooting Chudleigh, as I was thinking that if I did fire the
shot I would have but a poor tale to tell to Mistress Catherine.

I let down the hammer of the pistol and stuffed the weapon into my
pocket. Chudleigh was now running straight toward the road. My wonder
what his purpose might be increased.

Of a sudden he drew a second pistol and fired it at me, but his bullet
sped wide of the mark. He threw the pistol on the ground and tried to
run faster.

I thought that when he reached the road he would follow it to the
south, hoping to shake me off; but, very much to my surprise, he
crossed it, and kept a straight course toward the river. Then I divined
that he being a good swimmer, hoped I was not, and that thus he might
escape me. But I can swim as well as run, and I prepared my mind for
the event. When he reached the river he threw off his coat with a quick
movement and sprang boldly into the stream. But I was ready. I threw my
own coat aside--the only one I had--and leaped into the water after him.

If I was a good swimmer, so was Chudleigh. When I rose from my first
splash he was already far from me, floating partly with the stream, and
following a diagonal course toward the farther shore. I swam after him
with vigorous strokes. Curiously enough, the severe exertion to which
I had been subjecting myself on land did not seem to affect me in the
water. I suppose a new set of muscles came into play, for I felt fresh
and strong. Moreover, I resolved that I would cling to Chudleigh to the
very last; that I would not let him by any chance escape me. I felt
again that the entire fate of the great campaign depended upon me, and
me alone. With such a feeling, one’s sense of importance grows much,
and I think it made my arm stronger also, which was what I needed more
particularly just then.

Chudleigh dived once and remained under water a long time, with the
probable intent of deceiving me in regard to his course. But the trick
worked against him rather than for him; when he came up he was nearer
to me than before. I thought also that his strokes were growing weaker,
and I was confirmed in such belief by the amount of water he splashed
about, as if his efforts were desperate rather than judicious.

I swam, my strokes long and steady, and gained upon him with much
rapidity. We were approaching the shore, when he, looking back,
perceived that I must overtake him before he could reach land.

With an abruptness for which I was unprepared, he swam about and faced
me as much as to say: “Come on; if you take me, you must fight me

Chudleigh, with only his head above water, was not especially beautiful
to look at. The dirt with which he had disguised himself when he played
false guide to us was washed off partly, and remained partly in streaks
of mud, which made him look as if a hot gridiron had been slapped of a
sudden upon his face. Moreover, Chudleigh was angry, very angry; his
eyes snapped as if he were wondering why I could not let him alone.

I may have looked as ugly as Chudleigh, but I could not see for myself.
I swam a little closer to him, looking him straight in the eye, in
order that I might see what he intended to do the moment he thought it.

“Why do you follow me?” he asked, with much anger in his tone.

“Why do you run from me?” I asked.

“What I do is no business of yours,” he said.

“Oh, yes, it is,” I replied. “You’re Captain Chudleigh of the British
army, an escaped prisoner, and I’ve come to recapture you.”

“I don’t see how you’re going to do it,” he said.

“I do,” I replied, though, to tell the truth, I had not yet thought of
a way to manage the matter, which seemed to present difficulties. In
the meantime I confined myself to treading water. Chudleigh did the

“That was a dirty trick you played on us back there,” I said, “palming
yourself off on us as a guide.”

“I didn’t do it,” he replied in an injured tone. “You’re to blame
yourself. You forced me at the pistol’s muzzle.”

He told the truth, I was forced to confess.

“We’ll let that pass,” I said. “Now, will you surrender?”

“Never!” he replied, in manner most determined.

“Then you will force me to a violent recapture,” I said.

“I fail to see how you are going to do it,” he said with much grimness.
“If you seize me here in the water, I will seize you, and then we will
drown together, which will be very unpleasant for both of us.”

There was much truth in what he said. A blind man or a fool could see

“Let us swim to land and fight it out with our fists,” I proposed,
remembering how I had overcome Albert, and confident that I could
dispose of Chudleigh in similar fashion.

“Oh, no,” he said decidedly, “I am very comfortable where I am.”

“Then you like water better than most British officers,” I said.

“It has its uses,” he replied contentedly.

There was nothing more to do just then but to tread water and think.

“Come, come, captain,” I said after a while, “be reasonable. I’ve
overtaken you. You can’t get away. Surrender like a gentleman, and
let’s go ashore and dry ourselves. This water’s getting cold.”

“I see no reason why I should surrender,” he replied. “Besides, the
water is no colder for you than it is for me.”

There was no answer to this logic. Moreover, what he said sounded like
a challenge. So I set myself to thinking with more concentration than
ever. There was another and longer interval of silence. I hoped that
Whitestone or Adams would appear, but neither did so. After all, I had
little right to expect either. We had left them far behind, and also we
had changed our course. There was nothing to guide them.

I addressed myself once more to Chudleigh’s reason.

“Your errand is at an end,” I said. “Whether I take you now or not, you
can not shake me off. You will never get through to Clinton. Besides,
you are losing all your precious time here in the river.”

But he preserved an obstinacy most strange and vexatious. He did
not even reply to me, but kept on treading water. I perceived that
I must use with him some other means than logic, however sound and
unanswerable the latter might be.

Sometimes it happens to me, as doubtless it does to other people, that
after being long in a puzzle, the answer comes to me so suddenly and so
easily that I wonder why I did not see it first glance.

Without any preliminaries that would seem to warn Chudleigh, I dived
out of sight. When I came up I was in such shallow water that I could
wade. Near me was a huge bowlder protruding a good two feet above
the water. I walked to it, climbed upon it, and taking a comfortable
position above the water, looked at Chudleigh, who seemed to be much
surprised and aggrieved at my sudden countermarch.

“What do you mean?” he asked.

“Nothing,” I replied, “except that I am tired of treading water. Come
and join me; it’s very pleasant up here.”

He declined my invitation, which I had worded most courteously. I
remained silent for a while; then I said:

“Better come. You can’t tread water forever. If you stay there much
longer you’ll catch the cramp and drown.”

I lolled on the bowlder and awaited the end with calmness and
satisfaction. My signal advantage was apparent.

“I’ll swim to the other shore,” said he presently.

“You can’t,” I replied. “It’s too far; you haven’t strength enough left
for it.”

I could see that he was growing tired. He looked around him at either
shore and up and down the river, but we were the only human beings
within the circle of that horizon.

“What terms of surrender do you propose?” he said at last, with a
certain despair in his tone.


“That is too hard.”

“My advantage warrants the demand.”

He was silent again for a few moments, and was rapidly growing weaker.
I thought I would hasten matters.

“I will not treat you badly,” I said. “All I want to do is to take you
back to our army.”

“Well, I suppose I must accept,” he said, “for I am growing devilish
cold and tired.”

“Pledge your honor,” I said, “that you will make no attempt to escape,
with the understanding that the pledge does not forbid rescue.”

“I give you my word,” he said.

Whereupon he swam to shore, to the great relief of us both.



We climbed up the bank, and sat for some time drying in the sun. We
were wet, and, moreover, had drunk large quantities of the Hudson
River. As a regular thing, I prefer dry land as a place of inhabitation.

While the sun dried our bodies and clothing I was thinking. Though I
had taken my man, and that, too, single-handed, my position was not the
best in the world. I was now on the wrong side of the river, and I had
lost my weapons and my comrades. Also I was hungry.

“Chudleigh,” I asked, “are you hungry?”

“Rather,” he replied with emphasis.

“How are we to get something to eat?” I asked.

“That’s your affair, not mine,” he replied. “I have nothing to do but
to remain captured.”

I thought I saw in him an inclination to be disagreeable, which, to
say the truth, was scarce the part of a gentleman after the handsome
fashion in which I had treated him. In the face of such ingratitude, I
resolved to use the privileges of my superior position.

“Are you about dry?” I asked.


“Then get up and march.”

He seemed to resent my stern tone, but inasmuch as he had provoked it
he had no cause for complaint. If he intended to assert all the rights
of a prisoner, then I equally would assert all the rights of a captor.

“Which way?” he asked.

“Northward, along the river bank. Keep in front of me,” I said.

Obedient to my orders he stalked off at a pretty gait, and I followed.
We marched thus for half a mile. Chudleigh glanced back at me once or
twice. I seemed not to notice it, though I could guess what was passing
in his mind.

“If I hadn’t given my word,” he said, “I think I’d fight it out with
you, fist and skull.”

“I offered you the chance,” I said, “when we were in the river, but
you would not accept it. You’ve heard many wise sayings about lost
opportunities, and this proves the truth of them.”

“That’s so,” he said with a sigh of deep regret.

“Besides,” I added, in the way of consolation for his lost opportunity,
“you would gain nothing by it but bruises. I am larger and stronger
than you.”

He measured me with his eye and concluded that I spoke truth, for he
heaved another sigh, but of comfort.

“Now, Chudleigh,” I said, “a man can be a fool sometimes and lose
nothing, but he can’t be a fool all the time and gather the profits of
the earth. Drop back here with me and let us talk and act sensibly.”

He wrinkled his brow a moment or two, as if in thought, and accepted my
invitation. Whereupon we became very good companions.

In reality I felt as much trouble about Chudleigh as myself. It was
like the trouble I had felt on Albert’s account. He had penetrated our
lines in citizen’s clothes, and if I took him back to our camp in the
same attire he might be regarded as a spy, with all the unpleasant
consequences such a thing entails. Having spared Chudleigh’s life once
from scruples, I had no mind to lead him to the gallows. I must get a
British uniform for him, though how was more than I could tell. The
problem troubled me much.

But the advance of hunger soon drove thoughts of Chudleigh’s safety
out of my mind, and, stubborn Englishman though he was, he was fain to
confess that he too felt the desire for food. Along that side of the
river the settlements were but scant, and nowhere did we see a house.

That we would encounter Whitestone and Adams was beyond all
probability, for they would never surmise that we had crossed the
river. Chudleigh and I looked ruefully and hungrily at each other.

“Chudleigh,” I said, “you are more trouble a captive than a fugitive.”

“The responsibility is yours,” he said. “I decline to carry the burdens
of my captor. Find me something to eat.”

We trudged along for more than an hour, somewhat gloomy and the pains
of hunger increasing. I was about to call a halt, that we might rest
and that I might think about our difficulties, when I saw a column of
smoke rising above a hill. I called Chudleigh’s attention to it, and he
agreed with me that we ought to push on and see what it was.

I was convinced that friends must be at the bottom of that column of
smoke. If any British party had come so far north, which in itself was
improbable, it could scarce be so careless as to give to the Americans
plain warning of its presence.

It was a long walk, but we were cheered by the possibility that our
reward would be dinner. Chudleigh seemed to cherish some lingering hope
that it was a party of British or Tories who would rescue him, but I
told him to save himself such disappointments.

In a short time we came in view of those who had built the fire, and I
was delighted to find my surmise that they were Americans was correct.

They numbered some fifty or a hundred, and I guessed they were a
detachment on the way to join the northern army beleaguering Burgoyne.

“Chudleigh,” I said as we approached the first sentinel, “will you
promise to do all that I say?”

“Of course; I am your prisoner,” he replied.

I hailed the sentinel, and my uniform procured for me a friendly
reception. Chudleigh I introduced vaguely as a countryman traveling
northward with me. The men were eating, and I told them we were making
close acquaintance with starvation. They invited us to join them, and
we fell to with great promptitude.

I could tell them something about affairs at the north, and they could
give me the latest news from the south. They told me that Clinton
was still below Albany, hesitating and awaiting with impatience some
message from Burgoyne.

I rejoiced more than ever that I had stopped Chudleigh, and felt pride
in my exploit. I hope I can be pardoned for it. It was but natural that
Chudleigh’s emotions should be the opposite of mine, and I watched his
face to see how he would take this talk. It was easy enough to see
regret expressed there, though he sought to control himself.

The talk of these recruits was very bitter against the British. The
Indians with Burgoyne had committed many cruel deeds before they
fled back to Canada, and these countrymen were full of the passion
for revenge. I often think that if the British in London knew what
atrocities their red allies have committed in their wars with us they
would understand more easily why so many of us are inflamed against the

These men were rehearsing the latest murders by the Indians, and they
showed very plainly their desire to arrive at the front before Burgoyne
was taken. Nor did they spare the name of Englishman. I was sorry on
Chudleigh’s account that the talk had taken such drift. He took note of
it from the first, because his red face grew redder, and he squirmed
about in the manner which shows uneasiness.

“Chudleigh,” I whispered at a moment when the others were not looking,
“keep still. Remember you are my prisoner.”

But he sat there swelling and puffing like an angry cat.

While the others were denouncing them, I made some excuses, most
perfunctory, it is true, for the British; but this was only an
additional incitement to a bellicose man named Hicks. He damned the
British for every crime known to Satan. Chudleigh was so red in the
face I thought the blood would pop out through his cheeks, and, though
I shoved him warningly with my boot, he blurted out his wrath.

“The English are as good as anybody, sir, and you accuse them falsely!”
he said.

“What is it to you?” exclaimed Hicks, turning to him in surprise and

“I am an Englishman, sir,” said Chudleigh with ill-judged haughtiness,
“and I will not endure such abuse.”

“Oh, you are an Englishman, are you, and you won’t endure abuse, won’t
you?” said Hicks with irony; and then to me, “We did not understand you
to say he was an Englishman.”

I saw that we were in a pickle, and I thought it best to tell the whole
truth in a careless way, as if the thing were but a trifle.

“The man is an English officer, an escaped prisoner, whom I have
retaken,” I said. “I did not deem it worth while to make long
explanations, especially as we must now push on after you have so
kindly fed us.”

But Hicks was suspicious; so were the others, and their suspicions
were fed by the mutterings and growls of Chudleigh, who showed a lack
of tact remarkable even in an Englishman out of his own country. Then,
to appease them, I went into some of the long explanations which I had
said I wanted to avoid.

“That’s all very well,” broke in Hicks, “but if this man is an English
officer, why is he not in the English uniform? I believe he is an
Englishman, as you say; he talks like it, but tell me why he is dressed
like a civilian.”

The others followed Hicks’s lead and began to cry:

“Spy! Spy! Spy!”

In truth I felt alarm.

“This is no spy,” I said. “He is Captain Chudleigh, of the English

“He may be Captain Chudleigh and a spy too,” said Hicks coolly. “I am
not sure about the Chudleigh part, but I am about the spy part.”

“Hang him for good count!” cried some of the others, who seemed to be
raw recruits. The talk about the Indian atrocities was fresh in their
minds, and they were in a highly inflammatory state. I recognized a
real and present danger.

“Men,” I cried, “you are going too far! This prisoner is mine, and it
is of importance that I take him back to the army.”

But my protest only seemed to excite them further. In truth they
took it as a threat. Some of them began to demand that I too should
be hung, that I was a Tory in disguise. But the body of them did not
take up this cry. The bulk of their wrath fell upon Chudleigh, who
was undeniably an Englishman. Two or three of the foremost made ready
to seize him. I was in no mind to have all my plans spoiled, and I
snatched a musket from a stack and threatened to shoot the first man
who put a hand on Chudleigh.

Chudleigh himself behaved very well, and sat, quite calm. The men
hesitated at sight of the rifle, and this gave me a chance to appeal
to their reason, which was more accessible now since they seemed to
be impressed by my earnestness. I insisted that all I had said was
the truth, and they would be doing much injury to our cause if they
interfered with us. I fancy that I pleaded our case with eloquence,
though I ought not to boast. At any rate they were mollified, and
concluded to abandon their project of hanging Chudleigh.

“I’ve no doubt he deserves hanging,” said Hicks, “but I guess we’ll
leave the job for somebody else.”

Chudleigh was about to resent this, but I told him to shut up so
abruptly that he forgot himself and obeyed.

I was anxious enough to be clear of these men, countrymen though they
were; so we bade them adieu and tramped on, much strengthened by the
rest and food.

“Captain,” said I to Chudleigh, though trying to preserve a polite
tone, “you do not seem to appreciate the beauty and virtue of silence.”

“I will not have my country or my countrymen insulted,” replied he in
most belligerent tones.

“Well, at any rate,” I said, “I had to save your life at the risk of my

“It was nothing more than your duty,” he replied. “I am your prisoner,
and you are responsible for my safety.”

Which I call rank ingratitude on Chudleigh’s part, though technically

It was late in the day when we met the detachment, and dark now being
near at hand, it was apparent that we would have to sleep in the woods,
which, however, was no hardship for soldiers, since the nights were
warm and the ground dry. When the night arrived I proposed to Chudleigh
that we stop and make our beds on the turf, which was rather thick and
soft at that spot. He assented in the manner of one who had made up his
mind to obey me in every particular.

But before lying down I had the forethought to ask from Chudleigh a
guarantee that he would not walk away in the night while I was asleep.
I reminded him of his pledge that he would not attempt to escape,
barring a rescue.

But he took exceptions with great promptness, claiming with much
plausibility, I was fain to admit, that his pledge did not apply in
such a case. He argued that if I lay down and went to sleep he was no
longer guarded; consequently he was not a prisoner; consequently he
would go away. Since he chose to stick to his position, I had no way to
drive him from it, whether reasonable or unreasonable.

“Then I will bind you hand and foot,” I said.

He reminded me with an air of triumph that I had nothing with which to
bind him, which unfortunately was true.

“What am I to do?” I said as much to myself as to him.

“Nothing that I can see,” he replied, “but to guard me while I sleep.”

Without another word he lay down upon the turf, and in less than two
minutes his snore permeated the woods.

Reflecting in most unhappy fashion that if it were not for the great
interests of our campaign I would much rather be his prisoner than have
him mine, I sat there making fierce efforts to keep my eyelids apart.



About midnight I reached the limit of endurance. I was firm in my
resolution that I would not sleep, and while still firm in it I slept.
When I awoke it was a fine day. For a moment I was in a cold terror,
feeling sure Chudleigh had slipped away while I slept the sleep that
had overpowered me. But a calm, evenly attuned snore that glided
peacefully through the arches of the woods reassured me.

Chudleigh was lying on his back, sleeping. He was as heavy as a log,
and I knew that he had not known a single waking moment since he lay
down the night before. I dragged him about with rudeness and he opened
his eyes regretfully. Presently he announced that he felt very fresh
and strong, and asked me where I expected to get breakfast. He said he
was sorry for me, as he knew I must be very tired and sleepy after
sitting up on guard all night.

I gave him no answer, but commanded him to resume the march with me. We
walked on with diligence through a breakfastless country. Chudleigh,
though suffering from hunger, was frequent in his expressions of
sympathy for me. He said he had the utmost pity for any man who was
compelled to sit up an entire night and watch prisoners; but I replied
that I throve upon it, and then Chudleigh showed chagrin.

We had the good fortune, about two hours before noon, to find the house
of a farmer, who sold us some food, and cared not whether we were
American or British, Tory or nothing, so long as we were good pay.

A half hour after leaving this place I decided that we ought to recross
the river. Chudleigh offered no objection, knowing that he had no right
to do so, being a prisoner. I had no mind to take another swim, so I
made search along the bank for something that would serve as a raft,
and was not long in finding it.

Having proved to Chudleigh that it was as much to his benefit as to
mine to help me, we rolled a small tree that had fallen near the
water’s edge into the river, and, sitting astride it, began our ride
toward the farther shore. I had a pole with which I could direct the
course of our raft, and with these aids it seemed rather an easy matter
to cross. I allowed the tree to drift partly with the current, but all
the time gently urged it toward the farther shore.

We floated along quite peacefully. So far as we could see we were alone
upon the broad surface of the river, and the shores too were deserted.
I remarked upon the loneliness of it all to Chudleigh, and he seemed

“Chudleigh,” I said, “we’re having an easier time recrossing the river
than we had crossing it.”

“So it would seem,” he replied, “but we won’t unless you look out for
the current and those rocks there.”

I had twisted my face about while speaking to Chudleigh, and in
consequence neglected the outlook ahead. We had reached a shallow place
in the river where some sharp rocks stuck up, and the water eddied
about them in manner most spirited. The front end of our log was caught
in one of these eddies and whirled about with violence. I was thrown
off, and though I grasped at the log it slipped away from me. I whirled
about to recover myself, but the fierce current picked me up and dashed
me against one of the projecting rocks. With a backward twist I was
able to save myself a little, but my head struck the cruel stone with
grievous force.

I saw many stars appear suddenly in the full day. Chudleigh and the log
vanished, and I was drifting away through the atmosphere. I was not
wholly unconscious, and through the instinct of an old swimmer made
some motions which kept me afloat a little while with the current.

I had too little mind left to command my nerves and muscles, but enough
to know that I was very near death. In a dazed and bewildered sort of
way I expected the end, and was loath to meet it.

The blue sky was rapidly fading into nothing, when some voice from a
point a thousand miles away called to me to hold up a little longer.
The voice was so sharp and imperious that it acted like a tonic upon
me, and brain resumed a little control over body. I tried to swim,
but I was too weak to do more than paddle a little. The voice shouted
again, and encouraged me to persevere.

In truth I tried to persevere, but things were whizzing about so much
in my head and I was so weak that I could do but little. I thought I
was bound to go down, with the whole river pouring into my ears.

“That’s a good fellow!” shouted the voice. “Hold up just a minute
longer, and I’ll have you safe!”

I saw dimly a huge figure bearing down upon me. It reached out and
grasped me by the collar.

“Steady, now!” continued the voice. “Here comes our tree, and we’ll be
safe in twenty seconds!”

The tree, looking like a mountain, floated down toward us. My rescuer
reached out, seized it, and then dragged us both upon it. Reposing in
safety, mind and strength returned, and things resumed their natural
size and shape. Chudleigh, the Hudson River running in little cascades
from his hair down his face, was sitting firmly astride the log and
looking at me with an air of satisfaction.

“Chudleigh,” I said, “I believe you have saved my life.”

“Shelby,” he replied, “I know it.”

“Why didn’t you escape?” I asked.

“You compel me to remind you that I am a gentleman, Mr. Shelby,” he

That was all that ever passed between us on the subject, though I
reflected that I was not in his debt, for if he had saved my life I had
saved his.

We had no further difficulty in reaching the desired shore, where the
sun soon dried us. We continued our journey in very amicable fashion,
Chudleigh no doubt feeling relief because he was now in a measure on
even terms with me. I, too, was in a state of satisfaction. Unless
Burgoyne had retreated very fast, we could not now be far from the
lines of the American army, and I thought that my troubles with my
prisoner were almost at an end. I hoped that Burgoyne had not been
taken in my absence, for I wished to be present at the taking. I also
had in my mind another plan with which Chudleigh was concerned. It was
a plan of great self-sacrifice, and I felt the virtuous glow which
arises from such resolutions.

We paused again, by and by, for rest, the sun having become warm and
the way dusty. Chudleigh sat down on a stone and wiped his damp face,
while I went to a brook, which I had seen glimmering among the trees,
for a drink of fresh water. I had just knelt down to drink when I heard
a clattering of hoofs. Rising hastily, I saw two men riding toward
Chudleigh. Though the faces of these two men were much smeared with
dust, I recognized them readily and joyfully. They were Whitestone and

My two comrades evidently had seen and recognized Chudleigh. They
raised a shout and galloped toward him as if they feared he would flee.
I came down to the edge of the wood and stopped thereto see at my
leisure what might happen.

Chudleigh sat upon the stone unmoved. As a matter of course he both saw
and heard Whitestone and Adams, but he was a phlegmatic sort of fellow
and took no notice. Whitestone reached him first. Leaping from his
horse, the gallant sergeant exclaimed:

“Do you surrender, Captain?”

“Certainly,” said Chudleigh.

“It’s been a long chase, captain, but we’ve got you at last,” continued
the sergeant.

“So it seems,” said Chudleigh, with the same phlegm.

Then I came from the wood and cut the sergeant’s comb for him; but he
was so glad to see me again that he was quite willing to lose the glory
of the recapture. He explained that he had been overtaken by Adams.
Together they had wandered around in search of Chudleigh and me. Giving
up the hunt as useless, they had obtained new horses and were on the
way back to the army.

We were now four men and two horses, and the men taking turns on
horseback, we increased our speed greatly.

Whitestone and Adams were in fine feather, but there was one question
that yet bothered me. I wanted to take Chudleigh back in his own proper
British uniform, and thus save him from unpleasant possibilities. I did
not see how it could be done, but luck helped me.

We met very soon a small party of Americans escorting some British
prisoners. Telling my companions to wait for me, I approached the
sergeant who was in charge of the troop. Making my manner as important
as I could, and speaking in a low tone, as if fearful that I would be
overheard--which I observe always impresses people--I told him that
one of our number was about to undertake a most delicate and dangerous
mission. It chanced that I had some slight acquaintance with this
sergeant, and therefore he had no reason to doubt my words, even if I
am forced to say it myself.

He pricked up his ears at once, all curiosity, and wanted to know the
nature of the business. I pointed to Chudleigh, who was standing some
distance away with Whitestone and Adams, and said he was going to
enter the British lines as a spy in order to procure most important

“A dangerous business, you say truly. He must be a daring fellow,” said
my man, nodding his head in the direction of Chudleigh.

“So he is,” I said, “ready at any moment to risk his life for the
cause, but we need one thing.”

He asked what it was.

“A disguise,” I said. “If he is to play the British soldier, of course
he must have a British soldier’s clothes.”

I made no request, but I looked suggestively at the British prisoners.
The sergeant, who was all for obliging me, took the hint at once. He
picked out the very best uniform in the lot, and made the man who wore
it exchange it for Chudleigh’s old clothes. Chudleigh, who had been
learning wisdom in the last day or two, was considerate enough to keep
his mouth shut, and we parted from the sergeant and his troop with many
mutual expressions of good will. The uniform did not fit Chudleigh, nor
was it that of an officer, but these were minor details to which no
attention would be paid in the press of a great campaign.

The matter of the uniform disposed of, we pressed forward with renewed
spirit, and soon reached the first sentinels of our army, which we
found surrounding that of Burgoyne. It was with great satisfaction that
I delivered Chudleigh to my colonel.

The colonel was delighted at the recapture, and praised me with such
freedom that I began, to have a budding suspicion that I ought to be
commander in chief of the army. However, I made no mention of the
suspicion. Instead, I suggested to the colonel that as Chudleigh had
escaped once, he might escape again, and it would be well to exchange
him for some officer of ours whom the British held.

The colonel took to the idea, and said he would speak to the general
about it. In the morning he told me it would be done, and I immediately
asked him for the favor of taking Chudleigh into the British camp,
saying that as I had been his jailer so much already, I would like to
continue in that capacity until the end.

The colonel was in great good humor with me, and he granted the request
forthwith. As I left to carry out the business, he said, “The exchange
is well enough, but we’ll probably have your man back in a few days.”

In truth it did look rather odd that the British should be exchanging
prisoners with us upon what we regarded as the unavoidable eve of
their surrender, but they chose to persevere in the idea that we were
yet equal enemies. Nevertheless, the coils of our army were steadily
tightening around them. All the fords were held by our troops. Our best
sharpshooters swept the British camp, and it is no abuse of metaphor to
say that Burgoyne’s army was rimmed around by a circle of fire.

I found Chudleigh reposing under a tree, and told him to get up and
start with me at once.

“What new expedition is this?” he asked discontentedly. “Can not I be
permitted to rest a little? I will not try to escape again?”

I told him he was about to be exchanged, and I had secured the
privilege of escorting him back to his own people.

“That’s very polite of you,” he said.

I really believe he thought so.

For the second time I entered Burgoyne’s camp under a white flag, and
saw all the signs of distress I had seen before, only in a sharper and
deeper form. The wounded and sick were more numerous and the well and
strong were fewer. It was a sorely stricken army.

But I did not waste much time in such observations, which of necessity
would have been but limited anyhow, as the British had no intent to let
any American wander at will about their camp and take note of their
situation. When we were halted at the outskirts, I asked the officer
who received us for Albert Van Auken, who, I said, was a friend of mine
and of whose safety I wished to be assured. He was very courteous, and
in a few minutes Albert came.

Albert was glad to see me, and I to see him, and as soon as we had
shaken hands I approached the matter I had in mind.

“Madame Van Auken, your mother, and your sister, are they well,
Albert?” I asked.

“Very well, the circumstances considered,” replied Albert, “though I
must say their quarters are rather restricted. You can see the house up
there; they have been living for the last three or four days and nights
in its cellar, crowded up with other women, with a hospital beside
them, and the cannon balls from your army often crashing over their
heads. It’s rather a lively life for women.”

“Can’t I see your sister, Mistress Catherine?” I asked. “I have
something to say to her about Chudleigh.”

“Why, certainly,” he replied. “Kate will always be glad to see an old
playmate like you, Dick.”

He was so obliging as to go at once and fetch her. She looked a little
thin and touched by care, but the added gravity became her. She greeted
me with gratifying warmth. We had stepped a little to one side, and
after the greetings, I said, indicating Chudleigh:

“I have brought him back as sound and whole as he was the day he
started on this campaign.”

“That must be very pleasant to Captain Chudleigh,” she said with a
faint smile.

“I saved him from a possible death too,” I said.

“Captain Chudleigh’s debt of gratitude to you is large,” she replied.

“I have taken great trouble with him,” I said, “but I was willing to
do it all on your account. I have brought him back, and I make him a
present to you.”

She looked me squarely in the eyes for a moment, and said, as she
turned away:

“Dick, you are a fool!”

Which I call abrupt, impolite, ungrateful, and, I hope, untrue.



I returned to our camp downcast over the failure of good intentions,
and convinced that there was no reward in this life for self-sacrifice.
Perhaps if I were to fall in the fighting and Kate Van Auken were to
see my dead body, she would be sorry she had called me a fool. There
was comfort in this reflection. The idea that I was a martyr cheered
me, and I recovered with a rapidity that was astonishing to myself.

An hour’s rest was permitted me before my return to active duty, and
I had some opportunity to observe our tactics, which I concluded must
be most galling to the enemy. Some clouds of smoke hung over both
encampments, and the crackling of the rifles of the sharpshooters
and the occasional thud of the cannon had become so much a matter of
course, that we scarce paid attention to them.

When my hour of leisure was over I was assigned to duty with an
advanced party close up to Burgoyne’s camp. It was much to my pleasure
that I found Whitestone there too. It was but natural, however, that we
should be often on duty together, since we belonged to the same company.

Whitestone, according to his habit, had made himself comfortable on the
ground, and, there being no law against it, was smoking the beloved
pipe, which like its master was a veteran of many campaigns. From his
lounging place he could see a portion of the British camp.

“Mr. Shelby,” said he, “this is like sitting by and watching a wounded
bear die, and giving him a little prod now and then to hurry the death

So it was, and it was no wonder the soldiers grew impatient. But I was
bound to confess that the policy of our generals was right, and by it
they would win as much and save more life.

There was nothing for me to do, and I kept my eyes most of the time
on the house Albert had pointed out to me. Crouched in its cellar I
knew were scared women and weeping children, and doubtless Kate and her
mother were among them. Once a cannon ball struck the house and went
through it, burying itself in the ground on the other side. I held my
breath for a little, but I was reassured by the thought that the women
and children were out of range in the cellar.

Thus the day passed in idleness as far as I was concerned. I spent it
not unpleasantly in gossip with Whitestone. The nightfall was dark,
and under cover of it the British ran a twenty-four pounder forward
into a good position and opened fire with it upon some of our advanced
parties. My first warning of the attack was a loud report much nearer
to us than usual, followed by a hissing and singing as if something
were stinging the air, and then a solid chunk of iron struck the
earth with a vengeful swish a few yards from us. A cloud of dirt was
spattered in our faces, stinging us like bees.

When we had recovered from our surprise, and assured ourselves we
were neither dead nor dying, we made remarks about chance, and the
probability that no other cannon ball would strike near us during the
campaign. Just as the last of such remarks were spoken we heard the
roar and heavy boom, followed by the rapid swish through the air, and
the cannon ball struck a full yard nearer to us than the first. We used
vigorous and, I fear, bad language, which, however, is a great relief
sometimes, especially to a soldier.

“They’ve pushed that gun up too close to us,” said Whitestone. “It’s
among those trees across there. The darkness has helped them.”

We were of opinion that the men with the gun had our range--that is, of
our particular party--and we thought it wise and healthy to lie down
and expose the least possible surface. I awaited the third shot with
much curiosity and some apprehension.

Presently we saw a twinkle, as of a powder match, and then a great
flash. The ball shrieked through the air, and with a shiver that could
not be checked we waited for it to strike. True to its predecessors,
it followed nearly the same course and smashed against a stone near
us. One of our men was struck by the rebounding of fragments, of iron
or stone, and severely wounded. It was too dark to see well, but his
groans spoke for him. Whitestone and I took hold of him and carried him
back for treatment. While we were gone, one man was slain and another
wounded in the same way. In the darkness that British cannon had become
a live thing and was stinging us. Some of our best sharpshooters were
chosen to slay the cannoneers, but they could aim only by the flash
of the gun, and the men loading it had the woods to protect them. The
bullets were wasted, and the troublesome hornet stung again and again.

We were perplexed. Our pride as well as our safety was concerned. The
idea came to me at last.

“To fight fire with fire is an old saying,” I remarked to Whitestone.

“What do you mean?” he asked.

“Why, we must have a cannon too,” I said.

He understood at once, for Whitestone is not a dull man. He volunteered
to get the cannon and I went along with him to help. We presented
our claim with such urgency and eloquence that the artillery officer
to whom we went was impressed. Also he was near enough to see how
damaging and dangerous the British cannon had become.

“You can have Old Ty,” he said, “and be sure you make good use of him.”

I did not understand, but Whitestone did. He knew Old Ty. He explained
that Old Ty, which was short for “Old Ticonderoga,” was a twenty-four
pounder taken at Ticonderoga early in the war by Ethan Allen and
his Green Mountain Boys. It had done so much service and in so many
campaigns that the gunners had affectionately nicknamed the veteran Old
Ty in memory of the fortress in which he had been taken.

“I’ve seen Old Ty,” said Whitestone. “He’s been battered about a good
lot, but he’s got a mighty bad bark and a worse bite.”

In a few minutes the groaning of wheels and the shout of the driver to
the horses announced the approach of Old Ty. I stood aside with respect
while the gun passed, and a grim and fierce old veteran he was, full
worthy the respect of a youngster such as I felt myself to be.

Old Ty was of very dark metal, and there were many scars upon him where
he had received the blows of enemies of a like caliber. A wheel which
had been struck by a ball in the heat of action was bent a trifle to
one side, and Old Ty rolled along as if he were a little lame and
didn’t mind it. His big black muzzle grinned at me as if he were proud
of his scars, and felt good for many more.

Just behind the gun walked a man as ugly and battered as Old Ty himself.

“That’s Goss, the gunner,” said Whitestone. “He’s been with Old Ty all
through the war, and loves him better than his wife.”

On went the fierce and ugly pair like two who knew their duty and loved

The night, as usual after the first rush of darkness, had begun to
brighten a bit. We could see the British cannon, a long, ugly piece,
without waiting for its flash; yet its gunners were protected so well
by fresh-felled trees and a swell of the earth that our sharpshooters
could not pick them off. They were in good position, and nothing
lighter than Old Ty could drive them out of it.

The British saw what we were about and sought to check us. They fired
more rapidly, and a cannon ball smashed one of the horses hitched to
Old Ty almost to a pulp. But Goss sprang forward, seized one wheel,
and threw the veteran into place.

Old Ty had a position much like that of his antagonist, and Goss,
stroking his iron comrade like one who pets an old friend, began to
seek the range, and take very long and careful looks at the enemy.
Lights along the line of either army flared up, and many looked on.

“Lie flat on the ground here,” said Whitestone to me. “This is going to
be a pitched battle between the big guns, and you want to look out.”

I adopted Whitestone’s advice, thinking it very good. Old Ty’s big
black muzzle grinned threateningly across at his antagonist, as if he
longed to show his teeth, but waited the word and hand of his comrade.

“There goes the bark of the other!” cried Whitestone.

The bright blaze sprang up, the British cannon roared, and hurled his
shot. The mass of iron swept over Old Ty and buried itself in the

“Much bark, but no bite,” said Whitestone.

Old Ty, black and defiant, was yet silent. Goss was not a man who
hurried himself or his comrade. We waited, breathless. Suddenly Goss
leaned over and touched the match.

Old Ty spoke in the hoarse, roaring voice that indicates much wear. One
of the felled trees in the British position was shattered, and the ball
bounded to the right and was lost to sight.

“A little bite,” said Whitestone, “but not deep enough.”

Old Ty smoked and grew blacker, as if he were not satisfied with
himself. They swabbed out his mouth and filled it with iron again.

Where I lay I could see the muzzles of both cannon threatening each
other. The Briton was slower than before, as if he wished to be sure.
Goss continued to pat his comrade by way of stirring up his spirit.
That did not seem to me to be needed, for Old Ty was the very fellow I
would have chosen for such a furious contention as this.

The two champions spoke at the same instant, and the roar of them was
so great that for the moment I thought I would be struck deaf. A great
cloud of smoke enveloped either cannon, but when it raised both sides

Old Ty had received a fresh blow on his lame wheel, and careened a
little farther to one side, but the Briton was hit the harder of the
two. His axle had been battered by Old Ty’s ball, and the British were
as busy as bees propping him up for the third raid.

“Rather evenly matched,” grunted Whitestone, “and both full of grit. I
think we shall have some very pretty sport here.”

I was of Whitestone’s opinion.

I could see Goss frowning. He did not like the wound Old Ty had
received, and stroked the lame wheel. “Steady, old partner,” I heard
him say. “We’ll beat ’em yet.”

All at once I noticed that the lights along the line had increased, and
some thousands were looking on at the battle of the two giants.

“Old Ty must win!” I said to Whitestone. “We can’t let him lose.”

“I don’t know,” said Whitestone, shaking his head. “A battle’s never
over till the last shot’s fired.”

The Briton was first, and it was well that we were sheltered. The ball
glanced along Old Ty’s barrel, making a long rip in the iron, and
bounded over our heads and across the hill.

“Old Ty got it that time,” said Whitestone. “That was a cruel blow.”

He spoke truth, and a less seasoned veteran than Old Ty would have
been crushed by it. There was a look of deep concern on Goss’s face
as he ran his hand over the huge rent in Old Ty’s side. Then his face
brightened a bit, and I concluded the veteran was good for more hard

The blow must have had some effect upon Old Ty’s voice or temper. At
any rate, when he replied his roar was hoarser and angrier. A cry arose
from the British ranks, and I saw them taking away a body. Old Ty had
tasted blood. But the British cannon was as formidable as ever.

“The chances look a bit against Old Ty,” commented Whitestone, and I
had to confess to myself, although with reluctance, that it was so.

Goss was very slow in his preparations for the fourth shot. He had the
men to steady Old Ty, and he made a slight change in the elevation.
Again both spoke at the same time, and Old Ty groaned aloud as the mass
of British iron tore along his barrel, ripping out a gap deeper and
longer than any other. His own bolt tore off one of the Briton’s wheels.

“The Englishman’s on one leg,” said Whitestone, “but Old Ty’s got it
next to the heart. Chances two to one in favor of the Englishman.”

I sighed. Poor Old Ty! I could not bear to see the veteran beaten.
Goss’s hard, dark face showed grief. He examined Old Ty with care and
fumbled about him.

“What is he doing?” I asked of Whitestone, who lay nearer the gun.

“I think he’s trying to see if Old Ty will stand another shot,” he
said. “He’s got some big rips in the barrel, and he may leave in all
directions when the powder explodes.”

Old Ty in truth was ragged and torn like a veteran in his last fight.
The Briton had lost one wheel and was propped up on the side, but his
black muzzle looked triumphant across the way.

The British fired again and then shouted in triumph. Old Ty, too, had
lost a wheel, which the shot had pounded into old iron.

“Old Ty is near his end,” said Whitestone. “One leg gone and holes in
his body as big as my hat; that’s too much!”

Old Ty was straightened up, and Goss giving the word, the shot was
rolled into his wide mouth. Then the gunner, as grim and battered as
his gun, took aim. Upon the instant all our men rushed to cover.

Goss touched the match, and a crash far outdoing all the others stunned
us. With the noise in my ears and the smoke in my eyes I knew not what
had happened. But Whitestone cried aloud in joy. Rubbing my eyes clear,
I looked across to see the effect of the shot. I saw only a heap of
rubbish. Old Ty’s bolt had smote his enemy and blown up the caisson and
the cannon with it.

Then I looked at Old Ty to see how he bore his triumph, but his mighty
barrel was split asunder and he was a cannon no longer, just pieces of
old iron.

Sitting on a log was some one with tears on his hard, brown face. It
was Goss, the gunner, weeping over the end of his comrade.



At one o’clock in the morning I went off duty, and at five minutes past
one o’clock I had begun a very pleasant and healthful slumber. At eight
o’clock I awoke, and found Whitestone sitting by a little fire cooking
strips of bacon, some of which he was so kind as to give me.

Whitestone’s face was puffed out in the manner of one who has news to
tell, and I was quite willing that he should gratify himself by telling
it to me.

“What is it, Whitestone?” I asked. “Has the British army surrendered
while I slept?”

“No,” said Whitestone, “and it may not surrender after all.”

“What!” I exclaimed.

“It’s just as I say,” said Whitestone, lighting the inevitable pipe.
“It may not surrender after all.”

“What has happened?”

Whitestone’s cheeks continued to swell with a sense of importance.

“Clinton’s advancing with seven thousand men,” he said.

“That’s nothing,” I said. “Clinton’s been advancing for weeks, and he
never gets near us.”

“But he is near us this time, sure enough,” said the sergeant very

I was still unbelieving, and looked my unbelief.

“It’s as I say,” resumed the sergeant; “there is no doubt about it.
Just after daylight this morning some skirmishers took a messenger
from Clinton, who bore dispatches announcing his arrival within a very
short time. It seems that Clinton is much farther up the river than we
supposed, and that his army is also much larger than all our reckonings
made it. I guess that with re-enforcements he got over the fright we
gave him.”

This in truth sounded like a matter of moment. I asked Whitestone if he
was sure of what he reported, and he said the news was all over the
camp. I must confess that I felt as if it were a personal blow. I had
looked upon the capture of Burgoyne as a certainty, but the arrival of
Clinton with seven thousand fresh men would be sure to snatch the prize
from us. It looked like a very jest of fate that we should lose our
spoil after all our labors and battles.

“What’s to be done, Whitestone?” I asked gloomily.

“In a case of this kind,” he replied, “I’m glad that I’m a humble
sergeant, and not a general. Let the generals settle it. Take another
piece of the bacon; it’s crisp and fresh.”

“Have you seen this captured messenger?” I asked.

“No,” replied Whitestone. “They have him in a tent over yonder, and I
think the officers have been busy with him, trying to pump him.”

As soon as I finished the bacon I walked about the camp to see if I
could learn anything further concerning the matter, in which attempt
I failed. I saw, however, its effect upon the army, which vented its
feelings largely in the way of swearing. The soldiers expected we would
have to leave Burgoyne and turn southward to fight Clinton. Some said
luck was always against us.

I was interrupted in my stroll by a message from my colonel to come at
once. I hurried to him with some apprehension. He had expressed his
high confidence in me of late, and, as I have said before, these high
confidences bring hard duties.

But the matter was not so difficult as I had expected.

“Mr. Shelby,” said the colonel, “we took prisoner this morning a man
bearing important dispatches from Clinton to Burgoyne--you have heard
about it, doubtless; it seems to be known all over the camp--and I am
directly responsible for his safe keeping for the time being. He is in
that tent which you can see on the hillside. Take three men and guard
him. You need not intrude upon him, though; he seems to be a very
gentlemanly fellow.”

Of course I chose Whitestone as one of my three men, and we began our
guard over the tent. I understood from the gossip Whitestone had picked
up that the generals were debating what movement to make after the
important news obtained, and probably they would examine the prisoner
again later on. It was not at all likely that the prisoner, placed as
he was in the center of our camp, could escape, but there might be
reasons for keeping him close in the tent; so our watch was very strict.

Nevertheless, Whitestone and I chatted a bit, which was within our
right, and tried to guess what would be the result of the campaign
if we had to turn southward and fight Clinton, with Burgoyne on our
rear. Doubtless some of these comments and queries were heard by the
prisoner, whose feet I could see sticking out in front of the tent
flap, but whose body was beyond our view. But I did not see that it
mattered, and we talked on with freedom. Once I saw the prisoner’s feet
bob up a bit, as if he suffered from some kind of nervous contraction,
but I made very slight note of it.

The debate of the generals lasted long, and I inferred, therefore,
that their perplexity was great. Whitestone and I ceased to talk, and
as I, having command of the little detachment, was under no obligation
to parade, musket on shoulder, I sat down on a stone near the flap of
the tent and made myself as comfortable as I could. From my position I
could still see the prisoner’s boots, a substantial British pair, of
a kind that we could envy, for most of the time we were nearly bare of
foot, sometimes entirely so.

The camp was peaceful, on the whole. The rattle of drums, the sound of
voices, rose in the regular, steady fashion which becomes a hum. The
prisoner was silent--unusually silent. He seemed to have no curiosity
about us, and to prefer to remain in the shadow of his tent. In his
place, I would have had my head out looking at everything. I noticed
presently the attitude of his boots. They were cocked up on their
heels, toes high in the air. I inferred immediately that the man was
lying flat on his back, which was not at all unreasonable, as he
probably needed rest after traveling all night.

The hum of the camp became a murmur, and it was answered by a slighter
murmur from the tent. The prisoner was snoring. He was not only flat
upon his back, but asleep. I felt an admiration for the calmness
of mind which could turn placidly to slumber in such an exciting
situation. A curiosity about this prisoner, already born in me, began
to grow. He was most likely a man worth knowing.

I concluded that I would take a look at the sleeping Englishman
despite my orders. I did not mention my idea to Whitestone, because
I thought he might object, and hint it was none of my business to go
in. I stooped down and entered the tent, which was a small one. As I
surmised, the prisoner was lying upon his back and was fast asleep.
The snore, which became much more assertive now that I had entered the
tent, left no doubt about his slumbers. Yet I could not see his face,
which was far back under the edge of the tent.

I reached back and pulled the tent-flap still farther aside, letting
in a fine flow of sunlight. It fell directly upon the face of the
prisoner, bringing out every feature with the distinctness of carving.

My first emotion was surprise; my second, wrath; my third, amusement.

The prisoner was Albert Van Auken.

I do not claim that mine is the acutest mind in the world; but at a
single glance I saw to the bottom of the whole affair, and the desire
to laugh grew very strong upon me. It had not been twenty-four hours
since I was talking to Albert Van Auken in Burgoyne’s camp, and here
he was a prisoner in our camp, bringing dispatches from Clinton, down
the river, to Burgoyne. I believe some things--not all things.

I perceived that the bright light shining directly into Albert’s eyes
would soon awaken him. In truth he was yawning even then. I sat down in
front of him, closing my arms around my knees in the attitude of one
who waits.

Albert yawned prodigiously. I guessed that he must have been up all the
previous night to have become so sleepy. He would have relapsed into
slumber, but the penetrating streak of sunshine would not let him. It
played all over his face, and inserting itself between his eyelids,
pried them open.

Albert sat up, and, after the manner of man, rubbed his eyes. He knew
that some one was in the tent with him, but he could not see who it
was. I had taken care of that. I was in the dark and he was in the

“Well, what is it you wish?” he asked, after he had finished rubbing
his eyes.

I guessed that he took me for one of the general officers who had been
examining him. I have a trick of changing my voice when I wish to do
so, and this was one of the times when I wished.

“I am to ask you some further questions in regard to the matters we
were discussing this morning,” I said.

“Well!” said Albert impatiently, as if he would like to be done with it.

“According to the dispatches which we secured when we took you,” I
said, “Sir Henry Clinton was very near at hand with a large army.”

“Certainly,” said Albert, in a tone of great emphasis.

“It is strange,” I said, “that we did not hear of his near approach
until we took you this morning. Our scouts and skirmishers have brought
us no such news.”

“It is probably due to the fact, general,” said Albert politely, “that
we captured your scouts and skirmishers as we advanced northward. Our
celerity of movement was so great that they could not escape us.”

“That was remarkable marching, in truth,” I said admiringly. “You
Englishmen are as rapid in movement as you are strenuous in battle.”

“Thank you, general,” said Albert, with complacent vanity. I felt a
strong inclination to kick him. I hate Tories, and, in particular,
those who would have people think they are Englishmen.

“I believe you said Sir Henry Clinton had several thousand men with
him,” I resumed.

“I did not say it,” replied Albert, “but most unfortunately it was
revealed in the dispatches which you captured upon me. I may add,
however, that the number is nearer eight thousand than seven thousand.”

I understood the impression he wished to create, and I was willing to
further his humor.

“Eight thousand with Sir Henry Clinton,” I said, as if musing, “and
Burgoyne has six thousand; that makes fourteen thousand, all regular
troops, thoroughly armed and equipped otherwise. We can scarce hope to
capture both armies.”

“Not both, nor one either,” said Albert in derision. “As a matter of
fact, general, I think you will have some difficulty in looking after
your own safety.”

“By what manner of reasoning do you arrive at that conclusion?” asked
I, wishing to lead him on.

“Oh, well, you know what British troops are,” said Albert
superciliously; “and when fourteen thousand of them are together, I
imagine that troubles have arrived for their enemies.”

My inclination to kick him took on a sudden and violent increase. It
was with the most extreme difficulty that I retained command over my
mutinous foot.

“Perhaps it is as you assert,” I said musingly. “In fact there would
seem to be no doubt that it is best for us to let Burgoyne go, and
retreat with what rapidity we can.”

“Of course! of course!” said Albert eagerly. “That is the only thing
you can do.”

Now a desire to laugh instead of a desire to kick overspread me; but I
mastered it as I had the other.

“I wish to tell you, however,” I said, assuming my politest manner,
“and in telling you I speak for the other American generals, that
however little we are pleased with the news you bear, we are much
pleased with the bearer. We have found you to be a young gentleman of
courtesy, breeding, and discernment.”

“Thank you,” said Albert in a tone of much gratification.

“And,” I resumed, “we have arrived at a certain conclusion; I may add
also that we have arrived at that conclusion quickly and unanimously.”

“What is it?” asked Albert with eager interest.

“That we have met many graceful and accomplished liars in our time, but
of them all you are the most graceful and accomplished,” I said with
grave politeness, my tongue lingering over the long words.

Albert uttered something which sounded painfully and amazingly like
an oath, and sprang to his feet, his face flushing red with anger or
shame, I am uncertain which.

He raised his hand as if he would strike me, but I moved around a
little, and the light in its turn fell on my face. He uttered another
cry, and this time there was no doubt about its being an oath. He
looked at me, his face growing redder and redder.

“Dick,” he said in a tone of deep reproach, “I call this devilish

“The unkindness is all on your side, Albert,” I retorted. “You have
given me more trouble in this campaign than all the rest of Burgoyne’s
army--if that fellow Chudleigh be counted out--and here I have you on
my hands again.”

“Who asked you to come into my tent?” said Albert angrily. “I heard you
outside a while ago, but I did not think you would come in.”

“That was when your feet bobbed up,” I said. “You must retain more
control over them, Albert. Now that I think of it, and trace things to
their remote causes, that movement first stirred in me the curiosity to
see your face, and not your feet only. Have them amputated, Albert.”

“What do you mean to do?” he asked with an air of resignation.

“Mean to do!” I said in a tone of surprise. “Why, I mean to retreat
with all the remainder of our army as quickly as we can in order to get
out of the way of those fourteen thousand invincible British veterans
who will soon be united in one force.”

“Now stop that, Dick,” said Albert entreatingly. “Don’t be too hard on
a fellow.”

“All right,” I replied; “go to sleep again.”

Without further ado I left the tent, and found Whitestone waiting
outside in some anxiety.

“You stayed so long,” he said, “I thought perhaps the fellow had killed

“Not by any means as bad as that,” I replied. “I found him to be a
very pleasant young man, and we had a conversation long and most

“About what?” Whitestone could not keep from asking.

“About many things,” I replied, “and one thing that I learned was of
special importance.”

“What was that?”

“How to send Clinton and his eight thousand men back below Albany, hold
Burgoyne fast, and continue the campaign as it was begun.”

“That’s a pretty big job,” said Whitestone, “for one man, and that one,
too, rather young and not overweighted with rank.”

“Maybe you think so,” I said with lofty indifference. “But I can do it,
and, what is more, I will prove to you that I can. You can stay here
while I go down to the council of generals and tell them what to do.”

Not giving Whitestone time to recover, I stalked off in a state of
extreme dignity.



I pressed into the council of the generals with an energy that would
not be denied, also with some strength of the knee, as an officious
aid-de-camp can testify even at this late day. As a matter of course,
my information was of such quality that everybody was delighted with me
and praise became common. Again I felt as if I ought to be commander
in chief. Again I had sufficient self-sacrifice to keep the thought to

As I left the room they were talking about the disposition of the
prisoner who had tried to trick us into precipitate flight and the
abandonment of our prey. This put an idea into my head, and I told
it to a colonel near the door, who in his turn told it to their high
mightinesses, the generals, who were wise enough to approve of it,
and, in truth, to indorse it most heartily.

I suggested that Albert be sent back to Burgoyne with the most gracious
compliments of our commander in chief, who was pleased to hear the
news of the speedy arrival of Clinton, which would greatly increase
the number of prisoners we were about to take. I asked, as some small
reward for my great services, that I be chosen to escort Albert into
the British camp and deliver the message. That, too, was granted

“You can deliver the message by word of mouth,” said one of the
generals; “it would be too cruel a jest to put it in writing, and
perhaps our dignity would suffer also.”

I was not thinking so much of the jest as of another plan I had in mind.

I found Whitestone keeping faithful watch at the tent.

“Well,” said he, with a croak that he meant for a laugh of sarcasm, “I
suppose the generals fell on your neck and embraced you with delight
when you told them what to do.”

“They did not fall on my neck, but certainly they were very much
delighted,” I said; “and they are going to do everything I told them
to do.”

“That’s right,” said Whitestone. “Keep it up. While you’re spinning a
yarn, spin a good one.”

“It’s just as I say,” I said, “and as the first proof of it, I am going
to take the prisoner as a present to Burgoyne.”

Turning my back on the worthy sergeant, I entered the tent, and found
Albert reclining on a blanket, the expression of chagrin still on his
face. To tell the truth, I did not feel at all sorry for him, for, as I
have said before, Albert had been a great care to me.

“Get up,” I said with a roughness intended, “and come with me.”

“What are they going to do with me?” asked Albert. “They can’t hang me
as a spy; I was taken in full uniform.”

“Nobody wants to hang you, or do you any other harm,” I said. “In
your present lively and healthful condition you afford us too much
amusement. We do not see how either army could spare you. Put your hat
on and come on.”

He followed very obediently and said nothing. He knew I held the whip
hand over him.

“Sergeant,” I said to Whitestone, “you need not watch any longer, since
the tent is empty.”

Then I took Albert away without another word. I had it in mind to
punish Whitestone, who was presuming a little on his age and experience
and his services to me.

I really could not help laughing to myself as I went along. This would
make the third time I had entered Burgoyne’s camp as an escort--once
with Chudleigh, once with Albert’s sister and mother, and now with
Albert. I was fast getting to be at home in either camp. I began to
feel a bit of regret at the prospect of Burgoyne’s speedy surrender,
which would break up all these pleasant little excursions.

Albert showed surprise when he saw us leaving our camp and going toward

“What are you going to do?” he asked.

“Nothing, except to take you back where you belong,” I said. “We don’t
care to be bothered with you.”

“You hold me rather cheaply,” he said.

“Very,” I replied.

The return of Albert was an easy matter. I met a colonel, to whom
I delivered him and also the message from our council. The colonel
did not seem to know of Albert’s intended mission, for the message
puzzled him. I offered no explanations, leaving him to exaggerate it or
diminish it in the transmission as he pleased.

When I turned away after our brief colloquy, I saw Kate Van Auken,
which was what I had hoped for when I asked the privilege of bringing
Albert back. Her paleness and look of care had increased, but again I
was compelled to confess to myself that her appearance did not suffer
by it. There was no change in her spirit.

“Have you become envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary
between the two camps, Dick?” she asked in a tone that seemed to me to
be touched slightly with irony.

“Perhaps,” I replied; “I have merely brought your brother back to you
again, Mistress Catherine.”

“We are grateful.”

“This makes twice I’ve saved him for you,” I said, “and I’ve brought
Chudleigh back to you once. I want to say that if you have any other
relatives and friends who need taking care of, will you kindly send for

“You have done much for us,” she said. “There is no denying it.”

“Perhaps I have,” I said modestly. “When I presented Chudleigh to you,
you called me a fool. I suppose you are willing now to take it back.”

“I was most impolite, I know, and I’m sorry----”

“Oh, you take it back, then?”

“I’m sorry that I have to regret the expression, for, Dick, that is
what you are.”

There was the faintest suspicion of a smile on her face, and I could
not become quite as angry as I did on the first occasion. But she
showed no inclination to take the harsh word back, and perforce I left
very much dissatisfied.

When I returned to our camp I found much activity prevailing. It seemed
to be the intention of our leaders to close in and seize the prize
without further delay. No attack was to be made upon Burgoyne’s camp,
but the circle of fire which closed him in became broader and pressed
tighter. The number of sharpshooters was doubled, and there was scarce
a point in the circumference of Burgoyne’s camp which they could not
reach with their rifle balls, while the British could not attempt
repayment without exposing themselves to destruction. Yet they held
out, and we did not refuse them praise for their bravery and tenacity.

The morning after my return I said to Whitestone that I gave the
British only three days longer. Whitestone shook his head.

“Maybe,” he said, “and maybe not so long. They’ve been cut off at a new

I asked him what he meant.

“Why, the British are dying of thirst,” he said. “They are in plain
sight of the Hudson--in some places they are not more than a few yards
from it--but our sharpshooters have crept up till they can sweep all
the space between the British camp and the river. The British can’t
get water unless they cross that strip of ground, and every man that’s
tried to cross it has been killed.”

I shuddered. I could not help it. This was war--war of the kind that
wins, but I did not like it. Yet, despite my dislike, I was to take
part in it, and that very soon. It was known that I was expert with
the rifle, and I was ordered to choose a good weapon and join a small
detachment that lay on a hill commanding the narrowest bit of ground
between the British camp and the river. About a dozen of us were there,
and I was not at all surprised to find Whitestone among the number. It
seemed that if I went anywhere and he didn’t go too, it was because he
was there already.

“I don’t like this, Whitestone. I don’t like it a bit,” I said

“You can shoot into the air,” he said, “and it won’t be any harm. There
are plenty of others who will shoot to kill.”

I could see that Whitestone was right about the others. Most of them
were from the mountains of Virginia and Pennsylvania, backwoodsmen and
trained Indian fighters, who thought it right to shoot an enemy from
ambush. In truth this was a sort of business they rather enjoyed, as it
was directly in their line.

As I held some official rank I was in a certain sense above the others,
though I was not their commander, each man knowing well what he was
about and doing what he chose, which was to shoot plump at the first
human being that appeared on the dead line. A thin, active Virginian
had climbed a tree in order to get a better aim, and shot with deadly
effect from its boughs.

I sat down behind a clump of earth and examined my rifle.

“Look across there,” said Whitestone, pointing to the open space.

I did so, and for the second time that day I shuddered. Prone upon the
ground were three bodies in the well-known English uniform. A pail lay
beside one of them. I knew without the telling of it that those men had
fallen in their attempt to reach the water which flowed by--millions
and millions of gallons--just out of reach.

“It’s rather dull now; nobody’s tried to pass the dead line for an
hour,” said Bucks, a man from the mountains of western Pennsylvania,
with a face of copper like an Indian’s.

“Did any one succeed in passing?” I asked.

“Pass!” said Bucks, laughing. “What do you reckon we’re here for? No
sirree! The river is just as full as ever.”

There was an unpleasant ring in the man’s voice which gave me a further
distaste for the work in hand. Our position was well adapted to our
task. The hill was broken with low outcroppings of stone and small
ridges. So long as we exercised moderate caution we could aim and shoot
in comparative safety. Bucks spoke my thoughts when he said:

“It’s just like shooting deer at a salt lick.”

But the dullness continued. Those red-clad bodies, two of them with
their faces upturned to the sun, were a terrible warning to the others
not to make the trial. Two of our men, finding time heavy, produced a
worn pack of cards and began to play old sledge, their rifles lying
beside them.

The waters of the broad river glittered in the sun. Now and then a fish
leaped up and shot back like a flash, leaving the bubbles to tell where
he had gone. The spatter of musketry around the circle of the British
camp had become so much a habit that one noticed it only when it ceased
for the time. The white rings of smoke from the burnt powder floated
away, peaceful little clouds, and, like patches of snow against the
blue sky, helped out the beauty of an early autumn day.

All of us were silent except the two men playing cards. I half closed
my eyes, for the sun was bright and the air was warm, and gave myself
up to lazy, vague thought. I was very glad that we had nothing to do,
and even should the time to act come, I resolved that I would follow
Whitestone’s hint.

The two men playing cards became absorbed in the game. One threw down a
card and uttered a cry of triumph.

“Caught your Jack!”

“All right,” said the other; “it’s only two for you, your low, Jack
against my high, game. I’m even with you.”

I became interested. I was lying on my back with my head on a soft
bunch of turf. I raised up a little that I might see these players, who
could forget such a business as theirs in a game of cards. Their faces
were sharp and eager, and when they picked up the cards I could tell by
their expression whether they were good or bad.

“Four and four,” said one, “and this hand settles the business. Five’s
the game.”

The other began to deal the cards, but a rifle was fired so close to
my ear that the sound was that of a cannon. The echo ceasing, I heard
Bucks and the man in the tree swearing profusely at each other.

“He’s mine, I tell you!” said Bucks.

“It was my bullet that did it!” said the man in the tree with equal

“I guess it was both of you,” put in Whitestone. “You fired so close
together I heard only one shot, but I reckon both bullets counted.”

This seemed to pacify them. I looked over the little ridge of earth
before us, and saw a fourth red-clad body lying on the greensward near
the river. It was as still as the others.

“He made a dash for the water,” said Whitestone, who caught my eye,
“but the lead overtook him before he was halfway.”

The two men put aside their cards, business being resumed; but after
this attempt we lay idle a long time. Bucks, who had an infernal zeal,
never took his eyes off the greensward save to look at the priming of
his gun.

“I could hit the mark at least twenty yards farther than that,” he said
to me confidently.

Noon came, and I hoped I would be relieved of this duty, but it was
not so. It seemed that it would be an all-day task. The men took some
bread and cold meat from their pouches and we ate. When the last crumb
fell, a man appeared at the edge of the greensward and held up his
hands. Bucks’s finger was already on the trigger of his gun, but I made
him stop. The man’s gesture meant something, and, moreover, I saw that
he was unarmed. I called also to the Virginian in the tree to hold his

I thought I knew the meaning of the pantomime. I took my rifle and
turned the muzzle of it to the earth so conspicuously that the
Englishman, who was holding up his hands, could not fail to see. When
he saw, he advanced boldly, and laying hold of one of the bodies
dragged it away. He returned for a second, and a third, and then a
fourth, and when he had taken the last he did not come back again.

“That’s a good job well done!” I said with much relief when the last
of the fallen men had been taken away. It was much pleasanter to look
at the greensward now, since there was no red spot upon it. I said to
Whitestone that I thought the English would not make the trial again.

“They will,” he replied. “They must have water, and maybe they don’t
know even yet what kind of riflemen we have.”

Whitestone was right. In a half hour a man appeared protecting his
body with a heavy board as long as himself. He moved with slowness and
awkwardness, but two or three bullets fired into the board seemed to
make no impression.

“At any rate, if he reaches the river and gets back all right it’s too
slow a way to slake the thirst of many,” said Whitestone in the tone of
a philosopher.

Bucks’s face puffed out with anger.

“They mustn’t get a drop!” he said with the freedom of a backwoodsman.
“We’re to keep ’em from it; that’s what we’re here for.”

The man looked fierce in his wrath and I did not reprove him, for after
all he was right, though not very polite.

The man in the tree fired, and a tiny patch of red cloth flew into the
air. The bullet had cut his clothes, but it could not reach the man,
who continued to shamble behind his board toward the river.

“I’m afraid we won’t be able to stop him,” I said to Bucks.

Bucks had crawled to the edge of the hill and was watching with the
ferocity and rancor of a savage for a chance to shoot. Often I think
that these men who live out in the forests among the savages learn to
share their nature.

I could not see because of the board, but I guessed that the man
carried a bucket, or pail, in one hand. In truth I was right, for
presently a corner of the pail appeared, and it was struck instantly by
a bullet from the rifle of the man in the tree.

“At any rate, we’ve sprung a leak in his pail for him,” said Whitestone.

I began to take much interest in the matter. Not intending it, I felt
like a hunter in pursuit of a wary animal. My scruples were forgotten
for the moment. I found myself sighting along the barrel of my rifle
seeking a shot. The Englishman had ceased for me to be a human being
like myself. I caught a glimpse of a red-coat sleeve at the edge of the
board and would have fired, but as my finger touched the trigger it
disappeared and I held back. Whitestone was at my shoulder, the same
eagerness showing on his face. The man in the tree had squirmed like a
snake far out on the bough, and was seeking for a shot over the top of
the board.

The Englishman trailed himself and his protecting board along, and
was within a yard of the water. Over the earthwork at the edge of the
British camp the men were watching him. His friends were as eager for
his success as we were to slay him. It was a rivalry that incited in us
a stronger desire to reach him with the lead. In such a competition a
man’s life becomes a very small pawn. For us the Englishmen had become
a target, and nothing more.

Bucks was the most eager of us. He showed his teeth like a wolf.

The Englishman reached the water and stooped over to fill his pail.
Bending, he forgot himself and thrust his head beyond the board. With
a quickness that I have never seen surpassed, Bucks threw up his rifle
and fired. The Englishman fell into the water as dead as a stone, and,
his board and his pail falling too, floated off down the stream.

I uttered a cry of triumph, and then clapped my hand in shame over my
mouth. The water pulling at the Englishman’s body took it out into the
deeper stream, and it too floated away. The zest of the chase was gone
for me in an instant, and I felt only a kind of pitying horror. Never
before in my life had I been assigned to work so hateful.

Bucks crawled back all a-grin. I turned my back to him while he
received the praise of the man in the tree. It was evident to me that
nobody could cross the dead line in the face of such sharpshooters, and
I hoped the British saw the fact as well as we.

Our enemies must have been very hard pressed, for after a while another
man tried the risk of the greensward. He came out only a few feet, and
when a bullet clipped right under his feet he turned and fled back,
which drew some words of scorn from Bucks, but which seemed to me to be
a very wise and timely act.

I thought that this would be the last trial, but Whitestone again
disagreed with me.

“When men are burning up with thirst and see a river full of water
running by, they’ll try mighty hard to get to that river,” he said.

The sergeant’s logic looked good, but for a full hour it failed. I felt
sleepy, again, but was aroused by the man in the tree dropping some
twigs, one of which struck me in the face.

“They’re going to try it again,” he said.

As I have remarked, we could see a small earthwork which the British
had thrown up, and whoever tried to pass the dead line would be sure to
come from that point. The man in the tree had a better view than we,
and I guessed that he saw heads coming over the earthwork.

Among our men was a slight bustle that told of preparation, a last look
at the flints, a shoving forward for a better position. I looked at my
own rifle, but I resolved that I would not allow zeal to overcome me
again. I would remember Whitestone’s suggestion and fire into the air,
leaving the real work to Bucks and the others, who would be glad enough
to do it. I saw the flutter of a garment at the earthwork and some one
came over. The man on the bough above me uttered a cry, to which I gave
the echo. All the blood in me seemed to rush to my head.

Kate Van Auken, carrying a large bucket in her hand, stepped upon the
greensward and walked very calmly toward the river, not once turning
her eyes toward the hill where she knew the sharpshooters lay. Behind
her came a strapping, bare-armed Englishwoman, who looked like a
corporal’s wife, and then four more women, carrying buckets or pails.

Bucks raised his rifle and began to take aim. I sprang up and dashed
his rifle aside. I am afraid I swore at him too. I hope I did.

“What are you about, Bucks?” I cried. “Would you shoot a woman?”

“Mr. Shelby,” he replied very coolly, “we’re put here to keep the
British from that water, man or woman. What’s a woman’s life to the
fate of a whole army? You may outrank me, but you don’t command me in
this case, and I’m going to shoot.”

I stooped down and with a sudden movement snatched the gun from his

“Don’t mind it, Bucks,” said the man in the tree; “I’ll shoot.”

“If you do,” I cried, “I’ll put a bullet through you the next moment.”

“And if you should chance to miss,” said Whitestone, coming up beside
me, “I’ve a bullet in my gun for the same man.”

The man in the tree was no martyr, nor wanting to be, and he cried out
to us that he would not shoot. In proof of it he took his gunstock from
his shoulder. The other men did nothing, waiting upon my movements.

“Bucks,” I said, “if I give you your gun, do you promise not to shoot
at those women?”

“Do you take all the responsibility?”


“Give me my gun. I won’t use it.”

I handed him his rifle, which he took in silence. I don’t think Bucks
was a bad man, merely one borne along by an excess of zeal. He has
thanked me since for restraining him. The women, Kate still leading
them, filled their buckets and pails at the river and walked back to
the camp with the same calm and even step. Again and again was this
repeated, and many a fever-burnt throat in the besieged camp must have
been grateful. I felt a glow when I sent a messenger to our colonel
with word of what I had done and he returned with a full indorsement.
How could our officers have done otherwise?

I was sorry I could not get a better view of Kate Van Auken’s face.
But she never turned it our way. Apparently she was ignorant of our
existence, though, of course, it was but a pretense, and she knew that
a dozen of the best marksmen in America lay on the hill within easy
range of her comrades and herself.

“There’s but one thing more for you to do, Mr. Shelby,” whispered

“What’s that?”

“Save the life of madame, her mother. She’s the only one yet unsaved by

“I will, Whitestone,” I replied, “if I get the chance.”

After a while, though late, the women ceased to come for the water.
Presently the sun went down and that day’s work was done.

My belief that Chudleigh was a very fortunate man was deepening.



I rose early the next morning, and my first wish was for duties
other than keeping the enemy away from the water. I found Whitestone
sitting on his camp blanket and smoking his pipe with an expression of
deep-seated content.

“What are we to do to-day?” I asked him, for Whitestone usually knew

“I haven’t heard of anything,” he replied. “Maybe we’ll rest. We
deserve it, you and I.”

Whitestone has some egotism, though I do not undertake to criticise him
for it.

It seemed that he was right, for we were like two men forgotten, which
is a pleasant thing sometimes in the military life. Finding that we
had nothing else to do, we walked toward the British camp, which, as
a matter of course, was the great object of curiosity for all of us,
and sat down just within the line of our sharpshooters. The zeal and
activity of these gentlemen had relaxed in no particular, and the
crackle of their rifles was a most familiar sound in our ears.

We had a good position and could note the distressed look of the
British camp. The baggage wagons were drawn up with small reference to
convenience and more to defense. The house, the cellar of which I knew
to be inhabited by women, children, and severely wounded men, was so
torn by cannon balls that the wind had a fair sweep through it in many
places. Some of the soldiers walking about seemed to us at the distance
to be drooping and dejected. Yet they made resistance, and their
skirmishers were replying to ours, though but feebly.

While I was watching the house I saw three or four officers in very
brilliant uniforms come out. After a few steps they stopped and stood
talking together with what seemed to be great earnestness. These men
were generals, I was sure; their uniforms indicated it, and I guessed
they had been holding conference. It must be a matter of importance or
they would not stop on their way from it to talk again. I directed
Whitestone’s attention, but he was looking already.

“Something’s up,” I said. “Maybe they are planning an attack upon us.”

“Not likely,” he replied. “It may be something altogether different.”

I knew what was running through his mind, and I more than half agreed
with him.

The generals passed into a large tent, which must have been that of
Burgoyne himself; but in a minute or two an officer came and took his
way toward our camp. He was a tall, fine fellow, rather young, and
bore himself with much dignity. Of a certainty he had on his finest
uniform, for he was dressed as if for the eye of woman. His epaulets
and his buttons flashed back the sun’s rays, and his coat was a blaze
of scarlet.

The officer drew the attention of other eyes than Whitestone’s and
mine. In the British camp they seemed to know what he was about, or
guessed it. I could see the people drawing together in groups and
looking at him, and then speaking to each other, which always indicates
great interest. An officer with gray hair whom he passed looked after
him, and then covered his face with his hands.

The officer came on with a steady and regular step to the earthwork,
where he paused for a moment.

“It may be,” said Whitestone, “that you and I were the first to see the
beginning of a great event.”

The officer stepped upon the earthwork, raising a piece of white cloth
in his hand. The fire of the sharpshooters ceased with such suddenness
that my ear, accustomed to the sound, was startled at the lack of it.

“I think you’ve guessed right,” I said to Whitestone.

He made no reply, but drew a deep breath at his pipe stem, and then let
the smoke escape in a long white curl.

Some of the sharpshooters stepped from covert and looked curiously at
the approaching officer.

“Whitestone,” I said, “since there is no committee of reception, let us
make ourselves one.”

He took his pipe from his mouth and followed me. The murmur of the
camps, the sound made by the voices of many men, increased. The
officer came rapidly. Whitestone and I walked very slowly. He saw us,
and, noting my subaltern’s uniform, took me for one dispatched to meet

When he came very near I saw that his face was frozen into the haughty
expression of a man who wishes to conceal mortification. He said at
once that he wished to see our commander in chief, and without question
Whitestone and I took him to our colonel, who formed his escort to the
tent of our commander in chief. Then we returned to our former place
near the outposts.

“How long do you think it will take to arrange it?” I asked Whitestone.

“A day or two, at least,” he said. “The British will talk with as long
a tongue as they can, hoping that Clinton may come yet, and, even if he
don’t, there will be many things to settle.”

Whitestone was right, as he so often was. The generals soon met to
talk, and we subalterns and soldiers relaxed. The rifles were put to
rest, and I learned how little we hate our enemies sometimes. I saw
one of our sentinels giving tobacco to a British sentinel, and they
were swapping news over a log. Some officers sent in medicines for the
wounded. No longer having fear of bullets, I walked up to the British
outworks and looked over them into the camp. A Hessian sentinel shook
his gun at me and growled something in his throaty tongue. I laughed at
him, and he put his gun back on his shoulder. I strolled on, and some
one hailed me with a familiar voice. It was Albert Van Auken.

“Hello, Dick!” said he. “Have you folks surrendered yet? How long are
these preliminaries to last?”

He was looking quite fresh and gay, and, if the truth be told, I was
glad to see him.

“No,” I replied, “we have not surrendered yet, and we may change our
minds about it.”

“That would be too bad,” he replied, “after all our trouble--after
defeating you in battle, and then hemming you in so thoroughly as we
have done.”

“So it would,” I said. “Sit down and talk seriously. Are your mother
and sister well?”

“Well enough,” he replied, “though badly frightened by your impertinent
cannon balls.”

He sat down on a mound of earth thrown up by British spades, and I came
quite close to him. Nobody paid any attention to us.

“How goes it with Captain Chudleigh?” I asked.

“Poor Chudleigh!” said Albert. “He’s lying in the cellar over there,
with a ball through his shoulder sent by one of your infernal

“Is it bad?” I asked.

“Yes, very,” he replied. “He may live, or he may die. Kate’s nursing

Well, at any rate, I thought, Chudleigh is fortunate in his nurse;
there would have been no such luck for me. But I kept the thought to

“Albert,” I asked, “what did your officers say to you when I brought
you back?”

“Dick,” he replied, “let’s take an oath of secrecy on that point even
from each other.”

For his part he kept the oath.

I could not withhold one more gibe.

“Albert,” I asked, “what do you Tories say now to the capture of an
entire British army by us ragged Continentals?”

He flushed very red.

“You haven’t done it,” he replied. “Clinton will come yet.”

We talked a little further, and then he went back into his camp.

The talk of the generals lasted all that day and the next, and was
still of spirit and endurance on the third. We soldiers and subalterns,
having little to do, cultivated the acquaintance of the enemy whom we
had fought so long. Some very lively conversations were carried on
across the earthworks, though, of course, we never went into their
camp, nor did they come into ours.

On the third day, when I turned away after exchanging some civilities
with a very courteous Englishman, I met a common-looking man whose
uniform was a Continental coat, distressingly ragged and faded, the
remainder of his costume being of gray homespun. He nodded as he passed
me, and strolled very close to the British lines. In fact, he went
so close that he seemed to me to intend going in. Thinking he was an
ignorant fellow who might get into trouble by such an act, I hailed him
and demanded where he was going.

He came back, and laughed in a sheepish way.

“I thought it was no harm,” he said.

“I have no doubt you meant none,” I said, “but you must not go into
their camp.”

He bowed very humbly and walked away. His submission so ready and easy
attracted my notice, for our soldiers were of a somewhat independent
character. I watched him, and noticed that he walked in the swift,
direct manner of a man who knows exactly where he is going. Being a bit
curious, and having nothing else in particular to do, I followed him at
a convenient distance.

He moved three or four hundred yards around the circle of our camp
until he came to a place beyond sight of that at which I had stood when
I hailed him. The same freedom and ease of communication between the
two armies prevailed there.

My man sauntered up in the most careless way, looking about him in the
inquisitive fashion of a rustic soldier; but I noted that his general
course, however much it zigzagged, was toward the British. I came up
much closer. He was within a yard of the British lines and our men
were giving him no heed. I felt sure that in a few moments more, if no
one interfered, he would be in the British camp. I stepped forward and
called to him.

He started in a manner that indicated alarm, and, of course, recognized
my face, which he had seen scarce two minutes before. I asked him very
roughly why he was trying so hard to steal into the British camp.

“It’s true,” he said, “I was trying to go in there, but I have a good

I demanded his excuse.

“I have a brother in there, a Tory,” he said, “and I’ve heard that he’s
wounded. Everybody says Burgoyne will surrender in a few hours, and I
thought it no harm to go in and see my brother.”

What he said seemed reasonable. I could readily understand his anxiety
on his brother’s account. He spoke with such an air of sincerity that I
had no heart to scold him; so I told him not to make the attempt again,
and if the tale that Burgoyne was to surrender in a few hours was true,
he would not have long to wait.

Yet I had a small suspicion left, and I decided to humor it. If there
was anything wrong about the man he would watch me, I knew, after two
such encounters. I wandered back into our camp as if I had nothing on
my mind, though I did not lose sight of him. Among crowds of soldiers
there I had the advantage of him, for I could see him and he could not
see me.

He idled about a while, and then began to move around the circle of
our camp inclosing the British camp. I was glad that I had continued
to watch him. Either this man was overwhelmingly anxious about his
brother, or he had mischief in mind. I followed him, taking care that
he should not see me. Thus engaged, I met Whitestone, who told me
something, though I did not stop to hold converse with him about it,
not wishing to lose my man.

The fellow made a much wider circle than before, and frequently looked
behind him; but he stopped at last and began to approach the British
line. There was nobody, at least from our army, within thirty or forty
yards of him except myself, and by good luck I was able to find some
inequalities of the ground which concealed me.

A British sentinel was standing in a lazy attitude, and my man
approached and hailed him in a friendly manner. The Englishman replied
in the same tone.

“Can I go in there?” asked the man, pointing to the British camp.

“You can go in,” replied the sentinel with some humor, “but you can’t
come out again.”

“I don’t want to come out again,” replied the man.

“You chose a curious time to desert,” said the sentinel with a sneer,
“but it’s none of my business.”

The man was about to enter, but I stepped forward quickly, drawing
my pistol as I did so. He saw me and raised his hand, as if he too
would draw a weapon, but I had him under the muzzle of my pistol and
threatened to shoot him if he made resistance. Thereupon he played the
part of wisdom and was quiet.

“I will take care of this deserter,” I said to the English sentinel.

“I told him it was none of my business, and I tell you the same,” the
sentinel said, shrugging his shoulders. “We’re not fighting now. Only
don’t shoot the poor devil.”

“March!” I said to the man, still covering him with my pistol.

“Where?” he asked.

“To the little clump of woods yonder,” I said. “I have something to say
to you.”

The fellow had hard, strong features, and his countenance did not fall.

He wheeled about and marched toward the wood. I followed close behind,
the pistol in my hand. I had chosen my course with my eyes open. Our
people were not near, and we reached the trees without interruption or
notice. In their shelter the man turned about.

“Well, what do you want?” he asked in sullen, obstinate tones.

“Your papers,” I said; “the message you were trying to carry into the
British camp.”

“I have no papers; I was not trying to carry anything into the British
camp,” he replied, edging a little closer.

“Keep off!” I said, foreseeing his intent. “If you come an inch nearer
I will put a pistol ball through you. Stand farther away!”

He stepped back.

“Now give me that letter, or whatever you have,” I said. “It is useless
to deny that you have something. If you don’t give it to me, I will
take you into the camp and have you stripped and searched by the
soldiers. It will be better for you to do as I say.”

Evidently he believed me, for he thrust his hand inside his waistcoat
and pulled out a crumpled letter, which he handed to me. Keeping one
eye on him I read the letter with the other eye, and found I had not
been deceived in my guess. It was from Sir Henry Clinton to Sir John
Burgoyne, telling him to hold out for certain rescue. Sir Henry said he
was within a short distance of Albany with a strong force, and expected
to join Sir John soon and help him crush all the rebel forces.

“This is important,” I said.

“Very,” said the man.

“It might have changed the fate of the campaign had you reached General
Burgoyne with it,” I said.

“Undoubtedly it would have done so,” he replied.

“Well, it wouldn’t.”

“That is a matter of opinion.”

“Not at all.”

“I don’t understand you.”

“The campaign is ended. Burgoyne surrendered a half hour ago.”

Which was true, for Whitestone, with his skill in finding out things
before other people, had told me.

“I’m very sorry,” said the man in tones of sharp disappointment.

“I’m not,” I said.

“What do you mean to have done with me?” he asked--“hanging, or

I did not admire the man, but I respected his courage.

“Neither,” I replied. “You can’t do any harm now. Be off!”

He looked surprised, but he thanked me and walked away.

It was unmilitary, but it has always been approved by my conscience,
for which I alone am responsible.



I stood with Whitestone and saw the British lay down their arms, and,
of all the things I saw on that great day, an English officer with the
tears dropping down his face impressed me most.

We were not allowed to exult over our enemies, nor did we wish it; but
I will not deny that we felt a great and exhilarating triumph. Before
the war these Englishmen had denied to us the possession of courage
and endurance as great as theirs. They had called us the degenerate
descendants of Englishmen, and one of their own generals, who had
served with us in the great French and Indian war, and who should have
known better, had boasted that with five thousand men he could march
from one end of the colonies to the other. Now, more than five thousand
of their picked men were laying down their arms to us, and as many
more had fallen, or been taken on their way from Canada to Saratoga.

I repeat that all these things--the taunts and revilings of the
English, who should have been the last to cheapen us--had caused much
bitterness in our hearts, and I assert again that our exultation,
repressed though it was, had full warrant. Even now I feel this
bitterness sometimes, though I try to restrain it, for the great
English race is still the great English race, chastened and better than
it was then, I hope and believe.

Remembering all these things, I say that we behaved well on that day,
and our enemies, so long as they told the truth, could find no fault
with us.

There was a broad meadow down by the riverside, and the British,
company after company, filed into this meadow, laid down their arms,
and then marched, prisoners, into our lines. Our army was not drawn up
that it might look on, yet Whitestone and I stood where we could see.

Some women, weary and worn by suspense and long watches, came across
the meadow, but Kate Van Auken was not among them. I guessed that she
was by the side of the wounded Chudleigh. When the last company was
laying down its arms, I slipped away from Whitestone and entered the
British camp.

I found Chudleigh in a tent, where they had moved him from the cellar
that he might get the fresher air. Kate, her mother, and an English
surgeon were there. The surgeon had just fastened some fresh bandages
over the wound. Chudleigh was stronger and better than I had expected
to find him. He even held out his hand to me with the smile of one who
has met an enemy and respects him.

“I will be all right soon, Shelby,” he said, “so the doctor tells me,
if you rebels know how to treat a wounded prisoner well.”

“In a month Captain Chudleigh will be as well as he ever was,” said the

I was very glad on Kate’s account. Presently she walked out of the
tent, and I followed her.

“Kate,” I asked, “when will the marriage occur?”

“What marriage?” she asked very sharply.

“Yours and Chudleigh’s.”


“What!” I exclaimed in surprise. “Are you not going to marry Chudleigh?”


“Are you not betrothed to him?”

“No. That was my mother’s plan for me.”

“Are you not in love with him?”


I was silent a moment.

“Kate,” I asked, “what does this mean?”

“Dick,” she said, “I have told you twice what you are.”

Her cheeks were all roses.

“Kate,” I said, “love me.”

“I will not!”

“Be my betrothed?”

“I will not!”

“Marry me?”

“I will not!”

Which refusals she made with great emphasis--every one of which she
took back.

She was a woman.


*** End of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "The Sun of Saratoga - A Romance of Burgoyne's Surrender" ***

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