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Daughters of the Revolution and Their Times - 1769 - 1776 A Historical Romance
by Charles Carleton Coffin
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The summer sun, shining from a cloudless sky, was declining towards the western horizon. It was past four o'clock before the lines were ready. Once more the guns of the fleet hurled solid shot and shells upon the redoubt. Captain Brandon, looking from his housetop down upon the guns almost beneath him, saw a gunner ramming an inflammable shell into the cannon. The shell, with smoking torch, screamed across the river, aimed not at the bank of yellow earth on Bunker Hill, but at the houses in Charlestown.

"They intend to burn the village," he said.

Soon flames were bursting from window, doorway, and roof. The wind, blowing from the south, carried sparks and cinders to the adjoining houses, glowing in the summer heat. A wail of horror from the people rent the air.

"That is mean, cruel, wicked, dastardly!" exclaimed Ruth, with flashing eyes. "It's inhuman. I shall hate the man who has ordered it."[72]

[Footnote 72: The only defense of the British for the destruction of Charlestown is the assertion that the advancing troops were fired upon by provincials secreted in one of the houses on the outskirts of the town.]

Through the previous stages of the conflict no word of approval or disapproval had escaped her lips.

"Ruth! Ruth! Don't say that!" Mr. Newville cried, astonished by such an outburst of indignation.

"If General Gage were here I would say it to his face. What have those people done that their homes should be destroyed? They are not fighting the battle. Does he think that by burning the town he will frighten those men in the redoubt into submission? Were I one of them, I would die before I would surrender."

Her eyes were flashing. In her earnestness she had removed her hat. The gentle breeze was fanning her heated brow. She stood erect, a queen in her dignity and beauty. Never had Mr. and Mrs. Newville dreamed that there was such pent-up fire in her soul, such energy, fearlessness, and instinctive comprehension of justice and right. Captain and Mrs. Brandon, Berinthia, and all around gazed upon her wonderingly and with admiration.

The fire was sweeping on,—leaping from building to building, licking up houses, stables, and workshop, reaching the meetinghouse, kindling the shingles on its roof, the clapboards upon its walls, bursting from doors and windows, climbing the spire to the gilded vane, burning till beams and timbers gave way; then came the crash,—a single stroke of the bell tolling as it were a requiem.

Under the cloud from the burning town the scarlet lines once more advanced,—not towards the screen of hay, but in the direction of the redoubt. With the glass Ruth saw the manly figure she had seen before, seemingly receiving instructions from his superior officer, and running towards the threatened point of attack. The scarlet lines were mounting the breastwork. Men were firing in each other's faces; thrusting with the bayonet. She could see a stalwart provincial in his shirt-sleeves beat out the brains of a Britisher with the butt of his musket, and the next moment go down with a bayonet through his heart. The manly figure was in the thick of the melee,—a half dozen redcoats rushing upon him. His sword was flashing in the sunlight as he parried their bayonets, keeping them at bay. Guns flashed, and the white powder-cloud shut out the scene. When it cleared, he had gone down, and the redcoats were swinging their hats. Their shout of victory came across the waters. Those around saw Ruth clasp her hand upon her heart.

"They are beaten, and he is shot!" she cried, sinking into Berinthia's arms.

"Who's shot?" her mother asked. There was no answer from the quivering lips.

"The excitement is too much for her," said Mrs. Newville, as they bore her to Berinthia's chamber.



XX.

WHEN THE TIDE WAS GOING OUT.

Tom Brandon, lying upon the green grass where the provincials had halted after the retreat, recalled the events of the day with his fellow soldiers, especially the last struggle. He had fired away his powder, as had many others. He had no bayonet, and could only defend himself with the butt of his gun. He remembered how bravely Doctor Warren behaved, telling the men to keep cool; how he took bandages from his pockets, and bound up the wounds of those disabled at the beginning; how a Britisher shot him down and stabbed him with a bayonet. As for himself, he hardly knew what he did, except to fight till almost the last of his comrades left the redoubt, when he leaped over the breastwork, and walked towards the British, approaching the western side as if to give himself up, then turned and ran as fast as he could, with the bullets whizzing past him.[73] He wondered if Lieutenant Walden had escaped unharmed. He walked a little way to Colonel Stark's regiment to inquire.

[Footnote 73: The experience of Tom Brandon was that of Eliakim Walker of Tewksbury, Mass., as narrated by him to the author:—

"I had fired away nearly all my powder before the last attack. I fired and was reloading my gun, when I heard a hurrah behind me. I looked round and saw the redcoats leaping over the breastwork. I saw a man beat out the brains of a Britisher with the butt of his gun; the next moment they stabbed him. Seeing I couldn't get out that way, I jumped over the breastwork and ran towards Pigot's men, a rod or two, then turned and ran as fast as I could the other way. The bullets whizzed past me, or struck the ground around me. I reached a rail fence, and pitched over it. A bullet struck a rail at the moment. I fell on the other side, laid still till I got my breath, then up and legged it again, and got away."]

"I fear," said Captain Daniel Moore, "that Lieutenant Walden has been killed. During the day he took a conspicuous part. He was sent by General Ward to summon us from Medford. He carried several messages from Colonel Stark to Prescott and Putnam, and was with the men of his company at times. He was with us just before the last assault, and hastened towards the redoubt a moment before the redcoats swarmed over it. I fear the worst, for he was very brave."

The people of Boston never had beheld such a scene as that of the day following the battle. The sun shone from a cloudless sky, but its rays fell upon the smouldering ruins of once happy homes; upon dying and dead soldiers; upon men groaning in agony as they were transported across the Charles to houses taken for hospitals. The wounded rebels—thirty-six in number—were laid upon the bare floor of the jail. They were to be treated as felons, and given prison fare.

Although the genial rays of the sun shone into the spacious apartments of the Province House, they gave no comfort to Thomas Gage, commander-in-chief of his majesty's forces in the Colonies. He was chagrined over the outcome of the battle, the losses sustained. His own officers were criticising the plan of attack. The soldiers said he had slaughtered their comrades. The people were condemning him for having burned Charlestown. He was conscious that he had gone down in the estimation of those who had given him loyal support. He knew that his military reputation had suffered an eclipse. Women were denouncing him as cruel and inhuman. The conviction came to General Gage that he was shut up in Boston, and that any attempt upon the position of the rebels at that point, or upon the hills beyond Charlestown, would result in disaster.

It was cheering news to Tom Brandon and all the soldiers of the provincial army, a few days later, to learn that Congress, sitting in Philadelphia, had selected George Washington of Virginia to command them. His coming was evidence that all the Colonies had united to resist the aggressions of the king. He fought bravely to drive the French from the valley of the Ohio, and saved the army in the battle near Fort Du Quesne. General Gage had been with him in that engagement, but now they would command opposing armies.

It was a beautiful summer morning, the 3d of July, when the regiments in Cambridge and some of the troops from Roxbury assembled on the Common at Cambridge to receive General Washington. Tom Brandon saw a tall, broad-shouldered man, sitting erect on a white horse, wearing a blue uniform trimmed with buff, accompanied by General Putnam, General Ward, and a large number of officers, ride out from General Ward's headquarters and take position under a great elm-tree.

"Attention, the army!" shouted General Ward.

The officers repeated it, and every soldier stood erect.

"Salute your commander, Major-General George Washington!"



The soldiers presented arms, the fifes began to play, the drums to rattle. General Washington lifted his hat, bowed right and left, drew his sword from its scabbard, and rode along the line. The soldiers saw dignity, decision, and energy, yet calmness, in all his movements. They knew he had a great plantation on the bank of the Potomac River in Virginia; that he could live at ease and enjoy life in hunting and fishing at his own pleasure, but he had left all at the call of Congress to take command of the army. His coming gave them confidence and made them more than ever determined to drive the redcoats out of Boston. They kept such a strict guard that the British could not obtain fresh provisions, neither could the inhabitants of the town. In the home of Captain Brandon, the only meat to be had was the salt pork and beef in the cellar, or the flounders caught by Mark Antony, fishing from the wharves.

Even General Gage could have no great variety of food. In contrast to this, Tom Brandon and his fellow soldiers were living luxuriously, having fresh beef three times a week, with flour, peas, beans, rice, potatoes, onions, cabbages, turnips, beets, spruce beer, and grog, and plenty of tobacco.

Tom took his turn standing guard, and found pleasure in chaffing the lobsters on picket, telling them what he had for dinner. A thought came to him,—to write a letter and hire a redcoat to take it to his father. He wrote about the battle; how he saw the family on the roof of the house, from the redoubt, just before it began; how he escaped; how Robert Walden went down in the thick of the fight and probably had been buried with the others somewhere on Bunker Hill. The Britisher gladly agreed to take the letter to Copp's Hill for the plug of tobacco which Tom gave him.

Mark Antony, the following afternoon, wondered what the soldier who was rattling the knocker on the front door might want.

"Here's a letter for your master, Captain Brandon. One of the rebs gave it to me. Maybe it's from his son," said the soldier.

"A letter from Massa Tom," shouted the negro, dancing into the sitting-room.

Captain Brandon thanked the soldier, and told Mark Antony to mix a toddy for him.

It was gratifying to know that Tom was safe, but sad the information that Lieutenant Walden was numbered among the killed.

* * * * *

The fair brow of Ruth Newville through the summer months had been growing whiter day by day.

"I fear she is not well," said Mr. Newville.

"The battle, the burning of Charlestown,—the terrible spectacle was too much for her nerves," Mrs. Newville replied.

"Ought we not to call in the doctor?"

"No, she is not sick; you know how sympathetic she is. Don't you remember what she said when she saw the town in flames,—even speaking disrespectfully of General Gage, and swooning when the king's troops won the victory. The burning of so many houses has unstrung her nerves. I trust she will soon get over it. Since the battle she has spent most of her time in her chamber and has pleaded indisposition when gentlemen, especially officers, have called."

"Miss Ruth wants you to come up de stairs to her chamber," said Pompey, when Berinthia called at the Newville home to show her the letter Tom had written.

"So you have heard from Tom?"

"Yes, and he says that Robert Walden was killed at the very last of the battle."

"It is as I said. I saw him go down and their feet trample him in the dust!"

"Was it Robert you saw?"

"Yes. With the telescope I had seen him all through the battle, walking unharmed where the bullets were flying thickest."

"You did not tell us you saw him."

"No. I did not want to alarm you."

"And you saw him when he was killed?"

"I saw his sword flashing in the sunlight as the men in scarlet closed around him. A half dozen were thrusting with their bayonets, and yet he kept them at bay till they shot him."

Tears had wet her pillow, but none glistened on her eyelids now. Through the sleepless hours she had seen the stars go down beneath the western horizon; in like manner something bright and shining had gone out of her life. The stars would reappear; but that which had made it beautiful to live never would return. The words "I love you" would never be spoken by a voice forever silent.

Berinthia kissed the tremulous lips.

"I see it now, Ruth, dear; you loved him."

"Yes, I loved him. He was so noble and true, how could I help it? He never said he loved me, and yet I think down deep in his heart he had a place for me. I never have confessed it before, not even to myself. I say it to you, because I should die if I could not have some one to whom I could tell my sorrow. Let it be our secret, ours alone."

Through the sultry days of August the streets were silent, except the beating of drums as other regiments arrived, or as soldiers dying from wounds or disease were borne to their burial. The distress of the people could but increase. The provincials wounded in the battle were still held as felons in the jail. They were dying very fast. It was a spirited letter which the British commander received from General Washington, informing him that unless the prisoners were treated more humanely, British prisoners would be dealt with accordingly.[74]

[Footnote 74: Reverend Andrew Eliot, minister of the New North Church, remained in Boston. The following is from a letter to Samuel Eliot under date of September 6, 1776: "I am at length allowed to visit the prisoners. They are only eleven out of thirty." Proceedings Mass. Hist. Soc. vol. xvi.]

Many times Abraham Duncan asked permission to see the prisoners confined in the jail, that he might minister to their needs and do something for their comfort and welfare, but as often had he been refused by the gruff red-coated sergeant in charge. Once more, after learning what General Washington had done, he asked permission, received a pass from the provost-marshal, and was admitted. He saw the floor was covered with prostrate forms, men with sunken eyes, emaciated hands, a few with old quilts beneath them, others upon the bare planks. There were festering wounds and cheeks hot with the flush of fever. Some of the sufferers gazed upon him wonderingly, others heeded not his coming. One, whose uniform was still soiled with the dust of the battlefield, lay with closed eyes, minding not his presence.

"His wound has about healed, but he is going with fever. He was fine-looking when brought here the day after the battle, but he is about done for. After to-morrow we shall have one less to exchange with Mr. Washington," said the sergeant.

Abraham stooped and parted the matted beard from the fevered lips, and laid back the tangled hair from the brow. The eyes wearily opened, gazed languidly, then wonderingly.

"Do you know me?"

The words were faintly spoken.

"Know you! What, Robert Walden!"

There was not strength in the arm sufficient to lift the weary hand. Abraham grasped it, looked one moment at the closing eyes, and hastened from the room. Breathless with running, he reached the Brandon home, telling the story.

"We must have him brought here instantly; he must not die there," said Mr. Brandon, who accompanied Abraham to the jail, only to find that the sergeant in charge could not permit the removal. Sadly they returned.

"I must tell Ruth about it," said Berinthia, putting on her bonnet and hastening from the house.

Ruth was sitting in her chamber. A strange, yet sweet peace had come into her soul. The heart that had struggled so sorely was at rest. She was repeating to herself the words spoken by the world's best friend, "My peace I leave you; not as the world giveth, give I unto you."

The summer birds were no longer singing; the swallows had gone. The melocotoons were no longer upon the trees, neither the early pears and ripening apples; the soldiers had plucked them. Her father's face was growing grave; her mother's step less elastic. There was sorrow and desolation around her, and yet she was happy. She saw Berinthia walking up the path.

"Come right up," the cheerful invitation from the chamber window.

"Oh, Ruth, I've something to tell you. He's alive!"

"Who?"

"Robert—a prisoner in the jail."

She told the story; he was still breathing, but dying. Her father had been to get him, but no prisoner could be removed without an order from General Gage.

"We will go to the Province House," said Ruth quietly, rising and putting on her bonnet.

Her calmness, the manifest quiet, the business-like procedure of Ruth, amazed Berinthia. They hastened to the governor's home. General Gage received them courteously. He was pleased to welcome Miss Newville to the Province House, and recalled with pleasure the evening when he had the honor to escort her to her father's hospitable table.

"I have a favor to ask," said Ruth, "which I am sure your excellency will be pleased to grant. One of your prisoners, Lieutenant Robert Walden, in the jail, is a cousin of my friend Miss Brandon. I learn that he is far gone with fever and seemingly has not many hours to live, and I have come to ask if you will kindly permit his removal to her home?"

"Most certainly, my dear Miss Newville; it gives me pleasure to do this little office for you and your friend," he replied.

General Gage touched a bell and a sergeant entered the apartment.

"Sergeant, take two men of the guard, with a bier, and accompany these ladies to the jail to remove one of the sick prisoners, as they shall direct. See to it that the man is gently handled. Here is the order of delivery for the officer in charge."

"You are very kind, General, and I thank you not only for Miss Brandon, but for myself," said Ruth.

Never before had the people living along Hanover Street seen such a spectacle as that a few minutes later,—a sergeant in advance, two soldiers bearing a rebel officer, worn and wasted by disease, his life ebbing away, and two ladies looking anxiously to see if the flickering life would last a little longer.

In Tom's chamber the soiled uniform was removed, the matted hair laid back, the parched lips moistened, the unconscious invalid clothed in linen white and clean. A doctor came, bowed his ear to Robert's breast to catch the beating of the heart, and moistened the parched lips.

"Fever has burned him up. The tide is nearly out. It is only a question of a few hours," he said.

Through the night, Ruth, sitting by his bedside, in the calm and stillness, heard the clock strike the passing hours. At times she heard, through the open windows, the faint ripple of the surf rolling in from the restless sea. Soon for him the waves of life would break upon a shoreless ocean. It was her hand that fanned him; that wiped the death-damp from his forehead; dropped the refreshing cordial on his tongue; held the mirror to his nostrils to ascertain if still, perchance, he breathed. The tides of the ocean had reached their farthest ebb and were setting towards the flood once more, bringing sweet and refreshing odors from the ever-heaving sea. The night winds were drying the dampness from the marble brow. Day was dawning, its amber light flowing along the horizon. The fluttering heart was beating more strongly; more deep the breathing.

"Oh, 'Rinthia! He isn't going; he's coming back. God has heard my prayer," said Ruth.

The sun was rising, and its rays streaming into the chamber. The closed eyes slowly opened and gazed wonderingly. Where was he? What the meaning of this flood of light? No longer straggling beams through iron-grated windows, no longer the bare floor and earth-polluted garments, but linen white and clean. Was it an angel bending over him,—whose eyes of love and infinite tenderness looked into his own? Was it one of the seraphim that pressed her lips to his, that dropped tears upon his cheeks? Were there tears in Heaven? Surely this must be Paradise! The eyes closed, the vision faded, but the angel still was fanning the fevered cheeks.

As shone the face of Moses, the lawgiver of Israel, when he descended from the Mount of God, so the countenance of Ruth Newville was illuminated by a divine radiance when once more she entered her home. During the night she had been transfigured.

"What has happened, daughter?" her father asked.

"Where have you been? what is it?" the exclamation of the mother, gazing with wonder and amazement upon the face of her child.

"Sit down, please, and I will tell you. I must go back to the beginning. Do you remember a day, six years ago, one September afternoon, when I came into the house greatly agitated? and when you asked, as you have now, what had happened, I would not make reply?"

"Yes, Ruth, and you have been a mystery to me ever since that afternoon," said Mrs. Newville.

"I would not tell you then that I had been insulted by ruffian soldiers, that a stranger had rescued me from their clutches, for I knew it would trouble you. Who the gentleman was I did not know. I only saw he was noble and manly. I thanked him and hastened away. Right after that we had our last garden party, to which 'Rinthia brought her cousin, Mr. Walden, when I discovered it was he who rescued me."

"Mr. Walden!" Mrs. Newville exclaimed.

"A noble young man! I always liked his appearance," said Mr. Newville.

"Why didn't you tell us about it, Ruth, so we could have shown him some attention?" Mrs. Newville asked.

"It is not too late to do it now, mother."

She told the story, that he was a lieutenant, a prisoner, wounded, hovering between life and death; how she had brought about his removal from the jail to the Brandon home, watched over him during the night, wondering if the next moment would not be the last; that just before sunrise the tide had turned and he was going to live.

"You saving him! Wonderful!" Mrs. Newville exclaimed.

"It is just like you, daughter," said the father, clasping his arms around her and kissing her lips.

"I will go and help care for him, even if he is a rebel," said Mrs. Newville.

"Ruth, daughter," said the father, when they were alone, "did you keep that to yourself because you thought it would trouble us to hear that the soldiers of King George were vile ruffians?"

"Yes, father; I knew your loyalty to the king, and I would not disturb it. I did not want to pain you. And do you wonder I have hated the sight of a redcoat ever since? But, father dear, it was not the assault of the villains that led me to sympathize with the provincials, as you know I have done, but the conviction that they were in the right and the king and his ministers in the wrong. I can understand why you and mother do not see the conflict as I see it. Your high sense of honor, your oath of allegiance to the king, your position as an official, have made you loyal and true to King George, and you cannot see the side espoused by the people. This attempt of the ministry and king to subdue them by force of arms, by burning their houses, by treating them as felons, as they have Robert Walden, thrusting them into jail, allowing them to die uncared for, will fail; justice and right are on their side. I know it pains you, father dear, to have me say this, but I could not, even for the sake of pleasing you, be false to myself."

"I would not have you be false to yourself, my child, but always true to your convictions, no matter what may happen." He drew her to him and tenderly caressed her.

"I see it now, daughter. For a long while I have not been able to comprehend you, but it is plain at last."

They sat in silence, her head pillowed on his breast, his arm around her.

"Ruth, daughter, I suspect you have not told me all; you need not unfold anything you may choose to keep to yourself, but I can understand that a very tender feeling may have sprung up between Mr. Walden and yourself."

"He never has said that he loved me. You would not have me ask him if he does, would you, father dear?" she said playfully, patting his lips with her fingers.

"I understand, daughter. Things of the heart are sacred and not to be talked about," he replied, kissing her once more and feeling as never before the greatness and richness of the treasure he had in her.

"Ah! I see," he said to himself as he paced the room. "It is all clear, now, why Lord Upperton and the rest of them have had no chance."



XXI.

THE ESCAPE.

The October days were bright and clear, but the sun shone upon a home invaded by sickness. In the Brandon home, Lieutenant Walden was slowly recovering. Mrs. Brandon was an invalid, worn down with care and anxiety. Life upon the sea, hardship, and exposure had brought rheumatism to the joints of Captain Brandon, who was only able to hobble with his cane. One countenance in the home was always bright and cheerful; there was ever a smile upon 'Rinthia's face. Abraham Duncan was the ever helpful friend, not only ministering to their wants but giving information of what was going on,—that General Gage had been called to England, and General Howe was to succeed him as commander.

"The British soldiers," said Abraham, "are not sorry to have Gage go; they are ready to throw up their caps for General Howe, who showed his bravery at Bunker Hill, while Gage looked on with his spy-glass from the steeple of Christ Church. The soldiers think Gage has been too kind-hearted in permitting you to have charge of Lieutenant Walden. Rebels are not entitled to mercy."

There came a night in October when the people were awakened by the thunder of cannon and the rattle of muskets. In the morning Abraham said that a party of Americans came down Charles River in flatboats and on rafts, and opened fire upon the troops encamped on the Common. Only one or two were injured, but it gave the British a great fright.

The sound of the strife stirred Robert's blood. He wanted to be there,—to take part in driving the redcoats into the sea. The thought nerved him; but when the uproar died away, he found himself weak, with his tongue parched and his blood at fever heat. Would strength ever come? Would he ever be able to take part again in the struggle for freedom?

Day after day there came one to see him, the sound of whose footsteps was more inspiring than the roll of the drums, the touch of whose hand gave him strength, whose presence was a benediction. She sat by his side and read to him from the poets; told him pleasant stories; laid her soft hand upon his brow. When he was a little stronger, she and 'Rinthia supported his faltering steps up the stairway to the roof of the mansion, where he could sit in the sunshine, gaze upon the beautiful panorama, inhale the life-giving air from the hills, and the odors wafted from the sea. Across the Charles was the line of yellow earth behind which he went down in the melee. Upon the higher hill were the new and stronger fortifications constructed by the British. The fields, where so many of the redcoats were cut down by the fire of the New Hampshire men, were dotted with white tents. At the base of the hill were the blackened ruins of Charlestown. On Prospect Hill were the earthworks of the provincials. He could not discover any fortifications on Dorchester Heights, and wondered why either General Washington or the British commander had not taken possession of such a commanding position. The Americans ought to seize it; for, with cannon planted there, they could drive the warships from the harbor. He doubted if General Washington knew the value of the position. He was able now to go up and down the stairs without assistance; a few more days, and he would be strong and vigorous. Then what? He was a prisoner, and had not been paroled. If the British were to learn he was getting well, would they not be likely to send him on board one of the ships and pack him off to Halifax? Even if they did not take such a course, how could he remain there doing nothing. Oh, if he could only be with the army again! But were he to go, he must say good-by to her who had saved his life. Why not remain and enjoy the blessedness of her presence? But would she not think him wanting in manliness? On the other hand, if he were to make his escape and go back to the army, would he not in a sense be lifting his hand against her father and mother in his efforts to drive the British from Boston? More than that, was it not becoming plain, that were the British to go, the Tories must also go? for the bitterness between those who stood for the king and those who supported Congress was deepening. Mr. Newville sided with the king; he was holding an office under the crown. If the British were driven out, he would be compelled to leave, and in all probability his estate would be confiscated. If he himself were to make his escape to the army, would he ever again behold the face of Ruth Newville, ever again see the love beaming from her eyes, or feel the touch of her hand? How could he go and leave her with such uncertainty before him? And yet, would it not be ignoble to remain? If he could get away, was it not his duty to do so? Was not his country calling him?

Captain Brandon learned that General Howe had issued a proclamation threatening with death any one who might attempt to escape without a permit from himself. "More than this," said Mr. Brandon, "he has issued another proclamation for us to organize ourselves into companies to preserve order. He will furnish us with arms and supply us with provisions the same as the troops receive. We are commanded to report to Peter Oliver within four days. Being stiff in the joints, I shall not comply. Besides, I don't intend to leave such fare as you give me, Berinthia, for the salt junk and tainted pork doled out to the soldiers."

Once more there was a familiar step in the hall, and Ruth entered the room. The rich bloom of other days was once more on her cheeks, the old-time smile illumining her countenance. Her quick perception detected a mind disturbed. They sat down by the fire. She laid her hand in his, and leaned her head upon his shoulder.

"What is it?" she asked, smoothing the troubled brow.

"I have been thinking that I am still a prisoner, liable to be seized at any moment and sent far away or put in confinement. What ought I to do? Shall I attempt to escape, run the chance of being shot, or captured and executed, as threatened by the proclamation? If I make the attempt and succeed, possibly we may never meet again," he said with faltering voice.

"Never meet again! Why not?"



"I may be captured and hanged. If I reach the army, I shall do what I can to drive the British from Boston. If we do, the probabilities are that your father, holding office under the crown, will be obliged to leave the Colony: and his daughter"—

He could say no more. His lips were quivering, and tears coursing his cheeks. Her hand wiped them away; and her arm pillowed his bowed head.

"You are all the world to me. It is for you to say. Shall I go, or shall I stay?" he said.

The words were faintly spoken.

"Go, and God be with you. If it be his will, we shall meet again."

Oh brave heart! The world's redemption rests with such as you!

The busy brain of Berinthia planned the way. The British had seized all the boats along the wharves, and sentinels were guarding them, but there was an Indian canoe in the loft of the shipyard. Abraham Duncan would put it in trim and render all possible assistance.

No tears dimmed Ruth Newville's eyes when she bade him good-by and gave him a parting kiss. Not till she was in the seclusion of her own chamber were the fountains unsealed. Alone, she gave way to grief, to be comforted by her faith in One Unseen.

Many soldiers had deserted, so every night, at sundown, sentinels patroled the wharves, and boats manned by sailors and marines kept vigilant watch in Charles River and far down the harbor. Robert must go to the shipyard before sundown and remain secreted till well into the night. The new moon would go down at nine o'clock; the tide then would be half flood. What route should he take? Were he to go directly up the Charles River to join the army at Cambridge, he must run the gauntlet, not only of three or four of the warships, but of the marine patrol in the river and the sentinels on both banks. If he were to strike eastward toward the Mystic, he would encounter the guard in that direction and the warship Scarborough anchored in the channel. The route up the Charles was most direct and inviting, though beset with greatest danger.

During the day Abraham placed the canoe beneath the wharf of the shipyard. Bidding his friends good-by, with an overcoat to protect him from the cold, Robert made his way to the shipyard, secreting himself in one of the buildings just before the hour for placing the sentinels. The young tide was already setting up the bay, and a gentle wind blowing from the east, alike favorable for the execution of his plan; but with the sea-breeze came the fog, thick and dense, shrouding ship and shore. He rejoiced in the thought that it would cover all his movements and hide him from observation. But upon reflection there was another serious and disquieting aspect; how should he make his way and by what objects could he mark out his course? Would he not run upon the boats of the marine patrol and be hailed by the sentinels on the Boyne, Somerset, and other vessels of the fleet? He must run the chances and do the best he could.

The sentinels had been set along the wharves. The soldier guarding the shipyard was pacing his beat immediately in front of Robert's hiding-place. A thought came; why not seize his musket and have a weapon of defense? Noiselessly Robert opened the door: stealthy his step; one wrench, and the weapon was his, greatly to the astonishment of the surprised and frightened soldier, who saw his own bayonet pointed at his breast and heard the click of the gun-lock.

"Don't fire! Don't fire!" stammered the soldier.

"Take off that belt and cartridge box!"

The soldier obeyed the peremptory order.

"About face!"

Accustomed to obey orders, he faced as directed.

"March!"

Again he obeyed, taking the regulation step as if at drill, Robert following a short distance, then halting while the soldier continued the march. With the musket and cartridge box well filled, Robert seated himself in the canoe. He knew the Boyne with seventy guns, Preston with fifty, Phoenix, Lively, Scarborough, Empress of Russia, and several other smaller vessels of the fleet were anchored at different points. He had noted their positions during the day, but in the darkness and fog could make no calculations in regard to them. The flowing tide would be his only guide. By drifting with it, he would be borne to the Cambridge shore of the Charles, to General Washington's army, providing he could dodge the ships, floating batteries, and picket boats. Using the paddle, he struck out from the wharf, peering into the mist, his ears open to catch the faintest sound.

"Boat ahoy!"

The startling shout seemed to come from the sky. Looking up he saw the great black hull of the Boyne, recognizing the vessel by her triple tier of guns. He was almost beneath the bowsprit.

"Round to under the stern or I'll fire," said the voice.

"Aye, aye, sir!" Robert replied.

While drifting past the ship, so near that he could touch the hull with his hands, he was deciding what to do. Reaching the stern, with a stroke of the paddle the canoe whirled under it, then shot up the other side of the ship into the teeth of the tide, back once more to the stern, and while the puzzled sentinels on the deck were wondering what had become of the canoe he was disappearing in the fog, the success of his strategy giving zest to his enterprise. He had kept his bearings as best he could, but was not quite certain of his position, as he drifted once more.

"Boat ahoy! Who goes there?"

The challenge came, not from overhead, but from the fog before him. A backward stroke arrested his movement. Again the hail and no reply.

"Up with the anchor! Out with your oars!"

Evidently he had drifted upon one of the boats anchored in the ferry-way. Paddling away, he suddenly heard the swash of waves, and found himself approaching a wharf, but on which side the river he could not say.

"Boat ahoy! Halt, or I'll fire," the hail that came to him.

Peering into the mist, he saw the dim outline of a soldier raising his musket.

"Hold on. Don't fire. Please point me in the direction of the Boyne," said Robert.

The sentinel lowered his musket as if saying to himself, "This must be one of the officers of the frigate who has been on shore having a good time."

"The Boyne is right out in that direction," said the sentinel, pointing with his musket, "but my orders are not to let any one pass along the wharf after ten o'clock without they give the countersign."

"All right; always obey orders. I'll come to the wharf."

Robert could hear the dip of oars in the fog, and knew it must be the patrol boat pursuing him. He paddled towards the wharf as if to give the countersign, but the next moment shot under it as the other boat approached.

"Boat ahoy!" he heard the sentinel shout.

"Ahoy yourself! We are the patrol. Have you seen a canoe?"

"Yes, and the man inquired where the Boyne was lying, and disappeared quicker than greased lightning when he heard you coming."

Robert was making his way, the while, amid the piles of the wharf. He knew the tide must be near its full flood, for he had to crouch low in the canoe, and the barnacles upon the piles were nearly covered with the water. He doubted if the patrol could follow him. Should he remain secreted? No. They might light a torch and discover him. Noiselessly he paddled amid the piles to the farther side of the wharf, and then glided from its shelter along the shore, screened from the patrol by the projecting timbers, and was once more in the stream. He could no longer be guided by the tide or drift with it. The wind had died away. It was blowing from the east when he started, but now only by waving his hand could he ascertain its direction. Whether it had changed he could not know. It was a welcome sound that came to his ears—the clock on the Old Brick Meetinghouse striking the hour. He thought of Ruth, asleep in her white-curtained chamber so near the bell, and of her goodness, her brave heart, that bade him go. The tones came to him over his right shoulder, when they ought to be over the left. He must be headed in the wrong direction. It was not easy for him to reason it out; yet, if he would reach Cambridge, he must turn squarely round. It was plain that he had not made much progress. He knew that several warships and floating batteries and picket boats must be lying between his position and the Americans, but he must go on. Suddenly a dark object loomed before him, and a hail as before came from the deck of a ship.

"Come alongside, or I'll fire."

What should he do? He saw a blinding flash. A bullet whizzed over his head, and the report of the musket awoke the echoes along the shore. It was from the stern of the ship. Again, a flash from the bow, and a bullet pattered into the water. Suddenly the light of a torch brought into full view a marine holding it over the side of the vessel. Another marine by his side was reloading his musket. A thought came—they had opened fire upon him; why not pay them in the same coin. Dropping the paddle, he raised the musket he had wrenched from the sentinel. The torch revealed the form of him who held it,—a man with weather-beaten features, hard and cold. He was so near that it would be easy to send a bullet through his heart. Should he do it? Why not? Had he not been down to death's door through brutal treatment from the redcoats? Why not take revenge? No, he could not quench life forever, bring sorrow, perchance, to some household far away; but he would put out that torch. He ran his eye along the gun-barrel, pulled the trigger, and sent the bullet through the upraised arm. The torch fell into the water, and all was dark.

"We are attacked! Beat to quarters," was the shout on the ship.

He heard the roll of drums. Men leaped from their hammocks. There was hurrying of feet, rattling of ropes, and shouting of orders. Again a musket flashed and a bullet pierced the canoe, reminding him he was near enough to the ship to be seen. A few strokes of the paddle and he was beyond their aim. Suddenly he discovered the canoe was filling with water through the hole made by the bullet. Several minutes passed before he could find it, in the darkness; the canoe gradually sinking the while. When found, at last, he thrust in his finger and reflected what next to do. It was plain that the leak must be stopped, but how? He could not sit with his finger in the hole and drift wherever the tide might take him. Removing his finger, he would soon be sinking.

"Ah! I have it," he said to himself. It was but the work of a moment to cut a bit of rope from the coil at his feet and thrust it into the opening, stopping the leak.

But the canoe was water-logged; how should he get rid of it? To scoop out with the paddle would attract attention and bring the whole patrol to the spot; there was a better way.

"I'll use my hat for a bucket," he said to himself.

He bailed the canoe and reloaded the musket, drifting the while. Where he was he could not determine. Suddenly a musket flashed, high up in the air, and a bullet fell into the water by his side. He could see the faint outline of topmasts and yard-arms, and the figure of a man upon the shrouds. He aimed as best he could and pulled the trigger.

"I'm shot!" were the words that came to him through the mist.

"Give 'em the six-pounder with grape," said a voice, followed by a blinding flash, a swish in the water, the roar of a cannon. It had been fired at random, and he was unharmed. Once more he used the paddle, wondering what next would happen.

What the meaning of that flash in the distance? What that plunge in the water not far away? What that deep, heavy roar reverberating along the shore? Surely it must be a shot from General Washington's cannon. And now all around he heard voices, and boatswains' whistles. Soon the great guns of the warships were flashing; shot were plunging into the water, and shells bursting in the air.

"I have kicked up a big racket," said Robert to himself as he listened to the uproar.

What should he do? The tide was beginning to ebb. Why not go with it down the harbor, reach one of the islands, wait till daylight, and then shape his course, instead of attempting to pass the pickets patrolling the river with everybody on the alert. While the cannon were flashing he drifted with the ebbing tide. Another dark object suddenly loomed before him, but no hail came from its deck. Plainly it was one of the transports. Another, and still no hail. The cannonade was dying away; suddenly, bells all around him were striking. He must be in the midst of the fleet of transports; it was four o'clock, the hour to change the watch. He heard once more the bell of the Old Brick,—he could tell it by its pitch. Wind, tide, and the meetinghouse bell enabled him to calculate his position: he could not be far from the Castle; he resolved to make for Dorchester Heights.

Day was breaking and the fog lifting. In the dawning light he shaped his course. No patrol challenged him. Through the rising mist he discerned the outline of the shore and heard the gentle ripple of waves upon the beach. To leave the canoe was like bidding good-by to a faithful friend, but with cartridge-box and musket he stepped ashore and soon found himself upon the spot which he had scanned with the telescope from the Brandon home.

It was plain that he had not miscalculated its value as a military position,—that cannon planted there could plunge their balls upon the great fleet of transports, or upon a vessel attempting to enter or depart from the harbor. He descended the western slope of the hill, reached a narrow path leading across the marsh land, and made his way to Roxbury, to be warmly welcomed by General Nathanael Greene.

"You must tell General Washington about Dorchester Heights. I am going to dine with him to-day, and you must go with me," said General Greene, who informed Robert that Lieutenant Robert Walden was supposed to have been killed about the same time that Doctor Warren fell.

"But I am here and ready to give an account of myself," Robert replied.

It was a pleasure to be in the saddle once more,—to ride with General Greene along the works which his troops had constructed. They dismounted at the house of Mr. Vassall in Cambridge, where General Washington had established his headquarters. The commander-in-chief was pleased to welcome him and listen to his story.



"I think, General Washington, that if cannon could be planted there the British fleet could be driven from the harbor. It is a high hill and very commanding. Troops ascending it would do so in the face of a plunging fire from those on the summit. It occurred to me while standing there, that if hogsheads were to be filled with stones and sent rolling upon an assaulting force, it would be an effective means of defense."

"You must dine with me to-day, Lieutenant Walden. I want Colonel Knox, who commands the artillery, and who is to be here with his estimable wife, to hear what you have to say."

It was a pleasure to meet Colonel Henry Knox and Mrs. Knox.

"We all thought you went down in the melee at Bunker Hill, and yet here you are," said Colonel Knox.

"Yes, and ready to do what I can to drive the redcoats into the sea."

Mrs. Knox was delighted to hear from her old-time associate, Berinthia Brandon. She said that Tom was giving a good account of himself. There were tears in the eyes of all when he told them how Miss Ruth Newville had used her influence, she the daughter of a Tory, to save him.

"That is the noblest type of womanhood," said General Washington. "Perhaps," he added, "you may wish to visit your parents for a few days, but a little later I shall desire you to assist Colonel Knox in executing an important trust."

"I am ready to do what I can in any capacity for which I am fitted," Robert replied.

* * * * *

A flag of truce went out from the headquarters; among the letters to people in Boston was one directed to Miss Ruth Newville. The red-coated officer who inspected the letters read but one word.

"Safe."

To her who received it the one syllable was more than a page of foolscap.



XXII.

BRAVE OF HEART.

The king's plan to punish Boston because the East India Company's tea had been destroyed was not working very satisfactorily. Ten thousand troops were cooped up in the town with little to eat. They could obtain no fresh provisions. Lord North was sending many ships, and the ship-owners were asking high prices for the use of their vessels; for the Yankee skippers of Marblehead, Captain Manly and Captain Mugford, were darting out from that port in swift-sailing schooners, with long eighteen-pounders amidships, and the decks swarming with men who had braved the storms of the Atlantic and knew no fear, capturing the ships dispatched from England with food and supplies for the army. The ministers had paid twenty-two thousand pounds for cabbages, potatoes, and turnips; as much more for hay, oats, and beans; half a million pounds for flour, beef, and pork. They purchased five thousand oxen, fourteen thousand sheep, and thousands of pigs, that the army three thousand miles away might have something to eat. There were plenty of cattle, sheep, and pigs within fifty miles of Boston, but General Howe could not lay his hand on one of them. The winter storms were on, and the ships sailing down the Thames or from Bristol Channel had a hard time of it before losing sight of the hills of Devon. The people along the Cornwall shores beheld the seashore strewn with carcasses of cattle, sheep, and pigs, tossed overboard from the decks of foundering vessels. The few cattle that survived the six weeks' tossing on the sea were but skin and bones when the ships dropped anchor by Castle William.

In contrast, Tom Brandon and the soldiers under General Washington had plenty of good food. It was a tantalizing handbill which Benjamin Edes printed on his press at Watertown.

Tom Brandon, on picket at Charlestown Neck, hailed the Britisher a few rods distant.

"How are you, redcoat?"

"How are you, rebel?"

"Say, redcoat, if you won't pop at me, I won't at you."

"Agreed."

"Wouldn't ye like a chaw of tobacco, redcoat?"

"I wouldn't mind."

"All right. Here's a plug with my compliments; 'tain't poisoned. Ye needn't be afraid of it," said Tom, tossing it to him.

The Britisher opened the paper and read:—

American Army. English Army.

1. Seven dollars a month. 1. Three pence a day. 2. Fresh provisions in plenty. 2. Rotten salt pork. 3. Health. 3. The scurvy. 4. Freedom, ease, affluence, 4. Slavery, beggary, and want. and a good farm.

Other pickets besides Tom were tossing the handbills to the Britishers. Abraham Duncan, going here and there along the streets, saw the redcoats reading them, and night after night soldiers disappeared, never again to shoulder a musket in the service of the king.

Shut up in the town with nothing to do, the troops became lawless, breaking into houses and plundering the people. In vain were the efforts of General Howe, by severe punishments, to prevent it; giving one soldier four hundred lashes on his bare back; another six hundred; hanging a third.

Hard times had come to the people of Boston. In the autumn, General Howe had issued a proclamation, threatening with execution any one who should attempt to steal away from the town without his consent; but now he would gladly have them go, only they must obtain permission. He could not supply them with food, neither with fuel. He gave the soldiers leave to rip the boards from the Old North Meetinghouse, and cut its timbers into kindlings. After much hacking they leveled the Liberty Tree, not only to obtain the wood, but to manifest their hatred of the tree. Not being able to feed the people, he sent three hundred and fifty from the town, landing them at Point Shirley, to make their way over the marshes to Lynn as best they could. Others were directed to go.

"We shall not go. I do not propose to let the redcoats make themselves at home in this house," said Berinthia to the sergeant who asked if the family would like to leave the town.

"What will you live on? Butcher Thurbal, whom General Howe has appointed to take charge of all the cattle, says he has but six left, and here it is December, with winter only just begun. You will starve before spring," the sergeant replied.

"We have a little flour, and there is a bit of mackerel; a layer of pork is still left in the barrel. We will not go till the last mouthful of food is gone," Berinthia said resolutely.

The knocker rattled.

"One of Massa Genral Howe's ossifers," said Mark Antony.

A young lieutenant entered; but seeing a fair-faced young lady he removed his cap.

"I would like to see the mistress of the house," he said.

"I am mistress. What is it you wish?"

"I come to inform you that Colonel Hardman desires to occupy these premises for himself and staff, of which I have the honor to be a member. I am directed to inform you that you can have twenty-four hours to effect your removal."[75]

[Footnote 75: Under date of September 13, 1776, is the following from the letter of Reverend Andrew Eliot to S. Eliot: "Every house is now taken as the officers please. General Clinton is in Mr. Hancock's, Burgoyne in Mr. Bowdoin's."]

"Colonel Hardman desires to take our house, does he?"

"That is his wish."

"Has he ordered you to take possession of it for him?"

"No, he has directed me to inform you of what he intends to do, that you may make preparations at once for your removal."

"You will please say to Colonel Hardman that we cannot accede to his wish."

It was said with such firmness and quiet dignity that the lieutenant was amazed. He waited to hear some reason why she would not comply with the demand. She stood silent before him, composedly looking him in the face. Not being able to find words to reply, the lieutenant bowed stiffly and departed.

"You haven't got through with Colonel Hardman," said Abraham. "He likes the looks of this house, evidently. He is a new officer just arrived."

"He will find that an American girl can make some resistance to force," Berinthia replied.

Once more the knocker rattled, and the lieutenant entered.

"I believe I have the honor to address Miss Brandon," he said, bowing.

"That is my name."

"I am extremely sorry, Miss Brandon, to be obliged to execute an order of this kind, but I am directed by Colonel Hardman to take possession of these premises, as you will see by this order," he said, handing her a paper.

"By what right does Colonel Hardman seize these premises?"

"Well, really—I suppose—because you are a—a rebel, you know," the lieutenant replied.

"How does he know that I am a rebel?"

"I don't mean exactly that. Of course, you are not in arms personally against his majesty, King George, but then, the people are, you know."

"You mean, that because the king's troops began a war, firing upon the people at Lexington and Concord, your colonel proposes to turn me, my invalid father and mother, out of our home, that he may take possession and live in comfort."

"It is awfully bad business, Miss Brandon, but I can't help it, you know."

"I do not doubt, sir, that it is mortifying to you, personally, to be compelled to execute an order of this sort. Please say to Colonel Hardman that this is our home, and we shall not leave it voluntarily. If he desires to occupy it, he will do so only by force of arms."

The lieutenant took his hat, not knowing what to make of a young lady so calm and self-possessed, who did not cry or wring her hands.

"Oh, Ruth, you are just the one I want to see," said Berinthia, as Miss Newville entered a few minutes later. "Just look at this! Colonel Hardman proposes to turn us out of doors, that he may take possession of our home."

"Aren't you going to protest?"

"I have protested."

"Aren't you going to do something?"

"What can I do?"

"We will see. General Howe is to dine with us this afternoon, and I have come to get you to help me entertain him and the others. We will ask him what he thinks of such arbitrary action on the part of his subordinate officer."

"I will be there to hear what he has to say," Berinthia said.

The hard times and the want of fresh provisions ruffled the temper of Phillis in the Newville kitchen. No longer could she baste a fat turkey roasting by the fire, or a joint of juicy beef, and yet the dinner she was preparing for his excellency General Howe, and Mr. Newville's other guests, was very appetizing,—oysters raw and fried, clam soup, broiled halibut, fresh mackerel, corned beef and pork, plum-pudding and pie.

Lord William Howe, commander-in-chief of his majesty's forces in America, was a gentleman, polite, affable, who delighted to make himself agreeable to beautiful ladies. At Bunker Hill he had shown the army that he could be brave on the battlefield. The other guests were Brigadier-General Timothy Ruggles, appointed commander of the militia, loyal to the king, and Captain John Coffin of his staff. General Howe solicited the honor of escorting Miss Newville to the dinner-table; Captain Coffin, possibly preferring the society of the girl with whom he often had romped to that of the mother, offered his arm to Berinthia, leaving to General Ruggles the honor of escorting the hostess.

"The state of the times," said Mr. Newville, "does not enable me to provide an elaborate repast, but Phillis has done her best with what she had."

"I am sure your dinner will be far more elaborate than anything I have upon my own table," said General Howe. "There being no fresh provisions in the market, I have to put up with salt junk."

"Do you think the present scarcity of food will continue long?" Ruth inquired.

"I trust not. It will be some time before the government supplies reach me from England, but I have dispatched vessels to Halifax and the West Indies, which, with fair winds, ought to be here in the course of a week."

"It is tantalizing to know there are abundant supplies of vegetables in the farmers' cellars, not twenty miles away, that droves of cattle and sheep come to Mr. Washington, and we cannot get a joint of mutton or a cabbage," said Mr. Newville.

"If the provincial pirates do not intercept the vessels, we shall have fresh provisions soon; but they are a daring set of rebels who live down towards Cape Ann. A schooner darted out the other day from Marblehead, and captured the brig Nancy and a rich cargo which I could ill afford to lose,—two thousand muskets, one hundred thousand flints, thirty thousand cannon-balls, and thirty tons of musket-balls, and a thirteen-inch mortar. I understand Mr. Washington is greatly elated by the capture, as well he may be."

"Cannot Admiral Graves protect the transports?" Mr. Newville asked.

"Perhaps a little more enterprise on the part of the marine force would be commendable. The provincials, I must admit, show far greater zeal than is seen in the king's navy."

"It is commonly remarked that the navy is not doing much," said General Ruggles.

"The army, although it is not marching into the country, is far more active, judging from the firing which I hear through the day," Berinthia remarked.

General Howe scanned her face, wondering if there was not a trifle of sarcasm in the words. He knew he was being criticised by the Tories for his inactivity; that Admiral Graves and the officers of the navy were asking when the army was going to scatter Mr. Washington's rabble.

"I was relying upon the muskets captured in the Nancy," said General Howe, "to supply the gentlemen in General Robertson's command; also the loyal Irish Volunteers under Captain Forest, and the Fencibles under Colonel Graham, and those whom Colonel Creen Brush, a loyalist from New York, expects to raise. I am greatly gratified by this exhibition of loyalty on the part of the citizens. Doubtless other vessels will soon be here with arms, provided that audacious Captain Manly does not slip out from Marblehead and nab them while the warships are getting up their anchors. I have sent several ships along the shore to obtain supplies if possible, but it seems the madness of the people in revolting against our gracious sovereign is widespread. I learn there are many who are still loyal, but who do not dare to sell provisions through fear of their neighbors."

"I do not doubt it," General Ruggles remarked. "If it were not for the presence of the troops, we who are loyal would have a rough time. Even as it is, I see scowls upon the faces of my old-time friends whenever I go along the street."

"Since I accompanied your excellency to Bunker Hill and manifested my loyalty," said Captain Coffin, "and especially since I have taken part in organizing the loyal citizens to aid in upholding the government, I find some of my former friends, notably some of the young ladies, shutting their doors in my face."

"I suppose you can hardly wonder at it?" Ruth remarked.

"Why should they? I have not changed. Everybody knows how I have stood from the beginning," the captain replied.

"It is not that Captain Coffin is not as agreeable and entertaining as ever, but they regard the king as attempting to deprive the people of their rights and liberties; the appeal to arms has been made; if you actively support his majesty, do you not cut yourself off from their society? Can you expect them to be as gracious as in former days?" said Berinthia.

"Perhaps not, from the standpoint you have taken; but it is rather uncomfortable to have a young lady who has welcomed you to her fireside pass you by on the street as if you were a cold-blooded villain."

"It comes to this," said Ruth. "One cannot be loyal to the king, neither to liberty, without suffering for it. Miss Brandon's brother Tom had to give up his lady-love because he sided with the provincials. Young ladies shut the door in Captain Coffin's face because he adheres to King George. If his majesty only knew the disturbance he is making over here in love affairs, perhaps he would withdraw the army."

"Of course he would," exclaimed General Howe. "I don't believe that side of the question has ever been laid before him. I am sure, Miss Newville, if you were to go as special envoy and present the case, showing him how the sword is cutting young heartstrings asunder, he would at once issue an order for us to pack up and be off, that the course of true love might run smoothly once more."

The company laughed heartily.

"Perhaps," continued General Howe, "we may have to pack up any way, for want of something to eat. Before I succeeded to the command, General Gage seriously thought of evacuating the town, but had not enough vessels to transport the troops. I could not, when I was invested with the command, send a portion away; to do so would invite an attack upon those remaining."

Berinthia saw a startled look upon Mr. Newville's face.

"Do you think, your excellency, the time will ever come when his majesty's troops will take their departure?"

"I trust not; but this rebellion, which we thought would be confined to this Province, has become a continental question. Neither the king nor his ministers anticipated it, but it is upon us, and we shall be obliged to treat it in all its vastness. Large reinforcements are to be sent. An agreement is being made to employ several thousand Hessian troops, and everything will be done to put down the rebellion."

"I expect to see," said General Ruggles, "the army of Mr. Washington crumble to pieces very soon. I hear that the Connecticut troops demanded a bounty as the condition of their staying any longer, and when it was refused, broke ranks and started for their homes."

"So I am informed," General Howe remarked, "though, to tell the truth, two thousand fresh men came from the New Hampshire province to take their places. I must say the provincials, thus far, have shown commendable zeal and persistence in maintaining the rebellion. They have constructed formidable earthworks on Cobble Hill, so near my lines that they have compelled the warships to drop down the river to a safer anchorage."

"If by any chance the town should be evacuated, what think you, your excellency, those of us who are loyal to the king ought to do?" Mr. Newville asked.

"That is really a very difficult question to answer. Your loyalty and that of all ladies and gentlemen who stand by the king undoubtedly will make you obnoxious to the rebels. The bitterness is increasing. I fear you will not be shown much leniency."

"Would you think it strange, your excellency, if they were not lenient?" Ruth inquired.

"Why should they not be, Miss Newville?"

"Would they not be likely to regard those who support the king as their enemies?"

"Why should they? You have not taken up arms. Of course, General Ruggles and Captain Coffin might be regarded as obnoxious, and would have to take care of themselves."

"But will they not say we have given moral support to their enemies, and is not moral support likely to be as heinous in their sight as the taking of arms? If we ask them to be lenient, will they not inquire if the king's troops were merciful when they set Charlestown on fire?" Ruth asked.

A flush came upon the face of General Howe. Although he commanded the troops at Bunker Hill, he had not ordered the burning of the town. General Gage was responsible for that act. He felt a little uncomfortable over the question, for the latest newspapers from London told him the people of England condemned the destruction of the homes of so many inhabitants.

"I am free to say it was rather hard on them thus to have their homes destroyed without a moment's notice," he replied.

"Will not," Ruth inquired, "the provincials think his majesty's forces were wanting in leniency when they recall what was done at Falmouth a few days ago, where the inhabitants were given only two hours to remove from the town? Not one minute over that would Captain Mowatt grant them, though women went down on their knees before him. Was it not inhuman for him to fire bombs among the panic-stricken multitude, setting the buildings on fire, destroying the homes of five hundred people? If his majesty's officers do these things, what may we not expect from the provincials, should it ever come our turn?"

"We will do what we can, Miss Newville, not to have it your turn."

"I do not doubt it, my lord; but I was thinking of possible contingencies."

Again Berinthia noticed a flush upon the face of General Howe.

"I will admit, Miss Newville, that in war, the unexpected may sometimes happen, and possibilities are not comforting subjects for contemplation. I do not anticipate disaster to the troops under my command."

"Shall we drink the health of our gracious sovereign?" said Mr. Newville.

The others drained their glasses, but Miss Newville's and Berinthia's were not lifted from the table.

"What, daughter! What is the meaning of this? Not drink the health of the king!" Mr. Newville exclaimed.

"No, father. I could drink to his own personal welfare, wish him health, happiness, and long life, but our drinking to the sentiment means approval of his government. I cannot do that. I never can think it right to burn the homes of innocent people without a moment's warning, as was done at Charlestown. The people of Falmouth never had done anything against the king except to prevent Captain Mowatt from loading masts and spars on board his ship for the use of the king's navy. That was their offense, and yet the town was wantonly destroyed. I cannot think such a course is likely to restore the alienated affections of the people to the king. More, I fear the contingencies of war may yet compel us to suffer because of these unwarranted acts."

Mr. Newville sat in silence, not knowing what to say. He had been outspoken in his loyalty. He never had contemplated the possibility of failure on the part of the king to put down the rebellion, but if General Howe were to evacuate Boston, what treatment could he expect from the provincials? The words of Ruth brought the question before him in a startling way.

"Those are my sentiments, also," said Berinthia.

"I see, Miss Brandon, that you are of the same opinion, which, of course, I expected in your case, but hardly from Miss Newville," said Captain Coffin.

"Yes, I am of the same way of thinking," Berinthia replied.

"You will not, ladies, decline to drink the health of the queen, I trust?" said General Howe, as Pompey refilled the glasses.

"Oh no, I will drink it with pleasure. The queen, of course, does not stand for mismanagement, as does the king, and we will not spoil our dinner by talking about the sad events," Ruth replied.

General Howe entertained them with an account of his boyhood days, his service with General Wolfe at Quebec, how the troops climbed the steep river bank at night and won the battle on the Plains of Abraham. Captain Coffin laughed with Berinthia and Ruth over good times he had enjoyed with them. Yet all were conscious that spectres unseen had come to the banquet. The ghost confronting General Howe was whispering of starvation, of possible humiliation through forced evacuation; the one glaring at Mr. and Mrs. Newville told of a possible departure from their home, to become aliens in a foreign land.

"May I ask Miss Newville to favor us with music?" said General Howe, when they were once more in the parlor.

"With pleasure, your excellency," said Ruth, seating herself at the harpsichord and singing "The Frog he would a-wooing go," "The Fine Old English Gentleman," and then with a pathos that brought tears to the eyes of the commander-in-chief, "True Love can ne'er forget."

During the dinner, and while Ruth was singing, they could hear the deep reverberations of the cannonade. The provincials in Roxbury were sending their shot at General Howe's fortifications on the Neck, and his cannon in reply were thundering towards the works at Cobble Hill.

"Miss Newville," said General Howe, "I cannot express my thanks to you for your entertainment. While listening to your charming melodies I have been thinking of the strange, incongruous accompaniment, the uproar of the cannonade, but I have, in a measure, been able to forget for the moment the worries and perplexities that surround me. I trust I may be able to do something to add to your happiness some day." He rose to take his departure.

"Thank you, your excellency; I am glad if I have been able in any way to make it a pleasant hour to you and General Ruggles, and my old acquaintance, Captain Coffin. Your excellency can add much to my happiness and that of Miss Brandon. One of your subordinate officers, who I think has not been long here, Colonel Hardman, has notified Miss Brandon that he is going to take possession of her home to-morrow and turn her and her invalid parents out of doors. Berinthia, you have the colonel's order, I think?"[76]

[Footnote 76: "I am by a cruel necessity turned out of my home; must leave my books and all I possess, perhaps to be destroyed by a licentious soldiery." Andrew Eliot to Thomas Hollis, Proceedings Mass. Hist. Society, vol. xvi.]

Berinthia took the document from her pocket and handed it to General Howe, who ran his eye over it and seemed to be thinking.

"Is your father loyal to the king, Miss Brandon?" he asked.

"In the same sense that I am, your excellency. You know that I did not drink the health of the king because I protest against the course he is pursuing towards the Colonies; my father does the same."

"You have a brother, I think, in the provincial army?"

"I suppose that Tom is there. He did what he could to defeat your excellency at Bunker Hill. Possibly it was his bullet that went through your excellency's coat. He attempted to defeat the king's troops just as they attempted to defeat him, and succeeded. You give your allegiance to the king; he gives his to liberty, and is fighting for it just as conscientiously as your excellency is fighting for King George and the crown."

"As your father sides with the provincials, and as your brother is in arms against our most gracious sovereign, may I ask if you can give any good reason why my subordinate officer should not take possession of your home?"

"Pardon me, may I ask if your excellency will kindly favor me with any good reason why my parents should be driven from their beds in midwinter, that one of the king's officers may have comfortable quarters? Does your excellency think such a course of conduct will tend to restore to the king the alienated affections of his late subjects?"

"Then, Miss Brandon, you do not consider yourself, at this moment, one of his subjects?"

"I do not. I cannot own allegiance to a sovereign who burns the homes of an inoffensive community, standing for their rights and ancient liberties."

"I admire your frankness, Miss Brandon, as I do that of Miss Newville. Have you a pen at hand?"

Ruth brought a pen and ink-horn; General Howe wrote upon the document, and handed it to her.

"I cannot go back on my promise to do something for you, Miss Newville, to add to your happiness and Miss Brandon's, and I trust I never shall do anything that will lead you to think I am insensible to the claims of humanity," he said, bowing and taking his departure.

Berinthia read what he had written:—

It is hereby ordered by the general-in-chief commanding his majesty's forces, that Miss Brandon shall be allowed to remain in possession of her home till this order shall be countermanded.

HOWE, Major-General.

In bright uniform, with stars upon his breast, Colonel Hardman, accompanied by the members of his staff, knocked at the door of the Brandon home. Mark Antony was unceremoniously pushed aside, and the officers entered the hall.

"You can inform the lady of the house, nigger, that Colonel Hardman and staff have come to take possession of the premises and"—

The sentence was not finished, for Berinthia, queenly in her dignity, stood before him. Colonel Hardman, obedient to etiquette, removed his hat. It was not an old woman, wrinkled and toothless, but a young lady, calm and self-possessed, confronting him.

"Is this Colonel Hardman?"

"I have the honor to bear that name, lady."

"You have come to take possession of my house?"

"That is my errand. I trust it will not greatly inconvenience you. I see you have my order of yesterday in your hand, and so are not unprepared for my coming."

"It is your order, and I am not unprepared, as you will see," she said, handing him the paper.

He read the writing, bit his lips, grew red in the face, returned the document, bowed stiffly, and left the hall, followed by his astonished suite.

"Outwitted by a petticoat," he muttered, with an oath, as he passed down the street.



XXIII.

SUNDERING OF HEARTSTRINGS.

It was as if one had risen from the dead, when Robert Walden once more entered the old home. Father, mother, Rachel, all, had thought of him as lying in a grave unknown,—having given his life for liberty. It was a joyful home. All the town came to shake hands with him. His father and mother were older, the gray hairs upon their brows more plentiful, and sorrow had left its mark on Rachel's face; but her countenance was beautiful in its cheerful serenity.

A few days at home, and Robert was once more with the army, commissioned as major upon the staff of General Washington. Colonel Knox the while was transporting the cannon captured by Ethan Allen at Ticonderoga across the Berkshire Hills to Cambridge—fifty guns mounted on sleds, drawn by one hundred oxen.

The commander of the army had not forgotten what Major Walden had said about the military value of Dorchester Heights. The cannon were placed in position, but not till winter was nearly over were the preparations completed for the bombardment of Boston.

When the sun set on the afternoon of March 2d little did Lord Howe and the ten thousand British soldiers imagine what was about to happen. Suddenly from the highlands of Roxbury, from Cobble Hill, from floating batteries in Charles River, cannon-balls were hurled upon the town. Bombs exploded in the streets; one in a guardhouse, wounding six soldiers. The redcoats sprang to their guns, to give shot for shot. Little sleep could the people get, through the long wearisome Saturday night. During Sunday the lips of the cannon were silent, but with the coming of night again they thundered. General Howe was wondering what Mr. Washington was intending to do, not mistrusting there was a long line of ox-carts loaded with picks and spades, bales of hay, and casks filled with stones; the teamsters waiting till Major Walden should give a signal for them to move.

While the cannon were flashing, General Thomas, with two thousand men, marched across the marshes along Dorchester Bay and up the hill overlooking the harbor. Major Walden gave the signal, and the farmers started their teams,—those with picks, and spades, and casks following the soldiers; those with hay halting on the marsh land, unloading, and piling the bales in a line so as to screen the passage. Major Walden, General Rufus Putnam, and Colonel Gridley hastened to the summit of the hill in advance of the troops. Colonel Gridley marked the lines for a fortification; the soldiers stacked their arms, seized picks and spades, and broke the frozen earth. The moon was at its full. From the hill, the soldiers could look down upon the harbor and see the warships and great fleet of transports, with masts and yard-arms outlined in the refulgent light. Robert expected to see a cannon flash upon the Scarborough, the nearest battleship; but the sentinel pacing the deck heard no sound of delving pick or shovel. Walden piloted the carts to the top of the hill, and placed the casks in such position that they could be set rolling down the steep at a moment's notice. The soldiers chuckled at the thought of the commotion they would make in the ranks of the redcoats, were they to make an assault and suddenly see the casks rolling and tumbling, sweeping all before them!

General Howe was astonished, when daylight dawned, to see an embankment of yellow earth crowning the hill overlooking the harbor.

"The rebels have done more in a night than my army would have done in a month," he said, after looking at the works with his telescope. What should he do? Mr. Washington's cannon would soon be sending shot and shell upon the warships, the transports, and the town. The provincials must be driven from the spot at once; otherwise, there could be no safety for the fleet, neither for his army. He called his officers together in council.

"We must drive the rebels just as we did at Bunker Hill, or they will drive us out of the town. There is nothing else to be done," said General Clinton.

General Howe agreed with him. A battle must be fought, and the sooner the better. Every moment saw the fortifications growing stronger. But what would be the outcome of a battle? Could he embark his army in boats, land at the foot of the hill, climb the steep ascent, and drive the rebels with the bayonet? At Bunker Hill there was only a rabble,—regiments without a commander; but now Mr. Washington was in command; his troops were in a measure disciplined. That he was energetic, far-seeing, and calculating, he could not doubt. Had he not transported heavy cannon across the country from Lake Champlain to bombard the town? Evidently Mr. Washington was a man who could bide his time. Such men were not likely to leave anything at haphazard. One third of those assaulting Bunker Hill had been cut down by the fire of the rebels. Could he hope for any less a sacrifice of his army in attacking a more formidable position, with the rebels more securely intrenched? It was not pleasant to contemplate the possible result, but an assault must be made.

From the housetop, Berinthia saw boats from the vessels in the harbor, gathering at Long Wharf. Drums were beating, troops marching. Abraham Duncan came with the information that four or five thousand men were to assault the works and drive the provincials pell-mell across the marshes to Roxbury. At any rate, that was the plan. He was sure it would be a bloody battle. Possibly, while General Howe was engaged at Dorchester Heights, Mr. Washington might be doing something else.

Neither General Howe nor any one within the British lines knew just what the provincial commander had planned,—that the moment the redcoats began the attack, General Israel Putnam, on Cobble Hill, between Charlestown and Cambridge, with four thousand men, would leap into boats, cross the Charles, and land on the Common; that General Nathanael Greene with a large force would advance from Roxbury, and together they would grind the British to powder, like corn in a mill.

It was mid-forenoon when Major Walden escorted General Washington across the marsh land and along the path to Dorchester Heights. The troops swung their hats and gave a cheer when they saw their commander ascending the hill. He lifted his hat, and thanked them for having constructed such strong intrenchments in so short a time.

"It is the fifth of March," he said, "and I am sure you will remember it is the anniversary of the massacre of the Sons of Liberty."

In Boston drums were beating, regiments marching; but suddenly the wind, which had blown from the west, changed to the east; and the sea waves were rolling up the bay, making it impossible for the Somerset, Scarborough, Boyne, and the other ships, to spread their sails and take position to bombard the works of the rebels; neither could General Howe embark the troops upon the dancing boats. The clouds were hanging low, and rain falling. Not till the wind changed and the sea calmed could there be a battle; General Howe must wait.

Night came; the rain was still pouring. The provincials wrapped their overcoats closely around them, kindled fires, ate their bread and beef, told stories, sang songs, and kept ward and watch through the dreary hours.

Morning dawned; the wind was still east, and the waves rolling in from the sea. With gloom upon his brow, General Howe with his telescope examined the fortifications. Could he hope to capture them? Doubtful. Exasperating, humiliating, the reflection that Mr. Washington was in a position to compel him to evacuate the town. Only a few days before, he had written Lord Dartmouth he was in no danger from the rebels; he only wished Mr. Washington would have the audacity to make a movement against him; but now he must pack up and be off, give up what he had held so long, and confess defeat. What would the king say? What the people of England? He did not like to think of what had come. But he must save the army. What of the citizens who had maintained their loyalty to the king? Should he leave them to the tender mercies of the exasperated provincials whose homes had been burned? He could not do that. If Theodore Newville, Nathaniel Coffin, or any of the thousand or more wealthy citizens were willing to remain loyal, if they were ready to become aliens and fugitives and exiles, he must do what he could for them.

* * * * *

"What is it, husband?" Mrs. Newville asked as Mr. Newville entered his house, and she beheld his countenance, white, haggard, and woe-begone.

"What has happened, father?" Ruth asked, leading him, trembling and tottering, to his chair.

"It has come," he gasped, resting his elbows on his knees and covering his face with his hands.

"What has come?" Mrs. Newville inquired.

"The end of the king's authority in this town."

"What do you mean?"

"The army is going, and we have got to go."

"Go where?"

"I don't know; only we have got to leave this home, never to see it again, and be aliens the rest of our lives," he said, groaning and sobbing.

"Why must the army go?" Mrs. Newville exclaimed.

"Because General Howe cannot stay. The provincials are in a position to sink his ships and set the town on fire with their bombs."

"Can't General Howe drive Mr. Washington from the hill just as he did at Charlestown?"

"He was going to do it yesterday, but the sea wouldn't let him, and now it is too late."

"He must do it, and I will go and tell him so. Leave our home and become wanderers and vagabonds? Never!" she cried with flashing eyes.

"It is decided. Orders have been issued. The fear is that the provincials may open fire upon the fleet and sink the ships before the army can get away."

"Why didn't General Howe take possession of the hill, and prevent the provincials from doing it?"

"The Lord knows, and perhaps General Howe does, but I don't. I have seen for some time what might happen, and now we have it. We have got to go, and God help us."

Mrs. Newville, overwhelmed, tottered to a chair.

"So this is what Sam Adams and John Hancock have done. I hate them. But why must we go? Why not stay? We have as good a right to stay as they. Give up our home? Never! Never!"

With flashing eyes, and teeth set firmly together, she rose, and took a step or two as if ready to confront a foe.

"We cannot stay," said Mr. Newville. "We have given our allegiance to the king; I have held office under the crown, and the Great and General Court will confiscate my estate, and we shall be beggars. More than that, I probably shall be seized and thrown into jail. There's no knowing what they will do. Possibly my lifeless body may yet dangle from the gallows, where murderers have paid the penalty of their crimes."

Mrs. Newville wrung her hands, and gave way to sobs and moans. Ruth had stood a silent spectator, but sat down now by her mother, put an arm around her, and wiped away the tears coursing down her cheeks.

"I haven't told you all," said Mr. Newville. "General Howe threatens to burn the town if Mr. Washington opens fire upon the ships."

"General Howe threatens that?" exclaimed Mrs. Newville.

"Yes; John Scollay and several of us have asked General Robertson to intercede with Howe. He has done so, but Howe will make no promise. He has permitted a flag of truce to go out to Mr. Washington to let him know if the British are molested he will set the town on fire. If Mr. Washington is the kind-hearted man they say he is, probably he will not make an attack. He wants to compel Howe to get out and to have the town spared. We are not the only ones who will suffer, but everybody who has stood for the king will have to go or take the consequences when the provincials march in. They will be implacable in their retaliation for the burning of Charlestown and Falmouth, and for the destruction of the Old North Meetinghouse, the desecration of the Old South, and the pulling down of hundreds of houses. They will confiscate the property of every one who has adhered to the crown, and make them beggars, or send them out of the Province, or perhaps do both. We may as well look the matter squarely in the face, for we have got to face it."

It was spoken with quivering lips. Several vessels had been designated on which the friends of the king might embark for Halifax, the only port near at hand where they could find refuge. He looked around the room, gazed mournfully at the portraits of his ancestors on the walls, at the rich mahogany furniture, the mirrors above the mantel reflecting the scene. In the dining-room was the buffet with its rich furnishings. Upon the stairs was the clock, its pendulum swinging as it had swung since the days of his boyhood. Upon the sideboard were the tea-urns used on many convivial afternoons and evenings. Whichever way he turned he saw that which had contributed to his ease, comfort, and happiness. Looking out of the window, he saw the buds were beginning to swell upon the trees under the genial rays of the sun. The bluebirds and robins had arrived and were singing in the garden. A few more days and the grass would be springing fresh and green, the asparagus throwing up its shoots, the cherry-trees white with blooms, the lilacs and roses perfuming the air; but never again was he to sit beneath the vine-clad arbor as he had sat in former years, listening to Nature's symphony rehearsed by singing birds; never again was he to see the coming of ecstatic life in bud and blossom. He must bid farewell forever to all the enchanting scenes, pull up by the roots, as it were, all cherished things. What should he take? What leave behind? There would be little room on shipboard for the richly carved mahogany chairs, sideboard, sofa, portraits of his ancestors. What use would he have for them in exile? How dispose of them? Who would purchase them? No one. How would he live in a foreign land? How occupy his time? His mansion was his own; he was possessor of other houses and lands, but all would be seized. He could take his silver plate, his gold and silver coin; not much else.

"Oh dear! oh dear! has it come to this!" Mrs. Newville exclaimed, "when we might have been far away, having everything heart could wish!"

She cast a reproachful look upon Ruth.

"Oh, if you had only done as I wanted!"

A gentle hand wiped the tears from the mother's face.

"Mother, dear, the past is gone, never to return. If it were to come again, bringing Lord Upperton, my answer to him would be as it was. We will let that pass. I know your every thought has been for my welfare and happiness. I trust I have not been ungrateful for all you have done for me and for all you thought to do. I have not seen things as you have seen them. You have been loyal to King George; you could hardly do otherwise with father holding an office under the crown. I have given my sympathies to the provincials, because I believe they are standing for what is right. My heart has gone out to one who, I doubt not, is over on yonder hill in arms against the king. I know the greatness of his love, that he will be always true to me, as I shall be to him."

The hand was still wiping away the tears; she was sitting between her father and mother, and laid the other hand upon the father's palm.

"Through these winter nights, dear father and mother, while hearing the cannon and the bursting shells, I have been looking forward to this hour which has come at last."

Tears stood in her eyes, and her voice became tremulous.

"We have come to the parting hour. You will go, but I shall stay,—stay to save the house, so that, by and by, when the heat of passion has cooled, and the fire of hate is only ashes, when the war is over and peace has come, as come it will, you can return to the old home."

"Leave you behind, Ruth!"

"Yes, mother."

"To be insulted and abused by the hateful rebels! Never!"

"I shall not be insulted. I am sure I shall be kindly treated. Do you think my old friends will do anything to annoy me? Why should they, when they know that I myself am a rebel? Mr. Sam Adams has always been my good friend. Have I not sat in his lap in my girlhood? Are not Lucy Flucker Knox, Dorothy Quincy, and Abigail Smith Adams my friends? Has not Mr. John Hancock danced with me? Have I done anything that should cause them to turn against me? Pompey and Phillis will be here to care for me. And now, dear father, I have one or two requests to make. This is your house, but I want you to give it to me,—make out a deed and execute it in my name; and one thing more, I want you to give me a bill of sale of Pompey and Phillis, so that I shall be absolute mistress here. When the Colonies, by their valor and the righteousness of their cause, have become independent of the king, when the last cannon has been fired, in God's good time you will come back and find me here in the old home."

Mr. Newville sat in silence a moment, then put his arm around her and drew her to him.

"Oh Ruth, daughter, you are dearer to me this moment than ever before. Your clear vision has seen what I have not been able to see,—till now,—the possible end of this conflict. The provincials are stronger than I supposed them to be, the disaffection wider, and the king is weaker than I thought. It never seemed possible that an army of ten thousand men could be forced to evacuate this town, but so it is, and I must go. I will not be so selfish as to ask you to go. I know your love has gone out to Robert Walden. I have no right to ask you to thrust a sword into your own loving heart. I do not doubt he will protect you with all the strength of a noble manhood. This house shall be yours, together with Pompey and Phillis, who will be as dutiful to you as they have been to your mother and me. You speak of our coming back, but when we once leave this house we never shall behold it again; nor shall we ever look again upon your face unless you come where we may be. Where that will be, God only knows; we shall be fugitives and wanderers without a home. Your mother and I will not long need an earthly home. Such a wound as this goes down deep into our souls, Ruth."

He could say no more, but hid his face in his hands to hide the agony of a breaking heart.

"Father, have you forgotten who it is that feeds the ravens and cares for the sparrows? Will He not care for you? Of one thing you may be sure, so soon as it is possible to do so I shall seek you wherever you may be: and now we will prepare for your going."

She kissed the tears from his face, cheered the desponding mother, and began to select whatever would most contribute to their comfort.

* * * * *

Abraham Duncan, as he walked the streets, beheld men with haggard faces and women wringing their hands and giving way to lamentations. In their loyalty to the king, they never had dreamed that the provincials could compel a disciplined army to quit the town. They had been informed that with the opening of spring the rebels would be scattered to the winds. In their loyalty they had organized themselves into militia and received arms from General Howe to fight for King George. As by a lightning flash all had been changed. Those who had thus organized knew they would be despised by the provincials and hardly dealt with; that houses and lands would be seized and sold to make restitution for the burning of Charlestown and buildings torn down in Boston. They who had lived in affluence, who had delightful homes on the slopes of Beacon Hill, must leave them. All dear old things must be sacrificed and family ties ruthlessly sundered. Fathers had sons whose sympathies were with the provincials; mothers, other than Mrs. Newville, had daughters whose true loves were marshaled under flags floating on Dorchester Heights. Had not Colonel Henry Knox sighted the cannon which sent the ball whirling towards the early home of his loving wife, the home where her father and mother and sisters were still living, which they must leave? The sword drawn on Lexington Common was severing tender heartstrings.

There was a hurly-burly in the streets,—drums beating, soldiers marching, a rumbling of cannon and wagons, the removal of furniture. Eleven hundred men and women were preparing to bid farewell to their native land and homes.

* * * * *

The final hour came. Pompey had seen the trunks and boxes safely stowed upon the ship in which Mr. and Mrs. Newville, Nathaniel Coffin, the king's receiver-general, and Thomas Flucker were to find passage. With a cane to steady his tottering steps, Mr. Newville took a last look of the home where his life had been passed; the house in which his eyes first saw the light; where a mother, many years in her grave, had caressed him; where a father had guided his toddling steps; the home to which he had brought his bride in the bloom of a beautiful maidenhood; where Ruth had come to them as the blessing of God to make the house resound with prattle and laughter, and fill it with the sunlight of her presence; make it attractive by her grace and beauty,—the soul beauty that looked out from loving eyes and became, as it were, a benediction. He was to go, she to stay. God above would be her guardian.

Mrs. Newville walked as in a daze from parlor to chamber, from dining-room to hall and kitchen. Was she awake or dreaming? Must she leave her home,—the home that had been so blissful, so hospitable? Was she never again to welcome a guest to that table, never hear the merry chatter of voices in parlor or garden? Oh, if Sam Adams and John Hancock had only been content to let things go on as they always had gone! If Ruth had only accepted Lord Upperton's suit! Why couldn't she? What ought she to take, what would she most need? What sort of accommodations would they find at Halifax? Why couldn't Ruth go with them? It was the questioning of a mind stunned by the sudden stroke; of a spirit all but crushed by the terrible calamity.

"I have put in everything I could think of that will in any way make you comfortable, mother dear," said Ruth, mentioning the articles.

"I've put up some jelly and jam for ye, missus," said Phillis.

Berinthia Brandon and Abraham Duncan came to bid them farewell, and to help Ruth prepare for their departure.

It was Ruth's strong arm that upheld her mother as they slowly walked the street on their way to the ship. It was a mournful spectacle. Not they alone, but Mr. Shrimpton and Mary, Nathaniel Coffin and wife and John, and a hundred of Ruth's acquaintances were on the wharf preparing to go on board the ships.

"This is what has come from Sam Adams's meddling," said Mr. Shrimpton. "May the Devil take him and John Hancock. They ought to be hanged, and I hope King George will yet have a chance to string 'em up—curse 'em! I'd like to see 'em dangling from the gibbet, and the crows picking their bones," he said, smiting his fists together, walking to and fro.

He was bidding farewell to home,—to the house in which he was born. He had farms in the county, wide reaches of woodland, fields, and pastures. The provincials would confiscate them. In his declining years all his property was to slip through his fingers, and he was to totter in penury to his grave.

"I shall enlist in the service of the king and fight 'em," said John Coffin, who had shown his loyalty by accompanying General Howe to the battle of Bunker Hill.

"And I hope you'll have a chance to put a bullet through the carcass of Sam Adams," said Mr. Shrimpton.

It was his daughter's hand that guided him over the gang-plank to the deck of the Queen Charlotte.

"Let me put this muffler round your neck; the air is chill and you are shivering," said Mary, gently leading him.

With chattering teeth and curses on his lips for those whom he regarded as authors of his misfortunes, Abel Shrimpton, led by his daughter, descended the winding stairs to the cabin of the ship.

"Here are the rugs and shawls, mother, and here is the wolf-skin, father, to wrap around you," said Ruth.

They were in the stifling cabin, the departing loyalists sitting as in a daze, stupefied, stunned by the sudden calamity, wondering if it were not a horrid dream.

To Mary Shrimpton and Ruth Newville it was no phantom, no hallucination, but a reality, an exigency, demanding calm reflection, wise judgment, and prompt, decisive action. They had talked it over,—each in the other's confidence.

"You must go and I will stay; you will care for them all; I will look after things here. This war will not last always. You will all come back some time," said Ruth, her abiding faith rising supreme above the agony of the parting.

"I will care for them," had been the calm reply of Mary.

"Oh, missus! I can't bear to have ye go, you's been good to me always. I'se packed a luncheon for ye," said Phillis, kneeling upon the floor, clasping the knees of her departing mistress, crying and sobbing.

"Oh, massa and missus, old Pomp can't tell ye how good ye've been to him. He'll be good to Miss Ruth. He'll pray for de good Lord to bless ye, every night, as he always has,"—the benediction of the slave kneeling by Phillis's side.

Long and tender was the last embrace of the mother and daughter,—of the father and his beloved child. With tears blinding her eyes, with tottering steps, Ruth passed across the gang-plank. A sailor drew it in, and unloosed the cable. The vessel swung with the tide from its moorings, the jib and mainsail filled with the breeze, and glided away. The weeping crowd upon its deck saw Ruth standing upon the wharf, her countenance serene, pure, and peaceful, with tears upon her face, gazing at the receding ship. Those around her beheld her steady herself against the post which had held the cable, standing there till the Queen Charlotte was but a white speck dotting the landscape in the lower harbor, then walking with faltering steps to her desolate home.

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