“No,” put in Higgins, “but they earned a great deal more. Some of ’em lost all the property they had, during the war.”
“The spirit which animated our countrymen at that period was the noblest which could prompt the deeds of men,” said young Harmar, growing quite eloquent. “From the men who emptied the tea into Boston harbor, to the statesman of the Continental Congress, all were filled with patriotism, and that’s the most unselfish of human motives.”
“Mrs. Harmar, your sex nobly maintained their reputation for devotion and patriotism during the Revolution,” said Wilson. “Did you ever hear how a Quaker lady, named Lydia Darragh, saved the army under Washington from being surprised?”
“No, never,” replied Mrs. Harmar.
“No! Then, as a Philadelphia lady, you should know about it,” said Wilson.
“The superior officers of the British army were accustomed to hold their consultations on all subjects of importance at the house of William and Lydia Darragh, members of the Society of Friends, immediately opposite to the quarters of the commander-in-chief, in Second street. It was in December, in the year that they occupied the city, that the adjutant-general of the army desired Lydia to have an apartment prepared for himself and friends, and to order her family early to bed; adding, when ready to depart, ’Notice shall be given to you to let us out, and to extinguish the fire and candles.’ The manner of delivering this order, especially that part of it which commanded the early retirement of her family, strongly excited Lydia’s curiosity, and determined her, if possible, to discover the mystery of their meeting. Approaching without shoes the room in which the conference was held, and placing her ear to the keyhole, she heard the order read for the troops to quit the city on the night of the 4th, to attack the American army encamped at White Marsh. Returning immediately to her room, she laid herself down, but, in a little while, a loud knocking at the door, which for some time she pretended not to hear, proclaimed the intention of the party to retire. Having let them out, she again sought her bed, but not to sleep; the agitation of her mind prevented it. She thought only of the dangers that threatened the lives of thousands of her countrymen, and believing it to be in her power to avert the evil, determined, at all hazards, to apprize General Washington of his danger. Telling her husband, at early dawn, that flour was wanting for domestic purposes, and that she should go to Frankford to obtain it, she repaired to headquarters, got access to General Howe, and obtained permission to pass the British lines. Leaving her bag at the mill, Lydia now pressed forward towards the American army, and meeting Captain Allen M’Lean, an officer, from his superior intelligence and activity, selected by General Washington to gain intelligence, discovered