“That’s all very true,” remarked Wilson. “But if I was about to fight a duel with a man, and I stood up, pistol in hand, while he stood off beyond my reach, and with some infernal invention endeavored to kill me, I should call him a coward.”
“That would not settle the dispute,” said Mr. Jackson Harmar. “Your wisest course would be to equal his invention, and compel him to fight fairly or make peace.”
“Many strange and many laughable public events occurred in Philadelphia during the Revolution,” said old Harmar. “I was with the army during the greater part of the time, but our family remained in the city, and kept me advised of everything that was going on. I was engaged to be married to your mother, Jackson, before the war commenced, and I had to leave her in Philadelphia also, until the war was over. She used to write me letters, telling me about everything that passed in the city that was interesting. I recollect in one letter she gave me an account of how the news of Arnold’s treason was received among the people.”
“With blessings on the traitor’s head, of course,” remarked Wilson, ironically.
“I could imagine how it was received,” said Mr. Jackson Harmar. “The people were indignant and cursed the traitor.”
“The people of Philadelphia knew Arnold’s real character,” replied old Harmar. “They knew, from his residence among them, that he was capable of selling his soul for gold, glory, and pleasure; but they did not suspect him of any intention of leaving our cause entirely. They thought he would see that it was for his interest to stand by his country’s rights. While in command in this city, Arnold had been very intimate with several wealthy tory families, and I believe had married a lady who was connected with them. But such an intimacy was not sufficient to justify suspicions of his patriotism, if it had not been joined with other circumstances. He gave great entertainments at his house, and lived as if he was worth a mint of money. Then he was always in trouble with the committees of Congress about money matters, which made people generally believe that he cared more for gold than he did for principles. Well, when the news of his discovered treachery reached Philadelphia, the men with whom he had been wrangling about money said they knew it would turn out just so, and they never expected anything else; and the citizens generally were very indignant. They chose some laughable ways of showing the state of their feelings. An artist constructed a stuffed figure of the traitor, as large as life, and seated him in a cart, with a figure of the devil alongside of him, holding a lantern so as to show his face to the people. The words, ‘Benedict Arnold, the Traitor,’ were placed on a board over the head of the first figure. An evening was appointed for the display, and the hanging and burning of the effigy. A