There a squad of cavalry was shut in by the pikes. Two troopers had broken through the near line. One had fallen, badly hurt; the other was sabre to sabre with the man D’ri. They were close up and striving fiercely, as if with broadswords. I caught up the weapon of the injured man, for I saw the Yankee would get the worst of it. The Britisher had great power and a sabre quick as a cat’s paw. I could see the corporal was stronger, but not so quick and skilful. As I stood by, quivering with excitement, I saw him get a slash in the shoulder. He stumbled, falling heavily. Then quickly, forgetting my sex, but not wholly, I hope, the conduct that becomes a woman, I caught the point of the sabre, now poised to run him through, with the one I carried. He backed away, hesitating, for he had seen my hat and gown. But I made after him with all the fury I felt, and soon had him in action. He was tired, I have no doubt; anyway, I whirled his sabre and broke his hold, whipping it to the ground. That was the last we saw of him, for he made off in the dark faster than I could follow. The trouble was all over, save the wound of the corporal, which was not as bad as I thought. He was up, and one of them, a surgeon, was putting stitches in his upper arm. Others were tying four men together with rope. Their weapons were lying in a little heap near by. One of the British was saying that Sir Charles Gravleigh had sent for them to ride after the coach.
“Jerushy Jane Pepper!” said the man D’ri. “Never see no sech wil’cat uv a woman es thet air.”
I looked down at my gown; I felt of my hat, now hanging over one ear. Sure enough, I was a woman.
“Who be ye, I ‘d like t’ know?” said the man D’ri.
“Ramon Bell—a Yankee soldier of the rank of captain,” I said, stripping off my gown. “But, I beg of you, don’t tell the ladies I was ever a woman.”
“Judas Priest!” said D’ri, as he flung his well arm around me.
I felt foolish for a moment. I had careful plans for Mme. St. Jovite. She would have vanished utterly on our return; so, I fancy, none would have been the wiser. But in that brief sally I had killed the madame; she could serve me no more. I have been careful in my account of this matter to tell all just as it happened, to put upon it neither more nor less of romantic color than we saw. Had I the skill and license of a novelist, I could have made much of my little mystery; but there are many now living who remember all these things, and then, I am a soldier, and too old for a new business. So I make as much of them as there was and no more.
In private theatricals, an evening at the Harbor, I had won applause with the rig, wig, and dialect of my trip to Wrentham Square. So, when I proposed a plan to my friend the general, urging the peril of a raw hand with a trust of so much importance, he had no doubt of my ability.