Within three days Burley had made an ample apology for his conduct and this bulletin was posted at headquarters:
“Liberty of speech has its limits. It must be controlled by the law of decency and the general purposes of our army and government. The man who respects no authority above his own intellect is a conceited ass and would be a tyrant if he had the chance. No word of disrespect for a superior officer will be tolerated in this army.”
“The Binkussing of Burley”—a phrase which traveled far beyond the limits of Putnam’s camp—and the notice of warning which followed was not without its effect on the propaganda of Gates and his friends.
Next day Jack and Solomon set out with a force of twelve hundred men for Washington’s camp at White Marsh near Philadelphia. There Jack found a letter from Margaret. It had been sent first to Benjamin Franklin in Paris through the latter’s friend Mr. David Hartley, a distinguished Englishman who was now and then sounding the Doctor on the subject of peace.
“I am sure that you will be glad to know that my love for you is not growing feeble on account of its age,” she wrote. “The thought has come to me that I am England and that you are America. It will be a wonderful and beautiful thing if through all this bitterness and bloodshed we can keep our love for each other. My dear, I would have you know that in spite of this alien King and his followers, I hold to my love for you and am waiting with that patience which God has put in the soul of your race and mine, for the end of our troubles. If you could come to France I would try to meet you in Doctor Franklin’s home at Passy. So I have the hope in me that you may be sent to France.”
This is as much of the letter as can claim admission to our history. It gave the young man a supply of happiness sufficient to fill the many days of hardship and peril in the winter at Valley Forge. It was read to Solomon.
“Say, this ‘ere letter kind o’ teches my feelin’s—does sart’in,” said Solomon. “I’m goin’ to see what kin be done.”
Unknown to Jack, within three days Solomon had a private talk with the Commander-in-Chief at his headquarters. The latter had a high regard for the old scout. He maintained a dignified silence while Solomon made his little speech and then arose and offered his hand saying in a kindly tone:
“Colonel Binkus, I must bid you good night.”
THE GREATEST TRAIT OF A GREAT COMMANDER
Jack Irons used to say that no man he had known had such an uncommon amount of common sense as George Washington. He wrote to his father:
“It would seem that he must be in communication with the all-seeing mind. If he were to make a serious blunder here our cause would fail. The enemy tries in vain to fool him. Their devices are as an open book to Washington. They have fooled me and Solomon and other officers but not him. I had got quite a conceit of myself in judging strategy but now it is all gone.