In the Days of Poor Richard eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 300 pages of information about In the Days of Poor Richard.

CHAPTER XXVI

IN WHICH APPEARS THE HORSE OF DESTINY AND THE JUDAS OF WASHINGTON’S ARMY

In Boston harbor, Jack learned of the evacuation of Philadelphia by the British and was transferred to a Yankee ship putting out to sea on its way to that city.  There he found the romantic Arnold, crippled by his wounds, living in the fine mansion erected by William Penn.  He had married a young daughter of one of the rich Tory families, for his second wife, and was in command of the city.  Colonel Irons, having delivered the letters to the Treasurer of the United States, reported at Arnold’s office.  It was near midday and the General had not arrived.  The young man sat down to wait and soon the great soldier drove up with his splendid coach and pair.  His young wife sat beside him.  He had little time for talk.  He was on his way to breakfast.  Jack presented his compliments and the good tidings which he had brought from the Old Country.  Arnold listened as if he were hearing the price of codfish and hams.

The young man was shocked by the coolness of the Commandant.  The former felt as if a pail of icy water had been thrown upon him, when Arnold answered: 

“Now that they have money I hope that they will pay their debt to me.”

This kind of talk Jack had not heard before.  He resented it but answered calmly:  “A war and an army is a great extravagance for a young nation that has not yet learned the imperial art of gathering taxes.  Many of us are going unpaid but if we get liberty it will be worth all it costs.”

“That sounds well but there are some of us who are also in need of justice,” Arnold answered as he turned away.

“General, you who have not been dismayed by force will never, I am sure, surrender to discouragement,” said Jack.

The fiery Arnold turned suddenly and lifting his cane in a threatening manner said in a loud voice: 

“Would you reprimand me—­you damned upstart?”

“General, you may strike me, if you will, but I can not help saying that we young men must look to you older ones for a good example.”

Very calmly and politely the young man spoke these words.  He towered above the man Arnold in spirit and stature.  The latter did not commit the folly of striking him but with a look of scorn ordered him to leave the office.

Jack obeyed the order and went at once to call upon his old friend, Governor Reed.  He told the Governor of his falling out with the Major-General.

“Arnold is a sordid, selfish man and a source of great danger to our cause,” said the Governor.  “He is vain and loves display and is living far beyond his means.  To maintain his extravagance he has resorted to privateering and speculation, and none of it has been successful.  He is deeply involved in debt.  It is charged that he has used his military authority for private gain.  He was tried by a court-martial but escaped with only a reprimand from the Commander-in-Chief.  He is thick with the Tories.  He is the type of man who would sell his master for thirty pieces of silver.”

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In the Days of Poor Richard from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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