“‘A man who likes a good joke will never drive a spavined hoss,’ he answered merrily.
“So it happened that the mare Nancy fell into the hands of Reuben Smith.”
LOVE AND TREASON
When Jack and Solomon returned to headquarters, Arnold and his wife were settled in a comfortable house overlooking the river. Colonel Irons made his report. The Commander-in-Chief complimented him and invited the young man to make a tour of the camp in his company. They mounted their horses and rode away together.
“I learn that General Arnold is to be in command here,” Jack remarked soon after the ride began.
“I have not yet announced my intention,” said Washington. “Who told you?”
“A man of the name of Henry Thornhill.”
“I do not know him but he is curiously well informed. Arnold is an able officer. We have not many like him. He is needed here for I have to go on a long trip to eastern Connecticut to confer with Rochambeau. In the event of some unforeseen crisis Arnold would know what to do.”
Then Jack spoke out: “General, I ought to have reported to you the exact words of Governor Reed. They were severe, perhaps, even, unjust. I have not repeated them to any one. But now I think you should know their full content and Judge of them in your own way. The Governor insists that Arnold is bad at heart—that he would sell his master for thirty pieces of silver.”
Washington made no reply, for a moment, and then his words seemed to have no necessary relation to those of Jack Irons.
“General Arnold has been badly cut up in many battles,” said he. “I wish him to be relieved of all trying details. You are an able and prudent man. I shall make you his chief aide with the rank of Brigadier-General. He needs rest and will concern himself little with the daily routine. In my absence, you will be the superintendent of the camp, and subject to orders I shall leave with you. Colonel Binkus will be your helper. I hope that you may be able to keep yourself on friendly terms with the General.”
Jack reported to the Commander-in-Chief the warning of Thornhill, but the former made light of it.
“The air is full of evil gossip,” he said. “You may hear it of me.”
When they rode up to headquarters Arnold was there. To Jack’s surprise the Major-General greeted him with friendly words, saying:
“I hope to know you better for I have heard much of your courage and fighting quality.”
“There are good soldiers here,” said Jack. “If I am one of them it is partly because I have seen you fight. You have given all of us the inspiration of a great example.”
It was a sincere and deserved tribute.