“When New York and Rhode Island were quietly possessed by the British armies, and the Jerseys, overrun by their victorious generals, opposed but a feeble resistance to their overwhelming power, Lord Cornwallis, commanding a large division of their troops, stationed at Bordentown, addressing Mrs. Borden, who resided on her estate in a mansion of superior elegance, demanded in an authoritative tone, ’Where, Madam, is your rebel husband—where your rebel son?’ ’Doing their duty to their country, under the orders of General Washington,’ was the prompt reply. ‘We are well apprized,’ rejoined that officer, of ’the influence you possess over the political creed of your family, and that to them your opinion is law. Be wise, then, in time, and while mercy is tendered to you, fail not to accept it. Bid them quit the standard of rebellion, and cordially unite with us, in bringing his Majesty’s deluded subjects to submission, and a proper sense of their errors and ingratitude, to the best of kings. Your property will then be protected, and remain without injury in your possession. But, should you hesitate to profit by our clemency, the wasting of your estate and destruction of your mansion will inevitably follow.’ ‘Begin, then, the havoc which you threaten,’ replied the heroic lady: ’the sight of my house in flames, would be to me a treat, for, I have seen enough of you to know, that you never injure, what it is possible for you to keep and enjoy. The application of a torch to it I should regard as a signal for your departure, and consider the retreat of the spoiler an ample compensation for the loss of my property.’
“This was one of those threats which the British never failed to carry into execution. The house was burnt, and the whole property consigned to waste and desolation. But, as had been foreseen, the perpetrator of the ruthless deed retreated, to return no more.”
“Just like Cornwallis and his red-coats,” said Kinnison, “burning people’s houses and wasting their lands was a way of making converts, which they discovered and practised with a vengeance. Mrs. Borden was a strong-minded woman to have endured all this.”
“Yes,” said Warner, “Mrs. Borden was a heroine as wouldn’t have disgraced the Romans. But what would you think of a mere girl, whose family was opposed to our cause, exerting herself to procure the freedom of one of our officers, who had been taken by the British?”
“I should say it’s what young girls in love have done many a time,” said Kinnison.
“Not under such circumstances,” said Warner. “But I’ll tell you about it as it was told to me. Captain Plunkett was a bold-spirited Irishman, who held a commission in our army. In some way or other—it may have been at the battle of Brandywine—Plunkett was taken by the enemy, and soon after placed in a prison in Philadelphia. Previous to that, he had made many