“Yes, Francisco displayed great presence of mind, and that’s the most valuable quality of a soldier—it will save him when courage and strength are palsied. Francisco performed many singular exploits down South, and had a high reputation. He had much of the dare-devil in his nature, and it seemed as if dangerous adventures agreed with him better than easy success. He fought bravely in several battles, and was known to many of the enemy as a man to be shunned. There wasn’t a man among the red-coats stout-hearted and strong-limbed enough to dare to meet him. But you said you had heard of several encounters equal to the one I just narrated,” said Pitts.
“I did,” replied Kinnison. “Have you ever seen a painting of the fight between Colonel Allan M’Lean and some British troops? It used to be a common thing in Boston.”
“I have seen the picture,” said Hand, “and I should like to hear the story of the affair. It must have been a desperate fight.”
“It was,” replied Kinnison. “A man who was intimately acquainted with McLean, and heard the account from his own lips, told me of it. You may boast of Francisco’s exploits, but here was a man who united the most daring courage and strength with a very intelligent and quick-working mind.”
“While the British occupied Philadelphia,” said Kinnison, “Col. M’Lean was constantly scouring the upper end of Bucks and Montgomery counties, to cut off scouting parties of the enemy and intercept their supplies of provisions.”
“Having agreed, for some purpose, to rendezvous near Shoemakertown, Col. M’Lean ordered his little band of troopers to follow at some distance, and commanded two of them to precede the main body, but also to keep in his rear; and if they discovered an enemy, to ride up to his side and inform him of it, without speaking aloud. While leisurely approaching the place of rendezvous in this order, in the early gray of the morning, the two men directly in his rear, forgetting their orders, suddenly called out, ‘Colonel, the British!’ faced about, and putting spurs to their horses, were soon out of sight. The colonel, looking around, discovered that he was in the centre of a powerful ambuscade, into which the enemy had silently allowed him to pass, without his observing them. They lined both sides of the road, and had been stationed there to pick up any straggling party of the Americans that might chance to pass. Immediately on finding they were discovered, a file of soldiers rose from the side of the highway, and fired at the colonel, but without effect; and as he put spurs to his horse, and mounted the road-side into the woods, the other part of the detachment also fired. The colonel miraculously escaped; but a shot striking his horse upon the flank, he dashed through the woods, and in a few minutes reached a parallel road upon the opposite side of the forest. Being