“Washington consented, but, ever merciful, first wrote to Sir Henry Clinton that unless the murderers of Captain Huddy were given up he should retaliate.
“Clinton refused, and a young British officer, Captain Asgill, a prisoner in the hands of the Americans, was selected by lot for execution. Washington, however, mercifully postponed the carrying out of the sentence, feeling much pity and sympathy for the young man—doubtless for his relatives also; letters came from Europe earnestly entreating that Asgill’s life might be spared; among them a pathetic one from his mother, and an intercessory one from the French minister, Count de Vergennes.
“These letters Washington sent to Congress and that body passed a resolution, ’That the commander-in-chief be, and hereby is, directed to set Captain Asgill at liberty.’”
“It seems to me that our people were far more merciful than the English,” remarked Lulu, with a look of patriotic pride.
“I think that is true,” assented Grandma Elsie, “not meaning to deny that there are many kindhearted men among the British of to-day, or that there were such among them even then, but most of those then in power showed themselves to be avaricious, hardhearted, and cruel.”
“Yes, they wanted to make slaves of the people here,” exclaimed Lulu hotly. “But they found that Americans wouldn’t be slaves; that rather than resign their liberty they would die fighting for it.”
It was still early in the evening when the Dolphin reached her wharf at Philadelphia, where her passengers found friends and relatives waiting to give them a joyful reception.
A few days passed very pleasantly in visiting these friends and places of interest in the city, particularly such as were in one way or another connected with the events of revolutionary times. Then they went up the Delaware in their yacht.
Their first halting-place would be at Trenton, and naturally the talk, as they went up the river, was largely of the revolutionary events which had taken place there and at other not far distant points. Grandma Elsie was again the narrator.
“In November of 1776,” she began, “our country’s prospects looked very dark. On the 16th, Fort Washington, on the east bank of the Hudson, and near New York City, fell into the hands of the enemy and its garrison of nearly three thousand men were made prisoners of war.
“On the 20th Cornwallis crossed the Hudson at Dobbs Ferry and with his six thousand men attacked Fort Lee. The garrison hastily retreated, leaving all their baggage and military stores, and joined the main army at Hackensack, five miles away.
“Then Washington, who had with him scarcely three thousand men, began a retreat toward the Delaware, hoping to obtain reinforcements in New Jersey and Pennsylvania which would enable him to make a stand against the invaders and give them battle.