“And didn’t Rall say the Americans wouldn’t dare to come against him?” asked Walter.
“Yes; his reply to a warning of danger of being attacked was, ’Let them come; what need of intrenchments! We will at them with the bayonet!’”
“And when they did come he was killed?”
“Yes, mortally wounded; taken by his aids and servant to his quarters at the house of a Quaker named Stacey Potts; and there Washington and Greene visited him just before leaving Trenton.”
“They knew he was dying, mamma?”
“Yes, and, as Lossing tells us, Washington offered such consolation as a soldier and Christian can bestow.”
“It was very kind, and I hope Rall appreciated it.”
“It would seem that he did, as the historian tells us it soothed the agonies of the expiring hero.”
From Trenton Grandma Elsie, the captain, and their young charges went on to Princeton, where they received a most joyful welcome from Harold and Herbert Travilla, now spending their last year at the seminary.
Their mother had written to them of the intended visit, and all necessary arrangements had been made. Carriages were in waiting, and shortly after their arrival the whole party were on their way to the battleground, where the attention of the young people was drawn to the various points of interest, particularly the spot where fell General Mercer.
“The general’s horse was wounded in the leg by a musket ball,” explained Harold, in reply to a question from his little brother; “he dismounted, and was rallying his troops, when a British soldier felled him to the ground by a blow from a musket.
“He was supposed to be Washington. A shout, was raised, ’The rebel general is taken!’ and at that others of the enemy rushed to the spot calling out, ‘Call for quarter, you d——d rebel!’
“‘I am no rebel!’ Mercer answered indignantly, though half a dozen of their bayonets were at his breast; and instead of calling for quarter he continued to fight, striking at them with his sword till they bayoneted him and left him for dead.
“He was not dead, however, but mortally wounded.
“After the British had retreated he was carried to the house of Thomas Clark,” continued Harold, pointing out the building as he spoke, “where he lingered in great pain till the 12th and then died.”
“I’m glad it wasn’t Washington,” said Walter.
“Was Washington hurt at all, papa?” asked Grace.
“No, though exposed to the hottest fire he escaped without injury,” replied the captain. “God our Heavenly Father preserved him for his great work—the salvation of our country. ’Man is immortal till his work is done’—and Washington’s was not done till years afterward.”
“Not even when the war was over; for he was our first president, I remember,” said Lulu.
“Yes,” replied her father, “and he did much for his country in that capacity.