I know not how proudly and bitterly I said that last, but Major Beverly looked at me, and a kindly look came into his eyes. “Master Wingfield,” he said, “the word of any English gentleman is sufficient,” and I could have blessed him for it, and have ever since had remorse for my taking advantage of his dark closet of an old love for the hiding of the secret of the ammunition.
Then as we sat there, in a blue cloud of tobacco-smoke, through which the green bayberry candles gleamed faintly, and which they could not overcome with their aromatic breath of burning, the plot for the rooting up of the young crop was discussed in all its bearings.
I wondered somewhat to see Major Beverly, and still others of the burgesses who presently arrived, placing their lives in jeopardy with men of such standing as some present. But a common cause makes common confidence, and it might well have been, hang one, hang all. Major Robert Beverly spoke at some length, and his speech was, according to my mind, both wise and discreet, though probably somewhat inflamed by his own circumstances. The greatest store of tobacco of any one in the colony had Major Robert Beverly, and a fair young wife who loved that which the proceeds could buy. And as he spoke there was a great uproar outside, and the tramp of horses and jingle of swords and spurs, and a whole troop of horse came riding into the grounds of Barry Upper Branch. And some of those in the hall turned pale and looked about for an exit, and some grasped their swords, and some laughed knowingly, and Major Beverly strode to the door, and behind him Parson Downs, and Capt. Noel Jaynes, and the Barry brothers, and some others, and I, pressing close, and there was a half-whispered conference between Major Beverly and the leader of the horse.
Then Major Beverly turned to us. “Gentlemen,” he said, “I am assured that in case of a rising we have naught to fear from the militia, who are in like case with the other sufferers from the proceedings of the government, being about to be disbanded in arrears of their pay. Gentlemen, I am assured by Capt. Thomas Marvyn that his men are with us in heart and purpose, and though they may not help, unless the worse come to the worse, they will not hinder.”
Then such a cheer went up from the conspirators in the hall of Barry Upper Branch, and the troop of horse outside, as it seemed, might have been heard across the sea which divided us from that tyranny which ruled us, and Nick Barry shouted to some of his black slaves, and presently every man of the soldiers was drinking cider made from the apples of Virginia, and with it, treason to the king and success to the rebels.