It was little grief, as can be imagined, that the events of the next few weeks brought to Greenwood; and the day the news came that Washington’s force had been outflanked and successfully driven from its position on the hills of Brooklyn, with a loss of two of its best brigades, the squire was so jubilant that nothing would do but to have up a bottle of his best Madeira,— a wine hitherto never served except to guests of distinction.
“Give a knave rope enough and he’ll hang himself” he said gloatingly. “Because the land favoured them at Boston, they got the idea they were invincible, and Congress would have it that New York must be defended, though a hundred thousand troops could not have done it against the fleet, let alone Howe’s army. Ho! By this time the rogues have learned what fifteen thousand butchers and bakers and candlestick-makers can do ’gainst thirty thousand veterans. And they’ve had but the first mouthful of the dose they’ll have to swallow.”
The jubilation of the prophet was short-lived, for even as he spoke, and with decanter but half emptied, the tramp of feet sounded in the hallway, and the door was flung open to admit four men, armed with muskets.
“In the name of the Continental Congress, and by orders of General Washington, I arrests yer, Lambert Meredith,” announced the spokesman.
“For what?” cried Janice.
On September 15, a group of horsemen, occupying a slight eminence of ground on the island of Manhattan, were gazing eastward. Below and nearer the water were spread lines of’ soldiers behind intrenchments, while from three men-of-war lying in the river came a heavy cannonade that swept the shore line and spread over the water a pall of smoke which, as it drifted to leeward, obscured the Long Island shore from view.
“’T is evidently a feint, your Excellency,” presently asserted one of the observers, “to cover a genuine attack elsewhere —most likely above the Haarlem.”
The person addressed—a man with an anxious, careworn face that made him look fifty at least—lowered his glass, but did not reply for some moments. “You may be right, sir,” he remarked, “though to me it has the air of an intended attack. What think you, Reed?”
“I agree with Mifflin. The attack will be higher up. Hah! Look there!”
A rift had come in the smoke, and a column of boats, moving with well-timed oars, could for a moment be seen as it came forward.
“They intend a landing at Kip’s Bay, as I surmised,” exclaimed the general. “Gentlemen, we shall be needed below.” He turned to Reed and gave him an order concerning reinforcements, then wheeled and, followed by the rest, trotted over the ploughed field. Once on the highway, he spurred his horse, putting him to a sharp canter.
“What troops hold the works on the bay, Muffin?” asked one of the riders.