“You gave Mr. Washington your good wishes last time, Miss Janice, runaway though he was. Canst not give a toast for the troops that don’t run?” he pleaded.
Janice, with a roguish look in her eyes that boded no good to the British, took the glass, and, touching it to her lips, said: “Here ’s to the army which never runs away, and which never—” Then she paused, and caught her breath as if wanting courage.
“Out with it! Complete the toast!” cried the general, eagerly.
“And which never runs after!” ended Janice.
Clowes lingered behind for a brief moment after the departure of Howe, in pretended desire to advise Mr. Meredith concerning the British policy about provisions and forage, but in truth to say a word of warning which proved that he already regretted having secured for his commander-in-chief the entree of Greenwood.
“I heard Sir William say he’d bide with ye on his return from Philadelphia,” the commissary told the squire in parting. “Have an eye to your girl, if he does. Though a married man, his Excellency is led off by every lacing-string that comes within reach.”
The master of Greenwood privately thought that the precautionary advice as to his daughter might come with better grace from some other source; but both guest and host, for reasons best known to each, had tacitly agreed to ignore the past, and so the squire thanked his counsellor.
“Ye’ll not forget to seek out my horses!” he added, when the commissary picked up his bridle.
“Assuredly not,” promised Clowes. “How many didst say ye lost?”
“Two. All the Whig thieves left to me of the nine I had.”
“Fudge, man! Say nothing of the Whig thieves, but lay them all to our account. We’ve plunderers in plenty in our own force, let alone the dirty pigs of Hessians, and King George shall pay for the whole nine.”
“Nay, Lord Clowes, because I’ve been robbed, I’ll not turn—” began the squire.
[Illustration: “He’d make a proper husband.”]
“What is more,” went on the benevolently-inclined officer, “I will tell ye something that will be worth many a pound. ’T was decided betwixt Sir William and myself that we should seize all provisions and fodder throughout the province. But I need scarce say—”
“Surely, man, thou wilt do nothing as crazy as that,” burst out Mr. Meredith. “Dost not see that it will make an enemy of every man, from one end—”
“Which they are already,” interrupted the baron, in turn. “’T is our method of bringing punishment home to the scamps. We’ll teach them what rebellion comes to ere we have finished with them. But, of course, such order does not extend to my personal friends, and if ye have any fodder or corn, or anything else ye can spare, I will see to it that his Majesty buys it at prices that will more than make good to ye what ye lost through the rebels.”