“Farewell, Miss Janice,” groaned the baronet; “’t was thy beauty baited this trap.”
Jack lingered a moment after Lee and the prisoners had passed into the hallway.
“Can I have a moment’s word with you apart, Miss Meredith?” he asked.
“Most certainly not,” spoke up the squire, recovering from the dumbness into which the rapid occurrences of the last three minutes had reduced him. “If ye have aught to say to my lass, out with it here.”
“’T is—’t is just a word of farewell.”
“I like not thy farewells,” answered the girl, colouring.
“For once we agree, Miss Janice,” replied the officer, boldly; “and did it rest with me, there should never be another.” He bowed, and went to the door. “Mr. Meredith,” he said, “I’ve stolen a husband from your daughter. ’T is a debt I am ready to pay on demand.”
How much the squire would have grieved over the capture of his almost son-in-law was never known, for events gave him no opportunity. Spring was now come, and with it the breaking up of winter quarters. The moment the roads were passable, the garrison of Brunswick, under the command of Cornwallis, marched up the Raritan to Middle Brook, driving back into the Jersey hills a detachment of the Continental army. In turn Washington’s whole force was moved to the support of his advance, but the British had fallen back once more to their old position. Early in June, Howe himself arrived at Brunswick, bringing with him heavy reinforcements, and first threatened a movement toward the Delaware, hoping to draw Washington from his position; but the latter, surmising that his opponent would never dare to jeopardise his communications, was not to be deceived. Disappointed in this, the British faced about quickly, and tried to surprise the Americans by a quick march upon their encampment, only to find them posted along a strong piece of ground, fully prepared for a conflict. Although the British outnumbered the Continentals almost twice over, the deadly shooting of the latter had been so often experienced that Howe dared not assault their position, and after a few days of futile waiting, his army once more fell back on Brunswick, crossed the Raritan to Amboy, and then was ferried across to Staten Island. Washington, by holding his force in a menacing position, without either marching or attacking, had saved not merely his troops, but Philadelphia as well; and Howe learned that if the capital was to be captured, it could not be by the direct march of his command across the Jerseys, but must be by the far slower way of conveying it by ships to the southward.