“’T is simple enough when one knows the undercurrents. Germaine was against appointing the Howes, and has always hated them. So he schemes this silly side movement of Burgoyne’s from Canada, and plans that the army at New York shall be but an assistant to that enterprise, with no share in its glory. Sir William, however, sloth though he be, saw through it, and, declining to be made a cat’s-paw, he gets aboard ship, to seek laurels for himself, leaving Burgoyne to march and fight through his wilderness alone. Mark me, the British may capture Philadelphia, but if we can but keep them busy till it is too late to succour Burgoyne, the winter will see them the losers and not the gainers by the campaign. But there,” he added, “I forget that all this can have but small interest to you.”
“Oh,” cried Janice, “you would n’t say that if you knew how good it is just to hear a friend’s voice.” And then she poured out the tale of her mother’s illness and of her own ordeal.
“Would that I could tarry here and serve and save you!” groaned Brereton, when she had ended; “but perhaps luck will attend us, and I may be able to hurry back. Have you money in plenty?”
The girl faltered, for in truth there had been little cash at Greenwood when they were called upon to come away, and much of that little was already parted with for lodgings and medicines. Yet she managed to nod her head.
Her pretence did not deceive Jack, and in an instant his purse was being forced into her unwilling fingers. “The fall in our paper money gives a leftenant-colonel a lean scrip in these days, but what little I have is yours,” he said.
“I can’t take it,” protested Janice, trying to return the wallet.
Brereton was at the door ere her hand was outstretched. “Thy father’s letters to me are in the purse, so thou must keep it,” he urged. “It’s a toss whether I ever need money again, but if I weather this campaign, we’ll consider it but a loan, and if I don’t, ’t is the use of all others to which I should wish it put.” This he said seriously, and then more lightly went on: “And besides, Miss Janice, I owe you far more than I can ever pay. We Whigs may forcibly impress, but at least we tender what we can in payment. Keep it, then, as a beggar’s poor thanks for the two happiest moments of his life.” The aide passed through the doorway, and the next moment a horse’s feet clattered in the street.
Janice stood listening till the sound had died out of hearing, then, overcome by this first kindness after such long weeks of harshness and trial, she kissed the purse. And if Brereton could have seen the flush of emotion that swept over her face with the impulsive act, it is likely that something else would have been kissed as well.