“And ye’ve never given a promise to another man?”
Clowes set down the baskets. “That is all I wished acknowledged,” he said. “I’ll ask no more till ye have decided whether ye will be true to the troth ye have just confessed, Janice.” He opened the front door, and added as he passed out: “When these supplies are exhausted, ye know where more is to be had.”
When Janice came to examine the contents of the baskets, she was somewhat disappointed at the mess of pottage for which she had half bartered herself. Though every article the commissary had enumerated was to be found, it was in meagre quantities, and the girl was shrewd-witted enough to divine the giver’s intention,—that she should be quickly forced again to appeal to him. Her mother’s requirements and her own hunger, however, prevented dwelling on the future, and scarcely had these been attended to, when Mobray and Andre appeared, to inquire if her immediate needs were supplied, and with a plan of assistance.
“Miss Meredith,” said Mobray, “Captain Andre and I have had assigned to us for quarters the Franklin house down on Second Street; and he and I have agreed that, if Mrs. Meredith can be moved, you are to come and share it with us.”
“We ask it as a favour, which, if granted, will make us the envy of the army,” remarked Andre. “And it will, I trust, not be an entirely one-sided benefit. The old fox’s den is more than comfortable, Mobray and I have a couple of rankers as servants, one of whom has more or less attached to him a woman who cooks well enough to make even the present ration eatable, and, lastly, though our presence may be something of a handicap, yet in such unsettled times one must tolerate the dogs if they but keep out the wolves. Hang and whip as we may, the men will plunder, and some in high office are little better. Alone here, you are scarcely safe, but with us you need have no fear.”
Janice attempted some objections, but her previous helplessness and loneliness, as well as her recent fright from the commissary, made them faint-hearted, and it needed little urgence to win her consent to the plan. Her mother approving, a surgeon and an ambulance were secured, and before nightfall the removal was safely accomplished.
When, after the first good night’s sleep she had enjoyed since her mother sickened, the girl was summoned to breakfast, she found that others had been more wakeful. In the middle of the table was a pail of milk, a pile of eggs, four unplucked fowls, and two sucking pigs, arranged with some pretence of ornament, with two officer’s sword-knots to better the attempt at decoration, and the whole surmounted by a placard reading: “Only the brave deserve the fare.”
“Gaze, Miss Meredith!’, cried Andre, jubilantly. “See the results of a valour of which you were the inspiration! Marathon, Cressy, Fontenoy, and Quebec pale before the march, the conflict, and the retreat of last night, the glories of which would ne’er be credited, even alas! were it not necessary that they should ne’er be told.”