“Would that I could learn!” groaned Andre. “As soon as I was off duty, I sought for him, but he was not to be heard of, go to whom I would. Bah! No more of this graveyard talk. Come, Miss Meredith, I’ll give you the subject for a historical painting. I found of Franklin’s possessions not a little which took my fancy, and such of it as I chose I carry with me to New York, as fair spoil of war. Prithee, draw a picture of the old fox as he will appear when he hears of his loss. ’T will at least give him the opportunity to prove himself the ‘philosopher’ he is said to be. I have taken his oil portrait, and when I get fit quarters again I shall hang it, and nightly pray that I may live long enough to do the same to the original. Heaven save me if ever I be captured, though, for I make little doubt that in his rage he would accord me the very fate I wish for him!”
When at last the evening’s festivities, if such they might be termed, were over, it was Andre, preceded by a couple of soldiers with lanterns, who escorted them back to their home, and at Janice’s request he ordered the two men to remain in the now deserted house.
“They must leave you before daybreak,” the officer warned them; “but they will assure you a quiet night. I would that you were safe in New York, however, and shall rest uneasy till I welcome you there. Ladies, you have made many an hour happier to John Andre,” ended the young officer, his voice breaking slightly. “Some day, God willing, he will endeavour to repay them.”
“Oh, Captain Andre,” replied Janice, “’t is we are the debtors indeed!”
“We’ll not quarrel over that at parting,” said Andre, forcing a merry note into his voice. “When this wretched rebellion is over, and you are well back at Greenwood, and may that be soon, I will visit you and endeavour to settle debit and credit.”
Just as he finished, the sound of drums was heard.
“’T is past tattoo, surely?” Mrs. Meredith questioned with a start.
“Ay,” answered Andre. “’T is the rogue’s march they are ruffling for a would-be deserter who was drum-headed this evening, and whom they are taking to the State House yard to hang. Brrew! Was not the gloom of to-night great enough without that as a last touch to ring in our ears? What a fate for a soldier who might have died in battle! Farewell, and may it be but a short au revoir,” and, turning, the young officer hurried away, singing out, in an attempt to be cheery, the soldier’s song:—
“Why, soldiers, why
Should we be melancholy, boys?
Why, soldiers, why,
Whose business ’t is to die?
What, sighing? fie!
Drown fear, drink on, be jolly, boys.
’T is he, you, or I!”