No prayer the women could make served to sway Lee from his purpose, and without delay the prisoner was mounted behind one of the escort, taken to Brunswick, and handed over to the authorities. When Mrs. Meredith and Janice, who followed on foot, reached the town, it was to find that the squire was to be carried to Trenton the next morning. A plea was made that they should be permitted to accompany him, but it was refused, and a bargain was finally made with the publican to carry them.
The following evening saw them all in Trenton, Mr. Meredith in jail, and the ladies once more at the Drinkers’. It was too late for anything to be attempted that night; but early the next day Mrs. Meredith, with Mr. Drinker, called on Governor Livingston to plead for mercy.
“Had he come in and delivered himself up, there might have been some excuse for special lenience,” the Governor argued; “but captured as he was, there can be none. The people have suffered so horribly in the last two years that they wish a striking example made of some prominent Tory, and will not brook a reasonless pardon. He must stand his trial under the statute and proclamation, and of that there can be but one outcome.”
When the suppliants returned with this gloomy prediction, Janice, who held herself accountable for the calamity, primarily by having secured the appointment of her father, and still more by drawing the caricature which had brought such disaster, was so overcome that for a time the mother’s anxieties were transferred to her. Realising this, after the first wild outburst of grief and horror were over, Janice struggled desperately to regain self-control; and when the two had gone to bed, she successfully resisted her longing to give way once more to tears, though no sleep came to her the night through. Yet, if she brought pale cheeks and tired eyes to the breakfast table, there was determination rather than despair in her face and manner, as if in her long vigil she had thought out some deliverance.
In what this consisted was shown by her whispered request to Mr. Drinker, the moment the meal had been despatched, to learn for her if Joe Bagby was in town, and to arrange for an interview. Within the hour her emissary returned with the member of Assembly.
“I suppose you have heard, Mr. Bagby, of my father’s capture,” she said, without even the preliminary of a greeting.
“Yes, miss,” said Bagby, awkwardly and shamefacedly; “’t is news that did n’t stop travelling, and ’t was all over Trenton before he’d been an hour in town. One way or another, he and I have n’t got on well, but I did n’t wish him or you any such bad luck, and I’m real sorry it ’s come about.”
“I wished to see you to ask—to beg,” went on the girl, “that you would persuade the Governor to set him free.”
“But he’d not have the right to do that,” replied Joe. “He only can pardon the squire after the trial. And right now I want to say that if you have n’t settled on any lawyer, I will take the case and do my best for your dad, and let you take your own time as to paying me.”