The new arrangement not merely brought them comfort, but also pleasure. Mr. and Mrs. Meredith were treated as guests; and Madame de Riedesel made Janice quite as much her own companion as an attendant on the children. With her, once her nervousness was conquered, Janice talked French entirely; and more for amusement than for improvement, she began the study of German, with her friend as instructor; and, having as well the aid of every Brunswick officer, who only too gladly frequented the house, she was soon able to both read and speak it, to the delight of the baron, who preferred his native tongue; though his wife, German-born as she was, could not understand how any one who could talk French would for a moment willingly use any other tongue. Furthermore, they taught each other the various stitches in embroidery and crocheting each knew; and the German, who was an excellent housewife, not merely made Janice her assistant in the household cares, but, after expressing horror that the girl knew nothing of accounts, spent many hours inducting her into the mysteries by which she knew to a farthing how her money was expended.
Although these were all pastimes rather than labours to Janice, there were lighter hours in which she made a fourth at whist, learned chess from the general, and played on the harpsichord or sang to him. Once a week there was a musicale, at which all who could play on any instrument contributed a share, and dances and dinners were frequently given by the Riedesels and by General Phillips, the major-general in command of the British part of the Convention prisoners. Horses in plenty were in the stable, and the two ladies, well escorted by officers, took almost daily rides, the baroness making herself a figure of remark to the natives by riding astride her horse in a short skirt and long boots.
With the advent of summer, their pleasures became more pastoral. So soon as the weather permitted, the gentry of the neighbourhood came to call upon their foes, and this led to much dining about. Then, too, there were out-of-door fetes and picnics, oftentimes at long distances from the cantonment; so that ere many weeks the Riedesels and the Merediths had come to know both the people and the region intimately.
A sudden end came to these amusements by an untoward event. Janice and General de Riedesel had made the flower-garden at Colle their particular charge, working there, despite the heat, for hours each day, till early in August, when one day the baron was found lying in a pathway unconscious, his face blue, his hands white, and his eyes staring. He was hurriedly carried into the house, and when the army surgeon arrived, it was found to be a case of sunstroke. Though he was bled copiously, the sufferer improved but slowly, and before he was convalescent developed the “river” or “breakbone fever.” Finally he was ordered over the mountains to the Warm Springs, to see whether their waters might not benefit him; and, leaving Mr. and Mrs. Meredith in charge, the baroness and Janice went with him, half as companions and half as nurses.