“Indeed, but I have,” eagerly cried Janice. “Wilt take him my deepest thanks?”
“And no more?”
“If your ladyship were willing,” said Janice, archly, “I would ask you to take him my love and a kiss.”
“He shall have them, though I doubt not he would prefer such gifts without a proxy,” promised Mrs. Washington, smiling. Then she whispered, “And can I not carry the same to some one else?”
“Never!” replied the girl, grave on the instant. “Once I cared for him, but such feeling as I had has long since died, and nothing can ever restore it.”
Keenly desirous as the Merediths were for the well-being of the Riedesels, it was impossible for them not to feel a pang of regret when, one morning, the baroness broke the news to them that Washington had yielded to her prayer, that her husband and General Phillips had at last been exchanged, and that they were to set out within the week for New York. Yet, even in the departure, their benefactors continued their kindness; for, having rented Colle for two years, they placed the house at their disposal for the balance of the lease; and when, after tearful good-byes had been made and they were well started on their northern journey, Janice went to her room, she found a purse containing twenty guineas in gold as a parting gift from the general, a breastpin of price from the baroness, and a ring from Gustava, with a note attached to it in the English print which Janice had taught her, declaring her undying affection and her intention to ask God to change her to a boy that when she grew up she might return and wed her.
The months that drifted by after this departure were lean ones of incident. Succeeding as they did to the ample garden, poultry, pigs, and two cows which the baron had donated to them, they were quite at ease as to food. The junior officers who still remained in charge of the troops saw to it that they did not want for military servants, thus relieving them of all severe labour; and while they deeply felt the loss of the Riedesels, there was no lack of company.
The void the departure of the baroness and children made in Janice’s life was partly filled by an acquaintance already made which now grew into a friendship. Soon after their settlement at Colle, Mrs. Jefferson, wife of the Governor, who lived but a few miles away at Monticello, had come to call on them, a visit which she was unable to repeat, owing to her breaking health, but this very invalidism, as it turned, tended to foster the intimacy. Her husband being compelled by public events to be at the capital, she was much alone, and often sent over an invitation to Janice to come and spend a few days with her. As a liking for the girl ripened, it induced an attempt to serve them.
“I have spoke to Thomas of your hard lot,” she told Janice, “and repeated to him enough of the tale you told me to convince him that your father was not the active Tory he is reputed to be, and have at last persuaded him to write to Governor Livingston bespeaking a permission for you to return to your own home, if your father will but give his parole to take no part in public affairs.”