If Hennion, by his constant service at the front, was helpless to assist his friends, Clowes, who was always with the baggage train, was unending in his favours. He secured them a stock of clothing, and assigned to them two admirable servants from the horde of runaway slaves; he promptly procured for them a more comfortable travelling carriage, and he made their lodgings a matter of daily concern, so that they always fared with the best, while his gifts of wine and other delicacies were almost embarrassingly frequent. At Yorktown, too, where the village of about sixty houses supplied but the poorest and scantiest accommodations for both man and beast, he managed to have the custom-house assigned for his own use, and then placed all the rooms the Merediths needed at their disposal. If Janice’s preferences had been spoken and regarded, everything he did in their behalf would have been declined; but her mother’s real need of the comforts of life, and her father’s love of them, were arguments too strong for her own wishes, and by placing them under constant obligation to the baron made it impossible for her not to treat him with outward courtesy whenever he sought their company, which was with every opportunity. Yet it was in vain that the commissary plied her with his old-time arts of manner and tongue. Even the slow mind of the squire took note that he gained no ground with his daughter.
“’T is a tougher task ye’ve undertaken even than ye counted upon,” he said, one evening over the wine, as Janice left the table at the earliest possible instant.
“Tut! give me time. I’ll bring her around yet.”
“I warned ye the maid had ye deep in her bad books.”
“What ’s a month? If a woman yields in that time, a man may save himself the parson’s fee, and it please him.”
“Still, though she is a good lass in most things, I must own to ye that she bath a strange vein of obstinacy in her, which she comes by from her mother.”
“Then I’ll use that same obstinacy to win her. Dost not know that every quality in a female is but a means by which to ensnare her? Let me once know a woman’s virtues and frailties, and I’ll make each one of them serve my suit.”
“’T is more than a month ye’ve been striving to win her regard.”
“Ay; but for some reason, in Philadelphia I could ne’er keep my head when with her, and as often went back as forward, curse it! ‘Better slip with foot than with tongue,’ runs the old saying, and I did both with her. I’ve learned my lesson now, and once give me a clear field and ye shall see how ’t will be.”
The squire shook his head. “She’s promised to Major Hennion, and after much folly and womanishness at last she’s found her mind, and tells me she will cheerfully wed him.”
“And how will the lot of ye live, man?” asked Clowes, crossly. “Hast not had word that Jersey has enacted a general act of forfeiture and escheatage ’gainst all Royalists?”