“That I’d not,” answered the squire, pulling a long face. “I suppose that has taken Greenwood from us?”
“Ay, for I saw the very advertisement of the sale, and have not told ye before merely to spare you distress. And ’t will strip Hennion of his acres as well, I take it. Wilt deliberately marry her to a penniless man?”
“Boxely never was his, and I doubt not his scamp of a father will find some way to save it to him. I’ll not tarry longer, for ’t is ill news ye have just broke to me, and I must carry it to Matilda. It gives us but a black future to which to look forward.”
Mr. Meredith gone from the room, the commissary took from his pocket a copy of Gaines’ “New York Gazette and Weekly Mercury,” which had come to him but that morning, and re-read an account it contained, taken from the “New Jersey Gazette,” of the sale of Greenwood to Esquire Hennion. “’T is my devil’s ill luck that he, of all men, should buy it,” he muttered. “However, if I can but get them to New York, away from this dashing dragoon, and then persuade them to cross the Atlantic, ’t will matter not who owns it.” He rose, stretched himself, and as he did so, he repeated the words:—
“I and chance, against
Time and I against chance and you.”
On a broiling August day in the year 1781, an officer rode along the Raritan between Middle-Brook and Brunswick. As he approached the entrance of Greenwood, he slowed his horse, and after a moment’s apparent hesitation, finally turned him through the gateway. Once at the porch he drew rein and looked for a time at the paintless clap-boards, broken window-panes, and tangle of vines and weeds, all of which told so plainly the story of neglect and desertion. Starting his steed, he passed around to the kitchen door, and rapped thrice with the butt of a pistol without gaining any reply. Wheeling about, he was returning to the road when an idea seemed to come to him, for, altering direction, he pulled on his bridle, and turned his horse into the garden, now one dense overgrowth. Guiding him along one of the scarcely discernible paths, he checked him at a garden seat, and leaning in his saddle plucked half a dozen sprays of honeysuckle from the vine which surmounted it. He touched them to his lips, and gave his horse the spur. He held the sprays in his hand as he rode, occasionally raising them to his face until he was on the edge of Brunswick village, then he slipped them into his sword sash.
Giving his horse into the hands of the publican at the tavern, he crossed the green to the parsonage and knocked. “Is Parson McClave within?” he inquired of the hired girl.
“Come in, come in, Colonel Brereton,” called a voice from the sitting-room; “and all the more welcome are you that I did not know you were in these parts.”
“My regiment was ordered across the river to Chatham last week, to build ovens for the coming attack on New York, and I took a few hours off to look up old friends,” Brereton answered in a loud voice. “Where can we safely talk?” he whispered.