“Four hours ago, sir, by special courier.’
What Brereton read was this:—
August 16, 1781.
Sir,—Should you have already taken steps looking to the discovery and seizure of those concerned in the late robbing of the mails, you will hold all such proceedings in abeyance until further orders. For military reasons it is even desired that the post-bag which will be sent through to-morrow should fall into the hands of the enemy, and you will act accordingly. I have the honour to be,
Yr. Obedt. hble Servt.
To Colonel Brereton,
Commanding the 3rd. New Jersey Regt.,
Stationed at Chatham.
Jack whistled softly, then smiled, “Joe will have a long wait,” he chuckled. “I wonder what ’s up.”
He knew three days later, for orders came to him to put his regiment in motion and march for Philadelphia, and the bearer of the despatch added that the united forces of Washington and Rochambeau were already across the Hudson and would follow close upon his heels.
“We’ve made Sir Henry Clinton buy the information that we intend to attack New York,” the aide told him, “and now we are off to trap Cornwallis in Virginia.”
Owing to the impossibility of the horses of Tarleton’s and Simcoe’s legions being ferried on the small boats which transported the foot troops from Portsmouth to Yorktown, they had been left behind the rest of the army, with directions to put themselves on board the frigate and sloops of war and effect a landing at Hampton or thereabouts. This gave the commissary still more time free from the presence of Major Hennion, but he had little reason to think it of advantage to him. At meal hours, since they had but one table, Janice could not avoid his company, but otherwise she very successfully eluded him. Much of each day she spent with her mother, who was ailing, and kept her room, and she made this an excuse for never remaining in those shared by all in common. When she went out of doors, which, owing to the August heats, was usually towards evening, she always took pains that the baron should not be in a position to join her, or even to know of her having sallied forth. With the same object, she generally, as soon as she left the house, hurried through the little village and past the rows of tents of the encampment on the outskirts and the lines of earthworks upon which the soldiery and negroes were working, until she reached the high point of land to the east, which opened on Chesapeake Bay, where, feeling secure, she could enjoy herself in the orchard of the Moore house, in the woods to the southward, or with sewing or a book, merely sit on the extreme point gazing off at the broad expanse of water.
She was thus engaged on the afternoon of the 28th of August, when the rustle of footsteps made her look up from her book, only to find that her precautions for once were futile, as it was the commissary who was hastening toward her.