On the top of a British redoubt stood a red-coated drummer, to the eye beating his instrument, but the sound of it was drowned in the roar of the guns. As the order passed from battery to battery, the thunder gradually ceased, and all that could be heard was the distant riffle of the single drum, sounding “The Parley.” Once the cessation of the firing was complete, an officer, whose uniform and accoutrements flashed out brilliantly as the eastern sun shone on them, mounted the works, and standing beside the drummer slowly waved a white flag.
One there was in Yorktown whose suffering was to the eye as great as he who had watched from the outside. A sudden change came over Clowes with the realisation of their danger. He turned white on the confirmation of the arrival of the French fleet; and when the news spread through the town that a deserter had arrived from the American camp with word of Washington’s approach, he fell on the street in a fit, out of which he came only when he had been cupped, and sixty ounces of blood taken from him. Not once after that did he seek out Janice, or even come to the custom-house for food or sleep, but pale, and talking much to himself he wandered restlessly about the town, or still more commonly stood for hours on the highest point of land which opened a view of the bay, gazing anxiously eastward for the promised English fleet.
Janice was too occupied, however, with her mother even to note this exemption. The exposure and fatigue of the long, hot march to Yorktown had proved too great a tax upon Mrs. Meredith’s strength, and almost with their arrival she took to her bed and slowly developed a low tidal fever, not dangerous in its character, but unyielding to the doctor’s ministrations.
It was on the day that the videttes fell back on the town, bringing word that the allies were advancing, that the girl noticed so marked a change in her mother that she sent for the army surgeon, and that she had done wisely was shown by his gravity after a very cursory examination.
“Miss Meredith,” he said, “this nursing is like to be of longer duration than at first seemed probable, and will over-tax your strength. ’T is best, therefore, that you let us move Mrs. Meredith into the army hospital, where she can be properly tended, and you saved from the strain.”
“I could not but stay with her, doctor,” answered Janice; “but if you think it best for her that she be moved, I can as well attend her there.”
The surgeon bit his lip, then told her, “I’ll try to secure you permission, if your father think it best.” He went downstairs, and finding the squire said: “Mr. Meredith, I have very ill news for you. It has been kept from the army, but there has been for some days an outbreak of small-pox among the negroes, and now your wife is attacked by it.”
“Don’t say it, man!” implored the squire.