“Was n’t that Joe Bagby?” questioned the man’s companion.
“’Sh! We don’t mention no names, if it can be avoided.”
“You need not fear me. I am in the general’s confidence, and know as well as you that No. 2 is Major-General Parsons of the Connecticut line.”
“That ’s more than I knew,” muttered the boatman; “so you see, Colonel Hennion, ’t is as well not to mention names.”
In silence the boat drifted onward, save for an order presently given that the rowers turn in toward the left bank.
“Seems like I hearn suthin’,” suddenly came a voice out of the darkness.
“‘T is only we, fishin’ for what ’s to be caught!” said the boatman.
“No danger of yer catchin’ nuthin’ here,” asserted the unseen speaker.
“Pull into the pier, boys! We ’re got your son aboard, Hennion.”
A low exclamation came from the man standing on the rude wharf that suddenly loomed into view. “Yer duz n’t mean my Phil
“Ay, dad,” answered the colonel, as he rose and climbed out of the boat; “’t is me.”
“Lordy me, if I ever expected ter see yer ag’in, Phil,” cried the father, as he threw his arms about him. “This is a surprise ez duz my ole bones a heap of good. Naow say yer’ve come ter tell me thet I may make yer peace with the state, an’ yer’ll come back ter Boxely fer good. Terrible lonesome I’ve bin, lad, all these years yer ye bin off.”
“Nay, dad, my heart ’s too much in the service to ever let me get interested in turnips or cabbages again. What I’ve come for is to make you yield to Mr. Meredith’s request, and if possible to get a word with Janice. Tell me he’s mistaken, dad, in what he wrote. You never refused—”
“Look here, Hennion,” growled the boatman, “we can’t waste all night while you—”
He was in turn interrupted by a sharp click, the spit of a port fire sounded, and instantly came a glare of red light, which brought those on the pier into full view, and showed to them two boats full of soldiers on the river, and another party of them rising from behind a fence a few rods away.
With a scream of terror, Squire Hennion started down the wharf, hoping to escape before the troops closed in.
“Halt!” commanded some one; and when the old man still ran, he ordered “Fire.”
“Bang!” went a musket on the word; but Hennion reached the end of the pier, and turned down the river bank. “Bang, bang,” went two more; and the runner staggered, then pitched forward on his face.
“I surrender,” announced Philemon, as the soldiers came crowding on to the wharf. “Where is your commander?”
“I am sorry to see you here, Hennion,” said Brereton’s voice. “You are the last man I wanted to take prisoner under such circumstances.”
“Wilt let me go to my father?” steadily requested the British colonel. “I give my word not to escape.”
“Let him go free,” ordered Brereton; and together they walked down to the prostrate body, which an officer had already turned on its face, so that he might search the pockets.