Another pause followed, save for a new outburst from Joe, concerning the kinds of vengeance he intended to shortly inaugurate; but presently Brereton and the doctor came across the green, the latter carrying a bottle and spoon in his hand.
“This is the one,” said the general; and then, as the doctor stepped forward and poured the spoon full from the bottle, he ordered, “Open your mouth, Mr. Bagby.”
“This is tyranny,” shrieked Joe, “and I won’t do no such thing.” He shut his mouth with a snap and set his jaws rigidly.
“Hold his head,” commanded Brereton; and the corporal took it firmly and bent it back so that the helpless man looked skyward. “Snuff,” said Jack, and a second officer, pulling out a small box, stepped forward, and placed a pinch in Bagby’s nose.
“A-chew!” went Joe, and as his mouth flew open, the officer inserted the barrel of his pistol, so that when he tried to close his jaws again they only bit on steel. Instantly the spoon was put to his lips, and the contents emptied down his throat.
“How long will it take?” the general asked.
“The lobelia ought to act in about five minutes,” replied the doctor.
Silence ensued, as soldiers and crowd stared at the immovable Joseph, whose complexion slowly turned from ruddy to white, and from white to greenish yellow, while into his eyes and mouth came a hang-dog look of woebegone misery and sickness.
The occupants of Greenwood were still at breakfast that same morning, when word was brought to the commander-in-chief that Mr. Meredith desired speech with him.
“Set another place, Billy, and bid him to come in,” ordered the hostess.
“I’ll tell him, Lady Washington,” cried Janice, springing up, and after she had nearly throttled her father on the porch, he was led in.
“My thanks to ye, Lady Washington,” said the squire, once the introduction was made, “but I have broken fast already, and have merely come to intercede with his Excellency on a sad matter.” In the fewest possible words he explained Philemon’s situation. “The lad assures me that he came but to serve me, and with never a thought of spying,” he ended. “I trust therefore that ye’ll not hold him as one, however suspiciously it may appear.”
“The matter shall have careful consideration at my hands, Mr. Meredith,” replied Washington.
“All the more, I trust, that ye are good enough to take an interest in my Jan, who is his promised bride.”
Both Washington and his wife turned to the girl, and the former said,—
“What, Miss Janice, is this the way thou hast kept thy promise to me to save thy smiles and blushes for some good Whig?”
“Janice Meredith! you are the most ungrateful creature that ever I knew!” asserted Mrs. Washington, crossly.
The girl only looked down into her lap, without an attempt at reply, but her father took up the cudgels.