“Oh, Lady Washington,” cried the maiden, ecstatically, “how can I ever thank you!”
“That is my duty, Janice, not yours,” asserted Brereton, taking the matron’s hand and kissing it.
Janice, her eyes starry with happiness, crossed to General Washington. “Oh, your Excellency,” she begged, her hand on his arm, “there is but one flaw in my gladness, and ’t is that for my sake he lost your trust and affection. Will you— oh, won’t you forgive him, as he has me, and let my joy be perfect?”
Washington smiled indulgently into the winsome face, and turning to Brereton, held out his hand. “You have secured an able pleader,” he said, “and I cannot find it in my heart to give her nay at any such time. Indeed,” he added, as Jack eagerly took the proffered peace-offering, “’t is to be feared, my boy, that had she but made her prayer to me instead of you, I should have found it difficult not to be equally faithless to my duty.”
Janice stooped and kissed the two hands as they clasped each other, then, as her father entered the room, she sped to him, and throwing her arms about his neck, kissed him as well.
“Mr. Meredith,” said Jack, tendering his hand a little doubtfully, “a bondservant of yours ran off while yet there was four years of service due to you. He is ready now to fulfil the bond, nor will he complain if you enforce the legal penalty of double time.”
“’T is lucky for me, general,” answered the squire, heartily, “that ye acknowledge my claim, for I take it that, my lass having sworn a new allegiance, I shall need a hold on you, if I am to retain any lien on her.”
“Nay, Mr. Meredith,” said Washington, “you need not fear that the new tie will efface the old one. We have ended the mother country’s rule of us, but ’t is probable her children will never cease to feel affection for the one who gave them being; and so you will find it with Miss Janice.”