The man smiled. “’T is little inciting they need,” he answered.
“Is ’t true that ye’ve been drilling them?” demanded the squire.
“Ask Phil Hennion,” replied the servant.
“What mean ye?”
“If ’t is wrong for me to drill, is ’t not wrong for him to be drilled?”
“How?” once more roared the squire. “Dost mean to say that Phil has been drilling along with the other villains?”
“Naow, naow, Meredith,” spoke up the elder Hennion. “Boys will be boys, yer know, an’—”
“That’s enough,” cried the father. “I’ll have no man at Greenwood who takes arms against our good king. Is there no loyalty left in the land?”
“Naow look here, Meredith,” Mr. Hennion argued. “Theer ain’t no occasion fer such consarned highty-tighty airs. Yer can’t keep boys from bein’ high-sperited. What ’s more—”
“High-spirited!” snapped the squire. “Is that the name ye give rebellion, Justice Hennion?”
“Thet ‘ere is jest what I wuz a-comin’ ter, Meredith,” went on his fellow-justice. “Fust off I wuz hot agin his consarnin’ himself, an’ tried ter hold him back, but, lordy me! young blood duz love fightin’, an’ with all the young fellows possest, an’ all the gals admirin’, I might ez well a-tried ter hold a young steer. So, says I, ’t is the hand of Providence, fer no man kin tell ez what ’s ahead of us. There ain’t no good takin’ risks, an’ so I’ll side in with the one side, an’ let Phil side in with t’ other, an’ then whatsomever comes, ’t will make no differ ter us. Naow, ef the gal kin come it over Phil ter quit trainin’, all well an’ good, an’—”
“I’ll tell ye what I think of ye,” cried Mr. Meredith. “That ye’re a precious knave, and Phil ’s a precious fool, and I want no more of either of ye at Greenwood.”
“Now, squire,” began Phil, “’t ain’t—”
“Don’t attempt to argue!” roared Mr. Meredith. “I say the thing is ended. Get out of my house, the pair of ye!” and with this parting remark, the speaker flung from the room, and a moment later the door of his office banged with such force that the whole house shook. Both the elder and younger Hennion stayed for some time, and each made an attempt to see the squire, but he refused obstinately to have aught to do with them, and they were finally forced to ride away.
Though many men were anxiously watching the gathering storm, a girl of sixteen laid her head on her pillow that night, deeply thankful that British regiments were mustering at Boston, and that America, accepting this as an answer to her appeal, was quietly making ready to argue the dispute with something more potent than petitions and associations.
The following morning the squire went to the stable, and after soundly rating Charles for his share in the belligerent preparation of Brunswick, ordered him, under penalty of a flogging, to cease not only from exercising the would-be soldiers, but from all absences from the estate “without my order or permission.” The man took the tirade as usual with an evident contempt more irritating than less passive action, speaking for the first time when at the end of the monologue the master demanded:—