This absence of father and lover gave Janice a really restful breathing space, and it was the least eventful time the girl had known since the advent of the bondsman nearly a year before. Even he almost dropped out of the girl’s life, for the farm-work was now at its highest point of activity, and he was little about house or stable. Furthermore, though twenty thousand minutemen and volunteers were gathered before Boston, though the thirteen colonies were aflame with war preparations, and though the Continental Congress was voting a declaration on taking up arms and appointing a general, nothing but vague report of all this reached Greenwood.
In Brunswick, however, Dame Rumour was more precise, and one afternoon as the bondsman rode into the town, with some horses that needed shoeing, he was hailed by the tavern-keeper.
“Say! Folks tells that yer know how tew paint a bit?” And, when Charles nodded, he continued: “Waal, we’ve hearn word that the Congress has appinted a feller named George Washington fer ginral, who ‘s goin’ tew come through here tew-morrer on his way tew Boston, an’ I want tew git that ere name painted out and his’n put in its place. Are yer up tew it, and what ’ud the job tax me?” As the publican spoke he pointed at the lettering below the weather-beaten portrait of George the Third, which served as the signboard of the tavern.
“Get me some colours, and bide till I leave these horses at the smith’s, and I’ll do it for nothing,” said Charles, smiling; and ten minutes later, sitting on a barrel set in a cart, he was doing his share toward the obliteration of kinghood and the substitution of a comparatively unknown hero.
“’T is good luck that they both is called George,” remarked the tavern-keeper; “fer yer’ve only got tew paint out the ‘King’ an’ put in a ‘Gen.’ in the first part, which saves trouble right tew begin on.”
Charles smilingly adopted the suggestion, and then measured off “the III.” “’T is a long name to get into such space,” he said.
“Scant it is,” assented the publican. “I’ll tell yer what. Jist leave the ‘the’ an’ paint in ‘good’ after it. That’ll make it read slick.” Pleased with this solution of the difficulty, the hotel-keeper retired to the “public,” with a parting invitation to the painter to drink something for his trouble.
While Charles was doing the additional work, he was interrupted by a roar of laughter, and, twisting about on his barrel, he found a group of horsemen, who had come across the green and drawn rein just behind him, looking at the newly lettered sign. From the one of the three who rode first came the burst of laughter—a man of medium size and thinly built, perhaps fifty years of age, with a nose so out of proportion to his face, in its size and heaviness, that it came near enough to caricature to practically submerge all his other features. The second man was evidently trying not to smile, and as Charles