Very falteringly and still with downcast face the girl murmured, “No.”
“Then I’ll save ye from him, mark my word. Come, up with your lips, and give me a kiss for the promise. What! still frightened? ’T is nothing so terrible. A court lady would have had a dozen kisses in the time I’ve pleaded. And ye are no mere country hoyden, without manners or—”
Already Janice was raising her head, the possibility of seeming countrified being worse even than a man’s caress; but her intended submission and Evatt’s speech were both interrupted by the clump of boots in the hall, and the pair had barely time to assume less tell-tale attitudes when the squire and Phil were standing in the doorway.
“Friend Evatt,” ejaculated Mr. Meredith, “come to my office at once. I’ve a matter needing your advice. Lass, tell your mother to send us the Madeira and rum, with some hot water, but let us not be disturbed.”
Evatt made a grimace as he followed, and threw himself into a chair with a suggestion of irritation.
“This lad, for a reason he won’t tell,” began the squire, as he closed the door, “has kept eye on a bondsman of mine, and this evening, as luck would have it, he stood upon a barrel, by one of the stable windows, and overheard a pretty story the fellow told to some one whom Phil could n’t see. Tell it o’er, lad, as ye told it me.”
Hennion, thus admonished, retold the story of the powder, as the bond-servant had related it to Janice. But two omissions he made: the first being a failure to mention the connection of his father with the matter, and the second the presence of Janice in the stable.
“Here ’s news indeed!” exclaimed Evatt.
“Ay. But what to do with it is the question.”
“Do! Why, get word of it to Howe as quick as may be, so that he may take advantage of their plight. We must send him a letter.”
“’T is easier said than done. Boston is encompassed, and no man can get through the lines.”
“I have it. The ‘Asia’ frigate, with her tender, lies in the lower bay at New York; the latter can be sent round with a letter to Boston. And ye shall bear it, lad,” added Evatt, turning to Phil.
“’T ain’t no wish of mine,” ejaculated Philemon.
“There is no one else we can trust. ’T will be but a month’s affair, at worst.”
“But I don’t care ter go,” dissented Hennion. “I want ter get married ter Miss Janice right off, an’ not—”
“Come, squire, tell the fellow he must n’t shirk his duty to his king. He can marry your daughter any time, but now the moment to do a service to his country. Why, man, if it ends this rebellion, as it seems like to, they’ll give ye a title— and ye, too, squire, I doubt not.”
“He speaks true, Phil. Here ’s a chance, indeed. Put the girl out of thy head for a time, and think a man’s thoughts.”
“Ay,” cried Evatt. “Don’t prove the old saying: