One morning, while the squire stood superintending two of his laborers, as they were seeding a field, a rider stopped his horse at the wall dividing it from the road and hailed him loudly. Mr. Meredith, in response to the call, walked toward the man; but the moment he was near enough to recognise Captain Bagby, he came to a halt, indecisive as to what course to pursue toward his enemy.
“Can’t do no talking at this distance, squire,” sang out Bagby, calmly; “and as I’ve got something important to say, and my nag prevents me from coming to you, I reckon you’ll have to do the travelling.”
After a moment’s hesitation, the master of Greenwood came to the stone wall. But it was with a bottled-up manner which served to indicate his inward feelings that he demanded crustily, “What want ye with me?”
“It’s this way,” explained Joe. “If what’s said is true, Howe is coming to York with a bigger army than we can raise, to fight us, if we fights, but with power to offer us all we wants, if we won’t. Now there ’s a big party in Congress as is mortal afraid that there’ll be a reconciliation, and so they is battling tooth and nail to get independence declared before Howe can get here, so that there sha’n’t be no possibility of making up.”
“The vile Jesuits!” exclaimed the squire, wrathfully, “and but a three-month gone they were tricking their constituents with loud-voiced cries that the charge that they desired independence was one trumped up by the ministry to injure the American cause, and that they held the very thought in abhorrence.”
“’T is n’t possible to always think the same way in politics straight along,” remarked the politician, “and that ’s just what I come over to see you about. Now, if there ’s going to be war, I guess I’ll be of some consequence, and if there ’s going to be a peace, like as not you’ll be on top; and I’ll be concerned if I can tell which it is like to be.”
“I can tell ye,” announced Mr. Meredith. “’T is—”
“Perhaps you can, squire,” broke in Bagby, “but your opinions have n’t proved right so far, so just let me finish what I have to say first. Have you heard that the Committee of Safety has arrested the Governor?”
“No. Though ’t is quite of a piece with your other lawless proceedings.”
“Some of his letters was intercepted, and they was so tory-ish that ’t was decided he should be put under guard. And at the same time it was voted to take precautionary proceedings against all the other enemies of the country.”
“Then why are n’t ye under arrest?” snapped the squire.
“’Cause there ’s too many of us, and too few of you,” explained Bagby, equably. “Now the Committee has sent orders to each county committee to make out a list of those we think ought to be arrested, and a meeting ’s to be held this afternoon to act on it. Old Hennion he came to me last night and said he wanted your name put on, and he’d vote to recommend that you be taken to Connecticut and held in prison there along with the Governor.”