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BY EMILIE BENSON KNIPE AND ALDEN ARTHUR KNIPE
CHAPTER XIII I OF FER SIX PENCE TO AN ADM IRAL
My heart stood still for a moment as I watched
Lord Howe take up my little book of Maxims.
He looked first at the cover, and then, to my great relief, began turning over the leaves, reading here and there with a smile on his lips. “'T is a human document, gentlemen,” he said to the table at large; “well worth the perusal, but it will have to wait till this matter is settled. Now, Mistress Beatrice, you are before us on a grave charge, and what to do with you is by no means plain. Were you a loyal English maid, it would be our duty to see you safe to your friends, no matter who they were. On the other hand, rebels must be treated as-as rebels, though circumstances may be taken into consideration. Perchance, after all, you are loyal at heart. All this talk we read in this little book is just the silly chatter of others with whom you have come in contact, and which, in your case, could be easily forgiven if you forget it. So, you see, there is an alternative for you to choose. If you tell us that you are really a loyal subject to King George, we can arrange to send you to Mr. Travers. If, however, you say that you are a rebel—well, that 's another pair of shoes! Now declare,” he ended, leaning toward me and speaking impressively, “are you a loyal English maid as I hope, or are you, as Sir John says, a rebel spy f" It seemed that freedom was before me and an end to all my troubles in sight, if I could only say that I was a loyal subject of the king; but I could not say it. To have done so would have been to deny what was in my heart; for, although I was but a child and knew little, mayhap, of the real matters that had led to the war with the colonies, yet Captain Timmons had won my sympathy for his cause. To deny that would have been to lie, and that I could not do. For an instant I was tempted, but I scarce waited to reason it all out, and answered truthfully. “Your Lordship,” I began quietly, for I had no wish to be defiant, “I am no spy; but if to be sorry for the colonies and to think that the king's ministers have not treated them fairly makes a rebel, then am I one.” There were murmurs about the table. I had hidden my face in my hands, thinking that all was over and that I would be sent back to Eng
land, and caring little what else might happen. I heard Sir John speaking sharply. “There is nothing more to say, Your Lordship. Shall I order her sent back 2" Although I had no hope, I listened eagerly for Lord Howe's answer, because Mr. Vernon had said his was the final word. “Nay, Sir John,” he answered, and at the word my heart leaped. “We do not war with children. Remember that, if I carry a sword in one hand, I also carry the olive-branch in the other. My motive in asking the child to declare herself was to find out whether or not she was truthful. I think all at this table will agree that she is, and, therefore, we may believe she is not a spy, and can send her to Mr. Travers.” There was a loud murmur of approval around the table, and it was all I could do not to look my triumph at Sir John, who, I noted out of the corner of my eye, was very glum, and nervously fingered a pen lying on the table. “Miss Beatrice,” Lord Howe continued, “we will send a safe-conduct to Mr. Travers, so that he may come and fetch you. In the meantime, you will stop aboard the Good Will. That, I see, makes you glad. Well, though you are a rebel, you are an honest one, which is a good deal in these days.” And with that he bowed to me in dismissal. I wanted to run, but having obtained my freedom was less than the half of my desire if I must leave behind what was more valuable than the liberty of any small maid. “Please, Your Lordship,” I said, stepping forward, “may I not have my little book? T was Granny gave it to me, and it can be of interest to no one else in the whole world.” “Why do you not give it to me for a keepsake?” he asked, picking it up from where it lay before him. “I should certainly keep it,” growled Sir John. “There may be a cipher message in it, plain enough to those to whom she is going.” “Nay, I know no ciphers,” I said hastily. “Please, Your Lordship, let me have it.” And then the lucky sixpence, hanging about my neck on a ribbon, came into my mind, and, being but a child, I took it off and held it toward the admiral. “Here is a better keepsake, My Lord. It is my lucky sixpence, and you may have it in exchange for the little book,” I said eagerly. “'T is a very lucky sixpence, the Egyptian said, and I should
not fight and shall not need it. Perhaps it will keep you from harm in the war, and, indeed, I hope so.” “Nay, I know what we 'll do,” he replied. “We have a sailor aboard who is so strong that he breaks coins with his fingers; so we will e'en divide it.” With that he gave an order, and in a few moments a great, tarry sailor came in, knuckling his forehead and seeming very much out of place in that splendid cabin. The admiral gave him the coin, telling him to be careful to divide it equally, whereupon he took it, and, bending it this way and that, snapped it in halves. “That will be even better,” I said, struck by a sudden memory, “for the Egyptian's prophecy said “the half would be luckier than the whole.’” “Good" said Admiral Howe, handing me the
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He picked it up as if to give it to me, when Sir John spoke up once more. “I beg Your Lordship not to give it up. I am convinced that the maid has not told all she knows. She is too clever by half. The book has more significance than appears on the surface, I am sure.” Well had Mr. Vernon said that Sir John was no fool. Had his enmity toward me personally not showed so plainly, I feel certain that his opinion would have prevailed, and I would have gone back to England willy-nilly. The admiral sat for a few minutes handling the book and looking at the cover, then he raised his eyes and gazed at me, while I stood trembling with anxiety, twirling my half of the sixpence between my fingers. With a smile meant only for me, he glanced down at his half of the coin lying in his palm, and, without another word, handed me the book. I knew, as well as if he had told me, that the lucky piece was as a bond between us, and, because of that, he had yielded to its dumb pleading. I seized my little book, and, with low, murmured thanks and a courtesy, I hurried away with my heart beating joyously, for I saw an end to my troubles at last and an honorable discharge of the responsibility put upon me by Captain Timmons of the Bouncing Betsey.
CHAPTER XIV I AM DENIED .
How gloriously the sun shone, and how beautiful and sparkling were the waters of New York Bay that day ! It was all I could do to sit still in the little boat while I was being rowed back to the Good Will. I wanted to sing and laugh, to do anything, in fact, to give expression to my joy at being free once more; for I had been a prisoner. But, best of all, I had the little book of Maxims pressed close beneath my arm. The precious paper was safe, and, though I had not the least idea what it was all about, I knew it was vastly important, and I was anxious to put it into Mr. Travers's hands. It had been a fortunate day for me, and all the heartaches and anxieties of the last few weeks were forgotten. As I gained the deck of the Good Will, Mr. Vernon was waiting, and he could see by my face that matters had turned out to my liking, for he smiled gaily as he stepped over to me. “'T is easy to see that you have won the admiral s” he cried. “Is everything satisfactory?” “Oh, yes, everything !” I exclaimed. “Lord Howe is going to send for Mr. Travers to come and fetch me, and he gave me my book back again, and—and—” but there were no words to tell how happy I felt, and I could only dance up and down from sheer delight. "I am glad for your sake,” said Mr. Vernon, “but I, for one, shall feel sorry indeed to see you go, and there are others that I could name at our end of the table who will miss you.” “And I shall be sorry to leave you, for you have been very good to me,” I answered. “Well, you are like to be with us a day or so yet,” Mr. Vernon returned, “so you need not be in any hurry to pack.” “Will it be so long?” I cried in dismay; “I thought I could go at once.” “We must first get a message through to Mr. Travers; and, even if he starts at once, there is no telling where he is nor what he is about. I should fancy that he 's a very busy man with his Vol. XXXIX. —89.
rebellion unless he 's vastly changed since last I saw him.” This was far from good news, for, now that I could go, I was impatient to be off. But even the delay could not dampen my spirits much that day, and the hours passed pleasantly enough, for there was always something of interest going on in the bay. First of all there was constant visiting of officers from ship to ship, and drums were beaten to quarters to receive this or that guest with fitting pomp, so that there was a never-ceasing bustle of excitement. Then there was an unending stream of people coming out to the boat with things to sell. There were vegetables such as I had never seen, one in particular which was quite long and had a jacket outside, and inside, little beans stuck, in some way, on a stick. Later I found that it was Indian corn, and really most toothsome. Two days passed without a sign of my cousin. On the next morning, about noon, I was standing near the ladder leading to the landing-stage, watching Sir John and his staff come aboard on their return from the admiral's ship. I had often stood so in the past, and Sir John had stalked by me without a word or a look. This time, however, he stopped before me and stared down with such a smile of satisfaction that I was frightened at Once. “So, Mistress Travers, cousin to Lord Harborough,” he began slowly, drawling out the words mockingly, “I have the last laugh after all, and there is a saying that “he who laughs last, laughs best.’” “What mean you?” I cried, a great fear clutching my heart. “That your so-called cousin, Mr. Travers, though a rebel, is evidently an honest man, and will have none of you !” he answered, altering his tone and looking at me fiercely. “You are a prisoner again, and back to England you go on the first troop-ship that sails" Then, turning, he addressed the officer in command: “Keep an eye to her; she is a prisoner of war !” I know not what I did for a moment or two. The shock seemed to rob me of all thought or action. It was too severe a blow for tears, and it had come so suddenly that I could only stand staring straight before me. Then I bethought me that this could not be, and that Sir John was trying to trick me, and I sought Mr. Vernon's face, hoping to find there something to encourage me; but, alas, as he stood waiting for Sir John to leave the deck, he was careful not to look in my direction, and I was sure, knowing his good-will for me, that this latest and worst news was true. Almost blindly I made my way to the forward end of the ship, and there alone, behind one of the great cannon, I crouched down and cried and cried, as if my heart would break. And, indeed, it was near to breaking. I know not how long I had been there when Mr. Vernon came and seated himself beside me. “I 've been looking everywhere for you,” he said, and his voice showed how sorry he felt. I stifled my sobs as well as I could. “Is it true?” I asked. “Yes, it 's quite true,” he replied: “he wrote saying he knew nothing of any maid.” “And neither did he s” said I. “He expected a boy!” “Oh, yes,” agreed Mr. Vernon. “But he will come if it is explained to him. I 'm sure he will " I cried, my hopes rising a little. “Yes, I think that not unlikely,” said Mr. Vernon. “But,” he went on, shaking his head, “he has cut himself off from coming. He will never have another safe-conduct, and without one he would n’t dare to come.” “I don't understand,” I said. “Here 's how it is,” Mr. Vernon explained. “Travers has evidently forgotten all about his relatives in England and the message he sent by the Bouncing Betsey months ago. That would be natural enough. The word sent to him by Lord Howe said nothing about the Bouncing Betsey, but merely related the fact that there was a relation of his, a little maid, waiting aboard the Good Will, and that a safe-conduct would be given to him to come and get her. Travers then, knowing nothing of a maid, thinks he scents a plot of some sort, and, though his answer was quite polite, there was clearly the suggestion that he did n’t think the admiral was acting openly, and that there was a trick somewhere. Lord Howe was furious, and I don't blame him. So, of course, Sir John saw his chance and took it. That is the whole story, and what to do I don't know. I think you are the most unlucky small girl I ever met !” Unconsciously I fingered the ribbon about my neck on which hung the half of a small coin. “And yet,” I made answer, “the Egyptian said it was a lucky sixpence.”
CHAPTER XV A PERSISTENT PEDDLER
I CAN scarce describe my wretchedness and misery as I sat on that gun-carriage weeping my eyes out. Perhaps another girl might have been braver; I know not. The blow had fallen so sud
denly that I had no chance to summon fortitude. One moment I had been looking forward eagerly to an end of all my troubles, and the next they were upon me again. Worst of all, Mr. Travers had denied me. I could only cry—and cry—and cry Mr. Vernon tried vainly to ease my sorrow. “I cannot stand it !” he said at length, almost roughly. “We must do something. Try to cease your weeping and think if there is not a way out of it !” He rose to his feet and began pacing the deck, muttering to himself now and then, and as often shaking his head, showing all too plainly that no solution came to him. At length I managed to stay my tears, though, indeed, I still shook with dry sobs, and Mr. Vernon seated himself beside me once more. “I can see no help for it,” he confessed sadly. “If Travers had not been so impudent, the admiral might have been prevailed upon to let you try again, but now it is useless to look for aid in that direction.” “Yes, I suppose so,” I answered hopelessly; “there is nothing to be done, only—only—” “Only what?” he asked. “Nothing—except that I should have liked Mr. Travers to know the truth of it,” I answered. “Think you they would send a letter to him if I wrote P” “Nay, that they would not l” he answered. “But,” he went on, lowering his voice, “write your letter, and I will see that it reaches him, only you must let me read it. You can understand my reason.” I went at once to my cabin to write the letter. I wrote out fully the reasons for my coming and all that had befallen since that distant day when I boarded the Bouncing Betsey in London, and told, as well as I was able, just how everything had happened and something, too, of my own sorrow and disappointment. I wished to tell him of the paper that had been intrusted to me, but dared not, knowing that Mr. Vernon must read it. This left me in a quandary, for I wanted to let Mr. Travers know of my effort to bring it safe into his hands. I bit the end of my pen in perplexity, trying to solve this riddle, and then there popped into my head what Captain Timmons had told me to do in case I needed to see Mr. Travers privately on a matter of importance. “Just whisper to him that tea has gone up thrippence a pound,” the captain had said. Writing it might do as well, though what I hoped to gain I know not to this day. Still, once having seized upon the idea, I straightway wished to put