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doing, I stood very straight, and, putting my hand to my head, made a military salute as had Brother John. A look of surprise came into the general's face, but, with much gravity, he raised his hand to his forehead in acknowledgment, and that action brought me to my senses. “Oh, pardon me, Your Excellency!” I cried, my face going crimson with embarrassment; and I made the best courtesy of which I was capable. “Nay, do not ask pardon,” he said, taking my hand. “I think no man ever received a greater nor a sincerer compliment.” And he smiled, bowing over my hand as if I had been a great lady. With that he took the paper that I held out to him, and, with, “Your pardon, gentlemen,” he read it through, with a very earnest face. At the end he lifted his head, and I saw that he was much pleased. “'T is all we have a right to expect,” he said musingly, “and must be despatched with all speed to Philadelphia. Mr. Travers,” he went on, handing Brother John the paper, “you will proceed at once to deliver this to Congress. This will fit in with the safe disposition of Mistress Beatrice, whom, I doubt not, you will be glad to see settled in Germantown. Once that is accomplished, you will report to Captain McLane.” “But, Your Excellency,” Brother John broke in, and his face showed anything but pleasure, “the British may attack at any moment now, and I will miss all the fighting !” “Enough !” cried General Washington, in so angry a voice that every one in the room jumped. “Enough, sir! Must I give my orders twice? You talk of fighting as if it were the whole duty of a soldier. His duty is to obey without words. Think you, Mr. Travers, that I like to stay back of the lines in safety, or that I never long to be in the thick of it? Each man of us has his part, and yours is to proceed as I have directed you without further delay.” He paused, and the red flush of anger that had mantled his face died out, leaving it a little drawn; then he turned to me. “Mistress Beatrice Travers,” and his voice had changed so that I scarce knew it for the same, “I read your letter to your cousin, Mr. Travers, and know with what faithfulness, zeal, and courage you have performed a most difficult task. For the welcome message that you bring the thanks of this sorely tried country are due you. Were the matter not a secret one, I should be glad to recommend to Congress that some special note be taken of it. That being impossible, I can only give you my words of thanks, and a pledge that my services are always at your command.”
With that he held out his hand to me, bowing low to my courtesy; and though I wanted to say something, the words would not come to my tongue. Somehow or other I found myself outside the room again, trying to keep up with Brother John, who strode along at a rapid pace. “Oh, is n't he splendid " I cried, meaning, of course, General Washington. “Aye, he 's splendid,” Brother John agreed, “and I would go through fire and water at his nod; but,” he added, “he has a testy temper when he 's crossed.” Brother John grumbled mightily for a while because he was to miss the fighting, but that did not hinder his prompt despatch upon his mission. Two hours later we were across the river in New Jersey, having stopped only long enough in New York to buy the few things I stood most urgently in need of. He was overjoyed to find that I could ride a horse, and, a pair being procured, we set off in high spirits; for it was not Brother John's way to be gloomy overlong, no matter what might happen. There is no need to dwell on this first journey of mine in America. We met all manner of soldiers and officers hurrying toward New York, and all stopped us for news of what was going forward. Every one of these seemed extremely gay and happy, as if they were on a picnic rather than a war, at which Brother John would often shake his head, predicting that there would be another story to tell ere long. The weather was exceedingly hot, and the inns at which we were forced to stop for food and lodging were overcrowded, and our accommodation was so bad that I was well content to leave them in the early morning as soon as the sun was up. Many, many things interested me, and I think Brother John must have been well-nigh distracted by my constant questions; but he never showed it,
and now I find that what I most remember of that
ride was the fact that he and I became, in truth, like brother and sister. He seemed scarce older than Horrie, though he was bigger and stronger, of course, but he had a boyish recklessness and gaiety about him that made me love him at once; and soon we were as intimate as though we had been brought up together. We crossed the Delaware River at a little town called Trenton, that was to become famous later on, and arrived in Germantown the third day. I need not tell you that by this time I had gotten all over my funny notions that people in America dressed in tiger skins and lived in wigwams. Brother John had laughed very heartily when I told him what I had expected, but I had no notion what his home in Germantown would be like. He had spoken of Mrs. Mummer, his housekeeper, and of Mummer, her husband, who had been his father's body-servant and was now steward of the estates. But he had given me no idea of the size and splendidness of it all, so that when we turned into a lane bordered by beautiful trees, and he said, “This is Denewood,” I thought we would come to the house at once, though, as yet, I could see nothing of it. But in this I was vastly mistaken. We rode on and on through a wonderful forest that now and then opened out, showing meadows and grain fields such as are seen only on the finest estates in England; and when at length we came to a broad lawn running up a gentle rise to a splendid house set on the crest of a hill, I held back my horse and stopped to look about me. “And is it all yours, Brother John ” I asked in amazement. “Yes,” he answered; “all as far as you can see. And yours, too, if you find that you can be comfortable in my—my—‘wigwim,'” he ended, with a little laugh. But I was too much impressed to think of aught but how beautiful it all was. We rode on again and came to the house, where many servants, both white and black, ran out to welcome their master and to look curiously at the little girl he had brought with him. At the door stood a plain, kindly faced woman with a smile of welcome for her master that showed a whole-hearted devotion, and behind her stood a thin, lantern-jawed man, his face twisted in a wry smile. These I knew to be Mrs. Mummer and her husband. “We had news of you when you entered the woods, Master John, and there is food ready,” were Mrs. Mummer's first words. “Aye, you ’re going to stuff me as usuall” cried Brother John, patting her shoulder. “But here is another you must care for,” he went on, bringing me forward. “The boy we expected, Mrs. Mummer, has turned out to be a maid, whom you have only to know to love as I do.” “Aye,” returned Mrs. Mummer, stooping down ... and putting an arm about me, “I knew that the moment I set eyes on her pretty face.” And she kissed me on the cheek, and I, glad of the comfort of having a woman near me once more, put my arms about her eagerly. But Brother John had no time to lose, and after a hurried meal was off again to Philadelphia. “Mrs. Mummer,” he said before he left us, “you will see to it that the servants understand
that while I am away Miss Beatrice stands in my place in this house. To her, with your help, I intrust the honor and hospitality of Denewood. Good-by, little sister,” he went on, stooping and kissing me; “’t is a great comfort to know you will be here to welcome me when I return, for it has been a very big home for just one lone man.” There were tears in my eyes when I stood in the portico with Mrs. Mummer and waved to him as he rode out of sight—and well there might be, for my heart went with him. That night I took out my little book to write therein what had happened that day, and my eye caught the words of the prophecy set forth on the first page. “‘She shall find happiness across great waters,’” I read. Surely it was a true prophecy, and my heart was full of thankfulness; for I had come among those who would love me, and had found a new home. Then, noting the bit of the sixpence hanging about my neck, I thought of those other words of the Egyptian: “‘The half shall be luckier than the whole.’” Had that prophecy, too, been fulfilled? I thought so then, but I was mistaken.
CHAPTER XVIII DOCTOR FRAN KLIN
My first weeks at Denewood passed in a sort of dream. There was so much that was new, and the place itself was so extensive, that a large part of my time was spent in exploring the huge mansion and grounds. I had determined not to be a drone, and soon had my own special duties in that busy household. For Mrs. Mummer I developed a real affection, and she for me, and from her I learned much about Brother John and his father, who had been a most prosperous merchant, well respected of all Philadelphia, and had left this large estate and many trading ships to his only son. There were many servants, both black and white, and many horses and cattle on the place; these were all under Mr. Mummer, a capable and valued steward albeit the most silent of men, whose name fitted as does a glove the hand. Mrs. Mummer would have me believe that he was in reality a talkative person, for she was constantly repeating some saying of his, either wise or witty, as the case might be, but I, for one, though he always treated me most respectfully, found it difficult to get more than a word or two out of him. That summer was a time of preparation for the American patriots, and there was a bustling about all over the country. War was in the air, and we at Denewood talked of little else, seeing that scarce a day went by that troops of newly mustered men did not pass our way on their march to join General Washington's army. And for us, too, it was a time of preparation. Even before I had come, Mrs. Mummer had begun laying away a vast store of provisions for the cold season; and when I asked what it was all for, she answered, as she often did, with a quotation from her husband. “‘In time of peace prepare for war,’ so Mummer says. There 's many depend upon this house in winter, so I will make ready all I can.” Great quantities of flour, with corn and vegetables grown upon the place, were hid in deep vaults under the house, and, wherever it was possible, the entrances were sealed up so that no one would guess what lay behind the walls. “Mummer says,” Mrs. Mummer explained, “that war may well pass this way, and that an army is like a horde of locusts that devour all in their path. So I mean to keep something for ourselves in case of need.” - Nor did Mrs. Mummer stop at what the farm produced. When salt had risen to twenty-five shillings the bushel, she doled it out as if it was so much gold; but she sent off to Philadelphia, which was but ten miles away, whenever she heard of a ship-load arriving, to buy as much as the regulations would permit. “For,” she said dubiously, shaking her head, t will go higher, and salt we must have.” I, too, did my share. There were jellies and jams to be made, and many other ways in which I could help Mrs. Mummer, so that she complimented me, telling me she wondered how she managed before I came. The days were long, for we were up at cockcrow, but they passed quickly nevertheless. Of Brother John we saw little. He would come galloping in at the most unexpected times, perhaps only for a fresh horse, and would be off with scarce a word to any of us; but this was rare, for usually Mrs. Mummer would insist upon his staying long enough for some “decent food.” One day early in October he sent word ahead that he would be there to dine with a party of gentlemen on their way to town, and bade us see
to it that the entertainment was worthy of Dene
wood. Mrs. Mummer went about her preparation calmly. There had been many distinguished guests in that house, and this was no new matter. But when it came to dressing me, she was all in a flutter, and well-nigh distracted me. Since I had left my outfit on board the Good Will, I had been rather limited in my wardrobe,
having only those things that might be purchased in the shops of Philadelphia, and none of these suited Mrs. Mummer. At last, however, the weighty matter was decided. “This Indian muslin must e'en do,” she said disconsolately. “But next year you shall have a gown worked over every inch of it. I'll make it with my own hands.” “Nay, and what 's wrong with the muslin P" I asked, thinking it very pretty. “There is nothing wrong, but ’t is scarce good enough for to-night's guest,” replied Mrs. MumInner. “Why, who will be here?” I asked, for I expected only some officers of the army. “Doctor Franklin,” she answered; “Mummer says he is second but to General Washington himSelf.” Now, of course, Doctor Franklin's name had been in every one's mouth, were he Whig or Tory, and when I heard this news, I was like to be as flustered as Mrs. Mummer. Finally I was dressed to her satisfaction, and she held me at arm's-length for a moment. “Sure, you ’re a picture " she said. “Mr. John wants you to have a maid, but I tell him none shall care for you but a childless, cross old woman by the name of Mummer.” “Nay, I want no other " I said, and flung my arms about her, for she had been as a mother to Inle. “Now bless your pretty ways " she answered, with a hug. “But look to your dress and do not muss it. 'T is time for you to be off”; which was true enough, for we heard the men's voices in the hall below. There were, perhaps, half a dozen gentlemen assembled as I descended the broad stairway, but one standing before the fire attracted my attention at once, perhaps because his dull, brown dress was in sharp contrast to the brighter uniforms about it. He was far from young, with a rather large, flat face, and I should not call him a pretty man, yet somehow I was drawn to him from the first. As I reached the last step, he looked up and caught sight of me, whereupon he smiled broadly. “Here she is " he cried; “here is my hated rival, the writer of Maxims" and he stepped forward and held out his hand. “Perhaps some day you will let me take a peep into that book and so start “Poor Richard' on again.” “”T is Doctor Franklin, Bee,” said Brother John, coming up; and I made my most respectful courtesy. I was not awed, though that must have been because I was a child, for, save that of General Washington, there is no greater name in the history of those times than Benjamin Franklin. But what surprised me was that he should have knowledge of my book of Maxims, and I wanted to ask him about it then and there, but at that moment Sam, our black serving-man, announced dinner. Doctor Franklin at once offered me his arm and led me forth like a great lady, the other gentlemen following. Of the talk that night I remember some little, for I put down in my book several sayings I heard there. Of course it was all on one subject, the war with England. Some were gloomy, others recklessly confident, but all seemed determined to go on as they had begun to the end of the nnatter. During the sweets, mention was made of Doctor Franklin's approaching departure for France, and there were many expressions of regret. “We can ill spare you just now, sir,” said Mr. Philips, “particularly from Philadelphia.” “In truth Philadelphia is a hotbed of Tories,” said Doctor Franklin; “and when they are not Tories, they are what I like less: those who sit upon the fence with a leg on either side, ready to drop to safety no matter what befall.” “But we have some true patriots in Philadelphia,” protested one gentleman. “But all should be patriots,” said Doctor Franklin. “Who shall row a man's galley if he will not set his own back to the oar P” “Should France come out openly for us, there will be a scramble to our side of the fence,” laughed Brother John; “and that Doctor Franklin will secure for us.” “But no one can be spared here,” Mr. Philips insisted, “the doctor least of all.” “Nay, you all exaggerate,” said Doctor Franklin. “As I told His Excellency, General Washington, I cannot fight. As the drapers say of their remnants of cloth, I am but a fag-end, at seventy years. If you will have the truth, gentlemen, I shall be of more use there than here.” So the talk ran on till it was time for me to withdraw, and I rose, making my courtesy to the table. Much to my surprise Doctor Franklin got to his feet also, and escorted me out of the room to the foot of the stairs, talking all the while. “And now, Miss Maker of Maxims, good-by,” he said, holding out his hand. “But pray, Doctor Franklin,” I said, “I have been dying all the evening to ask the question, but feared to interrupt. How did you know of Granny's maxims ? There 's scarce a soul in the colonies who has heard of them, I think.”
“My dear,” he began, “if you will promise to cease saying ‘the colonies' and to remember that you are living in the United States of America, I will tell you.” “I shall try,” I vowed. “Good s” he went on ; “and now for your question. I am but lately come from a useless meeting with Lord Howe. He is a most gallant gentleman; but, if he thinks to win his cause with pardon for those who ask it not, he must fail, as he himself no doubt sees by this time. However, it seemed you disappeared rather suddenly and mysteriously from among them, and they inquired of your safe arrival. That led to our speaking of your book of Maxims, which Lord Howe gave up to you most reluctantly, I have his word for that.” “Do you know what was concealed in the book?” I asked in a whisper. He nodded. “'T is somewhat on account of that message that I go to France.” “And I'm sure you will convince them there,” I said earnestly. “People say you are a wizard.” “And that I get messages from the clouds,” he laughed. “Well, "t is not difficult to bewitch the enemy's brains.” “Did you do that?” I asked. “Aye, by just speaking the plain truth to them,” he answered, “for honesty is the best policy; and there 's a maxim for your book.” With that he kissed my hand and I ran upstairs. But before I went to rest I had to recount all to Mrs. Mummer, and then Brother John slipped in for a moment to say good night and good-by. “What thought you of Doctor Franklin P’’ he asked. “Did you like him as well as General Washington?” “General Washington is splendid,” I answered seriously, “and he is wonderful, too, but he seems very far away. Even when he speaks to you most kindly, 't is as if he were a cold mountain top and you were but a little flower growing down in the valley. But Doctor Franklin is like a nice, hot stove. He is near and comfortable.” Brother John exploded with laughter. “Oh, I should love to tell him that l” he exclaimed. “Don’t, please!” I begged in agony. “I won't,” he promised; “but you know he would n’t mind. He has invented a kind of stove that is most comfortable, and beside, he had a compliment for you.” “Oh, tell me!” I cried eagerly. “He congratulated me upon the new mistress of Denewood,” said Brother John, and with a kiss he left me to return to Philadelphia.
'T was with such occasional visits and dinner parties that the monotony of the autumn and early winter was broken; for Denewood was a convenient place of meeting between certain gentlemen of influence in Philadelphia and those who were with the army in New Jersey. But for the most part we were alone, and my only companion was Mrs. Mummer. True, there were children living near us; but Mrs. Mummer said plainly that they were “Tory turncoats,” and that I must have nothing to do with them. So for a while I was a little lonely, but this came to an end one fine winter morning. As I ran down-stairs to breakfast, I heard the sounds of children's voices outside the front door, and opened it myself. There stood a girl somewhat older than I, a boy of about my own age, and two little girls. At sight of me the girls drew back, but the boy stepped forward. “I am Barton Travers,” he said, with a rather conceited air; “and I have brought my sisters to stop here. Who are you?” His manner was so rough that I was angered, though at first I had been delighted at the thought that here were visitors near my own age; then I remembered that Brother John had said that all who came should be entertained, so I tried not to show my resentment. “You are very welcome; won't you come in P” I said. “But who are you?” the boy 'demanded again. “My name is Beatrice,” I replied, “and I am Mr. Travers's sister.” “Nay, 't is not so,” he retorted; “John Travers hath no sister.” “That is true,” I answered, trying to keep my temper, “but I am his cousin out of England, and we call each other brother and sister.” “I wonder John Travers hath an English Tory in his house !” he burst out rudely. “'T is then no place for honest Whigs like us.” “Nay, I am no Tory!” I replied hotly, for this was more than I could bear. “Come in if you will, and if not, at least let your sisters in out of the cold,” and with that I went up to the largest girl and took hold of her hand. She listlessly let me have it, and the older of the two small maids clung to her; but the youngest, a girl of five, looked up into my face and laughed aloud. “I like you, Bu-Bu-Beatrice,” she said, with a funny, little stammer, “and I 'll help you fi-fi-fight with Bu-Bu-Bart.” At this there was a laugh which seemed to smooth out all the difficulties, and though the boy, sure that I was a detested Tory, still looked
at me askance, they all came in, and Mrs. Mummer feasted us with hot chocolate. The children were distant cousins of Brother John. Their mother had died long ago, and their father was fighting with Washington's army. Their home was in Haddonfield, in New Jersey; but since the defeat of the patriot army in New York and the steady advance of the British toward Philadelphia, their father thought it better that they should be in Germantown, and you may be sure I was glad to have them. Stammering little Peggy was my favorite, though in time I came to like Bart too; but Polly and Betty, the two older girls, were far too fine for me, and seemed to care for naught but their looks and the fashions, so that I was constantly reminded of my cousin Isabella in England. Still the winter passed the more pleasantly for their being with us, and, except for Bart, we were all well content, especially as the schools were closed the greater part of the time, and we had but to amuse ourselves. Peggy and I played little with dolls, but when we did, it was always at a war game, and we had soldiers dressed in brown and buff, or in red, like the Pennsylvania troop. Sometimes Bart would condescend to help us, telling us how to post our sentries and what to do to make it seem real. When I grew to know him better, I found that he was not a bad fellow. What galled him was not being allowed to go to the war. He was a patriot and longed to fight for freedom. “I can shoot,” said he, “as well as any man. I can march as far, and I would eat less.” But his father had forbidden his going, saying
that if he were shot, there would be no one left
to look after the girls. This was a sop that did not satisfy Bart. He suspected that it was only said to render him the more content, and his disposition suffered from his disappointment. Spring came again, with the planting, and soon summer was upon us. In August the Continental troops paraded through Philadelphia wearing green sprigs in their hats, and all of us went to see them. What a fine show they made 1 While they were passing, there were in America no better patriots than Polly and Betty; but, like many another in the city that day, their feeling soon changed to the other side. So far, though we had heard of little else than the war, it had not come near us, but in September there were rumors of our defeat in a battle at Brandywine Creek, and one day Mummer ran into the house with a face like ashes. “The Hessians have entered Philadelphia,” he cried; “and they will soon be upon us!”