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Elsie's Vacation and After Events By Martha Finley Characters: 30034

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:04


Little Ned, who was not very well, began fretting and reaching out his arms to be taken by his father. The captain lifted him tenderly, saying something in a soothing tone, and carried him away to another part of the deck.

Then the young people, gathering about Grandma Elsie, who had been an almost silent listener to Captain Raymond's account of the attacks upon the forts, and the gallant conduct of their defenders, begged her to tell them something more of the stirring events of those revolutionary days.

"You have visited the places near here where there was fighting in those days, haven't you, mamma?" asked Walter.

"Yes, some years ago," she replied. "Ah, how many years ago it was!" she added musingly; then continued, "When I was quite a little girl, my father took me to Philadelphia, and a number of other places, where occurred notable events in the war of the Revolution."

"And you will tell us about them, won't you, mamma?" Walter asked, in coaxing tones.

"Certainly, if you and the rest all wish it," she returned, smiling lovingly into the eager young face, while the others joined in the request.

"Please tell about Philadelphia first, mamma," Walter went on. "You went to Independence Hall, of course, and we've all been there, I believe; but there must be some other points of interest in and about the city, I should think, that will be rather new to us."

"Yes, there are others," she replied, "though I suppose that to every American Independence Hall is the most interesting of all, since it was there the Continental Congress held its meetings, and its bell that proclaimed the glad tidings that that grand Declaration of Independence had been signed and the colonies of Great Britain had become free and independent States-though there was long and desperate fighting to go through before England would acknowledge it."

"Mamma, don't you hate old England for it?" cried Walter impulsively, his eyes flashing.

"No, indeed!" she replied, laughing softly, and patting his rosy cheek with her still pretty white hand. "It was not the England of to-day, you must remember, my son, nor indeed the England of that day, but her half crazy king and his ministers, who thought to raise money for him by unjust taxation of the people of this land. 'Taxation without representation is tyranny.' So they felt and said, and as such resisted it."

"And I'm proud of them for doing so!" he exclaimed, his eyes sparkling. "Now, what other revolutionary places are to be seen in Philadelphia, mamma?"

"There is Christ Church, where Washington, Franklin, members of Congress, and officers of the Continental army used to worship, with its graveyard where Franklin and his wife Deborah lie buried. Major-General Lee too was laid there; also General Mercer, killed at the battle of Princeton, but his body was afterward removed to Laurel Hill Cemetery."

"We will visit Christ Church, I hope," said Rosie. "Carpenter's Hall too, where the first Continental Congress met, and Loxley House, where Lydia Darrah lived in Revolutionary times. You saw that, I suppose, mamma?"

"Yes," replied her mother, "but I do not know whether it is, or is not, still standing."

"That's a nice story about Lydia Darrah," remarked Walter, with satisfaction. "I think she showed herself a grand woman; don't you, mamma?"

"I do, indeed," replied his mother. "She was a true patriot."

"There were many grand men and women in our country in those times," remarked Evelyn Leland. "The members of that first Congress that met in Carpenter's Hall on Monday, the 5th of September, 1774, were such. Do you not think so, Grandma Elsie?"

"Yes, I quite agree with you," replied Mrs. Travilla; "and it was John Adams-himself by no means one of the least-who said, 'There is in the Congress a collection of the greatest men upon the continent in point of abilities, virtues, and fortunes.'"

"Washington was one of them, wasn't he, Grandma Elsie?" asked Lulu.

"Yes, one of the members from Virginia. The others from that State were Richard Henry Lee, Peyton Randolph, Richard Bland, Benjamin Harrison, Edmund Pendleton, and Patrick Henry. Peyton Randolph was chosen president, and Charles Thomson, of Pennsylvania, secretary."

"And then, I suppose, they set to work on their preparations for fighting their oppressor, George the Third," remarked Lulu, half inquiringly.

"Lossing tells us," replied Mrs. Travilla, "that the delegates from the different colonies then presented their credentials, and after that there was silence, while deep anxiety was depicted on every countenance. It seemed difficult to know how to begin upon the work for which they had been called together. But at length a grave-looking member, in a plain suit of gray, and wearing an unpowdered wig, arose. So plain was his appearance that Bishop White, who was present, afterward telling of the circumstances, said he 'felt a regret that a seeming country parson should so far have mistaken his talents and the theatre for their display.' However, he soon changed his mind as the plain-looking man began to speak; his words were so eloquent, his sentiments so logical, his voice was so musical, that the whole House was electrified, while from lip to lip ran the question, 'Who is he? who is he?' and the few who knew the stranger, answered, 'It is Patrick Henry of Virginia.'"

"O mamma, was it before that that he had said, 'Give me liberty or give me death'?" queried Walter, his eyes sparkling with enthusiasm.

"No, he said that a few months afterward; but about nine years before, he had startled his hearers in the Virginia House of Burgesses by his cry, 'C?sar had his Brutus, Charles the First his Cromwell, and George the Third may profit by their example'!"

"And now he was starting the Congress at its work!"

"You are right; there was no more hesitation; they arranged their business, adopted rules for the regulation of their sessions, and then-at the beginning of the third day, and when about to enter upon the business that had called them together-Mr. Cushing moved that the sessions should be opened with prayer for Divine guidance and aid.

"Mr. John Adams, in a letter to his wife, written the next day, said that Mr. Cushing's motion was opposed by a member from New York, and one from South Carolina, because the assembly was composed of men of so many different denominations-Congregationalists, Presbyterians, Quakers, Anabaptists, and Episcopalians,-that they could not join in the same act of worship.

"Then Mr. Samuel Adams arose, and said that he was no bigot and could hear a prayer from any gentleman of piety and virtue who was at the same time a friend to his country. He was a stranger in Philadelphia, but had heard that Mr. Duché deserved that character; so he moved that he-Mr. Duché, an Episcopal clergyman-be desired to read prayers before Congress the next morning.

"Mr. Duché consented, and the next morning read the prayers and the Psalter for the 7th of September; a part of it was the thirty-fifth psalm, which seemed wonderfully appropriate. Do you remember how it begins? 'Plead my cause, O Lord, with them that strive with me: fight against them that fight against me. Take hold of shield and buckler, and stand up for mine help.'"

"It does seem wonderfully appropriate," said Evelyn. "Oh, I'm sure that God was on the side of the patriots, and helped them greatly in their hard struggle with their powerful foe!"

"Yes, only by His all-powerful aid could our liberties have been won, and to Him be all the glory and the praise," said Grandma Elsie, gratitude and joy shining in her beautiful eyes.

"But that wasn't the Congress that signed the Declaration?" Walter remarked, half inquiringly, half in assertion.

"No; this was in 1774, and the Declaration was not signed until July, 1776," replied his mother.

"It seems to me," remarked Lulu, "that the Americans were very slow in getting ready to say they would be free from England-free from British tyranny."

"But you know you're always in a great hurry to do things, Lu," put in Grace softly, with an affectionate, admiring smile up into her sister's face.

"Yes, I believe you're right, Gracie," returned Lulu, with a pleased laugh and giving Grace's hand a loving squeeze.

"Yes," assented Grandma Elsie, "our people were slow to break with the mother country-as they used to call old England, the land of their ancestors; they bore long and patiently with her, but at last were convinced that in that case patience had ceased to be a virtue, and liberty for themselves and their children must be secured at all costs."

"How soon were they convinced of it, mamma?" asked Walter.

"The conviction came slowly to all, and to some more slowly than to others," she replied. "Dr. Franklin, Samuel Adams, and Patrick Henry were among the first to see the necessity of becoming, politically, entirely free and independent.

"It is stated on good authority that Patrick Henry in speaking of Great Britain, as early as 1773, said, 'She will drive us to extremities; no accommodation will take place; hostilities will soon commence, and a desperate and bloody touch it will be.'

"Some one, present when the remark was made, asked Mr. Henry if he thought the colonies strong enough to resist successfully the fleets and armies of Great Britain, and he answered that he doubted whether they would be able to do so alone, 'but that France, Spain, and Holland were the natural enemies of Great Britain.'

"'Where will they be all this while?' he asked. 'Do you suppose they will stand by, idle and indifferent spectators to the contest? Will Louis XVI. be asleep all this time? Believe me, no! When Louis XVI. shall be satisfied, by our serious opposition and our Declaration of Independence, that all prospect of a reconciliation is gone, then, and not till then, will he furnish us with arms, ammunition, and clothing: and not with them only, but he will send his fleets and armies to fight our battles for us; he will form a treaty with us, offensive and defensive, against our unnatural mother. Spain and Holland will join the confederation! Our independence will be established! and we shall take our stand among the nations of the earth!'"

"And it all happened so; didn't it, mamma?" exclaimed Rosie exultantly; "just as Patrick Henry predicted."

"Yes," replied her mother, with a proud and happy smile, "and we have certainly taken our place-by God's blessing upon the efforts of those brave and gallant heroes of the revolution-as one of the greatest nations of the earth.

"Yet not all the credit should be awarded them, but some of it given to their successors in the nation's counsels and on the fields of battle. The foundations were well and strongly laid by our revolutionary fathers, and the work well carried on by their successors."

"Grandma Elsie, what was the story about Lydia Darrah?" asked Gracie. "I don't remember to have heard it."

"She lived in Philadelphia when the British were in possession there during the winter after the battle of the Brandywine," replied Mrs. Travilla. "She belonged to the Society of Friends, most of whom, as you doubtless remember, took no active part in the war; at least, did none of the fighting, though many helped in other ways; but some were Tories, who gave aid and comfort to the enemy in other ways than by the use of arms."

"What a shame!" cried Walter. "You will tell us about the doings of some of those when you are done with the story of Lydia Darrah, won't you, mamma?"

"If you all wish it," she answered; then went on with her narrative:

"Judging from her conduct at that time, Lydia must have been an ardent patriot; but patriots and Tories alike had British officers quartered upon them. The adjutant-general took up his quarters in Loxley House, the home of the Darrahs, and, as it was a secluded place, the superior officers frequently held meetings there for private conference on matters connected with the movements of the British troops."

"One day the adjutant-general told Mrs. Darrah that such a meeting was to be held that evening, and that he wanted the upper back room made ready for himself and the friends who would be present. He added that they would be likely to stay late and she must be sure to see that all her family were early in their beds.

"His tone and manner led Mrs. Darrah to think something of importance was going forward, and though she did not dare disobey his order, she resolved to try to find out what was their object in holding this private night meeting, probably hoping to be able to do something to prevent the carrying out of their plans against the liberties of her country.

"She sent her family to bed, according to directions, before the officers came, and after admitting them retired to her own couch, but not to sleep, for her thoughts were busy with conjectures in regard to the mischief they-the unwelcome intruders into her house-might be plotting against her country.

"She had lain down without undressing and after a little she rose and stole softly, in her stocking feet, to the door of the room where they were assembled.

"All was quiet at the moment when she reached it. She put her ear to the keyhole and-doubtless, with a fast beating heart-waited there, listening intently for the sound of the officers' voices.

"For a few moments all was silence; then it was broken by a single voice reading aloud an order from Sir William Howe for the troops to march out of the city the next night and make an attack upon Washington's camp at Whitemarsh.

"Lydia waited to hear no more, for that was sufficient, and it would have been dangerous indeed for her to be caught there.

"She hastened back to her own room and again threw herself on the bed; but not to sleep, as you may well imagine.

"Presently the opening and shutting of doors told her that the visitors of the adjutant-general were taking their departure; then there was a rap on her door. But she did not answer it. It was repeated, but still she did not move or speak; but at the third knock she rose, went to the door, and found the adjutant-general there.

"He informed her that his friends had gone and she might now close her house for the night.

"She did so, then lay down again, but not to sleep. She lay thinking of the momentous secret she had just learned, considering how she might help to avert the threatened danger to the patriot army, and asking help and guidance from her heavenly Father.

"Her prayer was heard; she laid her plans, then at early dawn arose. Waking her husband she told him flour was wanted for the family and she must go immediately to the mill at Frankford for it. Then taking a bag to carry it in, she started at once on foot.

"At General Howe's headquarters she obtained a passport to leave the city.

"She had a five miles' walk to Frankford, where she left her bag at the mill, and hurried o

n toward the American camp to deliver her tidings.

"It was still quite early, but before reaching the camp she met an American officer, Lieutenant Craig, whom Washington had sent out to seek information in regard to the doings of the enemy.

"Lydia quickly told him her story, then hastened back to the mill for her bag of flour and hurried home with it."

"Mamma," exclaimed Walter, "how could she carry anything so big and heavy?"

"Perhaps it was but a small bag," returned his mother, with a smile. "I never saw or read any statement as to its size, and perhaps the joy and thankfulness she felt in having been permitted and enabled to do such service to the cause of her country may have helped to strengthen her to bear the burden."

"What a day it must have been to her!" exclaimed Evelyn, "hope and fear alternating in her breast; and how her heart must have gone up constantly in prayer to God for his blessing upon her bleeding country."

"And how it must have throbbed with alternating hope and fear as she stood at the window that cold, starry night and watched the departure of the British troops to make the intended attack upon Washington and his little army," said Rosie. "And again when the distant roll of a drum told that they were returning."

"Yes," said Lulu; "and when the adjutant-general came back to the house, summoned Lydia to his room, and when he got her in there shut and locked the door."

"Oh," cried Grace, "did he know it was she that had told of his plans?"

"No," said Mrs. Travilla; "from the accounts I have read he does not seem to have even suspected her. He invited her to be seated, then asked, 'Were any of your family up, Lydia, on the night when I received company in this house?' 'No,' she replied; 'they all retired at eight o'clock.' 'It is very strange,' he returned. 'You I know were asleep, for I knocked at your door three times before you heard me, yet it is certain we were betrayed. I am altogether at a loss to conceive who could have given information to Washington of our intended attack. On arriving near his camp, we found his cannon mounted, his troops under arms, and so prepared at every point to receive us, that we have been compelled to march back like a parcel of fools, without injuring our enemy!'"

"I hope the British did not find out, before they left Philadelphia, who had given the information to the Americans, and take vengeance on her?" said Walter.

"No," replied his mother, "fearing that, she had begged Lieutenant Craig to keep her secret; which he did; and so it has happened that her good deed finds no mention in the histories of that time and is recorded only by well authenticated tradition."

"So all the Quakers were not Tories?" remarked Walter in a satisfied yet half inquiring tone.

"Oh, no indeed!" replied his mother, "there were ardent patriots among them, as among people of other denominations. Nathaniel Green-after Washington one of our best and greatest generals-was of Quaker family, and I have heard that when his mother found he was not to be persuaded to refrain from taking an active part in the struggle for freedom, she said to him, 'Well, Nathaniel, if thee must fight, let me never hear of thee having a wound in thy back!'"

"Ah, she must have been brave and patriotic," laughed Walter. "I doubt if she was so very sorry that her son was determined to fight for the freedom of his country."

"No," said Rosie, "I don't believe she was, and I don't see how she could help feeling proud of him-so bright, brave, talented, and patriotic as he showed himself to be all through the war."

"Yes," said Lulu, "and I don't think he has had half the honors he deserved, though at West Point we saw a cannon with an inscription on it saying it had been taken from the British army and presented by Congress to Major-General Green as a monument of their high sense of his services in the revolutionary war."

"Weren't the Tories very bad men, Grandma Elsie?" asked Grace.

"Not all of them, my dear," replied Mrs. Travilla, smiling lovingly into the sweet, though grave and earnest, little face; "some were really conscientiously opposed to war, even when waged for freedom from unbearable tyranny and oppression, but were disposed to be merely inactive witnesses of the struggle, some of them desiring the success of the patriots, others that of the king's troops; then there was another set who, while professing neutrality, secretly aided the British, betraying the patriots into their hands.

"Such were Carlisle and Roberts, Quakers of that time, living in Philadelphia. While the British were in possession of the city those two men were employed as secret agents in detecting foes to the government, and by their secret information caused many patriots to be arrested and thrown into prison. Lossing tells us that Carlisle, wearing the meek garb and deportment of a Quaker, was at heart a Torquemada."

"And who was Torquemada, mamma?" queried Walter.

"A Dominican monk of Spain, who lived in the times of Ferdinand and Isabella, and was by them appointed inquisitor-general. He organized the Inquisition throughout Spain, drew up the code of procedure, and during sixteen years caused between nine and ten thousand persons to be burned at the stake."

"Mamma! what a cruel, cruel wretch!" cried Walter. "Oh, but I'm glad nobody can do such cruel things in these days! I hope Roberts and Carlisle weren't quite so wicked as he."

"No, I should not like to think they would have been willing to go to quite such lengths, though they seem to have shown enough malignity toward their patriotic fellow-countrymen to make it evident that they had something of the spirit of the cruel and bloodthirsty Torquemada.

"Though they would not bear arms for the wealth of the Indies, they were ever ready to act as guides to those whose object was to massacre their fellow-countrymen; and that only because they were determined to be free."

"Were not some of those in New Jersey known as 'Pine Robbers,' Grandma Elsie?" asked Evelyn.

"Yes; they infested the lower part of Monmouth County, whence they went on predatory excursions into other parts of the State, coming upon the people at night to burn, murder, plunder, and destroy. They burrowed caves in the sandhills on the borders of the swamps, where they concealed themselves and their booty."

"Did they leave their hiding-places only in the night time, mamma?" asked Walter.

"No," she replied, "they would sometimes sally forth during the day and attack the farmers in their fields. So that the men were compelled to carry muskets and be ready to fight for their lives, while women and children were kept in a constant state of terror."

"I think I have read that one of the worst of them was a blacksmith, living in Freehold?" remarked Evelyn, half inquiringly.

"Yes, his name was Fenton; he was a very wicked man, who, like many others calling themselves Tories, took advantage of the disturbance of the times to rob and murder his fellow-countrymen; he began his career of robbery and murder very early in the war.

"One of his first acts, as such, was the plundering of a tailor's shop in the township. A committee of vigilance had been already organized, and its members sent Fenton word that if he did not return what he had stolen he should be hunted out and shot.

"He was a coward, as such villains almost always are, and did return the clothing, sending with it a written message, 'I have returned your -- rags. In a short time I am coming to burn your barns and houses, and roast you all like a pack of kittens.'

"One summer night, shortly afterward, he led a gang of desperadoes like himself against the dwelling of an old man named Farr. There were but three persons in the house-the old man, his wife, and daughter. They barricaded their door and defended themselves for a while, but Fenton broke in a part of the door, fired through the hole at the old man and broke his leg. The women could not keep them out much longer; they soon forced an entrance, murdered the old man and woman, and badly wounded the daughter. She, however, made her escape, and the cowardly ruffians fled without waiting to secure any plunder; no doubt fearing she would bring a band of patriots to avenge the slain."

"I hope that wretch, Fenton, was soon caught and well punished for his robberies and murders!" exclaimed Lulu.

"He was," replied Grandma Elsie. "The Bible tells us that 'bloody and deceitful men shall not live out half their days,' and Fenton's fate was one amongst many to prove the truth of it.

"He had met a young man on his way to mill, plundered and beaten him; the victim carried his complaint to Lee, and a sergeant and two soldiers were detailed to capture or kill Fenton.

"They used strategy and with success. The two soldiers were secreted under some straw in the bottom of a wagon, the sergeant disguised himself as a countryman, and the young man took a seat in the vehicle. Then they drove on toward the mill, expecting to meet Fenton on the road. They were passing a low groggery among the pines, when he came out of it, pistol in hand, and impudently ordered them to stop.

"They drew rein, and he came nearer, asking if they had brandy with them. They replied that they had, and handed him a bottle. Then, as he lifted it to his lips, the sergeant silently signaled to one of his hidden soldiers, who at once rose from his hiding place in the straw and shot Fenton through the head. His body was then thrown into the wagon and carried in triumph to Freehold."

"The people of that part of the country must have felt a good deal relieved," remarked Rosie. "Still there were Fenton's desperado companions left."

"Two of them-Fagan and West-shared Fenton's fate, being shot by the exasperated people," said her mother; "and West's body was hung in chains, with hoop iron bands around it, on a chestnut tree hard by the roadside, about a mile from Freehold."

"O Grandma Elsie, is it there yet?" asked Gracie, shuddering with horror.

"No, dear child, that could hardly be possible after so many years-more than a hundred you will remember when you think of it," returned Mrs. Travilla, with a kindly reassuring smile.

"I hope papa will take us to Freehold," said Lulu. "I want to see the battleground."

"I feel quite sure he will, should nothing happen to prevent," said Grandma Elsie.

"Wasn't it at Freehold, or in its neighborhood, that a Captain Huddy was murdered by those pine robbers?" asked Evelyn.

"Yes," replied Grandma Elsie. "It was only the other day that I was refreshing my memory in regard to it by glancing over Lossing's account given in his Field Book of the Revolution."

"Then please tell us about it, mamma," pleaded Walter.

"Very willingly, since you wish to hear it," she said, noting the look of eager interest on the young faces about her.

"Captain Huddy was an ardent patriot and consequently hated by his Tory neighbors. He lived at a place called Colt's Neck, about five miles from Freehold.

"One evening, in the summer of 1780, a party of some sixty refugees, headed by a mulatto named Titus, attacked Huddy's house. There was no one in it at the time but Huddy himself, and a servant girl, some twenty years old, named Lucretia Emmons."

"She wouldn't be of much use for fighting men," remarked Walter, with a slight sniff of contempt.

"Perhaps Captain Huddy may have thought differently," replied his mother, with a slightly amused smile. "There were several guns in the house which she loaded for Huddy while he passed from one window to another firing through them at his foes. Titus and several others were wounded; then they set fire to the house and Huddy surrendered.

"He was taken on board of a boat from which he jumped into the water and escaped, assisted in so doing by the fire of some militia who were in pursuit of the Tories.

"About two years later Huddy was in command of a block house near the village of Tom's River, when it was attacked by some refugees from New York, and, his ammunition giving out, he was obliged to surrender. He and his companions were taken to New York, then back to Sandy Hook, where they were placed on board a guard-ship and heavily ironed.

"Shortly afterward he was taken to Gravelly Point, by sixteen refugees under Captain Lippincott, and hung on a gallows made of three rails.

"He met his fate like the brave man that he was, first calmly writing his will on the head of the barrel upon which he was presently to stand for execution.

"A desperate Tory, named Philip White, had been killed while Huddy was a prisoner in New York, and these men falsely accused Huddy of having had a share in his death. After hanging him that cruel, wicked Lippincott fastened to his breast a notice to the effect that they had killed Captain Huddy in revenge for the death of Philip White, and that they were determined to hang man for man while a refugee lived."

"Oh, what dreadful, dreadful things people did in those days!" sighed Grace. "Did anybody venture to take the body down and bury it, Grandma Elsie?"

"Yes, Captain Huddy's body was carried to Freehold and buried with the honors of war."

"And did people care much about it?"

"Yes, indeed! his death caused great excitement and indignation, and Dr. Woodhull, the Freehold minister, who preached the funeral sermon from the piazza of the hotel, earnestly entreated Washington to retaliate in order to prevent a repetition of such deeds.

"Washington consented, but, ever merciful, first wrote to Sir Henry Clinton that unless the murderers of Captain Huddy were given up he should retaliate.

"Clinton refused, and a young British officer, Captain Asgill, a prisoner in the hands of the Americans, was selected by lot for execution. Washington, however, mercifully postponed the carrying out of the sentence, feeling much pity and sympathy for the young man-doubtless for his relatives also; letters came from Europe earnestly entreating that Asgill's life might be spared; among them a pathetic one from his mother, and an intercessory one from the French minister, Count de Vergennes.

"These letters Washington sent to Congress and that body passed a resolution, 'That the commander-in-chief be, and hereby is, directed to set Captain Asgill at liberty.'"

"It seems to me that our people were far more merciful than the English," remarked Lulu, with a look of patriotic pride.

"I think that is true," assented Grandma Elsie, "not meaning to deny that there are many kindhearted men among the British of to-day, or that there were such among them even then, but most of those then in power showed themselves to be avaricious, hardhearted, and cruel."

"Yes, they wanted to make slaves of the people here," exclaimed Lulu hotly. "But they found that Americans wouldn't be slaves; that rather than resign their liberty they would die fighting for it."

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