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dripping with rain. He modestly and shyly seated himself on a chair near the door, with his soaked hat flapping down over a face full of freckles and not less rife with the expression of an open, dauntless hardihood of character.
“How would you like a scrummage, Andy, with them Scotchmen that stole your mother's chickens this morning?” asked Horse-Shoe.
“ I'm agreed,” replied the boy, “if you will tell me what to do.”
Horse-Shoe now loaded the fire-arms, and having slung the pouch across his body, he put the pistol into the hands of the boy; then shouldering his rifle, he and his young ally left the room. Even on this occasion, serious as it might be deemed, the sergeant did not depart without giving some manifestation of that lightheartedness which no difficulties ever seemed to have the power to conquer.
He thrust his head back into the room, after he had crossed the threshold, and said with an encouraging laugh, “Andy and me will teach them, Mistress Ramsay, Pat's point of war-we will surround the ragamuffins."
“Now, Andy, my lad," said Horse-Shoe, after he had mounted Captain Peter, “you must get up behind me.
time that his instructions were fully impressed upon the boy, our adventurous forlorn hope, as it may fitly be called, had arrived at the place which Horse-Shoe Robinson had desig. nated for the commencement of active operations. They had a clear view of the old field, and it afforded them a strong assurance that the enemy was exactly where they wished him to be, when they discovered smoke arising from the chimney of the hovel. Andrew was soon posted behind a tree, and Robinson only tarried a moment to make the boy repeat the signals agreed on, in order to ascertain
that he had them correctly in his memory. Being satisfied from this experiment that the intelligence of his young companion might be depended upon, he galloped across the intervening space, and, in a few seconds, abruptly reined up his steed, in the very doorway of the hut. The party within was gathered around a fire at the further end, and, in the corner near the door, were four muskets thrown together against the wall. To spring from his saddle and thrust himself one pace inside of the door, was a movement which the sergeant executed in an instant, shouting at the same time
“Halt! File off right and left to both sides of the house, and wait orders. I demand the surrender of all here,” he said, as he planted himself between the party and their weapons. “I will shoot down the first man who budges a foot.”
“ Leap to your arms,” cried the young officer who commanded the little party inside of the house.
" Why do you stand?"
“I don't want to do you or your men any harm, young man,” said Robinson, as he brought his rifle to a level,“ but, by my father's son, I will not leave one of you to be put upon a muster-roll if you raise a hand at this moment."
Both parties now stood, for a brief space, eyeing each other in fearful suspense, during which there was an expression of doubt and irresolution visible on the countenances of the soldiers, as they surveyed the broad proportions, and met the stern glance of the sergeant, whilst the delay, also, began to raise an apprehension in the mind of Robinson that his stratagem would be discovered.
“Shall I let loose upon them, Captain?” said Andrew Ramsay, now appearing, most unexpectedly to Robinson, at the door of the hut. “Come on, boys!” he shouted, as he turned his face towards the field.
“Keep them outside of the door-stand fast,” cried the doughty sergeant, with admirable promptitude, in the new and sudden posture of his affairs caused by this opportune appearance of the boy. “Sir, you see that it's not worth while fighting five to one; and I should be sorry to be the death of any of your brave fellows; so, take my advice, and surrender to the Continental Congress and this scrap of its army which I command.”
During this appeal the sergeant was ably seconded by the lad outside, who was calling out first on one name, and then on another, as if in the presence of a troop. The device succeeded, and the officer within, believing the forbearance of Robinson to be real, at length said:
“Lower your rifle, sir. In the presence of a superior force, taken by surprise, and without arms, it is my duty to save bloodshed. With the promise of fair usage, and the rights of prisoners of war, I surrender this little foraging party under my command."
"I'll make the terms agreeable," replied the sergeant. Never doubt me, sir. Right hand file, advance, and receive the arms of the prisoners !”
“I'm here, captain,” said Andrew, in a conceited tone, as if it were
a mere occasion of merriment; and the lad quickly entered the house and secured the weapons, retreating with them some paces from the door.
“Now, sir," said Horse-Shoe to the Ensign, “your sword, and whatever else you mought have about you of the ammunitions of war !”
The officer delivered his sword and a pair of pocket pistols.
As Horse-Shoe received these tokens of victory, he asked, with a lambent smile, and what he intended to be an elegant and condescending composure, “Your name, sir, if I mought take the freedom?"
Ensign St Jerinyn, of his Majesty's seventy-first regiment of light infantry.”
· Ensign, your sarvant,” added Horse-Shoe,” still preserving this unusual exhibition of politeness. “You have defended your post like an old sodger, although you ha'n't much beard on your chin; but, seeing you have given up, you shall be treated like a man who has done his duty. You will walk out now, and form yourselves in line at the door. I'll engage my men shall do you no harm; they are of a marciful breed.”
When the little squad of prisoners submitted to this command, and came to the door, they were stricken with equal astonishment and mortification to find, in place of the detachment of cavalry which they expected to see, nothing but a man, a boy, and a horse. Their first emotions were expressed in curses, which were even succeeded by laughter from one or two of the number. There seemed to be a disposition on the part of some to resist the authority that now controlled them; and sundry glances were exchanged, which indicated a purpose to turn upon their captors. The sergeant no sooner perceived this, than he halted, raised his rifle to his breast, and at the same instant, gave Andrew Ramsay an order to retire a few paces, and to fire one of the captured pieces at the first man who opened his lips.
“ By my hand,” he said, “ if I find any trouble in taking you, all five, safe away from this here house, I will thin your numbers with your own muskets ! And that's as good as if I had sworn to it.”
“ You have my word, sir," said the Ensign. “ Lead on."
“By your leave, my pretty gentlemen, you will lead and I'll follow,” replied Horse-Shoe. “ It may be a new piece of drill to you; but the custom is to give the prisoners the post of honor.”
"As you please, sir," answered the Ensign. " Where do you take us to ?”
“You will march back by the road you came," said the sergeant.
Finding the conqueror determined to execute summary martial law upon the first who should mutiny, the prisoners submitted, and marched in double file from the hut back towards Ramsay's—Horse-Shoe, with Captain Peter's bridle dangling over his arm, and his gallant young auxiliary Andrew, laden with double the burden of Robinson Crusoe (having all the fire-arms packed upon his shoulders), bringing up the rear. In this order victors and vanquished returned to David Ramsay's.
“Well, I have brought you your ducks and chickens back, mistress," said the sergeant, as he halted the prisoners at the door; "and, what's more, I have brought home a young sodger that's worth his weight in gold." “ Heaven bless
my brave boy!” cried the moher, seizing the lad in her arms, and unheeding anything else in the present perturbation of her feelings. “I feared ill would come of it; but Heaven has preserved him. Did he behave handsomely, Mr. Robinson? But I am sure he did.”
“A little more venturesome, ma'am, than I wanted him to be," replied Horse-Shoe; “but he did excellent service. These are his prisoners, Mistress Ramsay; I should never have got them if it hadn't been for Andy. In these drumming and fifing times the babies suck in quarrel with their mother's milk. Show me another boy in America that's made more prisoners than there was men to fight them with, that's all!”