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首页 » 儿童英文小说 » A Loyal Little Red-Coat » CHAPTER XXII—GOOD-BYE SIR GUY
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LEAR and cool dawned the twenty-fifth of November, and, joy to the heart of every Whig, before nightfall not a member of the King’s army would be left on American soil. Never, I ween, had the break of any day in New York found so large a number of its inhabitants awake to greet it. Too excited to sleep, with the thought of going home, were scores of English soldiers, and too excited to sleep, at the thought that they were soon to be rid of them, was well-nigh every loyal Whig throughout the length and breadth of the city. So, at a remarkably early hour there was an unwonted stir everywhere, and it seemed as though the very horses and cattle in their stalls must have divined that something remarkable was in the wind. But this great day of consummation had not arrived without weeks and months of active preparation.

Affairs in New York had been sadly mismanaged, and the arrival of Sir Guy Carleton, in the spring of 1782, had proved a precious boon, alike to Whig and Tory, and during the seventeen months intervening between his arrival and the evacuation, of the city, on this same twenty-fifth day of November, 1783, Sir Guy had had his hands full. One of the heaviest labors he had had to perform was the transporting of twelve thousand Loyalists from all parts of the colonies, to Nova Scotia, the Bahamas and Great Britain, for New York was not the only place where the offending Tories were made to feel, and very pointedly, too, that their room was considered vastly better than their company.

But finally all was ready, the “Royal Order” to evacuate had arrived some two months before, and as soon as possible Sir Guy had named the day for departure. Now at last the day itself had come, and there was scarce a man, woman or child who had not planned to enter in some way into its festivities. But up at the Boniface’s there was a strong conflict of feeling in one little Tory breast. Hazel was naturally in a “perfect state,” as girls say nowadays. It was most improper that she, an indignant little Loyalist, should be a witness to all that day’s jubilation, and yet Starlight and Flutters and the Marberrys were going over to Bowery Lane to see the American troops march in from Harlem, and then into the city to see the English troops embark from Fort George, and were going to make a fine long day of it, and, after all, what good would it do anybody if she stayed at home? So it happened that Hazel’s love of military bands and streamers and all sorts of public demonstration got the better even of her Tory principles, and after much urging on the part of the Marberrys (which she had felt from the first could be relied upon), she yielded, and Mrs. Boniface prepared a luncheon for five, instead of “just for four,” as Hazel had that morning directed. But none of the little party setting forth looked forward to the day’s pleasure with quite so keen a relish as Flutters. He still remained quite neutral, not finding it easy, owing to his peculiar circumstances, to side either with Whig or Tory. So it did not matter much to him who were going or who were coming, the one dominant thought in his boyish heart simply being, that he was off for a day’s fun, of which he had not had a great deal lately. For the last week he had been in constant attendance on old Bobbin, and before that there had been such very sad hearts in the Boniface household, owing to the Captain’s illness. But for to-day Josephine had volunteered to care for Bobbin, and Bobbin himself had consented to spare Flutters, and so, free in every sense to give himself up to whatever enjoyment offered, Flutters was ready for “a lark.” And in just this very sort of thing, you boys and girls, who are like Flutters, set us older hoys and girls an example, for boys and girls we are, all of us, in a way, so long as we keep a vestige of naturalness about us. Real sorrows may weigh down a child’s spirit, and real trials beset him, but, give him the chance, even for an hour, to forget the sorrow and the trial, and he forgets it; and when God puts just such opportunities into all our lives, is it not for this very purpose of helping us to forget for a while?

Mrs. Boniface watched the five little friends file down the pathway, Flutters bringing up the rear with the capacious lunch-basket, and was thankful that there were pleasures, even in such unfavorable times, which children might enter into; and then, perhaps with thoughts akin to those we have been writing, about forgetting trouble, she turned with a bright smile to the Captain, and proposed that they should try and have a happy day too, unmindful of what was going on down in the city, and thankful for the serenity of their home, still left unmolested. And so Dinah was directed to prepare a favorite dish of the Captain’s, and the Captain’s favorite books were brought out, and Mrs. Boniface, resolutely putting aside every household claim, read aloud for two hours at a sitting, and then little Kate came in for a romp and had it, and at one o’clock Dinah brought in luncheon for all three on a great japanned tray, and they had a very cosey time eating it together. Who would have thought, to have looked in upon them, that Evacuation Day was, in point of fact, a very sorry day for the Boniface’s?

Meantime the children gained the Bowery Road, mounted a rail fence in a row, like a flock of sparrows, and, with full as much chatter, waited for the coming of the troops.


It seemed strange enough to everybody to think that the entire British Army, which had been scattered broadcast throughout the vicinity for so many years, was now congregated down in the city, and that before many hours there would not be a trace of it left. Hazel had certain apprehensions that it was going to seem very lonely without them, and when a small detachment of English soldiers marched past (the last of a company that had been quartered at Kings Bridge) and cheerily called out, “Good-bye, Whiggies,” to the children, as they sat on the fence, her heart entirely misgave her. Was it really loyal for her to be abroad on a day of such rejoicing, and how insulting to be called a “Whiggie,” when she was every whit as strong a Tory as the soldiers themselves. But just then the inspiring strains of an approaching band reached her, and the misgivings took to themselves wings. Nearer and nearer came the music, and soon Starlight recognized General Knox in command of two companies of American soldiers. They were marching into the city in compliance with a request of Sir Guy Carleton’s, so as to be on hand in case of any disorder among the Whigs while the English were embarking. Now as soon as these American troops should have gotten out of the way, the Marberrys had planned a little surprise for the rest of the party, which they knew would prove a great addition to the day’s pleasure. So, just as the children had begun to scramble down from the fence, with the intention of getting into the city as best they could, up drove old Jake, the Marberrys’ coachman, with a farm wagon piled high with straw. “Whoa! whoa, da!” called Jake to the Rector’s old black horse, and then, bowing and smiling, he said, importantly, “At your sarvice for Evacuation Day, chilluns.”

Of course Hazel and Starlight and Flutters were delighted at this undreamed-of luxury, of being driven about all day, from one point of interest to another, and before they climbed into the wagon Hazel gave vent to her appreciation by giving both Milly and Tilly such a hug as sent the color flushing gratefully into the cheeks of those amiable little sisters.

For once in his life old Jake was in a thoroughly good humor, but it is extremely doubtful if anything short of all the pleasurable sensations of Evacuation Day could have brought about that delightful state of affairs. As for the children they were quite ready to do anything in the world for Jake, out of sheer gratitude for his kindly mood, a state of affairs, by the way, which should have made that old party feel very much ashamed of himself. To think that it should be such an unusual thing for a man to be kind, as to make even children open their eyes for wonder.

It is impossible fully to describe all the varied enjoyment that that day held for the little party, although from the nature of things it was hardly to be expected that Hazel was able to get as much pleasure out of it as the others. Down into the city they went in the wake of General Knox’s men, who came to a halt at the Collect, and then passing them, Jake took his stand at a point near Fort George, from which the children could watch the English soldiers file down into the barges and push off for the vessels lying at anchor in the Bay.

“There comes Company F,” Starlight at last exclaimed, and in a moment the children tumbled out of the wagon, much to old Jake’s astonishment, and in another moment were crowding round Sergeant Bellows, as he stood waiting his turn to step into the boat.

The Sergeant had been up to the Boniface’s for a more formal leave-taking the day before, but the children had promised to be on hand at the moment of departure, if they could in any wise manage it, and the Sergeant’s face showed his delight, when he spied them come bounding toward him.

There were tears in Hazel’s eyes as the boat veered off from the dock, and tears in the Marberrys’ eyes out of sympathy for Hazel, but of course the boys pretended they saw nothing whatever to feel sorry about. In the excitement, however, Flutters called out in a very significant tone, “Don’t you forget, Sergeant,” and the Sergeant replied in rather a husky voice, “Never you fear, my boy!”

“Forget what?” questioned Hazel, feeling somehow that a little body-servant ought scarcely to have any private matters on hand. And then Flutters, realizing how foolish he had been to make public his affairs in that fashion, felt constrained to answer, “Oh, nothing,” to Hazel’s question, which disrespect on his part offended the dignity of his little mistress, and caused her to treat him with much coolness for the space of the next two minutes, at the end of which, however, she resumed her wonted manner, having forgotten by that time any reason for acting otherwise.

Company F had come about mid-way in the order of embarking, and as it neared one o’clock, the extreme rear guard began to file into the barges, while the American troops moved silently forward and took possession of the Fort, and then it was that General Knox, with a chosen few, galloped back to meet and escort General Washington and Governor Clinton into the city. For old Jake’s party this in-between time seemed to offer the most favorable opportunity for luncheon, and with appetites keenly whetted by their long morning in the open air, the children “fell to,” and as soon as Jake had tied a bag of oats over black Jennie’s head, he took his seat at the back of the wagon, and was himself regaled with a much larger portion of the Boniface luncheon than he in any wise deserved. If a body chances to be very hungry, and at the same time so fortunate as to have the wherewithal to satisfy that hunger, it is astonishing how absorbing the process of eating may become, and so I doubt if, for a while, the thoughts of the little company in the Rector’s wagon, rose above the level of the biscuits they were enjoying or were otherwise occupied than with the great acceptableness of cookies, apple jelly, and some other inviting edibles; and yet, only think! this was the 25th of November, 1783. Out there beyond them on the broad sunshine of the Bay, the last of the English Army were turning their backs upon America, and above them toward Harlem, a large company of loyal Americans were joyfully forming into rank and file to take public possession of the city so dearly loved, and that had been for years under English rule. Yes, American history was making very fast during that eventful November noontide, and yet so imperative are the demands of poor human nature, that even such a thorough-going little Whig as Starlight became for the time being so deeply absorbed in bread and cheese as to grow unmindful of exultant Whigs and departing Tories.

But after the luncheon was all disposed of, save a few crumbs thrown over the wagon side to a stray dog, who had long been beseechingly eying the children, their minds at once reverted to matters of general importance, and it was decided to drive back to some point on Broadway from which they could watch the procession, and Jennie was urged into a clumsy canter by way of making up for lost time. As it was they had some difficulty in gaining even a fair position on the line of march, and secured that none too soon, for the sound of music in the distance was growing more and more distinct, and in another second the head of the procession came into view. And what a procession it proved! although there was no show of military pomp or glory. That was quite impossible, since the greater part of the American Army had already been disbanded, and those that were left to participate in the day’s jubilation owned nothing better than shabby uniforms which had seen hard service, and in many cases even these poor remnants had need to be supplemented with coats or trousers of most unmilitary aspect.


But, notwithstanding all this, it was a grand procession. General Washington and Governor Clinton on horseback, followed by their suites, were at its head; then came the Lieutenant Governor and the members of the Legislature; following them, the officers of the army, and a large body of prominent citizens, and lastly the military, whose very shabbiness, because of its significance, served but to add to the interest they excited.

The sun was setting behind the New Jersey hills before the procession was truly over, and then, as there was nothing more to be seen, and they were thoroughly weary besides, the children assented to Jake’s proposition to turn Jennie’s head homeward. When they neared the vicinity of old Bobbin’s shanty, Flutters crept to the back of the wagon prepared to drop at the right moment.

“Where’s Flutters going?” asked the Marberrys.

“Oh, he has to take care of old Bobbin, now,” Hazel explained with a sigh; “but you ‘can’t imagine how inconvenient it is for me,” for her ladyship had taken very kindly to this having a willing little servant at her beck and call. Rather too kindly, Mrs. Boniface thought, and she was not sorry to have Flutters’s time so fully-occupied as to leave none of it at Hazel’s disposal. Soon after Flutters’s departure the little party relaxed into silence, talked out and tired out, and as Jake showed some signs, now that the excitement of the day was over, of resuming his wonted surliness, Starlight and Hazel were not the least sorry when old Jennie, in the perfect stillness of the early November twilight, came to a standstill at the Boniface gate.


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