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H. J. PECK
The Penn Publishing Company
[Illustration: "WHY, IT'S FATHER!"]
"The motto of our father-band
Circled the world in its embrace:
'Twas Liberty throughout the land,
And good to all their brother race.
Long here - within the pilgrim's bell
Had lingered - though it often pealed -
Those treasured tones, that eke should tell
Where freedom's proudest scroll was sealed!
Here the dawn of reason broke
On the trampled rights of man;
And a moral era woke
Brightest since the world began."
In "Peggy Owen," the first book of this series, is related the story
of a little Quaker maid who lived across from the State House in
Philadelphia, and who, neutral at first on account of her religion,
became at length an active patriot. The vicissitudes and annoyances to
which she and her mother are subjected by one William Owen, an officer
in the English army and a kinsman of her father's, are also given.
"Peggy Owen, Patriot" tells of Peggy's winter at Middlebrook, in
northern New Jersey, where Washington's army is camped, her capture by
the British and enforced journey to the Carolinas, and final return
"Peggy Owen at Yorktown" details how Peggy goes to Virginia to nurse a
cousin, who is wounded and a prisoner. The town is captured by the
British under Benedict Arnold, the traitor, and Peggy is led to
believe that he has induced the desertion of her friend, John
Drayton. Drayton's rescue from execution as a spy and the siege of
In the present volume Peggy's friends rally about her when her Cousin
Clifford is in danger of capture. The exciting events of the story
show the unsettled state of the country after the surrender of
I. A SMALL DINNER BECOMES A PARTY 11
II. PEGGY IS SURPRISED 26
III. ON THE HORNS OF A DILEMMA 40
IV. THE SEARCH 53
V. FRIENDS IN NEED 69
VI. APPEARANCES AGAINST HER 81
VII. DAVID OWEN IS INFORMED OF THE FACTS 94
VIII. BEFORE THE COUNCIL 108
IX. OUT OF THE FRYING-PAN INTO THE FIRE 120
X. A RACE FOR LIFE 134
XI. THE CHOICE OF FAIRFAX 144
XII. "THEY MUST GO HOME" 163
XIII. A WOMAN'S WIT 176
XIV. MARCHING ORDERS 194
XV. THE ATTACK ON THE BLOCKHOUSE 215
XVI. "OF WHAT WAS HE GUILTY?" 227
XVII. A GLIMPSE OF HOME 244
XVIII. HEROD OUT HERODED 256
XIX. THE TURN OF THE WHEEL 272
XX. A SLIGHT EMPHASIS OF "THAT" 285
XXI. CHOSEN BY LOT 303
XXII. WHAT CAN BE DONE? 318
XXIII. A LITTLE HUMOR DESPITE A GRIM SITUATION 334
XXIV. "THEE MAY TELL HIM AT THE LAST" 348
XXV. AT HEADQUARTERS 363
XXVI. THE ADVENTURE OF THE GLEN 376
XXVII. THE SAFEGUARD OF HIS HONOR 392
XXVIII. "HOW COULD SHE KNOW?" 407
XXIX. IN THE SHADOW OF DEATH 424
XXX. AND THEN THE END 437
"WHY, IT'S FATHER!" _Frontispiece_
"CLOSE THE DOOR" 47
THE TWO GIRLS SET FORTH 97
A SHOWER OF BULLETS FELL ABOUT THE SLEIGH 138
A CRY OF ANGUISH WENT UP 221
"WHERE IS THEE GOING?" 268
"I KNEEL TO YOU, SIR" 373
Peggy Owen and Liberty
A SMALL DINNER BECOMES A PARTY
"At Delaware's broad stream, the view begin
Where jutting wharfs, food-freighted boats take in;
Then, with the advancing sun direct your eye
Wide opes the street with firm brick buildings high;
Step, gently rising, over the pebbly way,
And see the shops their tempting wares display."
- _"Description of Philadelphia," Breitnal, 1729._
It was the first of March, 1782, and over the city of Philadelphia a
severe storm was raging. A stiff wind, that lashed the black waters of
the Delaware into sullen fury and sent the snow whirling and eddying
before it, blew savagely from the northeast. The snow, which had begun
falling the day before, had continued all night with such rigorous,
relentless persistence that by the noon hour the whole city was
sheeted with a soft white blanket that spread abroad a solemn
stillness. The rolling wheels of the few vehicles in the streets were
noiseless, and the sharp ring and clatter of horses' hoofs became a
dull muffled tramp. High up overhead the snow settled on the church
spires, clothing them in a garb of pure cold white, and drifted among
the niches of the State House Tower, until the face of the great clock
was hidden, and could scarce be told for what it was.
Just across from the State House, in the midst of extensive grounds,
stood a large double brick house which was taking its share of the
storm. There were piles of snow on the steps and broad piazzas, huge
drifts against the fences, and great banks on the terraces of the
gardens. The wind lashed the lithe limbs of the leafless trees of the
orchard, shrieked through the sooty caverns of the wide chimneys,
whistled merrily as it drove the snow against the windows, and rattled
the casements with howls of glee as it went whirling by.
Storm-bound the mansion seemed, but its cold and wintry appearance was
wholly on the outside, for within its walls there was no lack of
cheerfulness and warmth. Great fires blazed on every hearth and puffed
clouds of smoke through the broad chimneys, in defiance of the wind
which strove there for the mastery. Between the heavy gusts of wind
came gleeful bursts of laughter from the sitting-room as though the
inmates were too happy to heed the driving storm without, and from the
kitchen arose savory odors that spoke of tempting preparations for a
bounteous meal, which further enhanced the air of geniality that
pervaded the dwelling.
In this latter apartment were two persons: one, a serene faced woman
of middle age who was busily engaged at the kneading board; the other,
a slender maiden well covered by a huge apron and with sleeves rolled
back, stood before a deal table reducing loaf sugar to usable shape.
They were Mistress David Owen and her daughter Peggy.
"How it blows!" exclaimed the girl, looking up from her task as a
sudden gust of wind flung the outside door wide, and sent the snow
scurrying across the sanded floor of the kitchen. "What shall be done
anent that door, mother?"
"Tell Sukey to bring a large stick of wood and put against it,"
returned the lady. "Then look to the oven, Peggy. 'Tis hard to get a
clear fire with so much wind."
"I do believe that everything is going to be done to a turn in spite
of it," remarked Peggy, a little frown of anxiety which had puckered
her brow disappearing as she glanced into the great oven.
"Then as soon as thou hast set the table the dinner will be ready to
take up. I make no doubt but that thy friends are hungry. And what a
time they seem to be having," Mrs. Owen added as a merry peal of
laughter came from the sitting-room.
"Are they not?" Peggy smiled in sympathy. "I am so glad they came
yesterday. I fear me that they could not have reached here to-day in
this dreadful storm. 'Tis too bad to have such weather now when 'tis
Robert's first home leave in three years."
"Methinks that 'twould better come when one is on a furlough than in
camp," remarked her mother gravely. "It must be terrible for the
soldiers who lack so much to keep them comfortable."
"True," assented the girl soberly. "Would that the war were at an end,
and the peace we long for had come in very truth."
"And so do we all, my daughter. 'Tis weary waiting, but we must of
necessity possess ourselves with patience. But there! let not the
thought of it sadden thee to-day. 'Tis long since thou hast had thy
friends together. Enjoy the present, for we know not what the morrow
may bring. And now - - "
"Set the table," added Peggy with a laugh, as she rolled down her
sleeves. "And don't thee dally too long talking with thy friends,
Peggy. Thee didn't add that, mother."
"As thee knows thy weakness it might be well to bear it in mind,"
commented her mother with a smile.
The kitchen was the principal apartment of a long low building
attached to the main dwelling by a covered entry way. Through this
Peggy went to the hall and on to the dining-room, where she began
laying the table. This room adjoined the sitting-room, and, as the
bursts of merriment became more and more frequent, the maiden softly
opened the connecting door and peeped in.
A tall youth of soldierly bearing, in the uniform of the Light
Infantry, his epaulettes denoting the rank of major, leaned carelessly
against one end of the mantelpiece. On a settle drawn up before the
fire sat two girls. One held a book from which she was reading aloud,
and both the other girl and the youth were so intent upon her
utterances that they did not notice Peggy's entrance. They turned
toward her eagerly as she spoke:
"Aren't you getting hungry, or are you too interested to stop for
"'Tis quite time thee was coming, Peggy," cried the girl who had been
reading, tossing back her curly locks that, innocent of powder, hung
in picturesque confusion about her face. "I really don't know what we
are to do with Betty here. Since she hath taken to young lady ways
there's no living with her."
"What has thee been doing, Betty Williams?" queried Peggy with mock
gravity, turning toward the other girl. Her hair was done high over a
cushion, profusely powdered, and she waved a large fan languidly.
"Sally is just talking, Peggy," she said. "She and Robert seem to find
much amusement in some of my remarks. 'Tis just nothing at all. Sally
Evans is the one that needs to be dealt with."
"Sally hath been reading to us from your diary, which you kept for the
Social Select Circle while you were in Virginia," explained Robert
Dale. "We were much entertained anent the account of your bashful
friend, Fairfax Johnson. Betty amused us by telling just what she
would have done with him had she been in your place."
"I often wished for her," declared Peggy, smiling. "Poor Fairfax would
mantle did a girl but speak to him. And yet he was so brave!"
"He was indeed," assented the youth with warm admiration. "Sally hath
just read where he went to warn the Legislature of Virginia of
Tarleton's coming despite the fact that he was ill. But, Peggy, we
could not help but laugh over what he said to you. Read his words,
"'I said,'" read Sally picking up the book again, "'Friend Fairfax,
thee always seems so afraid of us females, yet thee can do this, or
aught else that is for thy country. Why is it?' And he replied:
"'To defend the country from the invader, to do anything that can be
done to thwart the enemy's designs, is man's duty. But to face a
battery of bright eyes requires courage, Mistress Peggy. And that I
"Wasn't that fine?" cried Betty with animation. "I adore bravery and
shyness combined. Methinks 'twould be delightsome to be the woman who
could teach him how to face such a battery. Thee didn't live up to thy
opportunity, Peggy. It was thy duty to cure such a fine fellow of
bashfulness. It was thy duty, I say. Would I could take him in hand."
"Would that thee might, Betty," answered Peggy. "But I fear thee would
have thy hands full."
"I wonder if thee has heard the latest concerning Betty's doings,"
broke in Sally. "Mr. Deering told me of it. Betty was dancing a
measure with Colonel Middleton at the last Assembly when Mr. Deering
came up to her and said:
"'I see that you are dancing with a man of war, Miss Betty.'
"'Yes, sir,' says Betty, 'but I think a tender would be preferable.'"
"Oh, Betty! Betty!" gasped Peggy when the merriment that greeted this
had subsided. "How did thee dare?"
"La!" spoke Betty, arranging the folds of her paduasoy gown
complacently, "when a man is so remiss as to forget the refreshments
one must dare."
"I verily believe that she could manage your friend, Fairfax,"
commented Robert Dale laughing. "Would that I might be there to see
"I kept an account of everything he said for Betty's especial
delectation," said Peggy. "She named him the 'Silent Knight,' and it
was very appropriate."
"Now why for my delectation instead of thine, or Sally's?" queried
"Why, Sally and I are such workaday damsels that we are not accustomed
to handling such problems," explained Peggy demurely. "Thou art the
only belle in the Social Select Circle, and having been instructed in
French, I hear very thoroughly, thou hast waxed proficient in matters
regarding the sterner sex."
"Nonsense! Nonsense!" ejaculated Betty. She sat up quickly, and
sniffed the air daintily. "Peggy Owen," she cried, "do I in very
truth smell pepper-pot?"
"Thee does. I thought that would please thee. And Sally, too, but
Robert - - " She glanced at the lad inquiringly.
"Robert is enough of a Quaker to enjoy pepper-pot," answered he
emphatically. "This weather is the very time for it too."
"We'll forgive thy desertion of us so long as thee was making
pepper-pot," declared Sally.
"Well, Robert hath not had leave for three years, so mother and I
thought we must do what we could to give him a good dinner."
"Does she mean by that that thee has not eaten in all that time,
Robert?" demanded Betty slyly. "In truth 'twould seem so. I do believe
that she hath done naught but move betwixt spit and oven this whole
"I think I shall do justice to all such preparations," said the youth
smiling. "I fancy that the most of us in the army would find little
difficulty in keeping Peggy busy all the time."
"Hark!" exclaimed Sally. "I thought I heard some one call."
As the youth and the maidens assumed a listening attitude there came a
faint "Hallo!" above the tumult of the wind. Sally ran to one of the
windows that faced Chestnut Street, and flattened her nose against the
glass in the endeavor to see out.
"'Tis a man on horseback," she cried. "He is stopping in front of the
house. Now he is dismounting. Who can it be?"
"Some traveler, I make no doubt," remarked Peggy, coming to her side.
"The storm hath forced him to stop for shelter. Ah! there is Tom ready
to take his horse. He should have cleaned the steps, but he waited, I
dare say, hoping that it would stop snow - - Why! it's father - - " she
broke off abruptly, making a dash for the door. "Tell mother, Sally."
"David, this is a surprise," exclaimed Mrs. Owen, coming quickly in
answer to Sally's call, and reaching the sitting-room just as a tall
man, booted and spurred, entered it from the hall. "Thee must be
almost frozen after being exposed to the fury of such a storm."
"'Tis good to be out of it, wife," answered Mr. Owen, greeting her
with affection. He stretched his hands luxuriantly toward the fire as
Peggy relieved him of his hat and riding coat, and glanced about
appreciatively. "How cozy and comfortable it is here! And what a merry
party! It puts new heart into a man just to see so much brightness."
"We are to have pepper-pot, Mr. Owen," Betty informed him, drawing
forward a large easy chair for his use while Sally ran to lay an extra
plate on the table. "Doesn't it smell good?"
"It does indeed, Betty. The odor is delectable enough to whet the
appetite to as keen an edge as the wind hath. Robert, 'tis some time
since I have seen thee."
"I am on my first leave in three years, Mr. Owen. Are you on a
furlough too, sir?"
"Nay, lad; I took one just after Yorktown, when I brought Peggy home
from Virginia. General Washington, who, as thee doubtless knows, is
still here in Philadelphia perfecting plans with Congress for next
summer's campaign, hath sent for me to confer with him regarding the
best means of putting down this illicit trade which hath sprung up of
late. I do not know how long the conference will last, but it comes
very pleasantly just now, as it enables me to have the comforts of
home during this severe weather."
"When did you leave the Highlands, sir?"
"Four days since. The army had begun to hope that winter was over, as
the ice was beginning to come down the Hudson. This storm hath dashed
our hopes of an early spring."
"And must thee return there, David?" asked Mistress Owen.
"No; I am to go to Lancaster. This trade seems to be flourishing among
the British prisoners stationed there. Congress had granted permission
to England to keep them in supplies, and it seems that advantage is
taken of this fact to include a great many contraband goods. These the
prisoners, or their wives, are selling to the citizens of Lancaster
and surrounding country. To such an extent hath the trade grown that
it threatens to ruin the merchants of the place, who cannot compete
with the prices asked. I am to look into the matter, and to stop the
importation of such goods, if possible."
"'Tis openly talked that England will defer coming to terms of peace
because she hopes to conquer us by this same trade," observed Robert
"And is like to succeed if it cannot be put down," commented David
Owen shaking his head. "All along the coast the British cruisers
patrol to capture our merchantmen, and to obstruct our commerce. The
Delaware is watched, our coasts are watched that we may not get goods
elsewhere, or have any market for our produce. Unable to get what they
want, our own people buy where they can without realizing the harm.
'Tis estimated from forty to fifty thousand pounds have been drawn by
this means into New York in the past few months. If this continues the
enemy will soon be possessed of all the hard money that hath come into
the country through the French, and without money we can do naught.
Our resources and industries have been ruined by the long war, and
this latest scheme of England bids fair to undo what hath been
accomplished by force of arms."
"And after Yorktown every one thought that of course peace was just a
matter of a few months. That it would be declared at once," sighed
Sally. "Oh, dear! It makes me sad to think the war is not over yet!"
"And I have been the marplot to spoil this merry company," said Mr.
Owen contritely. "Let's declare a truce to the matter for the time
being, and discuss that pepper-pot. Is't ready, lass?"
"Yes, father," answered Peggy rising. "And there is a good dinner
beside. We will enjoy it the more for having thee with us."
"Thee must be hungry, David," observed Mistress Owen rising also. "The
dinner is ready to put on the table, so thee is just in time. I - - "
She stopped abruptly as high above the noise of the wind the brass
"More company," exclaimed Betty gleefully as Peggy started for the
hall. "Peggy, thy small dinner bids fair to become a party."
PEGGY IS SURPRISED
"The state that strives for liberty, though foiled
And forced to abandon what she bravely sought,
Deserves at least applause for her attempt,
And pity for her loss. But that's a cause
Not often unsuccessful."
- "_The Task," Cowper._
Peggy was nearly blinded by the sudden rush of snow and wind that
followed the opening of the great front door, and so for the moment
did not recognize the two, a man and a woman, who stood there on the
"Will ye enter, friends?" she asked courteously. "'Tis a fearful
"That it is, Peggy. We are mighty glad to reach shelter. Come,
Fairfax! I told you that we should be welcome."
"Nurse Johnson," shrilled the girl in delight. "Why, come right in.
Welcome? Of course thee is welcome. And thou also, Friend Fairfax.
Why, we were speaking of thee but now. Mother, 'tis Friend Nurse, from
"Come in, Friend Johnson," spoke Mrs. Owen warmly, coming in haste
from the sitting-room. "Thee must be cold. 'Tis dreadful weather. Let
me help thee with thy wraps."
"I was getting pretty cold," acknowledged Nurse Johnson. "We were on
our way to the Jerseys, where my sister hath taken a farm. We thought
to get to Burlington to-night, but the storm made traveling so
difficult that I told Fairfax that I made no doubt you would put us up
until 'twas over."
"'Twill give us great pleasure, Friend Nurse - I should say, Friend
Johnson," answered Mistress Owen graciously. "We have heard Peggy talk
of thee so much that we have fallen into her way of speaking of thee."
"Continue so to call me, Mrs. Owen. I like it," declared Nurse Johnson
"Peggy, see thou to the dishing up of the dinner, while I attend our
friends," spoke her mother. "We were just on the point of taking it up
when ye came," she explained. "Hot pepper-pot will warm ye better than
"Isn't that our Silent Knight?" queried Betty, in a shrill whisper as
Peggy was passing through the room.
"Yes, Betty. Shall I place him by thee at table?"
"See how she is priming for conquest," remarked Sally as Betty,
nodding acquiescence, began unconsciously to smooth her hair. "She
must tell us every word he says; must she not, Robert?"
"Of a verity," smiled the young man, his amusement plainly visible.
"I think thee has met with every one, Friend Nurse," observed Mrs.
Owen entering at this moment with the new arrivals. "David ye know, of
course. Sally and Betty ye met last year. Robert? No; ye do not know
him. Robert Dale, of the army, Nurse Johnson. And this is Fairfax, her
son, Robert. Ye should be good friends, as ye have both fought for the
"Thou hast forgot to give Robert his rank, Lowry," spoke Mr. Owen as
the young men shook hands. "Friend Johnson, have this chair. Thou wilt
find it easy and quite comfortable."
"Thy pardon, Robert," exclaimed Mrs. Owen. "I do not always remember
that thou art Major Dale."
"I do not always remember it myself, madam," returned the youth
modestly. "And I wish to be Robert to you always."
"How these children grow!" exclaimed Nurse Johnson sinking into the
easy chair with a sigh of content. "It hardly seems possible that
Fairfax is more than a boy; yet here he is a captain in the army."
"A captain?" ejaculated Peggy in surprise.
"Yes; it does seem strange, doesn't it? You see he served with the
militia in Virginia during the last few years, and I presume would
have stayed with it; but his uncle, my sister's husband, persuaded him
to enlist with the regular army. He said that if he would enroll
himself among the New Jersey troops he would get him a commission as
captain, which he did. That is one of the reasons we are going to New
"Thou wilt find it very comfortable here on the settle, Captain
Johnson," spoke Betty sweetly, drawing her skirts aside with such an
unmistakable gesture that Fairfax, flushing hotly, was obliged to
seat himself beside her.
Peggy's glance met Sally's with quick understanding.
"I will help thee, Peggy," said Sally, rising. "Nay; we do not need
thee, Mrs. Owen. Didst ever see Betty's equal?" she questioned as they
reached the kitchen.
"Sally, she will never make him talk in the world," she declared.
"Thou and I will have a good laugh at her when 'tis over. 'Twill give
a fine chance to tease."
"'Tis just like a party," cried Betty as, a little later, they were
gathered about the table. "'Tis charming to meet old friends! And
everybody is here save thy cousins, Clifford and Harriet, Peggy. Oh,
yes! and Captain Drayton."
"Captain Drayton is to go to Lancaster too, I understand," remarked
Mr. Owen. "Did thee know, lass?"
"No, father. I thought he was still with General Greene. He returned
to him after Yorktown."