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Harper's Young People, April 13, 1880   By:

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[Illustration: HARPER'S




Tuesday, April 13, 1880. Copyright, 1880, by HARPER & BROTHERS. $1.50 per Year, in Advance.




It was in the old Quaker town of Wilmington, Delaware, and it was the evening of the day on which the battle of Brandywine had been fought. The country people were coming into town in sledges, and in heavy low carts with solid wheels made of slices from great tree trunks, loaded with butter, eggs, milk, and vegetables; for the following day was market day. Market day came every Fourth day (Wednesday) and every Seventh day (Saturday). Then the carts drew up in a long line in Market Street, with their tail boards to the sidewalk, and the farmers sold their produce to the town people, who jostled each other as they walked up and down in front of the market carts a custom of street markets still carried on in Wilmington.

Friend William Stapler stopped, on his way to market in his cart, at Elizabeth Hanson's house, in Shipley Street, to leave a dozen eggs and two pounds of butter, as he did each Tuesday and Friday evening. Elizabeth came to the door with a basket for half a peck of potatoes. William Stapler took off his broad brimmed hat, and slowly rubbed his horny hand over his short cut, stubbly gray hair.

"Ah! I tell thee, Lizabeth, they're a doin' great things up above Chadd's Ford. I hearn th' canning a boomin' away all day to day. Ah, Lizabeth, the world's people is a wicked people. They spare not the brother's blood when th' Adam is aroused within them. They stan' in slippery places, Lizabeth."

"Does thee think they're fighting, William?"

"Truly I think they are. Ah! I tell thee, Lizabeth, they're differen' 'n when I was young. Then we only feared the Injuns, 'n' now it's white men agin white men. They tuck eight young turkeys of mine, 'n' only paid me ten shillin' fer 'em."

"But, oh, William, I do hope they're not fighting! I expect my son in law, Captain William Bellach, and his friend Colonel Tilton, will stop here on their way to join General Washington; and they may arrive to night."

"Ah, Lizabeth, I've lifted up my voice in testimony agin the young men goin' to the wars an' sheddin' blood. 'F a man diggeth a pit an' falleth into it himself, who shall help him out thereof? Half a peck o' potatoes, did thee say, Lizabeth?"

During the evening rumors became more exciting, and it was said that the Americans had been defeated, and were retreating toward Philadelphia. Late that night Captain Bellach and Colonel Tilton arrived at Elizabeth Hanson's house.

"I've heard the rumors, mother," said Captain Bellach. "I don't believe 'em; but even if there was a file of British at the door here, I would be too tired to run away from them."

Pretty Nancy Hanson spoke up. "But, Billy, they would not only send thee and thy friend to the hulks if they caught thee, but they might be rude to us women were they to find thee here."

"Yes, sister in law, if I thought there was any danger, I would leave instantly; but the British, even if they have beaten us, will be too tired to come here to night."

"I agree with my friend Will, Mistress Nancy," said Colonel Tilton. "Moreover, our horses are too tired to take us farther to night."

About two o'clock in the morning the silence of the deserted streets of the town was broken by a rattling and jingling of steel, the heavy, measured tread of feet, and sharp commands given in a low voice.

Nancy Hanson awakened at the noise, and jumping out of bed, ran to the window and looked out into the moon lit street beneath. A file of red coated soldiers were moving by toward the old Bull's Head Tavern. The cold moonlight glistened on their gun barrels and bayonets as they marched... Continue reading book >>

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