The Blacksmith At Brandywine





Terrible in the field at Brandywine was the figure of a man armed only

with a hammer, who plunged into the ranks of the enemy, heedless of his

own life, yet seeming to escape their shots and sabre cuts by magic, and

with Thor strokes beat them to the earth. But yesterday war had been to

him a distant rumor, a thing as far from his cottage at Dilworth as if it

had been in Europe, but he had revolted at a plot that he had overheard

to capture Washington and had warned the general. In revenge the Tories

had burned his cottage, and his wife and baby had perished in the flames.

All day he had sat beside the smoking ruins, unable to weep, unable to

think, unable almost to suffer, except dumbly, for as yet he could not

understand it. But when the drums were heard they roused the tiger in

him, and gaunt with sleeplessness and hunger he joined his countrymen and

ranged like Ajax on the field. Every cry for quarter was in vain: to

every such appeal he had but one reply, his wife's name--Mary.



Near the end of the fight he lay beside the road, his leg broken, his

flesh torn, his life ebbing from a dozen wounds. A wagoner, hasting to

join the American retreat, paused to give him drink. I've only five

minutes more of life in me, said the smith. Can you lift me into that

tree and put a rifle in my hands? The powerful teamster raised him to

the crotch of an oak, and gave him the rifle and ammunition that a dying

soldier had dropped there. A band of red-coats came running down the

road, chasing some farmers. The blacksmith took careful aim; there was a

report, and the leader of the band fell dead. A pause; again a report

rang out, and a trooper sprawled upon the ground. The marksman had been

seen, and a lieutenant was urging his men to hurry on and cut him down.

There was a third report, and the lieutenant reeled forward into the

road, bleeding and cursing. That's for Mary, gasped the blacksmith. The

rifle dropped from his hands, and he, too, sank lifeless against the

boughs.





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