188 BRET harte's CHOICE BITS.
fields beyond with a red that was not of the sumach.
I do not remember to have read of it in the books.
I do not know that it is entirely authentic. It was
attested to me by mother and daughter, as an
In the little field beyond, where the plough still
turns up musket-balls and cartridge-boxes, took
place one of those irregular skirmishes between the
militiamen and Knyphausen's stragglers that made
the retreat historical. A Hessian soldier, wounded
in both legs and utterly helpless, dragged himself
to the cover of a hazel-copse, and lay there hidden
for two days. On the third day, maddened by
thirst, he managed to creep to the rail-fence of an
adjoining farmhouse, but found himself unable to
mount it or pass through. There was no one in
the house, but a little girl of six or seven years.
He called to her, and in a faint voice asked for
water. She returned to the house as if to comply
with his request, but mounting a chair, took from
the chimney a heavily loaded Queen Anne musket,
and, going to the door, took deliberate aim at the
helpless intruder, and fired. The man fell back
dead, without a groan. She replaced the musket,
and, returning to the fence, covered the body with
boughs and leaves, until it was hidden. Two or
three days after, she related the occurrence in
a careless casual way, and leading the way to
the fence with a piece of bread-and-butter in her
guileless little fingers, pointed out the result of