A Brave Girl
: INDEPENDENCE DAY
: Good Stories For Great Holidays
BY JAMES JOHONNOT (ADAPTED)
In the year 1781 the war was chiefly carried on in the South, but the
North was constantly troubled by bands of Tories and Indians, who would
swoop down on small settlements and make off with whatever they could
lay their hands on.
During this time General Schuyler was staying at his house, which stood
just outside the st
ckade or walls of Albany. The British commander sent
out a party of Tories and Indians to capture the general.
When they reached the outskirts of the city they learned from a Dutch
laborer that the general's house was guarded by six soldiers, three
watching by night and three by day. They let the Dutchman go, and as
soon as the band was out of sight he hastened to Albany and warned the
general of their approach.
Schuyler gathered his family in one of the upper rooms of his house,
and giving orders that the doors and windows should be barred, fired a
pistol from a top-story window, to alarm the neighborhood.
The soldiers on guard, who had been lounging in the shade of a tree,
started to their feet at the sound of the pistol; but, alas! too late,
for they found themselves surrounded by a crowd of dusky forms, who
bound them hand and foot, before they had time to resist.
In the room upstairs was the sturdy general, standing resolutely at the
door, with gun in hand, while his black slaves were gathered about him,
each with a weapon. At the other end of the room the women were huddled
together, some weeping and some praying.
Suddenly a deafening crash was heard. The Indian band had broken
into the house. With loud shouts they began to pillage and to destroy
everything in sight. While they were yet busy downstairs, Mrs. Schuyler
sprang to her feet and rushed to the door; for she had suddenly
remembered that the baby, who was only a few months old, was asleep in
its cradle in a room on the first floor.
The general caught his wife in his arms, and implored her not to go to
certain death, saying that if any one was to go he would. While this
generous struggle between husband and wife was going on, their young
daughter, who had been standing near the door, glided by them, and
descended the stairs.
All was dark in the hall, excepting where the light shone from the
dining-room in which the Indians were pillaging the shelves and fighting
over their booty. How to get past the dining-room door was the question,
but the brave girl did not hesitate. Reaching the lower hall, she walked
very deliberately forward, softly but quickly passing the door, and
unobserved reached the room in which was the cradle.
She caught up the baby, crept back past the open door, and was just
mounting the stairs, when one of the savages happened to see her.
"WHIZ"--and his sharp tomahawk struck the stair rail within a few inches
of the baby's head. But the frightened girl hurried on, and in a few
seconds was safe in her father's arms.
As for the Indians, fearing an attack from the near-by garrison, they
hastened away with the booty they had collected, and left General
Schuyler and his family unharmed.