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Historic Boys by Elbridge Streeter Brooks

And of the good Dominie Westerlo


now had come the Revolution. Thanks to the teaching of his tender mother, of his gallant guardian, and of the good Dominie Westerlo, young Stephen knew what the great struggle meant--a protest against tyranny, a blow for human rights, a defence of the grand doctrine of the immortal Declaration that "All men are created free and equal." And he had been told, too, that the success of the Republic would be the death-blow to all the feudal rights to which he, the last of the patroons, had succeeded.

"Uncle," he said to his guardian, that stern patriot and whig, General Abram Ten Broek, "you are my representative and must act for me till I grow to be a man. Do what is best, sir, and don't let the Britishers beat!"

"But, remember, lad," said his uncle, "the Revolution, if it succeeds, must strip you of all the powers and rights that have come to you as patroon. You will be an owner of acres, nothing more; no longer baron, patroon, nor lord of the manor; of no higher dignity and condition than little Jan Van Woort, the cow-boy of old Luykas Oothout on your cattle farm in the Helderbergs."

"But I'll be a citizen of a free republic, won't I, Uncle?" said the boy; "as free of the king and his court across the sea as Jan Van Woort will be of me and the court-leet of Rensselaerswyck. So we'll all start fair and even. I'm not old enough to fight and talk yet, Uncle; but do you fight and

talk for me, and I know it will come out all right."

And so, through the battle-summer of 1777, the work went on. Men and supplies were hurried northward to help the patriot army, and soon General Ten Broek's three thousand militia-men were ready and anxious for action. The air was full of stirring news. Brandt and his Indians, Sir John Johnson and his green-coated Tories, swarmed into the Mohawk Valley; poor Jane McCrea fell a victim to Indian treachery, and the whole northern country shuddered at the rumor that twenty dollars had been offered for every rebel scalp. And fast upon these came still other tidings. The noble General Schuyler, fair Mistress Margery's father, had, through the management of his enemies in the Congress and in the camp, been superseded by General Gates; but, like a true patriot, he worked just as hard for victory nevertheless. Herkimer had fallen in the savage and uncertain fight at Oriskany; in Bennington, stout old Stark had dealt the British a rousing blow; and Burgoyne's boast that with ten thousand men he could "promenade through America" ended dismally enough for him in the smoke of Bemis Heights and the surrender at Saratoga.

But, before that glorious ending, many were the dark and doubtful days that came to Albany and to Rensselaerswyck. Rumors of defeat and disaster, of plot and pillage, filled the little city. Spies and Tories sought to work it harm. The flash of the tomahawk, of which Mistress Margery had so lightly jested, was really seen in the Schuyler mansion. And the brave girl, by her pluck and self-possession, had saved her father and his household from the chance of Tory pillage and Indian murder. Good Dominie Westerlo kept open church and constant prayer for the success of the patriot arms through one whole anxious week, and on a bright September afternoon, General Ten Broek, with a slender escort, came dashing up to the "stoop" of the Van Rensselaer manor-house.

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