Excerpt from A Hussy’s Progress, the Autobiography of Moll Daggett
Chapter the Fourth
How I Become an Honest Woman, Continued
Thus, twas another victory. Mayhood’s brigade had been destroyed and the Colonel himself twas last seen scurrying off north, pursued by a host of squirrels what had been summoned up by Leopold’s odd talent. There twas food enough to feed the Army for the rest of the winter, Major Zed having been sent off on some invented errand to ensure this. Alike, the great store of powder was taken intact, a fact not lost on us for I had been told that the Reverend’s previous adventures had oft expended large amount of explosives in addition to the lives of his servants.
There twas to be no rest. The troops were given only an hour or so to loot the British camp. Word came that Cornwallis, enraged by being so outfoxed, twas in the act of turning that great lumbering army of his about, intent on coming after us. Washington’s plan, soon put into motion, was to turn the Army east, away from Cornwallis, to the safety of the mountains at Morristown.
For us, it meant leaving the Army. The Reverend announced that he and Miss Rebecca twould be returning home to Lancaster, but first we twould go by way of Crosswicks and see to the proper interment of the Reverend Hadley’s remains.
“Master David will not be going with us. He has duties with the army to which he must attend,” said the Reverend, there bein as much pride as concern in words.
I found the Doctor tending to the wounded, aided by none tother than grim Bozarth who clucked and proclaimed doom for every patient.
Surprised I was to see that one of these survivors twas Mr. Johnstone, who had seemed like to be croaked but twas perhaps too witless not to know when he should be dead.
“Ah, Mrs. Daggett, please tell the Reverend that I shall be happy to attend upon him in your journey to Crosswicks before returning to my home in Trenton,” said Doctor McC.
“I shall indeed, Sir.” Then I turned to Johnstone, for the Reverend had given me instructions concerning him should I find him alive.
“Come, Mr. Johnstone, if you are going to serve the Reverend, a little thing like a couple bullet shots should not be keeping you from your duties.”
“Do you really mean that I am to work for the Reverend? I will be most grateful, though my knowledge of these matters is small, I think I could be of some assistance.
“I am sure. Ye proved ye can stop a bullet or two and that’s right handy in this line of work.
“And you dire Bozarth? What do ye intend now?”
“I’m going back to Crosswicks. After all, it’s the happiest place in the world!”
“Oh, it’ll be a right pleasure palace with you there, no doubt.”
When I returned to the College, there twas Black Meg speaking to the Reverend panting with womanly gratitude, “Oh Reverend I shall be forever in your debt for all you have done.”
“Please, Reverend. That marriage was a sham and I shall not bear the name of that monster a moment longer. Call me instead ‘Hadley’ in honor of my father. It will be a good omen for the start of my new life, one free of the demons of the past.”
“What shall you do in this new life.”
“I do not know. I shall go back to Philadelphia to consider it. After all, I am not without resources.”
“That is something I heartily acknowledge, Margaret Hadley. You are a most resourceful woman.”
As Black Meg walked away to prepare for our journey, I sidled up to the Reverend and offered, “Ye know Reverend, yer not getting any younger, and given yer penchant for getting knocked about so by the devil’s minions, ye’re goin to be needing someone to look after ye.”
“That is why I pay you and Mr. Zizzendorf.”
“That’s not what I mean. Tis high time ye consider remarrying.”
“Please, Mrs. Daggett. I have not the time to pursue such personal fancies.”
“What’s there to pursue. There Black Meg right in front of ye, as fine and pretty a lady as could be found this side of the Potomac. Rich too, and more’an willing as far as I can see. Even better, she’s freshly widowed.”
“That’s ridiculous, I am sure she could not be so inclined. Besides, I am the cause of her being widowed. It would be improper.”
“Oh tosh! She’s more than willing to be inclined, if ye know what I mean. You killing her mister tis just a convenience, if ye ask me.”
“I did not ask you!”
“Alright, well if not her, what about Madame Frogpond. She’ll be going back to Philadelphia now that the English shan’t have the chance to wring her frenchie neck for a spy.”
“Mrs. Daggett, aside from all of the other problems with your suggestion, such as our complete difference in social statue, background and religion, Madame de Bauffremont is a married woman!”
“Oh, now ye’re just picking nits, Reverend.”
About noon, we were prepared to begin our travels to Crosswicks, by horseback since the Reverend’s fine carriage had been lost in our fight with the witches.
The army too was ready to march, so now twas a time for separating.
Oh, Miss Rebecca twas full of girlish woe, the Prince having been given command of Fermoy’s brigade and so was marching away with Washington, Yap, glum as a Bozarth, at his side along with the other livestock.
Major Zed was full of woe as well, blubberly rather than girlish is his case. For the Reverend refused to support his poetical endeavors and so the great tub would not be retiring to Philadelphia and emptying the City Tavern's larder.
As they bid farewell, Rebecca fell upon the Prince, “Dearest Leopold, whatever shall I do? I am to return to Philadelphia with my father and then to Lancaster. How shall I ever measure my sorrow at leaving you? I shall miss you so! Do, do write to me!
Rebecca threw herself on the clothead and smothered him with kisses, saying she would pray for his safety and would write to him every day.
Between kisses, the Prince whispered, “Zagwoba, who is this?
“Why, that’s your laundress, Highness.”
“I don’t have the heawt to teww hew she uses too much stawch in my shiwts.”
“Why not just tell it to her father - Yap’s right over there.”
“Capitaw idea, Vawewie.”
That’s Va-LER-y, Highness. It’s a common Slavic name, and nothing feminine about it…”
As they rode off, I saw that Fenniman twas aside me. He was well enough to leave with the riflemen and so was marching off as well.
“Miss Molly, I’m wondering iffen I could write to you whilst I’m gone. And maybe iffen I survive this here war, I might call on you. I have a mind to settle out west, maybe a farm of my own. A man needs a wife to help him homestead…”
I looked at him with much consternation, “Now there’s a fine how do ye do. You being with me all this time and not saying a word until you’re trampin’ off to God-knows-where and like to get yer fool head blown off. Be off with ye, ye roughhewn bearbaiter and see if Moll Daggett’ll marry the likes of a scarecrow like yerself!”
Zizzy twas behind us when this occurred. When I noticed him, I saw he bore a fat, smug smile on his viz to see me dismiss Fennimen so.
“And what are you gawking at, ye beemish fart-catcher? As if I’d give meself to a jumped-up apple-johnny after turning down a man twice his better! Off with ye both, ye ruttish lewdsters!”
“You are a most disagreeable, unreasonable woman, Mrs. Daggett!” the Prussian cried.
“Ain’t that be the truth!” seconded Fennimen.
I walked away from the pair, thinking, ‘Now that twas a fine piece o’ work. I’ll have the two of them on the hook for a couple years fer sure. Or at least until some better prospect comes along.
‘Aye and not only that but here we’ve sent the devil and his mother back to hell and helped save the Revolution in America. Aye, not a bad piece o’work at all, Molly girl,’ thinks I.