Gateway to the Classics: American History Stories, Volume II by Mara L. Pratt
American History Stories, Volume II by  Mara L. Pratt

"Free and Equal"

When the affair known as the "Boston Tea Party" occurred, Cynthia Smith was five years old. Her home was in Charleston, and she helped in many ways when her father sent all his rice to the North, as he was obliged to, because England had shut up our harbor by what is known as the "Boston Port Bill." Two years later, she saw, with aching heart, four of her brothers go to the war; and, eager to help the cause, she learned in time to spin, to weave, and to knit for the brave soldiers. The only pleasure she had was with a pretty red and white calf that her father had given her; and when the Declaration of Independence was signed she named her pet "Free-'n-Equal." Through all the dreary days and months which followed, Cynthia grew more and more fond of her friend. Still she longed to go herself and fight for her country. Finally her father and one remaining brother left home to join General Gates' army. During this time, great damage was done to the Southern homes by the British soldiers. Cynthia was ready to protect her home and mother, come what might. But one day, on returning home from an errand, she was dismayed to find that the British soldiers had carried off "Free-'n-Equal." It did not take long, however, for Cynthia to decide what she would do. Off she started at once for the headquarters of Lord Cornwallis. Hurrying over three miles of hot, dusty road, she gained entrance to the great General's room. A feast was being held just then; but once in his presence, it would not do to give up; so, summoning all her courage, she told him that his soldiers had stolen her cow, and that she had come to take her back again. Lord Cornwallis was much attracted towards the "sturdy little rebel" as he called her, and promised to have "Free-'n-Equal" returned to her at once. Before the little girl went back home with her pet, the General patted her on her head, told her she was a brave little woman, and gave her a pair of silver knee-buckles. These buckles are still in the hands of the descendants of Cynthia Smith, and they are, and justly too, very proud of them and of their grandmother, once the little Cynthia.

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