BELLMAN GREY and Blue-Eyed Boy were hurrying up Chestnut Street; the man carried a large key, the boy a new broom.

It was the Fourth day of July, 1776, and Bellman Gray and Blue-Eyed Boy were in haste to make ready the Statehouse of Pennsylvania for the birth of the United States of America. 

No wonder they were in a hurry.  In fact, everybody seemed in a hurry that day; for before Bellman Grey had whisked that new broom over the floor of Congress Hall, in walked, arm in arm, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams.

"Good morning, gentlemen," said Bellman Grey. "You'll find the dust settled in the committee-room. I'm cleaning house a little extra today for the expected visitor." 

"For the coming heir!" said Mr. Adams. "When Liberty comes he comes to stay," said Mr. Jefferson, half suffocated with the dust, and the two retreated to the committee-room.

Blue-Eyed Boy was polishing with his silken duster the red morocco of a chair as the gentlemen opened the door. He heard one of them say, " If Caesar Rodney gets here it will be done."

"If it's done," said the boy, "wont you please, Mr. Adams, wont you please, Mr. Jefferson, let me carry the news to Gen. Washington? "

"If what is done? " asked Mr. Adams.

"If the thing is voted and signed and made sure; if we run clear away from King George, sir; so far away that he'll never catch us."

"And why do you, my lad, wish to carry the news to Gen. Washington?" asked Mr. Jefferson.

"Because," said the boy, "why wouldn't you? It'll be a happy day for the soldiers when they know they can fight for themselves."  Just here Bellman Grey shouted for Blue-Eyed boy, bidding him to come quick and be spry with his dusting, too.

Soon the members of the Congress came in, one by one and two by two, and in groups. The doors were locked, and the solemn deliberations began. Within that room, now known as Independence Hall, sat, in solemn conclave, half a hundred men, each and every one of whom knew full well that the deed about to be done would endanger his own life. On a table lay a paper awaiting signatures. A silver inkstand held the ink that trembled and wavered to the sound and stir of John Adams' voice as he once more stated the why and the wherefore of the step America was about to take.

This final statement was made for the special enlightenment of three gentlemen, new members of the Congress from New Jersey, and in reply to the reasons given by Mr. Dickinson why the Declaration of Independence should not be made.  The day wore on; outside a great and greater crowd surged every moment against the walls; but the walls were thick, and the crowd was hushed to silence with an intense longing to know what was going on within.

From his high-up place in the belfry, where he had been on watch, Bellman Grey espied a figure on horseback hurrying toward the scene. "Run!" shouted Bellman Grey. "Run and tell them that Mr. Rodney comes." The boy descended the staircase with a bound and a leap, and  announced Caesar Rodney's approach.

In he came, weary with his eighty miles in the saddle, through heat and hunger and dust, for Delaware had sent her son in haste to the scene. The door closed behind him, and all was as still and as solemn as before.

Up in the belfry the old man stroked fondly the tongue of the bell, and softly said under his breath again and again as the hours went, "They will never do it; they will never do it."

The boy sat on the lowest step of the staircase, alternately peeping through the keyhole, with eye to see and ear to hear.  At last came a stir within the room. He peeped again. He saw Mr. Hancock, with white, solemn face, bend over the paper on the table, stretch forth his hand and dip the pen in the ink; he watched that hand and arm curve the pen to and fro over the paper, and then away he went, up the stairs.

Breathless with haste, he cried up the belfry, "He's doing it, he is! I see him through the keyhole. Mr. Hancock has put his name to that big paper on the table."

"Go back! Go back, and keep watch, and tell me quick when to ring," cried down the voice of Bellman Grey, as he wiped for the hundredth time the damp heat from his fore-head and the dust from the iron tongue beside him. Blue-Eyed Boy went back and peeped again just in time to see Mr. Samuel Adams in the chair, pen in hand.

One by one, in "solemn silence all," the many men wrote their names, each one knowing full well that unless America could fight longer and stronger than Great Britain that signature would prove his own death warrant. No wonder the men who wrote their names that day wrote them with solemn deliberation.

At length the long list was complete. Every man present had signed the Declaration of Independence, except Mr. Dickinson of Pennsylvania. The speaker, Mr. Thompson, then arose and made the announcement to the very men who already knew it.

Blue-Eyed Boy, with his ear to the key-hole, heard every word. With a shout and a cry of "Ring! Ring!" he rushed upward to the belfry. The words, springing from his lips like arrows, sped their way into the ears of Bellman Grey. Grasping the iron tongue of the old bell, backward and forward he hurled it a hundred times, its loud voice proclaiming to all the people that down in little Independence Hall a new nation was born that day.

You know the rest: the acclamations of the multitude, the cannon peals, the big bonfires, and the illuminations that rang and roared and boomed and burned from Delaware to Schuylkill.

In the waning light of the latest bonfire, up from the city of Penn rode our Blue-Eyed Boy, true to his purpose to be the first to carry the glad news to Gen. Washington. The self-appointed courier was mounted upon a stout young horse which, early in the year, had been left in his care by a Southern officer; and that no one might worry about him, he had entrusted his secret to a neighbor lad to tell at the home-door in the light of early day.

The journey was long, too long to write of here. Suffice it to say, that on Sunday morning Blue-Eyed Boy crossed the ferry at the Hudson, and inquired his way to the head-quarters of the general.

Warm, tired, hungry, and dusty, he urged his pony forward to the place, only to find that he whom he sought had gone to divine service at St. Paul's church.  Blue-Eyed Boy rode to St. Paul's. In the Fields (now City Hall Park) he tied his faithful little horse, and went to the church.  Gently, and with reverent mien, he entered the open door, and listened to the closing words of the sermon. At length the service was over, and the congregation turned their faces toward the entrance where stood the young traveler, his heartbeating with pride at the glorious news he had to tell to the glorious commander.

How grand the general did look to the boy as, with stately step, he trod slowly the church aisle accompanied by his officers.

Now he was come to the vestibule. It was Blue-Eyed Boy's chance at last. The great, dancing, gleeful eyes, that have out-lived in fame the very name of the lad, were fixed on Washington. He stepped forward to accost him. "Out of the way!" exclaimed a guard, and thrust him aside.

"I will speak. Gen. Washington!" screamed Blue-Eyed Boy.  Gen. Washington stayed his steps and ordered, " Let the lad come to me."

"I've good news for you," said the youth.

"What news? "

Officers stood around, even the congregation made pause, having heard the cry.

"It's for you alone, Gen. Washington."

"Come hither, then," and the commander-in-chief withdrew with the lad within the sacred edifice.

"Gen. Washington," said Blue-Eyed Boy, "on Thursday Congress declared us free and independent."

"Where are your dispatches?" leaped from the general's lips, his face shining.

"Why, why, I haven't any; but it's all true, sir," faltered poor Blue.

"How did you find it out?"

"I was right there, sir. Don't you remember me? I help Bellman Gray take care of the Statehouse at Philadelphia, and I run on errands for the Congress folks."

"Did Congress send you on this errand?"

"No, Gen. Washington; I can't tell a lie, I came myself."

"How did you know me?"

Blue-Eyed Boy was ready to cry now. 

To be sure, he was stout and sturdy and strong, and nearly fourteen, too; but to be doubted after all his long, tiresome journey, it was hard. However, he winked violently, and then he looked his very soul into the "general's face and said,

"Why, I saw you every day you went to Congress only a month ago, I did."

"I believe you, my lad. Get your horse and follow me."

Blue-Eyed Boy followed on and waited in camp until the tardy dispatches came in on Tuesday morning, confirming every word that he had spoken.

The same evening all the brigades in and around New York were ordered to their respective parade grounds.

Blue-Eyed Boy was admitted within the hollow square formed by the brigade on the spot near where stands the City Hall. 

Within the same square was Gen. Washington, sitting on horseback, and the great Declaration was read by one of his aids. It is needless to tell how it was received by the eager men who listened to the mighty truths with reverent, uncovered heads. 

Henceforth, each and every man felt that he had a banner under which to fight as broad as the sky above him, as sheltering as the homely roof of home. 

Christian Weekly.