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Title: Myths and Legends of Our Own Land — Volume 03 : on and near the Delaware
Author: Skinner, Charles M. (Charles Montgomery), 1852-1907
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Myths and Legends of Our Own Land — Volume 03 : on and near the Delaware" ***

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                           MYTHS AND LEGENDS
                              OUR OWN LAND

                           Charles M. Skinner

                                Vol. 3.

                       ON AND NEAR THE DELAWARE


The Phantom Dragoon
Delaware Water Gap
The Phantom Drummer
The Missing Soldier of Valley Forge
The Last Shot at Germantown
A Blow in the Dark
The Tory's Conversion
Lord Percy's Dream
Saved by the Bible
Parricide of the Wissahickon
The Blacksmith at Brandywine
Father and Son
The Envy of Manitou
The Last Revel in Printz Hall
The Two Rings
Flame Scalps of the Chartiers
The Consecration of Washington



The height that rises a mile or so to the south of Newark, Delaware, is
called Iron Hill, because it is rich in hematite ore, but about the time
of General Howe's advance to the Brandywine it might well have won its
name because of the panoply of war--the sullen guns, the flashing swords,
and glistening bayonets--that appeared among the British tents pitched on
it. After the red-coats had established camp here the American outposts
were advanced and one of the pickets was stationed at Welsh Tract Church.
On his first tour of duty the sentry was thrown into great alarm by the
appearance of a figure robed from head to foot in white, that rode a
horse at a charging gait within ten feet of his face. When guard was
relieved the soldier begged that he might never be assigned to that post
again. His nerves were strong in the presence of an enemy in the
flesh--but an enemy out of the grave! Ugh! He would desert rather than
encounter that shape again. His request was granted. The sentry who
succeeded him was startled, in the small hours, by a rush of hoofs and
the flash of a pallid form. He fired at it, and thought that he heard the
sound of a mocking laugh come back.

Every night the phantom horseman made his rounds, and several times the
sentinels shot at him without effect, the white horse and white rider
showing no annoyance at these assaults. When it came the turn of a
sceptical and unimaginative old corporal to take the night detail, he
took the liberty of assuming the responsibilities of this post himself.
He looked well to the priming of his musket, and at midnight withdrew out
of the moonshine and waited, with his gun resting on a fence. It was not
long before the beat of hoofs was heard approaching, and in spite of
himself the corporal felt a thrill along his spine as a mounted figure
that might have represented Death on the pale horse came into view; but
he jammed his hat down, set his teeth, and sighted his flint-lock with
deliberation. The rider was near, when bang went the corporal's musket,
and a white form was lying in the road, a horse speeding into the
distance. Scrambling over the fence, the corporal, reassured, ran to the
form and turned it over: a British scout, quite dead. The daring fellow,
relying on the superstitious fears of the rustics in his front, had made
a nightly ride as a ghost, in order to keep the American outposts from
advancing, and also to guess, from elevated points, at the strength and
disposition of their troops. He wore a cuirass of steel, but that did not
protect his brain from the corporal's bullet.


The Indian name of this beautiful region, Minisink, "the water is gone,"
agrees with the belief of geologists that a lake once existed behind the
Blue Ridge, and that it burst its way through the hills at this point.
Similar results were produced by a cataclysm on the Connecticut at Mount
Holyoke, on the Lehigh at Mauch Chunk, and Runaway Pond, New Hampshire,
got its name by a like performance. The aborigines, whatever may be said
against them, enjoyed natural beauty, and their habitations were often
made in this delightful region, their councils being attended by chief
Tamanend, or Tammany, a Delaware, whose wisdom and virtues were such as
to raise him to the place of patron saint of America. The notorious
Tammany Society of New York is named for him. When this chief became old
and feeble his tribe abandoned him in a hut at New Britain, Pennsylvania,
and there he tried to kill himself by stabbing, but failing in that, he
flung burning leaves over himself, and so perished. He was buried where
he died. It was a princess of his tribe that gave the name of Lover's
Leap to a cliff on Mount Tammany, by leaping from it to her death,
because her love for a young European was not reciprocated.

There is a silver-mine somewhere on the opposite mountain of Minsi, the
knowledge of its location having perished with the death of a recluse,
who coined the metal he took from it into valuable though illegal
dollars, going townward every winter to squander his earnings. During the
Revolution "Oran the Hawk," a Tory and renegade, was vexatious to the
people of Delaware Valley, and a detachment of colonial troops was sent
in pursuit of him. They overtook him at the Gap and chased him up the
slopes of Tammany, though he checked their progress by rolling stones
among them. One rock struck a trooper, crushed him, and bore him down to
the base of a cliff, his blood smearing it in his descent. But though he
seemed to have eluded his pursuers, Oran was shot in several places
during his flight, and when at last he cast himself into a thicket, to
rest and get breath, it was never to rise again. His bones, cracked by
bullets and gnawed by beasts, were found there when the leaves fell.


Colonel Howell, of the king's troops, was a gay fellow, framed to make
women false; but when he met the rosy, sweet-natured daughter of farmer
Jarrett, near Valley Forge, he attempted no dalliance, for he fell too
seriously in love. He might not venture into the old man's presence, for
Jarrett had a son with Washington, and he hated a red-coat as he did the
devil; but the young officer met the girl in secret, and they plighted
troth beneath the garden trees, hidden in gray mist. As Howell bent to
take his first kiss that night, a rising wind went past, bringing from
afar the roll of a drum, and as they talked the drum kept drawing nearer,
until it seemed at hand. The officer peered across the wall, then hurried
to his mistress' side, as pale as death. The fields outside were empty of

Louder came the rattling drum; it seemed to enter the gate, pass but a
yard away, go through the wall, and die in the distance. When it ceased,
Howell started as if a spell had been lifted, laxed his grip on the
maiden's hand, then drew her to his breast convulsively. Ruth's terror
was more vague but no less genuine than his own, and some moments passed
before she could summon voice to ask him what this visitation meant. He
answered, "Something is about to change my fortunes for good or ill;
probably for ill. Important events in my family for the past three
generations have been heralded by that drum, and those events were
disasters oftener than benefits." Few more words passed, and with another
kiss the soldier scaled the wall and galloped away, the triple beat of
his charger's hoofs sounding back into the maiden's ears like drum-taps.
In a skirmish next day Colonel Howell was shot. He was carried to farmer
Jarrett's house and left there, in spite of the old man's protest, for he
was willing to give no shelter to his country's enemies. When Ruth saw
her lover in this strait she was like to have fallen, but when she
learned that it would take but a few days of quiet and care to restore
him to health, she was ready to forgive her fellow-countrymen for
inflicting an injury that might result in happiness for both of them.

It took a great deal of teasing to overcome the scruples of the farmer,
but he gruffly consented to receive the young man until his hurt should
heal. Ruth attended him faithfully, and the cheerful, manly nature of the
officer so won the farmer's heart that he soon forgot the color of
Howell's coat. Nor was he surprised when Howell told him that he loved
his daughter and asked for her hand; indeed, it had been easy to guess
their affection, and the old man declared that but for his allegiance to
a tyrant he would gladly own him as a son-in-law. It was a long struggle
between love and duty that ensued in Howell's breast, and love was
victor. If he might marry Ruth he would leave the army. The old man gave
prompt consent, and a secret marriage was arranged. Howell had been
ordered to rejoin his regiment; he could not honorably resign on the eve
of an impending battle, and, even had he done so, a long delay must have
preceded his release. He would marry the girl, go to the country, live
there quietly until the British evacuated Philadelphia, when he would
return and cast his lot with the Jarrett household.

Howell donned citizen's dress, and the wedding took place in the spacious
best room of the mansion, but as he slipped the ring on the finger of his
bride the roll of a drum was heard advancing up the steps into the room,
then on and away until all was still again. The young colonel was pale;
Ruth clung to him in terror; clergymen and guests looked at each other in
amazement. Now there were voices at the porch, the door was flung open,
armed men entered, and the bridegroom was a prisoner. He was borne to his
quarters, and afterward tried for desertion, for a servant in the Jarrett
household, hating all English and wishing them to suffer, even at each
other's hands, had betrayed the plan of his master's guest. The
court-martial found him guilty and condemned him to be shot. When the
execution took place, Ruth, praying and sobbing in her chamber, knew that
her husband was no more. The distant sound of musketry reverberated like
the roll of a drum.


During the dreadful winter of the American encampment at Valley Forge six
or eight soldiers went out to forage for provisions. Knowing that little
was to be hoped for near the camp of their starving comrades, they set
off in the direction of French Creek. At this stream the party separated,
and a little later two of the men were attacked by Tory farmers. Flying
along the creek for some distance they came to a small cave in a bluff,
and one of them, a young Southerner named Carrington, scrambled into it.
His companion was not far behind, and was hurrying toward the cave, when
he was arrested by a rumble and a crash: a block of granite, tons in
weight, that had hung poised overhead, slid from its place and completely
blocked the entrance. The stifled cry of despair from the living occupant
of the tomb struck to his heart. He hid in a neighboring wood until the
Tories had dispersed, then, returning to the cave, he strove with might
and main to stir the boulder from its place, but without avail.

When he reached camp, as he did next day, he told of this disaster, but
the time for rescue was believed to be past, or the work was thought to
be too exhausting and dangerous for a body of men who had much ado to
keep life in their own weak frames. It was a double tragedy, for the
young man's sweetheart never recovered from the shock that the news
occasioned, and on her tomb, near Richmond, Virginia, these words are
chiselled: "Died, of a broken heart, on the 1st of March, 1780, Virginia
Randolph, aged 21 years, 9 days. Faithful unto death." In the summer of
1889 some workmen, blasting rock near the falls on French Creek,
uncovered the long-concealed cavern and found there a skeleton with a few
rags of a Continental uniform. In a bottle beside it was an account,
signed by Arthur L. Carrington, of the accident that had befallen him,
and a letter declaring undying love for his sweetheart.

He had starved to death. The bones were neatly coffined, and were sent to
Richmond to be buried beside those of the faithful Miss Randolph.


Many are the tales of prophecy that have been preserved to us from war
times. In the beginning of King Philip's war in Connecticut, in 1675, it
was reported that the firing of the first gun was heard all over the
State, while the drumbeats calling settlers to defence were audible eight
miles away. Braddock's defeat and the salvation of Washington were
foretold by a Miami chief at a council held in Fort Ponchartrain, on
Detroit River, the ambush and the slaughter having been revealed to him
in a dream. The victims of that battle, too, had been apprised, for one
or two nights before the disaster a young lieutenant in Braddock's
command saw his fellow-officers pass through his tent, bloody and torn,
and when the first gun sounded he knew that it spoke the doom of nearly
all his comrades. At Killingly, Connecticut, in the autumn before the
outbreak of the Revolution, a distant roar of artillery was heard for a
whole day and night in the direction of Boston, mingled with a rattle of
musketry, and so strong was the belief that war had begun and the British
were advancing, that the minute men mustered to await orders. It was
afterward argued that these noises came from an explosion of meteors, a
shower of these missiles being then in progress, invisible, of course, in
the day-time. Just after the signing of the Declaration of Independence
the royal arms on the spire of the Episcopal church at Hampton, Virginia,
were struck off by lightning. Shortly before the surrender of Cornwallis
a display of northern lights was seen in New England, the rays taking the
form of cannon, facing southward. In Connecticut sixty-four of these guns
were counted.

At the battle of Germantown the Americans were enraged by the killing of
one of their men who had gone out with a flag of truce. He was shot from
the windows of Judge Chew's house, which was crowded with British
soldiers, and as he fell to the lawn, dyeing the peaceful emblem with his
blood, at least one of the Continentals swore that his death should be
well avenged. The British reinforcements, sixteen thousand strong, came
hurrying through the street, their officers but half-dressed, so urgent
had been the summons for their aid. Except for their steady tramp the
place was silent; doors were locked and shutters bolted, and if people
were within doors no sign of them was visible. General Agnew alone of all
the troop seemed depressed and anxious. Turning to an aide as they passed
the Mennonist graveyard, he said, "This field is the last I shall fight

An eerie face peered over the cemetery wall, a scarred, unshaven face
framed in long hair and surmounting a body clothed in skins, with the
question, "Is that the brave General Gray who beat the rebels at Paoli?"
One of the soldiers, with a careless toss of the hand, seemed to indicate
General Agnew. A moment later there was a report, a puff of smoke from
the cemetery wall, and a bullet whizzed by the head of the general, who
smiled wanly, to encourage his men. Summary execution would have been
done upon the stranger had not a body of American cavalry dashed against
the red-coats at that moment, and a fierce contest was begun. When the
day was over, General Agnew, who had been separated from his command in
the confusion of battle, came past the graves again. Tired and depressed,
he drew rein for a moment to breathe the sweet air, so lately fouled with
dust and smoke, and to watch the gorgeous light of sunset. Again, like a
malignant genius of the place, the savage-looking stranger arose from
behind the wall. A sharp report broke the quiet of evening and awoke
clattering echoes from the distant houses. A horse plunged and General
Agnew rolled from his saddle, dead: the last victim in the strife at


The Tory Manheim sits brooding in his farmhouse near Valley Forge, and
his daughter, with a hectic flush on her cheek, looks out into the
twilight at the falling snow. She is worn and ill; she has brought on a
fever by exposure incurred that very day in a secret journey to the
American camp, made to warn her lover of another attempt on the life of
Washington, who must pass her father's house on his return from a distant
settlement. The Tory knows nothing of this; but he starts whenever the
men in the next room rattle the dice or break into a ribald song, and a
frown of apprehension crosses his face as the foragers crunch by,
half-barefoot, through the snow. The hours go on, and the noise in the
next room increases; but it hushes suddenly when a knock at the door is
heard. The Tory opens it, and trembles as a tall, grave man, with the
figure of an athlete, steps into the fire-light and calmly removes his
gloves. "I have been riding far," said he. "Can you give me some food and
the chance to sleep for an hour, until the storm clears up?"

Manheim says that he can, and shuffling into the next room, he whispers,
"Washington!" The girl is sent out to get refreshments. It is in vain
that she seeks to sign or speak to the man who sits there so calmly
before the fire, for her father is never out of sight or hearing. After
Washington has finished his modest repast he asks to be left to himself
for a while, but the girl is told to conduct him to the room on the left
of the landing on the next floor.

Her father holds the candle at the foot of the stairs until he sees his
guest enter; then he bids his daughter go to her own bed, which is in the
chamber on the right of the landing. There is busy whispering in the room
below after that, and the dice box is shaken to see to whose lot it shall
fall to steal up those stairs and stab Washington in his sleep. An hour
passes and all in the house appear to be at rest, but the stairs creak
slightly as Manheim creeps upon his prey. He blows his candle out and
softly enters the chamber on the left. The men, who listen in the dark at
the foot of the stair, hear a moan, and the Tory hurries back with a
shout of gladness, for the rebel chief is no more and Howe's reward will
enrich them for life.

Glasses are filled, and in the midst of the rejoicing a step is heard on
the stair. Washington stands before them. In calm, deep tones he thanks
the farmer for his shelter, and asks that his horse be brought to the
door and his reckoning be made out. The Tory stares as one bereft. Then
he rushes aloft, flings open the door of the room on the left, and gazes
at the face that rests on the pillow,--a pillow that is dabbled with red.
The face is that of his daughter. The name of father is one that he will
never hear again in this world. The candle falls from his hand; he sinks
to the floor; be his sin forgiven! Outside is heard the tramp of a horse.
It is that of Washington, who rides away, ignorant of the peril he has
passed and the sacrifice that averted it.


In his firelit parlor, in his little house at Valley Forge, old Michael
Kuch sits talking with his daughter. But though it is Christmas eve the
talk has little cheer in it. The hours drag on until the clock strikes
twelve, and the old man is about to offer his evening prayer for the
safety of his son, who is one of Washington's troopers, when hurried
steps are heard in the snow, there is a fumbling at the latch, then the
door flies open and admits a haggard, panting man who hastily closes it
again, falls into a seat, and shakes from head to foot. The girl goes to
him. "John!" she says. But he only averts his face. "What is wrong with
thee, John Blake?" asks the farmer. But he has to ask again and again ere
he gets an answer. Then, in a broken voice, the trembling man confesses
that he has tried to shoot Washington, but the bullet struck and killed
his only attendant, a dragoon. He has come for shelter, for men are on
his track already. "Thou know'st I am neutral in this war, John Blake,"
answered the farmer,--"although I have a boy down yonder in the camp. It
was a cowardly thing to do, and I hate you Tories that you do not fight
like men; yet, since you ask me for a hiding-place, you shall have it,
though, mind you, 'tis more on the girl's account than yours. The men are
coming. Out--this way--to the spring-house. So!"

Before old Michael has time to return to his chair the door is again
thrust open, this time by men in blue and buff. They demand the assassin,
whose footsteps they have tracked there through the snow. Michael does
not answer. They are about to use violence when, through the open door,
comes Washington, who checks them with a word. The general bears a
drooping form with a blood splash on its breast, and deposits it on the
hearth as gently as a mother puts a babe into its cradle. As the
firelight falls on the still face the farmer's eyes grow round and big;
then he shrieks and drops upon his knees, for it is his son who is lying
there. Beside him is a pistol; it was dropped by the Tory when he
entered. Grasping it eagerly the farmer leaps to his feet. His years have
fallen from him. With a tiger-like bound he gains the door, rushes to the
spring-house where John Blake is crouching, his eyes sunk and shining,
gnawing his fingers in a craze of dismay. But though hate is swift, love
is swifter, and the girl is there as soon as he. She strikes his arm
aside, and the bullet he has fired lodges in the wood. He draws out his
knife, and the murderer, to whom has now come the calmness of despair,
kneels and offers his breast to the blade. Before he can strike, the
soldiers hasten up, and seizing Blake, they drag him to the house--the
little room--where all had been so peaceful but a few minutes before.

The culprit is brought face to face with Washington, who asks him what
harm he has ever suffered from his fellow countrymen that he should turn
against them thus. Blake hangs his head and owns his willingness to die.
His eyes rest on the form extended on the floor, and he shudders; but his
features undergo an almost joyous change, for the figure lifts itself,
and in a faint voice calls, "Father!" The young man lives. With a cry of
delight both father and sister raise him in their arms. "You are not yet
prepared to die," says Washington to the captive. "I will put you under
guard until you are wanted. Take him into custody, my dear young lady,
and try to make an American of him. See, it is one o'clock, and this is
Christmas morning. May all be happy here. Come." And beckoning to his men
he rides away, though Blake and his affianced would have gone on their
knees before him. Revulsion of feeling, love, thankfulness and a latent
patriotism wrought a quick change in Blake. When young Kuch recovered
Blake joined his regiment, and no soldier served the flag more honorably.


Leaving the dissipations of the English court, Lord Percy came to America
to share the fortunes of his brethren in the contest then raging on our
soil. His father had charged him with the delivery of a certain package
to an Indian woman, should he meet her in his rambles through the western
wilds, and, without inquiring into the nature of the gift
or its occasion, he accepted the trust. At the battle of the
Brandywine--strangely foretold by Quaker prophecy forty years before--he
was detailed by Cornwallis to drive the colonial troops out of a
graveyard where they had intrenched themselves, and though he set upon
this errand with the enthusiasm of youth, his cheek paled as he drew near
the spot where the enemy was waiting.

It was not that he had actual physical fear of the onset: he had dreamed
a dream a few nights before, the purport of which he had hinted to his
comrades, and as he rode into the clearing at the top of Osborn's Hill he
drew rein and exclaimed, "My dream! Yonder is the graveyard. I am fated
to die there." Giving a few of his effects to his brother officers, and
charging one of them to take a message of love to his betrothed in
England, he set his lips and rode forward.

His cavalry bound toward the scene of action and are within thirty paces
of the cemetery wall, when from behind it rises a battalion of men in the
green uniform of the Santee Rangers and pours a withering fire into the
ranks. The shock is too great to withstand, and the red-coats stagger
away with broken ranks, leaving many dead and wounded on the ground. Lord
Percy is the coolest of all. He urges the broken columns forward, and
almost alone holds the place until the infantry, a hundred yards behind,
come up. Thereupon ensues one of those hand-to-hand encounters that are
so rare in recent war, and that are the sorest test of valor and
discipline. Now rides forward Captain Waldemar, chief of the rangers and
a half-breed Indian, who, seeing Percy, recognizes him as an officer and
engages him in combat. There is for a minute a clash of steel on steel;
then the nobleman falls heavily to the earth--dead. His dream has come
true. That night the captain Waldemar seeks out the body of this officer,
attracted by something in the memory of his look, and from his bosom
takes the packet that was committed to his care.

By lantern-light he reads, carelessly at first, then rapidly and eagerly,
and at the close he looks long and earnestly at the dead man, and seems
to brush away a tear. Strange thing to do over the body of an enemy! Why
had fate decreed that they should be enemies? For Waldemar is the
half-brother of Percy. His mother was the Indian girl that the earl, now
passing his last days in England, had deceived with a pretended marriage,
and the letters promise patronage to her son. The half-breed digs a grave
that night with his own hands and lays the form of his brother in it.


It was on the day after the battle of Germantown that Warner, who wore
the blue, met his hated neighbor, the Tory Dabney, near that bloody

By a common impulse the men fell upon each other with their knives, and
Warner soon had his enemy in a position to give him the death-stroke, but
Dabney began to bellow for quarter. "My brother cried for quarter at
Paoli," answered the other, "and you struck him to the heart."

"I have a wife and child. Spare me for their sakes."

"My brother had a wife and two children. Perhaps you would like to beg
your life of them."

Though made in mockery, this proposition was caught at so earnestly that
Warner at length consented to take his adversary, firmly bound, to the
house where the bereaved family was living. The widow was reading the
Bible to her children, but her grief was too fresh to gather comfort from
it. When Dabney was flung into the room he grovelled at her feet and
begged piteously for mercy. Her face did not soften, but there was a kind
of contempt in the settled sadness of her tone as she said, "It shall be
as God directs. I will close this Bible, open it at chance, and when this
boy shall put his finger at random on a line, by that you must live or

The book was opened, and the child put his finger on a line: "That man
shall die."

Warner drew his knife and motioned his prisoner to the door. He was going
to lead him into the wood to offer him as a sacrifice to his brother's

"No, no!" shrieked the wretch. "Give me one more chance; one more! Let
the girl open the book."

The woman coldly consents, and when the book is opened for the second
time she reads, "Love your enemies." There are no other words. The knife
is used, but it is to cut the prisoner's bonds, and he walks away with
head hung down, never more to take arms against his countrymen. And glad
are they all at this, when the husband is brought home--not dead, though
left among the corpses at Paoli, but alive and certain of recovery, with
such nursing as his wife will give him. After tears of joy have been shed
she tells him the story of the Bible judgment, and all the members of the
family fall on their knees in thanksgiving that the blood of Dabney is
not upon their heads.


Farmer Derwent and his four stout sons set off on an autumn night for the
meeting of patriots at a house on the Wissahickon,--a meeting that bodes
no good to the British encamped in Philadelphia, let the red-coats laugh
as they will at the rag-tag and bob-tail that are joining the army of Mr.
Washington in the wilds of the Skippack. The farmer sighs as he thinks
that his younger son alone should be missing from the company, and
wonders for the thousandth time what has become of the boy. They sit by a
rock that juts into the road to trim their lantern, and while they talk
together they are startled by an exclamation. It is from Ellen, the
adopted daughter of Derwent and the betrothed of his missing son. On the
night that the boy stole away from his father's house he asked her to
meet him in this place in a year's time, and the year is up to-night.

But it is not to meet him that she is hastening now: she has heard that
the British have learned of the patriot gathering and will try to make
prisoners of the company. Even as she tells of this there is a sound to
the southward: the column is on the march. The farmer's eye blazes with
rage and hate. "Boys," he says, "yonder come those who intend to kill us.
Let them taste of their own warfare. Stand here in the shadow and fire as
they pass this rock."

The troopers ride on, chuckling over their sure success, when there is a
report of rifles and four of the red-coats are in the dust. The
survivors, though taken by surprise, prove their courage by halting to
answer the volley, and one of them springs from his saddle, seizes
Derwent, and plunges a knife into his throat. The rebel falls. His blood
pools around him. The British are successful, for two of the young men
are bound and two of them have fallen, and there is a cheer of victory,
but the trooper with the knife in his hand does not raise his voice. He
bends above the farmer as still as one dead, until his captain claps him
on the shoulder. As he rises, the prisoners start in wonder, for the face
they see in the lantern-light is that of their brother, yet strange in
its haggardness and its smear of blood on the cheek. The girl runs from
her hiding-place with a cry, but stands in horror when her foot touches
the gory pool in the road. The trooper opens his coat and offers her a
locket. It contains her picture, and he has worn it above his heart for a
year, but she lets it fall and sinks down, moaning. The soldier tears off
his red coat, tramples it in the dust, then vaulting to his saddle he
plunges into the river, fords it, and crashes through the underbrush on
the other side. In a few minutes he has reached the summit of a rock that
rises nearly a hundred feet above the stream. The horse halts at the
edge, but on a fierce stab of the spur into his flank he takes the leap.
With a despairing yell the traitor and parricide goes into eternity.


Terrible in the field at Brandywine was the figure of a man armed only
with a hammer, who plunged into the ranks of the enemy, heedless of his
own life, yet seeming to escape their shots and sabre cuts by magic, and
with Thor strokes beat them to the earth. But yesterday war had been to
him a distant rumor, a thing as far from his cottage at Dilworth as if it
had been in Europe, but he had revolted at a plot that he had overheard
to capture Washington and had warned the general. In revenge the Tories
had burned his cottage, and his wife and baby had perished in the flames.
All day he had sat beside the smoking ruins, unable to weep, unable to
think, unable almost to suffer, except dumbly, for as yet he could not
understand it. But when the drums were heard they roused the tiger in
him, and gaunt with sleeplessness and hunger he joined his countrymen and
ranged like Ajax on the field. Every cry for quarter was in vain: to
every such appeal he had but one reply, his wife's name--Mary.

Near the end of the fight he lay beside the road, his leg broken, his
flesh torn, his life ebbing from a dozen wounds. A wagoner, hasting to
join the American retreat, paused to give him drink. "I've only five
minutes more of life in me," said the smith. "Can you lift me into that
tree and put a rifle in my hands?" The powerful teamster raised him to
the crotch of an oak, and gave him the rifle and ammunition that a dying
soldier had dropped there. A band of red-coats came running down the
road, chasing some farmers. The blacksmith took careful aim; there was a
report, and the leader of the band fell dead. A pause; again a report
rang out, and a trooper sprawled upon the ground. The marksman had been
seen, and a lieutenant was urging his men to hurry on and cut him down.
There was a third report, and the lieutenant reeled forward into the
road, bleeding and cursing. "That's for Mary," gasped the blacksmith. The
rifle dropped from his hands, and he, too, sank lifeless against the


It was three soldiers, escaping from the rout of Braddock's forces, who
caught the alleged betrayer of their general and put him to the death.
They threw his purse of ill-gotten louis d'or into the river, and sent
him swinging from the edge of a ravine, with a vine about his neck and a
placard on his breast. And so they left him.

Twenty years pass, and the war-fires burn more fiercely in the vales of
Pennsylvania, but, too old to fight, the schoolmaster sits at his door
near Chad's Ford and smokes and broods upon the past. He thinks of the
time when he marched with Washington, when with two wounded comrades he
returned along the lonely trail; then comes the vision of a blackening
face, and he rises and wipes his brow. "It was right," he mutters. "He
sent a thousand of his brothers to their deaths."

Gilbert Gates comes that evening to see the old man's daughter: a smooth,
polite young fellow, but Mayland cannot like him, and after some short
talk he leaves him, pleading years and rheumatism, and goes to bed. But
not to sleep; for toward ten o'clock his daughter goes to him and urges
him to fly, for men are gathering near the house--Tories, she is
sure,--and they mean no good. Laughing at her fears, but willing to
relieve her anxiety, the old man slips into his clothes, goes into the
cellar, and thence starts for the barn, while the girl remains for a few
minutes to hide the silver.

He does not go far before Gates is at his elbow with the whispered words,
"Into the stack-quick. They are after you." Mayland hesitates with
distrust, but the appearance of men with torches leaves no time for talk.
With Gilbert's help he crawls deep into the straw and is covered up.
Presently a rough voice asks which way he has gone. Gilbert replies that
he has gone to the wood, but there is no need for getting into a passion,
and that on no account would it be advisable to fire the stack. "Won't we
though?" cries one of the party. "We'll burn the rebel out of house and
home," and thrusting his torch into the straw it is ablaze in an instant.
The crowd hurries away toward the wood, and does not hear the stifled
groan that comes out of the middle of the fire. Gates takes a paper from
his pocket, and, after reading it for the last time, flings it upon the
flame. It bears the inscription, "Isaac Gates, Traitor and Spy, hung by
three soldiers of his majesty's army. Isaac Mayland."

From his moody contemplation he rouses with a start, for Mayland's
daughter is there. Her eyes are bent on a distorted thing that lies among
the embers, and in the dying light of the flames it seems to move. She
studies it close, then with a cry of pain and terror she falls upon the
hot earth, and her senses go out, not to be regained in woful years. With
head low bowed, Gilbert Gates trudges away. In the fight at Brandywine
next day, Black Samson, a giant negro, armed with a scythe, sweeps his
way through the red ranks like a sable figure of Time. Mayland had taught
him; his daughter had given him food. It is to avenge them that he is
fighting. In the height of the conflict he enters the American ranks
leading a prisoner--Gilbert Gates. The young man is pale, stern, and
silent. His deed is known, he is a spy as well as a traitor, but he asks
no mercy. It is rumored that next day he alone, of the prisoners, was led
to a wood and lashed by arms and legs to a couple of hickory trees that
had been bent by a prodigious effort and tied together by their tops. The
lashing was cut by a rifle-ball, the trees regained their straight
position with a snap like whips, and that was the way Gilbert Gates came
to his end.


Behind the mountains that gloom about the romantic village of Mauch
Chunk, Pennsylvania, was once a lake of clear, bright water, its winding
loops and bays extending back for several miles. On one of its prettiest
bits of shore stood a village of the Leni Lenape, and largest of its
wigwams, most richly pictured without, most luxurious in its couching of
furs within, was that of the young chief, Onoko. This Indian was a man of
great size, strength, and daring. Single-handed he had slain the bear on
Mauch Chunk [Bear Mountain], and it was no wonder that Wenonah, the
fairest of her tribe, was flattered when he sued for her hand, and
promptly consented to be his wife. It was Onoko's fortune in war, the
chase, and love that roused the envy of Mitche Manitou.

One day, as the couple were floating in their shallop of bark on the calm
lake, idly enjoying the sunshine and saying pretty things to each other,
the Manitou arose among the mountains. Terrible was his aspect, for the
scowl of hatred was on his face, thunder crashed about his head, and fire
snapped from his eyes. Covering his right hand with his invincible magic
mitten, he dealt a blow on the hills that made the earth shake, and rived
them to a depth of a thousand feet. Through the chasm thus created the
lake poured a foaming deluge, and borne with it was the canoe of Onoko
and Wenonah. One glance at the wrathful face in the clouds above them and
they knew that escape was hopeless, so, clasping each other in a close
embrace, they were whirled away to death. Manitou strode away moodily
among the hills, and ever since that time the Lehigh has rolled through
the chasm that he made. The memory of Onoko is preserved in the name of a
glen and cascade a short distance above Mauch Chunk.

It is not well to be too happy in this world. It rouses the envy of the


"Young man, I'll give thee five dollars a week to be care-taker in Printz
Hall," said Quaker Quidd to fiddler Matthews, on an autumn evening.

Young Matthews had just been taunting the old gentleman with being afraid
to sleep on his own domain, and as the eyes of all the tavern loungers
were on him he could hardly decline so flattering a proposition, so,
after some hemming and hawing, he said he would take the Quaker at his
word. He played but two or three more tunes that evening, did Peter
Matthews, and played them rather sadly; then, as Quidd had finished his
mulled cider and departed, he took his homeward way in thoughtful mood.
Printz Hall stood in a lonely, weed-grown garden near Chester,
Pennsylvania, and thither repaired Peter, as next day's twilight shut
down, with a mattress, blanket, comestibles, his beloved fiddle, and a
flask of whiskey. Ensconcing himself in the room that was least
depressing in appearance he stuffed rags into the vacant panes, lighted a
candle, started a blaze in the fireplace, and ate his supper.

"Not so bad a place, after all," mumbled Peter, as he warmed himself at
the fire and the flask; then, taking out his violin, he began to play.
The echo of his music emphasized the emptiness of the house, the damp got
into the strings so that they sounded tubby, and there were unintentional
quavers in the melody whenever the trees swung against the windows and
splashed them with rain, or when a distant shutter fell a-creaking.
Finally, he stirred the fire, bolted the door, snuffed his candle, took a
courageous pull at the liquor, flung off his coat and shoes, rolled his
blanket around him, stretched himself on the mattress, and fell asleep.
He was awakened by--well, he could not say what, exactly, only he became
suddenly as wide awake as ever he had been in his life, and listened for
some sound that he knew was going to come out of the roar of the wind and
the slamming, grating, and whistling about the house. Yes, there it was:
a tread and a clank on the stair. The door, so tightly bolted, flew open,
and there entered a dark figure with steeple-crowned hat, cloak,
jack-boots, sword, and corselet. The terrified fiddler wanted to howl,
but his voice was gone. "I am Peter Printz, governor-general of his
Swedish Majesty's American colonies, and builder of this house," said the
figure. "'Tis the night of the autumnal equinox, when my friends meet
here for revel. Take thy fiddle and come. Play, but speak not."

And whether he wished or no, Peter was drawn to follow the figure, which
he could make out by the phosphor gleam of it. Down-stairs they went,
doors swinging open before them, and along corridors that clanged to the
stroke of the spectre's boot heels. Now they came to the ancient
reception-room, and as they entered it Peter was dazzled. The floor was
smooth with wax, logs snapped in the fireplace, though the flame was
somewhat blue, the old hangings and portraits looked fresh, and in the
light of wax candles a hundred people, in the brave array of old times,
walked, courtesied, and seemed to laugh and talk together. As the fiddler
appeared, every eye was turned on him in a disquieting way, and when he
addressed himself to his bottle, from every throat came a hollow laugh.
Finding his way to a chair he sank into it and put his instrument in
position. At the first note the couples took hands, and as he struck into
a jig they began to circle swiftly, leaping wondrous high.

Faster went the music, for the whiskey was at work in Peter's noddle, and
wilder grew the dance. It was as if the storm had come in through the
windows and was blowing these people hither and yon, around and around.
The fiddler vaguely wondered at himself, for he had never played so well,
though he had never heard the tune before. Now loomed Governor Printz in
the middle of the room, and extending his hand he ordered the dance to
cease. "Thou bast played well, fiddler," he said, "and shalt be paid."
Then, at his signal, came two negro men tugging at a strong box that
Printz unlocked. It was filled with gold pieces. "Hold thy fiddle bag,"
commanded the governor, and Peter did so, watching, open mouthed, the
transfer of a double handful of treasure from box to sack. Another such
handful followed, and another. At the fourth Peter could no longer
contain himself. He forgot the injunction not to speak, and shouted
gleefully, "Lord Harry! Here's luck!"

There was a shriek of demon laughter, the scene was lost in darkness, and
Peter fell insensible. In the morning a tavern-haunting friend, anxious
to know if Peter had met with any adventure, entered the house and went
cautiously from room to room, calling on the watcher to show himself.
There was no response. At last he stumbled on the whiskey bottle, empty,
and knew that Peter must be near. Sure enough, there he lay in the great
room, with dust and mould thick on everything, and his fiddle smashed
into a thousand pieces. Peter on being awakened looked ruefully about
him, then sprang up and eagerly demanded his money. "What money?" asked
his friend. The fiddler clutched at his green bag, opened it, shook it;
there was nothing. Nor was there any delay in Peter's exit from that
mansion, and when, twenty-four hours after, the house went up in flames,
he averred that the ghosts had set it afire, and that he knew where they
brought their coals from.


Gabrielle de St. Pierre, daughter of the commandant of Fort Le Boeuf,
now--Waterford, Pennsylvania, that the French had setup on the Ohio
River, was Parisian by birth and training, but American by choice, for
she had enjoyed on this lonesome frontier a freedom equal to that of the
big-handed, red-faced half-breeds, and she was as wild as an Indian in
her sports. Returning from a hunt, one day, she saw three men advancing
along the trail, and, as it was easy to see that they were not Frenchmen,
her guide slipped an arrow to the cord and discharged it; but Gabrielle
was as quick as he, for she struck the missile as it was leaving the bow
and it quivered harmlessly into a beech. The younger of the men who were
advancing--he was Harry Fairfax, of Virginia--said to his chief, "Another
escape for you, George. Heaven sent one of its angels to avert that

Washington, for it was he, answered lightly, and, as no other hostile
demonstrations were made, the new-comers pressed on to the fort, where
St. Pierre received them cordially, though he knew that their errand was
to claim his land on behalf of the English and urge the French to retire
to the southwest. The days that were spent in futile negotiation passed
all too swiftly for Fairfax, for he had fallen in love with Gabrielle.
She would not consent to a betrothal until time had tried his affection,
but as a token of friendship she gave him a stone circlet of Indian
manufacture, and received in exchange a ring that had been worn by the
mother of Fairfax.

After the diplomats had returned the English resolved to enforce their
demand with arms, and Fairfax was one of the first to be despatched to
the front.

Early in the campaign his company engaged the enemy near the Ohio River,
and in the heat of battle he had time to note and wonder at the strange
conduct of one of the French officers, a mere stripling, who seemed more
concerned to check the fire of his men than to secure any advantage in
the fight. Presently the French gave way, and with a cheer the English
ran forward to claim the field, the ruder spirits among them at once
beginning to plunder the wounded. A cry for quarter drew Fairfax with a
bound to the place whence it came, and, dashing aside a pilfering
soldier, he bent above a slight form that lay extended on the earth: the
young officer whose strange conduct had so surprised him. In another
moment he recognized his mother's ring on one of the slender hands. It
was Gabrielle. Her father had perished in the fight, but she had saved
her lover.

In due time she went with her affianced to his home in Williamsburg,
Virginia, and became mistress of the Fairfax mansion. But she never liked
the English, as a people, and when, in later years, two sturdy sons of
hers asked leave to join the Continental army, she readily consented.


Before Pittsburg had become worthy to be called a settlement, a white man
rowed his boat to the mouth of Chartiers creek, near that present city.
He was seeking a place in which to make his home, and a little way
up-stream, where were timber, water, and a southern slope, he marked a
"tomahawk claim," and set about clearing the land. Next year his wife,
two children, and his brother came to occupy the cabin he had built, and
for a long time all went happily, but on returning from a long hunt the
brothers found the little house in ashes and the charred remains of its
occupants in the ruins. Though nearly crazed by this catastrophe they
knew that their own lives were in hourly peril, and they wished to live
until they could punish the savages for this crime. After burying the
bodies, they started east across the hills, leaving a letter on birch
bark in a cleft stick at the mouth of Chartiers creek, in which the
tragedy was recounted.

This letter was afterward found by trappers. The men themselves were
never heard from, and it is believed that they, too, fell at the hands of
the Indians. Old settlers used to affirm that on summer nights the cries
of the murdered innocents could be heard in the little valley where the
cabin stood, and when storms were coming up these cries were often
blended with the yells of savages. More impressive are the death
lights--the will-o'-the-wisps--that wander over the scene of the tragedy,
and up and down the neighboring slopes. These apparitions are said to be
the spirits of husband and wife seeking each other, or going together in
search of their children; but some declare that in their upward streaming
rays it can readily be seen that they are the scalps of the slain. Two of
them have a golden hue, and these are the scalps of the children. From
beneath them drops of red seem to distil on the grass and are found to
have bedewed the flowers on the following morning.


In 1773 some of the Pietist monks were still living in their rude
monastery whose ruins are visible on the banks of the Wissahickon. Chief
among these mystics was an old man who might have enjoyed the wealth and
distinction warranted by a title had he chosen to remain in Germany, but
he had forsworn vanities, and had come to the new world to pray, to rear
his children, and to live a simple life. Some said he was an alchemist,
and many believed him to be a prophet. The infrequent wanderer beside the
romantic river had seen lights burning in the window of his cell and had
heard the solemn sound of song and prayer. On a winter night, when snow
lay untrodden about the building and a sharp air stirred in the trees
with a sound like harps, the old man sat in a large room of the place,
with his son and daughter, waiting. For a prophecy had run that on that
night, at the third hour of morning, the Deliverer would present himself.
In a dream was heard a voice, saying, "I will send a deliverer to the new
world who shall save my people from bondage, as my Son saved them from
spiritual death." The night wore on in prayer and meditation, and the
hours tolled heavily across the frozen wilderness, but, at the stroke of
three, steps were heard in the snow and the door swung open. The man who
entered was of great stature, with a calm, strong face, a powerful frame,
and a manner of dignity and grace.

"Friends, I have lost my way," said he. "Can you direct me?"

The old man started up in a kind of rapture. "You have not lost your
way," he cried, "but found it. You are called to a great mission. Kneel
at this altar and receive it."

The stranger looked at the man in surprise and a doubt passed over his
face. "Nay, I am not mad," urged the recluse, with a slight smile.
"Listen: to-night, disturbed for the future of your country, and unable
to sleep, you mounted horse and rode into the night air to think on the
question that cannot be kept out of your mind, Is it lawful for the
subject to draw sword against his king? The horse wandered, you knew and
cared not whither, until he brought you here."

"How do you know this?" asked the stranger, in amazement.

"Be not surprised, but kneel while I anoint thee deliverer of this land."

Moved and impressed, the man bowed his knee before one of his fellows for
the first time in his life. The monk touched his finger with oil, and
laying it on the brow of the stranger said, "Do you promise, when the
hour shall strike, to take the sword in defence of your country? Do you
promise, when you shall see your soldiers suffer for bread and fire, and
when the people you have led to victory shall bow before you, to remember
that you are but the minister of God in the work of a nation's freedom?"

With a new light burning in his eyes, the stranger bent his head.

"Then, in His name, I consecrate thee deliverer of this oppressed people.
When the time comes, go forth to victory, for, as you are faithful, be
sure that God will grant it. Wear no crown, but the blessings and honor
of a free people, save this." As he finished, his daughter, a girl of
seventeen, came forward and put a wreath of laurel on the brow of the
kneeling man. "Rise," continued the prophet, "and take my hand, which I
have never before offered to any man, and accept my promise to be
faithful to you and to this country, even if it cost my life."

As he arose, the son of the priest stepped to him and girt a sword upon
his hip, and the old man held up his hands in solemn benediction. The
stranger laid his hand on the book that stood open on the altar and
kissed the hilt of his sword. "I will keep the faith," said he. At dawn
he went his way again, and no one knew his name, but when the fires of
battle lighted the western world America looked to him for its
deliverance from tyranny. Years later it was this spot that he revisited,
alone, to pray, and here Sir William Howe offered to him, in the name of
his king, the title of regent of America. He took the parchment and
ground it into a rag in the earth at his feet. For this was Washington.

Blooming and maidenly, though she dressed in leather and used a rifle
like a man, was Marion, grand-daughter of old Abraham, who counted his
years as ninety, and who for many of those years had lived with his books
in the tidy cabin where the Youghiogheny and Monongahela come together.
This place stood near the trail along which Braddock marched to his
defeat, and it was one of the stragglers from this command, a bony
half-breed with red hair, called Red Wolf, that knocked at the door and
asked for water. Seeing no one but Marion he ventured in, and would have
tried not only to make free with the contents of the little house but
would have kissed the girl as well, only that she seized her rifle and
held him at bay. Still, the fellow would have braved a shot, had not a
young officer in a silver-laced uniform glanced through the open door in
passing and discovered the situation. He doffed his chapeau to Marion,
then said sternly to the rogue, "Retire. Your men are waiting for you."
Red Wolf slunk away, and Washington, for it was he, begged that he might
rest for a little time under the roof.

This request was gladly complied with, both by the girl and by her
grandfather, who presently appeared, and the fever that threatened the
young soldier was averted by a day of careful nursing. Marion's innate
refinement, her gentleness, her vivacity, could not fail to interest
Washington, and the vision of her face was with him for many a day. He
promised to return, then he rode forward and caught up with the troops.
He survived the battle in which seven hundred of his comrades were shot
or tomahawked and scalped. One Indian fired at him eleven times, and five
of the bullets scratched him; after that the savage forbore, believing
that the officer was under Manitou's protection. When the retreating
column approached the place where Marion lived he hastened on in advance
to see her. The cabin was in ashes. He called, but there was no answer.
When he turned away, with sad and thoughtful mien, a brown tress was
wrapped around his finger, and in his cabinet he kept it until his death,
folded in a paper marked "Marion, July 11, 1755."

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