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Title: The Chainbearer - Or, The Littlepage Manuscripts
Author: Cooper, James Fenimore, 1789-1851
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.

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THE CHAINBEARER

OR

THE LITTLEPAGE MANUSCRIPTS

BY J. FENIMORE COOPER


    "O bid our vain endeavors cease,
    Revive the just designs of Greece;
    Return in all thy simple state,
    Confirm the tale her sons relate."

    COLLINS


    NEW YORK
    JOHN W. LOVELL COMPANY
    150 Worth Street, corner Mission Place

    TROW'S
    PRINTING AND BOOKBINDING COMPANY,
    NEW YORK.


[Illustration: "She held up the trap, and I descended into the hole that
answered the purpose of a cellar."]



PREFACE.


The plot has thickened in the few short months that have intervened
since the appearance of the first portion of our Manuscripts, and
bloodshed has come to deepen the stain left on the country by the
wide-spread and bold assertion of false principles. This must long since
have been foreseen; and it is perhaps a subject of just felicitation,
that the violence which has occurred was limited to the loss of a single
life, when the chances were, and still are, that it will extend to civil
war. That portions of the community have behaved nobly under this sudden
outbreak of a lawless and unprincipled combination to rob, is
undeniable, and ought to be dwelt on with gratitude and an honest pride;
that the sense of right of much the larger portion of the country has
been deeply wounded, is equally true; that justice has been aroused, and
is at this moment speaking in tones of authority to the offenders, is
beyond contradiction; but, while all this is admitted, and admitted not
altogether without hope, yet are there grounds for fear, so reasonable
and strong, that no writer who is faithful to the real interests of his
country ought, for a single moment, to lose sight of them.

High authority, in one sense, or that of political power, has pronounced
the tenure of a durable lease to be opposed to the spirit of the
institutions! Yet these tenures existed when the institutions were
formed, and one of the provisions of the institutions themselves
guarantees the observance of the covenants under which the tenures
exist. It would have been far wiser, and much nearer to the truth, had
those who coveted their neighbors' goods been told that, in their
attempts to subvert and destroy the tenures in question, they were
opposing a solemn and fundamental provision of law, and in so much
opposing the institutions. The capital error is becoming prevalent,
which holds the pernicious doctrine that this is a government of men,
instead of one of principles. Whenever this error shall so far come to a
head as to get to be paramount in action, the well-disposed may sit down
and mourn over, not only the liberties of their country, but over its
justice and its morals, even should men be nominally so free as to do
just what they please.

As the Littlepage Manuscripts advance, we find them becoming more and
more suited to the times in which we live. There is an omission of one
generation, however, owing to the early death of Mr. Malbone Littlepage,
who left an only son to succeed him. This son has felt it to be a duty
to complete the series by an addition from his own pen. Without this
addition, we should never obtain views of Satanstoe, Lilacsbush,
Ravensnest, and Mooseridge, in their present aspect; while with it we
may possibly obtain glimpses that will prove not only amusing but
instructive.

There is one point on which, as editor of these Manuscripts, we desire
to say a word. It is thought by a portion of our readers, that the first
Mr. Littlepage who has written, Cornelius of that name, has manifested
an undue asperity on the subject of the New England character. Our reply
to this charge is as follows: In the first place, we do not pretend to
be answerable for all the opinions of those whose writings are submitted
to our supervision, any more than we should be answerable for all the
contradictory characters, impulses, and opinions that might be exhibited
in a representation of fictitious characters, purely of our own
creation. That the Littlepages entertained New York notions, and, if the
reader will, New York prejudices, may be true enough; but in pictures of
this sort, even prejudices become facts that ought not to be altogether
kept down. Then, New England has long since anticipated her revenge,
glorifying herself and underrating her neighbors in a way that, in our
opinion, fully justifies those who possess a little Dutch blood in
expressing their sentiments on the subject. Those who give so freely
should know how to take a little in return; and that more especially,
when there is nothing very direct or personal in the hits they receive.
For ourselves, we have not a drop of Dutch or New England blood in our
veins, and only appear as a bottle-holder to one of the parties in this
set-to. If we have recorded what the Dutchman says of the Yankee, we
have also recorded what the Yankee says, and that with no particular
hesitation, of the Dutchman. We know that these feelings are by-gones;
but our Manuscripts, thus far, have referred exclusively to the times in
which they certainly existed, and that, too, in a force quite as great
as they are here represented to be.

We go a little farther. In our judgment the false principles that are to
be found in a large portion of the educated classes, on the subject of
the relation between landlord and tenant, are to be traced to the
provincial notions of those who have received their impressions from a
state of society in which no such relations exist. The danger from the
anti-rent doctrines is most to be apprehended from these false
principles; the misguided and impotent beings who have taken the field
in the literal sense, not being a fourth part as formidable to the right
as those who have taken it in the moral. There is not a particle more of
reason in the argument which says that there should be no farmers, in
the strict meaning of the term, than there would be in that which said
there should be no journeymen connected with the crafts; though it would
not be easy to find a man to assert the latter doctrine. We dare say, if
there did happen to exist a portion of the country in which the
mechanics were all "bosses," it would strike those who dwelt in such a
state of society, that it would be singularly improper and
anti-republican for any man to undertake journeywork.

On this subject we shall only add one word. The column of society must
have its capital as well as its base. It is only perfect while each part
is entire, and discharges its proper duty. In New York the great
landholders long have, and do still, in a social sense, occupy the place
of the capital. On the supposition that this capital is broken and
hurled to the ground, of what material will be the capital that must be
pushed into its place! We know of none half so likely to succeed, as the
country extortioner and the country usurer! We would caution those who
now raise the cry of feudality and aristocracy, to have a care of what
they are about. In lieu of King Log, they may be devoured by King Stork.



THE CHAINBEARER.



CHAPTER I.

    "The steady brain, the sinewy limb,
    To leap, to climb, to dive, to swim:
    The iron frame, inured to bear
    Each dire inclemency of air;
    Nor less confirmed to undergo
    Fatigue's faint chill, and famine's throe."--_Rockeby._


My father was Cornelius Littlepage, of Satanstoe, in the County of
Westchester, and State of New York; and my mother was Anneke Mordaunt,
of Lilacsbush, a place long known by that name, which still stands near
Kingsbridge, but on the Island of Manhattan, and consequently in one of
the wards of New York, though quite eleven miles from town. I shall
suppose that _my_ readers know the difference between the Island of
Manhattan and Manhattan Island; though I _have_ found _soi-disant_
Manhattanese, of mature years, but of alien birth, who had to be taught
it. Lilacsbush, I repeat therefore, was on the Island of Manhattan,
eleven miles from town, though in the City of New York, and _not_ on
Manhattan Island.

Of my progenitors further back, I do not conceive it necessary to say
much. They were partly of English, and partly of Low Dutch extraction,
as is apt to be the case with those who come of New York families of any
standing in the colony. I retain tolerably distinct impressions of both
of my grandfathers, and of one of my grandmothers; my mother's mother
having died long before my own parents were married.

Of my maternal grandfather, I know very little, however, he having died
while I was quite young, and before I had seen much of him. He paid the
great debt of nature in England, whither he had gone on a visit to a
relative, a Sir Something Bulstrode, who had been in the colonies
himself, and who was a great favorite with Herman Mordaunt, as my
mother's parent was universally called in New York. My father often said
it was perhaps fortunate in one respect that his father-in-law died as
he did, since he had no doubt he would have certainly taken sides with
the crown in the quarrel that soon after occurred, in which case it is
probable his estates, or those which were my mother's, and are now mine,
would have shared the fate of those of the De Lanceys, of the Philipses,
of some of the Van Cortlandts, of the Floyds, of the Joneses, and of
various others of the heavy families, who remained loyal, as it was
called; meaning loyalty to a prince, and not loyalty to the land of
their nativity. It is hard to say which were right, in such a quarrel,
if we look at the opinions and prejudices of the times, though the
Littlepages to a man, which means only my father and grandfather, and
self, took sides with the country. In the way of self-interest, it ought
to be remarked, however, that the wealthy American who opposed the crown
showed much the most disinterestedness, inasmuch as the chances of being
subdued were for a long time very serious, while the certainty of
confiscation, not to say of being hanged, was sufficiently well
established, in the event of failure. But my paternal grandfather was
what was called a whig, of the high caste. He was made a brigadier in
the militia, in 1776, and was actively employed in the great campaign of
the succeeding year--that in which Burgoyne was captured, as indeed was
my father, who held the rank of lieutenant-colonel in the New York line.
There was also a Major Dirck Van Volkenburgh, or Follock, as he was
usually called, in the same regiment with my father, who was a sworn
friend. This Major Follock was an old bachelor, and he lived quite as
much in my father's house as he did in his own; his proper residence
being across the river, in Rockland. My mother had a friend, as well as
my father, in the person of Miss Mary Wallace; a single lady, well
turned of thirty at the commencement of the revolution. Miss Wallace was
quite at ease in her circumstances, but she lived altogether at
Lilacsbush, never having any other home, unless it might be at our house
in town.

We were very proud of the brigadier, both on account of his rank and on
account of his services. He actually commanded in one expedition against
the Indians during the revolution, a service in which he had some
experience, having been out on it, on various occasions, previously to
the great struggle for independence. It was in one of these early
expeditions of the latter war that he first distinguished himself, being
then under the orders of a Colonel Brom Follock, who was the father of
Major Dirck of the same name, and who was almost as great a friend of my
grandfather as the son was of my own parent. This Colonel Brom loved a
carouse, and I have heard it said that, getting among the High Dutch on
the Mohawk, he kept it up for a week, with little or no intermission,
under circumstances that involved much military negligence. The result
was, that a party of Canada Indians made an inroad on his command, and
the old colonel, who was as bold as a lion, and as drunk as a lord,
though why lords are supposed to be particularly inclined to drink I
never could tell, was both shot down and scalped early one morning as he
was returning from an adjacent tavern to his quarters in the "garrison,"
where he was stationed. My grandfather nobly revenged his death,
scattered to the four winds the invading party, and recovered the
mutilated body of his friend, though the scalp was irretrievably lost.

General Littlepage did not survive the war, though it was not his good
fortune to die on the field, thus identifying his name with the history
of his country. It happens in all wars, and most especially did it often
occur in our own great national struggle, that more soldiers lay down
their lives in the hospitals than on the field of battle, though the
shedding of blood seems an indispensable requisite to glory of this
nature; an ungrateful posterity taking little heed of the thousands who
pass into another state of being, the victims of exposure and camp
diseases, to sound the praises of the hundreds who are slain amid the
din of battle. Yet, it may be questioned if it do not require more true
courage to face death, when he approaches in the invisible form of
disease, than to meet him when openly arrayed under the armed hand. My
grandfather's conduct in remaining in camp, among hundreds of those who
had the small-pox, the loathsome malady of which he died, was
occasionally alluded to, it is true, but never in the manner the death
of an officer of his rank would have been mentioned, had he fallen in
battle. I could see that Major Follock had an honorable pride in the
fate of _his_ father, who was slain and scalped by the enemy in
returning from a drunken carouse, while my worthy parent ever referred
to the death of the brigadier as an event to be deplored, rather than
exulted in. For my own part, I think my grandfather's end was much the
most creditable of the two; but, as such, it will never be viewed by the
historian or the country. As for historians, it requires a man to be
singularly honest to write against a prejudice; and it is so much easier
to celebrate a deed as it is imagined than as it actually occurred, that
I question if we know the truth of a tenth part of the exploits about
which we vapor, and in which we fancy we glory. Well! we are taught to
believe that the time will come when all things are to be seen in their
true colors, and when men and deeds will be known as they actually were,
rather than as they have been recorded in the pages of history.

I was too young myself to take much part in the war of the revolution,
though accident made me an eye-witness of some of its most important
events, and that at the tender age of fifteen. At twelve--the American
intellect ever was and continues to be singularly precocious--I was sent
to Nassau Hall, Princeton, to be educated, and I remained there until I
finally got a degree, though it was not without several long and rude
interruptions of my studies. Although so early sent to college, I did
not actually graduate until I was nineteen, the troubled times requiring
nearly twice as long a servitude to make a Bachelor of Arts of me as
would have been necessary in the more halcyon days of peace. Thus I made
a fragment of a campaign when only a sophomore, and another the first
year I was junior. I say the _first_ year, because I was obliged to pass
two years in each of the two higher classes of the institution, in order
to make up for lost time. A youth cannot very well be campaigning and
studying Euclid in the academic bowers, at the same moment. Then I was
so young, that a year, more or less, was of no great moment.

My principal service in the war of the revolution was in 1777, or in the
campaign in which Burgoyne was met and captured. That important service
was performed by a force that was composed partly of regular troops, and
partly of militia. My grandfather commanded a brigade of the last, or
what was called a brigade, some six hundred men at most; while my father
led a regular battalion of one hundred and sixty troops of the New York
line into the German intrenchments, the memorable and bloody day the
last were stormed. How many he brought out I never heard him say. The
way in which I happened to be present in these important scenes is soon
told.

Lilacsbush being on the Island of Manhattan (not Manhattan Island, be it
always remembered), and our family being whig, we were driven from both
our town and country houses the moment Sir William Howe took possession
of New York. At first my mother was content with merely going to
Satanstoe, which was only a short distance from the enemy's lines; but
the political character of the Littlepages being too well established to
render this a safe residence, my grandmother and mother, always
accompanied by Miss Wallace, went up above the Highlands, where they
established themselves in the village of Fishkill for the remainder of
the war, on a farm that belonged to Miss Wallace in fee. Here it was
thought they were safe, being seventy miles from the capital, and quite
within the American lines. As this removal took place at the close of
the year 1776, and after independence had been declared, it was
understood that our return to our proper homes at all, depended on the
result of the war. At that time I was a sophomore, and at home in the
long vacation. It was in this visit that I made my fragment of a
campaign, accompanying my father through all the closing movements of
his regiment, while Washington and Howe were manoeuvring in
Westchester. My father's battalion happening to be posted in such a
manner as to be in the centre of the battle at White Plains, I had an
opportunity of seeing some pretty serious service on that occasion. Nor
did I quit the army and return to my studies, until after the brilliant
affairs at Trenton and Princeton, in both of which our regiment
participated.

This was a pretty early commencement with the things of active life for
a boy of fourteen. But in that war, lads of my age often carried
muskets, for the colonies covered a great extent of country, and had but
few people. They who read of the war of the American revolution, and
view its campaigns and battles as they would regard the conflicts of
older and more advanced nations, can form no just notion of the
disadvantages with which our people had to contend, or the great
superiority of the enemy in all the usual elements of military force.
Without experienced officers, with but few and indifferent arms, often
in want of ammunition, the rural and otherwise peaceful population of a
thinly peopled country were brought in conflict with the chosen warriors
of Europe; and this, too, with little or none of that great sinew of
war, money, to sustain them. Nevertheless the Americans, unaided by any
foreign skill or succor, were about as often successful as the reverse.
Bunker Hill, Bennington, Saratoga, Bhemis's Heights, Trenton, Princeton,
Monmouth, were all purely American battles; to say nothing of divers
others that occurred farther south: and though insignificant as to
numbers, compared with the conflicts of these later times, each is
worthy of a place in history, and one or two are almost without
parallels; as is seen when Bunker Hill be named. It sounds very well in
a dispatch, to swell out the list of an enemy's ranks; but admitting the
number itself not to be overrated, as so often occurred, of what avail
are men without arms and ammunition, and frequently without any other
military organization than a muster-roll!

I have said I made nearly the whole of the campaign in which Burgoyne
was taken. It happened in this wise. The service of the previous year
had a good deal indisposed me to study, and when again at home in the
autumn vacation, my dear mother sent me with clothing and supplies to my
father, who was with the army at the north. I reached the head-quarters
of General Gates a week before the affair of Bhemis's Heights, and was
with my father until the capitulation was completed. Owing to these
circumstances, though still a boy in years, I was an eye-witness, and in
some measure an actor in two or three of the most important events in
the whole war. Being well grown for my years, and of a somewhat manly
appearance, considering how young I really was, I passed very well as a
volunteer, being, I have reason to think, somewhat of a favorite in the
regiment. In the last battle, I had the honor to act as a sort of
_aide-de-camp_ to my grandfather, who sent me with orders and messages
two or three times into the midst of the fire. In this manner I made
myself a little known, and all so much the more from the circumstance of
my being in fact nothing but a college lad, away from his _alma mater_
during vacation.

It was but natural that a boy thus situated should attract some little
attention, and I _was_ noticed by officers, who, under other
circumstances, would hardly have felt it necessary to go out of their
way to speak to me. The Littlepages had stood well, I have reason to
think, in the colony, and their position in the new state was not likely
to be at all lowered by the part they were now playing in the
revolution. I am far from certain that General Littlepage was considered
a corner-post in the Temple of Freedom that the army was endeavoring to
rear, but he was quite respectable as a militia officer, while my father
was very generally admitted to be one of the best lieutenants-colonel in
the whole army.

I well remember to have been much struck with a captain in my father's
regiment, who certainly was a character, in his way. His origin was
Dutch, as was the case with a fair proportion of the officers, and he
bore the name of Andries Coejemans, though he was universally known by
the _sobriquet_ of the "Chainbearer." It was fortunate for him it was
so, else would the Yankees in the camp, who seem to have a mania to
pronounce every word as it is spelled, and having succeeded in this, to
change the spelling of the whole language to accommodate it to certain
sounds of their own inventing, would have given him a most
unpronounceable appellation. Heaven only knows what _they_ would have
called Captain Coejemans, but for this lucky nickname; but it may be as
well to let the uninitiated understand at once, that in New York
parlance, Coejemans is called Queemans. The Chainbearer was of a
respectable Dutch family, one that has even given its queer-looking name
to a place of some little note on the Hudson; but, as was very apt to be
the case with the _cadets_ of such houses, in the good old time of the
colony, his education was no great matter. His means had once been
respectable, but, as he always maintained, he was cheated out of his
substance by a Yankee before he was three-and-twenty, and he had
recourse to surveying for a living from that time. But Andries had no
head for mathematics, and after making one or two notable blunders in
the way of his new profession, he quietly sunk to the station of a
chainbearer, in which capacity he was known to all the leading men of
his craft in the colony. It is said that every man is suited to some
pursuit or other, in which he might acquire credit, would he only enter
on it and persevere. Thus it proved to be with Andries Coejemans. As a
chainbearer he had an unrivalled reputation. Humble as was the
occupation, it admitted of excellence in various particulars, as well as
another. In the first place, it required honesty, a quality in which
this class of men can fail, as well as all the rest of mankind. Neither
colony nor patentee, landlord nor tenant, buyer nor seller, need be
uneasy about being fairly dealt by so long as Andries Coejemans held the
forward end of the chain; a duty on which he was invariably placed by
one party or the other. Then, a practical eye was a great aid to
positive measurement; and while Andries never swerved to the right or to
the left of his course, having acquired a sort of instinct in his
calling, much time and labor were saved. In addition to these
advantages, the "Chainbearer" had acquired great skill in all the
subordinate matters of his calling. He was a capital woodman, generally;
had become a good hunter, and had acquired most of the habits that
pursuits like those in which he was engaged for so many years previously
to entering the army, would be likely to give a man. In the course of
time he took patents to survey, employing men with heads better than his
own to act as principals, while he still carried the chain.

At the commencement of the revolution, Andries, like most of those who
sympathized with the colonies, took up arms. When the regiment of which
my father was lieutenant-colonel was raised, they who could bring to its
colors so many men received commissions of a rank proportioned to their
services in this respect. Andries had presented himself early with a
considerable squad of chainbearers, hunters, trappers, runners, guides,
etc., numbering in the whole something like five-and-twenty hardy,
resolute sharpshooters. Their leader was made a lieutenant in
consequence, and being the oldest of his rank in the corps, he was
shortly after promoted to a captaincy, the station he was in when I made
his acquaintance, and above which he never rose.

Revolutions, more especially such as are of a popular character, are not
remarkable for bringing forward those who are highly educated, or
otherwise fitted for their new stations, unless it may be on the score
of zeal. It is true, service generally classes men, bringing out their
qualities, and necessity soon compels the preferment of those who are
the best qualified. Our own great national struggle, however, probably
did less of this than any similar event of modern times, a respectable
mediocrity having accordingly obtained an elevation that, as a rule, it
was enabled to keep to the close of the war. It is a singular fact that
not a solitary instance is to be found in our military annals of a young
soldier's rising to high command, by the force of his talents, in all
that struggle. This may have been, and in a measure probably _was_ owing
to the opinions of the people, and to the circumstance that the service
itself was one that demanded greater prudence and circumspection than
qualities of a more dazzling nature; or the qualifications of age and
experience, rather than those of youth and enterprise. It is probable
Andries Coejemans, on the score of original station, was rather above
than below the level of the social positions of a majority of the
subalterns of the different lines of the more northern colonies, when he
first joined the army. It is true, his education was not equal to his
birth; for, in that day, except in isolated instances and particular
families, the Dutch of New York, even in cases in which money was not
wanting, were any thing but scholars. In this particular, our neighbors
the Yankees had greatly the advantage of us. They sent everybody to
school, and, though their educations were principally those of
smatterers, it is an advantage to be even a smatterer among the very
ignorant. Andries had been no student either, and one may easily imagine
what indifferent cultivation will effect on a naturally thin soil. He
_could_ read and write, it is true, but it was the ciphering under which
he broke down, as a surveyor. I have often heard him say, that "if land
could be measured without figures, he would turn his back on no man in
the calling in all America, unless it might be 'His Excellency,' who, he
made no doubt, was not only the best, but the honestest surveyor mankind
had ever enjoyed."

The circumstance that Washington had practised the art of a surveyor for
a short time in his early youth, was a source of great exultation with
Andries Coejemans. He felt that it was an honor to be even a subordinate
in a pursuit, in which such a man was a principal. I remember, that long
after we were at Saratoga together, Captain Coejemans, while we were
before Yorktown, pointed to the commander-in-chief one day, as the
latter rode past our encampment, and cried out with emphasis--"T'ere,
Mortaunt, my poy--t'ere goes His Excellency!--It would be t'e happiest
tay of my life, coult I only carry chain while he survey't a pit of a
farm, in this neighborhoot."

Andries was more or less Dutch in his dialect, as he was more or less
interested. In general, he spoke English pretty well--colony English I
mean, not that of the schools; though he had not a single Yankeeism in
his vocabulary. On this last point he prided himself greatly, feeling an
honest pride, if he did occasionally use vulgarisms, a vicious
pronounciation, or make a mistake in the meaning of a word, a sin he was
a little apt to commit; and that his faults were all honest New York
mistakes and no "New England gipperish." In the course of the various
visits I paid to the camp, Andries and myself became quite intimate, his
peculiarities seizing my fancy; and doubtless, my obvious admiration
awakening his gratitude. In the course of our many conversations, he
gave me his whole history, commencing with the emigration of the
Coejemans from Holland, and ending with our actual situation, in the
camp at Saratoga. Andries had been often engaged, and, before the war
terminated, I could boast of having been at his side in no less than six
affairs myself, viz.. White Plains, Trenton, Princeton, Bhemis's
Heights, Monmouth, and Brandywine; for I had stolen away from college to
be present at the last affair. The circumstance that _our_ regiment was
both with Washington and Gates, was owing to the noble qualities of the
former, who sent off some of his best troops to reinforce his rival, as
things gathered to a head at the North. Then I was present throughout,
at the siege of Yorktown. But it is not my intention to enlarge on my
own military services.

While at Saratoga, I was much struck with the air, position and
deportment of a gentleman who appeared to command the respect, and to
obtain the ears of all the leaders in the American camp, while he held
no apparent official station. He wore no uniform, though he was
addressed by the title of general, and had much more of the character of
a real soldier than Gates who commanded. He must have been between forty
and fifty at that time, and in the full enjoyment of the vigor of his
mind and body. This was Philip Schuyler, so justly celebrated in our
annals for his wisdom, patriotism, integrity, and public services. His
connection with the great northern campaign is too well known to require
any explanations here. Its success, perhaps, was more owing to _his_
advice and preparations than to the influence of any one other mind, and
he is beginning already to take a place in history, in connection with
these great events, that has a singular resemblance to that he occupied
during their actual occurrence: in other words, he is to be seen in the
background of the great national picture, unobtrusive and modest, but
directing and controlling all, by the power of his intellect, and the
influence of his experience and character. Gates[1] was but a secondary
personage, in the real events of that memorable period. Schuyler was the
presiding spirit, though forced by popular prejudice to retire from the
apparent command of the army. Our written accounts ascribe the
difficulty that worked this injustice to Schuyler, to a prejudice which
existed among the eastern militia, and which is supposed to have had its
origin in the disasters of St. Clair, or the reverses which attended the
earlier movements of the campaign. My father, who had known General
Schuyler in the war of '56, when he acted as Bradstreet's right-hand
man, attributed the feeling to a different cause. According to his
notion of the alienation, it was owing to the difference in habits and
opinions which existed between Schuyler, as a New York gentleman, and
the yeomen of New England, who came out in 1777, imbued with all the
distinctive notions of their very peculiar state of society. There may
have been prejudices on both sides, but it is easy to see which party
exhibited most magnanimity and self-sacrifice. Possibly, the last was
inseparable from the preponderance of numbers, it not being an easy
thing to persuade masses of men that they _can_ be wrong, and a single
individual right. This is the great error of democracy, which fancies
truth is to be proved by counting noses; while aristocracy commits the
antagonist blunder of believing that excellence is inherited from male
to male, and that too in the order of primogeniture! It is not easy to
say where one is to look for truth in this life.

[Footnote 1: It may not be amiss to remark, in passing, that Horace
Walpole, in one of his recently published letters, speaks of a Horatio
Gates as his godson. Walpole was born in 1718, and Gates in 1728.]

As for General Schuyler, I have thought my father was right in ascribing
his unpopularity solely to the prejudices of provinces. The Muse of
History is the most ambitious of the whole sisterhood, and never thinks
she has done her duty unless all she says and records is said and
recorded with an air of profound philosophy; whereas, more than half of
the greatest events which affect human interest, are to be referred to
causes that have little connection with our boasted intelligence, in any
shape. Men feel far more than they reason, and a little feeling is very
apt to upset a great deal of philosophy.

It has been said that I passed six years at Princeton; nominally, if not
in fact; and that I graduated at nineteen. This happened the year
Cornwallis surrendered, and I actually served at the siege as the
youngest ensign in my father's battalion. I had also the happiness, for
such it was to me, to be attached to the company of Captain Coejeman's,
a circumstance which clinched the friendship I had formed for that
singular old man. I say old, for by this time Andries was every hour of
sixty-seven, though as hale, and hearty, and active, as any officer in
the corps. As for hardships, forty years of training, most of which had
been passed in the woods, placed him quite at our head, in the way of
endurance.

I loved my predecessors, grandfather and grandmother included, not only
as a matter of course, but with sincere filial attachment; and I loved
Miss Mary Wallace, or aunt Mary, as I had been taught to call her, quite
as much on account of her quiet, gentle, affectionate manner, as from
habit; and I loved Major Dirck Follock as a sort of hereditary friend,
as a distant relative, and a good and careful guardian of my own youth
and inexperience on a thousand occasions; and I loved my father's negro
man, Jaap, as we all love faithful slaves, however unnurtured they may
be; but Andries was the man whom I loved without knowing why. He was
illiterate almost to greatness, having the drollest notions imaginable
of this earth and all it contained; was anything but refined in
deportment, though hearty and frank; had prejudices so crammed into his
moral system that there did not seem to be room for anything else; and
was ever so little addicted, moreover, to that species of Dutch
jollification, which had cost old Colonel Van Valkenburgh his life, and
a love for which was a good deal spread throughout the colony.
Nevertheless, I really loved this man, and when we were all disbanded at
the peace, or in 1783, by which time I had myself risen to the rank of
captain, I actually parted from old Andries with tears in my eyes. My
grandfather, General Littlepage, was then dead, but government giving to
most of us a step, by means of brevet rank, at the final breaking up of
the army, my father, who had been the full colonel of the regiment for
the last year, bore the title of brigadier for the remainder of his
days. It was pretty much all he got for seven years of dangers and
arduous services. But the country was poor, and we had fought more for
principles than for the hope of rewards. It must be admitted that
America ought to be full of philosophy, inasmuch as so much of her
system of rewards and even of punishments, is purely theoretical, and
addressed to the imagination, or to the qualities of the mind. Thus it
is that we contend with all our enemies on very unequal grounds. The
Englishman has his knighthood, his baronetcies, his peerages, his
orders, his higher ranks in the professions, his _batons_, and all the
other venial inducements of our corrupt nature to make him fight, while
the American is goaded on to glory by the abstract considerations of
virtue and patriotism. After all, we flog quite as often as we are
flogged, which is the main interest affected. While on this subject I
will remark that Andries Coejemans never assumed the empty title of
major, which was so graciously bestowed on him by the Congress of 1783,
but left the army a captain in name, without half-pay or anything but
his military lot, to find a niece whom he was bringing up, and to pursue
his old business of a "chainbearer."



CHAPTER II.

    "A trusty villain, sir; that very oft,
    When I am dull with care and melancholy,
    Lightens my humors with his many jests."
                        --_Dromio of Syracuse._


It will be seen that, while I got a degree, and what is called an
education, the latter was obtained by studies of a very desultory
character. There is no question that learning of all sorts fell off
sadly among us during the revolution and the twenty years that succeeded
it. While colonies, we possessed many excellent instructors who came
from Europe; but the supply ceased, in a great measure, as soon as the
troubles commenced; nor was it immediately renewed at the peace. I think
it will be admitted that the gentlemen of the country began to be less
well educated about the time I was sent to college, than had been the
case for the previous half-century, and that the defect has not yet been
repaired. What the country may do in the first half of the nineteenth
century remains to be seen.[2]

[Footnote 2: The reader will recollect that Mr. Mordaunt Littlepage must
have written his account of himself and his times about the close of the
last, or the beginning of this century. Since that time, education has
certainly advanced among us; sophomores, pursuing branches of learning
to-day that were sealed from seniors a few years since. Learning,
however, advances in this country on the great American principle of
imparting a little to a great many, instead of teaching a good deal to a
few.--EDITOR.]

My connection with the army aided materially in weaning me from home,
though few youths had as many temptations to return to the paternal roof
as myself. There were my beloved mother and my grandmother, in the first
place, both of whom doted on me as on an only son. Then aunt Mary almost
equally shared in my affections. But I had two sisters, one of whom was
older, and the other younger than myself. The eldest, who was called
Anneke, after our dear mother, was even six years my senior, and was
married early in the war to a gentleman of the name of Kettletas. Mr.
Kettletas was a person of very good estate, and made my sister perfectly
happy. They had several children, and resided in Dutchess, which was an
additional reason for my mother's choosing that county for her temporary
residence. I regarded Anneke, or Mrs. Kettletas, much as all youths
regard an elder sister, who is affectionate, feminine and respectable;
but little Katrinke, or Kate, was my pet. She again, was four years
younger than myself; and as I was just two-and-twenty when the army was
disbanded, she of course was only eighteen. This dear sister was a
little, jumping, laughing, never-quiet, merry thing, when I had taken my
leave of her, in 1781, to join the regiment as an ensign, as handsome
and sweet as a rose-bud, and quite as full of promise. I remember that
old Andries and I used to pass much of our time in camp in conversing
about our several pets; he of his niece, and I of my younger sister. Of
course, I never intended to marry, but Kate and I were to live together;
she as my housekeeper and companion, and I as her elder brother and
protector. The one great good of life with us all was peace, with
independence; which obtained, no one, in our regiment at least, was so
little of a patriot as to doubt of the future. It was laughable to see
with how much gusto and simplicity the old Chainbearer entered into all
these boyish schemes. His niece was an orphan, it would seem, the only
child of an only but a half-sister, and was absolutely dependent on him
for the bread she put into her mouth. It is true that this niece fared
somewhat better than such a support would seem to promise, having been
much cared for by a female friend of her mother's, who, being reduced
herself, kept a school, and had thus bestowed on her ward a far better
education than she could ever have got under her uncle's supervision,
had the last possessed the riches of the Van Rensselaers, or of the Van
Cortlandts. As has been substantially stated, old Andries's forte did
not lie in education, and they who do not enjoy the blessings of such a
character, seldom duly appreciate their advantages. It is with the
acquisitions of the mind, as with those of mere deportment and tastes;
we are apt to undervalue them all, until made familiarly acquainted with
their power to elevate and to enlarge. But the niece of Andries had been
particularly fortunate in falling into the hands she had; Mrs. Stratton
having the means and the inclination to do all for her, in the way of
instruction, that was then done for any young woman in New York, as long
as she lived. The death of this kind friend occurring, however, in 1783,
Andries was obliged to resume the care of his niece, who was now thrown
entirely on himself for support. It is true, the girl wished to do
something for herself, but this neither the pride nor the affection of
the old chainbearer would listen to.

"What _can_ the gal do?" Andries said to me significantly, one day that
he was recounting all these particulars. "She can't carry chain, though
I do believe, Morty, the chilt has head enough, and figures enough to
survey! It would do your heart good to read the account of her l'arnin'
t'at t'e olt woman used to send me; though she wrote so excellent a hant
herself, t'at it commonly took me a week to read one of her letters;
that is, from 'Respected Friend' to 'Humble Sarvent,' as you know them
'ere t'ings go."

"Excellent hand! Why, I should think, Andries, the better the hand, the
easier one could read a letter."

"All a mistake. When a man writes a scrawl himself, it's nat'ral he
shoult read scrawls easiest, in his own case. Now, Mrs. Stratton was
home-taught, and would be likely to get into ways t'at a plain man might
find difficult to get along wit'."

"Do you think, then, of making a surveyor of your niece?" I asked, a
little pointedly.

"Why, she is hartly strong enough to travel t'rough the woots, and, the
callin' is not suitaple to her sex, t'ough I woult risk her against t'e
oldest calculator in t'e province."

"We call New York a State, now, Captain Andries, you will recollect."

"Ay, t'at's true, and I peg the State's pardon. Well, t'ere'll be
scrambling enough for t'e land, as soon as the war is fairly over, and
chainbearing will be a sarviceable callin' once more. Do you know,
Morty, they talk of gifin' all of our line a quantity of land, privates
and officers, which will make me a landholter again, the very character
in which I started in life. You will inherit acres enough, and may not
care so much apout owning a few huntret, more or less, but I own the
idee is agreeaple enough to me."

"Do you propose to commence anew as a husbandman?"

"Not I; the pusiness never agreet wit' me, nor I wit' it. Put a man may
survey his own lot, I suppose, and no offence to greater scholars. If I
get t'e grant t'ey speak of, I shall set to work and run it out on my
own account, and t'en we shall see who understants figures, and who
don't! If other people won't trust me, it is no reason I shoult not
trust myself."

I knew that his having broken down in the more intellectual part of his
calling was a sore point with old Andries, and I avoided dwelling on
this part of the subject. In order to divert his mind to other objects,
indeed, I began to question him a little more closely than I had ever
done before, on the subject of his niece, in consequence of which
expedient I now learned many things that were new to me.

The name of the chainbearer's niece was Duss Malbone, or so he always
pronounced it. In the end I discovered that Duss was a sort of Dutch
diminutive for Ursula. Ursula Malbone had none of the Coejemans blood in
her, notwithstanding she was Andries's sister's daughter. It seemed that
old Mrs. Coejemans was twice married, her second husband being the
father of Duss's mother. Bob Malbone, as the chainbearer always called
the girl's father, was an eastern man of very good family, but was a
reckless spendthrift, who married Duss the senior, as well as I could
learn, for her property; all of which, as well as that he had inherited
himself, was cleverly gotten rid of within the first ten years of their
union, and a year or two after the girl was born. Both father and mother
died within a few months of each other, and in a very happy moment as
regards worldly means, leaving poor little Duss with no one to care for
her but her half-uncle, who was then living in the forest in his regular
pursuits, and the Mrs. Stratton I have mentioned. There was a
half-brother, Bob Malbone having married twice, but he was in the army,
and had some near female relation to support out of his pay. Between the
chainbearer and Mrs. Stratton, with an occasional offering from the
brother, the means of clothing, nourishing and educating the young woman
had been found until she reached her eighteenth year, when the death of
her female protector threw her nearly altogether on the care of her
uncle. The brother now did his share, Andries admitted; but it was not
much that he could do. A captain himself, his scanty pay barely sufficed
to meet his own wants.

I could easily see that old Andries loved Duss better than anything else
or any other person. When he was a little mellow, and that was usually
the extent of his debaucheries, he would prate about her to me until the
tears came into his eyes, and once he actually proposed that I should
marry her.

"You woult just suit each other," the old man added, in a very quaint,
but earnest manner, on that memorable occasion; "and as for property, I
know you care little for money, and will have enough for half-a-tozen. I
swear to you, Captain Littlepage"--for this dialogue took place only a
few months before we were disbanded, and after I had obtained a
company--"I swear to you, Captain Littlepage, t'e girl is laughing from
morning till night, and would make one of the merriest companions for an
olt soldier that ever promiset to 'honor and obey.' Try her once, lad,
and see if I teceive you."

"That may do well enough, friend Andries, for an _old_ soldier, whereas
you will remember I am but a boy in years----"

"Ay, in years; but olt as a soldier, Morty--olt as White Plains, or '76;
as I know from hafin seen you unter fire."

"Well, be it so; but it is the man, and not the soldier, who is to do
the marrying, and I am still a very young man."

"You might do worse, take my word for it, Mortaunt, my dear poy; for
Duss is fun itself, and I have often spoken of you to her in a way t'at
will make the courtship as easy as carrying a chain on t'e Jarmen
Flats."

I assured my friend Andries that I did not think of a wife yet, and that
my taste ran for a sentimental and melancholy young woman, rather than
for a laughing girl. The old chainbearer took this repulse
good-humoredly, though he renewed the attack at least a dozen times
before the regiment was disbanded, and we finally separated. I say
finally separated, though it was in reference to our companionship as
soldiers, rather than as to our future lives; for I had determined to
give Andries employment myself, should nothing better offer in his
behalf.

Nor was I altogether without the means of thus serving a friend, when
the inclination existed. My grandfather, Herman Mordaunt, had left me,
to come into possession at the age of twenty-one, a considerable estate
in what is now Washington County, a portion of our territory that lies
northeast from Albany, and at no great distance from the Hampshire
Grants. This property, of many thousands of acres in extent, had been
partially settled under leases by himself, previously to my birth, and
those leases having mostly expired, the tenants were remaining at will,
waiting for more quiet times to renew their engagements. As yet
Ravensnest, for so the estate was called, had given the family little
besides expense and trouble; but the land being good, and the
improvements considerable, it was time to look for some return for all
our outlays. This estate was now mine in fee, my father having formally
relinquished its possession in my favor the day I attained my majority.
Adjacent to this estate lay that of Mooseridge, which was the joint
property of my father and of his friend Major--or as he was styled in
virtue of the brevet rank granted at the peace--_Colonel_ Follock.
Mooseridge had been originally patented by my grandfather, the first
General Littlepage, and _old_ Colonel Follock, he who had been slain and
scalped early in the war; but on the descent of his moiety of the
tenantry in common to Dirck Follock, my grandfather conveyed his
interest to his own son, who ere long must become its owner, agreeably
to the laws of nature. This property had once been surveyed into large
lots, but owing to some adverse circumstances, and the approach of the
troubles, it had never been settled or surveyed into farms. All that its
owners ever got for it, therefore, was the privilege of paying the crown
its quit-rents; taxes, or reserved payments, of no great amount, it is
true, though far more than the estate had ever yet returned.

While on the subject of lands and tenements, I may as well finish my
opening explanations. My paternal grandfather was by no means as rich as
my father, though the senior, and of so much higher military rank. His
property, or neck, of Satanstoe, nevertheless, was quite valuable; more
for the quality of the land and its position than for its extent. In
addition to this, he had a few thousand pounds at interest; stocks,
banks, and moneyed corporations of all kinds being then nearly unknown
among us. His means were sufficient for his wants, however, and it was a
joyful day when he found himself enabled to take possession of his own
house again, in consequence of Sir Guy Carleton's calling in all of his
detachments from Westchester. The Morrises, distinguished whigs as they
were, did not get back to Morrisania until after the evacuation, which
took place November 25, 1783; nor did my father return to Lilacsbush
until after that important event. The very year my grandfather saw
Satanstoe, he took the small-pox in camp and died.

To own the truth, the peace found us all very poor, as was the case with
almost everybody in the country but a few contractors. It was not the
contractors for the American army that were rich; they fared worse than
most people; but the few who furnished supplies to the French _did_ get
silver in return for their advances. As for the army, it was disbanded
without any reward but promises, and payment in a currency that
depreciated so rapidly that men were glad to spend recklessly their
hard-earned stock, lest it should become perfectly valueless in their
hands. I have heard much in later years of the celebrated Newburgh
letters, and of the want of patriotism that could lead to their having
been written. It may not have been wise, considering the absolute want
of the country, to have contemplated the alternative toward which those
letters certainly cast an oblique glance, but there was nothing in
either their execution or their drift which was not perfectly natural
for the circumstances. It was quite right for Washington to act as he
did in that crisis, though it is highly probable that even Washington
would have felt and acted differently had he nothing but the keen sense
of his neglected services, poverty, and forgetfulness before him in the
perspective. As for the young officer who actually wrote the letters, it
is probable that justice will never be done to any part of his conduct,
but that which is connected with the elegance of his diction. It is very
well for those who do not suffer to prate about patriotism; but a
country is bound to be just, before it can lay a high moral claim to
this exclusive devotedness to the interests of the majority. Fine words
cost but little, and I acknowledge no great respect for those who
manifest their integrity principally in phrases. This is said not in the
way of personal apology, for our regiment did not happen to be at
Newburgh at the disbandment; if it had, I think my father's influence
would have kept us from joining the malcontents; but at the same time, I
fancy his and my own patriotism would have been much strengthened by the
knowledge that there were such places as Satanstoe, Lilacsbush,
Mooseridge, and Ravensnest. To return to the account of our property.

My grandfather Mordaunt, notwithstanding his handsome bequests to me,
left the bulk of his estate to my mother. This would have made the rest
of the family rich, had it not been for the dilapidations produced by
the war. But the houses and stores in town were without tenants who
paid, having been mainly occupied by the enemy; and interest on bonds
was hard to collect from those who lived within the British lines.

In a word, it is not easy to impress on the mind of one who witnesses
the present state of the country, its actual condition in that day. As
an incident that occurred to myself, after I had regularly joined the
army for duty, will afford a lively picture of the state of things, I
will relate it, and this the more willingly, as it will be the means of
introducing to the reader an old friend of the family, and one who was
intimately associated with divers events of my own life. I have spoken
of Jaaf, a slave of my father's, and one of about his own time of life.
At the time to which I allude, Jaaf was a middle-aged, gray-headed
negro, with most of the faults, and with all the peculiar virtues of the
beings of his condition and race. So much reliance had my mother, in
particular, on his fidelity, that she insisted on his accompanying her
husband to the wars, an order that the black most willingly obeyed; not
only because he loved adventure, but because he especially hated an
Indian, and my father's earliest service was against that portion of our
foes. Although Jaaf acted as a body-servant, he carried a musket, and
even drilled with the men. Luckily, the Littlepage livery was blue
turned up with red, and of a very modest character; a circumstance that
almost put Jaaf in uniform, the fellow obstinately refusing to wear the
colors of any power but that of the family to which he regularly
belonged. In this manner, Jaaf had got to be a queer mixture of the
servant and the soldier, sometimes acting in the one capacity, and
sometimes in the other, having at the same time not a little of the
husbandman about him; for our slaves did all sorts of work.

My mother had made it a point that Jaaf should accompany me on all
occasions when I was sent to any distance from my father. She naturally
enough supposed I had the most need of the care of a faithful attendant,
and the black had consequently got to be about half transferred to me.
He evidently liked this change, both because it was always accompanied
by change of scene and the chances for new adventures, and because it
gave him an opportunity of relating many of the events of his youth;
events that had got to be worn threadbare, as narratives, with his "ole
masser," but which were still fresh with his "young."

On the occasion to which there is allusion, Jaaf and I were returning to
camp, from an excursion of some length, on which I had been sent by the
general of division. This was about the time the continental money made
its final fall to nothing, or next to nothing, it having long stood at
about a hundred dollars for one. I had provided myself with a little
silver, and very precious it was, and some thirty or forty thousand
dollars of "continental," to defray my travelling expenses; but my
silver was expended, and the paper reduced to two or three thousand
dollars, when it would require the whole stock of the latter to pay for
Jaaf's and my own dinner; nor were the inn-keepers very willing to give
their time and food for it at any price. This vacuum in my purse took
place when I had still two long days' ride before me, and in a part of
the country where I had no acquaintances whatever. Supper and rest were
needed for ourselves, and provender and stabling for our horses.
Everything of the sort was cheap enough, to be sure, but absolute want
of means rendered the smallest charge impracticable to persons in our
situation. As for appealing to the patriotism of those who lived by the
wayside, it was too late in the war; patriotism being a very evanescent
quality of the human heart, and particularly addicted to sneaking, like
compassion, behind some convenient cover, when it is to be maintained at
any pecuniary cost. It will do for a capital, in a revolution, or a war
for the first six months, perhaps; but gets to be as worthless as
continental money itself, by the end of that period. One militia draft
has exhausted the patriotism of thousands of as disinterested heroes as
ever shouldered muskets.

"Jaap," I asked of my companion, as we drew near to the hamlet where I
intended to pass the night, and the comforts of a warm supper on a sharp
frosty evening, began to haunt my imagination--"Jaap, how much money may
you have about you?"[3]

[Footnote 3: This man is indiscriminately called Yaf, or Yop--York Dutch
being far from severe.]

"I, Masser Mordaunt!--Golly! but dat a berry droll question, sah!"

"I ask, because my own stock is reduced to just one York shilling, which
goes by the name of only a ninepence in this part of the world."

"Dat berry little, to tell 'e truit', sah, for two gentleum, and two
large, hungry hosses. Berry little, indeed, sah! I wish he war' more."

"Yet, I have not a copper more. I gave one thousand two hundred dollars
for the dinner and baiting and oats, at noon."

"Yes, sah--but dat conternental, sah, I supposes--no great t'ing, a'ter
all."

"It's a great thing in sound, Jaap, but not much when it comes to the
teeth, as you perceive. Nevertheless, we must eat and drink, and our
nags must eat, too--I suppose _they_ may _drink_, without paying."

"Yes, sah--dat true 'nough, yah--yah--yah"--how easily that negro
laughed!--"But 'e cider wonnerful good in dis part of 'e country, young
masser; just needer sweet nor sour--den he strong as 'e jackass."

"Well, Jaap, how are we to get any of this good cider, of which you
speak?"

"You t'ink, sah, dis part of 'e country been talk too much lately 'bout
Patty Rism and 'e country, sah?"

"I am afraid Patty has been overdone here, as well as in most other
counties."

I may observe here, that Jaap always imagined the beautiful creature he
had heard so much extolled and commended for her comeliness and virtue,
was a certain young woman of this name, with whom all Congress was
unaccountably in love at the same time.

"Well, den, sah, dere no hope but our wits. Let me be masser to-night,
and you mind ole Jaap, if he want good supper. Jest ride ahead, Masser
Mordaunt, and give he order like General Littlepage son, and leave it
all to old Jaap."

As there was not much to choose, I did ride on, and soon ceased to hear
the hoofs of the negro's horse at my heels. I reached the inn an hour
ere Jaap appeared, and was actually seated at a capital supper before he
rode up, as one belonging only to himself. Jaap had taken off the
Littlepage emblems, and had altogether a most independent air. His horse
was stabled alongside of mine, and I soon found that he himself was at
work on the remnants of my supper, as they retreated toward the kitchen.

A traveller of my appearance was accommodated with the best parlor, as a
matter of course; and having appeased my appetite, I sat down to read
some documents that were connected with the duty I was on. No one could
have imagined that I had only a York shilling, which is a Pennsylvania
"levy," or a Connecticut "ninepence," in my purse; for my air was that
of one who could pay for all he wanted, the certainty that, in the long
run, my host could not be a loser, giving me a proper degree of
confidence. I had just got through with the documents, and was thinking
how I should employ the hour or two that remained until it would be time
to go to bed, when I heard Jaap tuning his fiddle in the bar-room. Like
most negroes, the fellow had an ear for music, and had been indulged in
his taste, until he played as well as half the country fiddlers that
were to be met.

The sound of a fiddle in a small hamlet, of a cool October evening, was
certain of its result. In half an hour the smiling landlady came to
invite me to join the company, with the grateful information I should
not want for a partner, the prettiest girl in the place having come in
late, and being still unprovided for. On entering the bar-room, I was
received with plenty of awkward bows and courtesies, but with much
simple and well-meaning hospitality. Jaap's own salutations were very
elaborate, and altogether of a character to prevent the suspicion of our
ever having met before.

The dancing continued for more than two hours, with spirit, when the
time admonished the village maidens of the necessity of retiring. Seeing
an indication of the approaching separation, Jaap held out his hat to
me, in a respectful manner, when I magnificently dropped my shilling
into it, in a way to attract attention, and passed it around among the
males of the party. One other gave a shilling, two clubbed and
actually produced a quarter, several threw in sixpences, or
fourpence-half-pennies, and coppers made up the balance. By way of
climax, the landlady, who was good-looking and loved dancing, publicly
announced that the fiddler and his horse should go scot-free, until he
left the place. By these ingenious means of Jaap's, I found in my purse
next morning seven-and-sixpence in silver, in addition to my own
shilling, besides coppers enough to keep a negro in cider for a week.

I have often laughed over Jaap's management, though I would not permit
him to repeat it. Passing the house of a man of better condition than
common, I presented myself to its owner, though an entire stranger to
him, and told him my story. Without asking any other confirmation than
my word, this gentleman lent me five silver dollars, which answered all
my present purposes, and which, I trust, it is scarcely necessary to
say, were duly repaid.

It was a happy hour to me when I found myself a titular major, but
virtually a freeman, and at liberty to go where I pleased. The war had
offered so little of variety or adventure, since the capture of
Cornwallis and the pendency of the negotiations for peace, that I began
to tire of the army; and now that the country had triumphed, was ready
enough to quit it. The family, that is to say, my grandmother, mother,
aunt Mary and my youngest sister, took possession of Satanstoe in time
to enjoy some of its delicious fruits in the autumn of 1782; and early
in the following season, after the treaty was signed, but while the
British still remained in town, my mother was enabled to return to
Lilacsbush. As consequences of these early movements, my father and
myself, when we joined the two families, found things in a better state
than might otherwise have been the case. The Neck was planted, and had
enjoyed the advantage of a spring's husbandry, while the grounds of
Lilacsbush had been renovated and brought in good condition by the
matured and practised taste of my admirable mother. And she _was_
admirable, in all the relations of life! A lady in feeling and habits,
whatever she touched or controlled imbibed a portion of her delicacy and
sentiment. Even the inanimate things around her betrayed this feature of
their connection with one of her sex's best qualities. I remember that
Colonel Dirk Follock remarked to me one day that we had been examining
the offices together, something that was very applicable to this trait
in my mother's character, while it was perfectly just.

"No one can see Mrs. Littlepage's kitchen, even," he said, "alt'ough she
never seems to enter it, without perceiving"--or "perceifing," as he
pronounced the word--"that it is governed by a lady. There are plenty of
kitchens that are as clean, and as large, and as well furnished, but it
is not common to see a kitchen that gives the same ideas of good taste
in the table and about the household."

If this was true as to the more homely parts of the habitation, how much
truer was it when the distinction was carried into the superior
apartments! There, one saw my mother in person, and surrounded by those
appliances which denote refinement, without, however, any of that
elaborate luxury of which we read in older countries. In America we had
much fine china, and a good deal of massive plate, regular
dinner-services excepted, previously to the revolution, and my mother
had inherited more than was usual of both; but the country knew little
of that degree of domestic indulgence which is fast creeping in among
us, by means of its enormously increased commerce.

Although the fortunes of the country had undergone so much waste during
seven years of internal warfare, the elasticity of a young and vigorous
nation soon began to repair the evil. It is true that trade did not
fully revive, nor its connecting interests receive their great impulse,
until after the adoption of the Constitution, which brought the States
under a set of common custom-house regulations; nevertheless, one year
brought about a manifest and most beneficent change. There was now some
security in making shipments, and the country immediately felt the
consequences. The year 1784 was a sort of breathing-time for the nation,
though long ere it was past, the bone and sinew of the republic began to
make themselves apparent and felt. Then it was that, as a people, this
community first learned the immense advantage it had obtained by
controlling its own interests, and by treating them as secondary to
those of no other part of the world. This was the great gain of all our
labors.



CHAPTER III.

                  "He tells her something,
    That makes her blood look out; good sooth, she is
    The queen of curds and cream."--_Winter's Tale._


Happy, happy Lilacsbush! Never can I forget the delight with which I
roamed over its heights and glens, and how I rioted in the pleasure of
feeling I was again a sort of master in those scenes which had been the
haunts of my boyhood! It was in the spring of 1784 before I was folded
to the arms of my mother; and this, too, after a separation of near two
years. Kate laughed, and wept, and hugged me, just as she would have
done five years earlier, though she was now a lovely young woman, turned
of nineteen. As for aunt Mary, she shook hands, gave me a kind kiss or
two, and smiled on me affectionately, in her own quiet, gentle manner.
The house was in a tumult, for Jaap returned with me, his wool well
sprinkled with gray, and there were lots of little Satanstoes (for such
was his family name, notwithstanding Mrs. Jaap called herself Miss
Lilacsbush), children and grandchildren, to welcome him. To say the
truth, the house was not decently tranquil for the first twenty-four
hours.

At the end of that time I ordered my horse, to ride across the country
to Satanstoe, in order to visit my widowed grandmother, who had resisted
all attempts to persuade her to give up the cares of housekeeping, and
to come and live at Lilacsbush. The general, for so everybody now called
my father, did not accompany me, having been at Satanstoe a day or two
before; but my sister did. As the roads had been much neglected in the
war, we went in the saddle, Kate being one of the most spirited
horsewomen of my acquaintance. By this time, Jaap had got to be
privileged, doing just such work as suited his fancy; or, it might be
better to say, was not of much use except in the desultory employments
that had so long been his principal pursuits; and he was sent off an
hour or two before we started ourselves, to let Mrs. Littlepage, or his
"ole--ole missus," as the fellow always called my grandmother, know whom
she was to expect to dinner.

I have heard it said that there are portions of the world in which
people get to be so sophisticated, that the nearest of kin cannot take
such a liberty as this. The son will not presume to take a plate at the
table of the father without observing the ceremony of asking, or of
being asked! Heaven be praised! we have not yet reached this pass in
America. What parent, or grandparent, to the remotest living generation,
would receive a descendant with anything but a smile, or a welcome, let
him come when and how he will? If there be not room, or preparation, the
deficiencies must be made up in welcomes; or, when absolute
impossibilities interpose, if they are not overcome by means of a quick
invention, as most such "impossibilities" are, the truth is frankly
told, and the pleasure is deferred to a more fortunate moment. It is not
my intention to throw a vulgar and ignorant gibe into the face of an
advanced civilization, as is too apt to be the propensity of ignorance
and provincial habits; for I well know that most of the usages of those
highly improved conditions of society are founded in reason, and have
their justification in a cultivated common sense; but, after all, mother
nature has her rights, and they are not to be invaded too boldly,
without bringing with the acts themselves their merited punishments.

It was just nine, on a fine May morning, when Kate

Littlepage and myself rode through the outer gate of Lilacsbush, and
issued upon the old, well-known Kingsbridge road. _Kings_bridge! That
name still remains, as do those of the counties of Kings, and Queens,
and Duchess, to say nothing of quantities of Princes this and that in
other States; and I hope they always may remain, as so many landmarks in
our history. These names are all that now remain among us of the
monarchy; and yet have I heard my father say a hundred times, that when
a young man, his reverence for the British throne was second only to his
reverence for the Church. In how short a time has this feeling been
changed throughout an entire nation; or, if not absolutely changed, for
some still continue to reverence monarchy, how widely and irremediably
has it been impaired! Such are the things of the world, perishable and
temporary in their very natures; and they would do well to remember the
truth, who have much at stake in such changes.

We stopped at the door of the inn at Kingsbridge to say good morning to
old Mrs. Light, the landlady who had now kept the house half a century,
and who had known us, and our parents before us, from childhood. This
loquacious housewife had her good and bad points, but habit had given
her a sort of claim on our attentions, and I could not pass her door
without drawing the rein, if it were only for a moment. This was no
sooner done, than the landlady in person was on her threshold to greet
us.

"Ay, I dreamt this, Mr. Mordaunt," the old woman exclaimed, the instant
she saw me--"I dreamt this no later than last week! It is nonsense to
deny it; dreams _do_ often come true!"

"And what has been your dream this time, Mrs. Light?" I asked, well
knowing it was to come, and the sooner we got it the better.

"I dreamt the general had come home last fall, and he _had_ come home!
Now the only idee I had to help out that dream was a report that he
_was_ to be home that day; but you know, Mr. Mordaunt, or Major
Littlepage, they tell me I ought now to call you--but you know, Mr.
Mordaunt, how often reports turn out to be nothing. I count a report as
no great help to a dream. So, last week, I dreamed you would certainly
be home this week; and here you are, sure enough!"

"And all without any lying report to help you, my good landlady?"

"Why, no great matter; a few flying rumors, perhaps; but as I never
believe _them_ when awake, it's onreasonable to suppose a body would
believe 'em when asleep. Yes, Jaaf stopped a minute to water his horse
this morning, and I foresaw from that moment my dream would come to be
true, though I never exchanged a word with the nigger."

"That is a little remarkable, Mrs. Light, as I supposed you always
exchanged a few words with your guests."

"Not with the blacks, major; it's apt to make 'em sassy. Sassiness in a
nigger is a thing I can't abide, and therefore I keep 'em all at a
distance. Well, the times that I have seen, major, since you went off to
the wars! and the changes we have had! Our clergyman don't pray any
longer for the king and queen--no more than if there wasn't sich people
living."

"Not directly, perhaps, but as a part of the Church of God, I trust. We
all pray for Congress now."

"Well, I hope good will come out of it! I must say, major, that His
Majesty's officers spent more freely, and paid in better money, than the
continental gentlemen. I've had 'em both here by rijjiments, and that's
the character I _must_ give 'em, in honesty."

"You will remember they were richer, and had more money than our people.
It is easy for the rich to appear liberal."

"Yes, I know that, sir, and you ought, and _do_ know it, too. The
Littlepages are rich, and always have been, and they are liberal too.
Lord bless your smiling, pretty faces! I knowed your family long afore
you knowed it yourselves. I know'd old Captain Hugh Roger, your
great-grand'ther, and the _old_ general, your grand'ther, and now I know
the _young_ general, and you! Well, this will not be the last of you, I
dares to say, and there'll be light hearts and happy ones among the
Bayards, I'll answer for it, now the wars are over, and young Major
Littlepage has got back!"

This terminated the discourse; for by this time I had enough of it; and
making my bow, Kate and I rode on. Still, I could not but be struck with
the last speech of the old woman, and most of all with the manner in
which it was uttered. The name of Bayard was well known among us,
belonging to a family of which there were several branches spread
through the Middle States, as far south as Delaware; but I did not
happen to know a single individual of them all. What, then, could my
return have to do with the smiles or frowns of any of the name of
Bayard? It was natural enough, after ruminating a minute or two on the
subject, that I should utter some of my ideas, on such a subject, to my
companion.

"What could the old woman mean, Kate," I abruptly commenced, "by saying
there would now be light hearts and happy ones among the Bayards?"

"Poor Mrs. Light is a great gossip, Mordaunt, and it may be questioned
if she know her own meaning half the time. All the Bayards we know are
the family at the Hickories; and with them, you have doubtless heard, my
mother has long been intimate."

"I have heard nothing about it, child. All I know is, that there is a
place called the Hickories, up the river a few miles, and that it
belongs to some of the Bayards; but I never heard of any intimacy. On
the contrary, I remember to have heard that there was a lawsuit once,
between my grandfather Mordaunt and some old Bayard or other; and I
thought we were a sort of hereditary strangers."

"That is quite forgotten, and my mother says it all arose from a
mistake. We are decided friends now."

"I'm sure I am very glad to hear it; for, since it is peace, let us have
peace; though old enemies are not apt to make very decided friends."

"But we never were--that is, my grandfather never was an enemy of
anybody; and the whole matter was amicably settled just before he went
to Europe, on his unfortunate visit to Sir Harry Bulstrode. No--no--my
mother will tell you, Mordaunt, that the Littlepages and the Bayards now
regard each other as very decided friends."

Kate spoke with so much earnestness that I was disposed to take a look
at her. The face of the girl was flushed, and I fancy she had a secret
consciousness of the fact; for she turned it from me as if gazing at
some object in the opposite direction, thereby preventing me from seeing
much of it.

"I am very glad to learn all this," I answered, a little dryly. "As I am
a Littlepage, it would have been awkward not to have known it, had I
accidentally met with one of these Bayards. Does the peace include all
of the name, or only those of the Hickories?"

Kate laughed; then she was pleased to tell me that I was to consider
myself the friend of all of the name.

"And most especially of those of the name who dwell at the Hickories?"

"How many may there be of this especially peaceful breed? six, a dozen,
or twenty?"

"Only four; so your task will make no very heavy demand on your
affections. Your heart has room, I trust, for four more friends?"

"For a thousand, if I can find them, my dear. I can accept as many
friends as you please, but have places for none else. All the other
niches are occupied."

"Occupied!--I hope that is not true, Mordaunt. _One_ place, at least, is
vacant."

"True; I had forgotten a place must be reserved for the brother _you_
will one day give me. Well, name him, as soon as you please; I shall be
ready to love _him_, child."

"I may never make so heavy a draft on your affections. Anneke has given
you a brother already, and a very excellent one he is, and that ought to
satisfy a reasonable man."

"Ay, so all you young women say between fifteen and twenty, but you
usually change your mind in the end. The sooner you tell me who the
youth is, therefore, the sooner I shall begin to like him--is _he_ one
of the Bayards?--_un chevalier sans peur et sans reproche?_"

Kate had a brilliant complexion, in common; but, as I now turned my eyes
toward her inquiringly, more in mischief, however, than with the
expectation of learning anything new, I saw the roses of her cheeks
expand until they covered her temples. The little beaver she wore, and
which became her amazingly, did not suffice to conceal these blushes,
and I now really began to suspect I had hit on a vein that was
sensitive. But my sister was a girl of spirit, and though it was no
difficult thing to make her change color, it was by no means easy to
look her down.

"I trust your new brother, Mordaunt, should there ever be such a person,
will be a respectable man, if not absolutely without reproach," she
answered. "But, if there be a Tom Bayard, there is also a Pris Bayard,
his sister."

"So--so--this is all news to me, indeed! As to Mr. Thomas Bayard, I
shall ask no questions, my interest in _him_, if there is to be any,
being altogether _ex officio_, as one may say, and coming as a matter of
course; but you will excuse me if I am a little curious on the subject
of Miss Priscilla Bayard, a lady, you will remember, I never saw."

My eye was on Kate the whole time, and I fancied she looked gratified,
though she still looked confused.

"Ask what you will, brother--Priscilla Bayard can bear a very close
examination."

"In the first place, then, did that old gossip allude to Miss Priscilla,
by saying there would be light hearts and happy ones among the Bayards?"

"Nay, I cannot answer for poor Mrs. Light's conceits. Put your questions
in some other form."

"Is there much intimacy between the people of the 'Bush and those of the
Hickories?"

"Great--_we_ like them exceedingly; and I think they like _us_."

"Does this intimacy extend to the young folk, or is it confined to the
old?"

"That is somewhat personal," said Kate, laughing, "as I happen to be the
only 'young folk' at the 'Bush, to maintain the said intimacy. As there
is nothing to be ashamed of, however, but, on the contrary, much of
which one may be proud, I shall answer that it includes 'all ages and
both sexes;' everybody but yourself, in a word."

"And _you_ like old Mr. Bayard?"

"Amazingly."

"And old Mrs. Bayard?"

"She is a very agreeable person, and an excellent wife and mother."

"And you love Pris Bayard?"

"As the apple of mine eye," the girl answered with emphasis.

"And you like Tom Bayard, her brother?"

"As much as is decent and proper for one young woman to like the brother
of another young woman, whom she admits that she loves as the apple of
her eye."

Although it was not easy, at least not easy for _me_, to cause Kate
Littlepage to hold her tongue, it was not easy for her to cause the
tell-tale blood always to remain stationary. She was surprisingly
beautiful in her blushes, and as much like what I had often fancied my
dear mother might have been in her best days as possible, at the very
moment she was making these replies as steadily as if they gave her no
trouble.

"How is all this then, connected with rejoicings among the people of the
Hickories, at _my_ return? Are you the betrothed of Tom Bayard, and have
you been waiting for my return to give him your hand?"

"I am _not_ the betrothed of Tom Bayard, and have not been waiting for
your return to give him my hand," answered Kate, steadily. "As for Mrs.
Light's gossipings, you cannot expect _me_ to explain _them_. She gets
her reports from servants, and others of that class, and you know what
such reports are usually worth. But, as for my waiting for your
_return_, brother, in order to announce such an event, you little know
how much I love you, if you suppose I would do any such thing."

Kate said this with feeling, and I thanked her with my eyes, but could
not have spoken, and did not speak, until we had ridden some distance.
After this pause, I renewed the discourse with some of its original
spirit.

"On that subject, Katrinke, dear," I said, "I trust we understand each
other. Single or married, you will ever be very dear to me; and I own I
should be hurt to be one of the last to learn your engagement, whenever
that may happen. And now for this Priscilla Bayard--do you expect me to
like her?"

"Do I! It would be one of the happiest moments of my life, Mordaunt,
when I could hear you acknowledge that you _love_ her!"

This was uttered with great animation, and in a way to show that my
sister was very much in earnest. I felt some surprise when I put this
feeling in connection with the landlady's remarks, and began to suspect
there might be something behind the curtain worthy of my knowledge. In
order to make discoveries, however, it was necessary to pursue the
discourse.

"Of what age is Miss Bayard?" I demanded.

"She is two months my senior--very suitable, is it not?"

"I do not object to the difference, which will do very well. Is she
accomplished?"

"Not very. You know few of us girls who have been educated during the
revolution, can boast of much in that way; though Priscilla is better
than common."

"Than of her class, you mean, of course?"

"Certainly--better than most young ladies of our best families."

"Is she amiable?"

"As Anneke, herself!"

This was saying a great deal, our eldest sister, as often happens in
families, being its paragon in the way of all the virtues, and Anneke's
temper being really serenity itself.

"You give her a high character, and one few girls could sustain. Is she
sensible and well-informed?"

"Enough so as often to make me feel ashamed of myself. She has an
excellent mother, Mordaunt; and I have heard you say, often, that the
mother would have great influence with you in choosing a wife."

"That must have been when I was very young, child, before I went to the
army, where we look more at the young than at the old women. But, why a
wife? Is it all settled between the old people, that I am to propose to
this Priscilla Bayard, and are you a party to the scheme?"

Kate laughed with all her heart, but I fancied she looked conscious.

"You make no answer, young lady, and you must permit me to remind you
that there is an express compact between you and me to treat each other
frankly on all occasions. This is one on which I especially desire to
see the conditions of the treaty rigidly enforced. Does any such project
exist?"

"Not as a project, discussed and planned--no--certainly not. No, a
thousand times, no. But I shall run the risk of frustrating one of my
most cherished hopes, by saying, honestly, that you could not gratify my
dear mother, aunt Mary, and myself, more than by falling in love with
Pris Bayard. We all love her ourselves, and we wish you to be of the
party, knowing that _your_ love would probably lead to a connection we
should all like, more than I can express. There; you cannot complain of
a want of frankness, for I have heard it said, again and again, that the
wishes of friends, indiscreetly expressed, are very apt to set young men
against the very person it is desired to make them admire."

"Quite likely to be true as a rule, though in my case no effect, good or
bad, will be produced. But how do the Bayards feel in this matter?"

"How should I know! Of course, no allusion has ever been made to any of
the family on the subject; and, as none of them know you, it is im--that
is, no allusion--I mean--certainly not to more than _one_ of them. I
believe some vague remarks may have been ventured to one--but----"

"By yourself, and to your friend Pris?"

"_Never_"--said Kate, with emphasis. "Such a subject could never be
mentioned between us."

"Then it must have been between the old ladies--the two mothers,
probably?"

"I should think not. Mrs. Bayard is a woman of reserve, and mamma has an
extreme sense of propriety, as you know yourself, that would not be
likely to permit such a thing."

"Would the general think of contracting me, when my back was turned?"

"Not he--papa troubles himself very little about such things. Ever since
his return home, he has been courting mamma over again, he tells us."

"Surely, aunt Mary has not found words for such an allusion!"

"She, indeed! Poor, dear aunt Mary; it is little she meddles with any
one's concerns but her own. Do you know, Mordaunt, that mamma has told
me the whole of her story lately, and the reason why she has refused so
many excellent offers. I dare say, if you ask her, she will tell _you_."

"I know the whole story already, from the general, child. But, if this
matter has been alluded to, to one of the Bayards, and neither my
father, mother, nor aunt Mary, has made the allusion on our side, and
neither Mr. Bayard, his wife, nor daughter, has been the party to whom
the allusion has been made on the other, there remain only yourself and
Tom to hold the discourse. I beg you to explain this point with your
customary frankness."

Kate Littlepage's face was scarlet. She was fairly caught, though I
distrusted the truth from the moment she so stammered and hesitated in
correcting her first statement. I will own I enjoyed the girl's
confusion, it made her appear so supremely lovely; and I was almost as
proud of her, as I tenderly loved her. Dear, dear Kate; from my
childhood I had my own amusement with her, though I do not remember
anything like a harsh expression, or an unkind feeling, that has ever
passed, or indeed existed, between us. A finer study than the face of my
sister offered for the next minute, was never presented to the eye of
man; and I enjoyed it so much the more, from a strong conviction that,
while so deeply confused, she was not unhappy. Native ingenuousness,
maiden modesty, her habit of frank dealing with me, and a wish to
continue so to deal, were all struggling together in her fine
countenance, forming altogether one of the most winning pictures of
womanly feelings I had ever witnessed. At length, the love of
fair-dealing, and love of me, prevailed over a factitious shame; the
color settled back to those cheeks whence it had appeared to flash, as
it might be, remaining just enough heightened to be remarked, and Kate
looked toward me in a way that denoted all the sisterly confidence and
regard that she actually felt.

"I did not intend to be the one to communicate to you a fact, Mordaunt,
in which I know you will feel a deep interest, for I had supposed my
mother would save me the confusion of telling it to you; but, now, there
is no choice between resorting to equivocations that I do not like, and
using our old long-established frankness."

"The long and short of which, my dear sister, is to say that you are
engaged to Mr. Bayard?"

"No; not as strong as that, brother. Mr. Bayard has offered, and my
answer is deferred until you have met him. I would not engage myself,
Mordaunt, until you approved of my choice."

"I feel the compliment, Katrinke, and will be certain to repay it, in
kind. Depend on it, _you_ shall know, in proper season, when it is my
wish to marry, and shall be heard."

"There is a difference between the claims of an elder and an only
brother, and of a mere girl, who ought to place much dependence on the
advice of friends, in making her own selection."

"You will not be a 'mere girl' when that time comes, but a married woman
yourself, and competent to give good counsel from your own experience.
To return to Tom, however; he is the member of his family to whom the
allusion was made?"

"He was, Mordaunt," answered Kate, in a low voice.

"And you were the person who made it?"

"Very true--we were talking of you, one day; and I expressed a strong
hope that you would see Priscilla with the eyes with which, I can assure
you, all the rest of your family see her. That was all."

"And that was quite enough, child, to cause Tom Bayard to hang himself,
if he were a lover of the true temper."

"Hang himself, brother! I am sure I do not understand why?"

"Oh! merely at the palpable discouragement such a wish would naturally
convey to the brother of the young lady, since he must have seen you
were willing to connect the two families by means other than giving him
your own hand."

Kate laughed; but as she did not look much confused, or at all alarmed,
I was induced to believe that more important encouragement than could be
afforded by means of her wish of marrying _me_ to her suitor's sister
had been given Master Tom, and that my disapproval of the gentleman
would cause her more concern than she chose to avow. We rode on,
however, some little distance, without either's offering to renew the
discourse. At length, as became my sex, I spoke.

"When am I to see this paragon young man and paragon young woman, Kate,
since see both I must?"

"Not paragon young man, brother; I am certain I have called him by no
such name; Tom Bayard is a _good fellow_; but I do not know that he is
by any means a paragon."

"He is a good-_looking_ fellow in the bargain, I take it for granted?"

"Not so much so as you are yourself, if that will gratify your vanity."

"It ought to, coming from such a quarter; my question is still
unanswered, notwithstanding."

"To own the truth to you, Mordaunt, I expect we shall find Tom Bayard
and Pris at Satanstoe, to dine with my grandmother. She wrote me word, a
day or two since, that both are asked, and that she hoped both would
accept."

"The old lady is then in the plot, and intends to marry me, will ye,
nill ye? I had thought this visit altogether a scheme of my own."

Kate again laughed, and told me I might make my own observations on that
point, and judge for myself. As for the visit, I had only accidentally
favored a project of others. The conversation now changed, and for
several miles we rode along, conversing of the scenes of the war,
without adverting to the Bayards or to marriages.

We were within half a mile of the gate of the Neck, and within a mile of
the house, when we met Jaap returning to Lilacsbush, and carrying some
fruit to my mother, after having discharged his commission of an
_avant-courier_. From Kate's remark I had discovered we had been invited
by letter to take this excursion, though the ceremony of sending the
negro across with his message had been observed for reasons that were
not very natural under the circumstances. I made no remark, however,
determining to see and judge for myself.

As a matter of course, we drew our reins, and stopped to exchange a few
words with the black.

"Well, Jaap, how did the Neck look, after so long an absence?" I
inquired.

"It look, sah, no means as well as ole Missus, who do look capital, for
such a lady! Dey do won'ers with 'e Neck, sah, if you just believe all
young nigger say. But what you t'ink, Masser Mordy, I hear at 'e tavern,
where I jist stop, sah, to water ole Dick?"

"And to get a sup of cider for old Jaap"--hereupon the negro laughed
heartily, though he had the impudence neither to own nor to deny the
imputation, his weakness in favor of "wring-jaw" being a
well-established failing--"Well, what did you hear, while taking down
the usual mug?"

"I on'y get _half_ a mug, dis time, sah; ole, ole Missus nebber
forgettin' to give me jist as much as I want. Well, sah, while old Dick
drink, 'e new landlady, who come from Connetick, you know, sah, she say
to me, 'Where you go, ole color' gentleum?' Dat war' civil, anyhow."

"To which you answered----"

"I answer her, sah, and say I go to Satanstoe, whar' I come from, long
time 'go."

"Whereupon she made some observation or other--well, what was it?--You
keep Miss Littlepage waiting."

"Lor' bless her, sah--it my business to wait on Miss Katrinke, not her
business to wait on _me_--why you speak so droll, now, Masser Mordy?"

"Never mind all that, Jaap, what did the new Connecticut lady say, when
you told her you were going to Satanstoe, the place where you had come
from, a long time ago?"

"What she say, Masser Mordy, sah!--she say great foolishness, and make
me mad. 'What you call by dat awful name?' she say, making face like as
if she see a spook. 'You must mean Dibbleton,' she say--'dat 'e way all
'e people as is genteel call 'e Neck?' Did you ebber hear 'e like, sah?"

"Oh! yes; I heard the like of it, as soon as I was born; the attempt to
change the name of our old place having existed now, these thirty years.
Why, some people call Hellgate, Hurlgate; after that, one may expect
anything. Do you not know, Jaap, a Yankee is never satisfied, unless he
is effecting changes? One half his time he is altering the pronunciation
of his own names, and the other half he is altering ours. Let him call
the place what he will, you and I will stick to Satanstoe."

"Dat we _will_, sah--gib 'e debbil his due, sah; dat an ole sayin'. I'm
sure anybody as has eyes, can see where his toe hab turn up 'e sile, and
shape it he own way--no dibble dere, sah."

Thus saying, Jaap rode on, my sister and myself doing the same, pursuing
the discourse that had thus accidentally arisen among us.

"Is it not odd, brother, that strangers should have this itching to
alter the name of my grandmother's place?" said Kate, after we had
parted from the black. "It is a homely name, certainly; but it has been
used, now, a good deal more than a century, and time, at least, should
entitle it to be let alone."

"Ay, my dear; but you are not yet aware of the desires, and longings,
and efforts, and ambition of a 'little learning.' I have seen enough, in
my short career, to know there is a spirit up among us, that calls
itself by the pretending title of the 'spirit of improvement,' which is
likely to overturn more important things than the name of our poor Neck.
It is a spirit that assumes the respectable character of a love of
liberty; and under that mask, it gives play to malice, envy,
covetousness, rapacity, and all the lowest passions of our nature. Among
other things, it takes the provincial pretence of a mock-refinement, and
flatters an elegance of thought that is easiest attained by those who
have no perceptions of anything truly elevated, by substituting
sqeamishness and affectations for the simplicity of nature, and a good
tone of manners."



CHAPTER IV.

    _Beat._ "Against my will, I am sent to bid you come in to dinner."
    _Bene._ "Fair Beatrice, I thank you for your pains."
    _Beat._ "I took no more pains for these thanks, than
          You take pains to thank me; if it had been painful,
          I would not have come."--_Much Ado About Nothing._


In the porch of the house at Satanstoe stood my dear grandmother and the
notable Tom Bayard, to receive us. The first glance at the latter told
me that he was a "proper man;" and by the second, I got the pleasing
assurance that he had no eye, just then, but for Kate. This was pleasant
to know, as I never could have been happy in consenting to yield that
dear girl to any but a man who appreciated her worth, and fully admired
her beauty. As to my dear "ole, ole" grandmother, who was not so very
old neither, being still under seventy, her reception of us was just
what I had ever found it; warm, affectionate, and gentle. She called my
father, the general, Corny, even when she spoke to him in a room full of
company; though, for that matter, I have heard my mother, who was much
more of a woman of the world, having lived a great deal in society, do
the same thing, when she thought herself alone. I have read some
priggish book or other, written no doubt by one who knew men only
through pages like his own, decry such familiarities; but I have
generally found those the happiest families, and at the bottom, the best
toned, where it was Jack, and Tom, and Bob, and Dick, and Bess, and Di.
As for your Louisa Adelinas, and Robert Augustuses, and all such
elaborate respect, I frankly declare I have a contempt for it. Those are
the sort of people who would call Satanstoe, Dibbleton; Hellgate,
Hurlgate; and themselves accomplished. Thank heaven, we had no such
nonsense at Lilacsbush, or at the Neck. My father was Corny; my mother,
Anneke; Katrinke, Kate; and I was Mordy, or Mord; or, when there was no
hurry, Mordaunt.

Tom Bayard met my salutations frankly, and with a gentleman-like ease,
though there was a slight color on his cheek which said to me, "I mean
to get your sister." Yet I liked the fellow's manner. There was no
grasping of the hand, and coming forward to rush into an intimacy at the
first moment we met; but he returned my bow graciously and gracefully,
and his smile as he did so seemed to invite farther and better
acquaintance.

Now I have seen a man cross a whole room to shake hands at an
introduction to an utter stranger, and maintain a countenance the whole
time as sombre as if he were condoling with him on the loss of his wife.
This habit of shaking hands dolefully is growing among us, and is
imported from some of our sister States; for it is certainly not a New
York custom, except among intimates; and it is a bad usage in my
opinion, as it destroys one of the best means of graduating feelings,
and is especially ungraceful at an introduction. But alas! there are so
many such innovations, that one cannot pretend to predict where they are
to stop. I never shook hands at an introduction, unless it were under my
own roof, and when I wished to denote a decidedly hospitable feeling,
until after I was forty. It was thought vulgar in my younger days, and I
am not quite certain it is not thought so now.

In the little old-fashioned drawing-room, as of late years my good
grandmother had been persuaded to call what was once only the best
parlor, we found Miss Priscilla Bayard, who for some reason that was
unexplained, did not come to the porch to meet her friend. She was in
truth a charming girl, with fine dark eyes, glossy hair, a delicate and
lady-like form, and a grace of manner that denoted perfect familiarity
with the best company of the land. Kate and Pris embraced each other
with a warmth and sincerity that spoke in favor of each, and with
perfect nature. An affected American girl, by the way, is very uncommon;
and nothing strikes me sooner, when I see my own countrywomen placed at
the side of Europeans, than the difference in this respect; the one
seems so natural, while the other is so artificial!

My own reception by Miss Bayard was gracious, though I fancied it was
not entirely free from the consciousness of having, on some idle
occasion, heard her own name intimately connected with mine. Perhaps
Kate, in their confidential moments, may have said something to this
effect; or I may have been mistaken.

My grandmother soon announced that the whole party was to pass the night
at Satanstoe. As we were accustomed to such plans, neither Kate nor
myself raised the least objection, while the Bayards submitted to
orders, which I soon discovered even they were not unused to, with
perfect good will and submission. Thus brought together, in the
familiarity of a quiet and small party in a country house, we made great
progress in intimacy; and by the time dinner was over, or by four
o'clock, I felt like an old acquaintance with those who had so lately
been strangers to me, even by name. As for Bayard and my sister, they
were in the best of humors from the start, and I felt satisfied _their_
affair was a settled thing in their own minds; but Miss Priscilla was a
little under constraint for an hour or two, like a person who felt a
slight embarrassment. This wore off, however, and long before we left
the table she had become entirely herself; and a very charming self it
was, I was forced to admit. I say forced; for spite of all I had said,
and a certain amount of good sense, I hope, it was impossible to get rid
of the distrust which accompanied the notion that I was expected to fall
in love with the young lady. My poor grandmother contributed her share,
too, to keeping this feeling alive. The manner in which she looked from
one to the other, and the satisfied smile that passed over her
countenance whenever she observed Pris and myself conversing freely,
betrayed to me completely that she was in the secret, and had a hand in
what I chose to regard as a sort of plot.

I had heard that my grandmother had set her heart on the marriage of my
parents a year or two before matters came round, and that she always
fancied she had been very instrumental in forming a connection that had
been as happy as her own. The recollection, or the fancy of this success
most probably encouraged her to take a share in the present scheme; and
I have always supposed that she got us all together on that occasion in
order to help the great project along.

A walk on the Neck was proposed in the cool of the evening; for
Satanstoe had many a pleasant path, pretty vista, and broad view. Away
we went, then, the four of us, Kate leading the way, as the person most
familiar with the "capabilities." We were soon on the shore of the
Sound, and at a point where a firm, wide beach of sand had been left by
the receding waters, rocks fringing the inner boundary toward the main.
Here one could walk without confinement of any sort, there being room to
go in pairs, or all abreast, as we might choose. Miss Bayard seeming a
little coy, and manifesting a desire to keep near her friend, I
abandoned the intention of walking at her side, but fell behind a
little, and got into discourse with her brother. Nor was I sorry to have
this early opportunity of sounding the party who was likely soon to
become so nearly connected with me. After a few minutes, the
conversation turned on the late revolution, and the manner in which it
was likely to influence the future fortunes of the country. I knew that
a portion of the family of my companion had adhered to the crown, losing
their estates by the act of confiscation; but I also knew that a portion
did not, and I was left to infer that Tom's branch belonged to the
latter division of his name, inasmuch as his father was known to be very
easy in his circumstances, if not absolutely rich. It was not long,
however, before I ascertained that my new friend was a mild tory, and
that he would have been better pleased had the rights we had sought, and
which he was willing enough to admit had been violated, been secured
without a separation of the two countries. As the Littlepages had
actually been in arms against the crown, three generations of them, too,
at the same time, and the fact could be no secret, I was pleased with
the candor with which Tom Bayard expressed his opinions on these points;
for it spoke well of the truth and general sincerity of his character.

"Does it not strike you as a necessary consequence of the distance
between the two countries," I remarked in the course of the
conversation, "that a separation must, sooner or later, have occurred?
It is impossible that two countries should long have common rulers when
they are divided by an ocean. Admitting that _our_ separation has been a
little premature, a circumstance I should deny in a particular
discussion, it is an evil that every hour has a tendency to lessen."

"Separations in families are always painful, Major Littlepage; when
accompanied by discussions, doubly so."

"Quite true; yet they always happen. If not in this generation, in the
next."

"I _do_ think," said Tom Bayard, looking at me a little imploringly,
"that we might have got along with our difficulties without casting
aside our allegiance to the king."

"Ay, that has been the stumbling-block with thousands; and yet it is, in
truth, the very weakest part of the transatlantic side of the question.
Of what avail is allegiance to the king, if parliament uses its power in
a way to make American interests subservient to those of England? A
great deal may be said, that is reasonable, in favor of kingly power;
that I am ready enough to allow; but very little that renders one
_people_ subject to _another_. This thing called loyalty blinds men to
facts, and substitutes a fancied for a real power. The question has
been, whether England, by means of a parliament in which we have no
representative, is to make laws for us or not; and not whether George
III. is to be our sovereign, or whether we are to establish the
sovereignty of the people."[4]

[Footnote 4: [This short dialogue is given in the text, because it is
found in Mr. Mordaunt Littlepage's manuscript, and not because the state
of feeling in this country to-day has any connection with the opinions
expressed. The American nation, as a whole, is now as completely
emancipated from English political influence, as if the latter never had
an existence. The emancipation is too complete, indeed, the effect
having brought with it a reaction that is, on many points, running into
error in a contrary direction; the third of our manuscripts having
something to do with these excesses of opinion. But Mr. Mordaunt
Littlepage appears to have some near glimmerings of the principles which
lay at the root of the American revolution, though the principle itself
does not appear to have been openly recognized anywhere at the time. The
king of England was originally king of America, as he was king of
Ireland, and king of Scotland. It is true, there was no American flag,
the system excluding the colonies from any power on the ocean; then each
colony existed as independent of the others, except through their common
allegiance. The revolution of 1688 slowly brought parliament into the
ascendant; and by the time George III. ascended the throne, that
ascendancy had got to be almost undisputed. Now, America had no proper
connection with parliament, which, in that day, represented England and
Wales only; and this was a state of things which made one _country_
dependent on the _other_, a subserviency of interests that clearly could
last only so long as the party governed was too weak to take care of
itself.]]

Bayard bowed, civilly enough, to my remark, and he changed the subject.
Sufficient had been said, however, to satisfy me that there would be
little political sympathy between us, let the family tie be drawn as
close as it might. The girls joined us before we had got altogether into
another vein of discourse, and I was a little chagrined at finding that
Kate entered rather more into her admirer's views of such subjects than
comported with the true feelings, as I fancied, of a Littlepage, after
all that had passed. Still, as I should have liked the woman I loved to
agree with me in opinion as much as possible in everything, I was not
disposed to judge harshly of my sister on that account. On the other
hand, to my surprise, I found Miss Priscilla a zealous, and, to say the
truth, a somewhat blind patriot; condemning England, the king, and the
efforts of parliament with a warmth that was only equal to that with
which she defended everything, act, measure, principle, or policy, that
was purely American.

I cannot say I had as much tolerance for the patriotism of Miss Bayard
as I had for the petit treason of my sister. It seemed natural enough
that Kate should begin to look at things of this nature with the eyes of
the man she had made up her mind to marry; but it looked far more like
management in her friend, who belonged to a tory family, to volunteer so
freely the sentiments of one she could not yet love, inasmuch as until
that day she had never even seen him.

"Is it not so, Major Littlepage?" cried this lovely creature, for very
lovely she was, beyond all dispute; and feminine and delicate, and
lady-like, and all I could have wished her, had she only been a little
less of a whig, and a good deal more of a tory; her eyes sparkling and
flashing, at the same time, as if she felt all she was saying from the
very bottom of her heart--"Is it not so, Major Littlepage?--America has
come out of this war with imperishable glory; and her history, a
thousand years hence, will be the wonder and admiration of all who read
it!"

"That will somewhat depend on what her history may prove to be, between
that day and this. The early history of all _great_ nations fills us
with admiration and interest, while mightier deeds effected by an
insignificant people are usually forgotten."

"Still, this revolution has been one of which any nation might have been
proud!"

As it would not have been proper to deny this I bowed, and strayed a
little from the rest of the party, under the pretence of looking for
shells. My sister soon joined me, when the following short conversation
passed between us.

"You find Pris Bayard a stanch whig, Major Littlepage," commenced my
warm-hearted sister.

"Very much so; but I had supposed the Bayards excessively neutral, if
not absolutely the other way."

"Oh! that is true enough of most of them, but not with Pris, who has
long been a decided whig. There is Tom, now, rather moderate in his
opinions, while the father and mother are what you call excessively
neutral; but Pris has been a whig almost as long as I have known her."

"Almost as long! She was, then, a tory once?"

"Hardly; though certainly her opinions have undergone a very gradual
change. We are both young, you will remember; and girls at their first
coming out do very little of their own thinking. For the last three
years, certainly, or since she was seventeen, Pris has been getting to
be more and more of a whig, and less and less of a tory. Do you not find
her decidedly handsome, Mordaunt?"

"Very decidedly so, and very winning in all that belongs to her
sex--gentle, feminine, lady-like, lovely, and withal a whig."

"I knew you would admire her!" cried Kate, in triumph, "I shall live to
see my dearest wish accomplished!"

"I make no doubt you will, child; though it will not be by the marriage
of a _Mr._ Littlepage to a _Miss_ Bayard."

I got a laugh and a blush for this sally, but no sign of submission. On
the contrary, the positive girl shook her head, until her rich curls
were all in motion, and she laughed none the less. We immediately joined
our companions, and by one of those crossings over and figurings in,
that are so familiar to the young of the two sexes, we were soon walking
along the sands again, Tom at Kate's side, and I at that of Priscilla
Bayard's. What the other two talked about I never knew, though I fancy
one might guess; but the young lady with me pursued the subject of the
revolution.

"You have probably been a little surprised, Major Littlepage," she
commenced, "to hear me express myself so warmly in favor of this
country, as some of the branches of my family have been treated harshly
by the new government."

"You allude to the confiscations? I never justified them, and wish they
had not been made; for they fall heaviest on those who were quite
inoffensive, while most of our active enemies have escaped. Still it is
no more than is usual in civil wars, and what would surely have befallen
us, had it been our fortune to be the losing party."

"So I have been told; but, as no loss has fallen on any who are very
near to me, my public virtue has been able to resist private feeling. My
brother, as you may have seen, is less of an American than I am myself."

"I have supposed he is one of the 'extremely neutral;' and they, I have
thought, always incline a little in favor of the losing party."

"I hope, however, his political bias, which is very honest, though very
much in error, will not materially affect him in your good opinion. Too
much depends on that, for me not to be anxious on the subject; and being
the only decided whig in the family, I have thought I would venture to
speak in behalf of a very dearly beloved brother."

"Well," I said to myself, "this is being sufficiently managing; but I am
not quite so unpractised as to be the dupe of an artifice so little
concealed! The deuce is in the girl; yet she seems in earnest, looks at
me with the good faith and simplicity of a sister who feels even more
than she expresses, and is certainly one of the loveliest creatures I
ever laid eyes on! I must not let her see how much I am on my guard, but
must meet management with management. It will be singular, indeed, if I,
who have commanded a company of continentals with some credit, cannot
get along with a girl of twenty, though she were even handsomer, and
looked still more innocent than this Pris Bayard, which would be no easy
matter, by the way."

The reader will understand this was what I said to myself, and it was
soon uttered, for one talks surprisingly fast to himself; but that which
I said to my fair companion, after a moment's hesitation, was very
different in language and import.

"I do not understand in what way Mr. Bayard can be affected by my
opinion, let it be for or against him," I answered, with just as much
innocency of expression, according to my notion of the matter, as the
young lady herself had thrown into her own pretty countenance, thereby
doing myself infinite credit, in my own conceit; "though I am far from
judging any man severely, because he happens to differ from me in his
judgment of public things. The question was one of great delicacy, and
the most honest men have differed the widest on its merits."

"You do not know how glad I am to hear you say this, Mr. Littlepage,"
returned my companion, with one of the sweetest smiles woman ever
bestowed on man. "It will make Tom completely happy, for I know he has
been sadly afraid of you, on this very point."

I did not answer instantly; for I believe I was watching the traces of
that bewitching smile, and speculating against its influence with the
pertinacity of a man who was determined not to be taken in. That smile
haunted me for a week, and it was a long time before I fully
comprehended it. I decided, however, to come to the point at once, as
respects Bayard and my sister, and not be beating the bush with indirect
allusions.

"In what manner can my opinion influence your brother, Miss Bayard?" I
asked, as soon as I was ready to say anything. "To prevent
misconceptions, let me beg of you to be a little more explicit."

"You can hardly be ignorant of my meaning, I should think!" answered
Priscilla, with a little surprise. "One has only to look at the couple
before us, to comprehend how your opinion of the gentleman might have an
influence on himself, at least."

"The same might be said of us, Miss Bayard, so far as my inexperienced
eye can tell. They are a young couple, walking together; the gentleman
appearing to admire the lady, I will confess; and we are a young couple
walking together, the gentleman appearing to admire the lady, or he does
no credit to his taste or sensibility."

"There," said I to myself again, "that is giving her quite as good as I
received; let me see how you take _that_."

Pris took it very well; laughing, and blushing just enough to make her
appear the loveliest creature I had ever laid eyes on. She shook her
head very much as my sister had done not long before, and disclaimed the
analogy, first in her manner, and next with her tongue.

"The cases are very different, sir," she answered. "We are strangers to
each other, while Tom Bayard and Kate Littlepage are acquaintances of
years' standing. _We_ do not love each other in the least; not a bit,
though we are inclined to think very well of each other, on account of
the interest we take in the couple before us, and because I am the
intimate friend of your only sister, and because you are the only
brother of my intimate friend. _There_, however," and she now spoke with
emphasis, "our interest ceases, never to be increased beyond a friendly
regard, that I trust will grow up out of our respective merits and
respective discernment. It is very, _very_ different with the couple
before us;" here, again, the flexible girl spoke with extreme feeling;
every tone and cadence of her voice denoting lively sensibility. "They
have been long attached, not _admirers_ of each other, as you call it,
Major Littlepage, but _attached_; and your opinion of my brother just at
this moment, is of the last importance to him. I hope I have at last
made myself understood?"

"Perfectly; and I intend to be just as explicit. In the first place I
enter a solemn protest against all that you have said about the 'other
couple,' with the exception of the interest we each feel in the brother
or sister. Next, I proclaim Kate Littlepage to be her own mistress, so
far as her brother Mordaunt is concerned, and lastly, I announce that I
see or know nothing in the character, connections, fortune, person, or
position of her suitor, Thomas Bayard, of the Hickories, Esquire, that
is in the least below her pretensions or merits. I hope that is
sufficiently satisfactory?"

"Entirely so; and from the bottom of my heart I thank you for it. I will
own I have had some little apprehensions on the subject of Tom's
political opinions; but those removed, nothing else _can_ remain to
create the smallest uneasiness."

"How is it possible that any of you could consider my notions of so much
importance, when Kate has a father, a mother, and a grandmother living,
all of whom, as I understand things, approve of her choice?"

"Ah, Mr. Littlepage, you are not conscious of your importance in your
own family, I see. I know it better than you appear to know it yourself.
Father, mother, grandmother, and sister, all think and speak of Mordaunt
alike. To hear the general converse of the war, you would suppose that
_he_ had commanded a company, and Captain Littlepage the regiment. Mr.
Littlepage defers to Mordaunt's taste, and Mordaunt's opinions, and
Mordaunt's judgment, even in housekeeping and hemstitching. Kate is
forever saying, 'my brother says this,' 'my brother writes that,' 'my
brother does t'other;' and as for the old lady here at the 'Toe,' she
would hardly think her peaches and cherries could ripen, unless Mordaunt
Littlepage, the son of _her_ son Corny Littlepage--by no accident does
she ever call him 'general,'--were on the face of the earth to create an
eternal sunshine!"

Was there ever a girl like this! That speech was made too, in the
quietest, most gentle, lady-like manner possible. That the young lady
had spirit and humor enough, was very apparent; and for a moment I
doubted whether both were not accompanied by the most perfect simplicity
of character, and the most perfect good faith. Subsequent remarks and
occurrences, however, soon revived all my original distrusts.

"This is a vivid picture of family weaknesses, that you have so
graphically drawn, Miss Bayard," I answered; "and I shall not easily
forget it. What renders it the more lively and pointed, and the more
likely to be relished by the world, is the fact that Mordaunt so little
deserves the extreme partiality of the friends you have mentioned."

"The last feature forms no part of my picture, Major Littlepage, and I
disown it. As for the world, it will never know anything about it. You
and I are not the world, nor are we at all likely ever to be the world
to each other; I wish you particularly to understand _that_, which is
the reason I am so frank with you on so short an acquaintance. I tell
you your opinion is of the last importance to Tom; as your sister would
not marry him, did she believe you thought in the least ill of him."

"And she would, did I think well of him?"

"That is a question a lady must answer for herself. And now we will say
no more on the subject; for my mind is easy since I find you entertain
no political hostility to Tom."

"Men are much less apt to entertain such feelings, I fancy, after they
have fairly fought out a quarrel, than when they only talk over its
heads. Besides, the winning party is commonly the least rancorous, and
success will make us whigs forgiving. I give you my honor, no objection
will be raised against your brother, by me, on account of his opinions
of the revolution. My dear mother herself has been half a tory the whole
war; and Kate, I find, has imbibed all her charity."

A singular, and, as I found, a painful smile, crossed the sweet face of
Priscilla Bayard, as I made this remark; but she did not answer it. It
seemed to me she was now desirous of quitting the subject entirely, and
I immediately led the discourse to other things.

Kate and I remained at Satanstoe several days, and Tom Bayard was a
daily visitor; the distance between the Neck and the Hickories being no
great matter. I saw the young lady twice during the interval; once, by
riding over to her father's residence with that express object; and once
when she came across on horseback to see her friend. I confess I was
never more at a loss to understand a character than I was that of this
young woman. She was either profoundly managing, or as innocent and
simple as a child. It was easy to see that her brother, my sister, my
grandmother, and, as I fancied, the parents of the young lady herself,
were anxious that I should be on as good terms as possible with Pris, as
they all called her; though I could not fathom her own feelings on the
subject. It would have been unnatural not to have loved to gaze on her
exceeding beauty, or not to have admired her extremely graceful and
feminine manner, which was precisely all that one could wish it to be in
the way of ease and self-possession, without being in the least free or
forward; and I did gaze on the one, and admire the other, at the very
moment I was most disposed to distrust her sincerity, and to believe her
nature the very perfection of art. There were times when I was disposed
to fancy this Pris Bayard as profound and skilful an actor as one of her
sex, years, and condition in life could well become, without falling
altogether; and there were moments, too, when she seemed to be instinct
with all the sensitive and best qualities of her sex.

It is scarcely necessary to say I remained heart-whole, under such
circumstances, notwithstanding the obvious wishes of my friends, and the
young lady's great advantages! A man no more falls blindly in love when
he distrusts anything amiss, than he sees anything amiss when he is
blindly in love. It has often been a matter of surprise to me, how often
and how completely the wisest of the earthly races conspire to deceive
themselves. When suspicions are once excited, testimony is not needed;
condemnation following much as a logical induction, though founded on
nothing better than plausible distrusts; while, on the other hand, where
confidence exists, testimony is only too apt to be disregarded. Women,
in particular, are peculiarly apt to follow the bias of their
affections, rather than of their reasons, in all cases connected with
guilt. They are hard to be convinced of the unworthiness of those who
belong to them through the affections, because the affections are
usually stronger with them than their reasoning powers. How they cling
to their priests, for instance, when the cooler heads and greater
experience of men condemn, and that merely because their imaginations
choose to adorn the offenders with the graces of that religion which
they venerate, and on which they rely? He is a shrewd man who can draw
the line between the real and the false in these matters; but he is
truly a weak one who disregards evidence, when evidence is complete and
clear. That we all have our sins and our failings is true, but there are
certain marks of unworthiness which are infallible, and which ought
never to be disregarded, since they denote the existence of the want of
principle that taints a whole character.



CHAPTER V.

     "He were an excellent man that were made just in the midway
     between him and Benedick; the one is too like an image, and
     says nothing; and the other, too like my lady's eldest son,
     evermore tattling."--_Beatrice._


The very day my sister and I left Satanstoe, there was an interesting
interview between my grandmother and myself, that it may be well to
relate. It took place in the cool of the morning, before breakfast,
indeed, and previously to the appearance of any of the rest of the
party; for Tom Bayard and his sister had again ridden across the country
to pass the night and see us off. My grandmother had requested me to
meet her thus early, in a sort of little piazza, that modern
improvements had annexed to one end of the old buildings, and in which
we both appeared accordingly with the utmost punctuality. I saw by a
certain sort of importance that my good grandmother wore in her
countenance, that she had weighty matters on her mind, and took the
chair she had set for me with some little curiosity to learn what was to
follow. The chairs were placed side by side, or nearly so, but looking
different ways, and so close together that, when seated, we were quite
face to face. My grandmother had on her spectacles, and she gazed
wistfully through them at me, parting the curls on my forehead, as had
been her wont when I was a boy. I saw tears rolling out from behind the
glasses, and felt apprehensive I might have said or done something to
have wounded the spirit of that excellent and indulgent parent.

"For heaven's sake, grandmother, what can this mean?" I cried. "Have I
done anything amiss?"

"No, my child, no; but much to the contrary. You are, and ever have
been, a good and dutiful son, not only to your real parents, but to me.
But your name ought to have been Hugh--that I will maintain long as I
live. I told your father as much when you were born; but he was Mordaunt
mad then, as, indeed, he has remained pretty much ever since. Not that
Mordaunt is not a good name and a respectable name, and they say it is a
noble name in England, but it is a family name, and family names are not
for Christian names, at the best. Hugh should have been your name, if I
could have had my way; and, if not Hugh, Corny. Well, it is too late for
that now, as Mordaunt you are, and Mordaunt you must live and die. Did
any one ever tell you, my child, how very, _very_ like you are to your
honored grandfather?"

"My mother, frequently--I have seen the tears start into her eyes as she
gazed at me, and she has often told me my family name ought to have been
Mordaunt, so much do I resemble her father."

"_Her_ father!--Well, Anneke _does_ get some of the strangest conceits
into her head! A better woman, or a dearer, does not breathe--I love
your mother, my child, quite as much as if she had been born my own
daughter; but I must say she does get some of the strangest notions into
her head that mortal ever imagined. You like Herman Mordaunt! You are
the very image of your grandfather Littlepage, and no more like Herman
Mordaunt than you are like the king!"

The revolution was then, and is now, still too recent to prevent these
constant allusions to royalty, notwithstanding my grandfather had been
as warm a whig as there was in the colonies, from the commencement of
the struggle. As for the resemblance spoken of, I have always understood
I was a mingled repetition of the two families, as so often happens, a
circumstance that enables my different relatives to trace such
resemblances as best suit their respective fancies. This was quite
convenient, and may have been a reason, in addition to the fact of my
being an only son, that I was so great a favorite with the females of my
family. My dear old grandmother, who was then in her sixty-ninth year,
was so persuaded of my likeness to her late husband, the "old general,"
as he was now called, that she would not proceed in her communications
until she had wiped her eyes, and gratified her affections with another
long and wistful gaze.

"Oh, _those_ eyes!" she murmured--"and _that_ forehead!--The mouth, too,
and the nose, to say nothing of the smile, which is as much alike as one
pea is like another!"

This left very little for the Mordaunts, it must be owned; the chin and
ears being pretty much all that were not claimed for the direct line. It
is true my eyes were blue, and the "old general's" had been as black as
coals; my nose was Grecian, and his a most obtrusive Roman; and as for
the mouth, I can only say mine was as like that of my mother's as a
man's could well be like a woman's. The last I had heard my father say a
thousand times. But no matter; age, and affection, and the longings of
the parent, caused my grandmother to see things differently.

"Well, Mordaunt," the good old lady at length continued, "how do you
like this choice of your sister Kate's? Mr. Bayard is a charming young
man, is he not?"

"Is it then a choice, grandmother? Has Kate actually made up her mind?"

"Pshaw!" answered my grandmother, smiling as archly as if she were
sixteen herself--"that was done long ago--and papa approved, and mamma
was anxious, and I consented, and sister Anneke was delighted, and
everything was as smooth as the beach at the end of the Neck, but
waiting for your approbation. 'It would not be right, grandmother, for
me to engage myself while Mordaunt is away, and without his even knowing
the gentleman; so I will not answer until I get his approbation too,'
said Kate. That was very pretty in her, was it not, my child? All your
father's children _have_ a sense of propriety!"

"Indeed it was, and I shall not forget it soon. But suppose I had
disapproved, what would have followed, grandmother?"

"You should never ask unpleasant questions, saucy fellow; though I dare
to say Kate would at least have asked Mr. Bayard to wait until you had
changed your mind. Giving him up altogether would be out of the
question, and unreasonable; but she might have waited a few months or
so, until you changed your mind; and I would have advised her so to do.
But all that is unnecessary as matters are; for you have expressed your
approbation, and Kate is perfectly happy. The last letter from
Lilacsbush, which Jaap brought, gives the formal consent of your dear
parents--and what parents you have, my child!--so Kate wrote an
acceptance yesterday, and it was as prettily expressed a note as I have
seen in many a day. Your own mother could not have done better in her
young days; and Anneke Mordaunt worded a note as genteelly as any young
woman I ever knew."

"I am glad everything has gone right, and am sure no one can wish the
young couple more happiness than I do myself. Kate is a dear, good girl,
and I love her as much as a brother can love a sister."

"Is she not? and as thorough a Littlepage as ever was born! I _do_ hope
she will be happy. All the marriages in our family have proved so
hitherto, and it would be strange if this should turn out differently.
Well, now, Mordaunt, when Kate is married, you will be the only one
left."

"That is true, grandmother; and you must be glad to find there will be
one of us left to come and see you, without bringing nurses and children
at his heels."

"I!--I glad of anything of the sort! No, indeed, my child; I should be
sorry enough did I think for a moment, you would not marry as soon as is
prudent, now that the war is over. As for the children, I dote on them;
and I have ever thought it a misfortune that the Littlepages have had so
few, especially sons. Your grandfather, _my_ general, was an only son;
your father was an only son; and you are an only son; that is, so far as
coming to men's estates are, or were concerned. No, Mordaunt, my child,
it is the warmest wish of my heart to see you properly married, and to
hold the Littlepages of the next generation in my arms. Two of you I
have had there already, and I shall have lived the life of the blessed
to be able to hold the third."

"My dear, good grandmother!--what am I to understand by all this?"

"That I wish you to marry, my child, now that the war is ended; that
your father wishes you to marry; that your mother wishes you to marry;
and that your sister wishes you to marry."

"And all of you wish me to marry the same person? Is it not so?"

My grandmother smiled, but she fidgeted; fancying, as I suspected, that
she had been pushing matters a little too fast. It was not easy,
however, for one of her truth and simplicity of character to recede
after having gone so far; and she wisely determined to have no reserves
with me on the subject.

"I believe you are right, Mordaunt," she answered, after a short pause.
"We _do_ all wish you to fall in love as soon as you can; to propose as
soon as you are in love; and to marry Priscilla Bayard, the instant she
will consent to have you."

"This is honest, and like yourself, my dear grandmother; and now we both
know what is intended, and can speak plainly. In the first place, do you
not think one connection of this sort, between families, quite
sufficient? If Kate marry the brother, may I not be excused for
overlooking the attractions of the sister?"

"Priscilla Bayard is one of the loveliest girls in York Colony, Mordaunt
Littlepage!"

"We call this part of the world York _State_, now, dearest grandmother.
I am far from denying the truth of what you say;--Priscilla Bayard _is_
very lovely."

"I do not know what more you can wish, than to get such a girl."

"I shall not say that the time will not come when I may be glad to
obtain the consent of the young lady to become my wife; but that time
has not yet arrived. Then, I question the expediency, when friends
greatly desire any particular match, of saying too much about it."

My poor grandmother looked quite astounded, like one who felt she had
innocently done mischief; and she sat gazing fondly at me, with the
expression of a penitent child painted in her venerated countenance.

"Nevertheless, Mordaunt, I had a great share in bringing about the union
between your own dear parents," she at length answered; "and that has
been one of the happiest marriages I have ever known!"

I had often heard allusions of this nature, and I had several times
observed the quiet smile of my mother, as she listened to them; smiles
that seemed to contradict the opinion to which my grandmother's mistaken
notions of her own influence had given birth. On one occasion (I was
still quite a boy), I remember to have asked my mother how the fact was,
when the answer was, "I married your father through the influence of a
butcher's boy;" a reply that had some reference to a very early passage
in the lives of my parents. But I well know that Cornelius Littlepage,
nor Anneke Mordaunt, was a person to be _coaxed_ into matrimony; and I
resolved on the spot, their only son should manifest an equal
independence. I might have answered my grandmother to this effect, and
in language stronger than was my practice when addressing that reverend
parent, had not the two girls appeared on the piazza at that moment, and
broke up our private conference.

Sooth to say, Priscilla Bayard came forth upon me, that morning, with
something like the radiance of the rising sun. Both the girls had that
fresh, attractive look, that is apt to belong to the toilets of early
risers of their sex, and which probably renders them handsomer at that
hour, than at any other part of the day. My own sister was a very
charming girl, as any one would allow; but her friend was decidedly
beautiful. I confess I found it a little difficult not to give in on the
spot, and to whisper my anxious grandmother that I would pay proper
attention to the young lady, and make an offer at the suitable time, as
she advanced toward us, exchanging the morning salutations, with just
enough of ease to render her perfectly graceful, and yet with a modesty
and _retenue_ that were infinitely winning.

"Mordaunt is about to quit me, for the whole summer, Miss Bayard," said
my grandmother, who would be doing while there was a chance; "and I have
had him out here, to converse a little together, before we part. Kate I
shall see often during the pleasant season, I trust; but this is to be
the last of Mordaunt until the cold weather return."

"Is Mr. Littlepage going to travel?" inquired the young lady, with just
as much interest as good breeding demanded, and not a particle more;
"for Lilacsbush is not so distant, but he might ride over once a week,
at least, to inquire how you do."

"Oh, he is going a great, great distance, and to a part of the world I
dread to think of!"

Miss Bayard now looked really startled, and a good deal astonished,
questioning me with her very fine eyes, though she said nothing with her
tongue of Coejemans, who bears this appellation, and who has contracted
to get the necessary surveys made, though he fills the humble post of a
'chainbearer' himself, not being competent to make the calculations.

"How can a mere chainbearer contract for a full survey?" asked Tom
Bayard, who had joined the party, and had been listening to the
discourse. "The chainbearers, in general, are but common laborers, and
are perfectly irresponsible."

"That is true, as a rule; but my old friend forms an exception. He set
out for a surveyor, but having no head for sines, and co-sines, and
tangents, he was obliged to lower his pretensions to the humbler duty he
now discharges. Still, he has long contracted for jobs of this nature,
and gets as much as he can do, hiring surveyors himself, the owners of
property having the utmost confidence in his measurements. Let me tell
you, the man who carries chain is not the least important member of a
surveying party in the woods. Old Andries is as honest as noon-day, and
everybody has faith in him."

"His true name is Coejemans, I think you said, Major Littlepage?" asked
Priscilla, as it struck me _assuming_ an air of indifference.

"It is, Andries Coejemans; and his family is reputable, if not
absolutely of a high caste. But the old man is so inveterate a woodsman,
that nothing but patriotism, and his whig propensities, could have drawn
him out into the open country. After serving most gallantly through the
whole war, he has gone back to his chains; and many is the joke he has
about remaining still in chains, after fighting so long and so often in
the cause of liberty."

Priscilla appeared to hesitate--I thought her color increased a
little--then she asked the question that was apparently uppermost in her
thoughts, with surprising steadiness.

"Did you ever see the 'Chainbearer's niece, Dus Malbone?"

This question not a little surprised me; for, though I had never seen
Ursula, the uncle had talked so much to me of his ward, that I almost
fancied she was an intimate acquaintance. It often happens that we hear
so much of certain persons, that we think and speak of them as of those
we know; and had Miss Bayard questioned me of one of my late comrades in
the service, I should not have been a whit more startled than I was at
hearing her pronounce the familiar name of Dus Malbone.

"Where, in the name of all that is curious, did you ever hear of such a
person!" I exclaimed, a little inconsiderately, since the world was
certainly wide enough to admit of two young women's being acquainted,
without my consent; more especially as one of them I had never seen, and
the other I had met, for the first time, only a fortnight before. "Old
Andries was always speaking to me of his niece; but I could not suppose
she was an acquaintance of one of your position in life!"

"Notwithstanding, we were something more than school-fellows;--for we
were, and I trust _are_ still very, very good friends. I like Dus
exceedingly, though she is quite as singular, in _her_ way, as I have
heard her uncle described to be, in his."

"This is odd! Will you allow me to ask one question? You will think it
singular, perhaps, after what you have just told me--but curiosity will
get the better of my manners--is Dus Malbone a _lady_--the equal and
companion of such a person as Miss Priscilla Bayard?"

"That is a question not so easily answered, perhaps; since, in some
respects, she is greatly the superior of any young woman I know. Her
family, I have always heard, was very good on both sides; she is poor,
poor even to poverty, I fear now." Here Pris. paused; there was a tremor
in her voice, even, and I detected tears starting to her eyes. "Poor
Dus!" she continued--"she had much to support, in the way of poverty,
even while at school; where she was, indeed, as a dependent, rather than
as a boarder; but no one among us all, could presume to offer her
favors. I was afraid even to ask her to accept a ribbon, as I should not
hesitate to do to Kate here, or any other young lady with whom I was
intimate. I never knew a nobler-minded girl than Ursula Malbone, though
few persons understand her, I think."

"This is old Andries over again! He was poor enough, heaven knows; and I
have known him actually suffer, in order to do his duty by this girl,
and to make a proper appearance at the same time, as a captain in the
New York line; yet none of us, not even my father, could ever induce him
to borrow a single dollar. He would give, but he would not receive."

"I can believe this readily, it is so like Dus! If she has her
peculiarities, she has noble qualities enough to redeem of Coejemans,
who bears this appellation, and who has contracted to get the necessary
surveys made, though he fills the humble post of a 'chainbearer'
himself, not being competent to make the calculations."

"How can a mere chainbearer contract for a full survey?" asked Tom
Bayard, who had joined the party, and had been listening to the
discourse. "The chainbearers, in general, are but common laborers, and
are perfectly irresponsible."

"That is true, as a rule; but my old friend forms an exception. He set
out for a surveyor, but having no head for sines, and co-sines, and
tangents, he was obliged to lower his pretensions to the humbler duty he
now discharges. Still, he has long contracted for jobs of this nature,
and gets as much as he can do, hiring surveyors himself, the owners of
property having the utmost confidence in his measurements. Let me tell
you, the man who carries chain is not the least important member of a
surveying party in the woods. Old Andries is as honest as noon-day, and
everybody has faith in him."

"His true name is Coejemans, I think you said, Major Littlepage?" asked
Priscilla, as it struck me _assuming_ an air of indifference.

"It is, Andries Coejemans; and his family is reputable, if not
absolutely of a high caste. But the old man is so inveterate a woodsman,
that nothing but patriotism, and his whig propensities, could have drawn
him out into the open country. After serving most gallantly through the
whole war, he has gone back to his chains; and many is the joke he has
about remaining still in chains, after fighting so long and so often in
the cause of liberty."

Priscilla appeared to hesitate--I thought her color increased a
little--then she asked the question that was apparently uppermost in her
thoughts, with surprising steadiness.

"Did you ever see the 'Chainbearer's' niece, Dus Malbone?"

This question not a little surprised me; for, though I had never seen
Ursula, the uncle had talked so much to me of his ward, that I almost
fancied she was an intimate acquaintance. It often happens that we hear
so much of certain persons, that we think and speak of them as of those
we know; and had Miss Bayard questioned me of one of my late comrades in
the service, I should not have been a whit more startled than I was at
hearing her pronounce the familiar name of Dus Malbone.

"Where, in the name of all that is curious, did you ever hear of such a
person!" I exclaimed, a little inconsiderately, since the world was
certainly wide enough to admit of two young women's being acquainted,
without my consent; more especially as one of them I had never seen, and
the other I had met, for the first time, only a fortnight before. "Old
Andries was always speaking to me of his niece; but I could not suppose
she was an acquaintance of one of your position in life!"

"Notwithstanding, we were something more than school-fellows;--for we
were, and I trust _are_ still very, very good friends. I like Dus
exceedingly, though she is quite as singular, in _her_ way, as I have
heard her uncle described to be, in his."

"This is odd! Will you allow me to ask one question? You will think it
singular, perhaps, after what you have just told me--but curiosity will
get the better of my manners--is Dus Malbone a _lady_--the equal and
companion of such a person as Miss Priscilla Bayard?"

"That is a question not so easily answered, perhaps; since, in some
respects, she is greatly the superior of any young woman I know. Her
family, I have always heard, was very good on both sides; she is poor,
poor even to poverty, I fear now." Here Pris. paused; there was a tremor
in her voice, even, and I detected tears starting to her eyes. "Poor
Dus!" she continued--"she had much to support, in the way of poverty,
even while at school; where she was, indeed, as a dependent, rather than
as a boarder; but no one among us all, could presume to offer her
favors. I was afraid even to ask her to accept a ribbon, as I should not
hesitate to do to Kate here, or any other young lady with whom I was
intimate. I never knew a nobler-minded girl than Ursula Malbone, though
few persons understand her, I think."

"This is old Andries over again! He was poor enough, heaven knows; and I
have known him actually suffer, in order to do his duty by this girl,
and to make a proper appearance at the same time, as a captain in the
New York line; yet none of us, not even my father, could ever induce him
to borrow a single dollar. He would give, but he would not receive."

"I can believe this readily, it is so like Dus! If she has her
peculiarities, she has noble qualities enough to redeem a thousand
foibles. Still, I would not have you to think Ursula Malbone is not an
excellent creature in all respects, though she certainly has her
peculiarities."

"Which, doubtless, she has inherited from the Coejemans, as her uncle,
the Chainbearer, has _his_ peculiarities, too."

"The Malbones have none of the blood of the Coejemans," answered the
lady, quickly; "though it is respectable, and not to be ashamed of. Dus
Malbone's mother was only half-sister to Captain Coejemans, and they had
different fathers."

I thought Pris. looked a little confused, and as if she were sorry she
had said so much on the subject at all, the instant she had betrayed so
much intimacy with the Malbone genealogy; for she shrunk back, plucked a
rose, and walked away smelling the flower, like one who was indisposed
to say any more on the subject. A summons to breakfast, however, would
otherwise have interrupted us, and no more _was_ said about the
Chainbearer, and his marvellous niece, Dus Malbone. As soon as the meal
was ended, our horses were brought round, and Kate and I took our leave,
Jaap having preceded us as usual, an hour or more, with our luggage. The
reader is not to suppose that we always moved in the saddle, in that
day; on the contrary, my mother had a very neat chaise, in which she
used to drive about the country, with a mounted postilion; my father had
a phaeton, and in town we actually kept a chariot; for the union of the
Mordaunt and Littlepage properties had made us very comfortable, and
comfortably we lived. But young ladies liked the saddle twenty-five
years ago, more than they do to-day; and Kate, being a capital
horse-woman, like her mother, before her, we were often out together. It
was choice, then, and not necessity, a little aided by bad roads,
perhaps, that induced us to ride across to Satanstoe so often, when we
wished to visit our grandmother.

I kissed my dear old parent very affectionately at parting, for I was to
see her no more that summer; and I got her blessing in return. As for
Tom Bayard, a warm, brotherly shake of the hand sufficed, inasmuch as it
was pretty certain I should see _him_ at Lilacsbush before I left home.
Approaching his sister, who held out her hand to me, in a friendly
manner, I said as I took it--

"I hope this is not the last time I am to see you before I start for the
new countries, Miss Bayard. You owe my sister a visit, I believe, and I
shall trust to that debt for another opportunity of saying the
unpleasant word 'farewell.'"

"This is not the way to win a lady's heart, Mordaunt," cried Kate,
gayly. "It is only fifteen miles from your father's door to the
Hickories, you ought to know, sir; and you have a standing invitation to
darken its door with your military form."

"From both my father and brother"--put in Priscilla, a little hastily.
"They will always be happy to see Major Littlepage, most certainly."

"And why not from yourself, Miss Prude," added Kate, who seemed bent on
causing her friend some confusion. "We are not now such total strangers
to each other as to render that little grace improper."

"When I am mistress of a house of my own, should that day ever arrive, I
shall take care not to lose my reputation for hospitality," answered
Pris., determined not to be caught, "by neglecting to include all the
Littlepage family in my invitations. Until then, Tom's and papa's
welcomes must suffice."

The girl looked amazingly lovely all the time, and stood the smiles of
those around her with a self-possession that showed me she knew
perfectly well what she was about. I was never more at a loss how to
understand a young woman, and it is very possible, had I remained near
her for a month longer, the interest such uncertainty is apt to awaken
might have sent me away desperately in love. But Providence had
determined otherwise.

During our ride toward the 'Bush, my sister, with proper blushes and a
becoming hesitation, let me into the secret of her having accepted Tom
Bayard. They were not to be married until after my return from the
north, an event that was expected to take place in the ensuing autumn.

"Then I am to lose you, Kate, almost as soon as I find you," I said, a
little despondingly.

"Not lose me, brother; no, no, not _lose_ me, but _find_ me, more than
ever. I am to be transplanted into a family whither you will soon be
coming to seek a wife yourself."

"Were I to come, what reason have I for supposing it would be
successful?"

"That is a question you have no right to ask. Did I even know of any
particular reason for believing your reception would be favorable, you
cannot believe me sufficiently treacherous to betray my friend. Young
ladies are not of the facility of character you seem to suppose, sir;
and no method but the direct one will succeed. I have no other reason
for believing you would succeed than the facts that you are an
agreeable, good-looking youth, however, of unexceptionable family and
fortune, living quite near the Hickories, and of a suitable age, temper,
habits, character, etc., etc., etc. Are not these reasons sufficient to
encourage you to persevere, my brave major?"

"Perseverance implies commencement, and I have not yet commenced. I
scarcely know what to make of your friend, child; she is either the
perfection of nature and simplicity, or the perfection of art."

"Art! Pris. Bayard artful! Mordaunt, you never did a human being greater
injustice; a child cannot have greater truth and sincerity than Tom's
sister."

"Ay, that's just it; Tom's sister is _ex officio_ perfection; but, you
will please to remember that some children are very artful. All I can
say on the subject at present is, that I like Tom, and I like his
parents; but I do not know what to think of your friend."

Kate was a little offended, so she made me no answer. Her good humor
returned, however, before we had gone far, and the rest of our ride
passed pleasantly enough, no allusions being made to any of the name of
Bayard; though, I dare say, my companion thought a great deal of a
certain Tom, of that name, as I certainly did of his handsome and
inexplicable sister.

At the Kingsbridge Inn we had another short brush with that untiring
gossip, its landlady.

"A pleasant time it has been over at the 'Toe, I dares to say,"
exclaimed Mrs. Light, the instant she thrust her head out of the door;
"a most agreeable and amusing time both for the young gentleman and for
the young lady. Mr. Thomas Bayard and Miss Pris. Bayard have been with
you, days and days, and old Madam Littlepage is delighted. Oh! the 'Toe
has always been a happy house, and happy faces have I long been used to
see come out of it, and happy faces do I see to-day! Yes, yes; the 'Toe
has always sent happy, contented faces down the road; and a happy roof
it has been, by all accounts, these hundred years."

I dare say this was all true enough. I have always heard that the old
place contained contented hearts; and contented hearts make happy faces.
Kate's face was happiness itself, as she sat in the saddle listening to
the crone; and my countenance is not one of ill-nature. The "'Toe was
ever a happy house!" It recalls old times, to hear a house thus
familiarly spoken of; for a set is rising up among us which is vastly
too genteel to admit that any one--man, woman, child, or Satan, ever had
a member so homely as a 'Toe.



CHAPTER VI.

        "They love their land, because it is their own,
        And scorn to give aught other reason why;
        Would shake hands with a king upon his throne,
        And think it kindness to his majesty;
        A stubborn race, fearing and flattering none,
        Such are they nurtured, such they live and die;
        All but a few apostates, who are meddling
    With merchandise, pounds, shillings, pence and peddling."
                                               --Halleck.


A day or two after my return to Lilacsbush, was presented one of these
family scenes which are so common in the genial month of June, on the
shores of the glorious old Hudson. I call the river the _old_ Hudson,
for it is quite as old as the Tiber, though the world has not talked of
it as much, or as long. A thousand years hence, this stream will be
known over the whole earth; and men will speak of it as they now speak
of the Danube and the Rhine. As good wine may not be made on its banks
as is made on the acclivities of the latter river; but, even to-day,
better, both as to quality and variety, is actually drunk. On this last
point, all intelligent travellers agree.

There stands a noble linden on the lawn of Lilacsbush, at no great
distance from the house, and necessarily within a short distance of the
water. The tree had been planted there by my grandmother Mordaunt's
father, to whom the place once belonged; and was admirably placed for
the purposes of an afternoon's lounge. Beneath its shade we often took
our dessert and wine, in the warm months; and thither, since their
return from the army, General Littlepage and Colonel Dirck Follock used
to carry their pipes, and smoke over a campaign, or a bottle, as chance
directed the discourse. For that matter, no battle-field had ever been
so veiled in smoke, as would have been the case with the linden in
question, could there have been a concentration of all the vapor it had
seen.

The afternoon of the day just mentioned, the whole family were seated
beneath the tree, scattered round, as shade and inclination tempted;
though a small table, holding fruits and wine, showed that the usual
business of the hour had not been neglected. The wines were Madeira and
claret, those common beverages in the country; and the fruits were
strawberries, cherries, oranges and figs; the two last imported, of
course. It was a little too early for us to get pines from the islands,
a fruit which is so common in its season as to be readily purchased in
town at the rate of four of a good size for a dollar. But, the
abundance, and even luxury, of a better sort of the common American
tables, is no news; viands, liquors and fruits appearing on them, that
are only known to the very rich and very luxurious in the countries of
Europe. If the service were only as tasteful, and the cooking as good
with us, as both are in France, for instance, America would be the very
paradise of the epicure, let superficial travellers say what they please
to the contrary. I have been abroad in these later times, and speak of
what I know.

No one sat _at_ the table, though my father, Colonel

Dirck, and I were near enough to reach our glasses, at need. My mother
was next to me, and reasonably close; for I did not smoke, while aunt
Mary and Kate had taken post just without the influence of the tobacco.
On the shore was a large skiff, that contained a tolerably sized trunk
or two, and a sort of clothes-bag. In the first were a portion of my
clothes, while those of Jaap filled the bag. The negro himself was
stretched on the grass, about half-way between the tree and the shore,
with two or three of his grandchildren rolling about, at his feet. In
the skiff was his son, seated in readiness to use the sculls, as soon as
ordered.

All this arrangement denoted my approaching departure for the north. The
wind was at the south, and sloops of various degrees of promise and
speed were appearing round the points, coming on one in the wake of
another, as each had been able to quit the wharves to profit by the
breeze. In that day, the river had not a tenth part of the craft it now
possesses; but still, it had enough to make a little fleet, so near
town, and at a moment when wind and tide both became favorable. At that
time, most of the craft on the Hudson belonged up the river, and they
partook largely of the taste of our Dutch ancestors. Notable travellers
before the gales, they did very little with foul winds, generally
requiring from a week to a fortnight to tide it down from Albany, with
the wind at all from the south. Nevertheless, few persons thought of
making the journey between the two largest towns of the state (York and
Albany), without having recourse to one of these sloops. I was at that
moment in waiting for the appearance of a certain "Eagle, of Albany,
Captain Bogert," which was to run in close to Lilacsbush, and receive me
on board, agreeably to an arrangement previously made in town. I was
induced to take a passage in this vessel from the circumstance that she
had a sort of after-cabin that was screened by an ample green curtain,
an advantage that all the vessels which then plied on the river did not
possess; though great improvements have been making ever since the
period of which I am now writing.

Of course, the interval thus passed in waiting for the appearance of the
Eagle was filled up, more or less, by discourse. Jaap, who was to
accompany me in my journey to Ravensnest, knew every vessel on the
river, as soon as he could see her, and we depended on him to let us
know when I was to embark, though the movements of the sloop herself
could not fail to give us timely notice of the necessity of taking
leave.

"I should like exceedingly to pay a visit to old Mrs. Vander Heyden, at
Kinderhook, Mordaunt," said my mother, after one of the frequent pauses
that occurred in the discourse. "She is a relation, and I feel a great
regard for her; so much the more, from the circumstance of her being
associated in my mind with that frightful night on the river, of which
you have heard me speak."

As my mother ceased speaking, she glanced affectionately toward the
general, who returned the look, as he returned all my mother's looks,
with one filled with manly tenderness. A more united couple than my
parents never existed. They seemed to me ordinarily to have but one mind
between them; and when there did occur any slight difference of opinion,
the question was not which should prevail, but which should yield. Of
the two, my mother may have had the most native intellect, though the
general was a fine, manly, sensible person, and was very universally
respected.

"It might be well, Anneke," said my father, "if the major were to pay a
visit to poor Guert's grave, and see if the stones are up, and that the
place is kept as it should be. I have not been there since the year '68,
when it looked as if a friendly eye might do some good at no distant
day."

This was said in a low voice, purposely to prevent aunt Mary from
hearing it; and, as she was a little deaf, it is probable the intention
was successful. Not so, however, with Colonel Dirck, who drew the pipe
from his mouth, and sat attentively listening, in the manner of one who
felt great interest in the subject. Another pause succeeded.

"T'en t'ere ist my Lort Howe, Corny," observed the colonel, "how is it
wit' his grave?"

"Oh! the colony took good care of that. They buried him in the main
aisle of St. Peter's, I believe; and no doubt all is right with him. As
for the other, major, it might be well to look at it."

"Great changes have taken place at Albany, since we were there as young
people!" observed my mother, thoughtfully. "The Cuylers are much broken
up by the revolution, while the Schuylers have grown greater than ever.
Poor aunt Schuyler, she is no longer living to welcome a son of ours!"

"Time will bring about such changes, my love; and we can only be
thankful that so many of us remain, after so long and bloody a war."

I saw my mother's lips move, and I knew she was murmuring a thanksgiving
to the power which had preserved her husband and son through the late
struggle.

"You will write as often as opportunities occur, Mordaunt," said that
dear parent, after a longer pause than usual. "Now there is peace, I can
hope to get your letters with some little regularity."

"They tell me, cousin Anneke"--for so the colonel always called my
mother when we were alone--"They tell me, cousin Anneke," said Colonel
Dirck, "t'at t'ey actually mean to have a mail t'ree times a week
petween Alpany and York! T'ere ist no knowing, general, what t'is
glorious revolution will not do for us!"

"If it bring me letters three times a week from those I love," rejoined
my mother, "I am sure my patriotism will be greatly increased. How will
letters get out from Ravensnest to the older parts of the colony--I
should say state, Mordaunt?"

"I must trust to the settlers for that. Hundreds of Yankees, they tell
me, are out looking for farms this summer. I may use some of them for
messengers."

"Don't trust 'em too much, or too many"--growled Colonel Dirck, who had
the old Dutch grudge against our eastern brethren. "See how they behav't
to Schuyler."

"Yes," said my father, replenishing his pipe, "they _might_ have
manifested more justice and less prejudice to wise Philip; but
prejudices will exist, all over the world. Even Washington has had his
share."

"T'at is a great man!" exclaimed Colonel Dirck, with emphasis, and in
the manner of one who felt certain of his point. "A _ferry_ great man!"

"No one will dispute with you, colonel, on that subject; but have you no
message to send to our old comrade, Andries Coejemans? He must have been
at Mooseridge, with his party of surveyors, now near a twelvemonth, and
I'll warrant you has thoroughly looked up the old boundaries, so as to
be ready for Mordaunt to start afresh as soon as the boy reaches the
patent."

"I hope he has not hiret a Yankee surveyor, Corny," put in the colonel,
in some little alarm. "If one of t'em animals gets upon the tract, he
will manage to carry off half of the lant in his compass-box! I hope olt
Andries knows petter."

"I dare say he'll manage to keep all the land, as well as to survey it.
It is a thousand pities the captain has no head for figures; for his
honesty would have made his fortune. But I have seen him tried, and know
it will not do. He was a week once making up an account of some stores
received from head-quarters, and the nearest he could get to the result
was twenty-five per cent. out of the way."

"I would sooner trust Andries Coejemans to survey my property, figures
or no figures," cried Colonel Dirck, positively, "than any dominie in
New England."

"Well, that is as one thinks," returned my father, tasting the Madeira.
"For my part, I shall be satisfied with the surveyor he may happen to
select, even though he should be a Yankee. Andries is shrewd, if he be
no calculator; and I dare to say he has engaged a suitable man. Having
taken the job at a liberal price, he is too honest a fellow not to hire
a proper person to do the head-work. As for all the rest, I would trust
him as soon as I would trust any man in America."

"T'at is gospel. Mordaunt will haf an eye on matters too, seein' he has
so great an interest in the estate. T'ere is one t'ing, major, you must
not forget. Five hundred goot acres must be surveyed off for sister
Anneke, and five hundred for pretty Kate, here. As soon as t'at is done,
the general and I will give each of the gals a deet."

"Thank you, Dirck," said my father, with feeling. "I'll not refuse the
land for the girls, who may be glad enough to own it some time or
other."

"It's no great matter now, Corny; put, as you say, it may be of use one
day. Suppose we make old Andries a present of a farm, in his pargain."

"With all my heart," cried my father, quickly. "A couple of hundred
acres might make him comfortable for the rest of his days. I thank you
for the hint, Dirck, and we will let Mordaunt choose the lot, and send
us the description, that we may prepare the deed."

"You forget, general, that the Chainbearer has, or will have his
military lot, as a captain," I ventured to remark. "Besides, land will
be of little use to him, unless it might be to measure it. I doubt if
the old man would not prefer going without his dinner, to hoeing a hill
of potatoes."

"Andries had three slaves while he was with us; a man, a woman, and
their daughter," returned my father. "He would not sell them, he said,
on any consideration; and I have known him actually suffering for money
when he was too proud to accept it from his friends, and too benevolent
to part with family slaves, in order to raise it. 'They were born
Coejemans,' he always said, 'as much as I was born one myself, and they
shall die Coejemans.' He doubtless has these people with him, at the
Ridge, where you will find them all encamped, near some spring, with
garden-stuff and other small things growing around him, if he can find
open land enough for such a purpose. He has permission to cut and till
at pleasure."

"This is agreeable news to me, general," I answered, "since it promises
a sort of home. If the Chainbearer has really these blacks with him, and
has hutted judiciously, I dare say we shall have quite as comfortable a
time as many of those we passed together in camp. Then, I shall carry my
flute with me; for Miss Priscilla Bayard has given me reason to expect a
very wonderful creature in Dus, the niece, of which old Andries used to
talk so much. You remember to have heard the Chainbearer speak of such a
person, I dare say, sir; for he was quite fond of mentioning her."

"Perfectly well; Dus Malbone was a sort of toast among the young men of
the regiment at one time, though no one of them all ever could get a
sight of her, by hook or by crook."

Happening to turn my head at that moment, I found my dear mother's eyes
turned curiously on me; brought there, I fancy, by the allusion to Tom's
sister.

"What does Priscilla Bayard know of this Chainbearer's niece?" that
beloved parent asked, as soon as she perceived that her look had
attracted my attention.

"A great deal, it would seem; since she tells me they are fast friends;
quite as great, I should judge from Miss Bayard's language and manner,
as Kate and herself."

"That can scarcely be," returned my mother, slightly smiling, "since
there the principal reason must be wanting. Then, this Dus can hardly be
Priscilla Bayard's equal."

"One never knows such a thing, mother, until he has had an opportunity
of making comparisons; though Miss Bayard herself says Dus is much her
superior in many things. I am sure her uncle is _my_ superior in some
respects; in carrying chain, particularly so."

"Ay, but scarcely in station, Mordaunt."

"He was the senior captain of the regiment."

"True; but revolutions are revolutions. What I mean is, that your
Chainbearer can hardly be a gentleman."

"That is a point not to be decided in a breath. He is, and he is not.
Old Andries is of a respectable family, though but indifferently
educated. Men vastly his inferiors in birth, in habits, in the general
notions of the caste, in the New England States, are greatly his
superiors in knowledge. Nevertheless, while we must all admit how
necessary a certain amount of education has become, at the present time,
to make a gentleman, I think every gentleman will allow hundreds among
us have degrees in their pockets with small claims to belong to the
class. Three or four centuries ago, I should have answered that old
Andries _was_ a gentleman, though he had to bite the wax with his teeth
and make a cross, for want of a better signature."

"And he what you call a chainbearer, Mordaunt!" exclaimed my sister.

"As well as late senior captain in your father's regiment, Miss
Littlepage. But, no matter, Andries and Dus are such as they are, and I
shall be glad to have them for companions this summer. Jaap is making
signals, and I must quit you all. Heigho! It is very pleasant here,
under this linden, and home begins to entwine its fibres around my
heart. Never mind; it will soon be autumn, and I shall see the whole of
you, I trust, as I leave you, well and happy in town."

My dear, dear mother had tears in her eyes, when she embraced me; so had
Kate, who, though she did love Tom Bayard most, loved me very warmly
too. Aunt Mary kissed me, in her quiet but affectionate way; and I shook
hands with the gentlemen, who accompanied me down to the boat. I could
see that my father was affected. Had the war still continued, he would
have thought nothing of the separation; but in that piping time of peace
it seemed to come unseasonably.

"Now don't forget the great lots for Anneke and Katrinke," said Colonel
Dirck, as we descended to the shore. "Let Andries pick out some of the
best of the lant, t'at is well watered and timbered, and we'll call the
lots after the gals; that is a goot idea, Corny."

"Excellent, my friend. Mordaunt, my son, if you come across any places
that look like graves, I wish you would set up marks by which they may
be known. It is true, a quarter of a century or more makes many changes
in the woods; and it is quite likely no such remains will be found."

"A quarter of a century in the American forests, sir," I answered, "is
somewhat like the same period in the wanderings of a comet; lost, in the
numberless years of its growth. A single tree will sometimes outlast the
generations of an entire nation."

"You wilt rememper, Mordaunt, that I wilt haf no Yankee tenants on _my_
estate. Your father may lease 'em one-half of a lot, if he please; but I
will not lease t'other."

"As you are tenants in common, gentlemen," I answered, smiling, "it will
not be easy to separate the interests in this manner. I believe I
understand you, however; I am to sell the lands of Mooseridge, or
covenant to sell, as your attorney, while I follow out my grandfather
Mordaunt's ideas, and lease those that are not yet leased, on my own
estate. This will at least give the settlers a choice, and those who do
not like one plan of obtaining their farms may adopt the other."

I now shook hands again with the gentlemen, and stepping into the skiff,
we pulled away from the shore. Jaap had made this movement in good
season, and we were compelled to row a quarter of a mile down the river
to meet the sloop. Although the wind was perfectly fair, it was not so
fresh as to induce Mr. Bogert to round-to; but throwing us a rope, it
was caught, when we were safely transferred, bag and baggage, to the
decks of the Eagle.

Captain Bogert was smoking at the helm, when he returned my salute.
Removing the pipe, after a puff or two, he pointed with the stem toward
the group on the shore, and inquired if I wished to say "good-by."

"_Allponny_"--so the Dutch were wont to pronounce the name of their town
in the last century--"is a long way off," he said, "and maype you woult
like to see the frients ag'in."

This business of waving hats and handkerchiefs is a regular thing on the
Hudson, and I expressed my willingness to comply with the usage, as a
matter of course.[5] In consequence, Mr. Bogert deliberately sheered in
toward the shore, and I saw the whole family collecting on a low rock,
near the water, to take the final look. In the background stood the
Satanstoes, a dark, woolly group, including Mrs. Jaap, and two
generations of descendants. The whites were weeping; that is to say, my
dear mother and Kate; and the blacks were laughing, though the old lady
kept her teeth to herself about as much as she exposed them. A sensation
almost invariably produces laughter with a negro, the only exceptions
being on occasions of singular gravity.

[Footnote 5: Such were the notions of Mr. Mordaunt Littlepage, at the
commencement of this century, and such his feeling shortly after the
peace of 1783. Nothing of the sort more completely illustrates the
general change that has come over the land, in habits and material
things, than the difference between the movements of that day and those
of our own. Then, the departure of a sloop, or the embarkation of a
passenger along the shore, brought parties to the wharves, and wavings
of handkerchiefs, as if those who were left behind felt a lingering wish
to see the last of their friends. Now, literally thousands come and go
daily, passing about as many hours on the Hudson as their grandfathers
passed days; and the shaking of hands and leave-takings are usually done
at home. It would be a bold woman who would think now of waving a
handkerchief to a Hudson River steamboat!--EDITOR.]

I believe, if the truth were known, Mr. Bogert greatly exulted in the
stately movement of his sloop, as she brushed along the shore, at no
great distance from the rocks, with her main-boom guyed out to
starboard, and studding-sail boom to port. The flying-topsail, too, was
set; and the Eagle might be said to be moving in all her glory. She went
so near the rocks, too, as if she despised danger! Those were not the
days of close calculations that have succeeded. Then, an Albany skipper
did not mind losing a hundred or two feet of distance in making his run;
whereas, now, it would not be an easy matter to persuade a Liverpool
trader to turn as much aside in order to speak a stranger in the centre
of the Atlantic; unless, indeed, he happened to want to get the other's
longitude.

As the sloop swept past the rocks, I got bows, waving of hats and
handkerchiefs, and good wishes enough to last the whole voyage. Even
Jaap had his share; and "good-by, Jaap," came to my ears, from even the
sweet voice of Kate. Away we went, in stately Dutch movement, slow _but
sure_. In ten minutes Lilacsbush was behind us, and I was once more
alone in the world, for months to come.

There was now time to look about me, and to ascertain who were my
companions in this voyage. The skipper and crew were as usual the
masters; and the pilots, both whites, and both of Dutch extraction, an
old wrinkled negro, who had passed his life on the Hudson as a foremast
hand, and two younger blacks, one of whom was what was dignified with
the name of cabin-steward. Then there were numerous passengers; some of
whom appeared to belong to the upper classes. They were of both sexes,
but all were strangers to me. On the main-deck were six or eight sturdy,
decent, quiet, respectable-looking laborers, who were evidently of the
class of husbandmen. Their packs were lying in a pile, near the foot of
the mast, and I did not fail to observe that there were as many axes as
there were packs.

The American axe! It has made more real and lasting conquests than the
sword of any warlike people that ever lived; but they have been
conquests that have left civilization in their train instead of havoc
and desolation. More than a million of square miles of territory[6] have
been opened up from the shades of the virgin forest, to admit the warmth
of the sun; and culture and abundance have been spread where the beast
of the forest so lately roamed, hunted by the savage. Most of this, too,
has been effected between the day when I went on board the Eagle, and
that on which I am now writing. A brief quarter of a century has seen
these wonderful changes wrought; and at the bottom of them all lies this
beautiful, well-prized, ready and efficient implement, the American axe!

[Footnote 6: More than two millions at the present day.]

It would not be easy to give the reader a clear notion of the manner in
which the young men and men of all ages of the older portions of the new
republic poured into the woods to commence the business of felling the
forests, and laying bare the secrets of nature, as soon as the nation
rose from beneath the pressure of war, to enjoy the freedom of peace.
The history of that day in New York, which State led the van in the
righteous strife of improvement, and has ever since so nobly maintained
its vantage-ground, has not yet been written. When it is properly
recorded names will be rescued from oblivion that better deserve statues
and niches in the temple of national glory, than those of many who have
merely got the start of them by means of the greater facility with which
the public mind is led away in the train of brilliant exploits, than it
is made sensible of the merits of those that are humane and useful.

It was not usual for settlers, as it has become the practice to term
those who first take up and establish themselves on new lands, to make
their journeys from the neighborhood of the sea to the interior, other
than by land; but a few passed out of Connecticut by the way of New
York, and thence up the river in sloops. Of this character were those
found on board the Eagle. In all, we had seven of these men, who got
into discourse with me the first day of our passage, and I was a little
surprised at discovering how much they already knew of me, and of my
movements. Jaap, however, soon suggested himself to my mind, as the
probable means of the intelligence they had gleaned; and, on inquiry,
such I ascertained was the fact.

The curiosity and the questioning propensities of the people of New
England, have been so generally admitted by writers and commentators on
American character, that I suppose one has a right to assume the truth
of these characteristics. I have heard various ways of accounting for
them; and among others, the circumstances of their disposition to
emigrate, which brings with it the necessity of inquiring after the
welfare of friends at a distance. It appears to me, however, this is
taking a very narrow view of the cause, which I attribute to the general
activity of mind among a people little restrained by the conventional
usages of more sophisticated conditions of society. The practice of
referring so much to the common mind, too, has a great influence on all
the opinions of this peculiar portion of the American population,
seeming to confer the right to inquire into matters that are elsewhere
protected by the sacred feeling of individual privacy.

Let this be as it might, my axe-men had contrived to get out of Jaap all
he knew about Ravensnest and Mooseridge, as well as my motives in making
the present journey. This information obtained, they were not slow in
introducing themselves to me, and of asking the questions that were
uppermost in their minds. Of course, I made such answers as were called
for by the case, and we established a sort of business acquaintance
between us, the very first day. The voyage lasting several days, by the
time we reached Albany, pretty much all that could be said on such a
subject had been uttered by one side or the other.

As respected Ravensnest, my own property, my grandfather had requested
in his will that the farms might be leased, having an eye to my
children's profit, rather than to mine. His request was a law to me, and
I had fully determined to offer the unoccupied lands of that estate, or
quite three-fourths of the whole patent, on leases similar in their
conditions to those which had already been granted. On the other hand,
it was the intention to part with the lots of Mooseridge in fee. These
conditions were made known to the axe-men, as my first essay in settling
a new country; and, contrary to what had been my expectation, I soon
discovered that these adventurers inclined more to the leases than to
the deeds. It is true, I expected a small payment down, in the case of
each absolute sale, while I was prepared to grant leases, for three
lives, at very low rents at the best; and in the cases of a large
proportion of the lots, those that were the least eligible by situation,
or through their quality, to grant them leases without any rent at all,
for the first few years of their occupation. These last advantages, and
the opportunity of possessing lands a goodly term of years, for rents
that were put as low as a shilling an acre, were strong inducements, as
I soon discovered, with those who carried all they were worth in their
packs, and who thus reserved the little money they possessed to supply
the wants of their future husbandry.

We talked these matters over during the week we were on board the sloop;
and by the time we came in sight of the steeples of Albany, my men's
minds were made up to follow me to the Nest. These steeples were then
two in number, viz.: that of the English church, that stood near the
margin of the town, against the hill; and that of the Dutch church,
which occupied an humbler site, on the low land, and could scarcely be
seen rising above the pointed roofs of the adjacent houses; though these
last, themselves were neither particularly high nor particularly
imposing.



CHAPTER VII.

    "Who is that graceful female here
    With yon red hunter of the deer?
    Of gentle mien and shape, she seems
      For civil halls design'd;
    Yet with the stately savage walks,
      As she were of his kind."--Pinckney.


I made little stay in Albany, but, giving the direction to the patent to
the axe-men, left it the very day of our arrival. There were very few
public conveyances in that early day, and I was obliged to hire a wagon
to transport Jaap and myself, with our effects, to Ravensnest. A sort of
dull calm had come over the country, after the struggles of the late
war; but one interest in it appearing to be alive and very active. That
interest, fortunately for me, appeared to be the business of
"land-hunting" and "settling." Of this I had sufficient proof in Albany
itself; it being difficult to enter the principal street of that town,
and not find in it more or less of those adventurers, the emblems of
whose pursuit were the pack and the axe. Nine out of ten came from the
Eastern or New England States; then the most peopled, while they were
not very fortunate in either soil or climate.

We were two days in reaching Ravensnest, a property which I had owned
for several years, but which I now saw for the first time. My
grandfather had left a sort of agent on the spot, a person of the name
of Jason Newcome, who was of my father the general's age, and who had
once been a school-master in the neighborhood of Satanstoe. This agent
had leased extensively himself, and was said to be the occupant of the
only mills of any moment on the property. With him a correspondence had
been maintained; and once or twice during the war my father had managed
to have an interview with this representative of his and my interests.
As for myself, I was now to see him for the first time. We knew each
other by reputation only; and certain passages in the agency had induced
me to give Mr. Newcome notice that it was my intention to make a change
in the management of the property.

Any one who is familiar with the aspect of things in what is called a
"new country" in America, must be well aware it is not very inviting.
The lovers of the picturesque can have little satisfaction in looking
even on the finest natural scenery at such moments; the labor that has
been effected usually having done so much to mar the beauties of nature,
without having yet had time to supply the deficiencies by those of art.
Piles of charred or half-burned logs: fields covered with stumps, or
ragged with _stubs_; fences of the rudest sorts, and filled with
brambles; buildings of the meanest character; deserted clearings; and
all the other signs of a state of things in which there is a manifest
and constant struggle between immediate necessity and future expediency,
are not calculated to satisfy either the hopes or the tastes.
Occasionally a different state of things, however, under circumstances
peculiarly favorable, does exist; and it may be well to allude to it,
lest the reader form but a single picture of this transition state of
American life. When the commerce of the country is active, and there is
a demand for the products of new lands, a settlement often presents a
scene of activity in which the elements of a thriving prosperity make
themselves apparent amid the smoke of fallows, and the rudeness of
border life. Neither, however, was the case at Ravensnest when I first
visited the place; though the last was, to a certain extent, its
condition two or three years later, or after the great European war
brought its wheat and ashes into active demand.

I found but few more signs of cultivation, between the point where I
left the great northern road and the bounds of the patent, than had been
found by my father, as he had described them to me in his first visit,
which took place a quarter of a century earlier than this of mine. There
was one log tavern, it is true, in the space mentioned; but it afforded
nothing to drink but rum, and nothing to eat but salted pork and
potatoes, the day I stopped there to dine. But there were times and
seasons when, by means of venison, wild-fowl and fish, a luxurious board
might have been spread. That this was not the opinion of my landlady,
nevertheless, was apparent from the remarks she made while I was at
table.

"You are lucky, Major Littlepage," she said, "in not having come among
us in one of what I call our 'starving times'--and awful times they be,
if a body may say what she thinks on 'em."

"Starvation is a serious matter at any time," I answered, "though I did
not know you were ever reduced to such difficulties in a country as rich
and abundant as this."

"Of what use is riches and abundance if a man will do nothing but fish
and shoot? I've seen the day when there wasn't a mouthful to eat in this
house, but a dozen or two of squabs, a string of brook trout, and maybe
a deer, or a salmon from one of the lakes."

"A little bread would have been a welcome addition to such a meal."

"Oh! as for bread, I count that for nothin'. We always have bread and
potatoes enough; but I hold a family to be in a desperate way, when the
mother can see the bottom of the pork barrel. Give me the children
that's raised on good sound pork, afore all the game in the country.
Game's good as a relish, and so's bread; but pork is the staff of life!
To have good pork, a body must have good corn; and good corn needs
hoeing; and a hoe isn't a fish-pole or a gun. No, my children I
calkerlate to bring up on pork, with just as much bread and butter as
they may want!"

This was American poverty as it existed in 1784. Bread, butter, and
potatoes, _ad libitum_; but little pork, and no tea. Game in abundance
in its season; but the poor man who lived on game was supposed to be
keeping just as poor an establishment as the epicure in town who gives a
dinner to his brethren, and is compelled to apologize for there being no
game in the market. Curious to learn more from this woman, I pursued the
discourse.

"There are countries, I have read," I continued, "in which the poor do
not taste meat of any sort, not even game, from the beginning of the
year to its end; and sometimes not even bread."

"Well, I'm no great hand for bread, as I said afore, and should eat no
great matter of it, so long as I could get pork," the woman answered,
evidently interested in what I had said; "but I shouldn't like to be
without it altogether; and the children, especially, do love to have it
with their butter. Living on potatoes alone must be a wild animal sort
of a life."

"Very tame animals do it, and that from dire necessity."

"Is there any law ag'in their using bread and meat?"

"No other law than the one which forbids their using that which is the
property of another."

"Good land!" This is a very common American expression among the
women--"Good land! Why don't they go to work and get in crops, so they
might live a little?"

"Simply because they have no land to till. The land belongs to others,
too."

"I should think they might hire, if they couldn't buy. It's about as
good to hire as it is to buy--some folks (folk) think it's better. Why
don't they take land on shares, and live?"

"Because land itself is not to be had. With us, land is abundant; we
have more of it than is necessary, or than will be necessary, for ages
to come; perhaps it would be better for our civilization were there less
of it, but, in the countries of which I speak, there are more people
than there is land."

"Well, land is a good thing, I admit, and it's right there should be an
owner to it; yet there are folks who would rather squat than buy or
hire, any day. Squatting comes nat'ral to 'em."

"Are there many squatters in this part of the country?"

The woman looked a little confused, and she did not answer me, until she
had taken time to reflect on what she should say.

"Some folks call _us_ squatters, I s'pose," was the reluctant answer,
"but _I_ do not. We have bought the betterments of a man who hadn't much
of a title, I think likely; but as _we_ bought his betterments fairly,
Mr. Tinkum"--that was the husband's name--"is of opinion that we live
under title, as it is called. What do you say to it, Major Littlepage?"

"I can only say that naught will produce naught; nothing, nothing. If
the man of whom you purchased owned nothing, he could sell nothing. The
betterments he called his, were not his; and in purchasing them, you
purchased what he did not own."

"Well, it's no great shakes, if he hadn't any right, sin' Tinkum only
gi'n an old saddle, that warn't worth two dollars, and part of a set of
single harness, that I'd defy a conjuror to make fit any mule, for the
whull right. One year's rent of this house is worth all put together,
and that twice over, if the truth must be said; and we've been in it,
now seven years. My four youngest were all born under this blessed roof,
such as it is!"

"In that case, you will not have much reason to complain, when the real
owner of the soil appears to claim it. The betterments came cheap, and
they will go as cheap."

"That's just it; though I don't call ourselves much of squatters, a'ter
all, seein' we _have_ paid suthin' for the betterments. They say an old
nail, paid in due form, will make a sort of title in the highest court
of the state. I'm sure the laws should be considerate of the poor."

"Not more so than of the rich. The laws should be equal and just; and
the poor are the last people who ought to wish them otherwise, since
they are certain to be the losers when any other principle governs. Rely
on it, my good woman, the man who is forever preaching the rights of the
poor is at bottom a rogue, and means to make that cry a stalking-horse
for his own benefit; since nothing can serve the poor but severe
justice. No class suffers so much by a departure from the rule, as the
rich have a thousand other means of attaining their ends, when the way
is left clear to them, by setting up any other master than the right."

"I don't know but it may be so; but I don't call ourselves squatters.
There is dreadful squatters about here, though, and on your lands too,
by the tell."

"On my lands? I am sorry to hear it, for I shall feel it a duty to get
rid of them. I very well know that the great abundance of land that we
have in the country, its little comparative value, and the distance at
which the owners generally reside from their estates, have united to
render the people careless of the rights of those who possess real
property; and I am prepared to view things as they are among ourselves,
rather than as they exist in older countries; but I shall not tolerate
squatters."

"Well, by all I hear, I think you'll call old Andries, the Chainbearer,
a squatter of the first class. They tell me the old chap has come back
from the army as fierce as a catamount, and that there is no speaking to
him, as one used to could, in old times."

"You are, then, an old acquaintance of the Chainbearer?"

"I should think I was! Tinkum and I have lived about, a good deal, in
our day; and old Andries is a desp'ate hand for the woods. He surveyed
out for us, once, or half-surveyed, another betterment; but he proved to
be a spiteful rogue afore he got through with the business; and we have
not set much store by him ever sin' that time."

"The Chainbearer a rogue! Andries Coejemans any thing but an honest man!
You are the first person, Mrs. Tinkum, I have ever heard call in
question his sterling integrity."

"Sterling money doesn't pass now, I conclude, sin' it's revolution
times. We all know which side your family was on in the war, Major
Littlepage; so it's no offence to you. A proper sharp lookout they had
of it here, when you quit college; for some said old Herman Mordaunt had
ordered in his will that you should uphold the king; and then, most of
the tenants concluded _they_ would get the lands altogether. It is a
sweet thing, major, for a tenant to get his farm without paying for it,
as you may judge! Some folks was desp'ate sorry when they heern tell
that the Littlepages went with the colonies."

"I hope there are few such knaves on the Ravensnest estate as to wish
anything of the sort. But, let me hear an explanation of your charge
against the Chainbearer. I have no great concern for my own rights in
the patent that I claim."

The woman had the audacity, or the frankness, to draw a long, regretful
sigh, as it might be, in my very face. That sigh expressed her regrets
that I had not taken part with the crown in the last struggle; in which
case, I do suppose, she and Tinkum would have contrived to squat on one
of the farms of Ravensnest. Having sighed, however, the landlady did not
disdain to answer.

"As for the Chainbearer, the simple truth is this," she said. "Tinkum
hired him to run a line between some betterments we had bought, and some
that had been bought by a neighbor of our'n. This was long afore the
war, and when titles were scarcer than they're gettin' to be now, some
of the landlords living across the water. Well, what do you think the
old fellow did, major? He first asked for our deeds, and we showed them
to him; as good and lawful warrantees as was ever printed and filled up
by a 'squire. He then set to work, all by himself, jobbing the whull
survey, as it might be, and a prettier line was never run, as far as he
went, which was about half-way. I thought it would make etarnel peace
atween us and our neighbor, for it had been etarnel war afore that, for
three whull years; sometimes with clubs, and sometimes with axes, and
once with scythes. But, somehow--I never know'd _how_--but _somehow_,
old Andries found out that the man who deeded to us had no deed to
himself, or no mortal right to the land, any more than that sucking pig
you see at the door there; when he gi'n right up, refusing to carry out
another link, or p'int another needle, he did! Warn't that being
cross-grained and wilful! No, there's no dependence to be put on the
Chainbearer."

"Wilful in the cause of right, as glorious old Andries always is! I love
and honor him all the better for it."

"La! Do you love and honor sich a one as him! Well, I should have
expected suthin' else from sich a gentleman as you! I'd no idee Major
Littlepage could honor an old, worn-out chainbearer, and he a man that
couldn't get up in the world, too, when he had hands and feet, all on
'em together on some of the very best rounds of the ladder! Why, I judge
that even Tinkum would have gone ahead, if he had been born with sich a
chance."

"Andries has been a captain in my own regiment, it is true, and was once
my superior officer; but he served for his country's sake, and not for
his own. Have you seen him lately?"

"That we have! He passed here about a twelvemonth ago, with his whull
party, on their way to squat on your own land, or I'm mistaken. There
was the Chainbearer himself, two helpers, Dus and young Malbone."

"Young who?" I asked, with an interest that induced the woman to turn
her keen, sunken, but sharp gray eyes, intently on me.

"Young Malbone, I said; Dus's brother, and the youngster who does all
old Andries's 'rithmetic. I suppose you know as well as I do, that the
Chainbearer can't calkerlate any more than a wild goose, and not half as
well as a crow. For that matter, I've known crows that, in plantin'
time, would measure a field in half the number of minutes that the state
surveyor would be hours at it."

"This young Malbone, then, is the Chainbearer's nephew? And he it is who
does the surveying?"

"He does the 'rithmetic part, and he is a brother of old Andries's
niece. I know'd the Coejemans when I was a gal, and I've known the
Malbones longer than I want to know them."

"Have you any fault to find with the family, that you speak thus of
them?"

"Nothin' but their desperate pride, which makes them think themselves so
much better than everybody else; yet, they tell me, Dus and all on 'em
are just as poor as I am myself."

"Perhaps you mistake their feeling, good woman; a thing I think the more
probable, as you seem to fancy money the source of their pride, at the
very moment you deny their having any. Money is a thing on which few
persons of cultivated minds pride themselves. The purse-proud are,
almost invariably, the vulgar and ignorant."

No doubt this was a moral thrown away with such an auditor; but I was
provoked; and when a man is provoked, he is not always wise. The answer
showed the effect it had produced.

"I don't pretend to know how that is; but if it isn't pride, what is it
that makes Dus Malbone so different from my da'ters? She'd no more think
of being like one on 'em, scouring about the lots, riding bare-backed,
and scampering through the neighborhood, than you'd think of cooking my
dinner--that she wouldn't."

Poor Mrs. Tinkum--or, as she would have been apt to call herself, _Miss_
Tinkum! She had betrayed one of the commonest weaknesses of human
nature, in thus imputing pride to the Chainbearer's niece because the
latter behaved differently from her and hers. How many persons in this
good republic of ours judge their neighbors on precisely the same
principle; inferring something unsuitable, because it _seems_ to reflect
on their own behavior! But by this time, I had got to hear the name of
Dus with some interest, and I felt disposed to push the subject further.

"Miss Malbone, then," I said, "does _not_ ride bare-back?"

"La! major, what in natur' puts it into your head to call the gal _Miss_
Malbone! There's no Miss Malbone living sin' her own mother died."

"Well, Dus Malbone, I mean; she is above riding bare-backed?"

"That she is; even a pillion would be hardly grand enough for her,
allowing her own brother to use the saddle."

"Her own brother! This young surveyor, then, _is_ Dus's brother?"

"Sort o', and sort o' not, like. They had the same father, but different
mothers."

"That explains it; I never heard the Chainbearer speak of any nephew,
and it seems the young man is not related to him at all--he is the
_half_-brother of his niece."

"Why can't that niece behave like other young women? that's the question
I ask. My girls hasn't as much pride as would be good for 'em, not they!
If a body wants to borrow an article over at the Nest, and that's seven
miles off, the whull way in the woods, just name it to Poll, and she'd
jump on an ox, if there warn't a hoss, and away she'd go a'ter it, with
no more bit of a saddle, and may be nothin' but a halter, like a deer!
Give me Poll, afore all the gals I know, for ar'nds?"

By this time, disrelish for vulgarity was getting the better of
curiosity; and my dinner of fried pork being done, I was willing to drop
the discourse. I had learned enough of Andries and his party to satisfy
my curiosity, and Jaap was patiently waiting to succeed me at the table.
Throwing down the amount of the bill, I took a fowling-piece, with which
we always travelled in those days, bade Mrs. Tinkum good-day, ordered
the black and the wagoner to follow with the team as soon as ready, and
went on toward my own property on foot.

In a very few minutes I was quite beyond the Tinkum betterments, and
fairly in the forest again. It happened that the title to a large tract
of land adjoining Ravensnest was in dispute, and no attempt at a serious
settlement had ever been made on it. Some one had "squatted" at this
spot, to enjoy the advantage of selling rum to those who went and came
between my own people and the inner country; and the place had changed
hands half a dozen times, by fraudulent, or at least, by worthless
sales, from one squatter to another. Around the house, by this time a
decaying pile of logs, time had done a part of the work of the settler,
and aided by that powerful servant but fearful master, fire, had given
to the small clearing somewhat of the air of civilized cultivation. The
moment these narrow limits were passed, however, the traveller entered
the virgin forest, with no other sign of man around him than what was
offered in the little worked and little travelled road. The highway was
not much indebted to the labors of man for any facilities it afforded
the traveller. The trees had been cut out of it, it is true, but their
roots had not been extracted, and time had done more toward destroying
them than the axe or the pick. Time _had_ done a good deal, however, and
the inequalities were getting to be smooth under the hoof and wheel. A
tolerably good bridle-path had long been made, and I found no difficulty
in walking in it, since that answered equally well for man and beast.

The virgin forest of America is usually no place for the ordinary
sportsman. The birds that are called game are but rarely found in it,
one or two excepted; and it is a well-known fact that while the
frontier-man is certain death with a rifle-bullet, knocking the head off
a squirrel or a wild turkey at his sixty or eighty yards, it is
necessary to go into the older parts of the country, and principally
among sportsmen of the better classes, in order to find those who knock
over the woodcock, snipe, quail, grouse, and plover, on the wing. I was
thought a good shot on the "plains," and over the heaths or commons of
the Island of Manhattan, and among the rocks of Westchester; but I saw
nothing to do up there, where I then was, surrounded by trees that had
stood there centuries. It would certainly have been easy enough for me
to kill a blue jay now and then, or a crow, or even a raven, or perhaps
an eagle, had I the proper shot; but as for anything that is ordinarily
thought to adorn a game-bag, not a feather could I see. For the want of
something better to do, then, if a young man of three or four and twenty
ought thus to express himself, I began to ruminate on the charms of Pris
Bayard, and on the singularities of Dus Malbone. In this mood I
proceeded, getting over the grounds at a rapid rate, leaving Miss
Tinkum, the clearing with its betterments, and the wagon, far behind me.

I had walked an hour alone, when the silence of the woods was suddenly
interrupted by the words of a song that came not from any of the
feathered race, though the nightingale itself could hardly have equalled
the sweetness of the notes, which were those of a female voice. The low
notes struck me as the fullest, richest, and most plaintive I had ever
heard; and I fancied they could not be equalled, until the strain
carried the singer's voice into a higher key, where it seemed equally at
home. I thought I knew the air, but the words were guttural, and in an
unknown tongue. French and Dutch were the only two foreign languages in
which one usually heard any music in our part of the woods at that day;
and even the first was by no means common. But with both these languages
I had a little acquaintance, and I was soon satisfied that the words I
heard belonged to neither. At length it flashed on my mind that the song
was Indian; not the music, but the words. The music was certainly
Scotch, or that altered Italian that time has attributed to the Scotch;
and there was a moment when I fancied some Highland girl was singing
near me one of the Celtic songs of the country of her childhood. But
closer attention satisfied me that the words were really Indian;
probably belonging to the Mohawk, or some other language that I had
often heard spoken.

The reader may be curious to know whence these sounds proceeded, and why
I did not see the being who gave birth to such delicious harmony. It was
owing to the fact that the song came from out of a thicket of young
pines, that grew on an ancient opening at a little distance from the
road, and which I supposed contained a hut of some sort or other. These
pines, however, completely concealed all within them. So long as the
song lasted, no tree of the forest was more stationary than myself; but
when it ended, I was about to advance toward the thicket, in order to
pry into its mysteries, when I heard a laugh that had scarcely less of
melody in it than the strains of the music itself. It was not a vulgar,
clamorous burst of girlish impulses, nor was it even loud; but it was
light-hearted, mirthful, indicating humor, if a mere laugh _can_ do so
much; and in a sense it was contagious. It arrested my movement, in
order to listen; and before any new impulse led me forward, the branches
of the pines opened, and a man passed out of the thicket into the road.
A single glance sufficed to let me know that the stranger was an Indian.

Notwithstanding I was apprised of the near vicinity of others, I was a
little startled with this sudden apparition. Not so with him who was
approaching; he could not have known of my being anywhere near him; yet
he manifested no emotion as his cold, undisturbed glance fell on my
form. Steadily advancing, he came to the centre of the road; and, as I
had turned involuntarily to pursue my own way, not sure it was prudent
to remain in that neighborhood alone, the red man fell in, with his
moccasined foot, at my elbow, and I found that we were thus strangely
pursuing our journey, in the same direction, side by side.

The Indian and myself walked in this manner, within a yard of each
other, in the midst of that forest, for two or three minutes without
speaking. I forbore to say anything, because I had heard that an Indian
respected those most who knew best how to repress their curiosity; which
habit, most probably, had its effect on my companion. At length, the red
man uttered, in the deep, guttural manner of his people, the common
conventional salutation of the frontier--

"Sa-a-go?"

This word, which has belonged to some Indian language once, passes
everywhere for Indian with the white man; and, quite likely for English,
with the Indian. A set of such terms has grown up between the two races,
including such words as "moccasin," "pappoose," "tomahawk," "squaw," and
many others. "Sa-a-go," means "how d'ye do?"

"Sa-a-go?"--I answered to my neighbor's civil salutation.

After this we walked along for a few minutes more, neither party
speaking. I took this opportunity to examine my red brother, an
employment that was all the easier from the circumstance that he did not
once look at me; the single glance sufficing to tell him all he wanted
to know. In the first place, I was soon satisfied that my companion did
not drink, a rare merit in a red man who lived near the whites. This was
evident from his countenance, gait, and general bearing, as I thought,
in addition to the fact that he possessed no bottle, or anything else
that would hold liquor. What I liked the least was the circumstance of
his being completely armed; carrying knife, tomahawk, and rifle, and
each seemingly excellent of its kind. He was not painted, however, and
he wore an ordinary calico shirt, as was then the usual garb of his
people in the warm season. The countenance had the stern severity that
is so common to a red warrior; and, as this man was turned of fifty, his
features began to show the usual signs of exposure and service. Still,
he was a vigorous, respectable-looking red man, and one who was
evidently accustomed to live much among civilized men. I had no serious
uneasiness, of course, at meeting such a person, although we were so
completely buried in the forest but, as a soldier, I could not help
reflecting how inferior my fowling-piece would necessarily prove to be
to his rifle should he see fit to turn aside, and pull upon me from
behind a tree, for the sake of plunder. Tradition said such things had
happened; though, on the whole, the red man of America has perhaps
proved to be the most honest of the two, as compared with those who have
supplanted him.

"How ole chief?" the Indian suddenly asked, without even raising his
eyes from the road.

"Old chief! Do you mean Washington, my friend?"

"Not so--mean ole chief, out here, at Nest. Mean fader."

"My father! Do you know General Littlepage?"

"Be sure, know him. Your fader--see"--holding up his two
forefingers--"just like--dat him; dis you."

"This is singular enough! And were you told that I was coming to this
place?"

"Hear dat, too. Always talk about chief."

"Is it long since you saw my father?"

"See him in war-time--nebber hear of ole Sureflint?"

I had heard the officers of our regiment speak of such an Indian, who
had served a good deal with the corps, and been exceedingly useful, in
the two great northern campaigns especially. He never happened to be
with the regiment after I joined it, though his name and services were a
good deal mixed up with the adventures of 1776 and 1777.

"Certainly," I answered, shaking the red man cordially by the hand.
"Certainly, have I heard of you, and something that is connected with
times before the war. Did you never meet my father before the war?"

"Sartain; meet in _ole_ war. Gin'ral young man, den--just like son."

"By what name were you then known, Oneida?"

"No Oneida--Onondago--sober tribe. Hab plenty name. Sometime one,
sometime anoder. Pale-face say 'Trackless,' cause he can't find his
trail--warrior call him 'Susquesus.'"



CHAPTER VIII.

    "With what free growth the elm and plane
      Fling their huge arms across my way;
    Gray, old, and cumber'd with a train
      Of vines, as huge, and old, and gray!
    Free stray the lucid streams, and find
      No taint in these fresh lawns and shades;
    Free spring the flowers that scent the wind,
      Where never scythe has swept the glades."--BRYANT.


I had heard enough of my father's early adventures to know that the man
mentioned in the last chapter had been a conspicuous actor in them, and
remembered that the latter enjoyed the fullest confidence of the former.
It was news to me, however, that Sureflint and the Trackless were the
same person; though, when I came to reflect on the past, I had some
faint recollection of having once before heard something of the sort. At
any rate, I was now with a friend, and no longer thought it necessary to
be on my guard. This was a great relief, in every point of view, as one
does not like to travel at the side of a stranger, with an impression,
however faint, that the latter may blow his brains out, the first time
he ventures to turn his own head aside.

Susquesus was drawing near to the decline of life. Had he been a white
man, I might have said he was in a "green old age;" but the term of
"_red_ old age" would suit him much better. His features were still
singularly fine; while the cheeks, without being very full, had that
indurated, solid look, that flesh and muscles get from use and exposure.
His form was as erect as in his best days, a red man's frame rarely
yielding in this way to any pressure but that of exceeding old age, and
that of rum. Susquesus never admitted the enemy into his mouth, and
consequently the citadel of his physical man was secure against every
invader but time. In-toed and yielding in his gait, the old warrior and
runner still passed over the ground with an easy movement; and when I
had occasion to see him increase his speed, as soon after occurred, I
did not fail to perceive that his sinews seemed strung to their utmost
force, and that every movement was free.

For a time, the Indian and I talked of the late war, and of the scenes
in which each of us had been an actor. If my own modesty was as obvious
as that of Sureflint, I had no reason to be dissatisfied with myself;
for the manner in which he alluded to events in which I knew he had been
somewhat prominent, was simple and entirely free from that boasting in
which the red man is prone to indulge; more especially when he wishes to
provoke his enemies. At length I changed the current of the discourse,
by saying abruptly:

"You were not alone in that pine thicket, Susquesus; that from which you
came when you joined me?"

"No--sartain; wasn't alone. Plenty people dere."

"Is there an encampment of your tribe among those bushes?"

A shade passed over the dark countenance of my companion, and I saw a
question had been asked that gave him pain. He paused some little time
before he answered; and when he did, it was in a way that seemed sad.

"Susquesus got tribe no longer. Quit Onondagos t'irty summer, now; don't
like Mohawk."

"I remember to have heard something of this from my father, who told me
at the same time, that the reason why you left your people was to your
credit. But you had music in the thicket?"

"Yes; gal sing--gal love sing; warrior like to listen."

"And the song? In what language were the words?"

"Onondago," answered the Indian, in a low tone.

"I had no idea the music of the red people was so sweet. It is many a
day since I have heard a song that went so near to my heart, though I
could not understand what was said."

"Bird, pretty bird--sing like wren."

"And is there much of this music in your family, Susquesus? If so, I
shall come often to listen."

"Why not come? Path got no briar; short path, too. Gal sing, when you
want."

"Then I shall certainly be your guest, some day, soon. Where do you
live, now? Are you Sureflint, or Trackless, to-day? I see you are armed,
but not painted."

"Hatchet buried berry deep, dis time. No dig him up, in great many year.
Mohawk make peace; Oneida make peace; Onondago make peace--all bury 'e
hatchet."

"Well, so much the better for us landholders. I have come to sell and
lease my lands; perhaps you can tell me if many young men are out
hunting for farms this summer?"

"Wood full. Plenty as pigeons. How you sell land?"

"That will depend on where it is, and how good it is. Do you wish to
buy, Trackless?"

"Injin own all land, for what he want now. I make wigwam where I want;
make him, too, when I want."

"I know very well that you Indians do claim such a right; and, so long
as the country remains in its present wild state, no one will be apt to
refuse it to you. But you cannot plant and gather, as most of your
people do in their own country."

"Got no squaw--got no papoose--little corn do for Susquesus. No
tribe--no squaw--no pappose!"

This was said in a low, deliberate voice, and with a species of manly
melancholy that I found very touching. Complaining men create very
little sympathy, and those who whine are apt to lose our respect; but I
know no spectacle more imposing than that of one of stern nature
smothering his sorrows beneath the mantle of manliness and self-command.

"You have friends, Susquesus," I answered, "if you have no wife nor
children."

"Fader, good friend; hope son friend, too. Grandfader great friend,
once; but he gone far away, and nebber come back. Know moder, know
fader--all good."

"Take what land you want, Trackless--till it, sell it--do what you wish
with it."

The Indian eyed me keenly, and I detected a slight smile of pleasure
stealing over his weather-worn face. It was not easy to throw him off
his habitual guard over his emotions, however; and the gleam of
illumination passed away, like a ray of sunshine in mid-winter. The
sternest white man might have grasped my hand, and something like a sign
of gratitude would probably have escaped him; but, the little trace of
emotion I have mentioned having disappeared, nothing remained on the
dark visage of my companion that in the least resembled an evidence of
yielding to any of the gentler feelings. Nevertheless, he was too
courteous, and had too much of the innate sentiment of a gentleman, not
to make some return for an offer that had so evidently and spontaneously
come from the heart.

"Good"--he said, after a long pause. "Berry good, dat; good, to come
from young warrior to ole warrior. T'ankee--bird plenty; fish plenty;
message plenty, now; and don't want land. Time come, maybe--s'pose he
must come--come to all old red men, hereabout; so s'pose _must_ come."

"What time do you mean, Trackless? Let it come when it may, you have a
friend in me. What time do you mean, my brave old Sureflint?"

The Trackless stopped, dropped the breech of his rifle on the ground,
and stood meditating a minute, motionless, and as grand as some fine
statue.

"Yes; time come, _do_ s'pose," he continued. "One time, ole warrior live
in wigwam, and tell young warrior of scalp, and council-fire, and hunt,
and war-path; _now_, make _broom_ and _basket_."

It was not easy to mistake this; and I do not remember ever to have felt
so lively an interest, on so short an acquaintance, as I began to feel
in this Onondago. Priscilla Bayard herself, however lovely, graceful,
winning, and feminine, had not created a feeling so strong and animated,
as that which was awakened within me in behalf of old Sureflint. But I
fully understood that this was to be shown in acts, and not in words.
Contenting myself for the present, after the fashion of the pale-faces,
by grasping and squeezing the sinewy hand of the warrior, we walked on
together, making no farther allusion to a subject that I can truly say
was as painful to me as it was to my companion.

"I have heard your name mentioned as one of those who were at the Nest
with my father when he was a young man, Susquesus," I resumed, "and when
the Canada Indians attempted to burn the house."

"Good--Susquesus dere--young Dutch chief kill dat time."

"Very true--his name was Guert Ten Eyke; and my father and mother, and
your old friend Colonel Follock, who was afterward major of our
regiment, you will remember, they love his memory to this day, as that
of a very dear friend."

"Dat all, love memory now?" asked the Indian, throwing one of his
keenest glances at me.

I understood the allusion, which was to aunt Mary, whom I had heard
spoken of as the betrothed, or at least as the beloved of the young
Albanian.

"Not all; for there is a lady who still mourns his loss, as if she had
been his widow."

"Good--do' squaw don't mourn fery long time. Sometime not always."

"Pray, Trueflint, do you happen to know any thing of a man called the
Chainbearer? He was in the regiment, too, and you must have seen him in
the war."

"Sartain--know Chainbearer--know him on war-path--know him when hatchet
buried. Knew Chainbearer afore ole French war. Live in wood wid him--one
of _us_. Chainbearer _my_ friend."

"I rejoice to hear this, for he is also mine; and I shall be glad to
come into the compact, as a friend of both."

"Good--Susquesus and young landlord friend of Chainbearer--good."

"It is good, and a league that shall not be forgotten easily by me. The
Chainbearer is as honest as light, and as certain as his own compass,
Trueflint--true, as yourself."

"'Fraid he make broom 'fore great while, too," said the Indian,
expressing the regret I have no doubt he felt, very obviously in his
countenance.

Poor old Andries! But for the warm and true friends he had in my father,
Colonel Dirck, and myself, there was some danger this might be the case,
indeed. The fact that he had served his country in a revolution would
prove of little avail, that country being too poor to provide for its
old servants, and possibly indisposed, had she the means.[7] I say this
without intending to reflect on either the people or the government; for
it is not easy to make the men of the present day understand the deep
depression, in a pecuniary sense, that rested on the land for a year or
two after peace was made. It recovered, as the child recovers from
indisposition, by the vigor of its constitution and the power of its
vitality; and one of the means by which it recovered, was by turning to
the soil, and wielding the sickle instead of the sword. To continue the
discourse:

[Footnote 7: This must pass for one of the hits the republic is exposed
to, partly because it deserves them, and partly because it is a
republic. One hears a great deal of this ingratitude of republics, but
few take the trouble of examining into the truth of the charge, or its
reason, if true. I suppose the charge to be true in part, and for the
obvious reason that a government founded on the popular will, is
necessarily impulsive in such matters, and feels no necessity to be
just, in order to be secure. Then, a democracy is always subject to the
influence of the cant of economy, which is next thing to the evil of
being exposed to the waste and cupidity of those who take because they
have the power. As respects the soldiers of the revolution, however,
America, under the impulsive feeling, rather than in obedience to a
calm, deliberate desire to be just, has, since the time of Mr. Mordaunt
Littlepage, made such a liberal provision for pensioning them,
as to include a good many of her enemies, as well as all her
friends.--EDITOR.]

"The Chainbearer is an honest man, and, like too many of his class,
poor," I answered; "but he has friends; and neither he nor you,
Sureflint, shall be reduced to that woman's work without your own
consent, so long as I have an unoccupied house, or a farm, at
Ravensnest."

Again the Indian manifested his sense of my friendship for him by that
passing gleam on his dark face; and again all signs of emotion passed
slowly away.

"How long since see him?" he asked me suddenly.

"See him--the Chainbearer, do you mean? I have not seen him, now, for
more than a twelvemonth; not since we parted when the regiment was
disbanded."

"Don't mean Chainbearer--mean _him_," pointing ahead--"house, tree,
farm, land, Nest."

"Oh! How long is it since I saw the patent? I never saw it, Sureflint;
this is my first visit."

"Dat queer! How you own land, when nebber see him?"

"Among the pale-faces we have such laws, that property passes from
parent to child; and I inherit mine in this neighborhood, from my
grandfather, Herman Mordaunt."

"What dat mean, 'herit? How man haf land, when he don't keep him?"

"We do keep it, if not by actually remaining on the spot, by means of
our laws and our titles. The pale-faces regulate all these things on
paper, Sureflint."

"T'ink dat good? Why no let man take land where he want him, _when_ he
want him? Plenty land. Got more land dan got people. 'Nough for
ebberybody."

"That fact makes our laws just; if there were not land enough for
everybody, these restrictions and divisions might seem to be, and in
fact be, unjust. Now, any man can have a farm, who will pay a very
moderate price for it. The state sells, and landlords sell; and those
who don't choose to buy of one can buy of the other."

"Dat true 'nough; but don't see need of dat paper. When he want to stay
on land, let him stay; when he want to go somewhere, let 'noder man
come. What good pay for betterment?"

"So as to have betterments. These are what we call the rights of
property, without which no man would aim at being anything more than
clad and fed. Who would hunt, if anybody that came along had a right to
pick up and skin his game?"

"See dat well 'nough--nebber do; no, nebber. Don't see why land go like
skin, when skin go wid warrior and hunter, and land stay where he be."

"That is because the riches of you red men are confined to movable
property, and to your wigwams, so long as you choose to live in them.
Thus far, you respect the rights of property as well as the pale-faces;
but you must see a great difference between your people and mine!
between the red man and the white man?"

"Be sure, differ; one strong, t'oder weak--one rich, t'oder poor--one
great, t'oder little--one drive 'way, t'oder haf to go--one get all,
t'oder keep nuttin'--one march large army, t'oder go Indian file, fifty
warrior, p'raps--_dat_ reason t'ing so."

"And why can the pale-faces march in large armies, with cannon, and
horses, and bayonets, and the red man not do the same?"

"Cause he no got 'em--no got warrior--no got gun--no got baggonet--no
got nuttin'."

"You have given the effect for the cause, Sureflint, or the consequences
of the reason for the reason itself. I hope I make you understand me.
Listen, and I will explain. You have lived much with the white men,
Susquesus, and can believe what I say. There are good, and there are
bad, among all people. Color makes no difference in this respect. Still,
all people are not alike. The white man is stronger than the red man,
and has taken away his country, because he _knows_ most."

"He most, too. Count army, den count war-trail; you see."

"It is true the pale-faces are the most numerous, now; but once they
were not. Do not your traditions tell you how few the Yangeese were,
when they first came across the salt lake?"

"Come in big canoe--two, t'ree full--no more."

"Why then did two or three shipfuls of white men become so strong as to
drive back from the sea all the red warriors, and become masters of the
land? Can you give a reason for that?"

"'Cause he bring fire-water wid him, and red man big fool to drink."

"Even that fire-water, which doubtless has proved a cruel gift to the
Indians, is one of the fruits of the white man's knowledge. No,
Susquesus; the redskin is as brave as the pale-face; as willing to
defend his rights, and as able-bodied; but he does not know as much. He
had no gunpowder until the white man gave it to him--no rifle--no hoe,
no knife, no tomahawk, but such as he made himself from stones. Now, all
the knowledge, and all the arts of life that the white man enjoys and
turns to his profit, come from the rights of property. No man would
build a wigwam to make rifles in, if he thought he could not keep it as
long as he wished, sell it when he pleased, and leave it to his son when
he went to the land of spirits. It is by encouraging man's love of
himself, in this manner, that he is got to do so much. Thus it is, too,
that the father gives to the son what he has learned, as well as what he
has built or bought; and so, in time, nations get to be powerful, as
they get to be what we called civilized. Without these rights of
property, no people could be civilized; for no people would do their
utmost, unless each man were permitted to be master of what he can
acquire, subject to the great and common laws that are necessary to
regulate such matters. I hope you understand my meaning, Trackless."

"Sartain--no like Trackless' moccasin--my young friend's tongue leave
trail. But you t'ink Great Spirit say who shall haf land; who no haf
him?"

"The Great Spirit has created man as he is, and the earth as it is; and
he has left the one to be master of the other. If it were not his
pleasure that man should not do as he has done, it would not be done.
Different laws and different feelings would then bring about different
ends. When the law places all men on a level, as to rights, it does as
much as can be expected of it. Now, this level does not consist in
pulling everything to pieces periodically, but in respecting certain
great principles that are just in themselves; but which, once started,
must be left to follow their own course. When the rights of property are
first established, they must be established fairly, on some admitted
rule; after which they are to remain inviolable--that is to say,
sacred."

"Understand--no live in clearin' for nuttin'. Mean, haf no head widout
haf farm."

"That is the meaning, substantially, Sureflint; though I might have
explained it a little differently. I wish to say pale-faces would be
like the red man without civilization; and without civilization if they
had no rights in their land. No one will work for another as he will
work for himself. We see that every day, in the simplest manner, when we
see that the desire to get good wages will not make the common laborer
do as much by the day as he will do by the job."

"Dat true," answered the Indian, smiling; for he seldom laughed; and
repeating a common saying of the country--"By--de--day--by--de--day--By
de job, job, job! Dat pale-face religion, young chief."

"I don't know that our religion has much to do with it; but I will own
it is our practice. I fancy it is the same with all races and colors. A
man must work for himself to do his most; and he cannot work for himself
unless he enjoy the fruits of his labor. Thus it is, that he must have a
right of property in land, either bought or hired, in order to make him
cause that land to produce all that nature intended it should produce.
On this necessity is founded the rights of property; the gain being
civilization; the loss ignorance, and poverty, and weakness. It is for
this reason, then, that we buy and sell land, as well as clothes and
arms, and beads."

"T'ink, understand. Great Spirit, den, say must have farm?"

"The Great Spirit has said we must have wants and wishes, that can be
met, or gratified only by having farms. To have farms we must have
owners; and owners cannot exist unless their rights in their lands are
protected. As soon as these are gone, the whole building would tumble
down about our ears, Susquesus."

"Well, s'pose him so. We see, some time. Young chief know where he is?"

"Not exactly; but I suppose we are drawing near to the lands of
Ravensnest."

"Well, queer 'nough, too! Own land, but don't know him. See--marked
tree--dat sign your land begin."

"Thank you, Sureflint--a parent would not know his own child, when he
saw him for the first time. If I am owner here, you will remember that
this is my first visit to the spot."

While conversing, the Trackless had led me from the highway into a
foot-path, which, as I afterward discovered, made a short-cut across
some hills, and saved us near two miles in the distance. In consequence
of this change in our course, Jaap could not have overtaken me, had he
moved faster than he did; but, owing to the badness of the road, our
gait on foot was somewhat faster than that of the jaded beasts who
dragged the wagon. My guide knew the way perfectly; and, as we ascended
a hill, he pointed out the remains of an old fire, near a spring, as a
spot where he was accustomed to "camp," when he wished to remain near,
but not _in_ the 'Nest.

"Too much rum in tavern," he said. "No good stay near rum."

This was extraordinary forbearance for an Indian; but Susquesus, I had
ever understood, was an extraordinary Indian. Even for an Onondago, he
was temperate and self-denying. The reason why he lived away from his
tribe was a secret from most persons; though I subsequently ascertained
it was known to the Chainbearer, as well as my father. Old Andries
always affirmed it was creditable to his friend; but he would never
betray the secret. Indeed, I found that the sympathy which existed
between these two men, each of whom was so singular in his way, was
cemented by some occurrences of their early lives, to which occasional,
but vague allusions were made, but which neither ever revealed to me, or
to any other person, so far as I could ascertain.

Soon after passing the spring, Sureflint led me out to a cleared spot on
the eminence, which commanded an extensive view of most of that part of
my possessions which was under lease and occupied. Here we halted,
seating ourselves on a fallen tree, for which one could never go amiss
in that region, and at that day; and I examined the view with the
interest which ownership is apt to create in us all. The earth is very
beautiful in itself; but it is most beautiful in the eye of those who
have the largest stake in it, I fear.

Although the property of Ravensnest had been settled fully thirty years
when I first saw it, none of those signs of rapid and energetic
improvement were visible that we have witnessed in the efforts of
similar undertakings since the Revolution. Previously to that great
event, the country filled up very slowly, and each colony seemed to
regard itself, in some measure, as a distinct country. Thus it was that
we in New York obtained very few immigrants from New England, that great
hive which has so often swarmed since, and the bees of which have
carried their industry and ingenuity over so much of the republic in our
own time. We of New York have our prejudices against the Yankees, and
have long looked upon them with eyes of distrust and disfavor. They have
repaid us in kind, perhaps; but their dislikes have not been strong
enough to prevent them from coming to take possession of our lands. For
my own part, while I certainly see much in the New England character
that I do not like (more in their manners and minor ways, perhaps, than
in essentials), I as certainly see a great deal to command my respect.
If the civilization that they carry with them is not of a very high
order, as is connected with the tastes, sentiments, and nicer feelings,
it is superior to that of any other country I have visited, in its
common-sense provisions, and in its care over the intellectual being,
considered in reference to the foundations of learning. More persons are
dragged from out the mire of profound ignorance under their system, than
under that of any other people; and a greater number of candidates are
brought forward for intellectual advancements. That so few of these
candidates rise very high in the scale of knowledge, is in part owing to
the circumstance that their lives are so purely practical; and,
possibly, in part to the fact that while so much attention has been paid
to the foundations of the social edifice, that little art or care has as
yet been expended on the superstructure. Nevertheless, the millions of
Yankees that are spreading themselves over the land, are producing, and
have already produced, a most salutary influence on its practical
knowledge, on its enterprise, on its improvements, and consequently on
its happiness. If they have not done much for its tastes, its manners,
and its higher principles, it is because no portion of the earth is
perfect. I am fully aware that this is conceding more than my own father
would have conceded in their favor, and twice as much as could have been
extracted from either of my grandfathers. But prejudice is wearing away,
and the Dutchman and the Yankee, in particular, find it possible to live
in proximity and charity. It is possible that my son may be willing to
concede even more. Our immigrant friends should remember one thing,
however, and it would render them much more agreeable as companions and
neighbors, which is this:--he who migrates is bound to respect the
habits and opinions of those whom he joins; it not being sufficient for
the perfection of everything under the canopy of heaven, that it should
come from our own little corner of the earth. Even the pumpkin-pies of
the Middle States are vastly better than those usually found in New
England. To return to Ravensnest.

The thirty years of the settlement of my patent, then, had not done much
for it, in the way of works of art. Time, it is true, had effected
something, and it was something in a manner that was a little peculiar,
and which might be oftener discovered in the country at the time of
which I am writing, than at the present day. The timber of the 'Nest,
with the exception of some mountain-land, was principally what, in
American parlance, is termed "hard wood." In other words, the trees were
not perennial, but deciduous; and the merest tyro in the woods knows
that the roots of the last decay in a fourth of the time that the roots
of the first endure, after the trunk is severed. As a consequence, the
stumps had nearly all disappeared from the fields; a fact that, of
itself, gave to the place the appearance of an old country, according to
our American notions. It is true, the virgin forest still flourished in
immediate contact with those fields, shorn, tilled, and smoothed as they
were, giving a wild and solemn setting to the rural picture the latter
presented. The contrast was sufficiently bold and striking, but it was
not without its soft and pleasant points. From the height whither the
Indian had led me, I had a foreground of open land, dotted with cottages
and barns, mostly of logs, beautified by flourishing orchards, and
garnished with broad meadows, or enriched by fields, in which the corn
was waving under the currents of a light summer air. Two or three roads
wound along the settlement, turning aside with friendly interest, to
visit every door; and at the southern termination of the open country
there was a hamlet, built of wood framed, which contained one house that
had little taste, but a good deal more of pretension than any of its
neighbors; another, that was an inn; a store, a blacksmith's-shop, a
school-house, and three or four other buildings, besides barns, sheds,
and hog-pens. Near the hamlet, or the "'Nest Village," as the place was
called, were the mills of the region. These were a grist-mill, a
saw-mill, a fulling-mill, and an oil-mill. All were of moderate
dimensions, and, most probably, of moderate receipts. Even the best
house was not painted, though it had some very ambitious attempts at
architecture, and enjoyed the benefits of no less than four exterior
doors, the uses of one of which, as it opened into the air from the
second story, it was not very easy to imagine. Doubtless some great but
unfinished project of the owner lay at the root of this invention. But
living out of doors, as it were, is rather a characteristic of a portion
of our people.

The background of this picture, to which a certain degree of rural
beauty was not wanting, was the "boundless woods." Woods stretched away,
north, and south, and east, far as eye could reach; woods crowned the
sides and summits of all the mountains in view; and woods rose up, with
their leafy carpeting, from out the ravines and dells. The war had
prevented any very recent attempts at clearing, and all the open ground
wore the same aspect of homely cultivation, while the dark shades of an
interminable forest were spread around, forming a sort of mysterious
void, that lay between this obscure and remote people, and the rest of
their kind. That forest, however, was not entirely savage. There were
other settlements springing up in its bosom; a few roads wound their way
through its depth; and, here and there, the hunter, the squatter, or the
red man, had raised his cabin, and dwelt amid the sullen but not
unpleasant abundance and magnificence of the wilderness.



CHAPTER IX.

    "O masters! if I were disposed to stir
    Your hearts and minds to mutiny and rage,
    I should do Brutus wrong, and Cassius wrong,
    Who, you all know, are honorable men;
    I will not do them wrong; I rather choose
    To wrong the dead, to wrong myself and you,
    Than I will wrong such honorable men."--SHAKSPEARE.


"This, then, is Ravensnest!" I exclaimed, after gazing on the scene for
several minutes in silence; "the estate left me by my grandfather, and
where events once occurred that are still spoken of in my family as some
of the most momentous in its history; events, Susquesus, in which you
were an actor."

The Indian made a low interjection, but it is not probable he fully
understood me. What was there so remarkable in a savage inroad, a house
besieged, men slain and scalps taken, that he should remember such
things for a quarter of a century!

"I do not see the 'Nest itself, Trueflint," I added; "the house in which
my grandfather once lived."

The Onondago did not speak, but he pointed with a finger in a
northeasterly direction, making the action distinct and impressive, as
is usual with his people. I knew the place by the descriptions I had
heard, though it was now mouldering, and had gone far into decay. Logs
piled up green, and confined in such a structure, will last some thirty
or forty years, according to the nature of the trees from which they
come, and the manner in which they have been covered. At that distance I
could not well distinguish how far, or how much, time had done its work;
but I fancied I knew enough of such matters to understand I was not to
expect in the 'Nest a very comfortable home. A family dwelt in the old
place, and I had seen some cheeses that had been made on the very fine
farm that was attached to it. There was a large and seemingly a
flourishing orchard, and the fields looked well; but as for the house,
at that distance it appeared sombre, dark, and was barely to be
distinguished by its form and chimneys, from any other pile of logs.

I was struck with the silent, dreamy, sabbath-like air of the fields,
far and near. With the exception of a few half-naked children who were
visible around the dwellings to which we were the closest, not a human
being could I discover. The fields were tenantless, so far as men were
concerned, though a good many horned cattle were to be seen grazing.

"My tenants are not without stock, I find, Trueflint," I remarked.
"There are plenty of cattle in the pastures."

"You see, all young," answered the Onondago. "War do dat. Kill ole one
for soldier."

"By the way, as this settlement escaped plunder, I should think its
people may have done something by selling supplies to the army.
Provisions of all kinds were very high and scarce, I remember, when we
met Burgoyne."

"Sartain. Your people sell both side--good trade, den. Feed
Yankees--feed Yengeese."

"Well, I make no doubt it was so; for the husbandman is not very apt to
hesitate when he can get a good price; and if he were, the conscience of
the drover would stand between him and treason. But where are all the
men of this country? I do not see a single man, far or near."

"No see him!--dere," answered the Indian, pointing in the direction of
the hamlet. "'Squire light council-fire to-day, s'pose, and make
speech."

"True enough--there they are, gathered about the school-house. But whom
do you mean by the 'squire, who is so fond of making speeches?"

"Ole school-master. Come from salt lake--great friend of grandfader."

"Oh! Mr. Newcome, my agent--true; I might have known that he was king of
the settlement. Well, Trueflint, let us go on; and when we reach the
tavern we shall be able to learn what the 'great council' is about. Say
nothing of my business; for it will be pleasant to look on a little,
before I speak myself."

The Indian arose, and led the way down the height, following a foot-path
with which he appeared to be familiar. In a few minutes we were in a
highway, and at no great distance from the hamlet. I had laid aside most
of the dress that it was the fashion of gentlemen to wear in 1784, and
put on a hunting-shirt and leggings, as more fitting for the woods;
consequently it would not have been easy for one who was not in the
secret to imagine that he who arrived on foot, in such a garb, carrying
his fowling-piece, and accompanied by an Indian, was the owner of the
estate. I had sent no recent notice of my intended arrival; and as we
went along, I took a fancy to get a faint glimpse of things _incognito_.
In order to do this it might be necessary to say a word more to the
Indian.

"Susquesus," I added, as we drew near the school-house, which stood
between us and the tavern, "I hope you have understood me--there is no
need of telling any one who I am. If asked, you can answer I am your
friend. That will be true, as you will find as long as you live."

"Good--young chief got eyes; want to look wid 'em himself.
Good--Susquesus know."

In another minute we stopped in the crowd, before the door of the
school-house. The Indian was so well known, and so often at the 'Nest,
that _his_ appearance excited no attention. Some important business
appeared on the carpet, for there was much caucusing, much private
conversation, many eager faces, and much putting together of heads.
While the public mind was thus agitated, few were disposed to take any
particular notice of me, though I had not stood long in the outer edge
of the crowd, which may have contained sixty or seventy men, besides
quite as many well-grown lads, before I overheard an interrogatory put
as to who I was, and whether I had "a right to a vote." My curiosity was
a good deal excited, and I was on the point of asking some explanation,
when a man appeared in the door of the school-house, who laid the whole
matter bare, in a speech. This person had a shrivelled, care-worn, but
keen look, and was somewhat better dressed than most around him, though
not particularly elegant, or even very neat, in his _toilette_. He was
gray-headed, of a small, thin figure, and might have been drawing hard
upon sixty. He spoke in a deliberate, self-possessed manner, as if long
accustomed to the sort of business in which he was engaged, but
in a very decided Connecticut accent. I say _Connecticut_, in
contradistinction to that of New England generally; for while the
Eastern States have many common peculiarities in this way, a nice and
practised ear can tell a Rhode-Islander from a Massachusetts man, and a
Connecticut man from either. As the orator opened his mouth to remove a
chew of tobacco previously to opening it to speak, a murmur near me
said--"Hist! there's the squire; now we shall get suthin'." This, then,
was Mr. Jason Newcome, my agent, and the principal resident in the
settlement.

"Fellow-citizens"--Mr. Newcome commenced--"you are assembled this day on
a most important, and, I may say, trying occasion; an occasion
calculated to exercise all our spirits. Your business is to decide on
the denomination of the church building that you are about to erect; and
the futur' welfare of your souls may, in one sense, be said to be
interested in your decision. Your deliberations have already been opened
by prayer; and now you are about to come to a final vote. Differences of
opinion have, and do exist among you; but differences of opinion exist
everywhere. They belong to liberty, the blessings of which are not to be
enj'yed without full and free differences of opinion. Religious liberty
demands differences of opinion, as a body might say; and without them
there would be no religious liberty. You all know the weighty reason
there is for coming to some conclusion speedily. The owner of the sile
will make his appearance this summer, and his family are all of a
desperate tendency toward an idolatrous church, which is unpleasant to
most of _you_. To prevent any consequences, therefore, from his
interference, we ought to decide at once, and not only have the house
raised, but ruffed in afore he arrives. Among ourselves, however, we
have been somewhat divided, and that is a different matter. On the
former votes it has stood twenty-six for Congregational to twenty-five
Presbytery, fourteen Methodist, nine Baptist, three Universal, and one
Episcopal. Now, nothin' is clearer than that the majority ought to rule,
and that it is the duty of the minority to submit. My first decision, as
moderator, was that the Congregationals have it by a majority of one,
but some being dissatisfied with that opinion, I have been ready to hear
reason, and to take the view that twenty-six is not a majority, but a
plurality, as it is called. As twenty-six, or twenty-five, however, is a
majority over nine, and over three, and over one, taking their numbers
singly or together, your committee report that the Baptists, Universals
and Episcopals ought to be dropped, and that the next vote, now to be
taken, shall be confined to the three highest numbers; that is to say,
to the Congregationals, the Presbyterians, and the Methodists. Everybody
has a right to vote for which he pleases, provided he vote for one of
them three. I suppose I am understood, and shall now put the question,
unless some gentleman has any remarks to make."

"Mr. Moderator," cried out a burly, hearty-looking yeoman, "is it in
order now to speak?"

"Quite so, sir--order, gentlemen, order--Major Hosmer is up."

Up we all were, if standing on one's feet be up; but the word was
parliamentary, and it appeared to be understood.

"Mr. Moderator, I am of the Baptist order, and I do not think the
decision just; sin' it compels us Baptists to vote for a denomination we
don't like, or not to vote at all."

"But you will allow that the majority ought to rule?" interrupted the
chair.

"Sartain--I agree to _that_; for _that_ is a part of my religion, too,"
returned the old yeoman heartily, and with an air of perfect good
faith--"the majority ought to rule; but I do not see that a majority is
in favor of the Congregationals any more than it is of the Baptists."

"We will put it to vote ag'in, major, just for your satisfaction,"
returned Mr. Newcome, with an air of great candor and moderation.
"Gentlemen, those of you who are in favor of the Baptists _not_ being
included in the next vote for denomination, will please to hold up your
hands."

As every man present who was not a Baptist voted "ay," there were
sixty-nine hands shown. The "no's" were then demanded in the same way,
and the Baptists got their nine own votes, as before. Major Hosmer
admitted he was satisfied, though he looked as if there might be
something wrong in the procedure, after all. As the Baptists were the
strongest of the three excluded sects, the other two made a merit of
necessity, and said nothing. It was understood they were in a minority;
and a minority, as it very often happens in America, has very few
rights.

"It now remains, gentlemen," resumed the moderator, who was a model of
submission to the public voice, "to put the vote, as between the
Congregationals, the Presbyterians, and the Methodists. I shall first
put the Congregationalists. Those who are in favor of that sect, the old
Connecticut standing order, will please to hold up their hands."

The tone of voice, the coaxing expression of the eye, and the words "old
Connecticut standing order," let me at once into the secret of the
moderator's wishes. At first but thirty-four hands appeared; but the
moderator having counted these, he looked round the crowd, until he
fairly looked up three more; after which he honestly enough announced
the vote to be thirty-seven for the Congregationalists. So eleven of the
thirteen of silenced sects, had most probably voted with the moderator.
The Presbyterians came next, and they got their own people, and two of
the Baptists, making twenty-seven in all, on a trial in their behalf.
The Methodists got only their own fourteen.

"It evidently appearing, gentleman," said the moderator, "that the
Methodists gain no strength, and being less than half the Congregational
vote, and much lower than the Presbyterian, I put it to their own
well-known Christian humility, whether they ought not to withdraw?"

"Put it openly to vote, as you did ag'in us," came out a Baptist.

"Is that your pleasure, gentlemen? Seeing that it is, I will now try the
vote. Those who are in favor of the Methodists withdrawing, will hold up
their hands."

Sixty-four hands were raised for, and fourteen against the withdrawal.

"It is impossible for any religion to flourish ag'in such a majority,"
said the moderator, with great apparent candor; "and though I regret it,
for I sincerely wish we were strong enough to build meetin'-houses for
every denomination in the world; but as we are not, we must take things
as they are, and so the Methodists must withdraw. Gentlemen, the
question is now narrowed down to the Congregationals and the
Presbyterians. There is not much difference between them, and it is a
thousand pities there should be _any_. Are you ready for the question,
gentlemen? No answer being given, I shall put the vote."

And the vote was put, the result being thirty-nine to thirty-nine, or a
tie. I could see that the moderator was disappointed, and supposed he
would claim a casting vote, in addition to the one he had already given;
but I did not know my man. Mr. Newcome avoided all appearances of
personal authority; majorities were his cardinal rule, and to majorities
alone he would defer. Whenever he chose to govern, it was by means of
majorities. The exercise of a power as accidentally bestowed as that of
presiding officer, might excite heart-burnings and envy; but he who went
with a majority was certain of having the weight of public sympathies on
his side. No--no--Mr. Newcome never had an opinion, as against numbers.

I am sorry to say that very mistaken notions of the power of majorities
are beginning to take root among us.

It is common to hear it asserted, as a political axiom, that the
majority _must_ rule! The axiom may be innocent enough, when its
application is properly made, which is simply to say that in the control
of those interests of which the decision is referred to majorities,
majorities must rule but, God forbid that the majorities should ever
rule in all things, in this republic or anywhere else! Such a state of
things would soon become intolerable, rendering the government that
admitted of its existence the most odious tyranny that has been known in
Christendom in modern times. The government of this country is the sway
of certain great and incontestable _principles_, that are just in
themselves, and which are set forth in the several constitutions, and
under which certain minor questions are periodically referred to local
majorities, or of necessity, out of the frequency of which appeals has
arisen a mistake that is getting to be dangerously general. God forbid,
I repeat, that a mere personal majority should assume the power which
alone belongs to principles.

Mr. Newcome avoided a decision, as from the chair; but three several
times did he take the vote, and each time was there a tie. I could now
perceive that he was seriously uneasy. Such steadiness denoted that men
had made up their minds, and that they would be apt to adhere to them,
since one side was apparently as strong as the other. The circumstance
called for a display of democratical tactics; and Mr. Newcome being very
expert in such matters, he could have little difficulty in getting along
with the simple people with whom he had to deal.

"You see how it is, fellow-citizens. The public has taken sides, and
formed itself into two parties. From this moment the affair must be
treated as a _party_ question, and be decided on _party_ principles;
though the majority must rule. Oh! here, neighbor Willis; will you just
step over to my house, and ask Miss Newcome (Anglice, _Mrs._ Newcome) to
hand you the last volume of the State Laws? Perhaps _they_ have a word
to say in the matter." Here neighbor Willis did as desired, and moved
out of the crowd. As I afterward discovered, he was a warm Presbyterian,
who happened, unfortunately for his sect, to stand so directly before
the moderator, as unavoidably to catch his eye. I suspected that Squire
Newcome would now call a vote on the main question. But I did not know
my man. This would have been too palpably a trick, and he carefully
avoided committing the blunder. There was plenty of time, since the
moderator knew his wife could not very readily find a book he had lent
to a magistrate in another settlement twenty miles off; so that he did
not hesitate to have a little private conversation with one or two of
his friends.

"Not to be losing time, Mr. Moderator," said one of 'Squire Newcome's
confidants, "I will move you that it is the sense of this meeting, that
the government of churches by means of a presbytery is anti-republican,
opposed to our glorious institutions, and at variance with the best
interests of the human family. I submit the question to the public
without debate, being content to know the unbiased sentiments of my
fellow-citizens on the subject."

The question was duly seconded and put, the result being thirty-nine
for, and thirty-eight against; or a majority of _one_, that Presbyterian
rule was anti-republican. This was a great _coup de maître_. Having
settled that it was opposed to the institutions to have a presbytery, a
great deal was gained toward establishing another denomination in the
settlement. No religion can maintain itself against political sentiments
in this country, politics coming home daily to men's minds and pockets.

It is odd enough that, while all sects agree in saying that the
Christian religion comes from God, and that its dogmas are to be
received as the laws of Infinite Wisdom, men should be found
sufficiently illogical, or sufficiently presumptuous, to imagine that
any, the least of its rules, are to be impaired or strengthened by their
dissemblance or their conformity to any provisions of human
institutions. As well might it be admitted at once, that Christianity is
_not_ of divine origin, or the still more extravagant position be
assumed, that the polity which God himself has established can be
amended by any of the narrow and short-sighted devices of man.
Nevertheless, it is not to be concealed, that here, as elsewhere,
churches are fashioned to suit the institutions, and not the
institutions to suit the church.

Having achieved so much success, the moderator's confidant pushed his
advantage.

"Mr. Moderator," he continued, "as this question has altogether assumed
a party character, it is manifestly proper that the party which has the
majority should not be encumbered in its proceedings by the movements of
the minority. Presbytery has been denounced by this meeting, and its
friends stand in the light of a defeated party at a state election. They
can have nothin' to do with the government. I move, therefore, that
those who are opposed to presbytery go into caucus, in order to appoint
a committee to recommend to the majority a denomination which will be
acceptable to the people of Ravensnest. I hope the motion will be put
without debate. The subject is a religious one, and it is unwise to
awaken strife on anything at all connected with religion."

Alas! alas! How much injury has been done to the cause of Christianity,
how much wrong to the laws of God, and even to good morals, by appeals
of this nature, that are intended to smother inquiry, and force down on
the timid, the schemes of the designing and fraudulent! Integrity is
ever simple and frank; while the devil resorts to these plans of
plausible forbearance and seeming concessions, in order to veil his
nefarious devices.

The thing took, however; for popular bodies, once under control, are as
easily managed as the vessel that obeys her helm; the strength of the
current always giving additional power to that material portion of the
ship. The motion was accordingly seconded and put. As there was no
debate, which had been made to appear anti-religious, the result was
precisely the same as on the last question. In other words, there was
one majority for disfranchising just one-half the meeting, counting the
above man; and this, too, on the principle that the majority ought to
rule. After this the caucus people went into the school-house, where it
was understood a committee of twenty-six was appointed, to recommend a
denomination to the majority. This committee, so respectable in its
character, and of so much influence by its numbers, was not slow in
acting. As became its moral weight, it unanimously reported that the
Congregational polity was the one most acceptable to the people of
Ravensnest. This report was accepted by acclamation, and the caucus
adjourned _sine die_.

The moderator now called the whole meeting to order again.

"Mr. Moderator," said the confidant, "it is time that this community
should come to some conclusion in the premises. It has been agitated
long enough, in its religious feelings, and further delay might lead to
unpleasant and lasting divisions. I therefore move that it is the sense
of this meetin' that the people of Ravensnest ardently wish to see the
new meetin'-us, which is about to be raised, devoted and set apart for
the services of the Congregational church, and that a Congregational
church be organized, and a Congregational pastor duly called. I trust
this question, like all the others, will be passed in perfect harmony,
and without debate, as becomes the solemn business we are on."

The question was taken, and the old majority of _one_ was found to be in
its favor. Just as Mr. Moderator meekly announced the result, his
messenger appeared in the crowd, bawling out, "'Squire, Miss Newcome
says she can't noway find the volum', which she kind o' thinks you've
lent."

"Bless me! so I have!" exclaimed the surprised magistrate. "It's not in
the settlement, I declare; but it's of no importance now, as a majority
has fairly decided. Fellow-citizens, we have been dealing with the most
important interest that consarns man; his religious state, government,
and well-being. Unanimity is very desirable on such a question; and as
it is to be presumed no one will oppose the pop'lar will, I shall now
put the question to vote for the purpose of obtaining that unanimity.
Those who are in favor of the Congregationals, or who ardently wish that
denomination, will hold up their hands."

About three-fourths of the hands went up at once. Cries of
"unanimity--unanimity"--followed, until one hand after another went up,
and I counted seventy-three. The remaining voters continued recusant;
but as no question was taken on the other side, the vote may be said to
have been a very decided one, if not positively unanimous. The moderator
and two or three of his friends made short speeches, commending the
liberality of a part of the citizens, and congratulating all, when the
meeting was adjourned.

Such were the facts attending the establishment of the Congregational
church in the settlement of Ravensnest, on purely republican principles;
the question having been carried unanimously in favor of that
denomination, although fifty-two votes out of seventy-eight were pretty
evidently opposed to it. But republican principles were properly
maintained, and the matter was settled; the people having solemnly
decided that they ardently wished for a church that in truth they did
not desire at all.

No complaints were made, on the spot at least. The crowd dispersed, and
as Mr. Newcome walked through it, with the air of a beaten, rather than
of a successful man, I came under his observation for the first time. He
examined me keenly, and I saw a certain air of doubt and misgiving in
his manner. Just at that moment, however, and before he had time to put
a question, Jaap drove up in the wagon, and the negro was an old
acquaintance, having often been at the Nest, and knowing the 'squire for
more than a quarter of a century. This explained the whole affair, a
certain mixed resemblance to both father and mother which I am said to
bear probably aiding in making the truth more apparent.

Mr. Newcome was startled--that was apparent in his countenance--but he
was, nevertheless, self-possessed. Approaching, he saluted me, and at
once let me know he understood who I was.

"This is Major Littlepage, I s'pose," he said "I can see a good deal of
the gin'ral in you, as I know'd your father when a young man; and
something of Herman Mordaunt, your mother's father. How long is it sin'
your arrival, Major Littlepage?"

"But a few minutes," I answered, evasively. "You see my wagon and
servant there, and we are fresh from Albany. My arrival has been
opportune, as all my tenants must be collected here at this moment."

"Why, yes, sir--yes; here are pretty much the whull of them. We have had
a little meetin' to-day, to decide on the natur' of our religion, as one
might say. I s'pose the major didn't get here until matters were coming
to a head?"

"You are quite right, Mr. Newcome, matters were coming to a head, as you
say, before I got on the ground."

The 'squire was a good deal relieved at this, for his conscience
doubtless pricked him a little on the subject of the allusion he had
made to me, and my own denomination. As for myself, I was not sorry to
have got so early behind the curtain as to the character of my agent. It
was pretty clear he was playing his own game as to some things, and it
might be necessary for me to see that this propensity did not extend
itself into other concerns. It is true, my mind was made up to change
him, but there were long and intricate accounts to settle.

"Yes, sir, religion is an interest of the greatest importance to man's
welfare, and it has b'en (Anglice, been) too long neglected among us,"
continued the late moderator. "You see yonder the frame of a meetin'-us,
the first that was ever commenced in this settlement, and it is our
intention to put it up this a'ternoon. The bents are all ready. The
pike-poles are placed, and all is waiting for the word to 'heave.'
You'll perceive, 'squire, it was judicious to go to a sartain p'int,
afore we concluded on the denomination. Up to _that_ p'int every man
would nat'rally work as if he was workin' for his own order, and we've
seen the benefit of such policy, as there you can see the clapboards
planed the sash made and glazed, stuff cut for pews, and everything
ready to put together. The very nails and paints are bought and paid
for. In a word, nothing remains to be done, but to put together, and
finish off, and preach."

"Why did you not erect the edifice, 'and finish off,' as you call it,
before you came to the test-vote, that I perceive you have just taken?"

"That would have been goin' a le-e-e-tle too far, major--a very
le-e-e-tle. If you give a man too tight a hold, he doesn't like to let
go, sometimes. We talked the matter over among us, and concluded to put
the question before we went any further. All has turned out happily, and
we have unanimously resolved to be Congregational. Unanimity in religion
is a blessed thing!"

"Do you apprehend no falling off in zeal, in consequence of this work?
no refusing to help pay the carpenters, and painters, and priest?"

"No much--a little, perhaps; but no great matter, I should judge. Your
own liberal example, major, has had its influence, and I make no doubt
will produce an effect."

"My example, sir! I do not understand you, Mr. Newcome, never having
heard of the church, until I heard your own allusions to it, as chairman
of this very meeting."

'Squire Newcome hemmed, cleared his throat, took an extra-sized chew of
tobacco, and then felt himself equal to attempting an answer.

"I call it _your_ example, sir; though the authority for what I have
done came from your honored father, General Littlepage, as long ago as
before the revolution. Wartimes, you know, major, is no time for
buildin' meetin'-uses; so we concluded to defer the matter until peace.
Peace we have, and our own eends are fast approaching; and I thought if
the work was ever to be done, so that this generation should get the
benefit of it, it should be done now. I was in hopes we should have had
preachin' in the house afore your arrival, and surprised you with the
cheerin' sight of a worshipping people on your lands. Here is your
father's letter, from which I read a paragraph to the people, half an
hour sin'."

"I trust the people have always been worshippers, though it may not have
been in a house built expressly for the purpose. With your permission, I
will read the letter."

This document bore the date of 1770, or fourteen years before the time
the building was erected, and five years before the battle of Lexington
was fought. I was a little surprised at this, but read on. Among other
things, I found that my father had given a general consent to credit his
tenants with five hundred dollars to aid in the erection of a place of
worship; reserving to himself, as my guardian, a voice in the choice of
the denomination. I may add, here, that on examining the leases, I found
credits had been given, in 1770, for the full amount; and that the
money, or what passed for money, the proceeds of work produce, cattle,
butter, cheese, &c., had been in Mr. Newcome's hands the whole of the
intervening time, no doubt to his great advantage. Thus, by a tardy
appropriation of my father's bounty, the agent was pretty certain of
being able to finish the job in hand, even admitting that some of the
people should prove restive under the recent decision.

"And the money thus appropriated has gone to its destination?" I asked,
on returning the letter.

"Every copper has thus gone, major, or will soon go. When the First
Congregational, of Ravensnest, is up, you can contemplate the house with
the satisfaction of knowing that your own money has largely aided in the
good work of its erection. What a delightful sentiment that must awaken!
It must be a great blessin' to landlords, to be able to remember how
much of their money goes for the good of their fellow-mortals."

"In my case, it certainly should, as I understand my father, and indeed
have myself seen, by the accounts rendered to me, that not one dollar of
rent has ever yet left the settlement, to go into the pocket of the
owner of the estate--nay, that the direct outlays of my grandfather were
considerable, in addition to the first cost of the patent."

"I do not deny it, major; I do not deny it. It is quite probable. But,
you will consider what the spirit of Public Improvement demands; and you
gentlemen-proprietors nat'rally look forward to futur' generations for
your reward--yes, sir, to futur' generations. Then will come the time
when these leased lands will turn to account, and you will enj'y the
fruits of your liberality."

I bowed, but made no answer. By this time the wagon had reached the inn,
and Jaap was getting out the trunk and other luggage. A rumor had gone
forth among the people that their landlord had arrived, and some of the
older tenants, those who had known "Herman Mordaunt," as they all called
my grandfather, crowded around me in a frank, hearty manner, in which
good feeling was blended with respect. They desired to take my hand. I
shook hands with all who came, and can truly say that I took no man's
palm into my own that day, without a sentiment that the relation of
landlord and tenant was one that should induce kind and confidential
feelings. The Ravensnest property was by no means necessary to my
comfortable subsistence; and I was really well enough disposed to look
forward, if not to "future generations," at least to a future day, for
the advantages that were to be reaped from it. I asked the crowd in,
ordered a tub of punch made, for, in that day, liquor was a necessary
accompaniment of every welcome, and endeavored to make myself acceptable
to my new friends. A throng of women, of whom I have not yet spoken,
were also in attendance; and I had to go through the ceremony of being
introduced to many of the wives and daughters of Ravensnest. On the
whole, the meeting was friendly, and my reception warm.



CHAPTER X.

    "Bear, through sorrow, wrong, and ruth,
    In thy heart the dew of youth,
    On thy lips the smile of truth."--LONGFELLOW.


The ceremony of the introduction was not half through, when there was a
noisy summons to the pike-poles. This called away the crowd in a body; a
raising in the country being an incident of too much interest to be
overlooked. I profited by the occasion to issue a few orders that
related to my own comfort, when I went, myself, to the scene of present
toil and future Congregationalism.

Everybody in America, a few inveterate cockneys excepted, have seen a
"raising." Most people have seen hundreds; and, as for myself, I believe
I should be safe in saying I had, even at that day, seen a thousand. In
this particular instance, there were great felicitations among the
yeomen, because the frame "had come together well." I was congratulated
on this score, the hearty old Rhode Islander, my brother major, assuring
me that "he couldn't get the blade of his knife, and it's no great
matter of a knife either, into a single j'int. And, what is more,
'squire"--as the sturdy yeoman was a major himself, though only in the
militia, _that_ title would not have been honorable enough for his
landlord--"and, what is more, 'squire, they tell me not a piece was ever
tried, until we put the bents together, this a'ternoon, ourselves! Now,
down country, I never see'd sich a thing; but, up here, the carpenters
go by what they call the 'square-rule;' and quick work they make on't!"
This speech contained the substance of one of the contrivances by which
the "new countries" were endeavoring to catch up with the "old," as I
learned on further inquiries.

It may be well to describe the appearance of the place, when I reached
the site of the new "meetin'-us." The great body of the "people" had
just taken their stands at the first bent, ready for a lift, while
trusty men stood at the feet of the posts, armed with crowbars,
broad-axes, or such other suitable implements as offered, in readiness
to keep those essential uprights in their places; for, on the steadiness
of these persons, depended the limbs and lives of those who raised the
bent. As this structure was larger than common, the danger was
increased, and the necessity of having men that could be relied on was
obviously so much the greater. Of one post, in particular, for some
reason that I do not know, all the trusty men seemed shy; each declaring
that he thought some one else better suited to take charge of it, than
he was himself. The "boss"--that Manhattanese word having travelled up
to Ravensnest--called out for some one to take the delicate station, as
nothing detained the work but the want of a hand there; and one looked
at another, to see who would step forward, when a sudden cry arose of
"the Chainbearer!--the Chainbearer! Here's your man!"

Sure enough, there came old Andries Coejemans, hale, upright, vigorous,
and firm-treading, though he had actually seen his threescore years and
ten. My ancient comrade had thrown aside nearly every trace of his late
military, profession, though the marchings and drillings of eight years
were not to be worked out of a man's air and manner in a twelvemonth.
The only sign of the soldier, other than in his bearing, I could trace
about my brother captain, was the manner in which his queue was clubbed.
Andries wore his own hair; this his early pursuits in the forest
rendered necessary; but it had long been clubbed in a sort of military
fashion, and to that fashion he now adhered. In other respects he had
transformed himself entirely into a woodsman. He wore a hunting-shirt,
like myself; leggings, moccasons, and a cap of skins that had been
deprived of their furs. So far from lessening in any degree the fine
effect of his green old age, however, this attire served to increase it.
Andries Coejemans stood six feet, at seventy; was still as erect as he
had been at twenty; and so far from betraying the inroads of age on his
frame, the last appeared to be indurated and developed by what it had
borne. His head was as white as snow, while his face had the ruddy,
weather-beaten color of health and exposure. The face had always been
handsome, having a very unusual expression of candor and benevolence
impressed on features that were bold and manly.

The Chainbearer could not have seen me until he stepped upon the frame.
Then, indeed, there was no mistaking the expression of his countenance,
which denoted pleasure and friendly interest. Striding over the timber,
with the step of a man long accustomed to tread among dangers of all
sorts, he grasped my hand, and gave it such a squeeze as denoted the
good condition of his own muscles and sinews. I saw a tear twinkling in
his eye; for had I been his own son, I do not think he could have loved
me more.

"Mortaunt, my poy, you're heartily welcome," said my old comrade. "You
haf come upon t'ese people, I fancy, as t'e cat steals upon t'e mice;
but I had titings of your march, and have peen a few miles town t'e roat
to meet you. How, or where you got past me, is more t'an I know, for I
haf seen nuttin' of you or of your wagon."

"Yet here we both are, my excellent old friend, and most happy am I to
meet you again. If you will go with me to the tavern, we can talk more
at our ease."

"Enough, enough for t'e present, young comrate. Pusiness is standing
still a little, for t'e want of my hant; step off the frame, lat, and
let us get up t'ese pents, when I am your man for a week or a year."

Exchanging looks, and renewing the warm and friendly pressure of the
hand, we parted for the moment; I quitting the frame, while the
Chainbearer went at once to the foot of the important post, or to that
station no one else would assume. Then commenced, without further delay,
the serious toil of raising a bent. This work is seldom entirely free
from hazard; and on this particular occasion, when the force in men was
a little disproportioned to the weight of the timber, it was doubly
incumbent on every man to be true and steady. My attention was at once
attracted to the business in hand; and for several minutes I thought of
little else. The females had drawn as near the spot where their
husbands, brothers, and lovers were exerting every muscle and nerve, as
comported with prudence; and a profound and anxious quiet pervaded the
whole of a crowd that was gay with rustic finery, if not very remarkable
for taste or refinement. Still, the cluster of females had little in it
that was coarse or even unfeminine, if it had not much that would be so
apt to meet the eye, in the way of the attractive, in a similar crowd of
the present day. The improvement in the appearance and dress of the
wives and daughters of husbandmen has been very marked among us within
the last five-and-twenty years. Fully one-half of those collected on
this occasion were in short gowns, as they were called, a garb that has
almost entirely disappeared; and the pillions that were to be seen on
the bodies of nearly all the horses that were fastened to the adjacent
fences, showed the manner in which they had reached the ground. The
calicoes of that day were both dear and homely; and it required money to
enable a woman to appear in a dress that would be thought attractive to
the least practised eye. Nevertheless, there were many pretty girls in
that row of anxious faces, with black eyes and blue, light, black, and
brown hair, and of the various forms and hues in which female beauty
appears in the youthful.

I flatter myself that I was as comely as the generality of young men of
my age and class, and that, on ordinary occasions, I could not have
shown myself before that cluster of girls, without drawing to myself
some of their glances. Such was not the case, however, when I left the
frame, which now attracted all eyes. On that, and on those who
surrounded it, every eye and every anxious face was turned, my own
included. It was a moment of deep interest to all; and most so to those
who could only _feel_, and not act.

At the word, the men made a simultaneous effort; and they raised the
upper part of the bent from the timber on which it lay. It was easy to
see that the laborers, stout and willing as they were, had as much as
they could lift. Boys stood ready, however, with short pieces of
scantling to place upright beneath the bent; and the men had time to
breathe. I felt a little ashamed of having nothing to do at such a
moment; but, fearful of doing harm instead of good, I kept aloof, and
remained a mere spectator.

"Now, men," said the boss, who had taken his stand where he could
overlook the work, "we will make ready for another lift. All at once
makes light work--are you ready?--H-e-a-ve."

Heave, or lift, the stout fellows did; and with so much intelligence and
readiness, that the massive timber was carried up as high as their
heads. There it stopped, supported as before, by short pieces of
scantling.

The pike-poles next came in play. This is always the heaviest moment of
a lift of that sort, and the men made their dispositions accordingly.
Short poles were first got under the bent, by thrusting the unarmed ends
into the cavity of the foundation; and a few of the stoutest of the men
stood on blocks, prepared to apply their strength directly.

"Are you ready, men?" called out the boss. "This is our heaviest bent,
and we come to it fresh. Look out well to the foot of each
post--Chainbearer, I count on _you_--your post is the king-post of the
whole frame; if that goes, all goes. Make ready, men; heave
altogether--that's a lift. Heave again, men--h-e-a-ve--altogether
now--he-e-a-ve! Up she goes; he-e-a-ve--more pike-poles--stand to the
frame, boys--get along some studs--he-e-a-ve--in with your props--so,
catch a little breath, men."

It was time to take breath, of a certainty; for the effort had been
tremendously severe. The bent had risen, however, and now stood,
supported as before by props, at an angle of some fifteen degrees with
the plane of the building, which carried all but the posts beyond the
reach of hands. The pike-pole was to do the rest; and the next ten
degrees to be overcome would probably cause the greatest expenditure of
force. As yet, all had gone well, the only drawback being the certainty
which had been obtained, that the strength present was hardly sufficient
to get up so heavy a bent. Nevertheless there was no remedy, every
person on the ground who could be of use, but myself having his station.
A well-looking, semi-genteel young man, whose dress was two-thirds
forest and one-third town, had come from behind the row of females,
stepped upon the frame, and taken his post at a pike-pole. The
uninitiated reader will understand that those who raise a building
necessarily stand directly under the timber they are lifting; and that a
downfall would bring them beneath a fearful trap. Bents do sometimes
come down on the laborers; and the result is almost certain destruction
to those who are caught beneath the timber. Notwithstanding the danger
and the difficulty in the present case, good-humor prevailed, and a few
jokes were let off at the expense of the Congregationalists and the late
moderator.

"Agree, 'squire," called out the hearty old Rhode Islander, "to let in
some of the other denominations occasionally, and see how the bent will
go up. Presbytery is holding back desperately!"

"I hope no one supposes," answered Mr. Moderator, "that religious
liberty doesn't exist in this settlement. Sartainly--sartainly--other
denominations can always use this house, when it isn't wanted by the
right owners."

Those words "right owners" were unfortunate; the stronger the right, the
less the losing party liking to hear of it. Notwithstanding, there was
no disposition to skulk, or to abandon the work; and two or three of the
dissentients took their revenge on the spot, by hits at the moderator.
Fearful that there might be too much talk, the boss now renewed his call
for attention to the work.

"Let us all go together, men," he added. "We've got to the pinch, and
must stand to the work like well-broke cattle. If every man at the frame
will do his best for just one minute, the hardest will be over. You see
that upright stud there, with that boy, Tim Trimmer at it; just raise
the bent so that Timmy can get the eend of that stud under it, and all
will be safe. Look to the lower eend of the stud, Tim; is it firm and
well stopped?"

Tim declared it was; but two or three of the men went and examined it,
and after making a few alterations, they too assured the boss it could
not get away. A short speech was then made, in which every man was
exhorted to do his best; and everybody in particular, was reminded of
the necessity of standing to his work. After that speech, the men raised
the pike-poles, and placed themselves at their stations. Silent
expectation succeeded.

As yet, not a sign, look, or word, had intimated either wish or
expectation that I was to place myself in the ranks. I will confess to
an impulse to that effect; for who can look on and see their
fellow-creatures straining every muscle, and not submit to human
sympathy? But the recollection of military rank, and private position,
had not only their claims, but their feelings. I did go a step or two
nearer to the frame, but I did not put my foot on it.

"Get ready, men"--called the boss, "for a last time. Altogether at the
word--now's your time--he-e-a-ve--he-e-e-a-ve--he-e-e-e-ave!"

The poor fellows did heave, and it was only too evident that they were
staggering under the enormous pressure of the massive timber. I stepped
on the frame at the very centre, or at the most dangerous spot, and
applied all my strength to a pike-pole.

"Hurrah!" shouted the boss--"there comes the young landlord!--he-e-ave,
every man his best!--he-e-e-e-ave!"

We did heave our best, and we raised the bent several feet above its
former props, but not near enough to reach the new ones, by an inch or
two. Twenty voices now called on every man to stand to his work; for
everybody felt the importance of even a boy's strength. The boss rushed
forward like a man, to our aid; and then Tim, fancying his stud would
stand without his support, left it and flew to a pike-pole. At this
mistake the stud fell a little on one side, where it could be of no use.
My face was so placed that I saw this dangerous circumstance; and I felt
that the weight I upheld, individually, grew more like lead at each
instant. I knew by this time that our force was tottering under the
downward pressure of the enormous bent.

"He-e-e-ave, men--for your lives, he-eave!" exclaimed the boss, like one
in the agony.

The tones of his voice sounded to me like those of despair. Had a single
boy deserted us then, and we had twenty of them on the frame, the whole
mass of timber must have come down upon us. Talk of charging into a
battery? What is there in that to try men's nerves like the situation in
which we were placed? The yielding of a muscle, in all that straining,
lifting body, might have ruined us. A most fearful, frightful, twenty
seconds followed; and just as I had abandoned hope, a young female
darted out of the anxious, pale-faced crowd that was looking on in a
terror and agony that may be better conceived than described, and
seizing the stud, she placed it alongside of the post. But an inch was
wanted to gain its support; but how to obtain that inch! I now raised my
voice, and called on the fainting men to heave. They obeyed; and I saw
that spirited, true-eyed, firm-handed girl place the prop precisely
where it was wanted. All that end of the bent felt the relief instantly,
and man after man cautiously withdrew from under the frame, until none
remained but those who upheld the other side. We flew to the relief of
those, and soon had a number of props in their places, when all drew
back and looked on the danger from which they had escaped, breathless
and silent. For myself, I felt a deep sense of gratitude to God for the
escape.

This occurrence made a profound impression. Everybody was sensible of
the risk that had been run, and of the ruin that might have befallen the
settlement. I had caught a glimpse of the rare creature whose decision,
intelligence, and presence of mind had done so much for us all; and to
me she seemed to be the loveliest being of her sex my eyes had ever
lighted on! Her form, in particular, was perfection; being just the
medium between feminine delicacy and rude health; or just so much of the
last as could exist without a shade of coarseness; and the little I saw
of a countenance that was nearly concealed by a maze of curls that might
well be termed golden, appeared to me to correspond admirably with that
form. Nor was there anything masculine or unseemly in the deed she had
performed to subtract in any manner from the feminine character of her
appearance. It was decided, useful, and in one sense benevolent; but a
boy might have executed it so far as physical force was concerned. The
act required coolness, intelligence, and courage, rather than any
masculine power of body.

It is possible that, aware as I was of the jeopardy in which we were all
placed, my imagination may have heightened the effect of the fair
apparition that had come to save us, as it might be, like a messenger
from above. But, even there, where I stood panting from the effect of
exertions that I have never equalled in my own case most certainly,
exhausted, nearly breathless, and almost unable to stand, my mind's-eye
saw nothing but the flexible form, the elastic, ready step, the golden
tresses, the cheek suffused by excitement, the charming lips compressed
with resolution, and the whole air, attitude, and action characterized,
as was each and all, by the devotion, readiness, and loveliness of her
sex. When my pulses beat more regularly, and my heart ceased to throb, I
looked around in quest of that strange vision, but saw no one who could,
in the least, claim to be connected with it. The females had huddled
together, like a covey that was frightened, and were exclaiming, holding
up their hands, and indulging in the signs of alarm that are customary
with their sex and class. The "vision" was certainly not in that group,
but had vanished as suddenly as it had appeared.

At this juncture, the Chainbearer came forward, and took the command. I
could see he was agitated--affected might be a better word--but he was,
nevertheless, steady and authoritative. He was obeyed, too, in a manner
I was delighted to see. The order of the "boss" had produced no such
impressions as those which old Andries now issued; and I really felt an
impulse to obey them myself, as I would have done eighteen months
before, when he stood on the right of our regiment as its oldest
captain.

The carpenter yielded his command to the Chainbearer without a murmur.
Even 'Squire Newcome evidently felt that Andries was one who, in a
certain way, could influence the minds of the settlers more than he
could do it himself. In short, everybody listened, everybody seemed
pleased, and everybody obeyed. Nor did my old friend resort to any of
the coaxing that is so common in America, when men are to be controlled
in the country. In the towns, and wherever men are to be commanded in
bodies, authority is as well understood as it is in any other quarter of
the world; but, in the interior, and especially among the people of New
England habits, very few men carry sufficient command with them to say,
"John, do this," or "John, do that;" but it is "Johnny, _why won't you_
do this?" or "Johnny, _don't you think you'd better_ do that?" The
Chainbearer had none of this mystified nonsense about him. He called
things by their right names; and when he wanted a spade, he did not ask
for a hoe. As a consequence, he was obeyed, command being just as
indispensable to men, on a thousand occasions, as any other quality.

Everything was soon ready again, with the men stationed a little
differently from what they had previously been. This change was the
Chainbearer's, who understood mechanics practically; better, perhaps,
than if he had been a first-rate mathematician. The word was given to
heave, all of us being at the pike-poles; when up went the bent, as if
borne upon by a force that was irresistible. Such was the effect of old
Andries' habits of command, which not only caused every man to lift with
all his might, but the whole to lift together. A bent that is
perpendicular is easily secured; and then it was announced that the
heaviest of the work was over. The other bents were much lighter; and
one up, there were means of aiding in raising the rest that were at
first wanting.

"The Congregationals has got the best on't," cried out the old Rhode
Islander, laughing, as soon as the bent was stay-lathed, "by the help of
the Chainbearer and somebody else I wunt name! Well, our turn will come,
some day; for Ravensnest is a place in which the people wont be
satisfied with one religion. A country is badly on't, that has but one
religion in't; priests getting lazy, and professors dull!"

"You may be sure of t'at," answered the Chainbearer, who was evidently
making preparations to quit the frame. "Ravensnest will get as many
religions, in time, as t'ere are discontented spirits in it; and t'ey
will need many raisings, and more priests."

"Do you intend to leave us, Chainbearer? There's more posts to hold, and
more bents to lift?"

"The worst is over, and you've force enough wit'out me, for what remains
to be tone. I haf t'e lantlort to take care of. Go to your work, men;
and, if you can, rememper you haf a peing to worship in t'is house, t'at
is neit'er Congregational, nor Presbyterian, nor anything else of the
nature of your disputes and self-conceit. 'Squire Newcome wilt gif you a
leat in t'e way of l'arning, and t'e carpenter can act boss well enough
for t'e rest of t'e tay."

I was surprised at the coolness with which my old friend delivered
himself of sentiments that were not very likely to find favor in such a
company, and the deference that he received, while thus ungraciously
employed. But I afterward ascertained Andries commanded respect by means
of his known integrity; and his opinions carried weight because he was a
man who usually said "_come_, boys," and not one who issued his orders
in the words "go, boys." This had been his character in the army, where,
in his own little circle, he was known as one ever ready to lead in
person. Then Andries was a man of sterling truth; and such a man, when
he has the moral courage to act up to his native impulses, mingled with
discretion enough to keep him within the boundaries of common prudence,
insensibly acquires great influence over those with whom he is brought
in contact. Men never fail to respect such qualities, however little
they put them in practice in their own cases.

"Come Morty, my poy," said the Chainbearer, as soon as we were clear of
the crowd, "I will pe your guite, ant take you to a roof unter which you
will pe master."

"You surely do not mean the 'Nest?"

"T'at, and no ot'er. T'e olt place looks, like us olt soltiers, a little
rusty, and t'e worse for sarvice; put it is comfortaple, and I haf had
it put in order for you, poy. Your grantfat'er's furniture is still
t'ere; and Frank Malpone, Dus, and I, haf mate it head-quarters, since
we haf peen in t'is part of t'e country. You know I haf your orters for
t'at."

"Certainly, and to use anything else that is mine. But I had supposed
you fairly hutted in the woods of Mooseridge!"

"T'at hast peen tone too; sometimes we are at one place, and sometimes
at anot'er. My niggers are at t'e hut; put Frank and Dus and I haf come
ofer to welcome you to t'e country."

"I have a wagoner here, and my own black--let me step to the inn, and
order them to get ready for us."

"Mortaunt, you and I haf peen uset to our feet. The soltier marches, and
countermarches, wit' no wagon to carry him; he leafs t'em to t'e
paggage, and t'e paggage-guart."

"Come on, old Andries; I will be your comrade, on foot or on horseback.
It can only be some three or four miles, and Jaap can follow with the
trunks at his leisure."

A word spoken to the negro was all that was necessary; though the
meeting between him and the Chainbearer was that of old friends. Jaap
had gone through the whole war with the regiment, sometimes acting as my
father's servant, sometimes carrying a musket, sometimes driving a team;
and, at the close of his career, as my particular attendant. He
consequently regarded himself as a sort of soldier, and a very good one
had he proved himself to be, on a great many occasions.

"One word before we start, Chainbearer," I said, as old Andries and Jaap
concluded their greetings; "I fell in with the Indian you used to call
Sureflint, in the woods, and I wish to take him with us."

"He hast gone aheat, to let your visit pe known," answered my friend. "I
saw him going up t'e roat, at a quick trot, half an hour since. He is at
t'e 'Nest py t'is time."

No more remained to be said or done, and we went our way, leaving the
people busily engaged in getting up the remainder of the frame. I had
occasion to observe that my arrival produced much less sensation in the
settlement than it might have done had not the "meeting-house" been my
competitor in attracting attention. One was just as much of a novelty as
the other; just as much of a stranger. Although born in a Christian
land, and educated in Christian dogmas, very few of those who dwelt on
the estate of Ravensnest, and who were under the age of five-and-twenty,
had ever seen an edifice that was constructed for the purpose of
Christian worship at all. Such structures were rare indeed, in the year
1784, and in the interior of New York. Albany had but two, I believe;
the capital may have had a dozen; and most of the larger villages
possessed at least one; but with the exception of the old counties, and
here and there one on the Mohawk, the new State could not boast of many
of "those silent fingers pointing to the sky," rising among its trees,
so many monitors of a future world, and of the great end of life. As a
matter of course, all those who had never seen a church felt the
liveliest desire to judge of the form and proportions of this; and as
the Chainbearer and I passed the crowd of females, I heard several
good-looking girls expressing their impatience to see something of the
anticipated steeple, while scarce a glance was bestowed on myself.

"Well, my old friend, here we are together, again, marching on a public
highway," I remarked, "but with no intention of encamping in front of an
enemy."

"I hope not," returned Andries, dryly; "t'ough all is not golt t'at
glitters. We have fought a hard battle, Major Littlepage; I hope it will
turn out for a goot end."

I was a little surprised at this remark; but Andries was never very
sanguine in his anticipations of good. Like a true Dutchman, he
particularly distrusted the immigration from the Eastern States, which I
had heard him often say could bring no happy results.

"All will come round in the end, Chainbearer," I answered, "and we shall
get the benefits of our toil and dangers. But how do you come on at the
Ridge, and who is this surveyor of yours?"

"T'ings do well enough at t'e Ridge, Mortaunt; for _t'ere_ t'ere is not
a soul yet to make trouple. We have prought you a map of ten t'ousant
acres, laid off in huntret acre lots, which I will venture to say haf
peen as honestly and carefully measuret as any other ten t'ousant acres
in t'e State. We pegan next to t'is property, and you may pegin to
lease, on your fat'er's lant, just as soon as you please."

"And the Frank Malbone you have written about did the surveying?"

"He worket up _my_ measurements, lat, and closely tone t'ey are, I'll
answer for it. T'is Frank Malbone is t'e brot'er of Dus--t'at is to say,
her half-brot'er; peing no nephew of mine. Dus, you know, is only a
half-niece in bloot; but she is a full da'ter in lofe. As for Frank, he
is a goot fellow; and t'ough t'is is his first jop at surfeying, he may
be dependet on wit' as much confitence as any ot'er man going."

"No matter if a few mistakes are made, Andries; land is not diamonds in
this country; there is plenty for us all, and a great deal to spare. It
would be a different matter if there was a scarcity; but as it is, give
good measure to the tenant, or the purchaser. A first survey can only
produce a little loss or gain; whereas surveys between old farms are
full of trouble."

"Ant lawsuits"--put in the Chainbearer, nodding his head. "To tell you
my mint, Mortaunt, I would rat'er take a jop in a Dutch settlement, at
half-price, t'an run a line petween two Yankees for twice the money.
Among t'e Dutch, t'e owners light their pipes, and smoke whilst you are
at work; but the Yankees are the whole time trying to cut off a little
here, and to gain a little t'ere; so t'at it is as much as a man's
conscience is wort' to carry a chain fairly petween 'em."

As I knew his prejudice on this subject formed the weak point in the
Chainbearer, I gave the discourse a new turn, by leading it to political
events, of which I knew him to be fond. We walked on, conversing on
various topics connected with this theme, for near an hour, when I found
myself rather suddenly quite near to my own particular house. Near by,
the building had more of shape and substance than it had seemed to
possess when seen from the height; and I found the orchards and meadows
around it free from stumps and other eyesores, and in good order. Still,
the place on its exterior, had a sort of jail look, there being no
windows, nor any other outlet than the door. On reaching the latter,
which was a gate, rather than an ordinary entrance, we paused a moment
to look about us. While we stood there, gazing at the fields, a form
glided through the opening, and Sureflint stood by my side. He had
hardly got there, when there arose the strains of the same full, rich,
female voice, singing Indian words to a civilized melody, as I had heard
issuing from the thicket of pines, among the second growth of the
forest. From that moment I forgot my fields and orchards, forgot the
Chainbearer and Sureflint, and could think of nothing but the
extraordinary circumstance of a native girl's possessing such a
knowledge of our music. The Indian himself seemed entranced; never
moving until the song or verses were ended. Old Andries smiled, waited
until the last strain was finished, pronounced the word "Dus" with
emphasis, and beckoned for me to follow him into the building.



CHAPTER XI.

     "The fault will be in the music, cousin, if you be not woo'd in
     good time; if the prince be too important, tell him there is
     measure for every thing, and so dance out the
     answer."--_Beatrice._


"Dus!" I repeated to myself--"This, then, is Dus, and no Indian girl;
the Chainbearer's 'Dus;' Priscilla Bayard's 'Dus;' and Sureflint's
'wren'!"

Andries must have overheard me, in part; for he stopped just within the
court on which the gate opened, and said--

"Yes, t'at is Dus, my niece. The girl is like a mocking-pird, and
catches the songs of all languages and people. She is goot at Dutch, and
quite melts my heart, Mortaunt, when she opens her throat to sing one of
our melancholy Dutch songs; and she gives the English too, as if she
knowet no ot'er tongue."

"But that song was Indian--the words, at least, were Mohawk or Oneida."

"Onondago--t'ere is little or no tifference. Yes, you're right enough;
the worts are Indian, and they tell me t'e music is Scotch. Come from
where it will, it goes straight to the heart, poy."

"How came Dus--how came Miss Ursula--that is, your niece, to understand
an Indian dialect?"

"Didn't I tell you she is a perfect mocking-bird, and that she imitates
all she hears? Yes, Dus would make as goot a surveyor as her brot'er,
after a week's trial. You've heart me say how much I livet among the
tripes before t'e war, and Dus was t'en wit' me. In that manner she has
caught the language; and what she has once l'arnet she nefer forget. Dus
is half wilt from living so much in the woots, and you must make
allowances for her; put she is a capital gal, and t'e very prite of my
heart!"

"Tell me one thing before we enter the house--does any one else sing
Indian about here?--has Sureflint any women with him?"

"Not he!--t'e creatur' hast not'ing to do wit' squaws. As for any one
else's singing Intian, I can only tell you I never heart of such a
person."

"But, you told me you were down the road to meet me this morning--were
you alone!"

"Not at all--we all went; Sureflint, Frank, Dus, and I. I t'ought it due
to a lantlort, Mortaunt, to gif him a hearty welcome; t'ough Dus did
mutiny a little, and sait t'at, lantlort or no lantlort, it was not
proper for a young gal to go forth to meet a young man. I might have
t'ought so too, if it hadn't peen yourself, my poy; but, with you, I
couldn't play stranger, as one woult wit' a straggling Yankee. I wishet
to welcome you wit' the whole family; put I'll not conceal Dus's
unwillingness to be of t'e party."

"But Dus _was_ of your party! It is very odd we did not meet!"

"Now, you speak of it, I do pelief it wast all owin' to a scheme of t'at
cunnin' gal! You must know, Mortaunt, a'ter we had got a pit down t'e
roat, she persuatet us to enter a t'icket of pines, in order to eat a
mout'ful; and I do pelief the cunnin' hussy just did it t'at you might
slip past, and she safe her female dignity!"

"And from those pines Sureflint came, just after Dus, as you call her,
but Miss Ursula Malbone, as I ought to style her, had been singing this
very song?"

"Wast you near enough to know all t'is, poy, and we miss you! The gal dit
sing t'at ferry song; yes, I rememper it; and a sweet, goot song it is.
Call her Miss Ursula Malbone? Why shouldn't you call her Dus, as well as
Frank and I?"

"For the simple reason that you are uncle, and Frank her brother, while
I am a total stranger."

"Poh--poh--Morty; t'is is peing partic'lar. I am only a half-uncle, in
the first place; and Frank is only a half-brot'er; and I dares to say
you wilt pe her _whole_ frient. T'en, you are not a stranger to any of
t'e family, I can tell you, lat; for I have talket enough apout you to
make bot' t'e poy and t'e gal lofe you almost as much as I do myself."

Poor, simple-hearted, upright old Andries! What an unpleasant feeling
did he give me, by letting me into the secret that I was about to meet
persons who had been listening to his partial accounts for the last
twelve months. It is so difficult to equal expectations thus awakened;
and I will own that I had begun to be a little sensitive on the subject
of this Dus. The song had been ringing in my ears from the moment I
first heard it; and now that it became associated with Priscilla
Bayard's Ursula Malbone, the latter had really become a very formidable
person to my imagination. There was no retreating, however, had I wished
it; and a sign induced the Chainbearer to proceed. Face the young woman
I must, and the sooner it was done the better.

The 'Nest-house, as my homely residence was termed, had been a sort of
fortress, or "garrison," in its day, having been built around three
sides of a parallelogram, with all its windows and doors opening on the
court. On the fourth side were the remains of pickets, or palisades, but
they were mostly rotted away, being useless as a fence, from the
circumstance that the buildings stood on the verge of a low cliff that,
of itself, formed a complete barrier against the invasions of cattle,
and no insignificant defence against those of man.

The interior of the 'Nest-house was far more inviting than its exterior.
The windows gave the court an appearance of life and gayety, at once
converting that which was otherwise a pile of logs, thrown together in
the form of a building, into a habitable and inhabited dwelling. One
side of this court, however, was much neater, and had much more the air
of comfort than the other; and toward the first Andries led the way. I
was aware that my grandfather Mordaunt had caused a few rooms in this
building to be furnished for his own particular purposes, and that no
orders had ever been given to remove or to dispose of the articles thus
provided. I was not surprised, therefore, on entering the house, to find
myself in apartments which, while they could not be called in any manner
gayly or richly furnished, were nevertheless quite respectably supplied
with most of the articles that are thought necessary to a certain manner
of living.

"We shall fint Dus in here, I dare say," observed the Chainbearer,
throwing open a door, and signing for me to precede him. "Go in, and
shake t'e gal's hand, Mortaunt; she knows you well enough, name and
natur', as a poty may say."

I did go in, and found myself within a few feet of the fair,
golden-haired girl of the raising; she who had saved the frame from
falling on us all, by a decision of mind and readiness of exertion that
partook equally of courage and dexterity. She was in the same dress as
when first seen by me, though the difference in attitude and employment
certainly gave her air and expression a very different character. Ursula
Malbone was now quietly occupied in hemming one of those coarse checked
handkerchiefs that the poverty of her uncle compelled him, or at least
induced him to use, and of which I had seen one in his hands only a
minute before. On my entrance she rose, gravely but not discourteously
answering my bow with a profound courtesy. Neither spoke, though the
salutes were exchanged as between persons who felt no necessity for an
introduction in order to know each other.

"Well, now," put in Andries, in his strongest Dutch accent, "t'is wilt
never do, ast petween two such olt frients. Come hit'er, Dus, gal, and
gif your hant to Mortaunt Littlepage, who ist a sort of son of my own."

Dus obeyed, and I had the pleasure of holding her soft velvet-like hand
in mine for one moment. I felt a gratification I cannot describe in
finding the hand _was_ so soft, since the fact gave me the assurance
that necessity had not yet reduced her to any of the toil that is
unsuited to a gentlewoman. I knew that Andries had slaves, his only
possession, indeed, besides his compass, chains and sword, unless a few
arms and some rude articles of the household were excepted; and these
slaves, old and worn out as they must be by this time, were probably the
means of saving the niece from the performance of offices that were
menial.

Although I got the hand of Ursula Malbone, I could not catch her eye.
She did not avert her face, neither did she affect coldness; but she was
not at her ease. I could readily perceive that she would have been
better pleased had her uncle permitted the salutations to be limited to
the bows and courtesies. As I had never seen this girl before, and could
not have done anything to offend her, I ascribed the whole to _mauvaise
honte_, and the embarrassment that was natural enough to one who found
herself placed in a situation so different from that in which she had so
lately been. I bowed on the hand, possibly gave it a gentle pressure in
order to reassure its owner, and we separated.

"Well, now, Dus, haf you a cup of tea for the lantlort--to welcome him
to his own house wit'?" demanded Andries, perfectly satisfied with the
seemingly amicable relations he had established between us. "T'e major
hast hat a long march, for peaceable times, and woult be glat to git a
little refreshment."

"You call me major, Chainbearer, while you refuse to accept the same
title for yourself."

"Ay, t'ere ist reason enough for t'at. _You_ may lif to be a general;
_wilt_ probably be one before you're t'irty; but I am an olt man, now,
and shall never wear any ot'er uniform than this I have on again. I
pegan t'e worlt in this corps, Morty, and shall end it in the rank in
which I began."

"I thought you had been a surveyor originally, and that you fell back on
the chain because you had no taste for figures. I think I have heard as
much from yourself."

"Yes, t'at is t'e fact. Figures and I didn't agree; nor do I like 'em
any petter at seventy t'an I liket 'em at seventeen. Frank Malbone, now,
Dus's brother, t'ere, ist a lat that takes to 'em nat'rally, and he
works t'rough a sum ast your fat'er would carry a battalion t'rough a
ravine. Carrying chain I like; it gives sufficient occupation to t'e
mind; put honesty is the great quality for the chainbearer. They say
figures can't lie, Mortaunt; but 'tis not true wit' chains; sometimes
they do lie, desperately."

"Where is Mr. Francis Malbone? I should be pleased to make his
acquaintance."

"Frank remainet pehint to help 'em up with their timber. He is a stout
chap, like yourself, and can lent a hant; while, poor fellow! he has no
lantlort tignity to maintain."

I heard a gentle sigh from Dus, and involuntarily turned my head; for
she was occupied directly behind my chair. As if ashamed of the
weakness, the spirited girl colored, and for the first time in my life I
heard her voice, the two instances of the Indian songs excepted. I say
heard her voice; for it was an event to record. A pleasant voice, in
either sex, is a most pleasant gift from nature. But the sweet tones of
Ursula Malbone were all that the most fastidious ear could have desired;
being full, rich, melodious, yet on the precise key that best satisfies
the taste, bringing with it assurances of a feminine disposition and
regulated habits. I detest a shrill, high-keyed female voice, more than
that of a bawling man, while one feels a contempt for those who mumble
their words in order to appear to possess a refinement that the very act
itself contradicts. Plain, direct, but regulated utterance, is
indispensable to a man or woman of the world; anything else rendering
him or her mean or affected.

"I was in hopes," said Dus, "that evil-disposed frame was up and
secured, and that I should see Frank in a minute or two. I was surprised
to see you working so stoutly for the Presbyterians, uncle Chainbearer!"

"I might return t'e compliment, and say I wast surpriset to see _you_
doing the same t'ing, Miss Dus! Pesides, the tenomination is
Congregational and not Prespyterian; and one is apout as much to your
taste as t'e ot'er."

"The little I did was for you, and Frank, and--Mr. Littlepage, with all
the rest who stood under the frame."

"I am sure, Miss Ursula," I now put in, "we all ought, and I trust we
all _do_ feel truly grateful for your timely aid. Had that timber come
down, many of us must have been killed, and more maimed."

"It was not a very feminine exploit," answered the girl, smiling, as I
thought, a little bitterly. "But one gets accustomed to being _useful_
in the woods."

"Do you dislike living in the forest, then?" I ventured to ask.

"Certainly not. I like living anywhere that keeps me near uncle
Chainbearer, and Frank. They are all to me, now my excellent protectress
and adviser is no more; and their home is my home, their pleasure my
pleasure, their happiness mine."

This might have been said in a way to render it suspicious and
sentimental; but it was not. On the contrary, it was impulsive, and came
from the heart. I saw by the gratified look of Andries that he
understood his niece, and was fully aware how much he might rely on the
truthful character of the speaker. As for the girl herself, the moment
she had given utterance to what she felt, she shrunk back, like one
abashed at having laid bare feelings that ought to have been kept in the
privacy of her own bosom. Unwilling to distress her, I turned the
conversation in a way to leave her to herself.

"Mr. Newcome seems a skilful manager of the multitude," I remarked. "He
contrived very dexterously to give to the twenty-six Congregationalists
he had with him, the air of being a majority of the whole assembly;
while in truth, they were barely a third of those present."

"Let Jason Newcome alone for t'at?" exclaimed Andries. "He understants
mankint, he says, and sartainly he hast a way of marching and
countermarching just where he pleases wit' t'ese people, makin' 'em
t'ink t'e whole time t'ey are doing just what t'ey want to do. It ist an
art, major--it ist an art!"

"I should think it must be, and one worth possessing, if, indeed, it can
be exercised with credit."

"Ay, t'ere's the rub! Exerciset it is; but as for t'e credit, _t'at_ I
will not answer for. It sometimes makes me angry, and sometimes it makes
me laugh, when I look on, and see t'e manner in which Jason makes t'e
people rule t'emselves, and how _he_ wheels 'em apout, and faces 'em,
and t'rows them into line, and out of line, at t'eir own wort of
commant! His Excellency coult hartly do more wit' us, a'fer t'e Baron[8]
had given us his drill."

[Footnote 8: This allusion is evidently to a German officer, who
introduced the Prussian drill into the American army, Baron Steuben--or
_Stuy_ben, as I think he must have been called in Germany--Steu_ben_, as
he is universally termed in this country.--EDITOR.]

"There must be some talent necessary, in order to possess so much
influence over one's fellow-creatures."

"It is a talent you woult be ashamed to exercise, Mortaunt Littlepage,
t'ough you hat it in cart loats. No man can use such talent wit'out
peginning wit' lying and deceifing; and you must be greatly changet,
major, if you are the he't of your class, in such a school."

"I am sorry to see, Chainbearer, that you have no better opinion of my
agent; I must look into the matter a little, when this is the case."

"You wilt fint him law-honest enough; for he swears py t'e law, and lifs
py t'e law. No fear for your tollars, poy; t'ey pe all safe, unless,
inteet, t'ey haf all vanishet in t'e law."

As Andries was getting more and more Dutch, I knew he was growing more
and more warm, and I thought it might be well to defer the necessary
inquiries to a cooler moment. This peculiarity I have often observed in
most of those who speak English imperfectly, or with the accent of some
other tongue. They fall back, as respects language, to that nearest to
nature, at those moments when natural feeling is asserting its power
over them the least equivocally.

I now began to question the Chainbearer concerning the condition in
which he found the 'Nest-house and farm, over which I had given him full
authority, when he came to the place, by a special letter to the agent.
The people in possession were of very humble pretensions, and had been
content to occupy the kitchen and servants' rooms ever since my
grandfather's death, as indeed, they had done long before that event. It
was owing to this moderation, as well as to their perfect honesty, that
I found nothing embezzled, and most of the articles in good condition.
As for the farm, it had flourished, on the "let alone" principle. The
orchards had grown, as a matter of course; and if the fields had not
been improved by judicious culture, neither had they been exhausted by
covetous croppings. In these particulars, there was nothing of which to
complain. Things might have been better, Andries thought; but he also
thought it was exceedingly fortunate they were no worse. While we were
conversing on this theme, Dus moved about the room silently, but with
collected activity, having arranged the tea-table with her own hands.
When invited to take our seats at it--everybody drew near to a tea-table
in that day, unless when there was too large a party to be
accommodated--I was surprised to find everything so perfectly neat, and
some things rich. The plates, knives, etc., were of good quality, but
the tray was actually garnished with a set of old-fashioned silver, such
as was made when tea was first used, of small size, but very highly
chased. The handle of the spoons represented the stem of the tea-plant,
and there was a crest on each of them; while a full coat of arms was
engraved on the different vessels of the service, which were four in
all. I looked at the crest, in a vague, but surprised expectation of
finding my own. It was entirely new to me. Taking the cream-jug in my
hand, I could recall no arms resembling those that were engraved on it.

"I was surprised to find this plate here," I observed; "for, though my
grandfather possessed a great deal of it, for one of his means, I did
not think he had enough to be as prodigal of it as leaving it here would
infer. This is family plate, too, but those arms are neither Mordaunt
nor Littlepage. May I ask to whom they do belong?"

"The Malpones," answered the Chainbearer. "T'e t'ings are t'e property
of Dus."

"And you may add, uncle Chainbearer, that they are _all_ her
property"--added the girl, quickly.

"I feel much honored in being permitted to use them, Miss Ursula," I
remarked; "for a very pretty set they make."

"Necessity, and not vanity, has brought them out to-day. I broke the
only teapot of yours there was in the house this morning, and was in
hopes Frank would have brought up one from the store to supply its
place, before it would be wanted; but he does not come. As for spoons, I
can find none belonging to the house, and we use these constantly. As
the teapot was indispensable, I thought I might as well display all my
wealth at once. But this is the first time the things have been used in
many, many years!"

There was a plaintive melody in Dus's voice, spite of her desire and
effort to speak with unconcern, that I found exceedingly touching. While
few of us enter into the exultation of successful vulgarity, as it
rejoices in its too often random prosperity, it is in nature to
sympathize with a downward progress, and with the sentiments it leaves,
when it is connected with the fates of the innocent, the virtuous, and
the educated. That set of silver was all that remained to Ursula Malbone
of a physical character, and which marked the former condition of her
family; and doubtless she cherished it with no low feeling of morbid
pride, but as a melancholy monument of a condition to which all her
opinions, tastes, and early habits constantly reminded her she properly
belonged. In this last point of view, the sentiment was as respectable,
and as much entitled to reverence, as in the other case it would have
been unworthy, and meriting contempt.

There is a great deal of low misconception, as well as a good deal of
cant, beginning to prevail among us, on the subject of the qualities
that mark a gentleman, or a lady. The day has gone by, and I trust
forever, when the mere accidents of birth are to govern such a claim;
though the accidents of birth are very apt to supply the qualities that
may really form the caste. For my own part, I believe in the
exaggerations of neither of the two extremes that so stubbornly maintain
their theories on this subject; or, that a gentleman may not be formed
exclusively by birth on the one hand, and that the severe morality of
the Bible on the other is by no means indispensable to the character. A
man may be a very perfect gentleman, though by no means a perfect man,
or a Christian; and he may be a very good Christian, and very little of
a gentleman. It is true, there is a connection in manners, as a result,
between the Christian and the gentleman; but it is in the result, and
not in the motive. That Christianity has little necessary connection
with the character of a gentleman may be seen in the fact that the
dogmas of the first teach us to turn another cheek to him who smites;
while the promptings of the gentleman are--not to wipe out the indignity
in the blood of the offender, but--to show that rather than submit to it
he is ready to risk his own life.[9]

[Footnote 9: Mr. Mordaunt Littlepage would seem to have got hold of the
only plausible palliative for a custom that originated in those times
when abuses could only be corrected by the strong arm; and which, in our
own days, is degenerating into the merest system of chicanery and trick.
The duellist who, in his "practice," gets to be "certain death to a
shingle" and then misses his man, instead of illustrating his chivalry,
merely lets the world into the secret that his nerves are not equal to
his drill! There was something as respectable as anything _can_ be in
connection with a custom so silly, in the conduct of the Englishman who
called out to his adversary, a near-sighted man, "that if he wished to
shoot at _him_, he must turn his pistol in another direction."--EDITOR.]

But, I repeat, there is no _necessary_ connection between the Christian
and the gentleman, though the last who is the first attains the highest
condition of humanity. Christians, under the influence of their
educations and habits, often do things that the code of the gentleman
rejects; while it is certain that gentlemen constantly commit
unequivocal sins. The morality of the gentleman repudiates meannesses
and low vices, rather than it rigidly respects the laws of God; while
the morality of the Christian is unavoidably raised or depressed by the
influence of the received opinions of his social caste. I am not
maintaining that "the ten commandments were not given for the obedience
of people of quality," for their obligations are universal; but, simply,
that the qualities of a gentleman are the best qualities of man unaided
by God, while the graces of the Christian come directly from his mercy.

Nevertheless, there is that in the true character of a gentleman that is
very much to be respected. In addition to the great indispensables of
tastes, manners, and opinions, based on intelligence and cultivation,
and all those liberal qualities that mark his caste, he cannot and does
not stoop to meannesses of any sort. He is truthful out of self-respect,
and not in obedience to the will of God; free with his money, because
liberality is an essential feature of his habits, and not in imitation
of the self-sacrifice of Christ; superior to scandal and the vices of
the busybody, inasmuch as they are low and impair his pride of
character, rather than because he has been commanded not to bear false
witness against his neighbor. It is a great mistake to confound these
two characters, one of which is a mere human embellishment of the ways
of a wicked world, while the other draws near to the great end of human
existence. The last is a character I revere; while I am willing to
confess that I never meet with the first without feeling how vacant and
repulsive society would become without it; unless, indeed, the vacuum
could be filled by the great substance, of which, after all, the
gentleman is but the shadow.

Ursula Malbone lost nothing in my respect by betraying the emotion she
did, while thus speaking of this relic of old family plate. I was glad
to find, however, that she _could_ retain it; for, though dressed in no
degree in a style unbecoming her homely position as her uncle's
housekeeper, there were a neatness and taste in her attire that are not
often seen in remote parts of the country. On this subject, the reader
will indulge my weaknesses a little, if I pause to say a word. Ursula
had neither preserved in her dress the style of one of her sex and
condition in the world, nor yet entirely adopted that common to girls of
the class to which she now seemingly belonged. It struck me that some of
those former garments that were the simplest in fashion, and the most
appropriate in material, had been especially arranged for present use;
and sweetly becoming were they, to one of her style of countenance and
perfection of form. In that day, as every one knows, the different
classes of society--and, kingdom or republic, classes _do_ and ever
_will_ exist in this country, as an incident of civilization; a truth
every one can see as respects those _below_, though his vision may be
less perfect as respects those _above_ him--but every one knows that
great distinctions in dress existed, as between classes, all over the
Christian world, at the close of the American war, that are fast
disappearing, or have altogether disappeared. Now Ursula had preserved
just enough of the peculiar attire of her own class, to let one
understand that she, in truth, belonged to it without rendering the
distinction obtrusive. Indeed, the very character of that which she did
preserve, sufficiently told the story of her origin, since it was a
subdued, rather than an exaggerated imitation of that to which she had
been accustomed, as would have been the case with a mere copyist. I can
only add, that the effect was to render her sufficiently charming.

"Taste t'ese cakes," said old Andries, who, without the slightest
design, did love to exhibit the various merits of his niece--"Dus mate
t'em, and I'll engage Matam Washington herself couldn't make
pleasanter!"

"If Mrs. Washington was ever thus employed," I answered, "she might turn
pale with envy here. Better cakes of the sort I never ate."

"'Of the sort' is well added, Mr. Littlepage," the girl quietly
observed; "my protectress and friend made me rather skilful in this way,
but the ingredients are not to be had here as they were in her family."

"Which, being a boarding-school for young ladies, was doubtless better
supplied than common with the materials and knowledge necessary for good
cakes."

Dus laughed, and it startled me, so full of a wild but subdued melody
did that laugh seem to be.

"Young ladies have many foibles imputed to them, of which they are
altogether innocent," was her answer. "Cakes were almost forbidden fruit
in the school, and we were taught to make them in pity to the palates of
the men."

"Your future huspants, gal," cried the Chainbearer, rising to quit the
room.

"Our fathers, brothers, and _uncles_," returned his niece, laying an
emphasis on the last word.

"I believe, Miss Ursula," I resumed, as soon as Andries had left us
alone, "that I have been let behind the curtain as respects your late
school, having an acquaintance of a somewhat particular nature with one
of your old school-fellows."

My companion did not answer, but she fastened those fascinating blue
eyes of hers on me, in a way that asked a hundred questions in a moment.
I could not but see that they were suffused with tears; allusions to her
school often producing that effect.

"I mean Miss Priscilla Bayard, who would seem to be, or to have been, a
very good friend of yours," I added, observing that my companion was not
disposed to say anything.

"Pris Bayard!" Ursula now suffered to escape her, in her surprise--"and
_she_ an acquaintance of a somewhat particular nature!"

"My language has been incautious; not to say that of a coxcomb.
Certainly, I am not authorized to say more than that our _families_ are
very intimate, and that there are some particular reasons for that
intimacy. I beg you to read only as I have corrected the error."

"I do not see that the correction changes things much; and you will let
me say I am grieved, sadly grieved, to learn so much."

This was odd! That Dus really meant what she said was plain enough by a
face that had actually lost nearly all of its color, and which expressed
an emotion that was most extraordinary. Shall I own what a miserably
conceited coxcomb I was for a single moment? The truth must be said, and
I will confess it. The thought that crossed my mind was this: Ursula
Malbone was pained at the idea that the only man whom she had seen for a
year, and who could, by possibility, make any impression on one of her
education and tastes, was betrothed to another! Under ordinary
circumstances, this precocious preference might have caused me to revolt
at its exhibition; but there was far too much of nature in all of Dus's
emotions, acts, and language, to produce any other impression on me than
that of intense interest. I have always dated the powerful hold that
this girl so soon obtained on my heart, to the tumult of feeling
awakened in me at that singular moment. Love at first sight may be
ridiculous, but it is sometimes true. That a passion may be aroused by a
glance, or a smile, or any other of those secret means of conveying
sympathy with which nature has supplied us, I fully believe; though its
duration must depend on qualities of a higher and more permanent
influence. It is the imagination that is first excited; the heart coming
in for its share by later and less perceptible degrees.

My delusion, however, did not last long. Whether Ursula Malbone was
conscious of the misconstruction to which she was liable, I cannot say;
but I rather think not, as she was much too innocent to dread evil; or
whether she saw some other necessity for explaining herself, remains a
secret with me to this hour; but explain she did. How judiciously this
was done, and with how much of that female tact that taught her to
conceal the secrets of her friend, will appear to those who are
sufficiently interested in the subject to pursue it.



CHAPTER XII.

    "Here come the lovers, full of joy and mirth--
    Joy, gentle friends! joy, and fresh days of love
    Accompany your hearts!"--_Midsummer Night's Dream._


"I ought not to leave you in any doubts as to my meaning, Mr.
Littlepage," resumed Ursula, after a short pause. "Priscilla Bayard is
very dear to me, and is well worthy of all your love and admiration----"

"Admiration, if you please, and as much as you please, Miss Ursula; but
there is no such feeling as love, as yet certainly, between Miss Bayard
and myself."

The countenance of Dus brightened sensibly. Truth herself, she gave
immediate credit to what I said; and I could not but see that she was
greatly relieved from some unaccountable apprehension. Still, she smiled
a little archly, and perhaps a little sadly, as she continued--

"'As yet, certainly,' is very equivocal on your side, when a young woman
like Priscilla Bayard is concerned. It may at any moment be converted
into '_now_, certainly,' with that certainty the other way."

"I will not deny it. Miss Bayard is a charming creature--yet, I do not
know how it is--there seems to be a fate in these things. The peculiar
relation to which I alluded, and alluded so awkwardly, is nothing more
than the engagement of my youngest sister to her brother. There is no
secret in that engagement, so I shall not affect to conceal it."

"And it is just such an engagement as might lead to one between yourself
and Priscilla!" exclaimed Dus, certainly not without alarm.

"It might, or it might not, as the parties happen to view such things.
With certain temperaments it might prove an inducement; while with
others it would not."

"_My_ interest in the subject," continued Dus, "proceeds altogether from
the knowledge I have that another has sought Miss Bayard; and I will
own, with my hearty good wishes for his success. You struck me as a most
formidable rival; nor do you seem any the less so, now I know that your
families are to be connected."

"Have no fears on my account, for I am as heart-whole as the day I first
saw the lady."

A flash of intelligence--a most meaning flash it was--gleamed on the
handsome face of my companion; and it was followed by a mournful, though
I still thought not an entirely dissatisfied smile.

"These are matters about which one had better not say much," Dus added,
after a pause. "My sex has its 'peculiar rights,' and no woman should
disregard them. You have been fortunate in finding all your tenants
collected together, Mr. Littlepage, in a way to let you see them at a
single glance."

"I was fortunate in one sense, and a most delightful introduction I had
to the settlement--such an introduction as I would travel another
hundred miles to have repeated."

"Are you, then, so fond of raisings? or do you really love excitement to
such a degree as to wish to get under a trap, like one of the poor
rabbits my uncle sometimes takes?"

"I am not thinking of the raising, or of the frame; although your
courage and presence of mind might well indelibly impress both on my
mind"--Dus looked down and the color mounted to her temple--"but, I was
thinking of a certain song, an Indian song, sung to Scotch music, that I
heard a few miles from the clearings, and which was my real introduction
to the pleasant things one may both hear and see in this retired part of
the world."

"Which is not so retired after all that flattery cannot penetrate it, I
find. It is pleasant to hear one's songs extolled, even though they may
be Indian; but, it is not half so pleasant as to hear tidings of
Priscilla Bayard. If you wish truly to charm my ear, talk of _her_!"

"The attachment seems mutual, for I can assure you Miss Bayard
manifested just the same interest in you."

"In me! Priscilla then remembers a poor creature like me, in her
banishment from the world! Perhaps she remembers me so much the more,
because I _am_ banished. I hope she does not, _can_not think I regret my
condition--_that_ I could hardly forgive her."

"I rather think she does not; I know she gives you credit for more than
common excellencies."

"It is strange that Priscilla Bayard should speak of me to you! I have
been a little unguarded myself, Mr. Littlepage, and have said so much,
that I begin to feel the necessity of saying something more. There is
some excuse for my not feeling in your presence as in that of a
stranger, since uncle Chainbearer has your name in his mouth at least
one hundred times each day. Twelve different times in one hour did he
speak of you yesterday."

"Excellent old Andries! It is the pride of my life that so honest a man
loves me; and now for the explanation I am entitled to receive as his
friend by your own acknowledgment."

Dus smiled, a little saucily I thought--but saucily or not, that smile
made her look extremely lovely. She reflected a moment, like one who
thinks intensely, even bending her head under the painful mental effort;
then she drew her form to its usual attitude, and spoke.

"It is always best to be frank," she said, "and it can do no harm, while
it _may_ do good to be explicit with you. You will not forget, Mr.
Littlepage, that I believe myself to be conversing with my uncle's very
best friend?"

"I am too proud of the distinction to forget it, under any
circumstances; and least of all in _your_ presence."

"Well, then, I will be frank. Priscilla Bayard was for eight years my
associate and closest friend. Our affection for each other commenced
when we were mere children, and increased with time and knowledge. About
a year before the close of the war, my brother Frank, who is now here as
my uncle's surveyor, found opportunities to quit his regiment, and to
come to visit me quite frequently--indeed, his company was sent to
Albany, where he could see me as often as he desired. To see me, was to
see Priscilla, for we were inseparable; and to see Priscilla was, for
poor Frank at least, to love her. He made me his confidant, and my alarm
was nothing but natural concern lest he might have a rival as formidable
as you."

A flood of light was let in upon me by this brief explanation, though I
could not but wonder at the simplicity, or strength of character, that
induced so strange a confidence. When I got to know Dus better, the
whole became clear enough; but, at the moment, I was a little surprised.

"Be at ease on my account, Miss Malbone----"

"Why not call me Dus at once? You will do it in a week, like everyone
else here; and it is better to begin our acquaintance as I am sure it
will end. Uncle Chainbearer calls me Dus; Frank calls me Dus; most of
your settlers call me Dus, to my very face; and even our blacks call me
Miss Dus. You cannot wish to be singular."

"I will gladly venture so far as to call you Ursula; but Dus does not
please me."

"No! I have become so accustomed to be called Dus by all my friends,
that it sounds distant to be called by any other name. Do you not think
Dus a pretty diminutive?"

"I _did_ not, most certainly; though all these things depend on the
associations. Dus Malbone sounded sweetly enough in Priscilla Bayard's
mouth; but I fear it will not be so pleasant in mine."

"Do as you please--but do not call me _Miss_ Ursula, or _Miss_ Malbone.
It would have displeased me once, _not_ to have been so addressed by any
man; but it has an air of mockery, now that I know myself to be only the
companion and housekeeper of a poor chainbearer."

"And yet, the owner of that silver, the lady I see seated at this table,
in this room, is not so very inappropriately addressed as Miss Ursula!"

"You know the history of the silver, and the table and room are your
own. No--Mr. Littlepage, we are poor--very, _very_ poor--uncle
Chainbearer, Frank, and I--all alike, have nothing."

This was not said despairingly, but with a sincerity that I found
exceedingly touching.

"Frank, at least, should have something," I answered. "You tell me he
was in the army?"

"He was a captain at the last, but what did he receive for that? We do
not complain of the country, any of us; neither my uncle, my brother,
nor myself; for we know it is poor, like ourselves, and that its poverty
even is like our own, that of persons reduced. I was long a charge on my
friends, and there have been debts to pay. Could I have known it, such a
thing should not have happened. Now I can only repay those who have
discharged these obligations by coming into the wilderness with them. It
is a terrible thing for a woman to be in debt."

"But you have remained in this house; you surely have not been in the
hut, at Mooseridge?"

"I have gone wherever uncle Chainbearer has gone, and shall go with him,
so long as we both live. Nothing shall ever separate us again. His years
demand this, and gratitude is added to my love. Frank might possibly do
better than work for the little he receives; but _he_ will not quit us.
The poor love each other intensely!"

"But I have desired your uncle to use this house, and for your sake I
should think he would accept the offer."

"How could he, and carry chain twenty miles distant? We have been here,
occasionally, a few days at a time; but the work was to be done and it
must be done on the land itself."

"Of course, you merely gave your friends the pleasure of your company,
and looked a little to their comforts, on their return from a hard day's
work?"

Dus raised her eyes to mine; smiled; then she looked sad, her under-lip
quivering slightly; after which a smile that was not altogether without
humor succeeded. I watched these signs of varying feeling with an
interest I cannot describe; for the play of virtuous and ingenuous
emotion on a lovely female countenance is one of the rarest sights in
nature.

"I can carry chain," said the girl, at the close of this exhibition of
feeling.

"You _can_ carry chain, Ursula--Dus, or whatever I am to call you----"

"Call me Dus--I love that name best."

"You _can_ carry chain, I suppose, is true enough--but, you do not mean
that you _have_?"

The face of Dus flushed; but she looked me full in the eye, as she
nodded her head to express an affirmative; and she smiled as sweetly as
ever woman smiled.

"For amusement--to say you have done it--in jest!"

"To help my uncle and brother, who had not the means to hire a second
man."

"Good God! Miss Malbone--Ursula--Dus----"

"The last is the most proper name for a chainbear_ess_," rejoined the
girl, smiling; and actually taking my hand by an involuntary movement of
her sympathy in the shock I so evidently felt. "But, why should you look
upon that little toil as so shocking, when it is healthful and honest?
You are thinking of a sister reduced to what strikes you as man's proper
work."

Dus relinquished my hand almost as soon as she had touched it; and she
did it with a slight start, as if shocked at her own temerity.

"What _is_ man's work, and man's work, _only_."

"Yet woman can perform it; and, as uncle Chainbearer will tell you,
perform it _well_. I had no other concern, the month I was at work, than
the fear that my strength would not enable me to do as much as my uncle
and brother, and thus lessen the service they could render you each day.
They kept me on the dry land, so there were no wet feet, and your woods
are as clear of underbrush as an orchard. There is no use in attempting
to conceal the fact, for it is known to many, and would have reached
your ears sooner or later. Then concealment is always painful to me, and
never more so than when I hear you, and see you treating your hired
servant as an equal."

"Miss Malbone! For God's sake, let me hear no more of this--old Andries
judged rightly of me, in wishing to conceal this; for I should never
have allowed it to go on for a moment."

"And in what manner could you have prevented it, Major Littlepage? My
uncle has taken the business of you at so much the day, finding surveyor
and laborers--poor, dear Frank! He, at least, does not rank with the
laborers, and as for my uncle, he has long had an honest pride in being
the best chainbearer in the country--why need his niece scruple about
sharing in his well-earned reputation?"

"But you, Miss Malbone--dearest Dus--who have been so educated, who are
born a lady, who are loved by Priscilla Bayard, the sister of Frank, are
not in your proper sphere, while thus occupied."

"It is not so easy to say what is the proper sphere of a woman. I admit
it ought to be, in general, in the domestic circle and under the
domestic roof; but circumstances must control that. We hear of wives who
follow their husbands to the camp, and we hear of nuns who come out of
their convents to attend the sick and wounded in hospitals. It does not
strike me, then, as so bad in a girl who offers to aid her parent as I
have aided mine, when the alternative was to suffer by want."

"Gracious Providence! And Andries has kept me in ignorance of all this;
he knew my purse would have been his, and how could you have been in
want in the midst of the abundance that reigns in this settlement, which
is only fifteen or twenty miles from your hut, as I know from the
chainbearer's letters."

"Food is plenty, I allow, but we had no money; and when the question was
between beggary or exertion, we merely chose the last. My uncle did try
old Killian, the black, for a day; but you know how hard it is to make
one of those people understand anything that is a little intricate; and
then I offered my services. I am intelligent enough, I trust"--the girl
smiled a little proudly as she said this--"and you can have no notion
how active and strong I am for light work like this, and on my feet,
until you put me to the proof. Remember, carrying chain is neither
chopping wood nor piling logs; nor is it absolutely unfeminine."

"Nor raising churches"--I answered, smiling; for it was not easy to
resist the contagion of the girl's spirit--"at which business I have
been an eye-witness of your dexterity. However, there will now be an end
of this. It is fortunately in my power to offer such a situation and
such emoluments to Mr. Malbone, as will at once enable him to place his
sister in this house as its mistress, and under a roof that is at least
respectable."

"Bless you for that!" cried Dus, making a movement toward catching my
hand again; but checking it in time to render the deep blush that
instantly suffused her face, almost unnecessary. "Bless you for that!
Frank is willing to do anything that is honest, and capable of doing
anything that a gentleman should do. I am the great encumbrance on the
poor fellow; for, could he leave me, many situations must be open to him
in the towns. But I cannot quit my uncle, and Frank will not quit me. He
does not understand uncle Chainbearer."

"Frank must be a noble fellow, and I honor him for his attachment to
such a sister. This makes me only the more anxious to carry out my
intentions."

"Which are such, I hope, that there is no impropriety in his sister's
knowing them?"

This was said with such an expression of interest in the sweet, blue
eyes, and with so little of the air of common curiosity, that it
completely charmed me.

"Certainly there is none," I answered, promptly enough even for a young
man who was acting under the influence of so much ingenuous and strong
native feeling; "and I shall have great pleasure in telling you. We have
long been dissatisfied with our agent on this estate, and I had
determined to offer it to your uncle. The same difficulty would have to
be overcome in this case, as there was in making him a safe
surveyor--the want of skill in figures; now this difficulty will not
exist in the instance of your brother; and the whole family, Chainbearer
as well as the rest, will be benefited by giving the situation to
Frank."

"You call him Frank!" cried Dus, laughing, and evidently delighted with
what she heard. "That is a good omen; but if you raise me to the station
of an agent's sister, I do not know but I shall insist on being called
Ursula, at least, if not Miss Ursula."

I scarce knew what to make of this girl; there was so much of gayety,
and even fun, blended with a mine of as deep feeling as I ever saw
throwing up its signs to the human countenance. Her brother's prospects
had made her even gay; though she still looked as if anxious to hear
more.

"You may claim which you please, for Frank shall have his name put into
the new power of attorney within the hour. Mr. Newcome has had a hint,
by letter, of what is to come, and professes great happiness in getting
rid of a vast deal of unrequited trouble."

"I am afraid there is little emolument, if _he_ is glad to be rid of the
office."

"I do not say he is _glad_; I only say he _professes_ to be so. These
are different things with certain persons. As for the emolument, it will
not be much certainly; though it will be enough to prevent Frank's
sister from carrying chain, and leave her to exercise her talents and
industry in their proper sphere. In the first place, every lease on the
estate is to be renewed; and there being a hundred, and the tenant
bearing the expense, it will at once put a considerable sum at your
brother's disposition. I cannot say that the annual commissions will
amount to a very great deal, though they will exceed a hundred a year by
the terms on which the lands will be relet. The use of this house and
farm, however, I did intend to offer to your uncle; and, for the same
reason, I shall offer them to Frank."

"With this house and farm we shall be rich!" exclaimed Dus, clasping her
hands in delight. "I can gather a school of the better class of girls,
and no one will be useless--no one idle. If I teach your tenants'
daughters some of the ideas of their sex and station, Mr. Littlepage,
_you_ will reap the benefit in the end. That will be some slight return
for all your kindness."

"I wish all of your sex, and of the proper age, who are connected with
me, no better instructress. Teach them your own warmth of heart, your
own devotedness of feeling, your own truth, and your own frankness, and
I will come and dwell on my own estate, as the spot nearest to
paradise."

Dus looked a little alarmed, I thought, as if she feared she might have
uttered too much; or, perhaps, that _I_ was uttering too much. She rose,
thanked me hurriedly, but in a very lady-like manner, and set about
removing the breakfast service, with as much diligence as if she had
been a mere menial.

Such was my very first conversation with Ursula Malbone; her, with whom
I have since held so many, and those that have been very different! When
I rose to seek the Chainbearer, it was with a feeling of interest in my
late companion that was as strong as it was sudden. I shall not deny
that her beauty had its influence--it would be unnatural that it should
not--but it was less her exceeding beauty, and Ursula Malbone would have
passed for one of the fairest of her sex--but it was less her beauty
that attracted me than her directness, truth, and ingenuousness, so
closely blended as all were with the feelings and delicacy of her sex.
She had certainly done things which, had I merely _heard_ of them, would
have struck me unpleasantly, as even bold and forward, and which may now
so strike the reader; but this would be doing Dus injustice. No act, no
word of hers, not even the taking of my hand, seemed to me, at the time,
as in the least forward; the whole movement being so completely
qualified by that intensity of feeling which caused her to think only of
her brother. Nature and circumstances had combined to make her precisely
the character she was; and I will confess I did not wish her to be, in a
single particular, different from what I found her.

Talk of Pris Bayard in comparison with Ursula Malbone! Both had beauty,
it is true, though the last was far the handsomest; both had delicacy,
and sentiment, and virtue, and all that pertains to a well-educated
young woman, if you will; but Dus had a character of her own, and
principles, and an energy, and a decision, that made her the girl of ten
thousand. I do not think I could be said to be actually in love when I
left that room, for I do not wish to appear so very easy to receive
impressions as all that would come to; but I will own no female had ever
before interested me a tenth part as much, though I had known, and
possibly admired her, a twelvemonth.

In the court I found Andries measuring his chains. This he did
periodically; and it was as conscientiously as if he were weighing gold.
The old man manifested no consciousness of the length of the
_tête-à-tête_ I had held with his niece; but on the contrary, the first
words he uttered were to an effect that proved he fancied I had been
alone.

"I peg your parton, lat," he said, holding his measuring rod in his
mouth while he spoke. "I peg your parton, put this is very necessary
work. I do not wish to haf any of your Yankee settlers crying out
hereafter against the Chainpearer's surveys. Let 'em come a huntret or a
t'ousant years hence, if t'ey will, and measure t'e lant; I want olt
Andries' survey to stant."

"The variation of the compass will make some difference in the two
surveys, my good friend, unless the surveyors are better than one
commonly finds."

The old man dropped his rod and his chain, and looked despondingly at
me.

"True," he said, with emphasis. "You haf hit t'e nail on t'e heat,
Mortaunt--t'at fariation is t'e fery teffil to get along wit'! I haf
triet it t'is-a-way, and I haf triet it t'at-away, and never coult I
make heat or tail of it! I can see no goot of a fariation at all."

"What does your pretty assistant Dus think of it? Dus, the pretty
chainbearer? You will lose your old, hard-earned appellation, which will
be borne off by Miss Malbone."

"Ten Dus has peen telling you all apout it! A woman never can keep a
secret. No, natur' hast mate 'em talkatif, and t'e parrot will chatter."

"A woman likes variation, notwithstanding--did you consult Dus on that
difficulty?"

"No, no, poy; I sait not'ing to Dus, and I am sorry she has said
anyt'ing to you apout t'is little matter of t'e chain. It was sorely
against my will, Mortaunt, t'at t'e gal ever carriet it a rot; and was
it to do over ag'in, she shoult not carry it a rot--yet it woult have
tone your heart goot to see how prettily she did her work; and how quick
she wast, and how true; and how accurate she put down the marker; and
how sartain was her eye. Natur' made t'at fery gal for a chainpearer!"

"And a chainbearer she has been, and a chainbearer she ever will be,
until she throws her chains on some poor fellow, and binds him down for
life. Andries, you have an angel with you here, and not a woman."

Most men in the situation of the Chainbearer might have been alarmed at
hearing such language coming from a young man, and under all the
circumstances of the case. But Andries Coejemans never had any distrust
of mortal who possessed his ordinary confidence; and I question if he
ever entertained a doubt about myself on any point, the result of his
own, rather than of my character. Instead of manifesting uneasiness or
displeasure, he turned to me, his whole countenance illuminated with the
affection he felt for his niece, and said--

"T'e gal ist an excellent girl, Mortaunt, a capital creature! It woult
haf tone your heart goot, I tell you, to see her carry chain! Your
pocket is none t'e worse for t'e mont' she worked, t'ough I would not
haf you t'ink I charget for her ast a man--no--she is town at only
half-price, woman's work peing only woman's work; and yet I do pelieve,
on my conscience, t'at we went over more grount in t'at mont', t'an we
could haf tone wit' any man t'at wast to pe hiret in t'is part of t'e
worlt--I do, indeet!"

How strange all this sounded to me! Charged for work done by Ursula
Malbone, and charged at half-price! We are the creatures of convention,
and the slaves of opinions that come we know not whence. I had got the
notions of my caste, obtained in the silent, insinuating manner in which
all our characters are formed; and nothing short of absolute want could
have induced me to accept pecuniary compensation from an individual for
any personal service rendered. I had no profession, and it did not
comport with our usages for a gentleman to receive money for personal
service out of the line of a profession; an arbitrary rule, but one to
which most of us submit with implicit obedience. The idea that Dus had
been paid by myself for positive toil, therefore, was extremely
repugnant to me; and it was only after reflection that I came to view
the whole affair as I ought, and to pass to the credit of the
noble-minded girl, and this without any drawback, an act that did her so
much honor. I wish to represent myself as no better or no wiser, or more
rational than I was; and, I fancy, few young men of my age and habits
would hear with much delight, at first, that the girl he himself felt
impelled to love had been thus employed; while, on the other hand, few
would fail to arrive at the same conclusions, on reflection, as those I
reached myself.

The discourse with Andries Coejemans was interrupted by the sudden
entrance of Frank Malbone into the court. This was my first meeting with
my young surveyor, and the Chainbearer introduced us to each other in
his usual hearty and frank manner. In a minute we were acquainted; the
old man inquiring as to the success of the settlers in getting up their
"meetin'-us."

"I staid until they had begun to place the rafters," answered young
Malbone, cheerfully, "and then I left them. The festivities are to end
with a ball, I hear; but I was too anxious to learn how my sister
reached home--I ought to say reached the 'Nest--to remain. We have
little other home now, Mr. Littlepage, than the hut in the woods, and
the roof your hospitality offers."

"Brother soldiers, sir, and brother soldiers in _such a cause_, ought to
have no more scruples about accepting such hospitalities, as you call
them, than in offering them. I am glad, however, that you have adverted
to the subject, inasmuch as it opens the way to a proposition I have
intended to make; which, if accepted, will make me _your_ guest, and
which may as well be made now as a week later."

Both Andries and Frank look surprised; but I led them to a bench on the
open side of the court, and invited them to be seated, while I explained
myself. It may be well to say a word of that seat in passing. It stood
on the verge of a low cliff of rocks, on the side of the court which had
been defended by palisades, when the French held the Canadas, and the
remains of which were still to be seen. Here, as I was told before we
left the spot, Dus, _my_ pretty chainbearer, with a woman's instinct for
the graceful and the beautiful, had erected an arbor, principally with
her own hands, planted one of the swift-growing vines of our climate,
and caused a seat to be placed within. The spot commanded a pleasing
view of a wide expanse of meadows, and of a distant hill-side, that
still lay in the virgin forest. Andries told me that his niece had
passed much of her leisure time in that arbor, since the growth of the
plant, with the advance of the season, had brought the seat into the
shade.

Placing myself between the Chainbearer and Malbone, I communicated the
intention I had formed of making the latter my agent. As an inducement
to accept the situation, I offered the use of the 'Nest house and the
'Nest farm, reserving to myself the room or two that had been my
grandfather's, and that only at the times of my annual visits to the
property. As the farm was large, and of an excellent quality of land, it
would abundantly supply the wants of a family of modest habits, and even
admit of sales to produce the means of purchasing such articles of
foreign growth as might be necessary. In a word, I laid before the
listeners the whole of my plan, which was a good deal enlarged by a
secret wish to render Ursula comfortable, without saying anything about
the motive.

The reader is not to suppose I was exhibiting any extraordinary
liberality in doing that which I have related. It must not be forgotten
that land was a drug in the State of New York in the year 1784, as it is
to-day on the Miami, Ohio, Mississippi, and other inland streams. The
proprietors thought but little of their possessions as the means of
_present_ support, but rather maintained their settlements than their
settlements maintained them looking forward to another age, and to their
posterity, for the rewards of all their trouble and investments.[10]

[Footnote 10: The Manor of Rensselaerwick virtually extends forty-eight
miles east and west, and twenty-four north and south. It is situated in
the very heart of New York, with three incorporated cities within its
limits, built, in part, on small, older grants. Albany is a town of
near, if not of quite, 40,000 souls; and Troy must now contain near
28,000. Yet the late patroon, in the last conversation he ever held with
the writer, only a few months before he died, stated that _his_
grandfather was the first proprietor who ever reaped any material
advantage from the estate, and his father the first who received any
income of considerable amount. The home property, farms and mills,
furnished the income of the family for more than a century.--EDITOR.]

It is scarcely necessary to say my proposals were gladly accepted. Old
Andries squeezed my hand, and I understood the pressure as fully as if
he had spoken with the eloquence of Patrick Henry. Frank Malbone was
touched; and all parties were perfectly satisfied. The surveyor had his
field-inkstand with him, as a matter of course, and I had the power of
attorney in my pocket ready for the insertion of the Chainbearer's name,
would he accept the office of agent. That of Malbone was written in its
stead; I signed; Andries witnessed; and we left the seat together, Frank
Malbone, in effect, temporarily master of the house in which we were,
and his charming sister, as a necessary consequence, its mistress. It
was a delicious moment to me, when I saw Dus throw herself into her
brother's arms and weep on his bosom, as he communicated to her the
joyful intelligence.



CHAPTER XIII.

     "A comfortable doctrine, and much may be said of it. Where lies
     your text?"--_Twelfth Night; or, What You Will._


A month glided swiftly by. During that interval, Frank Malbone was fully
installed, and Andries consented to suspend operations with his chain
until this necessary work was completed. Work it was; for every lease
granted by my grandfather having run out, the tenants had remained on
their farms by sufferance, or as occupants at will, holding from year to
year under parole agreements made with Mr. Newcome, who had authority to
go that far, but no farther.

It was seldom that a landlord, in that day, as I have already said, got
any income from his lands during the first few years of their
occupation. The great thing was to induce settlers to come; for, where
there was so much competition, sacrifices had to be made in order to
effect this preliminary object. In compliance with this policy, my
grandfather had let his wild lands for nominal rents in nearly every
instance, with here and there a farm of particular advantages excepted;
and, in most cases, the settler had enjoyed the use of the farm for
several years, for no rent at all. He paid the taxes, which were merely
nominal, and principally to support objects that were useful to the
immediate neighborhood; such as the construction of roads, bridges,
pounds, with other similar works, and the administration of justice. At
the expiration of this period of non-payment of rents, a small sum per
acre was agreed to be paid, rather than actually paid, not a dollar of
which had ever left the settlement. The landlord was expected to head
all subscriptions for everything that was beneficial, or which professed
to be beneficial to the estate; and the few hundreds a year, two or
three at most, that my rent-roll actually exhibited, were consumed among
the farms of the 'Nest. It was matter of record that not one shilling
had the owner of this property, as yet, been able to carry away with him
for his own private purposes. It is true, it had been in his power to
glean a little each year for such a purpose; but it was not considered
politic, and consequently it was not the practice of the country, in
regard to estates so situated and before the revolution; though isolated
cases to the contrary, in which the landlord was particularly
avaricious, or particularly necessitous, may have existed. Our New York
proprietors, in that day, were seldom of the class that needed money.
Extravagance had been little known to the province, and could not yet be
known to the State; consequently, few lost their property from their
expenditures, though some did from mismanagement. The trade of "puss in
the corner," or of shoving a man out of his property, in order to place
one's self in it, was little practised previously to the revolution; and
the community always looked upon the intruder into family property with
a cold eye, unless he came into possession by fair purchase, and for a
sufficient price. Legal speculations were then nearly unknown; and he
who got rich was expected to do so by manly exertions, openly exercised,
and not by the dark machinations of a sinister practice of the law.

In our case, not a shilling had we, as yet, been benefited by the
property of Ravensnest. All that had ever been received, and more too,
had been expended on the spot; but a time had now arrived when it was
just and reasonable that the farms should make some returns for all our
care and outlays.

Eleven thousand acres were under lease, divided among somewhat less than
a hundred tenants. Until the first day of the succeeding April, these
persons could hold their lands under the verbal contracts; but, after
that day, new leases became necessary. It is not usual for the American
landlord to be exacting. It is out of his power, indeed, for the simple
reason that land is so much more abundant than men; but, it is not the
practice of the country, a careless indulgence being usually the sin of
the caste; an indulgence that admits of an accumulation of arrears,
which, when pay-day does arrive, is apt to bring with it ill-blood and
discontent. It is an undeniable truth in morals, that, whatever may be
the feeling at the time, men are rarely grateful for a government that
allows their vices to have a free exercise. They invariably endeavor to
throw a portion of the odium of their own misdeeds on the shoulders of
those who should have controlled them. It is the same with debts; for,
however much we may beg for lenity at the time, accumulations of
interest wear a very hostile aspect when they present themselves in a
sum-total, at a moment it is inconvenient to balance the account. If
those who have been thus placed would only remember that there is a last
account that every man must be called on to settle, arrearages and all,
the experience of their worldly affairs might suggest a lesson that
would be infinitely useful. It is fortunate for us, without exception,
that there is a Mediator to aid us in the task.

The time had come when Ravensnest might be expected to produce
something. Guided by the surveys, and our own local knowledge, and
greatly aided by the Chainbearer's experience, Frank Malbone and I
passed one entire fortnight in classifying the farms; putting the lowest
into the shilling category; others into the eighteen pence; and a dozen
farms or so into the two shillings. The result was, that we placed six
thousand acres at a shilling a year rent; three thousand eight hundred
at eighteen pence the acre; and twelve hundred acres at two shillings.
The whole made a rental of fourteen thousand one hundred shillings, or a
fraction more than seventeen hundred and forty-two dollars per annum.
This sounded pretty well for the year 1784, and it was exclusively of
the 'Nest farm, of Jason Newcome's mills and timber-land, which he had
hitherto enjoyed for nothing, or for a mere nominal rent, and all the
wild lands.

I will confess I exulted greatly in the result of our calculations.
Previously to that day I placed no dependence on Ravensnest for income,
finding my support in the other property I had inherited from my
grandfather. On paper, my income was more than doubled, for I received
_then_ only some eleven hundred a year (I speak of dollars, not pounds)
from my other property. It is true, the last included a great many
town-lots that were totally unproductive, but which promised to be very
valuable, like Ravensnest itself, at some future day. Most things in
America looked to the future, then as now; though I trust the hour of
fruition is eventually to arrive. My town property has long since become
very valuable, and tolerably productive.

As soon as our scheme for reletting was matured, Frank summoned the
occupants of the farms, in bodies of ten, to present themselves at the
'Nest, in order to take their new leases. We had ridden round the
estate, and conversed with the tenantry, and had let my intentions be
known previously, so that little remained to be discussed. The farms
were all relet for three lives, and on my own plan, no one objecting to
the rent, which, it was admitted all round, was not only reasonable, but
low. Circumstances were then too recent to admit of the past's being
forgotten; and the day when the last lease was signed was one of general
satisfaction. I did think of giving a landlord's dinner, and of
collecting the whole settlement in a body, for the purpose of jovial and
friendly communion; but old Andries threw cold water on the project.

"T'at would do, Mortaunt," he said, "if you hat only raal New Yorkers,
or Middle States men to teal wit'; but more t'an half of t'ese people
are from t'e Eastern States, where t'ere are no such t'ings as lantlorts
and tenants, on a large scale you unterstant; and t'ere isn't a man
among 'em all t'at isn't looking forwart to own his farm one tay, by
hook or by crook. T'ey're as jealous of t'eir tignities as if each man
wast a full colonel, and will not t'ank you for a tinner at which t'ey
will seem to play secont fittle."

Although I knew the Chainbearer had his ancient Dutch prejudices against
our Eastern brethren, I also knew that there was a good deal of truth in
what he said. Frank Malbone, who was Rhode Island born, had the same
notions, I found on inquiry; and I was disposed to defer to his
opinions. Frank Malbone was a gentleman himself, and men of that class
are always superior to low jealousies; but Frank must know better how to
appreciate the feelings of those among whom he had been bred and born
than I could possibly know how to do it myself. The project of the
dinner was accordingly abandoned.

It remained to make a new arrangement and a final settlement with Mr.
Jason Newcome, who was much the most thriving man at Ravensnest;
appearing to engross in his single person all the business of the
settlement. He was magistrate, supervisor, deacon, according to the
Congregational plan, or whatever he is called, miller, store-keeper,
will-drawer, tavern-keeper by deputy, and adviser-general, for the
entire region. Everything seemed to pass through his hands; or, it would
be better to say, everything entered them, though little indeed came out
again. This man was one of those moneyed gluttons, on a small scale, who
live solely to accumulate; in my view, the most odious character on
earth; the accumulations having none of the legitimate objects of proper
industry and enterprise in view. So long as there was a man near him
whom he supposed to be richer than himself, Mr. Newcome would have been
unhappy; though he did not know what to do with the property he had
already acquired. One does not know whether to detest or to pity such
characters the most; since, while they are and must be repugnant to
every man of right feelings and generous mind, they carry in their own
bosoms the worm that never dies, to devour their own vitals.

Mr. Newcome had taken his removal from the agency in seeming good part,
affecting a wish to give it up from the moment he had reason to think it
was to be taken from him. On this score, therefore, all was amicable,
not a complaint being made on his side. On the contrary, he met Frank
Malbone with the most seeming cordiality, and we proceeded to business
with as much apparent good-will as had been manifested in any of the
previous bargains. Mr. Newcome did nothing directly; a circuitous path
being the one he had been accustomed to travel from childhood.

"You took the mill-lot and the use of five hundred acres of woodland
from my grandfather for three lives; or failing these, for a full term
of one-and-twenty years, I find, Mr. Newcome," I remarked, as soon as we
were seated at business, "and for a nominal rent; the mills to be kept
in repair, and to revert to the landlord at the termination of the
lease."

"Yes, Major Littlepage, that _was_ the bargain I will allow, though a
hard one has it proved to me. The war come on"--this man was what was
called liberally educated, but he habitually used bad grammar--"The war
come on, and with it hard times, and I didn't know but the major would
be willing to consider the circumstances, if we make a new bargain."

"The war cannot have had much effect to your prejudice, as grain of all
sorts bore a high price; and I should think the fact that large armies
were near by, to consume everything you had to sell, and that at high
prices, more than compensated for any disadvantage it might have
induced. You had the benefits of two wars, Mr. Newcome; that of 1775,
and a part of that of 1756."

My tenant made no answer to this, finding I had reflected on the
subject, and was prepared to answer him. After a pause, he turned to
more positive things.

"I suppose the major goes on the principle of supposing a legal right in
an old tenant to enj'y a new lease? I'm told he has admitted this much
in all his dealin's."

"Then you have been misinformed, sir. I am not weak enough to admit a
right that the lease itself, which, in the nature of things, must and
does form the tenant's only title, contradicts in terms. Your legal
interest in the property ceases altogether in a few days from this
time."

"Y-a-a-s--y-a-a-s--sir, I conclude it doose," said the 'squire, leaning
back in his chair, until his body was at an angle of some sixty or
seventy degrees with the floor--"I conclude it doose accordin' to the
covenants; but between man and man, there ought to be suthin' more
bindin'."

"I know of nothing more binding in a lease than its covenants, Mr.
Newcome."

"Wa-a-l"--how that man would 'wa-a-a-l' when he wished to circumvent a
fellow-creature; and with what a Jesuitical accent did he pronounce the
word! "Wa-a-a-l--that's accordin' to folk's idees. A covenant may be
_hard_; and then, in my judgment, it ought to go for nothin'. I'm ag'in
all hard covenants."

"Harkee, frient Jason," put in the Chainbearer, who was an old
acquaintance of Mr. Newcome's, and appeared thoroughly to understand his
character--"Harkee, frient Jason; do you gift back unexpected profits,
ven it so happens t'at more are mate on your own pargains t'an were look
for?"

"It's not of much use to convarse with you, Chainbearer, on such
subjects, for we'll never think alike," answered the 'squire, leaning
still farther back in his chair; "you're what I call a particular man,
in your notions, and we should never agree."

"Still, there is good sense in the Chainbearer's question," I added.
"Unless prepared to answer 'yes,' I do not see how you can apply your
own principle with any justice. But let this pass as it will, why are
covenants made, if they are not to be regarded?"

"Wa-a-l, now, accordin' to my notion, a covenant in a lease is pretty
much like a water-course in a map; not a thing to be partic'lar at all
about; but as water-courses look well on a map, so covenants read well
in a lease. Landlords like to have 'em, and tenants a'n't particular."

"You can hardly be serious in either case, I should hope, Mr. Newcome,
but are pleased to exercise your ingenuity on us for your own amusement.
There is nothing so particular in the covenants of your lease as to
require any case of conscience to decide on its points."

"There's this in it, major, that you get the whull property back ag'in,
if you choose to claim it."

"Claim it! the whole property has been mine, or my predecessors', ever
since it was granted to us by the crown. _All_ your rights come from
your _lease_; and when that terminates, your rights terminate."

"Not accordin' to my judgment, major; not accordin' to my judgment. I
built the mills at my own cost, you'll remember."

"I certainly know, sir, that you built the mills at what you call your
own cost; that is, you availed yourself of a natural mill-seat, used our
timber and other materials, and constructed the mills, such as they are,
looking for your reward in their use for the term of a quarter of a
century, for a mere nominal rent--having saw-logs at command as you
wanted them, and otherwise enjoying privileges under one of the most
liberal leases that was ever granted."

"Yes, sir, but that was in _the bargain_ I made with your grand'ther. It
was _agreed_ between us, at the time I took the place, that I was to cut
logs at will, and of course use the materials on the ground for
buildin'. You see, major, your grand'ther wanted the mills built
desperately; and so he gave them conditions accordin'ly. You'll find
every syllable on't in the lease."

"No doubt, Mr. Newcome; and you will also find a covenant in the same
lease, by which your interest in the property is to cease in a few
days."

"Wa-a-l, now, I don't understand leases in that way. Surely it was never
intended a man should erect mills, to lose all right in 'em at the end
of five-and-twenty years."

"That will depend on the bargain made at the time. Some persons erect
mills and houses that have no rights in them at all. They are paid for
their work as they build."

"Yes, yes--carpenters and millwrights, you mean. But I'm speakin' of no
such persons; I'm speakin' of honest, hard-workin', industrious folks,
that give their labor and time to build up a settlement; and not of your
mechanics who work for hire. Of course, they're to be paid for what they
do, and there's an eend on't."

"I am not aware that all honest persons are hard-working, any more than
that all hard-working persons are honest. I wish to be understood
_that_, in the first place, Mr. Newcome, phrases will procure no
concession from me. I agree with you, however, perfectly, in saying that
when a man is paid for his work, there will be what you call 'an end of
it.' Now twenty-three days from this moment, you will have been paid for
all you have done on my property according to your own agreement; and by
your own reasoning, there must be an end of your connection with that
property."

"The major doesn't mean to rob me of all my hard earnin's!"

"Mr. Newcome, _rob_ is a hard word, and one that I beg may not be again
used between you and me. I have no intention to rob you, or to let you
rob me. The pretence that you are not, and were not acquainted with the
conditions of this lease, comes rather late in the day, after a
possession of a quarter of a century. You know very well that my
grandfather would not sell, and that he would do no more than lease; if
it were your wish to purchase, why did you not go elsewhere, and get
land in fee? There were, and still are, thousands of acres to be sold,
all around you. I have lands to sell, myself, at Mooseridge, as the
agent of my father and Colonel Follock, within twenty miles of you, and
they tell me capital mill-seats in the bargain."

"Yes, major, but not so much to my notion as this--I kind o' wanted
this!"

"But, I kind o' want this, too; and, as it is mine, I think, in common
equity, I have the best claim to enjoy it."

"It's on equity I want to put this very matter, major--I know the law is
ag'in me--that is, some people say it is; but some think not, now we've
had a revolution--but, let the law go as it may, there's such a thing as
what I call _right_ between man and man."

"Certainly; and law is an invention to enforce it. It is right I should
do exactly what my grandfather agreed to do for me, five-and-twenty
years ago, in relation to these mills; and it is right you should do
what you agreed to do, for yourself."

"I _have_ done so. I agreed to build the mills, in a sartain form and
mode, and I done it. I'll defy mortal man to say otherwise. The saw-mill
was smashing away at the logs within two months a'ter I got the lease,
and we began to grind in four!"

"No doubt, sir, you were active and industrious--though, to be frank
with you, I will say that competent judges tell me neither mill is worth
much now."

"That's on account of the lease"--cried Mr. Newcome, a little too
hastily, possibly, for the credit of his discretion--"how did I know
when it would run out? Your gran'ther granted it for three lives, and
twenty-one years afterward, and I did all a man could to make it last as
long as I should myself; but here I am, in the prime of life, and in
danger of losing my property!"

I knew all the facts of the case perfectly, and had intended to deal
liberally with Mr. Newcome from the first. In his greediness for gain he
had placed his lives on three infants, although my grandfather had
advised him to place at least one on himself; but, no--Mr. Newcome had
fancied the life of an infant better than that of a man; and in three or
four years after the signature of the lease, his twenty-one years had
begun to run, and were now near expiring. Even under this certainly
unlooked-for state of things, the lease had been a very advantageous one
for the tenant; and, had one of his lives lasted a century, the landlord
would have looked in vain for any concession on that account; landlords
never asking for, or expecting favors of that sort; indeed most
landlords would be ashamed to receive them; nevertheless, I was disposed
to consider the circumstances, to overlook the fact that the mills and
all the other buildings on the property were indifferently built, and to
relet, for an additional term of twenty-one years, woodlands, farms,
buildings, and other privileges, for about one-third of the money that
Mr. Newcome himself would have been apt to ask, had he the letting
instead of myself. Unwilling to prolong a discussion with a man who, by
his very nature, was unequal to seeing more than one side of a subject,
I cut the matter short by telling him my terms without further delay.

Notwithstanding all his acting and false feeling, the 'squire was so
rejoiced to learn my moderation that he could not but openly express his
feelings; a thing he would not have done did he not possess the moral
certainty I would not depart from my word. I felt it necessary, however,
to explain myself.

"Before I give you this new lease, Mr. Newcome," I added, holding the
instrument signed in my hand, "I wish to be understood. It is not
granted under the notion that you have any right to ask it, beyond the
allowance that is always made by a liberal landlord to a reasonably
_good_ tenant; which is simply a preference over others on the same
terms. As for the early loss of your lives, it was your own fault. Had
the infants you named, or had one of them, passed the state of
childhood, it might have lived to be eighty, in which case my
timber-land would have been stripped without any return to its true
owner, but your children died, and the lease was brought within
reasonable limits. Now the only inducement I have for offering the terms
I do, is the liberality that is usual with landlords, what is conceded
is conceded as no right, but as an act of liberality."

This was presenting to my tenant the most incomprehensible of all
reasons for doing anything. A close and sordid calculator himself, he
was not accustomed to give any man credit for generosity; and, from the
doubting, distrustful manner in which he received the paper, I suspected
at the moment that he was afraid there was some project for taking him
in. A rogue is always distrustful, and as often betrays his character to
honest men by that as by any other failing. I was not to regulate my own
conduct, however, by the weaknesses of Jason Newcome, and the lease was
granted.

I could wish here to make one remark. There ought certainly to be the
same principle of good fellowship existing between the relations of
landlord and tenant that exist in the other relations of life, and which
creates a moral tie between parties that have much connection in their
ordinary interests, and that to a degree to produce preferences and
various privileges of a similar character. This I am far from calling in
question; and, on the whole, I think, of all that class of relations,
the one in question is to be set down as among the most binding and
sacred. Still, the mere moral rights of the tenant must depend on the
rigid maintenance of all the rights of the landlord; the legal and moral
united; and the man who calls in question either of the latter, surely
violates every claim to have his own pretensions allowed, beyond those
which the strict letter of the law will yield to him. _The landlord who
will grant a new lease to the individual who is endeavoring to undermine
his rights, by either direct or indirect means, commits the weakness of
arming an enemy with the knife by which he is himself to be assaulted,
in addition to the error of granting power to a man who, under the
character of a spurious liberty, is endeavoring to unsettle the only
conditions on which civilized society can exist._ If landlords will
exhibit the weakness, they must blame themselves for the consequences.

I got rid of Mr. Newcome by the grant of the lease, his whole
manoeuvring having been attempted solely to lower the rent; for _he_
was much too shrewd to believe in the truth of his own doctrines on the
subject of right and wrong. That same day my axe-men appeared at the
'Nest, having passed the intermediate time in looking at various tracts
of land that were in the market, and which they had not found so
eligible, in the way of situation, quality, or terms, as those I
offered. By this time, the surveyed lots of Mooseridge were ready, and I
offered to sell them to these emigrants. The price was only a dollar an
acre, with a credit of ten years; the interest to be paid annually. One
would have thought that the lowness of the price would have induced men
to prefer lands in fee to lands on lease; but these persons, to a man,
found it more to their interests to take farms on three-lives leases,
being rent-free for the first five years, and at nominal rents for the
remainder of the term, than to pay seven dollars a year of interest, and
a hundred dollars in money, at the expiration of the credit.[11] This
fact, of itself, goes to show how closely these men calculated their
means, and the effect their decisions might have on their interests. Nor
were their decisions always wrong. Those who can remember the start the
country took shortly after the peace of '83, the prices that the
settlers on new lands obtained for their wheat, ashes, and pork; three
dollars a bushel often for the first, three hundred dollars a ton for
the second, and eight or ten dollars a hundred for the last, will at
once understand that the occupant of new lands at that period obtained
enormous wages for a laborer by means of the rich unexhausted lands he
was thus permitted to occupy. No doubt he would have been in a better
situation had he owned his farm in fee at the end of his lease; so would
the merchant who builds a ship and clears her cost by her first freight,
have been a richer man had he cleared the cost of two ships instead of
one; but he has done well, notwithstanding; and it is not to be
forgotten that the man who commences life with an axe and a little
household furniture, is in the situation of a mere day-laborer. The
addition to his means of the use of land is the very circumstance that
enables him to rise above his humble position, and to profit by the
cultivation of the soil. At the close of the last century, and at the
commencement of the present, the country was so placed as to render
every stroke of the axe directly profitable, the very labor that was
expended in clearing away the trees meeting with a return so liberal by
the sale of the ashes manufactured, as to induce even speculators to
engage in the occupation. It may one day be a subject of curious inquiry
to ascertain how so much was done as is known to have been done at that
period, toward converting the wilderness into a garden; and I will here
record, for the benefit of posterity, a brief sketch of one of the
processes of getting to be comfortable, if not rich, that was much used
in that day.

[Footnote 11: The fact here stated by Mr. Littlepage should never be
forgotten; inasmuch as it colors the entire nature of the pretension now
set up as to the exactions of leases. No man in New York need ever have
_leased_ a farm for the want of an opportunity of _purchasing_, there
never having been a time when land for farms in fee has not been openly
on sale within the bounds of the State; and land every way as eligible
as that leased. In few cases have two adjoining estates been leased; and
where such has been the fact, the husbandman might always have found a
farm in fee, at the cost of half a day's travelling. The benefits to the
landlord have usually been so remote on the estate leased, that by far
the greater proportion of the proprietors have preferred selling at
once, to waiting for the tardy operations of time.--EDITOR.]

It was a season's work for a skilful axe-man to chop, log, burn, clear,
and sow ten acres of forest land. The ashes he manufactured. For the
heavier portions of the work, such as the logging, he called on his
neighbors for aid, rendering similar assistance by way of payment. One
yoke of oxen frequently sufficed for two or three farms, and
"logging-bees" have given rise to a familiar expression among us, that
is known as legislative "log-rolling;" a process by which, as is well
known, one set of members supports the project of another set, on the
principle of reciprocity.

Now ten acres of land, cropped for the first time, might very well yield
a hundred and fifty bushels of merchantable wheat, which would bring
three hundred dollars in the Albany market. They would also make a ton
of pot-ashes, which would sell for at least two hundred dollars. This is
giving five hundred dollars for a single year's work. Allowing for all
the drawbacks of buildings, tools, chains, transportation, provisions,
etc., and one-half of this money might very fairly be set down as clear
profit; very large returns to one who, before he got his farm, was in
the situation of a mere day-laborer, content to toil for eight or nine
dollars the month.

That such was the history, in its outlines, of the rise of thousands of
the yeomen who now dwell in New York, is undeniable; and it goes to show
that if the settler in a new country has to encounter toil and
privations, they are not always without their quick rewards. In these
later times, men go on the open prairies, and apply the plough to an
ancient sward; but I question if they would not rather encounter the
virgin forests of 1790, with the prices of that day, than run over the
present park-like fields, in order to raise wheat for 37-1/2 cents per
bushel, have no ashes at any price, and sell their pork at two dollars
the hundred!



CHAPTER XIV.

    "Intent to blend her with his lot,
    Fate formed her all that he was not;
    And, as by mere unlikeness thought,
      Associate we see,
    Their hearts, from very difference, caught
      A perfect sympathy."--PINCKNEY.


All this time I saw Ursula Malbone daily, and at all hours of the day.
Inmates of the same dwelling, we met constantly, and many were the
interviews and conversations which took place between us. Had Dus been
the most finished coquette in existence, her practised ingenuity could
not have devised more happy expedients to awaken interest in me than
those which were really put in use by this singular girl, without the
slightest intention of bringing about any such result. Indeed, it was
the nature, the total absence of art, that formed one of the brightest
attractions of her character, and gave so keen a zest to her cleverness
and beauty. In that day, females, while busied in the affairs of their
household, appeared in "short gown and petticoat," as it was termed, a
species of livery that even ladies often assumed of a morning. The
_toilette_ was of far wider range in 1784 than it is now, the
distinctions between morning and evening dress being much broader then
than at present. As soon as she was placed really at the head of her
brother's house, Ursula Malbone set about the duties of her new station
quietly and without the slightest fuss, but actively and with interest.
She seemed to me to possess, in a high degree, that particular merit of
carrying on the details of her office in a silent, unobtrusive manner,
while they were performed most effectually, and entirely to the comfort
of those for whose benefit her care was exercised. I am not one of those
domestic canters who fancy a woman, in order to make a good wife, needs
be a drudge, and possess the knowledge of a cook or a laundress; but it
is certainly of great importance that she have the faculty of presiding
over her family with intelligence, and an attention that is suited to
her means of expenditure. Most of all it is important that she know how
to govern without being seen or heard.

The wife of an educated man should be an educated woman: one fit to be
his associate, qualified to mingle her tastes with his own, to exchange
ideas, and otherwise to be his companion, in an intellectual sense.
These are the higher requisites; a gentleman accepting the minor
qualifications as so many extra advantages, if kept within their proper
limits; but as positive disadvantages if they interfere with, or in any
manner mar the manners, temper, or mental improvement of the woman whom
he has chosen as his wife, and not as his domestic. Some sacrifices may
be necessary in those cases in which cultivation exists without a
sufficiency of means; but even then, it is seldom indeed that a woman of
the proper qualities may not be prevented from sinking to the level of a
menial. As for the cant of the newspapers on such subjects, it usually
comes from those whose homes are mere places for "board and lodging."

The address with which Dus discharged all the functions of her new
station, while she avoided those that were unseemly and out of place,
charmed me almost as much as her spirit, character, and beauty. The
negroes removed all necessity for her descending to absolute toil; and
with what pretty, feminine dexterity did she perform the duties that
properly belonged to her station! Always cheerful, frequently singing,
not in a noisy, milkmaid mood, but at those moments when she might fancy
herself unheard, and in sweet, plaintive songs that seemed to recall the
scenes of other days. Always cheerful, however, is saying a little too
much; for occasionally, Dus was sad. I found her in tears three or four
times, but did not dare inquire into their cause. There was scarce,
time, indeed; for the instant I appeared, she dried her eyes, and
received me with smiles.

It is scarcely necessary to say that to me the time passed pleasantly,
and amazingly fast. Chainbearer remained at the 'Nest by my orders, for
he would not yield to requests; and I do not remember a more delightful
month than that proved to be. I made a very general acquaintance with my
tenants, and found many of them as straightforward, honest, hard-working
yeomen as one could wish to meet. My brother major, in particular, was a
hearty old fellow, and often came to see me, living on the farm that
adjoined my own. He growled a little about the sect that had got
possession of the "meetin'-us," but did it in a way to show there was
not much gall in his own temperament.

"I don't rightly understand these majority matters," said the old
fellow, one day that we were talking the matter over, "though I very
well know Newcome always manages to get one, let the folks think as they
will. I've known the 'squire contrive to cut a majority out of about a
fourth of all present, and he does it in a way that is desp'ret
ingen'ous, I will allow, though I'm afeard it's neither law nor gospel."

"He certainly managed, in the affair of the denomination, to make a
plurality of one appear in the end to be a very handsome majority over
all."

"Ay, there's twists and turns in these things that's beyond my l'arnin',
though I s'pose all's right. It don't matter much in the long run, a'ter
all, where a man worships, provided he worships; or who preaches, so
that he listens."

I think this liberality--if that be the proper word--in religious
matters, is fast increasing among us; though liberality may be but
another term for indifference. As for us Episcopalians, I wonder there
are any left in the country, though we are largely on the increase.
There we were, a church that insisted on Episcopal ministrations--on
confirmation in particular--left for a century without a bishop, and
unable to conform to practices that it was insisted on were essential,
and this solely because it did not suit the policy of the mother country
to grant us prelates of our own, or to send us, occasionally even, one
of hers! How miserable do human expedients often appear when they are
tried by the tests of common sense! A church of God, insisting on
certain spiritual essentials that it denies to a portion of its people,
in order to conciliate worldly interests! It is not the Church of
England, however, nor the Government of England, that is justly
obnoxious to such an accusation; something equally bad and just as
inconsistent, attaching itself to the ecclesiastical influence of every
other system in Christendom under which the state is tied to religion by
means of human provisions. The mistake is in connecting the things of
the world with the things that are of God.

Alas! alas! When you sever that pernicious tie, is the matter much
benefited? How is it among ourselves? Are not sects, and shades of
sects, springing up among us on every side, until the struggle between
parsons is getting to be not who shall aid in making most Christians,
but who shall gather into his fold most sectarians? As for the people
themselves, instead of regarding churches, even after they have
established them, and that too very much on their own authority, they
first consider their own tastes, enmities, and predilections, respecting
the priest far more than the altar, and set themselves up as a sort of
religious constituencies, who are to be _represented_ directly in the
government of Christ's followers on earth. Half of a parish will fly off
in a passion to another denomination if they happen to fall into a
minority. Truly, a large portion of our people is beginning to act in
this matter as if they had a sense of "giving their support" to the
Deity, patronizing him in this temple or the other, as may suit the
feeling or the interest of the moment.[12]

[Footnote 12: If Mr. Littlepage wrote thus, thirty or forty years since,
how would he have written to-day, when we have had loud protestations
flourishing around us in the public journals, that this or that
sectarian polity was most in unison with a republican form of
government? What renders this assumption as absurd as it is presuming,
is the well-known fact that it comes from those who have ever been
loudest in their declamations of a union between church and state!]

But I am not writing homilies, and will return to the 'Nest and my
friends. A day or two after Mr. Newcome received his new lease,
Chainbearer, Frank, Dus and I were in the little arbor that overlooked
the meadows, when we saw Sureflint, moving at an Indian's pace, along a
path that came out of the forest, and which was known to lead toward
Mooseridge. The Onondago carried his rifle as usual, and bore on his
back a large bunch of something that we supposed to be game, though the
distance prevented our discerning its precise character. In half a
minute he disappeared behind a projection of the cliffs, trotting toward
the buildings.

"My friend the Trackless has been absent from us now a longer time than
usual," Ursula remarked, as she turned her head from following the
Indian's movements, as long as he remained in sight; "but he reappears
loaded with something for our benefit."

"He has passed most of his time of late with your uncle, I believe," I
answered, following Dus's fine eyes with my own, the pleasantest pursuit
I could discover in that remote quarter of the world. "I have written
this to my father, who will be glad to hear tidings of his old friend."

"He is much with my uncle as you say, being greatly attached to him. Ah!
here he comes, with such a load on his shoulders as an Indian does not
love to bear; though even a chief will condescend to carry game."

As Dus ceased speaking, Sureflint threw a large bunch of pigeons, some
two or three dozen birds, at her feet, turning away quietly, like one
who had done his part of the work, and who left the remainder to be
managed by the squaws.

"Thank you, Trackless," said the pretty housekeeper--"thank'ee kindly.
Those are beautiful birds, and as fat as butter. We shall have them
cleaned, and cooked in all manner of ways."

"All squab--just go to fly--take him ebbery one in nest," answered the
Indian.

"Nests must be plenty, then, and I should like to visit them," I cried,
remembering to have heard strange marvels of the multitudes of pigeons
that were frequently found in their "roosts," as the encampments they
made in the woods were often termed in the parlance of the country. "Can
we not go in a body and visit this roost?"

"It might pe tone," answered the Chainbearer; "it might pe tone, and it
is time we wast moving in t'eir tirection, if more lant is to pe
surveyet, ant t'ese pirts came from t'e hill I suppose t'ey do.
Mooseridge promiset to have plenty of pigeons t'is season."

"Just so," answered Sureflint. "Million, t'ousan', hundred--more too.
Nebber see more; nebber see so many. Great Spirit don't forget poor
Injin; sometime give him deer--sometime salmon--sometime pigeon--plenty
for ebberybody; only t'ink so."

"Ay, Sureflint; only t'ink so, inteet, and t'ere is enough for us all,
and plenty to spare. Got is pountiful to us, put we ton't often know how
to use his pounty," answered Chainbearer, who had been examining the
birds. "Finer squaps arn't often met wit'; and I too shoult like
amazingly to see one more roost pefore I go to roost myself."

"As for the visit to the roost," cried I, "that is settled for
to-morrow. But a man who has just come out of a war like the last, into
peaceable times, has no occasion to speak of his end, Chainbearer. Your
are old in years, but young in mind, as well as body."

"Bot' nearly wore out--bot' nearly wore out! It is well to tell an olt
fool t'e contrary, put I know petter. T'ree-score and ten is man's time,
and I haf fillet up t'e numper of my tays. Got knows pest, when it wilt
pe his own pleasure to call me away; put, let it come when it will, I
shall now tie happy, comparet wit' what I shoult haf tone a mont' ago."

"You surprise me, my dear friend! What has happened to make this
difference in your feelings? It cannot be that you are changed in any
essential."

"T'e tifference is in Dus's prospects. Now Frank has a goot place, my
gal will not pe forsaken."

"Forsaken! Dus--Ursula--Miss Malbone forsaken! _That_ could never
happen, Andries, Frank or no Frank."

"I hope not--I hope not, lat--put t'e gal pegins to weep, and we'll talk
no more apout it. Harkee, Susquesus; my olt frient, can you guite us to
t'is roost?"

"Why no do it, eh? Path wide--open whole way. Plain as river."

"Well, t'en, we wilt all pe off for t'e place in t'e morning. My new
assistant is near, and it is high time Frank and I hat gone into t'e
woots ag'in."

I heard this arrangement made, though my eyes were following Dus, who
had started from her seat, and rushed into the house, endeavoring to
hide emotions that were not to be hushed. A minute later I saw her at
the window of her own room, smiling, though the cloud had not yet
entirely dispersed.

Next morning early our whole party left the 'Nest for the hut at
Mooseride, and the pigeon-roosts. Dus and the black female servant
travelled on horseback, there being no want of cattle at the 'Nest,
where, as I now learned, my grandfather had left a quarter of a century
before, among a variety of other articles, several side-saddles. The
rest of us proceeded on foot, though we had no less than three sumpter
beasts to carry our food, instruments, clothes, etc. Each man was armed,
almost as a matter of course in that day, though I carried a
double-barrelled fowling-piece, instead of a rifle. Susquesus acted as
our guide.

We were quite an hour before we reached the limits of the settled farms
on my own property; after which, we entered the virgin forest. In
consequence of the late war, which had brought everything like the
settlement of the country to a dead stand, a new district had then
little of the straggling, suburb-like clearings, which are apt now to
encircle the older portions of a region that is in the state of
transition. On the contrary, the last well-fenced and reasonably
well-cultivated farm passed, we plunged into the boundless woods, and
took a complete leave of nearly every vestige of civilized life, as one
enters the fields on quitting a town in France. There was a path, it is
true, following the line of blazed trees; but it was scarcely beaten,
and was almost as illegible as a bad hand. Still, one accustomed to the
forest had little difficulty in following it; and Susquesus would have
had none in finding his way, had there been no path at all. As for the
Chainbearer, he moved forward too, with the utmost precision and
confidence, the habit of running straight lines amid trees having given
his eye an accuracy that almost equalled the species of instinct that
was manifested by the Trackless himself, on such subjects.

This was a pleasant little journey, the depths of the forest rendering
the heats of the season as agreeable as was possible. We were four hours
in reaching the foot of the little mountain on which the birds had built
their nests, where we halted to take some refreshments.

Little time is lost at meals in the forest, and we were soon ready to
ascend the hill. The horses were left with the blacks, Dus accompanying
us on foot. As we left the spring where we had halted, I offered her an
arm to aid in the ascent; but she declined it, apparently much amused
that it should have been offered.

"What I, a chainbearess!" she cried, laughing--"I, who have fairly
wearied out Frank, and even made my uncle _feel_ tired, though he would
never _own_ it--I accept an arm to help me up a hill! You forget, Major
Littlepage, that the first ten years of my life were passed in a forest,
and that a year's practice has brought back all my old habits, and made
me a girl of the woods again."

"I scarce know what to make of you, for you seem fitted for any
situation in which you may happen to be thrown." I answered, profiting
by the circumstance that we were out of the hearing of our companions,
who had all moved ahead, to utter more than I otherwise might venture to
say--"at one time I fancy you the daughter of one of my own tenants, at
another, the heiress of some ancient patroon."

Dus laughed again; then she blushed; and for the remainder of the short
ascent, she remained silent. Short the ascent was, and we were soon on
the summit of the hill. So far from needing my assistance, Dus actually
left me behind, exerting herself in a way that brought her up at the
side of the Trackless, who led our van. Whether this was done in order
to prove how completely she was a forest girl, or whether my words had
aroused those feelings that are apt to render a female impulsive, is
more than I can say even now; though I suspected at the time that the
latter sensations had quite as much to do with this extraordinary
activity as the former. I was not far behind, however, and when our
party came fairly upon the roost, the Trackless, Dus, and myself were
all close together.

I scarce know how to describe that remarkable scene. As we drew near to
the summit of the hill, pigeons began to be seen fluttering among the
branches over our heads, as individuals are met along the roads that
lead into the suburbs of a large town. We had probably seen a thousand
birds glancing around among the trees, before we came in view of the
roost itself. The numbers increased as we drew nearer, and presently the
forest was alive with them. The fluttering was incessant, and often
startling as we passed ahead, our march producing a movement in the
living crowd that really became confounding. Every tree was literally
covered with nests, many having at least a thousand of these frail
tenements on their branches, and shaded by the leaves. They often
touched each other, a wonderful degree of order prevailing among the
hundreds of thousands of families that were here assembled. The place
had the odor of a fowl-house, and squabs just fledged sufficiently to
trust themselves in short flights, were fluttering around us in all
directions in tens of thousands. To these were to be added the parents
of the young race endeavoring to protect them, and guide them in a way
to escape harm. Although the birds rose as we approached, and the woods
just around us seemed fairly alive with pigeons, our presence produced
no general commotion; every one of the feathered throng appearing to be
so much occupied with its own concerns, as to take little heed of the
visit of a party of strangers, though of a race usually so formidable to
their own. The masses moved before us precisely as a crowd of human
beings yields to a pressure or a danger on any given point; the vacuum
created by its passage filling in its rear, as the water of the ocean
flows into the track of the keel.

The effect on most of us was confounding, and I can only compare the
sensation produced on myself by the extraordinary tumult to that a man
experiences at finding himself suddenly placed in the midst of an
excited throng of human beings. The unnatural disregard of our persons
manifested by the birds greatly heightened the effect, and caused me to
feel as if some unearthly influence reigned in the place. It was
strange, indeed, to be in a mob of the feathered race that scarce
exhibited a consciousness of one's presence. The pigeons seemed a world
of themselves, and too much occupied with their own concerns to take
heed of matters that lay beyond them.

Not one of our party spoke for several minutes. Astonishment seemed to
hold us all tongue-tied, and we moved slowly forward into the fluttering
throng, silent, absorbed, and full of admiration of the works of the
Creator. It was not easy to hear each others' voices when we did speak,
the incessant fluttering of wings filling the air. Nor were the birds
silent in other respects. The pigeon is not a noisy creature, but a
million crowded together on the summit of one hill, occupying a space of
less than a mile square, did not leave the forest in its ordinary
impressive stillness. As we advanced, I offered my arm, almost
unconsciously, again to Dus, and she took it with the same abstracted
manner as that in which it had been held forth for her acceptance. In
this relation to each other we continued to follow the grave-looking
Onondago as he moved, still deeper and deeper, into the midst of the
fluttering tumult.

At this instant there occurred an interruption that, I am ready enough
to confess, caused the blood to rush toward my own heart in a flood. As
for Dus, she clung to me, as woman will cling to man, when he possesses
her confidence, and she feels that she is insufficient for her own
support. Both hands were on my arm, and I felt that, unconsciously, her
form was pressing closer to mine, in a manner she would have carefully
avoided in a moment of perfect self-possession. Nevertheless, I cannot
say that Dus was afraid. Her color was heightened, her charming eyes
were filled with a wonder that was not unmixed with curiosity, but her
air was spirited in spite of a scene that might try the nerves of the
boldest man. Sureflint and Chainbearer were alone totally unmoved; for
they had been at pigeons' roosts before, and knew what to expect. To
them the wonders of the woods were no longer novel. Each stood leaning
on his rifle and smiling at our evident astonishment. I am wrong; the
Indian did not even smile: for that would have been an unusual
indication of feeling for him to manifest; but he _did_ betray a sort of
covert consciousness that the scene must be astounding to us. But I will
endeavor to explain what it was that so largely increased the first
effect of our visit.

While standing wondering at the extraordinary scene around us, a noise
was heard rising above that of the incessant fluttering, which I can
only liken to that of the trampling of thousands of horses on a beaten
road. This noise at first sounded distant, but it increased rapidly in
proximity and power, until it came rolling in upon us, among the
tree-tops, like a crash of thunder. The air was suddenly darkened, and
the place where we stood as sombre as a dusky twilight. At the same
instant, all the pigeons near us, that had been on their nests, appeared
to fall out of them, and the space immediately above our heads was at
once filled with birds. Chaos itself could hardly have represented
greater confusion, or a greater uproar. As for the birds, they now
seemed to disregard our presence entirely; possibly they could not see
us on account of their own numbers; for they fluttered in between Dus
and myself, hitting us with their wings, and at times appearing as if
about to bury us in avalanches of pigeons. Each of us caught one at
least in our hands, while Chainbearer and the Indian took them in some
numbers, letting one prisoner go as another was taken. In a word, we
seemed to be in a world of pigeons. This part of the scene may have
lasted a minute, when the space around us was suddenly cleared, the
birds glancing upward among the branches of the trees, disappearing
among the foliage. All this was the effect produced by the return of the
female birds, which had been off at a distance, some twenty miles at
least, to feed on beechnuts, and which now assumed the places of the
males on the nests; the latter taking a flight to get their meal in
their turn.

I have since had the curiosity to make a sort of an estimate of the
number of the birds that must have come in upon the roost, in that, to
us, memorable minute. Such a calculation, as a matter of course, must be
very vague, though one may get certain principles by estimating the size
of a flock by the known rapidity of the flight, and other similar means;
and I remember that Frank Malbone and myself supposed that a million of
birds must have come in on that return, and as many departed! As the
pigeon is a very voracious bird, the question is apt to present itself,
where food is obtained for so many mouths; but, when we remember the
vast extent of the American forests, this difficulty is at once met.
Admitting that the colony we visited contained many millions of birds,
and, counting old and young, I have no doubt it did, there was probably
a fruit-bearing tree for each, within an hour's flight from that very
spot!

Such is the scale on which nature labors in the wilderness! I have seen
insects fluttering in the air at particular seasons, and at particular
places, until they formed little clouds; a sight every one must have
witnessed on many occasions; and as those insects appear, on their
diminished scale, so did the pigeons appear to us at the roost of
Mooseridge. We passed an hour in the town of birds, finding our tongues
and our other faculties, as we became accustomed to our situation. In a
short time, even Dus grew as composed as at all comported with the
excitement natural to one in such a place; and we studied the habits of
the pretty animals with a zest that I found so much the greater for
studying them in her company. At the end of the hour we left the hill,
our departure producing no more sensation in that countless tribe of
pigeons than our arrival.

"It is a proof that numbers can change our natures," said Dus, as we
descended the little mountain. "Here have we been almost in contact with
pigeons which would not have suffered us to come within a hundred feet
of them, had they been in ordinary flocks, or as single birds. Is it
that numbers give them courage?"

"Confidence, rather. It is just so with men; who will exhibit an
indifference in crowds that they rarely possess when alone. The sights,
interruptions, and even dangers that will draw all our attention when
with a few, often seem indifferent to us when in the tumult of a throng
of fellow-creatures."

"What is meant by a panic in an army, then?"

"It is following the same law, making man subject to the impulses of
those around him. If the impulse be onward, onward we go; if for
retreat, we run like sheep. If occupied with ourselves as a body, we
disregard trifling interruptions, as these pigeons have just done in our
own case. Large bodies of animals, whether human or not, seem to become
subject to certain general laws that increase the power of the whole
over the acts and feelings of any one or any few of their number."

"According to that rule, our new republican form of government ought to
be a very strong one; though I have heard many express their fears it
will be no government at all."

"Unless a miracle be wrought in our behalf, it will be the strongest
government in the world for certain purposes, and the weakest for
others. It professes a principle of self-preservation that is not
enjoyed by other systems, since the people must revolt against
themselves to overturn it; but, on the other hand, it will want the
active living principle of steady, consistent justice, since there will
be no independent power whose duty and whose interest it will be to see
it administered. The wisest man I ever knew has prophesied to me that
this is the point on which our system will break down; rendering the
character, the person, and the property of the citizen insecure, and
consequently the institutions odious to those who once have loved them."

"I trust there is no danger of that!" said Dus, quickly.

"There is danger from everything that man controls. We have those among
us who preach the possible perfection of the human race, maintaining the
gross delusion that men are what they are known to be, merely because
they have been ill-governed; and a more dangerous theory, in my poor
judgment, cannot be broached."

"You think, then, that the theory is false?"

"Beyond a question; governments are oftener spoiled by men, than men by
governments; though the last certainly have a marked influence on
character. The best government of which we know anything is that of the
universe; and it is so, merely because it proceeds from a single will,
that will being without blemish."

"Your despotic governments are said to be the very worst in the world."

"They are good or bad as they happen to be administered. The necessity
of maintaining such governments by force renders them often oppressive;
but a government of numbers may become more despotic than that of an
individual; since the people will, in some mode or other, always sustain
the oppressed as against the despot, but rarely, or never, as against
themselves. You saw that those pigeons lost their instinct, under the
impulse given them by numbers. God forever protect me against the
tyranny of numbers."

"But everybody says our system is admirable, and the best in the world;
and even a despot's government is the government of a man."

"It is one of the effects of numbers that men shrink from speaking the
truth, when they find themselves opposed to large majorities. As
respects self-rule, the colonies were ever freer than the mother
country; and we are, as yet, merely pursuing our ancient practices,
substituting allegiance to the confederation for allegiance to the king.
The difference is not sufficiently material to produce early changes. We
are to wait until that which there is of new principles in our present
system shall have time to work radical changes, when we shall begin to
ascertain how much better we really are than our neighbors."[13]

[Footnote 13: At the time of which Mr. Mordaunt Littlepage is here
speaking, it was far less the fashion to extol the institutions than it
is to-day. Men then openly wrote and spoke against them, while few dare,
at the present time, point out faults that every person of intelligence
knows and feels to be defects. A few years since, when Jackson was
placed in the White House, it was the fashion of Europe to predict that
we had elevated a soldier to power, and that the government of the
bayonet was at hand. This every intelligent American knew to be rank
nonsense. The approach of the government of the bayonet among us, if it
is ever to come, may be foreseen by the magnitude of popular abuses,
against which force is the only remedy. Every well-wisher of the freedom
this country has hitherto enjoyed, should now look upon the popular
tendencies with distrust, as, whenever it is taken away, it will go as
their direct consequence; it being an inherent principle in the corrupt
nature of man to misuse all his privileges; even those connected with
religion itself. If history proves anything, it proves this.--EDITOR.]

Dus and I continued to converse on this subject until she got again into
the saddle. I was delighted with her good sense and intelligence, which
were made apparent more in the pertinacity of her questions than by any
positive knowledge she had on such subjects, which usually have very few
attractions for young women. Nevertheless, Dus had an activity of mind
and a readiness of perception that supplied many of the deficiencies of
education on these points; and I do not remember to have ever been
engaged in a political discussion from which I derived so much
satisfaction. I must own, however, it is possible that the golden hair
flying about a face that was just as ruddy as comported with the
delicacy of the sex, the rich mouth, the brilliant teeth, and the
spirited and yet tender blue eyes, may have increased a wisdom that I
found so remarkable.



CHAPTER XV.

    "Fie, fie, fond love, thou art so full of fear,
      As one with treasure laden, hemmed with thieves,
    Trifles, unwitnessed with eye or ear,
      Thy coward heart with false bethinking grieves."
                                         --_Venus and Adonis._


The hut, or huts of Chainbearer, had far more comfort in and around
them, than I was prepared to find. They were three in number, one having
been erected as a kitchen, and a place to contain the male slaves;
another for the special accommodation of Ursula and the female black;
and the third to receive men. The eating-room was attached to the
kitchen; and all these buildings, which had now stood the entire year,
were constructed of logs, and were covered with bark. They were roughly
made, as usual; but that appropriated to Dus was so much superior to the
others in its arrangements, internal and external, as at once to denote
the presence and the influence of woman. It may have some interest with
the reader briefly to describe the place.

Quite as a matter of course, a spring had been found, as the first
consideration in "locating," as it is called by that portion of our
people who get upon their conversational stilts. The spring burst out of
the side of a declivity, the land stretching away for more than a mile
from its foot, in an inclined plane that was densely covered with some
of the noblest elms, beeches, maples, and black birches, I have ever
seen. This spot, the Chainbearer early assured me, was the most valuable
of all the lands of Mooseridge. He had selected it because it was
central, and particularly clear from underbrush; besides having no
stagnant water near it. In other respects, it was like any other point
in that vast forest; being dark, shaded, and surrounded by the
magnificence of a bountiful vegetation.

Here Chainbearer had erected his hut, a low, solid structure of pine
logs, that were picturesque in appearance, and not without their rude
comforts, in their several ways. These buildings were irregularly
placed, though the spring was in their control. The kitchen and
eating-room were nearest the water; at no great distance from these was
the habitation of the men; while the smaller structure, which Frank
Malbone laughingly termed the "harem," stood a little apart, on a slight
spur of land, but within fifty yards of Andries's own lodgings. Boards
had been cut by hand, for the floors and doors of these huts, though no
building but the "harem" had any window that was glazed. This last had
two such windows, and Frank had even taken care to provide for his
sister's dwelling rude but strong window shutters.

As for defences against an enemy, they were no longer thought of within
the limits of New York. Block-houses, and otherwise fortified dwellings,
had been necessary so long as the French possessed Canada; but after the
capture of that colony, few had deemed any such precautions called for,
until the war of the revolution brought a savage foe once more among the
frontier settlements; frontier, as to civilization, if not as to
territory. With the termination of that war had ceased this, the latest
demand for provisions of that nature; and the Chainbearer had not
thought of using any care to meet the emergencies of violence, in
"making his pitch."

Nevertheless, each hut would have been a reasonably strong post, on an
emergency; the logs being bullet-proof, and still remaining undecayed
and compact. Palisades were not thought of now, nor was there any
covered means of communicating between one hut and another. In a word,
whatever there might be in the way of security in these structures, was
the result of the solidity of their material, and of the fashion of
building that was then, and is still customary everywhere in the forest.
As against wild beasts there was entire protection, and other enemies
were no longer dreaded. Around the huts there were no enclosures of any
sort, nor any other cleared land, than a spot of about half an acre in
extent, off of which had been cut the small pines that furnished the
logs of which they were built. A few vegetables had been put into the
ground at the most open point; but a fence being unnecessary, none had
been built. As for the huts, they stood completely shaded by the forest,
the pines having been cut on an eminence a hundred yards distant. This
spot, however, small as it was, brought enough of the commoner sort of
plants to furnish a frugal table.

Such was the spot that was then known in all that region by the name of
the "Chainbearer's Huts." This name has been retained and the huts are
still standing, circumstances having rendered them memorable in my
personal history, and caused me to direct their preservation, at least
as long as I shall live. As the place had been inhabited a considerable
time that spring and summer, it bore some of the other signs of the
presence of man; but on the whole, its character as a residence was that
of deep forest seclusion. In point of fact, it stood buried in the
woods, distant fully fifteen miles from the nearest known habitation,
and in so much removed from the comfort, succor, and outward
communications of civilized life. These isolated abodes, however, are by
no means uncommon in the State, even at the present hour; and it is
probable that some of them will be found during the whole of this
century. It is true, that the western, middle, southern, southwestern,
northwestern and northeastern counties of New York, all of which were
wild, or nearly so, at the time of which I am writing, are already well
settled, or are fast filling up, but there is a high mountainous region,
in middle-northern New York, which will remain virtually a wilderness, I
should think, for quite a century, if not longer. I have travelled
through this district of wilderness very lately, and have found it
picturesque and well suited for the sportsman, abounding in deer, fish
and forest birds, but not so much suited to the commoner wants of man,
as to bring it very soon into demand for the ordinary purposes of the
husbandman. If this quarter of the country do not fall into the hands of
lawless squatters and plunderers of one sort and another, of which there
is always some danger in a country of so great extent, it will become a
very pleasant resort of the sportsman, who is likely soon to lose his
haunts in the other quarters of the State.

Jaap had brought over some horses of mine from the 'Nest as
sumpter-beasts, and these being sent back for want of provender, the
negro himself remained at the "Huts" as a general assistant, and as a
sort of hunter. A Westchester negro is pretty certain to be a shot,
especially if he happen to belong to the proprietor of a Neck; for there
is no jealousy of trusting arms in the hands of our New York slaves. But
Jaap having served, in a manner, was entitled to burn as much gunpowder
as he pleased. By means of one of his warlike exploits, the old fellow
had become possessed of a very capital fowling-piece, plunder obtained
from some slain English officer, I always supposed; and this arm he
invariably kept near his person, as a trophy of his own success. The
shooting of Westchester, however and that of the forest, were very
different branches of the same art. Jaap belonged to the school of the
former, in which the pointer and the setter were used. The game was "put
up," and "marked down," and the bird was invariably shot on the wing. My
attention was early called to this distinction, by overhearing a
conversation between the negro and the Indian, that took place within a
few minutes after our arrival, and a portion of which I shall now
proceed to relate.

Jaap and Sureflint were, in point of fact, very old acquaintances, and
fast friends. They had been actors in certain memorable scenes, on those
very lands of Mooseridge, some time before my birth, and had often met
and served as comrades during the last war. The known antipathy between
the races of the red and black man did not exist as between them, though
the negro regarded the Indian with some of that self-sufficiency which
the domestic servant would be apt to entertain for a savage roamer of
the forest; while the Onondago could not but look on my fellow as one of
the freest of the free would naturally feel disposed to look on one who
was content to live in bondage. These feelings were rather mitigated
than extinguished by their friendship, and often made themselves
manifest in the course of their daily communion with each other.

A bag filled with squabs had been brought from the roost, and Jaap had
emptied it of its contents on the ground near the kitchen, to commence
the necessary operations of picking and cleaning, preparatory to handing
the birds over to the cook. As for the Onondago, he took his seat near
by on a log very coolly, a spectator of his companion's labors, but
disdaining to enter in person on such woman's work, now that he was
neither on a message nor on a war-path. Necessity alone could induce him
to submit to any menial labor, nor do I believe he would have offered to
assist, had he seen the fair hand of Dus herself plucking these pigeons.
To him it would have been perfectly suitable that a "squaw" should do
the work of a "squaw," while a warrior maintained his dignified
idleness. Systematic and intelligent industry are the attendants of
civilization, the wants created by which can only be supplied by the
unremitted care of those who live by their existence.

"Dere, old Sus," exclaimed the negro, shaking the last of the dead birds
from the bag--"dere, now, Injin; I s'pose you t'inks 'em ere's game!"

"What _you_ call him, eh?" demanded the Onondago, eyeing the negro
sharply.

"I doesn't call 'em game a bit, redskin. Dem's not varmint, n'oder; but
den, dem isn't game. Game's game, I s'pose you does know, Sus?"

"Game, game--good. T'at true--who say no?"

"Yes, it's easy enough to _say_ a t'ing, but it not so berry easy to
understan'. Can any Injin in York State, now, tell me why pigeon isn't
game?"

"Pigeon game--good game, too. Eat sweet--many time want more."

"Now, I do s'pose, Trackless"--Jaap loved to run through the whole
vocabulary of the Onondago's names--"Now, I do s'pose, Trackless, you
t'ink _tame_ pigeon just as good as wild?"

"Don't know--nebber eat tame--s'pose him good, too."

"Well, den, you s'poses berry wrong. Tame pigeons poor stuff; but no
pigeon be game. Nuttin' game, Sureflint, dat a dog won't p'int, or set.
Masser Mordaunt h'an't got no dog at de Bush or de Toe, and he keeps
dogs enough at bot', dat would p'int a pigeon."

"P'int deer, eh?"

"Well, I doesn't know. P'raps he will, p'raps he won't. Dere isn't no
deer in Westchester for us to try de dogs on, so a body can't tell. You
remem'er 'e day, Sus, when we fit your redskins out here, 'long time
ago, wit' Masser Corny and Masser Ten Eyck, and ole Masser Herman
Mordaunt, and Miss Anneke, and Miss Mary, an' your frin' Jumper? You
remem'er _dat_, ha! Onondago?"

"Sartain--no forget--Injin nebber forget. Don't forget friend--don't
forget enemy."

Here Jaap raised one of his shouting negro laughs, in which all the
joyousness of his nature seemed to enter with as much zest as if he were
subjected to a sort of mental tickling; then he let the character of his
merriment be seen by his answer.

"Sartain 'nough--you remem'er dat feller, Muss, Trackless? He get heself
in a muss by habbing too much mem'ry. Good to hab mem'ry when you told
to do work; but sometime mem'ry bad 'nough. Berry bad to hab so much
mem'ry dat he can't forget small floggin'."

"No true," answered the Onondago, a little sternly, though a _very_
little; for, while he and Jaap disputed daily, they never quarrelled.
"No true, so. Flog bad for back."

"Well, dat because you redskin--a color' man don't mind him as much as
dis squab. Get use to him in little while; den he nuttin' to speak of."

Sureflint made no answer, but he looked as if he pitied the ignorance,
humility, and condition of his friend.

"What you t'ink of dis worl', Susquesus?" suddenly demanded the negro,
tossing a squab that he had cleaned into a pail, and taking another.
"How you t'ink white man come?--how you t'ink red man come?--how you
t'ink color' gentl'em come, eh?"

"Great Spirit say so--t'en all come. Fill Injin full of blood--t'at make
him red--fill nigger wit' ink--t'at make him black--pale-face pale
'cause he live in sun, and color dry out."

Here Jaap laughed so loud that he drew all three of Chainbearer's blacks
to the door, who joined in the fun out of pure sympathy, though they
could not have known its cause. Those blacks! They may be very miserable
as slaves; but it is certain no other class in America laugh so often,
or so easily, or one-half as heartily.

"Harkee, Injin," resumed Jaap, as soon as he had laughed as much as he
wished to do at that particular moment--"Harkee, Injin--you t'ink 'arth
round, or 'arth flat?"

"How do you mean--'arth up and down--no round--no flat."

"Dat not what I mean. Bot' up and down in one sens', but no up and down
in 'noder. Masser Mordaunt, now, and Masser Corny too, bot' say 'arth
round like an apple, and dat he'd stand one way in day-time, an' 'noder
way in night-time. Now, what you t'ink of dat, Injin?"

The Trackless listened gravely, but he expressed neither assent or
dissent. I knew he had a respect for both my father and myself; but it
was asking a great deal of him to credit that the world was round; nor
did he understand how one could be turned over in the manner Jaap
pretended.

"S'pose it so," he remarked, after a pause of reflection--"S'pose it so,
den man stand upside down? Man stand on foot; no stand on head."

"Worl' turn round, Injin; dat a reason why you stand on he head one
time; on he foot 'noder."

"Who tell t'at tradition, Jaap? Nebber heard him afore."

"Masser Corny tell me dat, long time ago; when I war' little boy. Ask
Masser Mordaunt one day, and he tell you a same story. Ebberybody say
_dat_ but Masser Dirck Follock; and he say to me, one time, 'it true,
Jaap, t'e book do say so--and your Masser Corny believe him; but I want
to _see_ t'e worl' turn round, afore I b'lieve it.' Dat what Colonel
Follock say, Trackless; you know he berry honest."

"Good--honest man, colonel--brave warrior--true friend--b'lieve all he
tell, when he _know_; but don't know ebberyt'ing. Gen'ral know
more--major young, but know more."

Perhaps my modesty ought to cause me to hesitate about recording that
which the partiality of so good a friend as Susquesus might induce him
to say; but it is my wish to be particular, and to relate all that
passed on this occasion. Jaap could not object to the Indian's
proposition, for he had too much love and attachment for his two masters
not to admit at once that they knew more than Colonel Follock; no very
extravagant assumption, by the way.

"Yes, he good 'nough," answered the black, "but he don't know half as
much as Masser Corny, or Masser Mordaunt. He say worl' isn't round; now,
I t'ink he look round."

"What Chainbearer say?" asked the Indian, suddenly, as if he had
determined that his own opinion should be governed by that of a man whom
he so well loved. "Chainbearer nebber lie."

"Nor do Masser Corny, nor Masser Mordaunt?" exclaimed Jaap, a little
indignantly. "You t'ink, Trackless, e'der of _my_ massers lie!"

That was an accusation that Susquesus never intended to make; though his
greater intimacy with, and greater reliance on old Andries had,
naturally enough, induced him to ask the question he had put.

"No say eeder lie," answered the Onondago; "but many forked tongue
about, and maybe hear so, and t'ink so. Chainbearer stop ear; nebber
listen to crooked tongue."

"Well, here come Chainbearer he self, Sus; so, jist for graterfercashun,
you shall hear what 'e ole man say. It berry true, Chainbearer honest
man, and I like to know he opinion myself, sin' it isn't easy,
Trackless, to understan' how a mortal being _can_ stan' up, head down!"

"What 'mortal being' mean, eh?"

"Why, it mean mortality, Injin--you, mortality--I, mortality--Masser
Corny, mortality--Masser Mordaunt, mortality--Miss Anneke,
mortality--ebberybody, mortality; but ebberybody not 'e same sort of
mortality!--Understan' now, Sus?"

The Indian shook his head, and looked perplexed; but the Chainbearer
coming up at that moment, that branch of the matter in discussion was
pursued no farther. After exchanging a few remarks about the pigeons,
Jaap did not scruple to redeem the pledge he had given his red friend,
by plunging at once into the main subject with the Chainbearer.

"You know how it be wid Injin, Masser Chainbearer," said Jaap--"'Ey is
always poor missedercated creatur's, and knows nuttin' but what come by
chance--now here be Sureflint, he can no way t'ink dis worl' round; and
dat it _turn_ round, too; and so he want me to ask what you got to say
about _dat_ matter?"

Chainbearer was no scholar. Whatever may be said of Leyden, and of the
many, very many learned Dutchmen it had sent forth into the world, few
of them ever reached America. Our brethren of the eastern colonies, now
states, had long been remarkable, as a whole, for that "dangerous
thing," a "little learning;" but I cannot say that the Dutch of New
York, also viewed as a whole, incurred any of those risks. To own the
truth, it was not a very easy matter to be more profoundly ignorant, on
all things connected with science, than were the mass of the uneducated
Dutch of New York, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred
and eighty-four. It made little difference as to condition in life,
unless one rose as high as the old colonial aristocracy of that stock,
and an occasional exception in favor of a family that intended to rear,
or had reared in its bosom a minister of the gospel. Such was the
strength of the prejudice among these people, that they distrusted the
English schools, and few permitted their children to enter them; while
those they possessed of their own were ordinarily of a very low
character. These feelings were giving way before the influence of time,
it is true; but it was very slowly; and it was pretty safe to infer that
every man of low Dutch extraction in the colony was virtually
uneducated, with the exception of here and there an individual of the
higher social castes, or one that had been especially favored by
association and circumstances. As for that flippant knowledge, of which
our eastern neighbors possessed so large an amount, the New York Dutch
appeared to view it with peculiar dislike, disdaining to know anything,
if it were not of the very best quality. Still, there were a few to whom
this quality was by no means a stranger. In these isolated cases, the
unwearied application, painstaking industry, cautious appreciation of
facts, and solid judgment of the parties, had produced a few men who
only required a theatre for its exhibition, in order to cause their
information to command the profound respect of the learned, let them
live where they might. What they did acquire was thoroughly got, though
seldom paraded for the purposes of mere show.

Old Andries, however, was not of the class just named. He belonged to
the rule, and not to its exception. Beyond a question, he had heard all
the more familiar truths of science alluded to in discourse, or had seen
them in the pages of books; but they entered into no part of his real
opinions; for he was not sufficiently familiar with the different
subjects to feel their truths in a way to incorporate them with his
mind.

"You know t'is sait, Jaap," Chainbearer answered, "t'at bot' are true.
Eferypoty wilt tell you so; and all t'e folks I haf seen holt t'e same
opinions."

"T'ink him true, Chainbearer?" the Onondago somewhat abruptly demanded.

"I s'pose I _must_, Sureflint, since all say it. T'e pale-faces, you
know, reat a great many pooks, and get to pe much wiser t'an ret men."

"How you make man stand on head, eh?"

Chainbearer now looked over one shoulder, then over the other; and
fancying no one was near but the two in his front, he was probably a
little more communicative than might otherwise have been the case.
Drawing a little nearer, like one who is about to deal with a secret,
the honest old man made his reply.

"To pe frank wit' you, Sureflint," he answered, "t'at ist a question not
easily answered. Eferypoty says 'tis so, ant, t'erefore, I s'pose it
_must_ pe so; put I have often asked myself if t'is worlt pe truly
turned upsite town at night, how is it, old Chainpearer, t'at you ton't
roll out of pet? T'ere's t'ings in natur' t'at are incomprehensiple,
Trackless; quite incomprehensiple!"

The Indian listened gravely, and it seemed to satisfy his longings on
the subject, to know that there were things in nature that are
incomprehensible. As for the Chainbearer, I thought that he changed the
discourse a little suddenly on account of these very incomprehensible
things in nature; for it is certain he broke off on another theme, in a
way to alter all the ideas of his companions, let them be on their heads
or their heels.

"Is it not true, Jaap, t'at you ant t'e Onondago, here, wast pot'
present at t'e Injin massacre t'at took place in t'ese parts, pefore t'e
revolution, in t'e olt French war? I mean t'e time when one Traverse, a
surveyor, ant a fery _goot_ surveyor he was, was kil't, wit'all his
chainpearers ant axe-men?"

"True as gospel, Masser Andries," returned the negro, looking up
seriously, and shaking his head--"I was here, and so was Sus. Dat was de
fuss time we smell gunpowder togedder. De French Injins was out in
droves, and dey cut off Masser Traverse and all his party, no leaving
half a scalp on a single head. Yes, sah; I remembers _dat_, as if t'was
last night."

"Ant what was tone wit' t'e poties? You puriet t'e poties, surely?"

"Sartain--Pete, Masser Ten Eyck's man, was put into a hole, near Masser
Corny's hut, which must be out here, four or five miles off; while
masser surveyor and his men were buried by a spring, somewhere off
yonder. Am I right, Injin?"

The Onondago shook his head; then he pointed to the true direction to
each spot that had been mentioned, showing that Jaap was very much out
of the way. I had heard of certain adventures in which my father had
been concerned when a young man, and in which, indeed, my mother had
been in a degree an actor, but I did not know enough of the events fully
to comprehend the discourse which succeeded. It seemed that the
Chainbearer knew the occurrences by report only, not having been present
at the scenes connected with them; but he felt a strong desire to visit
the graves of the sufferers. As yet, he had not even visited the hut of
Mr. Traverse, the surveyor who had been killed; for, the work on which
he had been employed being one of detail, or that of subdividing the
great lots laid down before the revolution, into smaller lots, for
present sale, it had not taken him as yet from the central point where
it had commenced. His new assistant chainbearer was not expected to join
us for a day or two; and, after talking the matter over with his two
companions for a few minutes, he announced a determination to go in
quest of all the graves the succeeding morning, with the intention of
having suitable memorials of their existence placed over them.

The evening of that day was calm and delightful. As the sun was setting
I paid Dus a visit, and found her alone in what she playfully called the
drawing-room of her "harem." Luckily there were no mutes to prevent my
entrance, the usual black guardian, of whom there _was_ one, being still
in her kitchen at work. I was received without embarrassment, and taking
a seat on the threshold of the door, I sat conversing, while the
mistress of the place plied her needle on a low chair within. For a time
we talked of the pigeons and of our little journey in the woods; after
which the conversation insensibly took a direction toward our present
situation, the past, and the future. I had adverted to the Chainbearer's
resolution to search for the graves; and, at this point, I shall begin
to record what was said, _as_ it was said.

"I have heard allusions to those melancholy events, rather than their
history," I added. "For some cause, neither of my parents like to speak
of them; though I know not the reason."

"Their history is well known at Ravensnest," answered Dus; "and it is
often related there; at least, as marvels are usually related in country
settlements. I suppose there is a grain of truth mixed up with a pound
of error."

"I see no reason for misrepresenting in an affair of that sort."

"There is no other than the universal love of the marvellous, which
causes most people to insist on having it introduced into a story, if it
do not happen to come in legitimately. Your true country gossip is never
satisfied with fact. He (or _she_ would be the better word) insists on
exercising a dull imagination at invention. In this case, however, from
all that I can learn, more fact and less invention has been used than
common."

We then spoke of the outlines of the story each had heard, and we found
that, in the main, our tales agreed. In making the comparison, however,
I found that I was disposed to dwell most on the horrible features of
the incidents, while Dus, gently and almost insensibly, yet infallibly,
inclined to those that were gentler, and which had more connection with
the affections.

"Your account is much as mine, and both must be true in the main, as you
got yours from the principal actors," she said; "but _our_ gossips
relate certain points connected with love and marriage, about which you
have been silent."

"Let me hear them, then," I cried; "for I never was in a better mood to
converse of love and _marriage_," laying a strong emphasis on the last
word, "than at this moment!"

The girl started, blushed, compressed her lips, and continued silent for
half a minute. I could see that her hand trembled, but she was too much
accustomed to extraordinary situations easily to lose her self-command.
It was nearly dusk, too, and the obscurity in which she sat within the
hut, which was itself beneath the shade of tall trees, most probably
aided her efforts to seem unconscious. Yet, I had spoken warmly, and as
I soon saw, in a manner that demanded explanation, though at the moment
quite without plan, and scarcely with the consciousness of what I was
doing. I decided not to retreat, but to go on, in doing which I should
merely obey an impulse that was getting to be too strong for much
further restraint; that was not the precise moment, nevertheless, in
which I was resolved to speak, but I waited rather for the natural
course of things. In the mean time, after the short silence mentioned,
the discourse continued.

"All I meant," resumed Dus, "was the tradition which is related among
your tenants, that your parents were united in consequence of the manner
in which your father defended Herman Mordaunt's dwelling, his daughter
included--though Herman Mordaunt himself preferred some English lord for
his son-in-law, and--but I ought to repeat no more of this silly tale."

"Let me hear it all, though it be the loves of my own parents."

"I dare say it is not true; for what vulgar report of private feelings
and private acts ever _is_ so? My tradition added that Miss Mordaunt
was, at first, captivated by the brilliant qualities of the young lord,
though she much preferred General Littlepage in the end; and that her
marriage has been most happy."

"Your tradition, then, has not done my mother justice, but is faulty in
many things. Your young lord was merely a baronet's heir; and I know
from my dear grandmother that my mother's attachment to my father
commenced when she was a mere child, and was the consequence of his
resenting an insult she received at the time from some other boy."

"I am glad of that!" exclaimed Dus, with an emphasis so marked that I
was surprised at the earnestness of her manner. "Second attachments in
woman to me always seem misplaced. There was another vein to my
tradition, which tells of a lady who lost her betrothed the night the
'Nest was assailed, and who has ever since lived unmarried, true to his
memory. That is a part of the story I have ever loved."

"Was her name Wallace?" I asked, eagerly.

"It was; Mary Wallace--and I have honored the name ever since I heard
the circumstances. In my eyes, Mr. Littlepage, there can be no picture
more respectable than that of a female remaining true to her first
attachments, under _all_ circumstances; in _death_ as well as in
_life_."

"Or in mine, beloved Ursula!" I cried--but I will not make a fool of
myself by attempting to record what I said next. The fact was, that Dus
had been winding herself round my heart for the last few weeks in a way
that would have defied any attempts of mine to extricate it from the net
into which it had fallen, had I the wish to do so. But I had considered
the matter, and saw no reason to desire freedom from the dominion of
Ursula Malbone. To me she appeared all that man could wish, and I saw no
impediment to a union in the circumstance of her poverty. Her family and
education were quite equal to my own; and these very important
considerations admitted, I had fortune enough for both. It was material
that we should have the habits, opinions, prejudices if you will, of the
same social caste; but beyond this, worldly considerations, in my view
of the matter, ought to have no influence.

Under such notions, therefore, and guided by the strong impulse of a
generous and manly passion, I poured out my whole soul to Dus. I dare
say I spoke a quarter of an hour without once being interrupted. I did
not wish to hear my companion's voice; for I had the humility which is
said to be the inseparable attendant of a true love, and was fearful
that the answer might not be such as I could wish to hear. I could
perceive, spite of the increasing obscurity, that Dus was strongly
agitated; and will confess a lively hope was created within me by this
circumstance. Thus encouraged, it was natural to lose my fears in the
wish to be more assured; and I now pressed for a reply. After a brief
pause, I obtained it in the following words, which were uttered with a
tremor and sensibility that gave them tenfold weight.

"For this unexpected, and I believe _sincere_ declaration, Mr.
Littlepage, I thank you from the bottom of my heart," the precious
creature commenced. "There are a frankness, an honorable sincerity and a
noble generosity in such a declaration, coming from _you_ to _me_, that
can never be forgotten. But, I am not my own mistress--my faith is
plighted to another--my affections are with my faith; and I cannot
accept offers which, so truly generous, so truly noble, demand the most
explicit reply----"

I heard no more; for, springing from the floor, and an attitude that was
very nearly that of being on my knees, I rushed from the hut and plunged
into the forest.



CHAPTER XVI.

    DANS. "Ye boys who pluck the flowers, and spoil the spring,
                    Beware the secret snake that shoots a sting."
                                               --_Dryden's Eclogues._


For the first half hour after I left Ursula Malbone's hut, I was
literally unconscious of whither I was going, or of what I was about. I
can recollect nothing but having passed quite near to the Onondago, who
appeared desirous of speaking to me, but whom I avoided by a species of
instinct rather than with any design. In fact, fatigue first brought me
fairly to my senses. I had wandered miles and miles, plunging deeper and
deeper into the wilds of the forest, and this without any aim, or any
knowledge of even the direction in which I was going. Night soon came to
cast its shadows on the earth, and my uncertain course was held amid the
gloom of the hour, united to those of the woods. I had wearied myself by
rapid walking over the uneven surface of the forest, and finally threw
myself on the trunk of a fallen tree, willing to take some repose.

At first, I thought of nothing, felt for nothing but the unwelcome
circumstance that the faith of Dus was plighted to another. Had I fallen
in love with Priscilla Bayard, such an announcement could not have
occasioned the same surprise; for _she_ lived in the world, met with men
of suitable educations, conditions, and opinions, and might be supposed
to have been brought within the influence of the attentions and
sympathies that are wont to awaken tenderness in the female breast. With
Dus, it had been very different; she had gone from the forest to the
school, and returned from the school to the forest. It was true, that
her brother, while a soldier, might have had some friend who admired
Ursula, and whose admiration awakened her youthful sympathies, but this
was only a remote probability, and I was left burdened with a load of
doubt as respected even the character and position of my rival.

"At any rate, he must be poor," I said to myself, the moment I was
capable of reflecting coolly on the subject, "or he would never have
left Dus in that hut, to pass her youth amid chainbearers and the other
rude beings of a frontier. If I cannot obtain her love, I may at least
contribute to her happiness by using those means which a kind Providence
has bestowed, and enabling her to marry at once." For a little while I
fancied my own misery would be lessened, could I only see Dus married
and happy. This feeling did not last long, however; though I trust the
desire to see her happy remained after I became keenly conscious it
would require much time to enable me to look on such a spectacle with
composure. Nevertheless, the first tranquil moment, the first relieving
sensation I experienced, was from the conviction I felt that Providence
had placed it in my power to cause Ursula and the man of her choice to
be united. This recollection gave me even a positive pleasure for a
little while, and I ruminated on the means of effecting it, literally
for hours. I was still thinking of it, indeed, when I threw myself on
the fallen tree, where weariness caused me to fall into a troubled
sleep, that lasted, with more or less of forgetfulness, several hours.
The place I had chosen on the tree was among its branches, on which the
leaves were still hanging, and it was not without its conveniences.

When I awoke, it was daylight; or, such a daylight as penetrates the
forest ere the sun has risen. At first I felt stiff and sore from the
hardness of my bed; but, on changing my attitude and sitting up, these
sensations soon wore off, leaving me refreshed and calm. To my great
surprise, however, I found that a small, light blanket, such as woodmen
use in summer, had been thrown over me, to the genial warmth of which I
was probably indebted more than I then knew myself. This circumstance
alarmed me at first, since it was obvious the blanket could not have
come there without hands; though a moment's reflection satisfied me that
the throwing it over me, under the circumstances, must have been the act
of a friend. I arose, however, to my feet, walked along the trunk of the
tree until clear of its branches, and looked about me with a lively
desire to ascertain who this secret friend might be.

The place was like any other in the solitude of the forest. There was
the usual array of the trunks of stately trees, the leafy canopy, the
dark shadows, the long vistas, the brown and broken surface of the
earth, and the damp coolness of the boundless woods. A fine spring broke
out of a hill-side quite near me, and looking further, with the
intention to approach and use its water, the mystery of the blanket was
at once explained. I saw the form of the Onondago, motionless as one of
the trees which grew around him, leaning on his rifle, and seemingly
gazing at some object that lay at his feet. In a minute I was at his
side, when I discovered that he was standing over a human skeleton! This
was a strange and startling object to meet in the depth of the woods!
Man was of so little account, was so seldom seen in the virgin wilds of
America, that one naturally felt more shocked at finding such a memorial
of his presence in a place like that, than would have been the case had
he stumbled on it amid peopled districts. As for the Indian, he gazed at
the bones so intently that he either did not hear, or he totally
disregarded my approach. I touched him with a finger before he even
looked up. Glad of any excuse to avoid explanation of my own conduct, I
eagerly seized the occasion offered by a sight so unusual, to speak of
other things.

"This has been a violent death, Sureflint," I said; "else the body would
not have been left unburied. The man has been killed in some quarrel of
the red warriors."

"_Was_ bury," answered the Indian, without manifesting the least
surprise at my touch, or at the sound of my voice. "Dere, see grave?
'Arth wash away, and bones come out. Nuttin' else. _Know_ he bury, for
help bury, myself."

"Do you, then, know anything of this unhappy man, and of the cause of
his death?"

"Sartain; know all 'bout him. Kill in ole French war. Fader here; and
Colonel Follock; Jaap, too. Huron kill 'em all; afterward we flog Huron.
Yes, dat ole story now!"

"I have heard something of this! This must have been the spot, then,
where one Traverse, a surveyor, was set upon by the enemy, and was
slain, with his chainbearers and axe-men. My father and his friends
_did_ find the bodies and bury them, after a fashion."

"Sartain; just so; poor bury, d'ough, else he nebber come out of groun'.
Dese bones of surveyor; know 'em well: hab one leg broke, once. Dere;
you see mark."

"Shall we dig a new grave, Susquesus, and bury the remains again?"

"Best not, now, Chainbearer mean do dat. Be here by-'m-bye. Got
somet'ing else t'ink of now. You own all land 'bout here, so no need be
in hurry."

"I suppose that my father and Colonel Follock do. These men were slain
on the estate, while running out its great lots. I think I have heard
they had not near finished their work in this quarter of the patent,
which was abandoned on account of the troubles of that day."

"Just so; who own mill, here, den?"

"There is no mill near us, Susquesus; _can_ be no mill, as not an acre
of the Ridge property has ever been sold or leased."

"May be so--mill d'ough--not far off, needer. Know mill when hear him.
Saw talk loud."

"You surely do not hear the saw of a mill now, my friend. I can hear
nothing like one."

"No hear, now; dat true. But hear him in night. Ear good in night--hear
great way off."

"You are right enough there, Susquesus. And you fancied you heard the
stroke of a saw, from this place, during the quiet and heavy air of the
past night?"

"Sartain--know well; hear him plain enough. Isn't mile off. Out here;
find him dere."

This was still more startling than the discovery of the skeleton. I had
a rough, general map of the patent in my pocket; and on examination, I
found a mill-stream _was_ laid down on it, quite near the spot where we
stood. The appearance of the woods, and the formation of the land,
moreover, favored the idea of the proximity of a mill. Pine was plenty,
and the hills were beginning to swell into something resembling
mountains.

Fasting, and the exercise I had taken, had given me a keen appetite; and
in one sense at least, I was not sorry to believe that human habitations
were near. Did any persons dwell in that forest, they were squatters,
but I did not feel much personal apprehension in encountering such men;
especially when my only present object was to ask for food. The erecting
of a mill denoted a decided demonstration, it is true, and a little
reflection might have told me that its occupants would not be delighted
by a sudden visit from the representative of the owners of the soil. On
the other hand, however, the huts were long miles away, and neither
Sureflint nor I had the smallest article of food about us. Both were
hungry, though the Onondago professed indifference to the feeling, an
unconcern I could not share with him, owing to habits of greater
self-indulgence. Then I had a strong wish to solve this mystery of the
mill, in addition to a feverish desire to awaken within me some new
excitement, as a counterpoise to that I still keenly felt in behalf of
my disappointed love.

Did I not so well understand the character of my companion, and the
great accuracy of Indian senses, I might have hesitated about going on
what seemed to be a fool's errand. But circumstances, that were then of
recent origin, existed to give some countenance to the conjecture of
Sureflint, if conjecture his precise knowledge could be called.
Originally, New York claimed the Connecticut for a part of its eastern
boundary, but large bodies of settlers had crossed that stream coming
mainly from the adjacent colony of New Hampshire, and these persons had
become formidable by their positions and numbers, some time anterior to
the revolution. During that struggle, these hardy mountaineers had
manifested a spirit favorable to the colonies, in the main, though every
indication of an intention to settle their claims was met by a
disposition to declare themselves neutral. In a word, they were
sufficiently patriotic, if left to do as they pleased in the matter of
their possessions, but not sufficiently so to submit to the regular
administration of the law. About the close of the war, the leaders of
this self-created colony were more than suspected of coquetting with the
English authorities; not that they preferred the government of the
crown, or any other control, to their own, but because the times were
favorable to playing off their neutrality, in this manner, as a means of
securing themselves in the possession of lands to which their titles, in
the ordinary way, admitted of a good deal of dispute, to say the least.
The difficulty was by no means disposed of by the peace of '83; but the
counties that were then equally known by the name of Vermont and that of
the Hampshire Grants, were existing, in one sense, as a people apart,
not yet acknowledging the power of the confederacy; nor did they come
into the Union, under the constitution of 1789, until all around them
had done so, and the last spark of opposition to the new system had been
extinguished.

It is a principle of moral, as well as of physical nature, that like
should produce like. The right ever vindicates itself, in the process of
events, and the sins of the fathers are visited upon the children, even
to the third and fourth generations, in their melancholy consequences.
It was impossible that an example of such a wrong could be successfully
exhibited on a large scale, without producing its deluded imitators, on
another that was better suited to the rapacity of individual longings.
It is probable Vermont has sent out, among us, two squatters, and
otherwise lawless intruders on our vacant lands, to one of any other of
the adjoining States, counting all in proportion to their whole numbers.
I knew that the county of Charlotte, as Washington was then called, was
peculiarly exposed to inroads of this nature; and did not feel much
surprise at this prospect of meeting with some of the fruits of the seed
that had been so profusely scattered along the sides of the Green
Mountains. Come what would, however, I was determined to ascertain the
facts, as soon as possible, with the double purpose of satisfying both
hunger and curiosity. As for the Indian, he was passive, yielding to my
decision altogether as a matter of course.

"Since you think there is a mill, out here, west of us, Sureflint," I
observed, after turning the matter over in my mind, "I will go and
search for it, if you will bear me company. You think you can find it, I
trust, knowing the direction in which it stands?"

"Sartain--find him easy 'nough. Find stream first--den find _mill_. Got
ear--got eye--no hard to find him. Hear saw 'fore great while."

I acquiesced, and made a sign for my companion to proceed. Susquesus was
a man of action, and not of words; and, in a minute he was leading the
way toward a spot in the woods that looked as if it might contain the
bed of the stream that was known to exist somewhere near by, since it
was laid down on the map.

The sort of instinct possessed by the Trackless, enabled him soon to
find this little river. It was full of water, and had a gentle current;
a fact that the Indian immediately interpreted into a sign that the mill
must be above us, since the dam would have checked the course of the
water, had we been above _that_. Turning up stream, then, my companion
moved on, with the same silent industry as he would have trotted along
the path that led to his own wigwam, had he been near it.

We had not been on the banks of the stream five minutes, before the
Trackless came to a dead halt; like one who had met an unexpected
obstacle. I was soon at his side, curious to know the motive of this
delay.

"Soon see mill, now," Susquesus said, in answer to an inquiry of mine.
"Board plenty--come down stream fast as want him."

Sure enough, boards _were_ coming down, in the current of the river,
much faster than one who was interested in the property would be apt to
wish; unless, indeed, he felt certain of obtaining his share of the
amount of sales. These boards were neither in rafts, nor in cribs; but
they came singly, or two or three laid together, as if some arrangement
had been made to arrest them below, before they should reach any shoals,
falls, or rapids. All this looked surprisingly like a regular
manufacturer of lumber, with a view to sales in the markets of the towns
on the Hudson. The little stream we were on was a tributary of that
noble river, and, once in the latter, there would be no very material
physical obstacle to conveying the product of our hills over the
habitable globe.

"This really looks like trade, Sureflint," I said, as soon as certain
that my eyes did not deceive me. "Where there are boards made, men
cannot be far off. Lumber, cut to order, does not _grow_ in the
wilderness, though the material of which it is made, may."

"Mill make him. Know'd mill, when hear him. Talk plain 'nough. Pale-face
make mill, but red man got ear to hear wit'!"

This was all true enough; and it remained to ascertain what was to come
of it. I will acknowledge that, when I saw those tell-tale boards come
floating down the winding little river, I felt a thrilling of the
nerves, as if assured the sight would be succeeded by some occurrence of
importance to myself. I knew that these lawless lumbermen bore a bad
name in the land, and that they were generally regarded as a set of
plunderers, who did not hesitate to defend themselves and their habits,
by such acts of violence and fraud as they fancied their circumstances
justified. It is one evil of crime, where it penetrates masses, that
numbers are enabled to give it a gloss, and a seeming merit, that
unsettle principles; rendering the false true, in the eyes of the
ignorant, and generally placing evil before good. This is one of the
modes in which justice vindicates itself, under the providence of God;
the wrongs committed by communities reacting on themselves, in the shape
of a demoralization that soon brings its own merited punishment.

There was little time for speculation or conjecture, however; for,
resuming our march, the next bend in the river brought into view a reach
of the stream in which half a dozen men and lads were at work in the
water, placing the boards in piles of two or three, and setting them in
the current, at points favorable to their floating downward. Booms,
connected with chains, kept the confused pile in a sort of basin beneath
some low cliffs, on the margin of which stood the expected saw-mill
itself. Here, then, was ocular proof that squatters were systematically
at work, plundering the forests of which I was in charge, of their most
valuable trees, and setting everything like law and right at defiance.
The circumstances called for great decision, united with the utmost
circumspection. I had gone so far, that pride would not suffer me to
retreat, had not a sense of duty to my father and Colonel Follock, come
to increase the determination to go on.

The reader may feel some desire to know how far Dus mingled with my
thoughts, all this time. She was never absolutely out of them, though
the repulse I had met in my affections gave an impetus to my feelings
that rendered me more than usually disposed to enter on an adventure of
hazard and wildness. If I were naught to Ursula Malbone, it mattered
little what else became of me. This was the sentiment that was
uppermost, and I have thought, ever since, that Susquesus had some
insight into the condition of my feelings, and understood the cause of
the sort of desperation with which I was about to rush on danger. We
were, as yet, quite concealed, ourselves; and the Indian profited by the
circumstance, to hold a council, before we trusted our persons in the
hands of those who might feel it to be their interest to make away with
us, in preference to permitting us ever to see our friends again. In
doing this, however, Sureflint was in no degree influenced by concern
for himself, but solely by a desire to act as became an experienced
warrior, on a very difficult war-path.

"S'pose you know," said Sureflint. "'Em no good men--Varmount
squatter--_you_ t'ink own land--_dey_ t'ink own land. Carry rifle and do
as please. Best watch him."

"I believe I understand you, Susquesus, and I shall be on my guard,
accordingly. Did you ever see either of those men before?"

"T'ink have. Must meet all sort of men, when he go up and down in 'e
wood. Despret squatter, dat ole man, out yonder. Call himself
T'ousandacre--say he alway own t'ousand acre when he have mind to find
him."

"The gentleman must be well provided with estates! A thousand acres will
make a very pretty homestead for a wanderer, especially when he has the
privilege of carrying it about with him, in his travels. You mean the
man with gray hairs, I suppose--he who is half dressed in buckskin?"

"Sartain; dat ole T'ousandacre--nebber want land--take him where he find
him. Born over by great salt lake, he say, and been travel toward
setting sun since a boy. Alway help himself--Hampshire Grant man, _dat_.
But, major, why he no got right, well as you?"

"Because our laws give him no right, while they give to the owner in
fee, a perfect right. It is one of the conditions of the society in
which we live, that men shall respect each other's property, and this is
not his property, but mine--or rather, it is the property of my father
and Colonel Follock."

"Best not say so, den. No need tell ebberyt'ing. No your land, say no
your land. If he t'ink you spy, p'raps he shoot you, eh? Pale-face shoot
spy; red man t'ink spy good feller!"

"Spies can be shot only in time of war; but, war or peace, you do not
think these men will push matters to extremities? They will be afraid of
the law."

"Law! What law to him? Nebber see law--don't go near law; don't know
him."

"Well, I shall run the risk, for hunger is quite as active just now as
curiosity and interest. There is no necessity, however, for your
exposing yourself, Sureflint; do you stay behind, and wait for the
result. If I am detained, you can carry the news to Chainbearer, who
will know where to seek me. Stay you here, and let me go on
alone--adieu."

Sureflint was not to be dropped in this manner. He _said_ nothing, but
the moment I began to move, he stepped quietly into his accustomed
place, in advance, and led the way toward the party of squatters. There
were four of these men at work in the river, in addition to two stout
lads and the old leader, who, as I afterward ascertained, was very
generally known by the _sobriquet_ of Thousandacres. The last remained
on dry land, doubtless imagining that his years, and his long services
in the cause of lawlessness and social disorganization, entitled him to
this small advantage. The evil one has his privileges, as well as the
public.

The first intimation our hosts received of this unexpected visit, came
from the cracking of a dried stick on which I had trodden. The Indian
was not quicker to interpret and observe that well-known sound, than the
old squatter, who turned his head like thought, and at once saw the
Onondago within a rod of the spot where he himself was standing. I was
close on the Indian's heels. At first, neither surprise nor uneasiness
was apparent in the countenance of Thousandacres. He knew the Trackless,
as he called Susquesus, and, though this was the first visit of the
Indian, at that particular "location," they had often met in a similar
manner before, and invariably with as little preliminary notice. So far
from anything unpleasant appearing in the countenance of the squatter,
therefore, Susquesus was greeted with a smile, in which a certain
leering expression of cunning was blended with that of welcome.

"So its only you, Trackless," exclaimed Thousand Acres, or
Thousandacres, as I shall in future spell the name--"I didn't know but
it might be a sheriff. Sitch critturs do get out into the woods,
sometimes, you know; though they don't always get back ag'in. How come
you to find us out, in this cunning spot, Onondago!"

"Hear mill, in night. Saw got loud tongue. Hungry; so come get somet'ing
to eat."

"Waal, you've done wisely, in that partic'lar, for we never have been
better off for vi't'als. Pigeons is as plenty as land, and the law
hasn't got to that pass yet, as to forbid a body from taking pigeons,
even though it be in another man's stubble. I must keep that saw better
greased, nights; though, I s'p'ose, a'ter all, 't was the cut of the
teeth you heard, and not the rubbing of the plate?"

"Hear him all--saw got loud voice, tell you."

"Yes, there's natur' in that. Come, we'll take this path, up to the
house, and see what Miss Thousandacres can do for you. Breakfast must be
ready, by this time; and you, and your fri'nd, behind you, there, is
wilcome to what we have, sitch as it is. Now, as we go along," continued
the squatter, leading the way up the path he had mentioned--"now, as we
go along, you can tell me the news, Trackless. This is a desp'rate quiet
spot; and all the tidings we get is brought back by the b'ys, when they
come up stream, from floating boards down into the river. A desp'rate
sight have we got on hand, and I hope to hear that matters be going on
so well, in Albany, that boards will bring suthin', soon. It's high time
honest labor met with its reward."

"Don't know--nebber sell board," answered the Indian--"nebber buy him.
Don't care for board. Powder cheap, now 'e war-path shut up. Dat good,
s'pose you t'ink."

"Waal, Trackless, I kear more for boards than for powder, I must own;
though powder's useful, too. Yes, yes; a useful thing is powder, in its
way. Venison and bear's meat are both healthy, cheap, food: and I _have_
eaten catamount. Powder can be used in many ways. Who is your fri'nd,
Trackless?"

"_Ole_ young frien'--know his fader. Live in wood now, like us this
summer. Shoot deer like hunter."

"He's wilcome--he's heartily wilcome! All's wilcome to these parts, but
the landlord. You know me, Trackless--you're well acquainted with old
Thousandacres; and few words is best, among fri'nds of long standing.
But, tell me, Onondago, have you seen anything of the Chainbearer, and
his party of lawless surveyors, in the woods, this summer? The b'ys
brought up an account of his being at work, somewhere near by, this
season, and that he's at his old tricks, ag'in!"

"Sartain, see him. Ole frien', too, Chainbearer. Live wit' him, afore
old French war--_like_ to live with him, when can. Good man,
Chainbearer, tell you, Thousandacres. What trick he do, eh?"

The Indian spoke a little sternly, for he loved Andries too well to hear
him disrespectfully named, without feeling some sort of resentment.
These men, however, were too much accustomed to plain dealing in their
ordinary discourse, to take serious offence at trifles; and the amicable
sunshine of the dialogue received no serious interruption from this
passing cloud.

"What trick does Chainbearer do, Trackless," answered the squatter--"a
mortal sight of tricks, with them plaguy chains of his'n! If there
warn't no chains and chainbearers, there could be no surveyors; and, if
there warn't no surveyors, there could be no boundaries to farms but the
rifle; which is the best law-maker, too, that man ever invented. The
Indians want no surveyors, Trackless?"

"S'pose he don't. It _be_ bad to measure land, will own," answered the
conscientious Susquesus, who would not deny his own principles, even
while he despised and condemned the man who now asserted them. "Nebber
see anyt'ing good in measurin' land."

"Ay, I know'd you was of the true Injin kidney!" exclaimed
Thousandacres, exultingly, "and that's it which makes sich fri'nds of us
squatters and you redskins. But Chainbearer is at work hard by, is he,
Trackless?"

"Sartain. He measure General Littlepage farm out. Who _your_ landlord,
eh?"

"Waal, I do s'pose it's this same Littlepage, and a desp'rate rogue all
agree in callin' him."

I started at hearing my honored and honorable father thus alluded to,
and felt a strong disposition to resent the injury; though a glance from
the Indian's eye cautioned me on the subject. I was then young, and had
yet to learn that men were seldom wronged without being calumniated. I
now know that this practice of circulating false reports of landlords,
most especially in relation to their titles, is very general, taking its
rise in the hostile positions that adventurers are constantly assuming
on their estates, in a country as unsettled and migratory as our own,
aided by the common and vulgar passion of envy. Let a man travel through
New York, even at this day, and lend his ear to the language of the
discontented tavern-brawlers, and he would hardly believe there was such
a thing as a good title to an estate of any magnitude within its
borders, or a bad one to the farm of any occupant in possession. There
is among us a set of declaimers, who come from a state of society in
which little distinction exists in either fortunes or social conditions,
and who are incapable of even seeing, much less of appreciating the vast
differences that are created by habits, opinions, and education, but who
reduce all moral discrepancies to dollars and cents. These men
invariably quarrel with all above them, and, with them, to quarrel is to
caluminate. Leaguing with the disaffected, of whom there always must be
some, especially when men are compelled to pay their debts, one of their
first acts is to assail the title of the landlord, when there happens to
be one in their neighborhood, by lying and slandering. There seems to be
no exception to the rule, the practice being resorted to against the
oldest as well as against the most recently granted estates among us.
The lie only varies in particulars; it is equally used against the
titles of the old families of Van Rensselaer, Livingston, Beekman, Van
Cortlandt, De Lancey, Schuyler, and others, as against the hundred new
names that have sprung up in what is called the western counties, since
the revolution. It is the lie of the Father of Lies, who varies it to
suit circumstances and believers. "A desp'rate rogue," all agree in
calling the man who owns land that they desire to possess themselves,
without being put to the unpleasant trouble of purchasing and paying for
it.

I so far commanded myself, however, as to make no retort for the
injustice done my upright, beloved, and noble-minded father, but left
his defence to the friendly feelings and sterling honesty of Sureflint.

"Not so," answered the Indian sternly. "Big lie--forked tongue tell
_dat_--know gen'ral--sarve wid him--_know_ him. Good warrior--honest
man--dat _lie_. Tell him so to face."

"Waal--wa-a-l--I don't know," drawled out Mr. Thousandacres: how those
rascals will "wa-a-l," and "I don't know," when they are cornered in one
of their traducing tales, and are met face to face, as the Indian now
met the squatter! "Wa-a-l, wa-a-l, I don't know, and only repeat what I
have heern say. But here we be at the cabin, Trackless; and I see by the
smoke that old Prudence and her gals has been actyve this morning, and
we shall get suthin' comfortable for the stomach."

Hereupon, Mr. Thousandacres stopped at a convenient place by the side of
the stream, and commenced washing his face and hands; an operation that
was now performed for the first time that day.



CHAPTER XVII.

    "He stepped before the monarch's chair,
    And stood with rustic plainness there,
      And little reverence made;
    Nor head, nor body, bowed nor bent,
    But on the desk his arm he leant,
      And words like these he said."--_Marmion._


While the squatter was thus occupied in arranging his toilet, previously
to taking his morning meal, I had a moment of leisure to look about in.
We had ascended to the level of the mill, where was an open,
half-cleared space, of some sixty acres in extent, that was under a rude
cultivation. Stubs and stumps abounded, and the fences were of logs,
showing that the occupancy was still of recent date. In fact, as I
afterward ascertained, Thousandacres, with his family of hopeful sons
and daughters, numbering in all more than twenty souls, had squatted at
that spot just four years before. The mill-seat was admirable, nature
having done for it nearly all that was required, though the mill itself
was as unartificial and makeshift as such a construction very well could
be. Agriculture evidently occupied very little of the time of the
family, which tilled just enough land "to make a live on't," while
everything in the shape of lumber was "improved" to the utmost. A vast
number of noble pines had been felled, and boards and shingles were to
be seen in profusion on every side. A few of the first were being sent
to market, in order to meet the demands of the moment, in the way of
groceries; but the intention was to wait for the rise of the little
stream, after the fall rains, in order to send the bulk of the property
into the common artery of the Hudson, and to reap the great reward of
the toil of the summer and spring.

I saw, also, that there must be additions to this family, in the way of
marriage, as they occupied no less than five cabins, all of which were
of logs, freshly erected, and had an air of comfort and stability about
them, that one would not have expected to meet where the title was so
flimsy. All this, as I fancied, indicated a design not to remove very
soon. It was probable that some of the oldest of the sons and daughters
were married, and that the patriarch was already beholding a new
generation of squatters springing up about him. A few of the young men
were visible, lounging about the different cabins, and the mill was
sending forth that peculiar, cutting, grating sound, that had so
distinctly attracted the attention of Susquesus, even in the depth of
the forest.

"Walk in, Trackless," cried Thousandacres, in a hearty, free manner,
which proved that what came easily went as freely; "walk in, fri'nd; I
don't know your name, but that's no great matter, where there's enough
for all, and a wilcome in the bargain. Here's the old woman, ready and
willing to sarve you, and looking as smiling as a gal of fifteen."

The last part of the statement, however, was not precisely accurate.
"Miss Thousandacres," as the squatter sometimes magnificently called his
consort, or the dam of his young brood, was far from receiving us with
either smiles or welcomes. A sharp-featured, keen, gray-eyed, old woman,
her thoughts were chiefly bent on the cares of her brood; and her
charities extended little beyond them. She had been the mother of
fourteen children herself, twelve of which survived. All had been born
amid the difficulties, privations and solitudes of stolen abodes in the
wilderness. That woman had endured enough to break down the
constitutions and to destroy the tempers of half a dozen of the ordinary
beings of her sex; yet she survived, the same enduring, hard-working,
self-denying, suffering creature she had been from the day of her bloom
and beauty. These two last words might be supposed to be used in
mockery, could one have seen old Prudence, sallow, attenuated, with
sunken cheeks, hollow, lack-lustre eyes, and broken-mouthed, as I now
saw her; but there were the remains of great beauty, notwithstanding,
about the woman; and I afterward learned that she had once been among
the fairest of the fair, in her native mountains. In all the intercourse
I subsequently had with her family, the manner of this woman was
anxious, distrustful, watchful, and bore a strong resemblance to that of
the dam that is overseeing the welfare of her cubs. As to her welcome at
the board, it was neither hearty nor otherwise; it being so much a
matter of course for the American to share his meal with the stranger,
that little is said or thought of the boon.

Notwithstanding the size of the family of Thousandacres, the cabin in
which he dwelt was not crowded. The younger children of the settlement,
ranging between the ages of four and twelve, appeared to be distributed
among all the habitations indifferently, putting into the dishes
wherever there was an opening, much as pigs thrust themselves in at any
opening at a trough. The business of eating commenced simultaneously
throughout the whole settlement, Prudence having blown a blast upon a
conch-shell, as the signal. I was too hungry to lose any time in
discourse, and set to, with the most hearty good-will, upon the coarse
fare, the moment there was an opportunity. My example was imitated by
all around our own particular board, it being the refined and
intellectual only, who habitually converse at their meals. The animal
had too great a preponderance among the squatters, to leave them an
exception to the rule.

At length, the common hunger was appeased, and I could see that those
who sat around began to examine me with a little more curiosity than
they had previously manifested. There was nothing in the fashion of my
attire to excite suspicion, perhaps, though I did feel some little
concern on account of its quality. In that day, the social classes were
broadly distinguished by dress, no man even affecting to assume the
wardrobe of a gentleman, without having certain pretensions to the
character. In the woods, however, it was the custom to throw aside
everything like finery, and I wore the hunting-shirt already mentioned,
as my outer garment. The articles most likely to betray my station in
life were beneath this fortunate covering, and might escape observation.
Then our party was small, consisting, besides the parents and the two
guests, of only one young man, and one young woman, of about the ages of
two-and-twenty and sixteen, whom the mother addressed as Zephaniah and
Lowiny, the latter being one of the very common American corruptions of
some fine name taken from a book--Lavinia, quite likely.[14] These two
young persons deported themselves with great modesty at the table, old
Thousandacres and his wife, spite of their lawless lives, having
maintained a good deal of the ancient Puritan discipline among their
descendants, in relation to things of this nature. Indeed, I was struck
with the singular contrast between the habitual attention that was paid
by all in the settlement to certain appearances of the sort, and that
certainty which every one must have possessed that they were living
daily in the commission of offences opposed not only to the laws of the
land, but to the common, inherent convictions of right. In this
particular, they exhibited what is often found in life, the remains of
ancient habits and principles, existing in the shape of habits, long
after the substance that had produced them had disappeared.

[Footnote 14: The commoner dialect of New England is as distinct from
the language of the rest of the republic, cases of New England descent
excepted, as those of many of the English counties are from that of
London. One of the peculiarities of the former, is to pronounce the
final of a word like y; calling America, Ameriky; Utica, Utiky; Ithaca,
Ithaky. Thus, Lavinia would be very apt to be pronounced Lavinny,
Lav_y_ny, or Lowiny. As there is a marked ambition for fine names, the
effect of these corruptions on a practised ear is somewhat ludicrous.
The rest of the nation is quite free from the peculiarity. Foreigners
often mistake New Englandisms for Americanisms; the energy, importance,
and prominency of the people of the former portion of the country,
giving them an influence that is disproportioned to their numbers.]

"Have you asked these folks about Chainbearer?" said Prudence abruptly,
as soon as the knives and forks were laid down, and while we still
continued in our seats at the table. "I feel a consarn of mind, about
that man, that I never feel about any other."

"Near fear Chainbearer, woman," answered the husband. "He's got his
summer's work afore him, without coming near us. By the last accounts,
this young Littlepage, that the old rogue of a father has sent into the
country, has got him out in his own settlement; where he'll be apt to
keep him, I calcerlate, till cold weather sets in. Let me once get off
all the lumber we've cut, and sell it, and I kear very little about
Chainbearer, or his master."

"This is bold talk, Aaron; but jist remember how often we've squatted,
and how often we've been driven to move. I s'pose I'm talking afore
fri'nds, in sayin' what I do."

"No fear of any here, wife. Trackless is an old acquaintance, and has as
little relish for law-titles, as any on us; and _his_ fri'nd is _our_
fri'nd." I confess, that I felt a little uncomfortable, at this remark;
but the squatter going on with his conversation, there was no
opportunity for saying anything, had I been so disposed. "As for
moving," continued the husband, "I never mov'd, but twice, without
getting pay for my betterments. Now I call that a good business, for a
man who has squatted no less than seventeen times. If the worst comes to
the worst, we're young enough to make an eighteenth pitch. So that I
save the lumber, I keer but little for your Littlepages or Greatpages;
the mill is no great matter, without the gear; and that has travelled
all the way from Varmount, as it is, and is used to moving. It can go
farther."

"Yes, but the lumber, Aaron! The water's low now, and you can never get
it to market, until the rivers rise, which mayn't be these three months.
Think how many days' labor that lumber has cost you, and all on us, and
what a sight of it there would be to lose!"

"Yes, but we _wunt_ lose it, woman," answered Thousandacres, compressing
his lips, and clenching his hands, in a way to show how intensely he
felt on the subject of property himself, however dishonestly acquired.
"My sweat and labor be in them boards; and it's as good as sap, anyday.
What a man sweats for, he has a right to."

This was somewhat loose morality, it is true, since a man might sweat in
bearing away his neighbor's goods; but a portion of the human race is a
good deal disposed to feel and reason on principles but little more
sound than this of old Thousandacres.

"Wa-a-ll," answered the woman, "I'm sure I don't want to see you and the
b'ys lose the fruits of your labors; not I. You've honestly toiled and
wrought at 'em logs, in a way I never seed human beings outdo; and
'twould be hard," looking particularly at me, "now that they've cut the
trees, hauled 'em to mill, and sawed the boards, to see another man step
in and claim all the property. _That_ could never be right, but is ag'in
all justice, whether Varmount or York. I s'pose there's no great harm in
jist askin' what your name may be, young man?"

"None in the world," I answered, with a self-command that I could see
delighted the Onondago. "My name is Mordaunt."

"Mordaunt!" repeated the woman, quickly. "Don't we know suthin' of that
name?--Is that a fri'ndly name, to us Varmounters?--How is it, Aaron?
you ought to know."

"No, I hadn't ought to, for I never heerd tell of any sich name afore.
So long as 'tisn't Littlepage, I kear nothin' about it."

I felt relieved at this reply, for I will own, that the idea of falling
into the power of these lawless men was far from pleasant to me. From
Thousandacres, down to the lad of seventeen, they all stood six feet in
their stockings; and a stouter, more broad-shouldered, sinewy race, was
not often seen. The idea of resisting them by force, was out of the
question. I was entirely without arms; though the Indian was better
provided; but no less than four rifles were laid on brackets in this one
cabin; and I made no doubt that every male of the family had his own
particular weapon. The rifle was the first necessary of men of this
stamp, being as serviceable in procuring food as in protecting them from
their enemies.

It was at this moment that Prudence drew a long sigh, and rose from
table in order to renew her domestic labors. Lowiny followed her motions
in submissive silence, and we men sauntered to the door of the cabin,
where I could get a new view of the nature of those "betterments" that
Thousandacres so highly prized, and of the extent of the depredations
that had been committed on Colonel Follock and my father. The last were
by no means insignificant; and, at a later day, they were estimated, by
competent judges, to amount to fully a thousand dollars in value. Of
course these were a thousand dollars totally lost, inasmuch as redress,
in a pecuniary sense, was entirely out of the question with men of the
stamp of Thousandacres and his sons. This class of persons are fond of
saying, "I'll guarantee," and "I'll bind myself" to do this or that; but
the guarantee and obligation are equally without value. In fact, those
who are the least responsible are usually the freest with such pledges.

"This is a handsome spot," said Thousandacres, whose real name was Aaron
Timberman. "This is a handsome spot, Mr. Mordaunt, and one it would go
kind o' hard to give it up at the biddin' of a man who never laid eye
on't. Be you any way acquainted with law?"

"A very little; no more than we all get to be as we move along through
life."

"You've not travelled far on that journey, young man, as any one can see
by your face. But you've had opportunities, as a body can tell by your
speech, which isn't exactly like our'n, out here in the woods, from
which I had kind o' thought your schoolin' might be more than common. A
body can tell, though his own l'arnin amounts to no great matter."

This notion of Aaron's, that my modes of speech, pronunciation, accent,
and utterance had come from the schools, was natural enough, perhaps;
though few persons ever acquire accuracy in either, except in the
familiar intercourse of their childhood. As for the "common schools" of
New York, they are perpetuating errors in these respects, rather than
correcting them; and one of the largest steps in their improvement would
be to have a care that he who teaches, teaches accurately as to
_sounds_, as well as to significations. Under the present system,
vicious habits are confirmed by deliberate instruction and example
rather than corrected.

"My schooling," I answered modestly enough, I trust, "_has_ been a
little better than common, though it has not been good enough, as you
see, to keep me out of the woods."

"All that may be inclination. Some folks have a nat'ral turn for the
wilderness, and it's workin' agin' the grain, and nearly useless, to try
to make settlement-bodies of 'em. D'ye happen to know what lumber is
likely to bring this fall?"

"Everything is looking up since the peace, and it is fair to expect
lumber will begin to command a price, as well as other property."

"Wa-a-l, it's time it should! During the whull war a board has been of
little more account than a strip of bark, unless it happened to be in
the neighborhood of an army. We lumbermen have had an awful time on it
these last eight years, and more than once I've felt tempted to gi'n in,
and go and settle down in some clearin', like quieter folks; but I
thought as the 'arth is to come to an eend, the war must certainly come
to an eend afore it."

"The calculation was a pretty safe one; the war must have truly made a
dull time to you; nor do I see how you well got along during the period
it lasted."

"Bad enough; though war-times has their windfalls as well as
peace-times. Once, the inimy seized a sight of continental stores, sich
as pork, and flour, and New England rum, and they pressed all the teams,
far and near, to carry off their plunder, and my sleigh and horses had
to go along with the rest on 'em. Waal, go we _did_; and I got as
handsome a load as ever you seed laid in a lumber-sleigh; what I call an
assortment, and one, too, that was mightily to my own likin', seein' I
loaded it up with my own hands. 'Twas in a woody country, as you may
spose, or I wouldn't have been there; and, as I know'd all the byroads,
I watched my chance, and got out of the line without being seen, and
druv' as straight to my own hum' as if I'd just come from tradin' in the
nearest settlement. That was the most profitablest journey I ever tuck,
and what is more, it was a short one."

Here old Thousandacres stopped to laugh, which he did in as hearty,
frank a manner as if his conscience had never known care. This story, I
fancy, was a favorite one with him, for I heard no less than three other
allusions to the exploit on which it was based, during the short time
our communication with each other lasted. I observed the first smile I
had seen on the face of Zephaniah, appear at the recital of this
anecdote; though I had not failed to notice that the young man, as fine
a specimen of rustic, rude, manly proportions as one could wish to see,
had kept his eyes on me at every occasion, in a manner that excited some
uneasiness.

"That was a fortunate service for you," I remarked, as soon as Aaron had
had his laugh; "unless, indeed, you felt the necessity of giving back
the property to the continental officers."

"Not a bit of it! Congress was poor enough, I'm willin' to own, but it
was richer than I was, or ever will be. When property has changed hands
once, title goes with it; and some say that these very lands, coming
from the king, ought now to go to the people, jist as folks happen to
want 'em. There's reason and right, I'm sartain, in the idee, and I
shouldn't wonder if it held good in law, one day!"

Alas! alas! for poor human nature again. Seldom does man commit a wrong
but he sets his ingenuity to work to frame excuses for it. When his mind
thus gets to be perverted by the influence of his passions, and more
especially by that of rapacity, he never fails to fancy new principles
to exist to favor his schemes, and manifests a readiness in inventing
them, which, enlisted on the side of goodness, might render him a
blessing instead of a curse to his race. But roguery is so active, while
virtue is so apt to be passive, that in the eternal conflict that is
waged between them, that which is gained by the truth and inherent power
of the last is, half the time, more than neutralized by the unwearied
exertions of the first! This, I fear, may be found to contain the weak
spot of our institutions. So long as law represents the authority of an
individual, individual pride and jealousy may stimulate it to constant
watchfulness; whereas, law representing the community, carries with it a
divided responsibility, that needs the excitement of intolerable abuses
ere it will arouse itself in its own vindication. The result is merely
another proof that, in the management of the ordinary affairs of life,
men are usually found to be stronger than principles.

"Have you ever had occasion to try one of your titles of possession in a
court of law, against that of a landholder who got his right from a
grant?" I asked, after reflecting a moment on the truth I have just
narrated.

Thousandacres shook his head, looked down a moment, and pondered a
little in his turn, ere he gave me the following answer:

"Sartain," he said. "We all like to be on the right side, if we can; and
some of our folks kind o' persuaded me I might make out, once, ag'in a
reg'lar landlord. So I stood trial with him; but he beat me, Mr.
Mordaunt, just the same as if I had been a chicken, and he the hawk that
had me in his talons. You'll never catch me trusting myself in the claws
of the law ag'in, though that happened as long ago as afore the old
French war. I shall never trust to law any more. It may do for them
that's rich, and don't kear whether they win or lose; but law is a
desp'rate bad business for them that hasn't got money to go into it,
right eend foremost."

"And should Mr. Littlepage discover your being here, and feel disposed
to come to some arrangement with you, what conditions would you be apt
to accept?"

"Oh! I'm never ag'in trade. Trade's the spirit of life; and seein' that
Gin'ral Littlepage has _some_ right, as I do s'pose is the case, I
shouldn't want to be hard on him. If he would keep things quiet, and not
make a fuss about it, but would leave the matter out to men, and they
men of the right sort, I shouldn't be difficult; for I'm one of that
kind that hates lawsuits, and am always ready to do the right thing; and
so he'd find me as ready to settle as any man he ever had on his lands."

"But on what terms? You have not told me the terms."

"As to tarms, I'd not be hard, by any means. No man can say old
Thousandacres ever druv' hard tarms, when he had the best on't. That's
not in my natur', which runs altogether toward reason and what's right.
Now you see, Mordaunt, how matters stand atween this Littlepage and
myself. He's got a paper title, they tell me, and I've got possession,
which is always a squatter's claim; and a good one 'tis, where there's
plenty of pine and a mill-seat with a handy market!"

Here Thousandacres stopped to laugh again, for he generally indulged in
this way, in so hearty and deep a tone, as to render it difficult to
laugh and talk in the same breath. As soon as through, however, he did
not forget to pursue the discourse.

"No, no man that understands the woods will gainsay them advantages,"
added the squatter; "and of all on 'em am I now in the enj'yment.
Wa-a-l, Gin'ral Littlepage, as they call him about here, has a paper
title; and I've got possession. He has the courts on his side, I'll
allow; but here are my betterments--sixty-three as large acres chopped
over and hauled to mill, as can be found in all Charlotte, or
Washington, as they tell me the county is now called."

"But General Littlepage may not fancy it an improvement to have his land
stripped of its pine. You know, Thousandacres, as well as I do, that
pine is usually thought to greatly add to the value of lands hereabouts,
the Hudson making it so easy to get it to market."

"Lord! youngster, do you think I hadn't all that in my mind, when I made
my pitch here? You can't teach old bones where it's best to strike the
first blow with an axe. Now I've got in the creek" (this word is used,
in the parlance of the state, for a small river, nine times in ten);
"now I've got in the creek, on the way to the Hudson, in the booms below
the mill, and in the mill-yard yonder, a hundred and twenty thousand
feet of as handsome stuff as ever was cribbed, or rafted; and there's
logs enough cut and hauled to make more than as much more. I some sort
o' think you know this Littlepage, by your talk; and, as I like fair
dealin's, and what's right atween man and man, I'll just tell you what
I'll do, so that you can tell him, if you ever meet, and the matter
should come up atween you, as sich things sometimes do, in all talk
like, though a body has no real consarn in the affair; and so you can
tell this gin'ral that old Thousandacres is a reasonable man, and is
willing to settle on these tarms; but he won't gi'n a grain more. If the
gin'ral will let me get all the lumber to market peaceably, and take off
the crops the b'ys have put in with their own hands, and carry off all
the mill-gear, and take down the doors and windows of the houses, and
all the iron-work a body can find about, I'm willing to agree to quit
'arly enough in the spring to let any man he chooses come into
possession in good season to get in spring grain, and make garden. There
them's my tarms, and I'll not abate on one on 'em, on no account at all.
But that much I'll do for peace; for I _do_ love peace and quiet, my
woman says, most desp'ately."

I was about to answer this characteristic communication--perfectly
characteristic as to feelings, one-sided sense of right, principles, and
language--when Zephaniah, the tall son of the squatter, suddenly laid a
hand on his father's arm, and led him aside. This young man had been
examining my person, during the whole of the dialogue at the door of the
cabin, in a way that was a little marked. I was disposed at first to
attribute these attentions to the curiosity natural to youth, at its
first meeting with one who might be supposed to enjoy opportunities of
ascertaining the newest modes of dress and deportment. Rustics, in
America, ever manifest this feeling, and it was not unreasonable to
suppose that this young squatter might have felt its influence. But, as
it soon appeared, I had altogether mistaken my man. Although both he and
his sister, Lowiny, had never turned their eyes from my person, I soon
discovered that they had been governed by totally opposing feelings.

The first intimation I got of the nature of the mistake into which I had
fallen, was from the manner of Thousandacres, as soon as his son had
spoken to him, apart, for a single minute. I observed that the old
squatter turned suddenly, and began to scrutinize my appearance with a
scowling, but sharp eye. Then he would give all his attention to his
son; after which, I came in for a new turn of examination. Of course,
such a scene could not last a great while, and I soon felt the relief of
being, again, face to face with the man whom I now set down for an
enemy.

"Harkee, young man," resumed Thousandacres, as soon as he had returned
and placed himself directly before me, "my b'y, Zeph, there, has got a
suspicion consarning you, that must be cleared up, fairly atween us,
afore we part. I like fair dealin's, as I've told you more than once,
already, and despise underhandedness from the bottom of my heart. Zeph
tells me that he has a kind o' suspicion that you're the son of this
very Littlepage, and have been sent among us to spy us out, and to l'arn
how things stood, afore you let on your evil intentions. Is it so, or
not?"

"What reason has Zeph for such a suspicion?" I answered, with such
coolness as I could assume. "He is a perfect stranger to me, and I fancy
this is the first time we have ever met."

"He agrees to that, himself; but mankind can sometimes see things that
isn't put directly afore their eyes. My son goes and comes, frequently,
between the Ravensnest settlement and our own, though I don't suppose he
lets on any great deal about his proper hum'. He has worked as much as
two months, at a time, in that part of the country, and I find him
useful in carrying on a little trade, once and awhile, with 'Squire
Newcome."

"You are acquainted, then, with Mr. Jason Newcome, or 'Squire Newcome,
as you call him?"

"I call him what's right, I hope!" answered the old man sharply. "He
_is_ a 'squire, and should be called a 'squire. Give the devil his due;
that's my principle. But Zephaniah has been out a considerable spell
this summer to work at Ravensnest. I tell him he has a gal in his eye,
by his hankering so much after the 'Nest folks, but he won't own it; but
out he has been, and he tells me this Littlepage's son was expected to
come into the settlement about the time he last left there."

"And you are acquainted with 'Squire Newcome?" I said, pursuing the
subject as its points presented themselves to my own mind, rather than
following the thread of the squatter's discursive manner of thinking;
"so well acquainted as to _trade_ with him?"

"Sartain; _well_ acquainted, I may say. The 'Squire tuck (took) all the
lumber I cut 'arly in the spring, rafting and selling it on his own
account, paying us in groceries, women's cloth, and rum. He made a good
job of it, I hear tell, and is hankerin' round a'ter what is now in the
creek; but I rather think I'll send the b'ys off with that. But what's
that to the purpose? Didn't you tell me, young man, that your name is
Mordaunt?"

"I did; and in so saying I told no more than the truth."

"And what may you call your given name? A'ter all, old woman," turning
to the anxious wife and mother, who had drawn near to listen, having
most probably been made acquainted with the nature of her son's
suspicions--"a'ter all the b'y may be mistaken, and this young man as
innocent as any one of your own flesh and blood."

"Mordaunt is what you call my 'given name,'" I answered, disdaining
deception, "and Littlepage----" The hand of the Indian was suddenly
placed on my mouth, stopping further utterance.

It was too late, however, for the friendly design of the Onondago, the
squatters readily comprehending all I had intended to say. As for
Prudence, she walked away; and I soon heard her calling all her younger
children by name, to collect them near her person, as the hen gathers
its chickens beneath the wing. Thousandacres took the matter very
differently. His countenance grew dark, and he whispered a word to
Lowiny, who departed on some errand with reluctant steps, as I thought,
and eyes that did not always look in the direction she was walking.

"I see how it is! I see how it is!" exclaimed the squatter, with as much
of suppressed indignation in his voice and mien as if his cause were
that of offended innocence; "we've got a spy among us, and war-time's
too fresh not to let us know how to deal with sich folks. Young man,
what's your arr'nd down here, in my betterments, and beneath my ruff?"

"My errand, as you call it, Thousandacres, is to look after the property
that is intrusted to my care. I am the son of General Littlepage, one of
the owners of this spot, and the attorney of both."

"Oh! an _attorney_, be you?" cried the squatter, mistaking the attorney
in fact for an attorney at law--a sort of being for whom he necessarily
entertained a professional antipathy. "I'll attorney ye! If you or your
gin'ral father thinks that Aaron Thousandacres is a man to have his
territories invaded by the inimy, and keep his hands in his pockets the
whull time, he's mistaken. Send 'em along, Lowiny, send along the b'ys,
and let's see if we can't find lodgin's for this young attorney gin'ral,
as well as board."

There was no mistaking the aspect of things now. Hostilities had
commenced in a certain sense, and it became incumbent on me for the sake
of safety to be on the alert. I knew that the Indian was armed; and,
determined to defend my person if possible, I was resolved to avail
myself of the use of his weapon should it become necessary. Stretching
out an arm, and turning to the spot where Susquesus had just stood, to
lay hold of his rifle, I discovered that he had disappeared.



CHAPTER XVIII.

    "The lawless herd, with fury blind,
      Have done him cruel wrong;
    The flowers are gone, but still we find,
      The honey on his tongue."--COWPER.


There I stood alone and unarmed, in the centre of six athletic men--for
Lowiny had been sent to assemble her brothers, a business in which she
was aided by Prudence's blowing a peculiar sort of blast on her
conch--and as unable to resist as a child would have been in the hands
of its parent. As a fruitless scuffle would have been degrading, as well
as useless, I at once determined to submit, temporarily at least, or so
long as submission did not infer disgrace, and was better than
resistance. There did not seem to be any immediate disposition to lay
violent hands on me, however, and there I stood, a minute or two, after
I had missed Sureflint, surrounded by the whole brood of the squatter,
young and old, male and female; some looking defiance, others troubled,
and all anxious. As for myself, I will frankly own my sensations were
far from pleasant; for I knew I was in the hands of the Philistines, in
the depths of a forest, fully twenty miles from any settlement, and with
no friends nearer than the party of the Chainbearer, who was at least
two leagues distant, and altogether ignorant of my position as well as
of my necessities. A ray of hope, however, gleamed in upon me through
the probable agency of the Onondago.

Not for an instant did I imagine that long-known and well-tried friend
of my father and the Chainbearer false. His character was too well
established for that; and it soon occurred to me, that, foreseeing his
own probable detention should he remain, he had vanished with a design
to let the strait in which I was placed be known, and to lead a party to
my rescue. A similar idea probably struck Thousandacres almost at the
same instant; for, glancing his eye around him, he suddenly demanded--

"What has become of the redskin? The varmint has dodged away, as I'm an
honest man! Nathaniel, Moses, and Daniel, to your rifles and on the
trail. Bring the fellow in, if you can, with a whull skin; but if you
can't, an Injin more or less will never be heeded in the woods."

I soon had occasion to note that the patriarchal government of
Thousandacres was of a somewhat decided and prompt character. A few
words went a great way in it, as was now apparent; for in less than two
minutes after Aaron had issued his decree, those namesakes of the
prophets and law-givers of old, Nathaniel, and Moses, and Daniel, were
quitting the clearing on diverging lines, each carrying a formidable,
long, American hunting-rifle in his hand. This weapon, so different in
the degree of its power from the short military piece that has become
known to modern warfare, was certainly in dangerous hands; for each of
those young men had been familiar with his rifle from boyhood; gunpowder
and liquor, with a little lead, composing nearly all the articles on
which they lavished money for their amusement. I trembled for Susquesus;
though I knew he must anticipate a pursuit, and was so well skilled in
throwing off a chase as to have obtained the name of the Trackless.
Still, the odds were against him; and experience has shown that the
white man usually surpasses the Indian even in his own peculiar
practices, when there have been opportunities to be taught. I could do
no more, however, than utter a mental prayer for the escape of my
friend.

"Bring that chap in here," added old Thousandacres, sternly, the moment
he saw that his three sons were off; enough remaining to enforce that or
any other order he might choose to issue. "Bring him into this room, and
let us hold a court on him, sin' he is sich a lover of the law. If law
he likes, law let him have. An attorney, is he? I warnt to know! What
has an attorney to do with me and mine, out here in the woods?"

While this was in the course of being said, the squatter, and father of
squatters, led the way into his own cabin, where he seated himself with
an air of authority, causing the females and younger males of his brood
to range themselves in a circle behind his chair. Seeing the folly of
resistance, at a hint from Zephaniah I followed, the three young men
occupying the place near the door, as a species of guard. In this manner
we formed a sort of court, in which the old fellow figured as the
investigating magistrate, and I figured as the criminal.

"An attorney, be you!" muttered Thousandacres, whose ire against me in
my supposed, would seem to be more excited than it was against me in my
real character, "B'ys, silence in the court; we'll give this chap as
much law as he can stagger under, sin' he's of a law natur'. Everything
shall be done accordin' to rule. Tobit," addressing his oldest son, a
colossal figure of about six-and-twenty, "you've been in the law more
than any on us, and can give us the word. What was't they did with you,
first, when they had you up in Hampshire colony; the time when you and
that other young man went across from the Varmount settlements to look
for sheep? A raft of the critturs you did get atween you, though you
_was_ waylaid and robbed of all your hard 'arnin's afore you got back
ag'in in the mountains. They dealt with you accordin' to law, 'twas
said; now, what was the first thing done?"

"I was tuck [taken] afore the 'squire," answered Tobit Thousandacres, as
he was often called, "who heerd the case, asked me what I had to say for
myself, and then permitted me, as it was tarmed; so I went to jail until
the trial came on, and I s'pose you know what come next, as well as I
do."

I took it for granted that what "come next" was anything but pleasant in
remembrance, the reason Tobit did not relish it even in description,
inasmuch as sheep-stealers were very apt to get "forty save one" at the
whipping-post, in that day, a species of punishment that was admirably
adapted to the particular offence. We are getting among us a set of
_soi-disant_ philanthropists, who, in their great desire to coddle and
reform rogues, are fast placing the punishment of offences on the honest
portion of the community, for the especial benefit of their _élèves_.
Some of these persons have already succeeded in cutting down all our
whipping-posts, thereby destroying the cheapest and best mode of
punishing a particular class of crimes that was ever intended or
practised. A generation hence our children will feel the consequences of
this mistaken philanthropy. In that day, let those who own fowl-houses,
pig-pens, orchards, smoke-houses, and other similar temptations to small
depredations, look to it, for I am greatly mistaken if the insecurity of
their movables does not give the most unanswerable of all commentaries
on this capital misstep. One whipping-post, discreetly used, will do
more toward reforming a neighborhood than a hundred jails, with their
twenty and thirty days' imprisonment.[15] I have as much disposition to
care for the reformation of criminals as is healthful, if I know myself;
but the great object of all the punishments of society, viz., its own
security, ought never to be sacrificed to this, which is but a secondary
consideration. Render character, person and property as secure as
possible, in the first place, after which, try as many experiments in
philanthropy as you please.

[Footnote 15: Mr. Mordaunt Littlepage writes here with prophetic
accuracy. Small depredations of this nature _have_ got to be so very
common that few now think of resorting to the law for redress. Instead
of furnishing the prompt and useful punishment that was administered by
our fathers, the law is as much adorned with its cavillings and delays
in the minor as in the more important cases; and it often takes years to
bring a small depredator even to trial, if he can find money to fee a
sagacious lawyer.--EDITOR.]

I am sorry to see how far the disposition to economize is extending
itself in the administration of American justice generally. Under a
government like that of this country, it is worse than idle, for it is
perfectly futile to attempt to gratify the imagination by a display of
its power through the agency of pomp and representation. Such things,
doubtless, have their uses, and are not to be senselessly condemned
until one has had an opportunity of taking near views of their effects;
though useful, or the reverse, they can never succeed here. But these
communities of ours have it in their power to furnish to the world a far
more illustrious example of human prescience, and benevolent care, by
their prompt, exact, and well-considered administration of
justice--including the cases both in the civil and the criminal courts.
With what pride might not the American retort, when derided for the
simplicity of his executive, and the smallness of the national
expenditure in matters of mere representation, could he only say--"True,
we waste nothing on mere parade; but, turn to the courts, and to the
justice of the country; which, after all, are the great aim of every
good government. Look at the liberality of our expenditures for the
command of the highest talent, in the first place; see with what
generous care we furnish judges in abundance, to prevent them from being
overworked, and to avoid ruinous delays to suitors; then turn to the
criminal courts, and into, first, the entire justice of the laws; next,
the care had in the selection of jurors; the thorough impartiality of
all the proceedings; and, finally, when the right demands it, the
prompt, unerring, and almost terrific majesty of punishment." But to
return to something that is a good deal more like truth:--

"Yes, yes," rejoined Thousandacres, "there is no use in riling the
feelin's, by talking of _that_" (meaning Tobit's sufferings, not at the
_stake_, but at the _post_)--"a hint's as good as a description. You was
taken afore a magistrate, was you--and he permitted you to prison--but
he asked what you had to say for yourself, first? That was only fair,
and I mean to act it all out here, accordin' to law. Come, young
attorney, what have _you_ got to say for yourself?"

It struck me that, alone as I was, in the hands of men who were a
species of outlaws, it might be well to clear myself from every
imputation that, at least, was not merited.

"In the first place," I answered, "I will explain a mistake into which
you have fallen, Thousandacres; for, let us live as friends or foes, it
is always best to understand facts. I am not an attorney, in the sense
you imagine--I am not a lawyer."

I could see that the whole brood of squatters, Prudence included, was a
good deal mollified by this declaration. As for Lowiny, her handsome,
ruddy face actually expressed exultation and delight! I thought I heard
that girl half suppress some such exclamation as--"I know'd he
wasn't no lawyer!" As for Tobit, the scowling look, replete with
cat-o'-nine-tails, actually departed, temporarily at least. In short,
this announcement produced a manifest change for the better.

"No lawyer a'ter all!" exclaimed Thousandacres--"Didn't you say you was
an attorney?"

"That much is true. I told you that I was the son of General Littlepage,
and that I was _his_ attorney, and that of Colonel Follock, the other
tenant in common of this estate; meaning that I held their _power of
attorney_ to convey lands, and to transact certain other business in
their names."

This caused me to lose almost as much ground as I had just gained,
though, being the literal truth, I was resolved neither to conceal, nor
to attempt to evade it.

"Good land!" murmured Lowiny. "Why couldn't the man say nothin' about
all that?"

A reproving look from Prudence, rebuked the girl, and she remained
silent afterward, for sometime.

"A _power_ of attorney, is it!" rejoined the squatter. "Wa-a-l, that's
not much better than being a downright lawyer. It's having the power of
an attorney, I s'pose, and without their accursed power it's little I
should kear for any of the breed. Then you're the son of that Gin'ral
Littlepage, which is next thing to being the man himself. I should
expect if Tobit, my oldest b'y, was to fall into the hands of some that
might be named, it would go hard with him, all the same as if t'was
myself. I know that some make a difference atween parents and children,
but other some doesn't. What's that you said about this gin'ral's only
being a common tenant of this land? How dares he to call himself it's
owner, if he's only a common tenant?"

The reader is not to be surprised at Thousandacre's trifling blunders of
this sort; for, those whose rule of right is present interest,
frequently, in the eagerness of rapacity, fall into this very kind of
error; holding that cheap at one moment, which they affect to deem
sacred at the next. I dare say, if the old squatter had held a lease of
the spot he occupied, he would at once have viewed the character and
rights of a "common tenant," as connected with two of the most important
interests of the country. It happened now, however, that it was "his
bull that was goring our ox."

"How dares he to call himself the owner of the sile, when he's only a
common tenant, I say?" repeated Thousandacres, with increasing energy,
when he found I did not answer immediately.

"You have misunderstood my meaning. I did not say that my father was
only a 'common tenant' of this property, but that he and Colonel Follock
own it absolutely in common, each having his right in every acre, and
not one owning one half while the other owns the other; which is what
the law terms being 'tenants in common,' though strictly owners in fee."

"I shouldn't wonder, Tobit, if he turns out to be an attorney, in our
meaning, a'ter all!"

"It looks desp'rately like it, father," answered the eldest born, who
might have been well termed the heir at law of all his progenitor's
squatting and fierce propensities. "If he isn't a downright lawyer, he
_looks_ more like one than any man I ever seed out of court, in my whull
life."

"He'll find his match! Law and I have been at loggerheads ever sin' the
day I first went into Varmount, or them plaguy Hampshire Grants. When
law gets me in its clutches, it's no wonder if it gets the best on't;
but, when I get law in mine, or one of its sarvants, it shall be my
fault if law doesn't come out second best. Wa-a-l, we've heerd the young
man's story, Tobit. I've asked him what he had to say for himself, and
he has g'in us his tell--tell'd us how he's his own father's son, and
that the gin'ral is some sort of a big tenant, instead of being a
landlord, and isn't much better than we are ourselves; and it's high
time I permitted him to custody. _You_ had writin's for what they did to
you, I dares to say, Tobit?"

"Sartain. The magistrate give the sheriff's deputy a permittimus, and on
the strength of that, they permitted me to jail."

"Ye-e-es--I know all about their niceties and appearances! I have had
dealin's afore many a magistrate, in my day, and have onsuited many a
chap that thought to get the best on't afore we begun! Onsuiting the man
that brings the suit, is the cleanest way of getting out of the law, as
I knows on; but it takes a desp'rate long head sometimes to do it! Afore
I permit this young man, I'll show writin's, too. Prudence, just onlock
the drawer----"

"I wish to correct one mistake before you proceed further," interrupted
I. "For the second time, I tell you I am no lawyer, in any sense of the
word. I am a soldier--have commanded a company in General Littlepage's
own regiment, and served with the army when only a boy in years. I saw
both Burgoyne and Cornwallis surrender, and their troops lay down their
arms."

"Good now! Who'd ha' thought it!" exclaimed the compassionate Lowiny.
"And he so young, that you'd hardly think the wind had ever blown on
him!"

My announcement of this new character was not without a marked effect.
Fighting was a thing to the whole family's taste, and what they could
appreciate better, perhaps, than any other act or deed. There was
something warlike in Thousandacres' very countenance and air, and I was
not mistaken in supposing he might feel some little sympathy for a
soldier. He eyed me keenly; and whether or not he discovered signs of
the truth of my assertion in my mien, I saw that he once more relented
in purpose.

"You out ag'in Burg'yne!" the old fellow exclaimed. "Can I believe what
you say? Why, I was out ag'in Burg'yne myself, with Tobit and Moses, and
Nathaniel and Jedediah--with every male crittur' of the family, in
short, that was big enough to load and fire. I count them days as among
my very best, though they did come late, and a'ter old age had made some
head ag'in me. How can you prove you was out ag'in Burg'yne and
Cornwallis?"

I knew that there was often a strange medley of _soi-disant_ patriotic
feeling mixed up with the most confirmed knavery in ordinary matters,
and saw I had touched a chord that might thrill on the sympathies of
even these rude and supremely selfish beings. The patriotism of such
men, indeed, is nothing but an enlargement of selfishness, since they
prize things because they belong to themselves, or they, in one sense,
belong to the things. They take sides with themselves, but never with
principles. That patriotism alone is pure, which would keep the country
in the paths of truth, honor, and justice; and no man is empowered, in
his zeal for his particular nation, any more than in his zeal, for
himself, to forget the law of right.

"I cannot prove I was out against Burgoyne, standing here where I am,
certainly," I answered; "but give me an opportunity, and I will show it
to your entire satisfaction."

"Which rijiment was on the right, Hazen's or Brookes's, in storming the
Jarmans? Tell me _that_, and I will soon let you know whether I believe
you or not."

"I cannot tell you that fact, for I was with my own battalion, and the
smoke would not permit such a thing to be seen. I do not know that
either of the corps you mention was in that particular part of the field
that day, though I believe both to have been warmly engaged."

"He warnt there," drawled out Tobit, in his most dissatisfied manner,
almost showing his teeth, like a dog, under the impulse of the hatred he
felt.

"He _was_ there!" cried Lowiny, positively; "I _know_ he was there!"

A slap from Prudence taught the girl the merit of silence; but the men
were too much interested to heed an interruption as characteristic and
as bootless as this.

"I see how it is," added Thousandacres; "I must permit the chap a'ter
all. Seein', however, that there _is_ a chance of his having been out
ag'in Burg'yne, I'll permit him _without_ writin's, and he shan't be
bound. Tobit, take your prisoner away, and shut him up in the store'us'.
When your brothers get back from their hunt a'ter the Injin, we'll
detarmine among us what is to be done with him."

Thousandacres delivered his orders with dignity, and they were obeyed to
the letter. I made no resistance, since it would only have led to a
scuffle, in which I should have sustained the indignity of defeat, to
say nothing of personal injuries. Tobit, however, did not offer personal
violence, contenting himself with making a sign for me to follow him,
which I did, followed in turn by his two double-jointed brothers. I will
acknowledge that, as we proceeded toward my prison, the thought of
flight crossed my mind; and I might have attempted it, but for the
perfect certainty that, with so many on my heels, I must have been
overtaken, when severe punishment would probably have been my lot. On
the whole, I thought it best to submit for a time, and trust the future
to Providence. As to remonstrance or deprecation, pride forbade my
having recourse to either. I was not yet reduced so low as to solicit
favors from a squatter.

The jail to which I was "permitted" by Thousandacres was a storehouse,
or, as he pronounced the word, a "store'us," of logs, which had been
made of sufficient strength to resist depredations, let them come from
whom they might, and they were quite as likely to come from some within
as from any without. In consequence of its destination, the building was
not ill-suited to become a jail. The logs, of course, gave a sufficient
security against the attempts of a prisoner without tools or implements
of any sort, the roof being made of the same materials as the sides.
There was no window, abundance of air and light entering through the
fissures of the rough logs, which had open intervals between them; and
the only artificial aperture was the door. This last was made of stout
planks, and was well secured by heavy hinges, and strong bolts and
locks. The building was of some size, too--twenty feet in length at
least--one end of it, though then quite empty, having been intended and
used as a crib for the grain that we Americans call, _par excellence_,
corn. Into this building I entered, after having the large knife that
most woodsmen carry taken from my pocket; and a search was made on my
person for any similar implement that might aid me in an attempt to
escape.

In that day America had no paper money, from the bay of Hudson to Cape
Horn. Gold and silver formed the currency, and my pockets had a liberal
supply of both, in the shape of joes and half-joes, dollars, halves, and
quarters. Not a piece of coin, of any sort, was molested, however, these
squatters not being robbers, in the ordinary signification of the term,
but merely deluded citizens who appropriated the property of others to
their own use, agreeably to certain great principles of morals that had
grown up under their own peculiar relations to the rest of mankind,
their immediate necessities and their convenience. I make no doubt that
every member of the family of Thousandacres would spurn the idea of his
or her being a vulgar thief, drawing some such distinctions in the
premises as the Drakes, Morgans, Woodes, Rogers, and others of that
school drew between themselves and the vulgar every day sea-robbers of
the seventeenth century, though with far less reason. But robbers these
squatters were not, except in one mode and that mode they almost raised
to the dignity of respectable hostilities, by the scale on which they
transacted business.

I was no sooner "locked-up" than I began a survey of my prison and the
surrounding objects. There was no difficulty in doing either, the
opening between the logs allowing of a clear reconnoissance on every
side. With a view to keeping its contents in open sight, I fancy, the
"store'us" was placed in the very centre of the settlement, having the
mills, cabins, barns, sheds, and other houses, encircling it in a sort
of hamlet. This circumstance, which would render escape doubly
difficult, was, notwithstanding, greatly in favor of reconnoitring. I
will now describe the results of my observations. As a matter of course,
my appearance, the announcement of my character, and my subsequent
arrest, were circumstances likely to produce a sensation in the family
of the squatter. All the women had gathered around Prudence, near the
door of her cabin, and the younger girls were attracted to that spot, as
the particles of matter are known to obey the laws of affinity. The
males, one boy of eight or ten years excepted, were collected near the
mill, where Thousandacres, apparently, was holding a consultation with
Tobit and the rest of the brotherhood, among whom, I fancy, was no one
entitled to be termed an angel. Everybody seemed to be intently
listening to the different speakers, the females often turning their
eyes toward their male protectors, anxiously and with long protracted
gazes. Indeed, many of them looked in that direction, even while they
gave ear to the wisdom of Prudence herself.

The excepted boy had laid himself, in a lounging, American sort of an
attitude, on a saw-log near my prison, and in a position that enabled
him to see both sides of it, without changing his ground. By the manner
in which his eyes were fastened on the "store'us" I was soon satisfied
that he was acting in the character of a sentinel. Thus, my jail was
certainly sufficiently secure, as the force of no man, unaided and
without implements, could have broken a passage through the logs.

Having thus taken a look at the general aspect of things, I had leisure
to reflect on my situation, and the probable consequences of my arrest.
For my life I had no great apprehensions, not as much as I ought to have
had under the circumstances; but it did not strike me that I was in any
great danger on that score. The American character, in general, is not
blood-thirsty, and that of New England less so, perhaps, than that of
the rest of the country. Nevertheless, in a case of property the
tenacity of the men of that quarter of the country was proverbial, and I
came to the conclusion that I should be detained, if possible, until all
the lumber could be got to market and disposed of, as the only means of
reaping the fruit of past labor. The possibility depended on the escape
or the arrest of Sureflint. Should that Indian be taken, Thousandacres
and his family would be as secure as ever in their wilderness; but on
the other hand, should he escape, I might expect to hear from my friends
in the course of the day. By resorting to a requisition on 'Squire
Newcome, who was a magistrate, my tenants might be expected to make an
effort in my behalf, when the only grounds of apprehension would be the
consequences of the struggle. The squatters were sometimes dangerous
under excitement, and when sustaining each other, with arms in their
hands, in what they fancy to be their hard-earned privileges. There is
no end to the delusions of men on such subjects, self-interest seeming
completely to blind their sense of right; and I have often met with
cases in which parties who were trespassers, and in a moral view,
robbers, _ab origine_, have got really to fancy that their subsequent
labors (every new blow of the axe being an additional wrong) gave a sort
of sanctity to possessions, in the defence of which they were willing to
die. It is scarcely necessary to say that such persons look only at
themselves, entirely disregarding the rights of others; but one wonders
where the fruits of all the religious instruction of the country are to
be found, when opinions so loose and acts so flagrant are constantly
occurring among us. The fact is, land is so abundant, and such vast
bodies lie neglected and seemingly forgotten by their owners, that the
needy are apt to think indifference authorizes invasions on such
unoccupied property; and their own labor once applied, they are quick to
imagine that it gives them a moral and legal interest in the soil;
though in the eye of the law, and of unbiased reason, each new step
taken in what is called the improvement of a "betterment" is but a
farther advance in the direction of wrong-doing.

I was reflecting on things of this sort, when, looking through the
cracks of my prison, to ascertain the state of matters without, I was
surprised by the appearance of a man on horseback, who was entering the
clearing on its eastern side, seemingly quite at home in his course,
though he was travelling without a foot-path to aid him. As this man had
a pair of the common saddle-bags of the day on his horse, I at first
took him for one of those practitioners of the healing art who are
constantly met with in the new settlements, winding their way through
stumps, logs, morasses and forests, the ministers of good or evil, I
shall not pretend to say which. Ordinarily, families like that of
Thousandacres do their own "doctoring"; but a case might occur that
demanded the wisdom of the licensed leech; and I had just decided in my
own mind that this must be one, when, as the stranger drew nearer, to my
surprise I saw that it was no other than my late agent, Mr. Jason
Newcome, and the moral and physical factotum of Ravensnest!

As the distance between the mill that 'Squire Newcome leased of me, and
that which Thousandacres had set up on the property of Mooseridge, could
not be less than five-and-twenty miles, the arrival of this visitor at
an hour so early was a certain proof that he had left his own house long
before the dawn. It was probably convenient to pass through the farms
and dwellings of Ravensnest on the errand on which he was now bent, at
an hour of the night or morning when darkness would conceal the
movement. By timing his departure with the same judgment, it was obvious
he could reach home under the concealment of the other end of the same
mantle. In a word, this visit was evidently one, in the objects and
incidents of which it was intended that the world at large should have
no share.

The dialogues between the members of the family of Thousandacres ceased,
the moment 'Squire Newcome came in view; though, as was apparent by the
unmoved manner in which his approach was witnessed, the sudden
appearance of this particular visitor produced neither surprise nor
uneasiness. Although it must have been a thing to be desired by the
squatters, to keep their "location" a secret, more especially since the
peace left landlords at leisure to look after their lands, no one
manifested any concern at discovering this arrival in their clearing of
the nearest magistrate. Any one might see, by the manner of men, women,
and children, that 'Squire Newcome was no stranger, and that his
presence gave them no alarm. Even the early hour of his visit was most
probably that to which they were accustomed, the quick-witted intellects
of the young fry causing them to understand the reason quite as readily
as was the case with their seniors. In a word, the guest was regarded as
a friend rather than as an enemy.

Newcome was some little time, after he came into view, in reaching the
hamlet, if the cluster of buildings can be so termed; and when he did
alight, it was before the door of a stable, toward which one of the boys
now scampered, to be in readiness to receive his horse. The beast
disposed of, the 'squire advanced to the spot where Thousandacres and
his elder sons still remained to receive him, or that near the mill. The
manner in which all parties shook hands, and the cordiality of the
salutations generally, in which Prudence and her daughters soon shared,
betokened something more than amity, I fancied, for it looked very much
like intimacy.

Jason Newcome remained in the family group some eight or ten minutes,
and I could almost fancy the prescribed inquiries about the "folks"
(_anglice_, folk), the "general state of health," and the character of
the "times," ere the magistrate and the squatter separated themselves
from the rest of the party, walking aside like men who had matters of
moment to discuss, and that under circumstances which could dispense
with the presence of any listeners.



CHAPTER XIX.

    "Peculiar both!
      Our soil's strong growth
    And our bold natives' hardy mind;
      Sure heaven bespoke
      Our hearts and oak
    To give a master to mankind."--YOUNG.


Thousandacres and the magistrate held their way directly toward the
storehouse; and the log of the sentinel offering a comfortable seat,
that functionary was dismissed, when the two worthies took his place,
with their backs turned toward my prison. Whether this disposition of
their persons was owing to a deep-laid plan of the squatter's, or not, I
never knew; but, let the cause have been what it might, the effect was
to render me an auditor of nearly all that passed in the dialogue which
succeeded. It will greatly aid the reader in understanding the incidents
about to be recorded, if I spread on the record the language that passed
between my late agent and one who was obviously his confidant in certain
matters, if not in all that touched my interests in that quarter of the
world. As for listening, I have no hesitation in avowing it, inasmuch as
the circumstances would have justified me in taking far greater
liberties with the customary obligations of society in its every-day
aspect, had I seen fit so to do. I was dealing with rogues, who had me
in their power, and there was no obligation to be particularly
scrupulous on the score of mere conventional propriety, at least.

"As I was tellin' ye, Thousandacres," Newcome continued the discourse by
saying, and that with the familiarity of one who well knew his
companion, "the young man is in this part of the country, and somewhere
quite near you at this moment"--I was much _nearer_ than the 'squire
himself had any notion of at that instant--"yes, he's out in the woods
of this very property, with Chainbearer and his gang; and, for 'tinow
[for aught I know], measuring out farms within a mile or two of this
very spot!"

"How many men be there?" asked the squatter with interest. "If no more
than the usual set, 'twill be an onlucky day for _them_, should they
stumble on my clearin'!"

"Perhaps they will, perhaps they wunt; a body never knows. Surveyin' 's
a sort o' work that leads a man here, or it leads him there. One never
knows where a line will carry him, in the woods. That's the reason I've
kept the crittur's out of my own timber-land; for, to speak to you,
Thousandacres, as one neighbor _can_ speak to another without risk,
there's desp'rate large pine-trees on the unleased hills both north and
east of my lot. Sometimes it's handy to have lines about a mill, you
know, sometimes 't isn't."

"A curse on all lines, in a free country, say I, 'squire," answered
Thousandacres, who looked, as he bestowed this characteristic
benediction, as if he might better be named _Ten_thousandacres; "they're
an invention of the devil. I lived seven whull years in Varmount state,
as it's now called, the old Hampshire Grants, you know, next-door
neighbor to two families, one north and one south on me, and we chopped
away the whull time, just as freely as we pleased, and not a cross word
or an angry look passed atween us."

"I rather conclude, friend Aaron, you had all sat down under the same
title?" put in the magistrate with a sly look at his companion. "When
_that_ is the case, it would exceed all reason to quarrel."

"Why, I'll own that our titles were pretty much the same;--possession
and free axes. Then it was ag'in York colony landholders that our time
was running. What's your candid opinion about law, on this p'int,
'Squire Newcome?--I know you're a man of edication, college l'arnt some
say; though, I s'pose, that's no better l'arnin' than any other, when a
body has once got it--but what's your opinion about possession?--Will it
hold good for twenty-one years, without writin's, or not? Some say it
will, and some say it wunt."

"It wunt. The law is settled; there must be a shadow of title, or
possession's good for nothin'; no better than the scrapin's of a
flour-barrel."

"I've heer'n say the opposyte of that; and there's reason why possession
should count ag'in everything. By possession, however, I don't mean
hangin' up a pair of saddle-bags on a tree, as is sometimes done, but
goin' honestly and fairly in upon land, and cuttin' down trees, and
buildin' mills, and housen and barns, and cuttin' and slashin', and
sawin' right and left, like all creation. _That's_ what I always doos
myself, and that's what I call sich a possession as ought to stand in
law--ay, and in gospel, too; for I'm not one of them that flies in the
face of religion."

"In that you're quite right; keep the gospel on your side whatever you
do, neighbor Thousandacres. Our Puritan fathers didn't cross the ocean,
and encounter the horrors of the wilderness, and step on the rock of
Plymouth, and undergo more than man could possibly bear, and that all
for nothin'!"

"Wa-a-l, to my notion, the 'horrors of the wilderness,' as you call 'em,
is no great matter; though, as for crossin' the ocean, I can easily
imagine that must be suthin' to try a man's patience and endurance. I
never could take to the water. They tell me there isn't a single tree
growin' the whull distance atween Ameriky and England! Floatin' saw-logs
be sometimes met with, I've heer'n say, but not a standin' crittur' of a
tree from Massachusetts Bay to London town!"

"It's all water, and of course trees be scarce, Thousandacres; but let's
come a little clusser to the p'int. As I was tellin' you, the whelp is
in, and he'll growl as loud as the old bear himself, should he hear of
all them boards you've got in the creek--to say nothin' of the piles up
here that you haven't begun to put into the water."

"Let him growl," returned the old squatter, glancing surlily toward my
prison; "like a good many other crittur's that I've met with, 'twill
turn out that his bark is worse than his bite."

"I don't know that, neighbor Thousandacres, I don't by any means know
that. Major Littlepage is a gentleman of spirit and decision, as is to
be seen by his having taken his agency from me, who have held it so
long, and gi'n it to a young chap who has no other claim than bein' a
tolerable surveyor; but who hasn't been in the settlement more than a
twelvemonth."

"Gi'n it to a surveyer! Is he one of Chainbearer's measurin' devils?"

"Just so; 'tis the very young fellow Chainbearer has had with him this
year or so, runnin' lines an' measurin' land on this very property."

"That old fellow, Chainbearer, had best look to himself! He's thwarted
me now three times in the course of his life, and he's gettin' to be
desp'rate old; I'm afeard he won't live long!"

I could now see that Squire Newcome felt uneasy. Although a colleague of
the squatter's in what is only too apt to be considered a venal roguery
in a new country, or in the stealing of timber, it did not at all
comport with the scale of his rascality to menace a man's life. He would
connive at stealing timber by purchasing the lumber at sufficiently low
prices, so long as the danger of being detected was kept within
reasonable limits, but he did not like to be connected with any
transaction that did not, in the case of necessity, admit of a tolerably
safe retreat from all pains and penalties. Men become very much
what--not their laws--but what the _administration_ of their laws makes
them. In countries in which it is prompt, sure, and sufficiently severe,
crimes are mainly the fruits of temptation and necessity; but a state of
society may exist, in which justice falls into contempt, by her own
impotency, and men are led to offend merely to brave her. Thus we have
long labored under the great disadvantage of living under laws that, in
a great degree, were framed for another set of circumstances. By the
common law, it was only trespass to cut down a tree in England; for
_trees_ were seldom or never stolen, and the law did not wish to annex
the penalties of felony to the simple offence of cutting a twig in a
wood. With us, however, entire new classes of offences have sprung up
under our own novel circumstances; and we probably owe a portion of the
vast amount of timber-stealing that has now long existed among us, quite
as much to the mistaken lenity of the laws, as to the fact that this
particular description of property is so much exposed. Many a man would
commit a trespass of the gravest sort, who would shrink from the
commission of a felony of the lowest. Such was the case with Newcome. He
had a certain sort of law-honesty about him, that enabled him in a
degree to preserve appearances. It is true he connived at the unlawful
cutting of timber by purchasing the sawed lumber, but he took good care,
at the same time, not to have any such direct connection with the
strictly illegal part of the transaction as to involve him in the
penalties of the law. Had timber-stealing been felony, he would have
often been an accessory before the act; but in a case of misdemeanor,
the law knows no such offence. Purchasing the sawed lumber, too, if done
with proper precaution, owing to the glorious subterfuges permitted by
"the perfection of reason," was an affair of no personal hazard in a
criminal point of view, and even admitted of so many expedients as to
leave the question of property a very open one, after the boards were
fully in his own possession. The object of his present visit to the
clearing of Thousandacres, as the reader will most probably have
anticipated, was to profit by my supposed proximity, and to frighten the
squatter into a sale on such terms as should leave larger profits than
common in the hands of the purchaser. Unfortunately for the success of
this upright project, my proximity was so much greater than even Squire
Newcome supposed, as to put it in danger by the very excess of the thing
that was to produce the result desired. Little did the honest magistrate
suppose that I was, the whole time, within twenty feet of him, and that
I heard all that passed.

"Chainbearer is about seventy," returned Newcome, after musing a moment
on the character of his companion's last remark. "Yes, about seventy, I
should judge from what I've heerd, and what I know of the man. It's a
good old age, but folks often live years and years beyond it. You must
be suthin' like that yourself, Thousandacres?"

"Seventy-three, every day and hour on't, 'squire; and days and hours
well drawn out, too. If you count by old style, I b'lieve I'm a month or
so older. But I'm not Chainbearer. No man can say of _me_, that I ever
made myself troublesome to a neighborhood. No man can p'int to the time
when I ever disturbed his lines. No man can tell of the day when I ever
went into court to be a witness on such a small matter as the length or
breadth of lots, to breed quarrels atween neighbors. No, 'Squire
Newcome, I set store by my character, which will bear comparison with
that of any other inhabitant of the woods I ever met with. And what I
say of myself I can say of my sons and da'ghters, too--from Tobit down
to Sampson, from Nab to Jeruthy. We're what I call a reasonable and
reconcilable breed, minding our own business, and having a respect for
that of other people. Now, here am I, in my seventy-fourth year, and the
father of twelve living children, and I've made, in my time, many and
many a pitch on't, but _never_ was I known to pitch on land that another
man had in possession;--and I carry my idees of possession farther than
most folks, too, for I call it possession to have said openly, and afore
witnesses, that a man intends to pitch on any partic'lar spot afore next
ploughin' or droppin' time, as the case may be. No, I respect
possession, which ought to be the only lawful title to property, in a
free country. When a man wants a clearin' or wants to _make_ one, my
doctrine is, let him look about him, and make his pitch on calcerlation;
and when he's tired of the spot, and wants a change, let him sell his
betterments, if he lights of a chap, and if he doos'nt, let him leave
'em open, and clear off all incumbrances, for the next comer."

It is probable that Jason Newcome, Esq.,--magistrates in America are
extremely tenacious of this title, though they have no more right to it
than any one else--but Jason Newcome, Esq.,[16] did not carry his
notions of the rights of squatters, and of the sacred character of
possession, quite as far as did his friend Thousandacres. Newcome was an
exceedingly selfish, but withal, an exceedingly shrewd man. I do not
know that the term clever, in its broadest signification, would fitly
apply to him, for in that sense, I conceive, it means quickness and
intelligence enough to do what is right; but he was fully entitled to
receive it, under that qualification by which we say a man is "a clever
rogue." In a word, Mr. Newcome understood himself, and his relations to
the community in which he lived, too well to fall into very serious
mistakes by a direct dereliction from his duties, though he lived in a
never-ceasing condition of small divergencies that might at any time
lead him into serious difficulties. Nevertheless, it was easy enough to
see he had no relish for Thousandacres' allusions to the termination of
the days of my excellent old friend, Chainbearer; nor can I say that
they gave me any particular concern, for, while I knew how desperate the
squatters sometimes became, I had a notion that this old fellow's bark
would prove worse than his bite, as he had just observed of myself.

[Footnote 16: In order to understand Mr. Littlepage in what he says of
"esquires," a word of explanation may be necessary. The term "esquire"
is, as every well-informed person knows, a title of honor, standing next
in degree below that of knight. On the continent of Europe the "écuyer"
properly infers nobility, I believe, as nobility is there considered,
which is little if any more than the condition of the old English
gentry, or of the families having coat-armor. By the English law,
certain persons are born esquires, and others have the rank _ex
officio_. Among the last is a justice of the peace, who is legally an
"esquire" during his official term. Now this rule prevailed in the
colonies, and American magistrates were, perhaps legally, esquires, as
well as the English. But titles of honor were abolished at the
revolution, and it is a singular contradiction, in substance, to hold
that the principle is destroyed while the incident remains. The rank of
esquire can no more legally exist in America, than that of knight. In
one sense, neither is noble, it is true: but in that broad signification
by which all constitutions are, or ought to be interpreted both would
come within the proscribed category, as set forth in art. 7th, sect.
9th, and art. 1st, sect. 10th, Const. U. S. Nevertheless, so much
stronger is custom than positive law, that not only every magistrate,
but every lawyer in the country fancies himself peculiarly an "esquire!"
It is scarcely necessary to add that, by usage, the appellation is given
by courtesy, wherever the English language is spoken, to all who are
supposed to belong to the class of gentlemen. This, after all, is the
only true American use of the word.--EDITOR.]

It would hardly repay the trouble, were I to attempt recording all that
passed next between our two colloquists; although it was a sufficiently
amusing exhibition of wily management to frighten the squatter to part
with his lumber at a low price, on one side, and of sullen security on
the other. The security proceeded from the fact that Thousandacres had
me, at that very moment, a prisoner in his storehouse.

A bargain conducted on such terms was not likely soon to come to a happy
termination. After a great deal of chaffering and discussing, the
conference broke up, nothing having been decided, by the magistrate's
saying--

"Well, Thousandacres, I hope you'll have no reason to repent; but I kind
o' fear you will."

"The loss will be mine and the b'ys' if I do," was the squatter's
answer. "I know I can get all the boards into the creek; and, for that
matter, into the river, afore young Littlepage can do me any harm;
though there is one circumstance that may yet turn my mind----"

Here the squatter came to a pause; and Newcome, who had risen, turned
short round, eagerly, to press the doubt that he saw was working in the
other's mind.

"I thought you would think better of it," he said; "for, it's out of
doubt, should Major Littlepage l'arn your pitch, that he'd uproot you,
as the winds uproot the fallin' tree."

"No, 'squire, my mind's made up," Thousandacres coolly rejoined. "I'll
sell, and gladly; but not on the tarms you have named. Two pounds eight
the thousand foot, board measure, and taking it all round, clear stuff
and refuse, without any store-pay, will carry off the lumber."

"Too much, Thousandacres; altogether too much, when you consider the
risks I run. I'm not sartain that I could hold the lumber, even after I
got it into the river; for a replevy is a formidable thing in law, I can
tell you. One pound sixteen, one-third store-pay, is the utmost farthin'
I can offer."

In that day all our calculations were in pounds, shillings and pence.

"Then the bargain's off.--I s'pose, squire, you've the old avarsion to
being seen in my settlement?"

"Sartain--sartain," answered Newcome, in haste. "There's no danger of
that, I hope. You cannot well have strangers among you?"

"I wunt answer for that. I see some of the b'ys coming out of the woods,
yonder; and it seems to me there _is_ a fourth man with them. There is,
of a certainty; and it is no other than Susquesus, the Onondago. The
fellow is cluss-mouthed, like most redskins; but you can say best
whether you'd like to be seen by him, or not. I hear he's a great fri'nd
of Chainbearer's."

It was very evident that the magistrate decided, at once, in the
negative. With a good deal of decent haste he dodged round a pile of
logs, and I saw no more of him until I caught a distant view of his
person in the skirts of the woods, at the point whence he had issued
into the clearing, two hours before, and where he now received his horse
from the hands of the youngest of Thousandacre's sons, who led the
animal to the spot for his especial accommodation. Mr. Newcome was no
sooner in possession of his beast again, than he mounted and rode away
into the depths of the forest. So adroitly was this retreat conducted,
that no person of ordinary observation could possibly have detected it,
unless indeed his attention had been previously drawn to the movement.

What passed, at parting, between Thousandacres and his visitor, I never
knew; but they must have been altogether alone for a few minutes. When
the former reappeared, he came out from behind the logs, his whole
attention seemingly fastened on the approaching party, composed of his
sons and Susquesus. Those resolute and practised men had, indeed,
overtaken and captured the Onondago, and were now bringing him a
prisoner, unarmed, in their midst, to receive the commands of their
father! Notwithstanding all that I knew of this man, and of his
character, there was something imposing in the manner in which he now
waited for the arrival of his sons and their prisoner. Accustomed to
exercise an almost absolute sway in his own family, the old man had
acquired some of the dignity of authority; and as for his posterity, old
and young, male and female, not excepting Prudence, they had gained very
little in the way of freedom, by throwing aside the trammels of regular
and recognized law, to live under the rule of their patriarch. In this
respect they might be likened to the masses, who, in a blind pursuit of
liberty, impatiently cast away the legal and healthful restraints of
society, to submit to the arbitrary, selfish, and ever unjust dictation
of demagogues. Whatever difference there might be between the two
governments, was in favor of that of the squatter, who possessed the
feelings of nature in behalf of his own flesh and blood, and was
consequently often indulgent.

It is so difficult to read an Indian's mind in his manner, that I did
not expect to ascertain the state of the Onondago's feelings by the
countenance he wore, on drawing near. In exterior, this man was as calm
and unmoved as if just arrived on a friendly visit. His captors had
bound him, fearful he might elude them, in some of the thickets they had
been compelled to pass; but the thongs seemed to give him neither mental
nor bodily concern. Old Thousandacres was stern in aspect; but he had
too much experience in Indian character--knew too well the unforgiving
nature of the Indians' dispositions, or the enduring memories that
forgot neither favors nor injuries, to wantonly increase the feeling
that must naturally have been awakened between him and his prisoner.

"Trackless," he said, considerately, "you're an old warrior, and must
know that in troubled times every man must look out for himself. I'm
glad the b'ys warn't driven to do you any harm; but it would never have
done to let you carry the tidings of what has happened here, this
morning, to Chainbearer and his gang. How long I may have to keep you,
is more than I know myself; but your treatment shall be good, and your
wilcome warm, so long as you give no trouble. I know what a redskin's
word is; and maybe, a'ter thinkin' on it a little, I may let you out to
wander about the clearin', provided you'd give your parole not to go
off. I'll think on't, and let you know to-morrow; but to-day I must put
you in the store'us' along with the young chap that you travelled here
with."

Thousandacres then demanded of his sons an account of the manner in
which they had taken their captive; which it is unnecessary to relate
here, as I shall have occasion to give it directly in the language of
the Indian himself. As soon as satisfied on this head, the door of my
prison was opened, and the Onondago entered it unbound, without
manifesting the smallest shade of regret, or any resistance. Everything
was done in a very lock-up sort of manner; the new prisoner being no
sooner "permitted," than the door was secured, and I was left alone with
Sureflint; one of the younger girls now remaining near the building as a
sentinel. I waited a moment, to make certain we were alone, when I
opened the communications with my friend.

"I am very sorry for this, Sureflint," I commenced, "for I had hopes
your knowledge of the woods, and practice on trails, would have enabled
you to throw off your pursuers, that you might have carried the news of
my imprisonment to our friends. This is a sore disappointment to me;
having made sure you would let Chainbearer know where I am."

"W'y t'ink different, now, eh? S'pose, 'cause Injin prisoner, can't help
himself?"

"You surely do not mean that you are here with your own consent?"

"Sartain. S'pose no want to come; am no come. You t'ink Thousandacres'
b'ys catch Susquesus in woods, and he don't want to? Be sure, winter
come, and summer come. Be sure, gray hair come a little. Be sure
Trackless get ole, by-'m-bye; but he moccason leave no trail yet!"

"As I cannot understand why you should first escape, and then wish to
come back, I must beg you to explain yourself. Let me know all that has
passed, Sureflint--how it has passed, and _why_ it has passed. Tell it
in your own way, but tell it fully."

"Sartain--why no tell? No harm; all good--somet'ing capital! Nebber hab
better luck."

"You excite my curiosity, Sureflint; tell the whole story at once,
beginning at the time when you slipped off, and carrying it down to the
moment of your arrival here."

Hereupon, Susquesus turned on me a significant look, drew his pipe from
his belt, filled and lighted it, and began to smoke with a composure
that was not easily disturbed. As soon as assured that his pipe was in a
proper state, however, the Indian quietly began his story.

"Now listen, you hear," he said. "Run away, 'cause no good to stay here,
and be prisoner--dat _why_."

"But you _are_ a prisoner, as it is, as well as myself, and, by your
statement, a prisoner with your own consent."

"Sartain--nebber hab been prisoner, won't be prisoner, if don't want to.
S'pose shot, den can't help him; but in woods, Injin nebber prisoner,
'less lazy or drunk. Rum make great many prisoner."

"I can believe all this--but tell me the story. Why did you go off at
first?"

"S'pose don't want Chainbearer know where he be, eh? T'ink T'ousandacre
ebber let you go while board in stream? When board go, he go; not afore.
Stay all summer; want to live in store'us' all summer, eh?"

"Certainly not--well, you left me, in order to let our friends know
where I was, that they might cast about for the means of getting me
free. All this I understand; what next?"

"Next, go off in wood. Easy 'nough to slip off when T'ousandacre no
look. Well, went about two mile; leave no trail--bird make as much in
air. What s'pose meet, eh?"

"I wait for you to tell me."

"Meet Jaap--yes--meet nigger. Look for young master--ebberybody in
trouble, and won'er where young chief be. Some look here--some look out
yonder--all look somewhere--Jaap look just dere."

"And you told Jaap the whole story, and sent him back to the huts with
it!"

"Sartain--just so. Make good guess dat time. Den t'ink what do, next.
Want to come back and help young pale-face frien'; so t'ought get take
prisoner one time. Like to know how he feel to be prisoner one time. No
feel so bad as s'pose. Squatter no hard master for prisoner."

"But how did all this happen, and in what manner have you misled the
young men?"

"No hard to do at all. All he want is know how. A'ter Jaap get his
ar'n'd, and go off, made trail plain 'nough for squaw to find. Travel to
a spring--sit down and put rifle away off, so no need shoot, and let him
squatter's boys catch me, by what you call s'prise; yes, 'e pale-faces
s'prise red man dat time! Warrant he brag on't well!"

Here, then, was the simple explanation of it all! Susquesus had stolen
away, in order to apprise my friends of my situation; he had fallen in
with Jaap, or Jaaf, in search of his lost master; and, communicating all
the circumstances to the negro, had artfully allowed himself to be
recaptured, carefully avoiding a struggle, and had been brought back and
placed by my side. No explanations were necessary to point out the
advantages. By communicating with the negro, who had been familiar for
years with the clipped manner of the Indian's mode of speaking English,
everything would be made known to Chainbearer; by suffering himself to
be taken, the squatters were led by Sureflint to suppose our capture and
their "pitch" remained secrets; while, by rejoining me, I should have
the presence, counsel and assistance of a most tried friend of my
father's and Chainbearer's in the event of necessity.

This brief summary of his reasoning shows the admirable sagacity of the
Onondago, who had kept in view every requisite of his situation, and
failed in nothing.

I was delighted with the address of Sureflint, as well as touched by his
fidelity. In the course of our conversation, he gave me to understand
that my disappearance and absence for an entire night had produced great
consternation in the huts, and that everybody was out in quest of me and
himself, at the time when he so opportunely fell in with Jaap.

"Gal out, too"--added the Onondago, significantly. "S'pose good reason
for dat."

This startled me a little, for I had a vague suspicion that Susquesus
must have been an unseen observer of my interview with Ursula Malbone;
and noticing my manner on rushing from her cabin, had been induced to
follow me, as has been related. The reader is not to suppose that my
late adventures had driven Dus from my mind. So far from this, I thought
of her incessantly; and the knowledge that she took so much interest in
me as to roam the woods in the search, had no tendency to lessen the
steadiness or intensity of my reflections. Nevertheless, common humanity
might induce one of her energy and activity to do as much as this; and
had I not her own declaration that she was plighted to another!

After getting his whole story, I consulted the Indian on the subject of
our future proceedings. He was of opinion that we had better wait the
movements of our friends, from whom we must hear in some mode or other,
in the course of the approaching night, or of the succeeding day. What
course Chainbearer might see fit to pursue, neither of us could
conjecture, though both felt assured he never would remain quiet with
two as fast friends as ourselves in durance. My great concern was that
he might resort at once to force, for old Andries had a fiery spirit,
though one that was eminently just; and he had been accustomed to see
gunpowder burned from his youth upward. Should he, on the other hand,
resort to legal means, and apply to Mr. Newcome for warrants to arrest
my captors, as men guilty of illegal personal violence, a course it
struck me Frank Malbone would be very apt to advise, what might I not
expect from the collusion of the magistrate, in the way of frauds,
delays and private machinations? In such a case, there would be time to
send me to some other place of concealment, and the forest must have a
hundred such that were accessible to my new masters, while their friend
Newcome would scarcely fail to let them have timely notice of the
necessity of some such step. Men acting in conformity with the rules of
right, fulfilling the requirements of the law, and practising virtue,
might be so remiss as not to send information of such an impending
danger, for such persons are only too apt to rely on the integrity of
their own characters, and to put their trust on the laws of Providence;
but rogues, certain that they can have no such succor, depend mainly on
themselves, recognizing the well-known principle of Frederick the Great,
who thought it a safe rule to suppose that "Providence was usually on
the side of strong battalions." I felt certain, therefore, that Squire
Newcome would let his friends at the "clearing" know all that was
plotting against them, as soon as he knew it himself.

The squatters were not unkind to us prisoners in the way of general
treatment. Certainly I had every right to complain of the particular
wrong they did me; but, otherwise, they were sufficiently considerate
and liberal throughout that day. Our fare was their own. We had water
brought in fresh by Lowiny no fewer than five several times; and so
attentive to my supposed wants was this girl, that she actually brought
me every book that was to be found in all the libraries of the family.
These were but three--a fragment of a Bible, Pilgrim's Progress, and an
almanac that was four years old.



CHAPTER XX.

          "I mark'd his desultory pace,
          His gestures strange, and varying face,
          With many a muttered sound;
          And ah! too late, aghast, I view'd
          The reeking blade, the hand imbru'd:
    He fell, and groaning grasp'd in agony the ground."
                                                  --WARTON.


In this manner passed that long and weary day. I could and did take
exercise, by walking to and fro in my prison; but the Indian seldom
stirred from the moment he entered. As for the squatter himself, he came
no more near the storehouse, though I saw him, two or three times in the
course of the day, in private conference with his elder sons, most
probably consulting on my case. At such moments, their manner was
serious, and there were instants when I fancied it menacing.

Provision was made for our comfort by throwing a sufficient number of
bundles of straw into the prison, and my fellow-captive and myself had
each a sufficiently comfortable bed. A soldier was not to be frightened
at sleeping on straw, moreover; and as for Susquesus, he asked for no
more than room to stretch himself, though it were even on a rock. An
Indian loves his ease, and takes it when it comes in his way; but it is
really amazing to what an extent his powers of endurance go, when it
becomes necessary for him to exert them.

In the early part of the night I slept profoundly, as I believe did the
Indian. I must acknowledge that an uncomfortable distrust existed in my
mind, that had some slight effect in keeping me from slumbering, though
fatigue soon overcame the apprehensions such a feeling would be likely
to awaken. I did not know but Thousandacres and his sons might take it
into their heads to make away with the Indian and myself under cover of
the darkness, as the most effectual means of protecting themselves
against the consequences of their past depredations, and of securing the
possession of those that they had projected for the future. We were
completely in their power, and, so far as the squatter knew, the secret
of our visit would die with us, the knowledge of those of his own flesh
and blood possessed on the subject excepted. Notwithstanding these
thoughts crossed my mind, and did give me some little uneasiness, they
were not sufficiently active or sufficiently prominent to prevent me
from slumbering, after I had fairly fallen asleep, without awaking once,
until it was three o'clock, or within an hour of the approach of day.

I am not certain that any external cause aroused me from my slumbers.
But I well remember that I lay there on my straw, meditating for some
time, half asleep and half awake, until I fancied I heard the musical
voice of Dus, murmuring in my ear my own name. This illusion lasted some
little time; when, as my faculties gradually resumed their powers, I
became slowly convinced that some one was actually calling me, and by
name too, within a foot or two of my ears. I could not be mistaken; the
fact was so, and the call was in a woman's tones. Springing up, I
demanded--

"Who is here? In the name of heaven, can this really be Miss
Malbone--Dus!"

"My name is Lowiny," answered my visitor, "and I'm Thousandacres'
da'ghter. But don't speak so loud, for there is one of the b'ys on the
watch at the other end of the store'us, and you'll wake him up unless
you're careful."

"Lowiny, is it you, my good girl? Not content to care for us throughout
the day, you still have a thought for us during the night!"

I thought the girl felt embarrassed, for she must have been conscious of
having a little trespassed on the usages and reserve of her sex. It is
rare, indeed, that any mother, and especially an American mother, ever
falls so low as completely to become unsexed in feelings and character,
and rarer still that she forgets to impart many of the decencies of
woman to her daughter. Old Prudence, notwithstanding the life she led,
and the many causes of corruption and backslidings that existed around
her, was true to her native instincts, and had taught to her girls many
of those little proprieties that become so great charms in woman.

Lowiny was far from disagreeable in person, and had the advantage of
being youthful in appearance, as well as in fact. In addition to these
marks of her sex, she had manifested an interest in my fate, from the
first, that had not escaped me; and here she was now, doubtless on some
errand of which the object was our good. My remark embarrassed her,
however, and a few moments passed before she got entirely over the
feeling. As soon as she did, she again spoke.

"I don't think anything of bringing you and _the Injin_ a little water,"
she said--laying an emphasis on the words I have put in Italics--"nor
should I had we any beer or sap-cider instead. But all our spruce is
out; and father said he wouldn't have any more of the cider made, seein'
that we want all the sap for sugar. I hope you had a plentiful supply,
Mr. Littlepage; and for fear you hadn't, I've brought you and the
redskin a pitcher of milk and a bowl of hasty-pudding--_he_ can eat
a'ter _you've_ done, you know."

I thanked my kind-hearted friend, and received her gift through a hole
that she pointed out to me. The food, in the end, proved very
acceptable, as subsequent circumstances caused our regular breakfast to
be forgotten for a time. I was desirous of ascertaining from this girl
what was said or contemplated among her relatives, on the subject of my
future fate; but felt a nearly unconquerable dislike to be prying into
what was a species of family secrets, by putting direct questions to
her. Fortunately, the communicative and friendly disposition of Lowiny
herself soon removed all necessity for any such step; for after
executing her main purpose, she lingered with an evident wish to gossip.

"I wish father wouldn't be a squatter any longer," the girl said, with
an earnestness that proved she was uttering her real sentiment. "It's
awful to be forever fighting ag'in law!"

"It would be far better if he would apply to some landowner and get a
farm on lease, or by purchase. Land is so plenty in this country, no man
need go without a legal interest in his hundred acres, provided he be
only sober and industrious."

"Father never drinks, unless it's on the Fourth of July; and the b'ys be
all pretty sober, too, as young men go, nowadays. I believe, Mr.
Littlepage, if mother has told father once, she has told him a thousand
times, that she _doos_ wish he'd leave off squatting, and take writin's
for some piece of land or other. But father says, 'no--he warn't made
for writin's, nor writin's for him.' He's desp'ately troubled to know
what to do with you, now he's got you."

"Did Mr. Newcome give no opinion on the subject while he was with you?"

"'Squire Newcome! Father never let on to him a syllable about ever
having seen you. He knows too much to put himself in 'Squire Newcome's
power, sin' his lumber would go all the cheaper for it. What's your
opinion, Mr. Littlepage, about our right to the boards, when we've cut,
and hauled, and sawed the logs with our own hands. Don' that make some
difference?"

"What is your opinion of your right to a gown that another girl has made
out of calico she had taken from your drawer, when your back was turned,
and carried away, and cut and stitched, and sewed with her own hands?"

"She never _would_ have any right to my calico, let her cut it as much
as she might. But lumber is made out of trees."

"And trees have owners just as much as calico. Hauling, and cutting, and
sawing can of themselves give no man a right to another man's logs."

"I was afeard it was so--" answered Lowiny, sighing so loud as to be
heard. "There's suthin' in that old Bible I lent you that I read pretty
much in that way; though Tobit, and most of the b'ys say that it don't
mean any sich thing. They say there's nothin' about lumber in the Bible
at all."

"And what does your mother tell you on this head?"

"Why, mother don't talk about it. She wants father to lease or buy; but
you know how it is with women, Mr. Littlepage; when their fr'nds act,
it's all the same as a law to them to try to think that they act right.
Mother never says anything to us about the lawfulness of father's
doin's, though she often wishes he would live under writin's. Mother
wants father to try and get writin's of you, now you're here, and in his
hands. Wouldn't you give us writin's, Mr. Littlepage, if we'd promise to
give you suthin' for rent?"

"If I did they would be good for nothing, unless I were free and among
friends. Deeds and leases got from men who are 'in the hands,' as you
call it, of those who take them, are of no value."

"I'm sorry for that--" rejoined Lowiny, with another sigh--"not that I
wanted you to be driven into anything, but I thought if you would only
consent to let father have writin's for this clearin', it's so good a
time to do it now, 'twould be a pity to lose it. If it can't be done,
however, it can't, and there's no use in complaining. Father thinks he
can hold you 'till the water rises in the fall, and the b'ys have run
all the lumber down to Albany; a'ter which he'll not be so partic'lar
about keepin' you any longer, and maybe he'll let you go."

"Hold me until the water rises! Why, that will not take place these
three months!"

"Well, Mr. Littlepage, three months don't seem to me sich a desp'rate
long time when a body is among fri'nds. We should treat you as well as
we know how, that you may depend on--I'll answer for it, you shall want
for nothin' that we've got to give."

"I dare say, my excellent girl, but I should be extremely sorry to
trouble your family with so long a visit. As for the boards, I have no
power to waive the rights of the owners of the land to that property; my
power being merely to sell lots to actual settlers."

"I'm sorry to hear that," answered Lowiny in a gentle tone, that fully
confirmed her words; "for father and the b'ys be really awful about
anything that touches their profits for work done. They say their flesh
and blood's in them boards, and flesh and blood shall go, afore the
boards shall go. It makes my blood run cold to hear the way they do
talk! I'm not a bit skeary; and last winter, when I shot the bear that
was a'ter the store-hogs, mother said I acted as well as she could have
done herself, and she has killed four bears and near upon twenty wolves,
in her time. Yes, mother said I behaved like her own da'ghter, and that
she set twice the store by me that she did before."

"You are a brave girl, Lowiny, and an excellent one in the main, I make
no question. Whatever become of me, I shall not forget your kindness as
long as I live. It will be a very serious matter, however, to your
friends, to attempt keeping me here three or four months, as mine will
certainly have a search for me, when this clearing would be found. I
need not tell you what would be the consequence."

"What _can_--what _will_ father and the b'ys do? I can't bear to think
on't--oh! they'll not have the hearts to try to put you out of the way!"

"I should hope not, for their own sakes, and for the credit of the
American name. We are not a nation addicted to such practices, and I
should really regret to learn that we have made so long a step toward
the crimes of older countries. But there is little danger of anything of
the sort, after all, my good Lowiny."

"I hope so, too," the girl answered, in a low, tremulous voice; "though
Tobit is a starn bein' sometimes. He makes father worse than he would
be, if let alone, I know. But I must go, now. It's near daylight, and I
hear 'em stirring in Tobit's house. It would cost me dear did any on 'em
know I had been out of my bed, talking to you."

As this was said, the girl vanished. Before I could find an aperture to
watch her movements, she had disappeared. Susquesus arose a few minutes
later, but he never made any allusion to the secret visit of the girl.
In this respect, he observed the most scrupulous delicacy, never letting
me know by hint, look, or smile, that he had been in the least conscious
of her presence.

Day came as usual, but it did not find these squatters in their beds.
They appeared with the dawn, and most of them were at work ere the broad
light of the sun was shed on the forest. Most of the men went down into
the river, and busied themselves, as we supposed, for we could not see
them, in the water, with the apples of their eyes, their boards. Old
Thousandacres, however, chose to remain near his habitation, keeping two
or three well-grown lads about him; probably adverting in his mind to
the vast importance it was to all of his race, to make sure of his
prisoners. I could see by the thoughtful manner of the old squatter, as
he lounged around his mill, among his swine, and walked through his
potatoes, that his mind wavered greatly as to the course he ought to
pursue, and that he was sorely troubled. How long this perplexity of
feeling would have continued, and to what it might have led, it is hard
to say, had it not been cut short by an incident of a very unexpected
nature, and one that called for more immediate decision and action. I
shall relate the occurrence a little in detail.

The day was considerably advanced, and, Thousandacres and the girl who
then watched the storehouse excepted, everybody was occupied. Even
Susquesus had picked up a piece of birch, and with a melancholy
countenance, that I fancied was shadowing forth the future life of a
half-civilized red man, was attempting to make a broom with a part of a
knife that he had found in the building; while I was sketching, on a
leaf of my pocket-book, the mill and a bit of mountain land that served
it for a background. Thousandacres, for the first time that morning,
drew near our prison, and spoke to me. His countenance was severe, yet I
could see he was much troubled. As I afterward ascertained, Tobit had
been urging on him the necessity of putting both myself and the Indian
to death, as the only probable means that offered to save the lumber.

"Young man," said Thousandacres, "you have stolen on me and mine like a
thief at night, and you ought to expect the fate of one. How in natur'
can you expect men will give up their hard 'arnin's without a struggle
and a fight for 'em? You tempt me more than I can bear!"

I felt the fearful import of these words; but human nature revolted at
the thought of being cowed into any submission, or terms unworthy of my
character, or late profession. I was on the point of making an answer in
entire consonance with this feeling, when, in looking through the chinks
of my prison to fasten an eye on my old tyrant, I saw Chainbearer
advancing directly toward the storehouse, and already within a hundred
yards of us. The manner in which I gazed at this apparition attracted
the attention of the squatter, who turned and first saw the unexpected
visitor who approached. At the next minute, Andries was at his side.

"So, T'ousandacres, I fint you here!" exclaimed Chainbearer. "It's a
goot many years since you and I met, and I'm sorry we meet now on such
pisiness as t'is!"

"The meetin's of your own seekin', Chainbearer. I've neither invited nor
wished for your company."

"I p'lieve you wit' all my heart. No, no; you wish for no chains and no
chainpearers, no surfeyors and no compasses, no lots and no owners, too,
put a squatter. You and I haf not to make an acquaintance for t'e first
time, T'ousandacres, after knowin' each other for fifty years."

"Yes, we _do_ know each other for fifty years; and seein' that them
years hav'nt sarved to bring us of a mind on any one thing, we should
have done better to keep apart, than to come together now."

"I haf come for my poy, squatter--my nople poy, whom you haf illegally
arrested, and mate a prisoner, in the teet' of all law and justice. Gif
me pack Mortaunt Littlepage, and you'll soon be rit of my company!"

"And how do you know that I've ever seen your 'Mortaunt Littlepage?'
What have I to do with your boy, that you seek him of me? Go your ways,
go your ways, old Chainbearer, and let me and mine alone. The world's
wide enough for us both, I tell you; and why should you be set on your
own ondoin', by runnin' ag'in a breed like that which comes of Aaron and
Prudence Timberman?"

"I care not for you or your preet," answered old Andries sternly.
"You've dare't to arrest my frient, against law and right, and I come to
demant his liperty, or to warn you of t'e consequences."

"Don't press me too far, Chainbearer, don't press me too far. There's
desp'rate crittur's in this clearin', and them that is'nt to be driven
from their righteous 'arnin's by any that carry chains or p'int
compasses. Go your way, I tell ye, and leave us to gather the harvest
that comes of the seed of our own sowin' and plantin'."

"Ye'll gat'er it, ye'll gat'er it all, T'ousantacres--you and yours.
Ye've sown t'e win't, and ye'll reap t'e whirl-wints, as my niece Dus
Malpone has reat to me often, of late. Ye'll gat'er in all your harvest,
tares ant all, ye will; and t'at sooner t'an ye t'ink for."

"I wish I'd never seen the face of the man! Go away, I tell you,
Chainbearer, and leave me to my hard 'arnin's."

"Earnin's! Do you call it earnin's to chop and pillage on anot'er's
lants, and to cut his trees into logs, and to saw his logs into poarts,
and to sell his poarts to speculators, and gif no account of your
profits to t'e rightful owner of it all? Call you such t'ievin'
righteous earnin's?"

"Thief back ag'in, old measurer! Do not the sweat of the brow, long and
hard days of toil, achin' bones, and hungry bellies, give a man a claim
to the fruit of his labors?"

"T'at always hast peen your failin', T'ousantacres; t'at's t'e very
p'int on which you've proken town, man. You pegin wit' your morals, at
t'e startin' place t'at's most convenient to yourself and your
plunterin' crew, insteat of goin' pack to t'e laws of your Lort and
Master. Reat what t'e Almighty Got of Heaven ant 'art' sait unto Moses,
ant you'll fint t'at you've not turnet over leafs enough of your piple.
You may chop ant you may hew, you may haul ant you may saw, from t'is
day to t'e ent of time, and you'll nefer pe any nearer to t'e right t'an
you are at t'is moment. T'e man t'at starts on his journey wit' his face
in t'e wrong direction, olt T'ousantacres, wilt nefer reach its ent;
t'ough he trafel 'till t'e sweat rolls from his poty like water. You
pegin wrong, olt man, and you must ent wrong."

I saw the cloud gathering in the countenance of the squatter, and
anticipated the outbreaking of the tempest that followed. Two fiery
tempers had met, and, divided as they were in opinions and practice, by
the vast chasm that separates principles from expediency, right from
wrong, honesty from dishonesty, and a generous sacrifice of self to
support the integrity of a noble spirit, from a homage to self that
confounded and overshadowed all sense of right, it was not possible that
they should separate without a collision. Unable to answer Chainbearer's
reasoning, the squatter resorted to the argument of force. He seized my
old friend by the throat and made a violent effort to hurl him to the
earth. I must do this man of violence and evil the justice to say, that
I do not think it was his wish at that moment to have any assistance;
but the instant the struggle commenced the conch blew, and it was easy
to predict that many minutes would not elapse before the sons of
Thousandacres would be pouring in to the rescue. I would have given a
world to be able to throw down the walls of my prison, and rush to the
aid of my sterling old friend. As for Susquesus, he must have felt a
lively interest in what was going on, but he remained as immovable, and
seemingly as unmoved as a rock.

Andries Coejemans, old as he was, and it will be remembered he too had
seen his threescore years and ten, was not a man to be taken by the
throat with impunity. Thousandacres met with a similar assault and a
struggle followed that was surprisingly fierce and well contested,
considering that both the combatants had completed the ordinary limits
of the time of man. The squatter gained a slight advantage in the
suddenness and vigor of his assault, but Chainbearer was still a man of
formidable physical power. In his prime few had been his equals; and
Thousandacres soon had reason to know that he had met more than his
match. For a single instant Chainbearer gave ground; then he rallied,
made a desperate effort, and his adversary was hurled to the earth with
a violence that rendered him for a short time insensible; old Andries
himself continuing erect as one of the neighboring pines, red in the
face, frowning, and more severe in aspect than I remembered ever to have
seen him before, even in battle.

Instead of pushing his advantage, Chainbearer did not stir a foot after
he had thrown off his assailant. There he remained, lofty in bearing,
proud and stern. He had reason to believe no one was a witness of his
prowess, but I could see that the old man had a soldier's feelings at
his victory. At this instant I first let him know my close proximity by
speaking.

"Fly--for your life take to the woods, Chainbearer," I called to him,
through the clinks. "That conch will bring all the tribe of the
squatters upon you in two or three minutes; the young men are close at
hand, in the stream below the mill, at work on the logs, and have only
the banks to climb."

"Got be praiset! Mortaunt, my tear poy, you are not injuret, t'en! I
will open t'e toor of your prison, and we will retreat toget'er."

My remonstrances were vain. Andries came round to the door of the
storehouse, and made an effort to force it open. That was not easy,
however; for, opening outward, it was barred with iron, and secured by a
stout lock. Chainbearer would not listen to my remonstrances, but he
looked around him for some instrument by means of which he could either
break the lock or draw the staple. As the mill was at no great distance,
away he went in that direction, in quest of what he wanted, leaving me
in despair at his persevering friendship. Remonstrance was useless,
however, and I was compelled to await the result in silence.

Chainbearer was still a very active man. Nature, early training,
sobriety of life in the main, and a good constitution, had done this
much for him. It was but a moment before I saw him in the mill, looking
for the crowbar. This he soon found, and he was on his way to the
storehouse, in order to apply this powerful lever, when Tobit came in
sight, followed by all the brethren, rushing up the bank like a pack of
hounds in close pursuit. I shouted to my friend again to fly, but he
came on steadily toward my prison, bent on the single object of setting
me free. All this time, Thousandacres was senseless, his head having
fallen against a corner of the building. Chainbearer was so intent on
his purpose that, though he must have seen the crowd of young men, no
less than six in number, including well-grown lads, that was swiftly
advancing toward him, he did not bestow the least attention on them. He
was actually busied with endeavoring to force the bar in between the
hasp and the post, when his arms were seized behind, and he was made a
prisoner.

Chainbearer was no sooner apprised of the uselessness of resistance,
than he ceased to make any. As I afterward learned from himself, he had
determined to become a captive with me, if he could not succeed in
setting me free. Tobit was the first to lay hands on the Chainbearer;
and so rapidly were things conducted, for this man had the key, that the
door was unbarred, opened, and old Andries was thrust into the cage,
almost in the twinkling of an eye. The rapidity of the movement was
doubtless aided by the acquiescent feeling that happened to be uppermost
in the mind of Chainbearer, at that precise moment.

No sooner was this new prisoner secured, than the sons of Thousandacres
raised their father's body, and bore it to his own residence, which was
but a few yards distant. Old and young, both sexes and all ages,
collected in that building; and there was an hour during which we
appeared to be forgotten. The sentinel, who was a son of Tobit's,
deserted his post; and even Lowiny, who had been hovering in sight of
the storehouse the whole morning, seemed to have lost her interest in
us. I was too much engaged with my old friend, and had too many
questions to ask and to answer, however, to care much for this
desertion; which, moreover, was natural enough for the circumstances.

"I rejoice you are not in the hands of that pack of wolves, my good
friend!" I exclaimed, after the first salutations had passed between
Andries and myself, and squeezing his hand again and again. "They are
very capable of any act of violence; and I feared the sight of their
father, lying there insensible, might have inflamed them to some deed of
immediate violence. There will now be time for reflection, and
fortunately, I am a witness of all that passed."

"No fear for olt Thousandacres," said Chainbearer, heartily. "He is
tough, and he is only a little stunnet, pecause he t'ought himself a
petter man t'an he ist. Half an hour will pring him rount, and make him
as good a man ast he ever wast. But Mortaunt, lat, how came you here,
and why wast you wantering apout t'e woods at night, wit' Trackless,
here, who ist a sensiple ret-skin, and ought to haf set you a petter
example?"

"I was hot and feverish, and could not sleep; and so I took a stroll in
the forest, and got lost. Luckily, Susquesus had an eye on me, and kept
himself at hand the whole time. I was obliged to catch a nap in the top
of a fallen tree, and when I woke in the morning, the Onondago led me
here in quest of something to eat, for I was hungry as a famished wolf."

"Tid Susquesus, t'en, know of squatters having mate t'eir pitch on t'is
property?" asked Andries, in some surprise, and as I thought, a little
sternly.

"Not he. He heard the saw of the mill in the stillness of night, and we
followed the direction of that sound, and came unexpectedly out on this
settlement. As soon as Thousandacres ascertained who I was, he shut me
up here and as for Susquesus, Jaap has doubtless told you the story he
was commissioned to relate."

"All fery true, lat, all fery true; t'ough I don't half understant, yet,
why you shoul't haf left us in t'e manner you tit, and t'at, too, after
hafin' a long talk wit 'Dus. T'e gal is heart-heafy, Mortaunt, as 'tis
plain to pe seen; put I can't get a syllaple from her t'at hast t'e look
of a rational explanation. I shall haf to ask you to tell t'e story,
lat. I was tryin' to get t'e trut' out of Dus, half of t'e way comin'
here; put a gal is as close as----"

"Dus!" I interrupted--"Half the way coming here? You _do_ not, _cannot_
mean that Dus is with you."

"Hist, hist--pe careful. You speak too lout. I coult wish not to let
t'ese scountrels of squatters know t'at t'e gal is so exposet, put here
she ist; or, what is much t'e same, she is in t'e woots out yonter, a
looker-on, and I fear must pe in consarn at seein' t'at I, too, am a
prisoner."

"Chainbearer, how could you thus expose your niece--thus bring her into
the very grasp of lawless ruffians?"

"No, Mortaunt, no--t'ere is no fear of her peing insultet, or anyt'ing
of t'at sort. One can reat of such t'ings in pooks, put woman is
respectet and not insultet in America. Not one of T'ousantacres' rascals
woult wount t'e ear of t'e gal wit' an improper wort, hat he a chance,
which not one of 'em hast, seein' nopody knows t'e gal is wit' me, put
ourselves. Come she woult, and t'ere wast no use in saying her nay. Dus
is a goot creature, Mortaunt, and a tutiful gal; put it's as easy to
turn a rifer up stream, as to try to holt her pack when she loves."

"Is that her character?" I thought. "Then is there little chance,
indeed, of her ever becoming mine, since her affections must have gone
with her troth." Nevertheless, my interest in the noble-hearted girl was
just as strong as if I held her faith, and she was to become mine in a
few weeks. The idea that she was at that moment waiting the return of
her uncle, in the woods, was agony to me; but I had sufficient
self-command to question the Chainbearer, until I got out of him all of
the following facts:

Jaap had carried the message of Susquesus, with great fidelity, to those
to whom the Indian had sent it. On hearing the news, and the manner of
my arrest, Andries called a council, consisting of himself, Dus and
Frank Malbone. This occurred in the afternoon of the previous day; and
that same night, Malbone proceeded to Ravensnest, with a view of
obtaining warrants for the arrest of Thousandacres and his gang, as well
as of procuring assistance to bring them all in, in expectation of
having the whole party transferred to the gaol at Sandy Hill. As the
warrant could be granted only by Mr. Newcome, I could easily see that
the messenger would be detained a considerable time, since the
magistrate would require a large portion of the present day to enable
him to reach his house. This fact, however, I thought it well enough to
conceal from my friend at the moment.

Early that morning, Chainbearer, Dus and Jaap had left the huts, taking
the nearest route to the supposed position of the clearing of
Thousandacres, as it had been described by the Indian. Aided by a
compass, as well as by their long familiarity with the woods, this party
had little difficulty in reaching the spot where the Onondago and the
negro had met; after which, the remainder of the journey was through a
_terra incognita_, as respects the adventurers. With some search,
however, a glimpse was got of the light of the clearing, much as one
finds an island in the ocean, when the skirts of the wood were
approached. A favorable spot, one that possessed a good cover, was
selected, whence Chainbearer reconnoitred for near an hour before he
left it. After a time he determined on the course he adopted and carried
out, leaving his niece to watch his movements, with instructions to
rejoin her brother, should he himself be detained by the squatter. I was
a little relieved by the knowledge of the presence of Jaap, for I knew
the fidelity of the fellow too well to suppose he would ever desert Dus;
but my prison became twice as irksome to me after I had heard this
account of the Chainbearer's, as it had been before.



CHAPTER XXI.

    "Was she not all my fondest wish could frame?
    Did ever mind so much of heaven partake?
    Did she not love me with the purest flame?
    And give up friends and fortune for my sake?
        Though mild as evening skies,
        With downcast, streaming eyes,
    Stood the stern frown of supercilious brows,
    Deaf to their brutal threats, and faithful to her vows."
                                                          --SHAW.


Dus was then near me--in sight of the storehouse, perhaps! But affection
for her uncle, and no interest in me, had brought her there. I could
respect her attachment to her old guardian, however, and admire the
decision and spirit she had manifested in his behalf, at the very moment
the consciousness that I had no influence on her movements was the most
profound.

"T'e gal woult come, Mortaunt," the Chainbearer continued, after having
gone through his narrative; "ant, if you know Dus, you know when she
loves she wilt not be deniet. Got pless me! what a wife she woult make
for a man who wast desarfin' of her! Oh! here's a pit of a note t'e dear
creature has written to one of T'ousandacres' poys, who hast peen out
among us often, t'ough I never so much as dreamet t'at t'e squatting olt
rascal of a fat'er was on our lant, here. Well, Zepaniah, as t'e lat is
callet, hast passet much time at t'e Nest, working apout in t'e fielts,
and sometimes for us; and, to own the trut' to you, Mortaunt, I do
pelieve t'e young chap hast a hankerin' a'ter Dus, and woult pe glat
enough to get t'e gal for a wife."

"He! Zephaniah Thousandacres--or whatever his infernal name may be--_he_
a hankering or an attachment for Ursula Malbone--he think of her for a
wife--he presume to love such a perfect being!"

"Hoity, toity," cried old Andries, looking round at me in surprise, "why
shouldn't t'e poy haf his feelin's ast well ast anot'er, if he pe a
squatter? Squatters haf feelin's, t'ough t'ey hafn't much honesty to
poast of. Ant, ast for honesty, you see, Mortaunt, it is tifferent
petween T'ousantacres and his poys. T'e lats haf peen prought up to
fancy t'ere ist no great harm in lif'ing on anot'er man's lants,
whereast t'is olt rascal, t'eir fat'er, wast prought up, or _t'inks_ he
wast prought up in t'e very sanctum sanctorum of gotliness among t'e
Puritans, and t'at t'e 'art' hast not t'eir equals in religion, I'll
warrant you. Ask olt Aaron apout his soul, and he'll tell you t'at it's
a petter soul t'an a Dutch soul, and t'at it won't purn at all, it's so
free from eart'. Yes, yes--t'at ist t'e itee wit' 'em all in his part of
t'e worlt. T'eir gotliness ist so pure even sin wilt do it no great
harm."

I knew the provincial prejudices of Chainbearer too well to permit
myself to fall into a discussion on theology with him, just at that
moment; though I must do the old man the justice to allow that his
opinion of the self-righteousness of the children of the Puritans was
not absolutely without some apology. I never had any means of
ascertaining the fact, but it would have occasioned me no surprise had I
discovered that Thousandacres, and all his brood, looked down on us New
Yorkers as an especially fallen and sinful race, which was on the high
road to perdition, though encouraged and invited to enter on a different
road by the spectacle of a chosen people so near them, following the
straight and narrow path that leads to heaven. This mingling of God and
Mammon is by no means an uncommon thing among us, though the squatters
would probably have admitted themselves that they had fallen a little
away, and were by no means as good as their forefathers had once been.
There is nothing that sticks so close to an individual, or to a
community, as the sense of its own worth. As "coming events cast their
shadows before," this sentiment leaves its shadows behind, long after
the substance which may have produced them has moved onward, or been
resolved into the gases. But I must return to Zephaniah and the note.

"And you tell me, Chainbearer, that Ursula has actually written a note,
a letter, to this young man?" I asked, as soon as I could muster
resolution enough to put so revolting a question?

"Sartain; here it ist, ant a very pretty lookin' letter it is, Mortaunt.
Dus does everyt'ing so hantily, ant so like a nice young woman, t'at it
ist a pleasure to carry one of her letters. Ay--t'ere t'e lat ist now,
and I'll just call him, and gif him his own."

Chainbearer was as good as his word, and Zephaniah soon stood at the
door of the storehouse.

"Well, you wilt own, Zeph," continued the old man, "we didn't cage you
like a wilt peast, or a rogue t'at hast been mettlin' wit' what tidn't
pelong to him, when you wast out among us. T'ere is t'at difference in
t'e treatment--put no matter! Here ist a letter for you, and much goot
may it do you! It comes from one who vilt gif goot atvice; and you'll be
none the worse if you follow it. I don't know a wort t'at's in it, put
you'll fint it a goot letter, I'll answer for it. Dus writes peautiful
letters, and in a hand almost as plain and hantsome as his excellency's,
t'ough not quite so large. Put her own hant is'nt as large as his
excellency's, t'ough his excellency's hant was'nt particularly pig
neit'er."

I could scarcely believe my senses! Here was Ursula Malbone confessedly
writing a letter to a son of Thousandacres, the squatter, and that son
admitted to be her admirer! Devoured by jealousy, and a thousand
feelings to which I had hitherto been a stranger, I gazed at the
fortunate being who was so strangely honored by this communication from
Dus, with the bitterest envy. Although, to own the truth, the young
squatter was a well-grown, good-looking fellow, to me he seemed to be
the very personification of coarseness and vulgarity. It will readily be
supposed that Zephaniah was not entirely free from some very just
imputations of the latter character; but on the whole, most girls of his
own class in life would be quite content with him in these respects. But
Ursula Malbone was not at all of his own class in life. However reduced
in fortune, she was a lady, by education as well as by birth; and what
feelings could there possibly be in common between her and her strange
admirer? I had heard it said that women were as often taken by externals
as men; but in this instance the externals were coarse, and nothing
extraordinary. Some females, too, could not exist without admiration;
and I had known Dus but a few weeks, after all, and it was possible I
had not penetrated the secret of her true character. Then her original
education had been in the forest; and we often return to our first
loves, in these particulars, with a zest and devotion for which there is
no accounting. It was possible this strange girl might have portrayed to
her imagination, in the vista of the future, more of happiness and wild
enjoyment among the woods and ravines of stolen clearings, than by
dwelling amid the haunts of men. In short, there was scarce a conceit
that did not crowd on my brain, in that moment of intense jealousy and
profound unhappiness. I was as miserable as a dog.

As for Zephaniah, the favored youth of Ursula Malbone, he received his
letter, as I fancied, with an awkward surprise, and lounged round the
corner of the building, to have the pleasure, as it might be, of reading
it to himself. This brought him nearer to my position; for I had
withdrawn, in a disgust I could not conquer, from being near the scene
that had just been enacted.

Opening a letter, though it had been folded by the delicate hands of
Ursula Malbone, and reading it, were two very different operations, as
Zephaniah now discovered. The education of the young man was very
limited, and after an effort or two, he found it impossible to get on.
With the letter open in his hand, he found it as much a sealed book to
him as ever. Zephaniah _could_ read writing, by dint of a considerable
deal of spelling; but it must not be a good hand. As some persons cannot
comprehend pure English, so he found far more difficulty in spelling out
the pretty, even characters before him, than would have been the case
had he been set at work on the pot-hooks and trammels of one of his own
sisters. Glancing his eyes around in quest of aid, they happened to fall
on mine, which were watching his movements with the vigilance of a
feline animal, through the chinks of the logs, and at the distance of
only three feet from his own face. As for the Indian, he, _seemingly_,
took no more note of what was passing, than lovers take of time in a
stolen interview; though I had subsequently reason to believe that
nothing had escaped his observation. Andries was in a distant part of
the prison, reconnoitring the clearing and mills with an interest that
absorbed all his attention for the moment. Of these facts Zephaniah
assured himself by taking a look through the openings of the logs; then,
sidling along nearer to me, he said in a low voice--

"I don't know how it is, but to tell you the truth, Major Littlepage,
York larnin' and Varmount larnin' be so different, that I don't find it
quite as easy to read this letter as I could wish."

On this hint I seized the epistle, and began to read it in a low tone;
for Zephaniah asked this much of me, with a delicacy of feeling that, in
so far, was to his credit. As the reader may have some of the curiosity
I felt myself, to know what Ursula Malbone could possibly have to say in
this form to Zephaniah Thousandacres, I shall give the contents of this
strange epistle in full. It was duly directed to "Mr. Zephaniah
Timberman, Mooseridge," and in that respect would have passed for any
common communication. Within, it read as follows:--

     "SIR:--

     "As you have often professed a strong regard for me, I now put
     you to the proof of the sincerity of your protestations. My
     dear uncle goes to your father, whom I only know by report, to
     demand the release of Major Littlepage, who, we hear, is a
     prisoner in the hands of your family, against all law and
     right. As it is possible the business of uncle Chainbearer will
     be disagreeable to Thousandacres, and that warm words may pass
     between them, I ask of your friendship some efforts to keep the
     peace; and, particularly, should anything happen to prevent my
     uncle from returning, that you would come to me in the
     woods--for I shall accompany the Chainbearer to the edge of
     your clearing--and let me know it. You will find me there,
     attended by one of the blacks, and we can easily meet if you
     cross the fields in an eastern direction, as I will send the
     negro to find you and to bring you to me.

     "In addition to what I have said above, Zephaniah, let me also
     earnestly ask your care in behalf of Major Littlepage. Should
     any evil befall that gentleman, it would prove the undoing of
     your whole family! The law has a long arm, and it will reach
     into the wilderness, as well as into a settlement. The person
     of a human being is a very different thing from a few acres of
     timber, and General Littlepage will think far more of his noble
     son than he will think of all the logs that have been cut and
     floated away. Again and again, therefore, I earnestly entreat
     of you to befriend this gentleman, not only as you hope for my
     respect, but as you hope for your own peace of mind. I have had
     some connection with the circumstances that threw Mr.
     Littlepage into your hands, and shall never know a happy moment
     again should anything serious befall him. Remember this,
     Zephaniah, and let it influence your own conduct. I owe it to
     myself and to you to add, that the answer I gave you at
     Ravensnest, the evening of the raising, must remain my answer,
     now and forever; but, if you have really the regard for me that
     you then professed, you will do all you can to serve Major
     Littlepage, who is an old friend of my uncle's and whose
     safety, owing to circumstances that you would fully understand
     were they told to you, is absolutely necessary to my future
     peace of mind.

     "Your friend,

     "URSULA MALBONE."

What a strange girl was this Dus! I suppose it as unnecessary to say
that I felt profoundly ashamed of my late jealousy, which now seemed
just as absurd and unreasonable as, a moment before, it seemed justified
and plausible. God protect the wretch who is the victim of that
evil-eyed passion! He who is jealous of circumstances, in the ordinary
transactions of life, usually makes a fool of himself, by seeing a
thousand facts that exist in his own brain only; but he whose jealousy
is goaded on by love, must be something more than human, not to let the
devils get a firm grasp of his soul. I can give no better illustration
of the weakness that this last passion induces, however, than the
admission I have just made, that I believed it possible Ursula Malbone
_could_ love Zephaniah Thousandacres, or whatever might be his real
name. I have since pulled at my own hair, in rage at my own folly, as
that moment of weakness has recurred to my mind.

"She writes a desp'rate letter!" exclaimed the young squatter,
stretching his large frame, like one who had lost command of his
movements through excitement. "I don't believe, major, the like of that
gal is to be found in York, taken as State or colony! I've a dreadful
likin' for her!"

It was impossible not to smile at this outpouring of attachment; nor, on
the whole, would I have been surprised at the ambition it inferred, had
the youth been but a very little higher in the social scale. Out of the
large towns, and with here and there an exception in favor of an
isolated family, there is not, even to this day, much distinction in
classes among our eastern brethren. The great equality of condition and
education that prevails, as a rule, throughout all the rural population
of New England, while it has done so much for the great body of their
people, has had its inevitable consequences in lowering the standard of
cultivation among the few, both as it is applied to acquirements, and to
the peculiar notions of castes; and nothing is more common in that part
of the world, than to hear of marriages that elsewhere would have been
thought incongruous, for the simple reason of the difference in ordinary
habits and sentiments between the parties. Thus it was, that Zephaniah,
without doing as much violence to his own, as would be done to our
notions of the fitness of things, might aspire to the hand of Ursula
Malbone; unattended, as she certainly was, by any of the outward and
more vulgar signs of her real character. I could not but feel some
respect for the young man's taste, therefore, and this so much the more
readily, because I no longer was haunted by the very silly phantom of
his possible success.

"Having this regard for Dus," I said, "I hope I may count on your
following her directions."

"What way can I sarve you, major? I do vow, I've every wish to do as
Ursula asks of me, if I only know'd how."

"You can undo the fastenings of our prison, here, and let us go at once
into the woods, where we shall be safe enough against a recapture,
depend on it. Do us that favor, and I will give you fifty acres of land,
on which you can settle down and become an honest man. Remember, it will
be something honorable to own fifty acres of good land, in fee."

Zephaniah pondered on my tempting offer, and I could see that he wavered
in opinion, but the decision was adverse to my wishes. He shook his
head, looked round wistfully at the woods where he supposed Dus then to
be, possibly watching his very movements, but he would not yield.

"If a father can't trust his own son, who can he trust, in natur'?"
demanded the young squatter.

"No one should be aided in doing wrong, and your father has no just
right to shut up us three, in this building, as he has done. The deed is
against the law, and to the law, sooner or later, will he be made to
give an account of it."

"Oh! as for the law, he cares little for _that_. We've been ag'in
law all over lives, and the law is ag'in us. When a body comes to
take the chance of jurors, and witnesses, and lawyers, and poor
attorney-gin'rals, and careless prosecutors, law's no great matter to
stand out ag'in in this country. I s'pose there is countries in which
law counts for suthin'; but hereabouts, and all through Varmount, we
don't kear much for the law, unless it's a matter between man and man,
and t'other side holds out for his rights, bull-dog fashion. Then, I
allow, its suthin' to have the law on your side; but it's no great
matter in a trespass case."

"This may not end in a trespass case, however. Your father--by the way,
is Thousandacres much hurt?"

"Not much to speak on," coolly answered the son, still gazing in the
direction of the woods. "A little stunned, but he's gettin' over it
fast, and he's used to sich rubs. Father's desp'rate solid about the
head, and can stand as much sledgehammering there, as any man I ever
seed. Tobit's tough, too, in that part; and he's need of it, for he's
forever getting licks around the forehead and eyes."

"And, as your father comes to, what seems to be his disposition toward
us?"

"Nothin' to speak on, in the way of friendship, I can tell you! The old
man's considerable riled; and when that's the case, he'll have his own
way for all the governors and judges in the land!"

"Do you suppose he meditates any serious harm to his prisoners?"

"A man doesn't meditate a great deal, I guess, with such a rap on the
skull. He _feels_ a plaguy sight more than he _thinks_; and when the
feelin's is up, it doesn't matter much who's right and who's wrong. The
great difficulty in your matter is how to settle about the lumber that's
in the creek. The water's low; and the most that can be done with it,
afore November, will to be float it down to the next rift, over which it
can never go, with any safety, without more water. It's risky to keep
one like you, and to keep Chainbearer, too, three or four months, in
jail like; and it wunt do to let you go neither, sin' you'd soon have
the law a'ter us. If we keep you, too, there'll be a s'arch made, and a
reward offered. Now a good many of your tenants know of this clearin',
and human natur' can't hold out ag'in a reward. The old man knows that
_well_; and it's what he's most afeared on. We can stand up ag'in almost
anything better than ag'in a good, smart reward."

I was amused as well as edified with Zephaniah's simplicity and
frankness, and would willingly have pursued the discourse, had not
Lowiny come tripping toward us, summoning her brother away to attend a
meeting of the family; the old squatter having so far recovered as to
call a council of his sons. The brother left me on the instant, but the
girl lingered at my corner of the storehouse, like one who was reluctant
to depart.

"I hope the hasty-puddin' was sweet and good," said Lowiny, casting a
timid glance in at the chink.

"It was excellent, my good girl, and I thank you for it with all my
heart. Are you very busy now?--can you remain a moment while I make a
request?"

"Oh! there's nothin' for me to do just now in the house, seem' that
father has called the b'ys around him. Whenever he does that, even
mother is apt to quit."

"I am glad of it, as I think you are so kind-hearted and good that I may
trust you in a matter of some importance; may I not, my good Lowiny?"

"Squatters' da'ghters _may_ be good, then, a'ter all, in the eyes of
grand landholders!"

"Certainly--_excellent_ even; and I am much disposed to believe that you
are one of that class." Lowiny looked delighted; and I felt less
reluctance at administering this flattery than might otherwise have been
the case, from the circumstance that so much of what I said was really
merited.

"Indeed, I know you are, and quite unfitted for this sort of life. But I
must tell you my wishes at once, for our time may be very short."

"Do," said the girl, looking up anxiously, a slight blush suffusing her
face; the truth-telling sign of ingenuous feelings, and the gage of
virtue; "do, for I'm dying to hear it; as I know beforehand I shall do
just what you ask me to do. I don't know how it is, but when father or
mother ask me to do a thing, I sometimes feel as if I couldn't; but I
don't feel so now, at all."

"My requests do not come often enough to tire you. Promise me, in the
first place, to keep my secret."

"_That_ I will!" answered Lowiny, promptly, and with emphasis. "Not a
mortal soul shall know anything on't, and I won't so much as talk of it
in my sleep, as I sometimes do, if I can any way help it."

"Chainbearer has a niece who is very dear to him, and who returns all
his affection. Her name is----"

"Dus Malbone," interrupted the girl, with a faint laugh. "Zeph has told
me all about her, for Zeph and I be great friends--_he_ tells me
everything, and _I_ tell him everything. It's sich a comfort, you can't
think, to have somebody to tell secrets to;--well, what of Dus?"

"She is here."

"Here! I don't see anything on her"--looking round hurriedly, and, as I
fancied, in a little alarm--"Zeph says she's dreadful han'some!"

"She is thought so, I believe; though, in that respect, she is far from
being alone. There is no want of pretty girls in America. By saying she
was here I did not mean here in the storehouse, but here in the woods.
She accompanied her uncle as far as the edge of the clearing--look
round, more toward the east. Do you see the black stub, in the
cornfield, behind your father's dwelling?"

"Sartain--that's plain enough to be seen--I wish I could see Albany as
plain."

"Now look a little to the left of that stub, and you will see a large
chestnut, in the edge of the woods behind it--the chestnut, I mean, that
thrusts its top out of the forest into the clearing, as it might be."

"Well, I see the chestnut, too, and I know it well. There's a spring of
water cluss to its roots."

"At the foot of that chestnut Chainbearer left his niece, and doubtless
she is somewhere near it now. Could you venture to stroll as far,
without going directly to the spot, and deliver a message, or a letter?"

"To be sure I could! Why, we gals stroll about the lots as much as we
please, and it's berryin' time now. I'll run and get a basket, and you
can write your letter while I'm gone. La! Nobody will think anything of
my goin' a berryin'--I have a desp'rate wish to see this Dus! Do you
think she'll have Zeph?"

"Young women's minds are so uncertain that I should not like to venture
an opinion. If it were one of my own sex, now, and had declared his
wishes, I think I could tell you with some accuracy."

The girl laughed; then she seemed a little bewildered, and again she
colored. How the acquired--nay, _native_ feeling of the sex, will rise
up in tell-tale ingenuousness to betray a woman!

"Well," she cried, as she ran away in quest of the basket, "to my
notion, a gal's mind is as true and as much to be depended on as that of
any mortal crittur' living!"

It was now my business to write a note to Dus. The materials for writing
my pocket-book furnished. I tore out a leaf, and approached Chainbearer,
telling him what I was about to do, and desiring to know if he had any
particular message to send.

"Gif t'e tear gal my plessin', Mortaunt. Tell her olt Chainpearer prays
Got to pless her--t'at ist all. I leaf you to say t'e rest."

I did say the rest. In the first place I sent the blessing of the uncle
to the niece. Then I explained, in as few words as possible, our
situation, giving it as promising an aspect as my conscience would
permit. These explanations made, I entreated Ursula to return to her
brother, and not again expose herself so far from his protection. Of the
close of this note I shall not say much. It was brief, but it let Dus
understand that my feelings toward her were as lively as ever; and I
believe it was expressed with the power that passion lends. My note was
ended just as Lowiny appeared to receive it. She brought us a pitcher of
milk, as a sort of excuse for returning to the storehouse, received the
note in exchange, and hurried away toward the fields. As she passed one
of the cabins, I heard her calling out to a sister that she was going
for blackberries to give the prisoners.

I watched the movements of that active girl with intense interest.
Chainbearer, who had slept little since my disappearance, was making up
for lost time; and as for the Indian, eating and sleeping are very
customary occupations of his race, when not engaged in some hunt, or on
the war-path, or as a runner.

Lowiny proceeded toward a lot of which the bushes had taken full
possession. Here she soon disappeared, picking berries as she proceeded,
with nimble fingers, as if she felt the necessity of having some of the
fruit to show on her return. I kept my eye fastened on the openings of
the forest, near the chestnut, as soon as the girl was concealed in the
bushes, anxiously waiting for the moment when I might see her form
reappearing at that spot. My attention was renewed by getting a glimpse
of Dus. It was but a glimpse, the fluttering of a female dress gliding
among the trees; but, as it was too soon for the arrival of Lowiny, I
knew it must be Dus. This was cheering, as it left little reason to
doubt that my messenger would find the object of her visit. In the
course of half an hour after Lowiny entered the bushes I saw her,
distinctly, near the foot of the chestnut. Pausing a moment, as if to
reconnoitre, the girl suddenly moved into the forest, when I made no
doubt she and Dus had a meeting. An entire hour passed, and I saw no
more of Lowiny.

In the meanwhile Zephaniah made his appearance again at the side of the
storehouse. This time he came accompanied by two of his brethren,
holding the key in his hand. At first I supposed the intention was to
arraign me before the high court of Thousandacres, but in this I was in
error. No sooner did the young men reach the door of our prison than
Zephaniah called out to the Onondago to approach it, as he had something
to say to him.

"It must be dull work to a redskin to be shut up like a hog afore it's
wrung," said the youth, drawing his images from familiar objects; "and I
s'pose you'd be right glad to come out here and walk about, something
like a free and rational crittur.' What do you say, Injin--is sich your
desire?"

"Sartain," quietly answered Sureflint. "Great deal radder be out dan be
in here."

"So I nat'rally s'posed. Well, the old man says you can come out on
promises, if you're disposed to make 'em. So you're master of your own
movements, you see."

"What he want me do? What he want me to say, eh?"

"No great matter, a'ter all, if a body has only a mind to try to do it.
In the first place, you're to give your parole not to go off; but to
stay about the clearin', and to come in and give yourself up when the
conch blows three short blasts. Will you agree to that, Sus?"

"Sartain--no go 'way; come back when he call--dat mean stay where he can
hear conch."

"Well, that's agreed on, and it's a bargain. Next, you're to agree not
to go pryin' round the mill and barn, to see what you can find, but keep
away from all the buildin's but the store'us' and the dwellings, and not
to quit the clearin'. Do you agree?"

"Good; no hard to do dat."

"Well, you're to bring no weepons into the settlement, and to pass
nothing but words and food in to the other prisoners. Will you stand to
_that_?"

"Sartain; willin' 'nough to do dat, too."

"Then you're in no manner or way to make war on any on us 'till your
parole is up, and you're your own man ag'in. What do you say to that,
Trackless?"

"All good; 'gree to do him all."

"Wa-a-l, that's pretty much all the old man stands out for; but mother
has a condition or two that she insists on't I shall ask. Should the
worst come to the worst, and the folks of this settlement get to blows
with the folks out of it, you're to bargain to take no scalps of women
or children, and none from any man that you don't overcome in open
battle. The old woman will grant you the scalps of men killed in battle,
but thinks it ag'in reason to take 'em from sich as be not so overcome."

"Good; don't want to take scalp at all," answered the Indian, with an
emotion he could not altogether suppress. "Got no tribe--got no young
men; what good scalp do? Nobody care how many scalp Susquesus take
away--how many he leave behind. All dat forgot long time."

"Wa-a-l, that's _your_ affair, not mine. But, as all the articles is
agreed to, you can come out, and go about your business. Mind, three
short, sharp blasts on the conch is the signal to come in and give
yourself up."

On this singular cartel Susquesus was set at liberty. I heard the whole
arrangement with astonishment; though, by the manner of the high
contracting parties, it was easy to see there was nothing novel in the
arrangement, so far as _they_ were concerned. I had heard that the faith
of an Indian of any character, in all such cases, was considered sacred,
and could not but ask myself, as Susquesus walked quietly out of prison,
how many potentates and powers there were in Christendom who, under
circumstances similarly involving their most important interests, could
be found to place a similar confidence in their fellows! Curious to know
how my present masters felt on this subject, the opportunity was
improved to question them.

"You give the Indian his liberty on parole," I said to Zephaniah--"will
you refuse the same privilege to us white men?"

"An Injin is an Injin. He has his natur', and we've our'n. Suthin' was
said about lettin' you out, too, major; but the old man wouldn't hear to
it. 'He know'd mankind,' he said, 'and he know'd t'would never do.' If
you let a white man loose, he sets his wits at work to find a hole to
creep out on the bargain--goin' back to the creation of the 'arth but
he'll find one. The major will say 'I was put in ag'in' law, and now I'm
out, I'll stay out ag'in promises,' or some sich reasonin', and now we
have him safe, 'twill be best to keep him safe! That's the substance of
the old man's idees, and you can see, major, just as well as any on us,
how likely he'll be to change 'em."

There was no contending with this logic, which in secret I well knew to
be founded in fact, and I made no further application for my own
release. It appeared, however, that Thousandacres himself was
half-disposed to make a concession in favor of Chainbearer, similar to
that he had granted to the Indian. This struck me as singular, after the
rude collision that had already occurred between the two men--but there
are points of honor that are peculiar to each condition of life, and
which the men of each feel a pride not only in causing to be respected,
but in respecting themselves.

"Father had some thoughts of taking your parole, too, Chainbearer,"
added Zephaniah, "and he concluded he would, hadn't it been that you'd
been living out in the settlements so much of late years, that he's not
quite easy in trusting you. A man that passes so much of his time in
running boundaries, may think himself privileged to step over them."

"Your fat'er is welcome to his opinion," answered Andries, coolly.
"He'll get no parole of me, nor do I want any favors of him. We are at
swords' p'ints, young man, and let him look out for himself and his
lumper as pest he can."

"Nay," answered Zephaniah, stretching himself, and answering with
spirit, though he well knew he was speaking to the uncle of Dus, and
thereby endangering his interests with his mistress--"nay, Chainbearer,
if it comes to _that_, 'twill be 'hardes fend off.' We are a strong
party of stout men, and arn't to be frightened by the crier of a court,
or to be druv' off the land by sheep-skin. Catamounts must come ag'in us
in droves, afore we'll give an inch."

"Go away, go away--foolish young fellow--you're your fat'er's son, and
t'at's as much as neet pe said of you. I want no favors from squatters,
which ist a preed I tetest and tespise."

I was a little surprised at hearing this answer, and at witnessing this
manifestation of feeling in Chainbearer, who, ordinarily, was a cool,
and uniformly a courteous man. On reflection, however, I saw he was not
so wrong. An exchange of anything like civilities between us and our
captors, might seem to give them some claim on us; whereas, by standing
on the naked right, we had every advantage of them, in a moral sense, at
least. Zephaniah and his brethren left us, on receiving this repulse of
Andries; but Susquesus kept loitering around the storehouse, apparently
little better off now he was on its outside than he had been when in it.
He had nothing to do, and his idleness was that of an Indian--one of a
race of such terrible energies, when energy is required, and so
frequently listless, when not pressed upon by necessity, pleasure, war
or interest.

Things were in this state, when, some time after the interview just
related, we had another visit from a party headed by Tobit. This man
came to escort Chainbearer and myself to the cabin of Thousandacres,
where all the men of the family were assembled; and where, as it now
appeared, we were to have something like a hearing that might seriously
affect our fates, for good or for evil. I consulted Chainbearer on the
propriety of our lending ourselves to such a measure; but I found
Andries disposed to meet the brood of squatters, face to face, and to
tell them his mind, let it be when and where it might. Finding my friend
in this temper, I made no further objections myself, but left the
storehouse in his company, well guarded by four of the young men, all of
whom were armed, holding our way to the seat of justice, in that wild
and patriarchal government.



CHAPTER XXII.

    "When Adam delv'd, and Eve span,
    Where was then the gentleman?"--_Old Saw._


Thousandacres had not altogether neglected forms, though so much set
against the spirit of the law. We found a sort of court collected before
the door of his dwelling, with himself in the centre, while the
principal room contained no one but Prudence and one or two of her
daughters. Among the latter was Lowiny, to my surprise; for I had not
seen the girl return from the woods, though my eyes had not been long
turned from the direction in which I had hopes of catching a glimpse of
Dus.

Tobit led us prisoners into the house, placing us near the door, and
facing his father; an arrangement that superseded the necessity of much
watchfulness, as our only means of escape would necessarily be by
rushing through the throng without--a thing virtually impracticable. But
Chainbearer appeared to have no thought of flight. He entered that
circle of athletic young men with perfect indifference; and I remember
that it struck me his air resembled that which I had often seen him
assume when our regiment was on the eve of serious service. At such
moments old Andries could, and often did, appear grand--dignity,
authority and coldness being blended with sterling courage.

When in the room, Chainbearer and I seated ourselves near the door,
while Thousandacres had a chair on the turf without, surrounded by his
sons, all of whom were standing. As this arrangement was made amid a
grave silence, the effect was not altogether without impressiveness, and
partook of some of the ordinary aspects of justice. I was struck with
the anxious curiosity betrayed in the countenances of the females in
particular; for the decision to which Thousandacres was about to come,
would with them have the authority of a judgment of Solomon. Accustomed
to reason altogether in their own interests, I make no doubt that, in
the main, all of that semi-barbarous breed fancied themselves invested,
in their lawless occupation, by some sort of secret natural right;
ignorant of the fact that, the moment they reduced their claim to this
standard, they put it on the level with that of all the rest of mankind.
Nature gives nothing exclusively to an individual, beyond his
individuality, and that which appertains to his person and personal
qualities; all beyond he is compelled to share, under the law of nature,
with the rest of his race. A title dependent on original possession
forms no exception to this rule; for it is merely human convention that
gives it force and authority, without which it would form no title at
all. But into mysteries like these, none of the family of Thousandacres
ever entered; though the still, small voice of conscience, the
glimmerings of right, were to be traced occasionally, even amid the
confused jumble of social maxims in which their selfishness had taken
refuge.

We live in an age of what is called progress, and fancy that man is
steadily advancing on the great path of his destiny, to something that
we are apt to imagine is to form perfection. Certainly, I shall not
presume to say what is, or what is not, the divine intention as to the
future destination of our species on earth; but years and experience
must have taught me, or I should have lived in vain, how little there is
among our boasted improvements that is really new; and if we do possess
anything in the way of principles that bear on them the impress of
inviolability, they are those that have become the most venerable, by
having stood the severest tests of time.

I know not whether the long, silent pause that succeeded our arrival was
the result of an intention to heighten the effect of that scene, or
whether Thousandacres really wished time to collect his thoughts and to
mature his plans. One thing struck me; notwithstanding the violence that
had so recently occurred between Chainbearer and himself, there were no
traces of resentment in the hardened and wrinkled countenance of that
old tenant of the forest; for he was too much accustomed to those sudden
outbreakings of anger, to suffer them long to linger in his
recollection. In all that was said, and in all that passed, in the
course of that (to me) memorable day, I could trace no manifestation of
any feeling in the squatter, in consequence of the rude personal
rencontre that he had so lately had with my friend. They had clenched
and he had been overthrown; and that ended the matter.

The silence which occurred after we took our seats must have lasted
several minutes. For myself, I saw I was only a secondary person in this
interview; old Andries having completely supplanted me in importance,
not only in acts, but in the estimation of the squatters. To him they
were accustomed, and accustomed, moreover, to regard as a sort of
hostile power; his very pursuit being opposed to the great moving
principle of their every-day lives. The man who measured land, and he
who took it to himself without measurement, were exactly antagonist
forces, in morals as well as in physics; and might be supposed not to
regard each other with the most friendly eyes. Thus it was that the
Chainbearer actually became an object of greater interest to these
squatters, than the son of one of the owners of the soil, and the
attorney in fact of both. As for the old man himself, I could see that
he looked very Dutch, which implied a stubborn resolution bordering on
obstinacy; unmoved adherence to what he conceived to be right; and a
strong dislike to his present neighbors, in addition to other reasons,
on account of their having come from the eastward; a race that he both
distrusted and respected; disliked, yet covertly honored, for many a
quality that was both useful and good.

To the next generation the feeling that was once so active between the
descendants of Holland among ourselves, and the people of English birth
who came from the Eastern States, will be almost purely a matter of
history. I perceive that my father, in the manuscript he has transmitted
to me, as well as I myself, have made various allusions to the subject.
It is my wish to be understood in this matter. I have introduced it
solely as a _fact_ that is beyond controversy; but, I trust, without any
undue bigotry of opinion. It is possible that both Mr. Cornelius
Littlepage and his son, unconsciously to ourselves, may have been
influenced by the ancient prejudices of the colonies, though I have
endeavored scrupulously to avoid them. At any rate, if either of us has
appeared to be a little too severe, I trust the reader will remember how
much has been uttered to the world in reference to this dislike, by the
Yankee, and how little by the Dutchman during the last century and a
half, and grant to one who is proud of the little blood from Holland
that he happens to possess, the privilege of showing at least one of the
phases of his own side of the story. But it is time to return to our
scene in the hut.

"Chainbearer," commenced Thousandacres, after the pause already
mentioned had lasted several minutes, and speaking with a dignity that
could only have proceeded from the intensity of his feelings;
"Chainbearer, you've been an inimy to me and mine sin' the day we first
met. You're an inimy by your cruel callin'; yet you've the boldness to
thrust yourself into my very hands!"

"I'm an enemy to all knaves, T'ousantacres, and I ton't care who knows
it," answered old Andries, sternly; "t'at ist my trate, ast well ast
carryin' chain; ant I wish it to pe known far and near. Ast for pein'
your enemy by callin', I may say as much of yourself; since there coult
pe no surveyin', or carryin' of chain, tit all t'e people help
t'emselves to lant, as you haf tone your whole life, wit'out as much as
sayin' to t'e owners 'py your leaf.'"

"Things have now got to a head atween us, Chainbearer," returned the
squatter; "but seein' that you're in my hands, I'm ready and willin' to
reason the p'int with you, in hopes that we may yet part fri'nds, and
that this may be the last of all our troubles. You and I be getting to
be oldish men, Chainbearer; and it's fittin' that them that be gettin'
near their eends, should sometimes think on 'em. I come from no Dutch
colony, but from a part of the world where mankind fears God, and has
some thoughts of a futur' state."

"T'at's neit'er here nor t'ere, T'ousantacres," cried Andries,
impatiently. "Not put what religion is a goot t'ing, and a t'ing to be
venerated, ant honoret, ant worshippet; put t'at it's out of place in a
squatter country, and most of all in a squatter's mout'. Can you telt me
one t'ing, T'ousantacres, and t'at ist, why you Yankees pray so much,
ant call on Got to pless you every o'ter wort, ant turn up your eyes,
ant look so temure of Suntays, ant ten go ant squat yourselfs town on a
Tutchman's lant on a Montay? I'm an olt man, ant haf lifed long ant seen
much, ant hope I unterstant some of t'at which I haf seen ant lifed
amongst, put I do not comprehent t'at! Yankee religion ant Tutch
religion cannot come out of t'e same piple."

"I should think not, I should think not, Chainbearer and I _hope_ not,
in the bargain. I do not wish to be justified by ways like your'n, or a
religion like your'n. That which is foreordained will come to pass, let
what will happen, and that's my trust. But, leaving religion out of this
matter atween us altogether----"

"Ay, you'll do well to do t'at," growled Chainbearer, "for religion hast
inteet very little to do wit' it."

"I say," answered Thousandacres, on a higher key, as if resolute to make
himself heard, "leaving religion for Sabba' days and proper occasions,
I'm ready to talk this matter over on the footin' of reason, and not
only to tell you my say, but to hear your'n, as is right atween man and
man."

"I confess a strong desire to listen to what Thousandacres has to say in
defence of his conduct, Chainbearer," I now thought it best to put in;
"and I hope you will so far oblige me as to be a patient listener. I am
very willing that you should answer, for I know of no person to whom I
would sooner trust a religious cause than yourself. Proceed,
Thousandacres; my old friend will comply."

Andries did conform to my wishes, thus distinctly expressed, but it was
not without sundry signs of disquiet, as expressed in his honest
countenance, and a good deal of subdued muttering about "Yankee cunnin'
and holy gotliness, t'at is dresset up in wolf's clot'in';" Chainbearer
meaning to express the native garment of the sheep by the latter
expression, but falling into a confusion of images that is by no means
rare among the men of his caste and people. After a pause the squatter
proceeded.

"In talkin' this matter over, young man, I propose to begin at the
beginnin' of things," he said; "for I allow, if you grant any value to
titles, and king's grants, and sich sort of things, that my rights here
be no great matter. But, beginnin' at the beginnin', the case is very
different. You'll admit, I s'pose, that the Lord created the heavens and
the 'arth, and that He created man to be master over the last."

"What of t'at?" eagerly cried Chainbearer. "What of t'at, olt
T'ousantacres? So t'e Lort createt yonter eagle t'at is flyin' so far
apove your heat, put it's no sign you are to kill him, or he ist to kill
you."

"Hear to reason, Chainbearer, and let me have my say; a'ter which I'm
willing to hear you. I begin at the beginnin', when man was first put in
possession of the 'arth, to till, and to dig, and to cut saw-logs, and
to make lumber, jist as it suited his wants and inclinations. Now Adam
was the father of all, and to him and his posterity was the possession
of the 'arth given, by Him whose title's worth that of all the kings,
and governors, and assemblies in the known world. Adam lived his time,
and left all things to his posterity, and so has it been from father to
son, down to our own day and giniration, accordin' to the law of God,
though not accordin' to the laws of man."

"Well, admittin' all you say, squatter, how does t'at make your right
here petter t'an t'at of any ot'er man?" demanded Andries, disdainfully.

"Why, reason tells us where a man's rights begin, you'll see,
Chainbearer. Here is the 'arth, as I told you, given to man, to be used
for his wants. When you and I are born, some parts of the world is in
use, and some parts isn't. We want land, when we are old enough to turn
our hands to labor, and I make my pitch out here in the woods, say where
no man has pitched afore me. Now in my judgment that makes the best of
title, the Lord's title."[17]

[Footnote 17: Lest the reader should suppose Mr. Mordaunt Littlepage is
here recording uselessly the silly sayings of a selfish, ignorant, and
vulgar robber, it may be well to add, that doctrines of a calibre,
considered in respect of morals and logic, similar to this, though
varying according to circumstances and the points it is desired to
establish, are constantly published in journals devoted to anti-rentism
in the State of New York, and men have acted on these principles even to
the shedding of blood. We purpose, when we come to our third manuscript,
which relates to movements of our immediate time, to distinctly lay
before the reader some of these strange doctrines; entertaining little
doubt that those who originally promulgated them will scarcely admire
their own theories, when they see them introduced into a work that will
contain the old-fashioned notions of honesty and right.--EDITOR.]

"Well, t'en, you've got your title from t'e Lord," answered Chainbearer,
"and you've got your lant. I s'pose you'll not take all t'e 'art' t'at
is not yet peoplet, and I shoult like to know how you wilt run your
lines petween you ant your next neighpor. Atmittin' you're here in t'e
woots, how much of t'e lant woult you take for your own religious uses,
and how much woult you leaf for t'e next comer?"

"Each man would take as much as was necessary for his wants,
Chainbearer, and hold as much as he possessed."

"Put what ist wants, ant what ist possession? Look arount you
T'ousantacres, and tell me how much of t'is fery spot you'd haf a mint
to claim, under your Lort's title?"

"How much? As much as I have need on--enough to feed me and mine--and
enough for lumber, and to keep the b'ys busy. It would somewhat depend
on sarcumstances: I might want more at one time than at another, as b'ys
grew up, and the family increased in numbers."

"Enough for lumper how long? and to keep t'e poys pusy how long? For a
tay, or a week, or a life, or a great numper of lifes? You must tell me
t'at, Tousantacres, pefore I gif cretit to your title."

"Don't be onreasonable--don't be onreasonable in your questions,
Chainbearer; and I'll answer every one on 'em, and in a way to satisfy
you, or any judgmatical man. How long do I want the lumber? As long as
I've use for it. How long do I want to keep the b'ys busy? Till they're
tired of the place, and want to change works. When a man's aweary of his
pitch, let him give it up for another, selling his betterments, of
course, to the best chap he can light on."

"Oh! you't sell you petterments, woult you! What! sell t'e Lort's title,
olt T'ousantacres? Part wit' Heaven's gift for t'e value of poor
miseraple silver and golt?"

"You don't comprehend Aaron," put in Prudence, who saw that Chainbearer
was likely to get the best of the argument, and who was always ready to
come to the rescue of any of her tribe, whether it might be necessary
with words, or tooth and nail, or the rifle. "You don't, by no manner of
means, comprehend Aaron, Chainbearer. His idee is, that the Lord has
made the 'arth for his crittur's; that any one that wants land, has a
right to take as much as he wants, and to use it as long as he likes;
and when he has done, to part with his betterments for sich price as may
be agreed on."

"I stick to that," joined in the squatter, with a loud hem, like a man
who was sensible of relief; "that's my idee, and I'm determined to live
and die by it."

"You've lifed py it, I know very well, T'ousantacres; ant, now you're
olt, it's quite likely you'll tie py it. As for comprehentin', you don't
comprehent yourself. I'll just ask you, in the first place, how much
lant do you holt on t'is very spot? You're here squattet so completely
ant finally as to haf puilt a mill. Now tell me how much lant you holt,
t'at when I come to squat alongsite of you, our fences may not lap on
one anot'er. I ask a simple question, ant I hope for a plain ant
straight answer. Show me t'e pountaries of your tomain, ant how much of
t'e worlt you claim, ant how much you ton't claim."

"I've pretty much answered that question already, Chainbearer. My creed
is, that a man has a right to hold all he wants, and to want all he
holds."

"Got help t'e men, t'en, t'at haf to carry chain petween you and your
neighpors, T'ousandacres; a man's wants to-tay may tiffer from his wants
to-morrow, and to-morrow from t'e next tay, ant so on to t'e ent of
time! On your toctrine, not'in' woult pe settlet, ant all woult pe at
sixes ant sevens."

"I don't think I'm fully understood, a'ter all that's been said,"
returned the squatter. "Here's two men start in life at the same time,
and both want farms. Wa-a-l; there's the wilderness, or maybe it isn't
all wilderness, though it once was. One chooses to buy out betterments,
and he does so; t'other plunges in, out o' sight of humanity, and makes
his pitch. Both them men's in the right, and can hold on to their
possessions, I say, to the eend of time. That is, on the supposition
that right is stronger than might."

"Well, well," answered Chainbearer, a little dryly; "ant s'pose one of
your men _ton't_ want to puy petterments, put follows t'ot'er, and makes
his pitch in t'e wilterness, also?"

"Let him do't, I say; t'is his right, and the law of the Lord."

"Put, s'pose bot' your young men want t'e same pit of wilt lant?"

"First come, first sarv'd; that's my maxim. Let the spryest chap have
the land. Possession's everything in settling land titles."

"Well, t'en, to please you, T'ousandacres, we'll let one get aheat of
t'other, and haf his possession first; how much shalt he occupy?"

"As much as he wants, I've told you already."

"Ay, put when his slower frient comes along, ant hast his wants too, and
wishes to make _his_ pitch alongsite of his olt neighpor, where is t'e
pountary petween 'em to be fount?"

"Let 'em agree on't! They must be dreadful poor neighbors, if they can't
agree on so small a matter as that," said Tobit, who was getting weary
of the argument.

"Tobit is right," added the father; "let 'em agree on their line, and
run it by the eye. Curse on all chains and compasses, say I! They're an
invention of the devil, to make ill blood in a neighborhood, and to keep
strife awake, when our Bibles tell us to live in peace with all mankind.

"Yes, yes, I understand all t'at," returned Chainbearer, a little
disdainfully. "A Yankee piple ist a fery convenient pook. T'ere's
aut'ority in it for all sort of toctrines ant worshipin', ant prayin',
ant preachin', ant so forth. It's what I call a so-forth piple,
Mortaunt, and wilt reat packwarts as well ast forwarts; put all t'e
chapters into one, if necessary, or all t'e verses into chapters.
Sometimes St. Luke is St. Paul, and St. John ist St. Matt'ew. I've he'rt
your tominies expount, and no two expount alike. Novelties ist t'e
religion of New Englant, ant novelties, in t'e shape of ot'er men's
lants, is t'e creet of her lofely chiltren! Oh! yes, I've seen a Yankee
piple! Put, this toesn't settle out two squatters; bot' of whom wants a
sartain hill for its lumper; now, which is to haf it?"

"The man that got there first, I've told you, old Chainbearer, and once
tellin' is as good as a thousand. If the first comer looked on that
hill, and said to himself, 'that hill's mine,' 't is his'n."

"Well, t'at ist making property fast; Wast t'at t'e way, T'ousantacres,
t'at you took up your estate on t'e Mooseridge property?"

"Sartain--I want no better title. I got here first, and tuck up the
land, and shall continue to tuck it up, as I want it. There's no use in
being mealy-mouthed, for I like to speak out, though the landlord's son
be by!"

"Oh! you speak out lout enouf, ant plain enouf, and I shoultn't wonter
if you got tucket up yourself, one tay, for your pains. Here ist a
tifficulty, however, t'at I'll just mention, T'ousantacres, for your
consiteration. You take possession of timper-lant, by lookin' at it, you
say--"

"Even lookin' at isn't necessary," returned the squatter, eager to widen
the grasp of his rights. "It's enough that a man _wants_ the land, and
he comes, or sends to secure it. Possession is everything, and I call it
possession, to crave a spot, and to make some sort of calkerlation, or
works, reasonably near it. That gives a right to cut and clear, and when
a clearin's begun, it's betterments, and everybody allows that
betterments may be both bought and sold."

"Well, now we understant each o'ter. Put here ist t'e small tifficulty I
woult mention. One General Littlepage and one Colonel Follock took a
fancy to t'is spot long pefore t'e olt French war; ant pesites fancyin'
t'e place, and sentin' messengers to look at it, t'ey pought out t'e
Injin right in t'e first place; t'en t'ey pought of t'e king, who hat
all t'e lant in t'e country, at t'at time, ast hatn't ot'er owners. T'en
t'ey sent surfeyors to run t'e lines, ant t'em very surfeyors passet
along py t'is river, ast I know py t'eir fielt-pooks (field-books): t'en
more surfeyors wast sent out to tivite it into great lots, ant now more
still haf come to tivite it into small lots: ant t'ey've paid quit-rents
for many years, ant tone ot'er t'ings to prove t'ey want t'is place as
much as you want it yourself. T'ey haf hat it more ast a quarter of a
century, ant exerciset ownership over it all t'at time; ant wantet it
very much t'e whole of t'at quarter of a century, ant, if t'e truit' was
sait, want it still."

A long pause followed this statement, during which the different members
of the family looked at each other, as if in quest of support. The idea
of there being any other side to the question than that they had been
long accustomed to consider so intently, was novel to them, and they
were a little bewildered by the extraordinary circumstance. This is one
of the great difficulties under which the inhabitant of a narrow
district labors, in all that pertains to his personal notions and
tastes, and a good deal in what relates to his principles. This it is
that makes the true provincial, with his narrow views, set notions,
conceit, and unhesitating likes and dislikes. When one looks around him
and sees how very few are qualified, by experience and knowledge of the
world, to utter opinions at all, he is apt to be astonished at finding
how many there are that do it. I make no doubt that the family of
Thousandacres were just as well satisfied with their land-ethics, as
Paley ever could have been with his moral philosophy, or Newton with his
mathematical demonstrations.

"I don't wonter you're callet T'ousantacres, Aaron Timperman," continued
Chainbearer, pushing his advantage, "for wit' such a title to your
estate, you might as well pe tarmet Ten T'ousantacres at once, ant more,
too! Nay, I wonter, while your eyes was trawin' up title teets, t'at you
shoult haf peen so mot'erate, for it was just as easy to possess a
patent on t'at sort of right, as to possess a single farm."

But Thousandacres had made up his mind to pursue the subject no further;
and while it was easy to see what fiery passions were burning within
him, he seemed now bent on bringing a conference, from which he
doubtless expected different results, to a sudden close. It was with
difficulty that he suppressed the volcano that was raging within, but he
so far succeeded as to command Tobit to shut up his prisoner again.

"Take him away, b'ys, take him back to the store'us'," said the old
squatter, rising and moving a little on one side to permit Andries to
pass, as if afraid to trust himself too near; "he was born the sarvent
of the rich, and will die their sarvent. Chains be good enough for him,
and I wish him no greater harm than to carry chains the rest of his
days."

"Oh! you're a true son of liperty!" called out the Chainbearer, as he
quietly returned to his prison; "a true son of liperty, accordin' to
your own conceit! You want eferyt'ing in your own way, and eferyt'ing in
your own pocket. T'e Lort's law is a law for T'ousantacres, put not a
law to care for Cornelius Littlepage or Tirck Follock!"

Although my old friend was escorted to his prison, no attempt was made
to remove me. On the contrary, Prudence joined her husband without,
followed by all her young fry, and for a moment I fancied myself
forgotten and deserted. A movement in one corner of the room, however,
drew my attention there, and I saw Lowiny standing on tiptoe, with a
finger on her lips, the sign of silence, while she made eager gestures
with the other hand for me to enter a small passage that communicated,
by means of a ladder, with the loft of the hut. My moccasons were now of
great advantage to me. Without pausing to reflect on consequences, or to
look around, I did as directed, drawing-to the door after me. There was
a small window in the sort of passage in which I now found myself alone
with the girl, and my first impulse was to force my body through it, for
it had neither glass nor sash, but Lowiny caught my arms.

"Lord ha' massy on us!" whispered the girl--"you'd be seen and taken, or
shot! For your life don't go out there now. Here's a hole for a cellar,
and there's the trap--go down there, and wait 'till you hear news from
me."

There was no time for deliberation, and the sight of Chainbearer's
escort, as they proceeded toward the storehouse, satisfied me that the
girl was right. She held up the trap, and I descended into the hole that
answered the purposes of a cellar. I heard Lowiny draw a chest over the
trap, and then I fancied I could distinguish the creaking of the rounds
of the ladder, as she went up into the loft, which was the place where
she usually slept.

All this occurred literally in about one minute of time. Another minute
may have passed, when I heard the heavy tread of Thousandacres' foot on
the floor above me, and the clamor of many voices, all speaking at once.
It was evident that I was missed, and a search had already been
commenced. For half a minute nothing was very intelligible to me; then I
heard the shrill voice of Prudence calling for Lowiny.

"Lowiny--_you_ Lowiny!" she cried--"where _has_ the gal got to?"

"I'm here, mother"--answered my friend, from her loft--"you told me to
come up, and look for your new Bible."

I presume this was true; for Prudence had really despatched the girl on
that errand, and it must have sufficed to lull any suspicions of her
daughter's being connected with my disappearance, if any such had been
awakened. The movement of footsteps was now quick over my head, those of
several men being among them; and in the confusion of voices, I heard
that of Lowiny, who must have descended the ladder and joined in the
search.

"He mustn't be allowed to get off, on no account," said Thousandacres
aloud, "or we're all ondone. Everything we have will fall into their
hands, and mill, logs, and all, will be utterly lost. We shan't even
have time to get off the gear and the household stuff."

"He's up-stairs"--cried one--"he must be down cellar," said another.
Steps went up the ladder, and I heard the chest drawn from the trap; and
a stream of light entering the place, notified me that the trap was
raised. The place I was in was a hole twenty feet square, roughly walled
with stones, and nearly empty, though it did contain a meat-barrel or
two, and a few old tubs. In the winter, it would have been filled with
vegetables. There was no place to hide in, and an attempt at concealment
would have led to a discovery. I withdrew to a corner, in a part of the
cellar that was quite dark, but thought myself lost when I saw a pair of
legs descending the ladder. Almost at the same moment, three of the men
and two of the women came into the hole, a fourth female, whom I
afterward ascertained to be Lowiny herself, standing in the trap in such
a way as to double the darkness below. The first man who got down began
to tumble the tubs about, and to look into the corners; and the lucky
thought occurred to me to do the same thing. By keeping as busy as the
rest of them, I actually escaped detection in the dark; and Tobit soon
rushed to the ladder, calling out, "the window--the window--he's not
here--the window!" In half a minute the cellar was empty again; or no
one remained but myself.

At first I had great difficulty in believing in my good luck; but the
trap fell, and the profound stillness of the place satisfied me that I
had avoided that danger, at least. This escape was so singular and
unexpected, that I could hardly believe in its reality; though real it
was, to all intents and purposes. The absurd often strikes the
imagination in an absurd way; and so it proved with me on this occasion.
I sat down on a tub and laughed heartily, when I felt absolutely certain
all was right, holding my sides lest the sound of my voice might yet
betray me. Lowiny was similarly infected, for I heard peals of girlish
laughter from her, as her brothers tumbled about barrels, and tubs, and
bedsteads, in the upper part of the building, in their fruitless and
hurried search. This merriment did not pass unrebuked, however; Prudence
lending her daughter a box on the side of the head, that, in one sense,
reached even my ears; though it probably aided in saving the girl from
the suspicion of being in my secret, by the very natural character of
her girlish indulgence. Two or three minutes after the trap closed on me
for the second time, the sounds of footsteps and voices overhead ceased,
and the hut seemed deserted.

My situation now was far from comfortable. Confined in a dark cellar,
with no means of escaping but by the trap, and the almost certainty of
falling into the hands of my captors, should I attempt such a thing, I
now began to regret having entered so readily into Lowiny's scheme.
There would be a certain loss of dignity in a recapture, that was not
pleasant in itself; and I will own, I began to have some doubts of my
eventual safety, should I again come under the control of such spirits
as those of Thousandacres and his eldest son. Buried in that cellar, I
was in a manner placed immediately beneath those whose aim it was to
secure me, rendering escape impossible, and detection nearly
unavoidable.

Such were my meditations when light again streamed into the cellar. The
trap was raised, and presently I heard my name uttered in a whisper.
Advancing to the ladder, I saw Lowiny holding the door, and beckoning
for me to ascend. I followed her directions blindly, and was soon at her
side. The girl was nearly convulsed between dread of detection and a
desire to laugh; my emerging from the cellar recalling to her
imagination all the ludicrous circumstances of the late search.

"Warn't it queer that none on 'em know'd you!" she whispered; then
commanding silence by a hasty gesture. "Don't speak; for they're
s'archin' still, cluss by, and some on 'em may follow me here. I wanted
to get you out of the cellar, as some of the young-uns will be rummagin'
there soon for pork for supper; and _their_ eyes are as sharp as
needles. Don't you think you could crawl into the mill? It's stopped now,
and wun't be goin' ag'in till this stir's over."

"I should be seen, my good girl, if any of your people are looking for
me near at hand."

"I don't know that. Come to the door, and you'll see there is a way.
Everybody's lookin' on the right side of this house; and by creepin' as
far as them logs, you'd be pretty safe. If you reach the mill safely,
climb up into the loft."

I took a moment to survey the chances. At the distance of a hundred feet
from the house there commenced a large bed of saw-logs, which were lying
alongside of each other; and the timber being from two to four feet in
diameter, it would be very possible to creep among it, up to the mill
itself, into which even several of the logs had been rolled. The great
difficulty would be in reaching the logs through a perfectly open space.
The house would be a cover, as against most of the family, who were busy
examining everything like a cover on its opposite side; no one supposing
for a moment I could be near the mill, inasmuch as it stood directly in
front of the spot where the crowd was collected at the moment of my
sudden disappearance. But the boys and girls were flying around in all
directions; rendering it uncertain how long they would remain in a
place, or how long their eyes would be turned away from my path.

It was necessary to do something, and I determined to make an effort.
Throwing myself on the ground, I crawled, rather slowly than fast,
across that terrible space, and got safely among the logs. As there was
no outcry, I knew I had not been seen. It was now comparatively easy to
reach the mill. Another dangerous experiment, however, was to expose my
person by climbing up to the loft. I could not do this without running
the risk of being seen; and I felt the necessity of using great caution.
I first raised my head high enough to survey the state of things
without. Luckily the house was still between me and most of my enemies;
though the small fry constantly came into view and vanished. I looked
around for a spot to ascend, and took a final survey of the scene. There
stood Lowiny in the door of the hut, her hands clasped, and her whole
air expressive of concern. She saw my head, I knew, and I made a gesture
of encouragement, which caused her to start. At the next instant my foot
was on a brace, and my body was rising to the beams above. I do not
think my person was uncovered ten seconds; and no clamor succeeded. I
now felt there were really some chances of my finally effecting an
escape, and glad enough was I to think so.



CHAPTER XXIII.

                "Alone, amid the shades,
    Still in harmonious intercourse they liv'd
    The rural day, and talked the flowing heart,
    Or sigh'd, and looked unutterable things."
                                      --THOMSON.


That was a somewhat breathless moment. The intensity with which I had
listened for any sound that might announce my discovery, was really
painful. I almost fancied I heard a shout, but none came. Then I gave
myself up, actually believing that footsteps were rushing toward the
mill, with a view to seize me. It was imagination; the rushing of the
waters below being the only real sound that disturbed the silence of the
place. I had time to breathe and to look about me.

As might be supposed, the mill was very rudely constructed. I have
spoken of a loft, but there was nothing that really deserved the term.
Some refuse boards were laid about, here and there, on the beams, making
fragments of rough flooring; and my first care was to draw several of
these boards close together, placing them two or three in thickness, so
as to make a place where, by lying down, I could not be seen by any one
who should happen to enter the mill. There lay what the millers call a
bunch of cherry-wood boards at no great distance from the spot where the
roof joined the plate of the building, and within this bunch I arranged
my hiding-place. No ostensible change was necessary to complete it, else
the experiment might have been hazardous among those who were so much
accustomed to note circumstances of that nature. The manner in which the
lumber was arranged when I reached the spot was so little different from
what it was when I had done with it, as scarcely to attract attention.

No sooner was my hiding-place completed to my mind, than I looked round
to see if there were any means of making observations without. The
building was not shingled, but the rain was kept out by placing slabs up
and down, as is often seen in the ruder rustic frontier architecture of
America. With the aid of my knife I soon had a small hole between two of
these slabs, at a place favorable to such an object; and though it was
no larger than the eye itself, it answered every purpose. Eagerly enough
did I now commence my survey.

The search was still going on actively. Those experienced bordermen well
knew it was not possible for me to cross the open ground and to reach
the woods in the short interval of time between my disappearance and
their discovery of the fact, and they consequently felt certain that I
was secreted somewhere near the building. Every house had been searched,
though no one thought of entering the mill, because my movement, as all
supposed, was necessarily in an opposite direction. The fences were
examined, and everything like a cover on the proper side of the house
was looked into with care and activity. It would seem that, just as I
took my first look through the hole, my pursuers were at fault. The
search had been made, and of course without effect. Nothing likely to
conceal me remained to be examined. It was necessary to come to a stand,
and to concert measures for a further search.

The family of squatters were too much accustomed to their situation and
its hazards, not to be familiar with all the expedients necessary to
their circumstances. They placed the younger children on the lookout, at
the points most favorable to my retreat, should I be in a situation to
attempt going off in that quarter of the clearing; and then the father
collected his older sons around him, and the whole cluster of them,
seven in number, came slowly walking toward the mill. The excitement of
the first pursuit had sensibly abated, and these practised woodsmen were
in serious consultation on the measures next to be taken. In this
condition the whole party entered the mill, taking their seats, or
standing directly beneath my post, and within six feet of me. As a
matter of course, I heard all that was said, though completely hid from
view.

"Here we shall be safe from the long ears of little folks," said the
father, as he placed his own large frame on the log that was next to be
sawed. "This has been a most onaccountable thing, Tobit, and I'd no idee
at all them 'ere city-bred gentry was so expart with their legs. I
sometimes think he can't be a Littlepage, but that he's one of our hill
folks, tossed out and mannered a'ter the towns' folks, to take a body
in. It seems an onpossibility that the man should get off, out of the
midst on us, and we not see or hear anything on him."

"We may as well give up the lumber and the betterments, at once,"
growled Tobit, "as let him get clear. Should he reach Ravensnest, the
first thing he'd do would be to swear out warrants ag'n us all, and
Newcome is not the man to stand by squatters in trouble. He'd no more
dare deny his landlord, than deny his meetin'."

This expression of Tobit's is worthy of notice. In the estimation of a
certain class of religionists among us, the "meetin'," as the young
squatter called his church, had the highest place in his estimate of
potentates and powers; it is to be feared, often even higher than the
dread Being for whose worship that "meetin'" existed.

"I don't think as hard of the 'squire as all that," answered
Thousandacres. "He'll never send out a warrant ag'in us, without sendin'
out a messenger to let us hear of it, and that in time to get us all out
of the way."

"And who's to get the boards in the creek out of the way afore the water
rises? And who's to hide or carry off all them logs? There's more than a
ton weight of my blood and bones in them very logs, in the shape of hard
labor, and I'll fight like a she-bear for her cubs afore I'll be driven
from them without pay."

It is very surprising that one who set this desperate value on the
property he deemed his, should have so little regard for that which
belonged to other persons. In this respect, however, Tobit's feeling was
no more than submission to the general law of our nature, which reverses
the images before our moral vision, precisely as we change our own
relations to them.

"It would go hard with _me_ afore I should give up the lumber or the
clearin'," returned Thousandacres, with emphasis. "We've fit King George
for liberty, and why shouldn't we fight for our property? Of what use
_is_ liberty at all, if it won't bear a man harmless out of a job of
this sort? I despise sich liberty, b'ys, and want none on it."

All the young men muttered their approbation of such a sentiment, and it
was easy enough to understand that the elevated notion of personal
rights entertained by Thousandacres found an answering echo in the bosom
of each of his heroic sons. I dare say the same sympathy would have
existed between them, had they been a gang of pickpockets collected in
council in a room of the Black Horse, St. Catharine's Lane, Wapping,
London.

"But what can we do with the young chap, father, should we take him
ag'in?" asked Zephaniah; a question, as all will see, of some interest
to myself. "He can't be kept a great while without having a stir made
a'ter him, and that would break us up, sooner or later. We may have a
clear right to the work of our hand; but, on the whull, I rather
conclude the country is ag'in squatters."

"Who cares for the country?" answered Thousandacres fiercely. "If it
wants young Littlepage, let it come and s'arch for him, as we've been
doin'. If that chap falls into my hands once more, he never quits 'em
alive, unless he gives me a good and sufficient deed to two hundred
acres, includin' the mill, and a receipt in full, on his father's
behalf, for all back claims. On them two principles my mind is set, and
not to be altered."

A long pause succeeded this bold announcement, and I began to be afraid
that my suppressed breathing might be overheard in the profound
stillness that followed. But Zephaniah spoke in time to relieve me from
this apprehension, and in a way to satisfy me that the party below, all
of whom were concealed from my sight, had been pondering on what had
been said by their leader, and not listening to detect any tell-tale
sounds from me.

"I've heern say," Zephaniah remarked, "that deeds gi'n in that way won't
stand good in law. 'Squire Newcome was talkin' of sich transactions the
very last time I was out at the Nest."

"I wish a body could find out what _would_ stand good in law!" growled
Thousandacres. "They make their laws, and lay great account in havin' em
obsarved; and then, when a man comes into court with everything done
accordin' to their own rules, five or six attorneys start up and bawl
out, 'This is ag'in law!' If a deed is to set forth so and so, and is to
have what they call 'hand and seal and date' beside; and sich bein' the
law, I want to know why an instrument so made won't hold good by their
confounded laws? Law is law, all over the world, I s'pose; and though
it's an accursed thing, if men agree to have it they ought to stand by
their own rules. I've thought a good deal of squeezin' writin's out of
this young Littlepage; and just as my mind's made up to do't, if I can
lay hands on him ag'in, you come out and tell me sich writin's be good
for nothin'. Zeph, Zeph--you go too often out into them settlements, and
get your mind perverted by their wickedness and talk."

"I hope not, father, though I own I do like to go there. I've come to a
time of life when a man thinks of marryin', and there bein' no gal here,
unless it be one of my own sisters, it's nat'ral to look into the next
settlement. I'll own sich has been my object in going to the Nest."

"And you've found the gal you set store by? Out with the whull truth,
like a man. You know I've always been set ag'in lyin', and have ever
endeavored to make the whull of you speak truth. How is it, Zephaniah?
have you found a gal to your mind, and who is't? Ourn is a family into
which anybody can come by askin', you will remember."

"Lord, father! Dus Malbone would no more think of askin' me to have her,
than she'd think of marryin' you! I've offered three times, and she's
told me, as plain as a woman could speak, that she couldn't nohow
consent, and that I hadn't ought to think of her any longer."

"Who is the gal, in this part of the country, that holds her head so
much higher than one of Thousandacres' sons?" demanded the old squatter,
with some such surprise, real or affected, as a Bourbon might be
supposed to feel at having his alliance spurned on the score of blood.
"I'd like to see her, and to convarse with this young woman. What did
you call her name, Zeph?"

"Dus Malbone, father, and the young woman that lives with Chainbearer.
She's his niece, I b'lieve, or something of that sort."

"Ha! Chainbearer's niece, d'ye say? His taken da'ghter. Isn't there some
mistake?"

"Dus Malbone calls old Andries 'Uncle Chainbearer,' and I s'pose from
that she's his niece."

"And you've offered to marry the gal three times, d'ye tell me,
Zephaniah?"

"Three times, father; and every time she has given 'no' for her answer."

"The fourth time, maybe, she'll change her mind. I wonder if we couldn't
lay hands on this gal, and bring her into our settlement? Does she live
with Chainbearer, in his hut out here in the woods?"

"She doos, father."

"And doos she set store by her uncle? or is she one of the flaunty sort
that thinks more of herself and gownd than she does of her own flesh and
blood? Can you tell me _that_, Zeph?"

"In my judgment, father, Dus Malbone loves Chainbearer as much as she
would was he her own father."

"Ay, some gals haven't half the riverence and love for their own fathers
that they should have. What's to prevint your goin', Zephaniah, to
Chainbearer's pitch, and tell the gal that her uncle's in distress, and
that you don't know what may happen to him, and that she had better come
over and see a'ter him? When we get her here, and she understands the
natur' of the case, and you put on your Sabba'day clothes, and we send
for 'Squire Newcome, you may find yourself a married man sooner than you
thought for, my son, and settle down in life. A'ter that, there'll not
be much danger of Chainbearer's tellin' on us, or of his great fri'nd
here, this Major Littlepage's troublin' the lumber afore the water
rises."

A murmur of applause followed this notable proposal, and I fancied I
could hear a snigger from the young man, as if he found the project to
his mind, and thought it might be feasible.

"Father," said Zephaniah, "I wish you'd call Lowiny here, and talk to
her a little about Dus Malbone. There she is, with Tobit's wife and
mother, looking round among the cabbages, as if a man could be hid in
such a place."

Thousandacres called to his daughter in an authoritative way; and I soon
heard the girl's step, as she came, a little hesitatingly, as I fancied,
into the mill. As it would be very natural to one in Lowiny's situation
to suppose that her connection with my escape occasioned this summons, I
could not but feel for what I presumed was the poor girl's distress at
receiving it.

"Come here, Lowiny," commenced Thousandacres, in the stern manner with
which it was his wont to speak to his children; "come nearer, gal. Do
you know anything of one Dus Malbone, Chainbearer's niece?"

"Lord ha' massy! Father, how you _did_ frighten me! I thought you might
have found the gentleman, and s'posed I'd a hand in helpin' to hide
him!"

Singular as it may seem, this burst of conscience awakened no suspicion
in any of the listeners. When the girl thus betrayed herself, I very
naturally expected that such an examination would follow as would extort
the whole details from her. Not at all, however; neither the father nor
any of the sons understood the indiscreet remarks of the girl, but
imputed them to the excitement that had just existed, and the
circumstance that her mind had, naturally enough, been dwelling on its
cause. It is probable that the very accidental manner of my evasion,
which precluded the attaching of suspicious facts to what had really
occurred, favored Lowiny on this occasion; it being impossible that she
should be suspected of anything of that character.

"Who's talkin' or thinkin' now of young Littlepage, at all?" returned
Thousandacres, a little angrily. "I ask if you know anything of
Chainbearer's niece--one Dus Malbone, or Malcome?"

"I _do_ know suthin' of her, father," answered Lowiny, willing enough to
betray one--the lesser--of her secrets, in order to conceal the other,
which, on all accounts, was much the most important; "though I never
laid eyes on her 'till to-day. Zeph has often talked to me of the gal
that carried chain with her uncle for a whull month; and he has a notion
to marry her if he can get her."

"Never laid eyes on her 'till to-day! Whereabouts have you laid eyes on
her _to-day_, gal? Is all creation comin' in upon my clearin' at once?
Whereabouts have you seen this gal to-day?"

"She come to the edge of the clearin' with her uncle, and----"

"Well, what next? Why don't you go on, Lowiny?"

I could have told Thousandacres why his daughter hesitated; but the girl
got out of the scrape by her own presence of mind and ingenuity, a
little aided, perhaps, by some practice in sins of the sort.

"Why, I went a berryin' this forenoon, and up ag'in the berry lot, just
in the edge of the woods, I saw a young woman, and that was the Malbone
gal. So we talked together, and she told me all about it. She's waitin'
for her uncle to come back."

"So, so; this is news indeed, b'ys! Do you know where the gal is now,
Lowiny?"

"Not just now, for she told me she should go deeper into the woods, lest
she should be seen; but an hour afore sundown she's to come to the foot
of the great chestnut, just ag'in the berry lot; and I promised to meet
her, or to carry her out suthin' for supper, and to make a bed on."

This was said frankly, and with the feeling and sympathy that females
are apt to manifest in behalf of each other. It was evident Lowiny's
audience believed every word she had said; and the old man, in
particular, determined at once to act. I heard him move from his seat,
and his voice sounded like one who was retiring, as he said:

"Tobit--b'ys--come with me, and we'll have one more look for this young
chap through the lumber and the housen. It may be that he's stolen in
there while our eyes have been turned another way. Lowiny, you needn't
come with us, for the flutterin' way of you gals don't do no good in
sich a s'arch."

I waited until the last heavy footstep was inaudible, and then ventured
to move far enough, on my hands, to find a crack that I had purposely
left, with a view to take through it an occasional look below. On the
log which her father had just left, Lowiny had seated herself. Her eye
was roaming over the upper part of the mill, as if in quest of me. At
length she said, in a suppressed voice--

"Be you here still? Father and the b'ys can't hear us now, if you speak
low."

"I am here, good Lowiny, thanks to your friendly kindness, and have
overheard all that passed. You saw Ursula Malbone, and gave her my
note?"

"As true as you are there, I did; and she read it over so often, I guess
she must know it by heart."

"But what did she say? Had she no message for her uncle--no answer to
what I had written?"

"Oh! she'd enough to say--gals love to talk, you know, when they get
with one another, and Dus and I talked together half an hour, or longer.
She'd plenty to say, though it wunt do for me to sit here and tell it to
you, lest somebody wonder I stay so long in the mill."

"You can tell me if she sent any message or answer to my note?"

"She never breathed a syllable about what you'd writ. I warrant you
she's close-mouthed enough, when she gets a line from a young man. Do
you think her so desp'rate handsome as Zeph says she is?"

This boded ill, but it was a question that it was politic to answer, and
to answer with some little discretion. If I lost the services of Lowiny,
my main stay was gone.

"She is well enough to look at, but I've seen quite as handsome young
women, lately. But, handsome or not, she is one of your own sex, and is
not to be deserted in her trouble."

"Yes, indeed," answered Lowiny, with an expression of countenance that
told me at once, the better feelings of her sex had all returned again,
"and I'll not desart her, though father drive me out of the settlement.
I am tired of all this squatting, and think folks ought to live as much
in one spot as they can. What's best to be done about Dus
Malbone--perhaps she'd like well enough to marry Zeph?"

"Did you see or hear anything while with her, to make you think so? I am
anxious to know what she said."

"La! She said sights of things; but most of her talk was about old
Chainbearer. She never named _your_ name so much as once!"

"Did she name Zephaniah's? I make no doubt that anxiety on account of
her uncle was her chief care. What are her intentions, and will she
remain near that tree until you come?"

"She stays under a rock not a great way from the tree, and there she'll
stay till I go to meet her, at the chestnut. We had our talk under that
rock, and it's easy enough to find her there."

"How do things look around us? Might I descend, slip down into the bed
of the river, and go round to Dus Malbone, so as to give her notice of
the danger she is in?"

Lowiny did not answer me for near a minute, and I began to fear that I
had put another indiscreet question. The girl seemed thoughtful, but
when she raised her face so high as to allow me to see it, all the
expression of the more generous feminine sympathy was visible.

"'Twould be hard to make Dus have Zeph, if she don't like him, wouldn't
it!" she said with emphasis. "I don't know but t'would be better to let
her know what's coming so that she can choose for herself."

"She told me," I answered, with perfect truth, "that she is engaged to
another, and it would be worse than cruel--it would be wicked, to make
her marry one man, while she loves another."

"She shan't do't!" cried the girl, with an animation that I thought
dangerous. But she gave me no opportunity for remonstrance, as, all her
energies being roused, she went to work in earnest to put me in the way
of doing what I most desired to achieve.

"D'ye see the lower corner of the mill?" she continued, hurriedly. "That
post goes down to the rock over which the water falls. You can walk to
that corner without any danger of being seen, as the ruff hides you, and
when you get there, you can wait till I tell you to get on the post. 'T
will be easy to slide down that post to the rock, and there'll be not
much of a chance of being seen, as the post will nearly hide you. When
you're on the rock, you'll find a path that leads along the creek till
you come to a foot-bridge. If you cross that log, and take the left-hand
path, 'twill bring you out near the edge of the clearin', up on the hill
again, and then you'll have only to follow the edge of the woods a
little way, afore you come to the chestnut. The rock is right off, ag'in
the chestnut, only about fifty rods."

I took in these directions eagerly, and was at the post almost as soon
as the girl ceased speaking. In order to do this I had only to walk on
the boards that lay scattered about on the girts of the mill, the roof
completely concealing the movement from any on its outside. I made my
arrangements, and only waited for a signal, or the direction from
Lowiny, to proceed.

"Not yet," said the girl, looking down and affecting to be occupied with
something near her feet. "Father and Tobit are walkin' this way, and
lookin' right at the mill. Now--get ready--they've turned their heads,
and seem as if they'd turn round themselves next. They've turned ag'in,
wait one moment--now's a good time--don't go away altogether without my
seein' you once more."

I heard these last words, but it was while sliding down the post. Just
as my head came so low as to be in a line with the objects scattered
about the floor of the mill, I clung to the post to catch one glimpse of
what was going on without. Thousandacres and Tobit were about a hundred
yards distant, walking apart from the group of young men, and apparently
in deep consultation together. It was quite evident no alarm was taken,
and down I slid to the rock. At the next moment, I was in the path,
descending to the foot-bridge, a tree that had been felled across the
stream. Until that tree was crossed, and a slight distance of the ascent
on the other side of the stream, along the left-hand path was overcome,
I was completely exposed to the observation of any one who might be in a
situation to look down into the glen of the river. At almost any other
moment at that particular season, my discovery would have been nearly
certain, as some of the men or boys were always at work in the water;
but the events of that morning called them elsewhere, and I made the
critical passage, a distance of two hundred yards or more, in safety. As
soon as I entered behind a cover, my speed abated, and having risen
again to the level of the dwellings, or even a little above them, I
profited by openings among the small pine-bushes that fringed the path,
to take a survey of the state of things among the squatters.

There the cluster of heavy, lounging young men was, Thousandacres and
Tobit walking apart, as when last seen. Prudence was at the door of a
distant cabin, surrounded, as usual, by a collection of the young fry,
and conversing herself eagerly, with the wives of two or three of her
married sons. Lowiny had left the mill, and was strolling along the
opposite side of the glen, so near the verge of the rocks as to have
enabled her to see the whole of my passage across the open space.
Perceiving that she was quite alone, I ventured to hem just loud enough
to reach her ear. A hurried, frightened gesture assured me that I had
been heard, and first making a gesture for me to go forward, the girl
turned away, and went skipping off toward the cluster of females who
surrounded her mother.

As for myself, I now thought only of Dus. What cared I if she did love
another? A girl of her education, manners, sentiments, birth and
character, was not to be sacrificed to one like Zephaniah, let what
might happen; and could I reach her place of concealment in time, she
might still be saved. These thoughts fairly winged my flight, and I soon
came in sight of the chestnut. Three minutes later I laid a hand on the
trunk of the tree itself. As I had been a quarter of an hour at least,
in making the circuit of that side of the clearing, some material change
might have occurred among the squatters, and I determined to advance to
the edge of the bushes, in Lowiny's "berry lot," which completely
screened the spot, and ascertain the facts, before I sought Dus at her
rock.

The result showed that some measures had been decided on between
Thousandacres and Tobit. Not one of the males, a lad that stood sentinel
at the storehouse, and a few of the smaller boys excepted, was to be
seen. I examined all the visible points with care, but no one was
visible. Even Susquesus, who had been lounging about the whole day, or
since his liberation, had vanished. Prudence and her daughters, too,
were in a great commotion, hurrying from cabin to cabin, and manifesting
all that restlessness which usually denotes excitement among females. I
stopped but a moment to ascertain these leading circumstances, and
turned to seek the rock. While retiring from among the bushes, I heard
the fallen branch of a tree snap under a heavy footstep, and looking
cautiously around, saw Jaaf, or Jaap as we commonly called him,
advancing toward me, carrying a rifle on each shoulder.

"Heaven's blessings on you, my faithful Jaap!" I cried, holding out an
arm to receive one of the weapons. "You come at a most happy moment, and
can lead me to Miss Malbone."

"Yes, sah, and glad to do it, too. Miss Dus up here, a bit, in 'e wood,
and can werry soon see her. She keep me down here to look out, and I
carry bot' rifle, Masser Chainbearer's and my own, 'cause Miss Dus no
great hand wid gunpowder. But, where you come from, Masser
Mordaunt?--and why you run away so, in night-time?"

"Never mind just now, Jaap--in proper time you shall know all about it.
Now we must take care of Miss Ursula. Is she uneasy? has she shown any
fear on her uncle's account?"

"She cry half 'e time, sah--den she look up bold, and resolute, just
like ole Massar, sah, when he tell he rijjement 'charge baggonet,' and
seem as if she want to go right into T'ousandacres' huts. Lor' bless me,
sah, Masser Mordaunt--if she ask me one question about _you_ to-day, she
ask me a hundred!"

"About me, Jaap!" But I arrested the impulsive feeling in good time, so
as not to be guilty of pumping my own servant concerning what others had
said of me; a meanness I could not easily have pardoned in myself. But I
increased my speed, and having Jaap for my guide, was soon at the side
of Dus. The negro had no sooner pointed out to me the object of my
search, than he had the discretion to return to the edge of the
clearing, carrying with him both rifles; for I returned to him the one I
had taken, in my eagerness to hurry forward, the instant I beheld Dus.

I can never forget the look with which that frank, noble-hearted girl
received me! It almost led me to hope that my ears had deceived me, and
that after all, I was an object of the highest interest with her. A few
tears, half-suppressed, but suppressed with difficulty, accompanied that
look; and I had the happiness of holding for some time and of pressing
to my heart, that little hand that was freely--nay, warmly extended to
me.

"Let us quit this spot at once, dearest Ursula," I cried, the moment I
could speak. "It is not safe to remain near that family of wretches, who
live by depredation and violence."

"And leave uncle Chainbearer in their hands?" answered Dus,
reproachfully. "You, surely, would not advise me to do that?"

"If your own safety demands it, yes--a thousand times yes. We must fly,
and there is not a moment to lose. A design exists among those wretches
to seize you, and to make use of your fears to secure the aid of your
uncle in extricating them from the consequences of this discovery of
their robberies. It is not safe, I repeat, for you to remain a minute
longer here."

The smile that Dus now bestowed on me was very sweet, though I found it
inexplicable; for it had as much of pain and suffering in it, as it had
of that which was winning.

"Mordaunt Littlepage, have you forgotten the words spoken by me when we
last parted?" she asked, seriously.

"Forgotten! I can never forget them! They drove me nearly to despair,
and were the cause of bringing us all into this difficulty."

"I told you that my faith was already plighted--that I could not accept
your noble, frank, generous, manly offer, because another had my troth."

"You did--you did. Why renew my misery--"

"It is with a different object that I am now more explicit. That man to
whom I am pledged is in those huts, and I cannot desert him."

"Can I believe my senses! _Do_ you--_can_ you--is it possible that one
like Ursula Malbone can love Zephaniah Thousandacres--a squatter
himself, and the son of a squatter?"

The look with which Dus regarded me, said at once that her astonishment
was quite as great as my own. I could have bitten off my hasty and
indiscreet tongue, the instant it had spoken; and I am sure the rush of
tell-tale blood in my face must have proclaimed to my companion that I
felt most thoroughly ashamed of myself. This feeling was deepened nearly
to despair, when I saw the expression of abased mortification that came
over the sweet and usually happy countenance of Dus, and the difficulty
she had in suppressing her tears.

Neither spoke for a minute, when my companion broke silence by saying
steadily--I might almost add solemnly--

"This, indeed, shows how low my fortune has become! But I pardon you,
Mordaunt; for, humble as that fortune is, you have spoken nobly and
frankly in my behalf, and I exonerate you from any feeling that is not
perfectly natural for the circumstances. Perhaps"--and a bright blush
suffused the countenance of Dus as she said it--"Perhaps I may attribute
the great mistake into which you have fallen to a passion that is most
apt to accompany strong love, and insomuch prize it, instead of throwing
it away with contempt. But, between you and me, whatever comes of it,
there must be no more mistakes. The man to whom my faith is plighted,
and to whom my time and services are devoted, so long as one or both of
us live, is uncle Chainbearer, and no other. Had you not rushed from me
in the manner you did, I might have told you this, Mordaunt, the evening
you were showing so much noble frankness yourself."

"Dus!--Ursula!--beloved Miss Malbone, have I then no preferred rival?"

"No man has ever spoken to me of love, but this uncouth and rude young
squatter, and yourself."

"Is your heart then untouched? Are you still mistress of your own
affections?"

The look I now received from Dus was a little saucy; but that expression
soon changed to one that had more of the deep feeling and generous
sympathy of her precious sex in it.

"Were I to answer 'yes,' many women would think I was being no more than
true to the rights of a girl who has been so unceremoniously treated;
but----"

"But what, charming, most beloved Ursula? But what?"

"I prefer truth to coquetry, and shall not attempt to deny what it would
almost be treason against nature to suppose. How could a girl, educated
as I have been, without any preference to tie her to another, be shut up
in this forest with a man who has treated her with so much kindness and
devotion and manly tenderness, and insensible to his merits? Were we in
the world, Mordaunt, I think I should prefer you to all others; being,
as we are, in this forest, I _know_ I do."

The reader shall not be let into the sacred confidence that followed;
any further, at least, than to know the main result. A quarter of an
hour passed so swiftly, and so sweetly, indeed, that I could hardly take
it on myself to record one-half that was said. Dus made no longer any
hesitation in declaring her attachment for me; and though she urged her
own poverty as a just obstacle to my wishes, it was faintly, as most
Americans of either sex would do. In this particular, at least, we may
fairly boast of a just superiority over all the countries of the old
world. While it is scarcely possible that either man or woman should not
see how grave a barrier to wedded happiness is interposed by the
opinions and habits of social castes, it is seldom that any one, in his
or her own proper sphere, feels that the want of money is an
insurmountable obstacle to a union--more especially when one of the
parties is provided with the means of maintaining the household gods.
The seniors may, and do often have scruples on this score; but the young
people rarely. Dus and myself were in the complete enjoyment of this
happy simplicity, with my arms around her waist, and her head leaning on
my shoulder, when I was aroused from a state that I fancied Elysium, by
the hoarse, raven-throated cry of--

"Here she is! Here she is, father! Here they are _both_!"

On springing forward to face the intruders, I saw Tobit and Zephaniah
directly before me, with Lowiny standing at no great distance behind
them. The first looked ferocious, the second jealous and angry, the
third abashed and mortified. In another minute we were surrounded by
Thousandacres and all the males of his brood.



CHAPTER XXIV.

    "My love is young--but other loves are young;
      And other loves are fair, and so is mine;
    An air divine discloses whence he sprung;
      He is my love that boasts that air divine."--SHENSTONE.


A more rude and violent interruption of a scene in which the more gentle
qualities love to show themselves, never occurred. I, who knew the whole
of the past, saw at once that we had very serious prospects before us;
but Dus at first felt only the consciousness and embarrassment of a
woman who has betrayed her most sacred secret to vulgar eyes. That very
passion, which a month later, and after the exchange of the marriage
vows, it would have been her glory to exhibit in face of the whole
community, on the occurrence of any event of moment to myself, she now
shrunk from revealing; and I do believe that maiden bashfulness gave her
more pain, when thus arrested, than any other cause. As for the
squatters, she probably had no very clear conceptions of their true
characters; and it was one of her liveliest wishes to be able to join
her uncle. But, Thousandacres soon gave us both cause to comprehend how
much he was now in earnest.

"So, my young major, you're catched in the same nest, be you! You've
your ch'ise to walk peaceably back where you belong, or to be tied and
carried there like a buck that has been killed a little out in the
woods. You never know'd Thousandacres and his race, if you really
thought to slip away from him, and that with twenty miles of woods
around you!"

I intimated a wish not to be tied, and professed a perfect willingness
to accompany my captors back to their dwellings, for nothing would have
tempted me to desert Dus, under the circumstances. The squatters might
have declared the road open to me, but the needle does not point more
unerringly to the pole than I should have followed my magnet, though at
liberty.

Little more was said until we had quitted the woods, and had reached the
open fields of the clearing. I was permitted to assist my companion
through the bushes, and in climbing a fence or two; the squatters, who
were armed to a man, forming a circle around us, at a distance that
enabled me to whisper a few words to Dus, in the way of encouragement.
She had great natural intrepidity for a woman, and I believe I ought to
escape the imputation of vanity, if I add that we both felt so happy at
the explanations which had so lately been had, that this new calamity
could not entirely depress us, so long as we were not separated.

"Be not downhearted, dearest Dus," I whispered, as we approached the
storehouse; "after all, these wretches will not dare to transgress
against the law, very far."

"I have few fears, with you and uncle Chainbearer so near me, Mordaunt,"
was her smiling answer, "It cannot be long before we hear from Frank,
who is gone, as you must have been told, to Ravensnest, for authority
and assistance. He left our huts at the same time we left them to come
here, and must be on his return long before this."

I squeezed the hand of the dear girl, receiving a gentle pressure in
return, and prepared myself to be separated from her, as I took it for
granted that Prudence and her daughters would hold watch and ward over
the female prisoner. I had hesitated, ever since quitting the woods,
about giving her notice of the trial that probably awaited her; but, as
no attempt to coerce a marriage could be made until the magistrate
arrived, I thought it would be rendering her unnecessarily unhappy. The
trial, if it did come at all, would come soon enough of itself; and I
had no apprehension that one of Dus's spirit and character, and who had
so recently and frankly admitted that her whole heart was mine, could be
frightened into a concession that would give Zephaniah any claim to her.
To own the truth, a mountain had been removed from my own breast, and I
was too happy on this particular account, to be rendered very miserable
on any other, just at that time. I do believe Dus was a little sustained
by some similar sentiment.

Dus and I parted at the door of the first house, she being transferred
to the keeping of Tobit's wife, a woman who was well bestowed on her
brutal and selfish husband. No violence was used, however, toward the
prisoner, who was permitted to go at large; though I observed that one
or two of the females attached themselves to her person immediately, no
doubt as her keepers.

In consequence of our having approached the dwelling of the squatters by
a new path, Chainbearer knew nothing of the arrest of his niece, until
the fact was communicated by me. He was not even aware of my being
retaken, until he saw me about to enter the prison again; though he
probably anticipated that such might be my fate. As for Susquesus, he
seldom manifested surprise or emotion of any sort, let what would occur.

"Well, Mortaunt, my lat, I knowet you had vanishet py hook or py crook,
ant nopoty knowet how; put I t'ought you would find it hart to t'row
t'ese rascally squatters off your trail," cried Andries, giving me a
hearty shake of the hand as I entered the prison. "Here we are, all
t'ree of us, ag'in; and it's lucky we're such goot frients, as our
quarters are none of t'e largest or pest. The Injin fount I was alone,
so he took pack his parole, and ist a close prisoner like t'e rest of
us, put in one sense a free man. You can tig up t'e hatchet ag'in t'ese
squatters whenever you please now; is it not so, Sureflint?"

"Sartin--truce done--Susquesus prisoner like everybody. Give
T'ousandacres p'role back ag'in--Injin free man, now."

I understood the Onondago's meaning well enough, though his freedom was
of a somewhat questionable character. He merely wished to say that,
having given himself up to the squatters, he was released from the
conditions of his parole, and was at liberty to make his escape, or to
wage war on his captors in any manner he saw fit. Luckily Jaap had
escaped, for I could see no signs of even his presence being known to
Thousandacres or to his sons. It was something to have so practised a
woodsman and so true a friend still at large, and near us; and the
information he could impart, should he fall in with Frank Malbone, with
the constable and the posse, might be of the utmost service to us. All
these points Chainbearer and I discussed at large, the Indian sitting
by, an attentive but a silent listener. It was our joint opinion that
Malbone could not now be very far distant with succor. What would be the
effect of an attack on the squatters it was not easy to predict, since
the last might make battle; and, small as was their force, it would be
likely to prove very available in a struggle of that nature. The females
of such a family were little less efficient than the males, when posted
behind logs; and there were a hundred things in which their habits,
experience, and boldness might be made to tell, should matters be pushed
to extremities.

"Got knows--Got only knows, Mortaunt, what will come of it all,"
rejoined Chainbearer to one of my remarks, puffing coolly at his pipe at
intervals, in order to secure the fire he had just applied to it.
"Nut'in is more unsartain t'an war, as Sus, here, fery well knows py
long exper'ence, ant as you ought to know yourself, my poy, hafin seen
sarfice, ant warm sarfice, too. Shoult Frank Malbone make a charge on
t'is settlement, as pein' an olt soltier, he will pe fery likely to do,
we must make efery effort to fall in on one of his flanks, in orter to
cover t'e atvance or t'e retreat, as may happen to pe t'e movement at
t'e time."

"I trust it will be the advance, as Malbone does not strike me as a man
likely to retreat very easily. But, are we certain 'Squire Newcome will
grant the warrant he will ask for, being in such close communion himself
with these squatters?"

"I haf t'ought of all t'at, too, Mortaunt, ant t'ere is goot sense in
it. I t'ink he will at least sent wort to T'ousantacres, to let him know
what is comin', ant make as many telays as possiple. T'e law is a lazy
sarfant when it wishes to pe slow, ant many is t'e rogue t'at hast
outrun it, when t'e race has peen to safe a pack or a fine.
Nefert'eless, Mortaunt, t'e man who is right fights wit' great otts in
his fafor, ant is fery apt to come out pest in t'e long run. It is a
great advantage to pe always right; a trut' I've known ant felt from
poyhoot, put which hast peen mate more ant more clear to me since t'e
peace, ant I haf come pack to lif wit' Dus. T'at gal has teachet me much
on all such matters; ant it woult do your heart goot to see her alone
wit' an olt ignorant man in t'e woots, of a Sunday, a tryin' to teach
him his piple, and how he ought to lofe ant fear Got!"

"Does Dus do this for you, my old friend?--Does that admirable creature
really take on herself the solemn office of duty and love! Much as I
admired and esteemed her before, for her reverence and affection for
you, Chainbearer, I now admire and esteem her the more, for this proof
of her most true and deep-seated interest in your welfare."

"I'll tell you what, poy--Dus is petter ast twenty tominies to call a
stupporn olt fellow, t'at has got a conscience toughenet ant hartenet by
lifin' t'reescore years ant ten in t'e worlt, pack from his wicketness
into t'e ways of gotliness and peace. You're young, Mortaunt, and haf
not yet got out of t'e gristle of sin into t'e pone, ant can hartly know
how strong ist t'e holt t'at hapit and t'e worlt gets of an olt man; put
I hope you may lif long enough to see it all, ant to feel it all." I did
not even smile, for the childlike earnestness, and the sincere
simplicity with which Andries delivered himself of this wish, concealed
its absurdity behind a veil of truth and feeling too respectable to
admit of a single disrespectful impulse. "Ant t'at is t'e worst wish I
can wish you, my tear poy. You know how it hast peen wit' me, Mortaunt;
a chainpearer's callin' is none of t'e pest to teach religion; which
toes not seem to flourish in t'e woots; t'ough why I cannot tell; since,
as Dus has ag'in ant ag'in shown to me. Got is in t'e trees, ant on t'e
mountains, ant along t'e valleys, ant is to pe hearet in t'e prooks ant
t'e rifers, as much if not more t'an he ist to pe hearet ant seen in t'e
clearin's ant t'e towns. Put my life was not a religious life afore t'e
war, ant war is not a pusiness to make a man t'ink of deat' as he ought;
t'ough he hast it tay and night, as it might pe, afore his eyes."

"And Dus, the excellent, frank, buoyant, sincere, womanly and charming
Dus, adds these admirable qualities to other merits, does she! I knew
she had a profound sentiment on the subject of religion, Chainbearer,
though I did not know she took so very lively an interest in the welfare
of those she loves, in connection with that all-important interest."

"You may well call t'e gal py all t'em fine worts, Mortaunt, for she
desarfs efery one of t'em, ant more too. No--no--Dus isn't known in a
tay. A poty may lif in t'e same house wit' her, and see her smilin'
face, and hear her merry song, mont's ant mont's, ant not l'arn all t'at
t'ere ist of gotliness, ant meekness, ant virtue, ant love, and piety,
in t'e pottom of her soul. One tay you'll tink well of Dus, Mortaunt
Littlepage."

"I!--Tell _me_ that I shall think _well_ of Ursula Malbone, the girl
that I almost worship! Think _well_ of her whom I now love with an
intensity that I did not imagine was possible, three months since! Think
well of _her_ who fills all my waking, and not a few of my sleeping
thoughts--of whom I dream--to whom I am betrothed--who has heard my vows
with favor, and has cheerfully promised, all parties that are interested
consenting, to become at some early day my _wife_!"

Old Andries heard my energetic exclamation with astonishment; and even
the Indian turned his head to look on me with a gratified attention.
Perceiving that I had gone so far, under an impulse I had found
irresistible, I felt the necessity of being still more explicit, and of
communicating all I had to say on the subject.

"Yes," I added, grasping old Andries by the hand--"Yes, Chainbearer, I
shall comply with your often-expressed wishes. Again and again have you
recommended your lovely niece to me as a wife, and I come now to take
you at your word, and to say that nothing will make me so happy as to be
able to call you uncle."

To my surprise, Chainbearer expressed no delight at this announcement. I
remarked that he had said nothing to me on his favorite old subject of
my marrying his niece, since my arrival at the Nest; and now, when I was
not only so ready, but so anxious to meet his wishes, I could plainly
see that he drew back from my proposals, and wished they had not been
made. Amazed, I waited for him to speak with a disappointment and
uneasiness I cannot express.

"Mortaunt! Mortaunt!" at length broke out of the old man's very
heart--"I wish to Heafen you hat nefer sait t'is! I lofe you, poy,
almost as much as I lofe Dus, herself; put it griefs me--it griefs me to
hear you talk of marryin' t'e gal!"

"You grieve, as much as you astonish me, Chainbearer, by making such a
remark! How often have you, yourself, expressed to me the wish that I
might become acquainted with your niece, and love her, and marry her!
Now, when I have seen her--when I _have_ become acquainted with
her--when I _love_ her to my heart's core, and wish to make her my wife,
you meet my proposals as if they were unworthy of you and yours!"

"Not so, lat--not so. Nut'in' would make me so happy as to see you t'e
huspant of Dus, supposin' it coult come to pass, ant wrong pe tone to no
one; put it cannot pe so. I tid talk as you say, ant a foolish, selfish,
conceitet olt man I was for my pains. I wast t'en in t'e army, and we
wast captains alike; ant I wast t'e senior captain, and might orter you
apout, ant _tid_ orter you apout; ant I wore an epaulette, like any
ot'er captain, and hat my grandfat'er's swort at my site, ant t'ought we
wast equals, ant t'at it wast an honor to marry my niece; put all t'is
was changet, lat, when I came into t'e woots ag'in, ant took up my
chain, ant pegan to lif, ant to work, ant to feel poor, ant to see
myself as I am. No--no--Mortaunt Littlepage, t'e owner of Ravensnest,
ant t'e heir of Mooseritge, ant of Satanstoe, ant of Lilacsbush, ant of
all t'e fine houses, ant stores, ant farms t'at are in York ant up ant
town t'e country, is not a suitaple match for Dus Malbone!"

"This is so extraordinary a notion for you to take up, Chainbearer, and
so totally opposed to all I have ever before heard from you on the
subject, that I must be permitted to ask where you got it?"

"From Dus Malbone, herself--yes, from her own mout', ant in her own
pretty manner of speech."

"Has, then, the probability of my ever offering to your niece been a
subject of conversation between you?"

"T'at hast it--t'at hast it, ant time ant ag'in, too. Sit town on t'at
log of woot, ant listen to what I haf to say, ant I will tell you t'e
whole story. Susquesus, you neetn't go off into t'at corner, like a
gentleman as you pe; t'ough it is only an Injin gentleman; for I haf no
secrets from such a frient as yourself. Come pack, t'en, Injin, ant take
your olt place, close at my site, where you haf so often peen when t'e
inemy wast chargin' us poltly in front." Sureflint quietly did as
desired, while Chainbearer turned toward me and continued the discourse.
"You wilt see, Mortaunt, poy, t'ese here are t'e fery facts ant trut' of
t'e case. When I came first from camp, ant I wast full of t'e prite, ant
aut'ority, ant feelin's of a soltier, I pegan to talk to Dus apout you,
as I hat peen accustomed to talk to you apout Dus. Ant I tolt her what a
fine, bolt, hantsome, generous, well-principlet young fellow you
wast"--the reader will overlook my repeating that to which the
partiality of the Chainbearer so readily gave utterance--"ant I tolt her
of your sarfice in t'e wars, ant of your wit, ant how you mate us all
laugh, t'ough we might pe marchin' into pattle, ant what a fat'er you
hat, ant what a grantfat'er, ant all t'at a goot ant a warm frient ought
to say of anot'er, when it wast true, ant when it wast tolt to a
hantsome ant heart-whole young woman t'at he wishet to fall in love wit'
t'at fery same frient. Well, I tolt t'is to Dus, not once, Mortaunt; nor
twice; put twenty times, you may depent on it."

"Which makes me the more curious to hear what Dus could or did say in
reply."

"It's t'at reply, lat, t'at makes all t'e present tifficulty petween us.
For a long time Dus sait little or not'in'. Sometimes she woult look
saucy ant laugh--ant you know, lat, t'e gal _can_ do bot' of t'em t'ings
as well as most young women. Sometimes she woult pegin to sing a song,
all about fait'less young men, perhaps, and proken-hearted virgins.
Sometimes she woult look sorrowful, ant I coult fint tears startin' in
her eyes; ant t'en I pecome as soft ant feeple-hearted as a gal, myself,
to see one who smiles so easily mate to shet tears."

"But how did all this end? What can possibly have occurred, to cause
this great change in your own wishes?"

"Tis not so much my wishes t'at be changet, Mortaunt, ast my opinion. If
a poty coult haf t'ings just as he wishet, lat, Dus ant you shoult pe
man ant wife, so far as it tepentet on me, pefore t'e week ist out. Put,
we are not our own masters, nor t'e masters of what ist to happen to our
nephews and nieces, any more t'an we are masters of what ist to happen
to ourselves. Put, I wilt tell you just how it happenet. One tay, as I
wast talking to t'e gal in t'e olt way, she listenet to all I hat to say
more seriously t'an ast common, ant when she answeret, it wast much in
t'is manner: 'I t'ank you from t'e pottom of my heart, uncle
Chainpearer,' she sait, 'not only for all t'at you haf tone for me, t'e
orphan da'ghter of your sister, put for all you wish in my pehalf. I
perceive t'at t'is itee of my marryin' your young frient, Mr. Mortaunt
Littlepage, hast a strong holt on your feelin's, ant it ist time to talk
seriously on t'at supject. When you associatet with t'at young
gentleman, uncle Chainpearer, you wast Captain Coejemans, of t'e New
York State line, ant his senior officer, ant it was nat'ral to s'pose
your niece fit to pecome his wife. Put it ist our tuty to look at what
we now are, ant are likely to remain. Major Littlepage hast a fat'er ant
a mot'er, I haf he'rt you say, uncle Chainpearer, ant sisters, too; now
marriage ist a most serious t'ing. It ist to last for life, ant no one
shoult form sich a connection wit'out reflectin' on all its pearin's. It
ist hartly possiple t'at people in t'e prosperity ant happiness of t'ese
Littlepages woult wish to see an only son, ant t'e heir of t'eir name
ant estates, takin' for a wife a gal out of t'e woots; one t'at is not
only a chainpearer's niece, put who hast peen a chainpearer herself, ant
who can pring into t'eir family no one t'ing to compensate 'em for t'e
sacrifice.'"

"And you had the heart to be quiet, Andries, and let Ursula say all
this?"

"Ah! lat, how coult I help it? You woult have tone it yourself,
Mortaunt, coult you haf he'rt how prettily she turnet her periots, as I
hef he'rt you call it, and how efery syllaple she sait come from t'e
heart. T'en t'e face of t'e gal wast enough to convince me t'at she wast
right; she looket so 'arnest, ant sat, ant peautiful, Mortaunt! No, no;
when an itee comes into t'e mint, wit' t'e ait of sich worts and looks,
my poy, 'tis not an easy matter to get rit of it."

"You do not seriously mean to say, Chainbearer, that you will refuse me
Dus?"

"Dus will do t'at herself, lat; for she ist still a chainpearer's niece,
ant you are still General Littlepage's son ant heir. Try her, ant see
what she wilt say."

"But I _have_ tried her, as you call it; _have_ told her of my love;
_have_ offered her my hand, and----"

"Ant what?"

"Why, she does not answer _me_ as you say she answered _you_."

"Hast t'e gal sait she woult haf you, Mortaunt? Hast she said yes?"

"Conditionally she has. If my grandmother cheerfully consent, and my
parents do the same; and my sister Kettletas and her husband, and my
laughing, merry Kate, then Dus will accept me."

"T'is ist strange! Ah! I see how it is; t'e gal has _seen_ you, and peen
much wit' you, ant talket wit' you, ant sung wit' you, ant laughet wit'
you; ant I s'pose, a'ter all, _t'at_ will make a tifference in her
judgment of you. I'm a patchelor, Mortaunt, ant haf no wife, nor any
sweetheart, put it ist easy enough to comprehent how all t'ese matters
must make a fery great tifference. I'm glat, howsefer, t'at t'e
tifference is not so great as to make t'e gal forget all your frients;
for if efery poty consents, ant is cheerful, why t'en my pein' a
chainbearer, and Dus pein' so poor ant forsaken like, will not pe so
likely to be rememperet hereafter, and bring you pitter t'oughts."

"Andries Coejemans, I swear to you, I would rather become your nephew at
this moment, than become the son-in-law of Washington himself, had he a
daughter."

"T'at means you'd rat'er haf Dus, t'an any ot'er gal of your
acquaintance. T'at's nat'ral enough, and may make me look like his
excellency, for a time, in your eyes; put when you come to t'ink and
feel more coolly, my tear poy, t'ere ist t'e tanger t'at you wilt see
some tifference petween t'e captain-general and commanter-in-chief of
all t'e American armies, and a poor chainpearer, who in his pest tays
was nut'in' more t'an a captain in t'e New York line. I know you lofe
me, Mortaunt; put t'ere ist tanger t'at it might not pe exactly an uncle
and nephew's love in t'e long run. I am only a poor Tutchman, when all
is sait, wit'out much etication, ant wit' no money, ant not much more
manners; while you've peen to college, and pe college l'arn't, ant pe as
gay ant gallant a spark as can pe fount in t'e States, as we call t'e
olt colonies now. Wast you a Yankee, Mortaunt, I'd see you marriet, and
unmarriet twenty times, pefore I'd own as much as t'is; put a man may pe
sensible of his ignorance, ant pat etication, and weaknesses, wit'out
wishin' to pe tolt of it to his face, and laughed at apout it, py efery
A B C scholar t'at comes out of New Englant. No, no--I'm a poor
Tutchman, I know; ant a poty may say as much to a frient, when he woult
tie pefore he woult own t'ere wast any t'ing poor apout it to an inimy."

"I would gladly pursue this discourse, Andries, and bring it to a happy
termination," I answered; "but here come the squatters in a body, and I
suppose some movement or proposal is in the wind. We will defer our
matter, then; you remembering that I agree to none of your opinions or
decisions. Dus is to be mine, if indeed we can protect her against the
grasp of these wretches. I have something to say on that subject, too;
but this is not the moment to utter it."

Chainbearer seized my hand, and gave it a friendly pressure, which
terminated the discourse. On the subject of the intentions of
Thousandacres toward Dus, I was now not altogether free from uneasiness;
though the tumult of rapturous feeling through which I had just passed
drove it temporarily from my mind. I had no apprehensions that Ursula
Malbone would ever be induced, by ordinary means, to become the wife of
Zephaniah; but I trembled as to what might be the influence of menaces
against her uncle and myself. Nor was I altogether easy on the score of
the carrying out of those menaces. It often happens with crime, as in
the commission of ordinary sins, that men are impelled by circumstances,
which drive them to deeds from which they would have recoiled in horror,
had the consummation been directly presented to their minds, without the
intervention of any mediate causes. But the crisis was evidently
approaching, and I waited with as much calmness as I could assume for
its development. As for Chainbearer, being still ignorant of the
conversation I had overheard in the mill, he had no apprehensions of
evil from the source of my greatest dread.

The day had advanced, all this time, and the sun had set, and night was
close upon us, as Tobit and his brethren came to the door of our prison,
and called upon Chainbearer and myself to come forth, leaving Susquesus
behind. We obeyed with alacrity; for there was a species of liberty in
being outside of those logs, with my limbs unfettered, though a vigilant
watch was kept over us both. On each side of me walked an armed man, and
Chainbearer was honored with a similar guard. For all this, old Andries
cared but little. He knew and I knew that the time could not be very
distant when we might expect to hear from Frank Malbone; and every
minute that went by added to our confidence in this respect.

We were about half-way between the storehouse and the dwelling of
Thousandacres, toward which our steps were directed, when Andries
suddenly stopped, and asked leave to say a word to me in private. Tobit
was at a loss how to take this request; but, there being an evident
desire to keep on reasonably good terms with Chainbearer, after a short
pause he consented to form an extended ring with his brothers, leaving
me and my old friend in its centre.

"I'll tell you what I t'ink atvisaple in t'is matter," commenced
Andries, in a sort of whisper. "It cannot pe long afore Malpone will be
pack wit' t'e posse ant constaples, ant so fort'; now, if we tell t'ese
rapscallions t'at we want taylight to meet our inimies in, ant t'at we
haf no stomach for nightwork, perhaps t'ey'll carry us pack to jail, ant
so gif more time to Frank to get here."

"It will be much better, Chainbearer, to prolong our interview with
these squatters, so that you and I may be at large, or at least not shut
up in the storehouse, when Malbone makes his appearance. In the
confusion we may even escape and join our friends, which will be a
thousand times better than to be found within four walls."

Andries nodded his head, in sign of acquiescence, and thenceforth he
seemed to aim at drawing things out, in order to gain time, instead of
bringing them to a speedy conclusion. As soon as our discourse was
ended, the young men closed round us again, and we moved on in a body.

Darkness being so close upon us, Thousandacres had determined to hold
his court, this time, within the house, having a care to a sufficient
watchfulness about the door. There is little variation in the internal
distribution of the room of what may be called an American cottage.
About two-thirds of the space is given to the principal apartment, which
contains the fireplace,[18] and is used for all the purposes of kitchen
and sitting-room, while the rest of the building is partitioned into
three several subdivisions. One of these subdivisions is commonly a
small bedroom; another is the buttery, and the third holds the stairs,
or ladders, by which to ascend to the loft, or to descend to the cellar.
Such was the arrangement of the dwelling of Thousandacres, and such is
the arrangement in thousands of other similar buildings throughout the
land. The thriving husbandman is seldom long contented, however, with
such narrow and humble accommodations; but the framed house, of two
stories in height, and with five windows in front, usually soon succeeds
this cottage, in his case. It is rare, indeed, that any American private
edifice has more than five windows in front, the few exceptions which do
exist to the rule being residences of mark, and the supernumerary
windows are generally to be found in wings. Some of our old, solid,
substantial, stone country houses occasionally stretch themselves out to
eight or nine apertures of this sort, but they are rare. I cannot gossip
here, however, about country houses and windows, when I have matters so
grave before me to relate.

[Footnote 18: At the present day, the cooking-stove has nearly
superseded the open fireplace.]

In the forest, and especially in the newer portions of New York, the
evenings are apt to be cool, even in the warm months. That memorable
night, I well remember, had a sharpness about it that threatened even a
frost, and Prudence had lighted a fire on the yawning hearth of her rude
chimney. By the cheerful blaze of that fire, which was renewed from time
to time by dried brush, the American frontier substitute for the fagot,
were the scenes I am about to mention enacted.

We found all the males, and several of the females, assembled in the
large apartment of the building I have described, when Chainbearer and
myself entered. The wife of Tobit, with one or two of the sisterhood,
however, were absent; doubtless in attendance on Dus Lowiny, I remarked,
stood quite near the fire, and the countenance of the girl seemed to me
to be saddened and thoughtful. I trust I shall not be accused of being a
coxcomb, if I add that the idea crossed my mind that the appearance and
manners of a youth so much superior to those with whom she was
accustomed to associate had made a slight impression on this girl's--I
will not say heart, for imagination would be the better word--and had
awakened sympathies that manifested themselves in her previous conduct;
while the shade that was now cast across her brow came quite as much
from the scene she had witnessed between myself and Dus, near the rock,
as from seeing me again a prisoner. The friendship of this girl might
still be of importance to me, and still more so to Ursula, and I will
acknowledge that the apprehension of losing it was far from pleasant. I
could only wait for the developments of time however, in order to reach
any certainty on this, as well as on other most interesting topics.

Thousandacres had the civility to order us chairs, and we took our seats
accordingly. On looking round the grave and attentive circle, I could
trace no new signs of hostility; but, on the contrary, the countenances
of all seemed more pacific than they were when we parted. I considered
this as an omen that I and my friend should receive some propositions
that tended toward peace. In this I was not mistaken; the first words
that were uttered having that character.

"It's time this matter atween us, Chainbearer," commenced Thousandacres
himself, "should be brought to suthin' like an eend. It keeps the b'ys
from their lumberin', and upsets my whull family. I call myself a
reasonable man; and be as ready to settle a difficulty on as
accommodatin' tarms as any parson you'll find by lookin' up and down the
land. Many _is_ the difficulty that I've settled in my day; and I'm not
too old to settle 'em now. Sometimes I've fit out, when I've fell in
with an obstinate fellow; sometimes I've left it out to men; and
sometimes I've settled matters myself. No man can say he ever know'd me
refuse to hearken to reason, or know'd me to gi'n up a just cause, so
long as there was a morsel of a chance to defend it. When overpowered by
numbers, and look'd down by your accursed law, as you call it, I'll own
that, once or twice in my time, when young and inexper'enced, I did get
the worst of it; and so was obliged to sort o' run away. But use makes
parfect. I've seen so much, by seventy odd, as to have l'arnt to take
time by the forelock, and don't practyse delays in business. I look upon
you, Chainbearer, as a man much like myself, reasonable, exper'enced,
and willin' to accommodate. I see no great difficulty, therefore, in
settlin' this matter on the spot, so as to have no more hard feelin's or
hot words atween us. Sich be my notions; and I should like to hear
your'n."

"Since you speak to me, T'ousantacres, in so polite and civil a manner,
I'm reaty to hear you, ant to answer in t'e same temper," returned old
Andries, his countenance losing much of the determined and angry
expression with which he had taken his seat in the circle. "T'ere ist
nuttin' t'at more pecomes a man t'an moteration; ant an olt man in
partic'lar. I do not t'ink, however, t'at t'ere ist much resemplance
petween you ant me, T'ousantacres, in any one t'ing, except it pe in olt
age. We're pot' of us pretty well atvancet, ant haf reachet a time of
life when it pehooves a man to examine ant reflect on t'e great trut's
t'at are to pe fount in his piple. T'e piple ist a pook, Aaron, t'at ist
not enough re't in t'e woots; t'ough Almighty Got hast all t'e same
rights to t'e sacrifices ant worship of his creatures in t'e forest, as
to t'e worship and sacrifices of his creatures in t'e settlements. I'm
not a tellin' you t'is, T'ousantacres, py way of showin' off my own
l'arnin'; for all I know on the supject, myself, I haf got from Dus, my
niece, who ist as goot, ant as willin', ant as hanty in explainin' sich
matters, as any tominie I ever talket wit'. I wish you would listen to
her, yourself; you and Prutence; when I t'ink you woult allow t'at her
tiscourse ist fery etifyin' ant improfin'. Now you seem in t'e right
temper, ist a goot time to pe penefitet in t'at way; for t'ey tell me my
niece ist here, ant at hant."

"She is; and I rej'ice that you have brought her name into the discourse
so 'arly; as it was my design to mention it myself. I see we think alike
about the young woman, Chainbearer, and trust and believe she'll be the
means of reconciling all parties, and of making us good fri'nds. I've
sent for the gal; and she'll soon be coming along, with Tobit's wife,
who sets by her wonderfully already."

"Well, talkin' of wonterful t'ings, wonters wilt never cease, I do
pelieve!" Chainbearer exclaimed, for he really believed that the family
of the squatter was taken suddenly with a "religious turn," and that
something like a conversion was about to occur. "Yes, yes; it ist so; we
meet wit' wonters when we least expect 'em; and t'at it is t'at makes
wonters so wonterful!"



CHAPTER XXV.

    "Yes, Hastings, these are they
      Who challenge to themselves thy country's love;
    The true, the constant, who alone can weigh
      What glory should demand, or liberty approve!"

    --AKENSIDE.


A pause succeeded this little opening, during which the assembly was
waiting for the arrival of Ursula Malbone, and the semi-savage guardian
that "set" so much by her, as not to leave her out of sight for a
moment. All that time Thousandacres was ruminating on his own plans;
while old Andries was probably reflecting on the singular circumstances
that "wonters shoult pe so wonterful!" At length a little bustle and
movement occurred near the door, the crowd collected in it opened, and
Dus walked into the centre of the room, her color heightened by
excitement, but her step firm, and her air full of spirit. At first, the
blazing light affected her sight, and she passed a hand over her eyes.
Then looking around I met her gaze, and was rewarded for all my anxiety
by one of those glances, into which affection knows how to infuse so
much that is meaning and eloquent. I was thus favored for a moment only;
those eyes still turning until they met the fond, answering look of
Chainbearer. The old man had arisen, and he now received his niece in
his arms, as a parent would embrace a beloved child.

That outpouring of feeling lasted but a little while. It had been
unpremeditated and impulsive, and was almost as suddenly suppressed. It
gave me, however, the happiness of witnessing one of the most pleasant
sights that man can behold; that of youth, and beauty, and delicacy, and
female tenderness, pouring out their feelings on the bosom of age--on
the ruder qualities of one hardened in person by the exposures of a life
passed in the forest. To me the contrast between the fair, golden hair
of Dus, and the few straggling, bleached locks of her uncle; the downy,
peach-like cheek of the girl, and the red, wrinkled, and sun-dried
countenance of Chainbearer, was perfectly delightful. It said how deep
must lie those sympathies of our nature, which could bring together so
closely two so differently constituted in all things, and set at
defiance the apparent tendencies of taste and habit.

Dus suffered herself to be thus carried away by her feelings for only a
moment. Accustomed in a degree, as she certainly was, to the rough
associations of the woods, this was the first time she had ever been
confronted with such an assembly, and I could see that she drew back
into herself with womanly reserve, as she now gazed around her, and saw
in what a wild and unwonted presence she stood. Still, I had never seen
her look so supremely lovely as she did that evening, for she threw Pris
Bayard and Kate, with all their advantages of dress and freedom from
exposure, far into the shade. Perhaps the life of Ursula Malbone had
given to her beauty the very completeness and fullness, that are most
apt to be wanting to the young American girl, who has been educated in
the over-tender and delicate manner of our ordinary parental indulgence.
Of air and exercise she had already enjoyed enough, and they had
imparted to her bloom and person the richness and development that are
oftener found in the subordinate than in the superior classes of the
country.

As for Thousandacres, though he watched every movement of Ursula Malbone
with jealous interest, he said nothing to interrupt the current of her
feelings. As soon as she left her uncle's arms, however, Dus drew back
and took the rude seat that I had placed for her close to Chainbearer's
side. I was paid for this little act of attention by a sweet smile from
its subject, and a lowering look from the old squatter, that admonished
me of the necessity of being cautious of manifesting too much of the
interest I felt in the beloved object before me. As is usual in
assemblages composed of the rude and unpractised, a long, awkward pause
succeeded this introduction of Dus to our presence. After a time,
however, Aaron resumed the subject in hand.

"We've met to settle all our difficulties, as I was sayin'," observed
Thousandacres, in a manner as deliberative and considerate as if he were
engaged in one of the most blameless pursuits of life, the outward
appearances of virtue and vice possessing a surprising resemblance to
each other. "When men get together on sich a purpose, and in a right
spirit, it must be that there's a fault somewhere, if what's right can't
be come at atween 'em. What's right atwixt man and man is _my_ creed,
Chainbearer."

"What's right petween man ant man is a goot creet, T'ousantacres; ant
it's a goot religion, too," answered Andries, coldly.

"That it is! that it is! and I now see that you're in a reasonable
temper, Chainbearer, and that there's a prospect of business in you. I
despise a man that's so set in his notions that there's no gettin' him
to give in an inch in a transaction--don't you hold to that, too,
Captain Andries?"

"T'at depents on what t'e notions pe. Some notions do nopoty any goot,
ant t'e sooner we're rit of 'em t'e petter; while some notions pe so
fery excellent t'at a man hat pest lay town his life as lay t'em town."

This answer puzzled Thousandacres, who had no idea of a man's ever dying
for opinion's sake; and who was probably anxious, just at that moment,
to find his companion sufficiently indifferent to principle to make some
sacrifices to expediency. It was quite evident this man was disposed to
practise a _ruse_ on this occasion, that is often resorted to by
individuals, and sometimes by states, when disposed to gain a great
advantage out of a very small right; that of demanding much more than
they expect to receive, and of making a great merit of yielding points
that they never had the smallest claim to maintain. But this disposition
of the squatter's will make itself sufficiently apparent as we proceed.

"I don't see any use in talkin' about layin' down lives," Thousandacres
returned to Chainbearer's remark, "seein' this is not a life and death
transaction at all. The most that can be made of squattin', give the law
its full swing, is trespass and damages, and them an't matters to
frighten a man that has stood out ag'in 'em all his days. We're pretty
much sich crittur's as sarcumstances make us. There be men, I don't
question, that a body can skear half out of their wits with a writ,
while a whull flock of sheep, skins and wool united, wunt intimidate
them that's used to sich things. I go on the principle of doin' what's
right, let the law say what it will of the matter; and this is the
principle on which I wish to settle our present difficulty."

"Name your tarms--name your tarms!" cried Chainbearer, a little
impatiently; "talkin' ist talkin', all t'e worlt ofer, ant actin' ist
actin'. If you haf anyt'ing to propose, here we are, reaty ant willin'
to hear it."

"That's hearty, and just my way of thinkin' and feelin', and I'll act up
to it, though it was the gospel of St. Paul himself, and I was set on
followin' it. Here, then, is the case, and any man can understand it.
There's two rights to all the land on 'arth, and the whull world over.
One of these rights is what I call a king's right, or that which depends
on writin's, and laws, and sichlike contrivances; and the other depends
on possession. It stands to reason, that fact is better than any writin'
about it can be; but I'm willin' to put 'em on a footin' for the time
bein', and for the sake of accommodatin'. I go all for accommodatin'
matters, and not for stirrin' up ill blood; and that I tell Chainbearer,
b'ys, is the right spirit to presarve harmony and fri'ndship!"

This appeal was rewarded by a murmur of general approbation in all that
part of the audience which might be supposed to be in the squatter
interest, while the part that might be called adverse, remained silent,
though strictly attentive, old Andries included.

"Yes, that's my principles," resumed Thousandacres, taking a hearty
draught of cider, a liquor of which he had provided an ample allowance,
passing the mug civilly to Chainbearer, as soon as he had his swallow.
"Yes, that's my principles, and good principles they be, for them that
likes peace and harmony, as all must allow. Now, in this matter afore
us, General Littlepage and his partner ripresents writin's, and I and
mine ripresent fact. I don't say which is the best, for I don't want to
be hard on any man's rights, and 'specially when the accommodatin'
spirit is up and doin'; but I'm fact, and the gin'ral's pretty much
writin's. But difficulties has sprung up atwixt us, and it's high time
to put 'em down. I look upon you, Chainbearer, as the fri'nd of the
t'other owners of this sile, and I'm now ready to make proposals, or to
hear them, just as it may prove convenient."

"I haf no proposals to make, nor any aut'ority to offer t'em. I'm nut'in
here put a chainpearer, wit' a contract to survey t'e patent into small
lots, ant t'en my tuty ist tone. Put, here ist General Littlepage's only
son, ant he ist empoweret, I unterstant, to do all t'at is necessary on
t'is tract, as t'e attorney----"

"He is and he isn't an attorney!" interrupted Thousandacres, a little
fiercely for one in whom "the accommodatin' spirit is up." "At one
moment he says he's an attorney, and at the next he isn't. I can't stand
this onsartainty any very great while."

"Pooh, pooh! T'ousantacres," returned Chainbearer, coolly, "you're
frightenet at your own shadow; ant t'at comes, let me telt you, from not
lifing in 'peace and harmony,' as you call it, yourself, wit' t'e law. A
man hast a conscience, whet'er he pe a skinner or a cowboy, or efen a
squatter; and he hast it, pecause Got has gifen it to him, and not on
account of any sarfices of his own. T'at conscience it is, t'at makes my
young frient Mortaunt here an attorney in your eyes, when he ist no more
of a lawyer t'an you pe yourself."

"Why has he called himself an attorney, then, and why do _you_ call him
one? An attorney is an attorney, in my eyes, and little difference is
there atween 'em. Rattlesnakes would fare better in a clearin' of
Thousandacres' than the smartest attorney in the land!"

"Well, well, haf your own feelin's; for I s'pose Satan has put 'em into
you, ant talkin' won't pring t'em out. T'is young gentleman, however,
ist no attorney of t'e sort you mean, old squatter, put he hast been a
soltier, like myself, ant in my own regiment, which wast his fat'er's,
ant a prave young man he ist ant wast, ant one t'at has fou't gallantly
for liperty----"

"If he's a fri'nd of liberty, he should be a fri'nd of liberty's people;
should give liberty and take liberty. Now I call it liberty to let every
man have as much land as he has need on, and no more, keepin' the rest
for them that's in the same situation. If he and his father be true
fri'nds of liberty, let 'em prove it like men, by giving up all claims
to any more land than they want. That's what I call liberty! Let every
man have as much land as he's need on; that's my religion, and it's
liberty, too."[19]

[Footnote 19: I am a little apprehensive that the profound political
philosophers who have sprung up among us within a few years, including
some in high places, and who virtually maintain that the American is so
ineffably free, that it is opposed to the spirit of the institutions of
the country to suffer him to be either landlord or tenant, however much
he may desire it himself (and no one pretends that either law or facts
compel him to be either, contrary to his own wishes), will feel
mortified at discovering that they have not the merit of first proposing
their own exquisite theory; Aaron Thousandacres having certainly
preceded them by sixty years. There is no great secret on the subject of
the principle which lies at the bottom of this favorite doctrine, the
Deity himself having delivered to man, as far back as the days of Moses,
the tenth commandment, with the obvious design of controlling it. An
attempt to prove that the institutions of this country are unsuited to
the relations of landlord and tenant, is an attempt to prove that they
are unsuited to meet the various contingencies of human affairs, and is
an abandonment of their defence, as that defence can only be made on
broad, manly, and justifiable grounds. As a political principle, it is
just as true that the relations of debtor and creditor are unsuited to
the institutions, and ought to be abolished.--EDITOR.]

"Why are you so moterate, T'ousantacres? why are you so unreasonaply
moterate? Why not say t'at efery man hast a right to efery t'hing he
hast need of, and so make him comfortaple at once! T'ere is no wistom in
toin' t'ings by hafs, ant it ist always petter to surfey all t'e lant
you want, while t'e compass is set ant t'e chains pe going. It's just as
much liperty to haf a right to share in a man's tollars, as to share in
his lants."

"I don't go as far as that, Chainbearer," put in Thousandacres, with a
degree of moderation that ought to put the enemies of his principles to
the blush. "Money is what a man 'arns himself, and he has a right to it,
and so I say let him keep it; but land is necessary, and every man has a
right to as much as he has need on--I wouldn't give him an acre more, on
no account at all."

"Put money wilt puy lant; ant, in sharin' t'e tollars, you share t'e
means of puyin' as much lant as a man hast neet of; t'en t'ere ist a
great teal more lant ast money in t'is country, ant, in gifin' a man
lant, you only gif him t'at which ist so cheap ant common, t'at he must
pe a poor tefil if he can't get all t'e lant he wants wit'out much
trouple and any squattin', if you wilt only gif him ever so little
money. No, no, T'ousantacres--you're fery wrong; you shoult pegin to
tivite wit' t'e tollars, ant t'at wilt not tisturp society, as tollars
are in t'e pocket, ant go ant come efery day; whereast lant is a
fixture, and some people lofe t'eir own hills, ant rocks, ant
trees--when t'ey haf peen long in a family most especially."

There was a dark scowl gathering on the brow of Thousandacres, partly
because he felt himself puzzled by the upright and straightforward
common sense of Chainbearer, and partly for a reason that he himself
made manifest in the answer that he quite promptly gave to my old
friend's remarks.

"No man need say anything ag'in squattin' that wants to keep fri'nds
with me," Thousandacres put in, with certain twitchings about the
muscles of the mouth, that were so many signs of his being in earnest.
"I hold to liberty and a man's rights, and that is no reason I should be
deflected on. My notions be other men's notions, I know, though they be
called squatters' notions. Congressmen have held 'em, and will hold 'em
ag'in, if they expect much support, in some parts of the country, at
election time. I dare say the day will come when governors will be found
to hold 'em. Governors be but men a'ter all, and must hold doctrines
that satisfy men's wants, or they won't be governors long.[20] But all
this is nuthin' but talk, and I want to come to suthin' like business,
Chainbearer. Here's this clearin', and here's the lumber. Now, I'm
willin' to settle on some sich tarms as these: I'll keep the lumber,
carryin' it off as soon as the water gets to be high enough, agreein' to
pay for the privilege by not fellin' another tree, though I must have
the right to saw up sich logs as be cut and hauled already; and then, as
to the land and clearin', if the writin' owners want 'em, they can have
'em by payin' for the betterments, leavin' the price out to men in this
neighborhood, sin' city-bred folks can't know nothin' of the toil and
labor of choppin', and loggin', and ashin', and gettin' in, and croppin'
new lands."

[Footnote 20: Thousandacres speaks here like a veritable
prophet.--EDITOR.]

"Mortaunt, t'at proposal ist for you. I haf nut'in' to do wit' t'e
clearin' put to surfey it; and t'at much will I perform, when I get as
far ast t'e place, come t'ere goot, or come t'ere efil of it."

"Survey this clearin'!" put in Tobit, with his raven throat, and
certainly in a somewhat menacing tone. "No, no, Chainbearer--the man is
not out in the woods, that could ever get his chain across this
clearin'."

"T'at man, I tell you, is Andries Coejemans, commonly called
Chainpearer," answered my old friend, calmly. "No clearin', ant no
squatter, ever stoppet him yet, nor do I t'ink he will pe stoppet here,
from performin' his tuty. Put praggin' is a pat quality, ant we'll leaf
time to show t'e trut'."

Thousandacres gave a loud hem, and looked very dark, though he said
nothing until time had been given to his blood to resume its customary
current. Then he pursued the discourse as follows--evidently bent on
keeping on good terms with Chainbearer as long as possible.

"On the whull," he said, "I rather think, Tobit, 'twill be best if you
leave this matter altogether to me. Years cool the blood, and allow time
to reason to spread. Years be as necessary to judgment as a top to a
fruit-tree. I kind o' b'lieve that Chainbearer and I, being both elderly
and considerate men, will be apt to get along best together. I dare say,
Chainbearer, that if the surveyin' of this clearin' be put to you on the
footin' of defiance, that your back would get up, like anybody else's,
and you'd bring on the chain, let who might stand in your way. But
that's neither here nor there. You're welcome to chain out just as much
of this part of the patent as you see fit, and 'twill help us along so
much the better when we come to the trade. Reason's reason, and I'm of
an accommodatin' spirit."

"So much t'e better, T'ousantacres; yes, so much t'e better," answered
old Andries, somewhat mollified by the conciliatory temper in which the
squatter now delivered himself. "When work ist to pe performet, it
_must_ pe performet; ant, as I'm hiret to surfey and chain t'e whole
estate, t'e whole estate _must_ be chainet ant surfeyet. Well, what else
haf you to say?"

"I am not answered as to my first offer. I'll take the lumber, agreein'
not to cut another tree, and the valie of the betterments can be left
out to men."

"I am the proper person to answer this proposal," I thought it now right
to say, lest Andries and Thousandacres should get to loggerheads again
on some minor and immaterial point, and thus endanger every hope of
keeping the peace until Malbone could arrive. "At the same time, I
consider it no more than right to tell you, at once, that I have no
power that goes so far as to authorize me to agree to your terms. Both
Colonel Follock and my father have a stern sense of justice, and
neither, in my opinion, will feel much of a disposition to yield to any
conditions that, in the least, may have the appearance of compromising
any of their rights as landlords. I have heard them both say that, in
these particulars, 'yielding an inch would be giving an ell,' and I
confess that, from all I have seen lately of settlers and settlements,
I'm very much of the same way of thinking. My principals may concede
something, but they'll never treat on a subject of which all the right
is on their own side."

"Am I to understand you, young man, that you're onaccommodatin', and
that my offers isn't to be listened to, in the spirit in which they're
made?" demanded Thousandacres, somewhat dryly.

"You are to understand me as meaning exactly what I say, sir. In the
first place, I have no authority to accept your offers, and shall not
assume any, let the consequences to myself be what they may. Indeed, any
promises made in duresse are good for nothing."

"Anan!" cried the squatter. "This is Mooseridge Patent, and Washington,
late Charlotte County--and this is the place we are to sign and seal in,
if writin's pass atween us."

"By promises made in duresse, I mean promises made while the party
making them is in confinement, or not absolutely free to make them or
not; such promises are good for nothing in law, even though all the
'writings' that could be drawn passed between the parties."

"This is strange doctrine, and says but little for your boasted law,
then! At one time, it asks for writin's, and nothin' but writin's will
answer; and then all the writin's on 'arth be of no account! Yet some
folks complain, and have hard feelin's, if a man wunt live altogether up
to law!"

"I rather think, Thousandacres, you overlook the objects of the law, in
its naked regulations. Law is to enforce the right, and were it to
follow naked rules, without regard to principles, it might become the
instrument of effecting the very mischiefs it is designed to
counteract."

I might have spared myself the trouble of uttering this fine speech;
which caused the old squatter to stare at me in wonder, and produced a
smile among the young men, and a titter among the females. I observed,
however, that the anxious face of Lowiny expressed admiration, rather
than the feeling that was so prevalent among the sisterhood.

"There's no use in talkin' to this young spark, Chainbearer,"
Thousandacres said, a little impatiently in the way of manner, too;
"he's passed his days in the open country, and has got open-country
ways, and notions, and talk; and them's things I don't pretend to
understand. You're woods, mainly; he's open country; and I'm clearin'.
There's a difference atween each; but woods and clearin' come clussest;
and so I'll say my say to you. Be you, now, r'ally disposed to
accommodate, or not, old Andries?"

"Any t'ing t'at ist right, ant just, ant reasonaple, T'ousantacres; ant
nut'in' t'at ist not."

"That's just my way of thinkin'! If the law, now, would do as much as
that for a man, the attorneys would soon starve. Wa-a-l, we'll try now
to come to tarms, as soon as possible. You're a single man, I know,
Chainbearer; but I've always supposed 'twas on account of no dislike to
the married state, but because you didn't chance to light on the right
gal; or maybe on account of the surveyin' principle, which keeps a man
pretty much movin' about from tract to tract; though not much more than
squattin' doos, neither, if the matter was inquired into."

I understood the object of this sudden change from fee-simples, and
possessions, and the "accommodatin' spirit," to matrimony; but
Chainbearer did not. He only looked his surprise; while, as to myself,
if I looked at all as I felt, I must have been the picture of
uneasiness. The beloved, unconscious Dus sat there in her maiden beauty,
interested and anxious in her mind, beyond all question, but totally
ignorant of the terrible blow that was meditated against herself. As
Andries looked his desire to hear more, instead of answering the strange
remark he had just heard, Thousandacres proceeded, "It's quite nat'ral
to think of matrimony, afore so many young folks, isn't it,
Chainbearer?" added the squatter, chuckling at his own conceits. "Here's
lots of b'ys and gals about me; and I'm just as accommodatin' in findin'
husbands or wives for my fri'nds and neighbors, as I am in settlin' all
other difficulties. Anything for peace and a good neighborhood is my
religion!"

Old Andries passed a hand over his eyes, in the way one is apt to do
when he wishes to aid a mental effort by external application. It was
evident he was puzzled to find out what the squatter would be at, though
he soon put a question that brought about something like an explanation.

"I ton't unterstant you, T'ousantacres;--no, I ton't unterstant you. Is
it your tesire to gif me one of your puxom ant fine-lookin' gals, here,
for a wife?"

The squatter laughed heartily at this notion, the young men joining in
the mirth; while the constant titter that the females had kept up ever
since the subject of matrimony was introduced, was greatly augmented in
zest. An indifferent spectator would have supposed that the utmost good
feeling prevailed among us.

"With all my heart, Chainbearer, if you can persuade any of the gals to
have you!" cried Thousandacres, with the most apparent acquiescence.
"With such a son-in-law, I don't know but I should take to the chain,
a'ter all, and measure out my clearin's as well as the grandee farmers,
who take pride in knowin' where their lines be. There's Lowiny, she's
got no spark, and might suit you well enough, if she'd only think so."

"Lowiny don't think any sich thing; and isn't likely to think any sich
thing," answered the girl, in a quick, irritated manner.

"Wa-a-l, I do s'pose, a'ter all, Chainbearer," Thousandacres resumed,
"we'll get no weddin' out of _you_. Three-score-and-ten is somewhat late
for takin' a first wife; though I've known widowers marry ag'in when
hard on upon ninety. When a man has taken one wife in 'arly life, he has
a kind o' right to another in old age."

"Yes--yes--or a hundred either," put in Prudence, with spirit. "Give 'em
a chance only, and they'll find wives as long as they can find breath to
ask women to have 'em! Gals, you may make up your minds to _that_--no
man will mourn long for any on you, a'ter you're once dead and buried."

I should think this little sally must have been somewhat common, as
neither the "b'ys" nor the "gals" appeared to give it much attention.
These matrimonial insinuations occur frequently in the world, and
Prudence was not the first woman, by a million, who had ventured to make
them.

"I will own I was not so much thinkin' of providin' a wife for you,
Chainbearer, as I was thinkin' of providin' one for a son of mine,"
continued Thousandacres. "Here's Zephaniah, now, is as active and
hard-workin', upright, honest and obedient a young man as can be found
in this country. He's of a suitable age, and begins to think of a wife.
I tell him to marry, by all means, for it's the blessedest condition of
life, is the married state, that man ever entered into. You wouldn't
think it, perhaps, on lookin' at old Prudence, there, and beholdin' what
she now is; but I speak from exper'ence in recommendin' matrimony; and I
wouldn't, on no account, say what I didn't really think in the matter. A
little matrimony might settle all our difficulties, Chainbearer."

"You surely do not expect me to marry your son, Zephaniah, I must
s'pose, T'ousantacres!" answered Andries, innocently.

The laugh, this time, was neither as loud or as general as before,
intense expectation rendering the auditors grave.

"No, no; I'll excuse you from that, of a sartainty, old Andries; though
you may have Lowiny, if you can only prevail on the gal. But, speakin'
of Zephaniah, I can r'ally ricommend the young man; a thing I'd never do
if he didn't desarve it, though he is my son. No one can say that I'm in
the habit of ever ricommendin' my own things, even to the boards. The
lumber of Thousandacres is as well known in all the markets below, they
tell me, as the flour of any miller in the highest credit. It's just so
with the b'ys, better lads is not to be met with; and I can ricommend
Zephaniah with just as much confidence as I could ricommend any lot of
boards I ever rafted."

"And what haf I to do wit' all t'is?" asked Chainbearer, gravely.

"Why, the matter is here, Chainbearer, if you'll only look a little into
it. There's difficulty atween us, and pretty serious difficulty, too. In
me the accommodatin' spirit is up, as I've said afore, and am willin' to
say ag'in. Now I've my son, Zeph, here, as I've said, and he's lookin'
about for a wife; and you've a niece here--Dus Malbone, I s'pose is her
name--and they'd just suit each other. It seems they're acquainted
somewhat, and have kept company some time already, and that'll make
things smooth. Now what I offer is just this, and no more; not a bit of
it. I offer to send off for a magistrate, and I'll do't at my own
expense; it shan't cost you a farthin'; and as soon as the magistrate
comes, we'll have the young folks married on the spot, and that will
make etarnal peace forever, as you must suppose, atween you and me.
Wa-a-l, peace made atween _us_, 'twill leave but little to accommodate
with the writin' owners of the sile, seein' that you are on tarms with
em' all, that a body may set you down all as one as bein' of the same
family, like. If Gin'ral Littlepage makes a p'int of anything of the
sort, I'll engage no one of my family, in all futur' time, shall ever
squat on any lands he may lay claim to, whether he owns em or not."

I saw quite plainly that at first Chainbearer did not fully comprehend
the nature of the squatter's proposal. Neither did Dus herself; though
somewhat prepared for such a thing by her knowledge of Zephaniah's
extravagant wishes on the subject. But when Thousandacres spoke plainly
of sending for a magistrate, and of having "the young folks married on
the spot," it was not easy to mistake his meaning, and astonishment was
soon succeeded by offended pride, in the breast of old Andries, and that
to a degree and in a manner I had never before witnessed in him. Perhaps
I ought, in justice to my excellent friend, to add that his high
principles and keen sense of right were quite as much wounded by the
strange proposal as his personal feelings. It was some time before he
could or would speak; when he did, it was with a dignity and severity of
manner which I really had no idea he could assume. The thought of Ursula
Malbone's being sacrificed to such a being as Zephaniah, and such a
family as the squatter's, shocked all his sensibilities, and appeared
for a moment to overcome him. On the other hand, nothing was plainer
than that the breed of Thousandacres saw no such violation of the
proprieties in their scheme. The vulgar, almost invariably, in this
country, reduce the standard of distinction to mere money; and in this
respect they saw, or fancied they saw, that Dus was not much better off
than they were themselves. All those points which depended on taste,
refinement, education, habits and principles, were Hebrew to them; and,
quite as a matter of course, they took no account of qualities they
could neither see nor comprehend. It is not surprising, therefore, that
they could imagine the young squatter might make a suitable husband to
one who was known to have carried chain in the forest.

"I pelieve I do begin to unterstant you, T'ousantacres," said the
Chainbearer, rising from his chair, and moving to the side of his niece
as if instinctively to protect her; "t'ough it ist not a fery easy t'ing
to comprehent such a proposal. You wish Ursula Malpone to pecome t'e
wife of Zephaniah T'ousantacres, ant t'ereupon you wish to patch up a
peace wit' General Littlepage and Colonel Follock, ant optain an
intemnity for all t'e wrong ant roppery you have done 'em----"

"Harkee, old Chainbearer; you'd best be kearful of your language----"

"Hear what t'at language ist to pe, pefore you interrupt me,
T'ousantacres. A wise man listens pefore he answers. Alt'ough I haf
nefer peen marriet myself, I know what ist tecent in pehavior, ant,
t'erefore, I wilt t'ank you for t'e wish of pein' connectet wit' t'e
Coejemans ant t'e Malpones. T'at tuty tone, I wish to say t'at my niece
wilt not haf your poy----"

"You haven't given the gal a chance to speak for herself," cried
Thousandacres, at the top of his voice, for he began to be agitated now
with a fury that found a little vent in that manner. "You haven't given
the gal a chance to answer for herself, old Andries. Zeph is a lad that
she may go farther and fare worse, afore she'll meet his equal, I can
tell you, though perhaps, bein' the b'y's own father, I shouldn't say
it--but, in the way of accommodatin', I'm willin' to overlook a great
deal."

"Zephaniah's an excellent son," put in Prudence, in the pride and
feeling of a mother, nature having its triumph in _her_ breast as well
as in that of the most cultivated woman of the land. "Of all my sons,
Zephaniah is the best; and I account him fit to marry with any who don't
live in the open country, and with many that do."

"Praise your goots, ant extol your poy, if you see fit," answered
Chainbearer, with a calmness that I knew bespoke some desperate
resolution. "Praise your goots, ant extol your poy, I'll not teny your
right to do as much of t'at as you wish; put t'is gal was left me py an
only sister on her tyin' pet, ant may God forget me, when I forget the
tuty I owe to _her_. She shalt nefer marry a son of T'ousantacres--she
shalt nefer marry a squatter--she shalt nefer marry any man t'at ist not
of a class, ant feelin's, ant hapits, and opinions, fit to pe t'e
huspant of a laty!"

A shout of derision, in which was blended the fierce resentment of
mortified pride, arose among that rude crew, but the thundering voice of
Thousandacres made itself audible, even amid the hellish din.

"Beware, Chainbearer; beware how you aggravate us; natur' can't and
won't bear everything."

"I want nut'in' of you or yours, T'ousantacres," calmly returned the old
man, passing his arm around the waist of Dus, who clung to him, with a
cheek that was flushed to fire, but an eye that was not accustomed to
quail, and who seemed, at that fearful moment, every way ready and able
to second her uncle's efforts. "You're nut'in' to me, ant I'll leaf you
here, in your misteets ant wicket t'oughts. Stant asite, I orter you. Do
not tare to stop t'e brod'er who is apout to safe his sister's da'ghter
from pecoming a squatter's wife. Stant asite, for I'll stay wit' you no
longer. An hour or two hence, miseraple Aaron, you'll see t'e folly of
all t'is, ant wish you hat livet an honest man."

By this time the clamor of voices became so loud and confused, as to
render it impossible to distinguish what was said. Thousandacres
actually roared like a maddened bull, and he was soon hoarse with
uttering his menaces and maledictions. Tobit said less, but was probably
more dangerous. All the young men seemed violently agitated, and bent on
closing the door on the exit of the Chainbearer; who, with his arm
around Dus, still slowly advanced, waving the crowd aside, and
commanding them to make way for him, with a steadiness and dignity that
I began to think would really prevail. In the midst of this scene of
confusion, a rifle suddenly flashed; the report was simultaneous, and
old Andries Coejemans fell.



CHAPTER XXVI.

    "Ye midnight shades, o'er nature spread!
      Dumb silence of the dreary hour!
    In honor of th' approaching dead,
      Around your awful terrors pour.
          Yes, pour around,
          On this pale ground,
    Through all this deep surrounding gloom,
          The sober thought,
          The tear untaught,
    Those meetest mourners at the tomb."--MALLET.


It is a law of human nature, that the excesses of passion bring their
own rebukes. The violence of man feeds itself, until some enormity
committed under its influence suddenly rises before the transgressor, as
the evidence of his blindness and the restorer of his senses. Guilt
performs the office of reason, staying the hand, stilling the pulses,
and arousing the conscience.

Thus it seemed to be with the squatters of Mooseridge. A stillness so
profound succeeded the crack of that rifle, that I heard the stifled
breathing of Dus, as she stood over the body of her uncle, astounded,
and almost converted into a statue by the suddenness of the blow. No one
spoke; no one attempted to quit the place; in fact, no one moved. It was
never known who fired that shot. At first I ascribed it to the hand of
Tobit; but it was owing more to what I knew of his temper and character,
than to what I knew of his acts at that particular time. Afterward I
inclined to the opinion that my friend had fallen by the hand of
Thousandacres himself; though there were no means of bringing it home to
him by legal proof. If any knew who was the criminal besides the wretch
who executed the deed, the fact was never revealed. That family was
faithful to itself, and seemed determined to stand or fall together. In
the eye of the law, all who were present, aiding and abetting in the
unlawful detention of Dus and her uncle, were equally guilty; but the
hand on which the stain of blood rested in particular, was never dragged
to light.

My first impulse, as soon as I could recollect myself, was to pass an
arm around the waist of Dus and force her through the crowd, with a view
to escape. Had this attempt been persevered in, I think it would have
succeeded, so profound was the sensation made, even upon those rude and
lawless men, by the deed of violence, that had just been done. But Dus
was not one to think of self at such a moment. For a single instant her
head fell on my shoulders, and I held her to my bosom, while I whispered
my wish for her to fly. Then raising her head, she gently extricated her
person from my arms, and knelt by the side of her uncle.

"He breathes!" she said huskily, but hastily. "God be praised, Mordaunt,
he still breathes. The blow may not be as heavy as we at first supposed;
let us do what we can to aid him."

Here were the characteristic decision and thoughtfulness of Ursula
Malbone! Rising quickly, she turned to the group of silent but observant
squatters, and appealed to any remains of humanity that might still be
found in their bosoms, to lend their assistance. Thousandacres stood
foremost in the dark cluster at the door, looking grimly at the
motionless body, over which Dus stood, pale and heart-stricken, but
still calm and collected.

"The hardest-hearted man among you will not deny a daughter's right to
administer to a parent's wants!" she said, with a pathos in her voice,
and a dignity in her manner, that filled me with love and admiration,
and which had a visible effect on all who heard hear. "Help me to raise
my uncle and to place him on a bed, while Major Littlepage examines his
hurt. You'll not deny me this little comfort, Thousandacres, for you
cannot know how soon you may want succor yourself!"

Zephaniah, who certainly had no hand in the murder of Chainbearer, now
advanced; and he, myself, Lowiny and Dus, raised the still motionless
body, and placed it on the bed of Prudence, which stood in the principal
room. There was a consultation among the squatters, while we were thus
employed, and one by one the family dropped off, until no one was left
in the house but Thousandacres, and his wife, and Lowiny; the latter
remaining with Dus, as a useful and even an affectionate assistant. The
father sat, in moody silence, on one side of the fire while Prudence
placed herself on the other. I did not like the aspect of the squatter's
countenance, but he said and did nothing. It struck me he was brooding
over the facts, nursing his resentments by calling up fancied wrongs to
his mind, and plotting for the future. If such was the case, he
manifested great nerve, inasmuch as neither alarm nor hurry was, in the
slightest degree, apparent in his mien. Prudence was dreadfully
agitated.

She said nothing, but her body worked to and fro with nervous
excitement; and occasionally a heavy, but suppressed groan struggled
through her efforts to resist it. Otherwise, she was as if not present.

I had been accustomed to seeing gunshot wounds, and possessed such a
general knowledge of their effects as to be a tolerable judge of what
would, and what would not, be likely to prove fatal. The first look I
took at the hurt of Chainbearer convinced me there could be no hope for
his life. The ball had passed between two of the ribs, and seemed to me
to take a direction downward; but it was impossible to miss the vitals
with a wound commencing at that point on the human body. The first shock
of the injury had produced insensibility; but we had hardly got the
sufferer on the bed, and applied a little water to his lips, ere he
revived; soon regaining his consciousness, as well as the power to
speak. Death was on him, however; and it was very obvious to me that his
hours were numbered. He might live days, but it was not possible for him
to survive.

"Got pless you, Mortaunt," my old friend murmured, after my efforts had
thus partially succeeded. "Got forever pless ant preserf you, poy, ant
repay you for all your kintness to me ant mine. T'em squatters haf
killet me, lat; put I forgif t'em. T'ey are an ignorant, ant selfish,
ant prutal preed; ant I may haf triet 'em too sorely. Put Dus can never
pecome t'e wife of any of t'e family."

As Zephaniah was in the room, though not near the bed at the moment, I
was anxious to change the current of the wounded man's thoughts; and I
questioned him as to the nature of his hurt, well knowing that
Chainbearer had seen so many soldiers in situations similar to his own
unhappy condition, as to be a tolerable judge of his actual state.

"I'm killet, Mortaunt," old Andries answered, in a tone even firmer than
that in which he had just spoken. "Apout t'at, t'ere can pe no mistake.
T'ey haf shot t'rough my rips, and t'rough my vitals; ant life is
impossible. But t'at does not matter much to me, for I am an olt man
now, hafin' lifet my t'reescore years ant ten--no, t'at is no great
matter, t'ough some olt people cling to life wit' a tighter grip t'an
t'e young. Such ist not my case, howsefer; ant I am reaty to march when
t'e great wort of commant comet'. I am fery sorry, Mortaunt, t'at t'is
accitent shoult happen pefore t'e patent has peen fully surfeyet; put I
am not pait for t'e work t'at is finishet, ant it ist a great comfort to
me to know I shall not tie in tebt. I owe you, ant I owe my goot frient,
t'e general, a great teal for kintnesses, I must confess; put, in t'e
way of money, t'ere wilt pe no loss by t'is accitent."

"Mention nothing of this sort, I do entreat of you, Chainbearer; I know
my father would gladly give the best farm he owns to see you standing,
erect and well, as you were twenty minutes since."

"Well, I tares to say, t'at may pe true, for I haf always fount t'e
general to pe friently and consiterate. I wilt tell you a secret,
Mortaunt, t'at I haf nefer pefore revealet to mortal man, put which
t'ere ist no great use in keepin' any longer, ant which I shoult haf
peen willing to haf tolt long ago, hat not t'e general himself mate it a
p'int t'at I shoult not speak of it----"

"Perhaps it might be better, my good friend, were you to tell me this
secret another time. Talking may weary and excite you; whereas, sleep
and rest may possibly do you service."

"No, no, poy--t'e hope of t'at ist all itleness ant vanity. I shalt
nefer sleep ag'in, tilt I sleep t'e last long sleep of teat'; I feelt
sartain my wound is mortal, ant t'at my time must soon come.
Nefert'eless, it doesn't gif me pain to talk; ant, Mortaunt, my tear
lat, fri'nts t'at pe apout to part for so long a time, ought not to part
wit'out sayin' a wort to one anot'er pefore separation. I shoult pe
glat, in partic'lar, to tell to a son all t'e kintness ant fri'ntship I
haf receifet from his fat'er. You know fery well, yourself, Mortaunt,
t'at I am not great at figures; and why it shoult pe so, ist a wonter
ant a surprise to me, for my grantfat'er Van Syce was a wonterful man at
arit'metic, and t'e first Coejemans in t'is country, t'ey say, kept all
t'e tominie's accounts for him! Put, let t'at pe ast it wast, I nefer
coult do anyt'ing wit' figures; ant it ist a secret not to pe concealet
now, Mortaunt, t'at I nefer coult haf helt my commission of captain six
weeks, put for your own fat'ers kintness to me. Fintin' out how
impossible it was for me to get along wit' arit'metic, he offeret to do
all t'at sort of tuty for me, ant t'e whole time we was toget'er, seven
long years ant more, Colonel Littlepage mate out t'e reports of
Coejemans' company. Capital goot reports was t'ey, too, ant t'e
atmiration of all t'at see t'em; ant I often felt ashamet like, when I
he'rt t'em praiset, and people wonterin' how an olt Tutchman ever
l'arnet to do his tuty so well! I shalt nefer see t'e general ag'in, ant
I wish you to tell him t'at Andries tit not forget his gootness to him,
to t'e latest preat' t'at he trew."

"I will do all you ask of me, Chainbearer--surely it must give you pain
to talk so much?"

"Not at all, poy; not at all. It is goot to t'e poty to lighten t'e soul
of its opligations. Ast I see, howsefer, t'at Dus ist trouplet, I wilt
shut my eyes, and look into my own t'oughts a little, for I may not tie
for some hours yet."

It sounded fearful to me to hear one I loved so well speak so calmly,
and with so much certainty, of his approaching end. I could see that
Ursula almost writhed under the agony these words produced in her; yet
that noble-minded creature wore an air of calmness that might have
deceived one who knew her less well than she was known to me. She signed
for me to quit the side of the bed, in the vain hope that her uncle
might fall asleep, and placed herself silently on a chair, at hand, in
readiness to attend to his wants. As for me, I took the occasion to
examine the state of things without, and to reflect on what course I
ought to take, in the novel and desperate circumstances in which we were
so unexpectedly placed; the time for something decisive having certainly
arrived.

It was now near an hour after the deed had been done--and there sat
Thousandacres and his wife, one on each side of the fire, in silent
thought. As I turned to look at the squatters, and the father of
squatters, I saw that his countenance was set in that species of sullen
moodiness, which might well be taken as ominous in a man of his
looseness of principle and fierceness of temperament. Nor had the
nervous twitchings of Prudence ceased. In a word, both of these strange
beings appeared at the end of that hour just as they had appeared at its
commencement. It struck me, as I passed them in moving toward the door,
that there was even a sublimity in their steadiness in guilt. I ought,
however, in some slight degree to exempt the woman, whose agitation was
some proof that she repented of what had been done. At the door itself,
I found no one; but two or three of the young men were talking in a low
tone to each other at no great distance. Apparently they had an eye to
what was going on within the building. Still no one of them spoke to me,
and I began to think that the crime already committed had produced such
a shock, that no further wrong to any of us was contemplated, and that I
might consider myself at liberty to do and act as I saw fit. A twitch at
my sleeve, however, drew my look aside, and I saw Lowiny cowering within
the shadows of the house, seemingly eager to attract my attention. She
had been absent some little time, and had probably been listening to the
discourse of those without.

"Don't think of venturing far from the house," the girl whispered. "The
evil spirit has got possession of Tobit; and he has just sworn the same
grave shall hold you, and Chainbearer and Dus. 'Graves don't turn
state's evidence,' he says. I never know'd him to be so awful as he is
to-night; though he's dreadful in temper when anything goes amiss."

The girl glided past me as she ceased her hurried communication, and the
next instant she was standing quietly at the side of Dus, in readiness
to offer her assistance in any necessary office for the sick. I saw that
she had escaped notice, and then reconnoitred my own position with some
little care.

By this time the night had got to be quite dark; and it was impossible
to recognize persons at the distance of twenty feet. It is true, one
could tell a man from a stump at twice that number of yards, or even
further; but the objects of the rude clearing began to be confounded
together in a way to deprive the vision of much of its customary power.
That group of young men, as I suppose, contained the formidable Tobit;
but I could be by no means certain of the fact without approaching quite
near to it. This I did not like to do, as there was nothing that I
desired particularly to say to any of the family at the moment. Could
they have known my heart, the squatters would have felt no uneasiness on
the subject of my escaping, for were Dus quite out of the question, as
she neither was nor could be, it would be morally impossible for me to
desert the Chainbearer in his dying moments. Nevertheless, Tobit and his
brethren did not know this; and it might be dangerous for me to presume
too far on the contrary supposition.

The darkness was intensest near the house, as a matter of course; and I
glided along close to the walls of logs until I reached an angle of the
building, thinking the movement might be unseen. But I got an assurance
that I was watched that would admit of no question, by a call from one
of the young men, directing me not to turn the corner to go out of sight
in any direction, at the peril of my life. This was plain speaking; and
it induced a short dialogue between us, in which I avowed my
determination not to desert my friends--for the Chainbearer would
probably not outlive the night--and that I felt no apprehension for
myself. I was heated and excited, and had merely left the house for air;
if they offered no impediment I would walk to and fro near them for a
few minutes, solely with a view to refresh my feverish pulses, pledging
my word to make no attempt at escape. This explanation, with the
accompanying assurance, seemed to satisfy my guard; and I was quietly
permitted to do as I had proposed.

The walk I selected was between the group of squatters and the house,
and at each turn it necessarily brought me close to the young men. At
such moments I profited by my position to look in through the door of
the dwelling at the motionless form of Dus, who sat at the bedside of
her uncle in the patient, silent, tender, and attentive manner of woman,
and whom I could plainly see in thus passing. Notwithstanding the
fidelity of my homage to my mistress at these instants, I could perceive
that the young men uniformly suspended the low dialogue they were
holding together, as I approached them, and as uniformly renewed it as I
moved away. This induced me gradually to extend my walk, lengthening it
a little on each end, until I may have gone as far as a hundred feet on
each side of the group, which I took for the centre. To have gone
farther would have been imprudent, as it might seem preparatory to an
attempt at escape, and to a consequent violation of my word.

In this manner, then, I may have made eight or ten turns in as many
minutes, when I heard a low, hissing sound near me, while at the
extremity of one of my short promenades. A stump stood there, and the
sound came from the root of the stump. At first I fancied I had
encroached on the domain of some serpent; though animals of that
species, which would be likely to give forth such a menace, were even
then very rare among us. But my uncertainty was soon relieved.

"Why you no stop at stump?" said Susquesus, in a voice so low as not to
be heard at the distance of ten feet, while it was perfectly distinct
and not in a whisper. "Got sut'in' tell--glad to hear."

"Wait until I can make one or two more turns; I will come back in a
moment," was my guarded answer.

Then I continued my march, placing myself against a stump that stood at
the other end of my walk, remaining leaning there for an entire minute
or two, when I returned, passing the young men as before. This I did
three several times, stopping at each turn, as if to rest or to reflect;
and making each succeeding halt longer than the one that had preceded
it. At length I took my stand against the very stump that concealed the
Indian.

"How came you here, Susquesus?" I asked; "and are you armed?"

"Yes; got good rifle. Chainbearer's gun. He no want him any longer, eh?"

"You know then what has happened? Chainbearer is mortally wounded."

"Dat bad--must take scalp to pay for _dat_! Ole fri'nd--good fri'nd.
Always kill murderer."

"I beg nothing of the sort will be attempted; but how came you
here?--and how came you armed?"

"Jaap do him--come and break open door. Nigger strong--do what he like
to. Bring rifle--say take him. Wish he come sooner--den Chainbearer no
get kill. We see."

I thought it prudent to move on by the time this was said; and I made a
turn or two ere I was disposed to come to another halt. The truth,
however, was now apparent to me. Jaap had come in from the forest,
forced the fastenings of the Onondago's prison, given him arms, and they
were both out in the darkness, prowling round the building, watching for
the moment to strike a blow, or an opportunity to communicate with me.
How they had ascertained the fact of Chainbearer's being shot, I was
left to conjecture; though Susquesus must have heard the report of the
rifle; and an Indian, on such a night as that, left to pursue his own
course, would soon ascertain all the leading points of any circumstance
in which he felt an interest.

My brain was in a whirl as all these details presented themselves to my
mind, and I was greatly at a loss to decide on my course. In order to
gain time for reflection, I stopped a moment at the stump, and whispered
to the Onondago a request that he would remain where he was until I
could give him his orders. An expressive "good" was the answer I
received, and I observed that the Indian crouched lower in his lair,
like some fierce animal of the woods, that restrained his impatience, in
order to make his leap, when it did come, more certain and fatal.

I had now a little leisure for reflection. There lay poor Chainbearer,
stretched on his death-pallet, as motionless as if the breath had
already left his body. Dus maintained her post, nearly as immovable as
her uncle; while Lowiny stood at hand, manifesting the sympathy of her
sex in the mourning scene before her. I caught glimpses, too, in
passing, of Thousandacres and Prudence. It appeared to me as if the
first had not stirred from the moment when he had taken his seat on the
hearth. His countenance was as set, his air as moody, and his attitude
as stubborn, as each had been in the first five minutes after the
Chainbearer fell. Prudence, too, was as unchanged as her husband. Her
body continued to rock, in nervous excitement, but not once had I seen
her raise her eyes from the stone of the rude hearth that covered nearly
one-half of the room. The fire had nearly burned down, and no one
replenishing the brush which fed it, a flickering flame alone
remained to cast its wavering light over the forms of these two
conscience-stricken creatures, rendering them still more mysterious and
forbidding. Lowiny had indeed lighted a thin, miserable candle of
tallow, such as one usually sees in the lowest habitations; but it was
placed aside, in order to be removed from before the sight of the
supposed slumberer, and added but little to the light of the room.
Notwithstanding, I could and did see all I have described, stopping for
some little time at a point that commanded a view of the interior of the
house.

Of Dus, I could ascertain but little. She was nearly immovable at the
bedside of her uncle, but her countenance was veiled from view.
Suddenly, and it was at one of those moments when I had stopped in front
of the building, she dropped on her knees, buried her face in the
coverlet, and became lost in prayer. Prudence started as she saw this
act; then she arose, after the fashion of those who imagine they have
contributed to the simplicity, and consequently to the beauty of
worship, by avoiding the ceremony of kneeling to Almighty God, and stood
erect, moving to and fro, as before, her tall, gaunt figure, resembling
some half-decayed hemlock of the adjacent forest, that has lost the
greater portion of its verdure, rocked by a tempest. I was touched,
notwithstanding, at this silent evidence that the woman retained some of
the respect and feeling for the services of the Deity, which, though
strangely blended with fanaticism and a pertinacious self-righteousness,
no doubt had a large influence in bringing those who belonged to her
race, across the Atlantic, some five or six generations previously to
her own.

It was just at this instant that I recognized the voice of Tobit, as he
advanced toward the group composed of his brethren; and speaking to his
wife, who accompanied him as far as his father's habitation, and there
left him, apparently to return to her own. I did not distinguish what
was said, but the squatter spoke sullenly, and in the tone of one whose
humor was menacing. Believing that I might meet with some rudeness of a
provoking character from this man, should he see me walking about in the
manner I had now been doing for near a quarter of an hour, ere he had
the matter explained, I thought it wisest to enter the building, and
effect an object I had in view, by holding a brief conversation with
Thousandacres.

This determination was no sooner formed than I put it in execution;
trusting that the patience of the Indian, and Jaap's habits of
obedience, would prevent anything like an outbreak from them, without
orders. As I re-entered the room, Dus was still on her knees, and
Prudence continued erect, oscillating as before, with her eyes riveted
on the hearth. Lowiny stood near the bed, and I thought, like her
mother, she was in some measure mingling in spirit with the prayer.

"Thousandacres," I commenced in a low voice, drawing quite near the
squatter, and succeeding in causing him to look at me, by my
address--"Thousandacres, this has been a most melancholy business, but
everything should be done that can be done, to repair the evil. Will you
not send a messenger through to the 'Nest, to obtain the aid of the
physician?"

"Doctors can do but little good to a wound made by a rifle that was
fired so cluss, young man. I want no doctors here, to betray me and mine
to the law."

"Nay, your messenger can keep your secret; and I will give him gold to
induce the physician to come, and come at once. He can be told that I am
accidentally hurt, and might still reach us to be of service in
alleviating pain; I confess there is no hope for anything else."

"Men must take their chances," coldly returned that obdurate being.
"Them that live in the woods, take woodsmen's luck; and them that live
in the open country, the open country luck. My family and lumber must be
presarved at all risks; and no doctor shall come here."

What was to be done--what _could_ be done, with such a being? All
principle, all sense of right, was concentrated in self--in his moral
system. It was as impossible to make him see the side of any question
that was opposed to his interests, fancied or real, as it was to give
sight to the physically blind. I had hoped contrition was at work upon
him, and that some advantage might be obtained through the agency of so
powerful a mediator; but no sooner was his dull nature aroused into
anything like action, than it took the direction of selfishness, as the
needle points to the pole.

Disgusted at this exhibition of the most confirmed trait of the
squatter's character, I was in the act of moving from him, when a loud
shout arose around the building, and the flashes and reports of three or
four rifles were heard. Rushing to the door, I was in time to hear the
tramp of men, who seemed to me to be pushing forward in all directions;
and the crack of the rifle was occasionally heard, apparently retiring
toward the woods. Men called to each other, in the excitement of a chase
and conflict; but I could gain no information, the body of darkness
which had settled on the place having completely hidden everything from
view, at any distance.

In this state of most painful doubt I continued for five or six minutes,
the noise of the chase receding the whole time, when a man came rushing
up to the door of the hut where I stood, and, seizing my hand, I found
it was Frank Malbone. The succor, then, had arrived, and I was no longer
a captive.

"God be praised! you at least are safe," cried Malbone. "But my dear
sister?"

"Is there unharmed, watching by the side of her uncle's dying bed. Is
any one hurt without?"

"That is more than I can tell you. Your black acted as guide, and
brought us down on the place so skilfully, that it was not my intention
to resort to arms at all, since we might have captured all the squatters
without firing a shot, had my orders been observed. But a rifle _was_
discharged from behind a stump, and this drew a volley from the enemy.
Some of our side returned the discharge, and the squatters then took to
flight. The firing you have just heard is scattered discharges that have
come from both sides, and can be only sound, as any aim is impossible in
this obscurity. My own piece has not even been cocked, and I regret a
rifle has been fired."

"Perhaps all is then well, and we have driven off our enemies without
doing them any harm. Are you strong enough to keep them at a distance?"

"Perfectly so; we are a posse of near thirty men, led by an
under-sheriff and a magistrate. All we wanted was a direction to this
spot, to have arrived some hours earlier."

I groaned in spirit at hearing this, since those few hours might have
saved the life of poor Chainbearer. As it was, however, this rescue was
the subject of grateful rejoicing, and one of the happiest moments of my
life was that in which I saw Dus fall on her brother's bosom and burst
into tears. I was at their side, in the doorway of the hut, when this
meeting took place; and Dus held out a hand affectionately to me, as she
withdrew herself from her brother's arms. Frank Malbone looked a little
surprised at this act; but, anxious to see and speak to Chainbearer, he
passed into the building, and approached the bed. Dus and I followed;
for the shouts and firing had reached the ears of the wounded man, and
Andries was anxious to learn their meaning. The sight of Malbone let him
into a general knowledge of the state of the facts; but a strong anxiety
was depicted in his falling countenance, as he looked toward me for
information.

"What is it, Mortaunt?" he asked, with considerable strength of voice,
his interest in the answer probably stimulating his physical powers.
"What is it, poy? I hope t'ere hast peen no useless fightin' on account
of a poor olt man like me, who hast seen his t'reescore years ant ten,
ant who owest to his Maker t'e life t'at wast grantet to him seventy
long years ago. I hope no one hast peen injuret in so poor a cause."

"We know of no one beside yourself, Chainbearer, who has been hurt
to-night. The firing you have heard, comes from the party of Frank
Malbone, which has just arrived, and which has driven off the squatters
by noise more than by any harm that has been done them."

"Got pe praiset! Got pe praiset! I am glat to see Frank pefore I tie,
first to take leaf of him, as an olt frient, ant secontly to place his
sister, Dus, in his care. T'ey haf wantet to gif Dus one of t'ese
squatters for a huspant, by way of making peace petween t'ieves and
honest people. T'at woult nefer do, Frank, as you well know Dus ist t'e
ta'ghter of a gentleman, ant t'e ta'ghter of a laty; ant she ist a
gentlewoman herself, ant ist not to pe marriet to a coarse, rute,
illiterate, vulgar squatter. Wast I young, ant wast I not t'e gal's
uncle, I shoult not venture to s'pose I coult make her a fit companion
myself, peing too little edicated ant instructed to pe the huspant of
one like Dus Malpone."

"There is no fear now, that any such calamity can befall my sister, my
dear Chainbearer," answered Frank Malbone. "Nor do I think any threats
or dangers could so far intimidate Dus, as to cause her to plight her
faith to any man she did not love or respect. They would have found my
sister difficult to coerce."

"It ist pest as it ist, Frank--yes, it ist pest as it ist. T'ese
squatters are fery sat rascals, ant woult not pe apt to stop at trifles.
Ant, now we are on t'is supject, I wilt say a wort more consarnin' your
sister. I see she hast gone out of t'e hut to weep, ant she wilt not
hear what I haf to say. Here ist Mortaunt Littlepage, who says he lofes
Dus more ast man efer lovet woman pefore--" Frank started, and I fancied
that his countenance grew dark--"ant what ist nat'ral enough, when a man
dost truly lofe a woman in t'at tegree, he wishes fery, fery much to
marry her"--Frank's countenance brightened immediately, and seeing my
hand extended toward him, he grasped it and gave it a most cordial
pressure. "Now, Mortaunt woult pe an excellent match for Dus--a most
capital match, for he ist young ant goot lookin', ant prave, ant
honoraple, ant sensiple, ant rich, all of which pe fery goot t'ings in
matrimony; put, on t'e ot'er hant, he has a fat'er, ant a mot'er, ant
sisters, ant it ist nat'ral, too, t'at t'ey shoult not like, overmuch,
to haf a son ant a prot'er marry a gal t'at hasn't anyt'ing put a set of
chains, a new compass, ant a few fielt articles t'at wilt fall to her
share a'ter my teat'. No, no; we must t'ink of t'e honor of t'e
Coejemans ant t'e Malpones, ant not let our peloved gal go into a family
t'at may not want her."

I could see that Frank Malbone smiled, though sadly, as he listened to
this warning; for, on him, it made little or no impression, since he was
generous enough to judge me by himself, and did not believe any such
mercenary considerations would influence my course. I felt differently,
however. Obstinacy in opinion, was one of the weak points in
Chainbearer's character, and I saw the danger of his leaving these
sentiments as a legacy to Dus. She, indeed, had been the first to
entertain them, and to communicate them to her uncle, and they might
revive in her when she came to reflect on the true condition of things,
and become confirmed by the dying requests of her uncle. It is true,
that in our own interview, when I obtained from the dear girl the
precious confession of her love, no such obstacle seemed to exist, but
both of us appeared to look forward with confidence to our future union
as to a thing certain; but at that moment, Dus was excited by my
declarations of the most ardent and unutterable attachment, and led away
by the strength of her own feelings. We were in the delirium of delight
produced by mutual confidence, and the full assurance of mutual love,
when Thousandacres came upon us, to carry us to the scenes of woe by
which we had been, and were still, in a degree, surrounded. Under such
circumstances, one might well fall under the influence of feelings and
emotions that would prove to be more controllable in cooler moments. It
was all-important, then, for me to set Chainbearer right in the matter,
and to have a care he did not quit us, leaving the two persons he most
loved on earth, very unnecessarily miserable, and that solely on account
of the strength of his own prejudices. Nevertheless, the moment was not
favorable to pursue such a purpose, and I was reflecting bitterly on the
future, when we were all startled by a heavy groan that seemed to come
out of the very depths of the chest of the squatter.

Frank and I turned instinctively toward the chimney, on hearing this
unlooked-for interruption. The chair of Prudence was vacant, the woman
having rushed from the hut at the first sound of the recent alarm; most
probably in quest of her younger children. But Thousandacres remained in
the very seat he had now occupied nearly, if not quite, two hours. I
observed, however, that his form was not as erect as when previously
seen. It had sunk lower in the chair, while his chin hung down upon his
breast. Advancing nearer, a small pool of blood was seen on the stones
beneath him, and a short examination told Malbone and myself, that a
rifle-bullet had passed directly through his body, in a straight line,
and that only three inches above the hips!



CHAPTER XXVII.

    "With woful measures, wan despair--
      Low, sullen sounds his grief beguil'd,
    A solemn, strange, and mingled air;
      'Twas sad by fits, by starts 'twas wild."--Collins.


Thousandacres had been shot in his chair, by one of the rifles first
discharged that night. As it turned out, he was the only one that we
could ascertain was hurt; though there was a report, to which many
persons gave credence, that Tobit had a leg broken, also, and that he
remained a cripple for life. I am inclined to believe this report may
have been true; for Jaap told me, after all was over, that he let fly on
a man who had just fired on himself, and who certainly fell, and was
borne off limping, by two of his companions. It is quite probable that
this hurt of Tobit's and the fate of his father, was the reason we
received no more annoyance that night from the squatters, who had all
vanished from the clearing so effectually, including most of the females
and all the children, that no traces of their place of retreat were to
be found next morning. Lowiny, however, did not accompany the family,
but remained near Dus, rendering herself highly useful as an attendant
in the melancholy scene that followed. I may as well add here, that no
evidence was ever obtained concerning the manner in which Thousandacres
received his death-wound. He was shot through the open door, beyond all
question, as he sat in his chair; and necessarily in the early part of
the fray, for then only was a rifle discharged very near the house, or
from a point that admitted of the ball's hitting its victim. For myself,
I believed from the first that Susquesus sacrificed the squatter to the
manes of his friend Chainbearer; dealing out Indian justice, without
hesitation or compunction. Still, I could not be certain of the fact;
and the Onondago had either sufficient prudence or sufficient philosophy
to keep his own secret. It is true that a remark or two did escape him
soon after the affair occurred, that tended to sustain my suspicions;
but, on the whole, he was remarkably reserved on the subject--less from
any apprehension of consequences, than from self-respect and pride of
character. There was little to be apprehended, indeed; the previous
murder of Chainbearer, and the unlawful nature of all the proceedings of
the squatters, justifying a direct and sudden attack on the part of the
posse.

Just as Malbone and myself discovered the condition of Thousandacres,
this posse, with 'Squire Newcome at its head, began to collect around
the house, which might now be termed our hospital. As the party was
large, and necessarily a little tumultuous, I desired Frank to lead them
off to some of the other buildings, as soon as a bed had been prepared
for the squatter, who was placed in the same room with Chainbearer to
die. No one, in the least acquainted with injuries of that nature, could
entertain any hope for either; though a messenger was sent to the
settlements for the individual who was called "doctor," and who was
really fast acquiring many useful notions about his profession, by
practising on the human system. They say that "an ounce of experience is
worth a pound of theory," and this disciple of Esculapius seemed to have
set up in his art on this principle; having little or none of the last,
while he was really obtaining a very respectable amount of the first, as
he practised right and left, as the pugilist is most apt to hit in his
rallies. Occasionally, however, he gave a knock-down blow.

As soon as the necessary arrangements were made in our hospital, I told
Dus that we would leave her and Lowiny in attendance on the wounded,
both of whom manifested weariness and a disposition to doze, while all
the rest of the party would draw off, and take up their quarters for the
night in the adjacent buildings. Malbone was to remain as a sentinel, a
little distance from the door, and I promised to join him in the course
of an hour.

"Lowiny can attend to the wants of her father, while you will have the
tenderest care of your uncle, I well know. A little drink occasionally
is all that can alleviate their sufferings----"

"Let me come in," interrupted a hoarse female voice at the door, as a
woman forced her way through the opposing arms of several of the posse.
"I am Aaron's wife, and they tell me he is hurt. God himself has ordered
that a woman should cleave unto her husband, and Thousandacres is mine;
and he is the father of my children, if he _has_ murdered and been
murdered in his turn."

There was something so commanding in the natural emotions of this woman,
that the guard at the door gave way immediately, when Prudence entered
the room. The first glance of the squatter's wife was at the bed of
Chainbearer; but nothing there held her gaze riveted. That gaze only
became fixed as her eyes fell on the large form of Thousandacres, as he
lay extended on his death-bed. It is probable that this experienced
matron, who had seen so many accidents in the course of a long life, and
had sat by so many a bedside, understood the desperate nature of her
husband's situation as soon as her eyes fell on the fallen countenance:
for, turning to those near her, the first impulse was, to revenge the
wrong which she conceived had been done to her and hers. I will
acknowledge that I felt awed, and that a thrill passed through my frame
as this rude and unnurtured female, roused by her impulses, demanded
authoritatively:

"Who has done this? Who has taken the breath from my man before the time
set by the Lord? Who has dared to make my children fatherless, and me a
widow, ag'in law and right? I left my man seated on that hearth,
heart-stricken and troubled at what had happened to another; and they
tell me he has been murdered in his chair. The Lord will be on our side
at last, and then we'll see whom the law will favor, and whom the law
will condemn--!"

A movement and a groan, on the part of Thousandacres, would seem first
to have apprised Prudence that her husband was not actually dead.
Starting at this discovery, this tiger's mate and tiger's dam, if not
tigress herself, ceased everything like appeal and complaint, and set
herself about those duties which naturally suggested themselves to one
of her experience, with the energy of a frontier woman--a woodman's
wife, and the mother of a large brood of woodman's sons and daughters.
She wiped the face of Thousandacres, wet his lips, shifted his pillow,
such as it was, placed his limbs in postures she thought the easiest,
and otherwise manifested a sort of desperate energy in her care. The
whole time she was doing this, her tongue was muttering prayers and
menaces, strangely blended together, and quite as strangely mixed up
with epithets of endearment that were thrown away on her still
insensible and least unconscious husband. She called him Aaron, and that
too in a tone that sounded as if Thousandacres had a strong hold on her
affections, and might at least have been kind and true to _her_.

I felt convinced that Dus had nothing to fear from Prudence, and I left
the place as soon as the two nurses had everything arranged for their
respective patients, and the house was quite free from the danger of
intrusion. On quitting her who now occupied most of my thoughts, I
ventured to whisper a request she would not forget the pledges given me
in the forest, and asked her to summon me to the bedside of Chainbearer,
should he rouse himself from the slumber that had come over him, and
manifest a desire to converse. I feared he might renew the subject to
which his mind had already once averted since receiving his wound, and
imbue his niece with some of his own set notions on that subject. Ursula
was kindness itself. Her affliction had even softened her feelings
toward me more than ever; and, so far as she was concerned, I certainly
had no ground for uneasiness. In passing Frank, who stood on post some
twenty yards from the door of the house, he said: "God bless you,
Littlepage--fear nothing. I am too much in your own situation, not to be
warmly your friend." I returned his good wishes, and went my way, in one
sense rejoicing.

The posse, as has been stated, were in possession of the different
deserted habitations of the family of Thousandacres. The night being
cool, fires were blazing on all the hearths, and the place wore an air
of cheerfulness that it had probably never before known. Most of the men
had crowded into two of the dwellings, leaving a third for the
convenience of the magistrate, Frank Malbone, and myself, whenever we
might choose to repair to it. By the time I appeared, the posse had
supped, using the milk and bread, and other eatables of the squatters,
_ad libitum_, and were disposing of themselves on the beds and on the
floors, to take a little rest, after their long and rapid march. But in
my own quarters I found 'Squire Newcome alone, unless the silent and
motionless Onondago, who occupied a chair in a corner of the fireplace,
could be called a companion. Jaap, too, in expectation of my arrival,
was lounging near the door; and when I entered the house, he followed me
in for orders.

It was easy for me, who knew of Newcome's relations with the squatters,
to discover the signs of confusion in his countenance, as his eye first
met mine. One who was not acquainted with the circumstances, most
probably would have detected nothing out of the common way. It will be
remembered that the "'squire" had no positive knowledge that I was
acquainted with his previous visit to the mill; and it will be easy to
see that he must have felt an itching and uneasy desire to ascertain
that fact. A great deal depended on that circumstance; nor was it long
before I had a specimen of his art in sounding round the truth, with a
view to relieve his mind.

"Who'd 'a' thought of findin' Major Littlepage in the hands of the
Philistines, in sich an out o' the way place as this!" exclaimed Mr.
Newcome, as soon as our salutations had been exchanged. "I've heern say
there was squatters down hereabouts; but such things are so common, that
I never bethought me of givin' him a hint on the matter when I last saw
the major."

Nothing could surpass the deferential manner of this person when he had
an object to gain, it being quite common with him to use the third
person, in this way, when addressing a superior; a practice that has
almost become obsolete in the English language, and which is seldom if
ever used in America, except by this particular class of men, who defer
before your face, and endeavor to undermine when the back is turned. My
humor was not to trifle with this fellow, though I did not know that it
was exactly prudent, just then, to let him know that I had both seen and
heard him in his former visit, and was fully aware of all his practices.
It was not easy, however, to resist the opportunity given by his own
remarks, to put him a little way on the tenter-hooks of conscience--that
quality of the human mind being one of the keenest allies an assailant
can possess, in cases of this sort.

"I had supposed, Mr. Newcome, that you were generally charged with the
care of the Mooseridge lands, as one of the conditions annexed to the
Ravensnest agency?" I somewhat dryly remarked.

"Sartain, sir; the colonel--or gin'ral, as he ought to be called now, I
do s'pose--gave me the superintendence of both at the same time. But the
major knows, I presume, that Mooseridge was not on sale?"

"No, sir; it would seem to have been only on _plunder_. One would think
that an agent, intrusted with the care of an estate, and who heard of
squatters being in possession, and stripping the land of its trees,
would feel it to be his duty at least to apprise the owners of the
circumstance, that they might look to the case, if he did not."

"The major hasn't rightly understood me," put in the 'squire, in a
manner that was particularly deprecatory; "I don't mean to say that I
_know'd_, with anything like positiveness, that there was squatters
hereabouts; but that rumors was stirrin' of some sich things. But
squatters is sich common objects in new countries, that a body scarce
turns aside to look at them!"

"So it would seem, in your case at least, Mr. Newcome. This
Thousandacres, however, they tell me, is a well-known character, and has
done little since his youth but lumber on the property of other people.
I should suppose you must have met him, in the course of five-and-twenty
years' residence in this part of the world?"

"Lord bless the major! met Thousandacres? Why, I've met him a hundred
times! We all know the old man well enough; and many and many is the
time I've met him at raisin's, and trainin's, and town meetin's, and
political meetin's, too. I've even seen him in court, though
Thousandacres don't set much store by law, not half as much as he and
every other man ought to do; for law is excellent, and society would be
no better than a collection of wild beasts, as I often tell Miss
Newcome, if it hadn't law to straighten it out, and to teach the
misguided and evil-disposed what's right. I s'pose the major will
coincide with that idee?"

"I have no particular objection to the sentiment, sir, but wish it was
more general. As you have seen this person Thousandacres so often,
perhaps you can tell me something of his character. My opportunities of
knowing the man have been none of the best; for most of the time I was
his prisoner he had me shut up in an out-building in which I believe he
has usually kept his salt, and grain, and spare provisions."

"Not the old store'us'!" exclaimed the magistrate, looking a little
aghast, for the reader will doubtless recollect that the confidential
dialogue between him and the squatter, on the subject of the lumber, had
occurred so near that building as to be overheard by me. "How long has
the major been in this clearin', I wonder?"

"Not a very great while in fact, though long enough to make it appear a
week. I was put into the storehouse soon after my seizure, and have
passed at least half my time there since."

"I want to know! Perhaps the major got in that hole as 'arly as
yesterday morn?"

"Perhaps I did, sir. But, Mr. Newcome, on looking round at the quantity
of lumber these men have made, and recollecting the distance they are
from Albany, I am at a loss to imagine how they could hope to get their
ill-gotten gains to market without discovery. It would seem to me that
their movements must be known, and that the active and honest agents of
this part of the country would seize their rafts in the water-courses;
thus making the very objects of the squatters' roguery the means of
their punishment. Is it not extraordinary that theft, in a moral sense
at least, can be systematically carried on, and that on so large a
scale, with such entire impunity?"

"Wa-a-l--I s'pose the major knows how things turn, in this world. Nobody
likes to meddle."

"How, sir--not meddle! This is contrary to all my experience of the
habits of the country, and all I have heard of it! Meddling, I have been
given to understand, is the great vice of our immigrant population, in
particular, who never think they have their just rights, unless they are
privileged to talk about, and sit in judgment on the affairs of all
within twenty miles of them; making two-thirds of their facts as they do
so, in order to reconcile their theories with the wished-for results."

"Ah! I don't mean meddlin' in that sense, of which there is enough, as
all must allow. But folks don't like to meddle with things that don't
belong to them in such serious matters as this."

"I understand you--the man who will pass days in discussing his
neighbor's private affairs, about which he absolutely knows nothing but
what has been obtained from the least responsible and most vulgar
sources, will stand by and see that neighbor robbed and say nothing,
under the influence of a sentiment so delicate, that it forbids his
meddling with what don't belong to him."

Lest the reader should think I was unduly severe upon 'Squire Newcome,
let me appeal to his own experience, and inquire if he never knew, not
only individuals, but whole neighborhoods, which were sorely addicted to
prying into every man's affairs, and to inventing when facts did not
exactly sustain theories; in a word, convulsing themselves with that
with which they have no real concern, draw themselves up in dignified
reserve, as the witnesses of wrongs of all sorts, that every honest man
is bound to oppose? I will go further, and ask if a man does happen to
step forth to vindicate the right, to assert truth, to defend the weak
and to punish the wrong-doer, if that man be not usually the one who
meddles least in the more ordinary and minor transactions of life--the
man who troubles his neighbors least, and has the least to say about
their private affairs? Does it not happen that the very individual who
will stand by and see his neighbor wronged, on account of his
indisposition to meddle with that which does not belong to him, will
occupy a large portion of his own time, in discussing, throwing out
hints, and otherwise commenting on the private affairs of that very
neighbor?

Mr. Newcome was shrewd, and he understood me well enough, though he
probably found it a relief to his apprehensions to see the conversation
inclining toward these generalities, instead of sticking to the
storehouse. Nevertheless, "boards" must have been uppermost in his
conscience; and after a pause he made an invasion into the career of
Thousandacres, by way of diverting me from pushing matters too directly.

"This old squatter was a desperate man, Major Littlepage," he answered,
"and it may be fortinate for the country that he is done with. I hear
the old fellow is killed, and that all the rest of the family has
absconded."

"It is not quite so bad as that. Thousandacres is hurt--mortally,
perhaps--and all his sons have disappeared; but his wife and one of his
daughters are still here, in attendance on the husband and father."

"Prudence is here, then!" exclaimed Mr. Newcome, a little indiscreetly
as I thought.

"She is--but you seem to know the family well for a magistrate, 'squire,
seeing their ordinary occupation--so well, as to call the woman by her
name."

"Prudence, I think Thousandacres used to call his woman. Yes, the major
is very right; we magistrates do get to know the neighborhood pretty
gin'rally; what between summonses, and warrants, and bailings-out. But
the major hasn't yet said when he first fell into the hands of these
folks?"

"I first entered this clearing yesterday morning, not a long time after
the sun rose, since which time, sir, I have been detained, here, either
by force or by circumstances."

A long pause succeeded this announcement. The 'squire fidgeted, and
seemed uncertain how to act; for, while my announcement must have given
rise, in his mind, to the strong probability of my knowing of his
connection with the squatters, it did not absolutely say as much. I
could see that he was debating with himself on the expediency of coming
out with some tale invented for the occasion, and I turned toward the
Indian and the negro, both of whom I knew to be thoroughly honest--after
the Indian and the negro fashions--in order to say a friendly word to
each in turn.

Susquesus was in one of his quiescent moods, and had lighted a pipe,
which he was calmly smoking. No one, to look at him, would suppose that
he had so lately been engaged in a scene like that through which he had
actually gone; but, rather, that he was some thoughtful philosopher, who
habitually passed his time in reflection and study.

As this was one of the occasions on which the Onondago came nearest to
admitting his own agency in procuring the death of the squatter, I shall
relate the little that passed between us.

"Good evening, Sureflint," I commenced, extending a hand, which the
other courteously took in compliance with our customs. "I am glad to see
you at large, and no longer a prisoner in that storehouse."

"Store'us' poor gaol. Jaap snap off bolt like pipe-stem. Won'er
T'ousandacres didn't t'ink of d'at."

"Thousandacres has had too much to think of this evening, to remember
such a trifle. He has now to think of his end."

The Onondago was clearing the bowl of his pipe of its superfluous ashes
as I said this, and he deliberately effected his purpose ere he
answered--

"Sartain--s'pose he kill _dis_ time."

"I fear his hurt is mortal, and greatly regret that it has happened. The
blood of our tried friend, Chainbearer, was enough to be shed in so
miserable an affair as this."

"Yes, 'fair pretty mis'rable; t'ink so, too. If squatter shoot surveyor,
must t'ink surveyor's fri'nd will shoot squatter."

"That may be Indian law, Sureflint, but it is not the law of the
pale-face, in the time of peace and quiet."

Susquesus continued to smoke, making no answer.

"It was a very wicked thing to murder Chainbearer, and Thousandacres
should have been handed over to the magistrates, for punishment, if he
had a hand in it; not shot, like a dog."

The Onondago drew his pipe from his mouth, looked round toward the
'squire, who had gone to the door in order to breathe the fresh
air--then, turning his eyes most significantly on me, he answered--

"Who magistrate go to, eh? What use good law wit' poor magistrate?
Better have redskin law, and warrior be his own magistrate--own gallows,
too."

The pipe was replaced, and Sureflint appeared to be satisfied with what
had passed; for he turned away, and seemed to be lost again, in his own
reflections.

After all, the strong native intellect of this barbarian had let him
into one of the greatest secrets connected with our social ills. Good
laws, badly administered, are no better than an absence of all law,
since they only encourage evil-doers by the protection they afford
through the power conferred on improper agents. Those who have studied
the defects of the American system, with a view to ascertain truth, say
that the want of a great moving power to set justice in motion lies at
the root of its feebleness. According to theory, the public virtue is to
constitute this power; but public virtue is never one-half as active as
private vice. Crime is only to be put down by the strong hand, and that
hand must belong to the public in truth, not in name only; whereas, the
individual wronged is fast getting to be the only moving power, and in
very many cases local parties are formed, and the rogue goes to the bar
sustained by an authority that has quite as much practical control as
the law itself. Juries and grand juries are no longer to be relied on,
and the bench is slowly, but steadily, losing its influence. When the
day shall come--as come it must, if present tendencies continue--that
verdicts are rendered directly in the teeth of law and evidence, and
jurors fancy themselves legislators, then may the just man fancy himself
approaching truly evil times, and the patriot begin to despair. It will
be the commencement of the rough's paradise! Nothing is easier, I am
willing to admit, than to over-govern men; but it ought not to be
forgotten, that the political vice that comes next in the scale of
facility, is to govern them too little.

Jaap, or Jaaf, had been humbly waiting for his turn to be noticed. There
existed perfect confidence, as between him and myself, but there were
also bounds, in the way of respect, that the slave never presumed to
pass, without direct encouragement from the master. Had I not seen fit
to speak to the black that night, he would not have commenced a
conversation, which, begun by me, he entered into with the utmost
frankness and freedom from restraint.

"You seem to have managed your part of this affair, Jaap," I said, "with
discretion and spirit. I have every reason to be satisfied with you;
more especially for liberating the Indian, and for the manner in which
you guided the posse down into the clearing, from the woods."

"Yes, sah; s'pose you would t'ink _dat_ was pretty well. As for Sus,
t'ought it best to let him out, for he be won'erful sartain wid he
rifle. We should do much better, masser Mordy, but 'e 'squire so werry
backward about lettin' 'e men shoot 'em 'ere squatter! Gosh! massar
Mordy, if he only say 'fire' when I want him, I don't t'ink so much as
half a one get off."

"It is best as it is, Jaap. We are at peace, and in the bosom of our
country; and bloodshed is to be avoided."

"Yes, sah; but Chainbearer! If 'ey don't like bloodshed, why 'ey shoot
_him_, sah?"

"There is a feeling of justice in what you say, Jaap, but the community
cannot get on in anything like safety unless we let the law rule. Our
business was to take those squatters, and to hand them over to the law."

"Werry true, sah. Nobody can't deny dat, masser Mordy, but he nodder
seize nor shot, now! Sartain, it best to do one or t'odder with sich
rascal. Well, I t'ink dat Tobit, as dey calls him, will remember Jaap
Satanstoe long as he live. Dat a good t'ing, anyway!"

"Good!" exclaimed the Onondago, with energy.

I saw it was useless, then, to discuss abstract principles with men so
purely practical as my two companions, and I left the house to
reconnoitre, ere I returned to our hospital for the night. The negro
followed me, and I questioned him as to the manner of the attack, and
the direction of the retreat of the squatters, in order to ascertain
what danger there might be during the hours of darkness. Jaap gave me to
understand that the men of Thousandacres' family had retired by the way
of the stream, profiting by the declivity to place themselves under
cover as soon as possible. As respects the women and children, they must
have got into the woods at some other point, and it was probable the
whole had sought some place of retreat that would naturally have been
previously appointed by those who knew that they lived in the constant
danger of requiring one. Jaap was very certain we should see no more of
the men, and in that he was perfectly right. No more was ever seen of
any one of them all in that part of the country, though rumors reached
us, in the course of time, from some of the more western counties, that
Tobit had been seen there, a cripple, as I have already stated, but
maintaining his old character for lawlessness and disregard of the
rights of others.

I next returned to Frank Malbone, who still stood on post at no great
distance from the door, through which we could both see the form and
features of his beautiful and beloved sister. Dus sat by her uncle's
bedside, while Prudence had stationed herself by that of her husband.
Frank and I advanced near the door, and looked in upon the solemn and
singular sight that room afforded. It was indeed a strange and sad
spectacle, to see those two aged men, each with his thin locks whitened
by seventy years, drawing near their ends, the victims of lawless
violence; for, while the death of Thousandacres was enveloped in a
certain mystery, and might by some eyes be viewed as merited and legal,
there could be no doubt that it was a direct consequence of the previous
murder of Chainbearer. It is in this way that wrong extends and
sometimes perpetuates its influence, proving the necessity of taking
time by the forelock, and resorting to prevention in the earliest stages
of the evil, instead of cure.

There lay the two victims of the false principles that the physical
condition of the country, connected with its passive endurance of
encroachments on the right, had gradually permitted to grow up among us.
Squatting was a consequence of the thinness of the population and of the
abundance of land, the two very circumstances that rendered it the less
justifiable in a moral point of view; but which, by rendering the one
side careless of its rights, and the other proportionably encroaching,
had gradually led, not only to this violation of law, but to the
adoption of notions that are adverse to the supremacy of law in any
case. It is this gradual undermining of just opinions that forms the
imminent danger of our social system; a spurious philanthropy on the
subject of punishments, false notions on that of personal rights, and
the substitution of numbers for principles, bidding fair to produce much
the most important revolution that has ever yet taken place on the
American continent. The lover of real liberty, under such circumstances,
should never forget that the road to despotism lies along the borders of
the slough of licentiousness, even when it escapes wallowing in its
depths.

When Malbone and myself drew back from gazing on the scene within the
house, he related to me in detail all that was connected with his own
proceedings. The reader knows that it was by means of a meeting in the
forest, between the Indian and the negro, that my friends first became
acquainted with my arrest, and the probable danger in which I was
placed. Chainbearer, Dus, and Jaap instantly repaired to the clearing of
Thousandacres; while Malbone hastened on to Ravensnest, in pursuit of
legal aid, and of a force to render my rescue certain. Meditating on all
the facts of the case, and entertaining most probably an exaggerated
notion of the malignant character of Thousandacres, by the time he
reached the Nest my new friend was in a most feverish state of
excitement. His first act was, to write a brief statement of the facts
to my father, and to dispatch his letter by a special messenger, with
orders to him to push on to Fishkill, all the family being there at the
time, on a visit to the Kettletases; proceeding by land or by water, as
the wind might favor. I was startled at this information, foreseeing at
once that it would bring not only the general himself, but my dear
mother and Kate, with Tom Bayard quite likely in her train, posthaste to
Ravensnest. It might even cause my excellent old grandmother to venture
so far from home; for my last letters had apprised me that they were all
on the point of visiting my sister Anneke, which was the way Frank had
learned where the family was to be found.

As Malbone's messenger had left the Nest early the preceding night, and
the wind had been all day fresh at north, it came quite within the
bounds of possibility that he might be at Fishkill at the very moment I
was listening to the history of his message. The distance was about a
hundred and forty miles, and nearly one hundred of it could be made by
water. Such a messenger would care but little for the accommodations of
his craft; and, on the supposition that he reached Albany that morning,
and found a sloop ready to profit by the breeze, as would be likely to
occur, it would be quite in rule to reach the landing at Fishkill in the
course of the evening, aided by the little gale that had been blowing. I
knew General Littlepage too well, to doubt either his affection or his
promptitude. Albany could be reached in a day by land, and Ravensnest in
another. I made my account, therefore, to see a part if not all of the
family at the Nest, as soon as I should reach it myself; an event not
likely to occur, however, for some little time, on account of the
condition of Chainbearer.

I shall not deny that this new state of things, with the expectations
connected with it, gave me sufficient food for reflection. I could not
and did not blame Frank Malbone for what he had done, since it was
natural and proper. Notwithstanding, it would precipitate matters as
regarded my relation to Dus a little faster than I could have wished. I
desired time to sound my family on the important subject of my
marriage--to let the three or four letters I had already written, and in
which she had been mentioned in a marked manner, produce their effect;
and I counted largely on the support I was to receive through the
friendship and representations of Miss Bayard. I felt certain that deep
disappointment on the subject of Pris would be felt by the whole family;
and it was my wish not to introduce Ursula to their acquaintance until
time had a little lessened its feeling. But things must now take their
course; and my determination was settled to deal as sincerely and simply
as possible with my parents on the subject. I knew their deep affection
for me, and relied strongly on that natural support.

I had half an hour's conversation with Dus while walking in front of the
hospital that night, Frank taking his sister's place by the side of
Chainbearer's bed. Then it was that I again spoke of my hopes, and
explained the probabilities of our seeing all of my immediate family so
shortly at Ravensnest. My arm was round the waist of the dear girl as I
communicated these facts; and I felt her tremble, as if she dreaded the
trial she was to undergo.

"This is very sudden and unexpected, Mordaunt," Dus remarked, after she
had had a little time to recover her recollection; "and I have so much
reason to fear the judgment of your respectable parents--of your
charming sister, of whom I have heard so often through Priscilla
Bayard--and indeed of all who have lived, as _they_ have done, amid the
elegancies of a refined state of society; I, Dus Malbone--a
chainbearer's niece, and a chainbearer myself!"

"You have never borne any chain, love, that is as lasting or as strong
as that which you have entwined around my heart, and which will forever
bind me to you, let the rest of the world regard us both as it may. But
you can have nothing to fear from any, and least of all from my friends.
My father is not worldly-minded; and as for my dear, dear mother, Anneke
Mordaunt, as the general even now often affectionately calls her, as if
the name itself reminded him of the days of her maiden loveliness and
pride--as for that beloved mother, Ursula, I do firmly believe that,
when she comes to know you, she will even prefer you to her son."

"That is a picture of your blinded partiality, Mordaunt," answered the
gratified girl, for gratified I could see she was, "and must not be too
fondly relied on. But this is no time to talk of our own future
happiness, when the eternal happiness or misery of those two aged men is
suspended, as it might be, by a thread. I have read prayers once already
with my dear uncle; and that strange woman, in whom there is so much of
her sex, mingled with a species of ferocity like that of a she-bear, has
muttered a hope that her own 'dying man,' as she calls him, is not to be
forgotten. I have promised he should not be, and it is time to attend to
that duty next."

What a scene followed! Dus placed the light on a chest near the bed of
Thousandacres, and, with the prayer-book in her hand, she knelt beside
it. Prudence stationed herself in such a posture that her head was
buried in one of her own garments, that was suspended from a peg; and
there she stood, while the melodious voice of Ursula Malbone poured out
the petitions contained in the offices for the dying, in humble but
fervent piety. I say stood, for neither Prudence nor Lowiny knelt. The
captious temper of self-righteousness which had led their ancestors to
reject kneeling at prayers as the act of formalists, had descended to
them; and there they stood, praying doubtless in their hearts, but
ungracious formalists themselves in their zeal against forms. Frank and
I knelt in the doorway; and I can truly affirm that never did prayers
sound so sweetly in my ears, as those which then issued from the lips of
Ursula Malbone.



CHAPTER XXVIII.

     "Thence cum we to the horrour and the hel, The large great
     kyngdomes, and the dreadful raygne Of Pluto in his trone where
     he dyd dwell, The wyde waste places, and the hugye playne: The
     waylings, shrykes, and sundry sortes of payne.

     The syghes, and sobbes, and diep and deadly groane, Earth,
     ayer, and all resounding playnt and moane." –Sackville.


In this manner did that memorable night wear away. The two wounded men
slumbered much of the time; nor did their wants extend beyond occasional
draughts of water, to cool their feverish mouths, or the wetting of
lips. I prevailed on Dus to lie down on the bed of Lowiny, and try to
get a little rest; and I had the pleasure to hear her say that she had
slept sweetly for two or three hours, after the turn of the night. Frank
and I caught naps, also, after the fashion of soldiers, and Lowiny slept
in her chair, or leaning on her father's bed. As for Prudence, I do not
think her watchfulness was lessened for a single instant. There she sat
the livelong night; silent, tearless, moody, and heart-stricken by the
great and sudden calamity that had befallen her race, but vigilant and
attentive to the least movement in the huge frame of her wounded
partner. No complaint escaped her; scarcely once did she turn to look at
what was going on around her, nor in any manner did she heed aught but
her husband. To him she seemed to be unerringly true; and whatever she
may, and must have thought of his natural sternness, and occasional fits
of severity toward herself, all now seemed to be forgotten.

At length light returned, after hours of darkness that seemed to me to
be protracted to an unusual length. Then it was, when Jaap and the
Indian were ready to take our places on the watch, that Frank and I went
to one of the huts and lay down for two or three hours; and that was the
time when Dus got her sweetest and most refreshing sleep. Lowiny
prepared our morning's meal for us; which we three, that is, Dus, Frank
and myself, took together in the best way we could, in the dwelling of
Tobit. As for 'Squire Newcome, he left the clearing in the course of the
night, or very early in the morning, doubtless exceedingly uneasy in his
conscience, but still uncertain whether his connection with the
squatters was or was not known to me; the excuse for this movement being
the probable necessity of summoning a jury; Mr. Jason Newcome filling in
his own person, or by deputy, the several offices and functions of
justice of the peace, one of the coroners of the county, supervisor of
the township of Ravensnest merchant, shopkeeper, miller, lumber-dealer,
husbandman and innkeeper; to say nothing of the fact that he wrote all
the wills of the neighborhood; was a standing arbitrator when disputes
were "left out to men;" was a leading politician, a patriot by trade,
and a remarkable and steady advocate of the rights of the people, even
to minutiæ. Those who know mankind will not be surprised, after this
enumeration of his pursuits and professions, to hear it added that he
was a remarkable rogue in the bargain.

There are two things I have lived long enough to receive as truths
established by my own experience, and they are these; I never knew a man
who made large professions of a love for the people, and of his wish to
serve them on all occasions, whose aim was not to deceive them to his
own advantage; and the other is, that I never knew a man who was
compelled to come much in contact with the people, and who at the same
time was personally popular, who had anything in him at the bottom. But
it is time to quit Jason Newcome and his defects of character, in order
to attend to the interesting scene that awaited us in the dwelling of
Thousandacres, and to which we were now summoned by Jaap.

As the day advanced, both the Chainbearer and the squatter became
aroused from the languor that had succeeded the receiving of their
respective hurts, and more or less alive to what was passing around
them. Life was ebbing fast in both, yet each seemed, just at that
moment, to turn his thoughts backward on the world, in order, as it
might be, to take a last look at those scenes in which he had now been
an actor for the long period of threescore-and-ten years.

"Uncle Chainbearer is much revived, just now," said Dus, meeting Frank
and myself at the door, "and he has asked for you both; more especially
for Mordaunt, whose name he has mentioned three several times within the
last five minutes. 'Send for Mordaunt, my child,' he has said to me,
'for I wish to speak with him before I quit you.' I am fearful he has
inward admonitions of his approaching end."

"That is possible, dearest Ursula; for men can hardly lose their hold of
life without being aware of the approaches of death. I will go at once
to his bedside, that he may know I am here. It is best to let his own
feelings decide whether he is able or not to converse."

The sound of Chainbearer's voice, speaking in a low but distinct tone,
caught our ears as we approached him, and we all stopped to listen.

"I say, T'ousantacres," repeated Andries, on a key a little louder than
before, "if you hear me, olt man, ant can answer, I wish you to let me
know it. You ant I pe about to start on a fery long journey, ant it ist
unreasonaple, as well as wicket, to set out wit' pad feelin's at t'e
heart. If you hat hat a niece, now, like Dus t'ere, to tell you t'ese
matters, olt Aaron, it might pe petter for your soul in t'e worlt into
which we are poth apout to enter."

"He knows it--I'm sure he knows it, and feels it, too," muttered
Prudence, rocking her body as before. "He has had pious forefathers, and
cannot have fallen so far away from grace, as to forget death and
eternity."

"Look you, Prutence, Aaron nefer coult fall away from what he nefer wast
fastenet to. As for pious forefat'ers, t'ey may do to talk apout in
Fourt' of July orations, put t'ey are of no great account in cleansin' a
man from his sins. I s'pose t'em pious forefat'ers of which you speak
was t'e people t'at first steppet on t'e rock town at Plymout'; put, let
me telt you, Prutence, hat t'ere peen twice as many of t'em, and hat
t'ey all peen twice as goot as you poast of t'eir hafin' peen, it wilt
do no goot to your man, unless he wilt repent, and pe sorry for all t'e
unlawful ant wicket t'ings he hast tone in t'is worlt, and his treatment
of pountaries in jin'ral, ant of ot'er men's lants in partic'lar. Pious
ancestors may pe pleasant to haf, put goot pehavior ist far petter as
t'e last hour approaches."

"Answer him, Aaron," the wife rejoined--"answer him, my man, in order
that we may all of us know the frame of mind in which you take your
departure. Chainbearer is a kind-hearted man at the bottom, and has
never wilfully done us any harm."

For the first time since Andries received his wound, I now heard the
voice of Thousandacres. Previously to that moment, the squatter, whether
hurt or not, had sat in moody silence, and I had supposed after he was
wounded that he was unable to use his tongue. To my surprise, however,
he now spoke with a depth and strength of voice that at first misled me,
by inducing me to think that the injury he had received could not be
fatal.

"If there wasn't no chainbearers," growled Thousandacres, "there
wouldn't be no lines, or metes and bounds, as they call 'em; and where
there's no metes and bounds, there can be no right of possession. If
'twasn't for your writin' titles, I shouldn't be lyin' here, breathin'
my last."

"Forgive it all, my man; forgive it all, as behooves a good Christian,"
Prudence returned, to this characteristic glance at the past, in which
the squatter had so clearly overlooked all his own delinquencies, and
was anxious to impute consequences altogether to others. "It is the law
of God to forgive your enemies, Aaron, and I want you to forgive
Chainbearer, and not go to the world of spirits with gall in your
heart."

"'Twoult pe much petter, Prutence, if T'ousantacres woult pray to Got to
forgif himself," put in Chainbearer. "I am fery willin', ant happy to
haf t'e forgifness of efery man, ant it ist not unlikely t'at I may haf
tone somet'ing, or sait somet'ing t'at hast peen hart to t'e feelin's of
your huspant; for we are rough, and plain-speakin', and plain-actin'
enough, in t'e woots; so I'm willin' to haf even T'ousantacres'
forgifness, I say, and wilt accept it wit' pleasure if he wilt offer it,
and take mine in exchange."

A deep groan struggled out of the broad, cavern-like chest of the
squatter. I took it as an admission that he was the murderer of Andries.

"Yes," resumed Chainbearer--"Dus hast mate me see----"

"Uncle!" exclaimed Ursula, who was intently listening, and who now spoke
because unable to restrain the impulse.

"Yes, yes, gal, it hast peen all your own toin's. Pefore ast you come
pack from school, ast we come into t'e woots, all alone like, you haf
nefer forgotten to teach an olt, forgetful man his tuty----"

"Oh! uncle Chainbearer, it is not I, but God in his mercy who has
enlightened your understanding and touched your heart."

"Yes, tarlin'; yes, Dus, my tear, I comprehent t'at too; but Got in His
mercy sent an angel to pe his minister on 'art' wit' a poor ignorant
Tutchman, who hast not t'e l'arnin' ant t'e grace he might ant ought to
have hat, wit'out your ait, and so hast t'e happy change come apout.
No--no--T'ousantacres, I wilt not tespise even your forgifness, little
as you may haf to forgif; for it lightens a man's heart of heafy loats,
when his time is short, to know he leafs no enemies pehind him. T'ey say
it ist pest to haf t'e goot wishes of a tog, ant how much petter ist it
to haf t'e goot wishes of one who hast a soul t'at only wants purifyin',
to twell in t'e Almighty's presence t'roughout eternity!"

"I hope and believe," again growled Thousandacres, "that in the world
we're goin' to, there'll be no law, and no attorneys."

"In t'at, t'en, Aaron, you pe greatly mistaken. T'at lant is all law,
ant justice, ant right; t'ough. Got forgif me if I do any man an injury;
put to pe frank wit' you, as pecomes two mortals so near t'eir ents, I
do not pelief, myself, t'at t'ere wilt pe a great many attorneys to
trouble t'em t'at are receivet into t'e courts of t'e Almighty, himself.
T'eir practices on 'arth does not suit t'em for practice in heafen."

"If you'd always held them rational notions, Chainbearer, no harm might
have come to you, and my life and your'n been spared. But this is a
state of being in which short-sightedness prevails ag'in the best
calkerlations. I never felt more sure of gettin' lumber to market than I
felt three days ago, of gettin' this that's in the creek, safe to
Albany; and now, you see how it is! the b'ys are disparsed, and may
never see this spot again; the gals are in the woods, runnin' with the
deer of the forest; the lumber has fallen into the hands of the law; and
that, too, by the aid of a man that was bound in honesty to protect me,
and I'm dyin' here!"

"Think no more of the lumber, my man, think no more of the lumber," said
Prudence, earnestly; "time is desp'rate short at the best, and yours is
shorter than common, even for a man of seventy, while etarnity has no
eend. Forgit the boards, and forgit the b'ys, and forgit the gals,
forgit 'arth and all it holds----"

"You wouldn't have me forgit you, Prudence," interrupted Thousandacres,
"that's been my wife, now, forty long years, and whom I tuck when she
was young and comely, and that's borne me so many children, and has
always been a faithful and hard-working woman--you wouldn't have me
forget _you_!"

This singular appeal, coming as it did from such a being, and almost in
his agony, sounded strangely and solemnly, amid the wild and semi-savage
appliances of a scene I can never forget. The effect on Ursula was still
more apparent; she left the bedside of her uncle, and with strong
womanly sympathy manifested in her countenance, approached that of this
aged couple, now about to be separated for a short time, at least, where
she stood gazing wistfully at the very man who was probably that uncle's
murderer, as if she could gladly administer to his moral ailings. Even
Chainbearer attempted to raise his head, and looked with interest toward
the other group. No one spoke, however, for all felt that the solemn
recollections and forebodings of a pair so situated, were too sacred for
interruption. The discourse went on, without any hiatus, between them.

"Not I, not I, Aaron, my man," answered Prudence, with strong emotions
struggling in her voice; "there can be no law, or call for _that_. We
are one flesh, and what God has j'ined, God will not keep asunder long.
I cannot tarry long behind you, my man, and when we meet together ag'in,
I hope 'twill be where no boards, or trees or acres, can ever make more
trouble for us!"

"I've been hardly treated about that lumber, a'ter all," muttered the
squatter, who was now apparently more aroused to consciousness than he
had been, and who could not but keep harping on what had been the one
great business of his life, even as that life was crumbling beneath his
feet--"hardly dealt by, do I consider myself, about that lumber,
Prudence. Make the most of the Littlepage rights, it was only trees that
they could any way claim, in reason; while the b'ys and I, as you well
know, have convarted them trees into as pretty and noble a lot of
han'some boards and planks as man ever rafted to market!"

"It's convarsion of another natur' that you want now, Aaron, my man;
another sort of convarsion is the thing needful. We must all be
convarted once in our lives; at least all such as be the children of
Puritan parents and a godly ancestry; and it must be owned, takin' into
account our years, and the importance of example in such a family as
our'n, that you and I have put it off long enough. Come it must, or
suthin' worse; and time and etarnity, in your case, Aaron, is pretty
much the same thing."

"I should die easier in mind, Prudence, if Chainbearer would only admit
that the man who chops and hauls, and saws and rafts a tree, does get
some sort of a right, nat'ral or legal, to the lumber."

"I'm sorry, T'ousantacres," put in Andries, "t'at you feel any such
admission from me necessary to you at t'is awful moment, since I nefer
can make it ast an honest man. You hat petter listen to your wife, and
get confarted if you can, ant as soon ast you can. You ant I haf put a
few hours to lif; I am an olt solder, T'ousantacres, ant haf seen more
t'an t'ree t'ousant men shot town in my own ranks, to say nut'in' of t'e
ranks of t'e enemy; ant wit' so much exper'ence a man comes to know a
little apout wounts ant t'eir tarminations. I gif it ast my chugment,
t'erefore, t'at neit'er of us can haf t'e smallest hope to lif t'rough
t'e next night. So get t'at confarsion as hastily ant ast well ast you
can, for t'ere ist little time to lose, ant you a squatter! T'is ist t'e
moment of all ot'ers, T'ousantacres, to proofe t'e true falue of
professions, and trates, ant callin's, as well ast of t'e manner in
which t'eir tuties haf peen fulfillet. It may pe more honoraple ant more
profitaple to pe a calculating surveyor, ant to unterstant arit'metic,
and to pe talket of in t'e worlt for work tone on a large scale; put
efen his excellency himself, when he comes to t'e last moments, may pe
glat t'at t'e temptations of such larnin', ant his pein so t'oroughly an
honest man, toes not make him enfy t'e state of a poor chainpearer; who,
if he titn't know much, ant coultn't do much, at least measuret t'e lant
wit' fitelity, and tid his work ast well ast he knew how. Yes, yes, olt
Aaron; get confartet, I tell you; ant shoult Prutence not know enough of
religion ant her piple, ant of prayin' to Got to haf marcy on your soul,
t'ere ist Dus Malpone, my niece, who understants, ant what ist far
petter, who _feels_ t'ese matters, quite as well ast most tominies, ant
petter t'an some lazy ant selfish ones t'at I know, who treat t'eir
flocks as if t'e Lort meant t'ey wast to pe sheart only, ant who wast
too lazy to do much more t'an to keep cryin' out--not in t'e worts of
t'e inspiret writer--'Watchman, what of t'e night?--watchman, what of
t'e night?'--put, 'My pelovet, and most Christian, ant gotly-mintet
people, pay, pay, pay!' Yes, t'ere ist too much of such afarice ant
selfishness in t'e worlt, and it toes harm to t'e cause of t'e Safiour;
put trut' is so clear ant peautiful an opject, my poor Aaron, t'at efen
lies, ant fice, ant all manner of wicketnesses cannot long sully it.
Take my atvice, ant talk to Dus; ant t'ough you wilt touptless continue
to grow worse in poty, you wilt grow petter in spirit."

Thousandacres turned his grim visage round, and gazed intently and
wistfully toward Ursula. I saw the struggle that was going on within,
through the clear mirror of the sweet, ingenuous face of my beloved, and
I saw the propriety of retiring. Frank Malbone understood my look, and
we left the house together, closing the door behind us.

Two, to me, long and anxious hours succeeded, during most of which time
my companion and myself walked about the clearing, questioning the men
who composed the posse, and hearing their reports. These men were in
earnest in what they were doing; for a respect for law is a
distinguishing trait in the American character, and perhaps more so in
New England, whence most of these people came, than in any other part of
the country, the rascality of 'Squire Newcome to the contrary,
notwithstanding. Some observers pretend that this respect for law is
gradually decreasing among us, and that in its place, is sensibly
growing up a disposition to substitute the opinions, wishes, and
interests of local majorities, making the country subject to _men_
instead of _principles_. The last are eternal and immutable; and coming
of God, men, however unanimous in sentiment, have no more right to
attempt to change them, than to blaspheme his holy name. All that the
most exalted and largest political liberty can ever beneficially effect
is to apply these principles to the good of the human race, in the
management of their daily affairs; but when they attempt to substitute
for these pure and just rules of right, laws conceived in selfishness
and executed by the power of numbers, they merely exhibit tyranny in its
popular form, instead of in its old aspect of kingly or aristocratic
abuses. It is a fatal mistake to fancy that freedom is gained by the
mere achievement of a right in the people to govern, unless the _manner_
in which that right is to be both understood and practised, is closely
incorporated with all the popular notions of what has been obtained.
That right to govern means no more than the right of the people to avail
themselves of the power thus acquired, to apply the great principles of
justice to their own benefit, and from the possession of which they had
hitherto been excluded. It confers no power to do that which is
inherently wrong, under any pretence whatever; or would anything have
been gained, had America, as soon as she relieved herself from a sway
that diverted so many of her energies to the increase of the wealth and
influence of a distant people, gone to work to frame a new polity which
should inflict similar wrongs within her own bosom.

My old acquaintance, the hearty Rhode Islander, was one of the posse,
and I had a short conversation with him, while thus kept out of the
house, which may serve to let the reader somewhat into the secret of the
state of things at the clearing. We met near the mill, when my
acquaintance, whose name was Hosmer, commenced as follows:

"A good day to you, major, and a hearty welcome to the open air!" cried
the sturdy yeoman, frankly but respectfully, offering his hand. "You
fell into a pit here, or into a den among thieves; and it's downright
providential you e'er saw and breathed the clear air ag'in! Wa-a-l, I've
been trailin' a little this mornin' along with the Injin; and no hound
has a more sartain scent than he has. We went into the hollow along the
creek; and a desp'rate sight of boards them varmints have got into the
water, I can tell you! If the lot's worth forty pounds York, it must be
worth every shilling of five hundred. They'd 'a' made their fortin's,
every blackguard among 'em. I don't know but I'd fit myself to save so
many boards, and sich beautiful boards, whether wrongfully or rightfully
lumbered!"

Here the hearty old fellow stopped to laugh, which he did exactly in the
full-mouthed, contented way in which he spoke and did everything else. I
profited by the occasion to put in a word in reply.

"You are too honest a man, major, to think of ever making your boards
out of another man's trees," I answered. "These people have lived by
dishonest practices all their lives, and any one can see what it has
come to."

"Yes, I hope I am, 'Squire Littlepage--I do hope I am. Hard work and I
an't nohow afeard of each other; and so long as a man _can_ work, and
_will_ work, Satan don't get a full grip on him. But, as I was sayin',
the Trackless struck the trail down the creek, though it was along a
somewhat beaten path; but the Injin would make no more of findin' it in
a highway, than you and I would of findin' our places in the Bible on
Sabba'day, where we had left off the Sabba'day that was gone. I always
mark mine with a string the old woman braided for me on purpose, and a
right-down good method it is; for, while you're s'archin' for your specs
with one hand, nothin' is easier than to open the Bible with t'other.
Them's handy things to have, major; and, when you marry some great lady
down at York, sich a one as your own mother was, for I know'd her and
honored her, as we all did hereaway--but, when you get married ask your
wife to braid a string for you, to find the place in the Bible with, and
all will go right, take an old man's word for it."

"I thank you, friend, and will remember the advice, even though I might
happen to marry a lady in this part of the world, and not down in York."

"This part of the world? No, we've got nobody our way, that's good
enough for you. Let me see; Newcome has a da'ghter that's _old_ enough,
but she's desp'rate humbly (Anglice, homely--the people of New England
reserve 'ugly' for moral qualities) and wouldn't suit, no how. I don't
think the Littlepages would overmuch like being warp and fillin' with
the Newcomes."

"No! My father was an old friend--or, an old acquaintance at least, of
Mr. Newcome's, and must know and appreciate his merits."

"Yes--yes--I'll warrant ye the gin'ral knows him. Wa-a-l! Human natur'
is human natur'; and I do s'pose, if truth must be spoken, none on us be
half as good as we ought to be. We read about faithful stewards in the
good book, and about onfaithful ones too, squire"--here the old yeoman
stopped to indulge in one of his hearty laughs, rendering it manifest he
felt the full application of his words. "Wa-a-l, all must allow the
Bible's a good book. I never open it, without l'arnin' suthin', and what
I l'arn, I strive not to forgit. But there's a messenger for you, major,
from Thousandacres' hut, and I fancy it will turn out that he or
Chainbearer is drawing near his eend."

Lowiny was coming to summon us to the house, sure enough, and I took my
leave of my brother major for the moment. It was plain to me that this
honest-minded yeoman, a good specimen of his class, saw through Newcome
and his tricks, and was not unwilling to advert to them. Nevertheless,
this man had a fault, and one very characteristic of his "_order_." He
could not speak _directly_, but would _hint_ round a subject, instead of
coming out at once, and telling what he had to say; beating the bush to
start his game, when he might have put it up at once, by going in at it
directly. Before we parted, he gave me to understand that Susquesus and
my fellow, Jaap, had gone on in pursuit of the retreating squatters,
intending to follow their trail several miles, in order to make sure
that Tobit and his gang were not hanging around the clearing to watch
their property, ready to strike a blow when it might be least expected.

Dus met me at the door of the cabin, tearful and sad, but with such a
holy calm reigning in her generally brilliant countenance, as denoted
the nature of the solemn business in which she had just been engaged.
She extended both hands to meet mine, and whispered, "Uncle Chainbearer
is anxious to speak to us--on the subject of our engagement, I think it
is." A tremor passed through the frame of Ursula, but she made an
effort, smiled sadly, and continued: "Hear him patiently, dear Mordaunt,
and remember that he is my father, in one sense, and as fully entitled
to my obedience and respect as if I were really his daughter."

As I entered the room, I could see that Dus had been at prayer. Prudence
looked comforted, but Thousandacres himself had a wild and uncertain
expression of countenance, as if doubts had begun to beset him, at the
very moment when they must have been the most tormenting. I observed
that his anxious eye followed the form of Dus, and that he gazed on her
as one would be apt to regard the being who had just been the instrument
of awakening within him the consciousness of his critical state. But my
attention was soon drawn to the other bed.

"Come near me, Mortaunt, lat; and come hit'er, Dus, my tearest ta'ghter
ant niece. I haf a few worts of importance to say to you pefore I go,
ant if t'ey pe not sait now, t'ey nefer may pe sait at all. It's always
pest to 'take time py t'e forelock,' t'ey say; ant surely I cannot pe
callet in haste to speak, when not only one foot, put pot' feet and half
my poty in t'e pargain, may well pe sait to pe in t'e grafe. Now listen
to an olt man's atfice, ant do not stop my worts until all haf peen
spoken, for I grow weak fast, ant haf not strength enough to t'row away
any of it in argument.

"Mortaunt hast sait ast much, in my hearin' ast to atmit t'at he lofes
ant atmires my gal, ant t'at he wishes, ant hopes, ant expects to make
her his wife. On t'e ot'er hant, Ursula, or Dus, my niece, confesses ant
acknowledges t'at she lofes, ant esteems, ant hast a strong regart for
Mortaunt, ant ist willin' to pecome his wife. All t'is is nat'ral, ant
t'ere wast a time when it woult haf mate me ast happy ast t'e tay ist
long to hear as much sait py t'e one or t'e ot'er of t'e parties. You
know, my chiltren, t'at my affection for you is equal, ant t'at I
consiter you, in all respects put t'at of worltly contition, to pe as
well suitet to pecome man ant wife ast any young couple in America. Put
tuty is tuty, ant it must pe tischarget. General Littlepage wast my olt
colonel; ant an honest ant an honoraple man himself, he hast efery right
to expect t'at efery one of his former captains, in partic'lar, woult do
unto him as t'ey woult haf him do unto t'em. Now, t'ough heafen ist
heafen, t'is worlt must pe regartet as t'is worlt, ant t'e rules for its
gofernment are to pe respectet in t'eir place. T'e Malpones pe a
respectaple family, I know; ant t'ough Dus's own fat'er wast a little
wilt, ant t'oughtless, ant extrafagant----"

"Uncle Chainbearer!"

"True, gal, true; he wast your fat'er, ant t'e chilt shoult respect its
parent. I atmit t'at, ant wilt say no more t'an ist apsolutely
necessary; pesites, if Malpone hat his pat qualities, he hat his goot. A
hantsomer man coult not pe fount, far ant near, ast my poor sister felt,
I dares to say; ant he wast prave as a pull-dog, ant generous, ant
goot-naturet, ant many persons was quite captivated py all t'ese showy
atfantages, ant t'ought him petter ast he really wast. Yes, yes, Dus, my
chilt, he hat his goot qualities, as well as his pat. Put, t'e Malpones
pe gentlemen, as ist seen py Frank, Dus's prother, ant py ot'er mempers
of t'e family. T'en my mot'er's family, py which I am relatet to Dus,
wast very goot--even petter t'an t'e Coejemans--ant t'e gal is a
gentlewoman py pirt'. No one can deny t'at; put ploot won't do
eferyt'ing. Chiltren must pe fet, and clot'et; ant money ist necessary,
a'ter all, for t'e harmony ant comfort of families. I know Matam
Littlepage, in partic'lar. She ist a da'ter of olt Harman Mortaunt, who
wast a grant gentleman in t'e lant, ant t'e owner of Ravensnest, ast
well ast of ot'er estates, and who kept t'e highest company in t'e
profince. Now Matam Littlepage, who hast peen t'us born, ant etucatet,
ant associatet, may not like t'e itee of hafin' Dus Malpone, a
chainpearer's niece, ant a gal t'at hast peen chainpearer herself, for
which I honor ant lofe her so much t'e more, Mortaunt, lat; put for
which an ill-chutgin' worlt wilt despise her----"

"My mother--my noble-hearted, right-judging and right-feeling
mother--never!" I exclaimed, in a burst of feeling I found it impossible
to control.

My words, manner and earnestness produced a profound impression on my
auditors. A gleam of pained delight shot into and out of the countenance
of Ursula, like the passage of the electric spark. Chainbearer gazed on
me intently, and it was easy to trace, in the expression of his face,
the deep interest he felt in my words, and the importance he attached to
them. As for Frank Malbone, he fairly turned away to conceal the tears
that forced themselves from his eyes.

"If I coult t'ink ast much--if I coult _hope_ ast much, Mortaunt,"
resumed Chainbearer, "it woult pe a plesset relief to my partin' spirit,
for I know General Littlepage well enough to pe sartain t'at he ist a
just ant right-mintet man, ant t'at, in t'e long run, he woult see
matters ast he ought to see t'em. Wit' Matam Littlepage I fearet it was
tifferent; for I haf always hearet t'at t'e Mortaunts was tifferent
people, ant felt ast toppin' people commonly do feel. T'is makes some
change in my itees, ant some change in my plans. Howsefer, my young
frients, I haf now to ask of you each a promise--a solemn promise mate
to a tyin' man--ant it ist t'is----"

"First hear me, Chainbearer," I interposed eagerly, "before you involve
Ursula heedlessly, and I had almost said cruelly, in any incautious
promise, that may make both our lives miserable hereafter. You yourself
first invited, tempted, courted me to love her; and now, when I know and
confess her worth, you throw ice on my flame, and command me to do that
of which it is too late to think."

"I own it, I own it, lat, ant hope t'e Lort, in his great marcy, wilt
forgif ant parton t'e great mistake I mate. We haf talket of t'is
pefore, Mortaunt, ant you may rememper I tolt you it was Dus herself who
first mate me see t'e trut' in t'e matter, ant how much petter ant more
pecomin' it wast in me to holt you pack, t'an to encourage ant leat you
on. How comes it, my tear gal, t'at you haf forgot all t'is, ant now
seem to wish me to do t'e fery t'ing you atviset me not to do?"

Ursula's face became pale as death; then it flashed to the brightness of
a summer sunset, and she sank on her knees, concealing her countenance
in the coarse quilt of the bed, as her truthful and ingenuous nature
poured out her answer.

"Uncle Chainbearer," she said, "when we first talked on this subject I
had never seen Mordaunt."

I knelt at the side of Ursula, folded her to my bosom, and endeavored to
express the profound sentiment of gratitude that I felt at hearing this
ingenuous explanation, by such caresses as nature and feeling dictated.
Dus, however, gently extricated herself from my arms, and rising, we
both stood waiting the effect of what had just been seen and heard on
Chainbearer.

"I see t'at natur' is stronger t'an reason, ant opinion, ant custom,"
the old man resumed, after a long, meditative pause--"I haf put little
time to spent in t'is matter, howsefer, my chiltren, ant must pring it
to a close. Promise me, pot' of you, t'at you will nefer marry wit'out
t'e free consent of General Littlepage, ant t'at of olt Matam
Littlepage, ant young Matam Littlepage, each or all pein' lifin'."

"I do promise you, uncle Chainbearer," said Dus, with a promptitude that
I could hardly pardon--"I do promise you, and will keep my promise, as I
love you and fear and honor my Maker. 'Twould be misery to me to enter a
family that was not willing to receive me----"

"Ursula!--dearest--dearest Ursula--do you reflect! Am I, then, nothing
in your eyes?"

"It would also be misery to live without you, Mordaunt--but in one case
I should be supported by a sense of having discharged my duty; while in
the other, all that went wrong would appear a punishment for my own
errors."

I would not promise; for, to own the truth, while I never distrusted my
father or mother for a single instant, I did distrust my dear and
venerable grandmother. I knew that she had not only set her heart on my
marrying Priscilla Bayard; but that she had a passion for making matches
in her own family; and I feared that she might have some of the tenacity
of old age in maintaining her opinions. Dus endeavored to prevail on me
to promise; but I evaded the pledge; and all solicitations were
abandoned in consequence of a remark that was soon after made by
Chainbearer.

"Nefer mint--nefer mint, darlint; _your_ promise is enough. So long as
you pe true, what matters it w'et'er Mortaunt is heatstrong or not? Ant
now, children, ast I wish to talk no more of t'e matters of t'is worlt,
put to gif all my metitations ant language to t'e t'ings of Got, I wilt
utter my partin' worts to you. W'et'er you marry or not, I pray Almighty
Got to gif you his pest plessin's in t'is life, ant in t'at which ist to
come. Lif in sich a way, my tear chiltren, as to pe aple to meet t'is
awful moment, in which you see me placed, wit' hope ant joy, so t'at we
may all meet hereafter in t'e courts of Heafen. Amen."

A short, solemn pause succeeded this benediction, when it was
interrupted by a fearful groan, that struggled out of the broad chest of
Thousandacres. All eyes were turned on the other bed, which presented a
most impressive contrast to the calm scene that surrounded the parting
soul of him about whom we had been gathered. I alone advanced to the
assistance of Prudence, who, woman-like, clung to her husband to the
last; "bone of his bone, and flesh of his flesh." I must own, however,
that horror paralyzed my limbs; and that when I got as far as the foot
of the squatter's bed, I stood riveted to the place like a rooted tree.

Thousandacres had been raised, by means of quilts, until half his body
lay almost in a sitting position; a change he had ordered during the
previous scene. His eyes were open; ghastly, wandering, hopeless. As the
lips contracted with the convulsive twitchings of death, they gave to
his grim visage a species of sardonic grin that rendered it doubly
terrific. At this moment a sullen calm came over the countenance, and
all was still. I knew that the last breath remained to be drawn, and
waited for it as the charmed bird gazes at the basilisk-eye of the
snake. It came, drawing aside the lips so as to show every tooth, and
not one was missing in that iron frame; when, finding the sight too
frightful for even my nerves, I veiled my eyes. When my hand was
removed, I caught one glimpse of that dark tenement in which the spirit
of the murderer and squatter had so long dwelt, Prudence being in the
act of closing the glary, but still fiery eyes. I never before had
looked upon so revolting a corpse, and never wish to see its equal
again.



CHAPTER XXIX.

    "Mild as a babe reclines himself to rest,
    And smiling sleeps upon the mother's breast--
    Tranquil, and with a patriarch's hope, he gave
    His soul to heaven, his body to the grave."--Harte.


I saw that neither Chainbearer nor Dus looked at the revolting object
presented in the corpse of Thousandacres, after that selfish and
self-willed being ceased to live. I had another hut prepared immediately
for its reception, and the body was removed to it without delay. Thither
Prudence accompanied the senseless body; and there she passed the
remainder of the day, and the whole of the succeeding night, attended by
Lowiny--with occasional offers of food and assistance from the men of
the posse. Two or three of the latter, carpenters by trade, made a
coffin of pine, and the body was placed in it in the customary manner.
Others dug a grave in the centre of one of those rough fields that the
squatter had appropriated to his own uses, thus making everything ready
for the interment, as soon as the coroner, who had been sent for, should
have had his sitting over the body.

The removal of the remains of Thousandacres left a sort of holy calm in
the cabin of Chainbearer. My old friend was fast sinking; and he said
but little. His consciousness continued to the last, and Dus was often
at prayer with him in the course of that day. Frank and I aided in doing
the duty of nurses; and we prevailed on Ursula to retire to the loft,
and catch some rest, after her unwearying watchfulness. It was near
sunset that old Andries again addressed himself particularly to me, who
was sitting at his side, Dus being then asleep.

"I shalt lif till mornin', I now fint, Mortaunt," he said; "put, let
deat' come when it wilt, it ist sent py my Lort and Maker, ant it ist
welcome. Deat' hast no fears for me."

"He never had, Captain Coejemans, as the history of your whole career in
the army shows."

"Yes, lat, t'ere wast a time when I shoult haf peen glat to haf peen
shot on t'e fielt, ant to haf diet with Montgomery, ant Laurens, ant
Wooster, ant Warren, and sichlike gallant heroes; put t'at ist all gone,
now. I'm like a man t'at hast peen walkin' over a wite plain, ant who
hast come to its tarmination, where he sees pefore him an entless apyss
into which he must next step. At sich a sight, lat, all t'e trouples,
ant lapors, ant tifficulties of t'e plain seem so triflin', t'at t'ey pe
forgotten. Mint, I do not wish to say t'at eternity is an apyss to me in
fears, ant pains, ant tespair; for t'e gootness of Got hast enlightenet
my mint on t'at supject, ant hope, ant love, ant longin' for t'e
presence of my Maker, stant in t'eir places. Mortaunt, my lat, pefore I
quit you, I coult wish to say a coople of worts to you on t'is sacret
supject, if 'twill gif no offence?"

"Say all, and what you please, dear Chainbearer. We are friends of the
camp and the field, and the advice of no one could be more welcome to me
than yours, given at a moment as solemn and truthful as this."

"T'ank ye, Mortaunt; t'ank ye wit' all my heart. You know how it hast
peen wit' me, since poyhoot; for often ant often you ant I haf talket
over t'ese t'ings in camp. I wast t'rown young upon t'e worlt, and wast
left wit'out fat'er, or mot'er, to pring myself up. An only chilt of my
own fat'er, for Dus comes from a half-sister, you know, t'ere wast no
one to care for me in partic'lar, and I growet up in great ignorance of
t'e Lort of Hosts, ant my tuties to him, and to his plesset son, more
ast anyt'ing else. Well, Mortaunt, you know how it ist in t'e woots, ant
in t'e army. A man neet not pe fery pat, to pe far from pein' as goot as
ist expectet of him by t'e Almighty, who gafe him his soul, ant who
reteemet him from his sins, and who holts out taily t'e means of grace.
When I come here, wit' Dus, a chilt knewest almost as much of t'e real
natur' of religion ast I knewest. Put, t'at precious gal, t'rough Divine
grace, hast been t'e means of pringin' an olt ant ignorant man to a
sense of his true contition, ant to petter hapits, t'an t'ose you
knowest in him. Once I lovet a frolic, Mortaunt, and punch ant ot'er
savory liquors wast fery pleasant to me; ay, ant even a'ter years might
and shoult haf teachet me t'e folly of sich ways. Put you haf not seen
t'e glass at my lips t'is summer, lat, at unseemly moments, or in
unseemly numpers of times, ant t'at ist owin' to the confersations I haf
hat wit' Dus on t'e supject. It woult haf tone your heart goot,
Mortaunt, to haf seen t'e tear gal seated on my knee, combin' my olt
gray hairs wit' her telicate white fingers, ant playin' with my hart,
ret cheeks, ast t'e infant plays wit' t'e cheeks of t'e mot'er, whilst
she talket to me of t'e history of Christ, ant his sufferin's for us
all--ant tolt me t'e way to learn to know my Safiour in trut' ant
sincerity! You t'ink Dus hantsome; ant pleasant to look upon; ant
pleasant to talk wit'--put you can nefer know t'e gal in her colors of
golt, Mortaunt, till she pegins to converse wit' you, unreservetly,
apout Got ant retemption!"

"I can believe anything in favor of Ursula Malbone, my dear Chainbearer;
and no music could be sweeter, to my ears, than thus to hear you
pronouncing her praise."

The death of Chainbearer occurred, as he had himself prognosticated,
about the time of the return of light on the succeeding morning. A more
tranquil end I never witnessed. He ceased to suffer pain hours before he
drew his last breath; but he had whispered to me, in the course of that
day, that he endured agony at moments. He wished me to conceal the fact
from Dus, however, lest it should increase her grief. "So long ast t'e
tear gal ist in ignorance of my sufferin's," the excellent old man added
in his whisper, "she cannot feel so much for me; since she must have
confitence in t'e value of her own goot work, ant s'pose me to pe only
trawin' nearer to happiness. Put, you ant I know, Mortaunt, t'at men are
not often shot t'rough t'e poty wit'out feelin' much pain; ant I haf hat
my share--yes, I haf hat my share!" Nevertheless, it would have been
difficult for one who was not in the secret to detect the smallest sign
that the sufferer endured a tithe of the agony he actually underwent.
Ursula _was_ deceived; and to this hour she is ignorant how much her
uncle endured. But, as I have said, this pain ceased altogether about
nine o'clock, and Andries even slumbered for many minutes at a time. Not
long before the light returned, however, he became aroused, and never
slumbered again until he fell into the long, last sleep of death. His
niece prayed with him about five; after which he seemed to consider
himself as ready for the final march.

It might have been owing to the age of the patient; but in this instance
death announced his near approach by a rapid loss of the senses. At
first came a difficulty of hearing; and then the quick decay of the
sense of sight. The first was made known to us by a repetition of
questions that had already been more than once answered; while the
painful fact that sight, if not absolutely gone, was going, was brought
home to us by the circumstance that, while Dus was actually hovering
over him like a guardian angel, he inquired anxiously where she was.

"I am here, uncle Chainbearer," answered the dear girl, in tremulous
tones--"here, before you, and am about to wet your lips."

"I want t'e gal--t'at ist--I wish her to pe near when t'e spirit mounts
to Heafen. Haf her callet, Frank or Mortaunt."

"Dear--_dearest_ uncle, I _am_ here, now--here before you--closest to
you of all--almost in your arms," answered Dus, speaking loud enough to
make herself heard, by an effort that cost her a great deal. "Do not
think I can ever desert you, until I know that your spirit has gone to
the mercy-seat of God!"

"I knowet it," said Chainbearer, endeavoring to raise his arms to feel
for his niece, who met the effort by receiving his feeble and clammy
hand in both her own. "Remember my wishes apout Mortaunt, gal--yet
shoult t'e family agree, marry him wit' my plessin'--yes, my pest
plessin'. Kiss me, Dus.--Wast t'em your lips?--t'ey felt colt; ant you
are nefer colt of hant or heart. Mortaunt--kiss me, too, lat--t'at wast
warmer, ant hat more feelin' in it. Frank, gif me your hant--I owe you
money--t'ere ist a stockin' half full of tollars. Your sister wilt pay
my tebts. Ant General Littlepage owes me money--put most he owest me
goot will. I pray Got to pless him--ant to pless Matam Littlepage--ant
olt Matam Littlepage, t'at I nefer did see--ant t'e major, or colonel,
ast he is now callet--ant all our rijiment--ant _your_ rijiment,
too, Frank, which wast a fery goot rijiment. Farewell,
Frank--Dus--sister--precious--Christ Jesus, receive my----"

These words came with difficulty, and were whispered, rather than
uttered aloud. They came at intervals, too, especially toward the last,
in the way to announce the near approach of the state of which they were
the more immediate percursors. The last syllable I have recorded was no
sooner uttered, than the breath temporarily ceased. I removed Dus by
gentle force, placing her in the arms of her brother, and turned to note
the final respiration. That final breath in which the spirit appears to
be exhaled, was calm, placid, and as easy as comports with the
separation of soul and body; leaving the hard, aged, wrinkled, but
benevolent countenance of the deceased, with an expression of happy
repose on it, such as the friends of the dead love to look upon. Of all
the deaths I had then witnessed, this was the most tranquil, and the
best calculated to renew the hopes of a Christian. As for myself, it
added a profound respect for the character and moral qualities of Ursula
Malbone, to the love and admiration I bore her already, the fruits of
her beauty, wit, heart, and other attractions.

The two expected deaths had now taken place, and it only remained to
dispose of the legal questions connected with the events which had
caused them, inter the bodies, and return to the Nest. I saw that one of
the cabins was prepared for the reception of Ursula and Lowiny, the
latter still clinging to us, while the body of Chainbearer was laid out
in a coffin that had been made by the same hands, and at the same time,
as that of Thousandacres. About noon, the coroner arrived, not 'Squire
Newcome, but another, for whom he had himself sent; and a jury was
immediately collected from among the members of the posse. The
proceedings were of no great length. I told my story, or as much of it
as was necessary, from beginning to end, and others gave their testimony
as to the proceedings at different periods in the events. The finding
was, in the case of Chainbearer, "murder by the hand of some person
unknown;" and in that of Thousandacres, "accidental death." The first
was right, unquestionably; as to the last, I conceive, there was as
little of "accident" as ever occurred, when a man was shot through the
body by a steady hand, and an unerring eye. But such was the verdict,
and I had nothing but conjectures for my opinion as to the agency of the
Indian in killing the squatter.

That evening, and a cool autumnal night it was, we buried Thousandacres,
in the centre of the field I have mentioned. Of all his numerous family,
Prudence and Lowiny alone were present. The service was short, and the
man of violence descended to mingle with the clods of the earth, without
a common prayer, a verse from Holy Writ, or any religious rite whatever.
The men who had borne the body, and the few spectators present, filled
the grave, rounded it handsomely, and covered it with sods, and were
turning away in silence, to retrace their steps to the dwellings, when
the profound stillness which had reigned throughout the whole of the
brief ceremony, was suddenly broken by the clear, full voice of
Prudence, who spoke in a tone and manner that arrested every step.

"Men and brethren," said this extraordinary woman, who had so many of
the vices of her condition, relieved by so many of the virtues of her
sex and origin; "Men and brethren," she said "for I cannot call ye
neighbors, and _will_ not call you foes, I thank ye for this act of
decent regard to the wants of both the departed and the living, and that
ye have thus come to assist in burying my dead out of my sight."

Some such address, even a portion of these very words, were customary;
but as no one had expected anything of the sort at that moment, they
startled as much as they surprised us. As the rest of the party
recovered from its wonder, however, it proceeded toward the huts,
leaving me alone with Prudence, who stood, swinging her body as usual,
by the side of the grave.

"The night threatens to be cool," I said, "and you had better return
with me to the dwelling."

"What's the houses to me, now! Aaron is gone, the b'ys be fled, and
their wives and children, and _my_ children, be fled, leaving none in
this clearin' but Lowiny, who belongs more to your'n in feelin', than to
me and mine, and the body that lies beneath the clods! There's property
in the housen, that I do s'pose even the law would give us, and maybe
some one may want it. Give me that, Major Littlepage, to help to clothe
and feed my young, and I'll never trouble this place ag'in. They'll not
call Aaron a squatter for takin' up that small piece of 'arth; and one
day, perhaps, you'll not grudge to me as much more by its side. It's
little more squattin' that I can do, and the next pitch I make, will be
the last."

"There is no wish on my part, good woman, to injure you. Your effects
can be taken away from this place whenever you please, and I will even
help you to do it," I answered, "in such a way as to put it in the power
of your sons to receive the goods without risk to themselves. I remember
to have seen a batteau of some size in the stream below the mill; can
you tell me whether it remains there or not?"

"Why shouldn't it? The b'ys built it two years ago, to transport things
in, and it's not likely to go off of itself."

"Well, then, I will use that boat to get your effects off with safety to
yourself. To-morrow, everything of any value that can be found about
this place, and to which you can have any right, shall be put in that
batteau, and I will send the boat, when loaded, down the stream, by
means of my own black and the Indian, who shall abandon it a mile or two
below, where those you may send to look for it, can take possession and
carry the effects to any place you may choose."

The woman seemed surprised, and even affected by this proposal, though
she a little distrusted my motives.

"Can I depend on this, Major Littlepage?" she asked, doubtingly. "Tobit
and his brethren would be desp'rate, if any scheme to take 'em should be
set on foot under sich a disguise."

"Tobit and his brethren have nothing to fear from treachery of mine. Has
the word of a gentleman no value in your eyes?"

"I know that gentlemen gin'rally do as they promise; and so I've often
told Aaron, as a reason for not bein' hard on their property, but he
never would hear to it. Waal, Major Littlepage, I'll put faith in you,
and will look for the batteau at the place you've mentioned. God bless
you for this, and may he prosper you in that which is nearest your
heart! We shall never see each other ag'in--farewell."

"You surely will return to the house, and pass the night comfortably
under a roof!"

"No; I'll quit you here. The housen have little in 'em now that I love,
and I shall be happier in the woods."

"But the night is cool, and, ere it be morning, it will become even
chilling and cold."

"It's colder in that grave," answered the woman, pointing mournfully
with her long, skinny finger to the mound which covered the remains of
her husband. "I'm used to the forest, and go to look for my children.
The mother that looks for her children is not to be kept back by winds
and frost. Farewell ag'in, Major Littlepage. May God remember what you
have done, and will do, for me and mine!"

"But you forget your daughter. What is to become of your daughter?"

"Lowiny has taken desp'rately to Dus Malbone, and wishes to stay with
her while Dus wishes to have her stay. If they get tired of each other,
my da'ghter can easily find us. No gal of mine will be long put out in
sich a s'arch."

As all this sounded probable and well enough, I had no further
objections to urge. Prudence waved her hand in adieu, and away she went
across the dreary-looking fields with the strides of a man, burying her
tall, gaunt figure in the shadow of the wood, with as little hesitation
as another would have entered the well-known avenues of some town. I
never saw her afterward; though one or two messages from her did reach
me through Lowiny.

As I was returning from the grave, Jaap and the Trackless came in from
their scout. The report they made was perfectly satisfactory. By the
trail, which they followed for miles, the squatters had actually
absconded, pushing for some distant point, and nothing more was to be
feared from them in that part of the country. I now gave my orders as
respected the goods and chattels of the family, which were neither very
numerous nor very valuable; and it may as well be said here as later,
that everything was done next day, strictly according to promise. The
first of the messages that I received from Prudence came within a month,
acknowledging the receipt of her effects, even to the gear of the mill,
and expressing her deep gratitude for the favor. I have reason to think,
too, that nearly half the lumber fell into the hands of these squatters,
quite that portion of it being in the stream at the time we removed from
the spot, and floating off with the rains that soon set in. What was
found at a later day was sold, and the proceeds were appropriated to
meet the expenses of, and to make presents to the posse, as an
encouragement to such persons to see the majesty of the laws maintained.

Early next morning we made our preparations to quit the deserted mill.
Ten of the posse arranged themselves into a party to see the body of
Chainbearer transported to the Nest. This was done by making a rude
bier, that was carried by two horses, one preceding the other, and
having the corpse suspended between them. I remained with the body; but
Dus, attended by Lowiny, and protected by her brother, preceded us,
halting at Chainbearer's huts for our arrival. At this point we passed
the first night of our journey, Dus and Frank again preceding us, always
on foot, to the Nest. At this place, the final halt of poor Andries, the
brother and sister arrived at an hour before dinner, while we did not
get in with the body until the sun was just setting.

As our little procession drew near the house, I saw a number of wagons
and horses in the orchard that spread around it, which at first I
mistook for a collection of the tenants, met to do honor to the manes of
Chainbearer. A second look, however, let me into the true secret of the
case. As we drew slowly near, the whole procession on foot, I discovered
the persons of my own dear parents, that of Colonel Follock, those of
Kate, Pris. Bayard, Tom Bayard, and even of my sister Kettletas, in the
group. Last of all, I saw, pressing forward to meet me, yet a little
repelled by the appearance of the coffin, my dear and venerable old
grandmother, herself!

Here, then, were assembled nearly all of the house of Littlepage, with
two or three near friends, who did not belong to it! Frank Malbone was
among them, and doubtless had told his story so that our visitors could
not be surprised at our appearance. On the other hand, I was at no loss
to understand how all this had been brought about. Frank's express had
found the party at Fishkill, had communicated his intelligence, set
everybody in motion on the wings of anxiety and love, and here they
were. The journey had not been particularly rapid either, plenty of time
having elapsed between the time when my seizure by the squatters was
first made known to my friends, and the present moment, to have got a
message to Lilacsbush, and to have received its answer.

Kate afterward told me we made an imposing and solemn appearance, as we
came up to the gate of Ravensnest, bearing the body of Chainbearer. In
advance marched Susquesus and Jaap, each armed, and the latter carrying
an axe, acting, as occasion required, in the character of a pioneer. The
bearers and attendants came next, two and two, armed as a part of the
posse, and carrying packs; next succeeded the horses with the bier, each
led by a keeper; I was the principal mourner, though armed like the
rest, while Chainbearer's poor slaves, now the property of Dus, brought
up the rear, carrying his compass, chains, and other emblems of his
calling.

We made no halt, but passing the crowd collected on the lawn, we went
through the gateway, and only came to a stand when we had reached the
centre of the court. As all the arrangements had been previously made,
the next step was to inter the body. I knew that General Littlepage had
often officiated on such occasions, and a request to that effect was
made to him, through Tom Bayard. As for myself, I said not a word to any
of my own family, begging them to excuse me until I had seen the last
offices performed to the remains of my friend. In half an hour all was
ready, and again the solemn procession was resumed. As before, Susquesus
and Jaap led the way, the latter now carrying a shovel, and acting in
the capacity of a sexton. The Indian bore a flaming torch of pine, the
darkness having so far advanced as to render artificial light necessary.
Others of the party had these natural flambeaux also, which added
greatly to the solemnity and impressiveness of the scene. General
Littlepage preceded the corpse, carrying a prayer-book. Then followed
the bearers with the coffin, the horses being now dismissed. Dus, veiled
in black from head to foot and leaning on Frank, appeared as chief
mourner. Though this was not strictly in conformity with real New York
habits, yet no one thought the occasion one on which to manifest the
customary reserve of the sex. Everybody in or near the Nest, females as
well as males, appeared to do honor to the memory of Chainbearer, and
Dus came forth as the chief mourner. Priscilla Bayard, leaning on the
arm of her brother Tom, edged herself in next to her friend, though they
had not as yet exchanged a syllable together; and, after all was over,
Pris. told me it was the first funeral she had ever attended, or the
first time she had ever been at a grave. The same was true of my
grandmother, my mother, and both my sisters. I mention this lest some
antiquarian, a thousand years hence, might light on this manuscript, and
mistake our customs. Of late years, the New Englanders are introducing
an innovation on the old usage of the colony; but, among the upper real
New York families, women do not even now attend funerals. In this
respect, I apprehend, we follow the habits of England, where females of
the humbler classes, as I have heard, do, while their superiors do not
appear on such occasions. The reason of the difference between the two
is very easily appreciated, though I limit my statements to what I
conceive to be the facts, without affecting to philosophize on them.

But all our ladies attended the funeral of Chainbearer. I came next to
Tom and Priscilla, Kate pressing up to my side, and placing my arm in
mine, without speaking. As she did this, however, the dear girl laid her
little hand on mine, and gave the latter a warm pressure, as much as to
say how greatly she was rejoiced at finding me safe, and out of the
hands of the Philistines. The rest of the party fell in behind, and, as
soon as the Indian saw that everybody was placed, he moved slowly
forward, holding his flaming torch so high as to light the footsteps of
those near him.

Directions had been sent to the 'Nest to dig a grave for Andries, in the
orchard, and at no great distance from the verge of the rocks. As I
afterward ascertained, it was at the very spot where one of the most
remarkable events in the life of the general had occurred, an event in
which both Susquesus and Jaap had been conspicuous actors. Thither,
then, we proceeded in funeral order, and with funeral tread, the torches
throwing their wild and appropriate light over the nearer accessories of
the scene. Never did the service sound more solemnly to me, there being
a pathos and richness in my father's voice that were admirably adapted
to the occasion. Then he felt what he was reading, which does not always
happen even when a clergyman officiates; for not only was General
Littlepage a close friend of the deceased, but he was a devout
Christian. I felt a throb at the heart, as I heard the fall of the first
clods on the coffin of Chainbearer; but reflection brought its calm, and
from the moment Dus became, as it might be, doubly dear to me. It
appeared to me as if all her uncle's love and care had been transferred
to myself, and that, henceforth, I was to be his representative with his
much-beloved niece. I did not hear a sob from Ursula during the whole
ceremony. I knew that she wept, and wept bitterly; but her self-command
was so great as to prevent any undue obtrusion of her griefs on others.
We all remained at the grave until Jaap had rounded it with his utmost
skill, and had replaced the last sod. Then the procession formed anew,
and we accompanied Frank and Dus to the door of the house, when she
entered and left us without. Priscilla Bayard, however, glided in after
her friend, and I saw them locked in each other's arms, through the
window of the parlor, by the light of the fire within. At the next
moment, they retired together to the little room that Dus had
appropriated to her own particular use.

Now it was that I embraced and was embraced by my friends. My mother
held me long in her arms, called me her "dear, dear boy," and left tears
on my face. Kate did pretty much the same, though she said nothing. As
for Anneke, my dear sister Kettletas, her embrace was like herself,
gentle, sincere, and warm-hearted. Nor must my dear old grandmother be
forgotten; for though she came last of the females, she held me longest
in her arms, and, after "thanking God" devoutly for my late escape, she
protested that "I grew every hour more and more like the Littlepages."
Aunt Mary kissed me with her customary affection.

A portion of the embraces, however, occurred after we had entered the
parlor, which Frank, imitating Dus, had delicately, as well as
considerately, left to ourselves. Colonel Follock, nevertheless, gave me
his salutations and congratulations before we left the court; and they
were as cordial and hearty as if he had been a second father.

"How atmiraply the general reats, Mortaunt," our old friend added,
becoming very Dutch as he got to be excited. "I haf always sayet t'at
Corny Littlepage woult make as goot a tominie as any rector t'ey ever
hat in olt Trinity. Put he mate as goot a soltier, too. Corny ist an
extraordinary man, Mortaunt, ant one tay he wilt pe gofernor."

This was a favorite theory of Colonel Van Valkenburgh's. For himself, he
was totally without ambition, whereas he thought nothing good enough for
his friend, Corny Littlepage. Scarce a year passed that he did not
allude to the propriety of elevating "t'e general" to some high office
or other; nor am I certain that his allusions of this nature may not
have had their effect; since my father _was_ elected to Congress as soon
as the new constitution was formed, and continued to sit as long as his
health and comfort would permit.

Supper was prepared for both parties of travellers, of course, and in
due time we all took our seats at table. I say all; but that was not
literally exact, inasmuch as neither Frank, Dus, nor Priscilla Bayard,
appeared among us again that evening. I presume each had something to
eat, though all took the meal apart from the rest of the family.

After supper I was requested to relate, _seriatim_, all the recent
events connected with my visit to the 'Nest, my arrest and liberation.
This I did, of course, seated at my grandmother's side, the old lady
holding one of my hands the whole time I was speaking. The most profound
attention was lent by all the party; and a thoughtful silence succeeded
my narration, which ended only with the history of our departure from
the mills.

"Ay," exclaimed Colonel Follock, who was the first to speak after I had
terminated my own account. "So much for Yankee religion! I'll warrant
you now, Corny, t'at t'e fellow, T'ousantacres, coult preach ant pray
just like all t'e rest of our Pilgrim Fat'ers."

"There are rogues of New York birth and extraction, Colonel Follock, as
well as of New England," answered my father, dryly; "and the practice of
squatting is incidental to the condition of the country; as men are
certain to make free with the property that is least protected and
watched. Squatters are made by circumstances, and not by any peculiar
disposition of a particular portion of the population to appropriate the
land of others to their own uses. It would be the same with our hogs and
our horses, were they equally exposed to the depredations of lawless
men, let the latter come from Connecticut or Long Island."

"Let me catch one of t'ese gentry among my horses!" answered the
colonel, with a menacing shake of his head, for, Dutchman-like, he had a
wonderful love for the species--"I woult crop him wit' my own hands,
wit'out chudge or chury."

"That might lead to evils _almost_ as great as those produced by
squatting, Dirck," returned my father.

"By the way, sir," I put in, knowing that Colonel Follock sometimes
uttered extravagances on such subjects, though as honest and
well-meaning a man as ever breathed--"I have forgotten to mention a
circumstance that may have some interest, as 'Squire Newcome is an old
acquaintance of yours." I then recounted all the facts connected with
the first visit of Mr. Jason Newcome to the clearing of Thousandacres,
and the substance of the conversation I had overheard between the
squatter and that upright magistrate. General Littlepage listened with
profound attention; and as for Colonel Follock, he raised his eyebrows,
grunted, laughed as well as a man could with his lips compressing a
pipe, and uttered in the best way he was able, under the circumstances,
and with sufficient sententiousness, the single word "Danpury."

"No--no--Dirck," answered my father, "we must not put all the crimes and
vices on our neighbors, for many of them grow, from the seedling to the
tree bearing fruit in our own soil. I know this man, Jason Newcome,
reasonably well; and while I have confided in him more than I ought,
perhaps I have never supposed he was the person in the least influenced
by our conventional notions of honor and integrity. What is called 'law
honest,' I _have_ believed him to be; but it would seem, in that I have
been mistaken. Still I am not prepared to admit that the place of his
birth, or his education, is the sole cause of his backslidings."

"Own t'e trut', Corny, like a man ast you pe, ant confess it ist all our
pilgrim fat'ers' ant Tanpury itees. What use ist t'ere in misleetin'
your own son, who wilt come, sooner or later, to see t'e whole trut'?"

"I should be sorry, Dirck, to teach my son any narrow prejudices. The
last war has thrown me much among officers from New England, and the
intercourse has taught me to esteem that portion of our fellow-citizens
more than was our custom previously to the revolution."

"Tush for 'intercourse,' ant 'esteem,' ant 'teachin', Corny! T'e whole
t'ing of squattin' hast crosset t'e Byram rifer, ant unless we look to
it, t'e Yankees wilt get all our lants away from us!"

"Jason Newcome, when I knew him best, and I may say first," continued my
father, without appearing to pay much attention to the observations of
his friend the colonel, "was an exceedingly unfledged, narrow-minded
provincial, with a most overweening notion, certainly, of the high
excellences of the particular state of society from which he had not
long before emerged. He had just as great a contempt for New York, and
New York wit, and New York usages, and especially for New York religion
and morals, as Dirck here seems to have for all those excellences as
they are exhibited in New England. In a word, the Yankee despised the
Dutchman and the Dutchman abominated the Yankee. In all this, there is
nothing new, and I fancy the supercilious feeling of the New Englandman
can very easily be traced to his origin in the mother country. But,
differences _do_ exist, I admit, and I consider the feeling with which
every New Englander comes among us to be, by habit, adverse to our state
of society in many particulars--some good and some bad--and this merely
because he is not accustomed to them. Among other things, as a whole,
the population of these States do not relish the tenures by which our
large estates are held. There are plenty of men from that quarter of the
country, who are too well taught, and whose honesty is too much of
proof, not to wish to oppose anything that is wrong in connection with
this subject; still, the prejudices of nearly all who come from the east
are opposed to the relation of landlord and tenant, and this because
they do not wish to see large landlords among them, not being large
landlords themselves. I never found any gentleman, or man of education
from New England, who saw any harm in a man's leasing a single farm to a
single tenant, or half-a-dozen farms to half-a-dozen tenants; proof that
it is not the tenure itself with which they quarrel, but with a class of
men who are, or seem to be, their superiors."

"I have heard the argument used against the leasehold system, that it
retards the growth and lessens the wealth of any district in which it
may prevail."

"That it does not retard the growth, is proved by the fact that farms
can be leased _always_, when it often requires years to sell them. This
estate is half filled now, and will be entirely occupied, long ere
Mooseridge will be a third sold. That the latter may be the richest and
the best tilled district, in the end, is quite probable; and this for
the simple reasons that richer men buy than rent, to begin with, and the
owner usually takes better care of his farm than the mere tenant. Some
of the richest, best cultivated, and most civilized regions on earth,
however, are those in which the tenures of the actual occupants are, and
ever have been, merely leasehold. It is easy to talk, and to feel, in
these matters, but not quite so easy to come to just conclusions as some
imagine. There are portions of England, for instance--Norfolk in
particular--where the improvements are almost entirely owing to the
resources and enterprise of the large proprietors. As a question of
political economy, Mordaunt, depend on it, this is one that has two
sides to it; as a question of mere stomach, each man will be apt to view
it as his gorge is up or down."

Shortly after this was said, the ladies complained of fatigue, a feeling
in which we all participated; and the party broke up for the night. It
seems the general had sent back word by the express, of the
accommodations he should require; which enabled the good people of the
Nest to make such arrangements as rendered everybody reasonably
comfortable.



CHAPTER XXX.

    "_Lid._--The victory is yours, sir."

    "_King._--It is a glorious one, and well sets off
                   Our scene of mercy; to the dead we tender
                   Our sorrow; to the living, ample wishes
                   Of future happiness."--BEAUMONT AND FLETCHER.


Fatigue kept me in bed next morning until it was late. On quitting the
house I passed through the gateway, then always left open--defence being
no longer thought of--and walked musingly toward the grave of
Chainbearer. Previously to doing this, I went as far as each corner of
the building, however, to cast an eye over the fields. On one side of
the house I saw my father and mother, arm in arm, gazing around them;
while on the other, aunt Mary stood by herself, looking wistfully in the
direction of a wooded ravine, which had been the scene of some important
event in the early history of the country. When she turned to re-enter
the building, I found her face bathed in tears. This respectable woman,
who was now well turned of forty, had lost her betrothed in battle, on
that very spot, a quarter of a century before, and was now gazing on the
sad scene for the first time since the occurrence of the event.

Something almost as interesting, though not of so sad a nature, also
drew my parents to the other side of the house. When I joined them, an
expression of grateful happiness, a little saddened perhaps by
incidental recollections, was on the countenance of each. My dear mother
kissed me affectionately as I drew near, and the general cordially gave
me his hand while wishing me good morning.

"We were talking of you," observed the last, "at the very moment you
appeared. Ravensnest is now becoming a valuable property; and its
income, added to the products of this large and very excellent farm that
you have in your own hands, should keep a country house, not only in
abundance, but with something more. You will naturally think of marrying
ere long, and your mother and I were just saying that you ought to build
a good, substantial stone dwelling on this very spot, and settle down on
your own property. Nothing contributes so much to the civilization of a
country, as to dot it with a gentry, and you will both give and receive
advantages by adopting such a course. It is impossible for those who
have never been witnesses of the result, to appreciate the effect
produced by one gentleman's family in a neighborhood, in the way of
manners, tastes, general intelligence, and civilization at large."

"I am very willing to do my duty, sir, in this, as in other particulars;
but a good stone country house, such as a landlord ought to build on his
property, will cost money, and I have no sum in hand to use for such a
purpose."

"The house will cost far less than you suppose. Materials are cheap, and
so is labor just now. Your mother and myself will manage to let you have
a few extra thousands, for our town property is beginning to tell again,
and fear nothing on that score. Make your selection of a spot, and lay
the foundation of the house this autumn; order the lumber sawed, the
lime burned, and other preparations made--and arrange matters so that
you can eat your Christmas dinner, in the year 1785, in the new
residence of Ravensnest. By that time you will be ready to get married,
and we may all come up to the house-warming."

"Has anything occurred in particular, sir, to induce you to imagine I am
in any haste to marry? You seem to couple matrimony and the new house
together, in a way to make me think there has."

I caught the general there, and, while my mother turned her head aside
and smiled, I saw that my father colored a little, though he made out to
laugh. After a moment of embarrassment, however, he answered with
spirit--my good, old grandmother coming up and linking her arm at his
vacant side as he did so.

"Why, Mord, my boy, you can have very little of the sensibility of the
Littlepages in you," he said, "if you can be a daily spectator of such
female loveliness as is now near you, and not lose your heart."

Grandmother fidgeted, and so did my mother; for I could see that both
thought the general had made too bold a demonstration. With the tact of
their sex, they would have been more on their guard. I reflected a
moment, and then determined to be frank; the present being as good a
time as any other, to reveal my secret.

"I do not intend to be insincere with you, my dear sir," I answered,
"for I know how much better it is to be open on matters that are of a
common interest in a family, than to affect mysteriousness. I am a true
Littlepage on the score of sensibility to the charms of the sex, and
have not lived in daily familiar intercourse with female loveliness,
without experiencing so much of its influence as to be a warm advocate
for matrimony. It is my wish to marry, and that, too, before this new
abode of Ravensnest can be completed."

The common exclamation of delight that followed this declamation,
sounded in my ears like a knell, for I knew it must be succeeded by a
disappointment exactly proportioned to the present hopes. But I had gone
too far to retreat, and felt bound to explain myself.

"I'm afraid, my dear parents, and my beloved grandmother," I continued,
as soon as I could speak, conscious of the necessity of being as prompt
as possible, "that you have misunderstood me."

"Not at all, my dear boy--not at all," interrupted my father. "You
admire Priscilla Bayard, but have not yet so far presumed on your
reception as to offer. But what of that? Your modesty is in your favor;
though I will acknowledge that, in my judgment, a gentleman is bound to
let his mistress know, as soon as his own mind is made up, that he is a
suitor for her hand, and that it is ungenerous and unmanly to wait until
certain of success. Remember that, Mordaunt, my boy; modesty may be
carried to a fault in a matter of this sort."

"You still misunderstand me, sir. I have nothing to reproach myself with
on the score of manliness, though I may have gone too far in another way
without consulting my friends. Beyond sincere good-will and friendship,
Priscilla Bayard is nothing to me, and I am nothing to Priscilla
Bayard."

"Mordaunt!" exclaimed a voice, that I never heard without its exciting
filial tenderness.

"I have said but truth, dearest mother, and truth that ought to have
been sooner said. Miss Bayard would refuse me to-morrow, were I to
offer."

"You don't know that, Mordaunt--you _can't_ know it until you try,"
interrupted my grandmother, somewhat eagerly. "The minds of young women
are not to be judged by the same rules as those of young men. Such an
offer will not come every day, I can tell her; and she's much too
discreet and right-judging to do anything so silly. To be sure, I have
no authority to say how Priscilla feels toward you; but, if her heart is
her own, and Mordy Littlepage be not the youth that has stolen it, I am
no judge of my own sex."

"But, you forget, dearest grandmother, that were your flattering
opinions in my behalf all true--as I have good reason to believe they
are not--but were they true, I could only regret it should be so; for I
love another."

This time the sensation was so profound as to produce a common silence.
Just at that moment an interruption occurred, of a nature both so sweet
and singular, as greatly to relieve me at least, and to preclude the
necessity of my giving any immediate account of my meaning. I will
explain how it occurred.

The reader may remember that there were, originally, loops in the
exterior walls of the house at Ravensnest, placed there for the purposes
of defence, and which were used as small windows in these peaceable
times. We were standing beneath one of those loops, not near enough,
however, to be seen or heard by one at the loop, unless we raised our
voices above the tone in which we were actually conversing. Out of this
loop, at that precise instant, issued the low, sweet strains of one of
Dus's exquisite Indian hymns, I might almost call them, set, as was
usual with her, to a plaintive Scotch melody. On looking toward the
grave of Chainbearer, I saw Susquesus standing over it, and I at once
understood the impulse which led Ursula to sing this song. The words had
been explained to me, and I knew that they alluded to a warrior's grave.

The raised finger, the delighted expression of the eye, the attitude of
intense listening which my beloved mother assumed, each and all denoted
the pleasure and emotion she experienced. When, however, the singer
suddenly changed the language to English, after the last guttural words
of the Onondago had died on our ears, and commenced to the same strain a
solemn English hymn, that was short in itself, but full of piety and
hope, the tears started out of my mother's and grandmother's eyes, and
even General Littlepage sought an occasion to blow his nose in a very
suspicious manner. Presently, the sounds died away, and that exquisite
melody ceased.

"In the name of wonder, Mordaunt, who can this nightingale be?" demanded
my father, for neither of the ladies could speak.

"_That_ is the person, sir, who has my plighted faith--the woman I must
marry or remain single."

"This, then, must be the Dus Malbone, or Ursula Malbone, of whom I have
heard so much from Priscilla Bayard, within the last day or two," said
my mother, in the tone and with the manner of one who is suddenly
enlightened on any subject that has much interest with him, or her; "I
ought to have expected something of the sort, if half the praises of
Priscilla be true."

No one had a better mother than myself. Thoroughly a lady in all that
pertains to the character, she was also an humble and pious Christian.
Nevertheless, humility and piety are, in some respects, particularly the
first, matters of convention. The fitness of things had great merit in
the eyes of both my parents, and I cannot say that it is entirely
without it in mine. In nothing is this fitness of things more
appropriate than in equalizing marriages; and few things are less likely
to be overlooked by a discreet parent, than to have all proper care that
the child connects itself prudently; and that, too, as much in reference
to station, habits, opinions, breeding in particular, and the general
way of thinking, as to fortune. Principles are inferred among people of
principle, as a matter of course; but subordinate to these, worldly
position is ever of great importance in the eyes of parents. My parents
could not be very different from those of other people, and I could see
that both now thought that Ursula Malbone, the Chainbearer's niece, one
who had actually carried chain herself, for I had lightly mentioned that
circumstance in one of my letters, was scarcely a suitable match for the
only son of General Littlepage. Neither said much, however; though my
father did put one or two questions that were somewhat to the point, ere
we separated.

"Am I to understand, Mordaunt," he asked, with a little of the gravity a
parent might be expected to exhibit on hearing so unpleasant an
announcement--"Am I to understand, Mordaunt, that you are actually
engaged to this young--eh-eh-eh--this young person?"

"Do not hesitate, my dear sir, to call Ursula Malbone a lady. She is a
lady by both birth and education. The last, most certainly, or she never
could have stood in the relation she does to your family."

"And what relation is that, sir?"

"It is just this, my dear father. I have offered to
Ursula--indiscreetly, hastily if you will, as I ought to have waited to
consult you and my mother--but we do not always follow the dictates of
propriety in a matter of so much feeling. I dare say, sir, you did
better"--here I saw a slight smile on the pretty mouth of my mother, and
I began to suspect that the general had been no more dutiful than myself
in this particular--"but I hope my forgetfulness will be excused, on
account of the influence of a passion which we all find so hard to
resist."

"But what is the relation this young--lady--bears to my family,
Mordaunt? You are not already married?"

"Far from it, sir; I should not so far have failed in respect to you
three--or even to Anneke and Katrinke. I have _offered_, and have been
conditionally accepted."

"Which condition is----"

"The consent of you three; the perfect approbation of my whole near
connection. I believe that Dus, _dear_ Dus, does love me, and that she
would cheerfully give me her hand, were she certain of its being
agreeable to you, but that no persuasion of mine will ever induce her so
to do under other circumstances."

"This is something, for it shows the girl has principle," answered my
father "Why, who goes there?"

"Who went there?" sure enough. There went Frank Malbone and Priscilla
Bayard, arm in arm, and so engrossed in conversation that they did not
see who were observing them. I dare say they fancied they were in the
woods, quite sheltered from curious eyes, and at liberty to saunter
about, as much occupied with each other as they pleased; or, what is
more probable, that they thought of nothing, just then, but of
themselves. They came out of the court, and walked off swiftly into the
orchard, appearing to tread on air, and seemingly as happy as the birds
that were carolling on the surrounding trees.

"There, sir," I said, significantly--"There, my dear mother, is the
proof that Miss Priscilla Bayard will not break her heart on my
account."

"This is very extraordinary, indeed!" exclaimed my much disappointed
grandmother--"Is not that the young man who we were told acted as
Chainbearer's surveyor, Corny?"

"It is, my good mother, and a very proper and agreeable youth he is, as
I know by a conversation held with him last night. It is very plain we
have all been mistaken"--added the general; "though I do not know that
we ought to say that we have any of us been deceived."

"Here comes Kate, with a face which announces that she is fully mistress
of the secret," I put in, perceiving my sister coming round our angle of
the building, with a countenance which I knew betokened that her mind
and heart were full. She joined us, took my arm without speaking, and
followed my father, who led his wife and mother to a rude bench that had
been placed at the foot of a tree, where we all took seats, each waiting
for some other to speak. My grandmother broke the silence.

"Do you see Pris Bayard yonder, walking with that Mr. Frank Chainbearer,
or Surveyor, or whatever his name is, Katrinke dear?" asked the good
_old_ lady.

"I do, grandmamma," answered the good _young_ lady in a voice so pitched
as to be hardly audible.

"And can you explain what it means, darling?"

"I believe I can, ma'am--if--if--Mordaunt wishes to hear."

"Don't mind me, Kate," returned I, smiling--"My heart will never be
broken by Miss Priscilla Bayard."

The look of sisterly solicitude that I received from that honest-hearted
girl ought to have made me feel very grateful; and it did make me feel
grateful, for a sister's affection is a sweet thing. I believe the
calmness of my countenance and its smiling expression encouraged the
dear creature, for she now began to tell her story as fast as was at all
in rule.

"The meaning, then, is this," said Kate. "That gentleman is Mr. Francis
Malbone, and he is the engaged suitor of Priscilla. I have had all the
facts from her own mouth."

"Will you, then, let us hear as many of them as it is proper we should
know?" said the general, gravely.

"There is no wish on the part of Priscilla to conceal anything. She has
known Mr. Malbone several years, and they have been attached all that
time. Nothing impeded the affair but his poverty. Old Mr. Bayard
objected to that, of course, you know, as fathers will, and Priscilla
would not engage herself. But--do you not remember to have heard of the
death of an old Mrs. Hazleton, at Bath, in England, this summer, mamma?
The Bayards are in half-mourning for her now."

"Certainly, my dear--Mrs. Hazleton was Mr. Bayard's aunt. I knew her
well once, before she became a refugee--her husband was a half-pay
Colonel Hazleton of the royal artillery, and they were tories of course.
The aunt was named Priscilla, and was godmother to our Pris."

"Just so--well, this lady has left Pris ten thousand pounds in the
English funds, and the Bayards now consent to her marrying Mr. Malbone.
They say, too, but I don't think _that_ can have had any influence, for
Mr. Bayard and his wife are particularly disinterested people, as indeed
are all the family"--added Kate, hesitatingly and looking down; "but
they _say_ that the death of some young man will probably leave Mr.
Malbone the heir of an aged cousin of his late father's."

"And now, my dear father and mother, you will perceive that Miss Bayard
will not break her heart because I happen to love Dus Malbone. I see by
your look, Katrinke, that you have had some hint of this backsliding
also."

"I have; and what is more, I have seen the young lady, and can hardly
wonder at it. Anneke and I have been passing two hours with her this
morning; and since you cannot get Pris, I know no other, Mordaunt, who
will so thoroughly supply her place. Anneke is in love with her also!"

Dear, good, sober-minded, judicious Anneke; she had penetrated into the
true character of Dus, in a single interview; a circumstance that I
ascribed to the impression left by the recent death of Chainbearer.
Ordinarily, that spirited young woman would not have permitted a
sufficiently near approach in a first interview, to permit a discovery
of so many of her sterling qualities, but now her heart was softened,
and her spirit so much subdued, one of Anneke's habitual gentleness
would be very apt to win on her sympathies, and draw the two close to
each other. The reader is not to suppose that Dus had opened her mind
like a vulgar school-girl, and made my sister a confidant of the
relation in which she and I stood to one another. She had not said, or
hinted, a syllable on the subject. The information Kate possessed had
come from Priscilla Bayard, who obtained it from Frank, as a matter of
course; and my sister subsequently admitted to me that her friend's
happiness was augmented by the knowledge that I should not be a sufferer
by her earlier preference for Malbone, and that she was likely to have
me for a brother-in-law. All this I gleaned from Kate, in our subsequent
conferences.

"This is extraordinary!" exclaimed the general--"very extraordinary; and
to me quite unexpected."

"We can have no right to control Miss Bayard's choice," observed my
discreet and high-principled mother. "She is her own mistress, so far as
_we_ are concerned; and if her own parents approve of her choice, the
less we say about it the better. As respects this connection of
Mordaunt's, I hope he himself will admit of our right to have opinions."

"Perfectly so, my dearest mother. All I ask of you is, to express no
opinion, however, until you have seen Ursula--have become acquainted
with her, and are qualified to judge of her fitness to be not only mine,
but any man's wife. I ask but this of your justice."

"It is just; and I shall act on the suggestion," observed my father.
"You _have_ a right to demand this of us, Mordaunt, and I can promise
for your mother, as well as myself."

"After all, Anneke," put in grandmother, "I am not sure we have no right
to complain of Miss Bayard's conduct toward us. Had she dropped the
remotest hint of her being engaged to this Malbone, I would never have
endeavored to lead my grandson to think of her seriously for one
moment."

"Your grandson never _has_ thought of her seriously for one moment, or
for half a moment, dearest grandmother," I cried, "so give your mind no
concern on that subject. Nothing of the sort could make me happier than
to know that Priscilla Bayard is to marry Frank Malbone; unless it were
to be certain I am myself to marry the latter's half-sister."

"How can this be?--How could such a thing possibly come to pass, my
child! I do not remember ever to have _heard_ of this person--much less
to have spoken to you on the subject of such a connection."

"Oh! dearest grandmother, we truant children sometimes get conceits of
this nature into our heads and hearts, without stopping to consult our
relatives, as we ought to do."

But it is useless to repeat all that was said in the long and desultory
conversation that followed. I had no reason to be dissatisfied with my
parents, who ever manifested toward me not only great discretion, but
great indulgence. I confess, when a domestic came to say that Miss Dus
was at the breakfast-table, waiting for us alone, I trembled a little
for the effect that might be produced on her appearance by the scenes
she had lately gone through. She had wept a great deal in the course of
the last week; and when I last saw her, which was the glimpse caught at
the funeral, she was pale and dejected in aspect. A lover is so jealous
of even the impression that his mistress will make on those he wishes to
admire her, that I felt particularly uncomfortable as we entered first
the court, then the house, and last the eating-room.

A spacious and ample board had been spread for the accommodation of our
large party. Anneke, Priscilla, Frank Malbone, aunt Mary, and Ursula,
were already seated when we entered, Dus occupying the head of the
table. No one had commenced the meal, nor had the young mistress of the
board even begun to pour out the tea and coffee (for my presence had
brought abundance into the house), but there she sat, respectfully
waiting for those to approach who might be properly considered the
principal guests. I thought Dus had never appeared more lovely. Her
dress was a neatly-arranged and tasteful half-mourning; with which her
golden hair, rosy cheeks, and bright eyes contrasted admirably. The
cheeks of Dus, too, had recovered their color, and her eyes their
brightness. The fact was, that the news of her brother's improved
fortunes had even been better than we were just told. Frank found
letters for him at the 'Nest, announcing the death of his kinsman, with
a pressing invitation to join the bereaved parent, then an aged and
bed-ridden invalid, as his adopted son. He was urged to bring Dus with
him; and he received a handsome remittance to enable him so to do
without inconvenience to himself. This alone would have brought
happiness back to the countenance of the poor and dependent. Dus mourned
her uncle in sincerity, and she long continued to mourn for him; but her
mourning was that of the Christian who hoped. Chainbearer's hurt had
occurred several days before; and the first feeling of sorrow had become
lessened by time and reflection. His end had been happy; and he was now
believed to be enjoying the fruition of his penitence through the
sacrifice of the Son of God.

It was easy to detect the surprise that appeared in the countenances of
all my parents, as Miss Malbone rose, like one who was now confident of
her position and claims to give and to receive the salutations that were
proper for the occasion. Never did any young woman acquit herself better
than Dus, who courtesied gracefully as a queen; while she returned the
compliments she received with the self-possession of one bred in courts.
To this she was largely indebted to nature, though her schooling had
been good. Many of the first young women of the colony had been her
companions for years; and in that day, manner was far more attended to
than it is getting to be among us now. My mother was delighted; for, as
she afterward assured me, her mind was already made up to receive Ursula
as a daughter; since she thought it due to honor to redeem my plighted
faith. General Littlepage might not have been so very scrupulous; though
even he admitted the right of the obligations I had incurred; but Dus
fairly carried him by storm. The tempered sadness of her mien gave an
exquisite finish to her beauty, rendering all she said, did, and looked,
that morning, perfect. In a word, everybody was wondering; but everybody
was pleased. An hour or two later, and after the ladies had been alone
together, my excellent grandmother came to me and desired to have a
little conversation with me apart. We found a seat in the arbor of the
court; and my venerable parent commenced as follows:--

"Well, Mordaunt, my dear, it _is_ time that you should think of marrying
and of settling in life. As Miss Bayard is happily engaged, I do not see
that you can do better than to offer to Miss Malbone. Never have I seen
so beautiful a creature; and the generous-minded Pris tells me she is as
good, and virtuous, and wise as she is lovely. She is well born and well
educated; and may have a good fortune in the bargain, if that old Mr.
Malbone is as rich as they tell me he is, and has conscience enough to
make a just will. Take my advice, my dear son, and marry Ursula
Malbone."

Dear grandmother! I did take her advice; and I am persuaded that, to her
dying day, she was all the more happy under the impression that she had
materially aided in bringing about the connection.

As General Littlepage and Colonel Follock had come so far, they chose to
remain a month or two, in order to look after their lands, and to
revisit some scenes in that part of the world in which both felt a deep
interest. My mother, and aunt Mary, too, seemed content to remain, for
they remembered events which the adjacent country recalled to their
minds with a melancholy pleasure. In the meanwhile Frank went to meet
his cousin, and had time to return, ere our party was disposed to break
up. During his absence everything was arranged for my marriage with his
sister. This event took place just two months, to a day, from that of
the funeral of Chainbearer. A clergyman was obtained from Albany to
perform the ceremony, as neither party belonged to the Congregational
order; and an hour after we were united, everybody left us alone at the
'Nest, on their return south. I say everybody, though Jaap and Susquesus
were exceptions. These two remained and remain to this hour; though the
negro did return to Lilacsbush and Satanstoe to assemble his family, and
to pay occasional visits.

There was much profound feeling, but little parade, at the wedding. My
mother had got to love Ursula as if she were her own child: and I had
not only the pleasure, but the triumph of seeing the manner in which my
betrothed rendered herself from day to day, and this without any other
means than the most artless and natural, more and more acceptable to my
friends.

"This is perfect happiness," said Dus to me, one lovely afternoon that
we were strolling in company along the cliff, near the Nest--and a few
minutes after she had left my mother's arms, who had embraced and
blessed her, as a pious parent does both to a well-beloved child--"This
is perfect happiness, Mordaunt, to be the chosen of you, and the
accepted of your parents! I never knew, until now, what it is to have a
parent. Uncle Chainbearer did all he could for me, and I shall cherish
his memory to my latest breath--but uncle Chainbearer could never supply
the place of a mother. How blessed, how undeservedly blessed does my lot
promise to become! You will give me not only parents, and parents I can
love as well as if they were those granted by nature, but you will give
me also two such sisters as few others possess!"

"And I give you all, dearest Dus, encumbered with such a husband that I
am almost afraid you will fancy the other gifts too dearly purchased,
when you come to know him better."

The ingenuous, grateful look, the conscious blush, and the thoughtful,
pensive smile, each and all said that my pleased and partial listener
had no concern on that score. Had I then understood the sex as well as I
now do, I might have foreseen that a wife's affection augments, instead
of diminishing; that the love the pure and devoted matron bears her
husband increases with time, and gets to be a part and parcel of her
moral existence. I am no advocate of what are called, strictly,
"marriages of reason"--I think the solemn and enduring knot should be
tied by the hands of warm-hearted, impulsive affection, increased and
strengthened by knowledge and confidential minglings of thought and
feeling; but I have lived long enough to understand that, lively as are
the passions of youth, they produce no delights like those which spring
from the tried and deep affections of a happy married life.

And we were married! The ceremony took place before breakfast, in order
to enable our friends to reach the great highway ere night should
overtake them. The meal that succeeded was silent and thoughtful. Then
my dear, dear mother took Dus in her arms, and kissed and blessed her
again and again. My honored father did the same, bidding my weeping but
happy bride remember that she was now his daughter. "Mordaunt is a good
fellow, at the bottom, dear, and will love and cherish you as he has
promised," added the general, blowing his nose to conceal his emotion;
"but should he ever forget any part of his vows, come to me, and I will
visit him with a father's displeasure."

"No fear of Mordaunt--no fear of Mordaunt," put in my worthy
grandmother, who succeeded in the temporary leave-taking--"he is a
Littlepage, and all the Littlepages make excellent husbands. The boy is
as like what his grandfather was, at his time of life, as one pea is
like another. God bless you, daughter--you will visit me at Satanstoe
this fall, when I shall have great pleasure in showing you _my_
general's picture."

Anneke and Kate, and Pris Bayard hugged Dus in such a way that I was
afraid they would eat her up, while Frank took his leave of his sister
with the manly tenderness he always showed her. The fellow was too happy
himself, however, to be shedding many tears, though Dus actually sobbed
on _his_ bosom. The dear creature was doubtless running over the past,
in her mind, and putting it in contrast with the blessed present.

At the end of the honey-moon, I loved Dus twice as much as I had loved
her the hour we were married. Had any one told me this was possible, I
should have derided the thought; but thus it was, and I may truly add,
thus has it ever continued to be. At the end of that month, we left
Ravensnest for Lilacsbush, when I had the pleasure of seeing my bride
duly introduced to that portion of what is called the world, to which
she properly belonged. Previously to quitting the Patent, however, all
my plans were made, and contracts were signed, preparatory to the
construction of the house that my father had mentioned. The foundation
was laid that same season, and we did keep our Christmas holidays in it,
the following year, by which time Dus had made me the father of a noble
boy.

It is scarcely necessary to say that Frank and Pris were married, as
were Tom and Kate, at no great distance of time after ourselves. Both of
those matches have turned out to be perfectly happy. Old Mr. Malbone did
not survive the winter, and he left the whole of a very sufficient
estate to his kinsman. Frank was desirous of making his sister a sharer
in his good fortune, but I would not hear of it. Dus was treasure enough
of herself, and wanted not money to enhance her value in my eyes. I
thought so in 1785, and I think so to-day. We got some plate and
presents, that were well enough, but never would accept any portion of
the property. The rapid growth of New York brought our vacant lots in
that thriving town into the market, and we soon became richer than was
necessary to happiness. I hope the gifts of Providence have never been
abused. Of one thing I am certain; Dus has ever been far more prized by
me than any other of my possessions.

I ought to say a word of Jaap and the Indian. Both are still living, and
both dwell at the Nest. For the Indian I caused a habitation to be
erected in a certain ravine, at no great distance from the house, and
which had been the scene of one of his early exploits in that part of
the country. Here he lives, and has lived, for the last twenty years,
and here he hopes to die. He gets his food, blankets, and whatever else
is necessary to supply his few wants, at the Nest, coming and going at
will. He is now drawing fast on old age, but retains his elastic step,
upright movement, and vigor. I do not see but he may live to be a
hundred. The same is true of Jaap. The old fellow holds on, and enjoys
life like a true descendant of the Africans. He and Sus are inseparable,
and often stray off into the forest on long hunts, even in the winter,
returning with loads of venison, wild turkeys, and other game. The negro
dwells at the Nest, but half his time he sleeps in the wigwam, as we
call the dwelling of Sus. The two old fellows dispute frequently, and
occasionally they quarrel; but, as neither drinks, the quarrels are
never very long or very serious. They generally grow out of differences
of opinion on moral philosophy, as connected with their respective views
of the past and the future.

Lowiny remained with us as a maid until she made a very suitable
marriage with one of my own tenants. For a little while after my
marriage I thought she was melancholy, probably through regret for her
absent and dispersed family; but this feeling soon disappeared, and she
became contented and happy. Her good looks improved under the influence
of civilization, and I have the satisfaction of adding that she never
has had any reason to regret having attached herself to us. To this
moment she is an out-door dependent and humble friend of my wife, and we
find her particularly useful in cases of illness among our children.

What shall I say of 'Squire Newcome? He lived to a good old age, dying
quite recently; and with many who knew, or, rather, who did _not_ know
him, he passed for a portion of the salt of the earth. I never proceeded
against him on account of his connection with the squatters, and he
lived his time in a sort of lingering uncertainty as to my knowledge of
his tricks. That man became a sort of a deacon in his church, was more
than once a member of the Assembly, and continued to be a favorite
recipient of public favors down to his last moment; and this simply
because his habits brought him near to the mass, and because he took the
most elaborate care never to tell them a truth that was unpleasant. He
once had the temerity to run against me for Congress, but that
experiment proved to be a failure. Had it been attempted forty years
later, it might have succeeded better. Jason died poor and in debt,
after all his knavery and schemes. Avidity for gold had overreached
itself in his case, as it does in those of so many others. His
descendants, notwithstanding, remain with us; and while they have
succeeded to very little in the way of property, they are the legitimate
heritors of their ancestor's vulgarity of mind and manners--of his
tricks, his dissimulations, and his frauds. This is the way in which
Providence "visits the sins of the fathers upon the children, unto the
third and fourth generations."

Little more remains to be said. The owners of Mooseridge have succeeded
in selling all the lots they wished to put into the market, and large
sums stand secured on them, in the way of bonds and mortgages. Anneke
and Kate have received fair portions of this property, including much
that belonged to Colonel Follock, who now lives altogether with my
parents. Aunt Mary, I regret to say, died a few years since, a victim to
small-pox. She never married, of course, and left her handsome property
between my sisters and a certain lady of the name of Ten Eyck, who
needed it, and whose principal claim consisted in her being a third
cousin of her former lover, I believe. My mother mourned the death of
her friend sincerely, as did we all; but we had the consolation of
believing her happy with the angels.

I caused to be erected, in the extensive grounds that were laid out
around the new dwelling at the Nest, a suitable monument over the grave
of Chainbearer. It bore a simple inscription, and one that my children
now often read and comment on with pleasure. We all speak of him as
"Uncle Chainbearer" to this hour, and his grave is never mentioned on
other terms than those of "Uncle Chainbearer's grave." Excellent old
man! That he was not superior to the failings of human nature, need not
be said; but so long as he lived, he lived a proof of how much more
respectable and estimable is the man who takes simplicity, and honesty,
and principle, and truth for his guide, than he who endeavors to
struggle through the world by the aid of falsehood, chicanery, and
trick.

THE END.



THE REDSKINS

OR

INDIAN AND INJIN

BEING THE CONCLUSION OF

_THE LITTLEPAGE MANUSCRIPTS_

BY J. FENIMORE COOPER

    "In every work regard the writer's end
    None e'er can compass more than they intend"
                                             --POPE

[Illustration: "All of the girls but Mary Warren had entered the
house.... She remained at the side of my grandmother."]



PREFACE.


This book closes the series of the Littlepage Manuscripts, which have
been given to the world, as containing a fair account of the comparative
sacrifices of time, money, and labor, made respectively by the landlord
and the tenants, on a New York estate; together with the manner in which
usages and opinions are changing among us; as well as certain of the
reasons of these changes. The discriminating reader will probably be
able to trace in these narratives the progress of those innovations on
the great laws of morals which are becoming so very manifest in
connection with this interest, setting at naught the plainest principles
that God has transmitted to man for the government of his conduct, and
all under the extraordinary pretence of favoring liberty! In this
downward course, our picture embraces some of the proofs of that
looseness of views on the subject of certain species of property which
is, in a degree perhaps, inseparable from the semi-barbarous condition
of a new settlement; the gradation of the squatter, from him who merely
makes his pitch to crop a few fields in passing, to him who carries on
the business by wholesale; and last, though not least in this catalogue
of marauders, the anti-renter.

It would be idle to deny that the great principle which lies at the
bottom of anti-rentism, if principle it can be called, is the assumption
of a claim that the interests and wishes of numbers are to be respected,
though done at a sacrifice of the clearest rights of the few. That this
is not liberty, but tyranny in its worst form, every right-thinking and
right-feeling man must be fully aware. Every one who knows much of the
history of the past, and of the influence of classes, must understand,
that whenever the educated, the affluent, and the practised choose to
unite their means of combination and money to control the political
destiny of a country, they become irresistible; making the most
subservient tools of those very masses who vainly imagine _they_ are the
true guardians of their own liberties. The well-known election of 1840
is a memorable instance of the power of such a combination; though that
was a combination formed mostly for the mere purposes of faction,
sustained perhaps by the desperate designs of the insolvents of the
country. Such a combination was necessarily wanting in union among the
affluent; it had not the high support of principles to give it sanctity,
and it affords little more than the proof of the power of money and
leisure, when applied in a very doubtful cause, in wielding the masses
of a great nation, to be the instruments of their own subjection. No
well-intentioned American legislator, consequently, ought ever to lose
sight of the fact, that each invasion of the right which he sanctions is
a blow struck against liberty itself, which, in a country like this, has
no auxiliary so certain or so powerful as justice.

The State of New York contains about 43,000 square miles of land; or
something like 27,000,000 of acres. In 1783, its population must have
been about 200,000 souls. With such a proportion between people and
surface it is unnecessary to prove that the husbandman was not quite as
dependent on the landholder, as the landholder was dependent on the
husbandman. This would have been true, had the State been an island; but
we all know it was surrounded by many other communities similarly
situated, and that nothing else was so abundant as land. All notions of
exactions and monopolies, therefore, must be untrue, as applied to those
two interests at that day.

In 1786-7, the State of New York, then in possession of all powers on
the subject, abolished entails, and otherwise brought its law of real
estate in harmony with the institutions. At that time, hundreds, perhaps
thousands, of the leases which have since become so obnoxious, were in
existence. With the attention of the State drawn directly to the main
subject, no one saw anything incompatible with the institutions in them.
_It was felt that the landlords had bought the tenants to occupy their
lands by the liberality of their concessions_, and that the latter were
the obliged parties. Had the landlords of that day endeavored to lease
for one year, or for ten years, no tenants could have been found for
wild lands; but it became a different thing, when the owner of the soil
agreed to part with it forever, in consideration of a very low rent,
granting six or eight years free from any charge whatever, and
consenting to receive the product of the soil itself in lieu of money.
Then, indeed, men were not only willing to come into the terms, but
eager; the best evidence of which is the fact, that the same tenants
might have bought land, out and out, in every direction around them, had
they not preferred the easier terms of the leases. Now that these same
men, or their successors, have become rich enough to care more to be rid
of the encumbrance of the rent than to keep their money, the rights of
the parties certainly are not altered.

In 1789, the Constitution of the United States went into operation; New
York being a party to its creation and conditions. By that Constitution,
the State deliberately deprived itself of the power to touch the
covenants of these leases, without conceding the power to any other
government; unless it might be through a change of the Constitution
itself. As a necessary consequence, these leases, in a legal sense,
belong to the institutions of New York, instead of being opposed to
them. Not only is the spirit of the institutions in harmony with these
leases, but so is the letter also. Men must draw a distinction between
the "spirit of the institutions" and their own "spirits;" the latter
being often nothing more than a stomach that is not easily satisfied. It
would be just as true to affirm that domestic slavery is opposed to the
institutions of the United States, as to say the same of these leases.
It would be just as rational to maintain, because A does not choose to
make an associate of B, that he is acting in opposition to the "spirit
of the institutions," inasmuch as the Declaration of Independence
advances the dogma that men are born equal, as it is to say it is
opposed to the same spirit, for B to pay rent to A according to his
covenant.

It is pretended that the durable leases are feudal in their nature. We
do not conceive this to be true; but, admitting it to be so, it would
only prove that feudality, to this extent, is a part of the institutions
of the State. What is more, it would become a part over which the State
itself has conceded all power of control, beyond that which it may
remotely possess as one, out of twenty-eight communities. As respects
this feudal feature, it is not easy to say where it must be looked for.
It is not to be found in the simple fact of paying rent, for that is so
general as to render the whole country feudal, could it be true; it
cannot be in the circumstance that the rent is to be paid "in kind," as
it is called, and in labor, for that is an advantage to the tenant, by
affording him the option, since the penalty of a failure leaves the
alternative of paying in money. It must be, therefore, that these leases
are feudal because they run forever! Now the length of the lease is
clearly a concession to the tenant, and was so regarded when received;
and there is not probably a single tenant, under lives, who would not
gladly exchange his term of possession for that of one of these
detestable durable leases!

Among the absurdities that have been circulated on this subject of
feudality, it has been pretended that the well-known English statute of
_quia emptores_ has prohibited fines for alienation; or that the
quarter-sales, fifth-sales, sixth-sales, etc., of our own leases were
contrary to the law of the realm, when made. Under the common law, in
certain cases of feudal tenures, the fines for alienation were an
incident of the tenure. The statute of _quia emptores_ abolished that
general principle, but it in no manner forbade parties _to enter into
covenants of the nature of quarter-sales_, did they see fit. The common
law gives all the real estate to the eldest son. Our statute divides the
real estate among the nearest of kin, without regard even to sex. It
might just as well be pretended that the father cannot devise all his
lands to his eldest son, under our statute, as to say that the law of
Edward I. prevents parties from _bargaining_ for quarter-sales. Altering
a provision of the common law does not preclude parties from making
covenants similar to its ancient provisions.

Feudal tenures were originally divided into two great classes; those
which were called the military tenures, or knight's service, and
_soccage_. The first tenure was that which became oppressive in the
progress of society. Soccage was of two kinds; free and villain. The
first has an affinity to our own system, as connected with these leases;
the last never existed among us at all. When the knight's service, or
military tenures of England, were converted into free soccage, in the
reign of Charles II., the concession was considered of a character so
favorable to liberty as to be classed among the great measures of the
time; one of which was the _habeas corpus_ act!

The only feature of our own leases, in the least approaching "villain
soccage," is that of the "days' works." But every one acquainted with
the habits of American life, will understand that husbandmen, in
general, throughout the northern States, would regard it as an advantage
to be able to pay their debts in this way; and the law gives them an
option, since a failure to pay "in kind," or "in work," merely incurs
the forfeiture of paying what the particular thing is worth, in money.
In point of fact, money has always been received for these "days'
works," and at a stipulated price.

But, it is pretended, whatever may be the equity of these leasehold
contracts, they are offensive to the tenants, and ought to be abrogated,
for the peace of the State. The State is bound to make all classes of
men respect its laws, and in nothing more so than in the fulfilment of
their legal contracts. The greater the number of the offenders, the
higher the obligation to act with decision and efficiency. To say that
these disorganizers _ought_ not to be put down, is to say that crime is
to obtain impunity by its own extent; and to say that they _cannot_ be
put down "under our form of government," is a direct admission that the
government is unequal to the discharge of one of the plainest and
commonest obligations of all civilized society. If this be really so,
the sooner we get rid of the present form of government the better. The
notion of remedying _such_ an evil by concession is as puerile as it is
dishonest. The larger the concessions become, the greater will be the
exactions of a cormorant cupidity. As soon as quiet is obtained by these
means, in reference to the leasehold tenures, it will be demanded by
some fresh combination to attain some other end.

When Lee told Washington, at Monmouth, "Sir, your troops will not stand
against British grenadiers," Washington is said to have answered, "Sir,
you have never tried them." The same reply might be given to those
miserable traducers of this republic, who, in order to obtain votes,
affect to think there is not sufficient energy in its government to put
down so barefaced an attempt as this of the anti-renters to alter the
conditions of their own leases to suit their own convenience. The county
of Delaware has, of itself, nobly given the lie to the assertion, the
honest portion of its inhabitants scattering the knaves to the four
winds, the moment there was a fair occasion made for them to act. A
single, energetic proclamation from Albany, calling a "spade a spade,"
and not affecting to gloss over the disguised robbery of these
anti-renters, and laying just principles fairly before the public mind,
would of itself have crushed the evil in its germ. The people of New
York, in their general capacity, are not the knaves their servants
evidently suppose.

The Assembly of New York, in its memorable session of 1846, has taxed
the rents on long leases; thus, not only taxing the same property twice,
but imposing the worst sort of income-tax, or one aimed at a few
individuals. It has "thimble-rigged" in its legislation, as Mr. Hugh
Littlepage not unaptly terms it; endeavoring to do that indirectly,
which the Constitution will not permit it to do directly. In other
words, as it can pass no direct law "impairing the obligation of
contracts," while it _can_ regulate descents, it has enacted, so far as
one body of the legislature has power to enact anything, that on the
_death_ of a landlord the tenant may convert his lease into a mortgage,
on discharging which he shall hold his land in fee!

We deem the first of these measures far more tyrannical than the attempt
of Great Britain to tax her colonies, which brought about the
Revolution. It is of the same general character, that of unjust
taxation: while it is attended by circumstances of aggravation that were
altogether wanting in the policy of the mother country. This is not a
tax for revenue, which is not needed; but a tax to "choke off"
landlords, to use a common American phrase. It is clearly taxing
_nothing_, or it is taxing the same property twice. It is done to
conciliate three or four thousand voters, who are now in the market, at
the expense of three or four hundred who, it is known, are not to be
bought. It is unjust in its motives, its means and its end. The measure
is discreditable to civilization, and an outrage on liberty.

But, the other law mentioned is an atrocity so grave as to alarm every
man of common principle in the State, were it not so feeble in its
devices to cheat the Constitution as to excite contempt. This
extraordinary power is exercised because the legislature _can_ control
the law of descents, though it cannot "impair the obligation of
contracts!" Had the law said at once that on the death of a landlord
each of his tenants should _own_ his farm in fee, the _ensemble_ of the
fraud would have been preserved, since the "law of descents" would have
been so far regulated as to substitute one heir for another; but
changing the _nature_ of a contract, with a party who has nothing to do
with the succession at all, is not so very clearly altering, or
amending, the law of descents! It is scarcely necessary to say that
every reputable court in the country, whether state or federal, would
brand such a law with the disgrace it merits.

But the worst feature of this law, or attempted law, remains to be
noticed. It would have been a premium on murder. Murder _has_ already
been committed by these anti-renters, and that obviously to effect their
ends; and they are to be told that whenever you shoot a landlord, as
some have already often shot _at_ them, you can convert your leasehold
tenures into tenures in fee! The mode of valuation is so obvious, too,
as to deserve a remark. A master was to settle the valuation on
testimony. The witnesses of course would be "the neighbors," and a whole
patent could swear for each other!

As democrats we protest most solemnly against such barefaced frauds,
such palpable cupidity and covetousness, being termed anything but what
they are. If they come of any party at all, it is the party of the
devil. Democracy is a lofty and noble sentiment. It does not rob the
poor to make the rich richer, nor the rich to favor the poor. It is
just, and treats all men alike. It does not "impair the obligations of
contracts." It is not the friend of a canting legislation, but, meaning
right, dare act directly. There is no greater delusion than to suppose
that true democracy has anything in common with injustice or roguery.

Nor is it an apology for anti-rentism, in any of its aspects, to say
that leasehold tenures are inexpedient. The most expedient thing in
existence is to do right. Were there no other objection to this
anti-rent movement than its corrupting influence, that alone should set
every wise man in the community firmly against it. We have seen too much
of this earth to be so easily convinced that there is any disadvantage,
nay, that there is not a positive advantage, in the existence of large
leasehold estates, when they carry with them no political power, as is
the fact here. The commonplace argument against them, that they defeat
the civilization of a country, is not sustained by fact. The most
civilized countries on earth are under this system; and this system,
too, not entirely free from grave objections which do not exist among
ourselves. That a poorer class of citizens have originally leased than
have purchased lands in New York is probably true; and it is equally
probable that the effects of this poverty, and even of the tenure in the
infancy of a country, are to be traced on the estates. But this is
taking a very one-sided view of the matter. The men who became tenants
in moderate but comfortable circumstances, would have been mostly
laborers on the farms of others, but for these leasehold tenures. That
is the benefit of the system in a new country, and the ultra friend of
humanity, who decries the condition of a tenant, should remember that if
he had not been in this very condition, he might have been in a worse.
It is, indeed, one of the proofs of the insincerity of those who are
decrying leases, on account of their aristocratic tendencies, that their
destruction will necessarily condemn a numerous class of agriculturists,
either to fall back into the ranks of the peasant or day-laborer, or to
migrate, as is the case with so many of the same class in New England.
In point of fact, the relation of landlord and tenant is one entirely
natural and salutary, in a wealthy community, and one that is so much in
accordance with the necessities of men, that no legislation can long
prevent it. A state of things which will not encourage the rich to hold
real estate would not be desirable, since it would be diverting their
money, knowledge, liberality, feelings and leisure, from the improvement
of the soil, to objects neither so useful nor so praiseworthy.

The notion that every husbandman is to be a freeholder, is as Utopian in
practice, as it would be to expect that all men were to be on the same
level in fortune, condition, education, and habits. As such a state of
things as the last never yet did exist, it was probably never designed
by divine wisdom that it should exist. The whole structure of society
must be changed, even in this country, ere it could exist among
ourselves, and the change would not have been made a month before the
utter impracticability of such a social fusion would make itself felt by
all.

We have elsewhere imputed much of the anti-rent feeling to provincial
education and habits. This term has given the deepest offence to those
who were most obnoxious to the charge. Nevertheless, our opinion is
unchanged. We know that the distance between the cataract at Niagara and
the Massachusetts line is a large hundred leagues, and that it is as
great between Sandy Hook and the 45th parallel of latitude. Many
excellent things, moral and physical, are to be found within these
limits, beyond a question; but we happen to know by an experience that
has extended to other quarters of the world, for a term now exceeding
forty years, that more are to found beyond them. If "honorable
gentlemen" at Albany fancy the reverse, they must still permit us to
believe they are too much under the influence of provincial notions.



THE REDSKINS.



CHAPTER I.

    "Thy mother was a piece of virtue, and
    She said--thou wert my daughter; and thy father
    Was duke of Milan; and his only heir
    A princess;--no worse issued."--_Tempest._


My uncle Ro and myself had been travelling together in the East, and had
been absent from home fully five years when we reached Paris. For
eighteen months neither of us had seen a line from America, when we
drove through the barriers, on our way from Egypt, _viâ_ Algiers,
Marseilles, and Lyons. Not once, in all that time, had we crossed our
own track, in a way to enable us to pick up a straggling letter; and all
our previous precautions to have the epistles meet us at different
bankers in Italy, Turkey, and Malta were thrown away.

My uncle was an old traveller--I might almost say, an old resident--in
Europe; for he had passed no less than twenty years of his fifty-nine
off the American continent. A bachelor, with nothing to do but to take
care of a very ample estate, which was rapidly increasing in value by
the enormous growth of the town of New York, and with tastes early
formed by travelling, it was natural he should seek those regions where
he most enjoyed himself. Hugh Roger Littlepage was born in 1786--the
second son of my grandfather, Mordaunt Littlepage, and of Ursula
Malbone, his wife. My own father, Malbone Littlepage, was the eldest
child of that connection; and he would have inherited the property of
Ravensnest, in virtue of his birthright, had he survived his own
parents; but, dying young, I stepped into what would otherwise have been
his succession, in my eighteenth year. My uncle Ro, however, had got
both Satanstoe and Lilacsbush; two country-houses and farms, which,
while they did not aspire to the dignity of being estates, were likely
to prove more valuable, in the long run, than the broad acres which were
intended for the patrimony of the elder brother. My grandfather was
affluent; for not only had the fortune of the Littlepages centred in
him, but so did that of the Mordaunts, the wealthier family of the two,
together with some exceedingly liberal bequests from a certain Colonel
Dirck Follock, or Van Valkenburgh; who, though only a very distant
connection, chose to make my great-grandmother's, or Anneke Mordaunt's
descendants his heirs. We all had enough; my aunts having handsome
legacies, in the way of bonds and mortgages on an estate called
Mooseridge, in addition to some lots in town; while my own sister,
Martha, had a clear fifty thousand dollars in money. I had town lots,
also, which were becoming productive; and a special minority of seven
years had made an accumulation of cash that was well vested in New York
State stock, and which promised well for the future. I say a "special"
minority; for both my father and grandfather, in placing, the one,
myself and a portion of the property, and the other, the remainder of my
estate, under the guardianship and ward of my uncle, had made a
provision that I was not to come into possession until I had completed
my twenty-fifth year.

I left college at twenty; and my uncle Ro, for so Martha and myself
always called him, and so he was always called by some twenty cousins,
the offspring of our three aunts;--but my uncle Ro, when I was done with
college, proposed to finish my education by travelling. As this was only
too agreeable to a young man, away we went, just after the pressure of
the great panic of 1836-7 was over, and our "lots" were in tolerable
security, and our stocks safe. In America it requires almost as much
vigilance to _take care_ of property, as it does industry to acquire it.

Mr. Hugh Roger Littlepage--by the way, I bore the same name, though I
was always called Hugh, while my uncle went by the different
appellations of Roger, Ro, and Hodge, among his familiars, as
circumstances had rendered the associations sentimental, affectionate,
or manly--Mr. Hugh Roger Littlepage, senior, then, had a system of his
own in the way of aiding the scales to fall from American eyes, by means
of seeing more clearly than one does, or can, at home, let him belong
where he may, and in clearing the specks of provincialism from off the
diamond of republican water. He had already seen enough to ascertain
that while "our country," as this blessed nation is very apt on all
occasions, appropriate or not, to be called by all who belong to it, as
well as by a good many who do not, could teach a great deal to the old
world, there was a possibility--just a _possibility_, remark, is my
word--that it might also learn a little. With a view, therefore, of
acquiring knowledge _seriatim_, as it might be, he was for beginning
with the hornbook, and going on regularly up to the _belles-lettres_ and
mathematics. The manner in which this was effected deserves a notice.

Most American travellers land in England, the country farthest advanced
in material civilization; then proceed to Italy, and perhaps to Greece,
leaving Germany, and the less attractive regions of the north, to come
in at the end of the chapter. My uncle's theory was, to follow the order
of time, and to begin with the ancients and end with the moderns;
though, in adopting such a rule, he admitted he somewhat lessened the
pleasure of the novice; since an American, fresh from the fresher fields
of the western continent, might very well find delight in memorials of
the past, more especially in England, which pall on his taste, and
appear insignificant, after he has become familiar with the Temple of
Neptune, the Parthenon, or what is left of it, and the Coliseum. I make
no doubt that I lost a great deal of passing happiness in this way, by
beginning at the beginning, in Italy, and travelling north.

Such was our course, however; and, landing at Leghorn, we did the
peninsula effectually in a twelvemonth; thence passed through Spain up
to Paris, and proceeded on to Moscow and the Baltic, reaching England
from Hamburg. When we had got through with the British isles, the
antiquities of which seemed flat and uninteresting to me, after having
seen those that were so much more _antique_, we returned to Paris, in
order that I might become a man of the world, if possible, by rubbing
off the provincial specks that had unavoidably adhered to the American
diamond while in its obscurity.

My uncle Ro was fond of Paris, and he had actually become the owner of a
small hotel in the faubourg, in which he retained a handsome furnished
apartment for his own use. The remainder of the house was let to
permanent tenants; but the whole of the first floor, and of the
_entresol_, remained in his hands. As a special favor, he would allow
some American family to occupy even his own apartment--or rather
_appartement_, for the words are not exactly synonymous--when he
intended to be absent for a term exceeding six months, using the money
thus obtained in keeping the furniture in repair, and his handsome suite
of rooms, including a _salon_, _salle à manger_, _antichambre cabinet_,
several _chambres à coucher_, and a _boudoir_--yes, a male _boudoir_!
for so he affected to call it--in a condition to please even his
fastidiousness.

On our arrival from England, we remained an entire season at Paris, all
that time rubbing the specks off the diamond, when my uncle suddenly
took it into his head that we ought to see the East. He had never been
further than Greece, himself; and he now took a fancy to be my companion
in such an excursion. We were gone two years and a half, visiting
Greece, Constantinople, Asia Minor, the Holy Land, Petra, the Red Sea,
Egypt quite to the second cataracts, and nearly the whole of Barbary.
The latter region we threw in, by way of seeing something out of the
common track. But so many hats and travelling-caps are to be met with,
nowadays, among the turbans, that a well-mannered Christian may get
along almost anywhere without being spit upon. This is a great
inducement for travelling generally, and ought to be so especially to an
American, who, on the whole, incurs rather more risk now of suffering
this humiliation at home, than he would even in Algiers. But the animus
is everything in morals.

We had, then, been absent two years and a half from Paris and had not
seen a paper or received a letter from America in eighteen months, when
we drove through the barrier. Even the letters and papers received or
seen previously to this last term, were of a private nature, and
contained nothing of a general character. The "twenty millions"--it was
only the other day they were called the "twelve millions"--but, the
"twenty millions," we knew, had been looking up amazingly after the
temporary depression of the moneyed crisis it had gone through; and the
bankers had paid our drafts with confidence, and without extra charges,
during the whole time we had been absent. It is true, uncle Ro, as an
experienced traveller, went well fortified in the way of credit--a
precaution by no means unnecessary with America, after the cry that had
been raised against us in the old world.

And here I wish to say one thing plainly, before I write another line.
As for falling into the narrow, self-adulatory, provincial feeling of
the American who has never left his mother's apron-string, and which
causes him to swallow, open-mouthed, all the nonsense that is uttered to
the world in the columns of newspapers, or in the pages of your yearling
travellers, who go on "excursions" before they are half instructed in
the social usages and the distinctive features of their own country, I
hope I shall be just as far removed from such a weakness, in any passing
remark that may flow from my pen, as from the crime of confounding
principles, and denying facts, in a way to do discredit to the land of
my birth and that of my ancestors. I have lived long enough in the
"world," not meaning thereby the southeast corner of the northwest
township of Connecticut, to understand that we are a vast way behind
older nations, in _thought_ as well as deed, in many things; while, on
the opposite hand, they are a vast way behind us in others. I see no
patriotism in concealing a wholesome truth; and least of all shall I be
influenced by the puerility of a desire to hide anything of this nature,
because I cannot communicate it to my countrymen, without communicating
it to the rest of the world. If England or France had acted on this
narrow principle, where would have been their Shakespeares, their
Sheridans, their Beaumonts and Fletchers, and their Molieres! No, no!
great national truths are not to be treated as the gossiping surmises of
village crones. He who reads what I _write_, therefore, must expect to
find what I _think_ of matters and things, and not exactly what he may
happen to think on the same subject. Any one is at liberty to compare
opinions with me; but I ask the privilege of possessing some small
liberty of conscience in what is, far and near, proclaimed to be the
_only_ free country on the earth. By "far and near," I mean from the St.
Croix to the Rio Grande, and from Cape Cod to the entrance of St. Juan
de Fuca, and a pretty farm it makes, the "interval" that lies between
these limits! One may call it "far and near" without the imputation of
obscurity, or that of vanity.

Our tour was completed, in spite of all annoyances; and here we were
again, within the walls of magnificent Paris! The postilions had been
told to drive to the hotel, in the Rue St. Dominique; and we sat down to
dinner, an hour after our arrival, under our own roof. My uncle's tenant
had left the apartment a month before, according to agreement; and the
porter and his wife had engaged a cook, set the rooms in order, and
prepared everything for our arrival.

"It must be owned, Hugh," said my uncle, as he finished his soup that
day, "one _may_ live quite comfortably in Paris, if he possess the
_savoir vivre_. Nevertheless, I have a strong desire to get a taste of
native air. One may say and think what he pleases about the Paris
pleasures, and the Paris _cuisine_, and all that sort of thing: but
'home is home, be it ever so homely.' A '_d'Inde aux truffes_' is
capital eating; so is a turkey with cranberry sauce. I sometimes think I
could fancy even a pumpkin pie, though there is not a fragment of the
rock of Plymouth in the granite of my frame."

"I have always told you, sir, that America is a capital eating and
drinking country, let it want civilization in other matters, as much as
it may."

"Capital for eating and drinking, Hugh, if you can keep clear of the
grease, in the first place, and find a real cook, in the second. There
is as much difference between the cookery of New England, for instance,
and that of the Middle States, barring the Dutch, as there is between
that of England and Germany. The cookery of the Middle States, and of
the Southern States, too, though that savors a little of the West
Indies--but the cookery of the Middle States is English, in its best
sense; meaning the hearty, substantial, savory dishes of the English in
their true domestic life, with their roast-beef underdone, their
beefsteaks done to a turn, their chops full of gravy, their
mutton-broth, legs-of-mutton, _et id omne genus_. We have some capital
things of our own, too; such as canvas-backs, reedbirds, sheepshead,
shad, and blackfish. The difference between New England and the Middle
States is still quite observable, though in my younger days it was
_patent_. I suppose the cause has been the more provincial origin, and
the more provincial habits of our neighbors. By George! Hugh, one could
fancy clam-soup just now, eh!"

"Clam-soup, sir, well made, is one of the most delicious soups in the
world. If the cooks of Paris could get hold of the dish, it would set
them up for a whole season."

"What is '_crême de Bavière_,' and all such nicknacks, boy, to a good
plateful of clam-soup? Well made, as you say,--made as a cook of
Jennings's used to make it, thirty years since. Did I ever mention that
fellow's soup to you before, Hugh?"

"Often, sir. I have tasted very excellent clam-soup, however, that he
never saw. Of course, you mean soup just flavored by the little
hard-clam--none of your vulgar _potage à la_ soft-clam?"

"Soft-clams be hanged! they are not made for gentlemen to eat. Of course
I mean the hard-clam, and the small clam,

    "Here's your fine clams,
    As white as snow;
    On Rockaway
    These clams do grow."

The cries of New York are quite going out, like everything else at home
that is twenty years old. Shall I send you some of this eternal _poulet
à la Marengo_? I wish it were honest American boiled fowl, with a
delicate bit of shoat-pork alongside of it. I feel amazingly _homeish_
this evening, Hugh!"

"It is quite natural, my dear uncle Ro; and I own to the 'soft
impeachment' myself. Here have we both been absent from our native land
five years, and half that time almost without hearing from it. We know
that Jacob"--this was a free negro who served my uncle, a relic of the
old domestic system of the colonies, whose name would have been Jaaf, or
Yop, thirty years before--"has gone to our banker's for letters and
papers; and that naturally draws our thoughts to the other side of the
Atlantic. I dare say we shall both feel relieved at breakfast to-morrow,
when we shall have read our respective dispatches."

"Come, let us take a glass of wine together, in the good old York
fashion, Hugh. Your father and I, when boys, never thought of wetting
our lips with the half-glass of Madeira that fell to our share, without
saying, 'Good health, Mall!' 'Good health, Hodge!'"

"With all my heart, uncle Ro. The custom was getting to be a little
obsolete even before I left home; but it is almost an American custom,
by sticking to us longer than to most people."

"Henri!"

This was my uncle's _maître d' hotel_, whom he had kept at board-wages
the whole time of our absence, in order to make sure of his ease, quiet,
taste, skill, and honesty, on his return.

"Monsieur!"

"I dare say"--my uncle spoke French exceedingly well for a foreigner;
but it is better to translate what he said as we go--"I dare say this
glass of _vin de Bourgogne_ is very good; it _looks_ good, and it came
from a wine-merchant on whom I can rely; but Monsieur Hugh and I are
going to drink together, _à l'Américaine_, and I dare say you will let
us have a glass of Madeira, though it is somewhat late in the dinner to
take it."

"Très volontiers, Messieurs--it is my happiness to oblige you."

Uncle Ro and I took the Madeira together; but I cannot say much in favor
of its quality.

"What a capital thing is a good Newtown pippin!" exclaimed my uncle,
after eating a while in silence. "They talk a great deal about their
_poire beurrée_, here at Paris; but, to my fancy, it will not compare
with the Newtowners we grow at Satanstoe, where, by the way, the fruit
is rather better, I think, than that one finds across the river, at
Newtown itself."

"They are capital apples, sir; and your orchard at Satanstoe is one of
the best I know, or rather what is left of it; for I believe a portion
of your trees are in what is now a suburb of Dibbletonborough?"

"Yes, blast that place! I wish I had never parted with a foot of the old
neck, though I did rather make money by the sale. But money is no
compensation for the affections."

"_Rather_ make money, my dear sir! Pray, may I ask what Satanstoe was
valued at, when you got it from my grandfather?"

"Pretty well up, Hugh; for it was, and indeed _is_, a first-rate farm.
Including sedges and salt-meadows, you will remember that there are
quite five hundred acres of it, altogether."

"Which you inherited in 1829?"

"Of course; that was the year of my father's death. Why, the place was
thought to be worth about thirty thousand dollars at that time; but land
was rather low in Westchester in 1829."

"And you sold two hundred acres, including the point, the harbor, and a
good deal of the sedges, for the moderate modicum of one hundred and ten
thousand, cash. A tolerable sale, sir!"

"No, not cash. I got only eighty thousand down, while thirty thousand
were secured by mortgage."

"Which mortgage you hold yet, I dare say, if the truth were told,
covering the whole city of Dibbletonborough. A city ought to be good
security for thirty thousand dollars?"

"It is not, nevertheless, in this case. The speculators who bought of me
in 1835 laid out their town, built a hotel, a wharf, and a warehouse,
and then had an auction. They sold four hundred lots, each twenty-five
feet by a hundred, regulation size, you see, at an average of two
hundred and fifty dollars, receiving one-half, or fifty thousand dollars
down, and leaving the balance on mortgage. Soon after this, the bubble
burst, and the best lot at Dibbletonborough would not bring, under the
hammer, twenty dollars. The hotel and the warehouse stand alone in their
glory, and will thus stand until they fall, which will not be a thousand
years hence, I rather think."

"And what is the condition of the town-plot?"

"Bad enough. The landmarks are disappearing, and it would cost any man
who should attempt it, the value of his lot, to hire a surveyor to find
his twenty-five by a hundred."

"But your mortgage is good?"

"Ay, good in one sense; but it would puzzle a Philadelphia lawyer to
foreclose it. Why, the equitable interests in that town-plot people the
place of themselves. I ordered my agent to commence buying up the
rights, as the shortest process of getting rid of them; and he told me
in the very last letter I received, that he had succeeded in purchasing
the titles to three hundred and seventeen of the lots, at an average
price of ten dollars. The remainder, I suppose, will have to be
absorbed."

"Absorbed! That is a process I never heard of, as applied to land."

"There is a good deal of it done, notwithstanding, in America. It is
merely including within your own possession, adjacent land for which no
claimant appears. What can I do? No owners are to be found; and then my
mortgage is always a title. A possession of twenty years under a
mortgage is as good as a deed in fee-simple, with full covenants of
warranty, barring minors and _femes covert_."

"You did better by Lilacsbush?"

"Ah, _that_ was a clean transaction, and has left no drawbacks.
Lilacsbush being on the island of Manhattan, one is sure there will be a
town there, some day or other. It is true, the property lies quite eight
miles from City Hall; nevertheless, it has a value, and can always be
sold at something near it. Then the plan of New York is made and
recorded, and one can find his lots. Nor can any man say when the town
will not reach Kingsbridge."

"You got a round price for the bush, too, I have heard, sir?"

"I got three hundred and twenty-five thousand dollars, in hard cash. I
would give no credit, and have every dollar of the money, at this
moment, in good six per cent. stock of the States of New York and Ohio."

"Which some persons in this part of the world would fancy to be no very
secure investment."

"More fools they. America is a glorious country, after all, Hugh; and it
is a pride and a satisfaction to belong to it. Look back at it, as I can
remember it, a nation spit upon by all the rest of Christendom----"

"You must at least own, my dear sir," I put in, somewhat pertly,
perhaps, "the example might tempt other people; for, if ever there was a
nation that is assiduously spitting on itself, it is our own beloved
land."

"True, it has that nasty custom in excess, and it grows worse instead of
better, as the influence of the better mannered and better educated
diminishes; but this is a spot on the sun--a mere flaw in the diamond,
that friction will take out. But what a country--what a glorious
country, in truth, it is! You have now done the civilized parts of the
old world pretty thoroughly, my dear boy, and must be persuaded,
yourself, of the superiority of your native land."

"I remember you have always used this language, uncle Ro; yet have you
passed nearly one-half of your time _out_ of that glorious country,
since you have reached man's estate."

"The mere consequence of accidents and tastes. I do not mean that
America is a country for a bachelor to begin with; the means of
amusement for those who have no domestic hearths, are too limited for
the bachelor. Nor do I mean that society in America, in its ordinary
meaning, is in any way as well-ordered, as tasteful, as well-mannered,
as agreeable, or as instructive and useful, as society in almost any
European country I know. I have never supposed that the man of leisure,
apart from the affections, could ever enjoy himself half as much at
home, as he may enjoy himself in this part of the world; and I am
willing to admit that, intellectually, most gentlemen in a great
European capital live as much in one day, as they would live in a week
in such places as New York, and Philadelphia, and Baltimore."

"You do not include Boston, I perceive, sir."

"Of Boston I say nothing. They take the mind hard there, and we had
better let such a state of things alone. But as respects a man or woman
of leisure, a man or woman of taste, or man or woman of refinement
generally, I am willing enough to admit that, _cæteris paribus_, each
can find far more enjoyment in Europe than in America. But the
philosopher, the philanthropist, the political economist--in a word, the
patriot, may well exult in such elements of profound national
superiority as may be found in America."

"I hope these elements are not so profound but they can be dug up at
need, uncle Ro?"

"There will be little difficulty in doing that, my boy. Look at the
equality of the laws, to begin with. They are made on the principles of
natural justice, and are intended for the benefit of society--for the
poor as well as the rich."

"Are they also intended for the rich as well as the poor?"

"Well, I will grant you, a slight blemish is beginning to appear, in
that particular. It is a failing incidental to humanity, and we must not
expect perfection. There is certainly a slight disposition to legislate
for numbers, in order to obtain support at the polls, which has made the
relation of debtor and creditor a little insecure, possibly; but
prudence can easily get along with that. It is erring on the right side,
is it not, to favor the poor instead of the rich, if either is to be
preferred?"

"Justice would favor neither, but treat all alike. I have always heard
that the tyranny of numbers was the worst tyranny in the world."

"Perhaps it is, where there is actually tyranny, and for a very obvious
reason. One tyrant is sooner satisfied than a million, and has even a
greater sense of responsibility. I can easily conceive that the Czar
himself, if disposed to be a tyrant, which I am far from thinking to be
the case with Nicholas, might hesitate about doing that, under his
undivided responsibility, which one of our majorities would do, without
even being conscious of the oppression it exercised, or caring at all
about it. But, on the whole, we do little of the last, and not in the
least enough to counterbalance the immense advantages of the system."

"I have heard very discreet men say that the worst symptom of our system
is the gradual decay of justice among us. The judges have lost most of
their influence, and the jurors are getting to be law-makers, as well as
law-breakers."

"There is a good deal of truth in that, I will acknowledge, also; and
you hear it asked constantly, in a case of any interest, not which party
is in the right, but _who_ is on the jury. But I contend for no
perfection; all I say is, that the country is a glorious country, and
that you and I have every reason to be proud that old Hugh Roger, our
predecessor and namesake, saw fit to transplant himself into it, a
century and a half since."

"I dare say now, uncle Ro, it would strike most Europeans as
singular that a man should be proud of having been born an
American--Manhattanese, as you and I both were."

"All that may be true, for there have been calculated attempts to bring
us into discredit of late, by harping on the failure of certain States
to pay the interest on their debts. But all that is easily answered, and
more so by you and me as New Yorkers. There is not a nation in Europe
that would pay its interest, if those who are taxed to do so had the
control of these taxes, and the power to say whether they were to be
levied or not."

"I do not see how that mends the matter. These countries tell us that
such is the effect of your _system_ there, while we are too honest to
allow such a system to _exist_ in this part of the world."

"Pooh! all gammon, that. They prevent the existence of our system for
very different reasons, and they coerce the payment of the interest on
their debts that they may borrow more. This business of repudiation, as
it is called, however, has been miserably misrepresented; and there is
no answering a falsehood by an argument. No American State has
repudiated its debt, that I know of, though several have been unable to
meet their engagements as they have fallen due."

"_Unable_, uncle Ro?"

"Yes, _unable_--that is the precise word. Take Pennsylvania, for
instance; that is one of the richest communities in the civilized world;
its coal and iron alone would make any country affluent, and a portion
of its agricultural population is one of the most affluent I know of.
Nevertheless, Pennsylvania, owing to a concurrence of events, _could_
not pay the interest on her debt for two years and a half, though she is
doing it now, and will doubtless continue to do it. The sudden breaking
down of that colossal moneyed institution, the _soi-disant_ Bank of the
United States, after it ceased to be in reality a bank of the
government, brought about such a state of the circulation as rendered
payment, by any of the ordinary means known to government, _impossible_.
I know what I say, and repeat _impossible_. It is well known that many
persons, accustomed to affluence, had to carry their plate to the mint,
in order to obtain money to go to market. Then something may be
attributed to the institutions, without disparaging a people's honesty.
Our institutions are popular, just as those of France are the reverse;
and the people, they who were on the spot--the home creditor, with his
account unpaid, and with his friends and relatives in the legislature,
and present to aid him, contended for his own money, before any should
be sent abroad."

"Was that exactly right, sir?"

"Certainly not; it was exactly wrong, but very particularly natural. Do
you suppose the king of France would not take the money for his civil
list, if circumstances should compel the country to suspend on the debt
for a year or two, or the ministers their salaries? My word for it, each
and all of them would prefer themselves as creditors, and act
accordingly. Every one of these countries has suspended in some form or
other, and in many instances balanced the account with the sponge. Their
clamor against us is altogether calculated with a view to political
effect."

"Still, I wish Pennsylvania, for instance, had continued to pay, at
every hazard."

"It is well enough to wish, Hugh: but it is wishing for an
impossibility. Then you and I, as New Yorkers, have nothing to do with
the debt of Pennsylvania, no more than London would have to do with the
debt of Dublin or Quebec. _We_ have always paid _our_ interest, and,
what is more, paid it more honestly, if honesty be the point, than even
England has paid hers. When _our_ banks suspended, the State paid its
interest in as much paper as would buy the specie in open market;
whereas England made paper legal tender, and paid the interest on her
debt in it for something like five-and-twenty years, and that, too, when
her paper was at a large discount. I knew of one American who held near
a million of dollars in the English debt, on which he had to take
unconvertible paper for the interest for a long series of years. No, no!
this is all gammon, Hugh, and is not to be regarded as making us a whit
worse than our neighbors. The equality of our laws is the fact in which
I glory!"

"If the rich stood as fair a chance as the poor, Uncle Ro."

"There _is_ a screw loose there, I must confess; but it amounts to no
great matter."

"Then the late bankrupt law?"

"Ay, that was an infernal procedure--that much I will acknowledge, too.
It was special legislation enacted to pay particular debts, and the law
was repealed as soon as it had done its duty. That is a much darker spot
in our history than what is called repudiation, though perfectly honest
men voted for it."

"Did you ever hear of a farce they got up about it at New York, just
after we sailed?"

"Never; what was it, Hugh? though American plays are pretty much all
farces."

"This was a little better than common, and, on the whole, really clever.
It is the old story of Faust, in which a young spendthrift sells
himself, soul and body, to the devil. On a certain evening, as he is
making merry with a set of wild companions, his creditor arrives, and,
insisting on seeing the master, is admitted by the servant. He comes on,
club-footed and behorned, as usual, and betailed, too, I believe; but
Tom is not to be scared by trifles. He insists on his guest being
seated, on his taking a glass of wine, and then on Dick's finishing his
song. But, though the rest of the company had signed no bonds to Satan,
they had certain outstanding book-debts, which made them excessively
uncomfortable; and the odor of brimstone being rather strong, Tom arose,
approached his guest, and desired to know the nature of the particular
business he had mentioned to his servant. 'This bond, sir,' said Satan,
significantly. 'This bond? what of it, pray? It seems all right.' 'Is
not that your signature?' 'I admit it.' 'Signed in your blood?' 'A
conceit of your own; I told you at the time that ink was just as good in
law.' 'It is past due, seven minutes and fourteen seconds.' 'So it is, I
declare! but what of that?' 'I demand payment.' 'Nonsense! no one thinks
of paying nowadays. Why, even Pennsylvania and Maryland don't pay.' 'I
insist on payment' 'Oh! you do, do you?' Tom draws a paper from his
pocket, and adds, magnificently, 'There, then, if you're so
urgent--there is a discharge under the new bankrupt law, signed Smith
Thompson.' This knocked the devil into a cocked-hat at once."

My uncle laughed heartily at my story; but, instead of taking the matter
as I had fancied he might, it made him think better of the country than
ever.

"Well, Hugh, we have wit among us, it must be confessed," he cried, with
the tears running down his cheeks, "if we have some rascally laws, and
some rascals to administer them. But here comes Jacob with his letters
and papers--I declare, the fellow has a large basketful."

Jacob, a highly respectable black, and the great-grandson of an old
negro named Jaaf, or Yop, who was then living on my own estate at
Ravensnest, had just then entered, with the porter and himself lugging
in the basket in question. There were several hundred newspapers, and
quite a hundred letters. The sight brought home and America clearly and
vividly before us; and having nearly finished the dessert, we rose to
look at the packages. It was no small task to sort our mail, there being
so many letters and packages to be divided.

"Here are some newspapers I never saw before," said my uncle, as he
tumbled over the pile; "_The Guardian of the Soil_--that must have
something to do with Oregon."

"I dare say it has, sir. Here are at least a dozen letters from my
sister."

"Ay, _your_ sister is single, and can still think of her brother; but
mine are married, and one letter a year would be a great deal. This is
my dear old mother's hand, however; that is something. Ursula Malbone
would never forget her child. Well, _bon soir_, Hugh. Each of us has
enough to do for one evening."

"_Au revoir_, sir. We shall meet at ten to-morrow, when we can compare
our news, and exchange gossip."



CHAPTER II.

    "Why droops my lord, like over-ripened corn,
    Hanging the head at Ceres' plenteous load?"
                                          --_King Henry VI._


I did not get into my bed that night until two, nor was I out of it
until half-past nine. It was near eleven when Jacob came to tell me his
master was in the _salle à manger_, and ready to eat his breakfast. I
hastened up stairs, sleeping in the _entresol_, and was at table with my
uncle in three minutes. I observed, on entering, that he was very grave,
and I now perceived that a couple of letters, and several American
newspapers, lay near him. His "Good-morrow, Hugh," was kind and
affectionate as usual, but I fancied it sad.

"No bad news from home, I hope, sir?" I exclaimed, under the first
impulse of feeling. "Martha's last letter is of quite recent date, and
she writes very cheerfully. I _know_ that my grandmother was perfectly
well six weeks since."

"I know the same, Hugh, for I have a letter from herself, written with
her own blessed hand. My mother is in excellent health for a woman of
fourscore; but she naturally wishes to see us, and you in particular.
Grandchildren are ever the pets with grandmothers."

"I am glad to hear all this, sir; for I was really afraid, on entering
the room, that you had received some unpleasant news."

"And is all your news pleasant, after so long a silence?"

"Nothing that is disagreeable, I do assure you. Patt writes in charming
spirits, and I dare say is in blooming beauty by this time, though she
tells me that she is generally thought rather plain. _That_ is
impossible; for you know when we left her, at fifteen, she had every
promise of great beauty."

"As you say, it is impossible that Martha Littlepage should be anything
but handsome; for fifteen is an age when, in America, one may safely
predict the woman's appearance. Your sister is preparing for you an
agreeable surprise. I have heard old persons say that she was very like
my mother at the same time of life; and Dus Malbone was a sort of toast
once in the forest."

"I dare say it is all as you think; more especially as there are several
allusions to a certain Harry Beekman in her letters, at which I should
feel flattered, were I in Mr. Harry's place. Do you happen to know
anything of such a family as the Beekmans, sir?"

My uncle looked up in a little surprise at this question. A thorough New
Yorker by birth, associations, alliances and feelings, he held all the
old names of the colony and State in profound respect; and I had often
heard him sneer at the manner in which the new-comers of my day, who had
appeared among us to blossom like the rose, scattered their odors
through the land. It was but a natural thing that a community which had
grown in population, in half a century, from half a million to two
millions and a half, and that as much by immigration from adjoining
communities as by natural increase, should undergo some change of
feeling in this respect; but, on the other hand, it was just as natural
that the true New Yorker should not.

"Of course you know, Hugh, that it is an ancient and respected name
among us," answered my uncle, after he had given me the look of surprise
I have already mentioned. "There is a branch of the Beekmans, or
Bakemans, as we used to call them, settled near Satanstoe; and I dare
say that your sister, in her frequent visits to my mother, has met with
them. The association would be but natural; and the other feeling to
which you allude is, I dare say, but natural to the association, though
I cannot say I ever experienced it."

"You will still adhere to your asseverations of never having been the
victim of Cupid, I find, sir."

"Hugh, Hugh! let us trifle no more. There is news from home that has
almost broken my heart."

I sat gazing at my uncle in wonder and alarm, while he placed both his
hands on his face, as if to exclude this wicked world, and all it
contained, from his sight. I did not speak, for I saw that the old
gentleman was really affected, but waited his pleasure to communicate
more. My impatience was soon relieved, however, as the hands were
removed, and I once more caught a view of my uncle's handsome, but
clouded countenance.

"May I ask the nature of this news?" I then ventured to inquire.

"You may, and I shall now tell you. It is proper, indeed, that you
should hear all, and understand it all; for you have a direct interest
in the matter, and a large portion of your property is dependent on the
result. Had not the manor troubles, as they were called, been spoken of
before we left home?"

"Certainly, though not to any great extent. We saw something of it in
the papers, I remember, just before we went to Russia; and I recollect
you mentioned it as a discreditable affair to the State, though likely
to lead to no very important result."

"So I then thought; but that hope has been delusive. There were some
reasons why a population like ours should chafe under the situation of
the estate of the late Patroon that I thought natural, though
unjustifiable; for it is unhappily too much a law of humanity to do that
which is wrong, more especially in matters connected with the pocket."

"I do not exactly understand your allusions, sir."

"It is easily explained. The Van Rensselaer property is, in the first
place, of great extent--the manor, as it is still called and once was,
spreading east and west eight-and-forty miles, and north and south
twenty-four. With a few immaterial exceptions, including the sites of
three or four towns, three of which are cities containing respectively
six, twenty, and forty thousand souls, this large surface was the
property of a single individual. Since his death, it has become the
property of two, subject to the conditions of the leases, of which by
far the greater portion are what are called durable."

"I have heard all this, of course, sir, and know something of it myself.
But what is a durable lease? for I believe we have none of that nature
at Ravensnest."

"No; your leases are all for three lives, and most of them renewals at
that. There are two sorts of 'durable leases,' as we term them, in use
among the landlords of New York. Both give the tenant a permanent
interest, being leases forever, reserving annual rent, with the right to
distrain and covenants of re-entry. But one class of these leases gives
the tenant a right at any time to demand a deed in fee-simple, on the
payment of a stipulated sum; while the other gives him no such
privilege. Thus one class of these leases is called 'a durable lease
with a clause of redemption,' while the other is a simple 'durable
lease.'"

"And are there any new difficulties in relation to the manor rents?"

"Far worse than that; the contagion has spread, until the greatest ills
that have been predicted from democratic institutions, by their worst
enemies, seriously menace the country. I am afraid, Hugh, I shall not be
able to call New York, any longer, an exception to the evil example of a
neighborhood, or the country itself a glorious country."

"This is so serious, sir, that, were it not that your looks denote the
contrary, I might be disposed to doubt your words."

"I fear my words are only too true. Dunning has written me a long
account of his own, made out with the precision of a lawyer; and, in
addition, he has sent me divers papers, some of which openly contend for
what is substantially a new division of property, and what in effect
would be agrarian laws."

"Surely, my dear uncle, you cannot seriously apprehend anything of that
nature from our order-loving, law-loving, property-loving Americans?"

"Your last description may contain the secret of the whole movement. The
love of property may be so strong as to induce them to do a great many
things they ought not to do. I certainly do not apprehend that any
direct attempt is about to be made in New York, to divide its property;
nor do I fear any open, declared agrarian statute; for what I apprehend
is to come through indirect and gradual innovations on the right, that
will be made to assume the delusive aspect of justice and equal rights,
and thus undermine the principles of the people, before they are aware
of the dangers themselves. In order that you may not only understand me,
but may understand facts that are of the last importance to your own
pockets, I will first tell you what has been done, and then tell you
what I fear is to follow. The first difficulty--or, rather, the first
difficulty of recent occurrence--arose at the death of the late Patroon.
I say of recent occurrence, since Dunning writes me that, during the
administration of John Jay, an attempt to resist the payment of rent was
made on the manor of the Livingstons; but _he_ put it down _instanter_."

"Yes, I should rather think that roguery would not be apt to prosper,
while the execution of the laws was intrusted to such a man. The age of
such politicians, however, seems to have ended among us."

"It did not prosper. Governor Jay met the pretension as we all know such
a man would meet it; and the matter died away, and has been nearly
forgotten. It is worthy of remark, that _he_ PUT THE EVIL DOWN. But this
is not the age of John Jays. To proceed to my narrative: When the late
Patroon died, there was due to him a sum of something like two hundred
thousand dollars of back-rents, and of which he had made a special
disposition in his will, vesting the money in trustees for a certain
purpose. It was the attempt to collect this money which first gave rise
to dissatisfaction. Those who had been debtors so long were reluctant to
pay. In casting round for the means to escape from the payment of their
just debts, these men, feeling the power that numbers ever give over
right in America, combined to resist with others who again had in view a
project to get rid of the rents altogether. Out of this combination grew
what have been called the 'manor troubles.' Men appeared in a sort of
mock-Indian dress, calico shirts thrown over their other clothes, and
with a species of calico masks on their faces, who resisted the
bailiffs' processes, and completely prevented the collection of rents.
These men were armed, mostly with rifles; and it was finally found
necessary to call out a strong body of the militia, in order to protect
the civil officers in the execution of their duties."

"All this occurred before we went to the East. I had supposed _those_
anti-renters, as they were called, had been effectually put down."

"In appearance they were. But the very governor who called the militia
into the field, referred the subject of the '_griefs_' of the tenants to
the legislature, as if they were actually aggrieved citizens, when in
truth it was the landlords, or the Rensselaers--for at that time the
'troubles' were confined to their property--who were the aggrieved
parties. This false step has done an incalculable amount of mischief, if
it do not prove the entering wedge to rive asunder the institutions of
the State."

"It is extraordinary, when such things occur, that any man can mistake
his duty. Why were the tenants thus spoken of, while nothing was said
beyond what the law compelled in favor of the landlords?"

"I can see no reason but the fact that the Rensselaers were only two,
and that the disaffected tenants were probably two thousand. With all
the cry of aristocracy, and feudality, and nobility, neither of the
Rensselaers, by the letter of the law, has one particle more of
political power, or political right, than his own coachman or footman,
if the last be a white man; while, in practice, he is in many things
getting to be less protected."

"Then you think, sir, that this matter has gained force from the
circumstance that so many votes depend on it?"

"Out of all question. Its success depends on the violations of
principles that we have been so long taught to hold sacred, that nothing
short of the overruling and corrupting influence of politics would dare
to assail them. If there were a landlord to each farm, as well as a
tenant, universal indifference would prevail as to the griefs of the
tenants; and if two to one tenant, universal indignation at their
impudence."

"Of what partic