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Title: Horse-Shoe Robinson - A Tale of the Tory Ascendency
Author: Kennedy, John Pendleton, 1795-1870
Language: English
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HORSE-SHOE ROBINSON.

A Tale of the Tory Ascendency.

by

JOHN P. KENNEDY

Author of "Swallow Barn," "Rob of the Bowl," Etc.


"I say the tale as 't was said to me."--Lay of the Last Minstrel


Revised Edition.



New York
G. P. Putnam's Sons
182 Fifth Avenue
1876

Entered according to the act of Congress, in the year 1852, by
George P. Putnam,
in the Clerk's Office of the District Court for the Southern District
of New York.



To WASHINGTON IRVING, Esq.

DEAR IRVING:--

With some little misgiving upon the score of having wasted time and
paper both, which might have been better employed, I feel a real
consolation in turning to you, as having, by your success, furnished our
idle craft an argument to justify our vocation.

You have convinced our wise ones at home that a man may sometimes write
a volume without losing his character--and have shown to the incredulous
abroad, that an American book may be richly worth the reading.

In grateful acknowledgment of these services, as well as to indulge the
expression of a sincere private regard, I have ventured to inscribe your
name upon the front of the imperfect work which is now submitted to the
public.

Very truly, yours, &c.,
JOHN P. KENNEDY.
BALTIMORE, _May 1, 1885_.



INTRODUCTION


In the winter of eighteen hundred and eighteen-nineteen, I had occasion
to visit the western section of South Carolina. The public conveyances
had taken me to Augusta, in Georgia. There I purchased a horse, a most
trusty companion, with whom I had many pleasant experiences: a sorrel,
yet retained by me in admiring memory. A valise strapped behind my
saddle, with a great coat spread upon that, furnished all that I
required of personal accommodation. My blood beat temperately with the
pulse of youth and health. I breathed the most delicious air in the
world. My travel tended to the region of the most beautiful scenery. The
weather of early January was as balmy as October; a light warm haze
mellowed the atmosphere, and cast the softest and richest hues over the
landscape. I retraced my steps from Augusta to Edgefield, which I had
passed in the stage coach. From Edgefield I went to Abbeville, and
thence to Pendleton. I was now in the old district of Ninety Six, just
at the foot of the mountains. My course was still westward. I journeyed
alone, or rather, I ought to say, in good company, for my horse and I
had established a confidential friendship, and we amused ourselves with
a great deal of pleasant conversation--in our way. Besides, my fancy was
busy, and made the wayside quite populous--with people of its own: there
were but few of any other kind.

In the course of my journey I met an incident, which I have preserved in
my journal. The reader of the tale which occupies this volume has some
interest in it.

"Upon a day," as the old ballads have it, one of the best days of this
exquisite climate, my road threaded the defiles of some of the grandest
mountains of the country. Huge ramparts of rock toppled over my path,
and little streams leaped, in beautiful cascades, from ledge to ledge,
and brawled along the channels, which often supplied the only footway
for my horse, and, gliding through tangled screens of rhododendron,
laurel, arbor vitæ, and other evergreens, plunged into rivers, whose
waters exceed anything I had ever conceived of limpid purity. It may be
poetical to talk of liquid crystal, but no crystal has the absolute
perfection of the transparency of these streams. The more distant
mountain sides, where the opening valley offered them to my view, were
fortified with stupendous walls, or banks of solid and unbroken rock,
rising in successive benches one above another, with masses of dark pine
between; the highest forming a crest to the mountain, cutting the sky in
sharp profile, with images of castellated towers, battlements, and
buttresses, around whose summits the inhabiting buzzard, with broad
extended wings, floated and rocked in air and swept in majestic circles.

The few inhabitants of this region were principally the tenants of the
bounty lands, which the State of South Carolina had conferred upon the
soldiers of the Revolution; and their settlements, made upon the rich
bottoms of the river valleys, were separated from each other by large
tracts of forest.

I had much perplexity in some portions of this day's journey in finding
my way through the almost pathless forest which lay between two of these
settlements. That of which I was in quest was situated upon the Seneca,
a tributary of the Savanna river, here called Tooloolee. It was near
sundown, when I emerged from the wilderness upon a wagon road, very
uncertain of my whereabout, and entertaining some rather anxious
misgivings as to my portion for the night.

I had seen no one for the last five or six hours, and upon falling into
the road I did not know whether I was to take the right or the left
hand--a very material problem for my solution just then.

During this suspense, a lad, apparently not above ten years of age,
mounted bare back on a fine horse, suddenly emerged from the wood about
fifty paces ahead of me, and galloped along the road in the same
direction that I had myself resolved to take. I quickened my speed to
overtake him, but from the rapidity of his movement, I found myself, at
the end of a mile, not as near him as I was at the beginning. Some open
country in front, however, showed me that I was approaching a
settlement. Almost at the moment of making this discovery, I observed
that the lad was lying on the ground by the road-side. I hastened to
him, dismounted, and found him sadly in want of assistance. His horse
had run off with him, thrown him, and dislocated, as it afterwards
appeared, his shoulder-joint.

Whilst I was busy in rendering such aid as I could afford, I was joined
by a gentleman of venerable aspect, the father of the youth, who came
from a dwelling-house near at hand, which, in the engrossment of my
occupation, I had not observed. We lifted the boy in our arms and bore
him into the house.

I was now in comfortable quarters for the night. The gentleman was
Colonel T----, as I was made aware by his introduction, and the kindly
welcome he offered me, and I very soon found myself established upon the
footing of a favored guest. The boy was laid upon a bed in the room
where we sat, suffering great pain, and in want of immediate attention.
I entered into the family consultation on the case. Never have I
regretted the want of an acquisition, as I then regretted that I had no
skill in surgery. I was utterly incompetent to make a suggestion worth
considering. The mother of the family happened to be absent that night;
and, next to the physician, the mother is the best adviser. There was an
elder son, about my own age, who was playing a fiddle when we came in;
and there was a sister younger than he, and brothers and sisters still
younger. But we were all alike incapable. The poor boy's case might be
critical, and the nearest physician, Dr. Anderson, resided at Pendleton,
thirty miles off. This is one of the conditions of frontier settlement
which is not always thought of.

In the difficulty of the juncture, a thought occurred to Colonel T.,
which was immediately made available. "I think I will send for
Horse-Shoe Robinson," he said, with a manifest lighting up of the
countenance, as if he had hit upon a happy expedient. "Get a horse, my
son," he continued, addressing one of the boys, "and ride over to the
old man, and tell him what has happened to your brother; and say, he
will oblige me if he will come here directly." At the same time, a
servant was ordered to ride to Pendleton, and to bring over Dr.
Anderson.

In the absence of the first messenger the lad grew easier, and it became
apparent that his hurt was not likely to turn out seriously. Colonel T.,
assured by this, drew his chair up to the fire beside me, and with many
expressions of friendly interest inquired into the course of my journey,
and into the numberless matters that may be supposed to interest a
frontier settler in his intercourse with one just from the world of busy
life. It happened that I knew an old friend of his, General -----, a
gentleman highly distinguished in professional and political service, to
whose youth Colonel T. had been a most timely patron. This circumstance
created a new pledge in my favor, and, I believe, influenced the old
gentleman in a final resolve to send that night for his wife, who was
some seven or eight miles off, and whom he had been disinclined to put
to the discomfort of such a journey in the dark, ever since it was
ascertained that the boy's case was not dangerous. I am pretty sure this
influenced him, as I heard him privately instructing a servant to go for
the lady, and to tell her that the boy's injury was not very severe,
and "that there was a gentleman there who was well acquainted with
General ----." I observed, hanging in a little black frame over the
fire-place, a miniature engraved portrait of the general, which was the
only specimen of the fine arts in the house--perhaps in the settlement.
It was my recognition of this likeness that led, I fear, to the weary
night ride of the good lady.

In less than an hour the broad light of the hearth--for the apartment
was only lit up by blazing pine faggots, which, from time to time, were
thrown upon the fire--fell upon a goodly figure. There was first a sound
of hoofs coming through the dark--a halt at the door--a full, round,
clear voice heard on the porch--and then the entrance into the apartment
of a woodland hero. That fine rich voice again, in salutation, so gentle
and so manly! This was our expected counsellor, Horse-Shoe Robinson.
What a man I saw! With near seventy years upon his poll, time seemed to
have broken its billows over his front only as the ocean breaks over a
rock. There he stood--tall, broad, brawny, and erect. The sharp light
gilded his massive frame and weather-beaten face with a pictorial effect
that would have rejoiced an artist. His homely dress, his free stride,
as he advanced to the fire; his face radiant with kindness; the natural
gracefulness of his motion; all afforded a ready index to his character.
Horse Shoe, it was evident, was a man to confide in.

"I hear your boy's got flung from his horse, Colonel," he said, as he
advanced to the bed-side. "Do you think he is much hurt?" "Not so badly
as we thought at first, Mr. Robinson," was the reply. "I am much obliged
to you for coming over to-night. It is a great comfort to have your
advice in such times."

"These little shavers are so venturesome--with horses in particular,"
said the visitor; "it's Providence, Colonel, takes care of 'em. Let me
look at you, my son," he continued, as he removed the bed-clothes, and
began to handle the shoulder of the boy. "He's got it out of joint," he
added, after a moment. "Get me a basin of hot water and a cloth,
Colonel. I think I can soon set matters right."

It was not long before the water was placed beside him, and Robinson
went to work with the earnestness of a practised surgeon. After applying
wet cloths for some time to the injured part, he took the shoulder in
his broad hand, and with a sudden movement, which was followed by a
shriek from the boy, he brought the dislocated bone into its proper
position. "It doesn't hurt," he said, laughingly; "you are only
pretending. How do you feel now?"

The patient smiled, as he replied, "Well enough now; but I reckon you
was joking if you said that it didn't hurt."

Horse Shoe came to the fire-side, and took a chair, saying, "I larnt
that, Colonel, in the campaigns. A man picks up some good everywhere, if
he's a mind to; that's my observation."

This case being disposed of, Horse Shoe determined to remain all night
with the family. We had supper, and, after that, formed a little party
around the hearth. Colonel T. took occasion to tell me something about
Horse Shoe; and the Colonel's eldest son gave me my cue, by which he
intimated I might draw out the old soldier to relate some stories of the
war.

"Ask him," said the young man, "how he got away from Charleston after
the surrender; and then get him to tell you how he took the five
Scotchmen prisoners."

We were all in good humor. The boy was quite easy, and everything was
going on well, and we had determined to sit up until Mrs. T. should
arrive, which could not be before midnight. Horse Shoe was very
obliging, and as I expressed a great interest in his adventures, he
yielded himself to my leading, and I got out of him a rich stock of
adventure, of which his life was full. The two famous passages to which
I had been asked to question him--the escape from Charleston, and the
capture of the Scotch soldiers--the reader will find preserved in the
narrative upon which he is about to enter, almost in the very words of
my anthology. I have--perhaps with too much scruple--retained Horse
Shoe's peculiar vocabulary and rustic, doric form of speech--holding
these as somewhat necessary exponents of his character. A more truthful
man than he, I am convinced, did not survive the war to tell its story.
Truth was the predominant expression of his face and gesture--the truth
that belongs to natural and unconscious bravery, united with a frank and
modest spirit. He seemed to set no especial value upon his own exploits,
but to relate them as items of personal history, with as little comment
or emphasis as if they concerned any one more than himself.

It was long after midnight before our party broke up; and when I got to
my bed it was to dream of Horse Shoe and his adventures. I made a record
of what he told me, whilst the memory of it was still fresh, and often
afterwards reverted to it, when accident or intentional research brought
into my view events connected with the times and scenes to which his
story had reference.

The reader will thus see how I came into possession of the leading
incidents upon which this "Tale of the Tory Ascendency" in South
Carolina is founded.

It was first published in 1835. Horse-Shoe Robinson was then a very old
man. He had removed into Alabama, and lived, I am told, upon the banks
of the Tuskaloosa. I commissioned a friend to send him a copy of the
book. The report brought me was, that the old man had listened very
attentively to the reading of it, and took great interest in it.

"What do you say to all this?" was the question addressed to him, after
the reading was finished. His reply is a voucher which I desire to
preserve: "It is all true and right--in its right place--excepting about
them women, which I disremember. That mought be true, too; but my memory
is treacherous--I disremember."

_April 12, 1852._



PREFACE TO THE FIRST EDITION


The events narrated in the following pages, came to my knowledge in the
progress of my researches into the personal history of some of the
characters who figure in the story. I thought them worth being embodied
into a regular narrative, for two reasons:--

First, because they intrinsically possess an interest that may amuse the
lovers of adventure, and,

Second, because they serve to illustrate the temper and character of the
War of our Revolution.

As yet, only the political and documentary history of that war has been
written. Its romantic or picturesque features have been left for that
industrious tribe of chroniclers, of which I hold myself to be an
unworthy member, and who have of late, as the public is aware, set about
the business in good earnest. It shall go hard with us if we do not soon
bring to light every remnant of tradition that the war has left!

An opinion has heretofore prevailed that the Revolution was too recent
an affair for our story-telling craft to lay hands upon it. But this
objection, ever since the fiftieth anniversary, has been nullified by
common consent,--that being deemed the fair poetical limit which
converts tradition into truth, and takes away all right of
contradiction from a surviving actor in the scene. The pension roll is
manifestly growing thinner, and the widows--married young after the
peace--make a decided majority on the list. These are the second-hand
retailers of the marvels of the war; and it is observed that, like wine
which has descended to the heir, the events have lost none of their
flavor or value by the transmission. This is all so much clear gain to
our fraternity; and it is obvious, therefore, that we must thrive.

My reader will perceive that I have been scrupulous to preserve the
utmost historical accuracy in my narrative: and I hope, when he has
finished the perusal, that he may find reason to award me the
commendation of having afforded him some pleasure, by the sketch I have
attempted of the condition of things in the south during the very
interesting period of the "Tory Ascendency."

THE AUTHOR.
_May 1, 1835._



HORSE SHOE ROBINSON.



CHAPTER I.

A TOPOGRAPHICAL DISCOURSE.


The belt of mountains which traverses the state of Virginia diagonally,
from north-east to south-west, it will be seen by an inspection of the
map, is composed of a series of parallel ranges, presenting a
conformation somewhat similar to that which may be observed in miniature
on the sea-beach, amongst the minute lines of sand hillocks left by the
retreating tide. This belt may be said to commence with the Blue Ridge,
or more accurately speaking, with that inferior chain of highlands that
runs parallel to this mountain almost immediately along its eastern
base. From this region westward the highlands increase in elevation, the
valleys become narrower, steeper and cooler, and the landscape
progressively assumes the wilder features which belong to what is
distinctly meant by "the mountain country."

The loftiest heights in this series are found in the Alleghany, nearly
one hundred and fifty miles westward from the first thread of the belt;
and as the principal rivers which flow towards the Chesapeake find their
sources in this overtopping line of mountain, it may be imagined that
many scenes of surpassing beauty exist in those abrupt solitudes where
the rivers have had to contend with the sturdy hills that nature had
thrown across their passage to the sea.

The multiplication of the facilities of travel which the spirit of
improvement has, of late years, afforded to this region; the
healthfulness, or,--to use a term more germain to its excellence,--the
voluptuousness of the climate, and the extraordinary abundance of waters
of the rarest virtue, both for bathing and drinking, have all
contributed, very recently, to render the mountains of Virginia
notorious and popular amongst that daintily observant crowd of
well-conditioned people who yearly migrate in quest of health, or of a
refuge from the heats of summer, or who, perchance, wander in pursuit of
those associations of hill and dale which are supposed to repair a jaded
imagination, and to render it romantic and fruitful.

The traveller of either of these descriptions, who holds his journey
westward, will find himself impelled to halt at Charlottesville, as a
pleasant resting-place in the lap of the first mountains, where he may
stop to reinforce his strength for the prosecution of the rugged task
that awaits him. His delay here will not be unprofitable. This neat
little village is not less recommended to notice by its position in the
midst of a cultivated and plentiful country, than by its contiguity to
the seats of three Presidents of the Union; and, especially, by its
immediate proximity to Monticello, whose burnished dome twinkles through
the crown of forest that adorns the very apex of its mountain pyramid,
and which, as it has now grown to be the Mecca of many a pilgrim, will
of itself furnish a sufficient inducement for our traveller's tarrying.
An equal attraction will be found in the University of Virginia, which,
at the distance of one mile, in the opposite direction from that leading
to Monticello, rears its gorgeous and fantastic piles of massive and
motley architecture--a lively and faithful symbol (I speak it
reverently) of the ambitious, parti-colored and gallican taste of its
illustrious founder.

From Charlottesville, proceeding southwardly, in the direction of Nelson
and Amherst, the road lies generally over an undulating country, formed
by the succession of hills constituting the subordinate chain of
mountains which I have described as first in the belt. These hills
derive a beautiful feature from the manner in which they are
commanded,--to use a military phrase,--by the Blue Ridge, which, for the
whole distance, rests against the western horizon, and heaves up its
frequent pinnacles amongst the clouds, clothed in all the variegated
tints that belong to the scale of vision, from the sombre green and
purple of the nearer masses, to the light and almost indistinguishable
azure of its remotest summits.

The constant interruption of some gushing rivulet, which hurries from
the neighboring mountain into the close vales that intercept the road,
communicates a trait of peculiar interest to this journey, affording
that pleasant surprise of new and unexpected scenery, which, more than
any other concomitant of travel, wards off the sense of fatigue. These
streams have worn deep channels through the hills, and constantly seem
to solicit the road into narrow passes and romantic dells, where fearful
crags are seen toppling over the head of the traveller, and sparkling
waters tinkle at his feet; and where the richest and rarest trees of the
forest seem to have chosen their several stations, on mossy bank or
cloven rock, in obedience to some master mind intent upon the most
tasteful and striking combination of these natural elements.

A part of the country embraced in this description, has obtained the
local designation of the South Garden, perhaps from its succession of
fertile fields and fragrant meadows, which are shut in by the walls of
mountain on either hand; whilst a still more remote but adjacent
district of more rugged features, bears the appellation of the Cove, the
name being suggested by the narrow and encompassing character of the
sharp and precipitous hills that hem in and over-shadow a rough and
brattling mountain torrent, which is marked on the map as the Cove
creek.

At the period to which my story refers, the population of this central
district of Virginia, exhibited but few of the characteristics which are
found to distinguish the present race of inhabitants. A rich soil, a
pure atmosphere, and great abundance of wood and water, to say nothing
of the sylvan beauties of the mountain, possessed a great attraction for
the wealthy proprietors of the low country; and the land was, therefore,
generally parcelled out in large estates held by opulent owners, whose
husbandry did not fail, at least, to accumulate in profusion the
comforts of life, and afford full scope to that prodigal hospitality,
which, at that period even more than at present, was the boast of the
state. The laws of primogeniture exercised their due influence on the
national habits; and the odious division of property amongst undeserving
younger brothers, whom our modern philosophy would fain persuade us have
as much merit, and as little capacity to thrive in the world as their
elders, had not yet formed part of the household thoughts of these
many-acred squires. From Charlottesville, therefore, both north and
south, from the Potomac to the James river, there extended a chain of
posts, occupied by lordly and open-hearted gentlemen,--a kind of civil
cordon of bluff free-livers who were but little versed in the mystery of
"bringing the two ends of the year together."

Since that period, well-a-day! the hand of the reaper has put in his
sickle upon divided fields; crowded progenies have grown up under these
paternal roof-trees; daughters have married and brought in strange
names; the subsistence of one has been spread into the garner of ten;
the villages have grown populous; the University has lifted up its
didactic head; and everywhere over this abode of ancient wealth, the hum
of industry is heard in the carol of the ploughman, the echo of the
wagoner's whip, the rude song of the boatman, and in the clatter of the
mill. Such are the mischievous interpolations of the republican system!

My reader, after this topographical sketch and the political reflections
with which I have accompanied it, is doubtless well-prepared for the
introduction of the worthy personages with whom I am about to make him
acquainted.



CHAPTER II.

WHEREIN THE READER IS INTRODUCED TO TWO WORTHIES WITH WHOM HE IS LIKELY
TO FORM AN INTIMATE ACQUAINTANCE.


It was about two o'clock in the afternoon of a day towards the end of
July, 1780, when Captain Arthur Butler, now holding a brevet, some ten
days old, of major in the continental army, and Galbraith Robinson were
seen descending the long hill which separates the South Garden from the
Cove. They had just left the rich and mellow scenery of the former
district, and were now passing into the picturesque valley of the
latter. It was evident from the travel-worn appearance of their horses,
as well as from their equipments, that they had journeyed many a mile
before they had reached this spot; and it might also have been perceived
that the shifting beauties of the landscape were not totally disregarded
by Butler, at least,--as he was seen to halt on the summit of the hill,
turn and gaze back upon the wood-embowered fields that lay beneath his
eye, and by lively gestures to direct the notice of his companion to the
same quarter. Often, too, as they moved slowly downward, he reined up
his steed to contemplate more at leisure the close, forest-shaded ravine
before them, through which the Cove creek held its noisy way. It was not
so obvious that his companion responded to the earnest emotions which
this wild and beautiful scenery excited in his mind.

Arthur Butler was now in the possession of the vigor of early manhood,
with apparently some eight and twenty years upon his head. His frame was
well proportioned, light and active. His face, though distinguished by a
smooth and almost beardless cheek, still presented an outline of decided
manly beauty. The sun and wind had tanned his complexion, except where a
rich volume of black hair upon his brow had preserved the original
fairness of a high, broad forehead. A hazel eye sparkled under the
shade of a dark lash, and indicated, by its alternate playfulness and
decision, an adventurous as well as a cheerful spirit. His whole
bearing, visage and figure, seemed to speak of one familiar with
enterprise and fond of danger:--they denoted gentle breeding
predominating over a life of toil and privation.

Notwithstanding his profession, which was seen in his erect and
peremptory carriage, his dress, at this time, was, with some slight
exceptions, merely civil. And here, touching this matter of dress, I
have a prefatory word to say to my reader. Although custom, or the
fashion of the story-telling craft, may require that I should satisfy
the antiquarian in this important circumstance of apparel of the days
gone by, yet, on the present occasion, I shall be somewhat chary of my
lore in that behalf;--seeing that any man who is curious on the score of
the costume of the revolution time, may be fully satisfied by studying
those most graphic "counterfeit presentments" of sundry historical
passages of that day, wherewith Colonel Trumbull has furnished this age,
for the edification of posterity, in the great rotunda of the Capitol of
the United States. And I confess, too, I have another reason for my
present reluctance,--as I feel some faint misgiving lest my principal
actor might run the risk of making a sorry figure with the living
generation, were I to introduce him upon the stage in a coat, whose
technical description, after the manner of a botanical formula, might
be comprised in the following summary:--long-waisted--wide-skirted--
narrow-collared--broad-backed--big-buttoned--and large-lapelled;--and
then to add to this, what would be equally outlandish, yellow
small-clothes, and dark-topped boots, attached by a leather strap to the
buttons at the knee,--without which said boots, no gentleman in 1780
ventured to mount on horseback.

But when I say that Captain Butler travelled on his present journey,
habited in the civil costume of a gentleman of the time, I do not mean
to exclude a round hat pretty much of the fashion of the present
day--though then but little used except amongst military men--with a
white cockade to show his party; nor do I wish to be considered as
derogating from that peaceful character when I add that his saddle-bow
was fortified by a brace of horseman's pistols, stowed away in large
holsters, covered with bear skin;--for, in those days, when hostile
banners were unfurled, and men challenged each other upon the highways,
these pistols were a part of the countenance (to use an excellent old
phrase) of a gentleman.

Galbraith Robinson was a man of altogether rougher mould. Nature had
carved out, in his person, an athlete whom the sculptors might have
studied to improve the Hercules. Every lineament of his body indicated
strength. His stature was rather above six feet; his chest broad; his
limbs sinewy, and remarkable for their symmetry. There seemed to be no
useless flesh upon his frame to soften the prominent surface of his
muscles; and his ample thigh, as he sat upon horseback, showed the
working of its texture at each step, as if part of the animal on which
he rode. His was one of those iron forms that might be imagined almost
bullet proof. With all these advantages of person, there was a radiant,
broad, good nature upon his face; and the glance of a large, clear, blue
eye told of arch thoughts, and of shrewd, homely wisdom. A ruddy
complexion accorded well with his sprightly, but massive features, of
which the prevailing expression was such as silently invited friendship
and trust. If to these traits be added an abundant shock of yellow,
curly hair, terminating in a luxuriant queue, confined by a narrow
strand of leather cord, my reader will have a tolerably correct idea of
the person I wish to describe.

Robinson had been a blacksmith at the breaking out of the revolution,
and, in truth, could hardly be said to have yet abandoned the craft;
although of late, he had been engaged in a course of life which had but
little to do with the anvil, except in that metaphorical sense of
hammering out and shaping the rough, iron independence of his country.
He was the owner of a little farm in the Waxhaw settlement, on the
Catawba, and having pitched his habitation upon a promontory, around
whose base the Waxhaw creek swept with a regular but narrow circuit,
this locality, taken in connexion with his calling, gave rise to a
common prefix to his name throughout the neighborhood, and he was
therefore almost exclusively distinguished by the sobriquet of Horse
Shoe Robinson. This familiar appellative had followed him into the army.

The age of Horse Shoe was some seven or eight years in advance of that
of Butler--a circumstance which the worthy senior did not fail to use
with some authority in their personal intercourse, holding himself, on
that account, to be like Cassius, an elder, if not a better soldier. On
the present occasion, his dress was of the plainest and most rustic
description: a spherical crowned hat with a broad brim, a coarse grey
coatee of mixed cotton and wool, dark linsey-woolsey trowsers adhering
closely to his leg, hob-nailed shoes, and a red cotton handkerchief tied
carelessly round his neck with a knot upon his bosom. This costume, and
a long rifle thrown into the angle of the right arm, with the breech
resting on his pommel, and a pouch of deer-skin, with a powder horn
attached to it, suspended on his right side, might have warranted a
spectator in taking Robinson for a woodsman, or hunter from the
neighboring mountains.

Such were the two personages who now came "pricking o'er the hill." The
period at which I have presented them to my reader was, perhaps, the
most anxious one of the whole struggle for independence. Without falling
into a long narrative of events which are familiar, at least to every
American, I may recall the fact that Gates had just passed southward, to
take command of the army destined to act against Cornwallis. It was now
within a few weeks of that decisive battle which sent the hero of
Saratoga "bootless home and weather-beaten back," to ponder over the
mutations of fortune, and, in the quiet shades of Virginia, to strike
the balance of fame between northern glory and southern discomfiture. It
may be imagined then, that our travellers were not without some share of
that intense interest for the events "upon the gale," which every where
pervaded the nation. Still, as I have before hinted, Arthur Butler did
not journey through this beautiful region without a lively perception of
the charms which nature had spread around him. The soil of this district
is remarkable for its blood-red hue. The side of every bank glowed in
the sun with this bright vermillion tint, and the new-made furrow,
wherever the early ploughman had scarred the soil, turned up to view the
predominating color. The contrast of this with the luxuriant grass and
the yellow stubble, with the grey and mossy rock, and with the deep
green shade of the surrounding forest, perpetually solicited the notice
of the lover of landscape; and from every height, the eye rested with
pleasure upon the rich meadows of the bottom land--upon the varied
cornfields spread over the hills; upon the adjacent mountains, with
their bald crags peeping through the screen of forest, and especially
upon the broad lines of naked earth that, here and there, lighted up and
relieved, as a painter would say, with its warm coloring, the heavy
masses of shade.

The day was hot, and it was with a grateful sense of refreshment that
our wayfarers, no less than their horses, found themselves, as they
approached the lowland, gradually penetrating the deep and tangled
thicket and the high wood that hung over and darkened the channel of the
small stream which rippled through the valley. Their road lay along this
stream and frequently crossed it at narrow fords, where the water fell
from rock to rock in small cascades, presenting natural basins of the
limpid flood, embosomed in laurel and alder, and gurgling that busy
music which is one of the most welcome sounds to the ear of a wearied
and overheated traveller.

Butler said but little to his companion, except now and then to express
a passing emotion of admiration for the natural embellishments of the
region; until, at length, the road brought them to a huge mass of rock,
from whose base a fountain issued forth over a bed of gravel, and soon
lost itself in the brook hard by. A small strip of bark, that some
friend of the traveller had placed there, caught the pure water as it
was distilled from the rock, and threw it off in a spout, some few
inches above the surface of the ground. The earth trodden around this
spot showed it to be a customary halting place for those who journeyed
on the road.

Here Butler checked his horse, and announced to his comrade his
intention to suspend, for a while, the toil of travel.

"There is one thing, Galbraith," said he, as he discounted, "wherein all
philosophers agree--man must eat when he is hungry, and rest when he is
weary. We have now been some six hours on horseback, and as this
fountain seems to have been put here for our use, it would be sinfully
slighting the bounties of providence not to do it the honor of a halt.
Get down, man; rummage your havresac, and let us see what you have
there."

Robinson was soon upon his feet, and taking the horses a little distance
off, he fastened their bridles to the impending branches of a tree; then
opening his saddle-bags, he produced a wallet with which he approached
the fountain, where Butler had thrown himself at full length upon the
grass. Here, as he successively disclosed his stores, he announced his
bill of fare, with suitable deliberation between each item, in the
following terms:

"I don't march without provisions, you see, captain--or major, I suppose
I must call you now. Here's the rear division of a roast pig, and along
with it, by way of flankers, two spread eagles (holding up two broiled
fowls), and here are four slices from the best end of a ham. Besides
these, I can throw in two apple-jacks, a half dozen of rolls, and--"

"Your wallet is as bountiful as a conjurer's bag, sergeant; it is a
perfect cornucopia. How did you come by all this provender?"

"It isn't so overmuch, major, when you come to consider," said Robinson.
"The old landlady at Charlottesville is none of your heap-up,
shake-down, and running-over landladies, and when I signified to her
that we mought want a snack upon the road, she as much as gave me to
understand that there wa'n't nothing to be had. But I took care to make
fair weather with her daughter, as I always do amongst the creatures,
and she let me into the pantry, where I made bold to stow away these few
trifling articles, under the denomination of pillage. If you are fond of
Indian corn bread, I can give you a pretty good slice of that."

"Pillage, Galbraith! You forget you are not in an enemy's country. I
directed you scrupulously to pay for everything you got upon the road. I
hope you have not omitted it to-day?"

"Lord, sir! what do these women do for the cause of liberty but cook,
and wash, and mend!" exclaimed the sergeant. "I told the old Jezebel to
charge it all to the continental congress."

"Out upon it, man! Would you bring us into discredit with our best
friends, by your villanous habits of free quarters?"

"I am not the only man, major, that has been spoiled in his religion by
these wars. I had both politeness and decency till we got to squabbling
over our chimney corners in Carolina. But when a man's conscience begins
to get hard, it does it faster than anything in nature: it is, I may
say, like the boiling of an egg--it is very clear at first, but as soon
as it gets cloudy, one minute more and you may cut it with a knife."

"Well, well! Let us fall to, sergeant; this is no time to argue points
of conscience."

"You seem to take no notice of this here bottle of peach brandy major,"
said Robinson. "It's a bird that came out of the same nest. To my
thinking it's a sort of a file leader to an eatable, if it ar'n't an
eatable itself."

"Peace, Galbraith! it is the vice of the army to set too much store by
this devil brandy."

The sergeant was outwardly moved by an inward laugh that shook his head
and shoulders.

"Do you suppose, major, that Troy town was taken without brandy? It's
drilling and countermarching and charging with the bagnet, all three,
sir. But before we begin, I will just strip our horses. A flurry of cool
air on the saddle spot is the best thing in nature for a tired horse."

Robinson now performed this office for their jaded cattle; and having
given them a mouthful of water at the brook, returned to his post, and
soon began to despatch, with a laudable alacrity, the heaps of provision
before him. Butler partook with a keen appetite of this sylvan repast,
and was greatly amused to see with what relish his companion caused
slice after slice to vanish, until nothing was left of this large supply
but a few fragments.

"You have lost neither stomach nor strength by the troubles, sergeant;
the short commons of Charleston would have gone something against the
grain with you, if you had stayed for that course of diet."

"It is a little over two months," said Robinson, "since I got away from
them devils; and if it hadn't been for these here wings of mine
(pointing to his legs), I might have been a caged bird to-day."

"You have never told me the story of your escape," said Butler.

"You were always too busy, or too full of your own thoughts, major, for
me to take up your time with such talk," replied the other. "But, if you
would like me to tell you all about it, while you are resting yourself
here on the ground, and have got nothing better to think about, why,
I'll start like old Jack Carter of our mess, by beginning, as he used to
say when he had a tough story ahead, right at the beginning."

"Do so, sergeant, and do it discreetly; but first, swallow that
mouthful, for you don't speak very clear."

"I'll wash down the gutter, major, according to camp fashion and then
my throat will be as clear as the morning gun after sun rise."

And saying this, the tall soldier helped himself to a hearty draught of
cool water mingled in fair proportion with a part of the contents of his
flask, and setting the cup down by his side, he commenced as follows:--

"You was with us, major, when Prevost served us that trick in Georgia,
last year--kept us, you remember, on the look out for him t'other side
of the Savannah, whilst all the time he was whisking of it down to
Charleston."

"You call this beginning at the beginning? Faith, you have started a
full year before your time. Do you think yourself a Polybius or a
Xenophon--who were two famous old fellows, just in your line,
sergeant--that you set out with a history of a whole war."

"I never knew any persons in our line--officers or men--of either of
them names,"--replied Robinson,--"they were nicknames, perhaps;--but I
do know, as well as another, when a thing turns up that is worth notice,
major; and this is one of 'em:--and that's the reason why I make mention
of it. What I was going to say was this--that it was a sign fit for
General Lincoln's consarnment, that these here British should make a
push at Charleston on the tenth of May, 1779, and get beaten, and that
exactly in one year and two days afterwards, they should make another
push and win the town. Now, what was it a sign of, but that they and the
tories was more industrious that year than we were?"

"Granted," said Butler, "now to your story, Mister Philosopher!"

"In what month was it you left us?" inquired the sergeant gravely.

"In March," answered Butler.

"General Lincoln sent you off, as we were told, on some business with
the continental congress: to get us more troops, if I am right. It was a
pity to throw away a good army on such a place--for it wa'nt worth
defending at last. From the time that you set out they began to
shut us in, every day a little closer. First, they closed a door on
one side, and then on t'other: till, at last they sent a sort of
flash-o'-lightning fellow--this here Colonel Tarleton--up to Monk's
corner, which, you know, was our back door, and he shut that up and
double bolted it, by giving Huger a most tremenjious lathering. Now,
when we were shut in, we had nothing to do but look out. I'll tell you
an observation I made, at that time."

"Well."

"Why, when a man has got to fight, it's a natural sort of thing
enough;--but when he has got nothing to eat, it's an onnatural state. I
have hearn of men who should have said they would rather fight than
eat:--if they told truth they would have made honest fellows for our
garrison at Charlestown. First, our vegetables--after that devil took up
his quarters at Monk's corner--began to give out then, our meat; and,
finally, we had nothing left but rice, which I consider neither fish,
flesh, nor good salt herring"----

"You had good spirits, though, sergeant."

"If you mean rum or brandy, major, we hadn't much of that;--but if you
mean jokes and laughs, it must be hard times that will stop them in
camp.--I'll tell you one of them, that made a great hurra on both sides,
where we got the better of a Scotch regiment that was plaguing us from
outside the town. They thought they would make themselves merry with our
starvation--so, they throwed a bomb shell into our lines, that, as it
came along through the air, we saw had some devilment in it, from the
streak it made in daylight; and, sure enough, when we come to look at it
on the ground, we found it filled with rice and molasses--just to show
that these Scotchmen were laughing at us for having nothing to eat.
Well, what do we do but fill another shell with brimstone and hogslard,
and just drop it handsomely amongst the lads from the land o'cakes? Gad,
sir, it soon got to the hearing of the English regiment, and such a
shouting as they sot up from their lines against the Scotchmen! That's
what I call giving as good as they saunt, major--ha ha ha!"

"It wasn't a bad repartee, Galbraith," said Butler, joining in the
laugh. "But go on with your siege."

"We got taken, at last," proceeded Horse Shoe, "and surrendered on the
12th of May. Do you know that they condescended to let us go through the
motions of marching outside the lines? Still it was a sorry day to see
our colors tied as fast to their sticks as if a stocking had been drawn
over them. After that, we were marched to the barracks and put into
close confinement."

"Yes, I have heard that; and with heavy hearts--and a dreary prospect
before you, sergeant."

"I shouldn't have minded it much, Major Butler, it was the fortune of
war. But they insulted us as soon as they got our arms from us. It was a
blasted cowardly trick in them to endeavor to wean us from our cause,
which they tried every day; it was seduction, I may say. First, they
told us that Colonel Pinckney and some other officers had gone over; but
that was too onprobable a piece of rascality,--we didn't believe one
word on't. So, one morning Colonel Pinckney axed that we mought be
drawed up in a line in front of the barracks; and there he made us a
speech. We were as silent as so many men on a surprise party. The
colonel said--yes, sir, and right in their very teeth--that it was an
infamious, audacious calamy: that whenever he desarted the cause of
liberty, he hoped they would take him, as they had done some Roman
officer or other--I think one Officious, as I understood the
colonel--you've hearn of him, may be--and tie his limbs to wild horses,
and set them adrift, at full speed, taking all his joints apart, so that
not one traitorious limb should be left to keep company with another. It
was a mighty severe punishment, whoever he mought'a been. The British
officers began to frown--and I saw one chap put his hand upon his sword.
It would have done you good to witness the look the colonel gave him, as
he put his own hand to his thigh to feel if his sword was there--he so
naturally forgot he was a prisoner. They made him stop speaking
howsever, because they gave out that it was perditious language; and so,
they dismissed us--but we let them have three cheers to show that we
were in heart."

"It was like Pinckney," said Butler; "I'll warrant him a true man,
Galbraith."

"I'll thribble that warrant," replied Galbraith, "and afterwards make it
nine. I wish you could have hearn him. I always thought a bugle horn the
best music in the world, till that day. But that day Colonel Charles
Cotesworth Pinckney's voice was sweeter than shawns and trumpets, as the
preacher says, and bugles to boot. I have hearn people tell of speeches
working like a fiddle on a man's nerves, major: but, for my part, I
think they sometimes work like a battery of field-pieces, or a whole
regimental band on a parade day. Howsever, I was going on to tell you,
Colonel Pinckney put a stop to all this parleying with our poor fellows;
and knowing, major, that you was likely to be coming this way, he axed
me if I thought I could give the guard the slip, and make off with a
letter to meet you. Well, I studied over the thing for a while, and then
told him a neck was but a neck any how, and that I could try; and so,
when his letter was ready, he gave it to me, telling me to hide it so
that, if I was sarched, it couldn't be found on my person. Do you see
that foot?" added Horse Shoe, smiling, "it isn't so small but that I
could put a letter between the inside sole and the out, longways, or
even crossways, for the matter of that, and that, without so much as
turning down a corner. Correspondent and accordingly I stitched it in.
The colonel then told me to watch my chance and make off to you in the
Jarseys, as fast as I could. He told me, besides, that I was to stay
with you, because you was likely to have business for me to do."

"That's true, good sergeant."

"There came on a darkish, drizzly evening; and a little before roll
call, at sun set, I borrowed an old forage cloak from Corporal
Green--you mought have remembered him--and out I went towards the lines,
and sauntered along the edge of the town, till I came to one of your
pipe-smoking, gin-drinking Hessians, keeping sentry near the road that
leads out towards Ashley ferry:--a fellow that had no more watch in
him--bless your soul!--as these Dutchmen hav'n't--than a duck on a rainy
day. So, said I, coming up boldly to him, 'Hans, wie gehet es'--'Geh zum
Teufel,' says he, laughing--for he knowed me. That was all the Dutch I
could speak, except I was able to say it was going to rain, so I told
him--'Es will regnen'--which he knowed as well as I did, for it was
raining all the time. I had a little more palaver with Hans, and, at
last, he got up on his feet and set to walking up and down. By this time
the drums beat for evening quarters, and I bid Hans good night; but,
instead of going away, I squatted behind the Dutchman's sentry
box;--and, presently, the rain came down by the bucket full; it got very
dark and Hans was snug under cover. The grand rounds was coming; I could
hear the tramp of feet, and as no time was to be lost, I made a long
step and a short story of it, by just slipping over the lines and
setting out to seek my fortune."

"Well done, sergeant! You were ever good at these pranks."

"But that wasn't all," continued Robinson. "As the prime file leader of
mischief would have it, outside of the lines I meets a cart with a man
to drive it, and two soldiers on foot, by way of guard.

"The first I was aware of it, was a hallo, and then a bagnet to my
breast. I didn't ask for countersigns, for I didn't mean to trade in
words that night; but, just seizing hold of the muzzle of the piece, I
twisted it out of the fellow's hand, and made him a present of the
butt-end across his pate. I didn't want to hurt him, you see, for it
wa'n't his fault that he stopped me. A back-hander brought down the
other, and the third man drove off his cart, as if he had some suspicion
that his comrades were on their backs in the mud. I didn't mean to
trouble a peaceable man with my compliments, but on the contrary, as the
preacher says, I went on my way rejoicing."

"You were very considerate, sergeant; I entirely approve of your
moderation. As you are a brave man, and have a natural liking for
danger, this was a night that, doubtless, afforded you great
satisfaction."

"When danger stares you in the face," replied Horse Shoe, "the best way
is not to see it. It is only in not seeing of it, that a brave man
differs from a coward: that's my opinion. Well, after that I had a hard
time of it. I was afraid to keep up the Neck road, upon account of the
sodgers that was upon it; so I determined to cross the Ashley, and make
for the Orangeburg district. When I came to the ferry, I was a little
dubious about taking one of the skiffs that was hauled up, for fear of
making a noise; so I slipped off my shoe that had your letter, and put
it betwixt my teeth and swum the river. I must have made some splashing
in the water--although I tried to muffle my oars, too, for first, I
heard a challenge from the ferry-house, and then the crack of a musket:
but it was so dark you couldn't see an egg on your own nose. There was a
little flustering of lights on the shore, and a turnout of the guard,
may be; but, I suppose, they thought it was a sturgeon, or some such
beast, and so made no more of it; and I got safe to the other bank."

"Faithfully and bravely, sergeant!"

"For the first three or four days the chances were all against me. The
whole country was full of tories, and it wasn't safe to meet a man on
the road: you couldn't tell whether he was friend or enemy. I durstn't
show my face in day-time at all, but lay close in the swamps; and when
it began to grow dark, I stole out, like a wolf, and travelled across
the fields, and along the by-ways."

"You had a good stomach to bear it, sergeant."

"A good stomach enough, but not much in it. I'll tell you another
observation I made; when a man travels all night long on an empty
stomach, he ought either to fill it next morning or make it smaller."

"And how is that to be managed, friend Horse Shoe?"

"Indian fashion," replied the sergeant. "Buckle your belt a little
tighter every two or three hours. A man may shrivel his guts up to the
size of a pipe stem. But I found a better way to get along than by
taking in my belt"----

"Now, for another stratagem!"

"I commonly, about dark, crept as near to a farm house as I mought
venture to go; and, putting on a poor mouth, told the folks I had a
touch of the small-pox, and was dying for a little food. They were
Christians enough to give me a dish of bread and milk, or something of
that sort, and cowards enough to keep so much out of the way, as not to
get a chance to look me in the face. They laid provisions on the ground,
and then walked away while I came up to get them. Though I didn't think
much of the fashion I was waited on, and had sometimes to quarrel with a
bull-dog for my supper, I don't believe I ever ate with a better
appetite in my life. The first bread of freedom, no matter how coarse, a
man eats after his escape from prison, is the sweetest morsel in nature.
And I do think it is a little pleasanter when he eats it at the risk of
his life."

Butler nodded his head.

"Well, after this," continued Horse Shoe, "I had like to have lost all
by another mishap. My course was for the upper country, because the
nearer I got to my own home the better I was acquainted with the people.
That scrummaging character, Tarleton, you may have hearn, scampered off,
as soon as ever Charlestown was taken, after Colonel Abraham Buford, who
was on his way down to the city when the news was fotch him of our
surrender. Buford accordingly came to the right about, to get out of
harm's way as fast as he could, and Tarleton followed close on his
heels. Think of that devil, major, trying to catch a man a hundred
miles away! It was a brazen hearted thing! considering, besides, that
Buford had a good regiment with him. When nobody thought it anything
more than a brag, sure enough, he overhauls Buford yonder at the
Waxhaws--onawares, you may say--and there he tore him all to pieces.
They say it was a bloody cruel sight, to see how these English troopers
did mangle the poor fellows. I doubt there wasn't fair play. But, major,
that Tarleton rides well and is a proper soldier, take him man to man.
It so happened that as I was making along towards Catawba, who should I
come plump upon, but Tarleton and his lads, with their prisoners, all
halting beside a little run to get water!"

"Again in trouble, sergeant! Truly you have had full measure of
adventures!"

"I was pretty near nonplushed, major," said Horse Shoe, with a broad
laugh, "but I thought of a stratagem. I let fall my under jaw, and sot
my eyes as wild as a madman, and twisted my whole face out of joint--and
began to clap my hands, and hurra for the red coats, like a natural
fool. So, when Tarleton and two or three of his people came to take
notice of me, they put me down for a poor idiot that had been turned
adrift."

"Did they hold any discourse with you?"

"A good deal; and, just to try me, they flogged me with the flats of
their swords; but I laughed and made merry when they hurt me worst, and
told them I thanked them for their politeness. There were some of our
people amongst the prisoners, that I knew, and I was mortally afeard
they would let on, but they didn't. Especially, there was Seth Cuthbert,
from Tryon, who had both of his hands chopped off in the fray at the
Waxhaws; he was riding double behind a trooper, and he held up the
stumps just to let me see how barbarously he was mangled. I was dubious
they would see that he knowed me, but he took care of that. Bless your
soul, major! he saw my drift in the first shot of his eye. Thinking that
they mought take it into their noddles to carry me along with them back,
I played the quarest trick that I suppose ever a man thought of; it
makes me laugh now to tell it. I made a spring that fetched me right
upon the crupper of Colonel Tarleton's horse, which sot him to kicking
and flirting at a merry rate; and, whilst the creature was floundering
as if a hornet had stung him, I took the colonel's cap and put it upon
my own head, and gave him mine. And after I had vagaried in this sort of
way for a little while, I let the horse fling me on the ground. You
would have thought the devils would have died a laughing. And the
colonel himself, although at first he was very angry, couldn't help
laughing likewise. He said that I was as strange a fool as he ever saw,
and that it would be a pity to hurt me. So he threw me a shilling, and,
whilst they were all in good humor, I trudged away."

"It was a bold experiment, and might be practised a thousand times
without success. If I did not know you, Robinson, to be a man of truth,
as well as courage, I should scarce believe this tale. If any one,
hereafter, should tell your story, he will be accounted a
fiction-monger."

"I do not boast, Major Butler; and, as to my story, I care very little
who tells it. Every trick is good in war. I can change my face and voice
both, so that my best friends shouldn't know me: and, in these times, I
am willing to change every thing but my coat, and even that, if I have a
witness to my heart, and it will serve a turn to help the country. Am I
not right?"

"No man ever blames another for that, sergeant, and if ever you should
be put to the trial, you will find friends enough to vouch for your
honesty."

"When I got away from Tarleton it wasn't long before I reached my own
cabin. There I mustered my horse and gun, and some decent clothes; and
after a good sleep, and a belly full of food, I started for the north,
as fast as I could, with my letter. I put it into your own hands, and
you know the rest."

"This will be a good tale for a winter night," said Butler, "to be told
hereafter, in a snug chimney corner, to your wife and children, when
peace, as I trust it may, will make you happy in the possession of both.
Your embassy has had marvellous good luck so far. I hope it may prove a
happy omen for our future enterprise. Now it is my turn, Galbraith, to
tell you something of our plans. Colonel Pinckney has apprised me of the
state of things in the upper country. Our good friend Clarke there
meditates an attempt to regain Augusta and Ninety-six; and we have
reason to believe that some levies will be made by our confederates in
Virginia and elsewhere. My business is to co-operate in this
undertaking; and as it was essential I should have the guidance of some
man acquainted with that country--some good soldier, true and
trusty--the colonel has selected you to accompany me. These red coats
have already got possession of all the strongholds; and the tories, you
know, swarm in the country, like the locusts of Egypt. I stand in need,
sergeant, of a friend with a discreet head and a strong arm. I could not
have picked out of the army a better man than Sergeant Galbraith
Robinson. Besides, Horse Shoe," he added, putting his hand gently upon
the sergeant's shoulder, "old acquaintance has bred an affection between
us."

"I am a man that can eat my allowance, major," said Robinson, with an
awkward diffidence at hearing the encomium just passed upon him, "and
that's a matter that doesn't turn to much profit in an empty country.
But I think I may make bold to promise, that you are not like to suffer,
if a word or a blow from me would do you any good."

"Your belt may be serviceable in two ways in this expedition, Horse
Shoe: it may be buckled closer in scant times, and will carry a sword in
dangerous ones."

"May I ask, major," inquired Horse Shoe, "since you have got to talking
of our business, what has brought us so high up the country, along here?
It seems to me that the lower road would have been nearer."

"Suppose I say, Galbraith," replied Butler, with animation, "that there
is a bird nestles in these woods, I was fond of hearing sing, would it
be unsoldier-like, think you, to make a harder ride and a larger circuit
for that gratification?"

"Oh! I understand, major," said Horse Shoe, laughing, "whether it be
peace or whether it be war, these women keep the upper hand of us men.
For my part, I think it's more natural to think of them in war than in
peace. For, you see, the creatures are so helpless, that if a man don't
take care of them, who would? And then, when a woman's frightened, as
she must be in these times, she clings so naturally to a man! It stands
to reason!"

"You will keep my counsel, Galbraith," interrupted Butler, "I have a
reason which, perhaps, you may know by and by, why you should not speak
of any thing you may see or hear. And now, as we have spent a good hour
in refreshment, sergeant, make our horses ready. We'll take the road
again."

Robinson promised caution in all matters that might be committed to his
charge, and now set himself about saddling the horses for the journey.
Whilst he was engaged in this occupation, Butler was startled to hear
the sergeant abruptly cry out--"You devil, Captain Peter Clinch! what
are you about?" and, looking hastily around, saw no one but the trusty
squire himself, who was now sedately intent upon thrusting the bit into
his horse's mouth,--a liberty which the animal seemed to resent by
sundry manifestations of waywardness.

"To whom are you talking, Galbraith?"

"Only to this here contrary, obstropolous beast, major."

"What name did you call him by?" inquired Butler.

"Ha, ha, ha! was it that you was listening too?" said Horse Shoe. "I
have christened him Captain Peter--sometimes Captain Peter Clinch. I'll
tell you why. I am a little malicious touching the name of my horse.
After the surrender of Charlestown, our regiment was put in the charge
of a provost marshal, by the name of Captain Clinch, and his first name
was Peter. He was a rough, ugly, wiry-haired fellow, with no better
bowels than a barrel of vinegar. He gave us all sorts of ill usage,
knowing that we wa'n't allowed to give him the kind of payment that such
an oncomfortable fellow desarved to get. If ever I had met him again,
major, _setters parbus_--as Lieutenant Hopkins used to say--which is
lingo, I take it, for a fair field, I would'a cudgelled his pate for
him, to the satisfaction of all good fellows. Well, when I got home, I
gave his name to my beast, just for the pleasure of thinking of that
hang-gallows thief, every time I had occasion to give the creetur a dig
in the ribs, or lay a blow across his withers! And yet he is a most an
excellent horse, major, and a hundred times more of a gentleman than his
namesake,--though he is a little hard-headed too--but that he larnt from
me. It really seems to me that the dumb beast thinks his name a
disgrace, as he has good right, but has got used to it. And, besides, I
hear that the cross-grained, growling dog of a captain has been killed
in a scuffle since I left Charlestown, so now I consider my horse a sort
of tombstone with the ugly sinner's name on it; and as I straddle it
every day you see, that's another satisfaction."

"Well, sergeant, there are few men enjoy their revenge more
good-humoredly than you. So, come, straddle your tombstone again, and
make the bones beneath it jog."

In good glee, our travellers now betook themselves once more to the
road.



CHAPTER III.

AN INCIDENT THAT SAVORS OF ROMANCE.


By the time the sun had fallen to the level of the summits of the Blue
Ridge, Butler and Robinson had progressed so far in their journey, as to
find themselves in the vicinity of the Rockfish river--a rapid mountain
stream, that traverses the southern confine of Albemarle, and which, at
that period, separated this county from Amherst. Their path had led
them, by a short circuit, out of the ravine of Cove creek, along upon
the ridges of the neighboring hills; and they were now descending from
this elevation, into the valley of the Rockfish, near to the point where
the Cove creek forms its junction with this river. The hill was covered
with a stately forest, and a broad, winding road had been cut down the
steep side, in such a manner as to present a high bank on one hand, and
an abrupt sheer descent on the other. From this road might be seen, at
intervals, glimmering through the screen of underwood, the waters of the
small river below; whilst, at the same time, the circuitous course of
the descending track left but few paces of its length visible from any
one point, except where, now and then, it came boldly forth to the verge
of some wild crag, from which glimpses were to be obtained of its
frequent traverses towards the deep and romantic dell that received the
mingled tribute of the two streams.

Here, as our travellers journeyed downward, their attention was awakened
by the cry of hounds in pursuit of game. These sounds came from the wood
on the crest of the hill above them; and the clamorous earnestness with
which they assailed the ear, and roused the far echo of the highlands,
showed the object of chase to have been suddenly surprised and hotly
followed. The outcry was heard, for some moments, pursuing a direction
towards the river, when, suddenly from the midst of the forest, the
sharp twang of a rifle-shot showed that some hunter was on the watch to
profit by the discovery of the dogs.

Robinson, as soon as he heard the report, urged his horse forward with
speed, to the first turn of the road below; dismounted, and, throwing
his rifle into the palm of his left hand, stood ready to give his fire
wherever he might find occasion. Butler followed, and reined up close
beside his companion.

"There is game afoot," said Galbraith, "and if that shot has not done
its business, it may be my turn to try a hand."

These words were hardly spoken, when a wounded buck rushed to the brink
of the bank, some twelve or fifteen feet above the heads of the
travellers, and regardless of the presence of enemies, made one frantic
bound forward into the air, and fell dead almost at Robinson's feet. So
effectually had the work of death been done upon the poor animal, that
he seemed to have expired, in the convulsion of this last leap, before
he reached the ground; his antlers were driven into the clay; his eyes
were fixed, and not a struggle followed.

"It was a home-shot that brought this poor fugitive to the earth," said
Butler, as he stood gazing at the piteous spectacle before him, "and
sped by a practised hand."

"I don't count him a good man, major," said Galbraith, with professional
indifference, "who would mangle his meat by random firing. Now, this
buck was taken sideways, as he leaped above the tops of the bushes,
which is the ticklishest of all the ways of shooting a deer. The man
that plucked this fellow, I'll warrant, can plant his ball just where he
likes: right under the arm is the place for certainty; and the thing
couldn't have been prettier done if the man had had a rest and a
standing shot."

During this short interval, the hounds had arrived on the spot where the
buck lay bleeding, and these, after a few minutes, were followed by two
hunters of very dissimilar appearance, who came on foot, slowly leading
their horses up the hill.

The first was a tall, gaunt woodman, of a sallow complexion, jet black
eyes, and round head of smooth black hair. His dress was simply a coarse
linen shirt and trowsers, the heat of the day being such as to allow him
to dispense with coat and waistcoat. He carried, in one hand, a battered
straw hat, and in the other, trailed a long rifle. His feet were
covered with a pair of moccasins of brown leather, and the ordinary
hunting equipments were suspended about his person.

The second was a youth apparently about sixteen, dressed in a suit of
green summer-cloth, neatly and fancifully adapted to his figure, which
was graceful and boyish. The jacket was short, and gathered into a small
skirt behind; and both this and the pantaloons were garnished with a
profusion of black cord and small black buttons. A highly polished
leather belt was buckled around his waist; a cap of green cloth rested,
somewhat conceitedly, amongst the rich locks of a head of light, curly
hair that fell, with girlish beauty, over a fair brow, and gave softness
to a countenance of pure white and red; and a neat foot showed to
advantage in a laced boot. The whole appearance of the youth was of one
of an amiable and docile bearing, and the small rifle or carbine which
he bore in his hand, as well as the dainty accoutrements that belonged
to it, amongst which was a diminutive bugle, looked more like the toys
of a pampered boy, than any apparatus of service.

No sooner had these two approached near enough to Butler and his
attendant for recognition, than the youth, quitting the hold of his
horse, sprang forward with a joyous alacrity and seized Butler by the
hand.

"Captain Butler," he cried with great animation, "how glad I am you have
come! And how fortunate it is that I should meet you! Get down from your
horse, I have something to tell you. Here, Stephen Foster, take this
gentleman's horse."

"You are a fine fellow, Harry," said Butler, dismounting. "That smiling
face of yours is full of pleasant news; it assures me that all are well
at the Dove Cote." Then having given his horse in charge to Robinson,
and walked a few paces apart with his young friend, he enquired, in a
low and anxious tone, "Mildred, my dear Henry, what of your sister
Mildred? Has she received my letter? Does she expect me? Is your
father--"

"Now, captain," interrupted the other--"but heigh! don't the newspapers
say you are brevetted? I am a pretty fellow to forget that! Well then,
Major Butler, let me answer one question at a time. In the first place,
sister Mildred is as well as any girl can be, that has a whole bushel of
crosses to keep her out of spirits. Poor thing, she frets so, about you
and my father. In the second place, she received your letter a week ago,
and has had me patrolling this ridge every day since, just to keep a
look-out for you; and, for the sake of company, I have had Stephen
Foster hunting here all the time--more for an excuse than anything else,
because on this side of the river the drives are not the best for
deer--a man might be here a fortnight and not get a shot. Sister Mildred
wanted me, if I should see you first, just to whisper to you that it is
impossible to do anything with my father, especially at this time, for
he has one of these English officers staying at the Dove Cote now, who,
I am afraid, and so is sister Mildred, has come to do some mischief.
Mildred says I must make some appointment with you to see her privately.
I thought of Mrs. Dimock's, but this Englishman has a servant staying
over there, and may be it wouldn't do. So, major, you will have to ride
down to the big chestnut, on the bank of the river, just under the rock
that we call the Fawn's Tower--you know where that is? it isn't more
than two miles from here."

"I know it well, Henry, I will wait there patiently," replied Butler, as
he now returned to his horse.

"Haven't we been in luck," said Henry, "to get so fine a buck at last?
This fellow has eight branches. It is Stephen's rifle that has done it."

The woodman, during this conversation, had taken possession of his
spoil, and was now busily engaged with his knife in cutting open and
preparing the animal for transportation, according to the usages of
woodcraft, whilst Robinson stood by, admiring the dexterity with which
this office was performed. When the buck was, at last, thrown by Stephen
across his horse, Henry gave him orders to ride forward.

"You will carry our game to your own house, Stephen; and don't forget,
to-morrow, to let us have the saddle at the Dove Cote. And Stephen, you
need not say that we have found any acquaintances upon the road, you
understand!"

The man bowed his head, in token of obedience, and getting upon his
long-backed steed, behind the buck, was soon lost to view in the
windings of the hill.

"Sister Mildred is sometimes downright melancholy," said the young
hunter, after he had remounted, and now rode beside Butler. "She is
troubled about you, and is always telling me of some unpleasant dream. I
almost think she is over-fanciful; and then she reads everything about
the army, and talks almost like a man about soldiering. Do you know she
is making a soldier of me? I am constantly reading military books, and
practising drill, and laying out fortifications, just as if I was going
into camp. My father doesn't know a word of it; his time is taken up
with these English officers, writing to them, and every now and then
there are some of them at our house. Mildred knows them--a famous spy
she would make! Isn't she an excellent girl, Major Butler?"

"You and I should guard her, Henry, with more care than we guard our
lives," replied Butler, with a serious emphasis.

"I hope," returned Henry, "she will be in better spirits after she sees
you."

"I would to heaven," said Butler, "that we all had more reason to be of
good cheer, than we are likely to have. It is as cloudy a day, Henry, as
you may ever behold again, should you live, as I pray you may, to the
ripest old age."

Henry looked up towards the west.

"There are clouds upon the sky," he said, "and the sun has dropped below
them; but there is a streak of yellow light, near to the line of the
mountain, that our wise people say is a sign that the sun will rise in
beauty to-morrow."

"There is a light beyond the mountain," replied Butler, half speaking to
himself, "and it is the best, the only sign I see of a clear to-morrow.
I wish, Henry, it were a brighter beam."

"Don't you know Gates has passed South?" said Henry, "and has some
pretty fellows with him, they say. And ar'n't we all mustering
here--every man most? Ask Stephen Foster what I am?"

"And what will he tell me?"

"Why, that I am his deputy-corporal in the mounted riflemen; Stephen is
the lieutenant."

"Oh, I crave your favor, brother officer, good master deputy-corporal,
Henry Lindsay! and does your father allow you to ride in the ranks of
the friends of liberty?"

"Sister Mildred persuaded him that as I am a mere lad, as she
says,--look at me, major,--a pretty well grown lad, I take it, there is
no harm in my playing soldier. So I ride always with Stephen Foster, and
Mildred got me this light rifle-carbine. Now, major, I fancy I am pretty
nearly as good a marksman as rides in the corps. Who is this with you?"
asked Henry, looking back at Robinson, who loitered some distance in the
rear purposely to avoid what might be deemed an intrusion upon the
private conference of the two friends.

"That is a famous soldier, Henry; he was at the siege of Charleston, and
last year at Savannah. He has had some hard blows, and can tell you more
of war than you have ever read in all your studies."

"He wears a curious uniform," said Henry, "for a regular soldier. What
is his name?"

"Galbraith Robinson--or Horse Shoe Robinson--to give him his most
popular distinction. But it would be well to keep his name secret."

"I have heard of Horse Shoe," said Henry, with an expression of great
interest. "So, this is the man himself? From all reports he is as brave
as"--

"As who?" asked Butler, smiling at the tone of wonder with which Henry
spoke.

"As Caius Marcius Coriolanus, who, I make no doubt, major, was about the
bravest man in the books."

Butler laughed, and applauded the young martialist for his
discrimination.

The road from the foot of the hill pursued the left, or northern, bank
of the Rockfish, which shot along, with a rapid flood, over the rocks
that lay scattered in its bed; and the gush of whose flight fell upon
the ear like the loud tones of the wind. From either margin it was
shaded by huge sycamores, whose tops, at this twilight hour, were marked
in broad lines upon the fading sky, and whose wide spreading boughs met,
from side to side, over the middle of the stream, throwing a deeper
night upon the clear and transparent waters. The valley was closely
bound by high precipitous hills, whose steep crags and narrow passes
seemed to echo and prolong the gush of the stream, that was now mingled
with the occasional lowing of cattle, the shriek of the owl, and the
frequent hoarse scream of the whip-poor-will.

When our party had advanced about a mile along this road, Henry Lindsay
took his bugle and blew a blast which seemed to dance in its
reverberations from one side of the river to the other.

"Mildred knows my signal," said he; "that is the scout's warning:
cavalry approaches: dress your line: prepare to receive a general
officer."

"Henry, pray drop your military phrase, and tell me what this means?"
said Butler.

"Ride on till you arrive beneath the Fawn's Tower. Wait for me there. I
will give you a signal when I approach: and trust me for a faithful
messenger. The river is deep at the rock, but you will find a boat
fastened to this bank. When you hear my signal come across. Mr. Dimock's
is only another mile; and, I'll warrant, the old lady will make you
comfortable. Love, they say, major," added Henry, sportively, "is meat
and drink, and a blanket to boot; but for all that, Mrs. Dimock's will
not be amiss--especially for Horse Shoe, who, I take it, will have the
roughest time of the party. If love is a blanket, Mr. Robinson," Henry
continued, addressing himself to that worthy, "it doesn't cover two, you
know."

"To my thinking, young sir," replied Horse Shoe, with a laugh, "it
wouldn't fold so cleverly in a knapsack."

"Now that I have given my orders," said Henry, "and done my duty, I must
leave you, for my road lies across the ford here. Where are my hounds?
Hylas, Bell, Blanche, you puppies, where are you?"

Here Henry blew another note, which was immediately responded to by the
hounds; and, plunging into the rapid and narrow stream, followed by the
dogs, who swam close behind him, he was seen, the next moment, through
the twilight, galloping up the opposite hill, as he called out his "good
night" to his friends.

As soon as Henry had disappeared, the other two pricked their steeds
forward at a faster pace. The rapid flow of the river, as they advanced
along its bank, began to change into a more quiet current, as if some
obstruction below had dammed up the water, rendering it deep and still.
Upon this tranquil mirror the pale crescent of the moon and the faintly
peeping stars were reflected; and the flight of the fire-fly was traced,
by his own light and its redoubled image, upon the same surface.

The high toppling cliff of the Fawn's Tower, that jutted forth like a
parapet above the road, soon arrested the attention of Butler; and at
its base the great chestnut flung abroad his "vast magnificence of
leaves," almost in emulation of the aspiring crag.

"We have reached our appointed ground," said Butler. "I shall want my
cloak, Galbraith; the dews begin to chill my limbs."

They dismounted, and Butler threw his cloak around his shoulders. Then,
in a thoughtful, musing state of mind, he strolled slowly along the bank
of the river, till he was temporarily lost to view in the thick shades
and sombre scenery around him. Robinson, having secured the horses, sat
himself down at the foot of the chestnut, unwilling to interrupt, by
conversation, the anxious state of feeling which he had the shrewdness
to perceive predominated in Butler's mind.



CHAPTER IV.

A MEETING OF LOVERS----SOME INSIGHT INTO THE FUTURE.


The twilight had subsided and given place to a beautiful night. The moon
had risen above the tree tops, and now threw her level rays upon the
broad face of the massive pile of rocks forming the Fawn's Tower, and
lit up with a silvery splendor, the foliage that clothed the steep cliff
and the almost perpendicular hill in its neighborhood. On the opposite
side of the river, a line of beech and sycamore trees, that grew almost
at the water's edge, threw a dark shadow upon the bank. Through these,
at intervals, the bright moonlight fell upon the earth, and upon the
quiet and deep stream. The woods were vocal with the whispering noises
that give discord to the nights of summer; yet, was there a stillness in
the scene which invited grave thoughts, and recalled to Butler's mind
some painful emotions that belonged to his present condition.

"How complicated and severe are those trials"--such was the current of
his meditations--"which mingle private grief with public misfortune:
that double current of ill which runs, on one side, to the overthrow of
a nation's happiness, and, on the other, to the prostration of the
individual who labors in the cause! What a struggle have I to encounter
between my duty to my country and my regard for those tender relations
that still more engross my affections, nor less earnestly appeal to my
manhood for defence! Upon the common quarrel I have already staked my
life and fortune, and find myself wrapt up in its most perilous
obligations. That cause has enough in it to employ and perplex the
strongest mind, and to invoke the full devotion of a head and heart that
are exempt from all other solicitude: yet am I embarrassed with personal
cares that are woven into the very web of my existence; that have
planted themselves beside the fountain of my affections, and which, if
they be rudely torn from me, would leave behind--but a miserable and
hopeless wreck. My own Mildred! to what sad trials have I brought your
affection; and how nobly hast thou met them!

"Man lives in the contentious crowd; he struggles for the palm that
thousands may award, and far-speeding renown may rend the air with the
loud huzza of praise. His is the strife of the theatre where the world
are spectators; and multitudes shall glorify his success, or lament his
fall, or cheer him in the pangs of death. But woman, gentle, silent,
sequestered--thy triumphs are only for the heart that loves thee--thy
deepest griefs have no comforter but the secret communion of thine own
pillow!"

Whilst Butler, who had now returned beneath the cliff of the Fawn's
Tower, was absorbed in this silent musing, his comrade was no less
occupied with his own cares. The sergeant had acquired much of that
forecast, in regard to small comforts, which becomes, in some degree, an
instinct in those whose profession exposes them to the assaults of wind
and weather. Tobacco, in his reckoning, was one of the most
indispensable muniments of war; and he was, accordingly, seldom without
a good stock of this commodity. A corn cob, at any time, furnished him
the means of carving the bowl of a pipe; whilst, in his pocket, he
carried a slender tube of reed which, being united to the bowl, formed a
smoking apparatus, still familiar to the people of this country, and
which, to use the sergeant's own phrase, "couldn't be touched for
sweetness by the best pipe the very Queen of the Dutch herself ever
smoked; and that"--he was in the habit of adding--"must be, as I take
it, about the tenderest thing for a whiff that the Dutchman knowed how
to make."

A flint and steel--part also of his gear--now served to ignite his
tobacco, and he had been, for some time past, sedately scanning the
length and breadth of his own fancies, which were, doubtless rendered
the more sublime by the mistiness which a rich volume of smoke had shed
across his vision and infused into the atmosphere around his brain.

"Twelve shillings and nine pence," were the first words which became
audible to Butler in the depth of his revery. "That, major," said the
sergeant, who had been rummaging his pocket, and counting over a handful
of coin, "is exactly the amount I have spent since this time last night.
I paid it to the old lady of the Swan at Charlottesville, taking a
sixpence for mending your bridle rein. Since you must make me paymaster
for our march, I am obliged to square accounts every night. My noddle
wont hold two days reckoning. It gets scrimped and flustered with so
many numberings, that I lose the count clean out."

"It is of little consequence, Galbraith," replied Butler, seeking to
avoid his companion's interruption.

"Squaring up, and smoothing off, and bringing out this and that shilling
straight to a penny, don't come natural to me," continued Robinson, too
intent upon his reckoning to observe the disinclination of Butler to a
parley, "money matters are not in my line. I take to them as
disunderstandingly as Gill Bentley did to the company's books, when they
made him Orderly on the Waccamaw picquet. For Gill, in the first place,
couldn't write, and, in the next place, if he could'a done that, he
never larnt to read, so you may suppose what a beautiful puzzleification
he had of it to keep the guard roster straight."

"Sergeant, look if yonder boat is loose; I shall want it presently,"
said Butler, still giving no ear to his comrade's gossip.

"It is tied by an easy knot to the root of the tree," said Robinson, as
he returned from the examination.

"Thank you," added Butler with more than usual abstractedness.

"Something, major, seems to press upon your spirits to-night," said the
sergeant, in the kindest tones of inquiry. "If I could lend a hand to
put any thing, that mought happen to have got crooked, into its right
place again, you know, Major Butler, I wouldn't be slow to do it, when
you say the word."

"I would trust my life to you, Galbraith, sooner than to any man
living," replied the other, with an affectionate emphasis:--"But you
mistake me, I am not heavy at heart, though a little anxious, sergeant,
at what has brought me here, comrade," he added as he approached the
sergeant, upon whose broad shoulder he familiarly laid his hand, with a
smile; "you will keep a fellow soldier's counsel?"

"As I keep my heart in my body," interrupted Galbraith.

"I am sure of it; even as you keep your faith to your country my true
and worthy brother," added Butler with animation, "and that is with no
less honesty than a good man serves his God. Then, Galbraith, bear it
in mind, I have come here for the sake of a short meeting with one that
I love, as you would have a good soldier love the lady of his soul. You
will hereafter speak of nothing that may fall within your notice. It
concerns me deeply that this meeting should be secret."

"Major, I will have neither eyes nor ears, if it consarns you to keep
any thing that mought chance to come to my knowledge, private."

"It is not for myself, sergeant, I bespeak this caution; I have nothing
to conceal from you; but there is a lady who is much interested in our
circumspection. I have given you a long and solitary ride on her
account, and may hereafter ask other service from you. You shall not
find it more irksome, Galbraith, to stand by a comrade in love, than you
have ever found it in war, and that, I know, you think not much."

"The war comes naturally enough to my hand," replied Galbraith, "but as
for the love part, major, excepting so far as carrying a message, or, in
case of a runaway, keeping off a gang of pestifarious intermeddlers, or
watching, for a night or so, under a tree, or any thing, indeed, in the
riding and running, or watching, or scrimmaging line--I say, excepting
these, my sarvice moughtn't turn to much account. I can't even play a
fiddle at a wedding, and I've not the best tongue for making headway
amongst the women. Howsomdever, major, you may set me down for a
volunteer on the first forlorn hope you may have occasion for."

"Mr. Lindsay lives on the hill across the river. There are reasons why I
cannot go to his house; and his daughter, Galbraith, is an especial
friend to us and to our cause."

"I begin to see into it," interrupted the sergeant, laughing, "you have
a notion of showing the old gentleman the same trick you played off upon
Lord Howe's provost marshal, when you was lieutenant at Valley Forge,
touching your stealing away his prisoner, Captain Roberts. That was a
night affair, too. Well, the best wife a man can have, major, is the
woman that takes to him through fire and water. There was Colonel
Gardiner, that stole his wife just in that way, against all opposition
of both father and mother, and a better woman never stitched up a seam,
to my knowledge and belief."

"I have no thought of such an enterprise, sergeant," said Butler; "our
purpose, for the present, must be confined to a short visit. We are
houseless adventurers, Galbraith, and have little to offer to sweetheart
or wife that might please a woman's fancy."

"When a woman loves a man, especially a sodger," replied the sergeant,
"she sets as little store by house and home as the best of us. Still, it
is a wise thing to give the creatures the chance of peace, before you
get to tangling them with families. Hark, I hear something like
footsteps on t'other side of the river! Mister Henry must be on his
march."

After an interval, a low whistle issued from the opposite bank, and, in
a moment, Butler was in the skiff, pushing his way through the sparkling
waters.

As the small boat, in which he stood upright, shot from the bright
moonlight into the shade of the opposite side, he could obscurely
discern Mildred Lindsay leaning on her brother's arm, as they both stood
under the thick foliage of a large beech. And scarcely had the bow
struck upon the pebbly margin, before he bounded from it up the bank,
and was, in the next instant, locked in the embrace of one whose
affection he valued above all earthly possessions.

When that short interval had passed away, in which neither Mildred nor
Arthur could utter speech; during which the lady leant her head upon her
lover's bosom, in that fond familiarity which plighted faith is allowed
to justify in the most modest maiden, sobbing the while in the intensity
of her emotions, she then at last, as she slowly regained her
self-possession, said, in a soft and melancholy voice, in which there
was nevertheless a tone of playfulness:

"I am a foolish girl, Arthur. I can boast like a blustering coward, when
there is nothing to fear; and yet I weep, like a true woman, at the
first trial of my courage."

"Ah, my dear Mildred, you are a brave girl," replied Butler, as he held
both of her hands and looked fondly into her face, "and a true and a
tried girl. You have come kindly to me, and ever, like a blessed and
gentle spirit of good, are prompt to attend me through every mischance.
It is a long and weary time, love, since last we met."

"It is very, very long, Arthur."

"And we are still as far off, Mildred, from our wishes as at first we
were."

"Even so," said Mildred sorrowfully. "A year of pain drags heavily by,
and brings no hope. Oh, Arthur, what have I suffered in the thought that
your life is so beset with dangers! I muse upon them with a childish
fear, that was not so before our last meeting. They rise to disturb my
daily fancies, and night finds them inhabiting my pillow. I was so
thankful, that you escaped that dreary siege of Charleston!"

"Many a poor and gallant fellow soldier there bit his lip with a chafed
and peevish temper," said Butler; "but the day will come, Mildred, when
we may yet carry a prouder head to the field of our country's honor."

"And your share," interrupted Mildred, "will ever be to march in the
front rank. In spite of all your perils past, your hard service, which
has known no holiday, your fatigues, that I have sometimes feared would
break down your health, and in spite too, of the claims, Arthur, that
your poor Mildred has upon you, you are even now again bound upon some
bold adventure, that must separate us, ah, perhaps, for ever! Our fate
has malice in it. Ever beginning some fresh exploit!"

"You would not have your soldier bear himself otherwise than as a true
knight, who would win and wear his lady-love by good set blows when
there was need for them?"

"If I were the genius that conjured up this war, I would give my own
true knight a breathing space. He should pipe and dance between whiles,"
replied Mildred sportively.

"He that puts his sickle into this field amongst the reapers," said
Butler, with a thoughtful earnestness, "should not look back from his
work."

"No, no, though my heart break while I say it--for, in truth, I am very
melancholy, notwithstanding I force a beggar's smile upon my cheek; no,
I would not have you stay or stand, Arthur, until you have seen this
wretched quarrel at an end. I praised your first resolve--loved you for
it--applauded and cheered you; I will not selfishly now, for the sake of
my weak, womanish apprehension, say one word to withhold your arm."

"And you are still," said Butler, "that same resolute enthusiast that I
found in the young and eloquent beauty who captivated my worthless
heart, when the war first drew the wild spirits of the country together
under our free banner?"

"The same foolish, conceited, heady, prattling truant, Arthur, that
first took a silly liking to your pompous strut, and made a hero to her
imagination out of a boasting ensign--the same in all my follies, and in
all my faults--only altered in one quality."

"And pray, what is that one quality?"

"I will not tell you," said Mildred carelessly. "'Twould make you vainer
than you are."

"It is not well to hide a kind thought from me, Mildred."

"Indeed it is not, Arthur. And so, I will muster courage to speak it,"
said the confiding girl with vivacity, after a short pause during which
she hung fondly upon her lover's arm; and then suddenly changing her
mood, she proceeded in a tone of deep and serious enthusiasm, "it is,
that since that short, eventful and most solemn meeting, I have loved
you, Arthur, with feelings that I did not know until then were mine. My
busy fancy has followed you in all your wanderings--painted with
stronger hues than nature gives to any real scene the difficulties and
disasters that might cross your path--noted the seasons with a nervous
acuteness of remark, from very faint-heartedness at the thought that
they might blight your health or bring you some discomfort. I have pored
over the accounts of battles, the march of armies, the tales of
prisoners relating the secrets of their prisons; studied the plans of
generals and statesmen, as the newspapers or common rumor brought them
to my knowledge, with an interest that has made those around me say I
was sadly changed. It was all because I had grown cowardly and feared
even my own shadow. Oh, Arthur, I am not indeed what I was."

The solemnity, force and feeling with which Mildred gave utterance to
these words, strangely contrasted with the light and gay tone in which
she had commenced; but her thoughts had now fallen into a current that
bore her forward into one of those bursts of excited emotion, which were
characteristic of her temper, and which threw a peculiar energy and
eloquence into her manner. Butler, struck by the rising warmth of her
enunciation, and swayed in part by the painful reflections to which her
topic gave rise, replied, in a state of feeling scarcely less solemn
than her own--

"Ah, Mildred," and as he spoke, he parted her hair upon her pale
forehead and kissed it, "dearest girl, the unknown time to come has no
cup of suffering for me that I would not hold a cheap purchase for one
moment like this. Even a year of painful absence past, and a still more
solicitous one to come, may be gallantly and cheerfully borne when
blessed with the fleeting interval of this night. To hear your faith,
which though I never dwelt upon it but with a confidence that I have
held it most profane to doubt, still, to hear it avowed from your own
lips, now again and again, repeating what you have often breathed
before, and in letter after letter, written down, it falls upon my
heart, Mildred, like some good gift from heaven, specially sent to
revive and quicken my resolution in all the toils and labors that yet
await me. There must be good in store for such a heart as thine; and,
trusting to this faith, I will look to the future with a buoyant
temper."

"The future," said Mildred, as she lifted her eyes to the pale moon that
now sheeted with its light her whole figure, as she and her lover
strayed beyond the shade of the beech, "I almost shudder when I hear
that word. We live but in the present; that, Arthur, is, at least, our
own, poor as we are in almost all beside. That future is a perplexed and
tangled riddle--a dreadful uncertainty, in the contemplation of which I
grow superstitious. Such ill omens are about us! My father's inexorable
will, so headstrong, so unconscious of the pain it gives me; his rooted,
yes, his fatal aversion to you; my thraldom here, where, like a poor
bird checked by a cord, I chafe myself by fluttering on the verge of my
prison bounds; and then, the awful perils that continually impend over
your head--all these are more than weak imaginings; they are the
realities of my daily life, and give me, what I am almost ashamed to
confess, a sad and boding spirit."

"Nay, nay, dearest Mildred! Away with all these unreasonable
reckonings!" replied Butler, with a manner that too plainly betrayed the
counterfeit of mirth. "Seclusion has dealt unworthily with you. It has
almost turned thee into a downright sentimental woman. I will have none
of this stepping to the verge of melancholy. You were accustomed to
cheer me with sunny and warm counsel; and you must not forget it was
yourself who taught me to strike aside the waves of fortune with a glad
temper. The fates can have no spite against one so good as thou art!
Time may bear us along like a rough trotting horse; and our journey may
have its dark night, its quagmires, and its jack-o'lanterns, but there
will come a ruddy morning at last--a smoother road, and an easier gait;
and thou, my girl, shalt again instruct me how to win a triumph over the
ills of life."

"And we will be happy, Arthur, because all around us will be so," added
Mildred, catching the current of Butler's thoughts, with that ready
versatility which eminently showed the earnestness and devotion of her
feelings--"Ah, may heaven grant this boon, and bring these dreams to
life! I think, Arthur, I should be happier now, if I could but be near
you in your wanderings. Gladly would I follow you through all the
dangers of the war."

"That were indeed, love, a trial past your faculty to endure. No, no,
Mildred, she who would be a soldier's wife, should learn the soldier's
philosophy--to look with a resigned submission on the present events,
and trust to heaven for the future. Your share in this struggle is to
commune with your own heart in solitude, and teach it patience. Right
nobly have you thus far borne that grievous burden! The sacrifice that
you have made--its ever present and unmitigated weight, silently and
sleeplessly inflicting its slow pains upon your free and generous
spirit; that, Mildred, is the chief and most galling of my cares."

"This weary war, this weary war," breathed Mildred, in a pensive under
key, "when will it be done!"

"The longest troubles have their end," replied Butler, "and men, at
last, spent with the vexations of their own mischief, fly, by a selfish
instinct, into the bosom of peace. God will prosper our enterprise, and
bring our battered ship into a fortunate haven."

"How little like it seems it now!" returned Mildred. "The general
sorrow, alone, might well weigh down the stoutest heart. That cause
which you have made mine, Arthur, to which you have bestowed your life,
and which, for your sake," she added proudly, "should have this feeble
arm of mine, could it avail, is it not even now trembling on the verge
of ruin? Have not your letters, one after another told me of the sad
train in which misfortunes have thickened upon the whole people? of
defeat, both north and south, and, at this very time, of disgraceful
mutiny of whole regiments under the very eye of Washington--that
Washington who loves his country and her soldiers as a husband loves his
bride, and a father his children. Have not those, to whom we all looked
for champions, turned into mere laggards in the war for freedom? Oh,
Arthur, do you not remember that these are the thoughts, the very words,
which were penned by your own hand, for my especial meditation? How can
I but fear that the good end is still far off? How can I but feel some
weight upon my heart?"

"You have grown overwise, Mildred, in these ruminations. I am to blame
for this, that in my peevish humor, vexed with the crosses of the day, I
should have written on such topics to one so sensitive as yourself."

"Still it is true, Arthur, all report confirms it."

"These things do not become your entertainment, Mildred. Leave the
public care to us. There are bold hearts, love, and strong arms yet to
spare for this quarrel. We have not yet so exhausted our mines of
strength, but that much rough ore still lies unturned to the sun, and
many an uncouth lump of metal remains to be fashioned for serviceable
use. History tells of many a rebound from despondency, so sudden and
unreckoned, that the wisest men could see in it no other spring than the
decree of God. He will fight the battle of the weak, and set the right
upon a sure foundation."

"The country rings," said Mildred, again taking the more cheerful hue of
her lover's hopes, and following out, with an affectionate sympathy, his
tone of thought, "with anticipation of victory from Gates's southern
march."

"That may turn out to be a broken reed," interrupted Butler, as if
thinking aloud, and struck by Mildred's reference to a subject that had
already engrossed his thoughts; "they may be deceived, Washington would
have put a different man upon that service. I would have a leader in
such a war, wary, watchful, humble--diffident as well as brave. I fear
Gates is not so."

"Then, I trust, Arthur," exclaimed Mildred, with anxious alacrity, "that
your present expedition does not connect you with his fortunes!"

"I neither follow his colors nor partake of his counsels," replied
Butler. "Still my motions may not be exempt from the influence of his
failure or success. The enemy, you are aware, has possessed himself of
every post of value in South Carolina and Georgia. I go commissioned to
advise with discreet and prudent men upon the means to shake off this
odious domination. So far only, and remotely, too, I am a fellow-laborer
with Gates. There are gallant spirits now afoot, Mildred, to strip these
masters of their power. My office is to aid their enterprise."

"If you needs must go, Arthur, I have no word to say. You will leave
behind you an aching heart, that morning, noon, and night, wearies
heaven with its prayers for your safety. Alas, I have no other aid to
give! How soon--how soon," she said, with a voice that faltered with the
question, "does your duty compel you to leave me?"

"To-morrow's sunrise, love, must find me forth upon my way."

"To-morrow, Arthur? so quickly to part!"

"I dare not linger; not even for the rich blessing of thy presence."

"And the utmost length of your journey?"

"Indeed, I know not. At present my farthest aim is Ninety-six and
Augusta. It much depends upon the pleasure of our proud and wilful
masters."

Mildred stood for some moments looking upon the ground in profound
silence. Her bosom heaved with a sad emotion.

"It is a dangerous duty," said she, at last. "I cannot speak my
apprehension at the thought of your risks amongst the fierce and
treacherous men that overrun the country to which you travel."

"These perils are exaggerated by distance," returned Butler. "A thousand
expedients of protection and defence occur when present, which the
absent cannot fancy. It is a light service, Mildred, and may more
securely be performed with a gay heart than with a sad one. I pray you,
do not suffer that active imagination of yours to invest the every day
adventures of your poor soldier with a romantic interest of which they
are not worthy. I neither slay giants, nor disenchant ladies, nor yoke
captive griffins together. No, no, I shall outrun some over-fed clown,
and outwit some simple boobies; and, perhaps, soil my boots in a great
slough, and then hasten back, love, to boast of my marvels to the
credulous ear of my own sweet girl, who, I warrant, will think me a most
preposterous hero."

"How can you laugh, Arthur? And yet I would not have you catch my
foolish sadness, either."

"I have with me, besides, Mildred, a friend good at need; one Galbraith
Robinson, a practised and valiant soldier, who sits on yonder bank. He
is to be the companion of my journey; he is shrewd, vigilant and
cautious, an inhabitant, moreover, of the district to which I am bound;
his wisdom can do much for my success. Then I travel, too, in peaceful
guise. My business is more concerned with negotiation than with battle."

"It is a waylaid path, Arthur," said Mildred, in the same faint voice
with which she had spoken before.

"Never take it so heavily, my love!" exclaimed Butler, familiarly
seizing her hand, whose trembling now betrayed her agitation,--"it is
the mere sport of the war to be upon a running service, where a light
stratagem or so will baffle a set of dull-pated clodpoles! I scarcely
deem it a venture, to dodge through a forest, where every man flies from
his neighbor out of mutual distrust. These fellows have brought
themselves upon such bad terms with their own consciences, that they
start like thieves at the waving of a bulrush."

"They would be the more cruel," replied Mildred, "if some ill luck
should throw you into their power. If that should happen," she added,
and for a while she hesitated to speak, as a tear fell upon Butler's
hand--"If that should happen, I cannot bear the thought."

"They dare offer me no wrong, Mildred. The chances of battle are
sufficiently various to compel even the victors to pursue the policy of
humanity to prisoners. The conqueror of to-day may himself be a captive
to-morrow, and a bloody reprisal would await his barbarity. Again, let
me remind you, these are not fit topics for your meditation."

"They are topics for my heart, Arthur, and will not be driven from it.
If your lot should put you in the power of the enemy, the name of
Mildred Lindsay, and the relation you bear her, whispered in their ears,
may, perhaps, unlock their charity. My father has many friends in those
ranks, and it may be that I am not unknown to some of them: oh, remember
that!"

"You have little need to teach me to think or speak of Mildred Lindsay,"
said Butler, eagerly. "I cannot forget that name. But I may well doubt
its charm upon the savage bulldogs who are now baiting our citizens in
Carolina; those ruthless partizans who are poisoning the fountains of
contentment at every fire-side. It is not a name to conjure evil spirits
with."

"Major Butler," said Henry, who during this long interval had been
strolling backward and forward, like a sentinel, at some distance from
his sister and her lover, and who, with the military punctilio of a
soldier on duty, forbore even to listen to what he could not have helped
overhearing, if it had not been for humming a tune--"Major, I don't like
to make or meddle with things that don't belong to me--but you and
Mildred have been talking long enough to settle the course of a whole
campaign. And as my father thinks he can't be too careful of Mildred,
and doesn't like her walking about after night-fall, I shouldn't be
surprised if a messenger were despatched for us--only I think that man
Tyrrel is hatching some plot with him to-night, and may keep him longer
in talk than usual."

"Who is Tyrrel?" inquired Butler.

"One that I wish had been in his grave before he had ever seen my
father," answered Mildred with a bitter vehemence. "He is a wicked
emissary of the royal party sent here to entrap my dear father into
their toils. Such as it has ever been his fate to be cursed with from
the beginning of the war; but this Tyrrel, the most hateful of them
all."

"Alas, alas, your poor father! Mildred, what deep sorrow do I feel that
he and I should be so estranged. I could love him, counsel with him,
honor him, with a devotion that should outrun your fondest wish. His
generous nature has been played upon, cheated, abused; and I, in whom
fortune and inclination should have raised him a friend, have been made
the victim of his perverted passion."

"True, true," exclaimed Mildred, bursting into tears, and resting her
head against her lover's breast, "I can find courage to bear all but
this--I am most unhappy;" and for some moments she sobbed audibly.

"The thought has sometimes crossed me," said Butler, "that I would go to
your father and tell him all. It offends my self-respect to be obliged
to practise concealment towards one who should have a right to know all
that concerns a daughter so dear to him. Even now, if I may persuade you
to it, I will go hand in hand with you, and, with humble reverence,
place myself before him and divulge all that has passed between us."

"No, no, Arthur, no," ejaculated Mildred with the most earnest
determination. "It will not come to good. You do not understand my
father's feelings. The very sight of you would rouse him into frenzy;
there is no name which might fall upon his ear with deeper offence than
yours. Not yet, Arthur, the time has not yet come."

"I have been patient," said Butler, "patient, Mildred, for your sake."

"To try him now," continued Mildred, whose feelings still ran, with a
heady impetuosity, upon this newly-awakened and engrossing topic; "now,
in the very depth of his bitterest aversion to what he terms an impious
rebellion, and whilst his heart is yet moved with an almost
preternatural hate against all who uphold the cause, and to you,
especially, above whose head there hovers, in his belief, some horrid
impending curse that shall bring desolation upon him and all who claim
an interest in his blood--no, no, it must not be!"

"Another year of pent-up vexation, self-reproach and anxious concealment
must then glide by, and perhaps another," said Butler. "Well, I must be
content to bear it, though, in the mean time, my heart bleeds for you,
Mildred; it is a painful trial."

"For good or for evil our vow is now registered in heaven," replied
Mildred, "and we must abide the end."

"I would not have it other than it is, dearest girl, except this stern
resolve of your father--not for the world's wealth," said Butler warmly.
"But you spoke of this Tyrrel--what manner of man is he? How might I
know him?"

"To know him would answer no good end, Arthur. His soul is absorbed in
stratagem, and my dear father is its prey. I too am grievously tormented
by him; but it is no matter, I need not vex your ear with the tale of
his annoyance."

"Indeed!" exclaimed Butler with a sudden expression of resentment.

"All that concerns my father, concerns me," said Mildred. "It is my evil
destiny, Arthur, to be compelled to endure the associations of men,
whose principles, habits, purposes, are all at war with my own. Alas,
such are now my father's constant companions. This man Tyrrel, whose
very name is a cheat put on, I doubt not, to conceal him from
observation--goes farther than the rest in the boldness of his practice.
I have some misgiving that he is better acquainted with the interest you
take in me, than we might suspect possible to a stranger. I fear him.
And then, Arthur, it is my peculiar misery that he has lately set up a
disgusting pretension to my regard. Oh! I could give him, if my sex had
strength to strike, the dagger, sooner than squander upon him one kind
word. Yet am I obliged by circumstance to observe a strained courtesy
towards him, which, frugal as it is, makes me an unwilling hypocrite to
my own heart."

"Tyrrel," ejaculated Butler, "Tyrrel! I have heard no such name abroad!"
then, muttering a deep curse, as he bit his lip with passion, he added,
"Oh, that I could face this man, or penetrate his foul purpose! How is
it likely I might meet him?"

"You shall have no temptation to a quarrel," said Mildred; "your quick
resentment would but give activity to his venom. For the sake of my
peace, Arthur, and of your own, inquire no further. Time may disclose
more than rash pursuit."

"Leave that to sister Mildred and myself, major," said Henry, who
listened with great interest to this conversation, "I have my eye upon
him--let that satisfy you; and when sister Mildred puts up the game,
depend upon it, I will bring him down."

"Thanks, thanks, dear Henry! I can trust you for a ready friend, and
will even follow your good advice. A more favorable season for this
concern may soon arrive; meantime, I will bear this hint in mind."

Again Henry made an appeal to the lovers to bring their conference to an
end. It was a sorrowful moment, the events of which were brief, earnest
and impassioned, and such as a dull scribbler, like myself, might easily
mar in the telling; yet they were such as zealous and eager natures, who
have loved with an intense and absorbing love, and who have parted in
times of awful danger and uncertainty, may perchance be able to picture
to themselves, when they recall the most impressive incident of their
lives to memory. I will only say, that, in that dark shade where the
beech tree spread his canopy of leaves over the cool bank, and marked
his shadow's profile on the green sward--that grassy sward, on which
"the constant moon" lit up the dewy lamps, hung by the spider on blade
and leaf; and in that silent time, when the distant water-fall came
far-sounding on the ear, when sleepless insects chirped in the thicket,
and dogs, at some remote homestead, howled bugle-like to the moon; and
in that chill hour, when Mildred drew her kerchief close around her
dew-besprinkled shoulders, whilst Arthur, fondly and affectionately,
half enveloped her in the folds of a military cloak, as he whispered
words of tender parting in her ear, and imprinted a kiss upon her cheek;
and when, moreover, Henry's teeth chattered like a frozen warder's, then
it was, and there, that this enthusiastic girl again pledged her
unalterable devotion to the man of her waking thoughts and nightly
dreams, come weal, come woe, whatever might betide; and the soldier paid
back the pledge with new ardor and endearment, in the strong language
that came unstudied from the heart, meaning all that he said, and rife
with a feeling beyond the reach of words. And, after "mony a locked and
fond embrace," full tearfully, and lingeringly, and, in phrase oft
repeated, the two bade "farewell," and invoked God's blessing each upon
the other, and then, not without looking back, and breathing a fresh
prayer of blessings, they separated on their dreary way, Mildred
retiring, as she had come, on the arm of her brother, and Butler,
springing hurriedly into the skiff and directing its swift passage to
the middle of the stream, where, after a pause to enable him to discern
the last footsteps of his mistress, as her form glided into the obscure
distance, he sighed a low "God bless her," then resumed his oar, and
sturdily drove his boat against the "opponent bank."



CHAPTER V.

A COMFORTABLE INN, AND A GOOD LANDLADY----THE MISFORTUNES OF HEROES DO
NOT ALWAYS DESTROY THE APPETITE.


As soon as Butler landed from the skiff, he threw his cloak into the
hands of the sergeant; then, with a disturbed haste, sprang upon his
horse, and, commanding Robinson to follow, galloped along the road down
the river as fast as the nature of the ground and the obscurity of the
hour would allow. A brief space brought them to the spot where the road
crossed the stream, immediately in the vicinity of the widow Dimock's
little inn, which might here be discerned ensconced beneath the cover of
the opposite hill. The low-browed wooden building, quietly stationed
some thirty paces off the road, was so adumbrated in the shelter of a
huge willow, that the journeyer, at such an hour as this, might
perchance pass the spot unconsciously by, were it not for an insulated
and somewhat haggard sign-post that, like a hospitable seeker of
strangers, stood hard by the road side, and there displayed a shattered
emblem in the guise of a large blue ball, a little decayed by wind and
weather, which said Blue Ball, without superscription or device, was
universally interpreted to mean "entertainment for man and horse, by the
widow Dimock." The moonlight fell with a broad lustre upon the sign post
and its pendent globe; and our travellers, besides, could descry,
through the drapery of the willow, a window, of some rear building of
the inn, richly illuminated by what, from the redness of the light,
might be conjectured to be a bundle of blazing faggots.

As the horses had, immediately upon entering the ford, compelled their
masters to a halt, whilst they thrust their noses into the water and
drank with the greediness of a long and neglected thirst, it was with no
equivocal self-gratulation that Robinson directed his eye to the
presignifications of good cheer which were now before him. Butler had
spoken "never a word," and the sergeant's habits of subordination, as
well as an honest sympathy in what he guessed to be the griefs of his
superior officer, had constrained him to a respectful silence. The
sergeant, however, was full of thoughts which, more than once during the
gallop from the Fawn's Tower, he was on the point of uttering by way of
consolation to Butler, and which nothing prevented but that real
delicacy of mind that lies at the bottom of a kind nature, and inhabits
the shaggy breast of the rustic, at least full as often as it lodges in
the heart of the trim worldling. The present halt, seemed, in Horse
Shoe's reckoning, not only to furnish a pretext to speak, but, in some
degree, to render it a duty; and, in truth, an additional very
stimulating subject presented itself to our good squire, in his
instantaneous conviction that the glare from the tavern window had its
origin in some active operation which, at this late hour, might be going
on at the kitchen chimney; to understand the full pungency of which
consideration, it is necessary to inform my reader, that Robinson had,
for some time past, been yielding himself to certain doubts, whether his
friend and himself might not arrive at the inn at too late an hour to
hope for much despatch in the preparation for supper. In this state of
feeling, partly bent to cheer the spirits of Butler, and partly to
express his satisfaction at the prospect of his own comfort, he broke
forth in the following terms--

"God bless all widows that set themselves down by the road-side, is my
worst wish! and, in particular, I pray for good luck to the widow
Dimock, for an orderly sort of body, which I have no doubt she is; and
keeps good hours--to judge by the shine of the kitchen fire which is
blazing yonder in the rear--and which, to tell truth, major, I began to
be afeard would be as dead, by this time o' night, as the day the
hearth-stone was first laid. She desarves to be spoken of as a
praiseworthy woman. And, moreover, I should say she has popped her house
down in a most legible situation, touching our day's march, by which I
mean it isn't one step too near a reasonable bed hour. I count it lucky,
major, on your account; and although it isn't for me to give advice in
woman affairs--for I know the creatures do try the grit and edge of a
man amazingly sometimes--yet, if I mought say what was running in my
head fit for a gentleman and an officer like you to do in such a
tribulation, it would be this: drop thinking and chawing over your
troubles, and take them with a light heart, as things that's not to be
mended by a solemncolly long-facedness. A good victual's meal and a fair
night's rest would make another man of you. That's my observation; and I
remember once to hear you say the same yourself, upon occasion of your
losing the baggage wagons last fall on the Beaufort convoy. You ha'n't
forgot it, major?"

"Thank you, thank you, sergeant. Your counsel is kindly offered and
wisely said, and I will follow it. But it is a little hard, fellow
soldier," added Butler, with something like an approach to jocularity,
"it's a little hard to have one's misfortunes cast in his teeth by a
comrade."

"I thought it would make you laugh, major!" replied Robinson, with a
good-natured solicitude, "for it wan't in the possibilities of a mortal
earthly man to save the baggage; and, I remember, you laughed then, as
well as the rest of us, when them pestifarious, filching sheep stealers
made off with our dinners: nobody ever blamed you for it."

"Ah, Galbraith, you are a good friend, and you shall say what you please
to me," said Butler, with a returning cheerfulness; "sorrow is a dull
companion to him who feeds it, and an impertinent one to everybody
beside. So, ride forward, and we will endeavor to console ourselves with
the good cheer of the widow. And, hark, Galbraith, this Mistress Dimock
is an especial friend of mine: pray you, let her see, by your
considerateness towards her, that you are aware of that--for my sake,
good Horse Shoe."

The two soldiers soon reached the inn, and, having dismounted, Butler
aroused the attention of the inmates by a few strokes upon the door with
his riding rod.

The reply to this summons was a shrill invitation, in a feminine voice,
to "walk in;" and no sooner had Butler thrown open the door and advanced
a few paces into the passage, than the head of an elderly female was
seen thrust through the partially expanded doorway of the adjoining
room. Another instant, and the dusky figure of Mistress Dimock herself
was visible to our travellers.

"What would you be pleased to have, sir?" inquired the dame, with
evident distrust at this untimely approach of strangers.

"Accommodation for the night, and whatever you have good to offer a
friend, Mistress Dimock."

"Who are you that ride so late?" again interrogated the hostess; "I am
cowardly, sir, and cautious, and have reason to be careful who comes
into my house; a poor unprotected woman, good man."

"A light, mother," said Butler, "and you shall know us better. We are
travellers and want food and rest, and would have both with as little
trouble to you as possible; a light will show you an old friend."

"Wait a moment," returned the dame; and then added, as she observed
Butler walk into a room on the left, "Take care, sir, it is risking a
fall to grope in the dark in a strange house."

"The house is not so strange to me as you suppose. Unless you have moved
your furniture I can find the green settee beyond the cupboard," said
Butler, familiarly striding across the room, and throwing himself into
the old commodity he had named.

The landlady, without heeding this evidence of the conversancy of her
visitor with the localities of the little parlor, had hastily retreated,
and, in a moment afterwards, returned with a light, which, as she held
it above her head, while she peered through a pair of spectacles, threw
its full effulgence upon the face of her guest.

"Dear me, good lack!" she exclaimed, after a moment's gazing; "Arthur
Butler, o' my conscience! And is it you, Mr. Butler?" Then, putting the
candle upon the table, she seized both of his hands and gave them a long
and hearty shake. "That Nancy Dimock shouldn't know your voice, of all
others! Where have you been, and where are you going? Mercy on me! what
makes you so late? And why didn't you let me know you were coming? I
could have made you so much more comfortable. You are chilled with the
night air; and hungry, no doubt. And you look pale, poor fellow! You
surely couldn't have been at the Dove Cote?" which last interrogatory
was expressed with a look of earnest and anxious inquiry.

"No, not there," replied Butler, almost in a whisper; "alas, my kind
dame, not there," he added, with a melancholy smile, as he held the hand
of the hostess and shook his head; "my fortune has in no jot improved
since I left you almost a year ago. I broke from you hastily then to
resume my share in the war, and I have had nothing but hard blows ever
since. The tide, Mistress Dimock, sets sadly against us."

"Never let your heart fail you," exclaimed the landlady; "it isn't in
the nature of things for the luck to be for ever on the shady side.
Besides, take the good and bad together, you have not been so hardly
dealt by, Captain Butler."

"Major Butler, madam, of the second Carolina continental reg'lar
infantry," interrupted Robinson, who had stood by all this time
unnoticed, "_Major_ Butler; the captain has been promoted, by occasion
of the wiping out of a few friends from the upper side of the adjutant's
roll, in the scrimmage of Fort Moultrie. He is what we call, in common
parley, brevetted."

This annunciation was made by the sergeant with due solemnity,
accompanied by an attempt at a bow, which was abundantly stiff and
ungraceful.

"My friend Sergeant Robinson," said Butler; "I commend him, Mistress
Dimock, to your especial favor, both for a trusty comrade, and a most
satisfactory and sufficient trencher man."

"You are welcome and free to the best that's in the house, sergeant,"
said the landlady, courtesying; "and I wish, for your sake, it was as
good as your appetite, which ought to be of the best. Mr. Arthur
Butler's word is all in all under this roof; and, whether he be captain
or major, I promise you, makes no difference with me. Bless me! when I
first saw you, major, you was only an ensign; then, whisk and away! and
back you come a pretty lieutenant, about my house: and then a captain,
forsooth! and now, on the track of that, a major. It is up-up-up-the
ladder, till you will come, one of these days, to be a general; and too
proud, I misdoubt, to look at such a little old woman as me! hegh, hegh,
hegh! a pinch of snuff, Mr. Arthur." And here the good dame prolonged
her phthisicky laugh for some moments, as she presented a box of Scotch
snuff to her guest. "But I'll engage promotion never yet made the
appetite of a travelling man smaller than before; so, gentlemen, you
will excuse me while I look after your supper."

"The sooner the better, ma'am," said Robinson; "your night air is a sort
of a whetstone to the stomach; but first, ma'am, I would be obligated to
you, if you would let me see the ostler."

"Hut, tut! and have I been drivelling here all this time," exclaimed the
dame, "without once spending a thought upon your cattle! Tony, Tony,
To-ny, I say," almost shrieked the hostess, as she retreated along the
passage towards the region of the kitchen, and then back again to the
front door. "Are you asleep? Look to the gentlemen's horses; lead them
to the stable, and don't spare to rub them down; and give them as much
as they can eat. Where are you, old man?"

"What's the use of all this fuss, Missus Dimck? Arn't I here on the
spot, with the cretur's in my hand?" grumbled out an old, stunted negro,
who answered to the appellation of ostler; "Arn't I getting the baggage
off, as fast as I can onbuckle the straps?--I don't want nobody to tell
me when I ought to step out. If a hos could talk, he ain't got nothing
new to say to me. Get out, you varmints," he shouted, with a sudden
vivacity of utterance, at three or four dogs that were barking around
him; "Consarn you! What you making such a conbobberation about? You all
throat when you see gentmen coming to the house; better wait tell you
see a thief; bound, you silent enough then, with your tail twixt your
legs! Blossom, ya sacy slut, keep quiet, I tell you!"

In the course of this din and objurgation, the old negro succeeded in
disburdening the horses of their furniture, and was about to lead them
to the stable, when Robinson came to give him some directions.

"Mind what you are after with them there cattle. Give them not a
mouthful for a good hour, and plenty of fodder about their feet; I'll
look at them myself before you shut up. Throw a handful of salt into the
trough, Tony, and above all things, don't let me catch you splashing
water over their backs; none of that; do you hear?"

"Haw, haw, haw!" chuckled Tony; "think I don't know how to take care of
a hos, mass! Been too use to creturs, ever sense so high. Bless the
gentman! one of the best things on arth, when you're feared your hos is
too much blowed, is to put a sprinkling of salt in a bucket o'water, and
just stir a leetle Indian meal in with it; it sort of freshes the cretur
up like, and is onaccountable good in hot weather, when you ain't got no
time to feed. But cold water across the lines! oh, oh, I too cute in hos
larning for that! Look at the top of my head--gray as a fox!"

"Skip then, or I'll open upon you like a pack of hounds," said
Robinson, as he turned on his heel to re-enter the house, "I'll look in
after supper."

"Never mind me," replied Tony, as he led the horses off, "I have tended
Captain Butler's hos afore this, and he wan't never onsatisfied with
me."

These cares being disposed of, Horse Shoe returned to the parlor. The
tidy display of some plain furniture, and the scrupulous attention to
cleanliness in every part of the room, afforded an intelligent
commentary upon the exact, orderly and decent character of the Widow
Dimock. The dame herself was a pattern of useful thrift. Her short
figure, as she now bustled to and fro, through the apartment, was
arrayed in that respectable, motherly costume which befitted her years;
and which was proper to the period of my story, when the luxury of dress
was more expensive than at present, and when a correspondent degree of
care was used to preserve it in repair. Evidences of this laudable
economy were seen in the neatness with which a ruffle was darned, or a
weak point fortified by a nicely adjusted patch, presenting, in some
respect, a token both of the commendable pride of the wearer, and of the
straitness of the national means, since the prevalence of war for five
years had not only reduced the wealth of individuals and rendered
frugality indispensable, but had, also, literally deprived the country
of its necessary supply of commodities; thus putting the opulent and the
needy, to a certain extent, upon the same footing. On the present
occasion, our good landlady was arrayed in a gown of sober-colored
chintz, gathered into plaits in the skirt, whilst the body fitted
closely over a pair of long-waisted stays, having tight sleeves that
reached to the elbow. The stature of the dame was increased a full inch
by a pair of high-heeled, parti-colored shoes, remarkable for their
sharp toes; and a frilled muslin cap, with lappets that reached under
the chin, towered sufficiently high to contribute, also, something
considerable to the elevation of the tripping little figure of its
wearer.

In such guise did Mistress Dimock appear, as she busied herself in
preparing needful refreshment for the travellers; and for some time the
house exhibited all that stir which belongs to this important care when
despatched in a retired country inn.

By degrees, the table began to show the bounties of the kitchen. A
savory dish of fried bacon, the fumes of which had been, for a quarter
of an hour, gently stimulating the appetite of the guests, now made its
appearance, in company with a pair of broiled pullets; and these were
followed by a detachment of brown-crested hoecakes--the peculiar
favorite of the province; an abundance of rich milk, eggs, butter, and
other rural knicknackeries, such as no hungry man ever surveys with
indifference. These were successively deposited upon a homespun table
cloth, whose whiteness rivalled the new snow, with an accuracy of
adjustment that, by its delay, produced the most visible effects upon
the sergeant, who, during the spreading of the board, sat silently by,
watching, with an eager and gloating earnestness, the slow process, ever
and anon uttering a short hem, and turning about restlessly on his
chair.

I may pause here, after the fashion of our worthy friend Horse Shoe, to
make an observation. There is nothing that works so kindly upon the
imagination of a traveller, if he be in any doubt as to his appetite, as
the display of such a table. My particularity of detail, on the present
occasion, will, therefore, be excused by my reader, when I inform him
that Butler had arrived at the inn in that depressed tone of spirits
which seemed to defy refreshment; and that, notwithstanding this
impediment, he played no insignificant part afterwards at supper; a
circumstance mainly attributable to that gentle but irresistible
solicitation, which the actual sight and fragrance of the board
addressed to his dormant physical susceptibility. I might, indeed, have
pretermitted the supper altogether, were there not a philosophical truth
at the bottom of the matter, worthy of the notice of the speculative and
curious reader; namely, that where a man's heart is a little teased with
love, and his temper fretted by crossings, and his body jolted by
travel; especially, when he has been wandering through the night air,
with owls hooting in his ears; and a thin drapery of melancholy has been
flung, like cobwebs, across his spirits, then it is my doctrine, that a
clean table, a good-humored landlady and an odorous steaming-up of good
things, in a snug, cheerful little parlor, are certain to beget in him a
complete change of mood, and to give him, instead, a happy train of
thoughts and a hearty relish for his food. Such was precisely Butler's
condition.

He and the sergeant now sat down at the table, and each drew the
attention of the other by the unexpected vigor of their assaults upon
the dainties before them; Robinson surprised to find the major so
suddenly revived, and Butler no less unprepared to see a man, who had
achieved such wonders at dinner, now successively demolish what might be
deemed a stout allowance for a well fed lion.

"It almost seems to go against the credit of my house," said the
hostess, "to set gentlefolks down at my table without a cup of tea; but
so it is; we must get used to be stripped of all the old-fashioned
comforts. It is almost treason for an honest woman to have such an
article in her house now, even if it could be fairly come by. Still,
I'll engage I am tory enough yet to like the smell of hyson. They have
no mercy upon us old women, major; they should have a care, or they will
drive us into the arms of the enemy."

"Faith then, ma'am," interrupted Horse Shoe bluntly, as he threw his eye
over his shoulder at the landlady, who had broken into a laugh at her
own sally of humor, "it would be no wonder if you were soon driven back
again."

"Shame on you, Mr. Sergeant Robinson," retorted the dame, laughing
again, "I didn't expect to hear such a speech from you; that's a very
sorry compliment to a poor country woman. If the men on our side think
so little of us as you do, it would be no wonder if we all desert to
King George; but Major Arthur Butler, I am sure, will tell you that we
old bodies can sometimes make ourselves very useful--gainsay it who
will."

"You seem to be rather hard, Galbraith," said Butler, "on my good friend
Mistress Dimock. I am sure, madam, the sergeant has only been unlucky in
making himself understood; for I know him to be a man of gallantry to
your sex, and to cherish an especial liking for the female friends of
our cause, amongst whom, Mistress Dimock, I can certify he is prepared
to set a high value upon yourself. The sergeant was only endeavoring to
provoke your good humor. Try this honey, Galbraith; Mistress Dimock is
famous for her beehives; and perhaps it will give a sweeter edge to your
tongue."

"I spoke, major," replied Robinson, awkwardly endeavoring to extricate
himself under this joint rebuke, and, at the same time, plunging a spoon
into the dish to which Butler had invited his notice, "consarning the
difficulty of having ladies--whether old or young makes no difference,
it wan't respecting the age of Mistress Dimock, nor her beauty, by no
means, that I said what I did say; but it was consarning of the
difficulty of having the women with them in their marches and their
counter-marches. What could such tender creatures have done at such a
place as the sieging of Charlestown? Certain, this is most elegant
honey!" he added, by way of parenthesis, as he devoured a large slice of
bread, well covered with a fragment of honeycomb, as if anxious to gain
time to collect his ideas; for, with all Horse Shoe's bluntness, he was
essentially a diffident man. "It is my opinion, ma'am, the best thing
the women can do, in these here wars, is to knit; and leave the fighting
of it out, to us who hav'n't faces to be spoiled by bad weather and
tough times."

"I don't want to have art nor part in these quarrels," replied the
widow. "The saints above are witnesses, I think it unnatural enough to
see a peaceable country, and a quiet honest people, vexed and harried,
and run down with all this trooping of horses, and parading of armies,
and clattering of drums, amongst the hills that never heard any thing
worse than the lowing of a heifer before. But still, I wish well to
liberty; and if it must be fought for, why, I am even content to take my
share of the suffering, in my own lonesome way; and they that bear the
heat of the day, and their friends, shall always be served in my house
with the best that's in it, and at the most reasonable rates. Even if
they come without money, I am not the woman to turn them off with an
empty stomach; I mean them of the right side."

"Well, that's as sensible a speech, Mistress Dimock," said Horse Shoe,
quickly seizing the occasion to make amends to the landlady for his
former bluntness, "and as much to the purpose, and spoken with as much
wisdom and circumscription, as mought come out of the mouth of e'er a
lady in the land--high born or low born--I don't care where the other
comes from. And it does a man's heart good to hear the woman-kind
holding out such presentments. It's encouraging on the face of it."

During this conversation the supper was finished, and Mrs. Dimock had
now seated herself, with her elbows upon the table, so placed as to
allow her to prop her chin upon her hands, in which position she fell
into an earnest but quiet, under-toned confabulation with Butler, who
partook of it with the more interest, as it related to the concerns of
the family at the Dove Cote.

"Mr. Lindsay, poor man," said the dame, in the course of this
conference, "is wofully beset. It almost looks as if he was haunted by
an evil spirit, sure enough, which folks used to say of him after his
wife's death--and which, to tell you the truth, our young lady Mildred
has sometimes more than half hinted to me; he is so run at, and
perplexed, and misguided by strangers that can have no good intention in
coming to see him. There is Mr. Tyrrel, over at the Dove Cote at this
very time, on his third visit, major, in less now than two months past;
yes, let me see, he brought the news here of the recapitulation--I think
you military call it--though, heaven knows, I have but a poor head for
these bloodthirsty words--I mean the taking of Charleston; three times
has he been here, counting from that day. Where he comes from, and who
are his kith and kin, I am sure I don't know."

"Tyrrel, ha! yes, I have heard of him to-night, for the first time,"
said Butler.

"He must be a rich man," continued the hostess, "for he travels with two
white servants, and always pays his way in gold. One of his men is now
in the house; and, between you and me, major, this man is a very
inquisitive sort of person, and would hardly be taken for a serving man;
and he is a cautious fellow too, although there is a good deal of
swagger and bullying about him, which might deceive one at first sight."

"Here, in the house to-night?" inquired Butler.

"Speak low, major, the man is now walking the porch before our windows."

"What does Mildred say of this Tyrrel?" asked Butler.

"Has she been here lately?"

"The good lady never stirs from home whilst Tyrrel is at the Dove Cote;
for fear, I believe, that he will follow her, for they do whisper about
in the neighborhood--though I don't say it to alarm you, Mr. Arthur,
that this man is of the high quality, a nobleman, some say, and that he
has come here a-courting. Only think of the assurance of the man! But if
he was a prince, and every hair of his head strung with diamonds, and
Miss Mildred was as free as the day you first saw her, I can say with
safety he would find but cold comfort in that game; for she despises
him, major, both for himself and for his tory principles. She does hate
him with a good will. No, no, her heart and soul are both where they
ought to be, for all her father, poor man, and this rich gentleman! Oh,
it is a cruel thing that you and our pretty lady cannot live quietly
together; but Mr. Lindsay is past talking to about it. I declare I think
his mind is touched: I positively believe it would kill him if he knew
all that has passed in this house; but he is, in the main, a good man,
and a kind father, and is very much to be pitied. I see you are sad and
sorrowful, Mr. Arthur: I didn't mean to distress you with my prating.
You tell me, you think you may travel as far as Georgie."

"Even so far, good dame, if some accident should not shorten my career.
These are doubtful times, and my path is as uncertain as the chances of
war. It may be long before I return.

"I grieve night and day, and my heart bleeds for Miss Mildred, for she
is so good, so constant, so brave, too, for a woman," said the widow
with unaffected emotion. "Well-a-day! what woes these wars have brought
upon us! You told her your plans, Mr. Arthur?"

"Our interview was short and painful," replied Butler. "I scarcely know
what I said to her. But, one thing I entreat of you: my letters will be
directed to your charge; you will contrive to have them promptly and
secretly delivered: oblige me still in that, good mother. Henry will
often visit you."

"And a brave and considerate young man he is, major; I'll be surety for
his making of an honorable and a real gentleman. Do you join the army in
Carolina?"

"Perhaps not. My route lies into the mountains, our troops struggle for
a footing in the low country."

"If I may make bold, Major Butler, to drop a word of advice into your
ear, which, seeing that I'm an older man than you," interrupted the
sergeant, in an admonitory whisper, "I think I have got good right to
do, why I would just say that there may be no great disconvenience in
talking before friends; but sometimes silence brings more profit than
words. So, I vote that we leave off telling the course of our march till
such time as it is done, and all is safe. There will be briers enough in
our way, without taking the trouble to sow them by the road-side. The
man that stands a little aside from that window, out on the porch,
throws his shadow across the sill oftener than is honest, according to
my reckoning. You said, ma'am," continued Horse Shoe, addressing the
widow, "that the fellow in the porch yon is Mr. Tyrrel's man."

"He walks later than usual to-night," replied Mrs. Dimock, "for though
he can't be called a man of regular hours, yet, unless he can find an
idler to keep him company, he is accustomed to be in his bed before
this."

"He is after no good, depend upon that," said Horse Shoe. "I have twice
seen the light upon his face behind the shutter: so, true man or spy,
it's my admonishment not to speak above the purring of a cat."

"You are right, Galbraith," said Butler. "We have many reasons to
distrust him; and it is at least safest to keep our affairs private."

"If I thought he was prying," continued Galbraith, "which I do
measurably insinuate and believe, I would take the freedom to give him
the benefit of a drilling on good manners. Ha, major! as I have a hand,
he is reconnoitring us now at this identical time! Didn't you see him
pass up and down before the door, and look in as greedily as if our
faces were picture-books for him to read? I will have a word with him,
and, wise or simple, I will get his calibre before I am done with him.
Never let on, major; stay where you are. I promised to look after our
horses."

The hostess and her guest now continued their communion; in which we
leave them, whilst we follow Horse Shoe towards the stable.



CHAPTER VI.

    There're two at fisty-cuffs about it;
    Sir, I may say at dagger's drawing,
    But that I cannot say, because they have none.

    _Mayor of Quinborough._



When Horse Shoe left the apartment, he discovered the person, whose
demeanor had excited his suspicion, leaning against a post of the porch,
in front of the house. The moonlight, as it partially fell upon this
man's figure, disclosed a frame of sufficient mould to raise a surmise,
that, in whatever form of communication the sergeant might accost him,
he was not likely to find a very tractable subject to his hand.
Robinson, however, without troubling himself with the contemplation of
such a contingency, determined to delay his visit to the stable long
enough to allow himself the expression of a word of warning or rebuke,
to indicate to the stranger the necessity for restraining his curiosity
in regard to the guests of the inn. With this view he halted upon the
porch, while he scanned the person before him, and directed an earnest
gaze into his face. The stranger, slightly discomfited by this eager
scrutiny, turned his back upon his visitor, and, with an air of idle
musing, threw his eyes towards the heavens, in which position he
remained until summoned by the familiar accost of Horse Shoe.

"Well! and what do you make of the moon? As sharp an eye as you have in
your head, neighbor, I'm thinking it will do you no great sarvice there.
You're good at your spying trade; but you will get nothing out of her;
she keeps her secrets."

Startled by this abrupt greeting, which was made in a tone half-way
between jest and earnest, the stranger quickly confronted his
challenger, and bestowed upon him a keen and inquiring inspection; then
breaking into a laugh, he replied with a free and impudent swagger--

"You are mistaken, Master Jack Pudding. What says the proverb? Wit's in
the wane when the moon's at full. Now, our mistress has let me into a
secret. She tells me that you will not lose your wits, when she comes to
her growth. The reason why? first, because she never troubles herself
with so small a stock as yours, and second, because your thick skull is
moon-proof; so, you're safe, friend."

"A word in your ear," said Horse Shoe; "_you_ are not safe, friend, if
you are cotched again peeping through the chinks of the window, or
sneaking upon the dark side of the doorway, to pick up a crumb of talk
from people that are not axing your company. Keep that in your memory."

"It's a base lie, Mr. Bumpkin, if you mean to insinuate that I did
either."

"Oh, quiet and easy, good man! No flusterifications here! I am civil and
peaceable. Take my advice, and chaw your cud in silence, and go to bed
at a reasonable hour, without minding what folks have to say who come to
the widow Dimock's. It only run in my head to give you a polite sort of
a warning. So, good night; I have got business at the stable."

Before the other could reply, Robinson strode away to look after the
accommodations of the horses.

"The devil take this impertinent ox-driver!" muttered the man to
himself, after the sergeant had left him; "I have half a mind to take
his carcase in hand, just to give it the benefit of a good, wholesome
manipulation. A queer fellow, too--a joker! A civil, peaceable man!--the
hyperbolical rogue! Well, I'll see him out, and, laugh or fight, he
shan't want a man to stand up to him!"

Having by this train of reflection brought himself into a mood which
might be said to hover upon the isthmus between anger and mirth, ready
to fall to either side as the provocation might serve, the stranger
sauntered slowly towards the stable, with a hundred odd fancies as to
the character of the man he sought running through his mind. Upon his
arrival there he found that Horse Shoe was occupied in the interior of
the building, and being still in a state of uncertainty as to the manner
in which it was proper he should greet our redoubtable friend, he took a
seat on a small bench at the door, resolved to wait for that worthy's
reappearance. This delay had a soothing effect upon his temper, for as
he debated the subject over in his mind, certain considerations of
policy seemed to indicate to him the necessity of making himself better
acquainted with the business and quality of the individual whom he came
to meet.

After a few moments, Horse Shoe was seen with old Tony at the stable
door, where, notwithstanding the unexpected presence of the man to whom
he had so lately offered his unwelcome advice, and upon whom he now
conferred not the slightest notice, he continued uninterruptedly, and
with deliberate composure, to give his orders upon what, at that moment,
doubtless, he deemed matter of much graver importance than any concern
he might have in the visit of his new acquaintance.

"Do what I tell you, Tony; get a piece of linen, rub it well over with
tallow, and bring it here along with a cup of vinegar. The beast's back
is cut with the saddle, and you must wash the sore first with the
vinegar, and then lay on the patch. Go, old fellow, and Mrs. Dimock, may
be, can give you a strip of woollen cloth to sarve as a pad."

With these instructions the negro retired towards the house.

"I see you understand your business," said the stranger. "You look to
your horse's back at the end of a day's journey, and you know how to
manage a sore spot. Vinegar is the thing! You have had a long ride?"

"How do you know that?" inquired Horse Shoe.

"Know it! any man might guess as much by the way you shovelled down your
supper. I happened by chance to pass your window, and seeing you at it,
faith! for the soul of me I couldn't help taking a few turns more, just
to watch the end of it. Ha! ha! ha! give me the fellow that does honor
to his stomach! And your dolt head must be taking offence at my looking
at you! Why, man, your appetite was a most beautiful rarity; I wouldn't
have lost the sport of it for the pleasure of the best supper I ever ate
myself."

"Indeed!" said Robinson, drily.

"Pease upon the trencher!" exclaimed the other, with the air of a pot
companion; "that's the true music for good fellows of your kidney! But
it isn't every where that you will find such bountiful quarters as you
get here at the Blue Ball in that cursed southern country a man like
you would breed a famine, if you even do not find one ready made to your
hand when you get there."

"Where mought you be from?" asked the sergeant, with great gravity,
without responding to the merriment of his visitor, and purposely
refraining from the answer which he saw it was the other's drift to
obtain relative to the course of his travel.

"It was natural enough that you should have mistaken my object,"
continued the stranger, heedless of Horse Shoe's abrupt question, "and
have suspected me for wanting to hear some of your rigmarole; but there
you did me wrong. I forgive you for that, and, to tell you the truth, I
hate your----?"

"That's not to the purpose," said Horse Shoe; "I axed you a civil
question, and maybe, that's more than you have a right to. You can
answer it or let it alone. I want to know where mought you be from?"

"Since you are bent upon it, then," replied the other, suddenly changing
his tone, and speaking with a saucy emphasis, "I'll answer your
question, when you tell me what _mought_ be your right to know."

"It's the custom of our country," rejoined Horse Shoe, "I don't know
what it may be in yourn, to larn a little about the business of every
man we meet; but we do it by fair, out-and-out question and answer--all
above board, and we hold in despise all sorts of contwistifications,
either by laying of tongue-traps, or listening under eaves of houses."

"Well, most wise and shrewd master, what do you call my country? Ha! ha!
ha! I would be sworn you think you have found some mare's nest! If it
were not that your clown pate is somewhat addled by over feeding, I
would hold your speech to be impertinent. My country, I'd have your
sagacity to understand----"

"Tut, man, it arn't worth the trouble of talking about it! I never saw
one of your people that I didn't know him by the first word that came
out of his lips. You are an Englishman, and a red coat into the bargain,
as we call them in these parts. You have been a sodger. Now, never
bounce at that, man! There's no great harm in belonging to that craft.
They listed you, as likely as not, when you was flusticated with liquor,
and you took your pay; there was a bargain, and it was your business to
stand to it. But I have got a piece of wisdom to whisper to you,
insomuch as you are not in the most agreeablest part of the world to men
of your colors, it would be best to be a little more shy against giving
offence. You said some saucy things to me just now, but I don't grudge
your talking, because you see, I am an onaccountable hard sort of person
to be instigated by speeching."

"Verily, you are a most comical piece of dulness," said the other, in a
spirit of raillery. "In what school did you learn your philosophy,
friend? You have been brought up to the wholesome tail of the plough, I
should say--an ancient and reputable occupation."

"When I obsarved, just now," replied Robinson, somewhat sternly, "that I
couldn't be instigated, I meant to be comprehended as laying down a kind
of general doctrine that I was a man not given to quarrels; but still,
if I suspicioned a bamboozlement, which I am not far from at this
present speaking, if it but come up to the conflagrating of only the
tenth part of the wink of an eye, in a project to play me off, fore God,
I confess myself to be as weak in the flesh as e'er a rumbunctious
fellow you mought meet on the road."

"Friend," said the other, "I do not understand thy lingo. It has a most
clodpolish smack. It is neither grammar, English, nor sense."

"Then, you are a damned, onmannerly rascal," said Horse-Shoe, "and
that's grammar, English, and sense, all three."

"Ha, you are at that! Now, my lubberly booby, I understand you,"
returned the other, springing to his feet. "Do you know to whom you are
speaking?"

"Better than you think for," replied the sergeant, placing himself in an
erect position to receive what he had a right to expect, the threatened
assault of his adversary, "I know you, and guess your arrand here."

"You do?" returned the other sharply. "You have been juggling with me,
sir. You are not the gudgeon I took you for. It has suited your purpose
to play the clown, eh? Well, sir, and pray, what do you guess?"

"Nothing good of you, considering how things go here. Suppose I was to
say you was, at this self-same identical time, a sodger of the king's? I
have you there!"

The stranger turned on his heel and retreated a few paces, evidently
perplexed at the new view in which the sergeant suddenly rose to his
apprehension. His curiosity and his interest were both excited to gain a
more distinct insight into a man whom he had mistaken for a mere
simpleton, but whose hints showed him to be shrewdly conversant with the
personal concerns of one, whom, apparently, he had seen to-night for the
first time in his life. With this anxiety upon his mind, he again
approached the sergeant, as he replied to the last question.

"Well, and if I were? It is a character of which I should have no reason
to be ashamed."

"That's well said!" exclaimed Horse Shoe. "Up and speak out, and never
be above owning the truth; that's the best sign that can be of a man.
Although it mought be somewhat dangerous, just hereabouts, to confess
yourself a sodger of King George--let me tell you, that, being against
you, I am not the person to mislest you on that head, by spreading the
news abroad, or setting a few dozen of whigs upon your scent, which is a
thing easily done. If your business here is peaceable and lawful, and
you don't let your tongue brawl against quiet and orderly people, you
are free to come and go for me."

"Thank you, sir: but look you; it isn't my way to answer questions about
my own business, and I scorn to ask any man's leave to come and go where
and when my occasions call me."

"If it isn't your way to answer questions about your own business,"
replied Horse Shoe, "it oughtn't to be your way to ax them about other
people's; but that don't disturb me; it is the rule of the war to
question all comers and goers that we happen to fall in with, specially
now, when there's a set of your devils scampering and raging about in
Carolina, hardly a summer day's ride off this province, burning houses
and killing cattle, and turning everything topsy-turvy, with a pack of
rascally tories to back them. In such times all sorts of tricks are
played, such as putting on coats that don't belong to a man, and
deceiving honest people by lies, and what not."

"You are a stranger to me," said the other; "but let me tell you,
without circumlocution or periphrase, I am a free born subject of the
king, and I see no reason why, because some of his people have turned
rebels a true man, who travels his highway, should be obliged to give
an account of himself to every inquisitive fellow who chooses to
challenge it. Suppose I tell you that you meddle with matters that don't
concern you?"

"Then you mought chance to get your head in your hand, that's all. And,
hark you, if it wan't that I am rather good-natured, I mought happen to
handle you a little rough for that nicknaming of the friends of liberty,
by calling them rebels. It doesn't suit such six-pence-a-day fellows as
you, who march right or left at the bidding of your master, to rob a
church or root up an honest man's peaceful hearth, without so much as
daring to have a thought about the righteousness of the matter--it
doesn't suit such to be befouling them that fight for church and
fire-side both, with your scurvy, balderdash names."

"Well, egad! you are a fine bold fellow who speaks his thoughts, that's
not to be denied!" said the stranger, again suddenly changing his mood,
and resorting to his free and easy address. "You suit these times
devilish well. I can't find it in my heart to quarrel with you. We have
both been somewhat rough in speech, and so, the account is square. But
now tell me, after all, are you sure you have guessed me right? How do
you know I am not one of these very rebels myself?"

"For two good and point-blank reasons. First, you dar'n't deny that you
have pocketed the king's money and worn his coat--that's one. And,
second, you are now here under the orders of one of his officers."

"No, no, good friend," said the man, with a voice of less boldness than
heretofore, "you are mistaken for once in your life. So far what you
say, I don't deny--I am in the service of a gentleman, who for some
private affairs of his own has come on a visit to this part of the
province, and I admit I have been in the old country."

"I am not mistaken, good friend," drawled out Robinson, affectedly. "You
come from the south. I can tell men's fortunes without looking into the
palms of their hands."

"You are wrong again," said the other tartly, as he grew angry at being
thus badgered by his opponent, "I come from the north."

"That's true and it's false both," returned Robinson. "From the north, I
grant you--to the south with Sir Henry, and from the south up here. You
will find I can conjure a little, friend."

"The devil take your conjuring!" exclaimed the other, as he bit his lip
and strode restlessly backward and forward; which perplexity being
observed by the sergeant, he did not fail to aggravate it by breaking
into a hoarse laugh, as he said----

"It wa'n't worth your while to try to deceive me. I knowed you by
manifold and simultaneous signs. Him that sets about scouting after
other people's secrets, ought to be wary enough to larn to keep his own.
But don't take it so to heart, neighbor, there's no occasion for
oneasiness--I have no mind to harm you."

"Master bully," said the stranger, planting himself immediately in front
of the sergeant, "in England, where I was bred, we play at cudgels, and
sometimes give broken heads; and some of us are gifted with heavy fists,
wherewith we occasionally contrive to box a rude fellow who pries too
much into our affairs."

"In our country," replied Horse Shoe, "we generally like to get a share
of whatever new is stirring, and, though we don't practise much with
cudgels, yet, to sarve a turn, we do, now and then, break a head or so;
and, consarning that fist work you happened to touch upon, we have no
condesentious scruples against a fair rap or two over the knowledge-box,
and the tripping-up of a fractious chap's heels, in the way of a sort of
a rough-and-tumble, which, may be, you understand. You have been long
enough here, mayhap, to find that out."

"Then, it is likely, it would please you to have a chance at such a
game? I count myself a pretty tolerable hand at the play," said the
stranger, with a composure corresponding to that exhibited by Horse
Shoe.

"Ho, ho! I don't want to hurt you, man," replied the Sergeant. "You will
get yourself into trouble. You are hot-headeder than is good for your
health."

"As the game was mentioned, I thought you might have a fancy to play
it."

"To be sure I would," said Horse Shoe, "rather than disappoint you in
any reasonable longing. For the sake of quiet--being a peaceable man, I
will take the trouble to oblige you. Where, do you think, would be the
likeliest spot to have it?"

"We may readily find a piece of ground at hand," replied the other. "It
is a good moonlight play, and we may not be interrupted if we get a
little distance off before the negro comes back. Toe to toe, and face to
face, suits me best with both friend and foe."

"A mule to drive and a fool to hold back, are two of the contrariest
things I know," said Robinson, "and so, seeing that you are in arnest
about it, let us go at it without more ado upon the first good bit of
grass we can pop upon along the river."

In this temper the two antagonists left the vicinity of the stable, and
walked some hundred paces down along the bank of the stream. The man
with whom Horse Shoe was about to hold this strange encounter, and who
now walked quietly by his side, had the erect and soldierly port of a
grenadier. He was square-shouldered, compact and muscular, and the
firmness of his gait, his long and easy stride, and the free swing of
his arm as he moved onward in the moonlight, showed Robinson that he was
to engage with an adversary of no common capacity. There was, perhaps,
on the other side, some abatement in this man's self-confidence, when
the same light disclosed to his deliberate inspection the brawny
proportions of the sergeant, which, in the engrossment of the topics
bandied about in the late dialogue, he had not so accurately regarded.

When they had walked the distance I have mentioned, they had little
difficulty to select a space of level ground with a sufficient mould for
the purpose of the proposed trial of strength.

"Here's as pretty a spot as we mought find on the river," said Robinson,
"and so get ready, friend. Before we begin, I have a word to say. This
here bout is not a thing of my seeking, and I take it to be close akin
to downright tom-foolery, for grown up men to set about thumping and
hammering each other, upon account of a brag of who's best man, or such
like, when the whole univarse is full of occasions for scuffles, and
stands in need of able-bodied fellows, to argufy the pints of right and
wrong, that can't be settled by preachers, or books, or lawyers. I look
upon this here coming out to fight no better than a bit of arrant
nonsense. But, as you will have it, it's no consarn of mine to stop
you."

"You are welcome to do your worst," replied the other, "and the less
preaching you make with it, the more saving of time."

"My worst," interrupted Horse Shoe, "is almost more than I have the
conscience to do to any man who isn't a downright flagratious enemy;
and, once more, I would advise you to think before you draw me into a
fray; you are flustrated, and sot upon a quarrel, and mayhap, you
conjecture that by drawing me out from behind my retrenchments, by which
is signified my good nature, and forcing me to deploy into line and open
field, you'll get the advantage of an old sodger over me; but there, Mr.
Dragoon, you are mistaken. In close garrison or open field, in siege or
sally, crossing a defile or reconnoitring on a broad road, I am not apt
to lose my temper, or strike without seeing where my blow is to hit.
Now, that is all I have to say: so, come on."

"You are not what you seem," said the antagonist, in a state of wonder
at the strain of the sergeant's composed and deliberate speech, and at
the familiarity which this effusion manifested with the details of
military life. "In the devil's name, who are you? But, don't fancy I
pause to begin our fight, for any other reason than that I may know who
I contend with. On the honor of a soldier, I promise you, I will hold
you to your game--man, or imp of hell--I care not. Again, who in the
devil are you?"

"You have hit it," replied Horse Shoe. "My name is Brimstone, I am first
cousin to Belzebub."

"You have served?"

"I have."

"And belong to the army yet?"

"True again; and I am as tough a sodger, and may be I mought say, as old
a sodger as yourself."

"Your hand, fellow soldier. I mistook you from the beginning. You
continentals--that's the new-fangled word--are stout fellows, and have a
good knack at the trick of war, though you wear rough coats, and are
savagely unrudimented in polite learning. No matter what colors a man
fights under, long usage makes a good comrade of him; and, by my faith!
I am not amongst the last to do him honor, even though we stand in
opposite ranks. As you say, most sapient Brimstone, we are not much
better than a pair of fools for this conspiracy to knock about each
other's pates, here at midnight; but you have my pledge to it, and so,
we will go at it, if it be only to win a relish for our beds; I will
teach you, to-night, some skill in the art of mensuration. You shall
measure two full ells upon this green sod."

"There's my hand," said Horse Shoe; "now, if I am flung, I promise you
I won't be angry. If I sarve you in the same fashion, you must larn to
bear it."

"With all my heart. So here I stand upon my guard. Begin."

"Let me feel your weight," said Robinson, laughing, as he put one hand
upon his adversary's shoulder, and the other against his side. "Hark
you, master, I feel something hard here about your ribs; you have
pistols under your coat, friend. For the sake of fair play and keeping
rid of foul blood, you had best lay them aside before we strike. Anger
comes up onawares."

"I never part from my weapons," replied the other, stepping back and
releasing himself from Robinson's grasp. "We are strangers; I must know
the company I am in, before I dismiss such old cronies as these. They
have got me out of a scrape before this."

"We took hands just now," said Robinson, angrily. "When I give my hand,
it is tantamount to a book oath that I mean fair, round dealing with the
man who takes it. I told you, besides, I was a sodger--that ought to
have contented you--and you mought sarch my breast, inside and out,
you'd seen in it nothing but honest meanings. There's something of a
suspectable rascality, after that, in talking about pistols hid under
the flaps of the coat. It's altogether onmanful, and, what's more,
onsodgerly. You are a deceit, and an astonishment, and a hissing, all
three, James Curry, and no better, to my comprehension, than a coward. I
know you of old, although, mayhap, you disremember me. I have hearn
said, by more than one, that you was a double-faced, savage-hearted,
disregardless beast, that snashed his teeth where he darsn't bite, and
bullied them that hadn't the heart to fight; I have hearn that of you,
and, as I live, I believe it. Now, look out for your bull head, for I
will cuff you in spite of your pistols."

With these words, Horse Shoe gave his adversary some half dozen
overpowering blows, in such quick succession as utterly defied and broke
down the others guard; and then, seizing him by the breast, he threw the
tall and stalwart form of Curry at full length upon the ground.

"There's your two ells for you! there's the art of menstirration, you
disgrace to the tail of a drum," exclaimed Horse Shoe, with accumulating
wrath, as the prostrate man strove to extricate himself from the lion
grasp that held him. In this strife, Curry several times made an effort
to get his hand upon his pistol, in which he was constantly foiled by
the superior vigor of the sergeant.

"No, no," continued the latter, as he became aware of this attempt,
"James Curry, you shall never lay hold upon your fire-arms whilst I have
the handling of you. Give them up, you twisting prevaricationer; give
them up, you disgracer of powder and lead; and larn this from a rebel,
that I don't blow out your brains, only because I wouldn't accommodate
the devil by flinging such a lump of petrifaction into his clutches.
There, man," he added, as he threw the pistols far from him into the
river, his exasperation, at the same time, moderating to a lower
temperature, "get upon your feet; and now, you may go hunt for your
cronies in yonder running stream. You may count it a marcy that I
haven't tossed you after them, to wash the cowardly blood off your face.
Now that you are upon your legs, I tell you here, in the moonlight, man
to man, with nobody by to hold back your hand, that you are a lying,
deceitful skulker, that loves the dark side of a wall better than the
light, and steals the secrets of honest folks, and hasn't the heart to
stand up fairly to the man that tells you of it. Swallow that, James
Curry, and see how it will lay upon your stomach."

"I will seek a time!" exclaimed Curry, "to right myself with your
heart's blood."

"Pshaw! man," replied Horse Shoe, "don't talk about heart's blood. The
next time we come into a field together, ax for Galbraith Robinson,
commonly called Horse Shoe Robinson. Find me out, that's all. We may
take a frolic together then, and I give you my allowance to wear your
pistols in your belt."

"We may find a field yet, Horse Shoe Robinson," returned Curry, "and
I'll not fail of my appointment. Our game will be played with
broadswords."

"If it should so turn out, James, that you and me are to work through a
campaign in the same quarter of the world, as we have done afore, James,
I expect, I'll take the chance of some holiday to pay my respects to
you. I wont trouble you to ride far to find me; and then, it may be
broadsword or pistol, rifle or bagnet, I'm not over-scrumptious which.
Only promise I shall see you when I send for you."

"It's a bargain, Galbraith Robinson! Strong as you think yourself in
your cursed rough-and-tumble horseplay, I am soldier enough for you any
day. I only ask that the time may come quickly."

"You have no objection to give us a hand to clinch that bargain, James?"
asked Horse Shoe. "There's my paw; take it, man, I scorn to bear malice
after the hot blood cools."

"I take it with more pleasure now," said Curry, hastily seizing the
hand, "than I gave mine to you before to-night, because it is a pledge
that suits my humor. A good seat in a saddle, four strong legs below me,
and a sharp blade, I hold myself a match for the best man that ever
picked a flint in your lines."

"Now, friend Curry," exclaimed the sergeant, "good night! Go look for
your pop-guns in the river; and if you find them, hold them as a
keepsake to remember Horse Shoe Robinson. Good night."

Robinson left his adversary, and returned to the inn, ruminating, as he
walked, over the strange incident in which he had just been engaged. For
a while his thoughts wore a grave complexion; but, as his careless good
humor gradually broke forth through the thin mist that enveloped it, he
was found, before he reached the porch, laughing, with a quiet chuckle,
at the conceit which rose upon his mind, as he said, half-audibly, "Odd
sport for a summer night! Howsever, every one to his liking, as the old
woman said; but to my thinking, he mought have done better if he had
gone to sleep at a proper hour, like a moralised and sober Christian."

When he entered the parlor, he found Butler and the landlady waiting for
him.

"It is late, sergeant," said the Major. "You have forgotten the hour;
and I began to fear you had more to say to your friend, there, than
suited the time of night."

"All is right, by your smiling," added the landlady; "and that's more
than I expected at the time you walked out of the room. I couldn't go to
my bed, till I was sure you and my lodger had no disagreeable words;
for, to tell you the truth, I am greatly afraid of his hot and hasty
temper."

"There is nothing hot or hasty about him, ma'am," replied Robinson; "he
is about as peaceable a man as you mought expect to meet in such times
as these. I only told him a little scrap of news, and you would have
thought he would have hugged me for it, ha, ha, ha."

"We are to sleep in the same room, sergeant," said Butler, "and our good
hostess will show us the way to it."

The dame, upon this hint, took a candle, and conducted her guests to a
chamber in the upper story, where, after wishing them "a good night,"
she courtesied respectfully, and left them to their repose.

"Tell me, sergeant, what you made out of that fellow," said Butler, as
he undressed himself. "I see that you have had some passage with him;
and, from your tarrying so long, I began to be a little apprehensive of
rough work between you. What passed, and what have you learned?"

"Enough, major, to make us more circumscriptious against scouts, and
spies, and stratagems. When I was a prisoner at Charlestown, there was
an amazing well-built fellow, a dragoon, that had been out with
Tarleton; but, when I saw him, he was a sort of rithmatical
account-keeper and letter-scribbler for that young fighting-cock, the
Earl of Caithness, him that was aidegong to Sir Henry Clinton. Well,
this fellow had a tolerable bad name, as being a chap that the devil had
spiled, in spite of all the good that had been pumped into him at
school; for, as I have hearn, he was come of gentle people, had a first
rate edication, and I reckon, now, major, he talks as well as a book,
whereupon I have an observation."

"Keep that until to-morrow, sergeant," interrupted Butler, "and go on
with what you had to tell me."

"You must be a little sleepy, major: however, this fellow, they say, was
cotched cheating with cards one day, when he was playing a game of five
shilling loo with the King or the Queen, or some of the dukes or
colonels in the guards--for he wa'n't above any thing rascally. So, it
was buzzed about, as you may suppose when a man goes to cheating one of
them big fish--and the King gave him his choice to enlist, or go to the
hulks; and he, being no fool, listed, as a matter of course. In that way
he got over here; and, as I tell you, was a sort of sarvent to that
young Earl. He sometimes came about our quarters to list prisoners and
make Tories of 'em, for his own people kept him to do all that sort of
dirty work, upon account of the glibness of his tongue. He was a
remarkable saucy fellow and got nothing but ill-will from the
prisoners--though, I make no doubt, the man is a tolerable sodger on
sarvice. Now, after telling you all this, major, you must know that the
identical, same, particular man that we saw looking through the porch
window at us to-night"--

"Is the man you have been describing? Is it possible? Are you sure of
it?"

"I knowed him the minute I clapped eyes on him: his name is James Curry:
but, as I didn't stay long at Charlestown, and hadn't any thing to do
with him in particular, it seems he didn't remember me."

"You conversed with him?"

"Most sartainly I did. I wanted to gather a little consarning of his
visit up here: but the fellow's been so battered about in the wars, that
he knows how to hold his tongue. I had some mischief in me, and did want
to make him just angry enough to set his speech loose; and, besides, I
felt a little against him upon account of his misdoings with our people
in Carolina, and so, I said some rough things to him; and, as my
discourse ar'n't none of the squarest in pint of grammar and
topographical circumlocution--as Lieutenant Hopkins used to say--why he
set me down for a piece of an idiot, and began to hoax and bamboozle me.
I put that matter straight for him very soon, by just letting him say so
much and no more. And then, as I was a peaceable man, major, he seemed
to see that I didn't want to have no quarrel with him, which made him
push it at me rather too hard, and all my civility ended in my giving
him what he wanted at first--a tolerable, regular thrashing."

The sergeant continued to relate to Butler the details of this
adventure, which he did with more prolixity than the weariness of his
listener was able to endure; for the major, having in the progress of
the narrative got into bed, and having, in the increasing oscitancy of
his faculties, exhausted every expression of assent by which one who
listens to a tale is accustomed to notify his attention--he at length
dropped into a profound sleep, leaving the sergeant to conclude at his
leisure.

When Robinson perceived this, he had nothing left but to betake himself,
with all expedition, to his own rest; whereupon he threw off his coat,
and taking the coverings of the bed appropriated to his use, spread
them upon the floor, as he pronounced an anathema against sleeping on
feathers, (for it must be observed, that our good hostess, at that early
day, was liable to the same censure of an unnatural attachment to
feather beds in summer, which may, at the present time,[1] be made
against almost every country inn in the United States,) and then
extinguishing the candle, he stretched himself upon the planks, as he
remarked to his unconscious companion, "that he was brought up on a hard
floor;" and after one or two rolls, he fell into that deep oblivion of
cares, by which nature re-summons and supplies the strength which toil,
watching and anxiety wear down.

The speed of Horse Shoe's journey through this pleasant valley of sleep
might be measured somewhat in the same manner that the route of a mail
stage may sometimes be traced through a mountain defile, by the notes of
the coachman's horn; it was defined by the succession of varying
intonations through which he ascended the gamut, beginning with a low
but audible breathing, and rising through the several stages of an
incipient snore, a short quick bark, and up to a snort that constituted
the greatest altitude of the ascent. Occasionally a half articulated
interjection escaped him, and words that showed in what current his
dreams were sailing: "No pistols! Look in the water, James! Ha ha!"
These utterings were accompanied with contortions of body that more than
once awaked the sleeper; but, at last, the huge bulk of Horse Shoe grew
motionless in a deep and strong sleep.

The next morning, at early dawn, our travellers resumed their journey,
which I will leave them to prosecute, whilst I conduct my reader to the
affairs and interests that dwell about the Dove Cote.



CHAPTER VII.

SOME ACCOUNT OF PHILIP LINDSAY--SENSIBILITY AND RETIREMENT APT TO
ENGENDER A PERNICIOUS PHILOSOPHY.


The thread which I have now to take up and weave into this history
requires that my narrative should go back for some years. It briefly
concerns the earlier fortunes of Philip Lindsay.

His father emigrated from England, and was established in Virginia about
the year 1735, as a secretary to the governor of the province. He was a
gentleman of good name and fortune. Philip was born within a year after
this emigration. As America was then comparatively a wilderness, and
afforded but few facilities for the education of youth, the son of the
secretary was sent at an early age to England, where he remained, with
the exception of an occasional visit to his parents, under the
guardianship of a near relative, until he had completed, not only his
college course, but also his studies in the Temple--an almost
indispensable requirement of that day for young gentlemen of condition.

His studies in the Temple had been productive of one result, which Lord
Coke, if I remember, considers idiosyncratic in the younger votaries of
the law--he had fallen in love with an heiress. The natural consequence
was a tedious year, after his return home, spent at the seat of the
provincial government, and a most energetic and persevering interchange
of letters with the lady, whom my authority allows me to name Gertrude
Marshall. This was followed by another voyage across the Atlantic, and
finally, as might be predicted, by a wedding with all proper observance
and parental sanction. Lindsay then returned, a happier and more
tranquil man, to Virginia, where he fulfilled the duties of more than
one public station of dignity and trust.

In due course of time he fell heir to his father's wealth, which with
the estate of his wife made him one of the most opulent and considerable
gentlemen of the Old Dominion.

He had but two children--Mildred and Henry--with four years difference
between their ages. These were nurtured with all the care and indulgent
bounty natural to parents whose affections are concentrated upon so
small a family circle.

Lindsay's character was grave and thoughtful, and inclined him to avoid
the contests of ambition and collision with the world. A delicate taste,
a nice judgment, and a fondness for inquiry made him a student and an
ardent lover of books. The ply of his mind was towards metaphysics; he
delved into the obsolete subtleties of the old schools of philosophy,
and found amusement, if not instruction, in those frivolous but
ingenious speculations which have overshadowed even the best wisdom of
the schoolmen with the hues of a solemn and absurd pedantry. He dreamed
in the reveries of Plato, and pursued them through the aberrations of
the Coryphæans. He delighted in the visions of Pythagoras, and in the
intellectual revels of Epicurus. He found attraction in the Gnostic
mysteries, and still more in the phantasmagoria of Judicial Astrology.
His library furnished a curious index to this unhealthy appetite for the
marvellous and the mystical. The writings of Cornelius Agrippa, Raymond
Lully, and Martin Delvio, and others of less celebrity in this circle of
imposture, were found associated with truer philosophies and more
approved and authentic teachers.

These studies, although pursued with an acknowledgment of their false
and dangerous tendency, nevertheless had their influence upon Lindsay's
imagination. There are few men in whom the mastery of reason is so
absolute as to be able totally to subdue the occasional uprising of that
element of superstition which is found more or less vigorous in every
mind. A nervous temperament, which is almost characteristic of minds of
an imaginative cast, is often distressingly liable to this influence, in
spite of the strongest resolves of the will and the most earnest
convictions of the judgment. If those who possess this temperament would
confess, they might certify to many extraordinary anxieties and troubles
of spirit, which it would pain them to have the world believe.

Lindsay's pursuits had impressed his understanding with some sentiment
of respect for that old belief in the supernatural, and had, perhaps,
even warmed up his faith to a secret credulity in these awful agencies
of the spiritual world, or at least to an unsatisfied doubt as to their
existence. Many men of sober brow and renown for wisdom are unwilling to
acknowledge the extent of their own credulity on the same topic.

His relations to the government, his education, pursuits and temper, as
might be expected, had deeply imbued Lindsay with the politics of the
tory party, and taught him to regard with distrust, and even with
abhorrence, the revolutionary principles which were getting in vogue. In
this sentiment he visited with a dislike that did not correspond with
the more usual development of his character, all those who were in any
degree suspected of aiding or abetting the prevailing political heresy
of the times.

About two years after the birth of Mildred, he had purchased a tract of
land in the then new and frontier country lying upon the Rockfish river.
Many families of note in the low country had possessed themselves of
estates at the foot of the Blue Ridge, in this neighborhood, and were
already making establishments there. Mr. Lindsay, attracted by the
romantic character of the scenery, the freshness of the soil, and the
healthfulness of the climate, following the example of others, had laid
off the grounds of his new estate with great taste, and had soon built,
upon a beautiful site, a neat and comfortable rustic dwelling, with such
accommodation as might render it a convenient and pleasant retreat
during the hot months of the summer.

The occupation which this new establishment afforded his family; the
scope which its improvement gave to their taste; and the charms that
intrinsically belonged to it, by degrees communicated to his household
an absorbing interest in its embellishment. His wife cherished this
enterprise with a peculiar ardor. The plans of improvement were hers;
the garden, the lawns, the groves, the walks--all the little appendages
which an assiduous taste might invent, or a comfort-seeking fancy might
imagine necessary, were taken under her charge; and one beauty quickly
following upon another, from day to day, evinced the dominion which a
refined art may exercise with advantage over nature. It was a quiet,
calm, and happy spot, where many conveniences were congregated together,
and where, for a portion of every succeeding year, this little family
nestled, as it were, in the enjoyment of voluptuous ease. From this
idea, and especially as it was allied with some of the tenderest
associations connected with the infancy of Mildred, it was called by the
fanciful and kindly name of "The Dove Cote."

The education of Mildred and Henry became a delightful household care.
Tutors were supplied, and the parents gave themselves up to the task of
supervision with a fond industry. They now removed earlier to the Dove
Cote with every returning spring, and remained there later in the
autumn. The neighborhood furnished an intelligent and hospitable
society; and the great western wilderness smiled with the contentment of
a refined and polished civilization, which no after day in the history
of this empire has yet surpassed--perhaps, not equalled. It is not to be
wondered at, that a mind so framed as Lindsay's, and a family so
devoted, should find an exquisite enjoyment in such a spot.

Whilst this epoch of happiness was in progression, the political heaven
began to be darkened with clouds. The troubles came on with harsh
portents; war rumbled in the distance, and, at length, broke out in
thunder. Mildred had, in the meantime, grown up to the verge of
womanhood,--a fair, ruddy, light-haired beauty, of exceeding graceful
proportions, and full of the most interesting impulses. Henry trod
closely upon her heels, and was now shooting through the rapid stages of
boyhood. Both had entwined themselves around their parents' affections,
like fibres that conveyed to them their chief nourishment; and the
children were linked to each other even, if that where possible, by a
stronger band.

The war threw Lindsay into a perilous predicament. His estates were
large, and his principles exposed him to the sequestration which was
rigidly enforced against the royalist party. To avoid this blow, or, at
least, to mitigate its severity, he conveyed the estate of the Dove Cote
to Mildred; assigning, as his reason for doing so, that, as it was
purchased with moneys belonging to his wife, he consulted and executed
her wish, in transferring the absolute ownership of it to his daughter.
The rest of his property was converted into money, and invested in funds
in Great Britain. As soon as this arrangement was made, about the second
year of the war, the Dove Cote became the permanent residence of the
family; Lindsay preferring to remain here rather than to retire to
England, hoping to escape the keen notice of the dominant party, and to
find, in this classic and philosophical privacy, an oblivion of the rude
cares that beset the pillow of every man who mingled in the strife of
the day.

He was destined to a grievous disappointment. His wife, to whom he was
romantically attached, was snatched from him by death, just at this
interesting period. This blow, for a time, almost unseated his reason.
The natural calm of such a mind as Lindsay's is not apt to show
paroxysms in grief. Its sorrow was too still and deep for show. The
flight of years, however, brought healing on their wings; and Mildred
and Henry gradually relumed their father's countenance with flashes of
cheerful thought, that daily grew broader and more abiding; till, at
last, sense and duty completed their triumph, and once more gave Lindsay
to his family, unburdened of his grief, or, if not unburdened,
conversing with it only in the secret hours of self-communion.

His hopes of ease and retirement were disappointed in another way. The
sequesterment of the Dove Cote was not sufficient to shut out the noise
nor the intrigues of the war. His reputation, as a man of education, of
wealth, of good sense, and especially as a man of aristocratic
pretensions, irresistibly drew him into the agitated vortex of politics.
His house was open to the visits of the tory leaders, no less than to
those of the other side; and, although this intercourse could not be
openly maintained without risk, yet pretexts were not wanting,
occasionally, to bring the officers and gentlemen in the British
interest to the Dove Cote. They came stealthily and in disguise, and
they did not fail to involve him in the insidious schemes and base
plottings by which a wary foe generally endeavors to smoothe the way of
invasion. The temporary importance which these connections conferred,
and the assiduous appeal which it was the policy of the enemy to make to
his loyalty, wrought upon the vanity of the scholar, and brought him, by
degrees, from the mere toleration of an intercourse that he at first
sincerely sought to avoid, into a participation of the plans of those
who courted his fellowship. Still, however, this was grudgingly
given--as much from the inaptitude of his character, as from a secret
consciousness, at bottom, that it was contrary to the purpose that had
induced him to seek the shelter of the woods. Unless, therefore, the
spur was frequently applied to the side of his reluctant resolution, his
zeal was apt to weary in its pace, or, to change my figure for one
equally appropriate, to melt away in the sunny indolence of his temper.

I have said that, during the tenderer years of the children, and up to
the period of the loss of their mother, they had received the most
unremitting attention from their parents. The bereavement of his wife,
the deep gloom that followed this event, and the now engrossing
character of the war, had in some degree relaxed Lindsay's vigilance
over their nurture, although it had in no wise abated his affection for
them; on the contrary, perhaps this was more concentrated than ever.
Mildred had grown up to the blossom-time of life, in the possession of
every personal attraction. From the fanciful ideas of education adopted
by her father, or rather from the sedulous care with which he
experimented upon her capacity, and devoted himself to the task of
directing and waiting upon the expansion of her intellect, she had made
acquirements much beyond her years, and altogether of a character
unusual to her sex. An ardent and persevering temper had imparted a
singular enthusiasm to her pursuits; and her air, though not devoid of
playfulness, might be said to be habitually abstracted and
self-communing.

As the war advanced, her temper and situation both enlisted her as a
partisan in the questions which it brought into discussion; and, whilst
her father's opinions were abhorrent to this struggle for independence,
she, on the other hand, unknown to him, was casting her thoughts,
feelings, affections, and hopes upon the broad waters of rebellion; and,
if not expecting them to return to her, after many days, with increase
of good, certainly believing that she was mingling them with those of
patriots who were predestined to the brightest meed of glory.

A father is not apt to reason with a daughter; the passions and
prejudices of a parent are generally received as principles by the
child; and most fathers, counting upon this instinct, deem it enough to
make known the bent merely of their own opinions, without caring to
argue them. This mistake will serve to explain the wide difference which
is sometimes seen between the most tenderly attached parent and child,
in those deeper sentiments that do not belong to the every-day concerns
of life. Whilst, therefore, Mr. Lindsay took no heed how the seed of
doctrine fructified and grew in the soil where he desired to plant it,
it in truth fell upon ungenial ground, and either was blown away by the
wind, or perished for want of appropriate nourishment.

As the crisis became more momentous, and the discussion of national
rights more rife, Mildred's predilections ran stronger on the republican
side; and, at the opening of my story, she was a sincere and
enthusiastic friend of American independence,--a character (however it
may be misdoubted by my female readers of the present day, nursed as
they are in a lady-like apathy to all concerns of government, and little
aware, in the lazy lap of peace, how vividly their own quick
sensibilities may be enlisted by the strife of men) neither rare nor
inefficient amongst the matrons and maidens of the year seventy-six,
some of whom--now more than fifty years gone by--are embalmed in the
richest spices and holiest ointment of our country's memory.

It is, however, due to truth to say, that Mildred's eager attachment to
this cause was not altogether the free motion of patriotism. How often
does some little under-current of passion, some slight and amiable
prepossession, modest and unobserved, rise to the surface of our
feelings, and there give its direction to the stream upon which floats
all our philosophy! What is destiny but these under-currents that come
whencesoever they list, unheeded at first, and irresistible ever
afterwards!

My reader must be told that, before the war broke out, this enthusiastic
girl had flitted across the path of Arthur Butler, then a youth of rare
faculty and promise, who combined with a gentle and modest demeanor an
earnest devotion to his country, sustained by a chivalrous tone of honor
that had in it all the fanciful disinterestedness of boyhood. It will
not, therefore, appear wonderful that, amongst the golden opinions the
young man was storing up in all quarters, some fragments of this grace
should have made a lodgment in the heart of Mildred Lindsay.

Butler was a native of one of the lower districts of South Carolina, and
was already the possessor, by inheritance, of what was then called a
handsome fortune. He first met Mildred, under the safe-conduct of her
parents, at Annapolis in Maryland, at that time the seat of opulence and
fashion. There the wise and the gay, the beautiful and the rarely-gifted
united in a splendid little constellation, in which wealth threw its
sun-beam glitter over the wings of love, and learning and eloquence
were warmed by the smiles of fair women: there gallant men gave the
fascinations of wit to a festive circle unsurpassed in the new world, or
the old, for its proportion of the graces that embellish, and the
endowments that enrich life. In this circle there was no budding beauty
of softer charm than the young Mildred, nor was there amongst the gay
and bright cavaliers that thronged the "little academy" of Eden, (the
governor of the province,) a youth of more favorable omen than Arthur
Butler.

The war was at the very threshold, and angry men thought of turning the
ploughshare into the sword. Amongst these was Butler; an unsparing
denouncer of the policy of Britain, and an unhesitating volunteer in the
ranks of her opposers. It was at this eventful time that he met Mildred.
I need hardly add that under these inauspicious circumstances they began
to love. Every interview afterwards (and they frequently saw each other
at Williamsburg and Richmond) only developed more completely the tale of
love that nature was telling in the heart of each.

Butler received from Congress an ensign's commission in the continental
army, and was employed for a few months in the recruiting service at
Charlottesville. This position favored his views and enabled him to
visit at the Dove Cote. His intercourse with Mildred, up to this period,
had been allowed by Lindsay to pass without comment: it was regarded but
as the customary and common-place civility of polite society. Mildred's
parents had no sympathy in her lover's sentiments, and consequently no
especial admiration of his character, and they had not yet doubted their
daughter's loyalty to be made of less stern materials than their own.
Her mother was the first to perceive that the modest maiden awaited the
coming of the young soldier with a more anxious forethought than
betokened an unoccupied heart. How painfully did this perception break
upon her! It opened upon her view a foresight of that unhappy sequence
of events that attends the secret struggle between parental authority
and filial inclination, when the absorbing interests of true love are
concerned: a struggle that so frequently darkens the fate of the noblest
natures, and whose history supplies the charm of so many a melancholy
and thrilling page. Mrs. Lindsay had an invincible objection to the
contemplated alliance, and immediately awakened the attention of her
husband to the subject. From this moment Butler's reception at the Dove
Cote was cold and formal, and Mr. Lindsay did not delay to express to
his daughter a marked aversion to her intimacy with a man so uncongenial
to his own taste. I need not dwell upon the succession of incidents that
followed: are they not written in every book that tells of young hearts
loving in despite of authority? Let it suffice to say that Butler, "many
a time and oft," hied stealthily and with a lover's haste to the Dove
Cote, where, "under the shade of melancholy boughs," or sometimes of
good Mistress Dimock's roof, he found means to meet and exchange vows of
constancy with the lady of his love.

Thus passed the first year of the war. The death of Mrs. Lindsay, to
which I have before adverted, now occurred. The year of mourning was
doubly afflictive to Mildred. Her father's grief hung as heavily upon
her as her own, and to this was added a total separation from Butler. He
had joined his regiment and was sharing the perils of the northern
campaigns, and subsequently of those which ended in the subjugation of
Carolina and Georgia. During all this period he was enabled to keep up
an uncertain and irregular correspondence with Mildred, and he had once
met her in secret, for a few hours only, at Mistress Dimock's, during
the autumn immediately preceding the date of the opening of my story.

Mrs. Lindsay, upon her death-bed, had spoken to her husband in the most
emphatic terms of admonition against Mildred's possible alliance with
Butler, and conjured him to prevent it by whatever means might be in his
power. Besides this, she made a will directing the distribution of a
large jointure estate in England between her two children, coupling,
with the bequest, a condition of forfeiture, if Mildred married without
her father's approbation.

I have now to relate an incident in the life of Philip Lindsay, which
throws a sombre coloring over most of the future fortunes of Mildred and
Arthur, as they are hereafter to be developed in my story.

The lapse of years, Lindsay supposed, would wear out the first favorable
impressions made by Arthur Butler upon his daughter. Years had now
passed: he knew nothing of the secret correspondence between the
parties, and he had hoped that all was forgotten. He could not help,
however, perceiving that Mildred had grown reserved, and that her
deportment seemed to be controlled by some secret care that sat upon
her heart. She was anxious, solicitous, and more inclined, than became
her youth, to be alone. Her household affections took a softer tone,
like one in grief. These things did not escape her father's eye.

It was on a night in June, a little more than a year before the visit of
Butler and Robinson which I have narrated in a former chapter, that the
father and daughter had a free communion together, in which it was his
purpose to penetrate into the causes of her disturbed spirit. The
conference was managed with an affectionate and skilful address on the
part of the father, and "sadly borne" by Mildred. It is sufficient to
say that it revealed to him a truth of which he was previously but
little aware, namely, that neither the family afflictions nor the flight
of two years had rooted out the fond predilection of Mildred for Arthur
Butler. When this interview ended Mildred retired weeping to her
chamber, and Lindsay sat in his study absorbed in meditation. The object
in life nearest to his heart was the happiness of his daughter; and for
the accomplishment of this what sacrifice would he not make? He minutely
recalled to memory all the passages of her past life. What error of
education had he committed, that she thus, at womanhood, was found
wandering along a path to which he had never led her, which, indeed, he
had ever taught her to avoid? What accident of fortune had brought her
into this, as he must consider it, unhappy relation? "How careful have I
been," he said, "to shut out all the inducements that might give a
complexion to her tastes and principles different from my own! How
sedulously have I waited upon her footsteps from infancy onward, to
shield her from the influences that might mislead her pliant mind! And
yet in this, the most determinate act of her life, that which is to give
the hue to the whole of her coming fortune, the only truly momentous
event in her history--how strangely has it befallen!"

In such a strain did his thoughts pursue this harassing subject. The
window of his study was open, and he sat near it, looking out upon the
night. The scene around him was of a nature to awaken his imagination
and lead his musings towards the preternatural and invisible world. It
was past midnight, and the bright moon was just sinking down the western
slope of the heavens, journeying through the fantastic and gorgeous
clouds, that, as they successively caught her beam, stood like
promontories jutting upon a waveless ocean, their rich profiles tipped
with burnished silver. The long black shadows of the trees slept in
enchanted stillness upon the earth: the night-wind breathed through the
foliage, and brought the distant gush of the river fitfully upon his
ear. There was a witching harmony and music in the landscape that sorted
with the solitary hour, and conjured up thoughts of the world of
shadows. Lindsay's mind began to run upon the themes of his favorite
studies: the array of familiar spirits rose upon his mental vision; the
many recorded instances of what was devoutly believed the interference
of the dead in the concerns of the living, came fresh, at this moment,
to his memory, and made him shudder at his lonesomeness. Struggling with
this conception, it struck him with an awe that he was unable to master:
"some invisible counsellor," he muttered, "some mysterious intelligence,
now holds my daughter in thrall, and flings his spell upon her
existence. The powers that mingle unseen in the affairs of mortals, that
guide to good or lead astray, have wafted this helpless bark into the
current that sweeps onward, unstayed by man. I cannot contend with
destiny. She is thy child, Gertrude," he exclaimed, apostrophizing the
spirit of his departed wife. "She is thine, and thou wilt hover near her
and protect her from those who contrive against her peace: thou wilt
avert the ill and shield thy daughter!"

Excited almost to phrensy, terrified and exhausted in physical energy,
Lindsay threw his head upon his hand and rested it against the
window-sill. A moment elapsed of almost inspired madness, and when he
raised his head and looked outward upon the lawn, he beheld the pale
image of the being he had invoked, gliding through the shrubbery at the
farthest verge of the level ground. The ghastly visage was bent upon
him, the hand steadily pointed towards him, and as the figure slowly
passed away the last reverted gaze was directed to him. "Great God!" he
ejaculated, "that form--that form!" and fell senseless into his chair.

During the night, Mildred was awakened by a low moan, which led her to
visit her father's chamber. He was not there. In great alarm she betook
herself to his study, where she found him extended upon a sofa, so
enfeebled and bewildered by this recent incident that he was scarcely
conscious of her presence.

A few weeks restored Lindsay to his usual health, but it was long before
he regained the equanimity of his mind. He had seen enough to confirm
his faith in the speculations of that pernicious philosophy which is
wrapt up in the studies of which I have before given the outline; and he
was, henceforth, oftentimes melancholy, moody, and reserved in spite of
all the resolves of duty, and in defiance of a temper naturally placid
and kind.

Let us pass from this unpleasant incident to a theme of more cheerful
import: the loves of Mildred and Arthur. I have said these two had
secret meetings. They were not entirely without a witness. There was a
confidant in all their intercourse: no other than Henry Lindsay, who
united to the reckless jollity of youth an almost worshipping love of
his sister. His thoughts and actions were ever akin to hers. Henry was
therefore a safe depository of the precious secret; and as he could not
but think Arthur Butler a good and gallant comrade, he determined that
his father was altogether on the wrong side in respect to the love
affair, and, by a natural sequence, wrong also in his politics.

Henry had several additional reasons for this last opinion. The whole
country-side was kindled into a martial flame, and there was nothing to
be heard but drums and trumpets. There were rifle-corps raising, and
they were all dressed in hunting-shirts, and bugles were blowing, and
horses were neighing: how could a gallant of sixteen resist it? Besides,
Stephen Foster, the woodman, right under the brow of the Dove Cote, was
a lieutenant of mounted riflemen, and had, for some time past, been
training Henry in the mystery of his weapon, and had given him divers
lessons on the horn to sound the signals, and had enticed him furtively
to ride in a platoon on parade, whereof he had dubbed Henry corporal or
deputy corporal. All this worked well for Arthur and Mildred.

Mr. Lindsay was not ignorant of Henry's popularity in the neighborhood,
nor how much he was petted by the volunteer soldiery. He did not object
to this, as it served to quiet suspicion of his own dislike to the
cause, and diverted the observation of the adherents of what he called
the rebel government, from his own motions; whilst, at the same time, he
deemed it no other than a gewgaw that played upon the boyish fancy of
Henry without reaching his principles.

Mildred, on the contrary, did not so regard it. She had inspired Henry
with her own sentiments, and now carefully trained him up to feel warmly
the interests of the war, and to prepare himself by discipline for the
hard life of a soldier. She early awakened in him a wish to render
service in the field, and a resolution to accomplish it as soon as the
occasion might arrive. Amongst other things, too, she taught him to love
Arthur Butler and keep his counsel.



CHAPTER VIII.

THE MANSION OF A GENTLEMAN AND A SCHOLAR.


The site of the Dove Cote was eminently picturesque. It was an area of
level ground, containing, perhaps, two acres, on the summit of a hill
that, on one side, overhung the Rockfish river, and on the other rose by
a gentle sweep from the champaign country below. This summit might have
been as much as two hundred feet above the bed of the stream, and was
faced on that side by a bold, rocky precipice, not absolutely
perpendicular, but broken into stages or platforms, where grassy mould
had accumulated, and where the sweet-brier and the laurel, and clusters
of the azalea, shot up in profuse luxuriance. The fissures of the crag
had also collected their handful of soil and gave nourishment to
struggling vines, and everywhere the ash or pine, and not unfrequently
the dogwood, took possession of such spots upon the rocky wall, as these
adventurous and cliff-loving trees had found congenial to their nature.
The opposite or northern bank of the river had an equal elevation, and
jutted forward so near to the other as to leave between them a cleft,
which suggested the idea of some sudden abruption of the earth in those
early paroxysms that geologists have deemed necessary to account for
some of the features of our continent. Below was heard the ceaseless
brattle of the waters, as they ran over and amongst the rocks which
probably constituted the _debris_ formed in the convulsion that opened
this chasm. It was along through this obscure dell that the road, with
which my reader is acquainted, found place between the margin of the
stream and the foot of the rocks. The general aspect of the country was
diversified by high knolls and broken masses of mountain land, and the
Dove Cote itself occupied a station sufficiently above the surrounding
district to give it a prospect, eastward, of several miles in extent.
From this point the eye might trace the valley of the Rockfish, by the
abrupt hill-sides that hemmed it in, and by the growth of sombre pines
that coated the steeps where nothing else could find a foot-hold. Not
far below, in this direction, was to be seen the Fawn's tower, a
singular pinnacle of rock, which had acquired its name from the
protection it was said to have afforded to a young deer against the
assault of the hounds; the hard-pressed animal, as the tradition
relates, having gained this insulated point by a bound that baffled the
most adventurous of his pursuers, and admiration of the successful
boldness of the leap having won from the huntsman the favor that spared
his life.

With the exception of a large chestnut near the edge of the cliff, and
of some venerable oaks, that had counted centuries before the white man
rested his limbs beneath their shade, the native growth of the forest
had been removed by Lindsay from the summit I have described, and he had
substituted for the wild garniture of nature a few of the choicest trees
of the neighboring woods. Here he had planted the elm, the holly and the
linden tree, the cedar and the arbor vitæ. This platform was
semicircular, and was bounded by a terrace or walk of gravel that swept
around its circumference. The space inclosed was covered with a natural
grass, which the frequent use of the scythe had brought to the
resemblance of velvet; and the lower side of the terrace was guarded by
a hedge-row of cedar. Over this green wall, as the spectator walked
forth in fair summer time, might he look out upon the distant woods and
meadows; and there he might behold the high-road showing itself, at
distant intervals, upon the hill-sides; and in the bottom lands, that
lay open to the sun through the forest-bound valleys, might he see herds
of grazing cattle, or fields of yellow grain, or, perchance, the slow
moving wain burdened with hay, or slower moving plough.

The mansion itself partook of the character of the place. It was
perched--to use a phrase peculiarly applicable to its position--almost
immediately at that point where the terrace made an angle with the
cliff, being defended by a stone parapet, through which an iron wicket
opened upon a flight of rough-hewn steps, that terminated in a pathway
leading down to the river.

The main building was of stone, consisting of one lofty story, and
capped with a steep roof, which curved so far over the front as to
furnish a broad rustic porch that rested almost upon the ground. The
slim pillars of this porch were concealed by lattice-work, which was
overgrown with creeping vines; and the windows of the contiguous rooms,
on either side of a spacious hall, opened to the floor, and looked out
upon the lawn and upon the quiet landscape far beyond. One of these
apartments was also accessible through the eastern gable, by a private
doorway shaded by a light veranda, and was appropriated by Lindsay to
his library. This portal seemed almost to hang over the rock, having but
the breadth of the terrace between it and the declivity, and showing no
other foreground than the parapet, which was here a necessary defence
against the cliff, and from which the romantic dell of the river was
seen in all its wildness.

There were other portions of the mansion constructed in the same style
of architecture, united to this in such a manner as to afford an
uninterrupted communication, and to furnish a range of chambers for the
use of the family. A rustic effect was everywhere preserved. Stacks of
chimneys shot up in grotesque array; and heavy, old-fashioned windows
looked quaintly down from the peaked roof. Choice exotics, planted in
boxes, were tastefully arranged upon the lawn; cages with singing-birds
were suspended against the wall and the whole mass of building,
extending along the verge of the cliff, so as to occupy the entire
diameter of the semicircle, perhaps one hundred and fifty feet, sorted
by its simplicity of costume, if I may so speak, and by its tidy beauty,
with the close-shaven grass-plot and its trim shades.

Above the whole, flinging their broad and gnarled arms amongst the
chimney tops, and forming a pleasing contrast with the artificial
embellishments of this spot, some ancient oaks, in primeval
magnificence, reared their time-honored trunks, and no less sheltered
the habitation from the noon-tide heats, than they afforded an asylum to
the ringdove and his mate, or to the countless travellers of the air
that here stopped for rest or food.

Such was the general aspect of the Dove Cote; a spot where a philosopher
might glide through life in unbroken contemplation; where a wearied
statesman might betake himself to reassemble the scattered forces of
intellect for new enterprises; where the artist might repair to study
with advantage the living graces of God's own painting; and where young
beauty might bud and bloom amongst the most delicate and graceful forms
of earth.

The interior of the dwelling was capacious and comfortable. Its
furniture, suitable to the estate of the owner, was plain, and adapted
to a munificent rather than to an ostentatious hospitality. It was only
in the library that evidence might be seen of large expense. Here, the
books were ranged from the floor to the ceiling, with scarcely an
interval, except where a few choice paintings had found space, or the
bust of some ancient worthy. One or two ponderous lounging chairs stood
in the apartment; and the footstep of the visitor was dulled into
silence by the soft nap of (what, in that day, was a rare and costly
luxury) a Turkey carpet. This was in all respects an apartment of ease,
and it was provided with every incentive to beguile a student into
silent and luxurious communion with the spirit of the sages around
him,--whose subtlest thoughts and holiest breathings, whose most
volatile fancies, had been caught up, fixed, and turned into tangible
substance, more indestructible than adamant, by the magic of letters.

I have trespassed on the patience of my reader to give him a somewhat
minute description of the Dove Cote, principally because I hope thereby
to open his mind to a more adequate conception of the character of
Philip Lindsay. By looking at a man in his own dwelling, and observing
his domestic habits, I will venture to affirm, it shall scarcely in any
instance fail to be true, that, if there be seen a tasteful arrangement
of matters necessary to his comfort; if his household be well ordered,
and his walks clean and well rolled, and his grassplots neat; and if
there be no slovenly inattention to repairs, but thrift against waste,
and plenty for all; and, if to these be added habits of early rising and
comely attire--and, above all, if there be books, many books, well
turned and carefully tended--that man is one to warm up at the coming of
a gentleman; to open his doors to him; to take him to his heart, and to
do him the kindnesses of life. He is a man to hate what is base, and to
stand apart from the mass, as one who will not have his virtue tainted.
He is a man, moreover, whose worldly craft may be so smothered and
suppressed, in the predominance of the household affections, that the
skilful and designing, alas, may ever practise with success their plans
against him.



CHAPTER IX.

AN INTRIGUE.


I must now introduce my reader to the library described in the last
chapter, where, beside a small table covered with papers, and lighted by
two tall candles, sate Philip Lindsay, with a perplexed and thoughtful
brow. Opposite to him, in an easy chair, reclined his guest, Mr. Tyrrel;
a man whose appearance might entitle him to claim something like
thirty-five years; and whose shrewd and intellectual expression of
countenance, to which an air of decision was given by what might be
called an intense eye, denoted a person conversant with the business of
life; whilst an easy and flexible address no less distinctly announced
him one habituated to the most polished society. The time of this
meeting corresponded with that of the interview of Arthur and Mildred,
beneath the Fawn's Tower.

It is necessary only to premise that these two had frequently conferred
together, within the last two or three days, upon the subject with which
they were now engaged.

"Sir Henry Clinton does me too much honor by this confidence," said
Lindsay. "He overrates my influence amongst the gentlemen of the
province. Truly, Mr. Tyrrel, I am well persuaded that neither my precept
nor my example would weigh a feather in the scale against the heady
course of this rebellion."

"We are seldom competent to judge of the weight of our own influence,"
said Tyrrel. "I might scarce expect you to speak otherwise than you do.
But I, who have the opportunity to know, take upon myself to say that
many gentlemen of note in this province, who are at present constrained
by the fear of the new government, look with anxiety to you. They repose
faith in your discretion, and would follow your lead. If an excuse be
necessary, you might afford them some pretext of pastime to visit the
Dove Cote. Here you might concert your plan to co-operate with our
friends in the south."

"Tis a rash thought," replied Lindsay. "This little nook of woodland
quiet has never yet been disturbed with the debates of men who meditated
the spilling of blood. God forbid that these peaceful walls should
hereafter echo back the words that speak of such a purpose."

"It is to spare the shedding of blood, Mr. Lindsay, and to bring speedy
peace to a distracted country that we invoke you and other friends to
counsel. A single battle may decide the question of mastery over the
province. We are well assured that the moment Lord Cornwallis reaches
the Roanoke"--

"Cornwallis has yet to win the ground he stands upon," interrupted
Lindsay: "there may be many a deadly blow struck before he slakes his
thirst in the waters of that river: many a proud head may be low before
that day."

"Think you, sir," said Tyrrel, rising as he spoke, "that this patched
and ragged levy--this ague-stricken army that is now creeping through
the pines of North Carolina, under the command of that pompous
pretender, Gates, are the men to dispute with his majesty's forces their
right to any inch of soil they choose to occupy? It will be a merry day
when we meet them, Mr. Lindsay. We have hitherto delayed our campaign
until the harvest was gathered: that is now done, and we shall speedily
bring this hero of Saratoga to his reckoning. Then, following at the
heels of the runagates, his Lordship, you may be prepared to hear,
within two months from this day, will be within friendly hail of the
Dove Cote."

"You speak like a boastful soldier, Mr. Tyrrel. It is not unlikely that
his lordship may foil Gates and turn him back; such I learn to be the
apprehension of the more sagacious amongst the continental officers
themselves; but whether that mischance is to favor your incursion into
this province may be worth a soberer study than, I doubt, you have given
the question. The path of invasion is ever a difficult road when it
leads against a united people. You mistake both the disposition and the
means of these republicans. They have bold partisans in the field, and
eloquent leaders in their senates. The nature of the strife sorts well
with their quick and earnest tempers; and by this man's-play of war we
breed up soldiers who delight in the game. Rebellion has long since
marched beyond the middle ground, and has no thought of retreat. What
was at first the mere overflow of popular passion has been hardened into
principle, like a fiery stream of lava which first rolls in a flood, and
then turns into stone. The delusion of republicanism, like all
delusions, is embraced with more enthusiasm than men ever embrace truth.
We deem too lightly of these men and their cause, and we have already,
more than once, suffered for the error. When they expelled Dunmore they
committed treason against the British crown; and they are wise enough to
know that that cup, once tasted, must be drained to the bottom: they
have, therefore, imbrued their hands the deeper in rebellion. They have
raised their idol of democracy high, and have fenced it about with the
penalties of confiscation and death to those who refuse to bow before
it: and now they stand pledged to the prosecution of their unnatural
war, by such a bond of fate as unites mariners who have rashly ventured
forth upon a raging sea, in a bark of doubtful strength; their minds
braced up, by the thought of instant perdition, to the daring effort
necessary to reach their haven."

"That haven shall they never reach," cried Tyrrel impatiently. "Let them
invoke the aid of their patron devils! We have a spell shall conjure
them back again to their own hell, else there is no virtue in the forged
steel which these rebels have felt before."

"The battle is not always to the strong," said Lindsay, "nor is the
craft of soldiership without its chances."

"If we had listened, my friend," said Tyrrel, "to musty proverbs,
Charleston would have this day been in the secure and peaceful
possession of the enemy. All that you say against our present scheme was
heretofore urged, though not with such authority, perhaps, against the
invasion of Carolina. And yet how prettily have we gainsaid the
prophets! Look at their principal town surrendered--all the country
strongholds delivered up--the people flocking to our standard for
protection--and the whole province lifting up a voice of gratitude for
the deliverance we have wrought them. They are even now arming
themselves in our behalf, whilst the shattered fragments of the rebel
force are flying to the swamps and their mountain fastnesses. Why should
not the same game be as well played in Virginia? Trust me, Mr. Lindsay,
your caution somewhat over-leaps that wholesome moderation, which I do
not deny is necessary to check a too sanguine reckoning. Come, good sir,
lend us a more auspicious counsel. Sir Henry relies much upon your
wisdom, and will not, with good heart, forego your service."

"Sir Henry has sadly disturbed my repose," returned Lindsay. "To tell
the truth, I have no stomach for this business. Here, I am native to the
province: I have found old friends separated from me; early associations
torn up by the roots; and the elements which fed my strongest personal
attachments poisoned, by this accursed spirit of revolution. I would
hide my head from the storm and die in these shades in peace."

"It is not for Mr. Philip Lindsay, nor such as he," replied Tyrrel, "to
desert his sovereign in his hour of need."

"God forgive me for the thought, Mr. Tyrrel, but it remains yet to be
proved who most faithfully serve their sovereign; they who counsel
peace, or they who push war to its fatal extremes. There lives not a man
within the realm of England, to whom I would yield in devotion to the
glory of our country. Once make it clear to my judgment that we may hope
to regain the lost allegiance of this province by the sacrifice of life
and fortune, and, dearly as I cherish the welfare of those around me, I
will obey the first summons to the field, and peril this worthless
existence of mine in bloody fight. Yea, if need be, I will, with my own
hand, apply the torch to this peaceful abode, and give it over a smoking
ruin to the cause."

"I know you too well," replied Tyrrel, "to doubt the sincerity of your
words. But is it not obvious that the war must inevitably tend to this
field? Having gained the Carolinas, should we turn our backs as soon as
we have reached the confines of Virginia? On the contrary, does not
every obligation of honor impel us to maintain and protect our friends
here? The conquest of Virginia is an easier enterprise than you deem it.
If the continentals can muster ten thousand men, we, assuredly, may
double that number, counting our provincials levied in the south. We
have money and all the means of war, whilst this crippled Congress has
drained from the people their last groat; their wretched troops will
disband from mere want of supplies. They may expect no aid from the
north; for there Sir Henry will furnish them sufficient motive to stay
at home! We come animated by victories, full of mettle and vigor, they
meet us broken by defeats, dejected and torn to pieces by mutiny. Never
did treason or rebellion array itself with more certainty of punishment
than this!"

"I have read," said Lindsay, "how John Hampden resisted the exaction of
twenty shillings of ship money, and for that pittance dared the
displeasure of Charles and his Star Chamber: how he voted the
impeachment of the judges who were supple enough to warrant the
imposition: how, in this cause, he drew the sword and threw away the
scabbard: how he brought Strafford to the block for levying war against
the commons of England: and through all that disastrous time, have I
read that Charles promised the cavaliers splendid victories, and derided
the feeble means of those who were in arms against him; yet Hampden
shrunk not from the struggle. To me it seems there is a strange
resemblance between the congress now sitting at Philadelphia and the
parliament of 1640; and this George Washington might claim kindred with
John Hampden. I will not seek for further likenesses."

"If I read that history right," replied Tyrrel, "Hampden met his reward
at Chalgrove, and Cromwell turned his crop-eared parliament out of
doors. We may, perhaps, find a Chalgrove on this continent;--and Sir
Henry Clinton will most probably save the wiseacres at Philadelphia from
the intrusion of an upstart Cromwell."

"It would be too bold in us to count on that, Mr. Tyrrel. I am the enemy
of these men and their purpose, but I cannot deem otherwise of them than
as misguided subjects of the king, frenzied by the imagination of
grievances. They are men of good intellects and honest hearts, misled by
passion. I would that we could give their tempers time to cool. I would,
even now, preach moderation and compromise to his majesty's ministers."

"The die is long since cast," said Tyrrel, "and all that remains now is
to take the hazard of the throw. At this moment, whilst we debate,
friend and foe are whetting their swords for a deadly encounter on the
fields of Carolina. It is too late to talk of other arbitrement.
Assuredly, my good friend, our destiny directs us to this province: and
the time has come when you must decide what course you will take. It has
been our earnest wish--Sir Henry's letters, there upon the table,
anxiously unfold it--to have you up and active in the cause. Why will
you disappoint so fair a hope?"

"Alas! Mr. Tyrrel,--it is a thorny path you would have me tread. Think
you I am the man to win my way through these intricacies? I that live in
the shelter of these woods by sufferance merely--an unmolested outlaw,
to speak soberly, whom these fanatics of liberty have forborne for the
sake of past acquaintance and present peaceful habits? Am I not girded
round about with the hot champions of independence? Look amongst these
hills--there is not a cabin, not a woodman's hut, no, nor stately
dwelling, whose roof defends one friend to the royal cause, but my own.
My lips are sealed; my very thoughts are guarded, lest I give room to
think I mean to fly from my neutrality. These papers that lie upon that
table might cost me my life: your presence here, were your purpose
known, might consign me to captivity or exile:--one random word spoken
might give me over to the censures of the power that holds its usurped
domination in the province. What aid may be expected from one so
guarded, fettered, watched and powerless?"

"And can you patiently," exclaimed Tyrrel, "bow to this oppression? You,
a native born freeman of the province--a Briton, nursed in the sunny
light of liberty! Shall your freedom of speech be circumscribed, your
footsteps be followed by spies and traitors, your very inmost thoughts
be read and brought up to the censure of the judgment seat? Shall these
things be, and the blood still continue to run coolly and temperately
through your veins! There are ills, Mr. Lindsay, which even your calm
philosophy may not master. But, perhaps, I have mistaken your temper:
these evidences, at least, shall not put you in peril," he said, as he
took up the letters from the table and held them over the candle, and
then threw the flaming mass upon the hearth. "That fear, I hope, is
removed; and as for my presence here, one word briefly spoken, and it
shall not longer jeopard your safety."

Lindsay looked fixedly at his companion as he destroyed the papers, and
then said with a stern emphasis--

"Your duty, sir, is in the field. You have been bred to a profession
that teaches you blind obedience to orders. It is not your part to weigh
the right of the cause, nor to falter in the execution of any foul
purpose of blood, so that it come under the name of honorable warfare.
Therefore I excuse this unbecoming warmth: but do not presume upon the
hazardous nature of your calling, and fancy that it implies more
fidelity to the king than the allegiance of his more peaceful subjects.
It is a thought unworthy of you that fear of disaster to myself--be it
ten-fold more imminent than it has yet been--should arrest my step in
that path where my country's honor, or my sovereign's command, bids me
advance."

"Worthy and excellent friend," said Tyrrel, taking Lindsay's hand, "I
have done you wrong. I am rash and headlong in my temper, and my tongue
often speaks what my heart disavows. I am little better than a boy, Mr.
Lindsay, and a foolish one; I humbly crave your pardon."

"Speak on," said Lindsay.

"Then briefly this. Your situation is all that you have described it.
Sir Henry is aware of the trial he imposes upon you. He would have you
act with the caution which your wisdom dictates; and if it should become
necessary to speak that word which is to bring the wrath of the rebels
upon your head, remember there is sanctuary and defence under the broad
banner of England. Who so welcome there as Philip Lindsay? Even at this
moment our councils should be tempered by your presence, and it becomes
almost a patriotic duty to pluck you from the seclusion of the Dove
Cote, and give you a share in the stirring events of the day. Sir, the
country has a claim upon your services, scarce compatible with the idle
contemplation of this momentous trial of strength."

Lindsay had advanced to the window, where he remained looking over the
moon-lit scene. His companion stood close beside him, and after a short
interval took his arm, when they stepped forth upon the porch, and
sauntered backward and forward, as Tyrrel continued,

"The government would not be unmindful of the benefits you might confer.
There are offices of trust and dignity to be filled in this province
when it shall be restored to its allegiance. The highest post would not
be unfitly bestowed, if it should be assigned to you. Sir Henry Clinton
bids me speak of that, as of a subject that has already occupied his
thoughts. It would give grace and dignity to our resumed authority, to
have it illustrated by the accomplished scholar and discreet statesman,
who has, before this, discharged important and difficult trusts with a
fidelity that has won all men's esteem. And then, my dear sir," he added
after a pause, "who may say that it shall not be Sir Philip Lindsay, or
even something yet higher?--a coronet would not be an honor unsuited
even to the wilds of Virginia. His majesty is not slow to discern worth,
nor backward to raise it to its proper station. These are toys and
baubles to you, Mr. Lindsay, but they are still worth the seeking. You
have a son to follow you."

"Ah! there, Mr. Tyrrel, you touch me more nearly than you imagine. You
remind me by this language that I have also a daughter. As to Henry, he
has a temper and a capacity to make his own way through the world. I
fear not for him--nor would I seek for honors to add to his name. But my
Mildred! You know not what emotions the thought of her, in these
troubles, costs me. Who shall guard and defend her, whilst I pursue this
waylaid road of ambition? What sanctuary would she find under a
war-encircled banner, should misfortune assail me, and adversity
separate us? Alas, alas!--that is the spell that, like a net cast over
my limbs, makes me feeble and submissive."

"I have not been without my solicitude, Mr. Lindsay, on that subject,"
said Tyrrel. "You yesterday did me the honor to say that my proposal in
regard to Miss Lindsay was not distasteful to you. Could my ardent wish
but be accomplished, she should be placed in safety, assured of ample
and kind protection. If, haply, her thoughts should incline to a
favorable reception of my offer, which I would fain persuade myself her
reverence for you may render not altogether improbable, when she knows
that you deem well of my suit, we might remove her to Charleston, where,
secure amidst assiduous friends, she would pass the brief interval of
alarm, and leave you free to act on this theatre as your honor and duty
may impel you."

"Mildred will not leave me," said Lindsay; "my dear daughter would
suffer a thousand deaths in the anxiety of such a separation."

"Then why not accompany her to Charleston?" asked Tyrrel. "Your presence
there would be equally efficient as at head-quarters--perhaps more so."

"There are other obstacles, Mr. Tyrrel. You talk of Mildred as if her
heart were to be disposed of at my bidding. You do not know her. I have
long struggled to subdue an attachment that has bound her to our worst
enemy, I fear with little success. I have trusted to time to wear out
what I deemed a mere girlish liking; but it seems to me the traces fade
but slowly from her heart."

"I know of whom you speak," said Tyrrel--"that harebrained enthusiast
Butler. It is a freakish and transient passion, and cannot but fall into
forgetfulness. Miss Lindsay has from circumstances been but little
conversant with the world, and, like an inexperienced girl, has fostered
in solitude a romantic affection. That alone should be a motive to
remove her into a busier scene. Besides, this Butler will be himself
forced to give over his hopeless aim--if he has not done so before this:
measures are already taken, and I do not scruple to tell you, at my
instance--to confiscate his lands in Carolina to his majesty's use. The
close of this war will find him penniless, and not unlikely, my dear
sir, I myself may be the possessor of his inheritance--I have some
pledge of the preemption of these lands at a small fee."

"It will win you no favor with Mildred," said Lindsay, "to tell her that
you succeed by such a title to this man's wealth. She is a wayward girl,
and is not used to crosses. Her devotion to her purpose, as it sometimes
excites my admiration, gives me, in the present case, cause of profound
alarm."

"You have spoken to her on this subject?"

"I have not," replied Lindsay, "and almost fear to broach it. I can,
therefore, give you no encouragement. Some little time hence--perhaps
to-morrow--I may sound her feelings. But remember, as her father, I
claim no right beyond that of advice. I shall think myself fortunate if,
by giving a new direction to the current of her affections, I can divert
her mind from the thoughts of an alliance to me the most hateful--to her
full of future misery. A maiden's fancies are scarcely intelligible even
to a father."

"These subjects require meditation," said Tyrrel. "I will not press them
further upon your thoughts to-night."

"Heaven guide us in the way of safety and happiness!" said Lindsay,
almost in a whisper. "Good night, my friend."

When Tyrrel was left alone he strolled forward to the terrace, and
passing round to that end which overhung the cliff, near the door that
opened from the library, he leaned his breast upon the parapet and
looked down upon the wild and beautiful scenery of the valley. The
night was calm and full of splendor. The tops of the trees that grew in
the ravine, almost perpendicularly beneath his eye, here and there
caught the bright moon-beam where it glowed like silver, and the shades,
rendered deeper by the contrast, seemed to brood over a black and
impenetrable abyss. Occasional glimpses were seen of the river below, as
it sparkled along such portions of its channel as were not hidden in
darkness. The coolness of the hour and the solitude of the spot were not
ungrateful to the mood of Tyrrel's mind, whilst the monotonous music of
the river fell pleasantly upon his ear. He was not unheedful of these
charms in the scene, though his thoughts were busily employed with a
subject foreign to their contemplation.

"Have I advanced," was the tenor of his present self-communion, "the
purpose I have so much at heart, by this night's conference? Could I but
engage Lindsay in the issues of this war, so commit him in its purposes
and its plots as to render his further residence at the Dove Cote
insecure, then would I already have half-compassed my point. Where could
he remove but to Charleston? And there, amidst the blandishments of
friends and the allurements of gay society, I might make sure of
Mildred. There, cut off from all means of hearing of this Butler, and
swayed, as she must necessarily be, by the current of loyal feelings,
she would learn to detest his foul rebellion, and soon lose her favor
for the rebel. Then, too, the confiscation of his lands--but I am not so
sure of that!--she is rich and would make a merit of sharing her fortune
with a man whose brave resistance of oppression--for so, doubtless,
Butler persuades her it is--has cost him his wealth: the confiscation
should not seem, at least, to be my doing. Well, well, let her be
brought to Charleston. Any change were better than to remain here, where
anxiety and suspense and solitude nurse and soften her woman's
affections, and teach her to fancy her lover whatsoever her imagination
delights to think on. Then may not the chances of war assist me? This
Butler, all men say, is brave and adventurous. He should be short-lived.
Whatever ill may befall him cannot but work good to me. Yet Lindsay has
such a sickly caution--such scruple against involving himself in the
scheme--I could almost find it in my heart to have it told amongst his
neighbors that he is in correspondence with the enemy. Ha, that would be
a bright device!--inform against myself! No, no, I will not abuse his
generous nature. Let him come fairly into the fold, and I will guard
his gentle lambkin like a very shepherd. Then if we make him governor of
the province--that will work well. Mildred will thank me for my zeal in
that good purpose, at least, and I will marry her and possess her
estate, if it be only to enable her to be grateful to me. 'Twill be a
brave reward, and bravely shall it be won."

As Tyrrel ruminated over these topics, in the strain indicated by this
sketch, the noise of footsteps ascending the rugged stairway of the
cliff, and the opening of the iron wicket, but a short distance from
where he leaned over the parapet, roused his attention, and put an end
to this insidious and selfish communion with his own heart.

The cause of this interruption was soon apparent. Henry and Mildred
entered through the gate, and hurried along the path to that part of the
terrace where Tyrrel stood. The shade of the house concealed him from
their view until they were within a few paces. "Ha, Miss Lindsay! You
are a late rambler," he said, in a tone of gallantry. "The dampness of
the valley, at this hour, is not altogether safe; the ague is a sore
enemy to romance; beware of it."

"I am not afraid of the night," replied Mildred, as she increased the
rapidity of her gait; then, turning immediately upon the porch, she
almost ran, leaving Henry and Tyrrel in pursuit, until she reached the
farthest window which was heard descending the moment she passed through
it into the parlor. When Tyrrel and Henry entered the same apartment,
she had disappeared.

"My sister is not well this evening," said Henry. "We strolled too late
upon the river bank."

"It was still an over-hasty retreat," muttered Tyrrel to himself. "It
bodes not well for me. I will wager, Henry," he said, raising his voice,
"that I can guess what you and your sister have been talking about."

"Let me hear," said Henry.

"First," replied Tyrrel, "she repeated some verses from Shakspeare about
the moonlight sleeping on the bank--this is just the night for
poetry--and then you both fell to talking sentiment, and then, I'll be
bound, you had a ghost story, and by that time, you found you had got
too far from the house and were a little frightened, and so came back as
fast as you could."

"You are wrong," said Henry. "I have been telling sister Mildred how to
bob for eels. Did you know that an eel will never pass a streak of
moonlight for fear of being found out by the watchers?"

"Indeed I did not."

"Well, sister Mildred is wiser than you are; and as I have taught you
that, I will go to bed."

Tyrrel was again left to resume his meditations, and to hatch his plots
for invading the peace of the Dove Cote, on his pillow. To that
sleepless pillow he now betook himself.



CHAPTER X.

TYRREL RETREATS.


The next morning Tyrrel rose with the sun. He had passed a restless
night, and now sought refreshment in the early breeze. With this purpose
he descended to the river, and strayed along the dewy pathway which
crept through the shrubbery on the right bank in the direction of the
Fawn's Tower. He had not wandered far before he perceived a horseman
moving along the road upon the opposite side.

"Halloo, James Curry!--which way?--What news have you?"

"I seek you, sir, I was on my way to the Dove Cote," replied the
horseman, who at the same time turned his horse's head to the river,
and, spurring the animal forward, plunged into the stream which was here
still and deep enough to reach above his saddle flaps. After some
floundering, the horse and rider gained the margin, where Tyrrel awaited
them! The vigor of the animal, as well as the practised hand that held
the rein, was shown in the boldness of the attempt to climb the steep
bank and break through the briers and bushes that here guarded it. As
soon as Curry reached the level ground, he dismounted.

"In God's name, man, what is the matter with your face?" asked Tyrrel.

"It is of that, amongst other things, that I came to speak to you," was
the reply; "I have news for you."

"Speak, without prelude. Tell me."

"Major Butler slept last night at Mrs. Dimock's."

"And is there still?"

"No, sir. He started at early dawn this morning."

"To join Gates?"

"I think not. He talked of going to Ninety-Six--perhaps to Georgia."

"So, ho! The hawk hovers over that field! Does he travel alone?"

"He has a giant in his company, a great ploughman by the name of Horse
Shoe Robinson. A quarrelsome rascal; he would needs pick a quarrel with
me last night. And in the skirmish I got this face."

"Did I not command you to bear yourself peaceably? Fool! will you risk
our lives with your infernal broils? Now, I would wager you told the
fellow your name."

"Little need of that, sir. He told it to me: said he knew me before. The
fellow, for all his rough coat, is a regular trained soldier in the
rebel service, and has met me somewhere--Heaven knows!--I don't remember
him; yet he isn't a man to see once and forget again."

"And me, did he speak of me?"

"He knew that I was in the employ of an English gentleman who was here
at the Dove Cote. I have nothing especial to complain of in the man. He
speaks soldierly enough; he said he would take no advantage of me for
being here as long as our visit was peaceable."

"Humph! And you believed him. And you must fight with him, like a
brawling knave. When will you get an ounce of wit into that fool's head!
What time of day was it when this Butler arrived?"

"Long after night-fall."

"Did you understand any thing of the purpose of his visit?"

"He talked much with Mistress Dimock, and I think their conversation
related to the lady at the Dove Cote. I could hear but a few scattered
words."

"Away.--Here (throwing his purse to the horseman), pay up your score at
the inn, and at your greatest haste attend me on the river bank,
immediately below Mr. Lindsay's house. Ask Mrs. Dimock to have a
breakfast prepared for me.--Away, I will expect you in half an hour."

Curry mounted his horse, and choosing a more convenient ford than that
which he had passed (for the jutting rocks, on this side, prevented his
reaching Mrs. Dimock's without recrossing the river to the road), he
soon regained the track, and was seen, almost at high speed, sweeping
around the base of the Fawn's Tower.

Tyrrel returned hastily to the Dove Cote, and, seeking his valet, gave
orders to have his portmanteau packed, his horse saddled and to be in
waiting for him at the foot of the hill. These commands were speedily
obeyed, and everything was in readiness for his journey before any of
the family had made their appearance in the breakfast room.

Whilst Tyrrel meditated writing a line to explain to Lindsay his present
sudden movement, and had drawn near a table for that purpose, he was
saluted by the voice of Henry, who had entered the apartment, and stolen
unobserved almost immediately behind his chair.

"Booted and spurred, Mr. Tyrrel!" said Henry. "You are for a ride. Will
you take a fowling-piece? There are pheasants over upon the hills."

"Oh, ho! Master Henry, you are up! I am glad of it. I was just writing a
word to say that business calls me away this morning. Is your father yet
abed?"

"He is sound asleep," said Henry; "I will wake him."

"No, my lad. You must not do that. Say I have received news this morning
that has called me suddenly to my friends. I will return before long. Is
your sister stirring?"

"She was in the garden but a moment since," replied Henry; and the young
man left the room, to which he returned after a short space. "Sister
Mildred is engaged in her chamber, and begs you will excuse her," said
he, as he again entered the door.

"Tush, Henry, I didn't tell you to interrupt your sister. Make her my
most respectful adieu. Don't forget it. I have all my way to win," he
said to himself, "and a rough road to travel, I fear."

Tyrrel now left the house and descended to the river, accompanied by
Henry, who sought in vain to know why he departed in such haste as not
to stay for breakfast. James Curry waited below; and, when Henry saw his
father's guest mount in his saddle and cross the ford, attended by his
two servants, he turned about and clambered up the hill again, half
singing and half saying to him self,--"I'm glad he's gone, I'm glad he's
gone," accompanied with a trolling chorus, expressive of the
satisfaction of his feelings at the moment. "He'd a got a flea in his
ear, if he had stay'd. I should like to know what Major Butler would say
to Mr. Tyrrel, if he was to meet him. Zooks! may be Butler will see him
this very morning at Mrs. Dimock's. Now, I wonder! Shall I whisper that
to sister Mildred? She would be glad, for one, I'll be bound! May be,
they might have a fight. And if they do, let Mr. Tyrrel look out! He
never had his bread so buttered in his life, as it would be then."

In such a strain of cogitation and conjecture, Henry reached the parlor,
where he found Mildred. The melancholy that hung upon her spirits, the
evening before, seemed to have been dispelled by the repose of the
night, and was doubtless relieved, in part, by the intelligence that
Tyrrel had quitted the Dove Cote.

"Come, sister," said Henry, throwing his arm round her waist, and almost
dancing, as he forced her through the open window, "come, it will be a
good while before father is ready for his breakfast. Let us look at your
flowers; I have something to tell you."

"You are quite an important personage, this morning," replied Mildred,
moving off towards the lawn with her brother. "Your face looks as wise
as a book of proverbs."

It was some time before the brother and sister returned to the parlor,
and when they did so, their father had not yet appeared. The delay was
unusual; for Lindsay generally rose at an early hour, and frequently
walked abroad before his morning meal. When he at last entered the room,
there was an expression of care and thought upon his brow that made him
haggard. Mildred, as was her custom, approached him with a kiss, and,
taking both of his hands, as she looked up in his face, she said, with
some earnestness:

"You are not well, my dear father."

Lindsay paused a moment, while he gazed affectionately upon her, and
then pressing her to his bosom, uttered in a low voice, with a smile,--

"God bless my dear child! How carefully does she read my looks! Come
hither, Henry," he continued, as he gave his son one hand, and still
held Mildred with the other, and then turned his eyes alternately upon
each. "Now, tell me, which of you love me best? Who has waited most
patiently for me this morning? I see by that glance of your blue eye,
master Henry, that you have been chiding your lazy father for lying so
long abed. Now, I dare say, if the truth were known, you have had your
rifle ready to go out and shoot squirrels an hour ago. I beg your
pardon, Mr. Sportsman--not to shoot the squirrel, but to shoot at him.
Or, perhaps, you mean to bring us a deer to-day; you know you have
promised to do that every morning for a week."

"You shall eat a slice from as fine a saddle of venison to-day, father,
as you ever saw smoke over a chafing-dish."

"In good truth, shall I, boy? You are a brave promiser! You remember
your own adage,--Brag was a good dog, but Holdfast was better."

"In right down earnest, father, you shall. You needn't laugh. Now,
you're thinking I have the deer to shoot; there's your mistake. The
saddle is this minute lying on the dresser in the kitchen. He was a
running buck yesterday; and I could tell where the powder and ball came
from (here Henry made the motion of opening a hunting pouch at his side)
that put an end to his capers."

"He is a monstrous braggart; is he not, Mildred?" said Lindsay,
directing a look of incredulity at his daughter.

"What Henry tells you is true," replied Mildred. "Stephen Foster was
here at sunrise with a part of a buck, which he says was shot
yesterday."

"Indeed! Then it is to Stephen's rifle we are indebted. You kill your
bucks by proxy, master."

"I'll bet," said Henry, "that Stephen Foster hasn't the impudence to
charge one penny for that venison. And why? Because, by the laws of
chace, one-half belongs to me."

"Oh, I understand," interrupted Lindsay, with affected gravity; "it is a
matter of great doubt which of you shot it. You both fired at once; or,
perhaps, Stephen first, and you afterwards; and the poor animal dropped
the moment you took your aim,--even before your piece went off. You know
your aim, Harry, is deadly,--much worse than your bullet."

"There is no doubt who killed him," said Henry; "for Stephen was on that
side of the hill, and I was a little below him, and the buck ran right
to Stephen, who, of course, gave him the first shot. But there was I,
father, just ready, if Stephen had missed, to bring old Velvet-Horns to
the ground, before he could have leaped a rod."

"But, unluckily, Stephen's first shot killed him?"

"I don't know that," replied Henry. "Another person's knife might have
done the business; for the deer jumped down the bank into the road, and
there"--

Mildred cast a sidelong look of caution at her brother, to warn him
against alluding to a third person, whom it was not discreet to mention.

"And there," said Henry, taking the sign, "when I got up to him he was
stone dead. I would almost think a deer couldn't be shot dead so
suddenly. But Stephen can pitch his lead, as he calls it, just where he
likes."

"Well, it isn't fair to inquire who killed him," said Lindsay. "One
hunter often turns the game to the other's rifle. And, at all events,
your dogs, Henry, I dare say, did as much as either of you."

"Hylas was just at his heels when he was shot," replied Henry; "and a
better dog there isn't in Amherst, or Albemarle to boot."

"Well, well! Let us to breakfast. Where is our guest? Tyrrel is surely
out before this."

"He has been gone from the Dove Cote more than an hour," said Henry. "He
told me to say, that some sudden news took him off in haste. I would
have waked you, but he forbade it. His man, Curry, who was waiting for
him at the ford, I dare say, brought him some dispatches."

"It was very sudden," said Lindsay, musing; "the great game will be
shortly played."

"My dear father, you have not your usual look of health," said Mildred
again. "I fear something disturbs you."

"A slight cold, only, from exposure to the night air, perhaps. You did
not see Tyrrel this morning, Mildred?"

"I did not wish to see him, father. I was up when he set out, but I was
not in his way."

"Fie, girl, you almost speak crossly! Tyrrel, I must think, is not a man
to win his way with ladies. But he is a loyal subject to his king. I can
tell you, Mildred, loyalty is a virtue of good associations in these
times."

"It is the last virtue, my dear father, that a woman ever writes down in
the list of noble qualities. We generally forget it altogether. History
is so full of the glory of disloyal heroes, that the indiscriminate and
persevering loyalty of brave men has come to be but little noticed.
Brutus was disloyal, and so was Tell; and the English barons, of whom
you boast so much, when you call them sturdy, were disloyal; and
Washington--who knows, my dear father, but that he may be written down
by some future nation, (and she laid an emphasis on this word,) as
another name to give credit to this word, disloyal."

"Thou art a shrewd orator, Mildred," exclaimed her father, as he sought
to change the subject, "and I doubt not, if Heaven had made you man, you
would now be flattering these rebels by persuading them they were all
born for heroes. We may thank the gods that they have given you the
petticoat instead of the soldier's cloak, and placed you at the head of
a breakfast table instead of a regiment."

"I do not think," replied Mildred smiling, "that I should altogether
disgrace the cloak now, woman as I am, if the occasion required me to
put it on."

"Pray drop this subject, my dear child; you know it makes me sad. My
family, I fear, are foredoomed to some strange mishap from these civil
broils. Attend me presently in the library, I have matters to
communicate that concern you. Henry, my boy," Lindsay continued, as he
rose from his breakfast, "pay Stephen Foster the full value of the
venison; as a sportsman you have a right perhaps to your share of the
game, but a gentleman shows his courtesy by waiving such claims; he
should suffer no friend to be his creditor, even in opinion. Stephen may
not expect to be paid; no matter, it concerns your own character to be
liberal."

"I have promised Stephen a new rifle," replied Henry; "since they have
elected him lieutenant of the Amherst Rangers he wants something better
than his old deer gun."

"I positively forbid it," interrupted Lindsay hastily, returning towards
the middle of the room from the door through which he was about to
depart. "What! would you purchase weapons for those clowns to enable
them to shoot down his majesty's liege subjects? to make war upon their
rightful king, against his laws and throne? to threaten your life, your
sister's and mine, unless we bowed to this impious idol of democracy,
which they have set up--this Washington?"

"My dear, dear father," interposed Mildred as she came up to him and
flung her arms about his neck. "Consider, Henry is a thoughtless boy,
and does not look to consequences."

"Heaven bless you both, my children! I beg your pardons. I am over
captious. Henry, pay Stephen for the venison, and give him something
better than a rifle. Mildred, I will see you presently."

When Lindsay had left the parlor Mildred besought her brother, in the
most earnest terms, to be more guarded against giving expression to any
sentiment which might bring their father's thoughts to the existing war.
Her own observation had informed her of the nature of the struggle that
agitated his mind, and her effort was continually directed to calm and
soothe his feelings by the most unremitting affection, and thus to
foster his resolution against taking any part in those schemes in which,
she shrewdly guessed, it was the purpose of the emissaries of the royal
party to involve him.

Her attachment to Arthur Butler she feared to mention to her father,
whilst her self-respect and her conviction of her duty to a parent who
loved her with unbounded devotion, would not allow her altogether to
conceal it. Upon this subject, Lindsay had sufficiently read her heart
to know much more about it than she chose to confess; and it did not
fail to kindle up in his mind a feverish excitement, that occasionally
broke forth in even a petulant reproof, and to furnish the only occasion
that had ever arisen of serious displeasure against his daughter. The
unhappy association between this incident in the life of Mildred, and
the current of a feeling which had its foundation in a weak piece of
superstition, to which I have alluded in a former chapter, gave to the
idea of Mildred's marriage with Butler a fatal complexion in Lindsay's
thoughts. "For what purpose," he asked himself, "but to avert this
ill-omened event could I have had such an extraordinary warning?" It had
occurred to him that the surest method of protecting his family against
this misfortune would be to throw Mildred into other associations, and
encourage the growth of other attachments, such as might be expected to
grow up in her heart out of the kindness of new friendships. He had even
meditated removing her to England, but that plan became so repulsive to
him when he found the mention of it distasteful to his children, and it
suited so little his own fondness for the retirement he had already
cultivated, that he had abandoned it almost as soon as it occurred to
him. His next alternative was to favor--though he did so with no great
zeal--the proposal lately made by Tyrrel. He little knew the character
of the woman he had to deal with. Never was more devotion enshrined in a
woman's heart than in Mildred's. Never was more fixed and steady purpose
to encounter all hazards and hold cheap all dangers more deeply rooted
in man's or woman's resolution, than was Mildred's to cherish the love
and follow the fortunes of Arthur Butler.

This conflict between love and filial duty sadly perplexed the
daughter's peace; and not less disturbing was the strife between
parental affection and the supposed mandate of fate, in the breast of
the father.

Henry protested his sorrow for his recent indiscretion and promised more
caution for the future, and then recurring to what more immediately
concerned his sister's interest, he said, "I do much wonder what
Tyrrel's man had to say this morning; it took our good gentleman away so
suddenly. I can't help thinking it has something to do with Butler and
Horse Shoe. They must have been seen by Curry at Mrs. Dimock's, and old
Tony knows the major very well, and has told his name. Besides, do you
know, sister, I think Curry is a spy? Else, why should he be left at
Mrs. Dimock's always? There was room enough here for both of Mr.
Tyrrel's servants. I have a thought that I will reconnoitre: I will ride
over to the Blue Ball, and see what I can learn."

"Do, my good brother," replied Mildred, "and in the meantime I must go
to my father, who has something disagreeable to tell me--so I
fear--concerning that busy plotter who has just left us. My spirits grow
heavy at the thought of it. Ah, Henry, if I could but speak out, and
unpack my heart, what a load would I throw off! How does it grieve me to
have a secret that I dare not tell my dear father! Thank heaven,
brother, your heart and mine have not yet had a secret that they could
not whisper to each other!"

"Give care the whip, sister," said Henry, like a young gallant, "it
belongs to the bat family and should not fly in day-time. Farewell for
the next two hours!" and saying these words the sprightly youth kissed
his hand, and, with an alert step, left the room.

Mildred now retired to prepare for the interview with her father.



CHAPTER XI.

A SCENE BETWEEN A FATHER AND DAUGHTER.


When Mildred entered the library Lindsay was already there. He stood
before one of the ranges of book shelves, and held a volume in his hand
which, for a moment after his daughter's entrance, seemed to engross his
attention. Mildred was sufficiently astute to perceive that by this
device he struggled to compose his mind for an interview of which she
more than guessed the import. She was of a constitution not easily to be
driven from her self-possession; but the consciousness of her father's
embarrassment, and some perplexity in her own feelings at this moment,
produced by a sense of the difficult part she had to perform, slightly
discomposed her; there was something like alarm in her step, and also in
the expression of her features, as she almost stealthily seated herself
in one of the large lounging chairs. For a moment she unconsciously
employed herself in stripping a little flower that she held in her hand
of its leaves, and looked silently upon the floor; at length, in a low
accent, she said, "Father, I am here at your bidding." Lindsay turned
quickly round, and, throwing down the volume he had been perusing,
approached his daughter with a smile that seemed rather unnaturally to
play over his grave and almost melancholy countenance, and it was with a
forced attempt at pleasantry he said, as he took her hand:--

"Now, I dare say, you think you have done something very wrong, and that
I have brought you here to give you a lecture."

"I hope, father, I have done nothing wrong," was Mildred's grave and
almost tremulous reply.

"Thou art a good child, Mildred," said Lindsay, drawing a chair close
beside hers, and then, in a more serious tone, he continued, "you are
entirely sure, my daughter, that I love you, and devoutly seek your
happiness?"

"Dear father, you frighten me by this solemn air. Why ask me such a
question?"

"Pardon me, my girl, but my feelings are full with subjects of serious
import, and I would have you believe that what I have now to say springs
from an earnest solicitude for your welfare."

"You have always shown it, father."

"I come to speak to you, without reserve, of Tyrrel," resumed Lindsay;
"and you will not respond to my confidence, unless you answer me in the
very truth of your heart. This gentleman, Mr. Tyrrel, has twice avowed
to me of late an earnest attachment to you, and has sought my leave to
prosecute his suit. Such things are not apt to escape a woman's notice,
and you have doubtless had some hint of his predilection before he
disclosed it to me."

All the woman's bashfulness disappeared with this announcement. Mildred
grew erect in her seat, and as the native pride of her character beamed
forth from every feature of her face, she replied--

"He has never, father, vouchsafed to give me such a proof of his good
opinion. Mr. Tyrrel is content to make his bargain with you: he is well
aware that whatever hope he may be idle enough to cherish, must depend
more on your command than on my regard."

"He has never spoken to you, Mildred?" asked Lindsay, without making any
comment on the indignant reception his daughter had given to his
disclosure. "Never a word? Bethink you, my daughter, of all that has
lately passed between you. A maiden is apt to misconstrue attentions.
Can you remember nothing beyond the mere civilities of custom?"

"I can think of nothing in the conduct of Mr. Tyrrel but his devotion to
the purpose of embroiling my dear father in his miserable politics. I
can remember nothing of him but his low voice and noiseless step, his
mysterious insinuations, his midnight sittings, his fulsome flattery of
your services in the royal cause, the base means by which he has robbed
you of your rest and taken the color from your cheek. I thought him too
busy in distracting your peace to cast a thought upon me. But to speak
to me, father, of attachment," she said, rising and taking a station so
near Lindsay's chair as to be able to lean her arm upon his shoulder,
"to breathe one word of a wish to win my esteem, that he dared not do."

"You speak under the impulse of some unnecessarily excited feeling,
daughter. You apply terms and impute motives that sound too harsh from
your lips, when the subject of them is a brave and faithful gentleman.
Mr. Tyrrel deserves nothing at our hands but kindness."

"Alas, my dear father, alas, that you should think so!"

"What have you discovered, Mildred, or heard, that you should deem so
injuriously of this man? Who has conjured up this unreasonable aversion
in your mind against him?"

"I am indebted to no sources of information but my own senses," replied
Mildred; "I want no monitor to tell me that he is not to be trusted. He
is not what he seems."

"True, he is not what he seems, but better. Tyrrel appears here but as a
simple gentleman, wearing, for obvious reasons, an assumed name. The
letters he has brought me avouch him to be a man of rank and family,
high in the confidence of the officers of the king, and holding a
reputable commission in the army: a man of note, worthy to be trusted
with grave enterprises, distinguished for sagacity, bravery, and honor,
of moral virtues which would dignify any station, and, as you cannot but
acknowledge from your own observation, filled with the courtesy and
grace of a gentleman. Fie, daughter! it is sinful to derogate from the
character of an honorable man."

"Wearing an assumed name, father, and acting a part, here, at the Dove
Cote! Is it necessary for his purpose that, under this roof, he should
appear in masquerade? May I know whether he treats with you for my hand
in his real or assumed character--does he permit me to know who he is?"

"All in good time, Mildred. Content you, girl, that he has sufficiently
certified himself to me. These are perilous times, and Tyrrel is obliged
to practise much address to find his way along our roads. You are aware
it would not be discreet to have him known even to our servants. But the
time will come when you shall know him as himself, and then, if I
mistake not, your generous nature will be ashamed to have wronged him by
unworthy suspicions."

"Believe me, father," exclaimed Mildred, rising to a tone of animation
that awakened the natural eloquence of her feelings, and gave them vent
in language which more resembled the display of a practised orator than
the declamation of a girl, "believe me, he imposes on you. His purposes
are intensely selfish. If he has obtained an authority to treat with you
or others under an assumed name, it has only been to further his
personal ends. Already has he succeeded in plunging you, against your
will, into the depth of this quarrel. Your time, my dear father, which
once glided as softly and as happily as yon sparkling waters through our
valley, is now consumed in deliberations that wear out your spirits:
your books are abandoned for the study of secret schemes of politics:
you are perplexed and anxious at every account that reaches us of
victory or defeat. It was not so, until you saw Tyrrel: your nights,
that once knew a long and healthful sleep, are now divided by short and
unrefreshing slumbers: you complain of unpleasant dreams and you
foretell some constantly coming disaster. Indeed, dearest father, you
are not what you were. You wrong yourself by these cares, and you do not
know how anxiously my brother Henry and myself watch, in secret, this
unhappy change in your nature. How can I think with patience of this
Tyrrel when I see these things?"

"The times, Mildred, leave me no choice. When a nation struggles to
throw off the rule of lawful authority, the friends of peace and order
should remember that the riotous passions of the refractory people are
not to be subdued without personal sacrifices."

"You promised yourself, father, here at the Dove Cote to live beyond the
sphere of these excitements. And, as I well remember, you often, as the
war raged, threw yourself upon your knees, and taught us,--your
children,--to kneel by your side, and we put up our joint expressions of
gratitude to God, that, at least, this little asylum was undisturbed by
the angry passions of man."

"We did, we did, my dearest child. But I should think it sinful to pray
for the same quiet when my services might be useful to restore harmony
to a distracted and misguided country."

"Do you now think," asked Mildred, "that your efforts are or can be of
any avail to produce peace?"

"The blessing of heaven has descended upon the arms of our sovereign,"
replied Lindsay. "The southern provinces are subdued, and are fast
returning to their allegiance. The hopes of England brighten, and a
speedy close of this unnatural rebellion is at hand."

"There are many valleys, father, amongst these mountains, and the wide
forests shade a solitude where large and populous nations may be hid
almost from human search. They who possess the valleys and the
wilderness, I have heard it said by wise men, will for ever choose their
own rulers."

"Mildred, you are a dutiful daughter, and are not wont to oppose your
father's wishes. I could desire to see you, with that shrewd
apprehension of yours, that quick insight, and that thoughtful mind,
thoughtful beyond the quality of your sex, less favorably bent towards
the enterprise of these rebel subjects. I do utterly loathe them and
their cause, and could wish that child of mine abated in no one jot of
my aversion to them."

"Heaven, father, and your good tutoring have made me what I am,"
returned Mildred, calmly; "I am but a woman, and speak with a weak
judgment and little knowledge. To my unlearned mind it seems that the
government of every nation should be what the people wish it. There are
good men here, father, amongst your friends--men, who, I am sure, have
all kindness in their hearts, who say that this country his suffered
grievous wrongs from the insolence of the king's representatives. They
have proclaimed this in a paper which I have heard even you say was
temperate and thoughtful: and you know nearly the whole land has roused
itself to say that paper was good. Can so many men be wrong?"

"You are a girl," replied Lindsay, "and a subtile one: you are tainted
with the common heresy. But what else might I expect! There are few
_men_ who can think out of fashion. When the multitude is supposed to
speak, that is warrant enough for the opinions of the majority. But it
is no matter, this is not a woman's theme, and is foreign to our present
conference. I came to talk with you about Tyrrel. Upon that subject I
will use no persuasions, express no wish, not in the slightest point
essay to influence your choice. When he disclosed his purpose to me, I
told him it was a question solely at your disposal. Thus much it is my
duty to say, that should his suit be favored"--

"From the bottom of my heart, father," interrupted Mildred eagerly, and
with increasing earnestness, "I abhor the thought. Be assured that if
age, poverty, and deformity were showered upon me at once, if friends
abandoned me, if my reason were blighted, and I was doomed to wander
barefooted amongst thorns and briers, I would not exchange that lot, to
be his wife amidst ten-fold his honors and wealth. I never can listen to
his hateful proposal: there is that in my condition which would make it
wicked. Pray, dearest father, as you love your daughter, do not speak of
it to me again."

"Resume your calmness, child: your earnestness on this subject afflicts
me; it has a fearful omen in it. It tells of a heart fatally devoted to
one whom, of all men, I have greatest reason to hate. This unhappy,
lingering passion for the sworn enemy of his king and country, little
becomes my daughter, or her regard for me. It may rouse me, Mildred, to
some unkind wish against thee. Oh, I could curse myself that I ever
threw you in the way of this insidious rebel, Butler. Nay you need not
conceal your tears; well do they deserve to flow for this persevering
transgression against the peace of your father's house. It requires but
little skill to read the whole history of your heart."

Lindsay now walked to and fro across the apartment, under the influence
of emotions which he was afraid to trust himself to utter. At length
resuming his expostulation, in a somewhat moderate tone, he continued:

"Will no lapse of time wear away this abhorred image from your memory?
Are you madly bent on bringing down misery on your head? I do not speak
of my own suffering. Will you for ever nurse a hopeless attachment for a
man whom, it must be apparent to yourself, you can never meet again?
Whom if the perils of the field, the avenging bullet of some loyal
subject, do not bring him merited punishment, the halter may reward, or,
in his most fortunate destiny, disgrace, poverty, and shame pursue. Are
you for ever to love that man?"

Mildred stood before her father as he brought this appeal to a close;
her eyes filled with tears, her breast heaving as if it would burst; and
summoning up all her courage for her reply, when this last question was
asked, she looked with an expression of almost angry defiance in his
face, as she answered "For ever, for ever," and hastily left the room.

The firm tone in which Mildred spoke these last words, her proud and
almost haughty bearing, so unlike anything Lindsay had ever seen before,
and her abrupt departure from his presence, gave a check to the current
of his thoughts that raised the most painful emotions. For an instant a
blush of resentment rose into his cheeks, and he felt tempted to call
his daughter back that he might express this sentiment: it was but of a
moment's duration, however, and grief, at what he felt was the first
altercation he had ever had with his child, succeeded, and stifled all
other emotions. He flung himself into the chair, and, dropping his
forehead upon his hand, gave way to the full tide of his feelings. His
spirits gradually became more composed, and he was able to survey with a
somewhat temperate judgment the scene that had just passed. His manner,
he thought, might have been too peremptory--perhaps it was harsh, and
had offended his daughter's pride: he should have been more conciliatory
in his speech. "The old," he said, "are not fit counsellors to the
young; we forget the warmth of their passions, and would reason when
they only feel. How small a share has prudence in the concerns of the
heart!" But then this unexpected fervor of devotion to Butler--that
alarmed him, and he bit his lip, as he felt his anger rising with the
thought. "Her repugnance to Tyrrel, her prompt rejection of his suit,
her indignant contempt for the man, even that I could bear with
patience," he exclaimed. "I seek not to trammel her will by any
authority of mine. But this Butler! Oh! there is the beginning of the
curse upon my house! there is the fate against which I have been so
solemnly warned! That man who had been the author of this unhappiness,
and whose alliance with my name has been denounced by the awful
visitation of the dead,--that Mildred should cherish his regard, is
misery. It cannot and shall not be!"

These and many such reflections passed through Lindsay's mind, and had
roused his feelings to a tone of exacerbation against Arthur Butler, far
surpassing any displeasure he had ever before indulged against this
individual. In the height of this self-communion he was interrupted by
the return of Mildred to the apartment, almost as abruptly as she had
quitted it. She approached his chair, knelt, laid her head upon his lap,
and wept aloud.

"Why, my dear father," she said, at length, looking up in his face while
the tears rolled down her cheeks, "why do you address language to me
that makes me forget the duty I owe you? If you knew my heart, you would
spare and pity my feelings. Pardon me, dear father, if my conduct has
offended you. I knew not what I spoke; I am wretched, and cannot answer
for my words. Do not think I would wound your affection by unkindness;
but indeed, indeed, I cannot hear you speak of Tyrrel without agony."

"Rise, daughter," said Lindsay, almost lifting her up, "I do not chide
you for your repugnance to Tyrrel. You mistake me if you think I would
dictate to your affections: my grief has a deeper source. This Arthur
Butler"--

"Spare that name, father?" interrupted Mildred, retiring to a seat near
the window and covering her face with her hands.

"Curse him!" exclaimed Lindsay. "May all the plagues that torment the
human bosom fall upon him! Mark me, daughter, I trust I am not an
unreasonable father; I know I am not an unkind one; there are few
requests that you could make which I would not freely grant. But to hear
with patience the name of that man on your lips, to think of him as
allied to you by any sympathy, as sharing any portion of your
esteem--him, a rebel traitor who has raised his sacrilegious hand
against his king, who has sold his name to infamy, who has contributed
to fill these peaceful provinces with discord, and to subvert the
happiness of this land, which heaven had appointed to be an asylum where
man, disgusted with the lusts, rapine, and murder of his fellow, might
betake himself as a child to the bosom of his parent--I cannot endure
the thought of him! Never again, Mildred, I charge you, never allude to
him again!"

"If I could but tell you all!" interrupted Mildred, sobbing, "if I could
but patiently have your hearing."

"Never a word of him! as you desire to preserve my affection, I will not
hear. Get to your chamber," said Lindsay, almost sternly. "Get to your
chamber, this perverse and resolute temper of thine, needs the restraint
of solitude."

Mildred rose from her chair and moved towards the door, and as she was
about to depart she turned her weeping countenance towards her father.

"Come hither," he said, "thou art a foolish girl, and would bring down
wretchedness and woe upon thee. God forgive you, from the bottom of my
heart, I forgive you. This thing is not of your own imagining: some
malignant spirit has spread his baleful wing above our house. Go,
child, forget what has been said, and believe that your father buffets
thus harshly with fate for your own welfare. Kiss me, and may heaven
shield you against this impending ill!"

"Dear father, hear me," said Mildred, as Lindsay imprinted a kiss upon
her forehead.

"Away, away!" interrupted Lindsay, "I would be temperate nor again
forget myself. In all love, Mildred, away."

Mildred left the room, and Lindsay, to restore the equanimity of his
temper, which had been so much overthrown by this interview, wandered
forth into the valley, whence it was some hours before he returned.

It was not long after the termination of this conference before Henry
rode up to the door. The clatter of his horse's hoofs brought Mildred
from her chamber into the parlor.

"What! sister, your eyes red with tears?" said Henry. "Who has
distressed you?"

"Ah, brother, I have had a weary time in your absence. Our poor father
is sadly displeased with me."

"Have you told him all?" asked Henry, with an expression of anxiety.

"He bade me," replied Mildred, "never mention Arthur's name again. He
would not hear me speak of Arthur. Have I not reason, dear brother, to
be miserable?"

"I love you, Mildred," said Henry, kissing his sister, "and what's more,
I love Arthur Butler, and will stand up for him against the world. And I
have a good mind to go to my father and tell him I am man enough to
think for myself--and more than that--that I, for one, believe these
rebels, as he calls them, have the right of it. Why shouldn't I? Can't I
shoot a rifle as well as the best of them, and stand by a friend in a
quarrel, and make good my words as well as many a man who writes twenty
years to his age? Tush! I am tired of this boy-play--shooting with
blunted arrows, and riding with my father's hand ever on the neck of my
horse, as if I could not hold the reins. Give me sharp steel, Mildred,
and throw me on the world, and I'll be bound I make my way as well as
another."

"We are surrounded with difficulties, brother," said Mildred, "and have
a hard part to perform. We must soothe our dear father's feelings, for
he loves us, Henry; and if he could but think as we do, how happy should
we be! But there is something fearful in his passions, and it makes me
tremble to see them roused."

"This all comes," replied Henry, "from that devil's imp Tyrrel. Oh, I
could find it in my heart to trounce that fellow, sister. But you
hav'n't asked me about my reconnoitring! I'll tell you. Tyrrel's man,
Curry, talked a great deal to old Tony and Mrs. Dimock both, about our
friends who went there last night, and found out their names and all
about them: and there was some fray between Horse Shoe and Curry, in
which, I'll warrant you, Horse Shoe gave him a drubbing; so Tony told
me. Well, Butler and Horse Shoe set out this morning at daylight. And
Tyrrel went over there to breakfast: and you may suppose he was lucky in
not meeting the major, for I am sure there would have been a spot of
work if he had. Furthermore, I found out that Tyrrel followed on the
same road after Butler, so they may meet yet, you know."

"I pray not," said Mildred.

"Why pray not, sister? I pray they may meet. Let Tyrrel have all the
good of it. There, now I believe I have given you all the news, sister,
exactly as I picked it up. But here is a trifle I forgot," said Henry,
producing a letter addressed to Mildred. "Ah, ha, you brighten up now!
This was left by the major with Mrs. Dimock, to be forwarded to you with
care and speed."

Mildred tore open the letter, and eagerly perused its contents. They
consisted of a few lines hastily penned by Butler, at early dawn, as he
was about mounting his horse for the prosecution of his journey. Their
purpose was to apprise her of the discovery Robinson had made of the
true character of Curry, and also to express his fears that this latter
person might disclose to Tyrrel the fact of his, Butler's, visit. He
cautioned her to observe the conduct of Tyrrel, and to communicate with
him at Gates's head-quarters where he expected to be delayed a few days
on his journey: her letter, he said, might be forwarded by some of the
parties who at that time were continually passing southward: Henry might
look to this; and he concluded by assuring her that he would write as
often as he might find means of conveying a packet to the care of good
Mistress Dimock, who was sufficiently in the interest of the lovers to
keep faithfully any secret which they might confide to her.

This letter served to explain the cause of Tyrrel's sudden departure,
and to confirm Mildred in the opinion, which she had before expressed,
that this guest of her father was not ignorant of the interest Butler
had in her regard. Her determination therefore was to watch his motions
narrowly, and to make her lover acquainted with whatever she might
discover.

"It is even so," she said musing; "Tyrrel either fears or hates Arthur.
I shudder to think that that man should have any motive supplied him to
contrive against the peace or safety of one so dear to me. Wretch," she
exclaimed, "that he should be insolent enough to hope for my regard! Oh!
my father, my father, what a snare has been spread for you by this man!
Thank you, brother," she continued, addressing Henry. "You have well
executed your mission. Be discreet and ready: I shall have much need of
your head and hand both: your heart is mine already, good brother."

"I will ride for you, sister," said Henry, "I will run for you, speak
for you, pray for you--if my prayers be worth anything--and strike for
you, if need be. If I am but turned of sixteen, I am a man, I trow; and
that's more than you are. Good bye! a soldier ought to look after his
horse, you know."

"God bless you, dear brother, for an excellent boy," said Mildred
smiling, "man I mean--aye and a brave one!"

Henry now walked away, and Mildred betook herself to other cares.



CHAPTER XII.

A POLITICAL RETROSPECT.--BUTLER ENTERS SOUTH CAROLINA.


It was the misfortune of South Carolina, during the revolutionary war,
to possess a numerous party less attached to the union or more tainted
with disaffection than the inhabitants of any of the other states.
Amongst her citizens the disinclination to sever from the mother country
was stronger, the spread of republican principles more limited, and the
march of revolution slower, than in either of the other colonies,
except, perhaps, in the neighbor state of Georgia, where the people
residing along the Savannah river, were so closely allied to the
Carolinians in sentiment, habits, and pursuits, as to partake pretty
accurately of the same political prejudices, and to unite themselves in
parties of the same complexion. Upon the first invasion of Georgia, at
the close of the year 1778, the city of Savannah was made an easy
conquest, and a mere handful of men, early in 1779, were enabled to
penetrate the interior as far as Augusta, and to seize upon that post.
The audacity with which Prevost threatened Charleston in the same year,
the facility of his march through South Carolina, and the safety which
attended his retreat, told a sad tale of the supineness of the people of
that province. The reduction of Charleston in the following year, by Sir
Henry Clinton, was followed with singular rapidity by the conquest of
the whole province. A civil government was erected. The most remote
posts in the mountains were at once occupied by British soldiers or
provincial troops, mustered under the officers of the royal army.
Proclamations were issued to call back the wandering sheep to the royal
fold; and they, accordingly, like herds that had been scattered from
beneath the eye of the shepherd by some rough incursion of wolves,
flocked in as soon as they were aware of the retreat of their enemy.
Lord Cornwallis, upon whom the command devolved after the return of Sir
Henry Clinton in June to New York, recruited his army from these
repentant or unwilling republicans; and the people rejoiced at what they
thought the end of strife and the establishment of law. The auxiliaries
who had marched from Virginia and North Carolina under Colonel Buford,
to assist in the defence of the southern capital, were informed of its
surrender as they journeyed thither, and soon found themselves obliged
to fly through a country they had come to succor;--and when even at the
distance of one hundred and fifty miles from the city, were overtaken by
the ruthless troopers of Tarleton, and butchered under circumstances
peculiarly deplorable.

In truth, a large proportion of the population of South Carolina seem to
have regarded the revolution with disfavor, and they were slow to break
their ancient friendship for the land of their forefathers. The colonial
government was mild and beneficent in its action upon the province, and
the people had a reverence for the mother country deeper and more
affectionate than was found elsewhere. They did not resent, because,
haply, they did not feel the innovations of right asserted by the
British crown, so acutely as some of their neighbors; to them it did not
seem to be so unreasonable that taxation should be divorced from
representation. They did not quarrel with the assumption of Great
Britain to regulate their trade for them in such manner as best suited
her own views of interest; nor did they see in mere commercial
restrictions the justification of civil war and hot rebellion;--because,
peradventure, (if I may hazard a reason) being a colony of planters
whose products were much in demand in England, neither the regulations
of their trade nor the restrictions upon commerce, were likely to be so
adjusted as to interfere with the profitable expansion of their labors.

Such might be said to be the more popular sentiment of the State at the
time of its subjugation by Sir Henry Clinton and Lord Cornwallis. To
this common feeling there were many brilliant exceptions; and the more
brilliant because they stood, as it were, apart from the preponderating
mass of public judgment. There is no trial of courage which will bear
comparison with that of a man whose own opinions stand in opposition,
upon fearful questions of passion, to those of the "giddy-paced" and
excited multitude, and who, nevertheless, carries them "into act." That
man who can stand in the breach of universal public censure, with all
the fashions of opinion disgracing him in the thoughts of the lookers
on, with the tide of obloquy beating against his breast, and the fingers
of the mighty, combined many, pointing him to scorn; nay, with the fury
of the drunken rabble threatening him with instant death; and, worse
than all, having no present friend to whisper a word of defence or
palliative, in his behalf, to his revilers, but bravely giving his naked
head to the storm, because he knows himself to be virtuous in his
purpose; that man shall come forth from this fierce ordeal like tried
gold; philosophy shall embalm his name in her richest unction, history
shall give him a place on her brightest page, and old, yea, hoary,
far-off posterity shall remember him as of yesterday.

There were heroes of this mould in South Carolina, who entered with the
best spirit of chivalry into the national quarrel, and brought to it
hearts as bold, minds as vigorous, and arms as strong as ever, in any
clime, worked out a nation's redemption. These men refused submission to
their conquerors, and endured exile, chains, and prisons, rather than
the yoke. Some few, still undiscouraged by the portents of the times,
retreated into secret places, gathered their few patriot neighbors
together, and contrived to keep in awe the soldier-government that now
professed to sway the land. They lived on the scant aliment furnished in
the woods, slept in the tangled brakes and secret places of the fen,
exacted contributions from the adherents of the crown, and by rapid
movements of their woodland cavalry and brave blows, accomplished more
than thrice their numbers would have achieved in ordinary warfare.

The disaffected abounded in the upper country, and here Cornwallis
maintained some strong garrisons. The difficulties that surrounded the
republican leaders may well be supposed to have been appalling in this
region, where regular posts had been established to furnish the Tories
secure points of union, and the certainty of prompt assistance whenever
required. Yet notwithstanding the numerical inferiority of the friends
of independence, their guarded and proscribed condition, their want of
support, and their almost absolute destitution of all the necessaries of
military life, the nation was often rejoiced to hear of brilliant
passages of arms, where, however unimportant the consequences, the
display of soldiership and bravery was of the highest order. In such
encounters, or frays they might almost be called, from the smallness of
the numbers concerned and the hand-to-hand mode of fighting which they
exhibited, Marion, Sumpter, Horry, Pickens, and many others, had won a
fame that in a nation of poetical or legendary associations would have
been reduplicated through a thousand channels of immortal verse: but,
alas! we have no ballads: and many men, who as well deserve to be
remembered as Percy or Douglas, as Adam Bell or Clym of the Clough, have
sunk down without even a couplet-epitaph upon the rude stone, that in
some unfenced and unreverenced grave-yard still marks the lap of earth
whereon their heads were laid.

One feature that belonged to this unhappy state of things in Carolina
was the division of families. Kindred were arrayed against each other in
deadly feuds, and, not unfrequently, brother took up arms against
brother, and sons against their sires. A prevailing spirit of treachery
and distrust marked the times. Strangers did not know how far they might
trust to the rites of hospitality; and many a man laid his head upon his
pillow, uncertain whether his fellow lodger, or he with whom he had
broken bread at his last meal, might not invade him in the secret
watches of the night and murder him in his slumbers. All went armed, and
many slept with pistols or daggers under their pillows. There are tales
told of men being summoned to their doors or windows at midnight by the
blaze of their farm-yards to which the incendiary torch had been
applied, and shot down, in the light of the conflagration, by a
concealed hand. Families were obliged to betake themselves to the
shelter of the thickets and swamps, when their own homesteads were
dangerous places. The enemy wore no colors, and was not to be
distinguished from friends either by outward guise or speech. Nothing
could be more revolting than to see the symbols of peace thus misleading
the confident into the toils of war; nor is it possible to imagine a
state of society characterized by a more frightful insecurity.

Such was the condition of the country to which my tale now makes it
necessary to introduce my reader. Butler's instructions required that
he should report himself to General Gates, and, unless detained for more
pressing duty, to proceed with all the circumspection which the
enterprise might require, to Colonel Clarke, who, it was known, was at
that time in the upland country of South Carolina, raising troops to act
against Augusta and other British posts. He accordingly arrived at
head-quarters, on the borders of the two Carolinas, in about a week
after leaving the Dove Cote. The army of the brave and unfortunate De
Kalb, which had been originally destined for the relief of Charleston,
had been increased, by reinforcements of militia from Virginia and the
adjoining States, to double the computed strength of the British forces;
and Gates, on taking command of it, was filled with the most lofty
presentiments of victory. Vainglorious and unadvisable, he is said to
have pushed forward with an indiscreet haste, and to have thrown himself
into difficulties which a wiser man would have avoided. He professed
himself to stand in no need of recruits to his army, and Butler,
therefore, after the delay of a few days, was left at liberty to pursue
his original scheme.

The wide-spread disaffection of the region through which our adventurers
were about to pass, inculcated the necessity of the utmost vigilance to
avoid molestation from the numerous parties that were then abroad
hastening to the seat of war. Under the almost entire guidance of
Robinson, who was familiar with every path in this neighborhood,
Butler's plan was to temporize with whatever difficulties might beset
his way, and to rely upon his own and his comrade's address for escape.

The sergeant's first object was to conduct his superior to his own
dwelling, which was situated on the Catawba, a short distance above the
Waxhaws. This was safely accomplished on the second day after they had
left Gates. A short delay at this place enabled Butler to exchange the
dress he had hitherto worn, for one of a more homely and rustic
character, a measure deemed necessary to facilitate his quiet passage
through the country. With these precautions he and the trusty sergeant
resumed their expedition, and now shaped their course across the region
lying between the Catawba and Broad rivers, with the intention of
reaching the habitation of Wat Adair, a well known woodsman who lived on
the southern side of the latter river, somewhat above its confluence
with the Pacolet. The route they had chosen for this purpose consisted
of such circuitous and unfrequented paths as were least likely to be
infested by the scouts of the enemy, or by questioners who might be too
curious regarding the object of their journey.

The second week of August had half elapsed when, towards the evening of
a day that had been distinguished for the exhilarating freshness of the
atmosphere, such as is peculiar to the highlands of southern latitudes
at this season, our travellers found themselves descending through a
long and shady defile to the level ground that lay along the margin of
the Broad river. The greater part of the day had been spent in threading
the mazes of a series of sharp and abrupt hills covered with the native
forest, or winding through narrow valleys, amongst tangled thickets of
briers and copse-wood, by a path scarce wide enough to permit the
passage of a single horse. They had now emerged from the wilderness upon
a public highway, which extended across the strip of lowland that
skirted the river. The proximity of the river itself was indicated by
the nature of the ground, that here retained vestiges of occasional
inundations, as also by the rank character of the vegetation. The road
led through a swamp, which was rendered passable by a causey of timber,
and was shaded on either side by a mass of shrubbery, composed of
laurel, magnolia, and such other plants as delight in a moist soil, over
whose forms a tissue of creeping plants was woven in such profusion as
to form a fastness or impregnable retreat for all kinds of noxious
animals. Above this wilderness, here and there, might be seen in the
depths of the morass, the robust cypress or the lurid pine, high enough
for the mast of the largest ship, the ash, and gum, and, towering above
all, the majestic poplar, with its branchless trunk bound up in the
embraces of a huge serpent-like grapevine.

As soon as Butler found himself extricated from the difficult path that
had so much embarrassed his journey, and once more introduced upon a
road that allowed him to ride abreast with his companion, he could not
help congratulating himself upon the change.

"Well, here at last, Galbraith," he said, "is an end to this bridle
path, as you call it. Thank heaven for it! The settlement of the
account between this and the plain road would not leave much in our
favor: on one side, I should have to set down my being twice unhorsed in
riding up perpendicular hills; one plunge up to the belly in the mud of
a swamp; a dozen times in danger of strangling from grapevines; and how
often torn by briers, I leave you to reckon up by looking at my clothes.
And all this is to be cast up against the chance of meeting a few
rascally Tories. Faith! upon the whole, it would have been as cheap to
fight."

"Whist, Major, you are a young man, and don't study things as I do. You
never catch me without reason on my side. As to standing upon the trifle
of a man or two odds in the way of a fight, when there was need of
scratching, I wouldn't be so onaccommodating as to ax you to do that.
But I had some generalship in view, which I can make appear. This road,
which we have just got into, comes up through Winnsborough, which is one
of the randyvoos of the Tories: now I thought if we outflanked them by
coming through the hills, we mought keep our heads out of a hornets'
nest. The best way, Major Butler, to get along through this world is not
to be quarrelsome; that's my principle."

"Truly, it comes well from you, sergeant, who within two days past have
been in danger of getting your crown cracked at least six times! Were
you not yesterday going to beat a man only for asking a harmless
question? A rough fellow to-boot, Horse Shoe, who might, from
appearance, have turned out a troublesome customer."

"Ho, ho, ho, Major! Do you know who that character was? That was mad
Archy Gibbs, from the Broken Bridge, one of the craziest devils after a
fracaw on the Catawba; a tearing Tory likewise."

"And was that an argument for wishing to fight him?"

"Why, you see, Major, I've got a principle on that subject. It's an
observation I have made, that whenever you come across one of these
rampagious fellows, that's always for breeding disturbances, the best
way is to be as fractious as themselves. You have hearn of the way of
putting out a house on fire by blowing it up with gunpowder?"

"A pretty effectual method, Sergeant."

"Dog won't eat dog," continued Horse Shoe. "Ho, ho! I know these
characters; so I always bullies them. When we stopped yesterday at the
surveyor's, on Blair's Range, to get a little something to eat, and that
bevy of Tories came riding up, with mad Archy at their head, a thought
struck me that the fellows mought be dogging us, and that sot me to
thinking what answer I should make consarning you, if they were to
question me. So, ecod, I made a parson of you, ha, ha, ha! Sure enough,
they began as soon as they sot down in the porch, to axing me about my
business, and then about yourn. I told them, correspondent and
accordingly, that you was a Presbyterian minister, and that I had
undertook to show you the way to Chester, where you was going to hold
forth. And, thereupon, mad Archy out with one of his tremengious oaths,
and swore he would have a sarmint from you, for the good of his
blackguards, before they broke up."

"Mad Archy and his blackguards would have profited, no doubt, by my
spiritual lessons."

"Rather than let him have anything to say to you," proceeded Robinson,
"for you wa'n't prepared, seeing that you didn't hear what was going on,
though I spoke loud enough, on purpose, Major, for you to hear us
through the window; I up and told Archy, says I, I am a peaceable man,
but I'll be d----d if any minister of the gospel shall be insulted
whilst I have the care of him; and, furthermore, says I, I didn't come
here to interrupt no man; but if you, Archy Gibbs, or any one of your
crew, says one ondecent word to the parson, they'll run the risk of
being flung sprawling on this here floor, and that's as good as if I had
sworn to it; and as for you, Archy, I'll hold you accountable for the
good conduct of your whole squad. But, Major, you are about the hardest
man to take a wink I ever knowed. There was I a motioning of you, and
signifying to get your horse and be off, at least ten minutes before you
took the hint."

"I was near spoiling all, Galbraith, for from your familiarity with
these fellows I at first thought them friends."

"They were mighty dubious, you may depend. And it was as much as I could
do to keep them from breaking in on you. They said it was strange, and
so it was, to see a parson riding with pistols; but I told them you was
obliged to travel so much after night that it was as much as you could
do to keep clear of panthers and wolves; and in fact, major, I had to
tell them a monstrous sight of lies, just to keep them in talk whilst
you was getting away: it was like a rare guard scrummaging by platoons
on a retreat to get the advance off. I was monstrous afeard, major, you
wouldn't saddle my horse."

"I understood you at last, Galbraith, and made everything ready for a
masterly retreat, and then moved away with a very sober air, leaving you
to bring up the rear like a good soldier. And you know, sergeant, I
didn't go so far but that I was at hand to give you support, if you had
stood in need of it. I wonder now that they let you off so easily."

"They didn't want to have no uproar with me, Major Butler. They knowed
me, that although I wa'n't a quarrelsome man, they would'a got some of
their necks twisted if I had seen occasion: in particular, I would have
taken some of mad Archy's crazy fits out of him--by my hand I would,
major! But I'll tell you,--I made one observation, that this here sort
of carrying false colors goes against a man's conscience: it doesn't
seem natural for a man, that's accustomed and willing to stand by his
words, to be heaping one lie upon top of another as fast as he can speak
them. It really, Major Butler, does go against my grain."

"That point of conscience," said Butler laughing, "has been duly
considered, and, I believe, we are safe in setting it down as entirely
lawful to use any deceit of speech to escape from an enemy in time of
war. We have a dangerous trade, sergeant, and the moralists indulge us
more than they do others: and as I am a minister, you know, you need not
be afraid to trust your conscience to my keeping."

"They allow that all's fair in war, I believe. But it don't signify, a
man is a good while before he gets used to this flat lying, for I can't
call it by any other name."

"If we should be challenged on this road, before we reach Wat Adair's,"
said Butler, "it is your opinion that we should say we are graziers
going to the mountains to buy cattle."

"That's about the best answer I can think of. Though you must be a
little careful about that. If you see me put my hand up to my mouth and
give a sort of a hem, major, then leave the answer to me. A gang of raw
lads might be easily imposed upon, but it wouldn't do if there's an old
sodger amongst them; he mought ax some hard questions."

"I know but little of this grazier craft to bear an examination. I fear
I should fare badly if one of these bullies should take it into his head
to cross-question me."

"If a man takes on too much with you," replied Robinson, "it is well to
be a little saucy to him. If he thinks you are for a quarrel, the
chances are he won't pester you. But if any of these Tories should only
take it into their heads, without our telling them right down in so many
words, for I would rather a lie, if it is to come out, should take a
roundabout way, that we are sent up here by Cornwallis, or Rawdon, or
Leslie, or any of their people to do an arrand, they will be as civil,
sir, as your grandmother's cat, for, major, they are a blasted set of
cringin' whelps, the best of them, and will take anything that has G. R.
marked on it with thanks, even if it was a cat-o'nine tails, which they
desarve every day at rollcall, the sorry devils!"

"I am completely at my wits' end, Galbraith. I have not done much
justice to your appointment of me as a parson, and when I come to play
the grazier it will be still worse; even in this disguise of a plain
countryman I make a poor performer; I fear I shall disgrace the boards."

"If the worst comes to the worst, major, the rule is run or fight. We
can manage that, at any rate, for we have had a good deal of both in the
last three or four years."

"God knows we have had practice enough, sergeant, to make us perfect in
that trick. Let us make our way through this treacherous ground as
quickly and as quietly as we can. Get me to Clarke by the shortest
route, and keep as much among friends as you know how."

"As to that, Major Butler, it is all a matter of chance, for, to tell
you the plain truth, I don't know who to depend upon. A quick eye, a
nimble foot, and a ready hand, will be our surest friends. Then with the
pistols at your saddle, besides a pair in your pocket, and a dirk for
close quarters, and my rifle here for a long shot, major, I am not much
doubtful but what we shall hold our own."

"How far are we from Adair's?" asked Butler.

"Not more than a mile," replied Horse Shoe. "You may see the ferry just
ahead. Wat lives upon the top of the first hill on the other side."

"Is that fellow to be trusted, sergeant?"

"Better with the help of gold, major, than without it. Wat was never
over honest. But it is worth our while to make a friend of him if we
can."

Our travellers had now reached the river, which was here a smooth and
deep stream, though by no means so broad as to entitle it to the
distinction by which, in its lower portion, it has earned its name. It
here flowed sluggishly along in deep and melancholy shade.

Butler and his companion were destined to encounter a difficulty at this
spot which less hardy travellers would have deemed a serious
embarrassment. The boat was not to be seen on either side of the river,
having been carried off a few hours before, according to the information
given by the inmates of a negro cabin, constituting the family of the
ferryman, by a party of soldiers.

Robinson regarded this obstacle with the resignation of a practised
philosopher. He nodded his head significantly to his companion upon
receiving the intelligence, as he said,

"There is some mischief in the wind. These Tories are always dodging
about in gangs; and when they collect the boats on the river, it is
either to help them forward on some house-burning and thieving business,
or to secure their retreat when they expect to have honest men at their
heels. It would be good news to hear that Sumpter was near their
cruppers, which, by the by, is not onlikely neither. You would be told
of some pretty sport then, major."

"Sumpter's means, sergeant," replied Butler, "I fear, are not equal to
his will. There are heavy odds against him, and it isn't often that he
can venture from his hiding-place. But what are we to do now,
Galbraith?"

"Ha, ha! do as we have often done before this, launch our four-legged
ships, and take a wet jacket coolly and dispassionately, as that quare
devil Lieutenant Hopkins used to tell us when he was going to make a
charge of the bagnet. We hav'n't no time to lose, major, and if we had,
I don't think the river would run dry. So, here goes."

With these words Robinson plunged into the stream, and, with his rifle
resting across his shoulder, he plied his voyage towards the opposite
bank with the same unconcern as if he had journeyed on dry land. As soon
as he was fairly afloat he looked back to give a few cautions to Butler.

"Head slantwise up stream, major, lean a little forward, so as to sink
your horse's nose nearer to the water, he swims all the better for it.
Slacken your reins and give him play. You have it now. It isn't
oncomfortable in a day's ride to get a cool seat once in a while. Here
we are safe and sound," he continued, as they reached the further
margin, "and nothing the worse for the ferrying, excepting it be a
trifle of dampness about the breeches."

The two companions now galloped towards the higher grounds of the
adjacent country.

By the time that they had gained the summit of a long hill that rose
immediately from the plain of the river, Robinson apprised Butler that
they were now in the vicinity of Adair's dwelling. The sun had sunk
below the horizon, and the varied lustre of early twilight tinged the
surrounding scenery with its own beautiful colors. The road, as it wound
upwards gradually emerged from the forest upon a tract of open country,
given signs of one of those original settlements which, at that day,
were sparsely sprinkled through the great wilderness. The space that had
been snatched from the ruggedness of nature, for the purpose of
husbandry, comprehended some three or four fields of thinly cultivated
land. These were yet spotted over with stumps of trees, that seemed to
leave but little freedom to the course of the ploughshare, and bespoke a
thriftless and slovenly tillage. A piece of half cleared ground,
occupying the side of one of the adjacent hills, presented to the eye of
our travellers a yet more uncouth spectacle. This spot was still clothed
with the native trees of the forest, all of which had been
death-stricken by the axe, and now heaved up their withered and sapless
branches towards the heavens, without leaf or spray. In the phrase of
the woodman, they had been _girdled_ some years before, and were
destined to await the slow decay of time in their upright attitude. It
was a grove of huge skeletons that had already been bleached into an
ashy hue by the sun, and whose stiff and dry members rattled in the
breeze with a preternatural harshness. Amongst the most hoary of these
victims of the axe, the gales of winter had done their work and thrown
them to the earth, where the shattered boles and boughs lay as they had
fallen, and were slowly reverting into their original dust. Others,
whose appointed time had not yet been fulfilled, gave evidence of their
struggle with the frequent storm, by their declination from the
perpendicular line. Some had been caught in falling by the boughs of a
sturdier neighbor, and still leaned their huge bulks upon these
supports, awakening the mind of the spectator to the fancy, that they
had sunk in some deadly paroxysm into charitable and friendly arms, and,
thus locked together, abided their tardy but irrevocable doom. It was a
field of the dead; and the more striking in its imagery from the
contrast which it furnished to the rich, verdurous, and lively forest
that, with all the joyousness of health, encompassed this blighted spot.
Its aspect was one of unpleasant desolation; and the traveller of the
present day who visits our western wilds, where this slovenly practice
is still in use, will never pass through such a precinct without a sense
of disgust at the disfiguration of the landscape.

The field thus marred might have contained some fifty acres, and it was
now occupied, in the intervals between the lifeless trunks, with a
feeble crop of Indian corn, whose husky and parched blades, as they
fluttered in the evening wind, added new and appropriate features to the
inexpressible raggedness of the scene. The same effect was further aided
and preserved by the cumbrous and unseemly worm fence that shot forth
its stiff angles around the tract.

On the very apex of the hill up which our travellers were now
clambering, was an inclosure of some three or four acres of land, in the
middle of which, under the shade of a tuft of trees, stood a group of
log cabins so situated as to command a view, of nearly every part of the
farm. The principal structure was supplied with a rude porch that
covered three of its sides; whilst the smoke that curled upwards from a
wide-mouthed chimney, and the accompaniment of a bevy of little negroes
that were seen scattered amongst the out-houses, gave an air of
habitation and life to the place that contrasted well with the
stillness of the neighboring wood. A well-beaten path led into a narrow
ravine where might be discerned, peeping forth from the weeds, the roof
of a spring house; and, in the same neighborhood, a rough garden was
observable, in which a bed of broad-leaved cabbages seemed to have their
ground disputed by a plentiful crop of burdock, thistles, and other
intruders upon a manured soil. In this inclosure, also, the hollyhock
and sunflower, rival coxcombs of the vegetable community, gave their
broad and garish tribute to the beautifying of the spot.

The road approached within some fifty paces of the front of the cabins,
where access was allowed, not by the help of a gate, but only by a kind
of ladder or stile formed of rails, which were so arranged as to furnish
steps across the barrier of the worm fence at four or five feet from the
ground.

"Are you sure of entertainment here, Galbraith?" inquired Butler, as
they halted at the stile. "This Wat Adair is not likely to be churlish,
I hope?"

"I don't think I am in much humor to be turned away," replied Robinson.
"It's my opinion that a man who has rode a whole day has a sort of right
to quarters wherever the night finds him--providing he pays for what he
gets. But I have no doubt of Wat, Major. Holloa! who's at home? Wat
Adair! Wat Adair! Travellers, man! Show yourself."

"Who are you that keep such a racket at the fence there?" demanded a
female voice. "What do you mean by such doings before a peaceable
house?"

"Keep your dogs silent, ma'am," returned Horse Shoe, in a blunt and loud
key, "and you will hear us. If you are Wat Adair's wife you are as good
as master of this house. We want a night's lodging and must have it--and
besides, we have excellent stomachs, and mean to pay for all we get.
Ain't that reason enough to satisfy a sensible woman, Mrs. Adair?"

"If you come to make disturbance," said a man of a short and sturdy
figure, who at this moment stepped out from the house and took a
position in front of it, with a rifle in his hand--"if you come here to
insult a quiet family you had best turn your horses' heads up the road
and jog further."

"We might do that, sir, and fare worse," said Butler, in a conciliatory
tone. "You have no need of your gun; we are harmless travellers who have
come a long way to get under your roof."

"Where from?" asked the other.

"From below," said Horse Shoe promptly.

"What side do you take?"

"Your side for to-night," returned Robinson again. "Don't be
obstropolous, friend," he continued, at the same time dismounting, "we
have come on purpose to pay Wat a visit, and if you ha'n't got no
brawlers in the house, you needn't be afraid of us."

By this time the sergeant had crossed the stile and approached the
questioner, to whom he offered his hand. The man gazed for a moment upon
his visitor, and then asked--

"Isn't this Galbraith Robinson?"

"They call me so," replied Horse Shoe; "and if I ain't mistaken, this is
Michael Lynch. You wan't going to shoot at us, Michael?"

"A man must have sharp eyes when he looks in the face of a neighbor
now-a-days," said the other. "Come in; Wat's wife will be glad to see
you. Wat himself will be home presently. Who have you here, Galbraith?"

"This is Mr. Butler," answered Horse Shoe, as the Major joined them. "He
and me are taking a ride across into Georgia, and we thought we would
give Wat a call just to hear the news."

"You are apt to fetch more news than you will take away," replied the
other; "but there is a good deal doing now in all quarters. Howsever, go
into the house, we must give you something to eat and a bed besides."

After putting their horses in charge of a negro who now approached in
the character of an ostler, our adventurers followed Michael Lynch into
the house.



CHAPTER XIII.

A WOODMAN'S FAMILY.


The apartment into which the travellers were introduced was one of large
dimensions, conspicuous for its huge kitchen-like fire-place and ample
chimney. The floor, consisting of broad planks, was so much warped as,
in several places, to show the ground through the chinks. The furniture
was of the rudest form and most homely materials. Three or four rifles
were suspended against the walls, together with some trapping implements
and various skins of such wild animals of prey and game as abounded in
the woods of this region: these were associated with the antlers of the
buck, powder-horns, hunting pouches, and a few articles of
clothing,--the whole array giving to the room that air of woodland life
which denotes the habitation of a hunter, and which so distinctly
characterizes the dwellings of our frontier population.

Amongst other articles of household use was a large spinning-wheel that
was placed near the door, and beside it stood the dame who had first
challenged the visitors. She was a woman who could scarcely be said to
have reached the middle period of life, although her wan and somewhat
haggard features, and a surly, discontented expression of face, might
well induce an observer to attribute more years to her worldly account
than she had actually seen. The presence of a rough and untidy cradle
and some five or six children, the majority of whom might be below three
feet in stature, served in some degree to explain the care-worn and
joyless countenance of the hostess. When Butler and his companion were
ushered by Lynch into her presence, she gave them no other welcome than
a slight nod of the head, and continued to ply her task at the wheel
with unremitted assiduity.

In another corner of the room sat a smart-looking young girl who, at
this moment, was employed in carding wool. She was sylvan Hebe, just
verging upon womanhood, with a round, active, and graceful figure, which
was adorned with that zealous attention to neatness and becoming
ornament which, in every station of life, to a certain extent,
distinguishes those of the sex who are gifted with beauty. Her cheek had
the rich bloom of high health; a full round blue eye seemed habitually
to laugh with pleasure; and the same trick of a happy temperament had
stamped its mark upon the lines of her mouth. Her accost was altogether
different from that of the mistress of the house. She arose from her
work immediately upon the entrance of the strangers, courtesied with a
modest and silent reserve, and then proceeded to gather up the rolls of
carded wool at her feet and to dispose of them in a chest near at hand.
Having done this, she left the apartment, not without casting sundry
prying glances towards the guests.

Another member of the family was an aged female: she had perhaps seen
her eightieth winter. Her attenuated frame seemed to be hovering on the
verge of dissolution: a hollow cheek, a sunken, moist eye, and a
tremulous palsied motion of the head denoted the melancholy period of
dotage; and it was apparent at a glance that this unfortunate being had
far outlived both her capacity for enjoyment and the sympathy of her
kindred. She now sat in a low elbow-chair, with her head almost in
contact with her knees, upon the stone hearth, bending over a small fire
of brushwood which had been kindled as well for the purpose of preparing
the evening meal as for the comfort of the ancient dame herself--the
chilliness of night-fall rendering this additional warmth by no means
unpleasant. The beldam silently smoked a short pipe, unmoved by anything
that occurred in the apartment, and apparently engrossed with the
trivial care of directing the smoke, as she puffed it from her lips,
into a current that should take it up the chimney.

Michael Lynch, who acted as landlord in the casual absence of Wat Adair,
had no other connexion with the family than that of being joint owner,
with the lord of this wild domain, of a small saw-mill in the vicinity,
the particular superintendence of which was his especial province. He
was, therefore, at particular seasons of the year, an in-dweller at the
homestead, and sufficiently in authority to assume a partial direction
in the affairs of the house. This man now replaced his rifle upon the
pegs appropriated to receive it, and then offered Butler and Robinson
chairs, as he said to the mistress of the family:--

"Here's Horse Shoe Robinson, Mrs. Adair; and this other man I think they
call Mr. Butler. They've come for a night's lodging. I believe Wat will
be right glad to see them."

"You are not often visited with travellers in this part of the country,"
said Butler, addressing the matron as he drew his chair near to the fire
to dry his clothes.

"We have enough of them, such as they are," replied the woman; "and it's
a dangerous thing, when there's so many helpless women at home, to be
opening the door to all sorts of persons."

"You, at least, run no risk in offering shelter to us this evening,"
returned Butler; "we are strangers to the quarrel that prevails in your
district."

"People puts on so many pretences," said the woman, "that there's no
knowing them."

"You have a fine troop of boys and girls," continued Butler, patting the
head of one of the boys who had summoned courage to approach him, after
various shy reconnoitrings of his person. "Your settlement will require
enlargement before long."

"There is more children than is needful," replied the hostess; "they are
troublesome brats; but poor people generally have the luck that way."

"Does your husband ever serve with the army, madam?" asked Butler.

The woman stopped spinning for a moment, and turning her face towards
Butler with a scowl, muttered,

"How does that matter concern you?"

"Pardon me," replied Butler; "I was recommended to Mr. Adair as a
friend, and supposed I might approach his house without suspicion."

"Wat Adair is a fool," said the wife; "who is never content but when he
has other people thrusting their spoons into his mess."

"Wat's a wiser man than his wife," interrupted Robinson bluntly, "and
takes good care that no man thrusts his spoon into his mess without
paying for it. You know Wat and me knows each other of old, Mrs. Adair;
and devil a ha'penny did Wat ever lose by good manners yet."

"And who are you to talk, forsooth, Horse Shoe Robinson!" exclaimed the
ill-favored dame, tartly. "Who are you to talk of Wat Adair? If he knows
you he knows no good of you, I'm sure? I warrant you have come here on
honest business now--you and your tramping friend. What do you do up
here in the woods, when there is work enough for hearty men below? No
good, I will undertake. It is such as you, Horse Shoe Robinson, and your
drinking, rioting, broadsword cronies that has given as all our troubles
here. You know Wat Adair!"

"A little consideration, good woman! Not so fast; you run yourself out
of breath," said Robinson mildly, interrupting this flood of
objurgation. "Why, you are as spiteful as a hen with a fresh brood!
Remember, Wat and me are old friends. Wat has been at my house both
before the war and since, and I have been here--all in friendship you
know. And many's the buck I have helped Wat to fetch down. What's the
use of tantrums? If we had been thieves, Mrs. Adair, you couldn't have
sarved us worse. Why, it's unreasonable in you to fly in a man's face
so."

"I'll vouch for Horse Shoe Robinson, Mrs. Peggy Adair," said Lynch. "You
oughtn't to think harm of him; and you know it isn't long since we heard
Wat talk of him, and say he would like to see him once more!"

"Well, it's my way," replied the hostess, soothed down into a placid
mood by this joint expostulation. "We have had cause to be suspicious,
and I own I am suspicious. But, Horse Shoe Robinson, I can't say I have
anything against you; you and your friend may be welcome for me."

"Heyday!" exclaimed the old crone from the chimney corner "Who is
talking about Horse Shoe Robinson? Is this Horse Shoe? Come here, good
man," she said, beckoning with her finger to the sergeant. "Come close
and let me look at you. Galbraith Robinson, as I am a sinner! All the
way from the Waxhaws. Who'd 'a thought to find you here amongst the
Tories? Such a racketing whig as you. Heyday!"

"Whisht, granny!" said Robinson almost in a whisper. "Don't call names."

"We are all Tories here," said the old woman, heedless of the sergeant's
caution, "ever since last Thursday, when the handsome English officer
was here to see Watty, and to count out his gold like pebble-stones."

"Grandmother, you talk nonsense," said the wife.

"Old Mistress Crosby," interposed Robinson, "is as knowing as she ever
was. It's a mark of sense to be able to tell the day of the week when a
man changes his coat. But, granny, you oughtn't to talk of Wat's seeing
an English officer in his house."

"Golden guineas, honey!" continued the drivelling old woman. "All good
gold! And a proud clinking they make in Watty's homespun pocket. A
countryman's old leather bag, Galbraith Robinson, doesn't often scrape
acquaintance with the image of the king's head--ha, ha, ha! It makes me
laugh to think of it! Ha, ha, ha! Watty's nose cocked up so high too!
Who but he, the proud gander! Strutting like quality. Well, well, pride
will have a fall, some day, that's the Lord's truth. Both pockets full!"
she continued, muttering broken sentences and laughing so violently that
the tears ran down her cheeks.

"If you call Wat Adair your friend," interrupted the wife sullenly, and
addressing Robinson, "you will show your sense by keeping away from this
foolish old woman. She is continually raving with some nonsense that she
dreams of nights. You ought to see that she is only half witted. It's
sinful to encourage her talking. Grandmother, you had better go to your
bed."

"Come this way, deary," said the beldam, addressing an infant that
toddled across the floor near to her seat, at the same time extending
her shrivelled arm to receive it. "Come to the old body, pretty
darling!"

"No," lisped the child with an angry scream, and instantly made its way
towards the door.

"Then do you come to me, Peggy," she said, looking up at her
granddaughter, the mistress of the family, who was still busy with her
wheel. "Wipe my old eye with your handkerchief. Don't you see I have
laughed my eyes dim at Watty and his gold? And fill my pipe again,
Peggy."

Instead of obeying this command, the mother left her spinning, and ran
with some precipitation towards the door to catch up the child, who had
staggered to the very verge of the sill, where it paused in imminent
peril of falling headlong down the step; and having rescued it from its
danger, she returned with the infant in her arms to a chair, where,
without scruple at the presence of her visitors, she uncovered her bosom
and administered to her off-spring that rich and simple bounty which
nature has so lavishly provided for the sustenance of our first and
tenderest days of helplessness.

"Well-a-day, I see how it is!" muttered the grandmother in an accent of
reproof, "that's the way of the world. Love is like a running river, it
goes downwards, but doesn't come back to the spring. The poor old granny
in the chimney corner is a withered tree up the stream, and the youngest
born is a pretty flower on the bank below. Love leaves the old tree and
goes to the flower. It went from me to Peggy's mother, and so downwards
and downwards, but it never will come back again. The old granny's room
is more wanted than her company; she ought to be nailed up in her coffin
and put to sleep down, down in the cold ground. Well, well! But Watty's
a proud wretch, that's for certain!"

In this strain the aged dame continued to pour forth a stream of
garrulity exhibiting a mixture of the silly dreamings of dotage, with a
curious remainder of the scraps and saws of former experience--a strange
compound of futile drivelling and shrewd and quick sagacity.

During the period of the foregoing dialogue, preparations were making
for supper. These were conducted principally under the superintendence
of our Hebe, who, my reader will recollect, some time since escaped from
the room, and who, as Butler learned, in the course of the evening, was
a niece of Adair's wife and bore the kindly name of Mary Musgrove. The
part which she took in the concerns of the family was in accordance with
the simple manners of the time, and such as might be expected from her
relationship. She was now seen arranging a broad table, and directing
the domestics in the disposition of sundry dishes of venison, bacon, and
corn bread, with such other items of fare as belonged to the sequestered
and forest-bound region in which Adair resided.

Mary was frequently caught directing her regards towards Butler, whose
face was handsome enough to have rendered such a thing quite natural
from a young girl: but she seemed to be moved by more than ordinary
interest, as the closeness of her scrutiny almost implied a suspicion in
her mind of his disguise. In truth there was some incongruity between
his manners and the peasant dress he wore, which an eye like Mary's
might have detected, notwithstanding the plainness of demeanor which
Butler studied to assume.

"We have nothing but corn bread in the house," said Mary in a low tone
to her kinswoman, "perhaps the gentlemen (here she directed her eye, for
the fiftieth time, to Butler) expected to get wheat. Had I not better
pull some roasting-ears from the garden and prepare them? they will not
be amiss with our milk and butter."

"Bless you, my dear," said Butler, thrown completely off his guard, and
showing more gallantry than belonged to the station he affected. "Give
yourself no trouble on my account; we can eat anything. I delight in
corn cakes, and will do ample justice to this savory venison. Pray do
not concern yourself for us."

"It is easy as running to the garden," said Mary in a sweet and almost
laughing tone.

"That's further, my dear," replied Butler, "than I choose you should run
at this time of night. It is dark, my pretty girl."

"Gracious!" returned Mary with natural emotion, "do you think I am
afraid to go as far as the garden in the dark? We have no witches or
fairies in our hills to hurt us: and if we had, I know how to keep them
away."

"And how might that be?"

"By saying my prayers, sir. My father taught me, before my head was as
high as the back of this chair, a good many prayers: and he told me they
would protect me from all sorts of harm, if I only said them in right
earnest. And I hear many old people, who ought to know, say the same
thing."

"Your father taught you well and wisely," replied Butler; "prayer will
guard us against many ills, and chiefly against ourselves. But against
the harm that others may do us, we should not forget that prudence is
also a good safeguard. It is always well to avoid a dangerous path."

"But, for all that," said the maiden smiling, "I am not afraid to go as
far as the garden."

"If you mean to get the corn," interrupted Mistress Adair, in no very
kindly tone, "you had as well go without all this talk. I warrant if you
listen to every man who thinks it worth while to jabber in your ear, you
will find harm enough, without going far to seek it."

"I thought it was only civil to speak when I was spoken to," replied
Mary, with an air of mortification. "But I will be gone this moment:"
and with these words the girl went forth upon her errand.

A moment only elapsed when the door was abruptly thrown open, and the
tall and swarthy figure of Wat Adair strode into the room. The glare of
the blazing faggots of pine which had been thrown on the fire to light
up the apartment, fell broadly over his person, and flung a black and
uncouth shadow across the floor and upon the opposite wall; thus
magnifying his proportions and imparting a picturesque character to his
outward man. A thin, dark, weather-beaten countenance, animated by a
bright and restless eye, expressed cunning rather than hardihood, and
seemed habitually to alternate between the manifestations of waggish
vivacity and distrust. The person of this individual might be said, from
its want of symmetry and from a certain slovenly and ungraceful stoop in
the head and shoulders, to have been protracted, rather than tall. It
better deserved the description of sinewy than muscular, and
communicated the idea of toughness in a greater degree than strength.
His arms and legs were long; and the habit of keeping the knee bent as
he walked, suggested a remote resemblance in his gait to that of a
panther and other animals of the same species; it seemed to be adapted
to a sudden leap or spring.

His dress was a coarse and short hunting-shirt of dingy green, trimmed
with a profusion of fringe, and sufficiently open at the collar to
disclose his long and gaunt neck; a black leather belt supported a
hunting knife and wallet; whilst a pair of rude deer-skin moccasins and
a cap manufactured from the skin of some wild animal, and now deprived
of its hair by long use, supplied the indispensable gear to either
extremity of his person.

Adair's first care was to bestow in their proper places his rifle and
powder-horn; then to disburden himself of a number of squirrels which
were strung carelessly over his person, and, finally, to throw himself
into a chair that occupied one side of the fire-place. The light for a
moment blinded him, and it was not until he shaded his brow with his
hand and looked across the hearth, that he became aware of the presence
of the strangers. His first gaze was directed to Butler, to whom he
addressed the common interrogatory, "Travelling in these parts, sir?"
and, before time was afforded for a reply to this accost, his eye
recognised the sergeant, upon which, starting from his seat, he made up
to our sturdy friend, and slapping him familiarly on the back, uttered a
chuckling laugh, as he exclaimed:

"Why, Galbraith, is it you, man? To be sure it is! What wind has blown
you up here? Have you been running from red coats, or are you hunting of
Tories, or are you looking for beeves? Who have you got with you here?"

"Wat, it don't consarn you to know what brought us here--it is only your
business to do the best you can for us whilst we are here," replied the
sergeant. "This here gentleman is Mr. Butler, a friend of mine that
wants to get across into Georgia; and trouble enough we've had to find
our way this far, Wat Adair. You've got such an uproarious country, and
such a cursed set of quarrelsome devils in it, that a peaceable man is
clean out of fashion amongst you. We are as wet as muskrats in swimming
the river, and as hungry as wolves in winter."

"And happy," said Butler, "to be at last under the roof of a friend."

"Well, I am glad to see you both," replied Wat. "What put it in my head,
Galbraith, I am sure I can't tell, but I was thinking about you this
very day; said I to myself, I should just like to see Horse Shoe
Robinson, the onconceivable, superfluous, roaring devil! Haw, haw, haw!"

"You were ashamed of your own company, Wat, and wanted to see a decent
man once more," replied Horse Shoe, echoing the laugh.

"Mary Musgrove, bustle, girl," said the woodman, as the maiden entered
the room with her arms loaded with ears of Indian corn, "bustle, mink!
here are two runaways with stomachs like mill stones to grind your corn.
Horse Shoe, get up from that chist, man; I can give you a little drop of
liquor, if you will let me rummage there for it. Marcus, boy, go bring
us in a jug of cool water. Wife, I'm 'stonished you didn't think of
giving our friends something to drink afore."

"I am sure I don't pretend to know friend from foe," returned the dame;
"and it is a bad way to find that out by giving them liquor."

When the boy returned with the water, and the host had helped his guests
to a part of the contents of a flask which had been extracted from the
chest, Butler took occasion to commend the alacrity of the young
servitor.

"This is one of your children, I suppose?"

"A sort of a pet cub," replied the woodman; "just a small specimen of my
fetching up: trees squirrels like a dog--got the nose of a hound--can
track a raccoon in the dark--and the most meddlesome imp about fire-arms
you ever see. Here t' other day got my rifle and shot away half the hair
from his sister's head; but I reckon I skinned him for it! You can
answer for that, Marcus, you shaver, eh?"

"I expect you did," answered the boy pertly, "but I don't mind a
whipping when I've got room to dodge."

"Do you know, Mr. Butler, how I come to call that boy Marcus?" said
Adair.

"It is one of your family names, perhaps."

"Not a bit. There's nare another boy nor man in this whole country round
has such a name--nor woman, neither. It's a totally oncommon name. I
called him after that there Frenchman that's come out here to help
General Washington--Marcus Lafayette; and I think it sounds mighty
well."

Butler laughed, as he replied, "That was a soldierly thought of yours. I
think you must call your next Baron, after our old Prussian friend De
Kalb."

"Do you hear that, wife?" exclaimed Wat. "Keep that in your head, if it
will hold there a twelvemonth. No occasion to wait longer, haw! haw!
haw!"

"Wat talks like a natural born fool," retorted the wife. "We have no
friends nor enemies on any side. The boy was called Marcus because Watty
was headstrong, and not because we cared any more for one general nor
another. I dare say there is faults enough on both sides, if the truth
was told; and I can't see what people in the woods have to do with all
this jarring about liberty and such nonsense."

"Hold your tongue!" said Wat. "Boil your kettle, and give us none of
your tinkling brass, as the Bible calls it. You see, Horse Shoe, there's
such ridings and burnings, and shooting and murder about here, that
these women are scared out of the little wits God has given them; and
upon that account we are obliged sometimes to play a little double, just
to keep out of harm's way. But I am sure I wish no ill to the
Continental army."

"If we thought you did, Wat," replied Robinson, "we would have slept on
the hill to-night, rather than set foot across the sill of your door.
Howsever, let's say nothing about that; I told Mr. Butler that you would
give us the best you had, and so you will. I have known Wat Adair, Mr.
Butler, a good many years. We used to call him Wat with the double hand.
Show us your fist here, Wat. Look at that, sir! it's as broad as a
shovel!"

"Cutting of trees," said the woodman, as he spread his large
horny-knuckled hand upon the supper table, "and handling of logs, will
make any man's paw broad, and mine wa'n't small at first."

"Ha! ha! ha!" ejaculated the sergeant, "you ha'n't forgot Dick Rowley
over here on Congaree, Wat,--Walloping Dick, as they nicknamed him--and
the scrimmage you had with him when he sot to laughing at you because
they accused you for being light-fingered, and your letting him see that
you had a heavy hand, by giving him the full weight of it upon his ear
that almost drove him through the window of the bar-room at the Cross
Roads? You ha'n't forgot that--and his drawing his knife on you?"

"To be sure I ha'n't. That fellow was about as superfluous a piece of
wicked flesh as I say--as a man would meet on a summer's day journey.
But for all that, Horse Shoe, he wa'n't going to supererogate me,
without getting as good as he sent. When I come across one of your merry
fellows that's for playing cantraps on a man, it's my rule to make them
pay the piper; and that's a pretty good rule, Horse Shoe, all the world
through. But come, here is supper; draw up, Mr. Butler."

Mary Musgrove having completed the arrangement of the board whilst this
conversation was in progress, the family now sat down to their repast.
It was observable, during the meal, that Mary was very attentive in the
discharge of the offices of the table, and especially when they were
required by Butler. There was a modest and natural courtesy in her
demeanor that attracted the notice of our soldier, and enhanced the
kindly impression which the artless girl had made upon him; and it was,
accordingly, with a feeling composed, in one degree, of curiosity to
learn more of her character, and, in another, of that sort of tenderness
which an open-hearted man is apt to entertain towards an ingenuous and
pretty female, that he took occasion after supper, when Mary had seated
herself on the threshold of the porch, to fall into conversation with
her.

"You do not live here, I think I have gathered, but are only on a
visit?" was the remark addressed to the maiden.

"No, sir; it is thirty good long miles by the shortest road, from this
to my father's house. Mistress Adair is my mother's sister, and that
makes her my aunt, you know, sir."

"And your father's name?"

"Allen Musgrove. He has a mill, sir, on the Ennoree."

"You are the miller's daughter, then. Well, that's a pretty title. I
suppose they call you so?"

"The men sometimes call me," replied Mary, rising to her feet, and
leaning carelessly against one of the upright timbers that supported the
porch, "the miller's pretty daughter, but the women call me plain Mary
Musgrove."

"Faith, my dear, the men come nearer to the truth than the women."

"They say not," replied the maiden, "I have heard, and sometimes I have
read in good books--at least, they called them good books--that you
mustn't believe the men."

"And why should you not?"

"I don't well know why not," returned the girl doubtingly, "but I am
young, and maybe I shall find it out by and by."

"God forbid," said Butler, "that you should ever gain that experience!
But there are many toils spread for the feet of innocence in this world,
and it is well to have a discreet eye and good friends."

"I am seventeen, sir," replied Mary, "come next month; and though I have
travelled backwards and forwards from here to Ennoree, and once to
Camden, which, you know, sir, is a good deal of this world to see, I
never knew anybody that thought harm of me. But I don't dispute there
are men to be afraid of, and some that nobody could like. And yet I
think a good man can be told by his face."

"Are you sure of that?"

"Yes. My father is a good man, and every one says you may see it in his
looks."

"I should like to know your father," said Butler.

"I am sure he would be glad to know you, sir."

"Now, my pretty miller's daughter, why do you think so?"

"Because you are a gentleman," replied the girl, courtesying, "for all
your homespun clothes."

"Ha! pray how have you found that out?"

"You talk differently from our people, sir. Your words or your voice, I
can't rightly tell which, are softer than I have been used to hear. And
you don't look, and walk, and behave as if homespun had been all you
ever wore."

"And is that all?"

"You stop to consider, as if you were studying what would please other
people; and you do not step so heavy, sir; and you do not swear; and you
do not seem to like to give trouble. I can't think, sir, that you have
been always used to such as are hereabouts. And then there's another
reason, sir," added the maiden, almost in a whisper.

"What is that?" asked Butler, smiling.

"Why, sir, when you stooped down to pick up your fork, that fell from
the table, I saw a blue ribbon round your neck, and a beautiful gold
picture hanging to it. None but gentlemen of quality carry such things
about them: and as there is so much contriving and bloody doings going
on about here, I was sure you wasn't what you seemed."

"For heaven's sake, my dear," exclaimed Butler, startled by the
disclosure of the maiden's suspicion, which was so naturally accounted
for, "keep this to yourself, and the time may come when I shall be able
to reward your fidelity. If you have any good will towards me, as I hope
you have, tell nobody what you have seen."

"Never fear me, sir," returned the maid. "I wouldn't let on to any one
in the house for the world. I am for General Washington and the
Congress, which is more than I think the people here are."

"Indeed!" muttered Butler, thoughtfully, and scarce above his breath.
"What side does your father take, Mary?"

"My father is an old man, sir. And he reads his Bible, and every night,
before we go to bed, he prays aloud before us all, I mean all that
belong to his house, for quiet once more and peace. His petition is that
there may be an end of strife, and that the sword and spear may be
turned into the pruning-hook and ploughshare--you know the words, sir,
perhaps, for they are in the good book, and so he doesn't take any side.
But then, the English officers are not far off, and they take his house
and use it as they please, so that he has no mind of his own. And almost
all the people round us are Tories, and we are afraid of our lives if we
do not say whatever they say."

"Alas! that's the misfortune of many more than your father's household.
But how comes it that you are a friend of General Washington?"

"Oh, sir, I think he is our friend; and then he is a good man. And I
have a better reason still to be on his side," added the maiden
tremulously, with her head averted.

"What reason, my good girl?"

"John Ramsay, sir."

"Indeed! a very cogent reason, I doubt not, my pretty maid of the mill.
And how does this reason operate?"

"We have a liking, sir," she replied bashfully, but with innocent
frankness; "he is for Washington, and we are to be married when the war
is over."

"Truly, that is a most excellent reason! Who is John Ramsay?"

"He is a trooper, sir, and out with General Sumpter. We don't see him
often now, for he is afraid to come home, excepting when the Tories are
away."

"These Tories are very troublesome, Mary," said Butler, laughing; "they
annoy us all, on our side of the question. But love John Ramsay, my
dear, and don't be ashamed of it, for I'll warrant he is a brave fellow,
and deserves a pretty girl with a true heart, for his love to his
country."

"That he does!" replied Mary, "for his greatest fault is that he
ventures too much. If you should see him, sir, I would like you just to
drop him a hint that he ought to take more care of himself. He would
mind it from you, but he puts me off with a laugh when I tell him so."

"If I have the schooling of him, he shall be more cautious, for your
sake. But the current of true love never did run smooth, Mary; remember
that."

"I must go into the house, my aunt Peggy calls me," interrupted the
maiden. "I will keep the secret, sir," she added, as she retired from
the porch to the household service where her presence was demanded.

"Simple, innocent, and confiding girl," ejaculated Butler, as he now
strolled forth under the starlit canopy of night; "how are you
contrasted with the rough and savage natures around you! I wear but a
thin disguise, when this unpractised country girl is able so soon to
penetrate it. And this miniature, too! Oh, Mildred! that the very
talisman I bear about me to guard me from evil, should betray me! Well,
this discovery admonishes me that I should wear that image nearer to my
heart. There," he continued, as he buttoned his waistcoat across his
breast; "lie closer and more concealed. I doubt this double-faced
woodman, and almost believe in the seeming frivolous dotings of the
crone at his fire-side. Now, God defend us from treachery and
ambuscade!"

Robinson, at this moment, being on his way to the stable, was met by
Butler, who half whispered, "Good sergeant, keep your eyes about you,
and, mark me, do not omit to take our weapons to our chamber. I have
reasons for this caution. I would not trust these people too far."

"Wat dare not play us a trick, major," replied the sergeant. "He knows
I would shake the life out of his carcase if I saw him take one step of
a traitor. Besides, in this here war time, it's a part of my discipline
to be always ready for stolen marches. As you say, major, we will stack
arms where we sleep. There is no trust in this dubious country that
isn't something the surer with powder and ball to back it."

With this intimation the sergeant continued his walk, and Butler,
retiring to the family group, seated himself near the fire.

Wat Adair and his crony, Michael Lynch, had each lighted a pipe, and
were now in close conference under the cover of their own smoke, amidst
the combined din of romping children and of the noisy spinning-wheel of
the wife, which gave life and occupation to the apartment.

"How far do you expect to travel to-morrow?" asked the host, as Butler
drew a chair near him.

"That will depend very much," replied Butler, "upon the advice you may
give us."

"You wish to get across here into Georgia?" continued Wat.

"By the route least liable to molestation," added the major.

"Let me see, Michael, Grindall's Ford is the best point to make: then
there's Christie's, about three miles beyont."

"Just so," replied Lynch; "that will make about twenty-seven and three
are thirty miles: an easy day's journey."

"In that case," said Adair, "if you know the road--doesn't Horse Shoe
know it, sir?"

"I rather think not," answered Butler.

"Well, it's a little tangled, to be sure; but if you will wait in the
morning until I look at my wolf trap, which is only a step off, I will
go with you part of the way, just to see you through one or two cross
paths: after that all is clear enough. You will have a long day before
you, and, with good horses, not much to do."

"Are we likely to meet parties on the road?" asked Butler.

"Oh, Lord, sir, no chance of it," replied the woodman; "everything is
drawing so to a head down below at Camden 'twixt Cornwallis and Gates,
that we have hardly anything but old women left to keep the country free
of Indians."

"And how have you escaped the levy?" inquired the major.

"He, he, he!" chuckled our host; "there's a trick in that. They call me
a man of doubtful principles, and neither side are willing to own me,"
he added, with a tone that seemed to indicate a sense of his own
cleverness. "But, bless you, sir, if I chose to speak out, there
wouldn't be much doubt in the case. Would there, Michael?"

"Not if you was to be plain in declaring your sentiments," answered
Lynch, sedately puffing out a huge cloud of smoke.

"Betwixt you and me, sir," continued Wat, putting his hand up to his
mouth, and winking an eye at Butler, "the thing's clear enough. But
these are ticklish times, Mr. Butler, and the wise man keepeth his own
counsel, as the Scripture says. You understand me, I dare say."

"Perhaps, I do," returned Butler. And here the conversation dropped, Wat
and his companion gravely pouring forth volumes of tobacco-fumes in
silence, until the sergeant, having made his visit to the stable, now
re-entered the room.

"Wat," said Robinson, "show us where we are to sleep. Mr. Butler, to my
thinking, it's time to be turning in."

Then throwing his rifle upon one arm, and Butler's holsters over the
other, the sergeant waited in the middle of the floor until Mary
Musgrove, at the order of Adair, took a candle in her hand, and beckoned
our travellers to follow her out at the door. The maiden conducted her
charge along the porch to the opposite end of the cabin, where she
pointed out their chamber. After bidding their pretty conductress "good
night," our travellers prepared themselves for that repose which their
wearied frames did not long seek in vain.



CHAPTER XIV.

SOMETHING VERY LIKE A DREAM.


It was after midnight, and the inmates of the woodman's cabin had been
some hours at rest, when Mary Musgrove's sleep was disturbed by strange
and unwonted alarms. She was dreaming of Arthur Butler, and a crowd of
pleasant visions flitted about her pillow, when, suddenly, clouds
darkened the world of her dream, and images of bloodshed caused her to
shudder. Horrid shapes appeared to her, marching with stealthy pace
through her apartment, and a low and smothered footfall seemed to strike
her ear like the ticking of a death-watch. The fright awakened her, but
when she came to herself all was still. Her chamber was at the opposite
end of the cabin from that where Butler and Robinson slept, and it was
separated from the room occupied by Lynch only by a thin partition of
boards. The starlight through her window fell upon the floor, just
touching, as it passed, the chair over which Mary had hung her clothes,
and lighting with a doubtful and spectral light the prominent points of
the pile of garments, in such manner as to give it the semblance of some
unearthly thing. Mary Musgrove had the superstition common to rustic
education, and, as her dream had already filled her mind with
apprehensions, she now trembled when her eye fell upon what seemed to
her a visitant from another world. For some moments she experienced that
most painful of all sufferings, the agony of young and credulous minds
when wrought upon by their horror of spectres in the night. Gradually,
however, the truth came to her aid, and she saw the dreaded ghost
disrobed of his terrors, and changed into a familiar and harmless
reality. But this night-fear was scarcely dissipated before she again
heard, what in her sleep had conjured up the train of disagreeable
images, the noise of footsteps in the adjoining room. In another instant
she recognised the sound of voices conversing in a half whisper.

"Michael," said the first voice; "Damn it, man, will you never awake?
Rouse yourself; it is time to be stirring."

"Wat!" exclaimed the second voice, with a loud yawn, whilst at the same
moment the creaking of the bedstead and a sullen sound upon the floor
showed that the speaker had risen from his couch. "Is it you? I have
hardly gone to bed, before you are here to rouse me up. What o'clock is
it?"

"It is nearly one," replied Wat Adair. "And let me tell you, you have no
time to lose. Hugh Habershaw is good ten miles off, and you must be back
by daylight."

"You might have given me another hour, I think, if it was only to
consider over the right way of setting about this thing. Always look
before you leap, that's common sense."

"You were always a heavy-headed devil," said Adair; "and take as much
spurring as a spavined horse. What have you to do with considering?
Isn't all fixed? Jog, man, jog. You have a beautiful starlight: and I
had the crop-ear put up in the stable last night, that no time might be
lost; so up, and saddle, and away!"

"Well, you needn't be so d----d busy; don't you see that I am getting
ready?"

"Quiet, Mike; you talk too loud. Take your shoes in your hand, you can
put them on when you get into the porch."

"There, give me my coat, Wat; and I think I should have no objection to
a drop before I set out. It's raw riding of a morning. Now tell me
exactly what I am to say to Hugh Habershaw."

"Tell him," replied Wat, "that we have got Horse Shoe Robinson and Major
Butler of the Continental army, as snug as a pair of foxes in a bag, and
that I will let them run exactly at seven; and--"

"Not to interrupt you, Wat," said the other, "let me ask you a question
before you go on. Suppose this shouldn't be the man? Are you sure of it?
It would be a d----d unchristian job to give over any other human being
to such a set of bloodhounds as Hugh Habershaw and his gang."

"Shaw, Mike; you are a fool! Who, in the name of all the imps, could it
be, but Major Butler! Weren't we expecting him along with Horse Shoe,
and just at this time?"

"It looks likely enough," replied Lynch. "So go on."

"Tell Hugh to be ready at the Dogwood Spring, at the latest, by eight
o'clock. I'll give him a game to play that will supple his joints for
him. And mind me Mike, warn the greasy captain to have his whole squad
with him; for Horse Shoe Robinson, you know, is not to be handled by
boys; it will be a bull-fight, or I'm mistaken."

"The major seems to have a wicked eye too, Wat," said Lynch. "I
shouldn't like much to be in his way, if he was angry; these copperheads
are always in a coil ready to strike. But, Wat, how if they don't ride
by the Dogwood Spring?"

"Leave that to me; I'll contrive to go as far as the forks of the road
with them. And then, if they don't take the right hand fork, why, you
may say it's for the want of my not knowing how to tell a lie."

"Now, Wat Adair, I don't like to spoil sport, but, may be, you have
never thought whether it would be worth while just to take t'other side,
and tell Horse Shoe the whole business. Couldn't we, don't you think,
get as much money, and just as honestly, by hoisting colors with Major
Butler?"

"But I _have_ thought of that, and it won't do, for two reasons. First,
these Continentals are on the down-hill, and money is as scarce with
them as honesty with the red-coats: and, second, the Tories have got so
much the upper hand in the whole country, that I should have my house
burnt down and my children thrown into the blaze of it, in less than
three days, if I was to let these fellows slip through my fingers."

"Well, I never knew," said Mike Lynch, "any piece of villany that hadn't
some good reasons to stand by it, and that's what makes it agreeable to
my conscience to take a hand."

"Why, you off-scouring," replied Wat, "it is enough to make Old Scratch
laugh, to hear you talk about conscience! There ain't no such a thing
going in these days. So be off; I'll look for you at daylight."

"I'll ride, Wat, as if the devil was on my crupper; so good bye!"

The cessation of the voices, the distant tramp of Lynch when he had left
the cabin, and the cautious retreat of Wat Adair to his chamber, told
to Mary that the affair was settled, and the plan of treachery in full
career towards its consummation.

The dialogue that had just passed in the hearing of the maiden,
disclosed a plot that deeply agitated and distressed her. What did it
become her to do, was the first question that presented itself to her
reflection, as soon as she was sufficiently self-possessed to turn her
thoughts upon herself. Was it in her power to avert the impending
disaster which threatened the lives, perhaps, of those who had sought
the hospitality of her kinsman? Perplexed, dismayed, and uncertain how
to act, she had recourse to an expedient natural to her education, and
such as would appear most obvious to a feeble and guileless female: it
was to the simple and faith-inspired expedient of prayer. And now, in
artless but sincere language, having first risen up in her bed, and bent
her body across her pillow, in the attitude of supplication, she
fervently implored the support of Heaven in her present strait, and
besought wisdom and strength to conceive and to do that which was
needful for the security of the individuals whose peace was threatened
by this conspiracy.

"I will arise," she said, as she finished her short and earnest prayer,
"with the first light of the dawn, and wait the coming of the strangers
from their chamber, and I will then be the first to tell them of the
snare that is prepared for them." With this resolve she endeavored to
compose herself to rest, but sleep fled her eyelids, and her anxious
thoughts dwelt upon and even magnified the threatened perils. It might
be too late, she reflected, to wait for the dawn of day; Adair might be
before her at the door of the guests, and his constant presence might
take from her all hope of being able to communicate the important secret
to them: it was undoubtedly her surest course to take advantage of the
stillness of the night, whilst the household were wrapt in sleep, and
apprise the strangers of their danger. But then, how was she to make her
way to their apartment, and arouse them, at this hour, from their
slumbers? To what suspicions might the attempt expose her, even from
Arthur Butler himself? And, more particularly, what would John Ramsay
think of it, if the story should be afterwards told to her disadvantage?

This last was an interrogatory which Mary Musgrove was often found
putting to herself, in winding up a self-communion. On the present
occasion this appeal to the opinion of John Ramsay had the opposite
effect from that which might have been expected from it. It suggested
new lights to her mind, and turned her thoughts into another current,
and brought that resolution to her aid which her prayer was intended to
invoke. What would John Ramsay think--he, the friend of liberty, and of
Washington, the compatriot of Butler and Robinson, now toiling with them
in the same cause! What would he think, if she, his own Mary (and the
maiden rested a moment on this phrase), did _not_ do everything in her
power to save these soldiers of independence from the blow which
treachery was now aiming at them? "John would have good right to be
angry with me," she breathed out in a voice that even startled herself,
"if I did not give them full warning of what I have heard. This I am
sure of, he will believe _my_ story whatever others may say."

Innocence and purity of mind are both sword and shield in this world,
and no less inspire confidence to defy the malice and uncharitableness
of enemies than they strengthen the arm to do what is right. Mary,
therefore, resolved to forego all maidenly scruples and bravely to
perform her duty, come what might; and having settled upon this
conclusion she impatiently awaited the moment when she might venture
forth upon her office of humanity. In this situation it was not long
before she heard the distant footfall of a horse's gallop along the
road, indicating to her the departure of Michael Lynch upon his
traitorous embassy.

The time seemed to be propitious, so Mary arose and dressed herself.
Then tripping stealthily to the door that opened upon the porch, she
undid the bolt. A loud and prolonged creak, from the wooden hinges,
caused her to shake from head to foot. She listened for a moment, and,
finding that no one stirred, stepped forth with the timid and faltering
step which would no less have marked the intent of the burglar, than, as
now it did, the frightened motion of a guardian spirit bent upon an
errand of good. Midway along the porch she had to pass the window of
Adair's apartment; first, the low growl, and then the sudden bark of the
watch-dog saluted her ear, and made her blood run cold. The maiden's
hand, however, soothed him into silence; but the noise had attracted
the notice of Wat Adair, who grumbled out a short curse from within,
which was distinctly audible to Mary. She hastily fled to the further
end of the porch, and there stood cowering close against the wall,
almost as mute and motionless as a statue, scarce daring to breathe, and
poised, as in the act to run, with her weight resting on one foot, the
other raised from the floor. In this position she remained during a long
interval of fear, until, at length, convinced that all was quiet, she
again ventured forward. The window of the travellers' chamber looked out
from the gable end of the dwelling, and she was now immediately before
it. One of the beds of the room, she knew, was placed beside this
window, and was occupied by either Butler or Robinson. Tremblingly and
mistrustfully, she gave a feeble tap with her hand against the sash.
There was no answer: the sleep within was the sleep of tired men, and
was not to be broken by the light play of a maiden's fingers. She now
picked up a pebble from the ground, and with it again essayed to wake
the sleepers. This, too, was unsuccessful. In utter hopelessness of
accomplishing her purpose by other means, she ventured upon raising the
sash; and having done so, she thrust her head partially into the room as
she held up the window-frame with one hand, crying out with an almost
choked voice.

"Mr. Butler! Mr. Butler! For mercy, awake!"

There was no other response but the deep breathings of the sleep-subdued
inmates.

"Oh! what shall I do?" she exclaimed, as her heart beat with a violent
motion. "I might as well call to the dead. Mr. Galbraith Robinson! Ah
me, I cannot rouse them without alarming the whole house! Major Butler,"
she continued, laying a particular stress upon this designation of his
rank, "Oh, good sir, awake!"

"What do you want?" muttered Butler in a smothered and sleep-stifled
voice, as he turned himself heavily on his pillow, like one moved by a
dream.

"Oh, heaven, sir, make no noise! I am ashamed to tell you who I am,"
said the terrified girl, "but I come for your good--I have something to
tell you."

"Away, away!" cried Butler, speaking in his sleep, "I will not be
disturbed: I do not fear you. Begone!"

"Oh, sir, hear me," entreated the maiden, "the people in this house know
you and they are contriving evil against you."

"It makes no difference," muttered the only half-awakened soldier. "I
will ride where it suits me, if the Tories were as thick as the leaves
of the trees."

"There are people gathering to do you harm to-morrow," continued Mary,
not suspecting the unconsciousness of the person to whom she addressed
herself, "and I only come with a word of warning to you. Do not ride by
the Dogwood Spring to-morrow, nor take the right hand road at the first
forks: there are wicked men upon that road. Have your eye," she
whispered, "upon my uncle Walter. Ride fast and far, before you stop;
and pray, sir, as you think fairly of me--Mary Musgrove, sir,--the
daughter of Allen Musgrove, the miller--oh, do not tell my name. If you
knew John Ramsay, sir, I am certain you would believe me."

The watch-dog had growled once or twice during the period while Mary
spoke, and at this moment the door of the principal room of the cabin
was heard to move slightly ajar, and the voice of Adair, in a whisper,
reached the girl's ear.

"Hist, Michael! In the devil's name what brought you back? Why do you
loiter, when time is so precious?"

A long, heavy, and inarticulate exclamation, such as belongs to
disturbed sleep, escaped from Butler.

"Father of heaven, I shall let the window fall with fright!" inwardly
ejaculated Mary, as she still occupied her uneasy station. "Hush, it is
the voice of my uncle."

There was a painful pause.

A heavy rush of wind agitated the trees, and sweeping along the porch
caused some horse-gear that was suspended against the wall to vibrate
with a rustling noise: the sound pierced Mary's ear like the accents of
a ghost, and her strength had well nigh failed her from
faint-heartedness.

"I thought it was Michael," said Adair, speaking to some one within,
"but it is only the rattling of harness and the dreaming of Drummer.
These dogs have a trick of whining and growling in their sleep according
to a way of their own. They say a dog sometimes sees a spirit at night.
But man or devil it's all one to old Drummer! Sleep quiet, you
superfluous, and have done with your snoring!"

With these words, the door was again closed, and Mary, for the moment,
was released from suffering.

"Remember," she uttered in the most fear-stricken tone, as she lowered
the sash. "Be sure to take the left hand road at the first fork!"

"In God's name, what is it? Where are you?" was the exclamation heard by
Mary as the window was closing. She did not halt for further parley or
explanation, but now hastily stole back, like a frightened bird towards
its thicket. Panting and breathless, she regained her chamber, and with
the utmost expedition betook herself again to bed, where, gratified by
the consciousness of having done a good action, and fully trusting that
her caution would not be disregarded, she gradually dismissed her
anxiety, and, before the hour of dawning, had fallen into a gentle
though not altogether unperturbed slumber.



CHAPTER XV.

HORSE SHOE AND BUTLER RESUME THEIR JOURNEY, WHICH IS DELAYED BY A SAVAGE
INCIDENT.


Morning broke, and with the first day-streak Robinson turned out of his
bed, leaving Butler so thoroughly bound in the spell of sleep, that he
was not even moved by the loud and heavy tramp of the sergeant, as that
weighty personage donned his clothes. Horse Shoe's first habit in the
morning was to look after Captain Peter, and he accordingly directed his
steps towards the rude shed which served as a stable, at the foot of the
hill. Here, to his surprise, he discovered that the fence-rails which,
the night before, had been set up as a barrier across the vacant
doorway, had been let down, and that no horses were to be seen about the
premises.

"What hocus-pocus has been here?" said he to himself, as he gazed upon
the deserted stable. "Have these rummaging and thieving Tories been out
maraudering in the night? or is it only one of Captain Peter's
old-sodger tricks, letting down bars and leading the young geldings into
mischief? That beast can snuff the scent of a corn field or a pasture
ground as far as a crow smells gunpowder. He'd dislocate and corruptify
any innocent stable of horses in Carolina!"

In doubt to which of these causes to assign this disappearance of their
cavalry, the sergeant ascended the hill hard-by, and directed his eye
over the neighboring fields, hoping to discover the deserters in some of
the adjacent pastures. But he could get no sight of them. He then
returned to the stable and fell to examining the ground about the door,
in order to learn something of the departure of the animals by their
tracks. These were sufficiently distinct to convince him that Captain
Peter, whose shoes had a peculiar mark well known to the sergeant, had
eloped during the night, in company with the major's gelding and two
others, these being all, as Horse Shoe had observed, that were in the
stable at the time he had retired to bed. He forthwith followed the
foot-prints which led him into the high road, and thence along it
westward for about two hundred paces, where a set of field bars, now
thrown down, afforded entrance into the cornfield. At this point the
sergeant traced the deviation of three of the horses into the field,
whilst the fourth, it was evident, had continued upon the road.

The conclusion which Galbraith drew from this phenomenon was expressed
by a wise shake of the head and a profound fit of abstraction. He took
his seat upon a projecting rail at the angle of the fence, and began to
sum up conjectures in the following phrase:

"The horse that travelled along that road, never travelled of his own
free will: that's as clear as preaching. Well, he wa'n't rode by Wat nor
by Mike Lynch, or else they are arlier men than I take them to be: but
still, I'll take a book oath that creetur went with a bridle across his
head, and a pair o' legs astride his back. And whoever held that bridle
in his hand, did it for no good! Scampering here and scampering there,
and scouring woods in the night too, when the country is as full of
Tories as a beggar's coat with----, it's a dogmatical bad sign, take it
which way you will. Them three horses had the majority, and it is the
nature of these beasts always to follow the majority: that's an
observation I have made; and, in particular, if there's a cornfield, or
an oatpatch, or a piece of fresh pasture to be got into, every
individual horse is unanimous on the subject."

Whilst the sergeant was engrossed with these reflections, "he was ware,"
as the old ballads have it, of a man trudging past him along the road.
This was no other than Wat Adair, who was striding forward with a long
and rapid step, and with all the appearance of one intent upon some
pressing business.

"Halloo! who goes there? where away so fast, Wat?" was Robinson's
challenge.

"Horse Shoe!" exclaimed Adair, in a key that bespoke surprise, and even
alarm,--"Ha, ha, ha!--By the old woman's pipe, you frightened me! I'll
swear, Galbraith Robinson, I heard you snoring as I passed by your
window three minutes ago."

"I'll swear that's not the truest word you ever spoke in your life,
Wat; though true enough for you, mayhap. Do you see how cleverly yon
light has broke across the whole sky? When I first turned out this
morning it was a little ribbon of day: the burning of a block-house at
night, ten miles off, would have made a broader streak. It was your own
snoring you heard, Wat; you have only forgot under whose window it was."

"What old witch has been pinching you, Horse Shoe, that _you_ are up so
early?" asked Adair. "Get back to the house, man, I will be with you
presently; I have my farm to look after, I'll see you presently."

"You seem to me to be in a very onreasonable hurry, Wat, considering
that you have the day before you. But, softly, I'll walk with you, if
you have no unliking to it."

"No, no, I'm busy, Galbraith; I'm going to look after my traps; I'd
rather you'd go back to the house and hurry breakfast. Go! You would
only get scratched with briers if you followed me."

"Ha, ha, ha! Wat! Briers, did you say? Look here, man, do you see them
there legs? Do they look as if they couldn't laugh at yourn in any sort
of scrambling I had a mind to set them to? Tut, I'll go with you just to
larn you the march drill."

"Then I'll not budge a foot after the traps."

"You are crusty, Wat Adair; what's the matter with you?"

"Is Major Butler up yet?" asked the woodman thoughtfully.

"_Who_ do you say? _Major_ Butler."

"_Major!_" cried Adair, with affected surprise.

"Yes, you called him Major Butler?"

"I had some dream, I think, about him: or, didn't you call him so
yourself, Horse Shoe?"

"Most undoubtedly, I did not," replied Robinson seriously.

"Then I dreamt it, Horse Shoe: these dreams sometimes get into the head,
like things we have been told. But, Galbraith, tell me the plain
up-and-down truth, what brings you and Mr. Butler into these parts? What
are you after in Georgia? It does seem strange to find men that are
wanted below, straggling here in our woods at such a time as this."

"There are two sorts of men in this world, Wat," said the sergeant, with
a smile, "them that axes questions, and them that won't answer
questions. Now, which, do you think, I belong to? Why, to the last, you
tinker! Where are our horses, Wat? Tell me that. Who let them out of the
stable?"

"Perhaps they let themselves out," replied Adair, "they were not
haltered."

"You are either knave or fool, Wat. Come here. There are the tracks of
the beast that carried the man up this road, who sot loose all the
horses that were in that stable."

"Mike Lynch, perhaps," said Adair, with an assumed expression of
ignorance. "Where can that fellow have been so early? Oh, I remember, he
told me last night that he was going this morning to the blacksmith's.
He ought to be back by this time."

"And you are here to larn the news from him?" said the sergeant, eyeing
Adair with a suspicious scrutiny.

"You have just hit it, Horse Shoe," returned Wat, laughing. "I did want
to know if there were any more squads of troopers foraging about this
district: for these cursed fellows whip in upon a man and cut him up
blade and ear, without so much as thanks for their pillage, and so I
told Mike to inquire of the blacksmith, for he is more like to know than
anybody else, whether there was any more of these pestifarious
scrummagers abroad."

"And your traps, Wat?"

"That was only a lie, Galbraith--I confess it. I was afeard to make you
uneasy by telling you what I was after. But still it wasn't a broad,
stark, daylight lie neither; it was only a civil fib, for I was going
after my wolf trap before I got my breakfast. But here comes Mike."

At this juncture Lynch was seen emerging from the wood, mounted on a
rough, untrimmed pony, which he was urging forward under repeated blows
with his stick. The little animal was covered with foam; and, from his
travel-worn plight, gave evidence of having been taxed to the utmost of
his strength in a severe journey. At some hundred paces distant, the
rider detected the presence of Adair and his companion, and came to a
sudden halt. He appeared to deliberate as if with a purpose to escape
their notice; but finding that he was already observed by them, he put
his horse again in motion, advancing only at a slow walk. Adair hastily
quitted Robinson, and, walking forward until he met Lynch, turned about
and accompanied him along the road, conversing during this interval in
a key too low to be heard by the sergeant.

"Here's Horse Shoe thrusting his head into our affairs. Conjure a lie
quickly about your being at the blacksmith's; I told him you were there
to hear the news."

"Aye, aye! I understand."

"You saw Hugh?"

"Yes. The gang will be at their post."

"Hush! Be merry; laugh and have a joke--Horse Shoe is very suspicious."

"You have ridden the crop-ear like a stolen horse," continued Adair, as
soon as he found himself within the sergeant's hearing. "See what a
flurry you have put the dumb beast in. If it had been your own nag, Mike
Lynch, I warrant you would have been more tedious with him."

"The crop-ear is not worth the devil's fetching, Wat. He is as lazy as a
land-turtle, and too obstinate for any good-tempered man's patience.
Look at that stick--I have split it into a broom on the beast."

"You look more like a man at the end of the day than at the beginning of
it," said Robinson. "How far had you to ride, Michael?"

"Only over here to the shop of Billy Watson, in the Buzzard's nest,"
replied Lynch, "which isn't above three miles at the farthest. My saw
wanted setting, so I thought I'd make an early job of it, but this beast
is so cursed dull I have been good three-quarters of an hour since I
left the smith's."

"What news do you bring?" inquired Adair.

"Oh, none worth telling again. That cross-grained, contrary,
rough-and-tumble bear gouger, old Hide-and-Seek, went down yesterday
with the last squad of Ferguson's new draughts."

"Wild Tom Eskridge," said Wat Adair. "You knowed him, Horse Shoe, a
superfluous imp of Satan!" continued the woodman, laying a particular
accent on the penultimate of this favorite adjective, which he was
accustomed to use as expressive of strong reprobation. "So he is cleared
out at last! Well, I'm glad on't, for he was the only fellow in these
hills I was afeard would give you trouble, Galbraith."

"Superfluous or not," replied the sergeant, pronouncing the word in the
same manner as the woodman, and equally ignorant of its meaning, "it
will be a bad day for Tom Eskridge, the rank, obstropolous Tory, when he
meets me, Wat Adair. I have reason to think that he tried to clap some
of Tarleton's dragoons on my back over here at the Waxhaws. There's hemp
growing for that scape-grace at this very time."

"You heard of no red coats about the Tiger?" asked Adair.

"Not one," replied Lynch; "the nearest post is Cruger's, in Ninety-Six."

"Then your way, Mr. Robinson, is tolerable for to-day," added Adair:
"but war is war, and there is always some risk to be run when men are
parading with their rifles in their hands. But see! it is hard upon
sunrise. Let us go and give some directions about breakfast. I will send
out some of the boys to hunt up the horses; they will be ready by the
time we have had something to eat."

Without further delay, Adair strode rapidly up the hill to the
dwelling-house, the sergeant and Lynch following as soon as the latter
had put his jaded beast in the stable. By the time these were assembled
in the porch the family began to show signs of life, and it was a little
after sunrise when Butler came forth ready for the prosecution of his
journey. A few words were exchanged in private between Lynch and the
woodman, and after much idle talk and contrived delay, two lazy and
loitering negro boys were sent off in quest of the travellers' horses.
Not long after this the animals were seen coursing from one part of the
distant field to another, defying all attempts to get them into a
corner, or to compel them to pass through the place that had been opened
in order to drive them towards the stable.

There was an air of concern and silent bewilderment visible upon
Butler's features, and an occasional expression of impatience escaped
his lips as he watched from the porch the ineffectual efforts of the
negroes to force the truant steeds towards the house.

"All in good time," said Adair, answering the thoughts and looks of
Butler, rather than his words, "all in good time; they must have their
play out. It is a good sign, sir, to see a traveller's horse so
capersome of a morning. Wife, make haste with your preparations; Horse
Shoe and his friend here mustn't be kept back from their day's journey.
Stir yourself, Mary Musgrove!"

"Will the gentlemen stay for breakfast?" inquired Mary, with a doubtful
look at Butler.

"Will they? To be sure they will! Would you turn off friends from the
door with empty stomachs, you mink, and especially with a whole day's
starvation ahead of them?" exclaimed the woodman.

"I thought they had far to ride," replied the girl, "and would choose,
rather than wait, to take some cold provision to eat upon the road."

"Tush! Go about your business, niece! The horses are not caught yet, and
you may have your bacon fried before they are at the door."

"It shall be ready, then, in a moment," returned Mary, and she betook
herself diligently to her task of preparation. During the interval that
followed, the maiden several times attempted to gain a moment's speech
with Butler, but the presence of Adair or Lynch as frequently forbade
even a whisper; and the morning meal was at length set smoking on the
table without the arrival of the desired opportunity. The repast was
speedily finished, and the horses having surrendered to the emissaries
who had been despatched to bring them in, were now in waiting for their
masters. Horse Shoe put into the woodman's hand a small sum of money in
requital for the entertainment afforded to his comrade and himself, and
having arranged their baggage upon the saddles, announced that they were
ready to set forward on their journey. Whilst the travellers were
passing the farewells customary on such occasions, Mary Musgrove, whose
manner during the whole morning gave many indications of a painful
secret concern, now threw herself in Butler's way, and as she modestly
offered him her hand at parting, and heard the little effusion of
gallantry and compliment with which it was natural for a well-bred man
and a soldier to speak at such a moment, she took the opportunity to
whisper--"The left hand road at the Fork--remember!" and instantly
glided away to another part of the house. Butler paused but for an
instant, and then hurried forward with the sergeant to their horses.

"Wat, you promised to put us on the track to Grindall's Ford," said
Horse Shoe, as he rose into his seat.

"I am ready to go part of the way with you," replied the woodman, "I
will see you to the Fork, and after that you must make out for
yourselves. Michael, fetch me my rifle."

It was not more than half past six when the party set forth on their
journey. Our two travellers rode along at an easy gait, and Wat Adair,
throwing his rifle carelessly across his shoulder, stepped out with a
long swinging step that kept him, without difficulty, abreast of the
horsemen, as they pursued their way over hill and dale.

They had not journeyed half a mile before they reached a point in the
woods at which Adair called a halt.

"My trap is but a little off the road," he said, "and I must beg you to
stop until I see what luck I have this morning. It's a short business
and soon done. This way, Horse Shoe; it is likely I may give you sport
this morning."

"Our time is pressing," said Butler. "Pray give us your directions as to
the road, and we will leave you."

"You would never find it in these woods," replied Wat; "there are two or
three paths leading through here, and the road is a blind one till you
come to the fork; the trap is not a hundred yards out of your way."

"Rather than stop to talk about it, Wat," said the sergeant, "we will
follow you, so go on."

The woodman now turned into the thickets, and opening his way through
the bushes, in a few moments conducted the two soldiers to the foot of a
large gum tree.

"By all the crows, I have got my lady!" exclaimed Wat Adair, with a
whoop that made the woods ring. "The saucy slut! I have yoked her, Horse
Shoe Robinson! There's a picture worth looking at."

"Who?" cried Butler; "of whom are you speaking?"

"Look for yourself, sir," replied the woodman. "There's the mischievous
devil; an old she-wolf that I have been hunting these two years. Oh, ho,
madam! Your servant!"

Upon looking near the earth, our travellers descried the object of this
triumphant burst of joy, in a large wolf that was now struggling to
release herself from the thraldom of her position. The trap was
ingeniously contrived. It consisted of a long opening into the hollow
trunk of the tree, beginning about four feet from the ground and cut out
with an axe down to the root. An aperture had been made at the upper end
of the slit about a foot wide, and the wood had been hewed away
downwards, in such a manner as to render the slit gradually narrower as
it approached the lower extremity, until near the earth it was not more
than four inches in width, thus forming a wedge-shaped loophole into the
hollow body of the tree. A part of the carcase of a sheep had been
placed on the bottom inside, the scent of which had attracted the wolf,
and, in her eagerness to possess herself of this treasure she had risen
on her hind legs high enough to find the opening sufficiently wide to
allow her head to be thrust in, whence, slipping downwards, the slit
became so narrow as to prevent her from withdrawing her jaws. The only
mode of extrication from this trap was to rear her body to the same
height at which she found admission, an expedient which, it seems,
required more cunning than this proverbially cunning animal was gifted
with. She now stood captive pretty much in the same manner that oxen are
commonly secured in their stalls.

For a few moments after the prisoner was first perceived, and during the
extravagant yelling of Adair at the success of his stratagem, she made
several desperate but ineffectual efforts to withdraw her head; but as
soon as Butler and Robinson had dismounted, and, together with their
guide, had assembled around her, she desisted from her struggles, and
seemed patiently to resign herself to the will of her captor. She stood
perfectly still with that passive and even cowardly submission for
which, in such circumstances, this animal is remarkable: her hind legs
drooped and her tail was thrust between them, whilst not a snarl nor an
expression of anger or grief escaped her. Her characteristic sagacity
had been completely baffled by the superior wolfish cunning of her
ensnarer.

Wat laughed aloud with a coarse and almost fiendish laugh, as he cried
out--

"I have cotched the old thief at last, in spite of her cunning! With a
warning to boot. Here is a mark I sot upon her last winter," he added,
as he raised her fore leg, which was deprived of the foot; "but she
would be prowling, the superfluous devil! It is in the nature of these
here blood-suckers, to keep a going at their trade, no matter how much
they are watched. But I knowed I'd have her one of these days. These
varmints have always got to pay, one day or another, for their
villanies. Wa'n't she an old fool, Horse Shoe, to walk into this here
gum for a piece of dead mutton? Ha, ha, ha! if she had had only the
sense to rear up, she might have had the laugh on us! But she hadn't;
ha, ha, ha!"

"Well, Wat Adair," said Robinson, "you had a mischievous head when you
contrived that trap."

"Feel her ribs, Mr. Butler," cried Wat, not heeding the sergeant; "I
know who packed that flesh on her. There isn't a lamb in my flock to-day
that wouldn't grin if he was to hear the news."

"Well, what are you going to do with her, Adair?" inquired Butler;
"remember you are losing time here."

"Do with her!" ejaculated the woodman; "that's soon told: I will skin
the devil alive."

"I hope not," exclaimed Butler. "It would be an unnecessary cruelty.
Despatch her on the spot with your rifle."

"I wouldn't waste powder and ball on the varmint," replied Adair. "No,
no, the knife, the knife!"

"Then cut her throat and be done with it."

"You are not used to these hellish thieves, sir," said the woodman.
"There is nothing that isn't too good for them. By the old sinner, I'll
skin her alive! That's the sentence!"

"Once more, I pray not," said Butler imploringly.

"It is past praying for," returned Adair, as he drew forth his knife and
began to whet it on a stone. "She shall die by inches, and be damned to
her!" he added, as his eye sparkled with savage delight. "Now look and
see a wolf punished according to her evil doings."

The woodman stood over his captive and laughed heartily, as he pointed
out to his companions the quailing and subdued gestures of his victim,
indulging in coarse and vulgar jests whilst he described minutely the
plan of torture he was about to execute. When he had done with his
ribaldry, he slowly drew the point of his knife down the back-bone of
the animal, from the neck to the tail, sundering the skin along the
whole length. "That's the way to unbutton her jacket," he said, laughing
louder than ever.

"For God's sake, desist!" ejaculated Butler. "For my sake, save the poor
animal from this pain! I will pay you thrice the value of the skin."

"Money will not buy her," said Wat, looking up for an instant. "Besides,
the skin is spoiled by that gash."

"Here is a guinea, if you will cut her throat," said Butler, "and
destroy her at once."

"That would be murder out-right," replied Adair; "I never take money to
do murder; it goes agin my conscience. No, no, I will undress the old
lady, and let her have the benefit of the cool air in this hot weather.
And if she should take cold, you know, and fall sick and die of that,
why then, Mr. Butler, you can give me the guinea. That will save my
conscience," he added, with a grin that expressed a struggle between his
avarice and cruelty.

"Come, Galbraith, I will not stay to witness the barbarity of this
savage. Mount your horse, and let us take our chance alone through the
woods. Fellow, I don't wish your further service."

"Look there now!" said Adair; "where were you born, that you are so
mighty nice upon account of a blood-sucking wolf? Man, it's impossible
to find your way through this country; and you might, by taking a wrong
road, fall in with them that would think nothing of serving you as I
serve this beast."

"Wat, curse your onnatural heart," interposed the sergeant. "Stob her at
once. It's no use, Mr. Butler," he said, finding that Adair did not heed
him, "we can't help ourselves. It's wolf agin wolf."

"I knowed you couldn't, Horse Shoe," cried Wat, with another laugh. "So
you may as well stay to see it out."

Butler had now walked to his horse, mounted, and retired some distance
into the wood to avoid further converse with the tormentor of the
ensnared beast, and to withdraw himself from a sight so revolting to his
feelings. In the meantime, Adair proceeded with his operation with an
alacrity that showed the innate cruelty of his temper. He made a cross
incision through the skin, from the point of one shoulder to the other,
the devoted subject of his torture remaining, all the time, motionless
and silent. Having thus severed the skin to suit his purpose, the
woodman now, with an affectation of the most dainty precision,
flourished his knife over the animal's back, and then burst into a loud
laugh.

"I can't help laughing," he exclaimed, "to think what a fine, dangling,
holiday coat I am going to make of it. I shall strip her as low as the
ribs, and then the flaps will hang handsomely. She will be considered a
beauty in the sheep-folds, and then she may borrow a coat, you see, from
some lamb; a wolf in sheep's clothing is no uncommon sight in this
world."

"Wat Adair," said Horse Shoe, angrily, "I've a mind to take the wolf's
part and give you a trouncing. You are the savagest wolf in sheep's
clothing yourself that it was ever my luck to see."

"You think so, Horse Shoe!" cried Wat, tauntingly. "You might chance to
miss your way to-day, so don't make a fool of yourself! Ill will would
only take away from you a finger-post--and it isn't every road through
this district that goes free of the Tory rangers."

"Your own day will come yet," replied Horse Shoe, afraid to provoke the
woodman too far on account of the dependence of himself and his
companion upon Adair's information in regard to the route of their
journey. "We have to give and take quarter in this world."

"You see, Horse Shoe," said Adair, beginning to expostulate, "I don't
like these varmints, no how; that's the reason why. They are cruel
themselves and I like to be cruel to them. It's a downright pleasure to
see them winch, for, bless your soul! they don't mind common
throat-cutting, no more than a calf. Now here's the way to touch their
feelings."

At this moment he applied the point of his knife to separating the hide
from the flesh on either side of the spine, and then, in his eagerness
to accomplish this object, he placed his knife between his teeth and
began to tug at the skin with his hands, accompanying the effort with
muttered expressions of delight at the involuntary and but
ill-suppressed agonies of the brute. The pain, at length became too
acute for the wolf, with all her characteristic habits of submission,
to bear, and, in a desperate struggle that ensued between her and her
tormentor, she succeeded, by a convulsive leap, in extricating herself
from her place of durance. The energy of her effort of deliverance
rescued her from the woodman's hand, and turning short upon her
assailant, she fixed her fangs deep into the fleshy part of his thigh,
where, as the foam fell from her lips, she held on firmly as if
determined to sell her life dearly for the pain she suffered. Adair
uttered a groan from the infliction, and, in the hurry of the instant,
dropped his knife upon the ground. He was thus compelled to bear the
torment of the grip, until he dragged the still pertinaciously-adhering
beast a few paces forward, where, grasping up his knife, he planted it,
by one deeply driven blow, through and through her heart. She silently
fell at his feet, without snarl or bark, releasing her hold only in the
impotency of death.

"Curse her!" cried Adair, "the hard-hearted, bloody-minded devil! That's
the nature of the beast--cruel and wicked to the last, damn her!" he
continued, raving with pain, as he stamped his heel upon her head: "damn
her in the wolf's hell to which she has gone!"

Robinson stood by, unaiding, and not displeased to see the summary
vengeance thus inflicted by the victim upon the oppressor. This calmness
provoked the woodman, who, with that stoicism which belongs to
uncivilized life, seemed determined to take away all pretext for the
sergeant's exultation, by affecting to make light of the injury he had
received.

"I don't mind the scratch of the cursed creature," he said, assuming a
badly counterfeited expression of mirth, "but I don't like to be cheated
out of the pleasure of tormenting such mischievous varmints. It's well
for her that she put me in a passion, or she should have carried a
festered carcase that the buzzards might have fed upon before she died.
But come--where is Mr. Butler? I want that guinea. Ho, sir!" he
continued, bawling to Butler, as he tied up his wound with a strap of
buckskin taken from his pouch, "my guinea! I've killed the devil to
please you, seeing you would have it."

Butler now rode up to the spot, and, in answer to this appeal, gave it
an angry and indignant refusal.

"Lead us on our way, sir," he added. "We have lost too much time already
with your brutal delay. Lead on, sir!"

"You will get soon enough to your journey's end," replied Adair with a
smile, and then sullenly took up his rifle and led the way through the
forest.

A full half hour or more was lost by the incident at the trap, and
Butler's impatience and displeasure continued to be manifested by the
manner with which he urged the woodman forward upon their journey. After
regaining the road, and traversing a piece of intricate and tangled
woodland, by a bridle-path into which their guide had conducted them,
they soon reached a broader and more beaten highway, along which they
rode scarce a mile before they arrived at the Fork.

"I have seen you safe as far as I promised," said the woodman, "and you
must now shift for yourselves. You take the right hand road; about ten
miles further you will come to another prong, there strike to the left,
and if you have luck you will get to the ford before sundown. Three
miles further is Christie's. Good bye t' ye! And Horse Shoe, if you
should come across another wolf stuck in a tree, skin her, d' ye hear?
Ha! ha! ha! Good bye!"

"Ride on!" said Butler to the sergeant, who was about making some reply
to Adair; "ride on! Don't heed or answer that fellow, but take the road
he directs. He is a beast and scoundrel. Faster, good sergeant, faster!"

As he spoke he set his horse to a gallop. Robinson followed at equal
speed, the woodman standing still until the travellers disappeared from
his view behind the thick foliage that overhung their path. Having seen
them thus secure in his toil, the treacherous guide turned upon his
heel, shouldered his rifle, and limped back to his dwelling.

"I have a strange misgiving of that ruffian, sergeant," said Butler,
after they had proceeded about a quarter of a mile. "My mind is
perplexed with some unpleasant doubts. What is your opinion of him?"

"He plays on both sides," replied Horse Shoe, "and knows more of you
than by rights he ought. He spoke consarning of you, this morning, as
_Major_ Butler. It came out of his mouth onawares."

"Ha! Is my name on any part of my baggage or dress?"

"Not that I know of," replied the sergeant; "and if it was, Wat can't
read."

"Were you interrupted in your sleep last night, Galbraith? Did you hear
noises in our room?"

"Nothing, Major, louder nor the gnawing of a mouse at the foot of the
plank partition. Did you see a spirit that you look so solemn?"

"I did, sergeant!" said Butler, with great earnestness of manner. "I had
a dream that had something more than natural in it."

"You amaze me, Major! If you saw anything, why didn't you awake me?"

"I hadn't time before it was gone, and then it was too late. I dreamed,
Galbraith, that somehow--for my dream didn't explain how she came
in--Mary Musgrove, the young girl we saw----"

"Ha! ha! ha! Major, that young girl's oversot you! Was that the sperit?"

"Peace, Galbraith, I am in earnest; listen to me. I dreamt Mary Musgrove
came into our room and warned us that our lives were in danger; how, I
forget, or perhaps she did not tell, but she spoke of our being waylaid,
and, I think, she advised that at this very fork of the road we have
just passed, we should take the left hand--the right, according to my
dream, she said, led to some spring."

"Perhaps the Dogwood, Major," said Robinson, laughing; "there is such a
place, somewhere in these parts."

"The Dogwood! by my life," exclaimed Butler; "she called it the Dogwood
spring."

"That's very strange," said Robinson gravely; "that's very strange,
unless you have hearn some one talk about the spring before you went to
bed last night. For, as sure as you are a gentleman, there is such a
spring not far off, although I don't know exactly where."

"And what perplexes me," continued Butler, "is that, this morning,
almost in the very words of my dream, Mary Musgrove cautioned me, in a
whisper, to take the left road at the fork. How is she connected with my
dream? Or could it have been a reality, and was it the girl herself who
spoke? I have no recollection of such a word from her before I retired
to bed."

"I have hearn of these sort of things before, major, and never could
make them out. For my share, I believe in dreams. There is something
wrong here," continued the sergeant, after pondering over the matter for
a few moments, and shaking his head, "there is something wrong here,
Major Butler, as sure as you are born. I wasn't idle in making my own
observations: first, I didn't like the crossness of Wat's wife last
night; then, the granny there, she raved more like an old witch, with
something wicked in her that wouldn't let her be still, than like your
decent old bodies when they get childish. What did she mean by her
palaver about golden guineas in Wat's pocket, and the English officer?
Such notions don't come naturally into the head, without something to go
upon. And, moreover, when I turned out this morning, before it was
cleverly day, who do you think I saw?"

"Indeed I cannot guess."

"First, Wat walking up the road with a face like a man that had sot a
house on fire; and when I stopped him to ax what he was after, down
comes Mike Lynch--that peevish bull-dog--from the woods, on a little
knot of a pony, pretty nigh at full speed, and covered with lather; and
there was a sort of colloguing together, and then a story made up about
Mike's being at Billy Watson's, the blacksmith's. It didn't tell well,
major, and it sot me to suspicions. The gray of the morning is not the
time for blacksmith's work: there's the fire to make up, and what not.
Besides, it don't belong to the trade, as I know, here in the country,
to be at work so arly. I said nothing; but I made a sort of reckoning in
my own mind that they looked like a couple of desarters trying to sham a
sentry. Then again, there was our horses turned loose. There is
something in these signs, you may depend upon it, Major Butler!"

"That fellow has designs against us, Galbraith," said Butler, musing,
and paying but little attention to the surmises of the sergeant, "I can
hardly think it was a dream. It may have been Mary Musgrove herself, but
how she got there is past my conjecture. I saw nothing, I only heard the
warning. And I would be sworn she addressed me as Major Butler. You say
Wat Adair gave me the same title?"

"As I am a living man," replied Horse Shoe, "he wanted to deny it; and
then he pretended it was a fancy of his own."

"It is very strange, and looks badly," said Butler.

"Never mind, let the worst come to the worst, we have arms and legs
both," returned the sergeant.

"I will take the hint for good or for ill," said the major. "Sergeant,
strike across into the left hand road; in this I will move no farther."

"That's as wise a thing as we can do," replied Robinson. "If you have
doubts of a man, seem to trust him, but take care not to follow his
advice. There is another hint I will give you, let us examine our
fire-arms to see that we are ready for a battle."

Butler concurring in this precaution, the sergeant dismounted, and
having primed his rifle afresh, attempted to fire it into the air, but
it merely flashed, without going off. Upon a second trial the result was
the same. This induced a further examination, which disclosed the fact
that the load which had been put in the day previous had been
discharged, and a bullet was now driven home in the place of the powder.
It was obvious that this was designed. The machination of an enemy
became more apparent when, upon an investigation into the condition of
Butler's pistols, they were also found incapable of being used.

"This is some of Michael Lynch's doings whilst we were eating our
breakfast," said Horse Shoe, "and it is flat proof of treason in our
camp. I should like to go back if it was only for the satisfaction of
blowing out Wat's brains. But there is no use in argufying about it. We
must set things to rights, and move on with a good look-out ahead."

With the utmost apparent indifference to the dangers that beset them,
the sergeant now applied himself to the care of restoring his rifle to a
serviceable condition. With the aid of a small tool which he carried for
such a use, he opened the breach and removed the ball: Butler's pistols
were likewise put in order, and our travellers, being thus restored to
an attitude of defence, turned their horses' heads into the thicket upon
their left, and proceeded across the space that filled up the angle made
by the two branches of the road; and, having gained that branch which
they sought, they pressed forward diligently upon their journey.

The path they had to travel was lonely and rugged, and it was but once
or twice, during the day, that they met a casual wayfarer traversing
the same wild. From such a source, however, they were informed that they
were on the most direct road to Grindall's ford, and that the route they
had abandoned would have conducted them to the Dogwood spring, a point
much out of their proper course, and from which the ford might only have
been reached by a difficult and tortuous by-way.

These disclosures opened the eyes of Butler and his companion to the
imminent perils that encompassed them, and prompted them to the exercise
of the strictest vigilance. Like discreet and trusty soldiers, they
pursued their way with the most unwavering courage, confident that the
difficulty of retreat was fully equal to that of the advance.



CHAPTER XVI.

TORY TROOPERS, A DARK ROAD AND A FRAY.


"By the whiskers of the Grand Turk, I have got the four points on you,
bully Buff! High, low, jack and the game!" exclaimed Peppercorn.

"You have luck enough to worry out the nine lives of a cat. That's an
end to Backbiter, the best horse 'twixt Pedee and the Savannah. So,
blast me, if I play any more with you! There, send the cards to hell!"
roared out Hugh Habershaw, rising and throwing the pack into the fire.

It was just at the closing in of night, when a party of
ruffianly-looking men were assembled beneath a spreading chestnut, that
threw forth its aged arms over a small gravelly hillock, in the depths
of the forest that skirted the northern bank of the Pacolet, within a
short distance of Grindall's ford. The spot had all the qualities of a
secret fastness. It was guarded on one side by the small river, and on
the other by a complicated screen of underwood, consisting principally
of those luxuriantly plaited vines which give so distinct a character to
the southern woodland. The shrubbery, immediately along the bank of the
river, was sufficiently open to enable a horseman to ride through it
down to the road which, at about two hundred paces off, led into the
ford.

The group who now occupied this spot consisted of some ten or twelve men
under the command of Hugh Habershaw. Their appearance was half rustic
and half military; some efforts at soldierly costume were visible in the
decoration of an occasional buck-tail set in the caps of several of the
party, and, here and there, a piece of yellow cloth forming a band for
the hat. Some wore long and ungainly deer-skin pantaloons and moccasins
of the same material; and two or three were indued with coats of coarse
homespun, awkwardly garnished with the trimmings of a British uniform.
All were armed, but in the same irregular fashion. There were rifles to
be seen stacked against the trunk of the tree; most of the men wore
swords, which were of different lengths and sizes; and some of the gang
had a horseman's pistol bestowed conspicuously about their persons.
Their horses were attached to the drooping ends of the boughs of the
several trees that hemmed in the circle, and were ready for service at
the first call. A small fire of brushwood had been kindled near the foot
of the chestnut, and its blaze was sufficiently strong to throw a bright
glare over the motley and ill-looking crew who were assembled near it.
They might well have been taken for a bivouac of banditti of the most
undisciplined and savage class. A small party were broiling venison at
the fire: the greater number, however, were stretched out upon the
ground in idleness, waiting for some expected summons to action. The two
I have first noticed, were seated on the butt-end of a fallen trunk,
immediately within the light of the fire, and were engaged with a pack
of dirty cards, at the then popular game of "all fours."

These two personages were altogether different in exterior from each
other. The first of them, known only by the sobriquet of Peppercorn, was
a tall, well-proportioned and active man, neatly dressed in the uniform
of a British dragoon. His countenance indicated more intelligence than
belonged to his companions, and his manners had the flexible, bold, and
careless port that generally distinguishes a man who has served much in
the army, and become familiar with the varieties of character afforded
by such a career. The second was Hugh Habershaw, the captain of the
gang. He was a bluff, red-visaged, corpulent man, with a face of gross,
unmitigated sensuality. A pale blood-shot eye, which was expressionless,
except in a sinister glance, occasioned by a partial squint, a small
upturned nose, a mouth with thin and compressed lips inclining downwards
at the corners, a double chin, bristling with a wiry and almost white
beard, a low forehead, a bald crown, and meagre, reddish whiskers, were
the ill-favored traits of his physiognomy. The figure of this person was
as uncouth as his countenance. He was rather below the middle height,
and appeared still shorter by the stoop of his massive round shoulders,
by the ample bulk of his chest, and by the rotundity of his
corporation. In consideration of his rank, as the leader of this
vagabond squadron, he aimed at more military ornament in his dress than
his comrades. A greasy cocked hat, decorated after the fashion described
by Grumio, "with the humor of forty fancies pricked in it for a
feather," was perched somewhat superciliously upon his poll, and his
body was invested in an old and much abused cloth coat of London brown,
as it was then called, to the ample shoulders of which had been attached
two long, narrow, and threadbare epaulets of tarnished silver lace. A
broad buckskin belt was girded, by the help of a large brass buckle,
around his middle, on the outside of his coat, and it served as well to
suspend a rusty sabre, as to furnish support to a hunting knife, which
was thrust into it in front. His nether person was rendered conspicuous
by a pair of dingy small-clothes, and long black boots. Close at the
feet of this redoubtable commander lay a fat, surly bull-dog, whose
snarlish temper seemed to have been fostered and promoted by the
peremptory perverseness with which his master claimed for him all the
privileges and indulgencies of a pampered favorite.

Such were the unattractive exterior and circumstances of the man who
assumed control over the band of ruffians now assembled.

"I wish you and the cards had been broiled on the devil's gridiron
before I ever saw you!" continued Habershaw, after he had consigned the
pack to the flames. "That such a noble beast as Backbiter should be
whipped out of my hand by the turn of a rascally card! Hark'ee, you imp
of Satan, you have the knack of winning! your luck, or something
else--you understand me--something else, would win the shirt off my back
if I was such a fool as to play longer with you. I suspect you are a
light-fingered Jack--a light-fingered Jack--d'ye hear that, Master
Peppercorn?"

"How now, Bully!" cried Peppercorn; "are you turning boy in your old
days, that you must fall to whining because you have lost a turn at
play? Is every man a rogue since you have set up the trade? For shame!
If I were as hot a fool as you, I would give you steel in your guts. But
come, noble Captain, there's my hand. This is no time for us to be
catching quarrels; we have other business cut out. As to Backbiter, the
rat-tailed and spavined bone-setter, curse me if I would have him as a
gift: a noble beast! ha, ha, ha! Take him back, man, take him back! he
wasn't worth the cards that won him."

"Silence, you tailor's bastard! Would you breed a mutiny in the camp?
Look around you: do you expect me to preserve discipline amongst these
wild wood-scourers, with your loud haw-haws to my very teeth? You make
too free, Peppercorn; you make too free! It wouldn't take much to make
me strike; damn me, there's fighting blood in me, and you know it. When
I am at the head of my men, you must know your distance, sir. Suffice
it, I don't approve of this familiarity to the commander of a squad. But
it is no matter: I let it pass this time. And, hark in your ear, as you
underrate Backbiter, you are a fool, Peppercorn, and know no more of the
points of a good horse than you do of the ten commandments. Why, blast
you, just to punish you, I'll hold you to the word of a gentleman, and
take him back. Now there's an end of it, and let's have no more
talking."

"Right, noble Captain!" ejaculated Peppercorn, with a free and
swaggering laugh, "right! I will uphold the discipline of the valiant
Hugh Habershaw of the Tiger against all the babblers the world over. By
the God of war, I marvel that Cruger hasn't forced upon you one of his
commissions, before this; the army would be proud of such a master of
tactics."

"The time will come, Peppercorn; the time will come, and then I'll teach
them the elements of military construction. Mark that word, Peppercorn,
there's meaning in it."

"Huzza for Captain Tiger of Habershaw--Habershaw of Tiger, I mean!"
cried Peppercorn. "Here's Tiger Habershaw, my boys! Drink to that." And
saying these words, the dragoon snatched up a leathern canteen from the
ground, and, pouring out some spirits into the cup, drank them off.

The rest of the crew sprang from the grass, and followed the example set
them by their comrade, roaring out the pledge until the woods rang with
their vociferation.

"Peace! you rapscallions!" screamed the captain. "Have you so little
notion where you are, that you bellow like bulls? Is this your
discipline, when you should be as silent as cats in a kitchen,
hellhound! And you, you coarse-throated devil, Beauty," he said as he
kicked his dog, that had contributed to the chorus with a loud
sympathetic howl, "you must be breaking the laws of service guard with
your infernal roar, like the other fools of the pack. Be still, puppy!"

The clamor upon this rebuke ceased, and the bull-dog crouched again at
his master's feet.

"Isn't it time that we were at the ford? Oughtn't our friends to be near
at hand?" inquired Peppercorn.

"Black Jack will give us notice," replied Habershaw. "Depend upon him. I
have thought of everything like a man that knows his business. I have
sent that rascal up the road, with orders to feel the enemy; and I'll
undertake he'll clink it back when he once lays eyes on them, as fast as
four legs will carry him. But it is always well to be beforehand,
Peppercorn. Learn that from me: I never in my campaigns knowed any harm
done by being too early. So, Master Orderly, call the roll."

"Ready, sir; always ready when you command," answered Peppercorn. "Shall
I call the ragamuffins by their nicknames, or will you have them handled
like christians."

"On secret service," said Habershaw, "it is always best to use them to
their nicknames."

"As when they go horse-stealing, or house-burning, or throat-cutting,"
interrupted Peppercorn.

"Order, sir, no indecencies! do you hear? Go on with your roll, if you
have got it by heart. Be musical, dog!"

"Faith will I, most consummate captain! It is just to my hand: I'll sing
you like a bagpipe. I have learnt the rollcall handsomely, and can go
through it as if it were a song."

"Begin then: the time is coming when we must move. I think I hear Black
Jack's horse breaking through the bushes now."

"Attention, you devil's babies, the whole of you!" shouted Peppercorn.
"Horse and gun, every mother's imp of you!"

In a moment the idlers sprang to their weapons and mounted their horses.

"Answer to your names," said the orderly; "and see that you do it
discreetly. Pimple!"

"Here," answered one of the disorderly crew, with a laugh.

"Silence in the ranks!" cried Habershaw, "or, by the blood of your
bodies, I'll make my whinger acquainted with your hearts!"

"Long Shanks."

"Here! if you mean me," said another.

"Good! Black Jack."

"On patrole," said the captain.

"Red Mug."

"At the book," answered the man in the ranks; and here rose another
laugh.

"Red Mug! do you mind me?" said Habershaw, in a threatening tone, as his
eye squinted fiercely towards the person addressed.

"Platter Breech."

"I'll stand out against the nickname," said the person intended to be
designated, whilst the whole squad began to give symptoms of a mutiny of
merriment. "I'll be d----d if I will have it, and that's as good as if I
swore to it. I am not going to be cajoled at by the whole company."

"Silence! Blood and butter, you villains!" roared the captain. "Don't
you see that you're in line? How often have I told you that it's against
discipline to chirp above a whisper when you are drawn out? Take care
that I hav'n't to remind you of that again! Andy Clopper, you will keep
the denomination I have set upon you. Platter Breech is a good
soldier-like name, and you shall die in it, if I bid you. Go on,
Orderly--proceed!"

"Marrow Bone."

"Here!"

"Fire Nose."

"Fire Nose yourself, Mister Disorderly!" replied another refractory
member, sullenly from the ranks.

"Well, let him pass. That's a cross-grained devil," said the captain,
aside to Peppercorn. "I'll bring that chap into order yet, the d----d
mutineering back hanger! Pass him."

"Screech Owl."

"Here!"

"That's a decent, good-natured Screech Owl," said Peppercorn. "Clapper
Claw! Bow Legs!"

"Both here."

"They are all here, most comfortable Captain, all good fellows and true,
and as ready to follow you into the belly of an earthquake as go to
supper, it is all the same to them."

"Let them follow where I lead, Peppercorn; that is all I ask, said
Habershaw significantly.

"You have forgot one name on your roll, Mister Orderly," said he who had
been written down by the name of Fire Nose.

"Whose was that?"

"You forgot Captain Moonface Bragger--captain of the squad."

"Gideon Blake!" shouted Habershaw, with a voice choked by anger, until
it resembled the growl of a mastiff, whilst, at the same time, he drew
his sword half out of the scabbard. "Howsever, it is very well," he
said, restraining his wrath and permitting the blade to drop back into
its sheath. "Another time, sir. I have marked you, you limb of a
traitor. May all the devils ride over me if I don't drive a bullet
through your brain if you ever unfringe my discipline again! Yes, you
foul-mouthed half-whig, I have had my suspicions of you before to-day.
So look to yourself. A fine state of things when skunks like you can be
setting up a mutiny in the service! Take care of yourself, sir, you know
me. Now, my lads, to business. Remember the orders I issued at the
Dogwood Spring, this morning. This Whig officer must be taken dead or
alive, and don't be chicken-hearted about it. Give him the lead--give
him the lead! As to the lusty fellow that rides with him--big Horse
Shoe--have a care of him; that's a dog that bites without barking. But
be on the watch that they don't escape you again. Since we missed them
at the spring they have cost us a hard ride to head them here, so let
them pay for it. See that they are well into the ford before you show
yourselves. Wait for orders from me, and if I fall by the fortune of
war, take your orders from Peppercorn. If by chance we should miss them
at the river, push for Christie's; Wat has taken care that they shall
make for that, to-night. If any of you, by mistake, you understand me,
take them prisoners, bring them back to this spot. Now you have heard my
orders, that's enough. Keep silent and ready. Mind your discipline.
Black Jack is long coming, Orderly; these fellows must travel slow."

"I hear him now," replied Peppercorn.

In the next moment the scout referred to galloped into the circle. His
report was hastily made. It announced that the travellers were moving
leisurely towards the ford, and that not many minutes could elapse
before their arrival. Upon this intelligence Habershaw immediately
marched his troop to the road and posted them in the cover of the
underwood that skirted the river, at the crossing-place. Here they
remained like wild beasts aware of the approach of their prey, and
waiting the moment to spring upon them when it might be done with the
least chance of successful resistance.

Meantime Butler and Robinson advanced at a wearied pace. The twilight
had so far faded as to be only discernible on the western sky. The stars
were twinkling through the leaves of the forest, and the light of the
fire-fly spangled the wilderness. The road might be descried, in the
most open parts of the wood, for some fifty paces ahead; but where the
shrubbery was more dense, it was lost in utter darkness. Our travellers,
like most wayfarers towards the end of the day, rode silently along,
seldom exchanging a word, and anxiously computing the distance which
they had yet to traverse before they reached their appointed place of
repose. A sense of danger, and the necessity for vigilance, on the
present occasion, made them the more silent.

"I thought I heard a wild sort of yell just now--people laughing a great
way off," said Robinson, "but there's such a hooting of owls and piping
of frogs that I mought have been mistaken. Halt, Major. Let me
listen--there it is again."

"It is the crying of a panther, sergeant; more than a mile from us, by
my ear."

"It is mightily like the scream of drunken men," replied the sergeant;
"and there, too! I thought I heard the clatter of a hoof."

The travellers again reined up and listened.

"It is more like a deer stalking through the bushes, Galbraith."

"No," exclaimed the sergeant, "that's the gallop of a horse making down
the road ahead of us, as sure as you are alive; I heard the shoe strike
a stone. You must have hearn it too."

"I wouldn't be sure," answered Butler.

"Look to your pistols, Major, and prime afresh."

"We seem to have ridden a great way," said Butler, as he concluded the
inspection of his pistols and now held one of them ready in his hand.
"Can we have lost ourselves? Should we not have reached the Pacolet
before this?"

"I have seen no road that could take us astray," replied Robinson, "and,
by what we were told just before sundown, I should guess that we
couldn't be far off the ford. We hav'n't then quite three miles to
Christie's. Well, courage, major! supper and bed were never spoiled by
the trouble of getting to them."

"Wat Adair, I think, directed us to Christie's?" said Butler.

"He did; and I had a mind to propose to you, since we caught him in a
trick this morning, to make for some other house, if such a thing was
possible, or else to spend the night in the woods."

"Perhaps it would be wise, sergeant; and if you think so still, I will
be ruled by you."

"If we once got by the river-side where our horses mought have water, I
almost think I should advise a halt there. Although I have made one
observation, Major Butler--that running water is lean fare for a hungry
man. Howsever, it won't hurt us, and if you say the word we will stop
there."

"Then, sergeant, I do say the word."

"Isn't that the glimmering of a light yonder in the bushes?" inquired
Horse Shoe, as he turned his gaze in the direction of the bivouac, "or
is it these here lightning bugs that keep so busy shooting about?"

"I thought I saw the light you speak of, Galbraith; but it has
disappeared."

"It is there again, major; and I hear the rushing of the river--we are
near the ford. Perhaps this light comes from some cabin on the bank."

"God send that it should turn out so, Galbraith! for I am very weary."

"There is some devilment going on in these woods, major. I saw a figure
pass in front of the light through the bushes. I would be willing to
swear it was a man on horseback. Perhaps we have, by chance, fallen on
some Tory muster; or, what's not so likely, they may be friends. I think
I will ride forward and challenge."

"Better pass unobserved, if you can, sergeant," interrupted Butler. "It
will not do for us to run the risk of being separated. Here we are at
the river; let us cross, and ride some distance; then, if any one follow
us, we shall be more certain of his design."

They now cautiously advanced into the river, which, though rapid, was
shallow; and having reached the middle of the stream, they halted to
allow their horses water.

"Captain Peter is as thirsty as a man in a fever," said Horse Shoe. "He
drinks as if he was laying in for a week. Now, major, since we are here
in the river, look up the stream. Don't you see, from the image in the
water, that there's a fire on the bank? And there, by my soul! there are
men on horseback. Look towards the light. Spur, and out on the other
side! Quick--quick--they are upon us!"

At the same instant that Horse Shoe spoke, a bullet whistled close by
his ear; and, in the next, six or eight men galloped into the river,
from different points. This was succeeded by a sharp report of fire-arms
from both parties, and the vigorous charge of Robinson, followed by
Butler, through the array of the assailants. They gained the opposite
bank, and now directed all their efforts to outrun their pursuers; but
in the very crisis of their escape, Butler's horse, bounding under the
prick of the spur, staggered a few paces from the river and fell dead. A
bullet had lodged in a vital part, and the energy of the brave steed was
spent in the effort to bear his master through the stream. Butler fell
beneath the stricken animal, from whence he was unable to extricate
himself. The sergeant, seeing his comrade's condition, sprang from his
horse and ran to his assistance, and, in the same interval, the ruffian
followers gained the spot and surrounded their prisoners. An ineffectual
struggle ensued over the prostrate horse and rider, in which Robinson
bore down more than one of his adversaries, but was obliged, at last, to
yield to the overwhelming power that pressed upon him.

"Bury your swords in both of them to the hilts!" shouted Habershaw; "I
don't want to have that work to do to-morrow."

"Stand off!" cried Gideon Blake, as two or three of the gang sprang
forward to execute their captain's order; "stand off! the man is on his
back, and he shall not be murdered in cold blood;" and the speaker took
a position near Butler, prepared to make good his resolve. The spirit
of Blake had its desired effect, and the same assailants now turned upon
Robinson.

"Hold!" cried Peppercorn, throwing up his sword and warding off the
blows that were aimed by these men at the body of the sergeant. "Hold,
you knaves! this is my prisoner. I will deal with him to my liking.
Would a dozen of you strike one man when he has surrendered? Back, ye
cowards; leave him to me. How now, old Horse Shoe; are you caught, with
your gay master here? Come, come, we know you both. So yield with a good
grace, lest, peradventure, I might happen to blow out your brains."

"Silence, fellows! You carrion crows!" roared Habershaw. "Remember the
discipline I taught you. No disorder, nor confusion, but take the
prisoners, since you hav'n't the heart to strike; take them to the
rendezvous. And do it quietly--do you hear? Secure the baggage; and
about it quickly, you hounds!"

Butler was now lifted from the ground, and, with his companion, was
taken into the custody of Blake and one or two of his companions, who
seemed to share in his desire to prevent the shedding of blood. The
prisoners were each mounted behind one of the troopers, and in this
condition conducted across the river. The saddle and other equipments
were stripped from the major's dead steed; and Robinson's horse, Captain
Peter, was burdened with the load of two wounded men, whose own horses
had escaped from them in the fray. In this guise the band of
freebooters, with their prisoners and spoils, slowly and confusedly made
their way to the appointed place of re-assembling. In a few moments they
were ranged beneath the chestnut, waiting for orders from their
self-important and vain commander.



CHAPTER XVII.

SCENE IN THE BIVOUAC.


"Bustle, my lads--bustle! These are stirring times," exclaimed
Habershaw, riding with an air of great personal consequence into the
midst of the troop, as they were gathered, still on horseback, under the
chestnut. "We have made a fine night's work of it, and, considering that
we fought in the dark against men ready armed for us, this has not been
such a light affair. To be sure, in point of numbers, it is a trifle;
but the plan, Peppercorn--the plan, and the despatch, and the neatness
of the thing--that's what I say I am entitled to credit for. Bless your
soul, Peppercorn, these fellows were sure to fall into my trap--there
was no getting off. That's the effect of my generalship, you see,
Peppercorn. Study it, boy! We could have managed about twenty more of
the filthy rebels handsomely; but this will do--this will do. I took, as
a commanding officer ought always to do, the full responsibility of the
measure, and a good share of the fight. Did I not, Peppercorn? Wasn't I,
in your opinion, about the first man in the river?"

"I'll bear witness, valiant and victorious captain," answered the
dragoon, "that you fired the first shot; and I am almost willing to make
oath that I saw you within at least twenty paces of the enemy, exhorting
your men."

"Now lads--wait for the word--dismount!" continued the captain, "and
make up your minds to pass the night where you are. Peppercorn, the
prisoners I put under your identical charge. Remember that! keep your
eyes about you. Set a guard of four men upon them; I will make you
accountable." He then added, in an under tone, "hold them safe until
to-morrow, man, and I promise you, you shall have no trouble in watching
them after that."

"You shall find them," replied Peppercorn.

"Silence," interrupted the captain; "hear my orders, and give no reply.
Now, sir, before you do anything else, call your roll, and report your
killed, wounded, and missing."

Upon this order, the dragoon directed the men, after disposing of their
horses, to form a line. He then called over the squad by their real
names, and immediately afterwards reported to his superior, who, in
order to preserve a proper dignified distance, had retreated some paces
from the group, the following pithy and soldier-like account:--

"Two men wounded, noble captain, in the late action; two missing; one
horse, saddle and bridle lost; one horse and two prisoners taken from
the enemy."

"The names of the wounded, sir?"

"Tom Dubbs and Shadrach Green; one slightly scratched, and the other
bruised by a kick from the blacksmith."

"The missing, sir?"

"Dick Waters, commonly called Marrow Bone, and Roger Bell, known in your
honor's list by the name of Clapper Claw."

"They have skulked," said the captain.

"Marrow Bone is as dead as a door nail, sir," said the orderly with
perfect indifference, and standing affectedly erect. "He fell in the
river, and the probability is that Clapper Claw keeps him company."

"What!" roared Habershaw, "have the diabolical scoundrels made away with
any of my good fellows? Have the precious lives of my brave soldiers
been poured out by the d----d rebels? By my hand, they shall feel
twisted rope, Peppercorn!--cold iron is too good for them."

"Softly, captain!" said the orderly. "You don't blame the enemy for
showing fight? We mustn't quarrel with the chances of war. There is not
often a fray without a broken head, captain. We must deal with the
prisoners according to the laws of war."

"Of Tory war, Peppercorn, aye, that will I! String the dogs up to the
first tree. The devil's pets, why didn't they surrender when we set upon
them! To-morrow: let them look out to-morrow. No words, orderly; send
out two files to look for the bodies, and to bring in the stray horse
if they can find him. A pretty night's work! to lose two good pieces of
stuff for a brace of black-hearted whigs!"

The two files were detailed for the duty required, and immediately set
out, on foot, towards the scene of the late fray. The rest of the troop
were dismissed from the line.

"I would venture to ask, sir," said Butler, addressing the captain, "for
a cup of water: I am much hurt."

"Silence, and be d----d to you!" said Habershaw gruffly, "silence, and
know your place, sir. You are a prisoner, and a traitor to boot."

"Don't you hear the gentleman say he is hurt?" interposed Robinson.
"It's onnatural, and more like a beast than a man to deny a prisoner a
little water."

"By my sword, villain, I will cleave your brain for you, if you open
that rebel mouth of yours again!"

"Pshaw, pshaw! Captain Habershaw, this will never do," said Peppercorn;
"men are men, and must have food and drink. Here, Gideon Blake, give me
your flask of liquor and bring me some water from the river. It is my
duty, captain, to look after the prisoners."

Gideon Blake, who was a man of less savage temper than most of his
associates, obeyed this command with alacrity, and even added a few
words of kindness, as he assisted in administering refreshment to the
prisoners. This evidence of a gentler nature did not escape the comment
of the ruffian captain, who still remembered his old grudge against the
trooper.

"Away, sir," he said in a peremptory and angry tone, "away and attend to
your own duty. You are ever fond of obliging these beggarly whigs. Hark
you, Peppercorn," he added, speaking apart to the dragoon, "take care
how you trust this skulking vagabond: he will take bribes from the
rebels, and turn his coat whenever there is money in the way. I have my
eye upon him."

"If I chose to speak," said Gideon Blake.

"Hold your peace, you grey fox," cried the captain. "Not a word! I know
your doublings. Remember you are under martial law, and blast me, if I
don't make you feel it! There are more than myself suspect you."

"I should like to know," said Butler, "why I and my companion are
molested on our journey. Have we fallen amongst banditti, or do you bear
a lawful commission? If you do, sir, let me tell you, you have disgraced
it by outrage and violence exercised towards unoffending men, and shall
answer for it when the occasion serves. On what pretence have we been
arrested?"

"Hark, my young fighting-cock," replied the captain. "You will know your
misdemeanors soon enough. And if you would sleep to-night with a whole
throat, you will keep your tongue within your teeth. It wouldn't take
much to persuade me to give you a little drum-head law. Do you hear
that?"

"It is my advice, major," whispered Robinson, "to ax no questions of
these blackguards."

"Be it so, sergeant," said Butler, "I am weary and sick."

When other cares were disposed of, and the excited passions of the
lawless gang had subsided into a better mood, the dragoon took Butler's
cloak from the baggage and spread it upon the ground beneath the shelter
of the shrubbery, and the suffering officer was thus furnished a bed
that afforded him some small share of comfort, and enabled to take that
rest which he so much needed. Robinson seated himself on the ground
beside his companion, and in this situation they patiently resigned
themselves to whatever fate awaited them.

Soon after this the whole troop were busy in the preparations for
refreshment and sleep. The horses were either _hobbled_, by a cord from
the fore to the hind foot, and turned loose to seek pasture around the
bivouac, or tethered in such parts of the forest as furnished them an
opportunity to feed on the shrubbery. The fire was rekindled, and some
small remnants of venison roasted before it; and in less than an hour
this reckless and ill-governed band were carousing over their cups with
all the rude ribaldry that belonged to such natures.

"Come, boys," said Peppercorn, who seemed to take a delight in urging
the band into every kind of excess, and who possessed that sort of sway
over the whole crew, including their leader no less than the privates,
which an expert and ready skill in adapting himself to the humor of the
company gave him, and which faculty be now appeared to exercise for the
increase of his own influence. "Come, boys, laugh while you can--that's
my motto. This soldiering is a merry life, fighting, drinking, and
joking. By the God of war! I will enlist the whole of you into the
regular service--Ferguson or Cruger, which you please, boys! they are
both fine fellows and would give purses of gold for such charming, gay,
swaggering blades. Fill up your cans and prepare for another bout. I'm
not the crusty cur to stint thirsty men. A toast, my gay fellows!"

"Listen to Peppercorn," cried out some three or four voices.

"Here's to the honor of the brave captain Hugh Habershaw, and his
glorious dogs that won the battle of Grindall's ford!"

A broad and coarse laugh burst from the captain at the announcement of
this toast.

"By my sword!" he exclaimed, "the fight was not a bad fight."

"Can you find a joint of venison, Gideon?" said Peppercorn, aside. "If
you can, give it, and a cup of spirits, to the prisoners. Stop, I'll do
it myself, you will have the old bull-dog on your back."

And saying this the dragoon rose from his seat, and taking a few
fragments of the meat which had been stripped almost to the bone, placed
them, together with a canteen, beside Butler.

"Make the best of your time," he said, "you have but short allowance and
none of the best. If I can serve you, I will do it with a good heart;
so, call on me."

Then turning to the sergeant, who sat nigh, he whispered in his ear,
and, with a distinct and somewhat taunting emphasis, inquired,

"Friend Horse Shoe, mayhap thou knowest me?"

"That I do, James Curry," replied the sergeant, "and I have a mean
opinion of the company you keep. I don't doubt but you are ashamed to
say how you come by them."

"All is fish that comes into the Dutchman's net," said Curry. "To-night
I have caught fat game. You are a sturdy fellow, master Blacksmith, and
good at a tug, but remember, friend, I owe you a cuff, and if you
weren't a prisoner you should have it."

"Show me fair play, James Curry, and you shall have a chance now," said
Horse Shoe; "I'll keep my parole to surrender when it is over."

"Silence, fool!" returned Curry, at the same time rudely pinching
Robinson's ear. "You will be a better man than I take you to be, if you
ever wrestle with me again. I have not forgotten you."

The dragoon now rejoined his comrades.

"Peppercorn," cried Habershaw, "d----n the prisoners, let them fast
to-night. The lads want a song. Come, the liquor's getting low, we want
noise, we want uproar, lad! Sing, bully, sing!"

"Anything to get rid of the night, noble captain. What shall I give
you?"

"The old catch, master Orderly. The Jolly Bottle, the Jolly Bottle,"
cried Habershaw, pronouncing this word according to ancient usage, with
the accent on the last syllable, as if spelt "bottel;" "give us the
Jolly Bottle, we all know the chorus of that song. And besides it's the
best in your pack."

"Well, listen, my wet fellows!" said Peppercorn, "and pipe lustily in
the chorus."

Here the orderly sang, to a familiar old English tune, the following
song, which was perhaps a common camp ditty of the period.

    "You may talk as you please of your candle and book,
    And prate about virtue, with sanctified look;
    Neither priest, book, nor candle, can help you so well
    To make friends with the world as the Jolly Bottle."

"Chorus, my lads; out with it!" shouted the singer; and the whole crew
set up a hideous yell as they joined him.

            "Sing heave and ho, and trombelow,
            The Jolly Bottle is the best I trow.

    "Then take the bottle, it is well stitched of leather,
    And better than doublet keeps out the wind and weather:
    Let the bottom look up to the broad arch of blue,
    And then catch the drippings, as good fellows do.
            With heave and ho, and trombelow,
            'Tis sinful to waste good liquor, you know.

    "The soldier, he carries his knapsack and gun.
    And swears at the weight as he tramps through the sun
    But, devil a loon, did I ever hear tell,
    Who swore at the weight of the Jolly Bottle.
            So heave and ho, and trombelow,
            The Jolly Bottle is a feather, I trow."

Here the song was interrupted by the return of the two files who had
been sent to bring in the bodies of the dead. They had found the missing
horse, and now led him into the circle laden with the corpses of Bell
and Waters. The troopers halted immediately behind the ring of the
revellers, and in such a position as to front Peppercorn and the
captain, who were thus afforded a full view of the bodies by the blaze
of the fire.

"Easy," almost whispered Habershaw, now half-intoxicated, to the two
troopers, as he lifted his hands and motioned to them to halt; "put them
down gently on the ground. Go on, Peppercorn; let the dead help
themselves: finish the song! That chorus again, my boys!" And here the
last chorus was repeated in the highest key of merriment.

Peppercorn cast an eye at the bodies which, during the interval, had
been thrown on the earth, and while the men who had just returned were
helping themselves to the drink, he proceeded, in an unaltered voice,
with the song.

    "When drinkers are dry, and liquor is low,
    A fray that takes off a good fellow or so,
    Why, what does it do, but help us to bear
    The loss of a comrade, in drinking his share?
            Then heave and ho, and trombelow,
            A fray and a feast are brothers, you know.

    "The philosophers say it's a well-settled fact,
    That a vessel will leak whose bottom is cracked;
    And a belly that's drilled with a bullet, I think,
    Is a very bad belly to stow away drink.
            So heave and ho, and trombelow,
            The dead will be dry to-night, I trow."

"There they are, captain," said one of the returning troopers, after the
song, to which he and his companions had stood listening with delighted
countenances, was brought to an end, "there they are. We found Dick
Waters lying in the road, and when we first came to him he gave a sort
of groan, but we didn't lift him until we came back from hunting Roger
Bell; by that time the fellow was as dead as a pickled herring. Where do
you think we found Clapper Claw? Why, half a mile, almost, down the
stream. He was washed along and got jammed up betwixt the roots of a
sycamore. We had a long wade after him, and trouble enough to get
him--more, I'm thinking, than a dead man is worth. So, give us some more
rum; this is ugly work to be done in the dark."

"Scratch a hole for them, lads, under the bushes," said Habershaw; "put
a sod blanket over them before morning. That's the fortune of war, as
Peppercorn calls it. How are the wounded men getting along?"

"Oh bravely, captain," replied Shad Green, or, according to his
nickname, Red Mug: "this here physic is a main thing for a scratch."

"Bravely!" echoed Screech Owl, or Tom Dubbs, the same who had been
reported by the dragoon as "kicked by the blacksmith;" "we are
plastering up sores here with the jolly bottle:--

    "Sing heave and ho, and trombelow,
    The Jolly Bottle is a feather, I trow."

"What's a cracked crown, so as it holds a man's brains?" continued the
drunken carouser, whilst a laugh deformed his stupid physiognomy.

"How are we off for provisions, quarter-master?" inquired the captain of
one of the gang.

"Eaten out of skin, from nose to tail," replied Black Jack.

"Then the squad must forage to-night," continued Habershaw. "We must
take a buck, my sweet ones; there are plenty along the river. Get your
rifles and prepare lights, and, to keep out of the way of our horses,
don't stop short of a mile. Be about it, lads. Black Jack, this is your
business."

"True, Captain," replied the person addressed: "I shall have all things
ready directly."

It was near midnight when Black Jack, having prepared some faggots of
pitch-pine, and selected three or four of the best marksmen, left the
bivouac to look for deer. Habershaw himself, though lazy and
inordinately impressed with a sense of his own dignity, and now confused
with liquor, could not resist the attraction of this sport. He
accordingly, not long after the others had departed, took a rifle, and,
attended by his bull-dog, whom he never parted from on any occasion,
slowly followed in the direction chosen by the hunters.

Those in advance had scarcely walked along the margin of the river a
mile before they lighted their faggots, and began to beat the
neighboring thickets; and their search was not protracted many minutes
when the light of their torches was thrown full upon the eyes of a buck.
A shot from one of the marksmen told with unerring precision in the
forehead of the animal.

The report and the light brought the corpulent captain into the
neighborhood. He had almost walked himself out of breath and, as he did
not very well preserve his perpendicularity, or a straight line of
march, he had several times been tripped up by the roots of trees, or by
rocks and briers in his path. Exhausted, at length, and puzzled by the
stupefaction of his own brain, as well as by the surrounding darkness,
he sat down at the foot of a tree, determined to wait the return of the
hunting party. His faithful and congenial "Beauty," not less pursy and
short-winded than himself, and not more savage or surly in disposition,
now couched upon his haunches immediately between his master's legs; and
here this pair of beastly friends remained, silent and mutually soothed
by their own companionship. During this interval the person who bore the
fire, followed by one of the marksmen, crept slowly onward to the
vicinity of the spot where the captain had seated himself. The lapse of
time had proved too much for Habershaw's vigilance, and he had, at
length, with his head resting against the trunk of the tree, fallen into
a drunken slumber. The short crack of a rifle at hand, and the yell of
his dog awakened him. He started upon his feet with sudden surprise, and
stepping one pace forward, stumbled and fell over the dead body of his
favorite Beauty, who lay beneath him weltering in blood. The shot was
followed by a rush of the hunter up to the spot: it was Gideon Blake.

"Buck or doe, it is my shot!" cried Gideon, as he halted immediately
beside Habershaw.

"May all the devils blast you, Gideon Blake!" thundered on the incensed
captain. "You have sought my life, you murdering wolf, and your bullet
has killed Beauty."

"I shot at the eyes of what I thought a deer," returned Blake. "You were
a fool, Hugh Habershaw, to bring a dog into such a place.

"My poor dog! my brave dog! Beauty was worth ten thousand such bastard
villains as you! And to have him killed! May the devil feast upon your
soul this night, Gideon Blake! Go! and account for your wickedness. Take
that, snake! tiger! black-hearted whig and rebel! and be thankful that
you didn't come to your end by the help of hemp!" and in this gust of
passion he struck his knife into the bosom of the trooper, who groaned,
staggered, and fell.

At this moment the person bearing the fire, hearing the groan of his
comrade, rushed up to the spot and seized Habershaw's arm, just as the
monster was raising it over the fallen man to repeat the blow.

"Damn him! see what he has done!" exclaimed the captain, as he lifted up
the dead body of the dog so as to show in the light the wound inflicted
by the ball between the eyes; "this poor, faithful, dumb beast was worth
a hundred such hell-hounds as he!"

"I am murdered," said the wounded man; "I am murdered in cold blood."

The noise at this place brought together the rest of the hunters, who
were now returning with the buck thrown across a horse that had been led
by one of the party. Blake's wound was examined by them, and some linen
applied to staunch the blood. The man had fainted, but it was not
ascertained whether the stab was mortal. Habershaw stood sullenly
looking on during the examination, and, finding that life had not
instantly fled, he coolly wiped his knife and restored it to his girdle.

"The fellow has no idea of dying," he said with a visible concern, "and
has got no more than he deserves. He will live to be hung yet. Take him
to quarters."

"Make a hurdle for him," said one of the bystanders, and, accordingly,
two men cut a few branches from the neighboring wood, and twisting them
together, soon constructed a litter upon which they were able to bear
the body of the wounded hunter to the rendezvous. The others, scarcely
uttering a word as they marched along, followed slowly with the buck,
and in half an hour the troop was once more assembled under the
chestnut.

For a time there was a sullen and discontented silence amongst the whole
crew, that was only broken by the groans of the wounded trooper.
Occasionally there was a slight outburst of sedition from several of the
troop, as a sharper scream, indicating some sudden increase of pain,
from Gideon Blake, assailed their ears. Then there were low and muttered
curses pronounced by Habershaw, in a tone that showed his apprehension
of some vengeance against himself; and these imprecations were mingled
with hints of the disloyalty of the trooper, and charges of a pretended
purpose to betray his fellow-soldiers, evidently insinuated by the
captain to excuse his act of violence. Then he approached the sick man
and felt his pulse, and examined his wound, and pronounced the hurt to
be trifling. "It will do him good," he said, with affected unconcern,
"and teach him to be more true to his comrades hereafter." But still the
fate of the man was manifestly doubtful, and the rising exasperation of
the troop became every instant more open. Alarmed and faint-hearted at
these symptoms of discontent, Habershaw at last called the men into a
circle and made them a speech, in which he expressed his sorrow for the
act he had committed, endeavored to excuse himself by the plea of
passion at the loss of his dog, and, finally, perceiving that these
excuses did not satisfy his hearers, acknowledged his drunken condition
and his unconsciousness of the deed he had done until the horrible
consequences of it were before his eyes. Here Peppercorn interposed in
his favor, alleging that he had examined the wound, and that, in his
opinion, the trooper's life was not in danger.

"And as the captain is sorry for it, lads," he concluded, "why, what is
to be done but let the thing drop? So, if there's another canteen in the
squad, we will wet our whistles, boys, and go to sleep."

This appeal was effectual, and was followed by a hearty cheer. So,
draining the dregs of the last flask, this debauched company retired to
rest--Habershaw sneaking away from them with a heart loaded with malice
and revenge.

A few men were employed, for a short time, in burying the bodies of the
troopers who were killed in the fray; and, excepting the guard, who
busied themselves in skinning the buck and broiling some choice slices
before the fire, and in watching the prisoners, or attending upon their
sick comrade, all were sunk into silence if not repose.



CHAPTER XVIII.

THE TROOPERS MOVE WITH THEIR PRISONERS.

    "Oft he that doth abide,
    Is cause of his own paine,
    But he that flieth in good tide,
    Perhaps may fight again."--_Old Proverb._


It was with the most earnest solicitude that Butler and his companion
watched the course of events, and became acquainted with the character
of the ruffians into whose hands they had fallen. The presence of James
Curry in this gang excited a painful consciousness in the mind of the
soldier, that he had powerful and secret enemies at work against him,
but who they were was an impenetrable mystery. Then the lawless habits
of the people who had possession of him, gave rise to the most anxious
distrust as to his future fate: he might be murdered in a fit of
passion, or tortured with harsh treatment to gratify some concealed
malice. His position in the army was, it seemed, known too; and, for
aught that he could tell, his mission might be no secret to his captors.
Robinson's sagacity entered fully into these misgivings. He had narrowly
observed the conduct of the party who had made them prisoners, and with
that acute insight which was concealed under a rude and uneducated
exterior, but which was strongly marked in his actions, he had already
determined upon the course which the safety of Butler required him to
pursue. According to his view of their present difficulties it was
absolutely necessary that he should effect his escape, at whatever
personal hazard. Butler, he rightly conjectured, was the principal
object of the late ambuscade; that, for some unknown purpose, the
possession of this officer became important to those who had procured
the attack upon him, and that James Curry had merely hired this gang of
desperadoes to secure the prize. Under these circumstances, he concluded
that the Major would be so strictly guarded as to forbid all hope of
escape, and that any attempt by him to effect it would only be punished
by certain death. But, in regard to himself, his calculation was
different. "First," said he, "I can master any three of this beggarly
crew in an open field and fair fight; and, secondly, when it comes to
the chances of a pell-mell, they will not think me of so much account as
to risk their necks by a long chase; their whole eyes would undoubtedly
be directed to the Major." The sergeant, therefore, determined to make
the attempt, and, in the event of his success, to repair to Sumpter, who
he knew frequented some of the fastnesses in this region; or, in the
alternative, to rally such friends from the neighboring country as were
not yet overawed by the Tory dominion, and bring them speedily to the
rescue of Butler. Full of these thoughts, he took occasion during the
night, whilst the guard were busy in cooking their venison, and whilst
they thought him and his comrade wrapt in sleep, to whisper to Butler
the resolution he had adopted.

"I will take the first chance to-morrow to make a dash upon these
ragamuffins," he said; "and I shall count it hard if I don't get out of
their claws. Then, rely upon me, I shall keep near you in spite of these
devils. So be prepared, if I once get away, to see me like a witch that
travels on a broomstick or creeps through a keyhole. But whisht! the
drunken vagabonds mustn't hear us talking."

Butler, after due consideration of the sergeant's scheme, thought it,
however perilous, the only chance they had of extricating themselves
from the dangers with which they were beset, and promised the most ready
co-operation; determining also, to let no opportunity slip which might
be improved to his own deliverance. "Your good arm and brave heart,
Galbraith, never stood you in more urgent stead than they may do
to-morrow," was his concluding remark.

When morning broke the light of day fell upon a strange and disordered
scene. The drunken and coarse wretches of the night before, now lessened
in number and strength by common broil and private quarrel, lay
stretched on their beds of leaves. Their motley and ill-assorted weapons
lay around in disarray; drinking cups and empty flasks were scattered
over the trodden grass, the skin and horns of the buck, and disjointed
fragments of raw flesh were seen confusedly cast about beneath the tree,
and a conspicuous object in the scene were the clots of blood and gore,
both of men and beast, that disfigured the soil. Two new-made graves, or
rather mounds, hastily scratched together and imperfectly concealing the
limbs of the dead, prominently placed but a few feet from the ring of
last night's revelry, told of the disasters of the fight at the ford.
The brushwood fire had burned down into a heap of smouldering ashes, and
the pale and sickly features of the wounded trooper were to be discerned
upon a pallet of leaves, hard by the heap of embers, surrounded by the
remnants of bones and roasted meat that had been flung carelessly aside.
In a spot of more apparent comfort, sheltered by an overhanging canopy
of vines and alder, lay Butler stretched upon his cloak, and, close
beside him, the stout frame of Horse Shoe Robinson. In the midst of all
these marks of recent riot and carousal, sat two swarthy figures,
haggard and wan from night-watching, armed at every point, and keeping
strict guard over the prisoners.

The occasional snort and pawing of horses in the neighboring wood showed
that these animals were alert at the earliest dawn; whilst among the
first who seemed aware of the approach of day, was seen rising from the
earth, where it had been flung in stupid torpor for some hours, the
bloated and unsightly person of Hugh Habershaw, now much the worse for
the fatigue and revelry of the preceding night. A savage and surly
expression was seated on his brow, and his voice broke forth more than
ordinarily harsh and dissonant, as he ordered the troop to rouse and
prepare for their march.

The summons was tardily obeyed; and while the yawning members of the
squad were lazily moving to their several duties and shaking off the
fumes of their late debauch, the captain was observed bending over the
prostrate form of Gideon Blake, and directing a few anxious inquiries
into his condition. The wounded man was free from pain, but his limbs
were stiff, and the region of the stab sore and sensitive to the least
touch. The indications, however, were such as to show that his wound was
not likely to prove mortal. By the order of Habershaw, a better litter
was constructed, and the troopers were directed to bear him, by turns,
as far as Christie's, where he was to be left to the nursing of the
family. It was a full hour before the horses were saddled, the scattered
furniture collected, and the preparations for the march completed. When
these were accomplished the prisoners were provided with the two
sorriest horses of the troop, and they now set forward at a slow pace,
under the escort of four men commanded by James Curry. The two troopers
who bore the sick man followed on foot; Habershaw with the remainder,
one of whom had appropriated Captain Peter, whilst he led the horses of
the dismounted men, brought up the rear.

On the journey there was but little spoken by any member of the party;
the boisterous and rude nature of the men who composed the troop seemed
to have been subdued by sleep into a temper of churlish indifference or
stolid apathy. Peppercorn, or James Curry, as the reader now recognises
him, strictly preserved his guard over the prisoners, manifesting a
severity of manner altogether different from the tone of careless
revelry which characterized his demeanor on the preceding night. It
never relaxed from an official and sullen reserve. A moody frown sat
upon his brow, and his communication with the prisoners was confined to
short and peremptory commands; whilst, at the same time, he forbade the
slightest intercourse with them on the part of any of the guard. During
the short progress to Christie's he frequently rode apart with
Habershaw; and the conversation which then occupied these two was
maintained in a low tone, and with a serious air that denoted some grave
matter of deliberation.

It was more than an hour after sunrise when the cavalcade reached the
point of their present destination. There were signs of an anxious
purpose in the silence of the journey, broken as it was only by low
mutterings amongst the men, above which sometimes arose an expression of
impatience and discontent, as the subject of their whispered discussions
appeared to excite some angry objection from several of the party; and
this mystery was not less conspicuous in the formal order of the halt,
and in the pause that followed upon their arrival at the habitation.

The house, in front of which they were drawn up, was, according to the
prevailing fashion of the time, a one-storied dwelling covering an ample
space of ground, built partly of boards and partly of logs, with a long
piazza before it, terminating in small rooms, made by inclosing the
sides for a few feet at either extremity. Being situated some twenty
paces aside from the road, the intervening area was bounded by a fence
through which a gate afforded admission. A horse-rack, with a few
feeding troughs, was erected near this gate; and a draw-well, in the
same vicinity, furnished a ready supply of water. With the exception of
a cleared field around the dwelling, the landscape was shaded by the
natural forest.

A consultation of some minutes' duration was held between Habershaw and
Curry, when the order to dismount was given, accompanied with an
intimation of a design to tarry at this place for an hour or two; but
the men, at the same time, were directed to leave their saddles upon
their horses. One or two were detailed to look after the refreshment of
the cattle, whilst the remainder took possession of the principal room.
The first demands of the troop were for drink, and this being indulged,
the brute feeling of conviviality which in gross natures depends
altogether upon sensual excitement, began once more to break down the
barriers of discipline, and to mount into clamor.

The scenes of the morning had made a disagreeable impression upon the
feelings of Butler and his comrade. The changed tone and the ruffian
manners of the band, the pause, and the doubts which seemed to agitate
them, boded mischief. The two prisoners, however, almost instinctively
adopted the course of conduct which their circumstances required. They
concealed all apprehension of harm, and patiently awaited the end. Horse
Shoe even took advantage of the rising mirth of the company when drink
began to exhilarate them, and affected an easy tone of companionship
which was calculated to throw them off their guard. He circulated freely
amongst the men, and by private conference with some of the individuals
around him, who, attracted by his air of confiding gaiety, seemed
inclined to favor his approaches of familiarity, he soon discovered that
the gang were divided in sentiment in regard to some important subject
touching the proposed treatment of himself and his friend. A party, at
least, he was thus made aware, were disposed to take his side in the
secret disputes which had been in agitation. He was determined to profit
by this dissension, and accordingly applied himself still more
assiduously to cultivate the favorable sentiment he found in existence.

Whilst breakfast was in preparation, and Habershaw and Curry were
occupied with the wounded man in an adjoining apartment, the sergeant,
playing the part of a boon companion, laughed with the rioters, and,
uninvited, made himself free of their cups.

"I should like to know," he said to one of the troopers, "why you are
giving yourselves all this trouble about a couple of simple travellers
that happened to be jogging along the road? If you wanted to make a
pitched battle you ought to have sent us word; but if it was only upon a
drinking bout you had set your hearts, there was no occasion to be
breaking heads for the honor of getting a good fellow in your company,
when he would have come of his own accord at the first axing. There was
no use in making such a mighty secret about it; for, as we were
travelling the same road with you, you had only to show a man the
civility of saying you wanted our escort, and you should have had it at
a word. Here's to our better acquaintance, friend!"

"You mightn't be so jolly, Horse Shoe Robinson," said Shad Green--or,
according to his nickname, Red Mug, in a whisper; "if some of them that
took the trouble to find you, should have their own way. It's a d----d
tight pull whether you are to be kept as a prisoner of war, or shoved
under ground this morning without tuck of drum. That for your private
ear."

"I was born in old Carolina myself," replied Horse Shoe, aside to the
speaker; "and I don't believe there is many men to be found in it who
would stand by and see the rules and regulations of honorable war
blackened and trod down into the dust by any cowardly trick of murder.
If it comes to that, many as there are against two, our lives will not
go at a cheap price."

"Whisht!" returned the other, "with my allowance, for one, it shan't be.
A prisoner's a prisoner, I say; and damnation to the man that would make
him out worse."

"They say you are a merry devil, old Horse Shoe," exclaimed he who was
called Bow Legs, who now stepped up and slapped the sergeant on the
back. "So take a swig, man; fair play is a jewel!--that's my doctrine.
Fight when you fight, and drink when you drink--and that's the sign to
know a man by."

"There is some good things," said the sergeant, "in this world that's
good, and some that's bad. But I have always found that good and bad is
so mixed up and jumbled together, that you don't often get much of one
without a little of the other. A sodger's a sodger, no matter what side
he is on; and they are the naturalest people in the world for
fellow-feeling. One day a man is up, and then the laugh's on his side;
next day he is down, and then the laugh's against him. So, as a sodger
has more of these ups and downs than other folks, there's the reason his
heart is tenderer towards a comrade than other people's. Here's your
health, sir. This is a wicked world, and twisted, in a measure, upside
down; and it is well known that evil communications corrupts good
manners; but sodgers were made to set the world right again, on its
legs, and to presarve good breeding and Christian charity. So there's a
sarmon for you, you tinkers!"

"Well done, mister preacher!" vociferated a prominent reveller. "If you
will desert and enlist with us you shall be the chaplain of the troop.
We want a good swearing, drinking, and tearing blade who can hold a
discourse over his liquor, and fence with the devil at long words.
You're the very man for it! Huzza for the blacksmith!"

"Huzza for the blacksmith!" shouted several others in the apartment.

Butler, during this scene, had stretched himself out at full length upon
a bench, to gain some rest in his present exhausted and uncomfortable
condition, and was now partaking of the refreshment of a bowl of milk
and some coarse bread, which one of the troopers had brought him.

"What's all this laughing and uproar about?" said Habershaw, entering
the room with Curry, just at the moment of the acclamation in favor of
the sergeant "Is this a time for your cursed wide throats to be braying
like asses! We have business to do. And you, sir," said he, turning to
Butler, "you must be taking up the room of a half dozen men on a bench
with your lazy carcase! Up, sir; I allow no lolling and lying about to
rascally whigs and rebels. You have cost me the death of a dog that is
worth all your filthy whig kindred; and you have made away with two of
the best men that ever stept in shoe leather. Sit up, sir, and thank
your luck that you haven't your arms pinioned behind you, like a horse
thief."

"Insolent coward," said Butler, springing upon his feet; "hired ruffian!
you shall in due time be made to pay for the outrage you have inflicted
upon me."

"Tie him up!" cried Habershaw; "tie him up! And now I call you all to
bear witness that he has brought the sentence upon himself; it shall be
done without waiting another moment. Harry Gage, I give the matter over
to you. Draw out four men, take them into the yard, and dispatch the
prisoners off-hand! shoot the traitors on the spot, before we eat our
breakfasts! I was a fool that I didn't settle this at daylight this
morning--the rascally filth of the earth! Have no heart about it, men;
but make sure work by a short distance. This is no time for whining.
When have the Whigs shown mercy to us!"

"It shall be four against four, then!" cried out Shadrach Green,
seconded by Andrew Clopper; "and the first shot that is fired shall be
into the bowels of Hugh Habershaw! Stand by me, boys!"

In a moment the parties were divided, and had snatched up their weapons,
and then stood looking angrily at each other as if daring each to
commence the threatened affray.

"Why, how now, devil's imps!" shouted Habershaw. "Have you come to a
mutiny? Have you joined the rebels? James Curry, look at this! By the
bloody laws of war, I will report every rascal who dares to lift his
hand against me!"

"The thing is past talking about," said the first speaker, coolly. "Hugh
Habershaw, neither you nor James Curry shall command the peace if you
dare to offer harm to the prisoners. Now, bully, report that as my
saying. They are men fairly taken in war, and shall suffer no evil past
what the law justifies. Give them up to the officer of the nearest
post--that's what we ask--carry them to Innis's camp if you choose; but
whilst they are in our keeping there shall be no blood spilled without
mixing some of your own with it, Hugh Habershaw."

"Arrest the mutineers!" cried Habershaw, trembling with rage. "Who are
my friends in this room? Let them stand by me, and then--blast me if I
don't force obedience to my orders!"

"You got off by the skin of your teeth last night," said Green, "when
you tried to take the life of Gideon Blake. For that you deserved a
bullet through your skull. Take care that you don't get your reckoning
this morning, captain and all as you are."

"What in the devil would you have?" inquired Habershaw, stricken into a
more cautious tone of speech by the decided bearing of the man opposed
to him.

"The safety of the prisoners until they are delivered to the commander
of a regular post; we have resolved upon that!" was the reply.

"Curry!" said Habershaw, turning in some perplexity to the dragoon as if
for advice.

"Softly, Captain; we had better have a parley here," said Curry, who
then added in a whisper: "There's been some damned bobbery kicked up
here by the blacksmith. This comes of giving that fellow the privilege
of talking."

"A word, men," interposed Horse Shoe, who during this interval had
planted himself near Butler, and with him stood ready to act as the
emergency might require. "Let me say a word. This James Curry is my man.
Give me a broadsword and a pair of pistols, and I will pledge the hand
and word of a sodger, upon condition that I am allowed five minutes'
parole, to have a pass, here in the yard, with him--it shall be in sight
of the whole squad--I pledge the word of a sodger to deliver myself back
again to the guard, dead or alive, without offering to take any chance
to make off in the meantime. Come, James Curry, your word to the back of
that, and then buckle on your sword, man. I heard your whisper."

"Soldiers," said Curry, stepping into the circle which the party had now
formed round the room, "let me put in a word as a peace-maker. Captain
Habershaw won't be unreasonable. I will vouch for him that he will
fulfil your wish regarding the conveying of the prisoners to a regular
post. Come, come, let us have no brawling! For shame! put down your
guns. There may be reason in what you ask, although it isn't so much
against the fashion of the times to shoot a Whig either. But anything
for the sake of quiet amongst good fellows. Be considerate, noble
captain, and do as the babies wish. As for Horse Shoe's brag--he is an
old soldier, and so am I; that's enough. We are not so green as to put a
broadsword and a brace of pistols into the hands of a bullying prisoner.
No, no, Horse Shoe! try another trick, old boy! Ha, ha, lads! you are a
set of fine dashing chaps, and this is only one of your mad-cap bits of
spunk that boils up with your liquor. Take another cup on it, my merry
fellows, and all will be as pleasant as the music of a fife. Come,
valiant Captain of the Tiger, join us. And as for the prisoners--why let
them come in for snacks with us. So there's an end of the business. All
is as mild as new milk again."

"Well, well, get your breakfasts," said Habershaw gruffly. "Blast you! I
have spoiled you by good treatment, you ungrateful, carnivorous dogs!
But, as Peppercorn says, there's an end of it! So go to your feeding,
and when that's done we will push for Blackstock's."

The morning meal was soon despatched, and the party reassembled in the
room where the late disturbance had taken place. The good-nature of
Robinson continued to gain upon those who had first taken up his cause,
and even brought him into a more lenient consideration with the others.
Amongst the former I have already noted Andrew Clopper, a rough and
insubordinate member of the gang, who, vexed by some old grudge against
the fat captain, had efficiently sustained Green in the late act of
mutiny, and who now, struck with Horse Shoe's bold demeanor towards
Curry, began to evince manifest signs of a growing regard for the worthy
sergeant. With this man Horse Shoe contrived to hold a short and secret
interview that resulted in the quiet transfer of a piece of gold into
the freebooter's hand, which was received with a significant nod of
assent to whatever proposition accompanied it. When the order of "boot
and saddle" was given by Habershaw, the several members of the troop
repaired to their horses, where a short time was spent in making ready
for the march; after which the whole squad returned to the porch and
occupied the few moments of delay in that loud and boisterous carousal
which is apt to mark the conduct of such an ill-organized body in the
interval immediately preceding the commencement of a day's ride. This
was a moment of intense interest to the sergeant, who kept his eyes
steadily fixed upon the movements of Clopper, as that individual
lingered behind his comrades in the equipment of his horse. This
solicitude did not, however, arrest his seeming mirth, as he joined in
the rude jests of the company and added some sallies of his own.

"Give me that cup," he said at length, to one of the men, as he pointed
to a gourd on a table; "before we start I have a notion to try the
strength of a little cold water, just by way of physic, after all the
liquor we have been drinking," and, having got the implement in his
hand, he walked deliberately to the draw-well, where he dipped up a
draught from the bucket that stood on its brink. As he put the water to
his lips and turned his back upon the company, he was enabled to take a
survey of the horses that were attached to the rack near him: then,
suddenly throwing the gourd from him, he sprang towards his own trusty
steed, leaped into his saddle at one bound, and sped, like an arrow from
a bow, upon the highway. This exploit was so promptly achieved that no
one was aware of the sergeant's purpose until he was some twenty paces
upon his journey. As soon as the alarm of his flight was spread, some
three or four rifles were fired after him in rapid succession, during
which he was seen ducking his head and moving it from side to side with
a view to baffle the aim of the marksmen. The confusion of the moment in
which the volley was given rendered it ineffectual, and the sergeant was
already past the first danger of his escape.

"To horse and follow!" resounded from all sides.

"Look to the other prisoner!" roared out Habershaw; "if he raises his
head blow out his brains! Follow, boys, follow!"

"Two or three of you come with me," cried Curry, and a couple of files
hastened with the dragoon to their horses. Upon arriving at the rack it
was discovered that the bridles of the greater part of the troop were
tied in hard knots in such a manner as to connect each two or three
horses together.

A short delay took place whilst the horsemen were disentangling their
reins, and Curry, being the first to extricate his steed, mounted and
set off in rapid pursuit. He was immediately followed by two others.

At the end of half an hour the two privates returned and reported that
they had been unable to obtain a view of the sergeant or even of Curry.
Shortly afterwards the dragoon himself was descried retracing his steps
at a moderate trot towards the house. His plight told a tale upon him of
discomfiture. One side of his face was bleeding with a recent bruise,
his dress disarranged and his back covered with dust. The side of his
horse also bore the same taint of the soil.

He rode up to Habershaw--who was already upon the road at the head of
the remaining members of the squad, having Butler in charge--and
informed him that he had pursued the sergeant at full speed until he
came in sight of him, when the fugitive had slackened his gait as if on
purpose to allow himself to be overtaken.

"But, the devil grip the fellow!" he added, "he has a broad-side like a
man-of-war! In my hurry I left my sword behind me, and, when I came up
with him, I laid my hand upon his bridle; but, by some sudden sleight
which he has taught his horse, he contrived, somehow or other, to upset
me--horse and all--down a bank on the road-side. And, when I lay on the
ground sprawling, do you think the jolly runagate didn't rein up and
give me a broad laugh, and ask me if he could be of any _sarvice_ to me?
He then bade me good bye, saying he had an engagement that prevented him
from favoring me any longer with his company. Gad! it was so civilly
done that all I could say was, luck go with you, Mr. Horse Shoe; and,
since we are to part company so soon, may the devil pad your saddle for
you! I'll do him the justice to say that he's a better horseman than I
took him for. I can hardly begrudge a man his liberty who can win it as
cleverly as he has done."

"Well, there's no more to be said about it," remarked Habershaw. "He is
only game for another day. He is like a bear's cub; which is as much as
to signify that he has a hard time before him. He would have only given
us trouble; so let him go. Now, boys, away for Blackstock's; I will
engage I keep the fox that's left safely enough."

With these words the troop proceeded upon their march.



CHAPTER XIX.


Horse Shoe's successful escape from the hands of the Tories, it will be
conjectured, had been aided by Clopper. The sergeant had sufficiently
assured himself of the present safety of Butler, from the spirit with
which a strong party of Habershaw's followers had resisted the bloody
purpose of their leader before breakfast; and he had also, by the timely
reward secretly conveyed to Clopper, received a pledge from that
individual that the same protection should still be accorded to the
major, in the event of his own extrication from the gang by the perilous
exploit which he then meditated. It is no doubt apparent to the reader,
that the favor which saved the lives of the prisoners was won from the
captors by the address of Robinson, and that whatever good will was
kindled up amongst them, was appropriated principally to the sergeant,
Butler having elicited but little consideration from the band, beyond
that interest which the roughest men are apt to take in the fortunes of
a young and enterprising soldier. Neither the major's manners nor temper
were adapted to conciliate any special regard from such natures.

The escape of the sergeant, therefore, although it added nothing to the
perils of Butler's situation, still operated in some degree to his
present inconvenience. It caused him to be more rigorously guarded than
before, and consequently to be more restricted in his personal comfort.
He was hurried forward at a rough and uneasy pace; and both from
Habershaw and Curry, and those more immediately of their party, he
experienced a surly indifference to the pain that this occasioned him.
They seemed to have no regard either to his wants or feelings, and in
the passing remarks that fell from them he could gather harsh surmises
as to the manner in which he was now likely to be disposed of.

"It is their own fault," said one of them to his companion, as Butler
overheard the conversation; "if every prisoner is strung up and shot
now-a-days. He makes no more of hanging out people than so many wolves;
and there was Captain Huck--will any man say that Sumpter hadn't him
murdered in cold blood?"

"Yes," added the other, "let a Tory be caught over yonder amongst the
Iredell Whigs, on t'other side of the line, or in Tryon, or down here at
the Waxhaws, why, a grey fox in a barn yard with forty dogs would have
as good a chance for his life. So, for my share, I am glad to see our
folks break up that blasted breed, root and branch."

"Innis has got as keen a nose for a Whig as a bloodhound," said the
first speaker, "and won't stop long to consider what's right to be done,
if he gets this chap in his clutches; so it is of no great account that
we didn't make short work of it this morning."

Such remarks produced a gloomy effect upon Butler's mind. He had
witnessed enough, in the scenes of the morning, to convince him that
Habershaw had been employed to waylay him and take his life, and that
the latter purpose had only failed by the lucky conjuncture of
circumstances which led to the mutiny. He was aware, too, that Curry was
the prime conductor of the scheme, and drove matters, by a secret
influence, as far as he could towards its accomplishment, whilst with a
professional hardihood and most hypocritical bearing he affected to be
indifferent to the issue. This fellow's malice was the more venomous
from his address, and the gay, swaggering, remorseless levity with which
he could mask the most atrocious designs: nothing could baffle his
equanimity; and he seemed to be provided, at all times, with a present
expedient to meet the emergency of his condition.

The most perplexing feature in this man's present position was his
recent connexion with Tyrrel; a fact that recurred to Butler with many
alarming doubts. All the other circumstances accompanying Butler's
condition, at this moment, were subjects of distressful uncertainty.
Ignorant of the place to which he was to be taken, into whose hands he
was to be delivered, how he was to be disposed of, he could only
anticipate the worst. It was obvious that his journey was an expected
one, and that the gang who held him were employed by persons in
authority, set on, no doubt, by the agency of Tyrrel: but where was
he--and who was he?--and what influence could he bring to bear against
his, Butler's life, now that he had failed in his bloody purpose of
lying in wait; and that it was resolved by these ruffians, who had in
part only obeyed his behests, to deliver their prisoner up to the
regular authorities of the British army? The mention of the name of
Innis by one of the troopers was not calculated to allay his inquietude.
This person he knew to have been an active confederate and eager adviser
of the new court, lately established at Charleston, to promote the
confiscation of the estates of the inhabitants of Carolina disaffected
to the royal cause. He was, besides, a zealous Tory partisan, and,
having lately joined the army, was now in command of a detachment of
loyalists on the Ennoree.

Then, again, there was abundant cause of anxiety to the unfortunate
officer in the question whether Robinson could be kept acquainted with
his condition, or even of the place to which he might be removed--and if
acquainted with these particulars, whether, in the disturbed state of
the country, he could render any service. These thoughts all contributed
to sink his spirits.

Notwithstanding the usual assumed levity of Curry, he had now become
resentful towards Butler, and did not give himself the trouble to
conceal it. His manner was quick and unaccommodating, showing his
vexation at his own want of sagacity, inferred by the successful flight
of Robinson. Expressions occasionally escaped him that indicated a
self-reproof on this subject, though they were partially disguised by an
affected undervaluing of the importance of having such a prisoner, so
long as he retained the custody of the principal object of the
enterprise. But the consciousness of being again baffled by a man who
had once before obtained the mastery over him, roused his pride into the
exhibition of a peevish and vindictive demeanor. In this temper he
seconded the brutal disposition of Habershaw, and abandoned the captive
officer to the coarse insults of those who exercised control over him.
There was some mitigation to this annoyance, in the reserved and partial
spirit in which the insurgent party of the squad manifested some slight
signs of good will towards him. An instance of this spirit was afforded
in a passing hint conveyed by Clopper, on one occasion when the troop
had halted to water their horses. "Whatever is to come of it, after we
give you up to other hands," he said, apart to Butler, "we will stick to
the ground we have taken, that no harm shall be done to you in our
keeping."

The day was intensely hot, and the road, over which the party travelled,
rugged and fatiguing; it was, therefore, near one o'clock when they came
in sight of the Tiger, a rough, bold, impetuous stream that rushed over
an almost unbroken bed of rocks. On the opposite bank was Blackstocks, a
rude hamlet of some two or three houses, scattered over a rugged
hill-side--a place subsequently rendered famous by the gallant repulse
of Tarleton by Sumpter. The troop struck into a narrow ford, and, with
some scrambling amongst the rocks, succeeded in crossing the stream;
they then galloped rapidly up the hill, towards a farm-house which
seemed to be the principal place of resort for the people of the
neighborhood. The approach of the party of cavalry drew to the door a
bevy of women, children, and negroes, who stood idly gaping at the
spectacle; and, in addition to these, a detachment of militia,
consisting of between twenty and thirty men, were seen to turn out and
form a line in front of the house. Habershaw, with an air of magnified
importance, halted opposite this detachment, gave a few prompt orders to
Curry in regard to the disposition of the troop, and in an authoritative
tone of command, ordered the officer of the militia to detail a guard
for the safe keeping of a prisoner of state. The personage addressed--a
tall, ungainly, and awkward subaltern--signified his acquiescence with a
bow, and immediately took possession of Butler by seizing the rein of
his horse and leading him to one side, where two men, armed with rifles,
placed themselves at either stirrup. Habershaw now directed his men to
alight, accompanying the order with a caution that the prisoner was not
to be allowed to enter the house. "The d----d rascal," he added, "shall
not play the trick of his rebel associate: no more privilege of going
into bar-rooms, and lounging about doors! See the man stowed away in the
barn; and tell the sentinels never to take their eyes off of him--do you
hear, lieutenant?"

"You may depend upon my look-out," replied the lieutenant, with a
flourish of a hacked and rusty sword. "Men, march your prisoner straight
to the barn. Have a relief, Corporal, every two hours, and towards
night, set four on the watch at a time."

"Look to it, Lieutenant!" shouted Habershaw. "No words, sir: do your
duty!"

And having thus given vent to his own high opinion of himself the bulky
captain withdrew into the house.

Butler was now marched into a large log barn, in one corner of which an
armful of fodder, or dried blades of Indian corn, were shaken out for
his bed; and this, he was told, was to be his prison until other orders
awaited him. The guard, consisting of two sentinels, were stationed on
the inner side of the door, having the prisoner immediately under their
eye; and, this disposition being completed, the officer commanding the
detachment retired to mingle with the troopers in the farm-house.

Half an hour had scarcely elapsed after the arrival of the troopers at
Blackstocks, before James Curry had refreshed himself with a hasty meal,
and had his horse brought to the door. He seemed bound upon some urgent
mission.

"Captain St. Jermyn, you say, left this at sunrise this morning?" said
the dragoon, addressing the lieutenant of the militia.

"He did. He was here all day yesterday, and thought he should hear from
you last night."

"What route did he take?"

"To Turnbull, at Ninety-Six."

"Is Turnbull there now, think you?"

"He is," replied the lieutenant. "They say orders have gone up from
Cornwallis to the post for four light companies, and it is expected that
Captain Campbell is now on his way with them towards Camden; neither
Turnbull nor Cruger would leave the post."

"I have heard that this corps was marching to head-quarters Are you sure
St. Jermyn is not with Campbell?"

"He said nothing about it yesterday, but I think he wishes to join
Colonel Innis with the loyalist cavalry."

"Where is Innis?" inquired Curry.

"Over on Ennoree, about two miles from Musgrove's mill."

"Humph!" said Curry, thoughtfully, "I must ride to the garrison at
Ninety-Six. The devil take this cantering about the country! I have had
more than enough of it."

And saying this, the dragoon mounted his horse, and clapping spurs to
the restive animal, was soon out of sight.

It was late in the day before the wants of Butler were attended to. He
had thrown aside his coat, from the oppressive heat of the weather, and,
placing it under his head for a pillow, had fallen into a sleep, from
which he was awakened by a summons from one of the sentinels to partake
of food. There was more kindness apparent in the demeanor of the soldier
than Butler had been accustomed to meet from the persons who held him
captive, and this circumstance won upon his heart and induced him to
accept with courtesy the proffered attentions.

"You live in a divided country, and witness much to make a good man wish
this unhappy war was at an end," said Butler, after he had eaten of the
provisions placed before him.

"Indeed we do, sir," replied the soldier, "and it is enough to make a
man's heart bleed to see brothers fighting against each other, and
kindred that ought to hold together seeking each other's lives. Men will
have, and ought to have their opinions, sir; but it is hardly good
reason for treating one another like savage Indians, because all cannot
think alike."

"Do you live in this neighborhood?" inquired Butler.

"Not far away," answered the man.

"You are married?"

"Yes, and have six children."

"They should be young," said Butler, "judging by your own age."

"Thank God, sir!" exclaimed the soldier, with fervor, "they are young!
And I would pray that they may never live to be old if these wars are to
last. No father can count upon his own child's living in harmony with
him. My boys, if they were grown enough, might be the first I should
meet in battle."

"Your name, friend?" said Butler.

"Bruce," replied the other.

"A good and a brave name; a name once friendly to the liberty of his
country."

"Stop, sir!" said the sentinel. "This is not the place to talk upon
questions that might make us angry with each other. It is a name still
friendly to the liberty of his country; that liberty that supports the
king and laws, and punishes treason."

"I cannot debate with you," replied Butler; "I am your prisoner."

"I am a man," said the soldier, firmly, "and would not take advantage of
him that cannot take his own part; but these questions, sir, are best
dropped--they have made all the provinces mad. However, I do not blame
you, sir; I will not deny that there are good men on your side."

"And on yours, doubtless," returned Butler.

"We have many bad ones, sir," returned the soldier; "and as you have
spoken like a well-tempered gentleman to me, I will give you a friendly
hint." Here the sentinel spoke in a lowered tone. "Have your eyes about
you; these men are none of the best, and would think but little of
taking from you anything of value. As you slept, just now, I saw a
golden trinket hanging by a ribbon in your bosom. You are a young man,
sir, and a soldier, I hear; this may be some present from your lady, as
I guess you have one. If others had seen it, as I saw it, you might have
been the loser. That's all."

"Thank you, honest friend! from my heart, I thank you!" replied Butler
eagerly. "Oh, God! that bauble is a consolation to me that in this hour
I would not part with--no, no! Thank you, friend, a thousand times!"

"Have done," said the soldier, "and in future be more careful. The
relief is coming this way."

And the sentinel, taking up his rifle, repaired to his post. In a few
moments the guard was changed, and those lately on duty were marched to
the dwelling-house.

When night came on the immediate guard around Butler's person was
doubled. Some few comforts were added to his forlorn prison by the
kindness of the soldier Bruce, and he was left to pass the weary hours
of darkness in communion with his own thoughts, or in the enjoyment of
such repose as his unhappy state of thraldom allowed. If the agitation
of his spirit had permitted sleep, there were but few moments of the
night when it might have been indulged. The outbursts of revelry, the
loud and boisterous laugh, and still louder oaths of the party who
occupied the dwelling-house near at hand, showed that they had plunged
into their usual debauch, and now caroused over their frequently filled
cups; and the clamor that broke upon the night might have baffled the
slumbers of a mind less anxious and wakeful than his own.

The party of troopers and militia sat at the door to take advantage of
the coolness of the night, and as they plied the busy flagon, and with
heavy draught grew more noisy, scarce a word fell from their lips that
was not distinctly heard by Butler. It was with intense interest,
therefore, that he listened to the conversation when it led to a topic
that greatly concerned himself; and that he might not alarm the
suspicion of the speakers he affected sleep.

"Sumpter has been hovering about Ninety-Six," said the lieutenant; "and
if one could believe all the stories that are told about him, he must be
a full cousin at least to a certain person that it wouldn't be right to
mention in respectable company; for, by the accounts, he is one day on
the Wateree, and the next, whoop and away!--and there he is, almost over
at Augusta. It seems almost past the power of human legs for a mortal
man to make such strides as they tell of him."

"Who says Sumpter is near Ninety-Six?" inquired one of the party; "I can
only say, if that's true, he is a ghost--that's all. Here's Harry Turner
will swear that he saw him, day before yesterday, in North Carolina, on
his march towards Burk."

"Indeed did I," responded Harry, one of the militia-men.

"There is no mistake about it," interposed the lieutenant. "A vidette of
Brown's came scampering through here this morning, who reported the
news; and the man had good right to know, for he saw Cruger yesterday,
who told him all about it, and then sent him off to Wahab's plantation,
near the Catawba fords, for Hanger's rangers. It was on his way back
this morning that he stopped here five minutes, only to give us
warning?"

"This is only some story that your drunken head has been dreaming about,
Gabriel," said Habershaw. "There is not a word of truth in it; the
rangers went down to Camden three days ago. Who saw the vidette besides
yourself?"

"The whole detachment," replied the lieutenant. "We talked to the man
and had the story from him--and a queer fellow he was--a good stout chap
that liked to have been caught by a pair of reconnoitring Whigs, a few
miles back between this and Pacolet; they pushed him up to the
saddleflaps. But you must have seen him yourself, Captain Habershaw;
for he told us you were on the road."

"From towards Pacolet!" exclaimed the captain with surprise. "We saw
nobody on that road. When did the man arrive?"

"About an hour before you. He came at full speed, with his horse--a
great, black, snorting beast seventeen hands high at least--all in a
foam. He was first for passing by without stopping, but we challenged
him and brought him short upon his haunches, and then he told us he was
in a hurry, and mustn't be delayed."

"What kind of a looking man was he?" inquired Habershaw.

"A jolly fellow," replied the lieutenant: "almost as big as his horse. A
good civil fellow, too, that swigs well at a canteen. He made a joke of
the matter about your coming up, and called you old Cat-o'-nine
tails--said that you were the cat, and your nine tag-rags were the
tails--ha, ha ha!"

"Blast the bastard!" exclaimed Habershaw; "who could he be?"

"Why we asked that, but he roared out with a great haw-haw--took another
drink, and said he was never christened."

"You should, as a good soldier," said Habershaw, "have made him give his
name."

"I tried him again, and he would only let us have a nickname; he told us
then that he was called Jack-o'-Lantern, and had a special good stomach,
and that if we wanted more of him we must give him a snatch of something
to eat. Well, we did so. After that, he said he must have our landlord's
sword, for his own had been torn from him by the Whig troopers that
pushed him so hard, and that the bill for it must be sent to Cruger. So
he got the old cheese-knife that used to hang over the fire-place and
strung it across his shoulder. He laughed so hard, and seemed so
good-natured, that there was no doing anything with him. At last he
mounted his horse again, just stooped down and whispered in my ear at
parting, that he was an old friend of yours, and that you could tell us
all the news, and away he went, like a mad bully, clinking it over the
hill at twenty miles to the hour."

"A black horse did you say?" inquired Habershaw. "Had he a white star in
the forehead, and the two hind legs white below the knee?"

"Exactly," said the lieutenant and several others of the party.

"It was Horse Shoe Robinson!" exclaimed Habershaw, "by all the black
devils!"

"Horse Shoe, Horse Shoe, to be sure!" responded half a dozen voices.

"He was a famous good rider, Horse Shoe or anybody else," said the
lieutenant.

"That beats all!" said one of the troopers; "the cunning old fox! He
told the truth when he said you would tell the news, captain: but to
think of his lies getting him past the guard, with a sword and a
bellyfull into the bargain!"

"Why didn't you report instantly upon our arrival?" asked Habershaw.

"Bless you," replied the lieutenant, "I never suspicioned him, more than
I did you. The fellow laughed so naturally that I would never have
thought him a runaway."

"There it is," said Habershaw; "that's the want of discipline. The
service will never thrive till these loggerheads are taught the rules of
war."

Butler had heard enough to satisfy him on one material point, namely,
that Robinson had secured his escape, and was in condition to take
whatever advantage of circumstances the times might afford him. It was a
consolation to him also to know that the sergeant had taken this route,
as it brought him nearer to the scene in which the major himself was
likely to mingle. With this dawn of comfort brightening up his doubts,
he addressed himself more composedly to sleep, and before daylight, the
sounds of riot having sunk into a lower and more drowsy tone, he
succeeded in winning a temporary oblivion from his cares.



CHAPTER XX.

    "What ho! What ho!--thy door undo:
    Art watching or asleep?"--_Burger's Leonora._


On the banks of the Ennoree, in a little nook of meadow, formed by the
bend of the stream which, fringed with willows, swept round it almost in
a semicircle, the inland border of the meadow being defined by a gently
rising wall of hills covered with wood, was seated within a few paces of
the water, a neat little cottage with a group of out-buildings,
presenting all the conveniences of a comfortable farm. The
dwelling-house itself was shaded by a cluster of trees which had been
spared from the native forest, and within view were several fields of
cultivated ground neatly inclosed with fences. A little lower down the
stream and within a short distance of the house, partially concealed by
the bank, stood a small low-browed mill, built of wood. It was near
sundown, and the golden light of evening sparkled upon the shower which
fell from the leaky race that conducted the water to the head gate, and
no less glittered on the spray that was dashed from the large and slowly
revolving wheel. The steady gush of the stream, and the monotonous clack
of the machinery, aided by the occasional discordant scream of a flock
of geese that frequented the border of the race, and by the gambols of a
few children, who played about the confines of the mill, excited
pleasant thoughts of rural business and domestic content. A rudely
constructed wagon, to which were harnessed two lean horses, stood at the
door of the mill, and two men, one of them advanced in years, and the
other apparently just beyond the verge of boyhood, were occupied in
heaping upon it a heavy load of bags of meal. The whitened habiliments
of these men showed them to be the proper attendants of the place, and
now engaged in their avocation. A military guard stood by the wagon, and
as soon as it was filled, they were seen to put the horses in motion,
and to retire by a road that crossed the stream and take the descending
direction of the current close along the opposite bank.

When this party had disappeared, the old man directed the mill to be
stopped. The gates were let down, the machinery ungeared, and, in a few
moments, all was still. The millers now retired to the little habitation
hard by.

"There is so much work lost," said the elder to his companion, as they
approached the gate that opened into the curtilage of the dwelling. "We
shall never be paid for that load. Colonel Innis doesn't care much out
of whose pocket he feeds his men; and as to his orders upon Rawdon's
quarter-master, why it is almost the price of blood to venture so far
from home to ask for payment--to say nothing of the risk of finding the
army purse as low as a poor miller's at home. I begrudge the grain,
Christopher, and the work that grinds it; but there is no disputing with
these whiskered foot-pads with bayonets in their hands--they must have
it and will have it, and there's an end of it."

"Aye," replied the man addressed by the name of Christopher, "as you
say, they will have it; and if they are told that a poor man's sweat has
been mixed with their bread, they talk to us about the cause--the
cause--the cause. I am tired of this everlasting preaching about king
and country. I don't know but if I had my own way I'd take the country
against the king any day. What does George the Third care for us, with a
great world of water between?"

"Whisht, Christopher Shaw--whisht, boy! We have no opinions of our own;
trees and walls have ears at this time. It isn't for us to be bringing
blood and burning under our roof, by setting up for men who have
opinions. No, no. Wait patiently; and perhaps, Christopher, it will not
be long before this gay bird Cornwallis will be plucked of his feathers.
The man is on his way now that, by the help of the Lord, may bring down
as proud a hawk as ever flew across the water. If it should be
otherwise, trust to the power above the might of armies, and wiser than
the cunning of men, that, by a righteous and peaceful life, we shall
make our lot an easier one than it may ever be in mingling in the strife
of the evil-minded."

"It is hard, for all that--wise as it is--to be still," said
Christopher, "with one's arms dangling by one's side, when one's
neighbors and kinsmen are up and girding themselves for battle. It will
come to that at last; fight we must. And, I don't care who knows it, I
am for independence, uncle Allen."

"Your passion, boy, and warmth of temper, I doubt, outrun your
discretion," said the old man. "But you speak bravely and I cannot chide
you for it. For the present, at least, be temperate, and, if you can,
silent. It is but unprofitable talk for persons in our condition."

The uncle and nephew now entered the house, and Allen Musgrove--for this
was the person to whom I have introduced my reader--was soon seated at
his family board, invoking a blessing upon his evening meal, and
dispensing the cares of a quiet and peaceful household.

"I wonder Mary stays so long with her aunt," he said, as the early hour
of repose drew nigh. "It is an ill place for her, wife, and not apt to
please the girl with anything she may find there. Wat Adair is an
irregular man, and savage as the beasts he hunts. His associates are not
of the best, and but little suited to Mary's quiet temper."

The wife, a staid, motherly-looking woman of plain and placid exterior,
who was busily engaged amongst a thousand scraps of coarse,
homespun-cloth, which she was fashioning into a garment for some of the
younger members of her family, paused from her work, upon this appeal to
her, and, directing her glances above her spectacles to her husband,
replied:

"Mary has been taught to perform her duties to her kinsfolk, and it
isn't often that she counts whether it is pleasant to her or not.
Besides, Watty, rough as he is, loves our girl; and love goes a great
way to make us bear and forbear both, husband. I'll warrant our daughter
comes home when she thinks it right. But it is a weary way to ride over
a wild country, and more so now when Whig and Tory have distracted the
land. I wish Christopher could be spared to go for her."

"He shall go to-morrow, wife," returned Allen Musgrove. "Wat Adair, love
her or not, is not the man to go out of his way for a wandering girl,
and would think nothing to see the child set out by herself. But come,
it is Saturday night and near bed-time. Put aside your work, wife; a
lesson from the Book of Truth, and prayers, and then to rest," he said,
as he took down a family Bible from a shelf and spread it before him.

The old man put on a pair of glasses, which, by a spring, sustained
themselves upon his nose, and with an audible and solemn voice he read a
portion of scripture; then, placing himself on his knees, whilst the
whole family followed his example, he poured forth a fervent and
heart-inspired prayer. It was a simple and homely effusion, delivered
from the suggestions of the moment, in accordance with a devout habit of
thanksgiving and supplication to which he had long been accustomed. He
was a Presbyterian, and had witnessed, with many a pang, the profligate
contempt and even savage persecution with which his sect had been
visited by many of the Tory leaders--especially by the loyalist
partisan, Captain Huck, who had been recently killed in an incursion of
Sumpter's at Williams's plantation, not far distant from Musgrove's
present residence. It was this unsparing hostility towards his religion,
and impious derision of it, that, more than any other circumstance, had
begotten that secret dislike of the Tory cause which, it was known to a
few, the miller entertained, although his age, situation, and, perhaps,
some ancient prejudice of descent (for he was the son of an early Scotch
emigrant), would rather have inclined him to take the royal side; that
side which, in common belief and in appearance, he still favored.

"Thou hast bent thy bow," he said, in the warmest effusion of his
prayer, "and shot thine arrows, O Lord, amongst this people; thou hast
permitted the ministers of vengeance, and the seekers of blood to ride
amongst us, and thy wrath hath not yet bowed the stubborn spirit of
sin--but the hard hearts are given strong arms, and with curses they
have smitten the people. Yet even the firebrand that it did please thee
not to stay because of our sins--yea, even the firebrand that did cause
conflagration along our border, until by the light the erring children
of men might read in the dark night, from one end of our boundary even
unto the other, the enormity of their own backslidings, and their
forgetfulness of thee; that firebrand hath been thrown into the blaze
which it had itself kindled, and, like a weapon of war which hath grown
dull in the work of destruction, hath been cast into the place of
unprofitable lumber, and hath been utterly consumed. The persecutor of
the righteous and the scoffer of the word hath paid the price of blood,
and hath fallen into the snares wherewith he lay in wait to ensnare the
feet of the unthinking. But stay now, O Lord of Hosts, the hand of the
destroyer, and let the angel of peace again spread his wing over our
racked and wearied land. Take from the wicked heart his sword and
shield, and make the righteous man safe beside his family hearth.
Shelter the head of the wanderer, and guide in safety the hunted
fugitive who flees before the man of wrath; comfort the captive in his
captivity, and make all hearts in this rent and sundered province to
know and bless thy mercies for ever more. In especial, we beseech thee
to give the victory to him that hath right, and to 'stablish the
foundations of the government in justice and truth, giving liberty of
conscience and liberty of law to those who know how to use it." At this
point the worship of the evening was arrested by a slight knocking at
the door.

"Who goes there?" exclaimed the old man, starting from his kneeling
position. "Who raps at my door?"

"A stranger, good man," replied a voice without. "A poor fellow that has
been hot pressed and hard run."

"Friend or foe?" asked Allen Musgrove.

"A very worthless friend to any man at this present speaking," replied
the person on the outside of the door; "and not fit to be counted a foe
until he has had something to eat. If you be Allen Musgrove, open your
door."

"Are you alone, or do you come with followers at your heels? My house is
small and can give scant comfort to many?"

"Faith, it is more than I know," responded the other; "but if I have
followers it is not with my will that they shall cross your door-sill.
If you be Allen Musgrove, or if you be not, open, friend. I am as
harmless as a barndoor fowl."

"I do not fear you, sir," said Musgrove, opening the door; "you are
welcome to all I can give you, whatever colors you serve."

"Then give us your hand," said Horse Shoe Robinson, striding into the
apartment. "You are a stranger to me, but if you are Allen Musgrove, the
miller, that I have hearn men speak of, you are not the person to turn
your back on a fellow creature in distress. Your sarvent, mistress," he
added, bowing to the dame. "Far riding and fast riding gives a sort of
claim these times; so excuse me for sitting down."

"You are welcome, again; your name, sir?" said Musgrove.

"Have I guessed yours?" inquired Horse Shoe.

"You have."

"Then you must guess mine; for it isn't convenient to tell it."

"Some poor Whig soldier," said Christopher Shaw privately to Musgrove.
"It isn't right to make him betray himself. You are hungry, friend,"
added Christopher; "and we will first get you something to eat, and then
you may talk all the better for it."

"That's a good word," said Horse Shoe, "and a brave word, as things go;
for it isn't every man has the courage to feed an enemy in these days,
though I made the devils do it for me this morning, ha, ha, ha! Some
water, Mr. Musgrove, and it will not come badly to my hand if you can
tangle it somewhat."

The refreshment asked for was produced by Christopher Shaw; and Horse
Shoe, taking the brimming cup in his hand, stood up, and with a rather
awkward courtesy, pledged the draught with "Your health, good mistress,
and luck to the little ones! for we grown-up babies are out of the days
of luck, except the luck of escaping twisted hemp, or drum-head law,
which for to-night, I believe, is mine;" and he swallowed the mixture at
a draught; then, with a long sigh, placed the cup upon the table and
resumed his seat. "That there spirit, Mr. Musgrove," he added, "is a
special good friend in need, preach against it who will!"

"You say you have ridden far to-day," remarked the miller: "you must be
tired."

"I am not apt to get tired," replied the sergeant, turning his
sword-belt over his head, and flinging the weapon upon a bench; "but I
am often hungry."

"My wife," said Musgrove, smiling, "has taken that hint before you spoke
it; she has already ordered something for you to eat."

"That's an excellent woman!" exclaimed Horse Shoe. "You see, Allen
Musgrove, I don't stand much upon making myself free of your house. I
have hearn of you often before I saw you, man; and I know all about you.
You are obliged to keep fair weather with these Tories--who have no
consideration for decent, orderly people--but your heart is with the
boys that go for liberty. You see I know you, and am not afeard to trust
you. Perchance, you mought have hearn tell of one Horse Shoe Robinson,
who lived over here at the Waxhaws?"

"I have heard many stories about that man," replied the miller.

"Well, I won't tell you that he is in your house to-night, for fear the
Tories might take you to account for harboring such a never-do-well. But
you have got a poor fellow under your roof that has had a hard run to
get here."

"In my house!" exclaimed Musgrove; "Horse Shoe Robinson!" and then,
after a pause, he continued, "well, well, there is no rule of war that
justifies a Christian in refusing aid and comfort to a houseless and
hunted stranger, who comes with no thought of harm to a peaceful family
hearth. I take no part in the war on either side; and, in your ear,
friend Robinson, I take none _against_ you or the brave men that stand
by you."

"Your hand again," said Horse Shoe, reaching towards the miller. "Allen,
I have come to you under a sore press of heels. An officer of the
Continental army and me have been travelling through these here parts,
and we have been most onaccountably ambushed by a half wild-cat, half
bull-dog, known by the name of Captain Hugh Habershaw, who cotched us in
the night at Grindall's ford."

"Heaven have mercy on the man who has anything to do with Hugh
Habershaw!" exclaimed the miller's wife.

"Amen, mistress," responded the sergeant; "for a surlier, misbegotten
piece of flesh, there's not in these wild woods, giving you the choice
of bear, panther, catamount, rattlesnake, or what not. We were sot
upon," continued the sergeant, "by this bully and a bevy of his
braggadocios, and made prisoners; but I took a chance to slip the noose
this morning, and after riding plump into a hornet's nest at
Blackstock's, where I put on a new face and tricked the guard out of a
dinner and this here old sword, I took a course for this mill, axing
people along the road where I should find Allen Musgrove; and so, after
making some roundabouts and dodging into the woods until night came on,
to keep clear of the Tories, here I am."

"And the officer?" said Musgrove.

"He is in the hands of the Philistines yet--most likely now at
Blackstock's."

"What might be his name?"

"Major Butler--a bold, warm gentleman--that's been used to tender life
and good fortune. He has lands on the sea-coast--unless that new-fangled
court at Charlestown, that they call the Court of Seekerstations, has
made them null and void--as they have been making the estates of better
gentleman than they could ever pretend to be; taking all the best lands,
you see, Allen, to themselves, the cursed iniquiters!"

"Where did you come from with this gentleman?"

"A long way off, Mr. Musgrove--from old Virginny--but lastly from Wat
Adair's."

"Wat's wife is a relation of my family."

"Then he is a filthy disgrace to all who claim kin with him, Allen
Musgrove. Wat was the man who put us into the wild-cat's claws--at
least, so we had good reason to think. There was a tidy, spruce, and
smart little wench there--tut, man--I am talking of your own kith and
kindred, for her name was Mary Musgrove."

"Our girl!" said the dame with an animated emphasis; "our own Mary; what
of _her_, Mr. Horse Shoe Robinson?"

"That she is as good a child, Mistress Musgrove, as any honest parent
mought wish for. She got some sort of inkling of what was contrived; and
so she appeared to Major Butler in a dream--or her ghost."

"Mercy on us! the child has not been hurt?" cried the mother.

"Ondoubtedly not, ma'am," said Robinson; "but it is as true as you are
there, she gave us, somehow or other, a warning that there was harm in
the wind; and we took her advice, but it didn't do."

"I wish the child were home," said Musgrove. "Christopher, at daylight,
boy, saddle a horse and be off to Adair's for Mary."

The nephew promised to do the errand.

"Come, Mr. Robinson, draw near the table and eat something."

"With right good heart," replied Horse Shoe; "but it's a kind of camp
rule with me, before I taste food--no matter where--just to look after
Captain Peter Clinch; that's my horse, friend Musgrove. So, by your
leave, I'll just go take a peep to see that the Captain is sarved. A
good beast is a sort of right arm in scrapish times; and as God ha'n't
given them the gift of speech, we must speak for them."

"Christopher shall save you the trouble," replied Musgrove.

"A good horse never loses anything by the eye of his master," said Horse
Shoe; "so, Christopher, I'll go with you."

In a short time the sergeant returned into the house, and took his seat
at the table, where he fell to, at what was set before him, with a
laudable dispatch.

"How far off," he inquired, "is the nearest Tory post, Mr. Musgrove?"

"Colonel Innis has some light corps stationed within two miles. If you
had been a little earlier you would have found some of them at my mill."

"Innis!" repeated Horse Shoe, "I thought Floyd had these parts under
command?"

"So he has," replied the miller, "but he has lately joined the garrison
at Rocky Mount."

"Ha! ha! ha!" ejaculated Robinson, "that's a pot into which Sumpter will
be dipping his ladle before long. All the land between Wateree and Broad
belongs to Tom Sumpter, let mad-cap Tarleton do his best! We Whigs, Mr.
Musgrove, have a little touch of the hobgoblin in us. We travel pretty
much where we please. Now, I will tell you, friend, very plainly what I
am after. I don't mean to leave these parts till I see what is to become
of Major Butler. Innis and Floyd put together sha'n't hinder me from
looking after a man that's under my charge. I'm an old sodger, and they
can't make much out of me if they get me."

"The country is swarming with troops of one kind or another," said the
miller; "and a man must have his wits about him who would get through
it. You are now, Mr. Robinson, in a very dangerous quarter. The fort at
Ninety-Six on one side of you, and Rocky Mount and Hanging Rock on the
other--the road between the three is full of loyalists. Colonel Innis is
here to keep the passage open, and, almost hourly, his men are passing.
You should be careful in showing yourself in daylight. And as for your
poor friend, Major Butler, there is not likely to be much good will
shown towards him. I greatly fear his case is worse than it seems to
you."

"There is somewhere," said Robinson, "in that book that lies open on the
table--which I take to be the Bible--the story of the campaigns of King
David; and as I have hearn it read by the preacher, it tells how David
was pushed on all sides by flying corps of the enemy, and that, seeing
he had no sword, he came across a man who gave him victuals and the
sword of Goliath--as I got my dinner and a sword this morning from the
tavern-keeper at Blackstock's; and then he set off on his flight to some
strange place, where he feigned himself crazy and scrabbled at the gate,
and let the spit run down on his beard--as I have done before now with
Tarleton, Mr. Musgrove; and then King David took into a cave--which I
shouldn't stand much upon doing if there was occasion; and there the
King waited, until he got friends about him and was able to drub the
Philistians for robbing the threshing-floors--as I make no doubt these
Tories have robbed yours, Allen Musgrove. But you know all about it,
seeing that you are able to read, which I am not. Now, I don't pretend
to say that I nor Major Butler are as good men as David--not at all; but
the cause of liberty is as good a cause as ever King David fought for,
and the Lord that took his side in the cave, will take the side of the
Whigs, sooner or later, and help them to beat these grinding, thieving,
burning, and throat-cutting Tories. And, moreover, a brave man ought
never to be cast down by such vermin; that's my religion, Mr. Musgrove,
though you mought hardly expect to find much thought of such things left
in a rough fellow like me, that's been hammered in these here wars like
an old piece of iron that's been one while a plough coulter, and after
that a gun-barrel, and finally that's been run up with others into a
piece of ordnance--not to say that it moughtn't have been a horse shoe
in some part of its life, ha! ha! ha! There's not likely to be much
conscience or religion left after all that hammering."

"'He shall keep the simple folk by their right,'" said Musgrove, quoting
a passage from the Psalms, "'defend the children of the poor and punish
the wrong-doer.' You have finished your supper, Mr. Robinson," he
continued, "and before we retire to rest you will join us in the
conclusion of our family worship, which was interrupted by your coming
into the house. We will sing a Psalm which has been given to us by that
man whose deliverance has taught you where you are to look for yours."

"If I cannot help to make music, Allen," said Horse Shoe, "I can listen
with good will."

The miller now produced a little book in black-letter, containing a
familiar and ancient version of the Psalms, and the following quaint and
simple lines were read by him in successive couplets, the whole family
singing each distich as soon as it was given out--not excepting Horse
Shoe, who, after the first couplet, having acquired some slight
perception of the tune, chimed in with a voice that might have alarmed
the sentinels of Innis's camp:

    "A king that trusteth in his host
    Shall not prevail at length;
    The man that of his might doth boast
    Shall fall, for all his strength.

    "The troops of horsemen eke shall fail,
    Their sturdy steeds shall starve:
    The strength of horse shall not prevail
    The rider to preserve.

    "But so the eyes of God intend,
    And watch to aid the just;
    With such as fear him to offend,
    And on his goodness trust.

    "That he of death and great distress
    May set their souls from dread;
    And if that dearth their land oppress,
    In hunger them to feed.

    "Wherefore our soul doth whole depend
    On God, our strength and stay;
    He is our shield us to defend
    And drive all darts away."

When this act of devotion was concluded the old man invoked a blessing
upon his household, and gave his orders that the family should betake
themselves to rest. Horse Shoe had already taken up his sword and was
about retiring to a chamber, under the guidance of Christopher Shaw,
when the door was suddenly thrown wide open, and in rushed Mary
Musgrove. She ran up, threw herself into her father's arms, and cried
out--

"Oh, how glad I am that I have reached home to-night!" then kissing both
of her parents, she flung herself into a chair, saying "I am tired--very
tired. I have ridden the livelong day, alone, and frightened out of my
wits."

"Not alone, my daughter!--on that weary road, and the country so
troubled with ill-governed men! Why did you venture, girl? Did you not
think I would send your cousin Christopher for you?"

"Oh, father," replied Mary, "there have been such doings! Ah! and here
is Mr. Horse Shoe Robinson; Major Butler, where is he, sir?" she
exclaimed, turning to the sergeant, who had now approached the back of
her chair to offer his hand.

"Blessings on you for a wise and a brave girl!" said Robinson. "But it
wouldn't do; we were ambushed, and the Major is still a prisoner."

"I feared it," said Mary, "and therefore I stole away. They are
bloody-minded and wicked, father; and uncle Adair's house has been the
place where mischief and murder has been talked of. Oh, I am very sick!
I have had such a ride!"

"Poor wench!" said the father, taking her to his bosom. "You have not
the temper nor the strength to struggle where ruthless men take up their
weapons of war. What has befallen? Tell us all!"

"No, no!" interposed the mother; "no, Allen, not now. The girl must have
food and sleep, and must not be wearied with questions to-night. Wait,
my dear Mary, until to-morrow. She will tell us everything to-morrow."

"I must hear of Major Butler," said Mary; "I cannot sleep until I have
heard all that has happened. Good Mr. Robinson, tell me everything."

In few words the sergeant unfolded to the damsel the eventful history of
the last two days, during the narrative of which her cheek waxed pale,
her strength failed her, and she sank almost lifeless across her
father's knee.

"Give me some water," she said. "My long ride has worn me out. I ran off
at daylight this morning, and have not stopped once upon the road."

A glass of milk with a slice of bread restored the maiden to her
strength, and she took the first opportunity to inform the circle who
surrounded her of all the incidents that had fallen under her
observation at Adair's.

Her father listened with deep emotion to the tale, and during its
relation clenched his teeth with anger, as he walked, to and fro,
through the apartment. There was an earnest struggle in his feelings to
withhold the expression of the strong execration, which the narrative
brought almost to his lips, against the perfidy of his wife's kinsman.
But the habitual control of his temper, which his religious habits
inculcated, kept him silent; and considerations of prudence again swayed
him from surrendering to the impulse, which would have led him to
declare himself openly against the cause of the royal government and its
supporters in the district where he lived. He cross-questioned his
daughter as to many minute points of her story, but her answers were
uniform and consistent, and were stamped with the most unequivocal
proofs of her strict veracity. Indeed, the collateral evidences
furnished by Robinson, left no doubt on the miller's mind that the whole
of Mary's disclosures were the testimony of a witness whose senses could
not have been disturbed by illusions, nor distempered by fear.

"It is a dreadful tale," he said, "and we must think over it more
maturely. Be of good heart, my daughter, you have acted well and wisely;
God will protect us from harm."

"And so it was no ghost, nor spirit," said Horse Shoe, "that the major
saw in the night? But I wonder you didn't think of waking me. A word to
me in the night--seeing I have sarved a good deal on outposts, and have
got used to being called up--would have had me stirring in a wink. But
that's part of Wat's luck for I should most ondoubtedly have strangled
the snake in his bed."

"I called you," said Mary, "as loudly as I durst, and more than once,
but you slept so hard!"

"That's like me too," replied Horse Shoe. "I'm both sleepy and watchful,
according as I think there is need of my sarvices."

"Now to bed, my child," said Musgrove. "Your bed is the fittest place
for your wearied body. God bless you, daughter!"

Once more the family broke up, and as Robinson left the room Mary
followed him to the foot of the little stair that wound up into an attic
chamber; here she detained him one moment, while she communicated to him
in a half whisper,

"I have a friend, Mr. Robinson, that might help you to do something for
Major Butler. His name is John Ramsay: he belongs to General Sumpter's
brigade. If you would go to his father's, only six miles from here, on
the upper road to Ninety-Six, you might hear where John was. But, may
be, you are afraid to go so near to the fort?"

"May be so," said Robinson, with a look of comic incredulity. "I know
the place, and I know the family, and, likely, John himself. It's a good
thought, Mary, for I want help now, more than I ever did in my life.
I'll start before daylight--for it won't do to let the sun shine upon
me, with Innis's Tories so nigh. So, if I am missed to-morrow morning,
let your father know how I come to be away."

"Tell John," said Mary, "I sent you to him. Mary Musgrove, remember."

"If I can't find John," replied Horse Shoe, "you're such a staunch
little petticoat sodger, that I'll, perhaps, come back and enlist you.
'Tisn't everywhere that we can find such valiant wenches. I wish some of
our men had a little of your courage; so, good night!"

The maiden now returned to the parlor, and Horse Shoe, under the
guidance of Christopher Shaw, found a comfortable place of deposit for
his hard-worked, though--as he would have Christopher believe--his
unfatigued frame. The sergeant, however, was a man not born to cares,
notwithstanding that his troubles were "as thick as the sparks that fly
upward," and it is a trivial fact in his history, that, on the present
occasion, he was not many seconds in bed before he was as sound asleep
as the trapped partridges, in the fairy tale, which, the eastern
chronicle records, fell into a deep sleep when roasting upon the spit,
and did not wake for a hundred years.



CHAPTER XXI.

    "Now if you ask who gave the stroke
    I cannot tell, so mote I thrive;
    It was not given by man alive."--_Lay of the last Minstrel._


It was a little before daybreak on Sunday morning, the fifteenth of
August (a day rendered memorable by the exploit of Sumpter, who
captured, in the vicinity of Rocky Mount, a large quantity of military
stores, and a numerous escort, then on their way from Ninety-Six to
Camden), that James Curry was travelling in the neighborhood of the
Ennoree, some four miles distant from Musgrove's mill. He had a few
hours before left the garrison of Ninety-Six, and was now hieing with
all haste to Blackstock's on a mission of importance. The night had been
sultry, but the approach of the dawn had brought with it that refreshing
coolness which is always to be remarked in the half hour that precedes
the first blush of morning. The dragoon had had a weary night-ride, but
the recent change of temperature had invigorated his system and given
buoyancy to his spirits. This effect was exhibited in his first
whistling a tune, then humming the words of a ditty, and, finally, in
breaking forth into a loud full song, which, as he had a good voice and
practised skill, increased in loudness as he became better pleased with
the trial of his powers. The song was occasionally intermitted to give
room to certain self-communings which the pastime suggested.

    "You may take it for sooth, that wit without gold,"

he sang in the loudest strain, trying the words on different keys, and
introducing some variations in the tune--

    "Will make a bad market whenever 'tis sold."

"That's true; your poor moneyless devil, how should his wit pass
current? He was a shrewd fellow that wrote it down. Your rich man for
wit, all the world over, and so the song runs:--

    "'But all over the world it is well understood
    That the joke of a rich man is sure to be good.'

"True, true as gospel! Give the knaves dinners, plenty of Burgundy and
Port, and what signifies an empty head? Go to college, and how is it
there? What is a sizer's joke? If the fellow have the wit of Diogenes,
it is sheer impertinence. But let my young lord Croesus come out with
his flatulent nonsense, oh, that's the true ware for the market! James
Curry, James Curry, what ought you to have been, if the supple jade
fortune had done your deserts justice! Instead of a d----d dodging
dragoon, obedient to the beck of every puppy who wears his majesty's
epaulets; but it's no matter, that's past; the wheel has made its turn,
and here I am, doing the work of the scullion, that ought to sit above
the salt-cellar. Vogue la galére! We will play out the play. Meantime,
I'll be merry in spite of the horoscope: come then, I like these words
and the jolly knave, whoever he was, that penned them.

    "'You may take it for sooth that wit without gold.'"

The singer was, at this instant, arrested at the top of his voice by a
blow against the back of his head, bestowed, apparently, by some
ponderous hand, that so effectually swayed him from the line of gravity,
as to cause him to reel in his saddle, and, by an irrecoverable impetus,
to swing round to the ground, where he alighted on his back, with the
reins of his horse firmly held in his hand.

"Singing on Sunday is against the law," said a hoarse voice, that came
apparently from the air, as the darkness of the hour--which was
increased by an overcast and lowering sky, as well as by the thick wood
through which the road ran, prevented the stricken man from discerning
anything that might have done him harm, even if such thing had been
bodily present. The soldier lay for a moment prostrate, bewildered by
the suddenness of this mysterious visitation; and when, at length, he
regained his feet, he almost fancied that he heard receding from him,
at a great distance, the dull beat of a horse's foot upon the sandy
road.

Curry, who as a soldier was insensible to fear, now shook in every
joint, as he stood beside his horse in a state of confused and ravelled
wonderment. He strained his ear to catch the sound in the direction
towards which he thought he had heard the retreating footsteps, but his
more deliberate attention persuaded him that he was mistaken in his
first impression. Still more puzzled as he came into the possession of
his faculties, of which the abruptness of the surprise had almost bereft
him, he stood for some time mute; then drawing his sword with the
alacrity of a man, who all at once believes himself in danger of an
uplifted blow, he called out loudly,

"Speak, and show yourself, if you be a man! Or if there be a party, let
them come forth. Who waylays me? Remember, I warn him, in the name of
the king, that I am on his majesty's errand, and that they are not far
off who will punish any outrage on my person. By all the powers of
Satan, the place is bewitched!" he exclaimed, after a pause. "Once more,
speak; whether you are to be conjured in the name of the king or of the
devil!"

All remained silent, except the leaves of the forest that fluttered in
the breeze; and it was with an awkward and unacknowledged sense of
faint-heartedness that Curry put up his sword and remounted into his
saddle. He first moved slowly forward in continuation of his journey;
and, as his thoughts still ran upon the extraordinary incident, he
applied spurs to his horse's side, and gradually increased his pace from
a trot to a gallop, and from that to almost high speed, until he emerged
from the wood upon a track of open country. When he reached this spot
the day had already appeared above the eastern horizon; and reassured,
as the light waxed stronger, the dragoon, by degrees, fell into his
customary travelling pace, and resumed the equanimity of his temper.

About ten o'clock in the day he reached Blackstock's, where he arrived
in a heavy rain, that had been falling for the last three hours, and
which had drenched him to the skin. So, rapidly dismounting and giving
his horse into the charge of some of the idlers about the door, he
entered the common room in which were assembled the greater part of the
militia guard and of Habershaw's troopers. His first movement was to
take the burly captain aside, and to communicate to him certain orders
from the commanding officer at Ninety-Six, respecting the prisoner;
which being done, he mingled with his usual affectedly careless and
mirthful manner amongst the throng.

Butler, through the intercession of Bruce, had been indulged with some
mitigation of the restraints at first imposed upon him; and he was, at
this moment, availing himself of the privilege that had been allowed
him, on account of the leaky condition of the barn in which he had spent
the night, to take his morning meal inside of the dwelling-house. He was
accordingly seated at a table, in a corner of the room, with some
eatables before him in a more comfortable state of preparation than he
had hitherto enjoyed. Two soldiers stood sufficiently near to render his
custody effectual without much personal annoyance. As yet he had been
unable to glean anything from the conversation of those around him, by
which he might form the least conjecture as to his probable destiny. His
intercourse with his captors was restricted to the mere supply of his
immediate wants. All other communication was strictly interdicted. Even
Habershaw himself seemed to be under some authoritative command, to deny
himself the gratification of either exhibiting his own importance, or of
wreaking his spleen upon his prisoner; and when Butler attempted to gain
from Bruce some hint as to what was intended, the only answer he
received was conveyed by the soldier's putting his finger on his lip.

Butler knew enough of Robinson's hardihood and venturesome disposition,
to feel perfectly confident that he would make good his promise to be
near him, at whatever personal hazard; and he was, therefore, in
momentary expectation of receiving further intelligence from the
sergeant in some of those strange, bold, and perilous forms of
communication, which the character of the trusty soldier warranted him
in counting upon. His knowledge that Robinson had passed by Blackstock's
on the day preceding, gave him some assurance that the sergeant was in
the diligent prosecution of his purpose to seek Sumpter, or some other
of the partisan Whig corps in their hiding-places, and to try the
hazardous experiment of his (Butler's) rescue from his present thraldom,
by a vigorous incursion into the district where he was now confined.
With this calculation of the course of events, he was prepared to hear,
at every hour of the day, of some sudden alarm; and ready to co-operate,
by seizing the first moment of confusion to snatch up a weapon, and
force his way through the ranks of his guard. It was with such
anticipations that now, whilst seemingly engrossed with the satisfaction
of his physical wants at the table, he lent an attentive ear to the
conversation which passed in the house between Curry and the company who
were clustered around him. The dragoon, at first, in a light and merry
vein of narrative, recounted to his hearers the singular visitation he
had experienced before daybreak; and he contrived to fling over his
story an additional hue of mystery, by the occasional reflections with
which he seasoned it, tending to inculcate the belief to which he
himself partly inclined, that the incident was brought about through the
agency of some pranking and mischievous spirit,--a conclusion which, at
that period, and amongst the persons to whom the adventure was related,
did not require any great stretch of faith to sustain it. Some of his
auditors fortified this prevailing inclination of opinion, by expressing
their own conviction of the interference of malignant and supernatural
influences in the concerns of mankind, and gave their personal
experience of instances in which these powers were active. The
conversation by degrees changed its tone from that of levity and
laughter into one of grave and somewhat fearful interest, according to
the increasing marvel which the several stories that were told excited
in the superstitious minds of the circle; and in the same proportion
that this sentiment took possession of the thoughts of the company, they
became more unreserved in their language, and louder in the utterance of
it, thus giving Butler the full benefit of all that was said.

"But, after all," said one of the men, "mightn't you have been asleep on
your horse, James Curry, and had a sort of jogging dream, when a limb of
a tree across the road, for it was a dark morning, might have caught you
under the throat and flung you out of your saddle: and you, not knowing
whether you was asleep or awake, for a man who is on duty, without his
night's rest, sometimes can't tell the difference, thought it was some
hobgoblin business?"

"No," said Curry, "that's impossible; for I was singing a song at the
time, and almost at the top of my voice. I had been sleepy enough before
that, just after I left Ninety-Six, near midnight, for I had ridden a
long way; but as it grew towards daylight I began to rouse up, so that
when this thing happened I was as much awake as I am now."

"Then it's a downright case of ghost," said the other. "It knew you was
upon a wicked errand, and so that back-handed blow was a warning to you.
These things are sometimes meant to be friendly; and who knows but this
oversetting you in the road might have been intended to signify that you
had better not meddle in cases of life and death. If you would take my
advice, you would just treat this Major Butler, that you took
prisoner"--

Curry looked at the speaker with a frown, as he made a motion to him to
be silent. "Remember where you are, and who may hear you," he said in a
cautious voice, as he glanced his eye towards Butler, who was leaning
his head upon the table, as if in slumber.

"Oh, I understand," replied the soldier of the guard. "I forgot he was
in the room."

"The weather holds up," said Habershaw, who now walked into the house.
"The rain has slackened; and so, orderly, if you have had a bite of
something to eat, the boys had better be got ready to march. We have a
long way to go, and as the infantry march with us we shall get on
slowly."

"I think so, noble Captain," replied Curry. "I shall be ready to join
you before you get your line formed."

Orders were now issued by Habershaw, both to the troopers of his own
squad and to the militia detachment, to put themselves in condition for
an immediate movement. The clouds, during the last half hour, had been
breaking away, and the sun soon burst forth upon the wet and glittering
landscape, in all the effulgence of mid summer. During a brief interval
of preparation the party of infantry and cavalry that now occupied the
hamlet exhibited the bustle incident to the gathering of the corps. Some
ran to one quarter for their arms, others to the stables for their
horses; a cracked trumpet in the hands of a lusty performer, who here
joined the troop, kept up a continual braying, and was seconded by the
ceaseless beat of a slack and dull drum. There were some who, having put
on their military equipments, thronged the table of the common room of
the house, where spirits and water had been set out for their
accommodation, and rude jokes, laughter, and oaths, were mingled
together in deafening clamor.

"Move out the prisoner," shouted Habershaw; "he goes with the infantry
afoot. I'll never trust another of the tribe with a horse."

"Follow, sir," said one of the sentinels near Butler's person, as he
faced to the right with his musket at an "advance," and led the way to
the door.

Butler rose, and, before he placed himself in the position required,
asked:

"Where is it you purpose to conduct me?"

"Silence!" said Habershaw sternly. "Obey orders, sir, and march where
you are directed."

Butler folded his arms and looked scornfully at the uncouth savage
before him as he replied:

"I am a prisoner, sir, and therefore bound to submit to the force that
constrains me. But there will be a day of reckoning, both for you and
your master. It will not be the lighter to him for having hired such a
ruffian to do the business in which he is ashamed to appear himself."

"Devil's leavings!" screamed Habershaw, almost choked with choler, "dare
you speak to me so? By my heart, I have a mind to cleave your skull for
you! My master, sir! You will find out, before long, who is master, when
Hugh Habershaw has tied the knot that is to fit your neck."

"Peace, villain!" exclaimed Butler; "I cannot come too soon into the
presence of those who claim to direct your motions."

Here James Curry interposed to draw off the incensed captain, and
Butler, having received another order from the officer of the guard,
moved out upon the road and took the place that was assigned him,
between two platoons of the foot soldiers.

The troopers being mounted and formed into column of march with
Habershaw and his trumpeter at the head and Curry in the rear, now moved
forward at a slow gait, followed by the detachment of infantry who had
the prisoner under their especial charge.

It was near noon when the party took up the line of march, and they
prosecuted their journey southward with such expedition as to tax
Butler's powers to the utmost to keep even pace with them over roads
that were in many places rendered miry by the late rain. Towards
evening, however, the sun had sufficiently dried the soil to make the
travel less fatiguing; and by that hour when the light of day only
lingered upon the tops of the western hills, the military escort, with
their prisoner, were seen passing through a defile that opened upon
their view an extensive bivouac of some two or three hundred horse and
foot, and occupying a space of open field, encompassed with wood and
guarded in its rear by a smooth and gentle river.

The spot at which they had arrived was the camp of a partisan corps
under the command of Colonel Innis. A farm-house was seen in the
immediate neighborhood, which was used as the head-quarters of a party
of officers. Numerous horses were attached to the trees that bounded the
plain, and various shelters were made in the same quarter, in the rudest
form of accommodation, of branches and underwood set against
ridge-poles, that were sustained by stakes, to protect the men against
the weather. Groups of this irregular soldiery were scattered over the
plain, a few wagons were seen collected in one direction, and, not far
off, a line of fires, around which parties were engaged in cooking food.
Here and there a sentinel was seen pacing his short limits, and
occasionally the roll of a drum and the flourish of a fife announced
some ceremony of the camp police.

The escort marched quickly across this plain until it arrived in front
of the farm-house. Here a guard was drawn up to receive them; and, as
soon as the usual military salute was passed and the order to "stand at
ease" given, Habershaw put the detachment under the command of the
lieutenant of infantry, and, accompanied by Curry, walked into the house
to make his report to the commanding officer of the post.

In a few moments afterwards Colonel Innis, attended by two or three
military men--some of whom wore the uniform of the British regular
army--came from the house and passed hastily along the line of the
escort, surveying Butler only with a rapid glance. Having regained the
door, he was heard to say--

"It is very well; let the prisoner have a room above stairs. See that he
wants nothing proper to his situation; and, above all, be attentive that
he be kept scrupulously under the eye of his guard."

When this order was given, the Colonel retired with his attendants to
his quarters, and Butler was forthwith conducted, by a file of men, up a
narrow, winding stair, to a small apartment in the angle of the roof,
where he was provided with a chair, a light, and a comfortable bed. His
door was left open, and on the outside of it, full in his view, was
posted a sentinel. He was too weary even to be troubled with the cares
of his present condition; and, without waiting, therefore, for food, or
seeking to inquire into whose hands he had fallen, or even to turn his
thoughts upon the mysterious train of circumstances that hung over him,
he flung himself upon the couch and sank into a profound and grateful
sleep.



CHAPTER XXII.

AN ADVENTURE WHEREIN IT IS APPARENT THAT THE ACTIONS OF REAL LIFE ARE
FULL AS MARVELLOUS AS THE INVENTIONS OF ROMANCE.


David Ramsay's house was situated on a by-road, between five and six
miles from Musgrove's mill, and at about the distance of one mile from
the principal route of travel between Ninety-six and Blackstock's. In
passing from the military post that had been established at the former
place, towards the latter, Ramsay's lay off to the left, with a piece of
dense wood intervening. The by-way leading through the farm, diverged
from the main road, and traversed this wood until it reached the
cultivated grounds immediately around Ramsay's dwelling. In the journey
from Musgrove's mill to this point of divergence, the traveller was
obliged to ride some two or three miles upon the great road leading from
the British garrison, a road that, at the time of my story, was much
frequented by military parties, scouts, and patroles, that were
concerned in keeping up the communication between the several posts
which were established by the British authorities along that frontier.
Amongst the whig parties, also, there were various occasions which
brought them under the necessity of frequent passage through this same
district, and which, therefore, furnished opportunities for collision
and skirmish with the opposite forces.

It is a matter of historical notoriety, that immediately after the fall
of Charleston, and the rapid subjugation of South Carolina that followed
this event, there were three bold and skilful soldiers who undertook to
carry on the war of resistance to the established authorities, upon a
settled and digested plan of annoyance, under the most discouraging
state of destitution, as regarded all the means of offence, that,
perhaps, history records. It will not detract from the fame of other
patriots of similar enthusiasm and of equal bravery, to mention the
names of Marion, Sumpter, and Pickens, in connexion with this plan of
keeping up an apparently hopeless partisan warfare, which had the
promise neither of men, money, nor arms,--and yet which was so nobly
sustained, amidst accumulated discomfitures, as to lead eventually to
the subversion of the "Tory ascendency" and the expulsion of the British
power. According to the plan of operations concerted amongst these
chieftains, Marion took the lower country under his supervision; Pickens
the south-western districts, bordering upon the Savannah; and to Sumpter
was allotted all that tract of country lying between the Broad and the
Catawba rivers, from the angle of their junction, below Camden, up to
the mountain districts of North Carolina. How faithfully these men made
good their promise to the country, is not only written in authentic
history, but it is also told in many a legend amongst the older
inhabitants of the region that was made the theatre of action. It only
concerns my story to refer to the fact, that the events which have
occupied my last five or six chapters, occurred in that range more
peculiarly appropriated to Sumpter, and that the high road from
Blackstock's towards Ninety-six was almost as necessary for
communication between Sumpter and Pickens, as between the several
British garrisons.

On the morning that succeeded the night in which Horse Shoe Robinson
arrived at Musgrove's, the stout and honest sergeant might have been
seen, about eight o'clock, leaving the main road from Ninety-six, at the
point where that leading to David Ramsay's separated from it, and
cautiously urging his way into the deep forest, by the more private path
into which he had entered. The knowledge that Innis was encamped along
the Ennoree, within a short distance of the mill, had compelled him to
make an extensive circuit to reach Ramsay's dwelling, whither he was now
bent; and he had experienced considerable delay in his morning journey,
by finding himself frequently in the neighborhood of small foraging
parties of Tories, whose motions he was obliged to watch for fear of an
encounter. He had once already been compelled to use his horse's heels
in what he called "fair flight;" and once to ensconce himself, a full
half hour, under cover of the thicket afforded him by a swamp. He now,
therefore, according to his own phrase, "dived into the little road
that scrambled down through the woods towards Ramsay's, with all his
eyes about him, looking out as sharply as a fox on a foggy morning:" and
with this circumspection, he was not long in arriving within view of
Ramsay's house. Like a practised soldier, whom frequent frays has taught
wisdom, he resolved to reconnoitre before he advanced upon a post that
might be in possession of an enemy. He therefore dismounted, fastened
his horse in a fence corner, where a field of corn concealed him from
notice, and then stealthily crept forward until he came immediately
behind one of the out-houses.

The barking of a house-dog brought out a negro boy, to whom Robinson
instantly addressed the query--

"Is your master at home?"--

"No, sir. He's got his horse, and gone off more than an hour ago."

"Where is your mistress?"

"Shelling beans, Sir."

"I didn't ask you," said the sergeant, "what she is doing, but where she
is."

"In course, she is in the house, Sir,"--replied the negro with a grin.

"Any strangers there?"

"There was plenty on 'em a little while ago, but they've been gone a
good bit."

Robinson having thus satisfied himself as to the safety of his visit,
directed the boy to take his horse and lead him up to the door. He then
entered the dwelling.

"Mistress Ramsay," said he, walking up to the dame, who was occupied at
a table, with a large trencher before her, in which she was plying that
household thrift which the negro described; "luck to you, ma'am, and all
your house! I hope you haven't none of these clinking and clattering
bullies about you, that are as thick over this country as the frogs in
the kneading troughs, that they tell of."

"Good lack, Mr. Horse Shoe Robinson," exclaimed the matron, offering the
sergeant her hand. "What has brought you here? What news? Who are with
you? For patience sake, tell me!"

"I am alone," said Robinson, "and a little wettish mistress;" he added,
as he took off his hat and shook the water from it "it has just sot up a
rain, and looks as if it was going to give us enough on't. You don't
mind, doing a little dinner-work of a Sunday, I see--shelling of beans,
I s'pose, is tantamount to dragging a sheep out of a pond, as the
preachers allow on the Sabbath--ha, ha!--Where's Davy?"

"He's gone over to the meeting-house on Ennoree, hoping to hear
something of the army at Camden: perhaps you can tell us the news from
that quarter?"

"Faith, that's a mistake, Mistress Ramsay. Though I don't doubt that
they are hard upon the scratches, by this time. But, at this present
speaking, I command the flying artillery. We have out one man in the
corps--and that's myself; and all the guns we have got is this piece of
ordnance, that hangs in this old belt by my side (pointing to his
sword)--and that I captured from the enemy at Blackstock's. I was hoping
I mought find John Ramsay at home--I have need of him as a recruit."

"Ah, Mr. Robinson, John has a heavy life of it over there with Sumpter.
The boy is often without his natural rest, or a meal's victuals; and the
general thinks so much of him, that he can't spare him to come home. I
hav'n't the heart to complain, as long as John's service is of any use,
but it does seem, Mr. Robinson, like needless tempting of the mercies of
providence. We thought that he might have been here to-day; yet I am
glad he didn't come--for he would have been certain to get into trouble.
Who should come in, this morning, just after my husband had cleverly got
away on his horse, but a young cock-a-whoop ensign, that belongs to
Ninety-Six, and four great Scotchmen with him, all in red coats; they
had been out thieving, I warrant, and were now going home again. And who
but they! Here they were, swaggering all about my house--and calling for
this--and calling for that--as if they owned the fee-simple of
everything on the plantation. And it made my blood rise, Mr. Horse Shoe,
to see them run out in the yard, and catch up my chickens and ducks, and
kill as many as they could string about them--and I not daring to say a
word: though I did give them a piece of my mind, too."

"Who is at home with you?" inquired the sergeant eagerly.

"Nobody but my youngest boy, Andrew," answered the dame. "And then, the
filthy, toping rioters--" she continued, exalting her voice.

"What arms have you in the house?" asked Robinson, without heeding the
dame's rising anger.

"We have a rifle, and a horseman's pistol that belongs to John.--They
must call for drink, too, and turn my house, of a Sunday morning, into a
tavern."

"They took the route towards Ninety-Six, you said, Mistress Ramsay?"

"Yes,--they went straight forward upon the road. But, look you, Mr.
Horse Shoe, you're not thinking of going after them?"

"Isn't there an old field, about a mile from this, on that road?"
inquired the sergeant, still intent upon his own thoughts.

"There is," replied the dame; "with the old school-house upon it."

"A lop-sided, rickety log-cabin in the middle of the field. Am I right,
good woman?"

"Yes."

"And nobody lives in it? It has no door to it?"

"There ha'n't been anybody in it these seven years."

"I know the place very well," said the sergeant, thoughtfully; "there is
woods just on this side of it."

"That's true," replied the dame: "but what is it you are thinking
about, Mr. Robinson?"

"How long before this rain began was it that they quitted this house?"

"Not above fifteen minutes."

"Mistress Ramsay, bring me the rifle and pistol both--and the
powder-horn and bullets."

"As you say, Mr. Horse Shoe," answered the dame, as she turned round to
leave the room; "but I am sure I can't suspicion what you mean to do."

In a few moments the woman returned with the weapons, and gave them to
the sergeant.

"Where is Andy?" asked Horse Shoe.

The hostess went to the door and called her son, and, almost immediately
afterwards, a sturdy boy of about twelve or fourteen years of age
entered the apartment, his clothes dripping with rain. He modestly and
shyly seated himself on a chair near the door, with his soaked hat
flapping down over a face full of freckles, and not less rife with the
expression of an open, dauntless hardihood of character.

"How would you like a scrummage, Andy, with them Scotchmen that stole
your mother's chickens this morning?" asked Horse Shoe.

"I'm agreed," replied the boy, "if you will tell me what to do."

"You are not going to take the boy out on any of your desperate
projects, Mr. Horse Shoe?" said the mother, with the tears starting
instantly into her eyes. "You wouldn't take such a child as that into
danger?"

"Bless your soul, Mrs. Ramsay, there ar'n't no danger about it! Don't
take on so. It's a thing that is either done at a blow, or not
done,--and there's an end of it. I want the lad only to bring home the
prisoners for me, after I have took them."

"Ah, Mr. Robinson, I have one son already in these wars--God protect
him!--and you men don't know how a mother's heart yearns for her
children in these times. I cannot give another," she added, as she threw
her arms over the shoulders of the youth and drew him to her bosom.

"Oh! it aint nothing," said Andrew, in a sprightly tone. "It's only
snapping of a pistol, mother,--pooh! If I'm not afraid, you oughtn't to
be."

"I give you my honor, Mistress Ramsay," said Robinson, "that I will
bring or send your son safe back in one hour; and that he sha'n't be put
in any sort of danger whatsomedever: come, that's a good woman!"

"You are not deceiving me, Mr. Robinson?" asked the matron wiping away a
tear. "You wouldn't mock the sufferings of a weak woman in such a thing
as this?"

"On the honesty of a sodger, ma'am," replied Horse Shoe, "the lad shall
be in no danger, as I said before--whatsomedever."

"Then I will say no more," answered the mother. "But Andy, my child, be
sure to let Mr. Robinson keep before you."

Horse Shoe now loaded the fire-arms, and having slung the pouch across
his body, he put the pistol into the hands of the boy; then shouldering
his rifle, he and his young ally left the room. Even on this occasion,
serious as it might be deemed, the sergeant did not depart without
giving some manifestation of that light-heartedness which no
difficulties ever seemed to have the power to conquer. He thrust his
head back into the room, after he had crossed the threshold, and said
with an encouraging laugh, "Andy and me will teach them, Mistress
Ramsay, Pat's point of war--we will _surround_ the ragamuffins."

"Now, Andy, my lad," said Horse Shoe, after he had mounted Captain
Peter, "you must get up behind me. Turn the lock of your pistol down,"
he continued, as the boy sprang upon the horse's rump, "and cover it
with the flap of your jacket, to keep the rain off. It won't do to hang
fire at such a time as this."

The lad did as he was directed, and Horse Shoe, having secured his rifle
in the same way, put his horse up to a gallop, and took the road in the
direction that had been pursued by the soldiers.

As soon as our adventurers had gained a wood, at the distance of about
half a mile, the sergeant relaxed his speed, and advanced at a pace a
little above a walk.

"Andy," he said, "we have got rather a ticklish sort of a job before us,
so I must give you your lesson, which you will understand better by
knowing something of my plan. As soon as your mother told me that these
thieving villains had left her house about fifteen minutes before the
rain came on, and that they had gone along upon this road, I remembered
the old field up here, and the little log hut in the middle of it; and
it was natural to suppose that they had just got about near that hut,
when this rain came up; and then, it was the most supposable case in the
world, that they would naturally go into it, as the driest place they
could find. So now, you see, it's my calculation that the whole batch is
there at this very point of time. We will go slowly along, until we get
to the other end of this wood, in sight of the old field, and then, if
there is no one on the look-out, we will open our first trench; you know
what that means, Andy?"

"It means, I s'pose, that we'll go right smack at them," replied Andrew.

"Pretty exactly," said the sergeant. "But listen to me. Just at the edge
of the woods you will have to get down, and put yourself behind a tree.
I'll ride forward, as if I had a whole troop at my heels, and if I
catch them, as I expect, they will have a little fire kindled, and, as
likely as not, they'll be cooking some of your mother's fowls."

"Yes, I understand," said the boy eagerly--

"No, you don't," replied Horse Shoe, "but you will when you hear what I
am going to say. If I get at them onawares, they'll be mighty apt to
think they are surrounded, and will bellow, like fine fellows, for
quarter. And, thereupon, Andy, I'll cry out 'stand fast,' as if I was
speaking to my own men, and when you hear that, you must come up full
tilt, because it will be a signal to you that the enemy has surrendered.
Then it will be your business to run into the house and bring out the
muskets, as quick as a rat runs through a kitchen: and when you have
done that, why, all's done. But if you should hear any popping of
fire-arms--that is, more than one shot, which I may chance to let
off--do you take that for a bad sign, and get away as fast as you can
heel it. You comprehend."

"Oh! yes," replied the lad, "and I'll do what you want, and more too,
may be, Mr. Robinson."

"_Captain_ Robinson,--remember, Andy, you must call me captain, in the
hearing of these Scotsmen."

"I'll not forget that neither," answered Andrew.

By the time that these instructions were fully impressed upon the boy,
our adventurous forlorn hope, as it may fitly be called, had arrived at
the place which Horse Shoe Robinson had designated for the commencement
of active operations. They had a clear view of the old field, and it
afforded them a strong assurance that the enemy was exactly where they
wished him to be, when they discovered smoke arising from the chimney of
the hovel. Andrew was soon posted behind a tree, and Robinson only
tarried a moment to make the boy repeat the signals agreed on, in order
to ascertain that he had them correctly in his memory. Being satisfied
from this experiment that the intelligence of his young companion might
be depended upon, he galloped across the intervening space, and, in a
few seconds, abruptly reined up his steed, in the very doorway of the
hut. The party within was gathered around a fire at the further end,
and, in the corner near the door, were four muskets thrown together
against the wall. To spring from his saddle and thrust himself one pace
inside of the door, was a movement which the sergeant executed in an
instant, shouting at the same time--

"Halt! File off right and left to both sides of the house, and wait
orders. I demand the surrender of all here," he said, as he planted
himself between the party and their weapons. "I will shoot down the
first man who budges a foot."

"Leap to your arms," cried the young officer who commanded the little
party inside of the house. "Why do you stand?"

"I don't want to do you or your men any harm, young man," said Robinson,
as he brought his rifle to a level, "but, by my father's son, I will not
leave one of you to be put upon a muster-roll if you raise a hand at
this moment."

Both parties now stood, for a brief space, eyeing each other in a
fearful suspense, during which there was an expression of doubt and
irresolution visible on the countenances of the soldiers, as they
surveyed the broad proportions, and met the stern glance of the
sergeant, whilst the delay, also, began to raise an apprehension in the
mind of Robinson that his stratagem would be discovered.

"Shall I let loose upon them, captain?" said Andrew Ramsay, now
appearing, most unexpectedly to Robinson, at the door of the hut. "Come
on, boys!" he shouted, as he turned his face towards the field.

"Keep them outside of the door--stand fast," cried the doughty sergeant,
with admirable promptitude, in the new and sudden posture of his affairs
caused by this opportune appearance of the boy. "Sir, you see that it's
not worth while fighting five to one; and I should be sorry to be the
death of any of your brave fellows; so, take my advice, and surrender to
the Continental Congress and this scrap of its army which I command."

During this appeal the sergeant was ably seconded by the lad outside,
who was calling out first on one name, and then on another, as if in the
presence of a troop. The device succeeded, and the officer within,
believing the forbearance of Robinson to be real, at length said:--

"Lower your rifle, sir. In the presence of a superior force, taken by
surprise, and without arms, it is my duty to save bloodshed. With the
promise of fair usage, and the rights of prisoners of war, I surrender
this little foraging party under my command."

"I'll make the terms agreeable," replied the sergeant. "Never doubt me,
sir. Right hand file, advance, and receive the arms of the prisoners!"

"I'm here, captain," said Andrew, in a conceited tone, as if it were a
mere occasion of merriment; and the lad quickly entered the house and
secured the weapons, retreating with them some paces from the door.

"Now, sir," said Horse Shoe to the Ensign, "your sword, and whatever
else you mought have about you of the ammunitions of war!"

The officer delivered up his sword and a pair of pocket pistols.

As Horse Shoe received these tokens of victory, he asked, with a lambent
smile, and what he intended to be an elegant and condescending
composure, "Your name, sir, if I mought take the freedom?"

"Ensign St. Jermyn, of his Majesty's seventy-first regiment of light
infantry."

"Ensign, your sarvent," added Horse Shoe, still preserving this unusual
exhibition of politeness. "You have defended your post like an old
sodger, although you ha'n't much beard on your chin; but, seeing you
have given up, you shall be treated like a man who has done his duty.
You will walk out, now, and form yourselves in line at the door. I'll
engage my men shall do you no harm; they are of a marciful breed."

When the little squad of prisoners submitted to this command, and came
to the door, they were stricken with equal astonishment and
mortification to find, in place of the detachment of cavalry which they
expected to see, nothing but a man, a boy, and a horse. Their first
emotions were expressed in curses, which were even succeeded by laughter
from one or two of the number. There seemed to be a disposition on the
part of some to resist the authority that now controlled them; and
sundry glances were exchanged, which indicated a purpose to turn upon
their captors. The sergeant no sooner perceived this, than he halted,
raised his rifle to his breast, and, at the same instant, gave Andrew
Ramsay an order to retire a few paces, and to fire one of the captured
pieces at the first man who opened his lips.

"By my hand," he said, "if I find any trouble in taking you, all five,
safe away from this here house, I will thin your numbers with your own
muskets! And that's as good as if I had sworn to it."

"You have my word, sir," said the Ensign. "Lead on."

"By your leave, my pretty gentleman, you will lead, and I'll follow,"
replied Horse Shoe. "It may be a new piece of drill to you; but the
custom is to give the prisoners the post of honor."

"As you please, sir," answered the Ensign. "Where do you take us to?"

"You will march back by the road you came," said the sergeant.

Finding the conqueror determined to execute summary martial law upon the
first who should mutiny, the prisoners submitted, and marched in double
file from the hut back towards Ramsay's--Horse Shoe, with Captain
Peter's bridle dangling over his arm, and his gallant young auxiliary
Andrew, laden with double the burden of Robinson Crusoe (having all the
fire-arms packed upon his shoulders), bringing up the rear. In this
order victors and vanquished returned to David Ramsay's.

"Well, I have brought you your ducks and chickens back, mistress," said
the sergeant, as he halted the prisoners at the door; "and, what's more,
I have brought home a young sodger that's worth his weight in gold."

"Heaven bless my child! my brave boy!" cried the mother, seizing the lad
in her arms, and unheeding anything else in the present perturbation of
her feelings. "I feared ill would come of it; but Heaven has preserved
him. Did he behave handsomely, Mr. Robinson? But I am sure he did."

"A little more venturesome, ma'am, than I wanted him to be," replied
Horse Shoe; "but he did excellent service. These are his prisoners,
Mistress Ramsay; I should never have got them if it hadn't been for
Andy. In these drumming and fifing times the babies suck in quarrel with
their mother's milk. Show me another boy in America that's made more
prisoners than there was men to fight them with, that's all!"



CHAPTER XXIII.

SHOWING HOW A GOOD SOLDIER WILL TURN THE ACCIDENTS OF WAR TO
THE BEST ACCOUNT. ENSIGN ST. JERMYN IN A DISAGREEABLE DILEMMA.


Robinson having thus succeeded in his enterprise, now found himself in
circumstances of peculiar perplexity in regard to the disposal of his
prisoners. Here he was, in the neighborhood of the British posts--in a
district of country of which the enemy might be said to have, at this
moment, complete possession--(for Horse Shoe himself was almost the only
belligerent in the field against them)--and, more than that, he was but
a few miles' distant from a camp whose scouts had chased him almost to
his present place of refuge. It was scarcely probable, therefore, that
he could hope to retain his captives long under his control, or prevent
the enemy from receiving intelligence of the capture. He was, however,
notwithstanding these embarrassments, as usual, cheerful, confident, and
self-possessed. He had no wish or motive to detain the private soldiers
as prisoners of war, and would at once have dismissed them, if he could
have assured himself that they would not make the earliest use of their
liberty to convey information of their misadventure to the first corps
of loyalists they should meet, and thus get up a hot pursuit of him
through the whole district. But he had cogent and most important reasons
for holding the ensign, St. Jermyn, in close custody. It occurred to
him, that this officer might be used to control the procedure that
should be adopted by those who meditated injury to Arthur Butler; and he
therefore, at once formed the resolution of communicating with the
nearest British authorities, in order to assure them that he would
retaliate upon the Ensign any pain that might be inflicted upon his late
comrade. His plan was speedily formed--it was to keep his prisoners
until night-fall, move off under cover of the darkness to some remote
and concealed spot with St. Jermyn, and release the others, on their
parole or pledge not to take up arms until regularly exchanged.

Whilst the sergeant was deliberating over these arrangements, the
prisoners were allowed to shelter themselves from the rain under a shed
near the door of the dwelling, where Andrew, with all the pride and
importance of his new station, marched to and fro, before them, like a
trained sentinel. There was a small log building in the yard of Ramsay's
mansion, which had been recently erected as a store-house, and which
being well secured at the door by a padlock, Robinson determined to
convert for the nonce into a prison. It contained but one room, not
above twelve feet square, with an earthen floor, and received no light
except such as was admitted under the door, and through a few crannies
about the roof. Into this narrow apartment the soldiers were now
marched; a bundle of straw was thrown upon the floor; sundry flitches of
bacon, that hung upon the walls, were removed; and a few comforts, in
the way of food and drink, were supplied to render the accommodation as
tolerable to the inmates as was compatible with their safe custody. This
being done, our friend Andrew was posted in the passage-way of the
dwelling, in full view of the door of the store-house, which was
carefully locked, with a musket in his hand, and with orders to make a
circuit every five minutes round the little building, to guard against
any attempts at escape by under-mining the foundation.

As noon approached the weather began to clear up, and with the first
breaking forth of the sun came David Ramsay, the proprietor of the farm
which was the scene of the present operations. His recognition of Horse
Shoe Robinson was accompanied by a hearty greeting, and with an
expression of wonder that he should have ventured, in hostile guise,
through a country so beset as this was by the forces of the enemy; but
when he heard the narrative of the exploit of the morning, and saw the
trophies of its success in the weapons piled against the wall, and, more
especially, when he received from the lips of his wife a circumstantial
account of the part which had been performed in this adventure by his
son Andrew, his delight seemed almost to be absorbed by his astonishment
and incredulity. The proofs, however, were all around him; and after
assuring himself, by an actual inspection of the prisoners through one
of the chinks of the store-house, he came into his own parlour, sat
down, and laughed out-right.

Ramsay was a staunch friend of the independence of his country; and
although he had not been up in arms in the cause, he gave it all the aid
he could by the free expression of opinion, and by a resolute refusal to
comply with the requisitions of the royalists. His eldest son had joined
Sumpter, and had already been active in the field; and he himself
looked, with an almost certain expectation, to see visited upon himself
that proscription under which thousands were already suffering, and
which he had only escaped as yet by the temporizing delays of his
opponents, or by their neglect, arising out of the incessant hurry and
pressure of their military operations in the organization of the new
dominion which the royal forces had but lately acquired. He was a man of
sturdy frame--now only in the prime of life--brave, thoughtful, and
intelligent, and firmly resolved to stand by his principles through
whatever adverse chances. The present aspect of affairs was, to his
mind, almost decisive of his fate: the capture of these prisoners, made
from information derived from his own family, and in which his own son
had been a principal agent; their confinement, too, in his own house,
were facts of so unequivocal a character as inevitably to draw upon him
the prompt ire of the Tories, and compel him to assume the attitude and
abide by the issues of a partisan. As he had faith in the justice of his
quarrel, and a strong devotion to the principles upon which it was
sustained, he did not hesitate in the crisis before him, but heroically
determined to meet the worst that might befal. He, therefore, in the
present emergency, became a useful and efficient ally to Robinson, who
opened to him the full history of Butler, and the course of measures he
was about to pursue for the relief of that unfortunate officer.

We must now leave the sergeant holding watch and ward over his
vanquished foes, and shift our scene to Musgrove's Mill. The
family of Allen Musgrove were in a state of great disquietude. Horse
Shoe Robinson had disappeared before daylight; and when the miller and
his nephew left their beds, a little after the dawn, the only
intelligence they had of the departure of their guest was inferred from
finding the stable door open and the sergeant's horse absent. This fact
was explained when Mary met them at breakfast. Horse Shoe had set out
for Ramsay's to learn some tidings of John, and to enlist him in an
effort to liberate Butler. He had departed under cover of darkness to
avoid molestation from Innis's scouts, and she, Mary Musgrove, had
placed the key of the stable, the night before, in a place where Horse
Shoe might find it. Such was the extent of the maiden's information. The
day passed wearily upon her hand: she was anxious to hear something of
Butler--something of Horse Shoe--and something, we suppose, of John
Ramsay. Frequently during the morning she and Christopher Shaw held
secret conferences: they spoke in whispers: suspense, care, and doubt
were pictured upon her face; and as the rain pattered against the
windows she oftentimes stood before them, and looked out upon the
distant road, and across the wide fields, and then upwards to the
clouded sky. The sun at length appeared, and his rays seemed to shoot a
glimpse of joy into the breast of the maiden, as she walked forth to
note the drying of the roads, and to see the clear blue, which, in that
climate, outvies the mellow and rich tints of a Tuscan heaven.

The day waxed, and the birds sang, and nature was gay, but the maiden
was restless and unquiet: the day waned, and the sun rode downwards on
the western slope in gorgeous beauty; but Mary was ill at ease, and
thought little of the grand and glorious firmament. Her communings with
Christopher Shaw, meantime, became more eager: she and her cousin were
seen to wander towards the mill; then Christopher left her, and,
presently, he might be discovered leading two horses, one bearing a
side-saddle, down to the margin of the stream. There was a short visit
to the house by the young man--a word whispered in the ear of the
mother--a shake of her head, an expression of doubt, a final nod of
assent,--and, in the next moment, Mary and Christopher were seen
trotting off on horseback, on the road that led towards Ramsay's.

When they had ridden some two or three miles, and had entered upon the
high-road between Ninety-Six and Blackstock's--somewhere near to that
piece of haunted ground, where, on the morning of this very day, a
goblin had struck down James Curry from his steed--they descried a
military party of horse and foot slowly advancing from the direction to
which they were travelling. In a few moments they met the first platoon
of the cavalry, headed by a trumpeter and the unsightly captain Hugh
Habershaw. They were detained at the head of this column, whilst some
questions were asked respecting the object of their journey, the troops
in their neighborhood, and other matters connected with the affairs of
the times. Christopher's answers were prompt and satisfactory: he was
only riding with his kinswoman on a visit to a neighbor; Innis's camp
was not above two miles and a half away, and the country in general was
quiet, as far as he had the means of knowing. The travellers were now
suffered to pass on. In succession, they left behind them each platoon
of threes, and then encountered the small column of march of the
infantry. Mary grew pale as her eyes fell upon the form of Arthur
Butler, posted in the centre of a guard. Her feeling lest he might not
recognise her features, and guess something of her errand, almost
overpowered her. She reined up her horse, as if to gratify an idle
curiosity to see the soldiers passing, and halted in a position which
compelled the ranks to file off, in order to obtain a free passage round
her. Every look seemed to be turned upon her as the escort marched near
her horse's head, and it was impossible to make the slightest sign to
Butler without being observed. She saw him, however, lift his eyes to
hers, and she distinctly perceived the flash of surprise with which it
was kindled as he became aware of her features. A faint and transient
smile, which had in it nothing but pain, was the only return she dared
to make. An order from the van quickened the march; and the detachment
moved rapidly by. As Mary still occupied the ground on which she had
halted, and was gazing after the retreating corps, she saw Butler turn
his face back towards her; she seized the moment to nod to him and to
make a quick sign with her hand, which she intended should indicate the
fact that she was now engaged in his service. She thought she perceived
a response in a slight motion of Butler's head, and now resumed her
journey, greatly excited by the satisfaction of having, in this
accidental encounter, obtained even this brief insight into the
condition of the prisoner.

The sun was set, when Mary with her convoy, Christopher Shaw, arrived at
Ramsay's. Always an acceptable guest at this house, she was now more
than ever welcome. There was business to be done in which she could
discharge a most important part, and the service of Christopher Shaw in
reinforcing the garrison was of the greatest moment. When the
intelligence regarding the movement of Butler to Innis's camp was
communicated to the sergeant, it suggested a new device to his mind,
which he determined instantly to adopt. Butler was at this moment, he
concluded, in the hands of those who had engaged the ruffians to set
upon him at Grindall's ford, and it was not improbable that he would be
summarily dealt with: there was no time, therefore, to be lost. The
sergeant's plan, in this new juncture, was, to compel the young ensign
to address a letter to the British commandant, to inform that officer of
his present imprisonment, and to add to this information the
determination of his captors to put him to death, in the event of any
outrage being inflicted upon Butler. This scheme was communicated to
Ramsay, Shaw, and Mary. The letter was to be immediately written; Mary
was to return with it to the mill, and was to contrive to have it
secretly delivered, in the morning, at Innis's head-quarters; and David
Ramsay himself was to escort the maiden back to her father's house,
whilst Shaw was to attend the sergeant and assist him to transport the
young ensign to some fit place of concealment. The private soldiers were
to remain prisoners, under the guard of Andrew, until his father's
return, when they were to be released on parole, as prisoners of war.

The plan being thus matured, Robinson went forthwith to the
prison-house, and directed Ensign St. Jermyn to follow him into the
dwelling. When the young officer arrived in the family parlor, he was
ordered to take a chair near a table, upon which was placed a light,
some paper, pen, and ink.

"Young man," said Robinson, "take up that pen and write as I bid you."

"To what end am I to write? I must know the purpose you design to
answer, before I can put my hand to paper."

"To the end," replied Horse Shoe firmly, and with unwonted gravity, "of
the settlement of your worldly affairs, if the consarns of to-morrow
should bring ill luck to a friend of mine."

"I do not understand you, sir. If my life is threatened to accomplish an
unrighteous purpose, it is my duty to tell you at once, that that life
belongs to my king; and if his interests are to suffer by any forced act
of mine, I am willing to resign it at once."

"Never was purpose more righteous, sir, in the view of God and man, than
ours," said David Ramsay.

"I have a friend," added Horse Shoe, greatly excited as he spoke, "who
has been foully dealt by. Some of your enlisted gangs have laid an
ambuscade to trap him: villany has been used, by them that ought to be
ashamed to see it thriving under their colors, to catch a gentleman who
was only doing the common duties of a good sodger; and by mean
bush-fighting, not by fair fields and honest blows--they have seized him
and carried him to the camp of that blood-sucking Tory, Colonel Innis. I
doubt more harm is meant him than falls to the share of a common
prisoner of war."

"I know nothing of the person, nor of the circumstances you speak
about," said the ensign.

"So much the better for you," replied the sergeant. "If your people are
brave sodgers or honest men, you will not have much occasion to be
afeard for yourself; but, by my right hand! if so much as one hair of
Major Arthur Butler's head be hurt by Colonel Innis, or by any other man
among your pillaging and brandishing bullies, I myself will drive a
bullet through from one of your ears to the other. This game of war is a
stiff game, young man, but we will play it out."

"Major Arthur Butler!" exclaimed the officer, with astonishment, "is he
taken?"

"Ha! you've hearn of him, and know something, mayhap, of them that were
on the look-out for him?"

"I cannot write," said the officer sullenly.

"No words, sir," interrupted Horse Shoe, "but obey my orders; write what
I tell you, or take your choice. I will bind you hand and foot to a tree
on yonder mountain, to starve till you write that letter; or to feed the
wild vermin with your body, if you refuse."

The ensign looked in Robinson's face, where a frown of stern resolution
brooded upon his brow, and a kindling tempest of anger showed that this
was not a moment to hazard the trial of his clemency.

"What would you have the purport of my letter?" asked the officer, in a
subdued voice.

"That you have got into the hands of the Whigs," replied the sergeant;
"and that if so be any mischief should fall upon Major Butler, by the
contrivings of your friends, you die the first minute that we hear of
it."

"I have had no hand in the taking of Major Butler," said the young St.
Jermyn.

"I am glad of it," answered Robinson, "for your sake. You will die with
a better conscience. If you had a hand in it, young man, I wouldn't ask
you to write a line to any breathing man: your brains would spatter that
door-post. Take up the pen and write, or stand by the consequences."

The officer took up the pen, then, hesitating a moment, flung it down,
saying:

"I will not write; do with me as you choose."

"The young man drives me to it, against my own nature," said Robinson,
speaking under strong excitement. "If he will not pen that letter, then,
David Ramsay, you will write to Innis, in my name, and say Galbraith
Robinson has got the Ensign where no Tory foot will ever follow him, and
holds him to answer the first mischief that is done to Arthur Butler.
But, I swear to this sulky boy, that if that letter goes to Innis for
want of a better, as I am a man and a sodger, he will never taste food
or water till I hear that Major Butler is free. He shall starve in the
mountain."

"Oh, God! oh, God!" ejaculated the young soldier, in bitterness of
heart; and covering his face with his hands, he threw his head upon the
table, where he wept tears of agony. At length, looking in the
countenance of Robinson, he said: "I am young, sir--not above twenty
years. I have a mother and sisters in England."

"We have no time to spare," interrupted Robinson, "much less to talk
about kinsfolk. Major Butler has them that love his life better than
e'er an Englishwoman loves her son. If they are brought to grief by this
onnatural rascality, it matters nothing to me if every daughter and
sister in England pines away of heart-sickness, for the loss of them
that they love best. Take my advice, my lack-beard," added Robinson,
patting him on the shoulder, "and write the letter. You have the
chances of war in your favor, and may save your neck."

"I will do your bidding, sir," said the ensign, after a pause. "Under
the compulsion of force, I agree to write," and he once more took up the
pen.

"You speak now like a reasonable gentleman," said Horse Shoe. "I pity
you, friend, and will preserve you against harm, so far as it can be
done in the circumstances of the case."

The ensign then wrote a few lines, in which he communicated to Colonel
Innis, or to whatever officer his letter might be delivered, the straits
in which he found himself, and the resolution of his captors to hold his
life forfeit upon the event of any rigors, beyond those of an ordinary
prisoner of war, imposed upon Major Butler. When he had finished, he
gave the paper to Robinson.

"Read it aloud, Mr. Ramsay," said Horse Shoe, delivering the scrawl to
his friend.

Ramsay read what was written.

"It must be wrote over again," said Horse Shoe, after he had heard the
contents. "First, it must make no mention of his being only a few miles
off; that must be left out. Secondly, my name needn't be told; though if
the runagates knowed he was in my hands, they wouldn't think his chance
any better on that account. Let him say that the Whigs have got
him--that's enough. And, lastly, he must write his own name in full at
the bottom. And, look you, young man, don't be scrawling out the lines
in such a way that your own hand-write moughtn't be known. That must
speak for itself, because upon this letter depends your life. You
understand?"

"Give it me," said the ensign; "I will write it as you desire."

And again the unfortunate officer applied himself to the task that was
imposed upon him; and in a short time produced a letter, which, being
subjected to the criticism of the bystanders, was pronounced
satisfactory.

As soon as this was done, St. Jermyn was conducted into another
apartment, and there confided to the guardianship of Christopher Shaw.
Horse Shoe now took a light and the writing materials from the table,
and repaired with David Ramsay--both of them well armed--to the
store-house, where the other prisoners were confined. After they had
entered and closed the door, posting Andrew with his musket on the
outside, Horse Shoe addressed the men in a gay and cheerful tone:

"Come, my lads, as you are good, honest fellows, that can have no great
love for these little country cabins, judging by your bad luck and
oncomfortable circumstances in that one where I found you this morning,
I have come to set you free. By the laws of war, you have the right, if
I choose to take it, to give me your parole. So now, if you have a mind
to promise me, on the honor of sodgers, not to sarve again until you are
fairly exchanged, you shall all leave this before daybreak. What do you
say to the terms?"

"We are all agreed," replied the men, with one accord.

"Then write out something to that effect," said the sergeant to Ramsay.
"You that can't scratch like scholards, stick your marks to the
paper--d'ye hear?"

The parole was written out by Ramsay, and duly signed or marked by each
of the four men. This being done, the sergeant informed them that,
exactly at three in the morning, the door would be opened, and they
would be at liberty to go where they pleased, provided they pledged
themselves to visit no post of the enemy within twenty miles, nor
communicate any particulars relating to their capture or detention to
any British or Tory officer or soldier, within seven days. This pledge
was cheerfully given, and after a few words of jocular good-nature were
exchanged on both sides, Horse Shoe and his companion retired.

David Ramsay now ordered out his own and Mary Musgrove's horses, with an
intention to set out immediately for the mill.

"Does Major Butler know that you are in his neighborhood?" inquired
Ramsay of the sergeant, before the horses were brought to the door.

"Oh, bless you, yes," replied Horse Shoe. "I left word for him yesterday
at Blackstock's, by giving the babblers there something to talk about,
which I knew he would hear." And the sergeant went on to relate the
particulars of his stop at that post: "And I sent him a message,"
continued he, "this morning, by James Curry, in the same sort of
fashion. A little before daylight, I heard the devil singing one of his
staves upon the road back here, so loud that he seemed to be frightened
by ghosts or sperits; so I rode up fast behind him, and cuffed him out
of his saddle, and then away I went like a leather-winged bat. I knowed
the curmudgeon's voice, and I expect he knowed my hand, for he has felt
it before. I'll be bound, he made a good story out of it; and, as such
things fly, I make no doubt it wasn't long reaching the ear of the
major, who would naturally think it was me, whether James told my name
or not, because he knows my way. It was as good as writing a letter to
the major, to signify that I was lurking about, close at hand. I never
went to school, Mr. Ramsay, so I write my letters by making my mark. I
can make a blow go further than a word upon occasion, and that's an
old-fashioned way of telling your thoughts, that was found out before
pen and ink."

"Well, Horse Shoe, you are a man after your own sort," replied Ramsay,
laughing. "Come, Mary, take the letter; our horses are at the door."

"Good bye t'ye, David," said Horse Shoe, shaking Ramsay's hand; "it may
be some days before we see each other again. Kit and me will be off with
this young ensign before you get back. Don't forget the prisoners at
three o'clock. And, a word, David--where had we best take this young
sparrow, the ensign, to keep him out of the way of these fellows that
are scouring the country?"

"Leave that to Christopher Shaw," replied Ramsay; "he knows every nook
in the country. So, now, friend Robinson, good night, and luck go with
you!"

It was a clear starlit night, and every tree and pool sent forth a
thousand notes from the busy insects and reptiles that animate the
summer hours of darkness, when David Ramsay set out with Mary Musgrove
for her father's house.



CHAPTER XXIV.

NEW DIFFICULTIES OPEN UPON BUTLER.


With the last notes of the reveillée everything was stirring in Innis's
camp. It was a beautiful, fresh morning; a cool breeze swept across the
plain, and each spray and every blade of grass sparkled with the dew;
whilst above, an unclouded firmament gave promise of a rich and
brilliant mid-summer's day. The surrounding forest was alive with the
twittering of birds; and the neighing of horses showed that this portion
of the animal creation partook of the hilarity of the season. From every
little shed or woodland lair, crept forth parties of soldiers, who
betook themselves to their several posts to answer at the rollcall; and
by the time the sun had risen, officers, on horseback and on foot, were
seen moving hurriedly across the open plain, to join the groups of
infantry and cavalry, which were now forming in various quarters for the
purposes of the morning drill. Companies were seen in motion, passing
through the rapid evolutions of the march, the retreat, and the many
exercises of service. Drums were beating, and fifes were piercing the
air with their high notes, and, ever and anon, the trumpet brayed from
the further extremities of the field. Picquet-guards were seen mustering
on the edge of the camp--wearied and night-worn: salutes were exchanged
by the small detachments on service; and, here and there, sentinels
might be descried, stationed at the several outlets of the plain, and
presenting their arms as an officer passed their lines.

The troops that occupied this space were mostly of the irregular kind.
Some were distinguished by ill-fitted and homely uniforms; others were
clad in the common dress of the country, distinguished as soldiers only
by their arms and accoutrements; but amongst them was also a
considerable party of British regulars, clad in the national livery of
scarlet. Amongst the officers, who were in command of the subordinate
departments of this mixed and parti-colored little army, were several
who, from their costume, might be recognised as belonging to the
regiments that had come from the other side of the Atlantic.

Colonel Innis himself was seen upon the parade, directing the movements
of divisions that, under their proper officers, were practising the
customary lessons of discipline. He was a tall, thin man, of an
emaciated complexion, with a countenance of thoughtful severity. A keen
black eye seemed almost to burn within its orb, and to give an
expression of petulant and peevish excitability, like the querulousness
of a sick man. A rather awkward and ungainly person, arrayed in a
scarlet uniform that did but little credit to the tailor-craft employed
in its fabrication, conveyed to the spectator the idea of a man unused
to the pride of appearance that belongs to a soldier by profession; and
would have suggested the conclusion, which the fact itself sustained,
that the individual before him had but recently left the walks of civil
life to assume a military office. His demeanour, however, showed him to
be a zealous if not a skilful officer. He gave close attention to the
duties of his command, and busied himself with scrupulous exactitude in
enforcing the observances necessary to a rigorous system of tactics.

This officer, as we have before hinted, had been an active participator
in the proceedings of the new court of sequestrations at Charleston; and
had rendered himself conspicuous by the fierce and unsparing industry
with which he had brought to the judgment of that tribunal, the imputed
delinquencies of some of the most opulent and patriotic citizens of the
province.

Amongst the cases upon which he had been called into consultation was
that of Arthur Butler, whose possessions being ample, and whose
position, as a rebellious belligerent, being one of "flagrant delict,"
there was but little repugnance, on the part of the judges and their
adviser, to subject him to the severest law of confiscation. The
proceedings, however, had been delayed, not from any tenderness to the
proprietor, but, as it was whispered in the scandal of the day, on
account of certain dissensions, amongst a few prominent servants of the
British crown, as to which of them the privilege of a cheap purchase
should be extended. The matter was still in suspense, with a view (as
that busybody, common rumor, alleged) to reward a particular favorite of
the higher powers with the rich guerdon of these good lands, in
compensation for private and valuable secret services, rendered in a
matter of great delicacy and hazard--no less a service than that of
seducing into the arena of politics and intrigue, an opulent and
authoritative gentleman of Virginia, Mr. Philip Lindsay.

In consequence of the odious nature of the duty which Colonel Innis had
assumed to perform, he became peculiarly hateful to the Whigs; and this
sentiment was in no degree abated when, relinquishing his occupation as
a counsellor to the court at Charleston, he accepted a commission to
command a partisan corps of royalists in the upper country. He was, at
the juncture in which I have exhibited him to my reader, new in his
command, and had not yet "fleshed his maiden sword:" the day, however,
was near at hand when his prowess was to be put to the proof.

Such was the person into whose hands Arthur Butler had now fallen.

After the morning exercises of the camp were finished, and the men were
dismissed to prepare their first repast, the principal officers returned
to the colonel's head-quarters in the farm-house, where, it will be
remembered, Butler had been delivered by the escort that had conducted
him from Blackstock's. The prisoner had slept soundly during the whole
night; and now, as the breakfast hour drew nigh, he had scarcely awaked
and put on his clothes, before he heard an inquiry, made by some one
below, of the orderly on duty, whether the Whig officer was yet in a
condition to be visited; and, in the next moment, the noise of
footsteps, ascending the stair towards his chamber, prepared him to
expect the entrance of the person who had asked the question.

A British officer, in full uniform, of a graceful and easy carriage,
neat figure, and of a countenance that bespoke an intelligent and
cultivated mind, made his appearance at the door. He was apparently of
five or six and thirty years of age; and whilst he paused a moment, as
with a purpose to apologize for the seeming intrusion, Butler was struck
with the air of refined breeding of the individual before him.

"Major Butler, I understand, of the Continental army?" said the
stranger. "The unpleasant nature of the circumstances in which you are
placed, I hope will excuse the trespass I have committed upon your
privacy. Captain St. Jermyn, of his Majesty's army, and lately an
aide-de-camp of Lord Rawdon."

Butler bowed coldly, as he replied:

"To meet a gentleman, as your rank and name both import, is a privilege
that has not been allowed me of late. Without knowing wherefore, I have
been waylaid and outraged by bravoes and ruffians. You, perhaps, sir,
may be able to afford me some insight into the causes of this
maltreatment."

"Even if it were proper for me to hold discourse with you on such a
subject, I could only speak from common report," replied the officer. "I
know nothing of your seizure, except that, by the common chances of war,
you have fallen into the hands of the ruling authorities of the
province, and you will, doubtless, as a soldier, appreciate my motives
for declining any reference to the circumstances in which you have been
found. My visit is stimulated by other considerations, amongst which is
foremost a desire to mitigate the peculiarly uncomfortable captivity to
which I am sorry to learn you have been subjected."

"I thank you," replied Butler, "for the intention with which your good
offices are proffered; but you can render me no service that I should
value so much as that of informing me why I have been brought hither, at
whose suggestion, and for what purpose."

"I will be plain with you, Major Butler. Your situation demands
sympathy, however inexorably the present posture of our affairs may
require the decrees of stern justice, in respect to yourself, to be
executed. I feel for you, and would gladly aid you to any extent which
my duty might allow, in averting the possible calamity that may hang
over you. You are known as a gentleman of consideration and influence in
the colonies. I may further add, as a brave and venturesome soldier. You
are believed to have, more boldly than wisely, enterprised the
accomplishment of certain schemes against the safety of his majesty's
acknowledged government in this province; besides having committed other
acts in violation of a faith plighted for you by those who had full
authority to bind you, thus bringing yourself within the penalties
appropriate to the violation of a military parole, if not within those
of treason itself."

"He lies in his throat," cried Butler, "who charges me with forfeiture
of plighted word or honor, in any action of my life. That I have arrayed
myself against what you are pleased to term his majesty's acknowledged
government in this province, I am proud to confess, here in the midst of
your bands, and will confess it again at your judgment seat; but if
aught be said against me that shall be intended to attaint my honor as a
gentleman, I will, in the same presence and before God, throw the lie in
the teeth of my accuser. Aye, and make good my word, now or hereafter,
wheresoever it may be allowed me to meet the slanderer."

"I do not condemn your warmth," said St. Jermyn, calmly, "in a matter
that so deeply stirs your self-esteem; and only desire now to second it
in all things wherein an honorable enemy may claim the support of those
who themselves value a good name. The authorities of this post have
considerately resolved to give you the benefit of a court of inquiry.
And I hope you will take it as it was meant, in all kindness to you,
that I have come, before the communication of an official order, to
apprise you that charges will be duly exhibited against you, and a trial
be instantly had. If you will accept of my services, feeble and
inadequate as they may be, I would gladly tender them to afford you such
facilities as the pressure of the present emergency may allow."

"To be tried! when, and for what? If the charge is that I carry on open
war against those who are in the habit of calling me and my compatriots
rebels--I am ready to confess the charge. What need of court or trial?"

"There are graver and more serious offences than that imputed to you,"
said St. Jermyn.

"When am I to be informed of them, and to what do they tend?"

"You will hear them this morning; when, I am sorry to add, the nature of
our military operations also enforces the necessity of your trial."

"You can be of little service, if that be true," returned Butler,
thoughtfully. "My cause can only be defended by my country, long after I
am made the victim of this unrighteous procedure."

"There is one alternative," said St. Jermyn, with some hesitation in his
manner, "which a mature deliberation upon your relations as a
subject,--pardon me, for I do not deem this ill-timed rebellion to have
obliterated them--may present to your mind."

"Speak it," said Butler, vehemently; "speak out the base thought that is
rising to your lip, if you dare. Prisoner as I am, I will avenge the
insult on the spot with the certainty of loss of life. The alternative
you suggest, is to dishonor me and all who are dear to me by the foul
opprobrium of treason to my country. You would have me, I suppose,
renounce the cause to which I have dedicated my life, and take shelter
with the recreants that have crowded under the banner of St. George?"

"Hold! remember, sir, that you are a prisoner," said St. Jermyn, with
great coolness; and then after a pause, he added with a sigh: "I will
not wound, by further converse, the exaggerated and delusive sense of
honor which is too fatally predominant in your breast, and, as I have
found it, in the breasts of many of your misguided countrymen. I came to
serve you, not to excite your feelings; and I will now, even in your
displeasure, serve you as far as the occasion may afford me means: I
pray you, call on me without reserve. For the present, believe me, in
pain and sorrow I take my leave."

With these words, the officer retired.

Butler paced to and fro through his narrow chamber for some minutes, as
his mind revolved the extraordinary and unexpected disclosures which had
been made to him in this short visit. A thousand conjectures rose into
his thoughts as to the nature of the supposed charges that were to be
brought against him. He minutely retraced all the incidents of his late
adventures, to ascertain how it was possible to found upon them an
accusation of violated faith, or to pervert them into an imputation of
treason against the present doubtful and disputed authority of the
self-styled conquerors of Carolina. If his attempt to join Clarke was
treason, it could be no less treason in the followers of Gates to array
themselves against the royal army; and, that every prisoner hereafter
taken in battle was to be deemed a traitor to the contested power of
Cornwallis, seemed to be a pretension too absurd for the most inveterate
partisans to assert. There was nothing in this review of his actions
that the most ingenious malice could pervert into an offence punishable
by the laws of war, by other rigor than such as might be inflicted upon
an ordinary prisoner taken in arms. Still, there were unhappy doubts of
some secret treachery that rose to his reflections: the perfidy of
Adair, manifestly the effect of a bribe; the ambuscade promoted and
managed by James Curry; the bloody purpose of the brutal gang who
captured him, frustrated only by the accidental fray in which Blake was
wounded. Then the "doubtful givings out" which fell from the lips of
some of the soldiers at Blackstock's, of his case still being one of
life and death; the insinuation of the savage Habershaw, at the same
place, conveyed in the threat of twisted hemp; the knowledge which his
present keepers affected to have of his rank and consequence, of his
past life and present aims; and, above all, his being brought for
immediate trial, in a matter affecting his life, before the very man,
now in the capacity of a military commander, who had heretofore been
active in promoting the design of confiscating his estate. All these
considerations, although unconnected with any circumstance of specific
offence within his knowledge, led him into the most anxious and
melancholy forebodings as to the result of this day's proceedings.

"I am doomed to fall," he said, "under some secret stroke of vengeance,
and my country is to have in my case another stirring appeal against the
enormity of that iron rule that seeks to bow her head into the dust. So
be it! The issue is in the hand of God, and my fate may turn to the
account of the establishment of a nation's liberty. Oh, Mildred, I
tremble to think of thee! Heaven grant, my girl, that thy fortitude may
triumph over the martyrdom of him that loves thee better than his
life!"



CHAPTER XXV.

A TRIAL.--A GRAVE ACCUSATION THAT STILL FURTHER CONFIRMS BUTLER IN HIS
BELIEF OF A SECRET ENEMY.--A SUDDEN RESPITE.


Butler's baggage, ever since he left Robinson's habitation on the
Catawba, had been divided into two parcels, one of which he carried in a
portmanteau on his own horse, and the other had been stowed away in a
pair of black leather saddle-bags that were flung across Captain Peter.
These latter sufficed, also, to inclose, in addition to the sergeant's
own wardrobe, sundry stores of provender, which the careful appetite and
soldier-like foresight of the trusty squire had, from time to time,
accumulated for their comfort upon the road-side. After the escape of
the sergeant, this baggage had been kept with more scrupulousness than
might have been expected from the character of the freebooters into
whose possession it had fallen; and now, when Butler had been
surrendered up to the custody of Colonel Innis, it was restored to the
prisoner without the loss of any article of value. On this morning,
therefore, Butler had thrown aside the rustic dress in which he had
heretofore travelled, and appeared habited as we have described him when
first introduced to the reader.

After a very slight meal, which had been administered with more personal
attention and consideration for his rank and condition than he was
prepared to expect, an officer entered his apartment and communicated an
order to him to repair to the yard in front of the quarters. Here he
found a sergeant's guard mustered to receive him, and he was directed to
march with them to the place that had been selected for his trial. The
spot pitched upon for this purpose, was at the foot of a large mulberry
that stood on the border of the plain, at a short distance from the
house.

When the guard arrived with the prisoner, Colonel Innis was already
seated at the head of a table, around which were placed several
officers, both of the regular and militia forces. Writing materials were
also arranged upon the board, and at the lower end, a few paces removed
from it, stood a vacant chair. Behind this was erected a pile of drums,
with one or two colours laid transversely across them. Sentinels were
stationed at different points near this group, and within their lines
were collected the principal officers of Innis's command. Somewhat more
remote, a number of idle spectators were assembled, amongst whom might
have been discerned Habershaw, Curry, and many of the heroes who had
figured at Grindall's ford. Captain St. Jermyn had taken a station a
little to the left of the presiding officer at the table, and in the
rear of those who appeared to have the management of the approaching
procedure, and now stood, with his hands folded, apparently an anxious
and interested looker-on.

There was a thoughtful and even stern expression upon every face when
Butler appeared--and a silence that was scarce broken by the occasional
whispers in which the several individuals present communicated with each
other. The guard marched the prisoner around the circle, and inducted
him into the vacant chair, where he was received by a quiet and cold
inclination of the head from each member of the court.

For a few moments he looked around him with a scornful gaze upon the
assemblage that were to sit in judgment upon him, and bit his lip, as
his frame seemed to be agitated with deep emotion: at length, when every
look was bent upon him, and no one breathed a word, he rose upon his
feet and addressed the company.

"I understand that I am in the presence of a military court, which has
been summoned for the purpose of inquiring into certain offences, of the
nature of which I have not yet had the good fortune to be informed,
except in so far as I am given to infer that they purport of treason. I
ask if this be true."

The presiding officer bowed his head in token of assent, and then
presented a paper, which he described as containing the specification of
charges.

"As an officer of the American army, and the citizen of an independent
republic," continued Butler, "I protest against any accountability to
this tribunal; and, with this protest, I publish my wrongs in the face
of these witnesses, and declare them to arise out of facts disgraceful
to the character of an honorable nation. I have been drawn by treachery
into an ambuscade, overpowered by numbers, insulted and abused by
ruffians. I wish I could say that these outrages were practised at the
mere motion of the coarse banditti themselves who assailed me; but their
manifest subserviency to a plan, the object of which was to take my
life, leaves me no room to doubt that they have been in the employ and
have acted under the orders of a more responsible head"--

"Keep your temper," interrupted Innis, calmly. "Something is to be
allowed to the excited feelings of one suddenly arrested in the height
of a bold adventure, and the court would, therefore, treat your
expression of such feelings at this moment with lenity. You will,
however, consult your own welfare, by giving your thoughts to the
charges against you, and sparing yourself the labor of this useless
vituperation. Read that paper, and speak to its contents. We will hear
you patiently and impartially."

"Sir, it can avail me nothing to read it. Let it allege what it may, the
trial, under present circumstances, will be but a mockery. By the
chances of war, my life is in your hands; it is an idle ceremony and
waste of time to call in aid the forms of justice, to do that which you
have the power to do, without insulting Heaven by affecting to assume
one of its attributes."

"That we pause to inquire," replied Innis, "is a boon of mercy to you.
The offence of rank rebellion which you and all your fellow-madmen have
confessed, by taking up arms against your king, carries with it the last
degree of punishment. If, waiving our right to inflict summary pain for
this transgression, we stay to hear what you can say against other and
even weightier charges, you should thank us for our clemency. But this
is misspending time. Read the paper to the prisoner," he added,
addressing one of the officers at the table.

The paper was read aloud. It first presented a charge against the
prisoner for violating the terms of the parole given at the capitulation
of Charleston. The specification to support this charge was that, by the
terms of the surrender, General Lincoln had engaged that the whole
garrison should be surrendered as prisoners of war, and that they should
not serve again until exchanged. The prisoner was described as an
officer of that garrison, included in the surrender, and lately taken in
the act of making war upon his majesty's subjects.

The second charge was, that the prisoner had insinuated himself, by
false representations, into the territory conquered by the royal army;
and that, in the quality of a spy, he had visited the family of a
certain Walter Adair, with a view to obtain a knowledge of the forces,
plans, movements, and designs of the various detachments engaged in his
majesty's service in the neighborhood of Broad River.

And, third and last, that he, together with certain confederates, had
contrived and partially attempted to execute a plan to seize upon and
carry away a subject of his majesty's government, of great consideration
and esteem--Mr. Philip Lindsay, namely, of the Dove Cote, in the
province of Virginia. That the object of this enterprise was to possess
himself of the papers as well as of the person of the said Philip
Lindsay, and, by surrendering him up to the leaders of the rebel army,
to bring upon him the vengeance of the rebel government, thus exposing
him to confiscation of property, and even to peril of life.

Such was the general import and bearing of the accusations against the
prisoner, expressed with the usual abundance of verbiage and minuteness
of detail. Butler listened to them, at first, with indifference, and
with a determination to meet them with inflexible silence; but, as the
enunciation of them proceeded, and the extraordinary misrepresentations
they contained were successively disclosed, he found his indignation
rising to a height that almost mastered his discretion, and he was on
the point of interrupting the court with the lie direct, and of
involving himself in an act of contumacy which would have been instantly
decisive of his fate. His better genius, however, prevailed, and,
smothering his anger by a strong effort of self-control, he merely
folded his arms and abided until the end, with a contemptuous and proud
glance at his accusers.

"You have heard the allegations against you, sir," said Colonel Innis;
"what say you to them?"

"What should an honorable man," replied Butler, "say to such foul
aspersions? The first and second charges, sir, I pronounce to be
frivolous and false. As to the last, sir, there are imputations in it
that mark the agency of a concealed enemy, lost to every impulse of
honor--a base and wicked liar. Confront me with that man, and let the
issue stand on this--if I do not prove him to be, in the judgment of
every true gentleman of your army, an atrocious and depraved slanderer,
who has contrived against my life for selfish purposes, I will submit
myself to whatever penalty the most exasperated of my enemies may
invent. It was my purpose, sir, to remain silent, and to refuse, by any
act of mine, to acknowledge the violation of the rights of war by which
I have been dragged hither. Nothing could have swayed me from that
determination, but the iniquitous falsehood conveyed in the last
accusation."

"We cannot bandy words with one in your condition," interrupted the
president of the court. "I must remind you again, that our purpose is to
give you a fair trial, not to listen to ebullitions of anger. Your honor
is concerned in these charges, and you will best consult your interest
by a patient demeanor in your present difficulties."

"I am silent," said Butler, indignantly, taking his seat.

"Let the trial proceed," continued the president. "You will not deny,"
he said, after an interval of reflection, "that you are a native of
Carolina?"

"I can scarcely deny that before you," replied Butler, "who, in my
absence, as report says, have been busy in the investigation of my
affairs."

"There are bounds, sir, to the forbearance of a court," said Innis,
sternly. "I understand the taunt. Your estates have been the subject of
consideration before another tribunal; and if my advice were listened
to, the process relating to them would be a short one."

"You are answered," returned Butler.

"Nor can you deny that you were an officer belonging to the army under
the command of General Lincoln."

Butler was silent.

"You were at Charleston during the siege?" inquired one of the court.

"In part," replied Butler. "I left it in March, the bearer of despatches
to Congress."

"And you were in arms on the night of the thirteenth, at Grindall's
Ford?" continued the same questioner.

"I confess it, sir."

"That's enough," interrupted Innis. "In the ninth article of the
capitulation of Charleston we read: 'all civil officers, and the
citizens who have borne arms _during the siege_, must be prisoners on
parole.'"

"I should say," interposed St. Jermyn, who now, for the first time,
opened his lips, "that the prisoner scarcely falls within that
description. The words 'during the siege' would seem to point to a
service which lasted to the end. They are, at least, equivocal; and I
doubt Lord Cornwallis would be loath to sanction a judgment on such a
ground."

Upon this ensued a consultation amongst the officers at the table,
during which Butler was withdrawn to a short distance in the rear of the
assemblage. Several of the unoccupied soldiers of the camp, at this
stage of the trial, had crowded into the neighborhood of the court; and
the sentinels, yielding to the eagerness of the common curiosity, had
relaxed their guard so far as to allow the spectators to encroach beyond
the lines. Among those who had thrust themselves almost up to the
trial-table were a few children, male and female, bearing on their arms
baskets of fruit and vegetables, which had been brought within the camp
for sale. A smart-looking girl, somewhat older than the rest, seemed to
have gained more favor from the crowd than her competitors, by the
temptation which she presented of a rich collection of mellow apples;
and perhaps her popularity was in some degree increased by the soft and
pleasant-toned voice in which she recommended her wares, no less than by
the ruddy, wholesome hue of her cheek, and an agreeable, laughing, blue
eye, that shone forth from the shade of a deep and narrow sun-bonnet,
the curtain of which fell upon her shoulders and down her back.

"Buy my apples, gentlemen," said the pretty fruit-merchant, coming up
fearlessly to Colonel Innis, in the midst of the consultation.

"Three for a penny; they are very ripe and mellow, sir."

The colonel cast his eye upon the treasures of the basket, and began to
select a few of the choicest fruit. Thus encouraged, the girl set her
load upon the table, in the midst of the hats and swords with which it
was encumbered, and very soon every other member of the court followed
the example of the presiding officer, and became purchasers of the
greater part of the store before them. When this traffic was concluded,
the little huckster took up her burden and retired towards the group of
spectators. Seeing the prisoner in this quarter, she walked up to him,
curtsied, and presented him an apple, which was gratefully accepted, and
the proffered return, from him, in money, refused.

When about a quarter of an hour had elapsed, Butler was resummoned to
his seat, and the court again proceeded to business. The inquiry now
related to the second charge--that, namely, which imputed to the
prisoner the character of a spy in his visit at Adair's. To this
accusation, Captain Hugh Habershaw and several of his troop were called
as witnesses. The amount of testimony given by them was, that, on the
eleventh of the month, they had received information that a Continental
officer, whose real name and title was Major Butler, but who was
travelling in disguise and under an assumed name, from the Catawba
towards the Broad River, in company with a well known, stark Whig--a
certain Horse Shoe Robinson--was expected in a few days to arrive at Wat
Adair's. That Habershaw, hoping to intercept them, had scoured the
country between the two rivers; but that the travellers had eluded the
search, by taking a very circuitous and unfrequented route towards the
upper part of Blair's Range and Fishing Creek. That, on the night of the
twelfth, the two men arrived at Adair's, unmolested; and, on the morning
of the thirteenth, some of the woodman's family had met Habershaw and
apprised him of this fact; adding, further, that the prisoner had
offered a bribe to Adair, to induce him to give information in regard to
the loyalist troops in the neighborhood, with a view to communicate it
to a certain Colonel Clarke, who had appointed to meet Butler and his
companion somewhere on the upper border of the province. That, in
consequence of this attempt, Adair had directed the prisoner towards
Grindall's Ford; and, this intelligence being communicated to the
witness, he had conducted his troop to that place, where he succeeded in
arresting the prisoner and his comrade, with the loss of two men in the
struggle. The narrative then went on to give the particulars of Horse
Shoe's escape, and the other facts with which the reader is acquainted.
This account was corroborated by several witnesses, and, amongst the
rest, by Curry.

Butler heard the testimony with the most painful sensations. There was
just enough of truth in it to make the tale plausible; and the falsehood
related to points which, as they were affirmed upon hearsay, he could
not repel by proof. There was a common expression of opinion amongst the
bystanders--who in general were inclined to take the side of the
prisoner in reference to the charge which was supposed to affect his
life--that this accusation of Butler's acting the part of a spy was
sustained by the proof. In vain did he protest against the injustice of
being condemned on what was alleged to have been said by some of Adair's
family; in vain did he deny that he had offered a bribe to Adair for
information respecting the Tories; and equally in vain did he affirm
that he had asked of Adair nothing more than the common hospitality due
to a traveller, and for which he had made him a moderate requital--the
only money the woodman had received from him. The current was now
setting violently against him, and it seemed impossible to stem it.

"It is but due," said Captain St. Jermyn, a second time interposing in
behalf of the prisoner, "to the rank and character of Major Butler,
since a portion of this testimony is second-hand, to take his own
examination on these alleged facts. With permission, therefore, I would
ask him a few questions."

"The court will not object," said Innis, who throughout affected the air
of an impartial judge.

"It is true, Major Butler, that you were at Adair's on the night of the
twelfth?" said the volunteer advocate of the prisoner.

"I was, sir."

"And you made no concealment of your name or rank?"

"I will not say that," replied Butler.

"You were under a feigned name then, sir?" inquired Innis, as St. Jermyn
seemed a little confounded by the answer he had received.

"I was called Mr. Butler, sir; my rank or station was not communicated."

"Your dress?"

"Was an assumed one, to avoid inquiry."

"This man, Horse Shoe Robinson," said St. Jermyn, "was known to Adair as
a whig soldier?"

"Well known," replied Butler; "and I was also represented as belonging
to that party. Adair himself led us to believe that he was friendly to
our cause."

Here several members of the court smiled.

"Had you met any parties of loyalists," inquired Innis, "in your journey
between Catawba and Broad?"

"We had--more than one."

"How did you escape them?"

"By assuming feigned characters and names."

"Your purpose was to join Clarke?"

"I am not at liberty to answer that question," replied the prisoner.
"Suffice it, sir, I was travelling through this region on a mission of
duty. My purpose was to act against the enemy. So far the charge is
true, and only to this extent. I came with no design to pry into the
condition of the royal troops; I sought only a successful passage
through a contested, though sadly overpowered country."

"You offered no money to Adair," said St. Jermyn again, as if insisting
on this point of exculpation, "but what you have already called a
moderate requital for his entertainment?"

"None," replied the prisoner--"except," he added, "a guinea, to induce
him to release, from some wicked torture, a wolf he had entrapped."

"It will not do," said Colonel Innis, shaking his head at St. Jermyn;
and the same opinion was indicated in the looks of several of the court.

"I was at Walter Adair's that night, and saw the gentleman there, and
heard all that was said by him; and I am sure that he offered Watty no
money," said our little apple-girl, who had been listening with
breathless anxiety to the whole of this examination, and who had now
advanced to the table as she spoke the words. "And I can tell more about
it, if I am asked."

"And who are you, my pretty maid?" inquired Colonel Innis, as he lifted
the bonnet from her head and let loose a volume of flaxen curls down
upon her neck.

"I am Mary Musgrove, the miller's daughter," said the damsel, with great
earnestness of manner, "and Watty Adair is my uncle, by my mother's
side--he married my aunt Peggy; and I was at his house when Major Butler
and Mr. Horse Shoe Robinson came there."

"And what in the devil brought you here?" said Habershaw gruffly.

"Silence!" cried Innis, impatient at the obtrusive interruption of the
gross captain. "What authority have you to ask questions? Begone, sir."

The heavy bulk of Hugh Habershaw, at this order, sneaked back into the
crowd.

"I came only to sell a few apples," said Mary.

"Heaven has sent that girl to the rescue of my life," said Butler, under
the impulse of a feeling which he could not refrain from giving vent to
in words. "Pray allow me, sir, to ask her some questions."

"It is your privilege," was the answer from two or three of the court;
and the spectators pressed forward to hear the examination.

Butler carefully interrogated the maiden as to all the particulars of
his visit, and she, with the most scrupulous fidelity, recounted the
scenes to which she had been a witness. When she came to detail the
conversation which she had overheard between Adair and Lynch, and the
events that followed it, the interest of the bystanders was wound up to
the highest pitch. There was a simplicity in her recital of this strange
and eventful story, that gave it a force to which the most skilful
eloquence might in vain aspire; and when she concluded, the court
itself, prejudiced as the members were against the prisoner, could not
help manifesting an emotion of satisfaction at the clear and unequivocal
refutation which this plain tale inferred against the testimony of
Habershaw and his confederates. Innis alone affected to treat it
lightly, and endeavored in some degree to abate its edge, by suggesting
doubts as to the capacity of a young girl, in circumstance so likely to
confuse her, to give an exact narrative of such a complicated train of
events. Every cross-examination, however, which was directed to the
accuracy of the maiden's story, only resulted in producing a stronger
conviction of its entire truth. This concluded the examination on the
second charge.

The court now proceeded to the third and last accusation against the
prisoner.

To this there was but one witness called--James Curry. In the course of
the examination this man showed great address and knowledge of the
world. He gave some short account of himself. He had been a man born to
a better condition of life than he now enjoyed. His education had been
liberal, and his associations in life extremely various. It was to be
inferred from his own relation, that he had fallen into some early
indiscretion which had thrown him into the lowest stations of society,
and that his original delinquency had prevented him from ever rising
above them. He had served for many years in the army, and was present at
the surrender of Charleston, being at that period a confidential
servant, or man of business, to the young Earl of Caithness, the
aide-de-camp of Sir Henry Clinton. Upon the departure of that young
nobleman with the rest of Sir Henry's military family, for New York, he
had remained behind, and had taken a similar service to that which he
had left, with another officer of some repute. "There were state
reasons," he said, "why this gentleman's name could not now be
communicated to the court." That, in the month of July, he had attended
his master on a visit to Mr. Philip Lindsay, in Virginia; and whilst in
the immediate vicinity of that gentleman's residence, at a small country
tavern, he had accidentally become privy to the design of the prisoner,
and the same Horse Shoe Robinson who had been mentioned before, to seize
upon the person and papers of Mr. Lindsay: that these two persons had
actually arrived at the tavern he spoke of to commence operations. That
he had overheard them discussing the whole plan; and he had no doubt
they had allies at hand to assist in the scheme, and would have
proceeded that same night to put it in execution, if he had not
frustrated their design at the risk of his life. That, with the view of
interrupting this enterprise, he had lured Robinson, the companion of
the prisoner, to walk with him at night to the margin of a small river
near the tavern, where he accused him of the treacherous design which he
and his comrade had in view: that, in consequence of this, Robinson had
endeavored to take his life which was only saved by a severe struggle;
and that, being thus discovered in their purpose, this man, Robinson,
and the prisoner had made a hasty retreat towards Gates's head-quarters.

Such was in effect the narrative of James Curry, which was solemnly
given upon oath. Butler was for some moments confounded with
astonishment at the audacity of this falsehood. He urged to the court
the improbability of the whole story. "It would have been easy," he
said, "if I had been hostile to Mr. Philip Lindsay--which, God knows,
there are most cogent reasons to disprove--it would have been easy to
procure his arrest without an attempt at a violent seizure by me. I had
only to speak, and the whole country around him would have united in
treating him as an object of suspicion, on account of his politics." He
admitted that he was at Mrs. Dimock's at the time spoken of--that
Robinson attended him there; but all else that had been said relating to
the visit, he affirmed to be utterly false. He gave the particulars of
the meeting between Horse Shoe and the witness, as he had it from
Robinson; and spoke also of his knowledge of the visit of Tyrrel at the
Dove Cote--"which person," he said, "he had reason to believe, came
under a name not his own."

"How do you happen to be so familiar," inquired Innis, "with the affairs
of Mr. Lindsay?"

"That question," replied Butler, "as it refers to matters entirely
private and personal, I must decline to answer."

Curry, upon a second examination, re-affirmed all he had said before,
and commented with a great deal of dexterity upon Butler's statement,
particularly in reference to such parts of it as the prisoner's repeated
refusal to answer had left in doubt. After a protracted examination upon
this point, the trial was at length closed, and Butler was ordered back
to his apartment in the farm-house.

Here he remained for the space of half an hour, an interval that was
passed by him in the most distressing doubt and anxiety. The whole
proceeding of the court boded ill to him. The haste of his trial, the
extraordinary nature of the charges, and the general unsympathizing
demeanor of the court itself, only spoke to his mind as evidences of a
concealed hostility, which sought to find a plausible pretext for making
him a sacrifice to some private malevolence. He was therefore prepared
to expect the worst when, at the close of the half hour, St. Jermyn
entered his chamber.

"I come, sir," said the officer, "to perform a melancholy duty. The
court have just concluded their deliberations."

"And I am to be a sacrifice to their vengeance. Well, so be it! There
was little need of deliberation in my case, and they have soon
despatched it," said Butler, with a bitter spirit, as he paced up and
down his narrow chamber. "What favor have these, my impartial judges,
vouchsafed to me in my last moment? Shall I die as a common felon, on a
gibbet, or am I to meet a soldier's doom?"

"That has been thought of," said St. Jermyn. "The commanding officer has
no disposition to add unnecessary severity to your unhappy fate."

"Thank God for that! and that the files detailed for this service are to
be drawn from the ranks of my enemies! I will face them as proudly as I
have ever done on the field of battle. Leave me, sir; I have matters in
my thought that require I should be alone."

"Your time, I fear, is brief," said St. Jermyn. "The guard is already at
hand to conduct you to the court, who only stay to pass sentence. I came
before to break the unhappy news to you."

"It is no news to me," interrupted Butler. "I could expect no other
issue to the wicked designs by which I have been seized. This solemn
show of a trial was only got up to give color to a murderous act which
has been long predetermined."

At this moment, the heavy and regular tap of the drum, struck at equal
intervals, and a mournful note from a fife, reached the prisoner's ear.

"I come!" exclaimed Butler. "These fellows are practising their manual
for an occasion in which they appear impatient to act. One would think,
Captain St. Jermyn," he added, with a smile of scorn, "that they needed
but little practice to accomplish them for a ceremony which has of late,
since his majesty has extended his merciful arm over this province,
grown to be a familiar piece of military punctilio."

St. Jermyn hastily fled from the room, and rushing out upon the
grass-plot where the guard was collected, cried out:

"Silence, you base and worthless knaves! Is it thus you would insult the
sufferings of an unfortunate enemy, by drumming, under his very ear,
your cursed death-notes? Strike but one note upon that drum again, and I
will have you up to the halberds."

"The music did but try a flourish of the dead march," replied the
sergeant of the guard; "they are a little rusty, and seeing that the
Whig officer"--

"Another word, sir, and you shall be sent to the provost-marshal. Attend
the prisoner."

"I am here," said Butler, who had overheard this conversation, and had
already descended to the door.

With a mournful and heavy heart, though with a countenance that
concealed his emotions under an air of proud defiance, he took his place
in the ranks, and marched to the spot where the court were yet
assembled.

"A chair for the prisoner," said some of the individuals present, with
an officious alacrity to serve him.

"I would rather stand," replied Butler. "It is my pleasure to hear the
behests of my enemies in the attitude a soldier would choose to meet his
foe in the field."

"Mine is a painful duty, Major Butler," said Innis, rising, as he
addressed the prisoner. "It is to announce to you that, after a full and
most impartial trial, in which you have had the advantage of the freest
examination of witnesses, and every favor accorded to you which the
usages and customs of war allow, you have been found guilty of two of
the charges imputed to you in the list with which you were furnished
this morning. Notwithstanding the satisfactory testimony which was given
in your behalf by the girl Mary Musgrove, in relation to your conduct at
the house of Adair, and however disposed the court were to abandon an
accusation which thus seemed to be refuted, it has occurred to them,
upon subsequent reflection, that, by your own confession--given, sir,
permit me to say, with the frankness of a soldier--you came into this
district in disguise and under false names, and thus enabled yourself to
collect information relative to the condition of the royal forces, which
it was doubtless your purpose to use to our detriment. The court, for a
moment, might have led you to entertain hope that they were satisfied
that in this charge you had been wronged. The simple, affecting, and,
no doubt, true narrative made by the miller's daughter produced a
momentary sensation that was too powerful to be combated. That
narrative, however, does not relieve you from the effect of your own
confessions, since both may be true, and the charge still remain
unimpaired against you.

"The offence of breaking your parole and infringing the terms of the
capitulation of Charleston, is open to a legal doubt, and, therefore, in
tenderness to you, has not been pressed; although the court think, that
the very circumstance of its doubtful character should have inculcated
upon you the necessity of the most scrupulous avoidance of service in
the conquered province.

"The last charge against you is fully proved. Not a word of counter
evidence has been offered. Strictly speaking, by the usages of war, this
would not be an offence for the notice of a military tribunal. The
perpetrators of it would be liable to such vindictive measures as the
policy of the conqueror might choose to adopt. That we have given you,
therefore, the benefit of an inquiry, you must regard as an act of
grace, springing out of our sincere desire to do you ample justice. The
nature of the offence imputed and proved is such as, at this moment,
every consideration of expediency demands should be visited with
exemplary punishment. The friends of the royal cause, wherever they may
reside, shall be protected from the wrath of the rebel government; and
we have, therefore, no scruple in saying, that the attempt upon the
person of Mr. Philip Lindsay requires a signal retribution. But for this
last act, the court might have been induced to overlook all your other
trespasses. Upon this, however, there is no hesitation.

"Such being the state of the facts ascertained by this tribunal, its
function ceases with its certificate of the truth of what has been
proved before it. The rest remains to me. Without the form of an
investigation, I might, as the commanding officer of a corps on detached
service, and by virtue of special power conferred upon me, have made up
a private judgment in the case. I have forborne to do that, until, by
the sanction of a verdict of my comrades, I might assure myself that I
acted on the clearest proofs. These have been rendered.

"My order, therefore, is, in accordance with the clear decision of the
court,--and, speaking to a soldier, I use no unnecessary phrase of
condolence,--that you be shot to death. Time presses on us and forbids
delay. You will be conducted to immediate execution. Major Frazer," he
said, turning to one of his officers, "to your discretion I commit this
unpleasant duty." Then, in a tone of private direction, he added, "Let
it be done without delay; pomp and ceremony are out of place in such a
matter. I wish to have it despatched at once."

"I would speak," said Butler, repressing the agitation of his feelings,
and addressing Innis with a stern solemnity, "not to implore your mercy,
nor to deprecate your sentence: even if I could stoop to such an act of
submission, I know my appeal would reach your ears like the idle wind:
but I have private affairs to speak of."

"They were better untold, sir," interrupted Innis with an affected air
of indifference. "I can listen to nothing now. We have other business to
think of. These last requests and settlements of private affairs are
always troublesome," he muttered in a tone just audible to the officers
standing near him; "they conjure up useless sympathies."

"I pray you, sir," interposed St. Jermyn.

"It is in vain, I cannot hear it," exclaimed the commander, evidently
struggling to shake from his mind an uncomfortable weight. "These are
woman's requests! God's mercy! How does this differ from death upon the
field of battle? a soldier is always ready. Ha! What have we here?" he
exclaimed, as a trooper rode up to the group. "Where are you from? What
news?"

"A vidette from Rocky Mount," answered the horseman. "I am sent to
inform you that, yesterday, Sumpter defeated three hundred of our people
on the Catawba, and has made all that were alive, prisoners, besides
capturing fifty or sixty wagons of stores which the detachment had under
convoy for Camden."

The first inquiries that followed this communication related to
Sumpter's position, and especially whether he was advancing towards this
camp.

"He is still upon Catawba, tending northwards," replied the vidette.

"Then we are free from danger," interrupted Innis. "I am stripping the
feathers from a bird to-day that is worth half of Sumpter's prize," he
added, with a revengeful smile, to an officer who stood by him.

During this interval, in which the commander of the post was engaged
with the vidette, the guard had conducted the prisoner back to the
house, and Innis, freed from the restraint of Butler's presence, now
gave way to the expression of a savage exultation at the power which the
events of the morning had given him, to inflict punishment upon one that
he termed an audacious rebel. "The chances jump well with us," he said,
"when they enable us to season the joy of these ragged traitors, by so
notable a deed as the execution of one of their shrewdest emissaries.
This fellow Butler has consideration amongst them, and fortune too: at
least he had it, but that has gone into better hands; and, to say truth,
he has a bold and mischievous spirit. The devil has instigated him to
cross our path; he shall have the devil's comfort for it. The whole
party taken did you say?"--

"Every man, sir," replied the vidette.

"How many men had this skulking fellow, Sumpter, at his back?"

"They say about seven hundred."

"And did the cowards strike to seven hundred rebels?"

"They were tangled with the wagons," said the soldier, "and were set on
unawares, on the bank of the river, at the lower ferry."

"Aye, that's the way! An ambuscade, no doubt,--a piece of cowardly
bush-fighting. Fresh men against poor devils worn down by long marching!
Well, well, I have a good requital for the rascally trick. Major
Butler's blood will weigh heavy in the scale, or I am mistaken! Come,
gentlemen, let us to quarters--we must hold a council."

"Here is a letter," said one of the officers of the court, "which I have
this moment found on the table, under my sword belt; it seems, from its
address, to contain matter of moment. How it came here does not appear."

"'To Colonel Innis, or any other officer commanding a corps in his
majesty's service,'" said Innis, reading the superscription, "besides,
here is something significant, '_for life or death, with speed_.' What
can this mean?" he added, as he broke open the paper and ran his eyes
hastily over the contents. St. George! here is something strange,
gentlemen. Listen!--

     "'By ill luck I have fallen into the possession of the Whigs.
     They have received intelligence of the capture of Major Butler,
     and, apprehending that some mischief might befal him, have
     constrained me to inform you that my life will be made
     answerable for any harsh treatment that he may receive at the
     hands of our friends. They are resolute men, and will certainly
     make me the victim of their retaliation.

     EDGAR ST. JERMYN,

     Ensign of the 71st Reg't.

     P. S. For God's sake respect this paper, and be lenient to the
     prisoner.'"

"Treason and forgery, paltry forgery!" exclaimed Innis, with a smile of
derision, as he finished reading the letter. "What ho! tell Frazer to
lead out the prisoner, and despatch him without a moment's delay. So
much for this shallow artifice!"

"A base forgery," said one of the officers in attendance, "and doubtless
the work of the rebel major himself. He will die with this silly lie
upon his conscience. St. Jermyn, here!" cried out the same officer to
the captain, who was now at some distance, "here is an attempt to put a
trick upon us by a counterfeit of your brother's hand, telling a most
doleful and improbable falsehood. Look at it."

St. Jermyn read the letter, and suddenly turning pale, exclaimed: "Sir,
this is no trick. It is my brother's own writing. He is in the custody
of the Whigs! How came this here? Who brought it? When was it written?
Can nobody tell me?"

"Tut, St. Jermyn!" interrupted the officer, smiling, "you surely cannot
be imposed upon by such a device. Look at the scrawl again. In truth,
are you sure of it, man?" he inquired with great surprise, as he
perceived the increasing paleness of St. Jermyn's brow.

"My brother's life is in imminent danger," replied St. Jermyn, with
intense earnestness. "Colonel Innis, as you value my happiness, I
entreat you, countermand the order for the prisoner's execution. I
implore you, respect this letter; it is genuine, and I dread the
consequences. My poor brother, the youngest of my family and the
special darling of his parents! For heaven's sake, good colonel, pause
until we learn something more of this mysterious business."

"For your sake, my friend, and until we can investigate this matter,"
said Innis, "let the execution be suspended."

St. Jermyn instantly hurried to the guard, to communicate the new order.

"Whence comes this missive?" demanded Innis. "It has neither date nor
place described. Who brought it? Did any one see the bearer?" he asked
aloud of the bystanders.

No one answered except the officer who had first discovered the paper.
"I know nothing more than what you see. It was here upon the table. How
long it had been there I cannot tell."

"It is strange," continued Innis. "Can this young St. Jermyn have fallen
in with Sumpter? Or, after all, is it not an ingenious forgery which has
deceived our friend the captain? Still, who could have brought it here?"

The letter was again examined by every individual present.

"It must be genuine," said one of the officers, shaking his head.
"Captain St. Jermyn was very much in earnest, and it is not likely he
could be deceived. It has been mysteriously deposited here by some agent
of the Whigs. The person should be found, and compelled to give us more
specific information. This matter must be looked to; the ensign, I doubt
not, is in perilous circumstances."

"Let the prisoner be strictly guarded, and held to wait our future
pleasure," said Innis. "I would not put in jeopardy the young ensign's
life. A reward of twenty guineas shall be given to any one who brings me
the bearer of this letter. And you, Lieutenant Connelly, take thirty
troopers, and scour the country round to gain intelligence of this
capture of Edgar St. Jermyn. Be careful to examine every man you meet,
as to the presence of Whig parties in this district. Away instantly, and
do not return without tidings of this singular event."

The camp, by these occurrences, was thrown into great bustle. The
prisoner was securely lodged in his former quarters, and placed under a
double guard; consultations were held amongst the officers; and Butler
himself was strictly interrogated in regard to the appearance of this
mysterious letter, of the contents of which he was yet ignorant. The
examination threw no light on the affair; and, very soon afterwards, a
troop of horse were seen sallying beyond the limits of the camp, under
Lieutenant Connelly, to seek information of the fate of Ensign St.
Jermyn.



CHAPTER XXVI.

THE SERGEANT AND HIS COMRADE PROJECT AN EXPEDITION WHICH FURNISHES THE
ENSIGN AN OPPORTUNITY OF ENJOYING THE PICTURESQUE.


As soon as David Ramsay had departed with the maiden for Musgrove's
mill, Robinson ordered his own and Christopher Shaw's horse to be
saddled, and another to be made ready for St. Jermyn. His next care was
to determine upon a secure place of retreat--reflecting that the news of
the capture of the ensign must soon reach the British posts, and that
the country would be industriously explored with a view to his rescue. A
spot known to the woodsmen of this region by the name of the Devil's
Ladder, which was situated in the defile of a mountain brook that
emptied into the Ennoree, occurred to Christopher Shaw as the most
secret fastness within their reach. This spot lay some twenty miles
westward of Ramsay's, accessible by roads but little known, and
surrounded by a district which grew more wild and rugged the nearer it
approached the defile.

Here it was supposed the party might arrive by daylight the next
morning, and remain for a few days at small risk of discovery; and
thither, accordingly, it was resolved they should repair.

This being settled, Horse Shoe now procured a supply of provisions from
Mistress Ramsay, and then proceeded to arm himself with the sword and
pistols of the ensign, whilst Christopher suspended across his body the
sword of Goliath, as the sergeant called the brand he had snatched up at
Blackstock's, and also took possession of one of the captured muskets.

"If it don't go against your conscience, Mistress Ramsay," said Horse
Shoe, when the preparations for the journey were completed, "I would
take it as a favor, in case any interlopers mought happen to pop in upon
you, if you would just drop a hint that you have hearn that Sumpter's
people had been seen about these parts. It would have an amazing good
bearing on the Tories. Besides making them wary how they strayed about
the woods it would be sure to put the bloodhounds on a wrong scent, if
they should chance to be sarching for the young ensign. I know you women
are a little ticklish about a fib, but then it's an honest trick of the
war sometimes. And, to make you easy about it, it will be no more than
the truth to say you did hear it--for, you obsarve, I tell you so now."

"But," replied the scrupulous matron, "if they should ask me who told
me, what should I answer?"

"Why," said the sergeant, hesitating, "just out with it--tell 'em you
heard it from one Horse Shoe Robinson; that'll not make the news the
worse in point of credit. And be sure, good woman, above all things, to
remind David, when he gets back to night, that the rank and file, in our
prison yonder, are not to be turned loose before three o'clock in the
morning."

This last caution was repeated to Andy, who still performed the duty of
a sentinel at the door of the out-house. All things being now arranged
for their departure, Ensign St. Jermyn was brought from the chamber
where he had been confined, and was invited to join the sergeant and
Christopher at supper before they set out. This meal was ably and
rapidly discussed by the stout yeomen, and scarcely less honored by the
prisoner, whom the toils and privations of the day had brought to
enjoyment of a good appetite.

With many cheering and kind expressions of encouragement from the
sergeant, the young officer prepared to comply with the demands of his
captors, and was soon in readiness to attend them. Robinson lifted him
into his saddle with a grasp as light as if he was dealing with a boy,
and then bound him by a surcingle to the horse's back, whilst he offered
a good-humored apology for the rigor of this treatment.

"It is not the most comfortable way of riding, Mr. Ensign," he said,
with a chuckle; "but fast bind, fast find, is a'most an excellent good
rule for a traveller in the dark. I hope you don't think I take any
pleasure in oncommoding you, but it is my intention to lead your horse
by the rein to-night, and this friend of mine will keep in the rear. So,
by way of a caution, I would just signify to you that if you should
think of playing a prank you will certainly bring some trouble upon your
head--as one or another of us would in that case be obliged to fire. It
is nothing more than military punctilium to give you a friendly warning
of this."

"You might dispense with this severity, I should think," replied the
prisoner, "upon my pledge of honor that I will make no effort to
escape."

"I can take no pledge in the dark," returned Horse Shoe; "daylight
mought make a difference. If we should happen to fall in with any of
your gangs I'm thinking a pledge wouldn't come to much more than a
cobweb when I should ax you to gallop out of the way of your own people.
Flesh is weak, as the preacher says, and, to my mind, it's a little the
weaker when the arm is strong or the foot swift. Temptation is at the
bottom of all backsliding. No, no, Mr. Ensign, you may get away, if you
can; we'll take care of you whilst we're able--that's a simple
understanding."

Without further speech the party proceeded on their journey. They
travelled as rapidly as was consistent with the ease of the prisoner and
the nature of the ground over which they had to move. For the first
eight or ten miles, their route lay across a country with but few
impediments, except such as arose from the unseasonable hour of the
ride. After this they found the toil and hazard of travel continually
increasing. They had been retreating from the settled country towards a
rough wilderness, which was penetrated only by an obscure road, so
little beaten as to be scarcely discernible in the faint starlight, and
which it required all Christopher's skill in woodcraft to follow. Our
travellers, consequently, often lost their way, and were obliged to get
down from their horses and grope about to ascertain the path. The stars
had shone all night through a cloudless firmament, but the deep shade of
the forest thickened around the wanderers, and it was frequently with
difficulty, even, that they could discern each other's figures.

They reached at length the small stream upon whose banks, some miles
above, was situated the place to which their steps were directed; and
they were thus rendered more sure of their road, as they had only to
follow the ascending course of the brook. The delays and impediments of
the journey had nearly outrun the night, and whilst our travellers were
yet some two or three miles from their destination, the first traces of
morning began to appear in the east. The increasing light disclosed to
them the nature of the scenery around. A limpid rivulet tumbled over a
rocky channel, girt with a profusion of brush and briar, amongst which
were scattered a thousand wild-flowers, that, renovated by the dew,
threw forth a delicious perfume. A succession of abrupt hills, covered
with the varied foliage of a rich forest growth, bounded the brook on
either side. Occasional rocks jutted above the heads of the travellers
as they wound along the paths, worn by the wild cattle in the bottom of
the dell.

Both Robinson and Shaw had dismounted when they entered this defile, and
whilst the former led the horse of the prisoner his companion preceded
him to explore the doubtful traces of the road, which frequently became
so obscure as to render it necessary to seek a passage in the bed of the
stream. During all this progress Horse Shoe's good nature and
light-heartedness were unabated. He conversed with the prisoner in the
same terms of friendly familiarity that he did with Shaw, and neglected
no attention that might in any degree relieve the irksomeness of St.
Jermyn's necessary thraldom.

That peculiar conformation of country which had given rise to the name
of the place to which they were conducting the prisoner, was now to be
discerned at some little distance ahead. It presented a series of bold
crags of granite intermixed with slate, in which rock piled upon rock
presented a succession of shelves, each beetling over its base, and thus
furnishing a shelter against the weather. Some of these were situated
near the bank of the stream, projecting over the water, whilst others
towered at different heights, in such a manner as to bear a resemblance
to a flight of huge steps cut in the slope of the mountain, and by this
likeness, doubtless, suggesting the imaginative name by which the spot
was known to the few hunters to whom it was familiar. The cavern-like
structure of these ledges abundantly supplied the means of concealment
to both men and horses, from the casual notice of such persons as
accident might have brought into this sequestered defile.

When the party arrived at the foot of the Devil's Ladder, it was with
great satisfaction to all that they now made a halt. A short time was
spent in selecting a spot, amongst the impending cliffs, of such a
character as might afford the advantage of shelter, as well as the means
of ready look-out and escape in case of discovery or pursuit. The place
chosen was about half way up the hill, where the ridge of a promontory
enabled the occupants to see some distance up and down the valley;
whilst the crag itself contained within its recesses a chamber
sufficiently large for the purpose to which it was to be applied. A
natural platform, near this point, allowed sufficient space for the
horses, which might be conducted there by a sideling path up the slope;
at the same time, the means of retreat were furnished by the nature of
the ground towards the top of the hill.

To this place of security the ensign was ordered by his guard, and,
being released from his bonds, he dismounted and threw himself at length
upon the mossy surface of the rock, where he lay wearied in body and
dejected in mind. The horses were taken in charge by Shaw; provisions
were produced, and all arrangements of caution and comfort were made for
passing the next two or three days in this wild sojourn.

Here, for the present, we must leave our adventurers, to tell of other
matters that are proper to be made known to the reader of this history.

In due time David Ramsay returned from Musgrove's. Precisely at three
o'clock in the morning, the soldiers were released according to the
terms of the parole; and my reader will, no doubt, be pleased to hear
that Andy, being discharged from duty, went to bed as drowsy as e'er a
man of mould after a feat of glory, and slept with a sleep altogether
worthy of his heroic achievement.

The next day passed by, at Ramsay's dwelling, with a varied and fearful
interest to his family. They had received intelligence, before night, of
the event of Butler's trial, and had reason to rejoice that Mary
Musgrove had so played her part in the delivery of the letter. They were
apprised also of the reward that had been offered for the discovery of
the bearer of this letter, and were informed that detachments of horse
were out to scour the country in quest of the ensign. These tidings
filled them with apprehension. It occurred to Ramsay that if, perchance,
the released prisoners should fall in with any of the parties of the
loyalists, they would of course relate their story, and thus bring down
the full rancor of the Tory wrath upon his household: this would also
lead with more certainty to the pursuit of Horse Shoe. There was still
good reason to hope that the liberated men might not so soon be able to
give the alarm; inasmuch as they were more likely to shape their course
towards Fort Ninety-Six than to repair to Innis's camp, where they might
be forced to do duty, as much against their inclinations as against
their parole. They might even, from a natural aversion to labor, prefer
loitering about the country rather than put themselves voluntarily in
the way of military operations.

"Come what will of it," said Ramsay, summing up the chances for and
against him; "I will be ready for the worst. Many better men have given
all they had to the cause of independence, and I will not flinch from
giving my share. They may burn and break down; but, thank God, I have a
country--aye, and a heart and an arm to stand by it!"

On the same evening, towards sundown, a horseman drew up his rein at
Ramsay's door. He was young--in the prime of early manhood, his dress
was that of a rustic, his equipment showed him to be a traveller--a
weary one, from the plight of his horse, and, like most travellers of
the time, well armed. He did not stand to summon any one to the door,
but put his hand upon the latch with eager haste, and entered with the
familiarity of one acquainted with the place. Mistress Ramsay was seated
at her spinning-wheel, anxiously brooding over the tales of the day. Her
husband reclined in his chair, silently and thoughtfully smoking his
pipe. They both sprang up at once, as the visitor crossed the threshold,
and with fervent joy greeted their son John Ramsay. The household was
clamorous with the affectionate salutations of the parents, of the
brothers and sisters, and of the domestics. John was the eldest of
Ramsay's children, and had just reached his paternal roof after an
absence of some months, during which he had been in service with
Sumpter. The gathering in of the members of a family around the domestic
board, in times of peril and distress, is one of the luxuries of the
heart that in peace we cannot know. The arrival of John Ramsay at the
present moment was a source of the liveliest happiness to his parents.
They needed a cheerful as well as a resolute comforter. John had, only
twenty-four hours previous, left Sumpter near Rocky Mount--immediately
after the battle with the British convoy was won. He was sent with
despatches to Colonel Williams, a Whig partisan of note, who was now
supposed to be in the neighborhood of the Saluda. These had some
reference to the military movements of the parties; and John Ramsay was
permitted by Sumpter to make a short halt at his father's house.

In the first hour after his arrival, he had given to the family the
history of his homeward ride. He had discovered that hostile forces--of
which, until his journey was nearly finished, he heard nothing--were
encamped in the neighborhood; that a court-martial had been sitting for
the trial of an American officer, as a spy, and had condemned him to be
shot. He had been apprised, moreover, that small parties were out,
riding into every corner of the country. He himself had nearly been
surprised by one of these, as he endeavored to make his way to the house
of Allen Musgrove, where he had proposed to himself a visit, even before
he came to his father's, but, fearing something wrong, he had fled from
them, and baffled their pursuit, although they had chased him more than
a mile; he had, in consequence, been deprived of the opportunity of
visiting the miller.

"Although it is four months since we have seen you, John," said the
dame, with a tone of affectionate chiding, "yet, you would turn aside to
get under Allen Musgrove's roof, before you thought of the arms of your
mother."

John's sun-burnt cheek blushed crimson red as he replied, "It was but a
step out of the way, mother, and I should not have stayed long. Mr.
Musgrove and his folks are safe and well, I hope, and Christopher?"

"Tut, boy! speak it out, and don't blush about it," interrupted the
father briskly: "she is a good girl, and you needn't be ashamed to name
her, as you ought to have done, first and before all the rest. Mary is
well, John, and has just proved herself to be the best girl in the
country."

This little passage of mirth between the parents and their son, led to a
full narrative by David Ramsay of the events which had occurred in the
last two or three days, concluding with the capture of the ensign, and
the retreat of Horse Shoe and Christopher Shaw to the Devil's Ladder.
The communication wrought a grave and thoughtful mood on the young
soldier. It presented a crisis to him for immediate action. He was
wearied with a long ride, but it seemed to him to be no time for rest.

"Father," he said, after turning over in his thoughts the intelligence
he had just received, "it was a brave and beautiful thing for so young a
lad as Andy to do; and the taking of the ensign has served a useful
purpose, but it brings this house and family into danger. And I fear for
poor Mary. Christopher Shaw must get back to the mill, and quickly too.
His absence will bring his uncle's family into trouble. I will take
Christopher's place, and go to Horse Shoe's assistance this night. We
may take the prisoner with us to Williams."

"To-night!" said the mother anxiously, "you would not leave us to-night,
John?"

"Aye, to-night, wife," answered David Ramsay, "the boy is right, there
is no time to spare."

"Have mercy upon us," exclaimed the dame; "to ride so far to-night,
after so heavy a journey, John!--you have not strength."

"Dear mother," said John, "think that you are all in danger and that
Mary, who has behaved so well, might be suspected, and brought to harm.
I must hurry forward to Colonel Williams, and this road by the Devil's
Ladder is far out of my way. No, I am not so much fatigued, mother, as
you suppose. I will rest for a few hours, and then try the woods.
Daybreak, I warrant, shall not find me far from Horse Shoe."

John Ramsay was not above six-and-twenty. He was endued with a stout and
manly frame, well adapted to hard service; and this was associated with
a bold and intelligent countenance, which, notwithstanding the dint of
wind and weather, was handsome. He had for a year or two past been
actively engaged in the war, and his manners had, in consequence,
acquired that maturity and decision which are generally found in those
whose habits of life render them familiar with perils. On the present
occasion he regarded the necessity of co-operation with Robinson as so
urgent, that no other thought crossed his mind but that which belonged
to the care of putting himself in condition to make his services
effectual.

With this view he now directed his horse to be carefully tended; then,
having taken a hearty meal, he retired to rest, desiring that he might
be waked up at midnight, when he proposed to follow the path of Horse
Shoe and his comrade.



CHAPTER XXVII.

A RETREAT AFTER THE MANNER OF XENOPHON.


The next morning, a little after sunrise, as Robinson was holding the
watch on the outer ledge of the rock, in a position that enabled him to
survey the approaches to the spot through the valley, as well as to keep
his eye upon the ensign and Christopher Shaw, who were both asleep under
cover of the crag, he was startled by a distant noise of something
breaking through the bushes on the margin of the brook. At first it
struck him that this was caused by deer stalking up the stream; but he
soon afterwards descried the head and shoulders of a man, whose motions
showed him to be struggling through the thicket towards the base of the
hill. This person at length reached a space of open ground, where he
halted and looked anxiously around him, thus revealing his figure, as he
sat on horseback, to the observation of the sergeant, who, in the
meantime, had taken advantage of a low pine tree and a jutting angle of
a rock to screen himself from the eager eye of the traveller--at least
until he should be satisfied as to the other's character and purpose.

A loud and cheerful halloo, several times repeated by the stranger,
seemed to indicate his quest of a lost companion; and this gradually
drew the sergeant, with a weary motion, from his hiding-place, until
assuring himself that the comer was alone, he stept out to the edge of
the shelf of rock, and presenting his musket, peremptorily gave the
common challenge of "Who goes there?"

"A friend to Horse Robinson," was the reply of the visitor, in whom my
reader recognises John Ramsay.

Before further question might be asked and answered, John had dismounted
from his horse and clambered to the platform, where he greeted the
sergeant and the hastily-awakened Christopher Shaw, with a hearty shake
of the hand; and then proceeded to communicate the pressing objects of
his visit, and to relate all that he had learned of the recent events
during his short stay at his father's house.

In the consultation that followed these disclosures, Ramsay earnestly
urged his comrades to make instant preparation to quit their present
retirement, and to attempt the enterprise of conducting the prisoner to
Williams, who was supposed to be advancing into the neighborhood of a
well known block-house, or frontier fortification, on the Saluda, about
forty miles from their present position.

The message with which Ramsay was charged from Sumpter to Williams, made
it necessary that he should endeavor to reach that officer as soon as
possible; and the sergeant, rejoicing in the thought of being so near a
strong body of allies who might render the most essential aid to the
great object of his expedition, readily concurred in the propriety of
the young trooper's proposal. This enterprise was also recommended by
the necessity of taking some immediate steps to preserve the custody of
the ensign, whose capture had already been so serviceable to the cause
of Arthur Butler. In accordance, moreover, with John Ramsay's anxious
entreaty, Christopher Shaw, it was determined, should hasten back to the
mill at the earliest moment.

A speedy departure was, therefore, resolved on, and accordingly all
things were made ready, in the course of an hour, to commence the march.
At the appointed time the ensign was directed to descend into the
valley, where he was once more bound to his horse. The conferences
between the sergeant and his two comrades had been held out of the
hearing of the prisoner; but it was now thought advisable to make him
acquainted with the late proceedings that had transpired with regard to
Butler, and especially with the respite that had been given to that
officer by Innis. This communication was accompanied by an intimation
that he would best consult his own comfort and safety by a patient
submission to the restrictions that were put upon him: inasmuch as his
captors had no disposition to vex him with any other precautions than
were necessary for his safe detention during the present season of peril
to Butler.

With this admonition the party began their journey. The first two or
three hours were occupied in returning, by the route of the valley, to
the Ennoree. When they reached the river they found themselves relieved
from the toils of the narrow and rugged path by which they had threaded
the wild mountain dell, and introduced into an undulating country
covered with forest, and intersected by an occasional but unfrequented
road leading from one settlement to another. Here Christopher Shaw was
to take leave of his companions, his path lying along the bank of the
Ennoree, whilst the route to be pursued by the others crossed the river
and extended thence southwards to the Saluda. The young miller turned
his horse's head homewards, with some reluctance at parting with his
friends in a moment of such interest, and bore with him many messages of
comfort and courage to those whom he was about to rejoin--and more
particularly from the sergeant to Butler, in case Christopher should
have the good fortune to be able to deliver them. At the same time,
Horse Shoe and John Ramsay, with the prisoner, forded the Ennoree, and
plunged into the deep forest that lay upon its further bank.

For several hours they travelled with the greatest circumspection,
avoiding the frequented roads and the chance of meeting such wayfarers
as might be abroad on their route. It was a time of great anxiety and
suspense, but the habitual indifference of military life gave an air of
unconcern to the conduct of the soldiers, and scarcely affected, in any
visible degree, the cheerfulness of their demeanor.

They reached, at length, the confines of a cultivated country--a region
which was known to be inhabited by several Tory families. To avoid the
risk of exposure to persons who might be unfriendly to their purpose,
they thought it prudent to delay entering upon this open district until
after sunset, that they might continue their journey through the night.
The difficulty of ascertaining their road in the dark, and the danger of
seeking information from the few families whose habitations occurred to
their view, necessarily rendered their progress slow. The time was,
therefore, passed in weary silence and persevering labor, in the anxious
contemplation of the probability of encountering some of the enemy's
scouts.

At the break of day they stopped to refresh themselves; and the contents
of Horse Shoe's wallet, unhappily reduced to a slender supply of
provisions, were distributed amongst the party. During this halt, John
Ramsay commanded the ensign to exchange his dress with him; and our
faithful ally was converted, by this traffic, for the nonce, into a
spruce, well-looking, and gay young officer of the enemy's line.

The most hazardous portion of their journey now lay before them. They
were within a few miles of the Saluda, from whence, at its nearest
point, it was some six or seven more down the stream to the
Block-house--the appointed rendezvous, where it was yet a matter of
uncertainty whether Williams had arrived. The space between the
travellers and the river was a fertile and comparatively thickly-peopled
region, of which the inhabitants were almost entirely in the Tory
interest. The broad daylight having overtaken them on the confines of
this tract, exposed them to the greatest risk of being questioned. They
had nothing left but to make a bold effort to attain the river by the
shortest path; and thence to pursue the bank towards the rendezvous.

"Courage, John," said Horse Shoe, smiling at the new garb of his
comrade; "you may show your pretty feathers to-day to them that are fond
of looking at them. And you, my young clodpole, ride like an honest
Whig, or I mought find occasion to do a discomfortable thing, by putting
a bullet through and through you. Excuse the liberty, sir, for these are
ticklish times; but I shall ondoubtedly be as good as my word."

Our adventurers soon resumed their journey. They had come within a mile
of the Saluda without interruption, and began to exchange
congratulations that the worst was passed, when they found themselves
descending a sharp hill which jutted down upon an extensive piece of
pasture ground. One boundary of this was watered by a brook, along whose
margin a fringe of willows, intermixed with wild shrubbery of various
kinds, formed a screen some ten or fifteen feet in height. As soon as
this range of meadow was observed, our cautious soldiers halted upon the
brow of the hill to reconnoitre; and perceiving nothing to excite their
apprehension, they ventured down, upon the track of an ill-defined road,
which took a direction immediately over the broadest portion of the
field.

They had scarcely crossed the brook at the bottom of the hill, before
they heard the remote voices of men in conversation, and the tones of a
careless laugh. On looking towards the upper section of the stream, they
were aware of a squad of loyalist cavalry, who came riding, in the shade
of the willows, directly towards the spot where the travellers had
entered upon the meadow. The party consisted of seven or eight men, who
were, at this instant, not more than one hundred paces distant.

"They are upon us, sergeant!" exclaimed John Ramsay. "Make sure of the
prisoner: retreat as rapidly as you can. Leave me to myself. Make for
the Block-house--I will meet you there."

With these hasty intimations, he pricked his courser up to full speed,
and shaped his flight directly across the open field, in full view of
the enemy.

Horse Shoe, at the same moment, drew a pistol, cocked it, and throwing
the rein of St. Jermyn's horse into the hands of the rider, he cried
out:--

"Back across the branch and into the woods! Push for it, or you are a
dead man! On, on!" he added, as he rode at high speed immediately beside
the ensign; "a stumble, or a whisper above your breath, and you get the
bullet. Fly--your life is in your horse's heels!"

The resolute tone of the sergeant had its effect upon his prisoner, who
yielded a ready obedience to the pressing orders, and bounded into the
thicket with as much alacrity as if flying from an enemy.

Meanwhile, the troopers, struck with the earnest haste of one whose
dress bespoke a British officer, speeding across the field, did not
doubt that they had afforded this timely opportunity for the escape of a
prisoner from the hands of the Whigs.

"Wheel up, lads," shouted the leader of the squad, "it is the ensign!
Wheel up and form a platoon to cut off the pursuit. We have him safe out
of their clutches!"

Impressed with the conviction that a considerable force of Whig cavalry
were at hand, the troopers directed all their efforts to cover what they
believed Ensign St. Jermyn's retreat, and were now seen formed into a
platoon, and moving towards the middle of the plain, in such a manner as
to place themselves between the fugitive and his supposed pursuers. Here
they delayed a few minutes, as if expecting an attack; until finding
that the object of their solicitude had safely crossed the field and
plunged into the distant woods, they rode away at a rapid pace in the
same direction. When they reached the further extremity of the open
ground, they halted for an instant, turned their eyes back towards the
spot of their first discovery, and, finding that no attempt was made to
follow, gave a hearty huzza, and rode onward in search of their prize.

The stratagem had completely succeeded: Ramsay had escaped, and Horse
Shoe had withdrawn his prisoner into the neighboring wood upon the hill,
where he was able to observe the whole scene. After a brief interval,
the sergeant resumed his journey, and, with all necessary
circumspection, bent his steps towards the river, where he arrived
without molestation, and thence he continued his march in the direction
of the rendezvous.

John Ramsay did not stop until he had crossed the Saluda and advanced a
considerable distance on the opposite bank, where, to his great joy, he
was encountered by a look-out party of Williams's regiment. Our fugitive
had some difficulty in making himself known to his friends, and escaping
the salutation which an enemy was likely to obtain at their hands; but
when he surrendered to them, and made them acquainted with the cause of
his disguise, the party instantly turned about with him, and proceeded
in quest of the sergeant and his prisoner.

It was not long before they fell in with the small detachment of
Connelly's troopers,--as the late masters of the meadow turned out to
be--who were leisurely returning from their recent exploit. These,
finding themselves in the presence of superior numbers, turned to
flight. Not far behind them Ramsay and his new companions encountered
Horse Shoe; and the whole party proceeded without delay to Williams's
camp.

Colonel Williams had reached the Block-house on the preceding evening
with a force of two hundred cavalry. Clarke and Shelby happened, at this
juncture, to be with him; and these three gallant partisans were now
anxiously employed in arranging measures for that organized resistance
to the Tory Dominion which fills so striking a chapter in the history of
the Southern war, and which it had been the special object of Butler's
mission to promote. Horse Shoe was enabled to communicate to Williams
and his confederates the general purpose of this mission, and the
disasters which had befallen Butler in his attempt to reach those with
whom he was to co-operate. This intelligence created a lively interest
in behalf of the captive, and it was instantly determined to make some
strenuous effort for his deliverance. Whilst these matters were brought
into consultation by the leaders, Horse Shoe and John Ramsay mingled
amongst the soldiers, in the enjoyment of that fellowship which forms
the most agreeable feature in the associations of the camp.



CHAPTER XXVIII.

BUTLER'S DIFFICULTIES INCREASE.--INNIS FINDS OCCASION TO THINK OF THE
ADAGE--"THERE'S MANY A SLIP BETWIXT THE CUP AND THE LIP."


When Arthur Butler was conducted back to his place of confinement, after
his trial, orders were given that no one should be allowed to approach
him, except the officer to whom was intrusted his safe custody. The
intercourse of this person with him was short; and concerned only with
the scant accommodation which his condition required. He was, therefore,
deprived of all chance of becoming acquainted with the extraordinary
events that had led to his present respite from death. In the
interrogations that had, during the first moments of excitement, been
put to him, in regard to the letter, he was not told its import; from
what quarter it had come; nor how it affected his fate. He only knew, by
the result, that it had suspended the purpose of his immediate
execution; and he saw that it had produced great agitation at
head-quarters. He found, moreover, that this, or some other cause, had
engendered a degree of exasperation against him, that showed itself in
the retrenchment of his comforts, and in the augmented rigor of his
confinement.

Agitated with a thousand doubts, his mind was too busy to permit him to
close his eyes during the night that followed; and in this wakeful
suspense he could sometimes hear, amongst the occasional ramblers who
passed under his window, an allusion, in their conversation, to a
victory gained over the royal troops. Coupling this with the name of
Sumpter, which was now and then uttered with some adjective of
disparagement, he conjectured that Horse Shoe had probably fallen in
with that partisan, and was, peradventure, leading him to this vicinity.
But this conclusion was combated by the fact that there seemed to be no
alarm in the camp, nor any preparations on foot either for instant
battle or retreat. Then the letter--that was a mystery altogether
impenetrable. There was only one point upon which his mind could rest
with satisfaction: of that he was sure--Horse Shoe was certainly at the
bottom of the scheme, and was active in his behalf.

The whole of the next day passed over in the same state of uncertainty.
It was observed by Butler, with some stress upon the circumstance, that
Captain St. Jermyn, who had heretofore evinced a disposition to make
himself busy in his behalf, had absented himself ever since the trial;
and he thus felt himself cut off from the slightest exhibition of
sympathy on the part of a single individual in the multitude of fellow
beings near him. Indeed, there were various indications of a general
personal ill-will against him. The house, in which he was confined, was
so constructed that he could frequently hear such expressions, in the
conferences of those who inhabited the rooms below stairs, as were
uttered above the lower key of conversation, and these boded him no
good. Once, during the day, Colonel Innis visited him. This officer's
countenance was severe, and indicated anger. His purpose was to extort
something from the prisoner in reference to his supposed knowledge of
the course of operations of Sumpter, from whose camp Innis did not doubt
this letter regarding St. Jermyn had come. He spoke in a short, quick,
and peremptory tone:

"It may be well for you," he said, "that your friends do not too rashly
brave my authority. Let me advise you to warn them that others may fall
into our hands; and that if the ensign be not delivered up, there may be
a dreadful retaliation."

"I know not, sir, of what or whom you speak," replied Butler; "and it is
due to my honor to say, that I will not be induced, for the sake of
saving my life, to interfere with any operations which the soldiers of
Congress may have undertaken in the cause of the country. In this
sentiment I admonish Colonel Innis that I desire to be put in possession
of no facts from him that may be communicated under such an expectation.
And having made this determination known to you, I will add to it that,
from the same motives, I will answer no questions you can propose to me.
You may spare yourself, therefore, the useless labor of this visit. My
life is in your hands, and I have already experienced with what justice
and clemency you will use your power when you dare."

"A more humble tone," said Innis, with a bitter smile, "I think would
better suit your circumstances." And with this remark the commandant
haughtily walked out of the apartment.

The next morning, whilst Butler was taking his breakfast, which had been
brought to him by one of the soldiers of the guard, he heard a loud
cheering from the troops that at that hour were on parade in the plain.
This was followed by the discharge of a _feu de joie_ from the whole
line, and a flourish of drums and trumpets.

"What is that?" he inquired eagerly of the soldier, who, forgetful, in
the excitement of the moment, of the order to restrain his intercourse
with the prisoner, answered--

"They have just got the news from Camden: two days ago Cornwallis
defeated Gates, and cut his army to pieces. The troops are rejoicing for
the victory, and have just had the despatches read."

Butler heaved a deep sigh, as he said, "Then all is lost, and liberty is
but a name! I feared it; God knows, I feared it."

The soldier was recalled to his duty by the sentinel at the door, and
Butler was again left alone.

This was a day of crowding events. The tidings of the battle of Camden,
gained on the sixteenth, and which had early this morning reached Innis,
threw a spirit of the highest exultation into the camp. The event was
considered decisive of the fate of the rebel power; and the most
extravagant anticipations were indulged by the loyalists, in regard to
the complete subjugation of the Whigs of the southern provinces. The
work of confiscation was to be carried out to the most bitter extreme,
and the adherents of the royal government were to grow rich upon the
spoils of victory. The soldiers of Innis were permitted to give way to
uncontrolled revelry; and, from the first promulgation of the news, this
became a day devoted to rejoicings. Innis himself looked upon the
victory at Camden with more satisfaction, as it gave him reason to
believe that the sentence pronounced against Butler might be executed,
without fear of vengeance threatened against the Ensign St. Jermyn. He
was, however, exceedingly anxious to see this young officer released
from the hands of the enemy; and had determined to respect the threat
as long as there was any doubt that it might be performed. The personal
consideration of Captain St. Jermyn, his station as an officer of
importance, and, above all, the great influence of his family, in the
esteem of the royal leaders, made it an object of deep concern to Innis
to save the ensign, by the most scrupulous regard to his present
difficulties. His power to do so seemed to be much increased by the late
victory.

In the afternoon of the same day, further rumors were brought to Innis's
camp, importing that Sumpter had been attacked on that morning upon the
Catawba, by Tarleton, and completely routed. The prisoners and baggage,
taken on the fifteenth, had been regained, and Sumpter was flying with
the scattered remnant of his troops towards North Carolina. At the same
time an order was brought to Innis to break up his camp and move
northwards. This only added to the shouts and rejoicings of the troops,
and drove them into deeper excesses. The war, they thought, was coming
rapidly to an end, and they already anticipated this conclusion, by
throwing off the irksomeness of military restraint. The officers were
gathered into gossiping and convivial circles; and laughed, in
unrestrained feelings of triumph, at the posture of affairs. The private
soldiers, on their part, imitated their leaders, and formed themselves
into knots and groups, where they caroused over their cups, danced, and
sang. All was frolic and merriment.

In the midst of this festivity, a portion of Connelly's troopers, who
had now been absent forty-eight hours, arrived, and made an immediate
report to Innis. The purport of this was, that they had found Ensign St.
Jermyn in the possession of a detachment of Whig cavalry near the
Saluda: as soon as they descried him, which they did, some three hundred
paces distant, knowing him by his scarlet uniform, they prepared to
attack this party of Whigs; but the ensign perceiving his friends at
hand, had already, by a brave effort, disentangled himself from his
keepers, and taken off into the open field. The scouts, therefore,
instead of attacking the Whigs, directed all their attention to secure
the ensign's retreat, by holding themselves ready to check the pursuit:
their manoeuvre had been successful, and the prisoner was free.

"And is now with you in the camp, my brave fellows?" said Innis, with
great exultation.

"Not yet," replied the sergeant of the squad. "He is upon the road, and
will, no doubt, soon be here. We have not seen him since his escape.
Whilst we hung back, with a view to favor his retreat, we fell in with a
party that we took to be the escort that had made him prisoner; and as
they outnumbered us, we thought it prudent to decline a skirmish with
them. So we filed off and made our way back to head quarters. The ensign
must have been a good mile ahead of us, and as the road is hard to find,
he may have lost his way. But this is certain, we saw him clear of the
Whigs, with his horse's head turned towards this camp."

"Thank you, good friends," said Innis; "you have performed your duty
handsomely. Go to your comrades; they have news for you, and an extra
allowance to-day. Faith, Ker, this is a day for settling old accounts,"
he continued, as he turned and addressed an officer by his side. "Gates
beaten, Sumpter beaten, and Ensign St. Jermyn delivered from captivity!
That looks well! And now I have another account, which shall be settled
on the nail. Stirring times, Captain St. Jermyn. I congratulate you, my
friend, on your brother's safety, and mean to signalize the event as it
deserves. Major Frazer, bring out your prisoner, and let him die the
death punctually at sundown--at sundown, to the minute, major. We must
get that job off our hands. To-morrow, my friends, we shall move towards
Catawba, and thence to Hanging Rock. Meantime, we must sweep up our
rubbish. So, major, look to your duty! It might as well have been done
at first," he added, speaking to himself, as he walked away from the
group of officers to look after other affairs.

The execution of Butler was now regarded as a mere matter of business,
and to be despatched as one item of duty amongst the thousand others
that were to be looked after in the hurry of breaking up the post. The
interest of the trial had faded away by the lapse of time, and in the
more predominating excitements which the absorbing character of the late
events had afforded. The preparations for this ceremony were, therefore,
attended with no display, and scarcely seemed to arouse inquiry amongst
the soldiers of the camp. It was treated in all respects as a
subordinate point of police. Ten files were detailed; one drum and fife
put in requisition; and this party, attended by Frazer, and two or three
officers who happened to be near at the moment, marched with a careless
step to head-quarters.

The first announcement of this sudden resolve was made to the prisoner
by a subaltern; who, without prelude or apology, or the least effort to
mitigate the harshness of the order he bore, walked abruptly into the
chamber and delivered the message of his superior.

"It is a sudden proceeding," said Butler, calmly; "but your pleasure
must be obeyed."

"You have had two days to think of it," replied the officer; "it is not
often so much time is allowed. Ensign St. Jermyn, sir, is safe, and that
is all we waited for. We march to-morrow, and therefore have no time to
lose. You are waited for below."

Butler stood a moment with his hand pressed upon his brow, and then
muttered,

"It is even so; our unhappy country is lost, and the reign of blood is
but begun. I would ask the poor favor of a moment's delay, and the
privilege of pen, ink, and paper, whilst I write but a line to a
friend."

"Impossible, sir," said the man. "Time is precious, and our orders are
positive."

"This is like the rest," answered Butler; "I submit." Then buttoning his
coat across his breast, he left the room with a firm and composed step.

When he reached the door the first person who met his eye was Captain
St. Jermyn. There was an expression of formal gravity in the manner of
this officer, as he accosted the prisoner, and lamented the rigor of the
fate that awaited him. And it was somewhat with a cold and polite
civility that he communicated his readiness to attend to any request
which Butler, in his last moments, might wish to have performed.

Butler thanked him for his solicitude, and then said, "I asked
permission to write to a friend; that has been denied. I feel reluctant
to expose myself to another refusal. You have taken a slight interest in
my sufferings, and I will, therefore, confide to you a simple wish,
which it will not cost my persecutors much to gratify. It is that I may
be taken to my grave, dressed as you see me now. I would not have my
person stripped or plundered."

"If you have valuables about you, sir, trust them to my keeping; I
promise you they shall be faithfully delivered according to your wish."

"What money there is about my person," replied Butler, "may be given to
the soldiers who are compelled to execute this harsh and unjust sentence
on my person; but I have a trinket," he said, drawing from his bosom a
miniature, which was suspended by a ribbon, "it is the gift of
one,"--here, for the first time, a tear started into Butler's eye, and
his power of utterance failed him.

"I understand, sir," said St. Jermyn, eagerly reaching out his hand to
take the picture, "I will seek the lady, at whatever hazard"--

"No," answered the unfortunate officer, "it must be buried with me. It
has dwelt here," he added with emotion, as he placed his hand upon his
heart, "and here it must sleep in death."

"On the honor of a soldier," said St. Jermyn, "I promise you its rest
shall not be violated."

"You will attend me?"

"I will."

"Lead on," said the prisoner, stepping to the place assigned him in the
ranks. "I seek no further delay."

"March down the river, half a mile below the camp," said Innis, who now
came up, as the escort had begun its progress towards the place of
execution. And the soldiers moved slowly, with the customary funeral
observances, in a direction that led across the whole extent of the
plain.

When this little detachment had disappeared on the further side of the
field, a sudden commotion arose at head-quarters by the hasty arrival of
a mounted patrol--

"We are followed!" cried the leading horseman, in great perturbation.
"They will be here in an instant! We have been pressed by them for the
last two miles."

"Of whom do you speak?" inquired Innis, eagerly.

"The enemy! the enemy!" vociferated several voices.

At the same moment a cloud of dust was seen rising above the trees, in
the direction of the road leading up the Ennoree.

"To arms--to arms!" ejaculated the commander. "Gentlemen, spring to your
horses, and sound the alarm through the camp--we are set upon by
Sumpter--it can be no other. Curry, take a few dragoons--follow the
prisoner--mount him behind one of your men, and retreat with him
instantly to Blackstock's!"

Having given these hasty orders, Innis, with the several officers who
happened to be at hand, ran to their horses, mounted, and pushed forward
to the camp. They had scarcely left their quarters before two dragoons,
in advance of a party of twenty or thirty men, rushed up to the door.

"Sarch the house!" shouted the leading soldier. "Three or four of you
dismount and sarch the house! Make sure of Major Butler, if he is there!
The rest of you forward with me!"

The delay before head-quarters scarcely occupied a moment, and in the
meantime the number of the assailants was increased by the squadrons
that poured in from the rear. These were led by a young officer of great
activity and courage, who, seeing the disordered condition of the
royalists, waved his sword in the air as he beckoned his men to follow
him in a charge upon the camp.

The advanced party, with the two dragoons, were already on the field
charging the first body that they found assembled; and, close behind
them, followed Colonel Williams--the officer of whom I have spoken--with
a large division of cavalry. At the same moment that Williams entered
upon the plain from this quarter, a second and third corps, led
respectively by Shelby and Clarke, were seen galloping upon the two
flanks of the encampment.

The plain was now occupied by about two hundred Whig cavalry. The
royalists, taken by surprise, over their cups it may be said, and in the
midst of a riotous festival, were everywhere thrown into the wildest
confusion. Such of them as succeeded in gaining their arms, took post
behind the trees, and kept up an irregular fire upon the assailants.
Colonel Innis had succeeded in getting together about a hundred men at a
remote corner of his camp, and had now formed them into a solid column
to resist the attack of the cavalry, whilst from this body he poured
forth a few desultory volleys of musketry, hoping to gain time to
collect the scattered forces that were in various points endeavoring to
find their proper station. Horse Shoe Robinson and John Ramsay--the two
foremost in the advance--were to be discovered pushing through the
sundered groups of the enemy with a restless and desperate valor that
nothing could withstand.

"Cut them down," cried Horse Shoe, "without marcy! remember the
Waxhaws!" And he accompanied his exhortation with the most vehement and
decisive action, striking down, with a huge sabre, all who opposed his
way.

Meantime, Colonel Williams and his comrades charged the column formed by
Innis, and, in a few moments, succeeded in riding through the array and
compelling them to a total rout. Robinson and Ramsay, side by side,
mingled in this charge, and were seen in the thickest of the fight.
Innis, finding all efforts to maintain his ground ineffectual, turned
his horse towards Musgrove's mill, and fled as fast as spur and sword
could urge the animal forward. The sergeant, however, had marked him for
his prize, and following as fleetly as the trusty Captain Peter was able
to carry him, soon came up with the fugitive officer, and, with one
broad sweep of his sword, dislodged him from his saddle and left him
bleeding on the ground. Turning again towards the field, his quick eye
discerned the unwieldy bulk of Hugh Habershaw. The gross captain had, in
the hurry of the assault, been unable to reach his horse; and, in the
first moments of danger, had taken refuge in one of the little sheds
which had been constructed for the accommodation of the soldiers. As the
battle waxed hot in the neighborhood of his retreat, he had crept forth
from his den and was making the best of his way to an adjoining
cornfield. He was bare-headed, and his bald crown, as the slanting rays
of the evening sun fell upon it, glistened like a gilded globe. The well
known figure no sooner occurred to the sergeant's view than he rode off
in pursuit. The cornfield was bounded by a fence, and the burly braggart
had just succeeded in reaching it when his enemy overtook him.

"Have mercy, good Mr. Horse Shoe, have mercy on a defenceless man!"
screamed the runaway, in a voice discordant with terror, as he stopped
at the fence, which he was unable to mount, and looked back upon his
pursuer. "Remember the good-will I showed you when you was a prisoner!
Quarter, quarter--for God's sake, quarter!"

"You get no quarter from me, you cursed blood-lapper!" exclaimed Horse
Shoe, excited to a rage that seldom visited his breast; "think of
Grindall's Ford!" and at the same instant he struck a heavy downward
blow, with such sheer descent, that it clove the skull of the perfidious
freebooter clean through to the spine. "I have sworn your death," said
the sergeant, "even if I catch you asleep in your bed, and right fairly
have you earned it."

The body fell into a bed of mire, which had been the resort of the
neighboring swine; and, leaving it in this foul plight, Horse Shoe
hastened back to rejoin his comrades.

The battle now ended in the complete route of the enemy. Williams's
first care, after the day was won, was to collect his men and to secure
his prisoners. Many of the Tories had escaped; many were killed and
wounded; but of Butler no tidings could be gained; he had disappeared
from the field before the fight began, and all the information that the
prisoners could give was that orders had been sent to remove him from
the neighborhood. Colonel Innis was badly wounded, and in no condition
to speak with his conquerors; he was sent, with several other disabled
officers, to head-quarters. Captain St. Jermyn had fled, with most of
those who had mounted their horses before the arrival of Williams.

The day was already at its close, and order was taken to spend the night
upon the field. Guards were posted, and every precaution adopted to
avoid a surprise in turn from the enemy, who, it was feared, might soon
rally a strong party and assail the conquerors.

The disturbed condition of the country, and the almost unanimous
sentiment of the people against the Whigs, now strengthened by the late
victories, prevented Williams from improving his present advantage, or
even from bearing off his prisoners. Robinson and Ramsay volunteered to
head a party to scour the country in quest of Butler, but the commanding
officer could give no encouragement to the enterprise; it was, in his
judgment, a hopeless endeavor, when the forces of the enemy were
everywhere so strong. His determination, therefore, was to retreat, as
soon as his men were in condition, back to his fastnesses. His few
killed were buried; the wounded, of which there were not more than
fifteen or twenty were taken care of, and the jaded troops were
dismissed to seek refreshment amongst the abundant stores captured from
the enemy. Ensign St. Jermyn was still a prisoner; and, for the sake of
adding to Butler's security, Williams selected two or three other
officers that had fallen into his hands to accompany him in his retreat.
These arrangements all being made, the colonel and his officers retired
to repose. The next morning at daylight there were no traces of the
Whigs to be seen upon the plain. It was abandoned to the loyalist
prisoners and their wounded comrades.



CHAPTER XXIX.

WILLIAMS TAKES A FANCY TO FOREST LIFE.--HORSE SHOE AND JOHN RAMSAY
CONTINUE ACTIVE IN THE SERVICE OF BUTLER.--MARY MUSGROVE BECOMES A
VALUABLE AUXILIARY.


Williams had commenced his retreat before the dawn, as much with a view
to accomplish a large portion of his journey before the heat of the day,
as to protect himself against the probable pursuit of the rallied forces
of the enemy. His destination was towards the mountains on the
north-western frontier. The overthrow of Gates had left a large force of
Tory militia at the disposal of Cornwallis, who, it was conjectured,
would use them to break up every remnant of opposition in this region.
It was therefore a matter of great importance to Williams, to conduct
his little force into some place of security against the attacks of the
royalists.

Colonel Elijah Clarke had, ever since the fall of Charleston, been
employed in keeping together the few scattered Whig families in that
part of Carolina lying contiguous to the Savannah, with a view to an
organized plan of resistance against the British authorities; and he had
so far accomplished his purpose as to have procured some three or four
hundred men, who had agreed to hold themselves in readiness to strike a
blow whenever the occasion offered. These men were to be mustered at any
moment by a preconcerted signal; and, in the meantime, they were
instructed, by confining themselves to their dwellings, or pursuing
their ordinary occupations, to keep as much as possible out of the way
of the dominant authorities.

Clarke resided in Georgia, whence he had fled as soon as the royalist
leader, Brown, had taken possession of Augusta; and we have already seen
that a letter from Colonel Pinckney, at Charleston, which Horse Shoe
Robinson had been intrusted to deliver, had summoned Arthur Butler to
this frontier to aid in Clarke's enterprise.

Colonel Isaac Shelby, a resident of Washington county in Virginia, until
the settlement of the southern line of the State had left him in the
district at present known as Sullivan county in Tennessee, had been an
efficient auxiliary in Clarke's scheme, and was now ready to summon a
respectable number of followers for the support of the war on the
mountain border. He and Clarke had accidentally arrived at Williams's
camp a day or two before the attack upon Innis, with a view to a
consultation as to the general interests of the meditated campaign; and
they had only tarried to take a part in the engagement from a natural
concern for the fate of their intended comrade, Butler. Having no
further motive for remaining with Williams, they were both intent upon
returning to their respective duties, and, accordingly, during the
retreat of the following day, they took their leave.

The vigilance with which these partisans were watched by their enemies,
almost forbade the present hope of successful combination. From a
consciousness of the hazard of attempting to concentrate their forces at
this juncture, they had determined still to pursue their separate
schemes of annoyance, until a more favorable moment for joint action
should arise; and, in the interval, to hide themselves as much as
possible in the forest. It was consequently in the hope of preserving
his independence at least, if not of aiding Clarke, that Williams now
moved with so much despatch to the mountains.

His course lay towards the head waters of the Fair Forest river, in the
present region of Spartanburg. This district was inhabited only by a few
hunters, and some scattered Indians of an inoffensive character; it
abounded in game, and promised to afford an easy subsistence to men
whose habits were simple, and who were accustomed to rely upon the chase
for support. The second day brought our hardy soldiers into the sojourn
they sought. It was a wilderness broken by mountains, and intersected by
streams of surpassing transparency; whilst its elevated position and
southern latitude conferred upon it a climate that was then, as well as
now, remarked for its delicious temperature in summer, and its exemption
from the rigors of winter.

The spot at which Williams rested was a sequestered valley deep hidden
in the original woods, and watered by the Fair Forest, whose stream, so
near its fountain, scarcely exceeded the dimensions of a little brook.
Here he determined to form a camp, to which in times of emergency he
might safely retreat. With a view to render it easy of access as a
rendezvous, he caused landmarks to be made, by cutting notches on the
trees--or _blazing_ them, in the woodman's phrase--in several
directions, leading towards the principal highways that penetrated the
country. The retreat thus established is familiar to the history of the
war, under the name of the Fair Forest camp.

These arrangements being completed in the course of the first day after
his arrival, Williams now applied himself to the adoption of measures
for the safety of Arthur Butler. Amongst the spoils that had fallen into
his hands, after the victory over Innis, was the document containing the
proceedings of the court-martial. The perusal of this paper, together
with the comments afforded by Robinson, convinced him of the malignity
of the persecution which had aimed at the life of the prisoner. It
occurred to him, therefore, to submit the whole proceeding to Lord
Cornwallis, to whom, he was persuaded, it either had been
misrepresented, or, most probably, was entirely unknown. He did not
doubt that an appeal to the honorable feelings of that officer, with a
full disclosure of the facts, would instantly be followed by an order
that should put Butler under the protection of the rules of war, and
insure him all the rights that belong to a mere prisoner taken in arms
in a lawful quarrel. A spirited remonstrance was accordingly prepared to
this effect. It detailed the circumstances of Butler's case, which was
accompanied with a copy of the proceedings of the court, and it
concluded with a demand that such measures should be adopted by the head
of the army, as comported with the rights of humanity and the laws of
war; "a course," the writer suggested, "that he did not hesitate to
believe his lordship would feel belonged both to the honor and duty of
his station." This paper was consigned to the care of an officer, who
was directed to proceed with it, under a flag of truce, to the
head-quarters of the British commander.

Soon after this, Robinson apprised Williams that Ramsay and himself had
determined to venture back towards the Ennoree, to learn something of
the state of affairs in that quarter, and to apply themselves more
immediately to the service of Butler. In aid of this design, the
sergeant obtained a letter from Williams, the purport of which was to
inform the commandant of any post of the loyalists whom it might
concern, that an application had been made on Butler's behalf to
Cornwallis, and that the severest retaliation would be exercised upon
the prisoners in Williams's custody, for any violence that might be
offered the American officer. Putting this letter in his pocket, our man
of "mickle might," attended by his good and faithful ally, John Ramsay,
took his leave of "The Fair Forest" towards noon of the fourth day after
the battle near Musgrove's mill.

The second morning after their departure, the two companions had reached
the Ennoree, not far from the habitation of David Ramsay. It was fair
summer weather, and nature was as gay as in that piping time before the
blast of war had blown across her fields. All things, in the course of a
few days, seemed to have undergone a sudden change. The country
presented no signs of strife: no bands of armed men molested the
highways. An occasional husbandman was seen at his plough: the deer
sprang up from the brushwood and fled into the forest, as if inviting
again the pastime of the chase; and even when the two soldiers
encountered a chance wayfarer upon the road, each party passed the other
unquestioned--there was all the seeming quiet of a pacified country. The
truth was, the war had rolled northwards--and all behind it had
submitted since the disastrous fight at Camden. The lusty and
hot-brained portions of the population were away with the army; and the
non-combatants only, or those wearied with arms, were all that were to
be seen in this region.

Horse Shoe, after riding a long time in silence, as these images of
tranquillity occupied his thoughts, made a simple remark that spoke a
volume of truth in a few homely words.

"This is an onnatural sort of stillness, John. Men may call this peace,
but I call it fear. If there is a poor wretch of a Whig in this
district, it's as good as his life is worth to own himself. How far off
mought we be from your father's?"

The young trooper heaved a deep sigh "I knew you were thinking of my
poor father when you spoke your thoughts, Horse Shoe. This is a heavy
day for him. But he could bear it: he's a man who thinks little of
hardships. There are the helpless women, Galbraith Robinson," he
continued, as he shook his head with an expression of sorrow that almost
broke into tears. "Getting near home one thinks of them first. My good
and kind mother--God knows how she would bear any heavy accident. I am
always afraid to ask questions in these times about the family, for fear
of hearing something bad. And there's little Mary Musgrove over at the
mill"--

"You have good reason to be proud of that girl, John Ramsay,"
interrupted Robinson. "So speak out, man, and none of your stammering.
Hoot!--she told me she was your sweetheart! You hav'n't half the tongue
of that wench. Why, sir, if I was a lovable man, haw, haw!--which I'm
not--I'll be cursed if I wouldn't spark that little fusee myself."

"This fence," said Ramsay, unheeding the sergeant's banter, "belongs to
our farm, and perhaps we had better let down the rails and approach the
house across the field: if the Tories should be there we might find the
road dangerous. This gives us a chance of retreat."

"That's both scrupulous and wise, John," replied the sergeant. "So down
with the pannel: we will steal upon the good folks, if they are at home,
and take them by surprise. But mind you, my lad, see that your pistols
are primed; we mought onawares get into a wasp's nest."

The fence was lowered, and the horsemen cautiously entered the field.
After passing a narrow dell and rising to the crest of the opposite
hill, they obtained a position but a short distance in the rear of the
homestead. From this point a melancholy prospect broke upon their sight.
The dwelling-house had disappeared, and in its place was a heap only of
smouldering ashes. A few of the upright frame-posts, scorched black, and
a stone chimney with its ample fire-place, were all that remained of
what, but a few days before, was the happy abode of the family of a
brave and worthy man.

"My God! my thoughts were running upon this! I feared their spite would
break at last upon my father's head," cried John Ramsay, as he put spurs
to his horse and galloped up to the ruins. "The savages have done their
worst. But my father and mother where are they?" he exclaimed, as the
tears rolled down his cheeks.

"Take heart, my brave boy!" said Robinson, in the kindliest tones.
"There's a reckoning to come for all these villanies--and it will go
hard with many a Tory yet before this account is settled."

"I will carry a hot hand into the first house that covers a Tory head,"
replied the young trooper, passionately; "this burning shall be paid
with ten like it."

"All in good time, John," said Robinson coolly. "As for the burning, it
is no great matter; a few good neighbors would soon set that to rights,
by building your father a better house than the one he has lost.
Besides, Congress will not forget a true friend when the war is well
fought out. But it does go against my grain, John Ramsay, to see a
parcel of cowardly runaways spitting their malice against women and
children. The barn, likewise, I see is gone," continued the sergeant,
looking towards another pile of the ruins a short distance off. "The
villains! when there's foul work to be done, they don't go at it like
apprentices. No matter--I have made one observation: the darkest hour is
just before the day, and that's a comfortable old saying."

By degrees John Ramsay fell into a calmer temper, and now began to cast
about as to the course fit to be pursued in their present emergency.
About a quarter of a mile distant, two or three negro cabins were
visible, and he could descry a few children near the doors. With an
eager haste, therefore, he and the sergeant shaped their course across
the field to this spot. When they arrived within fifty paces of the
nearest hovel, the door was set ajar, and a rifle, thrust through the
aperture, was aimed at the visitors.

"Stand for your lives!" shouted the well known voice of David Ramsay. In
the next instant the door was thrown wide open, the weapon cast aside,
and the father rushed forward as he exclaimed, "Gracious God, my boy and
Horse Shoe Robinson! Welcome, lads; a hundred times more welcome than
when I had better shelter to give you! But the good friends of King
George, you see, have been so kind as to give me a call. It is easy to
tell when they take it in their head to visit a Whig."

"My mother!" exclaimed John Ramsay.

"In and see her, boy--she wants comfort from you. But, thank God! she
bears this blow better than I thought she could."

Before this speech was uttered John had disappeared.

"And how came this mishap to fall upon you, David?" inquired Horse Shoe.

"I suppose some of your prisoners," replied Ramsay, "must have informed
upon Andy and me: for in the retreat of Innis's runaways, a party came
through my farm. They stayed only long enough to ransack the house, and
to steal whatever was worth taking; and then to set fire to the dwelling
and all the out-buildings. Both Andy and myself, by good luck, perhaps,
were absent, or they would have made us prisoners: so they turned my
wife and children out of doors to shift for themselves, and scampered
off as fast as if Williams was still at their heels. All that was left
for us was to crowd into this cabin, where, considering all things, we
are not so badly off. But things are taking an ill turn for the country,
Horse Shoe. We are beaten on all sides."

"Not so bad, David, as to be past righting yet," replied the sergeant.
"What have they done with Major Butler?"

"He was carried, as I learned, up to Blackstock's, the evening of the
fight; and yesterday it was reported that a party has taken him back to
Musgrove's. I believe he is now kept close prisoner in Allen's house.
Christopher Shaw was here two days since, and told us that orders had
come to occupy the millers dwelling-house for that purpose."

Horse Shoe had now entered the cabin with David Ramsay, and in the
course of the hour that followed, during which the family had prepared
refreshment for the travellers, the sergeant had fully canvassed all the
particulars necessary to be known for his future guidance. It was
determined that he and John should remain in their present concealment
until night, and then endeavor to reach the mill under cover of the
darkness, and open some means of communication with the family of the
miller.

The rest of the day was spent in anxious thought. The situation of the
adventurers was one of great personal peril, as they were now
immediately within the circle of operations of the enemy and likely to
be observed and challenged the first moment they ventured upon the
road.

The hour of dusk had scarcely arrived before they were again mounted on
horseback. They proceeded cautiously upon the road that led through the
wood, until it intersected the highway; and, having attained this point,
John Ramsay, who was well acquainted with every avenue through the
country, now led the way, by a private and scarcely discernible path,
into the adjacent forest, and thence, by a tedious and prolonged route,
directed his companion to the banks of the Ennoree. This course of
travel took them immediately to the plain on which Innis had been
encamped--the late field of battle. All here was still and desolate. The
sheds and other vestiges of the recent bivouac were yet visible, but not
even the farm-house that had constituted Innis's head-quarters was
reoccupied by its original inhabitants. The bat whirred over the plain,
and the owl hooted from the neighboring trees. The air still bore the
scent of dead bodies which had either been left exposed, or so meagrely
covered with earth as to taint the breeze with noisome exhalations.

"There is a great difference, John," said Horse Shoe, who seldom let an
occasion to moralize after his own fashion slip by, "there's a great
difference between a hot field and a stale one. Your hot field makes a
soldier, for there's a sort of a stir in it that sets the blood to
running merrily through a man, and that's what I call pleasure. But when
everything is festering like the inside of a hospital--or what's next
door to it, a grave-yard--it is mighty apt to turn a dragoon's stomach
and make a preacher of him. This here dew falls to-night like frost, and
chills me to the heart, which it wouldn't do if it didn't freshen up the
smell of dead men. And there's the hogs, busy as so many sextons among
Innis's Tories: you may hear them grunt over their suppers. Well, there
is one man among them that I'll make bold to say these swine hav'n't got
the stomach to touch--that's Hugh Habershaw: he sleeps in the mud in
yonder fence-corner."

"If you had done nothing else in the fight, Horse Shoe, but cleave that
fellow's skull," said Ramsay, "the ride we took would have been well
paid for--it was worth the trouble."

"And the rapscallionly fellow to think," added Horse Shoe, "that I was a
going to save him from the devil's clutches, when I had a broadsword in
my hand, and his bald, greasy pate in reach. His brain had nothing in it
but deceit and lies, and all sorts of cruel thoughts, enough to poison
the air when I let them out. I have made an observation, John, all my
life on them foul-mouthed, swilling braggers--that when there's so much
cunning and blood-thirstiness, there's no room for a thimbleful of
courage: their heart's in their belly, which is as much as to signify
that the man's a most beastly coward. But now, it is my opinion that we
had best choose a spot along upon the river here, and leave our horses.
I think we can manoeuvre better on foot: the miller's house is short
of two miles, and we mought be noticed if we were to go nearer on
horseback."

This proposal was adopted, and the two friends, when they had ridden a
short distance below the battle ground, halted in a thicket, where they
fastened their horses, and proceeded towards the mill on foot. After
following the course of the stream for near half an hour, they
perceived, at a distance, a light glimmering through the window of Allen
Musgrove's dwelling. This induced a second pause in their march, when
Ramsay suggested the propriety of his advancing alone to reconnoitre the
house, and attempting to gain some speech with the inmates. He
accordingly left the sergeant to amuse himself with his own thoughts.

Horse Shoe took his seat beneath a sycamore, where he waited a long time
in anxious expectation of the return of his comrade. Growing uneasy, at
last, at John's delay, he arose, and stole cautiously forward until he
reached the mill, where he posted himself in a position from which he
was able to see and hear what was going on at the miller's house. The
porch was occupied by three or four persons, whose conversation, as it
came to the sergeant's ear, proved them to be strangers to the family;
and a ray of light from a taper within, after a while, made this more
manifest, by revealing the scarlet uniform of the enemy. Horse Shoe was
thus confirmed in the truth of the report that Butler had been brought
to this place under a military escort. With this conviction he returned
to the sycamore, where he again sat down to wait for the coming of his
companion.

It was after ten o'clock, and the sergeant was casting over in his
thoughts the long absence of John, when his attention was aroused by the
sound of footsteps, and the next instant John Ramsay and Mary Musgrove
stood beside him.

"What kept you till this time of night?" was the sergeant's accost.

"Softly, man, I have news for you," replied Ramsay. "Here is Mary
herself."

"And so she is, indeed!" exclaimed the sergeant, at the same time
shaking her hand, "this is my petticoat-sodger; how goes it with you,
girl?"

"I have only a moment to spare," replied the maiden cheerfully, "and it
is the greatest of good luck that I thought of coming out; for John gave
me a signal, which I was stupid enough not to understand at first. But,
after a while, I thought it could be no one but John Ramsay; and that,
partly, because I expected he would be coming into the neighborhood ever
since I heard of his being at his father's, after the ensign was made a
prisoner."

"I went," said John Ramsay, "to the further side of the house, where I
set to whistling an old-fashioned tune that Mary was acquainted
with--walking away all the time in an opposite direction--as if there
was nothing meant--"

"And I knew the tune, Mr. Horse Shoe," interrupted Mary, eagerly, "it
was Maggie Lauder. John practised that trick once before to show me how
to find my way to him. Upon that, I made an excuse to leave the room,
and slipped out through the garden--and then I followed the whistling,
as folks say they follow a jack-o'-lantern."

"And so, by a countermarch," continued the young dragoon, "we came round
the meadow and through the woods, here."

"Now that you've got here at last," said Horse Shoe, "tell me the news."

"Major Butler is in the house," said Mary and John, both speaking at
once. "He was brought there yesterday from Blackstock's," continued the
maiden. "Orders came from somebody that he was to be kept at our house,
until they had fixed upon what was to be done with him. Colonel Innis
was too ill to think of such matters, and has been carried out of the
neighborhood--and it is thought he will die."

"How many men are there to guard the prisoner?" asked the sergeant.

"There are more than twenty, with a lieutenant from Ninety-Six, who has
the charge of them."

"And how does the major bear his troubles?"

"He seems to be heavy at heart," replied the maiden. "But that may be
because he is away from his friends. Though my father, who is a good
judge of such things, says he suffers tribulation like a Christian. He
asked me privately, if I had heard anything of you, Mr. Robinson: and
when I told him what folks said about your being with the people that
beat Colonel Innis, he smiled, and said if any man could get him free,
it was Horse Shoe Robinson."

"Do they allow you to see him often?" inquired the sergeant.

"I have seen him only two or three times since he came to the house,"
answered the maiden. "But the officer that has charge of him is not
contrary or ill-natured, and makes no objection to my carrying him his
meals--though I am obliged to pretend to know less about Major Butler
than I do, for fear they might be jealous of my talking to him."

"You can give him a letter?"

"I think I can contrive it," replied the maiden.

"Then give him this, my good girl," said Robinson, taking Williams's
letter from his pocket and putting it in Mary's hand. "It is a piece of
writing he can use whenever he is much pressed. It may save him from
harm. Now, I want you to do something more. You must find a chance just
to whisper in his ear that Horse Shoe Robinson and John Ramsay are in
the neighborhood. Tell him, likewise, that Colonel Williams has sent a
messenger to Lord Cornwallis to lay his case before that officer, and to
get some order for his better treatment. That the doings of that
rascally court-martial have been sent by the messenger, hoping that Lord
Cornwallis, if he is a brave and a Christian man--as they say he
is--will stop this onmerciful persecution of the major--which has no
cause for it under heaven. Will you remember all this?"

"I'll try, sir," responded Mary; "and besides I will tell it to my
father, who has more chance of speaking to Major Butler than I have."

"Now," said Horse Shoe, "we will be here again to-morrow night, a
little earlier than this; you must meet us here. And say to the major,
if he has any message for us, he may send it by you. But be cautious,
Mary, how you are seen talking with the prisoner. If they suspect you it
will spoil all."

"Trust to me," said the girl; "I warrant I have learned by this time how
to behave myself amongst these red-coats."

"There, John," continued Horse Shoe, "I have said all I want to say, and
as you, I have no doubt, have got a good deal to tell the girl, it is
but fair that you should have your chance. So, do you walk back with her
as far as the mill, and I'll wait here for you. But don't forget
yourself by overstaying your furlough."

"I must get home as fast as possible," said Mary; "they will be looking
for me."

"Away, John Ramsay--away," added Horse Shoe; "and have your eyes about
you, man."

With this command John Ramsay and the miller's daughter hastily
withdrew, and were soon out of the sergeant's hearing.

After an interval, which doubtless seemed short to the gallant dragoon,
he returned to his comrade, and the two set out rapidly in quest of
their horses; and once more having got into their saddles, they retraced
their steps at a brisk speed to Ramsay's cabin.



CHAPTER XXX.

    All distant and faint were the sounds of the battle;
    With the breezes they rise, with the breezes they fail,
    Till the shout and the groan and the conflict's dread rattle,
    And the chase's wild clamor come loading the gale.

    THE MAID OF TORO.


In the confusion that ensued upon the defeat of Innis, James Curry
succeeded in conducting Butler from the field. His orders were to
retreat with the prisoner to Blackstock's; and he had accordingly set
out with about a dozen troopers, by a private path that led towards a
quarter secure from the molestation of the enemy, when the attack
commenced. Butler was mounted behind one of the men, and in this uneasy
condition was borne along the circuitous by-way that had been chosen,
without a moment's respite from the severe motion of the horse, nearly
at high speed, until, having accomplished three miles of the retreat,
the party arrived at the main road that extended between Innis's camp
and Blackstock's. Here Curry, conceiving himself to be out of danger of
pursuit, halted his men, with a purpose to remain until he could learn
something of the combat. Butler was in a state of the most exciting
bewilderment as to the cause of this sudden change in his affairs. No
explanation was given to him by his conductors; and although, from the
first, he was aware that an extraordinary emergency had arisen from some
assault upon Innis's position, no one dropped a word in his hearing to
give him the slightest clue to the nature of the attack. The troopers
about him preserved a morose and ill-natured silence, and even
manifested towards him a harsh and resentful demeanor. He heard the
firing, but what troops were engaged, by whom led, or with what chances
of success, were subjects of the most painfully interesting doubt. He
could only conjecture that this was a surprise accomplished by the
Whigs, and that the assailants must have come in sufficient force to
justify the boldness of the enterprise. That Horse Shoe was connected
with this irruption he felt fully assured; and from this circumstance he
gathered the consolatory and cheerful prognostic of a better issue out
of his afflictions than, in his late condition, seemed even remotely
possible. This hope grew brighter as the din of battle brought the
tidings of the day to his ear. The first few scattered shots that
told of the confusion in which the combat was begun, were, after an
interval, succeeded by regular volleys of musketry that indicated an
orderly and marshalled resistance. Platoon after platoon fired in
succession--signifying, to the practised hearing of the soldier, that
infantry was receiving the attacks of cavalry, and that as yet the first
had not faltered. Then the firing grew more slack, and random shots were
discharged from various quarters--but amidst these were heard no
embodied volleys. It was the casual and nearly overpowered resistance of
flying men.

At this juncture there was a dark frown on the brow of Curry, as he
looked at his comrades, and said, in a low and muttered tone, "That
helter-skelter shot grates cursedly on the ear. There's ill-luck in the
sound of it."

Presently a few stragglers appeared at a turn of the road, some quarter
of a mile in the direction of the battle, urging their horses forward at
the top of their speed. These were followed by groups both of infantry
and cavalry, pressing onwards in the utmost disorder--those on horseback
thrusting their way through the throng of foot-soldiers, seemingly
regardless of life or limb; the wounded with their wounds bleeding
afresh, or hastily bandaged with such appliances as were at hand. All
hurried along amidst the oaths, remonstrances, and unheeded orders of
the officers, who were endeavoring to resume their commands. It was the
flight of men beset by a panic, and fearful of pursuit; and the clouds
of dust raised by the press and hurry of this career almost obscured the
setting sun.

During the first moments of uncertainty, Curry, no less anxiously than
Butler, remained stationary by the road-side, reading the distant signs
of the progress of the fight; but now, when the disastrous issue was no
longer doubtful, he commanded his cavalcade to move forward, and from
that moment prosecuted his journey with unabated speed until he arrived
at Blackstock's.

Butler was unceremoniously marched to his former place of confinement
in the barn, where a rigorous guard was set over his person. In the
confusion and insubordination that prevailed amongst the crowd, that,
during the night, was continually increasing in the little hamlet, the
common rites of humanity towards the prisoner were forgotten, and he was
left to pass the weary hours till morning, on a shock of hay, without
food or other refreshment than a simple draught of water. From the
unreserved murmurs of those who frequented the place, and the querulous
upbraidings of the soldiery against each other, Butler was enabled to
glean the principal incidents of the day. The supposed death of Innis
reached him through this channel, and, what was scarcely a subject of
less personal interest to him, the certain end of Hugh Habershaw. It was
with a silent satisfaction at the moral or _poetical_ justice--as it has
been called--of the event, that he heard the comrades of the late
self-conceited captain describe his death in terms of coarse and
unpitying ribaldry--a retribution due to the memory of a cruel and
cowardly braggart.

When the morning was fully abroad, the disarranged and broken remnants
of the Tory camp began gradually to be reduced to a state of discipline.
The day was spent in this occupation. Orders were every moment arriving
from the higher officers of the late camp, or from the nearest British
posts. Videttes bore the tidings of the different military operations
from the neighborhood of the enemy. The fragments of companies were
marshalled into squads and subdivisions; and, successively, one party
after another was seen to leave the hamlet, and take a direction of
march that led towards the main British army, or to the garrisons of the
lower districts.

Towards the close of the day one detachment only was left; and Butler
was given to understand that this was intrusted with his especial
keeping. It was composed of a few regular soldiers of the garrison of
Ninety-Six, and a small number of the country militia,--making, in all,
about twenty men, commanded by Lieutenant Macdonald, of the regular
army.

Butler remained in his present state of seclusion four or five days,
during which he experienced much mitigation of the rigors of his
captivity. Macdonald was a careful and considerate soldier, and demeaned
himself towards his prisoner with such kindness as the nature of his
trust allowed. He removed him into a comfortable apartment in the
dwelling-house, and supplied him with the conveniences his situation
required; he even made him occasional visits, which were attended with
more than the mere observances of courtesy and respect, and expressed a
sympathy in his sufferings.

These unexpected tones of comfort, from a quarter in which Butler had
hitherto heard nothing but fierce hatred and harsh rebuke, fell
gratefully upon his ear, and gave a brighter color to his hopes for the
future. But he could not help observing, that no hint was dropped by
Macdonald which might furnish him the slightest ground of surmise as to
the vicissitudes that yet awaited him. The reported fall of Innis seemed
to afford a natural foundation for the belief, that the malice of his
enemies might hereafter be less active,--as he attributed much of the
persecution he had suffered to the secret machinations of that
individual. He no longer saw around his person those agents who first
pursued him with such bitter hostility. He seemed to have fallen into
entirely new combinations, and had reason to augur, from all he saw,
that their purposes against him were less wicked. And first, above all
other topics of consolation and comfort, was the conviction that a brave
and efficient party of friends were in the field, intent upon his
liberation. Still, his situation was one in which it required all his
manhood to sustain himself. A young soldier of an ardent temper, and
zealously bent upon active and perilous service, can ill brook the
tedious, dull delays of captivity, even in its mildest form: but if this
thraldom befal in a period of universal agitation, when "great events
are on the gale," of which the captive is only a witness to the
pervading interest they excite, without being permitted to know their
import; if moreover, as in the case of Butler, an impenetrable veil of
mystery hang over the purpose of his captivity, behind which the few
short glimpses afforded him, open upon his view nothing but death in its
most frightful forms; and if to these are added, by far the bitterest of
its qualities, the anxieties, cares, and pains of a devoted, plighted
lover, separated from the heart that loves him, we may well conjecture
that the most gallant spirit may find in it, even amidst occasional
gleams of sunshine, that sinking of hope which the philosophic king of
Israel has described as making "the heart sick,"--that chafing of the
soul that, like the encaged eaglet, wearies and tears its wing against
the bars of its prison. Even so fared it with Arthur Butler, who now
found himself growing more and more into the shadow of a melancholy
temper.

It was soon ascertained that Williams had abandoned the field he had
won, and had retreated beyond the reach of immediate pursuit. And as the
post at Musgrove's mill afforded many advantages, in reference to the
means of communicating with the garrisons of the middle section of the
province, and was more secure against the hazard of molestation from
such parties of Whigs as might still be out-lying, an order was sent to
Macdonald to remove with his prisoner to the habitation of the miller,
and there to detain him until some final step should be taken in his
case.

In pursuance of this requisition, Butler was conducted, after the
interval of the few days we have mentioned, to Allen Musgrove's. The old
man received his guest with that submission to the domination of the
military masters of the province, which he had prescribed to himself
throughout the contest,--secretly rejoicing that the selection made of
his house for this purpose, might put it in his power to alleviate the
sufferings of a soldier, towards whose cause he felt a decided though
unavowed attachment. This selection furnished evidence to the miller,
that nothing had transpired to arouse the distrust of the British
authorities in the loyalty of any part of his family,--and to Butler, it
inferred the consolatory fact, that the zealous devotion of Mary
Musgrove to his service had as yet passed without notice; whilst to the
maiden herself, it was proof that her agency in the delivery of the
letter, which she had so adroitly put within the reach of the officers
of the court, had not even excited a suspicion against her.

The best room in the house was allotted to the prisoner; and the most
sedulous attention on the part of the family, so far as it could be
administered without inducing mistrust, was employed in supplying him
with whatever was needful to his condition. On the part of the
commanding officer, the usual precautions known to military experience
for the safe keeping of a prisoner were adopted. The privates of the
guard occupied the barn, whilst Macdonald and one or two subordinate
officers took up their quarters in the dwelling-house: sentinels were
posted at the several avenues leading to the habitation, and a sergeant
had the especial care of the prisoner, who, under this supervision, was
occasionally allowed the range of the garden. The usual forms of a camp
police were observed with scrupulous exactness;--and the morning and the
nightly drum, the parade, the changing of sentries, the ringing of
ramrods in the empty barrels of the muskets, and the glitter of weapons,
were strangely and curiously associated with the rural and unwarlike
features of the scenery around.



CHAPTER XXXI.

BUTLER FINDS A GLEAM OF SUNSHINE IN HIS DISTRESS.


Allen Musgrove had heard enough of Butler's history from his daughter
and from Galbraith Robinson, to feel a warm interest in that officer's
safety; and now his personal acquaintance with the prisoner still
further corroborated his first prepossessions. The old man took the
earliest opportunity to indicate to Butler the concern he felt in his
welfare. From the moderate and kindly tone of his own character, he was
enabled to do this without drawing upon himself the distrust of the
officer of the guard. His expressions of sympathy were regarded, by
Macdonald, as the natural sentiments of a religious mind imbued with an
habitual compassion for the sufferings of a fellow creature, and of one
who strove to discharge the duties of a peace-maker. His visits were
looked upon as those of a spiritual counsellor, whose peculiar right it
was to administer consolation to the afflicted, in whatever condition;
he was therefore permitted freely to commune with the prisoner, and, as
it sometimes happened, alone with him in his chamber.

This privilege was now particularly useful; for Mary having, on the
morning after her midnight interview with John Ramsay and Robinson,
communicated to her father the incidents of that meeting, and put in his
possession the letter which the sergeant had given her, and having also
repeated her message to him accurately as she had received it, Musgrove
took occasion, during the following day, to deliver the letter to
Butler, and to make known to him all that he had heard from his
daughter. This disclosure produced the most cheering effect upon
Butler's spirits. It, for the first time since the commencement of his
sufferings, opened to his mind a distinct view of his chance of eventual
liberation. The expectation of having his case represented to Cornwallis
inspired him with a strong confidence that justice would be done to
him, and the covert malice of his enemies be disarmed. In this hope, it
occurred to him to take some instant measures to satisfy the British
commander-in-chief of the groundless character of the principal
accusation brought against him by the court-martial,--that which related
to the pretended design to deliver up Philip Lindsay to the wrath of the
Republican government. For this purpose he resolved to make an appeal to
Lindsay himself, by letter, and frankly to call upon him to put at rest
this most unjust and wicked accusation. He knew that however strong
Lindsay's antipathy to him might be, the high sense of honor which
distinguished the father of Mildred might be confidently and
successfully invoked to furnish such a statement as should entirely
satisfy his accusers of the gross injustice of the charge. "I will write
to him," he said, "and throw myself upon his protection. I will require
of him to detail the whole history of my intercourse with his family,
and to say how improbable even he must deem it, that I could be so base
as to plot against his peace. And I will appeal to Mildred to fortify
her father's statement, to show that this wicked accusation rests upon a
story which it is impossible could be true."

Whilst Butler's thoughts were still occupied with this resolve, Mary
Musgrove entered his apartment, bearing in her hands a napkin and plate
which she had come to spread for his dinner, and as the maiden employed
herself in arranging a small table in the middle of the room, she cast a
few distrustful glances towards the sentinel who paced to and fro
opposite the door, and then, seizing on a moment when the soldier had
disappeared from view, she whispered to Butler--

"You have seen my father, sir?"

Butler nodded his head.

"He has told you all?"

Butler again signified a silent assent.

The tramp of the sentinel showed that he was again approaching the door;
and when Mary turned her eyes in that direction, she beheld the watchful
soldier halting in such a position as to enable him both to see and hear
what was passing in the room. Without showing the least perturbation, or
even appearing to notice the guard, she said in a gay and careless
voice,--"My father and Lieutenant Macdonald,--who is a good
gentleman--think it belongs to Christian people to do all the good we
can for them that providence has put under us; and so, sir, I have been
to gather you some blackberries, which I thought, may be, you would
like, sir."

The sentinel walked away, and Mary smiled as she saw her little
stratagem succeed.

"Bring me some paper," said Butler cautiously. "You are a considerate
girl," he continued, in a louder voice, "and I thank you for this good
will." Then finding that the sentinel did not immediately return, he
whispered--"I wish to write to Robinson--you shall take the letter and
read it to him."

"I will do my best," replied the maiden; and again the sentinel
interrupted the conference.

Mary, having arranged the table, left the room. In a few moments she
returned, bringing with her the family Bible.

"If you would like to read, sir," she said, "here is a book that a body
may look at a long time without getting tired of it. We have only got
this, and the Pilgrim's Progress, and the hymn-book, in the house; but
my father says this is worth all the others that ever were printed, put
together; and especially, sir, when one's in distress, and away from
their friends."

An expression of pleasure played across Butler's features as he took the
heavy volume from the girl.

"A thousand thanks to you, my pretty maiden," he replied. "I doubt not I
shall grow both wiser and better under your tutoring. This kindness
almost reconciles me to my fate."

"John is doing all he can for you, and he is a good helper to Mr.
Robinson," said Mary, in the same cautious whisper that she had first
spoken in, as she retreated from the room. Butler opened the book, and
found a sheet of paper folded away amongst the leaves; then closing it,
he threw it upon his bed.

In due course of time, Mary Musgrove returned with a few dishes of food
which she set out upon the table, and, in one of the successive visits
which were employed in furnishing the repast, she took from beneath her
apron a small ink-horn and pen, which she placed, unobserved by the
sentinel, in Butler's hand. Having done this, she retired, leaving the
prisoner to despatch his meal alone.

After dinner, Butler threw himself upon his bed, where he lay with the
Bible opened out before him, with his back turned towards the door; and,
whilst Mary Musgrove was engaged in removing the furniture of the table,
he found means to write a few lines to Philip Lindsay. He took the same
opportunity to pen a short letter to Mildred; and then to set down some
directions for Horse Shoe Robinson, the purport of which was that the
sergeant should take the two letters and depart, with all despatch, for
the Dove Cote, and to put both into the hands of Mildred, with a request
that she would procure him the necessary reply from her father. Horse
Shoe was also directed to explain to Mildred such particulars of
Butler's history as were necessary to be made known for the
accomplishment of the object of the mission.

When these papers were finished they were folded up into a small
compass, and in the course of the evening put into Mary's hands, with a
request that she would herself read the instructions intended for the
sergeant, and apprise him of their contents when she delivered the
papers to him.

So far all had succeeded well, and Butler found additional reason to
dispel the gloom that hung upon his spirits, in the prospect that was
now opened to him of enlisting strong and authoritative friends in the
scheme of his liberation.



CHAPTER XXXII.

MARY MUSGROVE'S PERPLEXITIES.


As a mariner who watches the heavens from the deck, and notes the first
uprising of the small cloud, "no bigger than a man's hand," that to his
practised eye shows the sign of tempest; and anon, as the speck quickly
changes into a lurid mass, whence volume after volume of dun vapor is
driven in curled billows forward, covering the broad welkin with a
gloomy pall, he looks more frequently and more intently upwards, anxious
to lay his vessel safe, and assure himself of his proper course to
steer: so--not with the same doubt of safety, but with the same restless
inspection of the heavens--did Mary watch the slow approach of night.
First, she looked wistfully at the declining sun, and observed with
pleasure the night-hawk begin to soar: then, through the long twilight,
she noted the thickening darkness, and saw the bat take wing, and heard
the frog croaking from his pool. And as the stars, one by one, broke
forth upon the night, it gladdened her to think the hour of her mission
was approaching, for she was troubled in her spirit and anxious to
acquit herself of her charitable office; and perhaps, too, it may be
told of her, without prejudice to her modest, maidenly emotions, a spur
was given to her wishes by the hope of meeting John Ramsay.

For an hour after supper she paced the porch, and still looked out upon
the stars, to mark the slow waxing of the night; and, now and then she
walked forth as far as the mill, and lingered by the bank of the river,
and again returned to ask the sentinel the hour.

"You seem disturbed, Mary," said Macdonald, playfully. "Now, I'll
venture to say I can guess your thoughts: this star-gazing is a great
tell-tale. You were just now thinking that, as the tug of the war is
over, some lad who has borne a musket lately, will be very naturally
tripping this way to-night, instead of going home to see his mother.
Come--isn't that a good guess?"

"Do you know him, sir?" asked Mary, with composure.

"Aye, to be sure I do: a good, brave fellow, who eats well, drinks well,
and fights well."

"All men do that now," replied the maiden, "but I am sure you are wrong,
sir, if you think any such considers it worth his while to come here."

"He must come quickly, or we cannot let him in without a countersign,"
said the officer: "sergeant, order the tattoo to beat, it is nine
o'clock. Mary, stay, I must cross-question you a little about this same
gallant."

"Indeed, sir, I did but jest, and so I thought you did. My father says
it is not proper I should loiter to talk with the men; good night, sir:
it is our time for prayers." And with these words the young girl
withdrew into the house.

In some half hour afterwards Mary escaped by another door and, taking a
circuitous path through the garden, she passed behind the sentinel and
sped towards the mill, intent upon keeping her appointment with the
friends of Butler. As soon as she reached the river bank, she quickened
her pace, and hurried with a nimble step towards the distant thicket.

"What ho! who goes there?" shouted the voice of a man from the
neighborhood of the mill: "who flies so fast?"

"Faith, Tom, it must be a ghost," said a second voice, loud enough to be
heard by the damsel, who now increased the speed with which she fled
towards the cover.

In an instant two of the soldiers of the guard rushed upon the track of
the frightened girl.

"Spare me, good sir--for pity's sake, spare me!" exclaimed the maiden,
suddenly turning round upon her pursuers.

"Where away so fast?" said one of the men. "This is a strange time of
night for girls to be flying into the woods. What matter have you in
hand that brings you here--and what is your name?"

"I am the daughter of Allen Musgrove," replied Mary indignantly.

"Is it so?" said the first speaker; "then it is the Miller's own
daughter, and we ask your pardon. We only saw you flying along the bank
of the river, and not knowing what it was, why we thought it right to
follow. But as it is all explained now, we will see you back to the
house."

"I can find my way without help," replied the maiden.

"Now, that's not good-natured for so kind a girl as the miller's
daughter ought to be," said the second soldier.

"I will see if my father can protect me," said Mary, hastening back
towards the house so rapidly as almost to run. "I will know if
Lieutenant Macdonald will allow me to be insulted."

With a hurried step she entered upon the porch, and, without stopping to
parley with those who occupied this part of the dwelling, retired to her
chamber and threw herself into a chair, where she sat for some time
panting with affright. As she gradually recovered her strength, she
began to turn her thoughts upon her recent discomfiture; and it was with
a deep sense of chagrin and disappointment, that she reflected upon her
not being able successfully to renew her enterprise on the same night.
The hour of meeting had arrived; the officers of the guard were still
frequenting the porch; her conduct had already excited notice, and if
she wished to be in a condition to render future service, her most
obvious duty was to postpone any further attempt to deliver the papers
until another time. On the other hand, she had reason to fear that John
Ramsay would be hovering near to ascertain the cause of her failure to
meet him, and might rashly resort to the same mode of conveying a signal
which he had successfully practised heretofore. This would infallibly,
she believed, provoke an investigation that might entirely frustrate all
their views. "But then John is a good soldier," she said, in the way of
self-consolation, "and will know that the enemy is awake; because if it
was not so, he would be sure I would keep my word. And if he only takes
that notion into his head, he is too careful to run the chance of
spoiling all by coming here."

Still, with some little mistrust as to John's soldiership when it
crossed the path of his love, which naturally, she reflected, makes a
man rash, she thought it best to provide against accident, by throwing
herself into the company of the officers who loitered about the door in
idle discourse with her father. She accordingly left her room, and, with
an anxious and troubled heart, went out and seated herself quietly on
the steps of the porch, where she remained for some time a silent but
inattentive listener to the conversation of those around her.

As a part of that system of things by which it is contrived that the
current of true love shall never run smooth, I have ever found that when
it was peculiarly fitting that some grandam, uncle, cousin, father, or
guest, should retire early to bed, in order that some scheme of interest
to young lovers might be successfully achieved; precisely on such nights
is the perversity of fate most conspicuous, in inclining the minds of
such grandam, uncle, cousin, and so forth, to sit up much longer than
they are wont; thus showing that the grooves and dovetails of things in
this world are not nicely fitted to the occasions of those who deal in
the tender passion. And so it befel for poor Mary Musgrove this night.

The hour was now fast verging upon eleven, and she anxiously noted every
sentence that was spoken, hoping it was to be the last; and then she
trembled to think that John, regardless of the danger, might be lurking
near, and indiscreetly expose himself. And still the talkers discoursed
as if they meant to sit up all night. It was a delicious, cool hour,
after a sultry day, and there was luxury in the breeze; but as the
minutes were counted over by the maiden, in their slow passage, her
fears increased. At length, far off, as if it were a mile away, the
clear notes of one whistling an old tune were heard. Mary involuntarily
started from her seat, and moved along the little pathway towards the
gate, her heart beating against her bosom as if it would have
"overbourne its continents." The signal notes freshened upon the air,
and the tune came forth blithely and boldly, showing that the wayfarer
was trudging, with a light heart, down the main road towards the mill.
The party in the porch, however, were too much engrossed in their
colloquy to notice the incident. The whistling came still nearer, until,
at last, it seemed to be scarce a gunshot from the house. Beyond this
point it did not advance; but here indicated that the person from whom
it proceeded had halted. If Mary's cheek could have been brought to the
light, it would have shown how the blood had deserted it from very fear:
her whole frame shook with this emotion. To exhibit her unconcern,
which, in truth, was most sadly affected, she mingled amongst the
company in the porch, and leant against the door-post. Still the
whistling continued, with no symptom of retreat, and Mary impatiently
walked towards the further end of the house. "John Ramsay makes a fool
of himself," she muttered peevishly. "Hasn't he the sense to see I
cannot get out? What keeps the simple man dallying shilly-shally at the
fence, as if he actually wanted them to take him? I don't believe in the
mighty sense and wisdom of these men! If John had half an eye he would
see that I couldn't get away to-night."

As the maiden grew fretful, her fears had less mastery over her; and
now, taking heart of grace, she returned to the porch.

"Sergeant," said Macdonald, calling to one of his men, "take two files
and patrole the road until you ascertain who that fellow is who makes
himself so merry to-night. I thought it some fool," he continued,
addressing himself to Allen Musgrove, "who, as the poet says, 'whistled
as he went for want of thought,' but he seems to have a hankering after
these premises that is not exactly to my mind. Perhaps, after all,
Mary," he added privately in the maiden's ear; "it is the lad I was
telling you of; and as he is a bashful youth, we will bring him in by
force. You know, he can't help that; and old dad here can never blame
you if I should make the fellow come to see you against your will.
Sergeant, treat the man civilly, you understand."

"It is not worth your while to be sending after Adam Gordon," said Mary,
with some slight confusion in her accent; "he is only half-witted; and
almost the only thing he does for a living, is to come down of nights
here to the mill-dam, to bob for eels. If it wasn't for that, his mother
would go many a day without a meal."

"No matter, we will bring Adam in," replied the lieutenant, "and if he
is good at his sport, why we will go and join him."

"He is shy of company," said Mary, still faltering in her speech, "and
will not come amongst strangers."

Partly from a spirit of resignation, partly to avoid further exposure of
her feelings, and in part too, perhaps, from some slight feeling of
remorse, such as is natural to a virtuous and youthful mind at being
obliged to practise a deceit however lawful (as I contend it was in
this case), the maiden withdrew into the parlor, where, unseen by any,
she offered up a short and earnest prayer for direction and forgiveness.

Meantime the patrole had set out, and, after the lapse of a short time,
returned, when the officer reported that before his arrival, the person
they had gone in quest of had left the place, and, in the darkness of
the night, they had no clue to follow him. This was scarcely announced
before the same whistle was heard, at the same remote point where it had
first attracted Mary's notice.

"It is as our young mistress has said," muttered Macdonald, "some
bumpkin, too shy to be caught, and not worth the catching. We have sat
it out to-night long enough, friend Musgrove, so let's to bed."

In a few moments the party betook themselves to their several places of
rest.

As Mary prepared herself for her couch, the anxious events of the night
busied her thoughts, and the image of John Ramsay was summoned up
alternately to be reproved and applauded. "If he is foolhardy," she
said, as she laid her head on the pillow, "no one will say he isn't wise
besides. And if he will be thrusting his head into danger, he knows
right well how to get it out again. So God bless him, for a proper man
as he is!" And thus, in a better temper with her lover, the maiden fell
asleep.

In order to avert all suspicion of disloyalty from the miller's family,
Christopher Shaw had offered his services to Macdonald, to do duty as
one of the detachment, during the period of Butler's detention in the
house. The offer had been accepted, and Christopher was appointed to
serve in the character of a quarter-master, or purveyor for the little
garrison,--a post, whose duties did not materially interfere with his
daily occupation at the mill.

Mary was in the habit of communicating to Christopher all her secrets,
and of enlisting his aid in her plans whenever it was necessary. And
now, soon after the morning broke, the maiden arose and went to the
mill, where she communicated to Christopher all the perplexities of the
preceding night.

"The thing must be managed to-day," said the young man, after he had
heard the whole story. "I have provisions to collect from the
neighborhood; and what is to hinder you, Mary, from riding out with
me,--if it should only be to buy some eggs?--and then, what is to hinder
us from popping in upon David Ramsay, and there fixing the whole
matter?"

"Will not the lieutenant be sending some of his own men with you?"
inquired the maid.

"He doesn't suspect us," answered Christopher, as cautiously as if the
walls of his mill had ears. "At any rate we can try it, you know, and if
the thing should take a wrong turn, you can only stay at home; and we
may, at the worst, make another venture at night."

"I have the letter in my bosom," said Mary, "and will be ready
immediately after breakfast."

When the appointed time arrived, things went as favorably as Mary could
have wished. Her good spirits had returned; and she plied her household
duties with a happy cheerfulness in her looks that completely disarmed
all suspicion. She received the banter of Macdonald, as to the cause of
her restlessness on the preceding night, with perfect good nature; and
when Christopher announced to the commanding officer his purpose of
going out upon a purveying ride, and invited his cousin to accompany
him, she accepted the proposal with such a tone of laughing pleasure, as
put it on the footing of a pastime.

The horses were brought to the door, and the maiden and her escort rode
cheerily forth. They were not long in accomplishing the five or six
miles that brought them to David Ramsay's cabin. I need not tell the
affectionate concern with which Mary Musgrove met her lover, John
Ramsay; nor how she upbraided him as a silly fellow, for tramping and
trudging about the mill, and whistling his signals, when he ought to
have known, by her not coming to meet him, that there was good reason
for it. Nor is it important to detail the circumstances of Horse Shoe's
and John's fruitless expedition, and their disappointment at not seeing
Mary; and how shrewdly, last night, Robinson guessed the true cause of
it; and how entirely he agreed with the maiden, beforehand, in thinking
John a venturesome, harebrained fool, to put himself in danger, when he
might have been certain it would have ended as it did, in a run from
"the rascally red coats," as John had to run to get out of the clutches
of the patrole. My story requires that I should pass these things by,
and go to the business in hand.

Horse Shoe and Ramsay had grown exceedingly impatient, both because they
were in hourly danger of being surprised by casual parties of the enemy,
and because the time for useful action was fast gliding away. They had
used every precaution to keep their visit to David Ramsay's a profound
secret to the neighborhood; and had, with that object, lain perdue in
one of the small cabins, from which they might watch the approach of
visitors, and, if need required, secure an immediate retreat. During the
day, they seldom left their concealment, confining all their out-door
operations to the night.

A consultation was held in David Ramsay's cabin,--the letters were
produced and delivered to Horse Shoe, and the instructions intended for
him by Butler were carefully read. It was resolved that Horse Shoe
should set out for the Dove Cote without delay, taking the route through
the mountain country of North Carolina, as that least likely to be
interrupted by the British troops. John Ramsay, for the present, was to
return to the Fair Forest camp, to inform Williams of the state of
affairs; and he was hereafter to act as occasion might suggest.
Christopher Shaw and Mary were to attend upon Butler, and communicate
whatever might transpire of interest to David Ramsay, who promised to
find means of intercourse with Williams or Sumpter, as circumstances
should allow.

These matters being arranged, Mary and Christopher Shaw took their
leaves of Ramsay's family, and went about the ostensible object of their
expedition.

Horse Shoe's plan of travel during the first and most perilous stages of
his journey towards Virginia, was to avail himself of the darkness of
the night; and he accordingly resolved to set out as soon as this day
should draw to a close. His immediate cares were, therefore, directed to
making all the necessary preparations for his departure. Captain Peter
was carefully tended, and supplied with a double allowance of provender;
provisions were stowed away, both for himself and his trusty beast: his
pistols were put in order: his rifle cleaned out, and a supply of
ammunition provided; and, finally, the letters were sewed up in a
leather pouch, and buckled around his body by a strap, inside of his
clothes. It was no inconsiderable item in the sergeant's preparation for
his expedition, to sit down and eat a meal, which, from the quantity
bestowed, and the vigor with which the assault upon it was made, might
have betokened a full week's starvation.

The day waned, and the night came a welcome visitor to the sergeant;
and, at that hour which old chroniclers designate as "inter canem et
lupum," Captain Peter was brought to the door, ready dight for travel.
Ramsay's family stood around,--and whilst Andy, with boyish affection,
held Horse Shoe's rifle in his hand, the sergeant feelingly spoke the
words of parting to his friends;--then, with a jaunty air of careless
mirth, springing into his saddle, and receiving his trusty weapon from
the young comrade of his late gallant adventure, he rode forth with as
stout a heart as ever went with knight of chivalry to the field of
romantic renown.



CHAPTER XXXIII.

A GLANCE AT THE DOVE COTE.--THE COMPANIONSHIP OF BROTHER AND SISTER.


Our story once more brings us back to the Dove Cote. During the first
week that followed her interview with Arthur Butler under the Fawn's
Tower, Mildred was calm and thoughtful, and even melancholy: her usual
custom of exercise was foregone, and her time was passed chiefly in her
chamber. By degrees, however, her firm and resolute temper predominated
over the sadness of her fortunes, and she began to resume that
cheerfulness which circumstances can never long subdue in a strong and
disciplined mind. She had grown more than ever watchful of the public
events, and sought, with an intense avidity, to obtain information in
regard to the state of things in the south. She now felt herself closely
allied to the cause in which Arthur Butler had embarked, and therefore,
caught up the floating rumors of the day, in what regarded the progress
of the American arms in the southern expedition, with the interest of
one who had a large stake depending on the issue.

She had received several letters from Butler, which detailed the
progress of his journey from the Dove Cote to Gates's camp, and from
thence to Horse Shoe's cottage. They were all written in the confident
and even jocular tone of a light-hearted soldier who sought to amuse his
mistress; and they narrated such matters of personal history as were of
a character to still her fears for his safety. Their effect upon Mildred
was to warm up her enthusiasm, as well as to brighten her anticipations
of the future, and thus to increase the returning elasticity of her
spirits. Up to this period, therefore, she grew every day more buoyant
and playful in her temper, and brought herself to entertain a more
sanguine reckoning of the eventual determination of affairs. She was now
frequently on horseback, attended by her brother, with whom she scarcely
ever failed to make a visit to the good Mistress Dimock, where she
either found a letter from Butler, or heard some of the thousand tidings
which report was for ever busy in propagating or exaggerating in regard
to the movements of the army.

"I'll warrant you, Arthur is a man for the pen as well as for the spur
and broadsword, my pretty lady," was one of the landlady's comments, as
she handed to Mildred the eighth or ninth epistle that had fallen into
her hands since Butler's departure; "there scarcely comes trotting by a
soiled traveller with his head set northwards, but it is--'Good woman,
is this Mistress Dimock's?' and when I say, 'aye,' then 'here's a
letter, madam, for you, that comes from the army:' and so, there's
Arthur's own hand-writing to a great pacquet, 'for Mistress Dimock of
the Rockfish inn, of Amherst,' and not even, after all, one poor line
for me, but just a cover, and the inside for Miss Mildred Lindsay of the
Dove Cote. Ha, ha! we old bodies are only stalking-horses in this world.
But God bless him!--he is a fine and noble gentleman." And Mildred would
take the pacquet and impatiently break the seal; and as she perused the
close-written contents the color waxed and waned upon her cheek, and her
eye would one instant sparkle with mirth, and in the next grow dim with
a tear. And when she had finished reading, she would secretly press the
paper to her lips, and then bestow it away in her bosom, evincing the
earnest fondness of a devoted and enthusiastic nature.

Mildred and Henry were inseparable; and, in proportion as his sister's
zeal and attachment to the cause of independence became more active, did
Henry's inclination to become a partisan grow apace. Hers was a
character to kindle the spirit of brave adventure. There was in it a
quiet and unostentatious but unvarying current of resolution, that
shrank before no perils. Her feelings, acute and earnest, had given all
their warmth to her principles; and what she once believed her duty
commanded, was pursued with the devout self-dedication of a religious
obligation. To this temper, which, by some secret of its constitution,
has a spell to sway the minds of mankind, there was added the grace of
an exquisitely feminine address. The union of these two attributes
rendered Mildred Lindsay an object of conspicuous interest in such a
time as that of the revolutionary struggle. Her youth, her ready
genius, her knowledge and her habits of reflection, much in advance of
her years, enhanced the impression her character was adapted to produce,
and brought upon her, even in her secluded position, a considerable
share of public observation. It was not wonderful that a mind so
organized and accomplished should have acquired an unlimited dominion
over the frank, open-hearted, and brave temper of her brother, now just
stepping beyond the confines of mere boyhood. Her influence over Henry
was paramount and unbounded: her affections were his, her faith was his,
her enthusiasm stole into and spread over his whole temper.

With these means of influence she had sedulously applied herself to
infuse into Henry's mind her own sentiment in regard to the war; and
this purpose had led her to interest herself in subjects and pursuits,
which, in general, are very foreign from her sex. Her desire to enlist
his feelings in aid of Butler, and her conviction that a time was at
hand when Henry might be useful, gave rise to an eager solicitude to see
him well prepared for the emergencies of the day, by that necessary mode
of education which, during the period of the revolution, was common
amongst the young gentlemen of the country. He was a most willing and
ready pupil; and she delighted to encourage him in his inclination for
military studies, however fanciful some of his conceptions in regard to
them might be. She, therefore, saw, with great satisfaction, the
assiduous though boyish devotion with which he set himself to gain a
knowledge of matters relating to the duties of a soldier. However little
this may fall within the scope of female perception in ordinary times,
it will not appear so much removed from the capabilities or even the
habits of the sex, when we reflect that in the convulsions of this great
national struggle, when every resource of the country was drained for
service, the events of the day were contemplated with no less interest
by the women than by the men. The fervor with which the American women
participated in the cares and sacrifices of the revolutionary war, has
challenged the frequent notice and warmest praises of its chroniclers.
Mildred but reflected, in this instance, the hues of the society around
the Dove Cote, which consisted of many families, scattered along the
country side, composed of persons of elevated character, easy
circumstances, and of the staunchest Whig politics, with whom she held
an uninterrupted and familiar intercourse.

Another consideration may serve to explain the somewhat masculine
character of Mildred's pursuits. Her most intimate companion, at all
times, and frequently for weeks together her only one, was her brother.
These two had grown up together in all the confidence of childhood; and
this confidence continued still unabated. Their pursuits, sports,
exercises, thoughts, and habits were alike, with less of the
discrimination usual between the sexes, than is to be found between
individuals in larger associations. They approximated each other in
temper and disposition; and Henry might, in this regard, be said to be,
without disparagement to his manly qualities, a girlish boy; and
Mildred, on the other hand, with as little derogation, to be a boyish
girl. This home-bred freedom of nurture produced, in its development,
some grotesque results, which my reader has, doubtless, heretofore
observed with a smile; and it will, likewise, serve to explain some of
the peculiar forms of intercourse which may hereafter be noticed between
the brother and sister.

The news of the battle of Camden had not yet reached the neighborhood of
the Dove Cote; but the time drew nigh when all the country stood on
tiptoe, anxious to receive tidings of that interesting event. A week had
elapsed without bringing letters from Butler; and Mildred was growing
uneasy at this interval of silence. There was a struggle in her mind; an
unpleasant foreboding that she was almost ashamed to acknowledge, and
yet which she could not subdue. The country was full of reports of the
hostile operations, and a thousand surmises were entertained, which
varied according to the more sanguine or desponding tempers of the
persons who made them. Mildred was taught by Butler to expect defeat,
yet still she hoped for victory; but the personal fate of her lover
stole upon her conjectures, and she could not keep down the misgiving
which affection generally exaggerates, and always renders painful. In
this state of doubt, it was observable that her manners occasionally
rose to a higher tone of playfulness than was natural to her; and by
turns they sank to a moody silence, showing that the equipoise of the
mind was disturbed, and that the scales did not hang true: it was the
struggle of mental resolution with a coward heart--a heart intimidated
by its affections.

Such was the state of things when, in the latter fortnight of August,
the morning ushered in a day of unsurpassed beauty. The air was elastic;
the cool breeze played upon the shrubbery, and stole the perfume of a
thousand flowers. The birds sang with unwonted vivacity from the
neighboring trees; and the sun lighted up the mountains with a golden
splendor, the fast drifting clouds flinging their shadows upon the
forest that clothed the hills around, and the eagle and the buzzard
sailing in the highest heavens, or eddying around the beetling cliffs
with a glad flight, as if rejoicing in the luxuries of the cool summer
morning. Breakfast was scarcely over before Henry was seen upon the
terrace, arrayed in his hunting dress. His bugle was daintily suspended
by a green cord across his shoulders; it was a neat and glittering
instrument, whose garniture was bedizened with the coxcombry of silken
tassels, and was displayed as ostentatiously as if worn by the hero of a
melodrame.

Like St. Swithin in the ballad, he had "footed thrice the wold," when he
put the bugle to his mouth and "blew a recheate both loud and long."

"How now, good master Puff," said Mildred, coming up playfully to her
brother, "what means this uproar? Pray you, have mercy on one's ears."

Henry turned towards his sister, without taking the bugle from his lips,
and continued the blast for a full minute; then, ceasing only from want
of breath, he said, with a comic earnestness--

"I'm practising my signals, sister; I can give you 'to Horse,' and
'Reveillee,' and 'Roast Beef,' like a trained trumpeter."

"Truly you are a proper man, master," replied Mildred. "But it is hardly
a time," she continued, half muttering to herself, "for you and me,
Henry, to wear light hearts in our bosoms."

"Why, sister," said Henry, with some astonishment in his looks, "this
seems to me to be the very time to practise my signals. We are at the
very tug of the war, and every man that has a sword, or bugle either,
should be up and doing."

"How come on your studies, brother?" interrupted Mildred, without
heeding Henry's interpretation of his duty.

"Oh, rarely! I know most of the speeches of Coriolanus all by heart:--

    "'Like an eagle in a dove cote, I
    Fluttered your voices in Corioli:
    Alone I did it.--Boy!'"

he spouted, quoting from the play, and accompanying his recitation with
some extravagant gestures.

"This is easy work, Henry," said Mildred laughing, "there is too much of
the holiday play in that. I thought you were studying some graver
things, instead of these bragging heroics. You pretended to be very
earnest, but a short time ago, to make a soldier of yourself."

"Well, and don't you call this soldiership? Suppose I were to pounce
down upon Cornwallis--his lordship, as that fellow Tyrrel calls
him--just in that same fashion. I warrant they would say there was some
soldiership in it! But, sister, haven't I been studying the attack and
defence of fortified places, I wonder? And what call you that? Look now,
here is a regular hexagon," continued Henry, making lines upon the
gravel walk with a stick, "here is the bastion,--these lines are the
flank,--the face,--the gorge: here is the curtain. Now, my first
parallel is around here, six hundred paces from the counterscarp. But I
could have taken Charleston myself in half the time that poking fellow,
Clinton, did it, if I had been there, and one of his side, which--thank
my stars--I am not."

"You are entirely out of my depth, brother," interrupted Mildred.

"I know I am. How should women be expected to understand these matters?
Go to your knitting, sister: you can't teach me."

"Have you studied the Military Catechism, Henry? that, you know, Baron
Steuben requires of all the young officers."

"Most," replied Henry. "Not quite through it. I hate this getting prose
by heart. Shakspeare is more to my mind than Baron Steuben. But I will
tell you what I like, sister: I like the management of the horse. I can
passage, and lunge, and change feet, and throw upon the haunches, with
e'er a man in Amherst or Albemarle either, may be."

"You told me you had practised firing from your saddle."

"To be sure I did: and look here," replied the cadet, taking off his cap
and showing a hole in the cloth. "Do you see that, Mildred? I flung the
cap into the air, and put a ball through it before it fell--at a
gallop."

"Well done, master; you come on bravely!"

"And another thing I have to tell you, which, perhaps, Mildred, you will
laugh to hear:--I have taken to a rough way of sleeping. I want to
harden myself; so, I fling a blanket on the floor and stretch out on
it--and sleep like--"

"Like what, good brother; you are posed for a comparison."

"Like the sleeping beauty, sister."

"Ha! ha! that's a most incongruous and impertinent simile!"

"Well, like a Trojan, or a woodman, or a dragoon, or like Stephen
Foster, and that is as far as sleeping can go. I have a notion of trying
it in the woods one of these nights--if I can get Stephen to go along."

"Why not try it alone?"

"Why it's a sort of an awkward thing to be entirely by one's self in the
woods, the livelong night--it is lonesome, you know, sister; and, to
tell the truth, I almost suspect I am a little afraid of ghosts."

"Indeed! and you a man! That's a strange fear for a young Coriolanus.
Suppose you should get into the wars, and should happen to be posted as
a sentinel at some remote spot--far from your comrades; on picket, I
think you call it? (Henry nodded) on a dark night, would you desert your
duty for fear of a goblin!"

"I would die first, Mildred. I would stick it out, if I made an
earthquake by trembling in my shoes."

Mildred laughed.

"And then if a ghost should rise up out of the ground," she continued,
with a mock solemnity of manner.

"I would whistle some tune," interrupted Henry. "That's an excellent way
to keep down fear."

"Shame on you, to talk of fear, brother."

"Only of ghosts, sister, not of men."

"You must cure yourself of this childish apprehension, master."

"And how shall I do so, Mildred? I have heard people say that the
bravest men have been alarmed by spirits."

"You must accustom yourself to midnight hours and dark places, all
alone. Our poor mother taught you this fear."

"I should think of _her_, Mildred, until my heart would burst, and my
cheek grew pale as ashes," said Henry, with an earnest and solemn
emphasis.

"Her spirit, could it rise, would love you, brother; it would never seek
to do you harm," replied Mildred thoughtfully.

"Sister," said Henry, "you came here in sport, but you have made me very
sad."

Mildred walked off a few paces and remained gazing steadfastly over the
parapet. When she looked back she saw Henry approaching her.

"You stoop, brother, in your gait," she said, "that's a slovenly habit."

"It comes, sister, of my climbing these mountains so much. We
mountaineers naturally get a stoop on the hill-sides. But if you think,"
continued Henry, reverting to the subject which had just been broken
off, "it would make me bolder to watch of nights, I should not care to
try it."

"I would have you," said Mildred, "walk your rounds, like a patrole,
through the woods from twelve until two, every night for a week."

"Agreed, sister--rain or shine."

"And then I shall think you completely cured of this unsoldier-like
infirmity, when you are able to march as far as the church, and serve
one tour of duty in the grave-yard."

"By myself?" inquired Henry, with concern.

"You wouldn't have me go with you, brother?"

"I should feel very brave if you did, Mildred; for you are as brave as a
general. But if Stephen Foster will keep in the neighborhood--near
enough to hear my 'All's well'--I think I could stand it out."

"You must go alone," said Mildred, cheerfully, "before I shall think you
fit to be promoted."

"If you say I must, sister Mildred, why, then I must: and there's an end
of it. But your discipline is forty times more severe than the German
Baron's at Richmond. Father looks pale this morning," continued Henry,
as he turned his eyes towards the porch, where Mr. Lindsay was now seen
walking forward and back, with his arms folded across his breast.
"Something perpetually troubles him, Mildred. I wish that devil, Tyrrel,
had been buried before he ever found his way to the Dove Cote! See he
comes this way."

Both Mildred and Henry ran to meet Lindsay, and encountered him before
he had advanced a dozen paces over the lawn.

"Such a day, father!" said Mildred, as she affectionately took his hand.
"It is a luxury to breathe this air."

"God has given us a beautiful heaven, my children, and a rich and
bountiful earth. He has filled them both with blessings. Man only mars
them with his cursed passions," said Lindsay, with a sober accent.

"You have heard bad news, father?" said Henry, inquiringly; "what has
happened?"

Mildred grew suddenly pale.

"We shall hear glorious news, boy, before many days," replied Lindsay;
"as yet, all is uncertain. Henry, away to your sports, or to your
studies. Mildred, I have something for your ear, and so, my child, walk
with me a while."

Henry took his leave, looking back anxiously at his sister, whose
countenance expressed painful alarm. Mildred accompanied her father
slowly and silently to the small veranda that shaded the door of the
gable next the terrace.



CHAPTER XXXIV.

MILDRED PUT TO A SEVERE TRIAL:--HER FIRMNESS.


"My mind troubles me," said Lindsay: "Mildred, hear me--and mark what I
say. Our fortunes are coming to a period of deep interest: it is
therefore no time to deal in evasive speeches, or to dally with coy and
girlish feelings. I wish, my daughter, to be understood."

"Father, have I offended you?" inquired Mildred, struck with the painful
and almost repulsive earnestness of Lindsay's manner.

"Arthur Butler has been at the Dove Cote," he said, sternly, "and you
have concealed it from me. That was not like my child."

"Father!" exclaimed Mildred, bursting into tears.

"Nay--these tears shall not move me from my resolution. As a parent I
had a right, Mildred, to expect obedience from you; but you saw him in
the very despite of my commands: here, on the confines of the Dove Cote,
you saw him."

"I did--I did."

"And you were silent, and kept your secret from your father's bosom."

"You forbade me to speak of him," replied Mildred, in a low and sobbing
voice, "and banished me from your presence when I but brought his name
upon my lips."

"He is a villain, daughter; a base wretch that would murder my peace,
and steal my treasure from my heart."

Mildred covered her eyes with her hands, and trembled in silent agony.

"I have received letters," continued Lindsay, "that disclose to me a
vile plot against my life. This same Butler--this furious and fanatic
rebel--has been lurking in the neighborhood of my house, to watch my
family motions, to pry into the character of my guests, to possess
himself of my sacred confidences, to note the incoming and the out-going
of my most attached friends, and thereupon to build an accusation of
treason before this unholy and most accursed power that has usurped
dominion in the land. I am to be denounced to these malignant masters,
and to suffer such penalties as their passions may adjudge. And all this
through the agency of a man who is cherished and applauded by my own
daughter!"

"My dear father, who has thus abused your mind, and led your thoughts
into a current so foreign from that calm judgment with which you have
been accustomed to look upon the things of life?"

"Can you deny, Mildred, that this Butler followed Tyrrel to the Dove
Cote; lay concealed here, close at hand; sought by discourse through
some of his coadjutors with Tyrrel's servant, to learn the object of
Tyrrel's visit; and offered gross outrage to the man when he failed to
persuade him to betray his master? Can you deny this? Can you deny that
he fled precipitately from his hiding-place when he could no longer
conceal his purpose?--and, knowing these things, can you doubt he is a
villain?"

"He is no villain, father," said Mildred, indignantly. "These are the
wretched forgeries of that unworthy man who has won your confidence--a
man who is no less an enemy to your happiness than he is a selfish
contriver against mine. The story is not true: it is one of Tyrrel's
basest falsehoods."

"And Butler was not here; you would persuade me so, Mildred?"

"He was in the neighborhood for a single night; he journeyed southwards
in the course of his duty," answered Mildred, mildly.

"And had no confederates with him?"

"He was attended by a guide--only one--and hurried onwards without
delay."

"And you met him on that single night--by accident, I suppose?"

"Do you doubt my truth, father?"

"Mildred, Mildred! you will break my heart. Why was he here at all--why
did you meet him?"

"He came, father--" said Mildred, struggling to speak through a sudden
burst of tears.

"Silence! I will hear no apology!" exclaimed Lindsay. Then relenting in
an instant, he took his daughter's hand, as he said: "My child, thou art
innocent in thy nature, and knowest not the evil imaginings of this
world. He wickedly lied, if he told you that he came casually hither, or
that his stay was circumscribed to one short night. I have proofs, full
and satisfactory, that, for several days, he lay concealed in this
vicinity; and, moreover, that his scheme was frustrated only by an
unexpected discovery, made through the indiscretion of a drunken bully,
who came linked with him in his foul embassy. It was a shameless lie,
invented to impose upon your credulity, if he gave you room to believe
otherwise."

"Arthur Butler scorns a falsehood, father, with the deepest scorn that
belongs to a noble mind, and would resent the charge with the spirit of
a valiant and virtuous man. If Mr. Tyrrel has such accusations to make,
it would be fitter they should be made face to face with the man he
would slander, than in my father's ear. But it is the nature of the
serpent to sting in the grass, not openly to encounter his victim."

"The first duty of a trusty friend is to give warning of the approach of
an enemy--and that has Tyrrel done. For this act of service does he
deserve your rebuke? Could you expect aught else of an honorable
gentleman? Shame on you, daughter!"

"Father, I know the tale to be wickedly, atrociously false. Arthur
Butler is not your enemy. Sooner would he lay down his life than even
indulge a thought of harm to you. His coming hither was not unknown to
me--his delay, but one brief night; business of great moment called him
hastily towards the army of the south."

"You speak like a girl, Mildred. I have, against this tale, the avowal
of a loyal and brave soldier. Aye, and let me tell you--favorably as you
may deem of this false and traitorous rebel--his wily arts have been
foiled, and quick vengeance is now upon his path--his doom is fixed."

"For heaven's sake, father, dear father, tell me what this means. Have
you heard of Arthur?" cried Mildred, in the most impassioned accents of
distress, at the same time throwing her head upon Lindsay's breast. "Oh,
God! have you heard aught of harm to him?"

"Girl! foolish, mad, self-willed girl!" exclaimed Lindsay, disengaging
himself from his daughter, and rising from his seat and angrily striding
a few paces upon the terrace. "Dare you show this contumacy to me! No, I
did not mean that--have you the heart, Mildred, to indulge these
passionate fervors for the man I hate more than I can hate any other
living thing! He, a wretch, upon whose head I invoke nightly curses! A
loathsome, abhorred image to my mind! Hear me, Mildred, and hear me,
though your heart break while I utter it--May the felon's death whelm
him and his name in eternal disgrace!--may his present captivity be
beset with all the horrors of friendlessness, unpitied--"

"His captivity, father! And has he then fallen into the hands of the
enemy? Quick! tell me all!--I shall die--my life is wrapped up in his!"
ejaculated Mildred, in agony, as she sprang towards her father and
seized his arm, and then sank at his feet.

"For God's sake, my child!" said Lindsay, becoming alarmed at the
violence of the paroxysm he had excited, and now lifting his daughter
from the ground. "Mildred!--speak, girl! This emotion will drive me mad.
Oh, fate, fate!--how unerringly dost thou fulfil the sad predictions of
my spirit! How darkly does the curse hang upon my household! Mildred,
dear daughter, pardon my rash speech. I would not harm thee, child--no,
not for worlds!"

"Father, you have cruelly tortured my soul," said Mildred, reviving from
the half lifeless state into which she had fallen, and which for some
moments had denied her speech. "Tell me all; on my knees, father, I
implore you."

"It was a hasty word, daughter," replied Lindsay, ill concealing the
perturbation of his feelings; "I meant not what I said."

"Nay, dear father," said Mildred, "I am prepared to hear the worst; you
spoke of Arthur's captivity."

"It was only a rumor," replied Lindsay, struck with apprehension at his
daughter's earnestness, and now seeking to allay the feeling his hint
had aroused in her mind; "it may be exaggerated by Tyrrel, whose letter,
hastily written, mentions the fact, that Butler had been made a prisoner
by some bands of Tories, amongst whom he had rashly ventured. The
clemency of his king may yet win him back to his allegiance. A salutary
confinement, at least, will deprive him of the power of mischief. His
lands will be confiscated--and the close of the war, now fast
approaching, will find him a houseless adventurer, baffled in his
treason, and unpitied by all good men. This should persuade you,
Mildred, to renounce your unnatural attachment, and to think no more of
one whose cause heaven has never sanctioned, and whose condition in life
should forbid all pretension to your regard--one, above all, repulsive
even to loathing to the thoughts of your father."

"I loved him, father, in his happiest and brightest day," said Mildred,
firmly; "I cannot desert him in his adversity. Oh, speak to me no more!
Let me go to my chamber; I am ill and cannot bear this torrent of your
displeasure."

"I will not detain you, Mildred. In sorrow and suffering, but still with
a father's affection as warmly shining on you as when, in earliest
infancy, I fondled thee upon my knee, I part with thee now. One kiss,
girl. There, let that make peace between us. For your sake and my own, I
pledge my word never to distress you with this subject again. Destiny
must have its way, and I must bide the inevitable doom."

With a heavy heart and an exhausted frame, Mildred slowly and tearfully
withdrew.

Lindsay remained some time fixed upon the spot where his daughter had
left him. He was like a man stupefied and astounded by a blow. His
conference had ended in a manner that he had not prepared himself to
expect. The imputed treachery of Butler, derived from Tyrrel's letters,
had not struck alarm into the heart of Mildred, as he had supposed it
could not fail to do. The wicked fabrication had only recoiled upon the
inventor; and Mildred, with the resolute, confident, and unfaltering
attachment of her nature, clung with a nobler devotion to her lover. To
Lindsay, in whose mind no distrust of the honesty of Tyrrel could find
shelter; whose prejudices and peculiar temperament came in aid of the
gross and disgraceful imputation which the letters inferred, the
constancy and generous fervor of his daughter towards the cause of
Butler seemed to be a mad and fatal infatuation.

Ever since his first interview with Mildred on the subject of her
attachment, his mind had been morbidly engrossed with the reflections to
which it had given rise. There was such a steadiness of purpose apparent
in her behavior, such an unchangeable resolve avowed, as seemed to him,
in the circumstances of her condition, to defy and stand apart from the
ordinary and natural impulses by which human conduct is regulated. He
grew daily more abstracted and moody in his contemplations; and as study
and thought gave a still graver complexion to his feelings, his mind
fled back upon his presentiments; and that intense, scholar-like
superstition, which I have heretofore described as one of the tendencies
of his nature, began more actively to conjure up its phantasmagoria
before his mental vision. A predominating trait of this superstition was
an increasing conviction that, in Mildred's connexion with Arthur
Butler, there was associated some signal doom to himself, that was to
affect the fortunes of his race. It was a vague, misty, obscure
consciousness of impending fate, the loss of reason or the loss of life
that was to ensue upon that alliance if it should ever take place.

It was such a presentiment that now, in the solitary path of Lindsay's
life, began to be magnified into a ripening certainty of ill. The needle
of his mind trembled upon its pivot, and began to decline towards a
fearful point; that point was--frenzy. His studies favored this
apprehension--they led him into the world of visions. The circumstances
of his position favored it. He was perplexed by the intrigues of
politicians, against whom he had no defence in temper nor worldly skill:
he was deluded by false views of events: he was embarrassed and
dissatisfied with himself: above all, he was wrought upon, bewildered,
and glamoured (to use a most expressive Scotch phrase) by the
remembrance of a sickly dream.

Thus hunted and badgered by circumstances, he fled with avidity to the
disclosures made in Tyrrel's letters, to try, as a last effort, their
effect upon Mildred, hoping that the tale there told might divert her
from a purpose which now fed all his melancholy.

The reader has just seen how the experiment had failed.

Lindsay retired to his study, and, through the remainder of the day,
sought refuge from his meditations in the converse of his books. These
mute companions, for once, failed to bring him their customary balm. His
feelings had been turned, by the events of the morning, into a current
that bore them impetuously along towards a dark and troubled ocean of
thought; and when the shades of evening had fallen around him, he was
seen pacing the terrace with a slow and measured step.

"It is plain, she passionately loves Butler," he said, "in despite of
all the visible influences around her. Her education, habits,
affections, duty--all set in an opposing tide against this passion, and
yet does it master them all. That I should be bound to mine enemy by a
chain, whose strongest link is forged by my own daughter.
She--Mildred!--No, no--that link was not forged by her: it hath not its
shape from human workmanship. Oh, that like those inspired enthusiasts
who, in times of old,--yea, and in a later day--have been able to open
the Book of Destiny, and to read the passages of man's future life, I
might get one glimpse of that forbidden page!--To what a charitable use
might I apply the knowledge. Wise men have studied the journeyings of
the stars, and have--as they deemed--discovered the secret spell by
which yon shining orbs sway and compel the animal existences of this
earth; even as the moon governs the flow of the ocean, or the fever of
the human brain. Who shall say what is the invisible tissue--what the
innumerable cords--that tie this planet and all its material natures to
the millions of worlds with which it is affined? What is that mysterious
thing which men call attraction, that steadies these spheres in their
tangled pathways through the great void?--that urges their swift and
fearful career into the track of their voyage, without the deviation of
the breadth of a single hair--rolling on the same from eternity to
eternity? How awfully does the thought annihilate our feeble and
presumptuous philosophy! Is it, then, to excite the scorn of the wise,
if we assert that some kindred power may shape out and direct the
wanderings of man?--that an unseen hand may lay the threads by which
this tottering creature is to travel through the labyrinth of this
world; aye, and after it is done, to point out to him his course along
the dark and chill valley, which the dead walk through companionless and
silent? Have not men heard strange whispers in the breeze--the voice of
warning? Have they not felt the fanning of the wing that bore the secret
messenger through the air? Have they not seen some floating fold of the
robe as it passed by? O God!--have they not seen the dead arise? What
are these but the communings, the points of contact, between the earthy
and spiritual worlds--the essences or intelligences that sometimes flit
across the confine of our gross sphere, and speak to the children of
clay? And wherefore do they speak, but that the initiated may regard the
sign, and walk in safety? Or, perchance, some mischief-hatching
fiend,--for such, too, are permitted to be busy to mar the good that God
has made--may speak in malice to allure us from our better purpose. Aye,
as aptly this, as the other. Miserable child of doubt, how art thou
beset! Let the vain pedant prate of his philosophy, let the soldier
boast his valor, the learned scholar his scepticism, and the worldling
laugh his scorn, yet do they each and all yield homage to this belief.
There comes a time of honest self-confession, of secret meditation to
all, and then the boding spirit rises to his proper mastery: then does
instinct smother argument: then do the darkness of the midnight hour,
the howling wind, the rush of the torrent, the lonesomeness of the
forest and the field, shake the strong nerves; and the feeble, pigmy
man, trembles at his own imaginings."

In such a strain did Lindsay nurse his doubting superstition; and by
these degrees was it that his mind soothed itself down into a calmer
tone of resignation. In proportion as this fanciful and distempered
philosophy inclined his reflection towards the belief of preternatural
influences, it suggested excuses for Mildred's seeming contumacy, and
inculcated a more indulgent sentiment of forbearance in his future
intercourse with her.

Towards the confirmation of this temper an ordinary incident, which, at
any other time, would have passed without comment, now contributed. A
storm had arisen: the day, towards its close, had grown sultry, and had
engendered one of those sudden gusts which belong to the summer in this
region. It came, without premonition, in a violent tornado, that rushed
through the air with the roar of a great cataract. Lindsay had scarcely
time to retreat to the cover of the porch, before the heavy-charged
cloud poured forth its fury in floods of rain. The incessant lightnings
glittered on the descending drops, and illuminated the distant landscape
with more than the brilliancy of day. The most remote peaks of the
mountain were sheeted with the glare; and the torrents that leaped down
the nearer hill-sides sparkled with a dazzling radiance. Peal after
peal of abrupt and crashing thunder roared through the heavens, and
echoed with terrific reverberations along the valleys. Lindsay gazed
upon this scene, from his secure cover, with mute interest, inwardly
aroused and delighted with the grand and sublime conflict of the
elements, in a spot of such wild and compatible magnificence: the solemn
and awful emotions excited by these phenomena were exaggerated by the
peculiar mood of his mind, and now absorbed all his attention. After a
brief interval, the rain ceased to fall as suddenly as it had begun; the
thunder was silent, and only a few distant flashes of wide-spread light
broke fitfully above the horizon. The stars soon again shone forth
through a transparent and placid heaven, and the moon sailed in beauty
along a cloudless sea. The frog chirped again from the trees, and the
far-off owl hooted in the wood, resuming his melancholy song, that had
been so briefly intermitted. The foaming river below, swollen by the
recent rain, flung upwards a more lively gush from its rocky bed: the
cock was heard to crow, as if a new day had burst upon his harem; and
the house-dogs barked in sport as they gambolled over the wet grass.

Lindsay looked forth and spoke.

"How beautiful is the change! But a moment since, and the angry elements
were convulsed with the shock of war; and now, how calm! My ancient oaks
have weathered the gale, and not a branch has been torn from their hoary
limbs: not the most delicate of Mildred's flowers; not the tenderest
shrub has been scathed by the threatening fires of heaven! The Dove Cote
and its inmates have seen the storm sweep by without a vestige of harm.
Kind heaven, grant that this may be a portent of our fortune; and that,
when this tempest of human passion has been spent, the Dove Cote and its
inhabitants may come forth as tranquil, as safe, as happy, as
now--more--yes, more happy than now! Our ways are in thy hands; and I
would teach myself to submit to thy providence with patient hope. So,
let it be! I am resigned."

As Lindsay still occupied his position in the porch, Stephen Foster
appeared before him dripping with the rain of the late storm.

"A letter, sir," said Stephen. "I have just rode from the post-office,
and was almost oversot in the gust: it catched me upon the road; and it
was as much as I could do to cross the river. It is a mighty fretful
piece of water after one of these here dashes."

Lindsay took the packet.

"Get your supper, good Stephen," he said. "Order lights for me in the
library! Thank you--thank you!"

When Lindsay opened the letter, he found it to contain tidings of the
victory at Camden, written by Tyrrel. After he had perused the contents,
it was with a triumphant smile that he exclaimed, "And it is come so
soon! Thank God, the omen has proved true! a calmer and a brighter hour
at last opens upon us."

He left the study to communicate the news to his children, and spent the
next hour with Mildred and Henry in the parlor. His feelings had risen
to a happier key; and it was with some approach to cheerfulness, but
little answered in the looks or feelings of his children, that he
retired to his chamber at a late hour, where sleep soon came, with its
sweet oblivion, to repair his exhausted spirits, and to restore him to
the quiet of an easy mind.



CHAPTER XXXV.

MILDRED IN GRIEF.--SHE IS NEAR MAKING A DISCLOSURE.--A VISITOR ARRIVES
AT THE DOVE COTE.

    "Then in that hour remorse he felt,
    And his heart told him he had dealt
    Unkindly with his child."--_Rogers._


On the following day Mildred confined herself to her chamber. She had
passed a sleepless night, and the morning found her a pale, anxious, and
distressed watcher of the slow approach of light. Her thoughts were busy
with the fate of Butler. This topic overwhelmed all other cares, and
struck deep and unmitigated anguish into her mind. The hints that had
been so indiscreetly dropped by her father, more than if the whole tale
had been told, had worked upon her imagination, and conjured up to her
apprehension the certain destruction of her lover. In her interview with
Lindsay, her emotions had been controlled by the extreme difficulty of
her situation. The fear of rousing in her father that deep and solemn
tone of passion, which had now become the infirmity of his mind, and
almost threatened to "deprive his sovereignty of reason," and of which
she was painfully aware, had subdued the strength of her own
feelings--so far, at least, as to inculcate a more seeming moderation
than, in other circumstances, she could have exhibited. It was the
struggle between filial affection and duty on the one side, and an
ardent, though tremblingly acknowledged, attachment on the other. The
course that she had previously determined to pursue, in reference to the
many earnest and assiduous efforts of Lindsay to persuade her from her
love, was steadily to persevere in the open acknowledgment of her
plighted vow, and endeavor to win her father's favor by a calm and
gentle expostulation; or to seek, in a respectful silence, the means of
averting the occasion of that gusty and moody outbreak of temper, which
the peculiar exacerbation of his mind was apt to make frequent. She
would have resorted to this silence in the late communion with Lindsay,
if he had not, with an unusual bitterness, denounced Arthur Butler as
the author of a hateful crime; a crime which she knew had been foully
insinuated against him by a man of whose subtle wickedness she was
persuaded, and whom, of all others, she most heartily execrated. She
was, therefore, led indignantly, though temperately, to repel the
slander by which her father's hatred had been artfully envenomed. But
when, in the fierce fervor of his displeasure, Lindsay had announced to
her the danger that had befallen Butler, the disclosure opened to her
mind a world of misery. The late silence of her lover had already
alarmed her fears, and this announcement suggested the worst of the many
anxious conjectures which her brooding spirit had imagined as the cause
of that absence of tidings. Her emotions upon this disclosure were those
of a bursting heart that dared not trust itself with words; and when her
father, seeing the unlooked-for mischief he had done, sought to temper
his speech, and retract some of the harshness of his communication, by
an explanation, the only effect was, for the moment, to take off the
edge of her keenest grief. But when she left his presence, and recovered
herself sufficiently to recall all that had passed, the dreadful thought
of disaster to Butler, came back upon her imagination with all the
horrors which a fond heart could summon around it. A weary hour was
spent in sobs and tears; and it was only by the blandishments of her
brother Henry's kind and earnest sympathy, when the youth found her in
the parlor thus whelmed in sorrow, and by his manly and cheering
reckoning of the many chances of safety that attend the footsteps of a
prudent and a brave man, that she began to regain that resolute
equanimity that was a natural and even predominating attribute of her
character.

When Lindsay came into the parlor with the tidings of the victory at
Camden, such was the state in which he found her; and whilst he
announced to her that event which had given him so much joy, he was not
unheedful of the pang he had previously inflicted, and now endeavored to
make amends by throwing in some apparently casual, though intentional,
reference to the condition of Butler, who, he doubted not, would now be
disposed of on easy terms. "Perhaps," he continued, "as the war was
drawing to a close, and the royal clemency had been singularly
considerate of the mistaken men who had taken arms against their king,
he would in a little while be discharged on his parole." This reluctant
and forced crumb of comfort fell before one who had but little appetite
to take it, and Mildred received it only in cold silence. Henry,
however, made better use of the event, and by that assiduity which, in
true and gentle friendships, never wearies, and never misses its aim,
when that aim is to revive a sinking hope, succeeded in lifting both his
father and sister into a kindlier climate of feeling. But solitude and
her pillow ravelled all this work of charity. Fancy, that stirring
tormentor of acute minds, summoned up all its phantoms to Mildred's
waking fears, and the night was passed by her as by one who could not be
comforted. In the morning she was ill, and therefore, as I have said,
remained in her chamber.

Lindsay, ever solicitous for the happiness of his children, and keenly
sensitive to whatever gave them pain, now that the turbid violence of
his passion had subsided into a clearer and calmer medium, applied
himself by every art which parental fondness could supply, to mitigate
the suffering of his daughter. Like a man who, in a reckless and
ungoverned moment, having done an injury which his heart revolts at, and
having leisure to contemplate the wrong he has inflicted, hastens to
administer comfort with an alacrity which even outruns the suggestions
of ordinary affection, so did he now betake himself to Mildred's
chamber, and, with sentiments of mixed alarm and contrition, seek her
forgiveness for what he acknowledged a rash and unbecoming assault upon
her feelings.

His soothing did not reach the disease. They could give her no assurance
of Butler's safety; and on that point alone all her anguish turned. "My
dear, dear father," she said, with a feeble and dejected voice, "how do
you wrong me, by supposing I could harbor a sentiment that might cause
me to doubt the love I bear you! I know and revere the purity of your
nature, and need no assurance from you that your affection itself has
kindled up this warmth of temper. But you have opened a fountain of
bitterness upon my feelings," she added, sobbing vehemently, "in what
you have divulged relating to a man you loathe, and one, dear
father--take it from me now, as the expression of a sacred duty--one
that I must ever love. Call it fate--call it infatuation; say that it
does not befit my womanly reserve to avow it--but if misfortune and
death have fallen upon the head of Arthur Butler, there is that bond
between us, that I must die. Oh, father--"

As Mildred pronounced these words she had gradually raised herself into
a sitting posture in her bed, and, at the conclusion, fell back
exhausted upon her pillow. The enthusiasm, the violence and the
intensity of her emotions had overborne her strength, and for some
moments she lay incapable of speech.

"Mildred, Mildred! daughter!" exclaimed Lindsay, in alarm, "I forgive
you, my child. Great heaven, if this should be too much for her
sensitive nature, and she should die before my eyes! Dear Mildred," he
said in a softer accent, as he kissed her pale forehead, "but look up,
and never, never more will I oppose your wish."

"Father," she uttered, in a scarce audible whisper.

"Thank God, she revives! Forbear to speak, my love; that is enough. Do
not exhaust your strength by another effort."

"Father!" she repeated in a firmer accent.

"There, there, my child," continued Lindsay, fanning the air before her
face with his hand.

"Father," again uttered Mildred, "tell me of Arthur."

"He is safe, my love--and thou shalt yet be happy. Daughter--no more;
compose yourself--nor attempt again to speak." And saying these words,
Lindsay stole out of the chamber and summoned one of the domestics to
administer a cordial to the exhausted patient; and then gave orders that
she should be left to recruit her strength by sleep.

Mildred by degrees revived. Jaded by mental affliction, she had sunk
into repose; and when another morning arrived, the lustre had returned
to her eye, and her recovery was already well advanced. She did not yet
venture from her chamber, but she was able to leave her bed and take the
fresh air at her window.

Whilst she sat in the loose robe of an invalid, towards noon, looking
out upon the green forest and smiling fields around her, with Henry
close by her side, seeking to soothe and amuse her mind, they were
enabled to descry a horseman, attended by a single servant, making his
way up the hill from the ford, by the road that led directly to the
door.

"As I live, sister," ejaculated Henry, "there is Tyrrel, covered with
dust, and his horse all but worn down by travel."

"Heaven forbid that it should be Tyrrel indeed!" said Mildred, growing
paler, and trembling as she spoke. "Oh, what ill fortune brings him
hither?"

"I'll be bound," replied Henry, "that he comes with a whole budget of
lies and foul thoughts. He has a knavish look, sister, and has been
hatching mischief with every step of his horse. I, for one, will not see
him; unless I can't help it. And you, sister, have an excuse to keep
your room: so, he is like to have cold comfort here, with his rascally
news of victory. We shall hear enough of Camden now. By-the-by, sister,
I should like much to see our account of that business. I would bet it
gives another face to the matter. These Tories do so bespatter his
lordship with praises, and tell such improbable things about their
victories! I will not see Tyrrel, that's flat."

"Nay, brother, not so fast. You must see him, for my sake. He has
something to tell of Arthur. Persuade my father to ask him: tell him, if
need be, that I requested this. And, Henry, if he says that Arthur is
safe and well, if he has heard anything of him, knows anything of him,
fly to and tell me it all. And, remember, brother," she said earnestly,
"tell me all--whether it be good or bad."

"This is a new view of the case," said Henry. "Mildred, you are a wise
woman, and think more ahead than I do. I did not reflect that this
fellow might know something of Major Butler, though I am pretty sure he
kept as clear of the major as a clean pair of heels would allow him.
And, moreover, I take upon me to say, that he will bring as little good
news of our Arthur in this direction, as he ever did of a good act in
his life. But I will spy him out, sister, and report like a--like
a--forty-two pounder, or the dispatch of a general who has won a fight.
So, adieu, sister."

By the time that Henry had reached the porch, Tyrrel was already there.
He had dismounted, and his weary steed stood panting on the grave walk,
while the servant stripped him of his baggage.

"Well met, good master Henry!" said Tyrrel approaching, and offering the
youth his hand, "I am somewhat of a soiled traveller, you see. Is your
father at home? And your sister, how is she?"

"My father is at home," replied Henry, dropping the proffered hand of
the visitor, almost as soon as it had touched his own. "I will send him
to you, sir."

"But you have not asked me the news, Henry," said Tyrrel, "and, seeing
that I have come from the very theatre of war, I could tell you
something good."

"I have heard my father speak of your good news," answered Henry,
carelessly, "I do not serve under the same colors with you, sir."

And the youth left the porch to announce the arrival of the traveller to
Lindsay.

"There spoke the rebel Mildred," muttered Tyrrel, as Henry left his
presence.

In an instant, Lindsay hastened from the library and received his guest
with a warm welcome.

The first cares of his reception, and some necessary order relating to
his comfort, being despatched, Tyrrel began to disburden himself of his
stock of particulars relating to the great and important movements of
the opposing armies in the south. He had left Cornwallis a few days
after the battle, and had travelled with post haste to Virginia, on a
leave of absence. He described minutely the state of things consequent
upon the recent victory; and it was with a tone of triumphant exultation
that he frequently appealed to his predictions as to the course of
events, when last at the Dove Cote. The conversation soon became too
confidential for the presence even of Henry, who sat greedily devouring
every word that fell from the lips of the narrator, and the further
interview was transferred to the library.

Henry hastened back to Mildred.

"The fellow is so full of politics, sister," said the eager scout, "that
he has not dropped one solitary word about Butler. He talks of the
province being brought back to a sense of its duty, and public sentiment
putting an end to this unnatural war forsooth! And his majesty reaping
fresh laurels on the fields of Virginia! Let his majesty put in his
sickle here--he shall reap as fine a crop of briers to bind round his
brow, as ever grew in a fence-corner! But Butler! Oh, no, he has nothing
to say of Butler. He is a cunning man, sister, and keeps out of the
major's way, take my word for that."

"Brother, get you again to my father, and say to him that I desire to
know what tidings Mr. Tyrrel brings us. Say it in his ear privately,
Henry."

The young emissary again took his leave, and, without apology, entered
the library.

Mildred, in the meantime, restless and impatient, applied herself to the
duties of the toilet, and, with the assistance of her maid, was soon in
a condition to leave her chamber. She had, almost unwittingly, and in
obedience to her engrossing wish to know something of Butler, made these
preparations to appear in the parlor, without thinking of her repugnance
to meet Tyrrel. And now, when she was on the point of going forth, her
resolve changed, and she moved through the chamber like a perturbed
spirit, anxiously waiting the return of Henry. She walked to the window,
whence, looking out towards the terrace she perceived that her father
and his guest had strolled out upon the lawn, where they were moving
forward at a slow pace, whilst their gesticulations showed that they
were engaged in an earnest conference.

Henry's footsteps at the same moment were heard traversing the long
passage, and Mildred, no longer able to restrain her eagerness, hastily
left her room and met her brother, with whom she returned to the parlor.

"My news, upon the whole, is good," said Henry, as he put his arm round
Mildred's waist. "When I entered the library, and took a seat by my
father, he suddenly broke up some long talk that was going on, in which
he looked very grave, and, as if he knew what I came for--he is an
excellent, kind father, sister, for all his moping and sad humors, and
loves both you and me."

"He does, Henry, and we must never forget it."

"I would fight for him to the very death, Mildred. So, seeing that I
looked as if you had sent me to him, he turned, in a kind of careless
way, and asked Tyrrel if he had heard anything lately of Butler."

"Well--brother."

"'I scarce thought to mention it, answered Tyrrel, 'but the man'--think
of that way of speaking of Major Butler--'the man had the temerity to
push himself amongst the loyal troops, and was made a prisoner; he was
suspected to be a spy, and there was, as I have understood, an idea of
trying him by court-martial for it, and for other misdemeanors, of which
I wrote you some particulars. I believe indeed, he was tried, and would,
perhaps, have been shot.'"

"Oh, heaven! brother, can this be true?" exclaimed Mildred, as the color
deserted her cheek.

"I give you exactly Tyrrel's words," replied Henry, "but the court were
attacked, said he, by some bands of Whigs who stole a march upon them."

"And Arthur escaped? Kind heaven, I thank thee!" almost screamed
Mildred, as she clasped her hands together.

"So Tyrrel thinks," continued Henry. "At all events they did not shoot
him, like a pack of cowardly knaves as they were. And as some Tory
prisoners were taken and dragged away by our good friend General
Sumpter, who was the man, Tyrrel says, that set upon them, it is
considered good policy--these were his words, sister--to spare the
unnecessary effusion of blood on both sides. And then my father asked
Tyrrel if Cornwallis knew of these doings, and he answered, not--that it
was the indiscreet act of some mountain boys, who were in the habit of
burning and slaying, against the wish of his Lordship: that the regular
officers disapprove of harsh measures, and that peace now reigns all
through the province."

"When they make a desert of the land, they call it peace," said Mildred
thoughtfully, quoting a translation of the beautiful passage of Tacitus.
"This war is a dreadful trade."

"For us, sister, who stay at home," replied Henry. "But God is good to
us, and will favor the right, and will protect the brave men who draw
their swords to maintain it."

"From treachery, ambuscade, and privy murder--I thank you, brother, for
that word. Heaven shield us, and those we love! But these are fearful
times."



CHAPTER XXXVI.

CIRCUMSTANCES FAVOR TYRREL's INFLUENCE OVER LINDSAY.


The discourse between Lindsay and Tyrrel was one of deep moment. Tyrrel
had taken advantage of the pervading fervor which the late successes of
the British arms had diffused amongst the adherents of the royal cause,
in behalf of what was deemed their certain triumph, to urge forward his
own views. This was the occasion of his present unexpected visit at the
Dove Cote. His immediate aim was to plunge Lindsay into the contest, by
forcing him to take some step that should so commit him, in the opinion
of the republican government, as to leave him no chance of retreat, nor
the means longer to enjoy the privileges of his late neutrality. He,
unhappily, found Lindsay in a mood to favor this intrigue. The
increasing anxieties of that gentleman's mind, his domestic griefs, his
peculiar temperament, and the warmth of his political animosities, all
stimulated him to the thought of some active participation in the
struggle. Tyrrel had sufficient penetration to perceive that such was
likely to be the current of Lindsay's feelings, and he had by frequent
letters administered to this result.

There were several opulent families in the lower sections of the state,
who still clung to the cause of the King, and who had been patiently
awaiting the course of events, for the time when they might more boldly
avow themselves. With the heads of these families Tyrrel had been in
active correspondence, and it was now his design which under the
sanction of the British leaders, he had already nearly matured, to bring
these individuals together into a secret council, that they might act in
concert, and strengthen themselves by mutual alliance. Immediately after
the battle of Camden, it is known that Cornwallis had laid his plans for
the invasion of North Carolina, by intrigues of the same kind: it was
only extending the system a little in advance to apply it to Virginia.
Arrangements had been made for this meeting of malcontents to be held
at the house of a Mr. Stanhope, on one of the lower sections of the
James river--a gentleman of good repute, with whom Lindsay had long been
in the relations of close friendship.

"The moments are precious, and you are waited for," said Tyrrel, in the
course of his conference with Lindsay; "we must strike whilst the iron
is hot. Separated as our good friends are from each other, you are now
in the power, and at the mercy--which is a significant phrase--of the
unruly government of Congress. Your motions, therefore, should be
prompt. There are seasons, in the history of every trouble, when the
virtue of deliberation mainly lies in its rapidity and the boldness of
its resolve. I beseech you, sir, to regard this as such a season, and to
take the course which the honor of our sovereign demands, without
further pause to think of consequences."

"When you were here a month ago," replied Lindsay, "I had my scruples.
But things have strangely altered in that short interval. Your standard
floats more bravely over the path of invasion than I had deemed it
possible. You charged me then with being a laggard, and, you may
remember, even impeached my loyalty."

"I did you a grievous wrong, my dear friend; and did I not know your
generous nature pardoned, as soon as it was uttered, my rash and
intemperate speech, it would have cost me many a pang of remorse. Even
in this, good sir," said Tyrrel, smiling and laying his hand upon
Lindsay's shoulder; "even in this, you see how necessary is it that we
should have a wise and considerate councillor to moderate the ungoverned
zeal of us younger men."

"My mind is made up," replied Lindsay. "I will attend the meeting."

"And Mildred will be removed forthwith to Charleston?" eagerly
interrupted Tyrrel.

"Ah, sir, not one word of that. If I attend this meeting, it must be in
secret. Nor do I yet commit myself to its resolves. I shall be a
listener only. I would learn what my compatriots think, reserving to
myself the right to act. Even yet, I would purchase peace with many a
sacrifice. I abjure all violent measures of offence."

"I am content," answered Tyrrel, "that you should hold yourself
unpledged to any measures which your gravest and severest judgment does
not approve. Though I little doubt that, from all quarters, you will
hear such tidings as shall convince you that the road, both of safety
and honor, leads onward in this glorious enterprise. 'Tis from this
nettle danger, that we pluck the flower 'safety.' Conscious of this, I
would have Mildred and her brother cared for."

"Mildred can never be yours," said Lindsay musing. "There is the thought
that makes me pause. I believed, and so do you, that the favor this
Butler had found with her was the capricious and changeful fancy of a
girl. It is the devoted passion of a woman: it has grown to be her
faith, her honor, her religion."

"Butler is a fool--a doomed madman," replied Tyrrel with earnestness.
"He came here with the hellish purpose to betray you; and he was silly
enough to think he could do so, and still win your daughter. She should
be told of this."

"She has been told of it, and she believes it not."

"Was my avouch given to her for the truth of the fact."

"It was. And, to speak plainly to you, it has only made your name
hateful to her ear."

"Then shall she have proof of it, which she cannot doubt. She shall have
it in the recorded judgment of a court-martial, which has condemned him
as a traitor and a spy; she shall have it in the doom of his death, and
the sequestration of his estate," exclaimed Tyrrel with a bitter
malignity, "proud girl!"

"Remember yourself, sir!" interrupted Lindsay, sternly. "This is not the
language nor the tone fit for a father's ear, when the subject of it is
his own daughter."

Tyrrel was instantly recalled to his self-possession; and with that
humility which he could always assume when his own interest required it,
spoke in a voice of sudden contrition.

"Why, what a fool am I to let my temper thus sway me! Humbly, most
humbly, dear sir, do I entreat your forgiveness. I love your daughter,
and revere the earnest enthusiasm of her nature; and, therefore, have
been galled beyond my proper show of duty, to learn that she could
discredit my word."

"I enjoin it upon you," said Lindsay, "that in your intercourse with my
family here, you drop no word calculated to alarm my daughter for the
safety of this Butler. It is a topic which distracts her, and must be
avoided."

"For the present," replied Tyrrel, "as I have before told you, I think
he is safe. The forfeiture of his estate is not a secret. But to
business, my friend. When shall we set out?"

"To-morrow," answered Lindsay. "We must travel cautiously, and amongst
our friends."

"This disguise has served me so far," said Tyrrel. "I may the better
trust to it when in your company."

Mildred and Henry remained in the parlor, and were there when Lindsay
and his guest, having terminated their secret conference, returned to
the house.

"Your cheek denies your customary boast of good health, Miss Lindsay,"
said Tyrrel, respectfully approaching the lady, and with an air that
seemed to indicate his expectation of a cold reception. "It grieves me
to learn that, at a time when all good men are rejoicing in the prospect
of peace, you should not be in a condition to share the common
pleasure."

"I think there is small occasion for rejoicing in any quarter," replied
Mildred, calmly.

"Miss Lindsay would, perhaps, be interested to hear," said Tyrrel, not
discomfited by the evident aversion of the lady, "that I have, within a
few days past, left the head-quarters of the British army, where I was
enabled to glean some particulars of a friend of hers, Major Butler, of
the Continental service."

Mildred colored, as she said in a faint voice, "He is my friend."

"He has been unfortunate," continued Tyrrel, "having fallen into the
hands of some of our skirmishers. But I believe I may assure Miss
Lindsay that he is both safe and well. He enjoys the reputation of being
a brave gentleman. I may be permitted to say, that had his destiny
brought him under other colors, I should have been proud to be better
known to him."

"Major Butler chooses his own colors," said Henry, interposing. "I don't
think destiny had much to do with it. He took his side because they
wanted men to help out a brave war."

Lindsay frowned, and strode once or twice across the apartment, during
which an embarrassing silence prevailed.

"You are the same cockerel you always were, Henry," said Tyrrel, with
undaunted playfulness; "always warm for the fight. But it is a Christian
duty, you know, to be peace-makers in such times as these. We may trust,
Miss Lindsay, that some conciliatory spirit shall arise to quell the
quarrelsome humors of the people, and bring all things back to
tranquillity. For myself, I devoutly wish it."

"The day for such a spirit does not seem to be at hand," said Mildred,
quietly rising to withdraw.

"You are not well, my daughter," interposed Lindsay. "Mildred is but
recently from a sick bed," he continued, addressing Tyrrel, in the way
of apology for her marked coldness of demeanor.

"I am not well, father," replied Mildred, "I must be permitted to leave
you;" and she now retired.

When Henry soon afterwards joined her, he found her agitated and
excited.

"Better known to Arthur Butler!" she exclaimed, dwelling on the speech
of Tyrrel. "He is better known already than he dreams of. Think,
brother, of the cool hypocrisy of this bold schemer--this secret
disturber of the quiet of our house--that he should dare boast to me of
Arthur's bravery."

"And to talk about his colors too!" said Henry. "Did you mark, sister,
how I set him down--in spite of my father's presence? And did you see
how his brow blanched when I spoke my mind to him? He will find me too
hot a cockerel, as he calls me, to venture upon our colors again. I hold
no terms with him, sister, more than yourself."

"You will excuse me to my father, Henry, I will not go in to dinner
to-day."

"I wondered," replied Henry, "that you met him at all, sister; but he
took us unawares. And, truly, I don't think it would be safe to bring
you near him again. So I advise you, keep your room. As for me--tut! I
am not afraid to meet him. I warrant he gets his own upon occasion!"

"I entreat you, Henry," said Mildred, "to guard your temper. It would
give our father pain to hear a rash speech from you. It would answer no
good end."

"I will be as circumspect, Mildred, as the state of the war requires,"
answered Henry. "Fight when it is necessary, and be silent when we can't
strike."

Henry now left his sister and went to his usual occupations.

Mildred, in accordance with the purpose expressed to her brother did not
appear at the dinner table; and the day was passed, by Lindsay and
Tyrrel, in close communion over the topics connected with the object of
the enterprise in which they were about to embark. Tyrrel had seen
enough to convince him that he might, at least for the present, abandon
all effort to win Mildred's good opinion; and his whole thoughts were
now bent to bring Lindsay into such an attitude of hostility to the
republican authorities as would inevitably lead to his removal from the
state, and perhaps compel him to retire to England. Either of these
events would operate to the advantage of the aspiring and selfish policy
by which Tyrrel hoped to accomplish his object.

In the course of the evening Lindsay held a short interview with his
children, in which he made known to them that affairs of importance were
about to call him away, for a fortnight perhaps, from the Dove Cote. It
was in vain that Mildred endeavored to turn him from his purpose, which,
though undivulged to her, she conjectured to be, from its association
with Tyrrel, some sinister political move, of which her father was to be
the dupe.

In accordance with Lindsay's intimation, he and Tyrrel set out, at an
early hour of the following day, on their journey towards the low
country.



CHAPTER XXXVII.

A DOMESTIC SCENE AT THE DOVE COTE.


On the third morning following Lindsay's and Tyrrel's departure, the
season being now about the commencement of September, Henry was seen,
after an unusually early breakfast, to come forth upon the grass-plot,
in front of the house, bearing in his hand a short rifle,--his customary
accompaniment of the bugle being slung across his shoulders. For some
moments he was occupied in examining his weapon; then leaning it against
a tree that stood upon the lawn, he put the bugle to his mouth and
sounded a long and clear signal-note. The first effects of this spell
were to bring up Bell, Blanche, and Hylas, the three flap-eared hounds,
who came frisking over the grass with many antics that might be said to
resemble the bows and curtsies of the human species, and which were
accompanied by the houndish salutation of deep-mouthed howls that the
horn never fails to wake up in these animals.

Soon after these, came striding up the hill the long gaunt form of
Stephen Foster, who, mounting the stone wall on the lower side, with one
bound sprang over the thickset-hedge that begirt the terrace. He was now
arrayed in a yellow hunting shirt that reached to the middle of his
thigh, and which was decorated with an abundance of red fringe that
bound the cape, elbows, wrists, and extremity of the skirt, and a wool
hat encircled with a broad red band, in one side of which was set the
national ornament of the buck-tail. Around his waist was buckled a broad
buckskin belt; he was armed besides with a rifle a little short of six
feet in length.

Stephen Foster was one of that idle craft, who, having no particular
occupation, was from this circumstance, by a contradiction in terms,
usually called a man of all work. He belonged to that class of beings
who are only to be found in a society where the ordinary menial
employments are discharged by slaves; and was the tenant of a few acres
of land, appertaining to the domain of the Dove Cote, where he professed
to make his living by husbandry. But by far the greater proportion of
his revenues was derived from divers miscellaneous services,--such as
driving a team of four lean horses, of which he was proprietor; hauling
wood for fuel; assisting in the harvest fields; somtimes working in the
garden; and, when required, riding errands--which he preferred to all
other business. But labor was not Stephen's forte: it was
constitutionally a part of his system to postpone matters of work for
pleasure; and, if there was anything for which he was particularly
famous, it was in avoiding all appearances of punctuality to irksome
engagements. If he can be said to have had a calling at all, it was that
of a hunter, a species of employment that possessed a wonderful charm
for his fancy, and which was excellently adapted both to his physical
and moral qualities. He, therefore, gave much of his time to the
concerns of vert and venison; and his skill with the rifle was such that
he could make sure of putting a ball through the brain of a wild pigeon
as far as he was able to draw a sight. He was skilled in the habits of
all the forest animals common to this part of Virginia, and accurately
drew the line of distinction between vermin and game. He hunted wolves,
bears, panthers (painters, in his own pronunciation), racoons, foxes,
opossums, and squirrels; and trapped otter, beaver, and muskrats;
moreover, he was an expert jigger and bobber of eels, and well knew the
trouting streams. For these pursuits he was endowed with a patient
nature that could endure a whole day and night in the woods without
eating or sleeping; my authority says nothing of his forbearance in the
third primary want of humanity. He was a man of fine thews and sinews,
stout and brave; and withal of a generous, frank, and invariable good
nature. The war had furnished occasion for such talents as be possessed;
and Stephen was now meditating a bold severance from his wife and
children, who had heretofore exerted such a dominion over his
affections, that he had not the heart to leave them. But the present
difficulties of the nation had made such a cogent appeal to his
patriotism, that he had resolved to take one campaign in the field, and
thus give scope to his natural love of adventure. It was now his
peculiar glory, and one that wrought with a potent influence upon his
self-love, that he held the post of lieutenant to the company of Amherst
Rangers, a volunteer corps that had lately been organized with a view to
the state of affairs in the south.

This worthy, when he had no expedition in hand, was generally to be
found lounging about the mansion of the Dove Cote, in expectation of
some call from Henry, between whom and himself there existed a mutual
and somewhat exorbitant affection.

On his present appearance there was a broad, complacent grin on
Stephen's features as he accosted the young bugleman with the
interrogatory--

"What's in the wind now, Mister Henry? Arter another buck, I reckon? And
an elegant morning it is for a drive! May be, the wind's just a little
too fresh, 'cepting you was able to steal on the lower side of the game,
and then the scent would come down like a rose. Thar's a great advantage
in being down the wind, because the animal can't hear you breaking
through the bushes, for the wind makes naturally such a twittering of
the leaves that it deceives him, you see."

"I fancy I know a good hunting day, Lieutenant Foster," said Henry,
putting his arms akimbo, "as well as you. Who told you I was going after
a buck? Why, man, if that had been my drift I should have started you
two hours ago. But we have other business in hand, Stephen. There is
such dreadful news in the country! We shall march soon, take my word for
it. I am resolved to go, Stephen, as soon as ever the Rangers set out,
let my father say what he will. It is time men should take their
sides--that's my opinion."

"Mister Henry, I wouldn't advise you," said Stephen, with a wise shake
of the head. "Your father would grieve himself to death if you were to
leave him."

"Don't believe the half of that, lieutenant. There would be a flurry for
a little while, and, after that, father would see that the thing
couldn't be helped, and so he would have to be satisfied. I'll steal
away--that's flat."

"Well, take notice, Mister Henry," said Stephen, chuckling, "I give you
my warning against it. But if you do go along with me I'll take as much
care of you as if you were my own son."

"I know sister Mildred thinks," replied Henry, "it wouldn't be very
wrong in me to go; and so I'll leave her to make my peace at home.
Besides, I am going on her account, just to try and hear something of
Major Butler."

"If that's her opinion," returned Stephen, "thar isn't much wrong about
it. She is the head contriver and main privy-councillor," added Stephen,
laughing, as he used these slang words, with which he was in the habit
of garnishing his conversation, "of all matters that are done here in
this house."

"These are your new regimentals, Stephen," said Henry, looking at
Foster's dress; "you shine like a flecker on a sunny day. It will please
sister to the life to see you so spruce; she's a prodigious
disciplinarian, and doesn't like to see us rebels (here he put his hand
to his mouth and pronounced this word with a mock circumspection), worse
dressed than the rascally red-coats. When do the Rangers march,
Stephen?"

"We are waiting for orders every day. We parade, you know, Mister Henry,
this morning."

"You must plead off to-day," said Henry; "I called you up to tell you
that sister and I were going to ride, and I wanted you to go with us. At
any rate, if you must go to the troop, you can leave us on the road. You
don't meet till twelve, and both sister and I want to talk to you. She
commanded me to tell you this. I believe she wishes you to take a letter
for her. Poor Mildred doesn't know that I am going with you; so, as to
that, you needn't let on. Go, Stephen, have our horses ready as soon as
you can get them. Quick, good Stephen; sister and I will wait for you on
the lawn."

The lieutenant of the Rangers, having received his orders, hurried away
to attend to their execution.

Mildred was already apparelled for her ride, and came at this moment
from the house along the gravel walk. Her cheek, lately pale, had now
begun to show the ruddy hue of health. Her full, dark-blue eye, although
habitually expressive of a thoughtful temperament, frequently sparkled
with the sudden flashes of a playful spirit, and oftener with the fire
of an ardent resolution. Her features, marked by a well-defined outline,
bore a strong resemblance to her brother's, and, when animated by the
quick-speeding emotions of her mind, presented a countenance unusually
gifted with the graces of external beauty. The impression which her
physiognomy conveyed, was that of an impassioned and enthusiastic
nature, and of a feminine courage that was sufficient for any emergency.
A clear skin gave brilliancy to her complexion; and, although habits of
exposure to the air had slightly impaired its lustre, the few traces
which this exposure left, rather communicated the agreeable idea of a
wholesome and vigorous constitution. The tones of her voice were soft
and gentle, and full of harmony; and, when stimulated by her feelings,
rich, deep, and commanding. Her figure, of what might be deemed a medium
height in females, was neat and agile, well proportioned, and combining
the flexible ease proper to her sex, with a degree of steadiness and
strength that might be denominated masculine. Her movement was graceful,
distinguished by a ready hand and free step; and it was impossible to
look upon her most familiar bearing, without being struck by the
indication which it gave of a self-possessed, fearless, and careering
temper, allied to a mind raised above the multitude by a consciousness
of intellectual force.

As Mildred advanced along the shaded walk, she was followed by a
fantastical little attendant, whom, in the toyish freak of a solitary
and luxurious life, she had trained to fill the station of a lady's
page. This was a diminutive negro boy, not above ten years of age, of a
delicate figure, and now gaudily bedecked in a vest of scarlet cloth, a
pair of loose white linen trowsers drawn at the ancle, and red slippers.
A ruffle fell over his neck, and full white sleeves were fastened with
silken cords at his wrists. A scarlet velvet cap gave a finish to the
apparel of this gorgeous little elf; and the dress, grotesque as it was,
was not badly set off by the saucy, familiar port of the conceited
menial. Whether he had been destined from his birth to this pampered
station,--or, accidentally, like many of the eastern monarchs, raised to
the purple,--he bore the romantic name of Endymion, and was fully as
much at the call of his patroness, and as fond of sleep, as him of Mount
Latmos. His business seemed to be at the present moment to acquit
himself of the responsible duty of holding an ivory-mounted riding-whip
in readiness for the service of his mistress.

When Mildred had crossed the lawn and arrived at the spot where Henry
now stood, she was saluted by her brother, with--

"Stand, my gentle sister, you and your monkey! Ah, Mildred, you are not
what you used to be; you have grown much too grave of late. Bear up,
dear sister: for, after all, what is it! Why we have been beaten, and we
must fight it over again, that's all. And as to the major, your
partiality magnifies his dangers. Hasn't he an arm?--yes; and hasn't he
a leg?--which, in war, I hold to be just as useful sometimes."

"There is a dreadful uncertainty, brother," replied Mildred. "I dream of
the worst."

"A fig for your dreams, sister Mildred! They have been all sorts of
ways, and that you know. Now, I have a waking dream, and that is, that
before you are twenty-four hours older you will hear of Major Butler."

"Would to heaven your dream may prove true!" replied Mildred. "But,
Henry, you love me, and affection is an arrant cheat in its prophecies."

"Tush then, sister! don't talk of it. For when we know nothing, it does
no good to get to fancying. These are the times to act; and perhaps I'll
surprise you yet."

"With what, good brother?"

"Order arms," replied Henry, evading his sister's inquiry, and at the
same time assuming a military erectness, and bringing his rifle briskly
to the ground--"with the beauty of my drill, sister. It even surprises
myself. You shall see me march." And here he sportively shouldered his
rifle and stepped with a measured pace across the green, and then back
again; whilst the saucy Endymion, presuming on his privilege, with mimic
gestures, followed immediately in Henry's rear, taking large strides to
keep his ground. When Henry perceived the apish minion thus upon his
track he burst out into a laugh.

"You huge giant-killer, do you mock me?" he exclaimed. "Sister, I will
smother your body-guard in the crown of my cap, if he isn't taught
better manners."

"Henry, I cannot share your light heart with you," said Mildred
sorrowfully, "mine is heavy."

"And mine is yours, sister, light or heavy; in sunshine or in storm,
summer and winter, dear Mildred, it is always yours. It was a trick of
mine to amuse you. And if I do not seem to feel, sister, as you do, it
is because I mean to act. We men have no time for low spirits."

"Stephen Foster is here at the door with our horses, brother. Boy, give
me the whip--now, away. The gay feathers of this bird," said Mildred, as
the little black retired, "do not become a follower of mine."

The new aspect of affairs, since the defeat of Camden, had pressed
grievously upon Mildred's spirits. The country was full of disheartening
rumors, and every day added particulars that were of a nature to
increase the distress. The bloody fate of the brave De Kalb, and the
soldiers that fell by his side; the triumph with which Cornwallis had
begun his preparations for further conquests; the destitution and
disarray of the American army, now flying before its enemy; the tales of
unsparing sequestration with which, in Carolina, the lands of those who
still bore arms in the cause of independence, were visited; the military
executions of prisoners charged with the violation of a constructive
allegiance, in the conquered districts; the harsh measures which were
adopted to break the heart of the rebellion, that still lingered behind
the march of the victorious army; and, above all, the boastful
confidence with which Cornwallis, by his proclamations, sought to open
the way for his invasion of North Carolina and Virginia, by attempting
to rally the liege subjects of the king under his standard: all these
events came on the wings of rumor, and had lighted up a flame through
the whole country. To Mildred, they all imported an ill omen as regarded
the fate of Arthur Butler. Now and then, a straggling soldier of Gates's
broken force arrived at the Dove Cote, where he was received with an
eager hospitality, and closely questioned as to the events in which he
had participated. But of Butler, not even the remotest tidings were
obtained. For the present, the uncertainty of his fortune filled
Mildred's thoughts with the most anxious and unhappy misgivings; and
this frame of mind over-mastered all other feelings. The late visit of
Tyrrel to the Dove Cote, and the abrupt departure of her father with
this individual, on an unavowed expedition, were not calculated to allay
her fears; and she felt herself pressed on all sides with the presages
of coming misfortune. In these difficulties she did not lose her
fortitude; but, like a mariner benighted in a dangerous strait, she
counted over the anxious moments of her voyage, expecting, at each
succeeding instant, to hear the dreadful stranding of her bark upon the
unseen rock, though bravely prepared for the worst.



CHAPTER XXXVIII.

AN ARRIVAL AT THE DOVE COTE. MILDRED RESOLVES ON A PERILOUS ADVENTURE.


It was in the state of painful expectation described in the last
chapter, that Mildred now rode out, daily, upon the highways, in the
feeble hope of hearing something of importance from the casual wayfarers
who, in the present excited condition of the country, were thronging the
roads. On the morning to which our narrative refers, she had charged
Henry to procure the attendance of Stephen Foster, to whom, as it was
known that he was about to accompany his troop towards the scene of
hostilities, she was anxious to intrust a letter for Butler, as well as
to communicate to him some instructions relating to it.

Stephen was, accordingly, now in attendance. A sleek, full-blooded roan,
of an active, deer-like figure, and showing by his mettlesome antics the
high training of a pampered favorite, stood in the care of the groom at
the door; and Mildred, aided by her brother, sprang into her saddle with
the ease and confidence of one familiarized to the exploit. When
mounted, she appeared to great advantage. She was an expert rider, and
managed her horse with a dexterous grace. The very position of command
and authority which her saddle gave her, seemed to raise her spirits
into a happier elevation.

"Follow me, Mister Stephen," she said, "I have service for you. And it
will not be out of the fashion of the time that a lady should be
'squired by an armed soldier. We take the road down the river. Have a
care, brother, how you bound off at the start--the hill is steep, and a
horse's foot is not over sure when pressed too rapidly on the descent."

The cavalcade descended the hill, crossed the ford, and then took a
direction down the stream, by the road that led beneath the Fawn's
Tower. Mildred sighed as she gazed around her, and saw the spot of her
last meeting with Butler. The little skiff by which her lover had glided
across the water, now lay upon a dry bed of rock, in the same position,
perhaps, where a month ago he had left it. The summer drought had
reduced the stream, and deprived the light boat (whose tackle kept it
prisoner to the root of the sycamore) of the element on which it had
floated. This spectacle suggested to Mildred's thoughts a melancholy
image. "Even thus," she muttered to herself, "have I been left by him.
He has gone to obey the calls of honor and duty, and I, fettered to my
native woods, have seen the stream of happiness roll by, one while
swollen to a torrent, and again dried up by the fervid heat of war,
until, like this sun-withered bark, I have been left upon the shore,
without one drop of that clear current on which alone I hoped to live.
Come hither, Stephen," she said, as she slackened the rein of her horse:
and the obedient attendant was immediately at her side.

"You set out southwards, with your comrades of the troop, in a few
days?"

"Orders may come to-morrow," replied Foster.

"It is no holiday game that you are going to play," continued the lady.

"When Congress cut out this here war for us, Miss Mildred," answered the
hunter, "they didn't count upon settling of it without making some tall
fellows the shorter. And it is my opinion that it is a p'int of
conscience that every man should take his spell of the work."

"You go to it with a good heart," said Mildred. "We women can only pray
for you, lieutenant."

"I shall pull trigger with a steadier hand, ma'am, when I think that
your father's daughter is praying for me."

"Stephen," continued Mildred, "you may chance to see some one whose duty
may lead him further south than, perhaps, you may be required to travel:
I will give you a letter to a friend of mine, who, I fear, is in
distress. If such traveller be trusty and willing to do me a service, as
perhaps he may for your sake, I must beg you to put the letter in his
charge, and tell him to seek out Major Butler, and contrive to have it
delivered to him."

"If it concerns you, Miss Mildred, I will take upon myself to hunt Major
Butler, or I will make as sure of the letter reaching him as I may have
a chance."

"Many thanks, Stephen. There is a purse containing some few pieces of
gold for you. Do not spare the use of it to perform my wish."

Stephen looked bashfully at the lady as she held the proffered purse in
her hand.

"Take it, Mr. Foster. It is money to be employed in my service, and it
may stand you in good stead when better friends are absent."

The hunter uttered an awkward laugh. "If you would allow me to take the
smallest piece of money, it would more than hire a man express."

"Take it all, Stephen, it is but a trifle. They call this the sinew of
war," said Mildred, smiling.

"It's an utter, moral, and resolute impossibility," answered Foster,
"for me to take all that money. Bless your soul, Miss Mildred, my pocket
arn't used to such company."

"Pshaw, Steve," ejaculated Henry, "you are the greenest soldier in these
hills, to be playing boy about this money. Take it, man, and none of
your nonsense; precious little gold you'll see before you get back!"

"Well, I'll not be ticklish about it," said Foster. "Empty the bag, Miss
Mildred, into my hand."

"I mean that you shall have the purse with it," added Mildred.

"No, no; that's too valuable a piece of fine silk net-work for me."

"There again, Lieutenant Foster," said Henry; "if you were not my own
superior officer, I would say you were a fool."

"Give it to me," replied Stephen, laughing, "I have heard of cheating
money out of a man's pocket, but I never saw it cheated into it before."

"You shall have the letter to-morrow, Stephen," said Mildred, "and as
you value your poor friend, who worked that purse with her own hands, do
not fail to make an effort to learn something of Major Butler, and to
have my letter delivered to him. He was made a prisoner somewhere on his
way to Georgia, and I have heard escaped; but, perhaps, that's not true.
You may find some one who can tell you more about him. Inquire of all
you meet: and, Stephen, in my name, beg your comrades to aid you.
Remember," added Mildred, with a smile, "this is a lady's secret. I am
sure you will keep it."

"Most sacrilegiously and with all possible punctuation!" replied the
woodsman. "And you shall hear of the Major, Miss Mildred, dead or
alive."

"Oh heaven!" exclaimed Mildred aloud; and then recollecting herself, she
breathed in a whisper, "that word vibrated a note of fear. Your zeal
shall have my warmest gratitude, Stephen."

By this time the party had reached the second ford, where the road
recrossed the river, in the neighborhood of Mrs. Dimock's, and in a few
moments they were at the door of the little inn.

A brief halt, and a few words with the good hostess, furnished Mildred
neither with a letter nor with any information of moment from the
quarter, where at this time the thoughts of nearly the whole of the
American people were turned.

"Woful days, Miss Mildred," said the landlady, shaking her head, and
wearing a face of lugubrious length, "woful indeed! nothing but
hurry-skurry, and bragging and swearing. What with Gates's runaways,
that--shame upon them!--come whipping post haste along the road; and
messengers, dragoons, and drill sergeants, all out of breath, out of
money, and out of everything but appetites; which, mercy on me! never
fail in the worst of times: and what with musterings of volunteers, and
drumming and fifing of it, up hill and down dale, it is as much as one
can do to keep one's wits. Heaven help us, my dear! I don't know what we
shall come to. But poor Arthur," she continued, in a mournful and lower
key, "not a word from him. It looks awfully: I could almost sit down and
weep. Nevertheless, Miss Mildred, my child, be of good cheer, God will
keep his foot from the path that leads to the snares; we must all trust
in His goodness."

"Alas, alas!" breathed Mildred, in an accent of sorrow. "Brother, ride
forward. If a good word reaches you, Mistress Dimock, send it to me,
even if it be at midnight."

Mildred pursued her ride, and Henry, seeing how much she was dejected,
applied himself, with the kindest assiduity, to bring back comfort and
cheerfulness to her mind. He sought to amuse her with such fragments of
the gossip of the country-side as were likely to interest her
patriotism; and he contrived to recall to her recollection passages in
the life of Butler, which related to the perils he had heretofore
encountered, and from which he had extricated himself by his address and
soldiership; and Henry told these in such a way as to infer from them
arguments of comfort that suited the present state of his sister's
feelings. As was usual in most of the young cadet's discourses, he
glided into that half-boastful and half-waggish vein in which he
delighted to refer to his own pursuits and aspirations after military
glory.

"A man naturally, sister," he said, erecting himself in his stirrups,
and assuming the stiff carriage of a conceited young adjutant on parade,
"a man naturally feels proud on horseback. It is what I call
glorification, to have a noble beast under you, that you can turn and
wind and check and set forward as you please, as if his limbs were your
own. You feel stronger; and, in this world, I do believe a strong man is
always proud. Now, I should think that a woman would feel even more so
than a man; because, being weak by nature, she must grow happier to
think how much muscle she can put in motion by only pulling a rein."

"There is some philosophy in that, Henry," replied Mildred.

"So there is, sister; and I tell you more, that when a person has this
sort of glorification, as they call it, they always get more contented
with themselves. And that's the reason, as far as I am a judge, that you
always feel in better spirits when you are on horseback; and,
especially, if it should be in front of a troop. Hallo, Stephen!"
ejaculated Henry, taken by surprise, in the midst of his discourse, by
the sight of a flock of wild turkeys that ran across the road, some
hundred paces ahead. "Did you see that? Halt, man--here's game for us."
And, in an instant, he sprang from his horse, which he fastened to one
of the neighboring trees, and ran off with his rifle in his hand, in
pursuit of the flock.

Stephen, whose instincts were those of a keen sportsman, when game was
before him, did the same thing; and in a few moments Mildred found
herself left entirely alone in the road, half disposed to chide and
half to smile at the eager and ungallant desertion of her attendants,
who were now in quick but cautious pursuit of the brood of turkeys. The
speed with which these birds are accustomed to run through the woods,
allured their pursuers to some distance into the depths of the forest;
and Mildred patiently awaited the return of her companions on the ground
where they had left her.

After five or ten minutes had elapsed, it was with a sensation of some
little concern that she descried, upon the road, a stranger mounted on
horseback, and coming at a brisk trot to the spot where she had halted.
The appearance of the individual was that of one of the irregular
soldiers who had accompanied Gates's array; his dress was rustic, and
his weapon, according to the almost universal fashion of the country
troops, the long rifle. The condition of his sturdy steed showed long
and fatiguing service; whilst the bold and manly person of the rider
left little room to suppose that he was to be classed amongst the many
who had fled in panic from the field of action. As soon as the stranger
became aware of the presence of the lady, he slackened his speed and
approached with a respectful salutation.

"If I mought be so bold, ma'am, how far mought it be to a river they
call the Rockfish?"

"It is scarce two miles away, sir," replied Mildred.

"And there, if I don't disremember," said the traveller, "is a house
kept by the widow Dimock; the Blue Ball, I think?"

"There is, sir."

"And no forks in the road betwixt this and the widow's?"

"It is a plain road," replied Mildred.

"And about two miles beyont--is squire Lindsay's, at a place they call
the Dove Cote?"

"Does your business take you there?" asked Mildred, with interest; "are
you from the army?--whence come you?"

"Beg pardon, ma'am," replied the stranger, smiling, "but I am an old
sodger, and rather warry about answering questions that consarn myself.
I suppose it is likely I mought see Mr. Lindsay?"

"Pray, sir, tell me what brings you here, and who you are? I have
special reasons for presuming so far upon your kindness. I myself live
at the Dove Cote, and"--

"Then, mayhap, you mought have hearn of one Major Arthur Butler?"

"Oh yes, sir,--if you have any news of him, speak it to me quickly,"
exclaimed Mildred, with much agitation.

"By that sparkling of your eye, ma'am, it is no fool's guess that you
are the identical particular lady that I have rode nigh on to five
hundred miles to see. You have hearn the Major tell of Horse Shoe
Robinson?"

"And Arthur Butler."

"He is well, madam, and in good heart, excepting some trifling drawbacks
that don't come to much account."

"Thank God, thank God, for this news!"

"I have brought two letters, Miss Lindsay, from the Major, for you; they
will tell you, I believe, mainly, that the Major is in the hands of the
Philistians," said Horse Shoe, rummaging through the plaits of his
dress, and getting loose the belt and leathern pouch from which, by the
help of his jack-knife, he extricated the missives; "but they leave the
story to be told pretty much by me. The long and the short of it is,
that the Major is a prisoner, and wants some assistance from you: but
there is no danger of any harm being done him."

Mildred eagerly tore open the letters and read them; then heaving a
sigh, she said, "He is closely watched, and galled with misfortune. He
refers to you, Mr. Robinson, and I must beg you to tell me all."

Horse Shoe, with a cheerful and occasionally even with a laughing
manner, adopted to reassure the lady and quell her fears, recounted all
such particulars of Butler's adventures as were necessary to enable her
to comprehend the nature of his present mission to the Dove Cote.

Before this narrative was brought to a close, Henry and Foster had
returned, bringing with them a large turkey which Henry had shot, and
which the young sportsman was exhibiting with ostentatious triumph.

"Huzza, here's a new turn of good luck! Horse Shoe Robinson, the brave
sergeant," shouted Henry, as soon as he observed the stout figure of our
old friend. "Is Major Butler here too?" he demanded, as he shook the
sergeant's hand, "or have you come alone? Now, sister, you ought to be a
happy woman. You bring us good news, Mr. Horse Shoe, I know you do."

"The news is better than it mought have been if the Tories had had their
way," replied Horse Shoe. "But a sodger's life has both shade and
sunshine in it; and the Major is now a little in the shade."

"Brother, mount quickly," said Mildred, "we have business before us. Mr.
Robinson, ride beside me; I have much to say to you."

Stephen Foster, after saluting the sergeant, and reminding Mildred of
his engagement to meet his troop, took his leave of the party.

The rest repaired, with as much expedition as they were able to employ,
to the Dove Cote, Horse Shoe detailing to the brother and sister, as
they went along, a great many particulars of the late history of Butler.

When they reached the house, orders were given for the accommodation of
the sergeant; and the most sedulous attention was shown to everything
that regarded his comfort. Frequent conferences were held between
Mildred and Henry, and the trusty emissary. The letters were reperused,
and all the circumstances that belonged to Butler's means of liberation
were anxiously discussed.

"How unlucky is it," said Mildred, "that my father should be absent at
such a moment as this! Arthur's appeal to him would convince him how
wicked was Tyrrel's charge against his honor. And yet, in my father's
late mood, the appeal might have been ineffectual: he might have
refused. Sergeant, we are in great difficulties, and I know not what to
do. A letter, you say, has been written to Lord Cornwallis?"

"Yes, ma'am, and by a man who sharpened his pen with his sword."

"You heard nothing of the answer of his Lordship?"

"There was not time to hear."

"Cornwallis will be prejudiced by those around him, and he will refuse,"
said Mildred, with an air of deep solicitude.

"Not if he be the man I take him to be, young lady," replied Horse
Shoe. "The world says he is above doing a cowardly thing; and it isn't
natural for one brave man to wish harm against another, except in open
war."

"Did you hear of one Tyrrel, in the British camp? But how could
you?--that was an assumed name."

"You mean the gentleman who was here when the major stopped at Mrs.
Dimock's?" said Robinson: "that was the name the landlady spoke
about--if I remember myself. I did not hear of him, ma'am, in my
travels; but his servant, James Curry, I met oftener, I undertake to
say, than the fellow wished. He was consarned in ambushing Major Butler
and me at Grindall's Ford. It was our opinion he was hired."

"There," exclaimed Mildred, "that confirms what I guessed of Tyrrel's
villany. I will go to Cornwallis myself: I will expose the whole matter
to his lordship. Henry, my dear brother, it is a rash venture, but I
will essay it. You must accompany and protect me."

"That's a sudden thought, sister, and you may count on my hearty good
will to help it along. It is a brave thought of yours, besides," said
Henry, pondering over it--"and everybody will praise you for it."

Robinson listened to this resolve with an incredulous ear.

"You wouldn't venture, young madam, to trust yourself amongst such rough
and unchristian people, as you would have to go among before you could
see Cornwallis? in danger of being taken up by outposts and pickets, or
arrested by patroles, or dragged about by dragoons and fellows that have
more savagery in them than wolves. Oh no, ma'am, you don't know what you
would have to put up with; that's onpossible. Mr. Henry, here, and me,
can take a letter."

"I may not trust to letters, I must go myself. You will protect me, Mr.
Robinson? my brother and I will form some good excuse that shall take us
through safely."

"Sartainly, ma'am, I will stand by you through all chances, if you go,"
replied the sergeant. "But there's not many women, with their eyes open,
would set out on such a march."

"It will be easily achieved," said Mildred: "it is an honest and
virtuous cause that takes me away, and I will attempt it with a valiant
spirit. It cannot but come to good. My father's name will give me free
passage through the enemy's lines. And you shall pass as my attendant."

"If you have a heart stout enough, ma'am, for such hard fare, I believe
I mought undertake for your safe passage," answered Horse Shoe, "and it
sartainly would do the major great good to hear that you was stirring in
this matter."

"Sergeant, recruit yourself as long as you think necessary," said
Mildred; "but if you can be ready to set out to-morrow, I should like to
go then, and at an early hour."

"Don't stand upon my fatigue, young lady: I never saw the time when I
wan't ready to march at the shortest warning. With your leave, I will go
look after my horse, Captain Peter, I call him, ma'am. A little chance
of a roll, and the privilege of a good green pasture, soon puts him in
marching trim."

The sergeant now left the room.

"Sister," said Henry, "you never thought a better thought, and you never
contrived a better act, than just taking this matter in hand yourself,
under mine and Horse Shoe's protection. Because Horse Shoe is as brave a
man as you ever fell in with, and as for me, I'll back the sergeant. We
can finish the thing in two or three weeks, and then, when I see you
safe home, I'll go and join the Rangers."

"It is a perilous and uncertain journey, brother, but it is my duty. I
would rather fall beneath the calamities of war than longer endure my
present feelings. Provide yourself, brother, with all things requisite
for our journey, and give old Isaac, the gardener, notice that he must
go with us. We shall set out to-morrow. I will write a letter to my
father to-night explaining my purpose. And one thing, Henry; you will be
careful to say nothing to any one of the route we shall travel."

"I'll take my carbine, sister," said Henry, "I can sling it with a
strap. And I was thinking I had better have a broadsword."

"Leave that behind," replied Mildred, as a smile rose on her features.

"The bugle I will certainly take," added Henry; "because it might be
useful in case we got separated; and I will teach you to understand my
signals. Isaac shall carry horse-pistols on his saddle, and the
sergeant shall have a great wallet of provisions. You see I understand
campaigning, Mildred. And now," added the eager young soldier, as he
left the apartment, "hurra for the volunteers of the Dove Cote!"



CHAPTER XXXIX.

MILDRED BEGINS HER JOURNEY.


The man who writes the history of woman's love will find himself
employed in drawing out a tangled skein. It is a history of secret
emotions and vivid contrasts, which may well go nigh to baffle his
penetration and to puzzle his philosophy. There is in it a surface of
timid and gentle bashfulness concealing an underflow of strong and heady
passion: a seeming caprice that a breath may shake or a word alarm; yet,
all the while, an earnest devotion of soul which, in its excited action,
holds all danger cheap that crosses the path of its career. The
sportive, changeful, and coward nature that dallies with affection as a
jest, and wins admiration by its affrighted coyness; that flies and
would be followed; that revolts and would be soothed, entreated, and on
bended knee implored, before it is won; that same nature will undergo
the ordeal of the burning ploughshare, take all the extremes of misery
and distress, brave the fury of the elements and the wrath of man, and
in every peril be a patient comforter, when the cause that moves her is
the vindication of her love. Affection is to her what glory is to man,
an impulse that inspires the most adventurous heroism.

There had been for some days past in Mildred's mind an anxious misgiving
of misfortune to Butler, which was but ill concealed in a quiet and
reserved demeanor. The argument of his safety seemed to have little to
rest upon, and she could perceive that it was not believed by those who
uttered it. There rose upon her thoughts imaginings or presentiments of
ill, which she did not like to dwell upon, but which she could not
banish. And now when Horse Shoe had told his tale, the incidents did not
seem to warrant the levity with which he passed them by. She was afraid
to express her doubts: and they brooded upon her mind, hatching pain and
secret grief. It was almost an instinct, therefore, that directed her
resolve, when she announced her determination to go in person in quest
of Cornwallis, and to plead Butler's cause herself to the British
general. Her soul rebelled at the gross calumny which had been invented
to bring down vengeance upon Arthur's head; and she had no thought of
thwarting the accuser's wickedness, but by an appeal to the highest
power for that redress which an honorable soldier, in her opinion, could
not refuse, even to an enemy. As to the personal hazard, inconvenience,
or difficulty of her projected enterprise, no thought of either for a
moment occupied her. She saw but her purpose before her, and did not
pause to reckon on the means by which she was to promote it. She
reflected not on the censure of the world; nor on its ridicule; nor on
its want of sympathy for her feelings: she reflected only on her power
to serve one dearer to her than a friend, upon her duty, and upon the
agony of her doubts. If her father had been at hand she might have
appealed to him, and, perhaps, have submitted to his counsel; but he was
absent, she knew not where, and she was convinced that no time was to be
lost. "Even now, whilst we debate," she said, "his life may be forfeited
to the malice of the wicked men who have ensnared him."

Her conduct in this crisis is not to be weighed in the scale wherein the
seemly and decorous observances of female propriety are ordinarily
balanced. The times, the occasion, and the peculiar position of Mildred,
take her case out of the pale of common events, and are entitled to
another standard. She will be judged by the purity of her heart, the
fervor of her attachment, and her sense of the importance of the service
she was about to confer. And with the knowledge of these, I must leave
her vindication to the generosity of my reader.

When the morning came and breakfast was over, the horses were brought to
the door. Henry was active in all the preliminary arrangements for the
journey, and now bestirred himself with an increased air of personal
importance. Isaac, a grey-haired negro of a sedate, and, like all his
tribe, of an abundantly thoughtful length of visage, appeared in a suit
of livery, ready booted and spurred for his journey. A large
portmanteau, containing a supply of baggage for his mistress, was duly
strapped behind his saddle, whilst a pair of pistols were buckled upon
the pummel. Henry's horse also had all the furniture necessary to a
campaign and the young martialist himself, notwithstanding his sister's
disapproval, was begirt with a sword-belt, from which depended a light
sabre, with which he was in the habit of exhibiting himself in the corps
of the Rangers. His bugle hung gracefully by his side, and his carbine
was already provided with a strap to sling it across his back. Stephen
Foster was lost in wonder at these sudden preparations, of the import of
which he could gain no more intelligence from Henry than that a movement
towards the army was intended, of a portentous character.

Horse Shoe sat quietly in the porch looking on with a professional
unconcern, whilst his trusty Captain Peter, bearing a pair of
saddle-bags, now stuffed with a plethora of provisions, slouched his
head, in patient fixedness, waiting the order to move. A bevy of
domestics hung around the scene of preparation, lost in conjectures as
to the meaning of this strange array, and prosecuting an inquiry to
satisfy themselves, with fruitless perseverance.

When Mildred appeared at the door she was habited for her journey. The
housekeeper, an aged dame, stood near her.

"My travel, Mistress Morrison," she said, addressing the matron, and at
the same time putting a letter into her hand, "I trust will not keep me
long from home. If my father should return before I do, be careful to
give him that. Mr. Foster, you will not forget your promise," she added,
as she delivered the second letter, which, notwithstanding her own
expedition, she had prepared for Butler, in the hope that opportunity
might favor its transmission by Stephen.

"The gold," said Stephen, putting his hand in his pocket; "you will want
it yourself, Miss Mildred, and I can do without it."

"Never mind that," interrupted Mildred. "Keep your promise, and I hope
to be able to reward you more according to your deserts."

"Heaven and the saints protect you, Miss Mildred!" said the housekeeper,
as the lady bade her farewell. "You leave us on some heavy errand. God
grant that you come back with a gayer face than you take away!" Then
turning up her eyes, and raising her hands, she ejaculated, "This is an
awful thing, and past my understanding!"

Mildred took leave of the rest of the group around the door, and was
soon in her saddle. This was a signal for the rest to mount, and as
Stephen Foster delivered Henry his rifle, the latter took occasion to
whisper in the hunter's ear--

"It is not unlikely, Steve, that we may meet each other again over here
in Carolina; so remember to make inquiries for us as you go along, and
tell the men I hope to join them before they fire one shot in spite. But
mum, Steve, not a word about our route."

Stephen shook hands with his young comrade; and Henry, seeing that the
rest of the party had already left the door and were some distance down
the hill, called out with an elated tone of good humor--"Farewell, Mrs.
Morrison, and all the rest of you!" and putting spurs to his horse
galloped off to join his sister.

The route pursued by the travellers lay due south, and during the first
three or four days of their journey they were still within the confines
of Virginia. To travel on horseback was a customary feat, even for
ladies, in those days of rough roads and scant means of locomotion: and
such a cavalcade as we have described was calculated to excite no
particular inquiry from the passer-by, beyond that which would now be
made on the appearance of any party of pleasure upon the high-roads, in
the course of a summer excursion. Mildred experienced severe fatigue in
the first stages of her journey; but by degrees this wore off, and she
was soon enabled to endure the long day's ride with scarcely less
inconvenience than her fellow-travellers.

At that period there were but few inns in these thinly-peopled
districts, and such as were already established were small and but
meagrely provided. This deficiency was, in some degree, compensated by
the good will with which the owners of private establishments in the
country received the better class of travellers, and the ready
hospitality with which they entertained them. Henry took upon himself to
obtain information of the gentlemen's seats that lay near the route of
his journey, and to conduct the party to them whenever his sister's
comfort required better accommodation than the common inns afforded.

As our travellers had thus far kept along that range of country which
lay immediately under the mountains, they were not annoyed by the
intense heats which, at this season, prevailed in the lowlands. The
weather, ever since their departure, had been uncommonly fine, and as is
usual in this district, the month of September had brought its cool,
dewy nights, whilst the early hours of the morning were even marked by a
little sharpness, almost approaching to frost. The effect of this on
Mildred was to recruit the weariness of travel, and better enable her to
encounter the noon-tide fervors of the sun; and she had so far endured
the toils of her journey with an admirable spirit. Actual trial
generally results in demonstrating how much we are prone to exaggerate
in advance the difficulties of any undertaking. Accordingly, Mildred's
present experience strengthened her resolution to proceed, and even
communicated an unexpected increase of contentment to her feelings.

On the fifth day the party crossed the river Dan, and entered the
province of North Carolina. A small remnant of Gates's shattered army
lay at Hillsborough, at no great distance from the frontier; and as
Mildred was anxious to avoid the inquiry or molestation to be expected
in passing through a military post, she resolved to travel by a lower
route, and Horse Shoe, therefore, at her suggestion, directed his
journey towards the little village of Tarborough.

Cornwallis, it was understood, since the battle of Camden, had removed
his head-quarters into the neighborhood of the Waxhaws, some distance up
the Catawba, where he was supposed to be yet stationary. The whole
country in the neighborhood of either army was in a state of earnest
preparation; the British commander recruiting his forces for further and
immediate operations--the American endeavoring to reassemble his feeble
and scattered auxiliaries for defence. At the present moment, actual
hostilities between these two parties were entirely suspended, in
anxious anticipation of the rapidly approaching renewal of the struggle.
It was a breathing time, when the panting combatants, exhausted by
battle, stood sullenly eyeing each other and making ready--the one to
strike, the other to ward off another staggering blow.

The country over which Mildred was now to travel was calculated to tax
her powers of endurance to the utmost. It was a dreary waste of barren
wilderness, covered with an endless forest of gloomy pine, through which
a heavy, sandy road crept in lurid and melancholy shade. Here and there
a miserable hut occurred to view, with a few ragged inmates, surrounded
by all the signs of squalid poverty. The principal population were only
to be seen along the banks of the rivers which penetrated into this
region, some twenty or thirty miles distant from each other. The
alluvial bottoms through which these streams found a channel to the
ocean, were the only tracts of land of sufficient fertility to afford
support to man--all between them was a sterile and gloomy forest.

Still, these regions were not deserted. Bodies of irregular troops, ill
clothed and worse armed, and generally bearing the haggard features of
disease, such as mark the population of a sickly climate, were often
encountered upon the road, directing their wearied march towards the
head-quarters of the republican army. The rigors of the Southern summer
had not yet abated; and it was with painful steps in the deep sand, amid
clouds of suffocating dust, that these little detachments prosecuted
their journey.

Mildred, so far from sinking under the weariness and increasing
hardships of her present toils, seemed to be endued with a capacity for
sustaining them much beyond anything that could have been believed of
her sex. Her courage grew with the difficulties that beset her. She
looked composedly upon the obstacles before her, and encountered them,
not only without a murmur, but even with a cheerfulness to which she had
hitherto been a stranger. The steadiness of her onward march, her
unrepining patience, and the gentle solicitude with which she turned the
thoughts of her companions from herself, and forbade the supposition
that her powers were over-taxed, showed how deeply her feelings were
engaged in her enterprise, and how maturely her mind had taken its
resolution.

"One never would have guessed," said Horse Shoe, towards the close of
the second day after they had entered North Carolina, "that a lady so
daintily nursed as you was at home, Mistress Mildred, could have ever
borne this here roughing of it through these piney woods. But I have
made one observation, Miss Lindsay, that no one can tell what they are
fit for till they are tried; and on the back of that I have another,
that when there's a great stir that rouses up a whole country, it don't
much signify whether they are man or woman, they all get roused alike.
'Pon my word, ma'am, I have seen men--who think themselves sodgers
too--that would be onwilling to trust themselves at this time o' year
through such a dried up piece of pine barren as we have been travelling
over for two days past."

"You remember the fable of the willow and the oak, Mr. Robinson,"
replied Mildred, smiling; "the storm may bring down the sturdy tree, but
the supple shrub will bend before it without breaking."

"I'm not much given to religious takings-on," said the sergeant, "but
sometimes a notion comes into my head that looks a little that way, and
that is, when God appoints a thing to be done, he gives them that's to
do it all the wherewithals. Now, as Major Butler is a good man and a
brave sodger--God bless him!--it does seem right that you, Mistress
Lindsay,--who, I take on me to understand enough of your consarns and
his'n, without offence, to say has a leaning towards the major,--I say
it does seem right and natural that you should lend a hand to help him
out of tribulation; and so you see the cause being a good cause, the
Lord has given you both wisdom and strength to do what is right."

"We owe, sergeant, a duty to our country; and we serve God and our
country both, when we strengthen the hands of its defenders."

"That's a valiant speech, young lady, and it's a noble speech," said
Horse Shoe, with an earnest emphasis. "I have often told the major that
the women of this country had as honest thoughts about this here war,
and was as warm for our cause as the men; and some of them, perhaps, a
little warmer. They could be pitted against the women of any quarter of
the aqueous globe, in bearing and forbearing both, when it is for the
good of the country."

"Henry is asleep on his horse," said Mildred, looking at her brother,
who now, jaded and worn with the effort of travel, was nodding and
dropping his head forward, and almost losing his seat. "What, Henry,
brother!" she added, loud enough to rouse up the young horseman. "My
trusty cavalier, are you going to fall from your horse? Where is all
that boasted glorification upon which you were disposed to be so
eloquent only a week ago? I thought a man on horseback was naturally
proud: I fear it was only on holiday occasions you meant, Henry. Hav'n't
you a word for a sunny day and a dry journey? You lag more like a
miller's boy with his bag of meal, than a young soldier setting out on
his adventures."

"Ah, sister," said Henry, waking up, "this is nothing but
pine--pine--and sand, without end. There is no game in the woods to keep
a man on the look-out, except here and there a herd of wild hogs, that
snort and run from us, like a squadron of cavalry, with their bristles
set up on their backs as fierce as the back fin of a sunfish. There is
not even grass to look at: you might see a black snake running half a
mile amongst the trees. And then there are such great patches of burnt
timber, every trunk staring right at you, as black as thunder. I'm tired
of it all--I want to see the green fields again."

"And, in truth, brother, so do I: but not until we can bring merry faces
to look upon them. How far are we from Tarborough?"

"We should be drawing nigh to the town," replied Horse Shoe, "for you
may see that we shall soon be out of these woods, by the signs of open
country ahead. The last squad of sodgers that passed us, said that when
we came to the farms, we shouldn't be more than five miles from the
town, and the sun isn't above an hour high."

"In the hope of being soon housed, then, Mr. Robinson, I may confess to
you I am somewhat weary; but a good night's rest will put me in fair
condition for to-morrow's ride again."

After the lapse of an hour, the party were safely sheltered in a
tolerably comfortable inn at the village: and Mildred, aided by the
sedulous care of Henry, found herself well bestowed in the best chamber
of the house.



CHAPTER XL.


From Tarborough our travellers continued their route towards the Pedee,
by the main road which led through Cross creek, a small hamlet on Cape
Fear river, near the site of the present town of Fayetteville. The
general features of the country were even more forbidding than those I
have already described as characteristic of this portion of North
Carolina. Even to the present day, cultivation has done but little to
cheer up the natural desolation of those tracts of wilderness which lie
between the rivers. But at the early period to which the events I have
been detailing have reference, the journey undertaken by our little
caravan might be compared to that which is now frequently made through
the more southern extremity of the Union, from the Atlantic to the Gulf
of Mexico, an attempt seldom essayed by a female, and sufficiently
trying to the hardihood of the stoutest travellers. The forethought and
attention of Horse Shoe Robinson, however, contributed to alleviate the
pains of the enterprise, and to enable Mildred to overcome its
difficulties.

In the present alarmed and excited state of this province, the party
were less liable to interruption in this secluded and destitute section
of the country, than they might have been, had they chosen a lower and
more populous district; and the consciousness that every day's
perseverance brought them nearer to the ultimate term of their journey,
gave new vigor, at least, to Mildred's capacity to endure the privations
to which she was exposed. But few vestiges of the war yet occurred to
their view. The great wilderness, like the great ocean, retains no
traces of the passage of hostile bodies. Sometimes, indeed, the signs of
a woodland encampment were visible in the midst of the forest, on the
margin of some sluggish brook or around a sylvan fountain, where the
impression of recent hoof-prints, the scattered fragments of brushwood
cut for temporary shelter, and the still smouldering ashes of camp
fires, showed that masses of men had been in motion. The deer fled,
too, with a more frightened bound towards their coverts, as if lately
alarmed by the pursuit of the huntsman; but the images of devastation,
which are associated with the horrid front of war in the mind of all
familiar with its ravage, were absent. The eternal, leafy shade high
arching over the heads of the wayfarers, furnished no object for human
vengeance; and it still sighed in the fanning of the breeze, as of old
it sighed before man claimed dominion in the soil it sheltered. A far
different scene was shortly to be looked upon by our venturesome
friends.

Several days had again passed by, for the journey through the wilderness
had been slowly prosecuted, when Robinson, towards the approach of
evening, announced to Mildred his conjecture that they were not far off
the Pedee. The banks of this river had been the scene of frequent
hostilities, and the war that had been carried on here was of the most
ruthless kind. The river is characterized by a broad, deep, and quiet
stream, begirt with a vegetation of exceeding luxuriance. Its periodical
overflow seems to have poured out upon its margin a soil of
inexhaustible richness, that, for a mile or two on either side, forms a
striking contrast with the low, barren sand-hills that hem in the river
plain. Along this tract of level border, all the way to the Atlantic,
are found, as is usually the case throughout the Carolinas, the large
plantations of opulent gentlemen, who, by the cultivation of rice and
cotton, turn the fertility of the soil to the best account. These
possessions, presenting the most assailable points to an enemy, and,
indeed, almost the only ones in which the great interests of the
province might be wounded, were, during the whole of that bloody
struggle which distinguished the days of the "Tory Ascendency," the
constant objects of attack; and here the war was waged with a vindictive
malignity, on the part of the British and Tory partisans, that is
scarcely surpassed in the history of civil broils. The finest estates
were sacked, the dwellings burnt, and the property destroyed with
unsparing rage. The men were dragged from their houses and hung, the
women and children turned without food or raiment into the wilderness,
and political vengeance seemed to gorge itself to gluttony upon its own
rapine.

The thoughts of Robinson had been, for some days past, running upon the
probable difficulties that might attend the guise in which he was now
about to return to his native province. This was a subject of some
concern, since he ran a risk of being compelled either to desert his
charge, or to bring his companions into jeopardy, amongst the many
persons of both armies who were, at least by report, acquainted with his
name and his military connexions. He had explained to Mildred the
necessity of his appearing in some definite character, associated with
the object of her journey, and of which, upon emergency, he might claim
the benefit to retain his post near her. This matter was summarily
settled by Henry.

"In general, Mr. Horse Shoe, you can call yourself Stephen Foster: you
know Steve; and you can say that you are Mr. Philip Lindsay's gardener.
Isaac, here, can let you enough into the craft to pass muster, if any of
them should take it into their heads to examine you. Mind that, Isaac:
and recollect, old fellow, you are only sister Mildred's waiting man."

"Sartainly, master," replied Isaac.

"And sergeant, I'll tell you all about Steve; so that you can get your
lesson by heart. You have a wife and five children--remember that. I'll
give you all their names by-and-by."

"Thanks to the marcies of God, that ar'n't my misfortune yet," said
Horse Shoe, laughing; "but, Mr. Henry, I have got conscience enough now
for any lie that can be invented. The major and me talked that thing
over, and he's of opinion that lying, in an enemy's country, is not
forbidden in the scriptures. And I have hearn the preacher say that
Rahab, who was not a woman of good fame no how, yet she was excused by
the Lord for telling the king of Jericho a most thumping lie, consarning
her not knowing what had become of the two men that Joshua, the judge of
Israel, who was a general besides, had sent into the town to
reconnoitre; which was a strong case, Mister Henry, seeing that Rahab,
the harlot, was a taking of sides against her own people. So, I like
your plan and I'll stick by it."

This being agreed upon, it became one of the amusements of the road-side
to put the sergeant through his catechism, which was designed to make
him familiar with the traits of private history relating to the Dove
Cote and its appurtenances, that he might thereby maintain his
identity, in the event of a close investigation. Horse Shoe was but an
awkward scholar in this school of disguise, and gave Henry sufficient
employment to keep him in the path of probability; and, indeed, the
young teacher himself found it difficult to maintain an exact
verisimilitude in the part which it was his own province to play in this
deception.

On the evening to which we have alluded, the sergeant, finding himself
within a short distance of the district of country in which he was
almost certain to encounter parties of both friends and foes, adopted a
greater degree of circumspection than he had hitherto deemed it
necessary to observe. His purpose was to halt upon the borders of the
forest, and endeavor to obtain accurate information of the state of
affairs along the river, before he entered upon this dangerous ground.
Like a soldier who had a rich treasure to guard, he was determined to
run no hazard that might be avoided, in the safe conduct of the lady in
whose service he was enlisted. In accordance with this caution, he
directed the cavalcade to move onward at a moderate walk, in order that
they might not reach the limit of the woodland before the dusk of the
evening; and also in the hope of finding there some habitation where
they might pass the night. They had not advanced far in this manner
before the sergeant descried, at some distance ahead, a small log hut
standing by the road side, which, by the smoke that issued from the
chimney, he perceived to be inhabited. Upon this discovery, he ordered
the party to stop and await his return. Then giving spurs to his horse
he galloped forward, and, after a short interval of absence, returned,
made a favorable report of his reconnoissance, and conducted his
companions to the house.

The little cabin to which Mildred was thus introduced was the homestead
of an honest Whig soldier, by the name of Wingate, who was now in
service, under the command of one of the most gallant partisans that any
country ever produced, Francis Marion, then recently promoted to the
rank of a brigadier. The inmates were the soldier's family, consisting
of a young woman and a number of small children, all demonstrating by
their appearance a condition of exceedingly limited comfort. The hut
contained no more than two rooms, which exhibited but a scanty supply of
the meanest furniture. The forest had been cleared for the space of a
few acres around the dwelling, and these were occupied by a small
garden or vegetable patch, meagrely stocked with scattered and half
parched plants; and by a cornfield, along the skirts of which some lean
hogs were seen groping with a felonious stealthiness. A shed, in the
same inclosure, formed a rendezvous for a few half-starved cattle, that
probably obtained their principal but slender support from the
neighboring wood. Add to these a troop of fowls, that were now at roost
upon one of the trees hard by, and we have, probably, a tolerably
correct inventory of the worldly goods of this little family.

The woman of the house was kind and hospitable, and her attentions were
in no small degree quickened by the application of a few pieces of money
which Mildred insisted upon her receiving--much to the discomfiture of
the dame's self-possession--the boon consisting of hard coin, to an
amount of which, perhaps, she had never before been mistress.

Mildred was exceedingly fatigued, and it was an object of early
consideration to furnish her the means of rest. Our hostess assisted by
old Isaac, and officiously but awkwardly superintended by Horse Shoe,
began her preparations for supper, to the abundance of which the
provident sergeant was enabled to contribute some useful elements from
his wallet. In one of the apartments of the hut, a shock-bed was spread
for the lady, and by the assistance of her cloak and some other
commodities which had been provided as part of her travelling gear, she
was supplied with a couch that formed no ill exchange for the weariness
of her long-inhabited saddle. Use and necessity are kind nursing-mothers
to our nature, and do not often fail to endow us with the qualities
proper to the fortune they shape out for us. This was not Mildred's
first experience of a homely lodging since she left the Dove Cote; and,
as privation and toil have a faculty to convert the rough pallet of the
peasant into a bed of down, she hailed the present prospect of rest with
a contented and grateful spirit.

The supper being dispatched, our lady was left alone with her hostess,
to seek the repose of which she stood so much in need.

The sergeant now set about making provision for the rest of his party.
This was done by erecting a shelter beneath one of the trees of the
forest, opposite to the door of the cabin. It was composed of a few
boughs stacked against the trunk of the tree, sufficiently covered with
leaves to turn aside any rain that might happen to fall. Under this
cover Horse Shoe appointed that he and his comrades should pass the
night, enjoining them to keep a regular watch for the security of the
lady, whose welfare was now the object of his most sedulous attention.
All these preparations were made with the exactness of military rule,
and with a skill that greatly delighted Henry.

The long summer twilight had faded away. Mildred had been, from an early
period, in the enjoyment of a profound slumber, and Henry and his negro
ally were seated at the front of their sylvan tent. The sergeant had
lighted his pipe, and now, taking his seat upon a log that lay near his
post, he began to smoke in good earnest, with a mind as free from
anxiety as if universal peace prevailed. In the sedate enjoyment of this
luxury, he fell into a descant on matters and things, interlarded with
long and strange stories of his own singular adventures, which he told
to the no small edification and amusement of Henry and the negro.

The habits of the experienced soldier were curiously illustrated in the
thoughtful and sober foresight with which Robinson adapted his plans to
the exigencies of his condition, and then in the imperturbable
light-heartedness with which, after his measures of safety were taken,
he waited the progress of events. His watchfulness seemed to be an
instinct, engendered by a familiarity with danger, whilst the steady and
mirthful tone of his mind was an attribute that never gave way to the
inroads of care. He was the same composed and self-possessed being in a
besieged garrison, in the moment of a threatened escalade, as amongst
his cronies by a winter fire-side.

"In this here starlight, Mister Henry," he said, after he had puffed out
two or three charges of his pipe, "I can't see your eyes, but by your
yawning, I judge you are a little sleepy. Take my advice and turn in. A
sodger ought to snatch his rest when he can get it. I'll keep guard over
our young lady; the Lord protect her, for a most an elegant and oncommon
precious young creature! Fling your great coat upon the leaves, and go
at it, my lad, like a good fellow."

"If I was at home Mr. Horse Shoe, at the Dove Cote, I could sit up all
night listening to your stories; but I believe I am bewitched to-night,
for my eyelids, this hour past, have been snapping like rat traps. So,
I'll just stretch out for an hour or so, and then get up and take my
turn at the guard."

"Don't trouble your head about watching," replied Horse Shoe, "you are
not old enough for that yet. At your time of life, Mr. Lindsay, a good
night's rest is the best part of a ration. And to-morrow, if I'm not
mistaken, you will have need of all the strength you can muster
to-night. As for me, it isn't much account whether I'm asleep or awake."

"Not so fast, sergeant," rejoined the youth, "I'm an older soldier than
you take me for; Stephen and I have watched many a night for racoons.
No, no, I'll have my turn towards morning. So, you and Isaac take the
first part of the night between you, and if anything should happen, call
me; I'm one of your minute men. So good night. My horse trots harder
than I thought he did."

It was not long before our boasted minute man was locked up in a spell
apparently as profound as that which the legend affirms assailed the
seven sleepers: and Isaac, not even waiting for the good example of his
master, had already sunk upon the ground, with that facility which
distinguishes his race, the most uncaring and happiest of mortals.



CHAPTER XLI.

    Our fortress is the good green wood,
      Our tent the cypress tree,
    We know the forest round us
      As seamen know the sea.

    We know its walls of thorny vines,
      Its glades of reedy grass,
    Its safe and silent islands
      Within the dark morass.--BRYANT.


The faithful Horse Shoe being thus left to himself, replenished his
pipe, and, taking his rifle in his hand, paced to and fro upon the
border of the road, holding communion with his own thoughts, carefully
weighing the probabilities connected with his present singular
expedition, and revolving, after his own fashion, the fortunes of Arthur
Butler and Mildred Lindsay.

It was within an hour of midnight, when the sergeant's meditations were
interrupted by the tramp of a horse approaching the hut at a gallop. But
a few moments elapsed before a traveller, who, in the starlight, Horse
Shoe could discern to be armed, drew up his rein immediately at the door
of the dwelling, against which he struck several blows with his weapon,
calling out loudly at the same time--

"Mistress Wingate--for God's sake, open your door quickly! I have news
to tell you, good woman."

"In the name of mercy! who are you?" exclaimed the voice of the dame
within, whilst a note of alarm was also heard from her fellow-lodger.

"What do you mean by this racket and clatter?" demanded Horse Shoe, in
the midst of the uproar, at the same time laying his hand upon the
stranger's bridle rein. "What brings you here, sir?--stand back; the
women in that house are under my charge, and I won't have them
disturbed."

"If you are a friend to Mistress Wingate," said the horseman, sternly,
"speak the word; if an enemy, I will shiver your skull with the butt of
my musket."

"Don't be rash, good fellow," replied Horse Shoe; "I take it you and me
are on the same side. What's afoot that you stir in such a hurry?"

"The Tories are afoot--the devil's afoot! Open, Mistress Wingate--open
to Dick Peyton!"

"The Lord preserve us!" ejaculated the mistress of the hovel, as she
opened the door; "Bloody Spur, is it you? What ill luck brings you here
to-night?"

"A gang of Tories, Mistress Wingate, from the Black River, under that
cut-throat Fanning, crossed Pedee this morning at Lowder's Lake. They
have been thieving and burning as far as Waggamaw, and are now on the
road home by the upper ferry. They will be along here in less than half
an hour. Your husband, Bob Wingate, and myself, were sent out by General
Marion this morning, to reconnoitre the roads. We fell in with the
ruffians, after sunset, below Lumberton, and have tracked them up here.
Bob has got a pistol-shot through his arm. He was lucky enough, however,
to escape their clutches; but believing they had a spite against him,
and would ride past his house to-night, he told me to call and give you
warning, and to help you to drive the cattle back into the swamp."

"How many mought there be, friend?" asked Horse Shoe, calmly.

"Between two and three hundred, at least," said the trooper; "we counted
fifty in the vanguard--those that followed made a long column of march.
They have stolen a good many horses and cattle, all of which are with
them, and several prisoners."

"What, ho!--Isaac, Henry Lindsay; fall to, and saddle, boys," shouted
Horse Shoe. "Miss Mildred, it will not do to stand. I am sorry to break
in upon your rest, but you must be ready to move in a few minutes."

Everything about the hut was now in confusion. Henry and the sergeant
were equipping the horses, whilst Isaac was gathering up the baggage.
Bloody Spur--to adopt the rider's _nom de guerre_--had dismounted, and
was busy in removing the few articles of value from the hut; the mother
and children, meanwhile, were pouring forth loud lamentations.

Mildred, in the midst of this scene of uproar, hurriedly made her
preparations for departure; and whilst she was yet engaged in this care,
a confused murmur was heard, at some distance up the road--and the
rattle of sabres, as well as the hoarse voice and abrupt laughter of
men, announced that the freebooters were at no great distance from the
dwelling.

"Merciful heaven!" exclaimed Mildred, giving way for the first time to
her fears; "they are fast approaching, and we shall be captured."

"Sister," said Henry, with scarcely less alarm, "I will die by your
side, before they shall hurt a hair of your head."

Horse Shoe, who at this moment was tightening the girths of Mildred's
saddle, paused for an instant to listen, and then said:

"The wind is north-east, young lady, and the voice sounds far to-night.
One could hardly expect you to be cool when one of these night-frays is
coming on, but there's no occasion to be frightened. Now, ma'am, if you
please, I'll heave you into your seat. There," continued the sergeant,
setting Mildred upon her horse, "you have got four good legs under you,
and by a fair use of them will be as safe as a crowned king. Mister
Henry, mount, and ride with your sister slowly down the road, till I
overtake you."

Henry obeyed the order.

"Is the portmanteau and the rest of the baggage all safe, Isaac? Don't
be flurried, you old sinner, but look about you, before you start off."

"All safe," replied the negro.

"Up and follow your master, then. Hark you, Mr. Bloody Spur," said Horse
Shoe, as Isaac rode off, to the trooper, who was still actively employed
in turning the cattle loose from the inclosure, "what is the best road
hereabouts for my squad to keep out of the way of these bullies?"

"About a mile from here, take a road that strikes into the woods, upon
your right hand," answered the trooper hastily, "it will lead you up the
river to the falls of Pedee. If you should meet any of Marion's men,
tell them what you have seen; and say Dick Peyton will be along close
after you."

"Where is Marion?" asked the sergeant, mounting his horse.

"What man that knows Frank Marion could ever answer that question?" said
the trooper. "He is everywhere, friend. But you have no time to lose: be
off."

As Bloody Spur said this, he disappeared, driving the cattle before him;
whilst the mother, laden with an infant and as many pieces of furniture
as she could carry, and followed by her terrified children, fled towards
the neighboring thicket.

Horse Shoe in a few moments overtook his companions, and, urging them
forward at a rapid flight, soon reached the diverging road, along which
they journeyed with unabated speed for upwards of a mile.

"How do you bear it, sister?" asked Henry, with concern.

"Ah, brother, with a sore heart to be made so painfully acquainted with
these frightful scenes. I lose all thought of my own annoyance, in
seeing the calamities that are heaped upon the unoffending family of a
man who dares to draw his sword for his country."

"Yes, ma'am," said Horse Shoe, gravely, "these incarnivorous devils have
broken the rest of many a good woman in the Carolinas, before they
routed you out to-night, ma'am. But it is one of God's marcies to see
how you keep up under it."

"Mine's a trifling grievance, good sergeant: I lose but a little repose:
that poor mother flies to save her children, uncertain, perhaps, of
to-morrow's subsistence; and her husband's life is in daily peril. It is
a sad lot. Yet truly," added Mildred with a sigh, "mine is scarcely
better. Gracious heaven!" she exclaimed, looking behind her, "they have
set fire to the dwelling!"

In the quarter to which she directed her eyes, the horizon was already
illuminated with the blaze of Wingate's hut. The light grew brighter for
a short interval, and brought into bold relief upon the sky, the tall,
dark forms of the stately pines of which the forest was composed.

"They are fools as well as villains," said Horse Shoe, with an angry
vehemence; "they have had liquor to-night, or they would hardly kindle
up a blaze which should rouse every Whig on Pedee to track them like
hounds. It would be sport worth riding to look at, if Marion should get
a glimpse of that fire. But these wolves have grown obstropolous ever
since Horatio Gates made his fox paw at Camden."

"Oh, it is a most savage war," said Mildred, "that roots up the humble
hearth, and fires the lowly roof, where none but defenceless women and
children abide. I shudder to think of such wanton barbarity."

"There's the thing, Miss Lindsay, that turns all our blood bitter. Man
to man is fair game, all the world over: but this ere stealing of
cattle, and burning of houses, and even cutting up by the roots the
plants of the 'arth, and turning of women and children naked into the
swamps, in the dead of night! it's a sorry business to tell of a
Christian people, and a cowardly business for a nation that's a boasting
of its bravery."

The light of the conflagration had soon died away, and our wanderers
pursued their solitary road in darkness, ignorant of the country through
which they passed, and uncertain of the point to which they tended. A
full hour had gone by in this state of suspense, and Robinson had once
more resolved to make a halt, and encamp his party in the woods. Before,
however, he could put this design into execution, he was unexpectedly
challenged, from the road-side, with the military demand of--"Who goes
there?"

"Travellers," was the reply.

"Where do you come from, and where are you going?"

"The first question I can answer," said Horse Shoe, "and that is, from
Old Virginny, a fortnight ago, but, to-night, from a tolerable snug
lodging, where some onmannerly fellows troubled our sleep. But as to
where we're going, it's more likely you can tell that for us."

"You are saucy, sir."

"It's more than I meant to be," replied the sergeant. "Mayhap you mought
have hearn of a man they call Bloody Spur?"

"He has pricked your pillows for you--has he? Dick Peyton is good at
that," said a second questioner.

"Aha, comrades, I understand you now," said Horse Shoe, with alacrity.
"Dick Peyton and Bob Wingate both belong to your party. Am I right? We
are friends to Marion."

"And therefore friends to us," said the patrole. "Your name, sir, and
the number you have in company?"

"Take us to the general, and we will answer that," replied Horse Shoe.
"The Tories have set upon Wingate's house and burnt it to the ground.
It's like we may be able to tell something worth hearing at
head-quarters. Your man Bloody Spur gave us in charge to report him, and
to say that he would soon follow upon our track. I wonder that he isn't
here before now."

"I will remain," said one of the soldiers to his companion; "you shall
take charge of the travellers."

The trooper accordingly turned his horse's head and commanded Horse Shoe
and his party to follow.

The scout conducted our adventurers along a by-road that led round the
head of a marsh, and through several thickets which, in the darkness of
the night, were penetrated with great difficulty; during this ride he
interrogated Horse Shoe as to the events of the late inroad of the
Tories. He and his comrade had been stationed upon the path where the
sergeant encountered them, to direct the out-riding parties of his corps
to the spot of Marion's encampment, the policy of this wary officer
being to shift his station so frequently as almost equally to defy the
search of friend and foe. Peyton and Wingate were both expected; and the
trooper who remained behind only waited to conduct them to the
commanding officer, who had, since the disappearance of daylight, formed
a bivouac in this neighborhood. Marion's custom was to order his
reconnoitring parties to return to him by designated roads, where
videttes were directed to repair in order to inform them of his
position,--a fact which, as his movements were accomplished with
wonderful celerity and secresy, they were generally unable to ascertain
in any other way.

At length, emerging from the thicket, and crossing what seemed, by the
plash of the horse's feet, a morass, the party, under the guidance of
the scout, came upon a piece of thinly-timbered woodland, which, rising
by a gentle slope, furnished what might be called an island of dry
ground, that seemed to be only accessible by crossing the circumjacent
swamp. Upon this spot were encamped, in the rudest form of the bivouac,
a party of cavalry, which might have amounted to two hundred men.
Several fires, whose ruddy glare had been discerned for the last half
mile of the journey, were blazing forth from different quarters of the
wood, and threw a bold and sharp light upon the figures of men and
horses, imparting a feature of lively, picturesque beauty to the scene.
The greater portion of the soldiers were stretched beneath the trees,
with no other covering than the leafy bowers above them. The horses were
picketed in the neighborhood of their riders; and the confused array of
saddles, sabres, muskets, rifles, and other warlike instruments, that
were hung upon projecting boughs, or leant against the trunks, as they
caught the flashes of the frequent fires, seemed to be magnified in
number equal to the furniture of thrice the force. Sentinels were seen
pacing their limits on the outskirts of this company, and small bodies
of patroles on horseback moved across the encampment with the regularity
of military discipline. Here and there, as if regardless of rest, or
awaiting some soon-expected tour of duty, small knots of men sat
together amusing themselves, by torch-light, at cards; and, more
appropriately, others had extended their torpid frames in sleep upon
their grassy pallets and knapsack pillows.

"We have seen war in its horrors," exclaimed Mildred, with an
involuntary vivacity; "and here it is in all its romance!"

"Sister, I wish you were at home," said Henry, eagerly, "and Steve and I
had the Rangers on this field to-night. I would undertake to command a
picket with any man here!"

To Horse Shoe these were familiar scenes, and he could not comprehend
the source of that sudden interest which had so vividly aroused the
admiration of his companions; but asking the guide to conduct them
immediately to General Marion, he followed the soldier across the whole
extent of the bivouac, until they halted beneath a large tree, near
which a few officers were assembled. One of this group was seated on the
ground; and close by him, planted in the soil, a blazing pine-faggot
flung a broad light upon a saddle, the flap of which the officer had
converted, for the occasion, into a writing-desk.

"Make way for a squad of travellers picked up on the road to-night,"
said the scout in a loud voice. "They wish to see General Marion."

In a moment our party was surrounded by the officers; and Horse Shoe,
unceremoniously dismounting, addressed the person nearest to him:--

"A lady, sir, from Virginia, that I started with from her father's
house, to fetch to Carolina; but who has been most audaciously unhoused
and unbedded in the very middle of the night by a hellish pack of
Tories."

"My name is Lindsay, sir," said Henry, riding to the front; "my sister
and myself were travelling south, and have been obliged to fly,
to-night, before a detachment of horse-stealers."

"From Bob Wingate's," said Horse Shoe, "as I should judge, some six
miles back. I want to report to General Marion: the lady, likewise, is
tired, as she has good right to be."

The officer to whom this was addressed, directed a soldier to seek
General Marion, and then approaching Mildred, said:

"Madam, we can promise but little accommodation suitable to a lady: the
greenwood tree is but an uncouth resting-place: but what we can supply
shall be heartily at your service."

"I feel sufficiently thankful," replied Mildred, "to know that I am in
the hands of friends."

"Sister, alight," said Henry, who now stood beside her stirrup, and
offered his hand: and in a moment Mildred was on her feet.

The officer then conducted her to a bank, upon which a few blankets were
thrown by some of the soldiers in attendance. "If this strange place
does not alarm you," he said, "you may perhaps find needful repose upon
a couch even as rough as this."

"You are very kind," replied Mildred, seating herself. "Brother, do not
quit my side," she added, in a low voice: "I feel foolishly afraid."

But a few moments elapsed before the light of the torches, gleaming upon
his figure, disclosed to Mildred the approach of a person of short
stature and delicate frame, in whose step there was a singular alertness
and rapidity. He wore the blue and buff uniform of the staff, with a
pair of epaulets, a buckskin belt, and broadsword. A three-cornered
cocked-hat, ornamented with a buck-tail, gave a peculiar sharpness to
his naturally sharp and decided features; and a pair of small, dark eyes
twinkled in the firelight, from a countenance originally sallow, but now
swarthy from sun and wind. There was a conspicuous alacrity and courtesy
in the gay and chivalrous tone in which he accosted Mildred:

"General Marion, madam, is too happy to have his poor camp honored by
the visit of a lady. They tell me that the Tories were so uncivil as to
break in upon your slumbers to-night. It adds greatly to my grudge
against them."

"I have ventured," said Mildred, "into the field of war, and it does not
become me to complain that I have met its vicissitudes."

"Gallantly spoken, madam! May I be allowed to know to whom I am indebted
for the honor of this visit?"

"My name is Lindsay, my father resides at the Dove Cote in Virginia:
under the protection of my brother and a friend, I left home to travel
into Carolina."

"A long journey, madam," interrupted Marion; "and you have been sadly
vexed to-night, I learn. We have a rude and unquiet country."

"My sister and myself," said Henry, "counted the chances before we set
out."

"I would call you but an inexperienced guide, sir," said the General,
addressing Henry, and smiling.

"Oh, as to that," replied the youth, "we have an old soldier with
us--Horse Shoe Robinson--hem--Stephen Foster, I meant to say."

"Horse Shoe Robinson!" exclaimed Marion, "where is he?"

"Mr. Henry Lindsay, General, and me," said the sergeant, bluntly, "have
been practising a lie to tell the Tories, in case they should take us
unawares; but it sticks, you see, in both of our throats. It's the true
fact that I'm Horse Shoe himself. This calling me Stephen Foster is only
a hanging out of false colors for the benefit of the red-coats and
Tories, upon occasion."

"Horse Shoe, good fellow, your hand," said Marion, with vivacity, "I
have heard of you before. Miss Lindsay, excuse me, if you please; I have
business to-night which is apt impertinently to thrust itself between us
and our duty to the ladies. Richards," he continued, addressing a young
officer who stood near him, "see if you can find some refreshment that
would be acceptable to the lady and her brother. Horse Shoe, this way: I
would speak with you."

Marion now retired towards the place where the writing materials were
first noticed, and entered into an examination of the sergeant, as to
the particulars of the recent attack upon Wingate's cabin.

Before Robinson had finished his narrative of the events of the night, a
horseman dashed up almost at full speed to the spot where Marion stood,
and, flinging himself from his saddle, whilst his horse stood panting
beside him, asked for the General.

"How now, Bloody Spur! What's the news?" demanded Marion.

"The Black River hawks are flying," said the soldier.

"I have heard that already," interrupted the chieftain. "Tell me what
else."

"I stayed long enough to secure Wingate's cattle, and then set out for
the river to cut loose the boats at the Ferry. I did it in good time.
Four files followed close upon my heels, who had been sent ahead to make
sure of the means of crossing. The fellows found me after my work was
done, and chased me good three miles. They will hardly venture, General,
to swim the river to-night, with all the thievery they have in their
hands; and I rather take it they will halt at the ferry till daylight."

"Then that's a lucky cast, Dick Peyton," exclaimed Marion. "Ho, there!
Peters, wake up that snoring trumpeter. Tell him to sound 'to saddle.'
Come lads, up, up. Gentlemen, to your duties!"

Forthwith the trumpet sounded, and with its notes everything asleep
started erect. Troopers were seen hurrying across the ground in rapid
motion: some hastily buckling on broadswords and slinging their muskets;
others equipping the horses; and everywhere torches were seen passing to
and fro in all the agitation of a sudden muster. As soon as Marion had
set this mass in action, he repaired to Mildred, and in a manner that
betokened no excitement from the general stir around him, he said--

"I owe you an apology, Miss Lindsay, for this desertion, which I am sure
you will excuse when you know that it is caused by my desire to punish
the varlets who were so ill-mannered as to intrude upon your slumbers. I
hope, however, you will not be a loser by the withdrawal of our people,
as I will take measures to put you under the protection of a good friend
of mine, the widow of a worthy soldier, Mistress Rachel Markham, who
lives but two miles from this, and whose hospitable mansion will afford
you a shelter more congenial to your wishes than this broad canopy of
ours. A guide shall be ready to conduct you."

"Your kindness, general," said Mildred, "puts me under many
obligations."

"Horse Shoe shall take a line of explanation to my friend," added
Marion. "And now, madam, farewell," he said, offering his hand. "And
you, Master or Mister Henry, I don't know which--you seem entitled to
both--good night, my brave lad: I hope, before long, to hear of your
figuring as a gallant soldier of independence."

"I hope as much myself," replied Henry.

Marion withdrew, and by the time that he had prepared the letter and put
it into Horse Shoe's hands, his troops were in line, waiting their order
to march. The general mounted a spirited charger, and galloping to the
front of his men, wheeled them into column, and, by a rapid movement,
soon left Horse Shoe and his little party, attended by one trooper who
had been left as a guide, the only tenants of this lately so busy scene.
The change seemed almost like enchantment. The fires and many torches
were yet burning, but all was still, except the distant murmur of the
receding troops, which grew less and less, until, at last, there reigned
the silence of the native forest.

Our travellers waited, almost without exchanging a word, absorbed in the
contemplation of an incident so novel to Mildred and her brother, until
the distant tramp of the cavalry could be no longer heard: then, under
the direction of the guide, they set out for the residence of Mrs.
Markham.



CHAPTER XLII.


The day had just begun to dawn as our party, under the guidance of
Marion's soldier, were ferried across the Pedee, on the opposite bank of
which river lay the estate and mansion of Mrs. Markham. The alarms and
excitements of the past night had ceased to stimulate the frame of
Mildred, and she now found herself sinking under the most painful
weariness. Henry had actually fallen asleep as he sat upon the gunwale
of the ferry-boat, and rested his head against the sergeant's shoulder:
the whole party were overcome with the lassitude that is so distressing,
at this hour of dawning, to all persons who have spent the night in
watching; and even the sergeant himself, to the influences of fatigue
and privation the most inaccessible of mortals, and, by fate or fortune,
the most unmalleable--occasionally nodded his head, as if answering the
calls of man's most welcome visitor. It was, therefore, with more than
ordinary contentment that our travellers, when again mounted, were
enabled to descry, in the first light of the morning, a group of
buildings seated upon an eminence about a mile distant, on the further
side of the cultivated lowland that stretched along the southern margin
of the river. The guide announced that this was the point of their
destination, and the intelligence encouraged the party to accelerate the
speed with which they journeyed over the plain. When they arrived at the
foot of the hill, the character of the spot they were approaching was
more distinctly developed to their view. The mansion, encompassed by a
tuft of trees that flung their broad and ancient limbs above its roof,
was of the best class of private dwellings, old and stately in its
aspect, and exhibiting all the appendages that characterized the seat of
a wealthy proprietor. It was constructed entirely of wood, in accordance
with a notion that prevailed at that period, no less than at the
present, that a frame structure was best adapted to the character of the
climate. It occupied the crest of a hill which commanded a view of the
river with its extensive plains; whilst, in turn, it was overlooked by
the adjacent tract of country bearing the name of the Cheraw Highlands.

As the party ascended this eminence, Henry, in the eager and thoughtless
satisfaction of the moment, put his bugle to his mouth and continued to
blow with all his might, deaf to the remonstrances of his sister, who
was endeavoring to explain that there was some want of courtesy in so
abrupt a challenge of the hospitality of the family. The blast was
interrupted by Horse Shoe's laying his hand upon the instrument, as he
gave the indiscreet bugler a short military lecture:

"You might fetch trouble upon us, Mister Henry: this here screeching of
horns or trumpets is sometimes a sort of bullying of a garrison; and if
an enemy should happen to be on post here--as, God knows, is likely
enough in such scampering wars as these, why you have set the thing past
cure: for it is cutting off all chance of escape, just as much as if the
people had been ordered 'to horse.' It leaves nothing for us but to
brazen it out."

An old negro was first startled by the summons, and appeared for a
moment at the door of one of the out-buildings, evincing, as he looked
down the road upon the approaching cavalcade, manifest signs of
consternation. After a brief glance, he was seen to retreat across the
yard to the door of the mansion-house, where he fell to beating at it
with as much earnestness as if giving an alarm of fire, shouting at the
same time, "Lord bless us, mistress! here is a whole rigiment of sodgers
coming to turn everything topsy-turvy. Get up, get up--open the door!"

"Stop your bawling, you stunted black-jack!" said Robinson, who had
galloped up to the spot, "and none of your lies. Is the lady of the
house at home?"

A window was thrown up, at the same moment, in an upper story, and a
female head, decorated with a nightcap, was thrust out, whilst a voice,
tremulous with affright, inquired what was the cause of this
disturbance; but before an answer could be given the head was withdrawn,
and the door opening discovered a youth scarcely in appearance over
sixteen, with a loose robe thrown around his person and a pistol in his
hand.

"Who comes here, and with what purpose?" was the question firmly put by
the young man.

"Friends," said Horse Shoe--"sent to the good lady by General Marion.
Sorry, sir, to be the occasion of such a rumpus. But this here young
lady has travelled all night and is 'most dead with hardships."

Mildred, who with the rest of the company had now arrived near the door,
was about to speak, when the questioner retired, calling the negro after
him into the house. In a moment the servant returned with Mrs. Markham's
compliments to the party, and a request that they would alight.

"Then all's well," said Horse Shoe, dismounting, and immediately
afterwards lifting Mildred from her saddle, "a friend in need, madam, is
the greatest of God's blessings. I make no doubt you will find this as
snug a nest as you ever flew into in your life."

"And, good sergeant, most specially welcome," replied Mildred, smiling
in the midst of all her pain, "for in truth I never was so weary."

The guide, having now performed his duty, announced that he must return
to his corps; and, after a few cheering words of kind remembrance from
Mildred, coupled with a message of thanks to Marion, he wheeled about
and galloped back towards the river. Mildred and Henry entered the
house: and the sergeant, taking command of Isaac, followed the horses
towards the stable.

The brother and sister were ushered into an ample parlor, comfortably
furnished according to the fashion of the wealthier classes of that day;
and, Mildred as she threw herself upon a capacious sofa, could not fail
to recognise in the formal portraits that were suspended to the
pannelled walls, that she was in the dwelling of a family of some pride
of name and lineage.

After a short interval, the proprietress of the mansion entered the
parlor. She was a lady of a kind and gentle aspect, apparently advanced
beyond the middle period of life; and her features, somewhat emaciated,
gave a sign of feeble health. She was attired in dishabille, hastily
thrown on; and there was some expression of alarm in the unreserved and
familiar manner with which she approached Mildred, and inquired into the
nature of this early journey.

"I hope no unhappy accident, my dear, has driven you at this unusual
hour to my poor house? You are heartily welcome. I fear to ask what has
brought you."

"My brother and myself, madam," said Mildred, "have had a most
adventurous night. This letter will explain. General Marion was so kind
as to commit us to your hospitality."

The lady took the letter and read it.

"Miss Lindsay, my child, I am truly happy to serve you. You have had an
awful night, but these times make us acquainted with strange
afflictions. This young gentleman, your brother, is he your only
attendant?"

Mildred began to communicate the details of her journey, when she was
interrupted by her hostess.

"I will not trouble you with questions, now, my dear. You must have
sleep; I dread lest your health may suffer by this harsh exposure. After
you have had rest, we will talk more, and become better acquainted.
Judith," continued the matron, addressing a servant maid, who had just
entered the room, "attend this lady to a chamber. Mr. Henry Lindsay, I
believe--so General Marion calls you--my son Alfred shall take you in
charge."

With these words the good lady left the room, and in an instant after
returned with the youth who had first appeared at the door. Upon being
introduced by his mother to the guests, he lost no time in obeying her
orders in regard to Henry, whom he had conducted out of the room at the
same moment that Mildred followed the servant towards a chamber.

The entire day was spent by our party in recruiting their strength,
towards which needful care the hospitable hostess contributed by the
tenderest attentions. On the following morning Mildred, although
refreshed by the slumbers of the long interval, still exhibited the
traces of her recent fatigue; and upon the earnest recommendation of
Mrs. Markham, seconded by the almost oracular authority of Horse
Shoe,--for the sergeant had greatly won upon the respect of his
companions by his prudence and discretion--she determined to remain
another day in her present resting-place.

Mrs. Markham was the widow of a Carolina gentleman, who had borne the
rank of a colonel in the Whig militia, and had been actively employed,
in the earlier stages of the war, in the southern provinces. He had
fallen in an unfortunate skirmish with some of Prevost's light troops,
on the Savannah river, some sixteen months before; and his widow, with
three daughters and no other male protector than an only son, was now,
in this season of extreme peril, residing upon a large estate, which the
evil fortune of the times had made the theatre of an eventful and active
desultory war. She had been exposed to the most cruel exactions from the
Tories, to whom her possessions were generally yielded up with a passive
and helpless submission; and the firmness with which, in all her
difficulties, she had adhered to the cause for which her husband fell,
had gained for her the generous sympathy of the whig leaders, and more
than once stimulated them to enterprises, in her behalf, that were
followed by severe chastisement upon her enemies. These circumstances
had given extensive notoriety to her name, and drawn largely upon her
the observation of both friend and foe. To Marion, who hovered upon this
border more like a goblin than a champion whose footsteps might be
tracked, her protection had become a subject of peculiar interest; and
the indefatigable soldier frequently started up in her neighborhood when
danger was at hand, with a mysterious form of opposition that equally
defied the calculations of Whigs and Tories.

The lady was still in her weeds, and grief and care had thrown a pallor
upon her cheek; but the watchfulness imposed upon her by the emergencies
of the day, her familiarity with alarms, and the necessity for constant
foresight and decisive action, had infused a certain hardihood into her
character, that is seldom believed to be,--but yet in the hour of trial
unerringly exhibits itself--an attribute of the female bosom. Her
manners were considerate, kind, and fraught with dignity. She was the
personation of a class of matrons that--for the honor of our country and
of the human race--was not small in its numbers, nor upon trial unworthy
of its fame, in the sad history of the sufferings of Carolina.

The evening of the day on which Mildred arrived at the mansion brought
rumors of a brilliant exploit achieved by Marion; and more
circumstantial accounts on the following morning confirmed the good
tidings. The alert partisan had fallen upon the track of the freebooters
who had been marauding on the confines of North Carolina, and whose
incursion had expelled our travellers from Wingate's cabin. Marion had
overtaken them before sunrise, on the bank of the Pedee, where they had
been detained by reason of Peyton's successful removal of the boats. A
short but most decisive combat was the consequence, and victory, as she
was wont, had seated herself upon Marion's banner. The chieftain and his
followers had, as usual, disappeared, and the whole country was in a
state of agitation and dread; the one side fearing a repetition of the
blow in some unlooked-for quarter, the other alarmed by the expectation
of quick and bloody reprisal.

These events still more contributed to fortify Mildred's resolution to
remain another day under the shelter of Mrs. Markham's friendly roof,
before she would venture forth in the further prosecution of her
journey.

Here, for the present, we must leave her.



CHAPTER XLIII.

OCCURRENCES AT MUSGROVE'S MILL.

    She passed by stealth the narrow door,
    The postern way also,
    And thought each bush her robe that tore,
    The grasp of a warding foe.--JOANNA BAILLIE.


The month of September was more than half gone. The night had just set
in, and the waxing moon shone forth from a clear heaven, flinging her
rays upon the rippling surface of the Ennoree and upon the glossy leaves
that flickered in the wind by the banks of the stream, when Mary
Musgrove, with wary and stealthy pace, glided along the path, intricate
with shrubbery, that led upwards immediately upon the margin of the
river. For a full half hour had she toiled along this narrow way since
she had stolen past the sentinel near her father's gate. The distance
was not a mile; but the anxious maiden, pursued by her own fears, had
more than once, in the fancy that she was followed, stopped in her
career and concealed herself in the thick copse-wood, and listened with
painful intensity for the footsteps of those whom her imagination had
set upon her track. There was, however, no pursuit: it was the prowling
fox or the raccoon whose leap had disturbed the dry and rotten branches
that lay upon the ground; and Mary smiled with faint-heartedness at the
illusions of her own mind. She arrived at last beneath the brow of a
crag that jutted over the stream, and in the shade of one of the angles
of the rock, she discerned the figure of a man seated upon the grass.
She paused with a distrustful caution, as she challenged the silent and
half-concealed person.

"Hist, John! is it you? For mercy, speak! Why would you frighten
me?--Me, Mary. Don't you know me?" said the maiden, as she took heart of
grace and advanced near enough to put her hand upon John Ramsay's
shoulder. "Powers above! the man's asleep," she added with a laugh.
"Who would have thought I should have caught you napping, John, at such
a time as this!"

"Why, in truth, Mary," said John Ramsay, waking up under the touch of
his mistress, and rising to his feet, "I deserve to be shot for sleeping
on my watch; but I have been so driven from post to pillar for this last
fortnight, that it is as much as I can do to keep my eyes open when
night comes on. So Mary, you will forgive me, and more particularly when
I tell you I was dreaming of you; and thought this war was at an end,
and that you and I were happy in a house of our own. I have been waiting
for you for upwards of an hour."

"Ah, John, I don't think I could sleep if it had been my turn to watch
for you."

"There's the difference," replied John, "betwixt you women and us men;
you are so full of frights and fidgetings and fancyings, that I do
verily believe all the sleeping doses in the world could never make you
shut your eyes when anything is going on that requires watching, whether
it be for a sick friend or for a piece of scheming. Now, with us, we
take a nap on a hard-trotting horse, and fall to snoring up to the very
minute that the trumpet wakes us to make a charge. What news from
Butler?"

"It is all fixed," answered Mary, "to our hearts' content. Lieutenant
Macdonald, ever since Cornwallis's letter, allows Major Butler greater
privileges; and the sentinels are not half so strict as they used to be;
so that I think we may give them the slip. By the gable window that
looks out from the garret room, the Major will be able to get upon the
roof, and that, he thinks, is near enough to the tree for him to risk a
leap into its branches; though I am almost afraid he is mistaken, for it
looks awfully wide for a spring. He says if you will be ready with the
horses an hour before daylight to-morrow, he will try the leap, and join
you at the willows above the mill. Christopher will saddle one of the
wagon-horses and lead him to the place."

"And the sentinel who keeps guard on that side?"

"Ah, John, that puzzles us," said Mary; "I'm so much afraid that you
will be rash. It is in your nature to forget yourself."

"Tut, girl; don't talk of that. I'll find a way to manage the sentinel.
I will steal up to him and take him unawares; and then seizing him by
the throat, give him his choice of a knife in between his ribs, or a
handful of guineas in his pocket."

"Hadn't we better tell him what a good man the Major is?" said Mary,
alarmed at the idea of a struggle in which her lover's life might be
endangered, "and try to coax him to take our side?"

"Ha, ha!" ejaculated the trooper involuntarily, "that's a very good
woman's thought, but it won't hold out in a campaign. The fellow might
happen to have some honesty, and then away goes our whole scheme. No,
no; blows are the coin that these rascals buy their bread with, and,
faith, we'll trade with them in the same article."

"But then, John, you will be in danger."

"What of that, girl? When have I been out of danger? And don't you see,
Mary, what good luck I have with it? Never fear me; I will stifle the
fellow in the genteelest fashion known in the wars."

"And if it must be so, John, I will say my prayers for you with more
earnestness than I ever said them in my life. As my father says, the God
of Israel will stand by our cause: and when He is for us, what care we
who is against us?"

"You are a good girl, Mary," replied John Ramsay, smiling. "Get back to
the house; let Major Butler know that you have seen me, and that I will
be ready."

"He is to be at the window," said Mary, "and I am to signify to him that
you are prepared, by setting up a plank against the garden fence in a
place where he can see it. He is to keep a look-out from the window all
night, and when the time comes you are to flash a little powder on the
edge of the woods upon the hill: if he is ready then he will show his
candle near the window-sill; that, he says, must be a sign for you to
come on; and when he sees you he will take the leap."

"I understand it," said Ramsay. "Tell Christopher to be sure of the
horse."

"I have a great deal of courage, John, when danger is far off--but when
it comes near, I tremble like a poor coward," said Mary. "Does not my
hand feel cold?"

"Your lips are warm, Mary," replied John, kissing her, "and your heart
is warm. Now, never flag when it comes to the trial. Everything depends
upon you. We shall be very happy, by-and-by, to talk this thing all
over. How many soldiers are on Macdonald's guard? Have none left you
since I saw you yesterday?"

"None," said Mary: "one man left the mill two days since. I think I
heard them say he was going to Ninety-six, on business for the
lieutenant."

"Well, well, it makes but little odds how many are there, so they but
sleep soundly. Our business is more to run than to fight. Mary, my girl,
step across to my father's to-morrow, and he will tell you what has
become of me. We must get the Major out of this country of wolf-traps as
fast as we can."

"I forgot to ask you," said the maiden, "if you had some coarse clothes
ready for the Major. He must not seem to be what he is."

"Trust me for that," replied the trooper. "Christopher has given me a
bundle with as fine a dusty suit in it as any miller's boy ever wore;
and besides that, I have a meal bag to throw across the Major's saddle:
and as for myself, Mary, there's ploughman in my very looks. We shall
cheat all the Tories betwixt this and Catawba."

"Now, John, before I leave you, I have one favor to ask."

"And what is that?" inquired the generous-hearted soldier, "you know, if
I can, I will grant it before it is named."

"I would ask as a favor to me," said Mary, with earnestness, "that you
will not be too venturesome: the Major is a wiser man than you, so be
governed by him. Remember, John, if any ill were to happen to you, it
would break my heart."

"I am not so foolhardy, my girl," replied Ramsay, "but, that when
there's occasion for it, I can show as clean a pair of heels as any man:
and so, for your sake, you kitten," he said, as he put his hands upon
her cheeks, and again snatched a kiss, "I will run to-morrow like a
whole troop of devils. And now, Mary, good night, and God bless you
girl! it is time you were at home. Yet upon second thoughts, I will walk
part of the way with you. So, take my arm and let us begin the retreat."

"John, I do so fear you may be hurt," said the maiden, as they pursued
their way along the path, her whole thoughts being absorbed with the
danger of the enterprise. "Be careful when you come near the sentinel to
wait until his back is turned. This moon shines bright, and you may
easily be seen."

"But look, girl, the moon has scarcely two hours yet to travel, and,
from that circle round it, I shouldn't wonder if we had rain before
daylight; so by the hour we have fixed for the Major's escape, it will
be dark enough: therefore you may be easy on that score."

The humble and ardent lovers pursued their way towards the miller's
dwelling with slow steps, intently engaged in conversing over the
chances of their perilous project, until they arrived at a point beyond
which it was not safe for John Ramsay to venture. Here, after many
affectionate caresses and fond adieus, they separated--the maiden to
steal to her place of rest, the soldier to hasten back to his horse,
that awaited him near the scene of the late meeting.

Mary soon arrived at the mill; then sauntering carelessly towards the
dwelling-house, began, the better to conceal her purpose, to sing a
simple air, during which she had wandered up to the garden fence, where
she delayed long enough to set up the plank. The small window in the
angle of the roof of the cottage looked down upon the spot where she
stood; and as she cast her eyes towards this part of the building, she
received a recognition from the prisoner, in a slight waving of the
hand, which was sufficiently observable by the light of the taper
within.

Matters having gone so far to the maiden's satisfaction, she now
retreated into the house.

The reader will perceive from this narrative that Butler's fortunes had
greatly improved since we last took leave of him. The messenger
despatched to Cornwallis by Williams had brought back to the Fair
Forest, where it will be remembered the vanquishers of Innis had
retreated, a more favorable answer than even the republican leader had
hoped. The British commander was not ignorant of the capture of Butler,
but the circumstances of the trial had not before been communicated to
him. Upon the representation of Williams, he had no hesitation to order
a respite to be given to the prisoner for such reasonable time as might
be necessary for further investigation. This obvious act of justice was
more than, in the circumstances of the times, might have been expected
from Cornwallis. The cruel and bloody policy which he adopted towards
the inhabitants of the Carolinas, immediately after the battle of
Camden, showed a tone of personal exacerbation that was scarcely
consistent with the lenity displayed towards Butler. It is not unlikely,
therefore, that the fear of retaliation upon the young St. Jermyn, of
whose fate he might have been informed from officers of his own camp,
might have induced him to temporize in the present case, and to grant a
suspension of proceedings against the rebel prisoner. The reply to
Williams's letter accordingly intimated that, for the present, Major
Butler should be held in close custody as a prisoner of war, leaving the
determination of the manner in which he was finally to be disposed of, a
subject for future consideration.

John Ramsay, after the departure of Horse Shoe Robinson for Virginia,
instead of rejoining his regiment, returned to the Fair Forest camp,
where he remained with Williams, until the answer from Cornwallis was
received. The tidings of this answer he undertook to convey to Butler,
and he again set out for his father's house. John felt himself now
regularly enlisted in the service of the prisoner, and having found
means to communicate his present employment to General Sumpter, he
obtained permission to remain in it as long as his assistance was of
value. The service itself was a grateful one to the young trooper: it
accorded with the generosity of his character, and gratified his
personal pride by the trust-worthiness which it implied: but more than
this, it brought him into opportunities of frequent meeting with Mary
Musgrove, who, passionately beloved by the soldier, was not less ardent
than he in her efforts to promote the interest of Butler.

The state of the country did not allow John to be seen in day-time, and
he and Mary had consequently appointed a place of meeting, where in the
shades of night they might commune together on the important subjects of
their secret conspiracy. Night after night they accordingly met at this
spot, and here all their schemes were contrived. Mary sometimes came to
David Ramsay's dwelling, and the old man's counsel was added to that of
the lovers. Christopher Shaw and Allen Musgrove were not ignorant of
what was in contemplation, but it was a piece of necessary policy that
they should appear to be as little connected with the prisoner as
possible. Christopher, therefore, pursued his duties as
assistant-quarter-master or purveyor to the little garrison under
Macdonald's command, with unabated assiduity.

The plan of Butler's escape was John Ramsay's. He had been anxiously
awaiting an opportunity to attempt this enterprise for the last
fortnight, but the difficulty of concerting operations with the prisoner
had retarded his movement. This difficulty was at last overcome, and,
for a few days past, the plan had been arranged. All that was left to be
done was to appoint the hour. Christopher Shaw and Mary, alone of the
miller's family, were made acquainted with the details. Christopher was
to provide a horse and a suitable disguise for Butler, and these were to
be ready at a tuft of willows that grew upon the edge of the river some
quarter of a mile above the mill, whenever Mary should announce that
John was ready to act. Ramsay's horse was to be brought to the same
spot. The preparatory signals, already mentioned, were all agreed upon
and understood by the parties. Butler was to escape to the roof, and
thence by the boughs of a large oak that grew hard by the miller's
dwelling. A sentinel was usually posted some fifty paces from this tree,
and it was a matter of great perplexity to determine how his vigilance
was to be defeated. This difficulty, John resolved, should be overcome
by a stern measure: the man was to be silenced, if necessary, by a blow.
John Ramsay was to steal upon him in the dark, and if signs of alarm
were given, he was to master the sentinel in such a manner as the
occasion might require, being furnished by Butler with a purse of gold,
if such a form of influence might be necessary.

Such is the outline of the plan by which Butler's disenthralment was to
be attempted.

Mary Musgrove, before she retired to her chamber, sought Christopher
Shaw and made him acquainted with the appointment of the hour, and then
left him to manage his own share of the enterprise. It was now near ten
at night, and Christopher, who had charge of Allen Musgrove's stable, in
order to avoid the suspicion of being seen stirring at a later hour,
immediately set off to saddle the horse. One of the wagon team, well
known in the family by the name of Wall Eye, was selected for this
service, and being speedily accoutred, was conducted to the willows,
where he was tied fast to a tree, to remain until the hour of need. The
young miller soon returned, and it was not long afterwards that the
household and its military companions were wrapt in the silence of
unsuspecting repose.

Butler, at the hour of the customary visit of the watch, had gone to
bed; and, feigning sickness, had been allowed to burn a light in his
room during the night. His chamber door, also, by special favor, was
closed; and the night advanced without suspicion or distrust from any
quarter. At two o'clock the last sentinels were relieved, and the form
had been gone through of inspecting the prisoner's chamber. To all
outward show, Butler was asleep: the door was again shut, and all was
still. The time for action now arrived. Butler rose silently from his
bed, dressed himself, and, putting his shoes into his pockets, stole in
his stockinged feet to the little gable window at the further end of his
apartment. Here he remained, gazing out upon the night with fixed
attention. The moon had set, and the sky was overcast with clouds,
adding a fortunate obscurity to the natural darkness of the hour. By
still greater good luck, after a few moments the wind began to rise and
rain to descend. Everything seemed to favor the enterprise. The shadowy
form of the sentinel, who was stationed on this side of the house, was
dimly discerned by Butler through the gloom; and it was with joyful
satisfaction that he could perceive the soldier, as the rain fell in
larger drops, retreat some distance from his post and take shelter
beneath the shrubbery that grew in the garden. At the same moment a
flash upon the hill, which might have been mistaken for summer
lightning, announced to him that his faithful comrade was at hand.
Desirous to take advantage of the present neglect of the sentinel, and
to avoid the possibility of bringing him into conflict with Ramsay,
Butler hastily showed his candle at the window, then extinguished it,
and throwing himself out upon the roof, scrambled towards the nearest
point of the impending branches of the oak. Here, without a moment's
pause, he made a fearless leap that flung him amongst the boughs. The
darkness prevented him from choosing the most favorable lodgment in the
tree, and he fell across a heavy limb with such force as to take away
his breath--receiving at the same time, a severe contusion in the head.
For a brief space he hung almost senseless, and there was reason to
apprehend that he would fall in a swoon to the ground; but the occasion
braced his sinking strength, and before many minutes he revived
sufficiently to make his way to the trunk, by which he descended safely
to the earth. He now threw himself on his hands and feet, and crept to
the garden fence. The rain still increased, and fell in a heavy shower.
In another instant he surmounted the barrier, and betook himself with
his utmost speed towards the mill, behind which he sought concealment
and temporary rest.

"Stand," said John Ramsay, who had just reached this point on his way to
the house, and now, taken by surprise, presented a pistol to Butler's
breast. "One word above your breath and you die. Be silent, and here is
gold for you."

"Ramsay," said Butler, in a low tone, "is it you?"

"Your name?" demanded the trooper, still presenting the pistol.

"Butler," was the reply.

"Thanks--thanks, good Major, for that word! You have been before me. I
thought you would not miss this rain. Is all well?"

"Better, much better, than we could have hoped," answered Butler.
"Seeing the sentinel was off his guard, I took time by the forelock, and
have saved you trouble."

"For God's sake, Major, let us not delay here. Our horses are waiting
for us above."

"I am ready," said Butler, having now put on his shoes. "My brave
fellow, I owe you more than I can find words to utter: lead the way."

The liberated captive and his gallant comrade instantly hastened towards
the horses, and mounting with a joyful alacrity, soon set forward at a
gallop in the direction leading to David Ramsay's cottage. Here they
arrived just as the day began to dawn.



CHAPTER XLIV.

A MELANCHOLY INCIDENT.

    The hand of the reaper
    Takes the ears that are hoary,
    But the voice of the weeper
    Wails manhood in glory.--_Scott._


Brief time was taken by the fugitives for refreshment at David Ramsay's
dwelling. Here Butler put on the disguise which Christopher Shaw had
provided for him. Then arming himself with a pair of pistols which John
had appropriated to his use, the trooper himself using a similar
precaution, our two adventurers resumed their journey. Their first
object was to gain a point, some seven or eight miles distant, in the
direction of the Fair Forest, where John Ramsay had concealed a few
troopers that had been furnished him by Williams, to give their aid, if
necessary, in securing Butler's escape.

From this point they were to proceed, with all possible despatch, to
Williams's camp. However hazardous the experiment of attempting to
traverse the country in open daylight, it was deemed still more
dangerous to tarry any length of time so near the scene of their late
adventure. Butler and his comrade, therefore, pushed forward with as
much expedition as possible, resolved to outrun the fresh pursuit which
they had reason to apprehend upon the discovery which the morning must
produce at the miller's habitation.

Soon after sunrise the rain ceased to fall, the clouds dispersed, and a
fresh and brilliant morning broke forth upon the heavens. The success of
their late exploit had raised the spirits of the wanderers. A sense of
intense delight animated Butler's feelings: a consciousness of liberty
once more enjoyed, after hopes deferred and almost despairing captivity,
seemed to regenerate him and make him acquainted with emotions he had
never felt before. His heart was full of gratitude to his new friend
Ramsay, and the expression of it was warm and sincere. Nature had never
appeared so lovely to him as now: the whispers of the forest and the
murmur of the clear brook fell on his enfranchised ear like the sweetest
music: there was melody for him even in the screams of the jay and the
harsh notes of the crow: and once when his companion had halted in sight
of a buck that bounded through the wood before him, Butler, apprehensive
that John was about to discharge a bullet after the forest-rover, found
himself involuntarily pleading the cause of the noble animal: "Do not
draw your pistol on him, Ramsay, I pray you. Let him run; it is
liberty--liberty, good comrade--and that is sacred."

Before eight o'clock they had reached the rendezvous. Here they found
three troopers who, although armed, were habited in the plain dress of
the country, which enabled them to claim the denomination either of Whig
or Tory militia, as their occasions might demand. These men had lain
perdue, for some days, in the depth of the forest, impatiently awaiting
for intelligence from Ramsay.

"Well, Harry Winter," said John, laughing, "what say you now? I have
brought you the miller's boy at last. Have I not made my word good?"

"Truth, John," replied the trooper, "there is more stuff in you than we
counted on. Macdonald must be a silly crow to let the fox steal his
cheese from him so easily."

"You would have come nearer the mark, Harry, if you had called him a
sleepy lout, for whilst he was nodding I took his cake off the griddle.
It was fair filching by night, as the Major will tell you. But come,
lads, here is no time for dallying, we mustn't have the grass growing to
our horses' heels, when we have a whole pack of King George's hounds on
our trail. So move, boys!" and saying these words, John led the party
forward at a rapid gallop.

They had not gone far before they found themselves upon a road which led
through a piece of thin wood that covered a small tract of marshy
ground, the nature of which brought the party into a more compact body
as they approached the narrowest point of the defile. At a short
distance beyond this impediment the track became broader, where it
ascended a hill thickly covered with an undergrowth of bushes.

Our friends had scarcely arrived in the narrow pass before they
perceived on the hill in front of them, a company of some ten or fifteen
horse, rapidly advancing towards them. In a moment all conversation was
checked, and Harry Winter turning to his companions, had barely time to
remark,

"I answer all questions: be silent, and if asked, swear to the truth of
every word I say--steady: these fellows are Tories."

As he ceased speaking, the foremost of the strangers had already come up
to them.

"Where from, and whither do you go?" asked Harry Winter, with a stern
accent.

"From below Ninety-Six, and on our road to Fort Granby," replied a
clownish voice.

"Peace, you knave!" interrupted one who appeared to be the leader of the
party, and whose carriage and demeanor announced him to be an officer;
"by what authority do you undertake to answer a challenge on the
highway? Back, to your place, sir."

The rebuked rustic hung his head, as he reined his horse back into the
crowd that now thronged the road.

"As we are of the larger party," said the same person, addressing
himself to Winter, "we have the right to the word. Who are you and
whence come you?"

"We belong to Floyd's new draft," replied Winter with great coolness,
"and left Winnsborough yesterday morning."

"And where bound?"

"To Augusta, on business with Brown."

"Ah ha!" exclaimed the officer, "Brown is pinched by the rebels. It is
well you have thought of him. What have you to say to him? Do you bear
despatches?"

"Your pardon, sir--that's a secret."

"You need not be afraid, good fellow, we are friends."

"I can hardly tell you the exact business," replied Winter. "You will
meet Floyd himself with a hundred men, before you ride five miles. I
believe we are going to reinforce the garrison."

"You will be very welcome," said the Tory officer, "Brown will give you
a hearty reception, but devilish slim fare; he is surrounded with
hornets."

"So much the better," replied Winter, "we have a knack at taking the
sting out of the hornets, now-a-days. Good morning, sir. Report us, if
you please, to Colonel Floyd, when you come across him, and tell him the
hour of the day when you met us."

During this short parley the two parties had become united into a common
throng, completely filling up the road; and the proximity into which
they were severally brought, gave rise to various inquiries after news
amongst the subordinates on either side. In this press, Butler was
startled to observe the eyes of an individual scanning him with a
somewhat pointed scrutiny, and it was with an emotion that had well nigh
betrayed him, that he recognised in this person one of Macdonald's
soldiers. It was the man whom the lieutenant had despatched, a few days
previous, with an errand to the post at Ninety-Six, and who was now
returning with this detachment of militia. The soldier was evidently at
fault, for in a moment afterwards Butler could perceive, from his
expression of face, that whatever might have been his first suspicion,
it was quieted by another glance. The disguise was so far effectual. But
another cause of alarm arose, that for an instant brought Butler into
greater jeopardy. The horse on which the messenger was mounted, was the
yoke-fellow of the lean Wall-Eye, and the two beasts had been long
accustomed to work side by side in the same wagon. Their mutual
recognition, at this critical moment, became distressingly conspicuous.
Their noses were brought in contact, and they began to whinny and paw
the ground in that intelligible manner which constitutes one of the
forms of expression by which this portion of the brute creation
acknowledge their attachments. The presence of mind of John Ramsay saved
the explosion which must soon have followed. He spurred his horse
between the two noisy and restless animals, and immediately addressed a
conversation to the soldier, which for the moment turned his thoughts
into another channel.

By this time the conference had terminated, and the two leaders
respectively directing their men to move forward, the defile was passed
and each party extricated from the other. But no sooner was the
separation completed than Butler's brutish steed, Wall-Eye, began to
neigh with the most clamorous vociferation, whilst a response was heard
in the same tones as pertinaciously reiterated from the retreating
companion on the other side of the defile.

"We were in great danger from yonder Tories," said Ramsay, addressing
Butler, "did you see that one of these fellows rode the mate of the
beast you are on? Who could he be?"

"It was one of Macdonald's men," replied Butler, "I knew the fellow the
moment we met; but, thank Heaven, this humble dress concealed me."

"Faster, Major!" cried John, "these cursed horses are calling after each
other now. Pray, push forward until we get out of hearing. How unlucky
that Christopher Shaw should have given you one of the wagon cattle!"

"Look back, lads!" exclaimed Winter with great earnestness, "there is
something wrong, these fellows are returning. Whip and spur, or we are
overtaken!"

Macdonald's soldier, it seems, having his attention drawn to the
singular motions of his horse, had become suddenly confirmed in the
suspicion which at the late meeting for a moment rested upon his mind,
as to the identity of Butler; and having communicated his thought to the
commanding officer, the whole party of the Tory militia had wheeled
about to demand a further investigation: they were now some hundred
paces in the rear of the fugitives, and were pressing forward at high
speed, the officer in the front calling out at the same time,

"Hold!--Rein up and return! We have questions to ask. Halt, or we shall
fire!"

"To it, boys!" cried Harry Winter. "Your safety is in your legs!"

And the party pricked onward as fast as they could urge their cavalry
along the road. The chase continued for some half hour or more; the
little escort of Butler leaving the road and plunging into the recesses
of the forest. An occasional pistol-shot was fired during this retreat,
but without effect on either side. The tangled character of the ground
over which they passed, greatly retarded the pursuit, and before the
half hour was spent none but a few of the boldest horsemen of the
assailants were found persevering in the chase. Seeing their number
diminished, and finding also that the horses of his own comrades were
beginning to flag, John Ramsay assumed the command, and directed his
party to turn about and offer battle to the pursuers. The immediate
effect of this movement was to bring the assailants to a halt, which
was no sooner witnessed by John, than he shouted, "Charge, lads, charge
and the day is ours! Hack and hew, good fellows: down with the
bloodhounds!"

This animated exhortation was followed up by a prompt onset, in which
the brave trooper led the way; and such was the impetuosity of the
assault that the enemy, although consisting of twice the number of those
who attacked them, were forced to give ground. A sharp skirmish ensued,
during which several pistol-shots were discharged on both sides, and
some encounters, hand to hand, were sustained with a sturdy resolution;
but, at last, our friends succeeded in turning their opponents to
flight. The combat had been maintained in that pell-mell form of attack
and defence, which defied compact or organized resistance; and the
individuals of each party had been scattered over the wood for a
considerable distance, so that when the late pursuers were compelled to
retreat, each man urged his horse in such a direction as was most
favorable to his escape. By degrees, Butler's few companions began to
reassemble at that part of the wood where they had made their first
stand.

"There is nothing like striking the first blow at the right time," said
Harry Winter, as, with his hat in his hand to allow the air to cool his
brow, he rode up to Butler, and halted to gain breath. "Give me a hot
charge on a slow enemy, and I don't care much about two to one of odds.
Thank God that business is cleanly done, and here we are all safe I
hope. Where is John Ramsay?" he inquired, looking around him, and
observing that their comrade was not amongst the number assembled.

"I saw him close at the heels of the runaways," said one of the men.
"John has a trick of seeing a scrimmage to the end; and it is an even
bet that he is now upon the trail like a fresh hound. The last I noticed
of him was at the crupper of a couple of the rascals that, I'll engage,
before now he has set his mark upon."

"Then we must to his assistance!" exclaimed Butler, eagerly; and without
waiting for further consultation he set off at full speed, in the
supposed direction of John Ramsay's pursuit. The rest followed. They had
ridden some distance without being able to perceive any traces of their
missing companion. Butler called aloud upon Ramsay, but there was no
answer; and, for some moments, there was an anxious suspense as the
party halted to listen for the sound of the footsteps of the trooper's
approach. At length, a horse was seen far off in the wood, bounding over
the turf at a wild and frightened pace; the saddle was empty, and the
bridle-rein hung about his feet. On seeing his companions, the excited
steed set up a frequent neigh, and, with head and tail erect, coursed
immediately up to the group of horsemen. Here he came to a sudden halt,
snorting with the terror of his late alarm. There were drops of blood
upon the saddle.

"Gracious Heaven!" cried Butler, "some evil has befallen Ramsay. Scatter
and search the wood."

It was with confused and melancholy earnestness that they all now
continued the quest. After a painful suspense, one of the men was heard
to shout to the rest that their lost comrade was found. The summons soon
brought the party together. Ramsay, pale and faint, was stretched upon
the grass of the forest, his bosom streaming forth a current of blood.
In an instant Butler was seen stooping over him.

"Oh, this is a heavy ransom, for my deliverance!" he said with the
deepest anguish, as he raised the trooper's head and laid it on his lap,
whilst the blood flowed from the wound. "Speak, dear friend, speak!
Great God, I fear this blow is mortal! Some water, if it can be
found--look for it, Winter; he has fainted from loss of blood."

Whilst Harry Winter went in search of the necessary refreshment, Butler
tore his cravat from his neck and applied it to staunch the wound. The
administration of a slight draught of water, after a short interval,
sufficiently revived the disabled soldier to enable him to speak. He
turned his sickly and almost quenched eye to Butler, as he said:

"I was foolish to follow so far. I have it here--here," he added in a
feeble voice, as he put his hand upon his breast, "and it has done my
work. I fought for you, major, because I was proud to fight for a
friend; and because"--here his voice failed him, as for a moment he
closed his eyes and faintly uttered--"it is all over--I am dying."

"Nay, good John," said Butler, whilst the tears ran down his cheeks; "it
is not so bad as that--you are weak from bleeding--you will be better
presently. Oh God! oh God!" he muttered to himself, "I would not have
had this to save my own life, much less as the price of my liberty!"

"I fought for you," said the wounded man, again reviving, "because Mary
wished it. This will kill Mary," he added after a pause. "She warned me
not to be rash, but I could not help it. Be kind to her, Major Butler,
and take care of her. Tell her I did not fear to die; but for her sake,
and for the sake of my poor mother. Go to my parents; let them know I
thought of them in my last thoughts."

"John! John!" exclaimed Butler, unable to give further utterance to his
feelings.

The dying trooper lay for some moments silent, and his comrades stood
around him in mute grief, and hung their heads to conceal their emotions
from each other.

"In my pocket," said Ramsay, "is a Testament. Mary gave it to me for a
keepsake. Take it out."

Butler drew forth the small volume.

"What shall I do with it?" he asked, in a mournful whisper.

"Give it to Mary, back from me. And this plait of her hair upon my
wrist, major, take it and wear it on your own; it will remind you of my
Mary--you will guard her from harm."

"Before God, John Ramsay," said Butler with solemn fervor, "I promise
you, that, while I live, she shall not want. Your parents, too, shall be
my special care."

"Then I shall die with easier heart. Thanks, thanks--friends, farewell!"
feebly ejaculated the stricken soldier, whose eye, already glazed with
the pangs of death, now glanced upon the attending group, and after a
brief but painful interval closed in darkness.

John Ramsay spake no more, and his short breathing showed that life was
fast ebbing in its channel. The audible sobs of Butler, for some
moments, were alone heard in the circle, as he sat supporting the head
and grasping the hand of his brave comrade. The struggle was at last
over, and the gallant spirit of the generous soldier had fled. Butler
took from the wrist the bracelet of Mary's hair, which was now stained
with the blood of its late owner, and with an earnest vow to redeem his
promise, drew it over his own hand.

The scene that followed this melancholy adventure was one of solemn
interest. The proximity of the enemy, although defeated, rendered a
delay at this spot, in the present circumstances of Butler, exceedingly
hazardous; yet he could not entertain the thought of continuing his
journey until he had communicated to David Ramsay the distressing
tidings of his son's death. The last request of John seemed also to
impose this task upon him as a sacred obligation, due to the friendship
which had terminated in so disastrous an end. Butler's resolution,
therefore, was soon taken. He determined immediately, at all hazards, to
make his way back to Ramsay's cottage, and to endeavor to console the
afflicted parents under their severe bereavement. Disdaining, in his
present state of feeling, the disguise that seemed to make him almost a
stranger to himself, he threw aside the miller's dress and again
appeared in his true character, resolved manfully to meet what he now
believed to be the almost certain result--a recapture with all its
probable consequences. Some of his party, who were acquainted with the
localities of their present position, suggested to him that a Whig
family of the name of Drummond resided at no great distance from the
scene of the late encounter, and that, by bearing the body to this
place, they might secure for it a decent burial. The remains of the
trooper were accordingly laid upon a rude litter, and his mourning
comrades slowly and sorrowfully wended their way through the forest to
the designated habitation. Here they arrived about noon, having
traversed a space of more than two miles to gain this asylum.

Drummond was a woodman, and occupied a rude cabin, with a small clearing
around it, in the depths of the wilderness, so remote from the highway
as to promise as much security from the quest of the enemy, as might be
expected from any portion of the region in which he lived. He received
his guests with kindness; and as he was himself acquainted with the
family of the deceased, he exhibited a lively sympathy with the mourners
around the body.

When Butler now made known his purpose to set out immediately for the
habitation of David Ramsay, Winter asked permission to accompany him,
but the woodman interposed, and recommended that he alone should be
permitted to perform that errand, leaving the others to remain with the
corpse until his return.

"It is, before all others, my duty," said Butler; "and come what may, I
will perform it."

"Then we will go together," added the proprietor of the cabin. "It will
be wise to wait until the day is a little more spent, and return in the
darkness of the night. David Ramsay will come back with us. He would
like to see his son before we put him in the ground."

"That shall be as you please, friend," said Butler. "I will be under
your guidance."

An hour or two before sundown, Butler and his new companion left the
cabin, and took their route across the woods towards Ramsay's dwelling,
leaving the dead body in charge of the woodman's family and the three
soldiers. The distance they had to travel did not exceed eight miles.
The repulse of the Tory party in the skirmish of the morning seemed to
have induced a belief, on the part of the enemy, that the fugitives had
made a successful retreat which was now beyond pursuit, and there were,
in consequence, no parties on the road to molest the travellers. Under
these circumstances, it was still daylight when they came in view of
David Ramsay's homestead.



CHAPTER XLV.


Great agitation prevailed at Macdonald's post, when the morning
disclosed the escape of Butler. The lieutenant was conscious that this
mischance had exposed him to the risk of heavy censure, and as was
natural to a man who could not entirely acquit himself of some neglect
in the performance of his duty, his first measures were taken in a
spirit of peevish and angry severity. Small parties were sent out to
explore the neighborhood, with a view to gain intelligence of the
direction taken by the fugitive, with orders to bring him in dead or
alive. The sentinels who were on duty during the night were arrested,
and subjected to a rigid examination on the events of their watch; the
several members of Musgrove's family were also interrogated as to
matters touching their own connexion with the prisoner. Nothing,
however, was gathered from these investigations that was calculated to
cast a suspicion of connivance in Butler's liberation, upon any
individual either of the garrison or of the family. It was only apparent
that the prisoner had availed himself of the remissness of the guard and
the darkness of the night, to make a bold descent from the window; and
had succeeded by one of those lucky accidents which sometimes baffle the
most cautious foresight. The nature of the attempt did not necessarily
suppose the aid of an accomplice, and a faint hope was, therefore,
entertained that Butler would be found still lurking in the vicinity of
the post.

In the course of a few hours, the first parties that had been dispatched
in the morning, returned. They could give no account of the prisoner;
nor was there any light thrown upon the escape until about the dinner
hour, when a portion of the detachment which had intercepted Butler and
his comrades in the morning, arrived at the mill, under the conduct of
the soldier whose suspicions had led to the pursuit and skirmish which
we have already described. The report of these men left Macdonald no
room to doubt the identity of Butler with the person described. A
further examination, at the suggestion of the soldier, showed that
Wall-Eye, the wagon-horse, was missing; and it now became certain that
Butler had been aided by a party of the enemy with whom he must have
been in correspondence. The conclusion was, that with his means of
flight there could be little doubt of his being, long before the present
period of the day, out of the reach of successful pursuit. The scheme
was laid to the account of Horse Shoe Robinson, whose name and
adventures were already famous in this district; and it was conjectured
that Sumpter was secretly posted in some neighboring fastness to give
his assistance to the enterprise.

With these reflections, Macdonald felt himself obliged to submit to the
exigencies of the case; a point of philosophy which he did not practise
without a very visible chagrin and mortification. His men were called
together, and after a short, fretful lecture on their neglect, and an
injunction to a more soldier-like vigilance in future, which savored of
the caution of locking the stable after the steed was stolen, they were
dismissed.

About an hour before sundown, Allen Musgrove and Mary, availing
themselves of the confusion and relaxed discipline of the post,
occasioned by the events of the morning, set out on horseback for David
Ramsay's dwelling, whither they were led by a natural anxiety to learn
something of the movements of the fugitives.

"It's a pleasure and a happiness, Allen Musgrove," said Mistress Ramsay,
as the miller and his daughter sat down in the cabin, "to see you and
Mary over here with us at any time, but it is specially so now when we
have good news to tell. John and his friend are safe out of reach of
Macdonald's men, and--God be praised!--I hope out of the way of all
other harms. We have had soldiers dodging in and out through the day,
but not one of them has made any guess what's gone with the major; and
as for John, they don't seem to suspect him to be on the country-side.
It's all Horse Shoe Robinson with them. They say that none but he could
have helped to get the major away, and that General Sumpter was the
instigator. Well, I'm sure they were welcome to that opinion, for it set
them all to looking over towards Broad river, which is as good a
direction as we could wish them to travel."

"The less you seem to know about it, with any of these inquiring
parties, the better, Mistress Ramsay," said Allen Musgrove, "and I would
advise you, even here amongst ourselves, to speak lower, David, what do
you hear this evening?"

"Nothing concerning our runaways since they left us at daylight this
morning," replied Ramsay. "I should guess them to be somewhere near upon
Fair Forest by this time. You know Williams is out-lying upon the upper
branches of the river? It is more like hunted deer, Allen, than
Christian men, that our poor fellows take to the woods now. God knows
what will come of it!"

"He knows and has appointed it," said Musgrove, gravely, "and will in
His own good time and with such instruments as shall faithfully work His
purpose, give the victory to them that have the right. Man, woman, and
child may perish, and house and home may be burnt over our heads, and
the blood of brave men may make the dust of the road red; yes, and the
pastures rich as if new laid with manure; but the will of God shall be
done and His providence be accomplished. The cause of the just shall
prevail against the unjust."

"There were no soldiers," inquired Mary, addressing David Ramsay, "that
you have heard of, who followed towards Fair Forest? I should be sorry
if John was to be troubled with persons going after him; because,"--the
maiden hesitated an instant,--"because it's unpleasant and disagreeable
to be obliged to be riding off the road, through bushes and briers, to
keep out of the way."

"If they were not greatly an overmatch, girl," interrupted Ramsay, "John
wouldn't give himself much trouble upon that account."

"Oh, Mr. Ramsay," said Mary earnestly, "I was thinking of that. It's
hard to say what John would call an overmatch: men are so headstrong and
venturesome."

"That's God's own truth, Mary," interposed Mrs. Ramsay; "and what I have
always been telling David and John both. But they never heed me, no more
than if I was talking to the child in that cradle."

"I've told John as much myself," said Mary, blushing.

"And he would not heed you either," interrupted her father, "A soldier
would have a holiday life of it, if he followed the advice of his
mother or his sweetheart. Daughter, amongst friends here, you needn't
blush; we know more of the secrets betwixt you and the trooper lad than
you count upon. John's a clever boy, Mistress Ramsay, and I think you
have reason to brag of him somewhat; and as there's particular good-will
between him and my Mary, I'll not stand in the way when the war is over,
if God spares us all, and Mary and the lad keep in the same mind; I'll
not stand in the way of a new settlement in the neighborhood. Mary is a
good daughter, well nurtured, and--I don't care to say it to her
face--will make a thriving wife."

The mother smiled as she replied, "I don't pretend to know the young
people's secrets, but I know this, you don't think better of Mary than
John does--nor than me neither, perhaps."

The conversation was interrupted by a knocking at the door, and, in a
moment afterwards, Arthur Butler and the woodman entered the apartment.

"Major Butler, as I am a living woman!" exclaimed Mrs. Ramsay.

"Our good friend himself!" ejaculated Musgrove, with surprise. "What has
turned you back? And Gabriel Drummond here too! What has happened?"

"Where is my son John?" demanded Ramsay. "Are you followed?"

Butler walked up to Mrs. Ramsay, and, as a tear started to his eye, took
her by the hand, and stood for a moment unable to speak.

"Oh, heaven have mercy on me!" screamed Mary Musgrove, as she threw
herself upon a bed, "something dreadful has happened."

"For God's sake, speak what you have to tell!" said David Ramsay,
instantly turning pale.

"John Ramsay is hurt," faintly articulated the mother, and Mary, rising
from the bed, stood beside Butler with a countenance on which was seated
the most agonizing attention. Andy, the hero of the exploit we have
heretofore related, also pressed into the presence of the same group,
and a death-like silence pervaded the whole party.

Butler, with an ineffectual effort to recover himself, turned to
Drummond, making a sign to him to tell the object of their melancholy
errand, and then flung himself into a chair.

"John Ramsay is dead," said the woodman, in a mournful tone. "Your son,
mistress Ramsay, was shot in a fray with the bloody, villanous Tories.
The heartiest curses upon them!"

"Killed, dear madam," said Butler, scarce able to articulate, "killed in
my defence. Would to God the blow had fallen upon my own head!"

"Oh, no, no, no!" exclaimed the matron, as a flood of tears rolled down
her cheeks, and she endeavored to wipe them away with her apron. "It
isn't true. It can't be true. My poor, dear, brave boy!"

At the same instant Mary Musgrove fell insensible into the arms of her
father, where it was some moments before she gave signs of animation. At
length, being laid upon the bed, a deep groan escaped her, which was
followed by the most piteous wailing.

The scene wrought upon the younger members of the family, who, as well
as the domestics, were heard pouring forth deep and loud lamentations,
accompanied with reiterated announcements of the death of the soldier.

When this first burst of the general grief was over, David Ramsay arose
from his seat and walked across the room to a window, where he stood
endeavoring to compose and master his feelings. At length, facing
Butler, he said in a low and tranquil tone,

"John Ramsay, my son, killed, killed in a skirmish? God is my witness, I
expected it! It was his failing to follow his enemy with too hot a hand;
and I am to blame, perhaps, that I never checked him in that temper. But
he died like a man and a soldier, Major Butler," he added, firmly.

"He died in my arms," replied Butler, "as bravely as ever soldier closed
his life, his last thoughts were fixed upon his parents, and--"

"Dead!" interrupted Ramsay, as if communing with himself, and regardless
of Butler's words--"Dead! He fell doing his duty to his country, that's
a consolation. A man cannot die better. If it please God, I hope my end
may be like his. Andrew, my boy, come here. You are now my oldest living
son," he said, taking the lad's hand and looking him full in the face,
as he spoke with a bitter compression of his lips; "I am willing, much
as I love you, that the country should have you."

"No, David, David," interrupted the mother, rousing herself from her
silent grief, "we have given enough; no other child of mine shall
venture in the war. John! John! John! my dear boy, my brave son! How
good and kind he was to us all! And how glad he was to get home to see
us; and how much we made of him!"

"Silence, wife," said David Ramsay, "this is no time to hold back from
our duty. Andrew, listen to me: remember your brother has met his death
fighting against these monsters, who hate the very earth that nurses
liberty. You are young, boy, but you can handle a musket; we will not
forget your brother's death."

"Nor the burning of a good house over your head, and a full barn,
father; nor the frights they have given my poor mother."

"Nor the thousands of brave men," added the father, "who have poured out
their blood to give us a land and laws of our own. My boy, we will
remember these, for vengeance."

"Not for vengeance," said Allen Musgrove, "for justice, David. Your
enemy should be remembered only to prevent him from doing mischief. The
Lord will give him sword and buckler, spear and shield, who stands up
for the true cause: and when it pleases Him to require the sacrifice of
life from the faithful servant who fights the battle, he grants patience
and courage to meet the trial. Your son was not the man, David, to turn
his face away from the work that was before him; may God receive him and
comfort his distressed family! He was an honest and brave son, David
Ramsay."

"A braver soldier never buckled on broadsword, Allen Musgrove," replied
the father. "Yes, I looked for this; ever since my dwelling was levelled
to the ground by these firebrands, I looked for it. John's passion was
up then, and I knew the thoughts that ran through his mind. Ever since
that day his feelings have been most bitter; and he has flung himself
amongst the Tories, making as little account of them as the mower when
he puts his scythe into the grass of the meadows."

"God forgive him, David!" said Musgrove, "and strengthen you and the
boy's good mother in this sharp hour of trial. They who draw the sword
in passion may stand in fear of the judgment of the sword: it is a
fearful thing for sinful man to shed blood for any end but that of
lawful war, and at the bidding of his country. God alone is the
avenger."

Mary had again raised herself from the bed, and at this moment gave vent
to her feelings in a loud and bitter lamentation "John Ramsay is dead,
is dead!" she exclaimed. "I cannot believe it. He that was so true and
so warm-hearted, and that everybody loved! They could not kill him! Oh,
I begged him to keep his foot from danger, and he promised me, for my
sake, to be careful. I loved him, father; I never told you so much
before, but I am not ashamed to tell it now before everybody; I loved
him better than all the world. And we had promised each other. It is so
hard to lose them that we love!" she continued, sobbing violently. "He
was so brave and so good, and he was so handsome, Mrs. Ramsay, and so
dutiful to you and his father, coming home to see you whenever the war
would let him. And he walked, and rode, and ran, and fought for his
friends, and them that he cared for. He was so thoughtful for your
comfort too," she added, as she threw herself on her knees and rested
her head in the lap of the mother, and there paused through a long
interval, during which nothing was heard but her own moans mingled with
the sighs of the party, "we were to be married after this war was at an
end, and thought we should live so happily: but they have murdered him!
Oh they have murdered him," and with her hair thrown in disorder over
her face, she again gave vent to a flood of tears.

"Mary, daughter! Shame on you, girl!" said her father. "Do you forget,
in the hour of your affliction, that you have a friend who is able to
comfort? There is one who can heal up your sorrows and speak peace to
your troubled spirit, if you be not too proud to ask it. I have taught
you, daughter, in all time of tribulation to look to Him for patience
and for strength to bear adversity. Why do you neglect this refuge now?"

"Our Father," said the maiden, fervently clasping her hands and lifting
up her eyes, now dim with weeping, as she appealed to God in prayer,
"who art in heaven--teach us all to say thy will be done. Take--take--my
dear John--Oh my heart will burst and I shall die!" she uttered, almost
overwhelmed with her emotions, as she again buried her face in Mistress
Ramsay's lap--"I cannot speak!"

A silence of inexpressible agony prevailed for some moments. This was at
length interrupted by the uprising of the full, clear, and firm voice of
Allen Musgrove, who now broke forth from the opposite side of a room
where he had kneeled before a chair, in an earnest and impressive
supplication to the Deity, urged with all that eloquence which naturally
flows from deeply-excited feeling. From the solemnity of the occasion,
as well as from the habitually religious temper of the family assembled
in the little cabin, the words of the prayer fell upon the hearts of
those present with a singularly welcome effect, and, for the moment,
brought tranquillity to their feelings.

When the prayer was ended, the grief of the mourners rolled back in its
former flood, and burst from Mary Musgrove in the most heart-rending
bitterness. Paroxysm followed paroxysm with fearful violence, and these
outbreaks were responded to by the mother with scarcely less intensity.
All attempts at consolation, on the part of the men, were unavailing;
and it was apparent that nothing remained but to let the tide of anguish
take its own course.

It was now some time after night-fall, when Butler and Drummond beckoned
Allen Musgrove to leave the room. They retired into the open air in
front of the house, where they were immediately joined by David Ramsay.
Here Butler communicated to them the necessity of making immediate
arrangements for their return to the woodman's cottage, and for the
burial of the deceased trooper. His advice was adopted, and it was
resolved that Musgrove and Ramsay should accompany the other two to the
spot. Before the consultation was closed, Andy had come into the group,
and he was now directed, with all haste, to throw a saddle upon his
father's horse.

"You, Andrew, my son," said David Ramsay, "will stay at home and comfort
your poor mother, and Mary. Speak to them, boy, and persuade them to
give up their useless lamentations. It is the will of God, and we ought
not to murmur at it."

"The burning, father," replied the boy, with a sorrowful earnestness,
"and the fighting, and the frights we have had, was all nothing to this.
I never felt before how terrible the war was."

Andy had now gone to equip the horse, and the men returned to the inside
of the cabin, where they sat in profound silence. Butler, at length,
rose from the door-sill where he had taken his seat, and crossing the
room, took a position by the bed on which Mary Musgrove had thrown
herself, and where she now lay uttering faint and half-smothered moans.

"I have a remembrance for you," he said, stooping down and speaking
scarce above a whisper in the maiden's ear; "I promised to deliver it
into your hand. God knows with what pain I perform my office! John
enjoined upon me to give you this," he continued, as he presented to her
the little copy of the Testament, "and to say to you that his last
thoughts were given to you and his mother. He loved you, Mary, better
than he loved any living creature in this world."

"He did, he did," sobbed forth the girl; "and I loved him far above
family, friends, kinsfolk and all--I wish I were dead by his side."

"Take the book," said Butler, hardly able to articulate. "God for ever
bless you," he added, after a pause of weeping, "and bring you comfort!
I have promised John Ramsay, that neither you, nor any of his family,
shall ever want the service of a friend, while I have life or means to
render it. Before Heaven, that pledge shall be redeemed! Farewell,
farewell! God bless you!"

As Butler uttered these words he grasped the maiden's hand and pressed
it fervently to his lips; then turning to the mother, he addressed some
phrase of comfort to her, and hastily left the room. Scarcely a sound
was heard from any one, except the low sobbing of the exhausted weepers,
and the almost convulsive kisses which Mary imprinted upon the little
book that Butler had put into her hand.

Musgrove, Ramsay, and the woodman, retired from the apartment at the
same moment; and the horses being ready at the door, the retreating beat
of the hoofs upon the turf gave notice to the in-dwellers that the four
men had set forward on their journey.



CHAPTER XLVI.

A RUSTIC FUNERAL.

    How glumly sounds yon dirgy song;
    Night ravens flap the wing.--_Burger's Leonora._


By eleven o'clock at night, Butler and the party from Ramsay's arrived
at the woodman's cabin. Winter and his comrades had been busy in making
preparations for the funeral. The body had been laid out upon a table, a
sheet thrown over it, and a pine torch blazed from the chimney wall
close by, and flung its broad, red glare over the apartment. An elderly
female, the wife of the woodman, and two or three children, sat quietly
in the room. The small detachment of troopers loitered around the
corpse, walking with stealthy pace across the floor, and now and then
adjusting such matters of detail in the arrangements for the interment
as required their attention. A rude coffin, hastily constructed of such
materials as were at hand, was deposited near the table. A solemn
silence prevailed, which no less consisted with the gloom of the
occasion than with the late hour of the night.

When the newly arrived party had dismounted and entered the apartment, a
short salutation, in suppressed tones, was exchanged, and without
further delay, the whole company set themselves to the melancholy duty
that was before them. David Ramsay approached the body, and, turning the
sheet down from the face, stood gazing on the features of his son. There
was a settled frown upon his brow that contrasted signally with the
composed and tranquil lineaments of the deceased. The father and son
presented a strange and remarkable type of life and death--the
countenance of the mourner stamped by the agitation of keen, living
emotion, and the object mourned bearing the impress of a serene, placid,
and passionless repose:--the one a vivid picture of misery, the other a
quiet image of happy sleep. David Ramsay bent his looks upon the body
for some minutes, without an endeavor to speak, and at last retreated
towards the door, striking his hand upon his forehead as he breathed out
the ejaculation, "My son, my son, how willingly would I change places
with you this night!"

Allen Musgrove was less agitated by the spectacle, and whilst he
surveyed the features of the deceased, his lips were moved with the
utterance of a short and almost inaudible prayer. Then turning to
Drummond, he inquired: "Has the grave been thought of? Who has attended
to the preparations?"

"It has been thought of," replied the woodman; "I sent two of my people
off to dig it before I went with Major Butler to see David. We have a
grave-yard across in the woods, nigh a mile from this, and I thought it
best that John Ramsay should be buried there."

"It was kindly thought on by you, Gabriel," replied Musgrove. "You have
your father and others of your family in that spot. David Ramsay will
thank you for it."

"I do, heartily," said Ramsay, "and will remember it, Gabriel, at
another time."

"Let the body be lifted into the coffin," said Musgrove.

The order was promptly executed by Harry Winter and the other troopers.
In a few minutes afterwards, the rough boards which had been provided to
close up the box or coffin, were laid in their appropriate places, and
Winter had just begun to hammer the nails into them, when from the
outside of the cabin was heard a wild and piercing scream, that fell so
suddenly upon the ears of those within as to cause the trooper to drop
the hammer from his hand. In one moment more, Mary Musgrove rushed into
the room and fell prostrate upon the floor. She was instantly followed
by Andrew.

"God of heaven!" exclaimed Butler, "here is misery upon misery. This
poor girl's brain is crazed by her misfortune. This is worst of all!"

"Mary, Mary, my child!" ejaculated Musgrove, as he raised his daughter
into his arms. "What madness has come upon you, that you should have
wandered here to-night!"

"How has this happened, Andrew?" said David Ramsay, all speaking in the
same breath.

"When Mary heard," replied Andrew, in answer to his father's question,
"that you had all come to Gabriel Drummond's to bury my brother, she
couldn't rest content; and she prayed so pitifully to come after you,
and see him before they put him in the ground, that I thought it right
to tell her that I would come with her. And if I hadn't, she would have
come by herself; for she had got upon her horse before any of us were
aware."

"I couldn't stay at home, father," said Mary, reviving and speaking in a
firm voice. "I should have died with a broken heart. I couldn't let you
come to put him in the earth without following after you. Where is he? I
heard them nailing the coffin; it must be broken open for me to see
him!"

These words, uttered with a bitter vehemence, were followed by a quick
movement towards the coffin, which was yet unclosed; and the maiden,
with more composure than her previous gestures seemed to render it
possible for her to acquire, paused before the body with a look of
intense sorrow, as the tears fell fast from her eyes.

"It is true--it is too true--he is dead! Oh, John, John!" she exclaimed,
as she stooped down and kissed the cold lips, "I did not dream of this
when we parted last night near the willows. You did not look as you do
now, when I found you asleep under the rock, and when you promised me,
John, that you would be careful and keep yourself from danger, if it was
only to please me. We were doing our best for you then, Major
Butler--and here is what it has come to. No longer than last night he
made me the promise. Oh me, oh me! how wretched--how miserable I am!"

"Daughter, dear," said Allen Musgrove, "rise up and behave like a brave
girl as, you know, I have often told you you were. We are born to
afflictions, and young as you are, you cannot hope to be free from the
common lot. You do yourself harm by this ungoverned grief. There's a
good and a kind girl--sit yourself down and calm your feelings."

Musgrove took his daughter by the hand, and gently conducted her to a
seat, where he continued to address her in soothing language, secretly
afraid that the agony of her feelings might work some serious misfortune
upon her senses.

"You are not angry with me, father, for following you to-night?" said
Mary, for a moment moderating the wildness of her sorrow.

"No, child, no. I cannot be angry with you; but I fear this long
night-ride may do you harm."

"I can but die, father; and I would not step aside from that."

"Recollect yourself, Mary; your Bible does not teach you to wish for
death. It is sinful to rebel under the chastisements of God. Daughter, I
have taught you in your day of prosperity, the lessons that were to be
practised in your time of suffering and trial. Do not now turn me and my
precepts to shame."

"Oh, father, forgive me. It is so hard to lose the best, the dearest!"
Here Mary again gave way to emotions which could only relieve themselves
in profuse tears.

In the meantime the body was removed to the outside of the cabin, and
the coffin was speedily shut up and deposited upon a light wagon-frame,
to which two lean horses were already harnessed, and which waited to
convey its burden to the grave-yard.

"All is ready," said Winter, stepping quietly into the house, and
speaking in a low tone to Musgrove. "We are waiting only for you."

"Father," said Mary, who, on hearing this communication, had sprung to
her feet, "I must go with you."

"My child!"

"I came all this way through the dark woods on purpose, father--and it
is my right to go with him to his grave. Pray, dear father, do not
forbid me. We belonged to each other, and he would be glad to think I
was the last that left him--the very last."

"The poor child takes on so," said the wife of Drummond, now for the
first time interposing in the scene; "and it seems natural, Mr.
Musgrove, that you shouldn't hinder her. I will go along, and maybe it
will be a comfort to her, to have some woman-kind beside her. I will
take her hand."

"You shall go, Mary," said her father; "but on the condition that you
govern your feelings, and behave with the moderation of a Christian
woman. Take courage, my child, and show your nurture."

"I will, father--I will; the worst is past, and I can walk quietly to
John's grave," replied Mary, as the tears again flowed fast, and her
voice was stifled with her sobs.

"It is a heavy trouble for such a young creature to bear," said Mistress
Drummond, as she stood beside the maiden, waiting for this burst of
grief to subside; "but this world is full of such sorrows."

Musgrove now quitted the apartment. He was followed by his daughter and
the rest of the inmates, all of whom repaired to the front of the cabin,
where they awaited the removal of the body.

A bundle of pine faggots had been provided, and each one of the party
was supplied from them with a lighted torch. Some little delay occurred
whilst Harry Winter was concluding his arrangements for the funeral.

"Take your weapons along, boys," said the trooper to his comrades, in a
whisper. "John Ramsay shall have the honors of war--and mark, you are to
bring up the rear--let the women walk next the wagon. Gabriel Drummond,
bring your rifle along--we shall give a volley over the grave."

The woodman stepped into the cabin and returned with his fire lock. All
things being ready, the wagon, under the guidance of a negro who walked
at the horses' heads, now moved forward. The whole party formed a
procession in couples--the woodman's wife and Mary being first in the
train, the children succeeding them, and the rest following in regular
order.

It was an hour after midnight. The road, scarcely discernible, wound
through a thick forest, and the procession moved with a slow and heavy
step towards its destination. The torches lit up the darkness of the
wood with a strong flame, that penetrated the mass of sombre foliage to
the extent of some fifty paces around, and glared with a wild and
romantic effect upon the rude coffin, the homely vehicle on which it was
borne, and upon the sorrowing faces of the train that followed it. The
seclusion of the region, the unwonted hour, and the strange mixture of
domestic and military mourning, half rustic and half warlike, that
entered into the composition of the group; and, above all, the
manifestations of sincere and intense grief that were seen in every
member of the train, communicated to the incident a singularly
imaginative and unusual character. No words were spoken, except the few
orders of the march announced by Harry Winter in a whisper; and the ear
recognised, with a painful precision, the unceasing sobs of Mary
Musgrove, and the deep groan that seemed, unawares, to escape now and
then from some of the males of the party. The dull tramp of feet, and
the rusty creak of the wagon-wheels, or the crackling of brushwood
beneath them, and the monotonous clank of the chains employed in the
gearing of the horses, all broke upon the stillness of the night with a
more abrupt and observed distinctness, from the peculiar tone of feeling
which pervaded those who were engaged in the sad offices of the scene.

In the space of half an hour, the train had emerged from the wood upon a
small tract of open ground, that seemed to have been formerly cleared
from the forest for the purpose of cultivation. Whatever tillage might
have once existed there was now abandoned, and the space was overgrown
with brambles, through which the blind road still struggled by a track
that even in daylight it would have been difficult to pursue. Towards
the centre of this opening grew a cluster of low cherry and peach trees,
around whose roots a plentiful stock of wild scions had shot up in the
absence of culture. Close in the shade of this cluster, a ragged and
half-decayed paling formed a square inclosure of some ten or twelve
paces broad, and a few rude posts set up within, indicated the spot to
be the rustic grave-yard. Here two negroes were seen resting over a
newly-dug grave.

The wagon halted within some short distance of the p