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Title: Brother Against Brother - The War on the Border
Author: Optic, Oliver, 1822-1897
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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BROTHER AGAINST BROTHER

Or, The War on the Border

_The Blue and the Gray Army Series_

by

OLIVER OPTIC

Author of "The Army and Navy Series" "Young America Abroad, First and
Second Series" "Boat-Club Stories" "The Great Western Series" "The
Onward and Upward Series" "The Woodville Stories" "The Starry Flag
Series" "The Yacht-Club Series" "The Lake Shore Series" "The Riverdale
Stories" "The All-Over-the-World Library" "The Blue and the Gray Navy
Series" "The Boat-Builder Series" etc.



Boston
Lee and Shepard Publishers
10 Milk Street
1894

Copyright, 1894, by Lee and Shepard

All Rights Reserved

BROTHER AGAINST BROTHER

Electrotyping by C. J. Peters & Son, Boston, U.S.A.

Presswork by S. J. Parkhill & Co.



                        TO
                   My Son-in-Law
              GEORGE W. WHITE, ESQUIRE
    ONE OF TWO WHO HAVE ALWAYS BEEN THE SAME TO
                  ME AS REAL SONS
                     This Book
         IS AFFECTIONATELY AND GRATEFULLY
                     DEDICATED



[Illustration: "THE OVERSEER ELEVATED HIS RIFLE."]



PREFACE


"Brother Against Brother" is the first of "The Blue and the Gray Army
Series," which will include six volumes, though the number is contingent
upon the longevity of one, still hale and hearty, who has passed by a
couple of years the Scriptural limit of "threescore years and ten"
allotted to human life. In completing the first six books of "The Blue
and the Gray Series," the author realized that the scenes and events of
all these stories related to life in the navy, which gallantly performed
its full share in maintaining the integrity of the Union. The six books
of "The Army and Navy Series," begun in the heat of the struggle thirty
years ago, were equally divided between the two arms of the service; and
it has been suggested that the equilibrium should be continued in the
later volumes.

In the preface of "A Victorious Union," the consummation of the terrible
strife which the navy had reached in that volume, the author announced
his intention to make a beginning of the books which are to form the
army division of the series. Soon after he had returned from his
sixteenth voyage across the Atlantic, he found himself in excellent
condition to resume the pleasurable occupation in which he has been
engaged for forty years in this particular field. It seems to him very
much like embarking in a new enterprise, though his work consists of an
attempt to enliven and diversify the scenes and incidents of an old
story which has passed into history, and is forever embalmed as the
record of a heroic people, faithfully and bravely represented on
hundreds of gory battle-fields, and on the decks of the national navy.

The story opens in one of the Border States, where two Northern families
had settled only a few years before the exciting questions which
immediately preceded organized hostilities were under discussion.
Considerable portions of the State in which they were located were in a
condition of violent agitation, and outrages involving wounds and death
were perpetrated. The head of one of these two families was a man of
stern integrity, earnestly loyal to the Union and the government which
was forced into a deadly strife for its very existence. That of the
other, influenced quite as much by property considerations as by fixed
principles, becomes a Secessionist, fully as earnest as, and far more
demonstrative than, his brother on the other side.

In each of these families are two sons, just coming to the military age,
who are not quite so prominent in the present volume as they will be in
those which follow it. "Riverlawn," the plantation which came into the
possession of the loyal one by the will of his eldest brother, became
the scene of very exciting events, in which his two sons took an active
part. The writer has industriously examined the authorities covering
this section of the country, including State reports, and believes he
has not exaggerated the truths of history. As in preceding volumes
relating to the war, he does not intend to give a connected narrative of
the events that transpired in the locality he has chosen, though some of
them are introduced and illustrated in the story.

The State itself, as evidenced by the votes of its Legislature and by
the enlistments in the Union army, was loyal, if not from the beginning,
from the time when it obtained its bearings. As in other Southern
States, the secession element was more noisy and demonstrative than the
loyal portion of the community, and thus obtained at first an apparent
advantage. The present volume is largely taken up with the conflict for
supremacy between these hostile elements. The loyal father and his two
sons are active in these scenes; and the taking possession of a quantity
of military supplies by them precipitates actual warfare, and the
question as to whether or not a company of cavalry could be recruited at
Riverlawn had to be settled by what amounted to a real battle.

To the multitude of his young friends now in their teens, and to the
greater multitude now grown gray, who have encouraged his efforts during
the last forty years, the author renewedly acknowledges his manifold
obligations for their kindness, and wishes them all health, happiness,
and all the prosperity they can bear.

    WILLIAM T. ADAMS.

    DORCHESTER, July 4, 1894.



CONTENTS


   CHAPTER I.      TROUBLESOME TIMES IN KENTUCKY

   CHAPTER II.     SOMETHING ABOUT THE LYON FAMILY

   CHAPTER III.    A NORTHERN FAMILY IN KENTUCKY

   CHAPTER IV.     THE ARRIVAL AND WELCOME AT RIVERLAWN

   CHAPTER V.      THE DISTRESS OF MRS. TITUS LYON

   CHAPTER VI.     THE NIGHT ADVENTURE ON THE CREEK

   CHAPTER VII.    A STORMY INTERVIEW ON THE BRIDGE

   CHAPTER VIII.   AN OVERWHELMING ARGUMENT

   CHAPTER IX.     A MOST UNREASONABLE BROTHER

   CHAPTER X.      THE SINK-CAVERN NEAR BAR CREEK

   CHAPTER XI.     AROUSED TO THE SOLEMN DUTY OF THE HOUR

   CHAPTER XII.    THE NIGHT EXPEDITION IN THE MAGNOLIA

   CHAPTER XIII.   AT THE HEAD WATERS OF BAR CREEK

   CHAPTER XIV.    THE TRANSPORTATION OF THE ARMS

   CHAPTER XV.     THE ESTABLISHMENT OF FORT BEDFORD

   CHAPTER XVI.    THE UNION MEETING AT BIG BEND

   CHAPTER XVII.   THE EJECTION OF THE NOISY RUFFIANS

   CHAPTER XVIII.  THE DEMAND OF CAPTAIN TITUS LYON

   CHAPTER XIX.    THE CONFERENCE IN FORT BEDFORD

   CHAPTER XX.     THE APPROACH OF THE RUFFIAN FORCES

   CHAPTER XXI.    THE BEGINNING OF HOSTILITIES

   CHAPTER XXII.   THE FIRST SHOT FROM FORT BEDFORD

   CHAPTER XXIII.  THE PARTY ATTACKED IN THE CROSS-CUT

   CHAPTER XXIV.   THE ENCOUNTER WITH THE RUFFIANS

   CHAPTER XXV.    THE GRATITUDE OF TWO FAIR MAIDENS

   CHAPTER XXVI.   THE SKIRMISH ON THE NEW ROAD

   CHAPTER XXVII.  AN UNEXPLAINED GATHERING ON THE ROAD

   CHAPTER XXVIII. THE RESULT OF THE FLANK MOVEMENT

   CHAPTER XXIX.   THE HUMILIATING RETREAT OF THE RUFFIANS

   CHAPTER XXX.    LEVI BEDFORD AND HIS PRISONER

   CHAPTER XXXI.   DR. FALKIRK VISITS RIVERLAWN

   CHAPTER XXXII.  THE ARRIVAL OF THE RECRUITING OFFICER

   CHAPTER XXXIII. ONE AGAINST THREE ON THE ROAD

   CHAPTER XXXIV.  THE FIRE THAT WAS STARTED AT RIVERLAWN

   CHAPTER XXXV.   A BATTLE IN PROSPECT ON THE CREEK

   CHAPTER XXXVI.  THE SECOND BATTLE OF RIVERLAWN



ILLUSTRATIONS


   "THE OVERSEER ELEVATED HIS RIFLE"

   "THEN YOU MEAN I AM DRUNK"

   "HE GRAPPLED WITH THE FELLOW"

   "I HAD TO BE CAREFUL NOT TO HIT THE LADY"

   "IT WON'T GO OFF AGAIN UNTIL YOU LOAD IT"

   "STOP, BOY! SHOUTED THE MAN"

   "THE BOYS CLIMBED A BIG TREE TO OBTAIN A BETTER VIEW"



BROTHER AGAINST BROTHER



CHAPTER I

TROUBLESOME TIMES IN KENTUCKY


"Neutrality! There is no such thing as neutrality in the present
situation, my son!" protested Noah Lyon to the stout boy of sixteen who
stood in front of him on the bridge over Bar Creek, in the State of
Kentucky. "He that is not for the Union is against it. No man can serve
two masters, Dexter."

"That is just what I was saying to Sandy," replied the boy, whom
everybody but his father and mother called "Deck."

"Your Cousin Alexander takes after his father, who is my own brother;
but I must say I am ashamed of him, for he is a rank Secessionist,"
continued Noah Lyon, fixing his gaze on the planks of the bridge, and
looking as grieved as though one of his own blood had turned against
him. "He was born and brought up in New Hampshire, where about all the
people believe in the Union as they do in their own mothers, and a
traitor would be ridden on a rail out of almost any town within its
borders."

"Well, it isn't so down here in the State of Kentucky, father," answered
Deck.

"Kentucky was the second new State to be admitted to the Union of the
original thirteen, and there are plenty of people now within her borders
who protest that it will be the last to leave it," replied the father,
as he took a crumpled newspaper from his pocket. "Here's a little piece
from a Clarke County paper which is just the opinion of a majority of
the people of Kentucky. Read it out loud, Dexter," added Mr. Lyon, as he
handed the paper to his son, and pointed out the article.

The young man took the paper, and read in a loud voice, as though he
wished even the fishes in the creek to hear it, and to desire them to
refuse to be food for Secessionists: "Any attempt on the part of the
government of this State, or any one else, to put Kentucky out of the
Union by force, or using force to compel Union men in any manner to
submit to an ordinance of secession, or any pretended resolution or
decree arising from such secession, is an act of treason against the
State of Kentucky. It is therefore lawful to resist any such ordinance."

"That's the doctrine!" exclaimed Mr. Lyons, clapping his hands with a
ringing sound to emphasize his opinion. "Those are my sentiments
exactly, and they are political gospel to me; and I should be ashamed of
any son of mine who did not stand by the Union, whether he lived in New
Hampshire or Kentucky."

"You can count me in for the Union every time, father," said Deck, who
had read all the newspapers, those from the North and of the State in
which he resided, as well as the history of Kentucky and the current
exciting documents that were floating about the country, including the
long and illogical letter of the State's senator who immediately became
a Confederate brigadier.

"I haven't heard your Cousin Artie, who is just your age, and old enough
to do something on his own account, say much about the troubles of the
times," added Mr. Lyon, bestowing an inquiring look upon his son. "I
have seen Sandy Lyon talking to him a good deal lately, and I hope he is
not leading him astray."

"No danger of that; for Artie is as stiff as a cart-stake for the Union,
and Sandy can't pour any Secession molasses down his back," replied
Deck.

"I am glad to hear it. I heard some one say that Sandy had joined, or
was going to join, the Home Guards."

"He asked me to join them, and wanted me to go down to Bowling Green
with him in the boat. He had already put his name down as a member of a
company; but of course I wouldn't go."

"The Home Guards thrive very well in Bar Creek; and I noticed that all
who joined them are Secessionists, or have a leaning that way," added
the father. "The avowed purpose of these organizations is to preserve
the neutrality of the State; but that is only another name for treason;
and when affairs have progressed a little farther, the Home Guards will
wheel into the ranks of the Confederate army. President Lincoln made a
very guarded and non-committal reply to the Governor's letter on
neutrality; but it is as plain as the nose on a toper's face that he
don't believe in it."

"I think it is best to be on one side or the other."

"Isn't Sandy trying to rope Artie into the Home Guards, Dexter?" asked
Mr. Lyon with an anxious look on his face.

"Of course he is, as he has tried to get me to join."

"Artie is a quiet sort of a boy, and don't say much; but it is plain
that he keeps up a tremendous thinking all the time, though I have not
been able to make out what it is all about."

"He is considering just what all the rest of us are thinking about; but
I am satisfied that he has come out just where all the rest of us at
Riverlawn have arrived, father. He and I have talked a great deal about
the war; and Artie is all right now, though he may have had some doubts
about where he belonged a few months ago."

"But Sandy was over here no longer ago than yesterday, and he was
talking for over an hour with Artie on this bridge where we are now,"
said Mr. Lyon.

"They were talking about the Union meeting to be held to-morrow night at
the schoolhouse by the Big Bend," added Deck.

"What interest has Sandy in that meeting? He does not train in that
company."

"He advised Artie not to go to the meeting, for it was gotten up by
traitors to their State."

"That's a Secessionist phrase which he borrowed from some Confederate
orator, or at Bowling Green, where he spends too much of his time; and
his father had better be teaching him how to lay bricks and mix mortar."

"But Uncle Titus is over there half his time," suggested Deck.

"He had better be attending to his business; for the people over at the
village say they will have to get another mason to settle there, for
your Uncle Titus don't work half his time, and the people can't get
their jobs done. There is a new house over there waiting for him to
build the chimney."

"Why don't you talk to him, father?" asked Deck very seriously.

"Talk to him, Dexter!" exclaimed Mr. Lyon. "You might as well set your
dog to barking at the rapids in the river. For some reason Titus seems
to be rather set against me since we settled in Barcreek. We used to be
on the best of terms in New Hampshire, for I always lent him money when
he was hard pressed. I don't know what has come over him since we came
to Kentucky."

"I do," added Deck, looking earnestly into his father's face.

"Well, what is it, I should like to know? I have always done everything
I could since I came here for him."

"Sandy told me something about it one day, and seemed to have a good
deal of feeling about it. He says you wronged Uncle Titus out of five
thousand dollars," said Deck, wondering if his father had ever heard the
charge before.

"I know what Sandy meant. Of course Titus must have been in the habit of
talking about this matter in his family, or Sandy would not have known
anything about it," replied Mr. Lyon, evidently very much annoyed at the
revelation of his son.

"I did not know what Sandy meant, and I thought I had better not ask
him; for of course I knew there was not a particle of truth in the
charge," added Deck, surprised to find that his father knew something
about the accusation.

"I don't talk with my children about troublesome family matters, Dexter,
and your Uncle Titus ought not to do so. I shall only say that there is
not the slightest grain of reason or justice in the charge against me;
and Titus knows it as well as I do. If anybody has wronged him, it was
your deceased Uncle Duncan. Let the matter drop there, at least for the
present. Why does Sandy wish to prevent Artie from attending the Union
meeting to-morrow night?"

"He said it was likely to be broken up by the Home Guards."

"Then he probably knows something about a plot to interfere with the
gathering. I rode up to the village this morning, and I was quite
surprised to find that several whom I knew to be loyal men did not
intend to be present. When I urged them to be there, they hinted that
there would be trouble at the schoolhouse."

At this moment a bell was rung at the side-door of the mansion, about
ten rods from the bridge where the father and son had been discussing
the situation. It crossed the creek a quarter of a mile from the river,
which has a course of three hundred miles through the State, and is
navigable from the Ohio two-thirds of its length during the season of
high water. The mansion was the residence of Noah Lyon; and after the
green field, ornamented with stately trees, which extended from the
house to the river, it had taken the name of "Riverlawn" in the time of
the former proprietor. The plantation extended along the creek more than
half a mile, including over five hundred acres of the richest land in
the State.

Above the bridge was a little village of negro houses, so neat and
substantial that they deserved a better name than "huts," generally
given to the dwellings of the slaves of a plantation. Each had its
little garden, fenced off and well cared for. It was evident that the
occupants of these cottages were subjected to few if any of the
hardships of their condition. Many of them were just returning from the
hemp fields and the horse pastures of the estate; and they seemed to be
happy and contented, with no care for the troubles that were then
agitating the State.

The bell had been rung at the side-door of the mansion by a black woman,
very neatly dressed. Back of the dwelling was the kitchen in a separate
building, according to the custom at the South. Mr. Lyon, though he was
the present proprietor of this extensive estate, was dressed in very
plain clothes, and had none of the air of a Kentucky gentleman. Deck was
clothed in the same manner; but both of them looked very neat and very
respectable in spite of their plain clothes.

They came from the bridge at the sound of the bell. On the left of the
entrance was the dining-room, a large apartment, with the table set for
dinner in the middle of it. Two young octoroon girls were standing by
the chairs to wait upon the family, which consisted of six persons.

"You have been shopping this forenoon, haven't you, Ruth?" asked Mr.
Lyon, addressing his wife, who was seated at one end of the table while
he was at the other.

"I did not do much shopping; but I called upon Amelia, and found her
very much troubled," replied Mrs. Lyon, alluding to the wife of Titus
Lyon.

"I should think she might be troubled," replied Mr. Lyon. "She does not
take any part in politics; but one of her brothers is a captain in a New
Hampshire regiment, and another is a major, and all her family are loyal
to the backbone. She has not said much of anything, but I know she does
not approve the attitude of her husband and her two sons. The last time
I saw her, she was afraid they would enlist in the Confederate army.
Titus won't hear a word of objection from her."

"She told me an astonishing piece of news this forenoon," continued Mrs.
Lyon.

"I shall not be much astonished at anything Titus does," added the
husband. "But what has he done now? Has he enlisted in the Confederate
army?"

"Not yet; but Amelia says he has been offered the command of a company
of Home Guards if he will pay for the arms and uniform of it. He agreed
to do so, and has already paid over the money, five thousand dollars."

"Is it possible!" exclaimed Mr. Lyon; and the two boys dropped their
knives and forks in their astonishment. "I did not think he would go as
far as that. He could not be a ranker Secessionist if he had lived all
his life in South Carolina, instead of nine or ten years in Kentucky."

"This happened a month ago, and Amelia says the arms are hidden
somewhere on the river."

"Does she know where?"

"She did not tell me where if she knew. More than this, she says he is
drinking too much whiskey, and that the Secessionists have made a fool
of him. She is afraid he will throw away all his property."

"I have noticed several times that he has been drinking too much, though
he was not exactly intoxicated."

"Oh! Amelia said he meant to make you pay for the arms and uniforms,"
said Mrs. Lyon, with some excitement in her manner. "He insists that you
owe him five thousand dollars."

"If I did, he gives me a good excuse for not paying it; but I do not owe
him a nickel. Home Guards and Confederates here are all the same; and no
money of mine shall go for arming either of them."

"Titus's wife says you are denounced as an abolitionist, Noah, and they
will drive you out of the county soon," added Mrs. Lyon.

"When they are ready to begin, I shall be there," replied Mr. Lyon with
a smile.

The dinner was finished, and the family separated, Deck and his father
returning to the bridge, followed by Artie.



CHAPTER II

SOMETHING ABOUT THE LYON FAMILY


The grand mansion and the extensive domain of Riverlawn had been
occupied by the Lyon family hardly more than a year when the political
excitement in Kentucky began to manifest itself, though not so violently
as in some of the more southern States. Abraham Lincoln had been elected
President of the United States, and south of Mason and Dixon's line he
was regarded as a sectional president whose term of office would be a
menace and an absolute peril to the institution of slavery. Senator
Crittenden of Kentucky proposed certain amendments to the Constitution
to restore the Missouri Compromise, by which slavery should be confined
to specified limits, and Congress prevented from interfering with the
labor-system of the South.

Before Christmas in 1860, South Carolina had unanimously passed its
Ordinance of Secession, the intelligence of which was received with
enthusiasm by the Gulf States, all of which soon followed her example.
The more conservative States held back, and all but the four on the
border seceded in one form or another after some delay.

In Kentucky the wealthy planters and slaveholders, with many prominent
exceptions, were inclined to share the lot of the seceding States; but
the majority of the people still clung to the Union. Both sides of the
exciting question were largely represented, and the contest between them
was violent and bitter. For a time the specious compromise of neutrality
was regarded as the panacea for the troubles of the State by the less
violent of the people on both sides. Home Guards were enlisted and
organized to protect the territory from invasion by either the Federal
or the Confederate forces.

The occupation of Columbus and Hickman on the Mississippi River by
Southern troops, immediately followed by the taking of Paducah by
General Grant with two regiments of Union soldiers from Cairo,
practically dissolved the illusion of neutrality. The government at
Washington never recognized this makeshift of those who loved the Union,
but desired to protect slavery. It was honestly and sincerely cherished
by good men of both parties, who desired to preserve the Union and save
the State from the horrors of civil war.

The government did not regard the seceded States as so many independent
sovereignties, as the Secessionists claimed that they were, but as part
and parcel of a union of States forming one consolidated nation, with no
provision in its Constitution for a separation of any kind, or for the
withdrawal of one or more of the individual members of the Union. The
States which had pretended to dissolve their connection with the other
members of the compact were considered as refractory members of the
Union, in a state of insurrection against the sovereign authority of the
nation, who were to be reduced to obedience and subjection by force of
arms; for they had appealed to the logic of bayonets and cannon-balls in
carrying out their disruption.

With the duty of putting down the insurrection and subduing the
refractory elements in the South on its hands, the government could not
respect or even tolerate a neutrality which placed the State of
Kentucky, four hundred miles in extent from east to west, between the
loyal and the disloyal sections of its domain. If for no other purpose,
armies of Federal troops must cross the country south of the Ohio in
order to reach the seat of the Rebellion.

The Home Guards were powerless to prevent the passage of the loyal
armies through the State; and any attempt to do so would have been to
fight the battle of the Confederate armies, and would have at once
robbed neutrality of its transparent mask. A portion of these military
bodies were doubtless honest in their intentions. Those who were not for
the Union in this connection were practically against it. Later in the
course of events, the Home Guards were incorporated in the armies of the
Rebellion; and no doubt these organizations were used to a considerable
extent to recruit the forces of the enemy.

For a period of several months the State was not in actual possession of
either party in the conflict. One was struggling within its territory to
keep it in the Union, and the other to force it into the Southern
Confederacy. Irresponsible persons formed what they called a
"Provisional Council," elected a governor, and sent delegates to the
Confederate Congress, who were admitted to seats in that body.

During this chaotic state of affairs, Kentuckians were joining both
armies, though the great body of them enlisted in the forces of the
Union. At the close of 1861 it was estimated that Kentucky had
twenty-six thousand men, cavalry and infantry, enrolled to fight the
battles of the loyal nation, including those who had joined the
regiments of other States.

Deeds of violence were not uncommon in many parts of the State, growing
out of the excited state of feeling. Confederate emissaries were busy in
the territory, and armed bodies of them foraged for provisions and
fodder in the southern portions. Unpopular men were hunted down and shot
or hanged, and the reign of disorder prevailed. Such was the condition
of Kentucky soon after the Lyon family took possession of Riverlawn; and
some account of its several members becomes necessary.

The first of the name in America had been one of the earliest English
settlers in Massachusetts; but one of his descendants, more than a
hundred years later, had moved to the colony of New Hampshire. Early in
the present century, one of his grandchildren was a farmer in Derry, in
that State. This particular Lyon had four sons, two of whom have already
been mentioned in this story.

Duncan Lyon was the eldest of them, and seems to have been the most
enterprising of the four; for he emigrated to Kentucky, and purchased
the extensive tract of land which now formed the estate of Riverlawn. He
became a planter in due time from his small beginnings, raising hemp,
tobacco, and horses, without neglecting the productions necessary for
the support of his household. He was very prosperous in his
undertakings; and being a man of good sense and excellent judgment, he
became a person of some distinction in his county. He was known as
"Colonel Duncan Lyon," though he never held any military position; but
his title clung to him, and even his brothers in New Hampshire always
spoke of him as the "colonel."

He never married; but he made a modest fortune of one hundred thousand
dollars, including the value of his estate, though not including the
value of about fifty negroes, men, women, and children, which for some
reason he never disclosed, he did not put into the inventory that
accompanied his will.

The colonel's estate was on Bar Creek, at its junction with Green River.
One mile from Riverlawn was the village of Barcreek, a place with three
churches, several stores, a blacksmith's and a wheelwright's shop, with
a carpenter and a mason. It supplied the needs of the country in a
circuit of eight or ten miles. In fact, it was a sort of market town.

There was not a great deal of building done in this region; but the
mason residing there had made a comfortable living, jobbing and erecting
an occasional chimney, till he died in 1852. The colonel notified his
brother, Titus Lyon, who was a mason in Derry, that there was an opening
for one of his trade in Barcreek, but he could not advise him to move
there.

Titus was not a prosperous man; for he was rather lazy, and greatly
lacking in enterprise. The colonel did not believe he would do any
better in a new home than in the old one, and he bluntly wrote to him to
this effect. The planter had a suspicion that his brother drank too much
whiskey, for he could not account for his poverty in any other way; but
he had no evidence on the point. Titus decided to move to Kentucky; and
he did so, though he had to borrow the money of his brother Noah to
enable him to reach his new home.

Business in his trade happened to be usually good after his arrival, and
for several years he did tolerably well. Then he desired to buy a house
and some land which were for sale in Barcreek. The colonel loaned him
five thousand dollars for this purpose, and to pay off his note to Noah,
mortgaging the estate he had purchased as security.

From this time Titus did not do as well as before. He seemed to regard
himself as a landed proprietor, and the equal of the planters of
Kentucky. He neglected his work, feeling rather above it, negroes doing
most of the jobs in his line. He employed a couple of them, but they did
not earn their wages. The colonel had to help him out several times.

As a planter in good standing among his neighbors in the county, Colonel
Lyon, who was not a profound thinker, fell in with the views and
opinions of those in his grade of society. He was not a strong
pro-slavery man, but he owned half a hundred negroes, who had been
necessary to enable him to carry on his planting operations; but he
treated them as well as though he had paid them wages.

He was not inclined to make any issue with his neighbors on the labor
question, though some of them thought he was not entirely reliable on
this subject. He attended to his business, and did not vex his spirit
over extraneous matters. When the protection of the South against the
aggressions of the North in connection with slavery was agitated, he
followed his Kentucky leaders.

On the question of any interference on the part of Congress or the
people of the free States he had very decided opinions. If he had ever
intended to manumit his negroes, as had been hinted in the county, no
one could object to his position after the subject began to be agitated
in the State. After eight years' residence in Barcreek, his brother
Titus was a more thorough-going pro-slavery man than the planter; in
fact, he had had a strong tendency in that direction when he lived in
Derry.

Titus's wife was not a happy woman in her domestic relations. She was
better educated than her husband, and emphatically more sensible; and
she could not help seeing that Titus was frittering away his
opportunities, drinking too much whiskey, and associating with reckless
and unprincipled characters. Their two sons, Alexander and Orlando, were
following in the footsteps of their father. Even the three daughters had
imbibed strange notions from their associates, and belonged on the
Secession side of the house.

Colonel Lyon was not permitted to witness the wild disorder which
pervaded the State after the election of the Republican President; for
he died suddenly in a fit of apoplexy, after he had eaten his Christmas
dinner, in 1858. He was only fifty years old, and perhaps if he had
taken more exercise and been more prudent in his eating and drinking, he
might have taken part in the stormy events of the later period.

Colonel Cosgrove, a prominent lawyer residing at the county seat, and an
intimate friend of the deceased, was present at the funeral. Titus took
charge of the affairs of the mansion, and the lawyer intimated to him
that he should be present at Riverlawn the next morning to carry out the
wishes and intentions of his departed friend.

Titus did not understand this notice, and supposed that the duty of
settling the estate of his brother rested entirely upon him. Colonel
Cosgrove came as he had promised, with a will in his hands, of which he
had been the custodian. He proceeded to read it without any ceremony,
Titus being the only other person present.

The deceased valued his property at one hundred thousand dollars,
Riverlawn being placed at twenty-five thousand, the rest being in cash,
stocks, and other securities. The estate, including the negroes,
everything in the house or connected with the place, and ten thousand
dollars, half cash and half stocks, were given to Noah Lyon. The
document explained that he gave the money and stocks to Noah, because he
had supported and brought up the two children of his deceased brother
Cyrus.

To his brother Titus he gave twenty-five thousand dollars, including the
mortgage note he held against him, half the balance in cash, and half in
stocks and bonds. To his brother Noah, in trust for the two children of
his brother Cyrus, deceased, twenty-five thousand dollars, to be paid
over to them when they were of age. Colonel Cosgrove said the deceased
had apportioned the stocks as they were to be given to the legatees, and
the money was in the county bank. He would come to Barcreek in about a
week to pay over the cash, and deliver the stocks to Titus.

The lawyer was appointed executor of the estate, and he would hold the
property given to Noah Lyon until he came to receive it, or made other
arrangements in regard to it. Then he showed a letter, with a great seal
upon it, which he had been directed to deliver to Noah in person. Titus
wanted to know what the letter was about; but if the lawyer knew its
contents, he avoided making any revelation.

It was evident to Colonel Cosgrove that Titus was dissatisfied with the
will, for a heavy frown had rested on his brow since the reading of the
first item of the instrument; but he said nothing, and very abruptly
left the legal gentleman.



CHAPTER III

A NORTHERN FAMILY IN KENTUCKY


Titus's eldest daughter, Mildred, had written to her Uncle Noah in New
Hampshire the particulars of the death of his brother after the fact had
been telegraphed to him by Colonel Cosgrove. The letter was hardly more
than an announcement of the decease of her Kentucky uncle, and the date
of the funeral. It was not possible for Noah to reach Barcreek in season
to be present at the last rites; but he wrote to Titus without delay.

A few days after the telegram a letter from Colonel Cosgrove, the
executor, came to Noah Lyon, containing a copy of the will of his
brother. The lawyer, who had been the intimate friend and confidant of
Colonel Lyon, wrote with entire freedom to the distant brother. He
stated that his deceased friend had little confidence in Titus, and in
Barcreek he was not considered as an entirely reliable man.

The most important item in the letter was that Colonel Lyon had passed a
whole day with him only a week before his death, talking most of the
time about his estate. He had lived at Riverlawn twenty-five years, had
developed the place from a wilderness, and was very much attached to it.
In his will he had left it to Noah, and he desired that he should move
to Kentucky and take possession of the estate.

It required a week of consideration in the comfortable home of the Derry
farmer, in which the children, their own and the adopted ones, took
part, before a conclusion could be reached; but it was a compliance with
the request of Colonel Lyon. Within a year before his death the planter
had spent a month with the New Hampshire farmer, during which he had
told him all about his estate and his surroundings at Barcreek. They had
not met before since the elder brother first went to Kentucky; and the
Kentuckian formed a very high opinion of his New England brother, which
was quite in contrast with his estimate of Titus, who had been his
neighbor for six years.

The colonel's will was dated within two months of this visit, and
doubtless he was thinking of his last testament when he went to New
Hampshire. As soon as it was settled that the family should make their
home in Kentucky, Noah wrote a long letter to his only surviving
brother, announcing his intention to leave Barcreek as soon as he could
settle up his business in Derry. He expressed himself with all brotherly
kindness, and was glad that they were again to live near each other.

Titus did not even reply to this letter, though his wife wrote to Mrs.
Noah, expressing the pleasure she felt that they were again to be
neighbors. It was about two months after the death of Colonel Lyon that
Noah and his family arrived at Bowling Green, the county town, which was
the nearest railroad station to Barcreek, fifteen miles distant. Noah
Lyon had kept up his correspondence with the executor of his brother,
and Colonel Cosgrove was at the station when the family arrived. Titus
was not there, and he did not manifest much interest in the coming of
his only remaining brother.

The distinguished lawyer extended a hearty welcome to the family, and
invited them all to dinner at his mansion. He wondered that Titus or
some member of his family was not there to greet the new-comers; but he
said little about him, though enough to show that he had not a very
exalted opinion of him.

"You will find the mansion of your late brother in perfect order, Mr.
Lyon," said Colonel Cosgrove, as they rose from the dinner-table. "I was
over there yesterday, and satisfied myself that every thing was in
condition for your reception. The furniture remains just as it was in
the time of Colonel Lyon."

"You have been very kind, Colonel Cosgrove, and I am very grateful to
you for all the attention you have given to my brother's affairs and to
me," replied Noah, taking the hand of the hospitable executor. "Does my
brother Titus live near Riverlawn?"

"About a mile from it, in the village of Barcreek," answered the lawyer.
"Your brother, the colonel, had several boats; and when he went to the
village in the open season he usually made the trip by the river, rowed
by half a dozen of his boys."

"I was not aware that he had any boys," added Noah.

"His hands, his negroes; and he always called them boys. He was the best
friend they ever had," the colonel explained. "That reminds me that I
have a letter which your late brother required me to deliver personally
into your hands;" and the lawyer went to his office for it.

He returned in a few minutes, and gave the letter, which was heavily
sealed with wax, to the new owner of Riverlawn. He had mentioned this
epistle in one of his letters to the new proprietor, and Noah wondered
as he looked upon its elaborate seals what could be the subject of the
communication. The colonel was speaking of the boys, which reminded him
of the letter; and he suspected that it had some connection with the
negroes. He put it in his pocket very carefully, and then looked at his
watch.

"How far is it from this town to Barcreek?" he asked, still holding the
watch in his hand.

"Fifteen miles; and as the roads are not in the best condition at this
season of the year, it will take about two hours and a half to make the
trip," replied the lawyer. "But it is only two o'clock, and you have
plenty of time."

"But I must look up a conveyance," suggested the new proprietor of
Riverlawn.

"A conveyance is all ready for you, Mr. Lyon," added the colonel. "I
directed Mr. Bedford to come over for you and your family, and he has
been here since nine o'clock this morning. He came with the road-wagon,
which will comfortably accommodate your whole family; and one of the
boys came over with another wagon to tote your baggage over."

"You have been very thoughtful and considerate, Colonel Cosgrove, and I
am under very great obligations to you," said Noah.

"Don't mention it, Mr. Lyon. I should be happy to have you spend the
night with me, for we have still a great deal to talk about," answered
the executor.

"My family, as well as myself, are naturally quite impatient to see our
new home," suggested the New Hampshire farmer. "Fifteen miles is not a
very long distance even in New England, and I hope we shall meet often."

"I shall visit Riverlawn often until you are well settled in your new
home. I have a plantation myself on the road to Barcreek, and about half
way there, which I visit two or three times a week; and I shall be glad
to give you all the information you need in regard to your surroundings,
or in relation to the management of your estate. You will see me
occasionally at Riverlawn, and I shall hope to meet you and your family
here, or at my estate, which is called Belgrade."

"Thank you, Colonel; I am sure we shall be good friends in spite of my
antecedents as a Northern farmer, for I am not a bigot or a fanatic."

"I have no doubt we shall be good friends and good neighbors," said the
Kentuckian, as he took the hand of his new client, and struck the bell
on the table. "Now I will send for Mr. Bedford, who has been the
overseer or manager of your brother for the last ten years. As the
colonel was, he is a bachelor of fifty, and has been one of the family
at Riverlawn. He is a thoroughly reliable man, and one of the late
colonel's best friends."

A servant was sent for the overseer, and presently he appeared. He was a
rather stout man, and his round face seemed to be overflowing with
pleasantry and good-nature. He was duly presented to all the six members
of the family, and heartily shook the hand of each of them. He did not
at all answer to the description of plantation overseers which Noah Lyon
had obtained from the books he had read, depicting the horrors of
slavery. In spite of his occupation he took a fancy to him at first
sight; and all the family were pleased with him.

The manager, as Noah preferred to call him, was Levi Bedford. He had
never been very successful in the management of his own affairs; but he
was a man after Colonel Lyon's own heart, and in his will he had given
him five thousand dollars, which was one of the grievances Titus had
against the testament. One of the virtues of Levi, as his late employer
always called him, was his extreme fondness for horses, with his skill
in raising and managing them; for this had been an important branch of
the planter's business.

"I have started Pink over to the place with all your baggage, Major
Lyon, and I am ready to leave with the family when you say the word,"
said Mr. Bedford, after they had conversed a few minutes.

"I am not a major, Mr. Bedford," replied Noah; and all the family
laughed when they heard the military title applied to him.

"Your brother was not exactly a colonel; but that is a fashion we have
down here of expressing our respect for a man by giving him rank in the
military," laughed the manager. "But I want you to call me 'Levi,' as
your brother did, and as Colonel Cosgrove does when there is no company
present."

"Very well, Levi; I intend to conform to the customs of the country. We
are all ready to leave at once," added Noah.

"My team will be at the door in four minutes and three-quarters, Major
Lyon," answered the manager as he left the room.

"Call it five, Levi," added the colonel.

"Less than that, Colonel," replied Levi as he closed the door.

"I would give that man double the wages I pay my present overseer if I
could have him at Belgrade; and I should make money by the change," said
the host, as he went to the window of the drawing-room, to which the
party had retired from the dining-room. "The only fault he has is that
he is too gentle and indulgent to the negroes. The neighbors say he is
spoiling the niggers all over two counties. But I reckon the colonel was
more to blame for that, if anybody was to blame, for he had a soft
heart. I never saw two men less alike than your two Kentucky brothers,"
continued Colonel Cosgrove, as Noah joined him at the window. "There is
your team, and Levi hasn't been gone quite five minutes."

"Four horses!" exclaimed Noah.

"Levi likes a good team and enough of it," added the lawyer.

"And I never saw four handsomer horses in all my life," added the new
owner of Riverlawn, as he gazed with admiration on the magnificent
animals; and all the family hastened to the windows to see the turnout.

"You will find at least thirty more of them when you get to Riverlawn."

The road-wagon was a covered vehicle with four seats, large enough for a
dozen passengers. It was neatly painted and upholstered, and the
harnesses on the horses were elegant enough for a city turnout. The
whole family promptly realized that they were entering upon a style to
which they had never been accustomed. But Noah Lyon had suddenly become
a rich man.

The colonel gallantly assisted the ladies to their seats. The horses
danced and pranced; but they were so well trained that they did not
offer to start till Levi drew up his four reins and gave them the word
to go. Hasty adieux were spoken, and the horses went off, gently at
first, but soon put in a lively pace.

Noah and his wife took the back seat, Dorcas and Hope took the next one,
for all of them had been handed to these places by the colonel; Dexter
installed himself at the side of Levi, and Artemas had a seat all to
himself behind them. All was new and strange to them, and they observed
the buildings in the town till they passed out of the village. Then the
scenery was quite different from that of their former home.

Only two of the four children were those of Noah and his wife. Dexter
was his son, and was sixteen years old at this time, while his sister
Hope was thirteen. Both of them had received a high-school education in
part, and they were both very bright scholars. People in Derry called
Deck an "old head," which meant that his judgment and knowledge had
ripened beyond his years. Without being a "goody," he was a good boy,
with high aims and noble impulses.

Ten years before, Cyrus Lyon, one of the four brothers of whom Colonel
Duncan was the eldest, was a resident of Hillsburg in the State of
Vermont, where he had settled on a valley farm, which he had hired with
the intention of buying it when he was able to do so. He was married in
Derry, and had two children, with whom he moved to his new home. He
lived in an old house, between which and the public road flowed a small
river, nearly dry most of the year, but exceedingly turbulent in the
spring when the snow melted on the mountains.

A freshet came, and the house was surrounded by water. The bridge over
the stream was raised, and Cyrus went out to secure it. His wife
followed to assist him, and while both of them were on it, a rush of
waters came which tore the structure into fragments, and both of them
were swept away by the mad torrent. They were drowned in spite of the
efforts of the neighbors to rescue them. But they saved the two children
who remained in the house.

Noah had taken these two children and brought them up as his own, for
the father did not leave property enough to pay his debts. Artemas was
fifteen and Dorcas was seventeen. The colonel paid for their support for
ten years, and left each a handsome legacy, in trust with Noah.

In two hours from the county town, Levi Bedford reined in his four
horses at the front door of the Riverlawn mansion.



CHAPTER IV

THE ARRIVAL AND WELCOME AT RIVERLAWN


It was about five o'clock in the afternoon when the road-wagon drew up
in front of the mansion at Riverlawn. Less than a week before the
Northern family had left the deep snows and the icy cold of New
Hampshire, and the air of the Southern clime was comparatively mild and
soft. The magnolias were as green as in summer; certain flowers had
pushed their way out of the ground, and blossomed in the garden.

The young people in the wagon had been delighted with the ride, the air
was so mild, and everything was so new and strange. They had struck the
river road leading from the estate to the village, and the rest of the
way was along Bar Creek to the bridge which crossed it to the mansion.
They had passed Pink, the old negro who came with the baggage, at
Belgrade, where he had stopped to water his two horses. Levi Bedford had
talked all the way, pointing out every object of interest to the
new-comers, telling stories, repeating all the old jokes of the
locality, which were quite new to his audience.

As the manager wheeled his horses from the creek road upon the bridge,
he cracked his whip, which seemed to be the signal for the four spirited
horses to dance and prance, in order to make a proper display as they
reached the end of their journey. Gathered in the walks in front of the
house were all the servants of the mansion, and all the field-hands
belonging to the place, to welcome the family.

There were just fifty-one of them, Levi said, and they all broke out in
a yell, which was intended for a cheer, as the magnificent animals
danced up to the front door. It was a cordial welcome, and the "people"
put their whole souls into it. Noah Lyon took off his Derby hat and
waved it to the crowd; Deck and Artie followed his example, all of them
bowing; while Mrs. Lyon and the girls flaunted their handkerchiefs
vigorously to the assembled population of the plantation.

Most of them were somewhat shy at first, though they intended to give a
proper welcome to the family of the new proprietor, and they were rather
restrained in their demonstration; but as soon as the party waved their
hats and handkerchiefs, with pleasant smiles on their faces, all of them
shouted, "Glad to see you!" their enthusiasm being limited only by the
vigor of their voices and the strength of their lungs.

The Lyons were intensely amused at the earnestness of the demonstration,
and they laughed heartily. They retained their seats in the wagon after
it stopped, more interested in the gathering around them than in
anything else for the time. The crowd closed up around the vehicle in
order to obtain a nearer view of their new masters and mistresses. They
had known and loved as a patriarch the colonel, for he had always been
kind and indulgent to them. Unfortunately they also knew Titus Lyon, by
reputation if not personally, and for a month they had been wondering
whether the new proprietor was like the colonel or his Kentucky brother.

The "people" were of all ages, from the bald-headed old negro with a
flaxen fringe around his rear head on a level with his ears, down to the
infant in arms, whose toothless grin contrasted with the ivory display
of its mother. They were of all the hues of the colored race, from the
ebony face whereon charcoal could make no mark to the light saffron tint
of the octoroon.

There was a plentiful sprinkling of "mammies" and "uncles" among them,
for all the older ones are called by these names. But the great body of
them were young or middle-aged men and women, able-bodied and fit for
regular work. Noah Lyon and his wife were particularly struck with the
appearance of two girls sixteen to eighteen years old, who were nearly
as white as their own children. They were neatly and modestly dressed,
and both of them had very pretty faces. They were employed in the house
as waiters at the table, and in other general work.

"Glad to see you, mars'r!" shouted a score of the tribe in unison. "Glad
to see you, missus!" "Gib you welcome to Barcreek, mars'r and missus!"
"Glad to see de young mars'rs and missusses!"

Levi, with a very broad and cheerful smile upon his round face,
descended from the wagon with the reins in his hand, which he handed to
a mulatto whom he called Frank, who had been the colonel's coachman. He
proceeded to assist Mrs. Lyon to alight, and her husband followed her
without any of the assistance tendered to him, for he was only forty
years old, and almost as nimble as he had ever been. The manager handed
the girls to the ground as politely as though he had served his time as
a dancing-master, and the young ladies smiled upon him as sweetly as
though he had been a younger beau.

"This is Diana, Mrs. Lyon, the cook and housekeeper," said Levi, taking
a yellow woman of fifty by the arm, and presenting her to the new lady
of the house.

"Diana, missus, and not Dinah," added the housekeeper, as the lady took
her hand.

"I will always call you Diana, and never Dinah," replied Mrs. Lyon. "I
have no doubt we shall be good friends, though I am not used to your
ways in Kentucky."

"This girl is Sylvie," said Diana, drawing the elder of the two
octoroons into the presence of the lady; and her color was light enough
to make her blushes transparent. "This is Julie," she added, bringing
the other of the pretty pair to the front. "Both of them wait on the
table, and 'tend on missus. Both of them come from New Orleans when they
were little girls, and both of them speak French like a pair of
mocking-birds."

"I am very happy to see you, girls, and I think we shall get along very
well together, for I have never been used to having any one to wait on
me," said the lady, as she took each of them by the hand; and they were
so pretty that she was disposed to kiss them.

The rest of the family were presented in like manner to the house
servants, and Levi introduced them to the rest of the people in a mass.
The Lyons all felt that they had suddenly become lions, at least so far
as Riverlawn was concerned. Noah had been a prosperous farmer in New
Hampshire, engaged in some outside operation in which he had been
successful; but even in haying-time he had never had more than three
hired men. This avalanche of half a hundred servants suddenly attached
to him was a new and novel experience; and the situation was just as
strange to his wife and the young people.

Aunty Diana conducted the family into the house with many bows and
flourishes, followed by the pretty octoroons, and ushered them into the
drawing-room, which had seldom been used when the colonel was alive; for
he was as simple in his manners as Noah, though he felt obliged to keep
up the style of the mansion.

"Help you take your things off, missus?" said Diana to Mrs. Lyon, while
Sylvie and Julie tendered their services to Dorcas and Hope.

"We should like to go to our rooms, Diana," replied the lady. "I suppose
they are all ready for us."

"All ready, missus."

"Of course you can take your choice of the rooms, Mrs. Lyon," interposed
Levi, who had come into the house as soon as he had sent the people to
their cottages. "There are eight rooms on the second floor, besides two
company chambers; and I suppose Diana has already picked out one for the
owner and his wife."

"You can take just what room you like, missus, but I picked out the
colonel's chamber for mars'r and missus, 'cause it is the biggest, has a
dressing-room and four great closets. I think that one suit missus
best," added Diana.

"We will all go up-stairs and look at the rooms," replied Mrs. Lyon.

She concluded to take the colonel's room, to which Noah assented; and it
was a palatial apartment to both of them. The girls were next provided
with rooms, and the two octoroons were unremitting in their attentions
to them. Though they knew that these girls were slaves, they treated
them like sisters, and before the day was over they were fast friends;
for both of them were utterly devoid of any Southern prejudices against
those who were so nearly of their own color. They were disposed to treat
all the servants kindly, but they had not the same feeling towards those
of ebony hue.

The same sentiment prevailed through the family; and as a rule it
pervaded most of the enlightened families of the South. The girls as
well as the mother--and Dorcas and Artie looked upon and called Mrs.
Lyon by this endearing name--had been accustomed to wait upon
themselves, and they found it rather difficult to economize the willing
hands of Sylvie and Julie. But when Pink arrived with the trunks and
other baggage, the field-hands "toted" them to the proper chambers, and
the aid of the servants was very welcome, for both of them were tired
after the long journey they had made.

As the great clock in the spacious hall below struck six, the family
were summoned to supper. Levi acted as master of ceremonies, for Diana
was busy in the kitchen, with her two assistants; but he seemed to have
some doubts about seating himself at his employer's table, though he had
always had a place there in the colonel's time.

"Sit here, if you please, Levi, and always consider yourself as one of
the family," said Noah, after he had asked Deck to take the second seat
on the right, giving the manager the first, which is the seat of honor;
and the question of Levi's position at Riverlawn was settled once for
all.

"Thank you, Major Lyon," replied he, as he took the place assigned to
him. "I always sat at the table with Colonel Lyon, even when he had
guests; but it isn't always the rule with planters to have the overseer
at his table, and I am much obliged to you for your consideration."

"When I had two or three hired men on my farm, they always came to the
table with me, and would have thought they were abused if they had been
placed at a separate board," laughed the embryo planter. "But they were
the 'mud-sills' of the North, you know."

"I was raised in Tennessee, Major, and was tolerably well educated. I
was in business for myself in Shelbyville, the capital of our county,
which was named for one of my ancestors. But I did not succeed, for the
place was not big enough. I bought some nice horses of Colonel Lyon, and
for some reason he took a fancy to me."

"I don't think that was very strange," added Noah.

"When I failed, he wanted me to come and manage this place for him; and
I have been here ever since. He paid me well, and I have always done the
best I could for him. He was a good man; and it looks to me just as
though his successor was as good a man as he was."

"Thank you, Levi; I believe we shall be friends."

"Betwixt you and me, Major," continued the manager in a low tone, "when
the colonel's health began to be rather shaky, though I had no idea he
was so near his end, I had a mortal dread that a certain other man would
come into possession of this place. Excuse me for saying that, but I
couldn't help it. Since I met you this noon, Major, I have been lifted
up to the seventh heaven."

Noah did not deem it wise to make any reply to this remark then; but he
intended to inquire more particularly in regard to his Kentucky brother
when he had an opportunity; and it appeared that the manager had some
very pronounced opinions in regard to Titus. He changed the subject, and
continued to eat his supper.

The meal was elaborate enough for a family feast. After the fried ham
and bacon, the fried chicken, with baked potatoes and the nicest white
cornbread the family had ever eaten, came hot biscuits, waffles, and
griddle-cakes, and cake of several kinds, which were fully approved by
Mrs. Lyon. Diana came in before the party rose from the table, and the
praises bestowed upon her handiwork in the kitchen would have made her
blush if she had been as light-colored as the two girls that waited upon
the table.

When Noah Lyon went to his room after supper, and was alone there, he
took from his pocket the letter from his deceased brother which Colonel
Cosgrove had given him. It was with no little emotion that he broke the
cumbrous seals. It looked very much like a mystery to him, for the
estate had been duly divided in the will.

It was a very kindly and brotherly letter for the first page. Then the
colonel stated that Noah had by the time he received the letter
discovered that the value of the fifty-one negroes on the estate had not
been included in his valuation of the property. They were worth at least
twenty-five thousand dollars. They had been given to him with the
plantation, but he enjoined it upon him on no account to sell one of
them.

In the letter he found another as carefully sealed as the one that
enclosed it, directed to his successor, with the direction: "Not to be
opened till five years from the date of my death. Duncan Lyon."

The letter evidently related to the slaves on the plantation; but the
mystery in regard to them was still unsolved.



CHAPTER V

THE DISTRESS OF MRS. TITUS LYON


In the rear of the drawing-room was the library. It contained about five
hundred bound volumes, and more than this number of pamphlets and
documents, which had accumulated in a quarter of a century. It contained
a large desk and a safe, and the apartment was an office rather than a
library, though the owner of Riverlawn had largely improved his
education by reading in his abundant leisure. The shelves were piled
high with newspapers and magazines, which appeared to have been the
staple of his intellectual food.

Levi had given the key of the safe to the new proprietor; and after Noah
had read and reread the open letter, and pondered its contents, he
carried the one which was not to be opened for five years to the
library, and deposited it in the safe with the explanatory epistle which
left the whole subject a mystery. What was eventually to become of the
negroes was not indicated, but he was enjoined not to sell one of them
on any account.

Though opposed to the extension of slavery, Noah Lyon did not believe
that Congress had any constitutional right to meddle with the system as
it existed in the States. He had never been brought into contact with
slavery, and did not howl when his brother became a slaveholder. Like
the majority of the people of the North, he was instinctively, as it
were, opposed to human bondage; but he had never been considered a
fanatic or an abolitionist by his friends and neighbors. He simply
refrained from meddling with the subject.

The fifty-one negroes on the estate had been willed to him, and he was
as much a slaveholder as his brother had been. The injunction not to
sell one of them was needless in its application to him, for he would as
readily have thought of selling one of his own children as any human
being.

It would require a bulky volume to detail the experience of Noah Lyon
and his family during the years that followed his arrival at Barcreek.
He was an intelligent man, richly endowed with saving common-sense, and
soon made himself familiar with all the affairs of the plantation. He
made the acquaintance of the servants, which was no small matter in
itself, for he ascertained the history, disposition, and character of
all of them.

He found that his brother had not over-estimated the worth of Levi
Bedford, who soon became a great favorite with all the family. The new
proprietor found no occasion to change the conduct of affairs in the
management of the place, even if he had felt that he was competent to
improve the methods and system of his late brother. Everything went on
as before. Levi made the crops of hemp, tobacco, corn, and vegetables,
and raised horses, marketing everything to be sold. He consulted his
employer, but he had little to say.

The family became acquainted with their neighbors within a circuit of
ten miles, and in spite of their origin they were kindly and hospitably
received by the best families.

At the end of a year the Lyons had practically become Kentuckians. In
the following year came the great political campaign which resulted in
the election of Abraham Lincoln to the presidency. Ominous growls had
been heard from the South, and even in the border State of Kentucky.
Noah regarded the situation with no little anxiety; but he continued to
attend to his own affairs, and it was not till the bombardment of Fort
Sumter that he began to take an active part in the agitation which was
shaking the entire nation.

Titus Lyon was one of the most stormy and aggressive of the Southern
sympathizers. Even neutrality was a compromise with him. When Noah's
family took possession of Riverlawn, he did not call at the mansion for
several days, though his wife and Mabel, his eldest daughter, had spent
the day after their arrival with them. Though Titus said nothing at
first, or for months to come, it was very evident to Noah that he was
intensely dissatisfied with the distribution the colonel had made of his
property.

The state of affairs in Barcreek has been shown in the conversation
between the planter and his son on the bridge. This seemed to be a
favorite resort for conferences, and they returned to it after dinner.
On one side of it was a seat which had been put up there years before;
for it was shaded by a magnificent tree which grew by the side of the
creek road, and the bridge was the coolest place on the estate in a hot
day.

"Of course you heard what your mother said about her visit to Titus's
house to-day, Dexter," said the father, as he seated himself on the
bench.

"I could not well help hearing it," replied Deck.

"If there is anything in this world I abominate, it is a family
quarrel," continued Noah, fixing his gaze upon the dark waters of the
creek. "Your uncle seems to be disposed to be at variance with me,
though I am sure I have done nothing of which he can reasonably
complain. He is down upon every Union man in the county. I should say
that Barcreek was about equally divided between the two parties. But he
does not talk politics to me, as he does to every other man in the
place."

"I don't know what he means when he says you owe him five thousand
dollars, for I thought the boot was on the other leg," said Deck,
looking into the troubled face of his father.

"He owes me several hundred dollars I lent him before he sold his
railroad stock. He is able to pay me now, for he has turned his
securities into money, and he seems to be flinging it away as fast as he
can. He must be worth twenty-five thousand dollars, including his house
and land; but I don't know how much of it he has thrown away."

"If he has spent five thousand dollars for arms, ammunition, and
uniforms, he must have made a big hole in it," suggested Deck. "He keeps
three horses when he has no use for more than one."

"He never had a tenth part as much money before in his life, and he does
not know how to use it. He will be the captain of a Home Guard as soon
as he can enlist the men, and the people on his side of the question at
the village have begun to call him 'Captain Lyon,' or 'Captain Titus.'"

"Sandy told me that he, his father, and Orly had been drilling for three
months with an old soldier who was in the Mexican War," added Deck.
"There comes Artie in one of the boats."

"Where is he going?" asked Noah.

"I'm sure I don't know; Artie don't always tell where he is going,"
answered Deck.

His cousin, whom he regarded and treated as his brother, was pulling a
very handsome keel boat leisurely up the creek. The colonel appeared to
have had some aquatic tastes, for at a kind of pier half-way between the
bridge and the river were a sailboat and two row-boats, all of which
were kept in excellent condition. In places the river was wide enough to
allow the use of a boat with a sail, and the colonel had had some skill
in managing one; but neither Noah nor his boys could handle such a
craft, and it was never used.

The creek extended back some ten miles through a flat, swampy region,
and Deck and Artie had explored it almost to its source in some low
hills not a dozen miles from the Mammoth Cave. Like most boys, they were
fond of boats, and nothing but the forbidding command of the planter
prevented them from experimenting with the Magnolia, as the sailboat was
called by the colonel.

If the boys had explored Bar Creek to its source, they would have
discovered that it came out of the numerous "sinks" to be found in this
portion of the country, and streams flowed in subterranean channels
which honeycombed the earth at a greater or less depth below the
surface.

"What are you up to, Deck?" shouted Artie, as he approached the bridge.

"Nothing particular," replied the one on the bridge. "Where are you
going?"

"Up the creek," answered Artie very indefinitely. "Can't you go with me?
It is easier for two to row this boat than for one."

"I don't want to go now," returned Deck, who was too much interested in
the conversation with his father to leave him.

"You may go with him if you want to, Dexter," interposed Mr. Lyon.

"I don't care about going now, father. Do you suppose Uncle Titus has
really bought the arms and things as mother says?" asked Deck.

"Your aunt is very much worried about the actions of your uncle. I
suppose he told her what he had done, for she would not make up such a
story out of whole cloth. Besides, it seems to be in keeping with a
dozen other things he has done; and he is certainly doing all he can to
raise a company in Barcreek," replied Mr. Lyon.

"Isn't it strange that he never says anything to you about politics,
especially such as we are having now?" asked the son.

"I don't see him very often; he is at Bowling Green half the time.
Besides, he and I never agreed on politics. By the great George
Washington, there he is now!" exclaimed Noah Lyon, springing up from his
seat on the bench.

Titus Lyon was seated with his wife in a stylish buggy. He stopped his
horse on the bridge when he came opposite to his brother, and passing
the reins to Mrs. Lyon he descended to the planks. His wife drove on,
and stopped at the front door of the mansion. Frank the coachman ran
with all his might from the stable to take charge of the team, and the
lady went into the house.

"How do you do, Titus?" said Noah, extending his hand to his brother.

"I think it is about time for me to have some talk with you, Noah,"
replied Titus, ignoring the offered hand, and bestowing a frowning look
upon Deck. "Send that boy away."

"Dexter knows all about my affairs, and I don't have many secrets from
him," replied Noah very mildly, and somewhat nettled to have his son
treated in that rude manner.

"I came over here on purpose to talk with you; and what I have to say is
between you and me--for the present. If you don't wish to talk with me
on these terms, that's the end on't," added Titus, rising from the seat
he had taken.

"I will go with Artie, father," interposed Deck, who did not wish to
prevent an interview between the brothers, though he thought his uncle
behaved like a Hottentot.

"Very well, Dexter; but you needn't go if you don't want to," said his
father, who evidently did not believe that the proposed interview with
Titus would be conducted on a peace basis.

"I think I will go," added Deck, who hailed Artie from the bridge, and
then hastened to a plank where he could get into the boat.

For a reason which he would not have explained if he had been
interrogated by his father, or by any other person except Deck, Artie
was very desirous to have his cousin go with him; in fact, he was
thinking of postponing his excursion, whatever its object, till his
cousin could accompany him, when the hail came to him from the bridge.
He pulled up to the plank, the outer end of which was supported by
stakes driven into the bottom of the stream, with a cross-piece above
the water. It had been built for the convenience of those taking one of
the boats near the mansion. Deck took an oar, and they pulled together
up the creek.

Mrs. Titus Lyon was cordially welcomed at the door of the house by Mrs.
Noah, who had seen her coming from the window. The lady from the village
was in a high state of perturbation, and her eyes looked as though she
had been weeping.

"I have had an awful time since you called upon me this morning," said
she, wiping her eyes with her handkerchief. "I don't know what we are
coming to at our house. For the first time in my life my husband struck
me after we got up from dinner, and then hurried me down here with
hardly time to change my clothes!"

"Struck you, Amelia!" exclaimed Mrs. Noah with an expression of horror.

"Perhaps it was all my own fault," groaned the poor woman.

"No fault could justify your husband in striking you. But what was it
for?" inquired Mrs. Noah, overflowing with sympathy for her
sister-in-law.

"You remember that story about the arms and equipments I told you this
morning? Well, it seems that my son Orly was listening at the half-open
door when I supposed that no one but myself was in the house, for the
girls had all gone off to the store. He heard the whole of it, and told
his father when he came in to dinner," gasped the abused lady in short
sentences.

"He struck you for telling me, did he?" demanded Mrs. Noah indignantly.
"I should like to give him a piece of my mind!"

"Don't you say a word to him about it, for that would only make it all
the worse for me. Titus says there is no truth at all in the story. He
has bought no arms. I misunderstood him; he was telling about a
committee in Logan County that had bought the arms and ammunition for a
company. It is all a mistake; and if you have told any of your family,
do take it all back, and say there is not a word of truth in the story."

Mrs. Titus could see from the window that the two brothers were having a
stormy interview on the bridge; but she stayed till long after dark, and
had recovered her self-possession before she left. Noah had no supper
till she had gone, and the boys had not yet returned.



CHAPTER VI

THE NIGHT ADVENTURE ON THE CREEK


If Deck Lyon had particularly noted the actions of his cousin in the
boat he would have noticed that he was less decided in his movements
than usual. He stopped rowing several times in the ten minutes or more
that elapsed after he had invited Deck to go with him; and one who had
been near enough to study his expression would have understood that he
had a purpose before him which he was not prepared to execute under
present circumstances.

He had listened with the closest attention to Mrs. Lyon's report of her
visit at the house of Titus, and he was in a revery after dinner as he
observed Noah and his son walking to the bridge. He waited till he had
seen them seated on the bench, and then he walked slowly to the boat
pier. He was disappointed when his cousin refused to go with him; but he
was not inclined to persuade him to leave his father, for he concluded
that something of importance was under discussion between them.

He was relieved, and all his vigor and animation came back to him as he
pulled to the house landing. Artie was more inclined than Deck to keep
within his own shell; but it was not for the want of native energy, and
both of the boys were disposed to do whatever they had in hand with all
their might. He brought the boat up abreast of the pier, and Deck
stepped into the bow without any further invitation. He took one of the
light pine oars from his cousin.

"If you don't object, Deck, I would like to pull the forward oar," said
Artie, as his companion was seating himself.

"It is all the same to me which oar I take," replied Deck, as he changed
his place.

"I want to talk with you, and I can do it better when you are in front
of me," added Artie, as he shoved the boat out into the stream.

"Where are you going? You seem to have something in your head besides
bones," said Deck curiously.

"Besides the bones I've got a big notion in my head."

"Is it a Yankee or a Kentucky notion, Artie?"

"I picked it up here, and it is Kentuckish. But I don't want to say
anything now; for I'm afraid some one might hear me, more particularly
Uncle Titus," replied the bow oarsman as he took the stroke from his
cousin. "I wonder what brought him over here, for he don't come to
Riverlawn much oftener than he goes to church."

"He acts like a regular Hottentot just out of the woods; and if there
are any bears in Kentucky they would behave like gentlemen compared with
Uncle Titus," added Deck, who proceeded to describe the manner of the
visitor on the bridge when the two brothers met.

"Uncle Titus has got something besides bones in his head this afternoon,
and when he started to come over here he meant business," suggested
Artie. "Something is in the wind."

"I wanted to stay and hear what was said, but Uncle Titus drove me off
as he would have kicked a snake into the creek. He was as grouty and as
savage as a she-lion that had lost all her cubs."

"Did he say anything about that story your mother told at dinner?" asked
Arty.

"Not a word; he drove me off as though I had been a cur dog before he
said a word about anything else," replied Deck, who could not easily
forget the brutal manner of his uncle. "But you have not told me yet
where you are going, Artie. You haven't any fishlines or bait, and I
suppose you are not going a-fishing."

"Not up the creek, for the river suits me better for that business; but
I'm going a-fishing for something that won't swim in the water," replied
the undemonstrative boy.

"What do you mean by that?" demanded Deck; and his interest in the
subject caused him to cease rowing, and Artie pulled the boat round so
that it was headed to the shore.

"Pull away, Deck! What are you about? We don't want to stop here," said
Artie with more than his usual vigor.

"I am about nothing; but when I talk with you I like to look you in the
face, for that sometimes tells the story better than your words,"
replied Deck, as he gave way again with his oar. "As I said before, you
have got something besides bones in your head, and I am in a hurry to
know what it is all about. You can't talk it into me through the back of
my head."

"But we don't want to stop here, Richard Coeur de Lyon!" protested
Artie, rather vehemently for him. "Don't you see that we are still in
sight of the bridge, and I would not have Uncle Titus see what we are
about for all the world, with Venus and Mars thrown in. Besides, we have
a long pull before us, and we have no time to spare."

"But I want to know what it is all about," Deck objected. "I am not
going into any conspiracy with my eyes blinded."

"Pull away, Deck! I don't want that Secesher to see us stopping here. We
shall come to the bend in five minutes; and then if you want to stop and
talk I will agree to it, though we haven't any time to waste," suggested
Artie as a compromise.

"One would think you were going to set the river on fire by your talk,"
replied Deck, profoundly mystified by the words, and more by the manner
of his companion.

"We may set the creek on fire before we get through with this job,"
continued Artie, deepening the mystery every minute. "There's Levi
Bedford," he added, as the manager, riding on a rather wild colt, in the
road leading to the fields, came abreast of the boat.

He was too far off to talk to the boys; but he waved his hat to them,
and the boatmen returned the salute, as he continued on his way.

"I wonder where Levi stands in the row that is brewing all over the
country," said Deck. "I don't hear him say anything of any consequence,
though he may have talked to father. He did not come from New England,
and I don't know whether he is a Secesher or not; and it looks as though
he did not mean anybody should know."

"He don't belong to the Home Guards any way," added Artie. "He is a
Tennesseean, and it would not be strange if he had some Secesh notions."

"I don't believe he is going back on father," replied Deck, when the
manager had disappeared and the boat had reached the bend. "Here we are;
we can't see the bridge now, and the bridge can't see us."

"We will stop if you say so; but we may not get back to the house before
to-morrow morning if we spend much time here," said Artie, as he rested
on his oar, and seemed to be very unwilling to use any of the time in
mere talk.

"If the time is so short, why didn't you start out this morning? and why
didn't you let me know sooner that you were going to set the creek on
fire? We might have brought our dinners with us, as we did when we went
to school in Derry, and made a day of it," argued Deck.

"Things were not ready this morning, and I started just as soon as I saw
the star in the east," replied Artie.

"You don't generally wait for the grass to grow under your feet when the
lightning strikes near you."

"The lightning struck while we were at dinner," added Artie quietly.

"But I think we can fix things so that we can talk and keep moving at
the same time," suggested Deck, as he rose from his seat with his oar in
his hand, and stepped over his thwart to the aftermost one.

He seated himself on this thwart, facing the bow. The boys were not
skilled boatmen, though they had practised rowing a good deal on the
river and creek, and they had not trimmed the light craft to the best
advantage for ease and speed, for it was down too much by the head. Deck
asked his cousin to move one seat farther aft, and he complied readily,
in spite of the fact that he was the more skilled of the two in rowing.
In the smallest of the three boats at the lower pier he had often made
long trips alone up the creek, besides those when his cousin was his
companion.

"That lifts the bow higher out of the water," said Artie as he took his
place.

"So much the better," replied Deck, proceeding to give philosophical and
scientific reasons to explain what experienced boatmen know by instinct,
as it were. "Now take the stroke from me, and don't pull any faster than
I do."

Placing himself in an angular position on the thwart, with his right
hand hold of the seat, he began to row with his left. While pulling
alone in the canoe, as the negro rowers called the smallest craft, he
had been inclined to protest against the accepted custom of going
backwards in rowing; and he would gladly have adopted the mechanical
contrivance in use on some of the Northern waters which enabled the
boatmen to pull while facing the bow. He wanted to see where he was
going without turning around, and he had practised rowing in this
position.

Deck was heavier and stronger than his cousin, though hardly as agile.
Artie took the stroke from him, and it was quite as quick as he cared to
row on a long pull. They kept good time, and the boat went along as
rapidly as before.

"Now light your match, and start the fire, Artie. We shall lose no time
by this arrangement, and we shall get back to the house before morning."

"Perhaps, after you understand the nature of the enterprise, you will
not be willing to go with me," added Artie, looking earnestly into the
face of his cousin.

"I can tell better about that after I know what it is," returned Deck,
reciprocating the earnest gaze of the other. "But it is you who are
wasting the time now. Why don't you come to the point without going
around all the buildings on the plantation?"

"You heard the story mother told about the arms and ammunition Uncle
Titus had bought for the Home Guards in order to make himself the
captain of the company?"

"Of course I heard it," and Deck was unwilling to say another word to
increase the preliminaries to the revelation.

"Did you believe it?"

"I did."

"Then you are satisfied that Uncle Titus has a lot of arms hid away
somewhere in this region?" persisted Artie.

"I had my doubts, and I spoke to father about it on the bridge just
before you came along in the boat. He thought that his brother was just
crazy enough to do such a thing; but he thought whiskey had a good deal
to do with the matter, especially in permitting him to tell his wife
about it. Of course Sandy and Orly are mixed up in this business. But
this is an old story by this time, Artie, and you have not told me yet
what you are driving at," said Deck impatiently.

"We are going to look for the arms and ammunition, Deck!" exclaimed the
originator of the enterprise. "Is that talking plainly enough?"

"To look for the arms and ammunition!" almost shouted the after oarsman,
ceasing to use his oar in the astonishment of the moment.

"You insisted on my telling you all at once, and I have done so; you
have stopped rowing."

"What you said was enough to throw a fellow off his base. Do you mean
that you are going on a wild-goose chase all over the State of Kentucky
to look for what may be a mere notion, conjured up by an overdose of
whiskey?" demanded Deck, still resting on his oar.

"Don't get excited, Coeur de Lyon; cold steel cuts best," said Artie.

"And that's the reason father puts his razor into hot water when he is
shaving."

"I don't think anybody is right down sure of anything in this world,"
continued the leader of the enterprise. "I think I am as sure as any
fellow can be in this State of Kentucky, where no man or boy can tell
which end he stands on, that I know where Uncle Titus's arms and
ammunition are hidden."

"You know!" ejaculated Deck.

"I think I know."

"What are you doing up the creek, then? Didn't Aunt Amelia say that the
arms were concealed near the river?" asked Deck, hardly able to breathe
in his excitement.

"I think I know where they are hidden better than she did. If Uncle
Titus told his wife that they were hidden on the river,--and that is
just what aunt said,--her husband intended to cheat her," said Artie
very confidently. "I should say that a dozen glasses of whiskey would
not have made Uncle Titus fool enough to tell anybody where the arms
were concealed, not even his wife; and they don't seem to be a very
loving couple since they came to Kentucky."

"That's so," added Deck.

"Do you remember that time about a fortnight ago when father spoke to me
about being out so late one night, Deck?"

"I remember it; it was on the bridge."

"That night I found out something I could not explain, but I can now,
after what I heard at dinner to-day. But we have eight or ten miles to
pull if we are going to find the arms to-day, and we must be moving,"
added Artie.

Deck rowed again, and they proceeded up the creek, Artie telling his
night adventure by the way.



CHAPTER VII

A STORMY INTERVIEW ON THE BRIDGE


Probably Noah Lyon had never felt anything like the emotion of anger in
his being against his brother until they met that day on the bridge. As
one and another had said several times, no two men of the same blood and
lineage could have been more differently constituted. Noah had been a
diligent student as a boy, and a constant reader in his maturity; while
Titus had been the black sheep of the family, had neglected his studies
in his youth, and did not even read a newspaper in his manhood, unless
for a special purpose.

Titus could read and write, and knew enough of arithmetic to enable him
to keep the accounts of his business. Whatever he learned after he left
school he gathered from the speech of people; and as his associates were
not of the intelligent class in his native town any more than they were
in his new home, his education was very limited and his moral aims, if
he could be said to have any, were not elevated enough to keep him very
far within the limits of the law, which were his principal tests between
right and wrong.

Before he was twenty-one he obtained a position to drive a stage on a
twenty-mile route, so that he spent every other night at a tavern; and
this did not improve his manners or his morals. As a boy he had become
disgusted with farming, and had learned the trade of a mason, working at
it three years. Like his elder brother, he was a horse fancier, and was
a skilful driver. An accident to the old stage-driver placed him on the
box, and when the place became permanent he was only twenty years old.

With so little intellectual and moral foundation as he had laid for his
future character, it was a misfortune for him that he was then a
"good-looking fellow." He boarded at the tavern, and paid only two
dollars a week in consideration of his position, for it was believed
that he had some influence with his passengers. He was well supplied
with money for one of his age in the country, and he spent all he had.

He was an agile dancer, which, with his good looks, made him popular in
the town, especially with the girls. Amelia Lenox was a pretty girl. She
had a fancy for the handsome stage-driver; and, in spite of the earnest
objections of her father and mother, she accepted him as her husband,
and they were married. Titus took a cottage near the tavern, and for a
year, with the help of his and her father, they got along very well.

All of a sudden a railroad shot through the town, and the business of
the place was gone in the twinkling of an eye. The wages of Titus
stopped, and he had a wife and child to support. He went to his father
for advice. The mason, who had done a good business in the town and its
vicinity, had grown old. Hopestill Lyon, the grandfather of the boys,
was his best friend, and bought out his business for Titus.

For several years he worked well, made some money, and paid his
grandfather for the investment made on his behalf. But he did not like
the business. Unlike his brothers, he seemed to believe that fate,
destiny, circumstances, or some other indefinable power that regulates
the worldly condition of mortals, had misused and abused him; for he
ought to have been "born with a silver spoon in his mouth," with wealth
at his command, so that he could live in luxury without work.

When he built chimneys, plastered rooms, or jobbed in filthy drains and
smutty fireplaces, he labored with an active protest against his
occupation in his soul, which extended down to his hands and feet,
shutting out ambition, and making him lazy. He was always on the lookout
for some other occupation, or for some change which would put more money
in his pocket. He did a vast deal of grumbling and growling at his lot,
occasionally taking home with him a gallon jug of New England rum, which
did not improve his condition. He was not a drunkard, but he was
unconsciously falling into a bad habit.

His wife was an intelligent woman, and was a good helpmate; but it did
not require a prophetic vision to read the future, near or distant, of
Titus Lyon. It was said by some of the old people in the town that he
"took after" his grandmother, who had been a stylish woman in her
younger days, though the solid character of Hopestill Lyon had
controlled her inclinations so that she made him a good wife.

Mrs. Lyon reasoned kindly with Titus; but before she left her Northern
home she had lost whatever influence she had ever exercised over him. He
was eager to settle in Kentucky when the colonel's letter announcing an
opening for him came, and she was utterly opposed to the plan. It was at
least a change, and he was determined to make it, in spite of the fact
that his brother could not advise him to do so; and the result proved
the solidity of the colonel's judgment.

For seven years Titus fawned upon his wealthy brother. He was as
obsequious in his presence as one of the field-hands of Riverlawn; but
the colonel did not believe in him as he did in Noah, especially after
his long visit to the latter. When the health of the planter began to be
slightly impaired a couple of years before his death, Titus was sordid
enough to think of what would become of his plantation, which seemed
like a mine of wealth to him, at the decease of the owner.

He had talked planting, hemp, and horses to the colonel, and did all he
could to impress him with the belief that he was competent to manage the
plantation. It was his nature to believe in what he desired, and he was
satisfied that Riverlawn would be bequeathed to him, as it ought to be.
The reading of the will was a shock to him. The giving of ten thousand
dollars more than his fair share to Noah, who lived far away, and had
never even seen the plantation, in consideration for bringing up the two
orphans of his brother, excited his wrath.

He regarded this gift as an absolute wrong to him, while he was
compelled in pay the note out of his own share. He went home from
Riverlawn that day choking down his anger; but he was furious in the
presence of his wife, though she did all she could to console him. She
pointed out the fact that he now owned his place clear of any debt, and
had twenty thousand dollars in cash, stocks, and bonds; but he was not
satisfied. He wanted Riverlawn, where he could live in style, with an
abundant income without work.

As he brooded over his fancied wrong, it came to his mind that the
colonel's _ante-mortem_ inventory had not included the value of the
negroes on the plantation. He hastened over to see Colonel Cosgrove, the
executor. He exhibited a copy of the will, and Titus studied over it for
half a day. Nothing was said about the slaves. Then he went to another
lawyer with whom he had had some political dealings; but this gentleman
assured him that he had no remedy; the colonel had an undoubted right to
dispose of his property as he pleased, even if he had given the whole of
it to Noah. He had bequeathed the plantation, the mansion, with all that
was in or on them, or appertaining to them; and this included the
negroes.

For nearly two years Titus had nursed his wrath, and was earnest in his
belief that Noah ought to right the wrong the colonel had done him. Yet
he had never had the courage to make this claim upon his brother, or
even to mention to him the five thousand dollars which he insisted
belonged to him. The law could do nothing for him, his own lawyer told
him. Noah was his brother, now his only brother; and it was his duty,
according to every principle of right and justice, to pay over to him
half of the legacy of ten thousand dollars, and of the twenty-five
thousand dollars which was a low valuation of the negro property.

The quantity of Kentucky whiskey which Titus consumed magnified his
wrongs and made him more unreasonable than his natural discontent would
have made him. When he learned from his younger son what his wife had
told Mrs. Noah, he was more furious than he had ever been known to be
before, and he descended to the brutality of striking her. He had taken
more than his habitual potion of whiskey, and it made him ugly. His wife
wept bitterly over the abuse she had been subjected to, both the words
and the blow, and she had fled to her bedroom.

She was a high-spirited woman, and it seemed to her that the end of all
things had come, at least so far as her domestic happiness was
concerned. Her father was a well-to-do farmer; and neither he nor her
brothers would permit her to be abused by any one, not even by her
husband. A sudden and violent resolution came to her to return to her
father's house. While she was thinking of this remedy and of the parting
with her children, Titus rushed into the room. She must undo the
mischief she had done, and he would drive her to Riverlawn for that
purpose. He told her what to say, and she promised to say it; for she
felt that she had been indiscreet in what she had said.

During the drive her husband had continued to abuse her with his unruly
tongue, and she had wept all the way. They found Noah and Deck on the
bridge, and Titus decided to pour out his grievances to his brother; for
his drams had brought his courage up to the point where he felt like
doing it. He was not intoxicated, but he had drunk enough to make him
ugly. He descended from the vehicle, and Mrs. Titus drove over to the
mansion.

Dexter was sent away as before related, and the father was somewhat
moved by the rudeness with which the boy had been treated. He was a
mild-spoken man; and though he was quiet in his manner, he had more real
grit in his composition than Titus.

"You seem to be excited, Titus," said Noah, as he seated himself on the
bench from which he had just risen.

"I have good reason to be excited," growled the angry man. "My wife has
acted like a fool and a traitor to me!"

"I am sorry for that, Brother Titus; but I hope you don't hold me
responsible for her conduct," said Noah in gentle and conciliatory
tones.

"Not exactly; but you are responsible for enough without that, and I
have made up my mind that it is time for you and me to have a reckoning,
for you don't do by me as a brother should; and if father was living
to-day he would be ashamed of you," returned the mason, with all the
emphasis of a bad cause.

"I was not aware that I had been wanting in anything one brother ought
to do for another. But we had better consider a subject of such
importance when you are cooler than you seem to be just now, Titus. Your
present complaint appears to be against Amelia, and not against me. What
has she done? I have always looked upon her as a very good woman and
good wife."

"You don't know her as well as I do. I don't know what bad advice Ruth
has given her, or what influence she has over Meely, but she made her
tell a ridiculous story about some arms and ammunition," said Titus in a
milder manner; for he seemed to be intent upon counteracting the effect
of her action. "I s'pose Ruth repeated to you the story Meely told."

"She said you had given five thousand dollars for the purchase of arms,
ammunition, and uniforms for a company of Home Guards, of which you were
to be the captain."

"I'll bet that wa'n't all she told you," added Titus.

"That was the substance of it."

"I suppose most folks in Barcreek know all that."

"I never knew it till to-day."

"You don't go about among folks in this county as I do."

"I don't associate much with Secessionists and Home Guards."

"I do! But that is my business, and I have a good right to give my money
where it will do the most good; and I shall do so whether you like it or
not," fumed Titus.

"I don't dispute your right; though I am surprised that a man brought up
in the State of New Hampshire should become a Secessionist when more
than half the people of Kentucky are in favor of the Union," added Noah.

"'Tain't so! I never was a Black Republican, as you were, and I don't
begin on't now. If you want to steal the niggers, I don't help you do
it! But Meely told your wife something more;" and Titus looked anxiously
into the face of his brother, as if to read the extent of the mischief
which had been done.

"I believe Ruth did tell me that the arms and munitions had already been
purchased, and were hidden somewhere on the river," added Noah. "But I
did not pay much attention to this part of the story. The material part
of it was that you had given so much money to assist in making war in
the State."

"I give the money to keep the war out of Kentucky, and maintain the
neutrality of the State," argued Titus.

"We had better not talk politics, brother, and I will not give my views
of neutrality."

"The story my wife told about the arms was all a lie!" exclaimed the
visitor with an oath which shocked the owner of the plantation. "No arms
are hid on the river, or anywhere else. Meely understood what I said
with her elbows; and she has come down now to take it all back."

"Very well; I don't care anything about the arms, though I should be
sorry to have them go into the hands of the Secessionists or the Home
Guards, for they are all in the same boat."

At this moment Levi Bedford rode over the bridge on the colt, and Titus
was silent.



CHAPTER VIII

AN OVERWHELMING ARGUMENT


Levi Bedford had not come to the bridge to interfere with the
conversation or to listen to what was said; but as he was returning from
the distant fields of the plantation by the creek road, he could not
help seeing that a stormy interview was in progress on the bridge. He
believed that he understood Titus Lyon better than Noah did. He
considered him capable of violence to his brother when under the
influence of liquor, and he deemed it prudent for him to be within call
if he was needed.

Noah would have scouted the idea of Titus raising his hand against him,
even when he had been drinking; for in former years they had always
lived together on the best of terms. Levi had seen more of the mason
within a few years than Noah. While the colonel lay unburied in the
mansion, he had spent most of the time at Riverlawn, and to some extent
had assumed the control of the plantation.

The manager had not required the negroes to do anything but necessary
work during the sad interval; but Titus had interfered, and sent the
field-hands to their usual occupation. He had "bossed" Levi himself as
though he were only a servant, and even meddled with the affairs of
Diana in the house. The manager could not resent this interference at
such a time, and he could not help seeing that Titus was taking more
whiskey than usual; for he had even ordered Diana to bring out the
choice stores of this article which the colonel had kept for his friends
rather than for his own use.

He talked to Levi just as though the plantation would soon come into his
hands, and had made himself as unnecessarily offensive to the overseer
and all the petted servants as possible. It would not be overstating the
truth to say that he was thoroughly hated at Riverlawn. Levi had packed
his trunk in readiness to leave as soon as the tyrant took possession of
the place; and even some of the people were thinking of making their way
to the free State of Ohio.

Levi bowed and smiled as he passed the planter, but he only reined in
his fiery steed, and did not stop. He did not even look at Titus, much
less salute him, for he despised him; and pleasant as he was to all on
the place, including the people, he was an honest man, and appeared to
be just what he was. He rode over in the direction of the river, and
when he reached a thicket of trees and bushes he stopped the colt and
tied him to a tree. He remained there where he could see the bridge
without being seen by those upon it.

"I wonder that you keep that fellow on the place," said Titus, as Levi
rode off. "In my opinion, and I have seen more of him than you have,
Noah, he is a rascal;" and the last remark was seasoned with an oath.

"I think he is a very useful man, and my family are already very much
attached to him; for he is always good-natured, and kind and obliging to
everybody," replied the planter.

"There ain't no accounting for tastes, as my wife says; but if I had
this place that cuss would get kicked out before he had a chance to
breathe twice more," said Titus with a look of disgust which caused him
to twist his mouth and nose into such a snarl that Mrs. Titus would
hardly have known him.

Levi had not told his employer in what manner the would-be owner of the
plantation had conducted himself on the place after the death of the
colonel; and Noah could not understand why his brother had such an
antipathy to so genial a man as the manager, viewed from his own and his
family's standpoint.

"I take Levi as I find him, and I have been very much pleased with him,"
added Noah.

"But I did not come over here to talk about that dirty shote," continued
Titus, suddenly bracing himself up to attack the subject of the
grievances which had gnawed like a live snake at his vitals for nearly
two years. "In the fust place, I want you to understand, Noah Lyon, that
there ain't a word of truth in the story Meely told this noon in your
house."

"All right, Brother Titus," replied Noah. "I haven't looked for the arms
and ammunition, and I know nothing about them."

"Do you believe what I say, Noah?" demanded Titus with a savage frown.

"I have no reason to doubt your statement."

"If you and your family want to make trouble over that statement, I
s'pose you can do so. You 'n' I don't agree on politics."

"We are not disposed to make trouble. If there should be any difficulty
it will come from your side of the house, Titus."

"You are an abolitionist, and folks on the right side in this county
have found it out. They don't believe in no Lincoln shriekers, and the
Union's already busted," said the Secessionist brother with a good deal
of vim; and in this, as in other matters, he believed the popular
sentiment was on the side he wished it to be.

"I voted for Lincoln, and I believe in the Union," added Noah quietly.

"Yes; and there is five hundred men in this county that would like to
drive you out of the State, and burn your house over your head!"
exclaimed Titus, becoming not a little excited. "I believe they'd done
it before this time if I hadn't stood in their way."

"Then I am very much obliged to you for your friendly influence. I was
not aware that I had been in any peril before," returned Noah with a
smile, which was suggestive of a doubt in his mind. "Do you think I am
in any danger from such an outrage as you suggest?"

"I know you are!" Titus belched out with something like fury in his
manner. "If it hadn't been for me they'd done it before now. You haven't
been a bit keerful in your doings. You've got up a Union meeting at the
Big Bend schoolhouse for to-morrow night; and if you go on with it, I'm
almost sure you will get cleaned out; and the folks on the right side
may come over here, after they have shut your mouths at the Bend, and
see whether your house will burn or not. I have done all I could to keep
our folks quiet, and advised them not to meddle with the meeting at the
schoolhouse; but if you keep on the way you're going, I won't be
responsible for what happens."

"Though I came from the North since you did, all the people I meet seem
to be very friendly to me," answered Noah, the smile still playing upon
his lips; a satirical smile which indicated that he did not believe more
than a very small fraction of what his brother had been saying.

He had no doubt that the gang with whom Titus and his sons associated
would do all and even more than he prophesied; but they did not form the
public sentiment of the county.

"You don't meet all nor a tenth part of the people, and you don't know
what is running in their heads," protested the Secessionist. "You and
your two boys keep on howling for the Union when the people round here
are all dead set agin it. What can you expect? Seven States is out of
the Union, and that busts the whole thing."

"I don't think a majority of the people about here are of your way of
thinking, Brother Titus; but if I am in danger of mob violence, as you
say I am, my house is my castle; I shall defend it as long as there is
anything left of me," added Noah, the same smile resting on his lips as
he uttered his strong words.

"Defend your house!" said Titus with a bitter sneer. "You hadn't better
do anything of the sort. If you show fight, the crowd will hang you to
one of them big trees. You ain't reasonable, Noah. Do you cal'late on
fighting the whole county?"

"We differ considerably in regard to the state of feeling in this
county. We are between two fires, and I think we had better not say
anything more on that subject."

"That's so; but one fire is an alfired sight hotter than t'other; and
that's the one that will burn up that big house of yourn."

"I shall defend my house, and I think I shall be able to hold my own.
But I am not an abolitionist any more than you are, Brother Titus,"
mildly suggested Noah.

"You shriek for the Union, and it's all the same thing among honest
folks down here," retorted the Secessionist.

"I hold about fifty slaves, and I had an idea that this made me a
slaveholder," said Noah lightly.

"Don't you own 'em?" demanded Titus violently; for this subject touched
upon one of his grievances. "I have done everything I could to save you
from any hard usage on the part of our folks in spite of the way you've
used me."

"I am not aware that I have used you badly, Brother Titus."

"You call me brother; but judging from your actions you ain't no brother
of mine."

"I should like to have you tell me in what manner I have wronged you,
Titus. I hear from others that I owe you five thousand dollars; but I am
not aware that I owe you a nickel," replied the planter, who had by this
time come to the conclusion that the quarrel his brother insisted upon
fomenting might as well be brought to a head then as at any other time.

Titus was silent for a moment, and resumed his seat on the bench, from
which he had risen a dozen times in his excitement as the interview
proceeded. He looked as though he was gathering up his thoughts in order
to present his argument, as he evidently intended it should be, in the
most forcible manner.

"If a man has two brothers, and one of them goes back on him, is that
any reason why the other should go back on him?" asked the dissatisfied
one with more coolness and dignity than he had before exhibited.

Mrs. Amelia, years before, had tried to reform his language, picked up
in the taverns and among coarse associates, and she had succeeded to
some extent. He could talk with a fair degree of correctness; but he had
two methods of expression, one of which he called his "Sunday lingo,"
used on state occasions, and his ordinary speech at home and among his
chosen associates, enlarged by the addition of some Southern words and
phrases. He began his argument in his best style, though he had never
been able to banish his use of the milder slang.

"Decidedly not," replied Noah very promptly. "On the contrary, he ought
to stand by the brother if he has been wronged."

"That is just exactly what you have not done, Noah Lyon!" exclaimed
Titus, springing from his seat again. "And Nathan said unto David, 'Thou
art the man!'"

"Which means that I am the man," answered Noah, his smile becoming
almost a laugh. "I didn't know, Brother Titus, that I was the David, and
I must ask you to explain."

"Dunk went back on me," continued the malcontent, recalling the name by
which the colonel was known on the farm in his boyhood.

"I was not aware that Dunk did any such a thing. I suppose you mean in
his will."

"That is just what I mean!" stormed Titus. "He gave you ten thousand
dollars more than he gave me; and that was not fair or right."

"But the will explains why he did so."

"On account of fetching up them two children! I wouldn't have brought in
any bill for taking care of my dead brother's children. I ain't one of
them sort!" protested Titus.

"But you refused to take one of them into your family when I proposed it
to you," suggested Noah very gently.

"Because my wife was sick at the time," said Titus, wincing at the
remark.

"You did not offer to take one of them afterwards. But I did not bring
in any bill; I never even mentioned the matter to the colonel when I
wrote to him. I boarded, clothed, and schooled them for ten years, and
paid all their doctor's bills."

"But Dunk gave you ten thousand dollars for it; and it wasn't right. He
spent a month with you in Derry not long before he died, and you
smoothed his fur in the right way," snarled Titus.

"But the children were not mentioned. I am sure it cost me a thousand
dollars a year to take care of the children; but I did not complain, and
never asked you or Dunk to pay a cent of the cost. The colonel made his
will to suit himself; and he never spoke or wrote of the matter to me."

"You got on the right side of him, and he cheated me out of what
rightfully belonged to me. I ain't talking about law, but about right.
Half of that ten thousand belongs to me, and you are keeping me out of
it."

"It was right for you and Dunk to pay as much for supporting the orphans
as I did. Then you and he owed me two-thirds of the sum bequeathed to
me. At compound interest that would amount to more than I receive under
the will. I will figure it up when I have time, and of course if you owe
me anything on this account, you will pay me."

This argument completely overwhelmed Titus; but Levi had concluded there
would be no violence, and dashed over the bridge on his fiery colt.



CHAPTER IX

A MOST UNREASONABLE BROTHER


Titus Lyon dropped into his seat once more when Levi approached. He
scowled at the manager as he swept by with a bow to his employer. He had
been talking very loud about what was fair and right, and he could not
deny that the expense of supporting the orphans ought to be divided
among the three brothers. According to Noah's calculation, the boot had
been transferred to the other leg, and he owed his brother something on
this account if the matter was to be equitably adjusted.

Titus could not gainsay the position of the planter, and he tried to
choke down his wrath; and just then he would have vented it upon the
innocent overseer if he had not flown like the wind across the bridge,
making the planks dance a hornpipe under the feet of his steed. As the
malcontent was silent for the want of an argument with which to combat
that of his brother, Noah went over the subject, and clinched the nail
he had driven in before.

"I'll look the thing over again when I go home, for I want to be fair
and right in everything I do," said Titus, after he had sought in vain
for an argument with which he could upset the theory of Noah. "I only
claimed that you owed me half of the ten thousand; I didn't ask for the
whole on't."

"You never asked for even half of it before; you only told others that I
owed you that sum," replied Noah.

"Well, I believed it."

"In that case neither you nor the colonel would pay anything towards the
support of the children for ten years, for the law would divide the
property equally between us," replied Noah. "I can't tell exactly how
the matter stands till I figure it up; but I think you will owe me
something if we settle it on the basis you suggest."

"I guess we'd better drop the subject till we have both looked it over
agin," added Titus, utterly disgusted with the result of the argument.
"I don't say that Dunk hadn't a right to dispose of his property as he
pleased; but jest s'pose'n he had left it all to me and gi'n you
nothin'--would that been right?"

"If he had had any reason for doing so, it would have been his right to
do so; but I should say I should not be in condition to be an impartial
judge in the matter," said Noah with a smile.

"Did he have any reason for treating me any wus than he did you?" asked
Titus sharply, as he sprang to his feet again. "Dunk wa'n't no
abolitionist, and went with the folks round here on politics. He 'n' I
agreed, and never had no dispute on these things."

"I don't think the colonel did treat you any worse than he did me. He
chose to pay for supporting the orphans, though I never asked him to do
so, or hinted at any such thing. We have talked that over, and nothing
more need be said about it now. I have indicated how that thing might be
fairly settled, and we will let it rest there."

"But I still say Dunk used me wus 'n he did you; and as a brother you
are in duty bound to set me right, as you said one of the same blood
should do."

"I don't understand you, Brother Titus; for I am not aware that the
colonel treated me any better in his will than he did you," replied
Noah, wondering what further complaint his brother could make.

"Didn't he give five thousand dollars to that cuss that just rid over
the bridge?" demanded Titus with a sort of triumphant tone and manner,
as though he had the planter where no argument could avail him. "That
was just the same as taking twenty-five hundred dollars out of my
pocket, as well as out of yours."

"But you don't bear in mind, my dear brother, that the colonel was
disposing of his own property, and not yours or mine," said Noah with a
pronounced laugh at the absurdity of the other's position.

"Don't go to dearin' me, Noah; it will be time enough for that sort of
thing when you've done me justice," snarled Titus.

"When I've done you justice!" exclaimed the planter, rising from his
seat again to vent his mirth. "I must do you justice because your
brother and mine gave Levi Bedford five thousand dollars! Must I pay you
twenty-five hundred dollars on this account?"

"I didn't say so."

"But you implied it; for you were trying to prove that the colonel used
me better than he did you. It seems to me that you ought to make your
claim on Levi, if anybody."

"You git ahead faster'n I do. I only meant to say that Dunk didn't use
me right when he gave his money to this mean whelp; but he treated you
as bad as he did me, Noah."

"I have no complaint whatever to make, and I am glad the colonel
remembered Levi handsomely; he deserved it, for he had always been a
useful and faithful overseer," added Noah very decidedly.

"Let that rest," said Titus when he found that he made no headway in the
direction he had chosen. "I s'pose you won't agree with me, but I say
Dunk ought to have left this place to me instid of you. I was his oldest
brother, and I have lived here eight years, and know all about the
plantation, while you never saw it till after Dunk was dead."

"I am inclined to think the colonel knew what he was about, and he made
his will to suit himself," answered Noah.

"I should think he made it to suit you. Of course I know it's law, but
it wa'n't right," growled Titus.

"If you think it was not right, why don't you contest the will, and have
it set aside?"

"Don't I say it was law; and I suppose it can't be helped now," and the
injured man tried to put on an air of resignation. "But I ain't done."

"I should say you had said enough; for there seems to be no foundation
for any of your complaints. I think the colonel meant to be fair and
just, and make an equal distribution of his property between you and me.
Taking out fifteen thousand dollars he gave to charity and his
friends"--

"That was giving away what belonged to you and me," interposed the
objector.

"You are as unreasonable as a pig in a cornfield, Brother Titus!"
exclaimed Noah, whose abundant patience was on the verge of exhaustion.
"Duncan was giving away his own property, and not yours or mine, as you
appear to think he was, especially yours; for I believe he did just
right. Taking out the fifteen thousand and the ten he paid for the
support of the orphans,--which I suppose you mean to have settled up in
another way,--there was seventy-five thousand dollars left, which he
divided equally among his brothers and the representatives of the one
who died over ten years ago. That is according to the valuation annexed
to the will."

"It's mighty strange, Noah, that you can't see nothin' when it's p'inted
out to you," stormed Titus, his wrath rising to the boiling point at his
repeated defeats; for, "though vanquished, he could argue still."

"I don't believe at all in your pointing, Brother Titus."

"You talk about that valuation; but it was a fraud, and it was meant to
cheat me out of eight or ten thousand dollars!" roared the malcontent,
gesticulating violently. "It ought to been thirty thousand dollars
more'n 'twas! I say it out loud; and I know what I'm talkin' about!"

"I don't think you do, Brother Titus. I think you had better stop
drinking whiskey for a week, and then we can talk this subject over more
satisfactorily."

"Do you mean to accuse me of bein' drunk, Noah Lyon?" demanded Titus,
shaking his fist in the face of his brother; and at this moment that
colt was dashing over the bridge at a dead run, with Levi on his back.

"I don't think you are drunk, Brother Titus, as tipplers understand the
word, but you are under the influence of liquor, and it affects your
judgment," replied Noah as gently as though he had been speaking in a
prayer-meeting.

"Then you mean that I _am_ drunk!"

[Illustration: "THEN YOU MEAN I AM DRUNK."]

Both of his fists were clinched, and he was shaking one in the face of
the planter, when the bay colt dashed in between them, Noah falling back
before the menacing demonstration of Titus. Levi had dismounted at the
end of the bridge, and seated himself in the arbor where he could still
see the two men. When Titus shook his fist in the face of the planter,
he leaped upon the colt as though he had been fifty pounds lighter, and
galloped to the scene of the wordy contest.

"What do you want here?" demanded the visitor, with a very unnecessary
expletive.

"What is it, Levi?" asked Noah.

"I didn't know but you might want me," replied the manager; but the
demonstrative person was his employer's brother, and he refrained from
using the strong language that came to his tongue's end.

"I don't want you for anything just now, Levi," replied the planter,
sorry that there should have been a witness to the stormy interview with
his brother; and he wondered if he had not been too plain-spoken, mild
and dignified as he had been.

"What do you mean, you scoundrel, by stickin' your nose in where you're
not wanted?" demanded Titus savagely, as he shook his fist, relieved
from duty before the planter, in the direction of the overseer.

Levi wheeled his horse so that he crowded the angry man out of his
place, and made him spring to keep out of the way of the fiery animal;
but he made no reply to the abuse cast upon him. Noah nodded his head in
the direction of the mansion, and the manager rode off, though it was
evident to his employer that he was itching to lay hands on the
turbulent visitor.

"I hate that villain!" gasped Titus.

"And he despises you as thoroughly as you hate him; so there is no love
lost. But I think you had better conduct yourself a little more
peaceably, Titus; for I do not like to have the people on the plantation
see that there is any difficulty between us, for we are brothers, I wish
you to remember. Perhaps we had better drop the subject where it is, for
it is almost suppertime," said Noah with the most conciliatory tone and
manner.

"Not jest yet," returned Titus warmly. "I said that valuation was a
fraud, meant to cheat me out of my rightful due; and you told me I was
drunk, which ain't no kind of an argument."

"I did not say that exactly; but if it was an argument for anything, it
was that we should talk this matter over some time when you had not
drunk anything."

"I drink something everyday; and I have a perfect right to do so."

"I don't dispute it."

"Dunk gave you all the niggers, and did not put them in the valuation.
Wasn't that cheating me out of my share of the thirty thousand they
would bring even in these shaky times?"

"I don't think it was. I repeat that the colonel had a perfect right,
just as good a right as you have to drink whiskey, though I don't do so,
to dispose of his property as he pleased," added Noah, looking down at
the planks of the bridge, and remaining for a minute in deep thought.

"That ain't no argument!" blustered Titus. "The law gives a man's
property to his brothers and sisters when he leaves no parents or
children; and every honest and just man does the same thing."

"I did not mean to say anything to anybody about the servants on the
place; but I feel obliged to speak to you about them so far as to tell
the facts relating to them," said Noah when he had come to this
conclusion.

"I cal'late you better speak out if you've got anything to say, or else
pay me over fifteen thousand dollars for my share in the value of them
niggers," replied Titus with a triumphant air, for he believed he had
gained a point.

"When I was at Colonel Cosgrove's house on the day of our arrival, he
handed me a letter, heavily sealed with red wax, from our deceased
brother. This letter contained another. I have both of these letters in
the safe in the library. Now, if you will go to the house with me, I
will show you both of these letters," continued the planter,
disregarding the tone and manner of his irate brother.

Titus was curious to know what the colonel had to say in defence of his
conduct, and he assented to the visit to the library. Noah produced the
two letters, handing the opened one to his brother, and showing the
heavily sealed one to him but not permitting it to pass out of his
hands. The malcontent read the opened one.

"Not to sell one of the niggers for five years!" he exclaimed when he
had finished it. "That is another outrage! And you are not to open that
other letter for the same time. Give it to me, Noah, and I will open it
now!"

"It shall not be opened till the five years have expired," answered the
planter firmly, as he returned both of the epistles to the safe and
locked the door of it.

Titus was more violent than ever, for he had been defeated in his last
and most promising stronghold, as he regarded it. He stormed like a
madman, and kept it up for nearly an hour. He made so much noise that
Mrs. Noah knocked at the door to learn what was the matter. At the same
time she called them to supper; but Titus was so angry that he rushed
out of the house, called for his team, and left with his wife at once.



CHAPTER X

THE SINK-CAVERN NEAR BAR CREEK


The supper at the mansion had waited till it was quite dark; and it was
evident to Mrs. Noah that the brothers were engaged in important
business, for they had been talking on the bridge all the afternoon, and
Titus spoke so loud in the library that he could be heard all over the
house, though he could not be understood. Something very exciting was
passing between them; Mrs. Noah thought it was politics, but Mrs. Titus
thought it was about "that story" she had repeated.

As the angry brother passed the door of the sitting-room he called his
wife out, and bolted from the house. Noah followed, and rang the stable
bell. Frank brought the team to the door; Titus pushed his suffering
wife into it, and drove off without the formality of saying good-night.
The planter ate his supper, and was as pleasant as usual, saying nothing
of the business which had brought Titus to Riverlawn.

"It seems that story about the arms and ammunition has no truth at all
in it," said Mrs. Noah.

"So Titus says," replied the husband.

"Meely was terribly excited about it, and said she ought not to have
said a word about it. She begged me not to let any one in the house say
anything about it to any one. Her husband abused her, and even struck
her, for what she had done."

"I did not know but he would strike me this afternoon. I suppose the
boys have had their supper," added Noah, looking over the table to their
vacant places.

"No, they have not; I haven't seen anything of them since they went from
dinner," answered Mrs. Lyon. "I wonder where they are?"

"They went up the creek together in one of the boats just after Titus
came, and I haven't seen or heard anything of them since," said Noah. "I
don't think they were going a-fishing. They have been gone about seven
hours now, and it is time they were at home. Did you see anything of
them, Levi?"

"I saw them rowing up the creek when I was riding up to the hill
pasture; but I haven't seen them since," replied the overseer.

"I hope nothing has happened to them," continued Mrs. Lyon, looking
quite anxious. "Perhaps the boat has been upset."

"I don't believe it did; but if it went over, both of the boys can swim
like ducks," replied the planter.

The conversation in regard to the absentees was continued till the meal
was finished, and all the party were very much troubled. Levi
volunteered to ride up the creek road and look for them; and just as he
was going to the stable, the absentees came into the house.

"Where in the world have you been, boys?" demanded Mrs. Lyon, delighted
to find they were safe.

"We have been exploring the creek, and we have been a good ways up, as
far as the rocky hills," replied Deck, as he seated himself at the
table; and Diana went for the waffles she had kept hot for them.

"Did you catch any fish?" asked Levi.

"Not a fish; we did not put a line into the water."

They had no narrative to relate, or if they had they did not relate it,
though they were questioned for some time, and they told what they had
seen, or a portion of it.

"While you are here, boys, I want to tell you that your Aunt Amelia has
been at the house all the afternoon," said Mrs. Lyon. "She came to take
back that story she told me this morning in her own house about the arms
and ammunition. She misunderstood your uncle, and there is not a word of
truth in it. So you will understand, all of you, that not a word is to
be said about it out of the house."

"Not a word of truth in it!" exclaimed Deck; and Artie dropped his hot
waffle in astonishment, or under the influence of some other emotion.

"Your aunt says there are no arms hidden on the river, or anywhere else.
You mustn't say a word about the matter, and I have cautioned all in the
house not to whisper a sound of it," added Mrs. Lyon.

Deck looked at Artie, and Artie looked at Deck. A significant smile
passed between them, but they said nothing. As soon as they had finished
their supper they followed the planter into his library, which had been
lighted before. It was an important conference which followed there, and
it must be left in progress in order to return to the boat in which the
boys were pursuing their adventure on the creek.

Artie had the floor on the boat, and he had just recalled the time when
Noah had spoken to him about being out so late the night before. Deck
remembered it very well, and also that his cousin had evaded an adequate
explanation of his absence from the house when he ought to have been in
bed.

"You never explained why you were out so late that night," said he.

"I wanted to look into the matter a little more before I said anything,
for I didn't care to make a fool of myself," replied Artie.

"You have a habit of keeping your mouth shut pretty tight," said Deck
with a smile.

"I don't believe in talking too much about things you don't understand,
and I meant to have looked into the matter before this time, but somehow
I haven't had the chance to do so," replied Artie, still pulling his
oar. "I'm going to tell you about my night adventure now, and you can
judge for yourself whether we are going on a wild-goose chase up the
creek."

"All right; and I will keep my oar moving all the time, so that we shall
be getting ahead while I listen," replied Deck.

"I was in the canoe, and I had gone farther up the creek than I had ever
been before," Artie began. "You have been up the road that leads to
Dripping Spring and the Mammouth Cave. It crosses the railroad about
five miles before you get to the spring, and the creek flows within a
quarter of a mile of this place."

"I remember the place very well; for Levi stopped his team there to let
the girls get out and pick some flowers. I could see the creek from this
spot," added Deck.

"Then you know the place. I had been up the creek three or four miles
farther, and I was on my way home. I had been ashore just abreast of
Dripping Spring, and I got interested in looking over a sink,--I believe
that is what they call these holes in the ground down here,--and the sun
went down before I thought how late it was getting. But I found the hole
led into a cave; but it was too dark for me to explore it. I made a note
of it, to bring a lantern up and survey the cavern when I had plenty of
time to do so."

"That will be a good job for both of us some time," suggested Deck.

"I couldn't tell how far I was from home, but I knew it was a long
distance, and I made tracks for the canoe as soon as I saw that it was
getting dark. I hurried up till my arms ached so that I had to stop and
rest. I made up my mind that I must take it moderately or I never should
get home.

"While I was resting I saw three lights off to the south of me, and then
I knew I was near that road. I could make out about half a dozen men or
boys there, and I watched them for some time. I concluded that they were
up to some mischief, and in my interest I forgot how late it was
getting. I was possessed to know what iniquity was going on there, and I
hauled the canoe up to the shore and made the painter fast to a bush. I
landed, and made my way as near to the road as I dared to go. The ground
was low, and covered with clumps of bushes, so I had no difficulty in
hiding myself till I was within twenty feet of the party.

"I could hear every word they said; and the man who was bossing the job,
whatever it was, satisfied me that he was Uncle Titus."

"Uncle Titus!" exclaimed Deck, ceasing to row in his astonishment.

"Not the least doubt of it; and more than this, I soon recognized the
tones of Sandy and Orly; but I don't know who the other three were."

"But what were they doing?" asked Deck, absorbed in the narrative.

"You have stopped rowing, Deck, and we shall never get there at this
rate."

The stroke oarsman turned his body so that he could change hands at the
handle of the oar, and then resumed pulling.

"Well, this was an adventure; but you didn't tell me what they were
doing," added Deck.

"I will tell you all about it, but don't stop rowing, or we shall not
get home before midnight, and father will give us a lecture for being
out late at night. The men were handling a lot of boxes. Some of them
were long enough to hold coffins, and I wondered if they hadn't been
killing Union men, and were getting rid of the bodies. Then they brought
out a lot of haypoles or hand-barrows from the two big wagons in the
road. I saw them put one of the boxes on the poles or barrow, and move
towards the creek. I thought it was about time for me to be leaving, for
I believed they would kill me if they caught me."

"They wouldn't have let you off with a whole skin, anyhow," said Deck.
"Do you suppose the boxes contained bodies, Artie?"

"Hold on till I come to it, and I will tell you all about it," replied
the narrator rather impatiently. "I wasn't safe where I was, and I crept
back to the creek between the clumps of bushes without making a bit of
noise on the soft ground. The box the first couple carried was heavy and
the bushes were in their way, so that they could not get along very
fast. As soon as I was out of hearing of the party, I ran with all my
might."

"I don't blame you for being in a hurry, for if Uncle Titus had got hold
of you he would have made you see more stars then were in the sky just
then. I wonder if they had been killing Union men. The Seceshers have
done that thing in this State. A Union man was murdered in his own house
not far from here."

"Dry up, Deck, or I shall never get through with my story!" exclaimed
Artie, who did not relish these repeated interruptions.

"Go on, Artie; I won't say another word," Deck promptly promised.

"I reached the creek, and cast off the canoe. I crossed over to the
other side, and pulled down stream; for I knew that the two with the box
could not be near the shore. I kept on towards home, but I was careful
not to make any noise with my oars. Just below I saw a big flatboat,
like the gundalow they used to have on the river to carry hay from the
meadows. I drove the canoe into some bushes, and waited. The two men
brought that long box to the shore, and loaded it into the flatboat,
which was big enough to carry six cords of wood.

"The next load was brought by four men; and I could see by the way they
handled it that it was very heavy. I stopped till they had brought down
two more boxes, and then I thought it was time for me to be going. When
the party had all left the shore I rowed along by the bushes that
overhang the creek till I got round the bend. I didn't wait to see any
more, but rowed as fast as I could; and when I got to the pier I was so
tired I could hardly stand up. That is the end of the story, Deck, and
you know as much about the affair as I do; and I will answer all of your
questions as well as I can."

"You did not find out anything for certain?" added the listener,
disappointed because his cousin had not ascertained what was in the
boxes.

"I did not; but I have been able to guess at some things; and that is
the privilege of a New England Yankee."

"Well, what do you guess was in those boxes?"

"I didn't guess on that question at the time of it; but I was satisfied
that they concealed some sort of iniquity."

"What do you suppose they were putting them in the boat for?"

"Not to take them down the river, for they would have carried them to
some place on its banks if they had wanted to do that. They wanted to
take them up the creek, and this was the nearest point to it."

"What did they want to do with the boxes? Oh, I know! They were going to
sink the bodies in the creek!" exclaimed Deck.

"That would have been a good enough guess a fortnight ago; but it isn't
worth shucks now. I told you before that I could explain things better
this afternoon than I could when I saw what the men were doing."

"How is that?" asked Deck with his mouth half open.

"The moment mother told that story from Aunt Amelia, I knew what was in
the boxes; and they did not contain bodies, either."

"Oh, I see! They contained the arms and ammunition."

"A blind man could see that."

"Well, that was an adventure. You mean that they were going to put them
in the cavern by the sink?"

"Precisely that, and nothing less; and now we are going up to the sink
to see for ourselves what is in the boxes," replied Artie.

They had a long pull before them; but they reached the place by five
o'clock, and explored the cavern. They found the boxes and two cannons
with their carriages. They could not open the boxes for the want of any
tools; but the labels assured them they contained muskets and revolvers.
They hastened down the creek; but it was eight o'clock when they reached
the mansion.



CHAPTER XI

AROUSED TO THE SOLEMN DUTY OF THE HOUR


It was more than two hours after suppertime when Deck and Artie arrived.
They were very tired and very hungry after their long pull up the creek;
but they felt better after they had taken a hearty supper. Deck sought
the first opportunity to detail the operations of the afternoon to his
father.

"Your Uncle Titus has been here this afternoon, and I have had a long
talk with him on the bridge; but his first business here was to disclaim
any knowledge of the arms and ammunition concealed on the river," said
Mr. Lyon, before the boys had an opportunity to open with the story of
their adventure. "He says your Aunt Amelia understood him with her
elbows, and it was a ridiculous story she told your mother without a
word of truth in it."

"Without a word of truth in it," repeated Deck, who was more inclined
than Artie to do the talking, though the latter was fluent enough of
speech when the occasion required it.

The boys looked at each other; and they did something more than smile
this time, for they laughed out loud. In view of the revelation they had
to make, the affair became more exciting; but after the discovery they
had made, they did not wonder that Titus had been so earnest in his
purpose to contradict the statement their aunt had made.

"What are you laughing at, boys?" interposed their father. "This is a
serious matter as your uncle looks upon it; and I suppose such a rumor
circulated about the county might get him and his sons into trouble. The
Unionists regard the Home Guards as precisely the same as Secessionists,
and believe that they are armed, so far as they are armed, to help along
the cause of the South."

"I should say that Uncle Titus might be a little shaken up about the
story Aunt Amelia related," added Artie with a significant look at his
cousin.

"I don't know but the Union people would mob him if they believed he had
obtained arms for any Home Guards, especially for such ruffians as they
say he has been gathering together for his company," said Mr. Lyon. "I
have cautioned all who heard the story not to mention or hint at it in
the strongest manner; for of course I don't want to get your uncle into
trouble by repeating a false rumor."

"Suppose he gets himself into trouble?" suggested Deck. "He is an
out-and-out Secesher, and he don't make any bones of saying so out loud.
Sandy thinks they will break up the Union meeting at the schoolhouse
to-morrow night."

"Titus says he has done his best to prevent anything of the kind being
done," replied Mr. Lynn. "He thinks I should be mobbed and this house
burned over our heads if he did not use his influence to prevent it. But
your uncle believes what he wants to believe, and is certain a vast
majority of the people of the county are Secessionists. I am very well
satisfied that they are at least about equally divided. At any rate, the
Secessionists are doing their best to overawe the Union people, and they
might succeed to some extent if they could arm the villains they have
enrolled."

"Then it is better not to let them be armed," suggested Deck, with a
glance at his cousin.

"The story your mother told at dinner made it look as though they were
to be provided with weapons and ammunition at once; but the statement is
not true, and we appear to be safe for the present," said Mr. Lyon. "But
where have you been all the afternoon, boys?"

"Deck will tell the story, father," replied Artie.

"You led off in this business, Artie, and I think you had better tell
it," said Deck, though he was ready enough to relate the adventure.

"We will both tell it, then," added Artie. "I will begin and go as far
as where you joined me this afternoon at the bridge, and you shall tell
the rest of it."

"All right; fire away, Artie."

In accordance with this arrangement, the boys minutely narrated the
events of the afternoon, to the great astonishment and indignation of
Mr. Lyon. He occasionally interrupted his son to ask questions in regard
to the boxes they had examined in the cavern. The boys described the
cases, with the marks upon them, and the listener had no doubt they
contained arms and ammunition. The two carriages for the field-pieces
were the only portion of the warlike material not contained in boxes;
and these were almost evidence enough to determine the character of the
rest of the goods.

"Were the boxes all of the same kind?" asked the father, deeply
interested, and not a little disturbed by the revelation of the evening.

"They were not the same," replied Deck, taking a paper from his pocket,
on which he had written down a list of the cases. "The lid of one of the
two in which the cannon were boxed up had been split off in part, so
that we could see what was in it. Twelve cases were labelled
'Breech-loading Rifles,' and the rest of the lot were marked with the
kind of ammunition they contained. The smallest of them had cannon-balls
and grape in them."

"There isn't any doubt about the matter now," replied Mr. Lyon. "This
means war; and I have no doubt they are to be used in this county by
your uncle's cut-throats; for that is what they are according to what
Colonel Cosgrove said to me the other day. This is bad business," and
the planter gazed at the floor, his wrinkled brow indicating the deep
thought in which he was engaged.

"Sandy says the company of Home Guards is about full, and I suppose they
will not leave the arms and ammunition in the cavern for any great
length of time," suggested Deck.

"Something must be done," said Mr. Lyon. "If that company get these
weapons they will terrorize the whole county. There are some very strong
Unionists in this vicinity. Colonel Cosgrove told me they had threatened
to burn his house, though he is a very conservative man. He was in favor
of neutrality; but he admits that the Home Guards in this county are
about all Secessionists. Your Uncle Titus says I am looked upon as an
abolitionist, and if it had not been for him they would have 'cleaned me
out,' as he called it, before this time. It is time something was done,"
and the planter relapsed into a revery again.

The boys were silent. Fort Sumter had been bombarded, and its heroic
garrison had marched out with the honors of war. The country was in a
state of war. The call of the President for seventy-five thousand men
had been made. Northern soldiers were marching South for the protection
of Washington. Flags were flying, drums were beating, trumpets were
blaring, and troops were organizing all over the loyal nation.

In Kentucky men were enlisting in both armies, though the majority of
them clung to the flag of the Union, inspired by the traditions of the
State. But large portions of it were subjected to a reign of terror. One
party was struggling to carry the State out of the Union, and the other
to keep it in the Union. The county in which Noah Lyon and his family
were located was even more shaken by these discordant elements than most
of the others; for it was not more than thirty miles from the southern
boundary of the State.

"It almost breaks my heart to have my only living brother associated
with, and even leading, these conspirators against the Union," Mr. Lyon
resumed, as he wiped some tears from his eyes. "But when it comes to the
defence of the old flag under which we have become the most enlightened
and prosperous nation in the world, no true man can favor even his
brother when he plots to ruin it. Something must be done!" he repeated
with energy as he rose to his feet, and emphasized his remark with a
vigorous stamp of his foot.

"What shall be done, father?" asked Deck, awed by the manner and the
tears of his father; and he had never been so moved before in his life.

"We must defend the old flag, my boys! We must rally with those who are
marching to the defence of the Union! The time for talking has gone by,
and the time for action has come. I have not passed the military age,
and I shall not shirk the plain duty of the citizen, which is to become
a soldier," replied Mr. Lyon impressively.

"Do you mean to say that you shall join the army, father?" asked Deck.

"Certainly; what else can I do at a time like this?" replied the father.
"And that is not all, my son; you and Artemas are now sixteen years old,
nearly seventeen. You are both stout boys; and not only the sire, but
the sons, must shoulder the musket and march to the battle-field."

"I am ready for one!" exclaimed Deck with enthusiasm.

"I am ready for the other!" added Artie quite as earnestly.

"For some time I have seen that this was what we must come to; but I
have put off saying anything about it, for it is a solemn and even an
awful thing to engage in the strife of civil war, brother against
brother, the son against his father, and the father against his son."

"In our own family, we shall all be on the same side," added Deck.

"But your uncle and his two sons will be with the enemies of the Union.
It is not of our choosing, and God will be with us while we do our duty
to our country," said the patriot father, as he solemnly lifted his eyes
upward. "Now, my sons, for you both call me father, and I have always
tried to be the same to both of you"--

"And you always have been! And Aunt Ruth has been a mother to me and my
sister Dorcas!" interposed Artie, as he wiped the tears from his eyes.
"I shall never again call either of you anything but father or mother. I
am ready to enlist whenever you say the word, father."

"You are honest and true, and that is the kind of man you will make, my
son; and I can say the same of Dexter. You will both make good
soldiers."

Both the father and the sons shed tears as they realized, as they never
had before, the solemn duty which the peril of the Union imposed upon
them; and they were inspired to do that duty to the last drop of their
life-blood.

"There, boys! I did not intend to make a scene like this; but the
finding of the arms and ammunition convinces me that your Uncle Titus
and his villanous associates mean to make war upon loyal men in this
county. When you join the ranks of the Union army, you will find them
all in the columns of the enemy. You have done good service to our cause
in the discovery and ferreting out of this conspiracy against the true
men of this locality."

"It was all by accident that I found out about it," added Artie
modestly.

"I hope you will forgive me for scolding at you for being out so late
that night," said Mr. Lyon.

"You didn't scold me; you only gave me some good advice, and I hope I
shall always remember it. But I did not know then what I had discovered,
or where they were storing the arms."

"You did exceedingly well, whether you knew what you were doing or not.
Now it is driven into my very soul that I ought not to let the enemy
profit by obtaining those arms. I have made up my mind that it would be
treason, or next door to it, for me to let Titus and his gang have all
these weapons; and with the blessing of God they never shall have them!"

"That is the talk, father!" exclaimed Deck.

"So say we all of us!" Artie chimed in. "But what can we do?"

"Before the light of to-morrow morning breaks upon Riverlawn, we must
move all those boxes to the plantation," replied Mr. Lyon; and he
proceeded to discuss the means by which this purpose could be
accomplished.

"We have teams enough to haul the whole of them over here at one load,"
said Deck, boiling over with enthusiasm.

"Keep cool, my son, for we must be very prudent in our movements. Do you
know what became of the flatboat with which the conspirators moved the
cases up to the cavern?"

"Artie thought of that; and we found the gundalow in a little inlet at
the mouth of a brook, covered up with bushes."

"Then we may use that," replied the planter. "But I am in doubt about
one thing which may bother us."

"What's that, father?" asked Deck, who could not think of any impediment
to the carrying out of the plan announced by his father.

"I don't know that we can depend upon every person about the plantation.
A single one opposed to our scheme could ruin it. He might go to the
village and tell Titus, or some of his fellow-conspirators, what we were
about, and interfere with us before we got back."

"No one here would do such a thing," protested Deck. "All the servants
believe in you."

"I was thinking of Levi Bedford."

"Levi!" exclaimed both of the loyal boys together.

"I have never spoken a word to him about politics, or he to me.
Absolutely all I know about him is that he is a Tennesseean. But we must
settle this point on the instant; you may go and find him, Dexter, and
ask him to come into the library."

Deck left the room. He found the overseer in the sitting-room with the
family, and he returned with him a minute later.



CHAPTER XII

THE NIGHT EXPEDITION IN THE MAGNOLIA


Levi Bedford walked into the library not a little excited with
curiosity; for Titus Lyon had spent the whole afternoon on the bridge
with the planter, who had been closeted with the two boys for some time.
It was evident to him that something unusual had occurred. Noah was
seated in a great arm-chair which usually faced his desk, but he had
turned it around. The overseer walked up to this chair, and planted
himself in front of it with a respectful look of inquiry on his round
face.

"I am in doubt, Levi, and I have sent for you," Mr. Lyon began. "As you
are aware, I have never talked politics with you, and have not known to
which party you belong."

"I don't belong to any party," replied Levi with a very broad smile on
his face. "My party is the plantation and the family. I look out for
them, and I don't bother my head much about anything else."

"I suppose you have relatives in Tennessee?" suggested the planter.

"Second or third cousins very likely; but I don't know anything about
them, and I don't lie awake nights thinking of them. My father died
before I was twenty-one; I had no sisters, and my only brother went to
California twenty years ago, and I haven't heard from him in ten years."

"I don't mean to meddle with your affairs, Levi, but the time has come
when every man, must declare himself."

"I should think it had, Mr. Lyon; and this afternoon I thought I was
going to have a chance to strike for your side of the house. I was ready
to do it, for two or three times I thought you were in peril. I don't
know what you were talking about, only it was something very stirring,"
replied Levi with his usual smile.

"I don't think I was in any danger, but I am very much obliged to you
for looking out for me. Now things have come to such a pass that I must
put a direct question to you: Are you a Union man or a Secessionist?"

"I am a Union man now from the crown of my foot to the sole of my head,"
laughed Levi. "But it wouldn't be anything more than honest and square,
Major Lyon, for me to say that I haven't been so many months. Colonel
Lyon was a Union man; but he didn't have it half as bad as you have it.
Some of his neighbors thought he was too tender with his people; but he
and Colonel Cosgrove were pretty well matched on politics."

"He is a strong Union man, though he is in favor of neutrality if it can
be carried out, which is utterly impossible," added the planter.

"About the only thing in the row that set me to thinking and made me mad
was that such a set of reckless scallawags have run the machine on the
other side. There is hardly a man of any standing among them. I know
that your brother, who is nothing but a Northern doughface, is one of
the principal leaders among them, and--"

"We haven't any time to talk about this matter now, Levi," interposed
Noah Lyon, looking at his watch. "I see that you are all right, for you
are a Union man, and you do not approve the course of the violent party
in this county, and the time has come for the boys and me to do
something."

The planter proceeded in rather hurried speech to state the situation,
and to describe the discovery the boys had made that afternoon. The
overseer evidently had a very strong desire to express his mind in
regard to Titus Lyon; but with great effort he restrained himself, and
listened almost in silence to the narrative of the speaker.

"I am with you in this matter, Major Lyon, on its merits, though I like
to be on your side; but these ruffians who are trying to make civil war
in the State of Kentucky must be checked," he replied, when the planter
had hurried through his statement. "I am sorry that brother of yours
used any of the money the colonel left him to buy arms and ammunition to
help drag the State out of the Union. I will work day and night to
euchre him and the rest of them."

"You are just the right man in the right place, Levi Bedford!" exclaimed
Mr. Lyon. "We have no time now to decide what we will do with these
warlike implements, only to get possession of them. It is quarter-past
nine now, and I have my plan for the beginning. While we are carrying it
out we can settle what is to be done with the arms."

"I know just where that sink-hole and cavern are, and all we have to do
to get there is to follow the creek," added the manager.

"The flatboat is near the place, and we can move the boxes in that, as
the conspirators conveyed them from the road," replied Mr. Lyon. "But
there are only four of us, two men and two boys. The cannons must weigh
six or seven hundred pounds apiece, and we shall want more help."

"Well, we have help enough, and we can take a dozen of the people with
us, if we want as many as that," added Levi. "I know something about
these things, for when I kept stable in my State I used to belong to an
artillery company."

"Can the negroes be trusted? We must keep our operations a profound
secret."

"In this business you can trust them a great deal farther than you can a
white man," said the overseer, as he took a piece of paper from the desk
and wrote down the names of some of the hands. "How many do you want,
Major Lyon?"

"Half a dozen; we can't accommodate more than that. Put in the boatmen,
for there is a deal of boating to be done."

Levi revised his list and then handed it to the planter.

"General, Dummy, Rosebud, Woolly, Mose, Faraway," Mr. Lyon read from the
list. "I should say you had picked out just the men we need. They are
all used to the boats, and they are among the toughest and strongest
hands on the place. Yon must put them under oath, if need be, to be as
secret as death itself. I will leave all that to you. Now, have them at
the lower boat pier just as soon as possible, and we will be there."

"I will have them there in fifteen minutes," replied Levi, as he
hastened to execute his mission.

"Now, boys, go to the pier, and get the Magnolia in condition to go up
the creek," continued Mr. Lyon.

"The Magnolia!" exclaimed Deck. "Why, she--"

"We have no time to argue any question, Dexter," interposed the father.
"Take your overcoats; and you are to be as secret as the rest of us. Ask
your mother to come into the library, but don't stop to talk, my son."

The boys left the room, and Mrs. Lyon immediately presented herself in
the library.

"What in the world is going on here to-night, Noah?" asked the good
woman. "Ever since the boys came in you have been closeted in here as if
you were planning something."

"So we are, Ruth, for the boys made a great discovery on their trip up
the creek," answered the planter hurriedly. "That story about the arms
and ammunition which Titus and Amelia came down here to disclaim and
deny was all as true as gospel, for the boys have found them."

In five minutes more Mr. Lyon told his wife all that it was necessary
for her to know, and charged her to be secret and silent. She seemed to
be alarmed; but he assured her that there was no danger in the
enterprise in which they were to engage. It was absolutely necessary
that the arms and munitions should be removed beyond the reach of the
conspirators. He asked her to bring him three lanterns without letting
any one see them, which she did at once. With these in his hands, the
planter left the house without going into the sitting-room.

Deck and Artie reached the boat-pier without speaking a word, and they
ran half the way. The Magnolia was moored out in the creek; and taking
the canoe, which was used as her tender when the sailboat was in
service, as it had not been since the death of the colonel, she was
towed alongside the pier. They went to work baling her out, of which she
was in great need, though she had been well cared for in her idleness by
the boatmen of the place.

The Magnolia had not been built for a sailboat. Site was long and narrow
for her length, about thirty feet, and was provided with rowlocks for
six oars. Before they had finished baling her out the General and Dummy
reached the wharf. They were great strapping negroes, fully six feet
tall, and the weight of each could not have been much below two hundred
pounds, though they were not of aldermanic build.

When they saw what the boys were doing,--for Levi had not given them
even a hint as to the nature of the service in which they were to be
employed,--they seized the buckets, and soon cleared the well of water.
Levi was the next to put in an appearance, just as Deck was telling the
two men to take the mast out of her, an order which the manager
countermanded.

"We may want the mast and sail," interposed Levi; "for the wind is fresh
from the south-west to-night, and I don't believe in doing any more work
with the oars than is necessary."

"But we have no boatman, and none of us know how to manage the sail,"
argued Deck. "It would be a bad time to get upset, and we have no time
to indulge in fooling, Levi."

"The mast and sail are not in the way in the boat. I am no boatman, and
I never tried to handle the Magnolia, for the colonel was the only
person on the place who ever learned the trick of doing that; but I
often sailed in her up and down the river, and I used to think I could
do it if I tried," replied the manager, as the other four negroes came
upon the pier.

"Oh, well, if you can handle her with a sail, that's another thing,"
answered Deck, yielding the point.

"Here, Rosebud, unlock the boathouse, and bring out six oars, the
biggest ones, and all the boathooks you can find," said Levi, as he
looked the boat over.

No one said a word about the mission upon which they were to embark,
leaving the planter to do all the talking when he came. General and
Dummy were the biggest of the six men who had been selected; but the
other four were stalwart fellows. Their names were rather odd, the
family thought when they first heard them; but not one of them bore the
one his mother had given him in his babyhood, for the colonel had
rechristened the whole of them on the plantation to suit his own fancy.

Some circumstance, or something in their appearance, had doubtless
suggested the names; but after they were given they clung to their
owners as though they had been recorded in a church. The General was a
quick-witted fellow, which inclined him to take the lead when anything
was to be done. Woolly had a tremendous mop of hair on his head. Dummy
was a preacher in the shanty which served as a church at the Big Bend;
and perhaps because he was always studying his sermons, he never spoke a
word unless the occasion required it; but Levi, who had heard him
preach, said he could talk fast enough in his pulpit, and delivered a
more sensible sermon than some white clergymen to whom he had listened.

Rosebud, like the overseer, always had a smile on his face, and could
hardly do or say anything without laughing. Mose did not swear
profanely, but "by Moses;" and everything was as true, as high, as big,
as handsome, as "Moses in de bulrushes." "Faraway" had been a pet word
with the one to whom the planter had given this name. They were all
reliable servants, and were devoted to their past and present masters.
No king, prince, or potentate had ever been as big a man in their
estimation as the colonel; and they had transferred this homage to the
"major," as they were inclined to call Mr. Lyon after they heard the
overseer use this title.

Levi placed the men in the boat, each with his oar, and then headed it
up the creek. The boys took their places in the stern-sheets, and the
overseer handled the tiller lines. These arrangements were no sooner
completed than the planter appeared, and took his place with the boys.
The rowers were sitting with the oars upright; for the General, who was
the stroke oarsman, had learned either from pictures in the illustrated
papers their former master used to give the hands when he had done with
them, or from some person more experienced than himself, some of the
forms used in boating.

"Drop your oars!" said Levi, and they all fell into the water together.

"Ought to say 'let fall,' Mars'r Levi," added General.

"No talk, General. Now gather up, and pull away!" continued Levi.

General would have given him the proper form, "Give way!" but Levi was
not in the humor to be instructed, and the rower said no more. The men
pulled their oars with a will, and the implements bent under their
vigorous stroke. The planter had run all the way from the mansion, and
was out of breath, so he was silent for a time.



CHAPTER XIII

AT THE HEAD WATERS OF BAR CREEK


It was quite dark when the Magnolia went out from the pier, though it
was a starlight night. The crew pulled very well, for the colonel had
taken no little pride in the appearance of his boat on the river. Before
his health was impaired he occasionally went to the county town by
water; for it was on a branch of the river, and was full thirty miles
distant by the winding streams.

The crew were powerful men, and had had plenty of practice in former
years. But the present planter preferred the vehicles, drawn by fine
horses, and the boys used the smaller boats, so the Magnolia had not
been manned under the new order of things. Under the vigorous stroke of
the negroes she soon passed under the bridge, and headed up the creek.

"We are fairly started, and this boat seems to be making at least five
miles an hour," said the planter, when he had fully recovered his
breath.

"More than that, I should say, Major Lyon. I don't believe the hands can
keep up this gait all the way; but we shall get to the sink about
midnight," replied Levi.

"I don't know that there is anything to apprehend in the way of danger,"
added Mr. Lyon.

"I don't know whether there is or not; but I put my revolver and a box
of cartridges into my pocket."

"I never owned a pistol of any kind, and have hardly fired a gun since I
was a boy; but in the storeroom out of the library I found some very
nice weapons,--a double-barrelled rifle and a fowling-piece."

"The colonel had two revolvers; and they must be somewhere about the
library. A few years ago some horse-thieves were in this vicinity, and
we kept a watch on the place every night for a couple of weeks," said
Levi.

"If Uncle Titus put five thousand dollars into these guns and pistols, I
should think he would be apt to keep a watch over them," suggested Deck.

"A watch would not amount to anything unless he put as many as half a
dozen men on it," answered Levi. "But I think he depends upon the
secrecy of his movements and the safety of the cavern for the security
of the arms. He put the things away in the night, and I don't believe
anybody ever goes over the spring road in the darkness. If he put a
watch anywhere he would station it on that road at the place where they
shifted the boxes from the wagon to the flatboat. But I reckon we can
take care of the watch if there is any there."

"But the road is about a quarter of a mile from the creek," said Deck.

"All of that; and we may pass the place without much of any noise, and
no one on the road would be likely to hear us," replied Levi.

"I don't think the watch, if there is one, will give us any trouble, for
if they hear us, we can keep out of their way; and I don't think they
would have any boat in the creek," added the planter. "Your revolver
will keep them at a proper distance when we reach the cavern."

"I found a shingling hatchet in the boathouse, and I brought that along
with me," said Artie.

"Are you going to fight with that?" asked Deck.

"Not exactly that; but we couldn't open one of the boxes this afternoon
for the want of a tool, and we can do so with this hatchet; then we
shall have all the muskets, revolvers, and cartridges we can use,"
replied Artie.

"That is a good scheme, my boy," added Levi approvingly. "But I don't
believe we shall have to do any fighting. If the conspirators have set a
watch, it must be in the road; and I reckon we shall clean out the
cavern before they can get there."

"We won't fight any battles before we get there," interposed the
planter. "We have always been peaceable people, but I suppose we must
get used to fighting, for we are going to have a terrible war; and I
don't believe in Mr. Seward's prediction that it will all be over in a
hundred days. I am ready to become a soldier, Levi, and so are the boys,
in defence of the Union."

"I suppose I ought to do the same," added the overseer; "but I had not
thought of it."

"You are fifty years old, and you will not be called upon to go into the
army, Levi," replied Mr. Lyon.

"But I am ready to do my share of the fighting; and if I am over fifty,
I reckon I am as tough and hearty as any of them that will shoulder a
musket," said the overseer; and those near him could hear his chuckle,
though they could not see his smile.

"I hope you will not go to the war, my friend," continued Mr. Lyon in a
very serious tone. "I am only forty-two, and I believe it is not only my
duty to send my boys into the army, but to go myself. I have thought a
great deal of this subject within the last month, though I haven't said
much. I believe a man's first duty is to his family, and I should hate
to go off into the army, and leave my wife and the girls here; for I
believe whoever stays in Barcreek will see some fighting here."

"And see some before a great while," added Levi. "Everything is boiling
round here, and it will boil over before long. These Secession ruffians
are not going to keep the peace much longer. They are itching to begin
the work of driving the Union men into their cub pasture."

"That is my own opinion; and that is my only dread in joining the army.
But I have comforted myself with the belief that Levi Bedford was over
fifty, and he would remain on the plantation and take care of my
family."

"I am very much obliged to you, Major Lyon, for the confidence you put
in me, and I can assure you it shall not be abused," returned the
manager, with more gravity in his tone and manner than usual. "If by
staying here I can keep three good Union soldiers in the field, perhaps
that will be doing my fair share of the work."

"We will talk this matter at another time, Levi; and I will only say I
could not have found a man more to my mind to take charge of the
plantation and the women-folks if I had hunted for him all over the
nation."

"That's handsome, Major; and you may wager your life and all you have in
the world that I will never go back on you or your family," protested
the overseer warmly.

"We understand each other perfectly, Levi. But there is a more pressing
question than that before the house just now," said Mr. Lyon, as he took
Levi's offered hand, and gave it an earnest grasp. "What are we to do
with all these arms and ammunition when we get them down to Riverlawn?"

"I haven't had much time to think of that; but I had an idea come across
my head as I was running from the house down to the boat-pier. I passed
by the ice-house, and it jumped into my noddle that it would make a good
arsenal; but I haven't worked up the idea yet," replied the manager.

"That is a happy thought!" exclaimed the planter. "It never occurred to
me. It is in just the right place; for my brother has given me warning
that I was in danger of being mobbed as an abolitionist, and that
nothing but his influence has prevented it from being done before."

"It is hard work for me to believe that doughface is a brother of yours
and the late colonel; but if he dared to show his face in it, he would
be the first man to get up such a demonstration. Excuse me, Major, if I
am talking too plainly," said Levi, who had little patience with, or
toleration for, Titus Lyon. "He may send his company of Home Guards over
to clean out the mansion, but he won't come himself, for he is a poison
snake."

"Perhaps you know my brother as he has developed himself in this
locality better than I do, though he has even shown his fangs, under a
mask, to me; but I shall keep the peace with him," replied Mr. Lyon very
sadly.

"If he attempts anything of that sort, or any other border-ruffians do,
I believe we can make them wish they had stayed at home," said Levi
stoutly.

"We can make the ice-house into a fortress for the protection of the
mansion," continued the planter. "It is near the creek, and commands the
bridge and the road leading to it, which is the only practicable
approach to the mansion. The swamp half a mile back of the house lies
between the spring road and the creek, and extends all the way to the
hills, not less than ten miles by water; and no body of men can get
through that way."

Though he had had no military experience, Noah Lyon talked like an army
engineer. He was a man of very decided general ability, and he readily
comprehended the situation so far as his plantation was concerned. The
ice-house was about twenty-five feet square. It was built of stone under
the direction of Colonel Lyon, who had his own views, though they were
not always scientific. To preserve the ice, which did not consist of
great solid blocks as in New Hampshire, he believed that thick walls
were necessary, and he had put two feet of solid masonry into them. The
ice was generally not more than two inches thick in this latitude,
though an exceptionally hard winter sometimes made it four. It was
packed in solid, and then permitted to freeze by leaving the door and
two windows open during the freezing weather.

"Stop rowing," said Levi, when they came to a bend five miles above the
bridge. "Now rest yourselves for five minutes, boys."

"Don't need no rest, mars'r," said General, as he drew his arm over his
forehead, from which the perspiration was dropping on the handle of his
oar. "We done pulled dis boat twenty mile widout stoppin' once."

"A little rest will do you no harm, for you will be kept at work till
morning," replied Levi.

"Whar we gwine, mars'r?" asked General.

"About five miles farther," replied the overseer evasively. "Have you
brought your jackets or coats with you, boys?"

They had brought them. Levi had read of muffled oars, and he ordered
each of the rowers to wind the garment not in use around the loom of his
oar where it rested in the rowlock. They obeyed in silence, and no one
asked any question; for this reason they would have made good sailors,
for they must obey without asking the reason for the command. They had
been well trained by the overseer.

"Now, not one of you must speak a loud word, or make any noise,"
continued Levi, when he had seen that the oars were all properly
muffled. "You must excuse me, Major, if I request all in this part of
the boat to keep still also; for we are coming to the nearest point to
the spring road. If there is any one on watch there, we will fool him if
we can."

"All right, Levi; we will keep as still as mice in a pantry."

"Pull away again, boys," he added, to the disgust of General, who wanted
him to give his orders in "ship-shop" fashion.

The negroes obeyed the command just as well as though it had been
"ship-shop;" and the Magnolia went ahead with renewed speed after the
rest. A little later the overseer ordered them to pull more slowly and
with less noise, for the oars could be heard in spite of the muffling.
But they could not be heard at half the distance to the spring road, and
no challenge came to them from that or any other direction.

"Now you may put your muscle into your oars, boys," said the overseer
when the boat came to a bend which had carried it away farther from the
road.

The men bent to their oars again, and the Magnolia flew over the dark
water. Dark as it was, the pilot had no difficulty in keeping the boat
in the middle of the creek. At the end of about an hour from the
resting-place, Levi ordered the men to pull slowly again, for the boat
was approaching its destination. The planter lighted a match and looked
at his watch.

"Hold on, here, boys!" called the overseer. "We have gone too far, for
here is the mouth of the brook, and I reckon the flatboat is under that
heap of stuff;" and he pointed to a mound of branches by the shore of
the inlet. "I reckon we want the lanterns now, Major Lyon. Did you light
one of them?"

"No; I only looked at my watch. We are in good time, for it wants a
quarter of twelve," replied the planter. "Get out the lanterns, boys,
and we will light them."

Levi worked the boat into the little inlet, and alongside of the mound.
The flatboat was found under it, precisely as Artie had described it in
the library. Four of the hands were sent to the top of it, and ordered
to clear away the branches, which they did by throwing them on shore and
into the water. The gundalow was baled out, and then its painter was
made fast to the stern of the Magnolia. Deck and Artie were sent ashore
with one of the lanterns, and directed to find the sink.

The Magnolia towed the flatboat down the creek till Deck hailed her from
the landing-place where they had gone ashore in the afternoon. By a
little after midnight the gundalow was moored at a convenient point for
loading it.



CHAPTER XIV

THE TRANSPORTATION OF THE ARMS


The three lanterns were lighted, and Levi Bedford lost not a moment in
making the preparations for loading the boxes into the flatboat. The
sink-hole was a tunnel in the ground, at the bottom of which could be
heard the gurgling of waters. The overseer said the brook which flowed
into the creek where they had found the gundalow had its source in this
place, though it made a considerable circuit before it reached its
outlet.

On the side of the inverted cone nearest to the creek there was an
opening which led into the cavern, the bottom of which was at least
twenty feet above the water, whose ripple they could hear. The descent
was gradual, both in the tunnel and in the cavern; and with lanterns in
their hands Deck and Artie led the way down, for they had made
themselves familiar with the subterranean chamber in the afternoon, and
it was years since Levi had been there.

Mr. Lyon followed his son, while the overseer, with a coil of small line
on his arm, which he had taken from the boathouse, brought up the rear.
The party were taking a survey of the entrance in order to determine the
best way to move the cases. It looked as though the water had flowed
through the cavern at some remote period of time, probably rising from
the sink-hole below, for the limestone at the floor was worn tolerably
smooth. Doubtless the extinct stream had found a new outlet, lowering
the level of the water so that it had ceased to flow through the cave.

The boxes were piled up just as they had been found in the afternoon.
The roof of the cavern was very irregular, and in some places it was not
more than five feet above the floor, while in others it was from eight
to ten. The arms were deposited in a recess about twenty feet from the
entrance. When the boys visited the sink-hole they had found the opening
of the cave partly filled up with branches of trees and other rubbish;
but they had removed these obstructions, which formed only a very weak
attempt to conceal the depository of the arms.

Levi studied the interior of the cavern and the situation of the cases,
attended by the planter. The lanterns were sufficient to light it so
that they had no difficulty in seeing to work. The apartment began to
wind about just below them, and all was gloom and darkness in that
direction.

"It is about twenty feet to the opening," said Levi, as he measured the
distance with his eye. "The roof is not more than five feet high half
the way; and, if their skulls are not harder than the limestone, General
and Dummy will be likely to stave a hole in them."

"The rest of the hands are not so tall," suggested Mr. Lyon.

"I brought this rope with me without knowing that it would be of any use
to us; but I find that it is just the thing we want," continued the
overseer as he uncoiled the line. "Now, boys, all we will ask you to do
is to hold the lanterns; but you must not go to sleep and let them fall
on the stone floor."

"No danger of that," laughed Deck. "But we can work in the low place
without smashing our heads."

"I am glad there is no hard work for you, boys, for you must be tired
after pulling a boat twenty miles this afternoon," added Mr. Lyon.

"I am not very tired, and I can do my share of the work," replied Artie.

"So can I," added Deck.

"But you can do the most good by holding the lights," replied Levi. "One
of you stand down here; and the other, with two of the lanterns, near
the opening."

The boys followed this direction, Deck placing himself at the entrance,
where he could light a part of the cavern and the tunnel. The overseer
uncoiled his rope, and with the help of the planter lifted one of the
boxes down to the floor. He then made fast the rope to it with a
slip-noose, the knot on the under side, so as to carry the case over any
obstructions.

Walking up to the entrance, uncoiling the line as he proceeded, he
passed out of the cavern into the tunnel. Calling General and Dummy from
the place where they had been told to wait, he stationed them near the
door, and then carried the line, which was not less than seventy-five
feet in length, to the shore of the creek.

"Now, Rosebud, and the rest of you, take hold of this rope, and when the
word comes up to you from General, haul up the box which is made fast to
the other end of it," continued Levi. "As soon as you get it up here,
unhitch the line, and throw the end down to General. As soon as you have
done that, load the case into the boat, then haul up another, and do the
same thing over again."

"Gunnymunks!" exclaimed the laughing negro. "Whar all de boxes come
from?"

"None of your business, Rosebud; mind your work, and don't ask
questions," returned the manager, as he descended to the entrance to the
cavern.

"W'at we gwine to do, Mars'r Bedford?" asked General.

"You are going to pull and haul; and you can begin now," replied Levi.
"Take hold of that line, and draw that box up here. Pull steady, so as
not to break it."

The two powerful negroes manned the rope, and dragged the case up to the
opening without any difficulty, and without doing it any great injury.
It was placed so that it could be readily hauled out of the sink.

"Above there!" called the overseer. "Now haul steady on the rope! Ease
it out of the opening, General."

The two big men crowded it around the corner, and then it went up to the
ground above without any obstruction or delay. The line was detached
from the box, and thrown down to the entrance, General passing it down
to the pile of boxes. Another had been prepared for the rope, and the
planter made fast to it. Levi had gone up to superintend the loading of
the box, and arranged a couple of planks he found in the boat, so that
this part of the work could be conveniently done. He made Rosebud the
"boss" for the time being, and then went down into the cavern to assist
his employer.

"It won't take long to do the job at this rate," said Mr. Lyon when the
overseer joined him. "Your plan of doing the work makes an easy thing of
it."

"I could not tell how it was to be done till I saw the situation of
things here; but we shall be back to Riverlawn before daylight," replied
Levi, as they lifted down the third of the boxes.

When the method of moving the cases to the boat had been adopted, and
had been found to work so well, the task was practically accomplished.
The ease and celerity with which they mounted to the upper regions
astonished and delighted the planter and the boys, and they were filled
with admiration at the skill displayed by Levi Bedford in the management
of the business. He was accustomed to working the hands, and knew what
each of them was good for; and no other person could have done so well.

The work proceeded with increased rapidity as the men became used to the
operations. In less than an hour all but the two cases containing the
cannon, which Levi said were twelve-pounders, had been removed. The
"Seceshers" had evidently had a great deal of difficulty in handling
them; for they had stove one of the cases in pieces, and the other was
hardly in condition to hold the heavy piece. Levi made his rope fast to
the cascabel, or but-end of the gun, and the word was passed for the men
above to come down to the entrance.

The six negroes made easy work of hauling it up to the opening, while
the overseer and the planter directed it with levers, split from the
broken case, so as to prevent it from receiving any injury. The six men
were then sent above the tunnel, and the gun was drawn up. Loading it
into the boat was a more difficult matter; and the planter and the
overseer were considering how it was to be done, when General
interrupted them.

"Go 'way dar, niggers!" exclaimed General, waving his hand for the
others to get out of the way. "Cotch hold ob de end ob de shooter,
Dummy, and we uns will tote it in de boat!"

The big preacher seized the end of the piece at the vent end, and
General did the same with the muzzle. They lifted the gun from the
ground, though with a strain which brought out some grunts from them,
and slowly marched to the boat with their burden. Levi ordered two more
of the men to take hold with them, at the trunnions, and sent the other
two into the boat, who assisted as they could obtain a hold on the load.
It was safely deposited in the bottom of the craft.

The overseer opened the other case with the hatchet Artie had brought,
and broke up the boards of which it was constructed. It was put into the
boat in the same manner as the other. The water was deep enough in the
creek for the boat, and Levi gave his attention next to the trimming of
the craft, while he sent some of the hands to bring up the pieces of
board left in the cavern; but the cargo needed but little adjusting, and
the party were ready to return to Riverlawn.

"When your precious brother visits that cavern next time, he will be
likely to wonder what has become of his arms and ammunition," said Levi,
wiping the perspiration from his brow. "Now, boys, go down into that
hole again, and see that we have left nothing there, for I don't want
Captain Titus to find anything to let him know who has done this job for
him."

While they were gone upon this mission, the overseer placed the Magnolia
ahead of the flatboat, in readiness to tow it down the creek. The boys
returned, and the hatchet was the only thing which had been left. To
their astonishment they found that Levi had shaken out the sail of the
Magnolia, and they had their doubts about his ability to manage it.

"I hope you won't tip the sailboat over, Levi," said Deck, as he stepped
on board of her, followed by Artie.

"If I do I shall not spill you out, either of you; for I want you to
take charge of the flatboat, with two of the hands," replied the
overseer. "I shall keep four men in the Magnolia to row, and I think the
sail will help us along a good deal."

"I should like to change that plan a little, Levi," interposed Mr. Lyon.
"The boys and myself can take care of the flatboat, and you can have all
the men at the oars."

"Just as you say, Major Lyon, and perhaps that will be the best scheme.
I was thinking that you and the boys might sleep part of the way down,"
answered the overseer. "The wind is blowing pretty hard from the
south-west, and I reckon we shall get some rain before a great many
hours. The sail ought to help us a big piece."

The planter and the boys armed themselves with the long oars of the
flatboat, which had been driven into the muddy bottom of the creek to
hold her in place at the landing, and they were ready to keep her off
the shore in going around a sharp bend. Mr. Lyon placed his between the
pins in the stem to steer with.

With their oars in hand the six rowers were in their places, and Levi
gave the word to shove off. When the men had pulled a short distance,
the skipper, a position which the overseer had assumed, hauled in the
sheet, and made it fast at the cleat for the purpose. The sail filled
with a vengeance as a sharp flaw struck it, and the Magnolia forged
ahead with a dart, dragging her tow after her. As the creek widened the
sail strained, and the Magnolia seemed to be struggling to get away from
the gundalow astern of her.

As she proceeded on her course down the stream, she increased her speed,
and appeared to make nothing of hauling the tow after her. The motion
produced by the sail bothered the rowers, who were not used to this
situation. Some of them "caught crabs," and the oars of all of them were
lifted and thrown back by the water that rushed past them. They made
such bad work of it that Levi ordered them to unship their oars.

The Magnolia was making something like six miles an hour, and would have
made ten without the tow. He steered her so that she carried the
gundalow safely around the bends of the stream; and the planter had
little to do, the boys nothing. Deck and Artie stretched themselves on
the boxes, and were soon fast asleep; for they were worn out with the
exertion and excitement of the day and night.

The bends in the stream near the spring road perplexed the skipper at
first; but his excellent common-sense helped him out, and he hauled in
his sheet so as to bring the boat up closer to the wind. Above the most
troublesome bend at this point, the general course of the creek was west
north-west. He let off the sheet, and the Magnolia flew faster than
ever.

When he came to the bridge by the mansion, he waked the negroes, who had
all fallen asleep, to take down the mast, so that he could pass under
it, for he had already lowered the sail. He ran the boat close to the
bank off the ice-house, and the negroes secured it and the gundalow.

"Dexter, Artemas!" shouted the planter. "Wake up! The cruise is ended."



CHAPTER XV

THE ESTABLISHMENT OF FORT BEDFORD


The two young voyagers of the night sprang to their feet on the pile of
cases which filled the body of the gundalow, and looked about them. It
was still dark, and they could not make out anything when just roused
from their slumber.

"What are we stopping here for, father? Has anything broken?" asked
Deck, discovering Mr. Lyon near him.

"Nothing but your slumbers, my son," replied the planter. "Haven't you
got your eyes open yet? Can't you see that you have got home?"

"I believe I have been asleep," added Artie, rubbing his eyes.

"I know you have, my boy; for I spread your overcoats over you both
before we reached the big bend, and I know you were sleeping as soundly
as a pair of babies then. You must have slept an hour and a half," the
father explained. "I am glad you had some sleep, for we have more work
to do before we can go to bed."

"I can see the bridge now," added Deck.

"And there is the house," said Artie.

The negroes were all wide awake by this time, and Levi had gone to the
mansion for the key to the ice-house. Mr. Lyon lighted all of the
lanterns, and sent the boys to the stone building with them, following
himself soon after. The overseer came with the key, and it was opened
with some difficulty. The ice with which it had been filled in the
winter had been exhausted, and it contained nothing but rubbish. The
hands were called, and the interior was soon cleaned out.

Though Levi had not closed his eyes during the night, and had been busy
all the time, he was wide awake, and proceeded to drive things as he had
done at the cavern. It was decided to move the cannons first, after a
broad gang plank had been made of the material in the boat. A heavy
cart-stake was procured, which was thrust into the first of the pieces,
with room enough for three of the hands to get hold of it. Another was
placed under the cascabel, which was supported by General and Dummy,
with Rosebud at the jaws.

The gun was easily handled with this force, and the men walked briskly
to the new arsenal. Three wheelbarrows were brought from the tool-house
by the planter and the boys while Levi was superintending the removal of
the cannons. Three wheelers were selected by the overseer, two placed in
the gundalow to load the barrows, and one at the ice-house. In less than
an hour, and when the daylight was appearing in the east, the job was
finished.

"Now, boys, you can sleep all the rest of the day," said Mr. Lyons, and
Levi sent the hands to their quarters.

"We haven't seen any men on the watch," said Levi, while he was placing
some boards over the windows of the building, "but there may have been
some on the lookout for all that."

"If they were in the road near the big bend, where you thought they
would be, if anywhere, they could not have walked to the cavern in time
to find us there, for we made quick work of loading the boat," added the
planter.

"If there were any men there, they may have observed us; but they could
not get round here to see what was done with the cases if they did,"
replied Levi. "They may possibly have recognized the Magnolia: and that
is the only clew they could have obtained of the operations in this
affair."

"It is time to go to bed, and I am inclined to think we shall do some
sleeping to-day," added the planter, as he led the way to the mansion.

Levi was not willing to leave anything to chance; and before he went to
his room in the house he had called up two of the servants and
established a patrol along the bank of the creek from the bridge to the
boathouse, with orders to call him if any persons were seen prowling
about the vicinity.

All the operations of the night had been conducted with the most prudent
regard to secrecy. Doubtless Levi Bedford knew more about the residents
of the county than Noah Lyon, and probably more about Titus as he was
and had been during the last few years. The disappearance of the arms
and ammunition would make a tremendous sensation among the Southern
sympathizers, though most of them were not yet aware of the existence of
such a store of munitions in the vicinity; for the knowledge of them had
probably been confined to the members of Titus's company of Home Guards.
Even if the wrath and excitement occasioned by the loss of the war
material was limited to these ruffians, there were enough of them to do
a vast amount of mischief in the county.

The interview on the bridge with his brother had opened wide the eyes of
Noah; but he had always lived in a peaceful community, and his overseer
understood the situation better than he did. Levi had taken every
precaution against the possible assaults of the "bushwackers," as he
called the gang with whom the Northern "doughface" had cast his lot at
the breaking out of the troubles in the State. The boys slept soundly
till nearly noon, and the planter till the middle of the forenoon; but
Levi appeared as usual at breakfast, having slept but about three hours.

Mr. Lyon had told his wife something about the events of the night, and
assured her that the arms were safe in the ice-house, and nothing was
said at the table about the proceedings of the party, though Levi was as
good-natured as usual, and talked about other things. As soon as he had
finished his morning meal with a most excellent appetite, he hastened to
the ice-house with the key in his hand. The field-hands had gone to
their work, and all was quiet about the place.

The ice-house was near the creek, about half-way between the bridge and
the boathouse, close to the stream. The door of it faced the water, and
there was a small square window in either end. Levi walked around the
building two or three times, closely examining the structure. Then he
stopped at the door and cast his eyes all around him, especially at the
lay of the land on the other side of the creek. He was not a military
engineer any more than his employer; but he was a man of ideas, and he
was evidently preparing for events in the future which he foresaw, and
which the disturbed condition of the State rendered more than possible.

When he had completed his survey he unlocked the door of the building.
The cases were all just as they had been piled up in the early morning.
He bestowed only a glance at them, and then began a study of the two
windows, from which he removed the boards that prevented any one from
seeing what the building contained. Then he gave his attention to the
doors, which were double, the thickness of the wall apart. He was
evidently making a plan in his mind for some alterations to the
structure; but he was alone, and of course he said nothing.

He appeared to have reached his conclusion. Closing and locking the
outer door, he walked over to the boathouse, at the pier of which the
Magnolia had been secured by the boatmen as soon as the work of the
night was completed. Here again he stopped and made a survey of the
neighboring swamp, which separated the lawn from the bank of the Green.
Then he went over to the bank of the river, and followed it down stream.

At this point a bend of the river above forced the water of the stream
over near the opposite shore, while half-way across from the bank on
which he stood, the waters from the river and the creek had washed in
the mud so that it formed a bar on a bed of rocks, and the descent here
produced the rapids. The water for half a mile was considerably troubled
when the streams were full, while it was deep enough on the other side
to permit the passage of the steamboats that plied on the river.

Levi continued his walk in the road, with Green River on one side and on
the other the swamp which bordered the creek to a point near its source.
The swamp was impassable on foot or by boat. It was better than a wall
in the rear of the mansion, and the marauders of Titus Lyon could not
approach from that direction. Farther along was a broad lagoon or pond,
connected by a wide and sluggish inlet with Bar Creek. This could be
crossed with a boat; but the approach to it from the spring road over
the low ground was difficult and dangerous.

The overseer knew the whole region very well; but when he had viewed it
again in the light of impending contingencies, he seemed to be entirely
satisfied with the situation, for his chronic smile was on his round
face, though no one was there to see it. He went to the shop, which
formed part of the carriage-house, and began a survey of the lumber on
hand there. A couple of three-inch oak planks were pulled out from the
pile. He measured and marked them with a piece of chalk, and then left
the shop.

Among the plantation hands were carpenters, masons, painters, and other
mechanics, more or less skilful, though none of them had regularly
learned a trade. Some of them had become quite expert in the use of
tools, and could do a very respectable job, especially the carpenters.
Levi was himself a "jack-of-all-trades," and he had trained some of them
to the best of his ability.

When he came out of the shop he sent Frank the coachman to call the
three carpenters, who worked in the field most of the time. The colonel
had given these men names to suit himself, and they were proud of their
cognomens. "Shavings" was the most skilful of them, and was the "boss"
at any job to be done. "Gouge" and "Bitts" were only fair workmen, but
they did very well under the direction of their foreman.

When they came, Levi ordered Shavings to make two doors of the
three-inch planks, and described what he wanted very minutely. At the
same time the two door-frames were ordered, and the mechanics went to
work with a will, and without asking to what use the doors were to be
applied.

By this time the planter came out from his late breakfast, and the
overseer reported to him what he had been doing the last three hours.
They visited the shop where the negro mechanics were sawing out the
planks for the doors, and then went to the stables, where Frank remained
on duty all the time when not out with one of the teams; and then one of
the grooms took his place.

"How many horses are there on the place now, Frank?" asked the planter.

"Thirty-five in all, Major," answered the coachman.

"Are they all fit for service?" inquired the owner.

"No, sir; six of them are breeding mares, and nine are colts, two and
three years old. We have fifteen horses and mares four years old and
more, for sale, and I reckoned you would sell them about this time."

"That's all, Frank," added the planter as he left the stable.

"I don't know what you are driving at, Major Lyon, but we have
twenty-seven horses over three years old, and fit for service, though
the three year olds are rather young yet for hard work," said Levi, as
they walked towards the ice-house.

"I have held my tongue about as long as necessary; but now all these
sores in the State seem to be coming to a head, and I will tell you,
between ourselves, that I have an idea of raising a company of Union
cavalry to offset the Home Guards of this county," replied Mr. Lyon.

"That's a glorious idea!" exclaimed Levi with tremendous enthusiasm. "I
wish I was ten years younger, and weighed thirty pounds less, for I
should like to swing a sabre in that company."

"But you are to look out for the plantation and take care of my family
while I am away, Levi. You can ride a colt better than any of us; but
your work is here, and you may be called upon to do as much fighting as
any of us," said Mr. Lyon.

"I will do my duty wherever you put me, Major; but I should rather enjoy
a whack at those border ruffians who are making the whole county hot
with outrages. Last night they burned out a Union man two miles above
the village."

"The time for action is close at hand," added Mr. Lyon, as they came to
the ice-house. "There have been talk and threats enough. My brother has
told me that I am liable to be hung on one of the big trees after a mob
has burned the house; but I think we are ready for such a gathering as
he suggests. We may hear something about it to-night in the meeting at
the Big Bend schoolhouse."

"I have looked the ice-house over this morning, and I have made up my
mind what ought to be done," said Levi; and he proceeded to state his
plan for turning the stone structure into a sort of fort. "I have
ordered the doors already, and if you say the word, Major, I will make
three or four embrasures in the walls for the two field-pieces; and we
must have a magazine for the ammunition."

"I approve your plan; go ahead and do the work as you think best. You
can use all the hands you need; and from this moment the ice-house will
be known as Fort Bedford," replied Mr. Lyons.

"Thank you, Major, and I will endeavor to make the fortress worthy of a
better name," returned Levi, as he hastened to the stable to send for
the men he wanted.



CHAPTER XVI

THE UNION MEETING AT BIG BEND


In the afternoon Levi Bedford had half the hands on the plantation at
work in and about the ice-house. Embrasures, or port-holes, were opened
in the thick walls, one at each end and one on each side of the door, at
the proper height for the twelve-pounders, which were mounted on the
carriages, in order that everything should be correctly adjusted. Then
the door which opened on the side next to the creek was filled up with
stones taken from the quarry in the only hill on the plantation, so that
it was as thick and as solid as the rest of the walls. Then a new door
was made on the opposite side.

By sundown the carpenter had completed and hung the double doors; and
they were secured with the heavy locks the colonel had purchased in the
days of the horse-thieves. All this work was not completed when night
came, and four trusty men were selected to patrol the creek from the
bridge down to the boat-pier, two serving till midnight, and the other
two till morning.

"I think we shall be in condition to stand a siege by to-morrow night,"
said the overseer, as he accompanied the planter and the boys to Fort
Bedford, on the way to the schoolhouse at Big Bend.

"It looks so now," replied Mr. Lyon as he went into the building. "You
have made remarkable progress for one day. But I want to open one of
these boxes."

"Which one, Major?" asked Levi.

"The one which contains revolvers and cartridges, for some of the
smaller ones are labelled with the names of these articles. I hardly
expect any trouble at the meeting to-night; but I think it its best to
be prepared for the worst. I have brought one of the colonel's pistols
with me; but I want to put the boys in condition to defend themselves,"
added the planter.

"I think we can make good use of them, for we have had some experience
with such tools," said Deck, who did not appear to be at all affected by
the serious nature of the preparations they were making.

"Where have you had any such experience, Dexter?" inquired his father.

"Tom Bartlett and Ben Mason had revolvers at the time of the
housebreaking scare in Derry, and Artie and I used to fire at a mark
with them in the hill pasture," replied the enthusiastic boy. "Artie
used to beat us all, and often put the ball through the centre of the
target."

"Sometimes," suggested the other.

"Then you are both ahead of me, for I never fired a revolver or a pistol
of any kind, though I used to go hunting with a fowling-piece when I was
a boy," added Mr. Lyon.

"Then I think you had better practise a little, Major," said Levi, as he
pulled out one of the smaller boxes from the top of the pile of cases.
"This contains what you want, I reckon."

Deck brought the hatchet, and the case was opened. Most of the weapons
were navy revolvers, wrapped in oiled paper to save them from rust. They
were closely packed in the case, the spare space being filled in with
packages of cartridges. They opened another box, and found half a dozen
of smaller size, with the proper ammunition. The overseer selected two
of them, handing one to each of the boys, with a box of cartridges.

"I should like to try this little persuader," said Deck, as he opened
the box of ammunition, and proceeded to load the pistol.

Artie followed his example; and, setting up the cover of the case by the
creek, they blazed away at it till the chambers of the revolvers were
empty. They fired in turn, and the position of each bullet-hole was
noted. Artie kept up his old reputation, for he hit near the centre of
the board three times out of six. Deck fired the best shot, but his
others were more scattering. They hit the board every time, and Levi
said they "would do."

Then Mr. Lyon tried his hand with the revolver he had brought from the
mansion; but his aim was less accurate than that of the boys. He put
four of his six balls into the board, three of them outside of the
punctures made by Deck and Artie.

"You will improve with more experience, Major; but I reckon you could
hit a bushwhacker if he wasn't more than ten feet from you; and these
tools generally come into use at short range. How were you going up to
Big Bend, Major?"

"I thought we should walk," replied the planter; and he reloaded his
revolver, as both of the boys had done by this time. "It is not more
than three-quarters of a mile."

"I think you had better go in the Magnolia, with the crew that pulled us
last night," suggested Levi. "If there should be any row at the
schoolhouse, those boys will stand by you as long as there is anything
left of you."

"I don't look for any row, Levi, but I suppose it is always best to be
prepared for the worst," replied the planter. "You may send for the
crew."

One of the watchmen happened to be near at the time, and he was
despatched for the boatmen who had formed the regular crew of the
Magnolia in the time of the deceased planter.

"I suppose, if there should be any trouble at the schoolhouse, and I
should be protected by my negroes, it would tend to aggravate the charge
against me of being an abolitionist; and that seems to be about the
worst thing that can be said against a man in this county."

"But only among the border ruffians," the overseer amended the
statement. "The man that owns fifty niggers cannot decently be accused
of being an abolitionist. I advise you to go in the boat because the
schoolhouse is right on the very bank of the river. The back windows
over the platform look out upon the water. If the bushwhackers come down
upon you, and things go against you, it will be easy to get out by one
of these windows. A good general always keeps the line of retreat open
behind him when he goes into battle; and you had better have the
Magnolia under one of these windows."

"Why, Levi, you talk as though you were about sure an attempt would be
made to break up the meeting," replied Mr. Lyon.

"To tell you the truth, I do feel almost sure of it," returned the
overseer. "Captain Titus, as they call him up in the village so as not
to mix him up with Major Noah Lyon, was about mad enough yesterday to do
something desperate. You say he has threatened you, and"--

"I did not say that, Levi," interposed the planter. "Don't make my
brother out any worse than he is, for conscience' sake."

"What did he say, then?"

"He told me the people on his side of the question would have mobbed me
before this time if he had not prevented them from doing so."

"That's about the same thing. I don't like to say anything against your
brother, Major, but I don't look on Captain Titus as a square man. He
wants to keep his own head covered up because you are his brother; but I
believe on my conscience that he would like to see your place burned to
the ground, and it wouldn't break his heart to see you hanging by the
neck to one of the big trees."

Mr. Lyon realized that the overseer understood the character of Titus
better than he had supposed. His brother was terribly disappointed
because the colonel had not left Riverlawn to him; and he had charged
the deceased with unfairness and injustice in making his will. He was
compelled to believe the claim of Titus that he had prevented the
ruffians from destroying his property was a pretence, and nothing more.
His brother was not only disappointed but revengeful.

"It is generally understood about here that you called this Union
meeting," continued Levi.

"I suggested it, for we ought to know who's who; and it remains to be
seen how many will have the pluck to attend the meeting. Titus believes
that a large majority of the people in these parts are of his way of
thinking, while I believe that they are about two to one the other way,
though most of them are afraid to do or say much, and I want to bring
them out if possible."

"You are right as to numbers, Major; and when a man is afraid that his
house will be burned down over his head, or that he will get a bullet
through his brains while he sits at his window, I don't much wonder that
he is not inclined to speak out loud, and these bushwhackers have had it
all their own way. I hope you will be able to bring out the prudent and
timid ones."

"I talked the meeting over with others, and Colonel Cosgrove promised to
come up and help us out with a speech. We all agreed that it was time to
make a demonstration in favor of the Union," replied the planter as the
boat's crew appeared on the ground.

"I should like to go with you. Major, but I don't think it is safe to
leave the place alone," said the overseer. "Whether the ruffians had a
watch on the spring road last night or not, I don't know. We haven't
heard anything of them during the day; but I should be willing to wager
a pair of my old shoes they have found out by this time that the arms
and ammunition placed in the cavern have taken to themselves wings, like
other riches, and flown away. If I am not much mistaken, Captain Titus
finds himself some thousands poorer to-day than he was a week ago."

"Do you believe they have discovered the loss so soon?"

"I haven't much doubt of it. Captain Titus keeps three horses, and it
was easy enough for him to send one of his boys over to the cavern to
see that the arms were all right. He has missed them by this time; and
if we do our duty they won't shoot any bullets into the heads and hearts
of the Union army. Of course Captain Titus and his gang are boiling over
with wrath. You won't see him at the meeting, perhaps; but there will be
enough there to make a noise, if nothing more. I have been thinking of
these things to-day, and that is the reason why I thought it best to
take proper precautions."

"I am glad you have spoken out, Levi, for you have generally been very
reticent," replied Mr. Lyon, as he led the way to the boat-pier, where
the crew had manned the boat.

"I couldn't say much while I believed your brother was at the bottom of
most of the mischief," pleaded Levi.

The planter and the boys seated themselves in the stern sheets of the
Magnolia. Deck took the tiller lines with the consent of his father, and
General was permitted to get under way as he pleased, giving all the
orders in detail. None of the crew asked any questions, and in a short
time Deck brought the boat up under one of the windows of the
schoolhouse. Mr. Lyon charged General to keep the Magnolia just where
they had placed her, and not to make any noise at all.

The building was already partly filled, and more were constantly
arriving. Before the appointed time Colonel Cosgrove descended from his
wagon at the door, and the planter welcomed him. At the hour named,
Squire Truman, a young legal gentleman from a Northern county, who had
settled in the village, called the meeting to order. It was said that he
had not a very flourishing practice, but he was regarded as a young man
of more than average ability. He had the credit of being a ready and
able speaker; and Mr. Lyon had invited him to open the assemblage with a
statement of the situation in the county, especially in the vicinity of
Barcreek.

He was a decided and outspoken Union man. He began very moderately; but
in a few minutes he became more earnest, and soon rose to the height of
eloquence. He was warmly applauded by the audience, though there were
some tokens of disapprobation, evidently proceeding from some of the
individuals whom Levi called "bushwhackers." Titus Lyon was not there,
but some of his representatives had already manifested themselves. The
discordant elements soon became more demonstrative as the speaker waxed
eloquent. They made noise enough to disturb the equanimity of Squire
Truman; and he switched off from his line of remark, and proceeded to
dress down the malcontents in the most vigorous language.

"I beg leave to inform those who are struggling to create a disturbance,
that this is a Union meeting, called as such, and as such only," said
the orator, shaking with indignation. "It was called for Union men only!
It is a gathering of those who are loyal to the government at
Washington, and not to decide between secession and fidelity to the old
flag. Those who are not Union men are respectfully requested to retire
from the meeting."

This request brought forth a torrent of yells from the ruffians, though
there were apparently not more than a dozen of them. Squire Truman was
defiant, and his handsome face looked as noble as that of a Roman
senator.

"Has the time come when free speech in behalf of this glorious Union is
to be put down?" And then the ruffians howled again. "Has it come to
this in the State of Kentucky, the second to be admitted into the Union?
and, with the help of God and all honest men, she shall be the last to
leave it! Are we men to be badgered and silenced by half a score of
blackguards and ruffians? I am one of half a dozen to put them out of
the hall."

About a dozen rose from their seats, headed by Noah Lyon, and moved down
the aisles of the schoolroom.



CHAPTER XVII

THE EJECTION OF THE NOISY RUFFIANS


The planter of Riverlawn was not a fighting character; he had always
been one of the most peaceful of men. He had never raised a hand against
one of his fellow-beings, and it required the stimulus of an occasion
like the present to rouse a belligerent feeling in him, if the
groundwork of any such emotion existed in his nature. It was hardly
that, but rather a sense of his solemn duty, which he was called upon to
perform, as a surgeon is required to amputate a limb to save life; and
he was impelled to save the life of the Union.

Noah Lyon was not physically a large man, but one who weighed a hundred
and a half; yet his frame was well knit, firmly compacted, and inured by
hard labor from his boyhood. As he rose to his feet and marched down the
middle aisle of the schoolroom, his face exhibited more strength than
his form; for all the determination of his nature was concentrated in
his eyes and the muscles of his countenance.

The fervid speech of the young orator had brought him to his bearings.
Deck and Artie had been similarly affected; and with their fists
clinched they followed the planter. Squire Truman leaped from the
platform into the midst of them, as the dozen others sprang to their
feet, some with their eyes flashing with indignation, and all of them
with a fixed purpose not to submit to the outrage in which the ruffians
were engaged.

When Mr. Lyon had proceeded as far as the middle of the room, one of the
disturbers of the peace, whom the planter had spotted, rose to his feet
and confronted him in the aisle. It was Buck Lagger, a pedler, who was
one of the most virulent of the Secessionists, and who aspired to be a
leader among the turbulent spirits of the county.

"What are you go'n' to do about it?" demanded he savagely.

"Are you a Union man?" asked Mr. Lyon with quiet determination.

"No, I'm not!" yelled the ruffian, who had the reputation in Barcreek of
being a brute of the lowest order, with a whole volley of oaths.

"Then you were not invited here, and you will leave!" said the planter.

"This buildin' is public, and I have as much right here as you have!"
answered Buck Lagger, with a coarse guffaw.

Noah Lyon did not wait for anything more, but grappled with the fellow
as an eagle swoops down on his prey. Buck tried to get his right hand
into his breast pocket, evidently to obtain a weapon of some kind; but
his assailant understood his purpose, and crowded him over backwards
upon one of the desks, choking him so hard that he soon lost all his
pluck.

[Illustration: "HE GRAPPLED WITH THE FELLOW." ]

Colonel Cosgrove was close behind Mr. Lyon, and seized upon the boon
companion of the pedler. He was an excellent specimen of a Kentucky
gentleman, stalwart in form and determined in purpose. He bore his man
down as the leader had done. The other ruffians rushed to the assistance
of their leaders, and the _mêlée_ became general.

There did not appear to be more than half a dozen active ruffians in the
room; at least not more who were resolute enough to take part in these
stormy proceedings. Mr. Lyon had choked so much of the energy out of
Buck Laggar that he had ceased to feel for his weapon, and the planter
took him by the collar of the coat with both hands, and dragged him to
the door, where he pitched him on the ground all in a heap.

Colonel Cosgrove followed him with his man; and then came the orator
with a fellow nearly twice his size, with whom he was having a hard
tussle, when Deck leaped upon the back of this victim, and drawing his
arms tightly under his throat, brought him to the floor, and then rolled
him out at the door. The other Union men in the audience had tackled the
remaining ruffians when they went to the assistance of those of their
number who had been attacked, and hustled them out of the apartment.

"That will do for the present," said Squire Truman, as the resolute
Unionists completed their active work, and stopped to catch their
breath.

"I think we had better station a guard at the door, and challenge every
man who wants to come in," suggested Mr. Lyon.

"That's a good idea, for it is the evident intention of the blackguards
to break up the meeting; and I should be ashamed to have such a thing
done,--a Union meeting dispersed by force in the State of Kentucky!"
added the young lawyer.

"Precisely so!" exclaimed Colonel Cosgrove. "I will offer my services as
one of the guard."

"Good!" shouted Colonel Belthorpe, a big Kentuckian whose plantation was
near that of Major Lyon, "I will be another."

"Here are two more!" cried Deck Lyon, as he and Artie presented
themselves.

"Lively boys," laughed Colonel Cosgrove. "Both of them took a hand in
the skirmish we have had, and they will do very well for this duty."

The Union men in the assembly applauded warmly, and the young orator led
the way back to the seats, mounting the platform himself. He resumed his
speech with an allusion to the event which had just transpired, and
roused his audience to the highest pitch of enthusiasm by his fiery
eloquence. He spoke half an hour, and concluded by nominating Major Noah
Lyon as the presiding officer of the evening; and the selection was
heartily indorsed by the meeting.

Before he could reach the platform, a dozen men appeared at the door.
The volunteer committee on admissions retired to the lobby so that they
need not disturb the proceedings. Colonel Cosgrove took Artie by the
arm, while Colonel Belthorpe did the same with Deck, each at one side of
the door.

"Are you a Union man?" demanded Deck in a loud voice, for he felt that
he must do or say something, boiling over with enthusiasm for the cause
as he was; and perhaps the fact that he had a loaded revolver in his
pocket was an inciting influence with him.

"I am!" exclaimed the person addressed, with emphasis.

"Pass in," replied Deck.

"Put the same question, Artie," added Colonel Cosgrove, amused at the
earnestness of Deck.

Artie put the question with less pomposity than his cousin, and the
answer was the same. The brace of colonels then took part in the
challenging, and the dozen applicants were promptly admitted. One of the
colonels then suggested to the other that the boys could remain in the
lobby while they stood inside the door.

Noah Lyon had presided on several occasions in town meetings, and his
modesty had been so far overcome that he could face an audience,
especially in such a cause as the present. He was received with applause
and cheers, and proceeded to make a speech in his usual quiet way. He
said he could not make such a speech as the eloquent gentleman from
Barcreek village had done; but he was a Union man in every fibre of his
being, whether he was in New Hampshire or Kentucky.

This statement was received with tremendous applause. He proceeded to
say that he was a peaceable man, and was in favor of peaceable measures;
but he did not intend to be overridden and trodden down by the Secession
element, which he believed was in a large minority in the State. He was
ready to talk as long as talking did any good; but when he had talked
enough he was ready to fight.

This was the popular sentiment in the meeting, and a tumult of applause
followed, ending in nine rousing cheers. He was ready to shoulder a
musket in any Kentucky regiment, and he was glad that some had already
been organized. He had twenty-seven horses he would give "without money
and without price," to the cause of the Union, with which to start a
cavalry company; and "I think I can _find_ arms for the men," he added.

This offer was greeted with yells of approval, and it was some time
before he could say anything more.

"I will also contribute twenty horses," shouted Colonel Cosgrove.

"I will give the next twenty," Colonel Belthorpe cried out.

The clapping of hands and the cheering were renewed with more vigor than
ever, if possible; and others offered to contribute from one to five
each, till over a hundred horses were pledged for the company. In the
midst of this enthusiasm the voice of Deck was heard in the lobby.

"Are you a Union man, sir?" he demanded in a voice loud enough to be
heard in a momentary lull of the enthusiasm.

"No, I am not!" replied the applicant, with a volley of expletives.

"Then you can't go in," answered Deck.

"Who says I can't?" asked the intruder in fierce tones.

"This is a Union meeting, and none but Union men are admitted," replied
Deck, loud enough to be heard on the platform; for the meeting had
become silent, and all were turning around to see the door.

"Do you see that?" demanded the ruffian, as he drew a bowie-knife from
his pocket, and threw it open with a jerk.

Deck had put his right hand on his hip pocket, which contained his
revolver; and, the moment he saw the knife, he drew it, and pointed it
at the part where the intruder carried what brains he had.

"And do you see that?" called the plucky boy.

"And that?" added Artie on the other side of the door.

"Take yourself off!" shouted Deck furiously, as he retreated a pace, to
keep out of the reach of the wicked-looking blade of the knife.

"Isn't this a free building?" asked the ruffian, as he looked from one
revolver to the other.

"Free to Union men to-night," answered Deck.

By this time half a dozen men from the interior were approaching the
door, and the ruffian suddenly decamped. Deck followed him to the door,
and saw the man disappear in the grove on the other side of the road.
Then he heard a voice among the trees; and it was evident to him that
there were more ruffians, perhaps biding their time to make an attack
upon the Unionists when they went to their homes.

"Three cheers for the boys!" shouted one of the men who had come to the
door, and observed the retreat of the ruffian.

They were lustily given, and then Deck announced to the meeting that
there were more men in the grove, for some one had hailed the ruffian
that had just left the door.

"No matter for them," said the chairman. "Let us go on with this
meeting, and when they come in, if they do so, we will take care of
them. The boys will keep watch, and let us know if they approach the
schoolhouse."

A committee of three were appointed to attend to the enrolment of the
company of cavalry. The two colonels and the major by courtesy were
appointed on this committee. Then Colonel Cosgrove was called upon to
make the speech he had promised. He was not so eloquent as his
professional brother from the village; but he was more solid, and was as
vigorously applauded as the other speakers had been.

He said there had been a sort of reign of terror in the county, and it
was because the Unionists had been less demonstrative than the
Secessionists, and for that reason he believed in the present meeting.
He was disposed to be peaceable, but he was ready to fight for the
Union. He proceeded at considerable length. He was in favor of having it
understood in the county that there were plenty of Unionists within its
borders, and that they were not to be frowned or bullied down by the
ruffians of the other side.

This remark seemed to be the sense of the assembly, which had now
increased in numbers to over a hundred, and the applause was decided.

While the colonel from the county town was speaking, Deck and Artie had
been over to the other side of the road, and penetrated the grove for a
short distance. Probably those who had been ejected from the meeting
were there; but the boys crept near enough to make out that there were
not less than fifty men there, and possibly double that number.

As they retired from the grove they found that a single man was
following them. They retreated to the lobby of the schoolhouse, with
their revolvers in their hands. They had hardly resumed their stations
at the door when the man presented himself before them. To the
astonishment of his two nephews this person proved to be Titus Lyon.

"Are you a Union man?" demanded Deck.

"I am not," replied Titus.

"Then you can't go into this meeting," added Deck, as firmly as he had
spoken at any time before.

The applicant could not fail to see that both of the boys had weapons in
their hands. He looked earnest and determined, but he did not appear to
be even angry. He halted and fixed his gaze upon the floor, apparently
in deep thought.



CHAPTER XVIII

THE DEMAND OF CAPTAIN TITUS LYON


Revolvers are dangerous weapons; and Deck and Artie had used them enough
in sport to realize this truth. They had not yet become accustomed to
seeing bullets fired into the bodies of human beings; to the sight of
strong men falling with a death-wound in the head or heart, which was
afterwards almost an everyday spectacle in the battles of the Great
Rebellion.

They had been brought up where human life was held to be more sacred
than in the locality to which they had been transplanted; and if they
had thought of discharging their weapons into the vital parts of even
the ruffians who menaced the Union meeting with violence, they were
certainly not ready to begin with one of their own flesh and blood,
though Titus Lyon had proved himself to be one of the most virulent
enemies of the public peace.

"I have no weapons, as you have, boys, and I have something to say to
this meeting," said Titus, after he had meditated for two or three
minutes. "I want to go in; but I shall not stop there many minutes."

"We can't let you in, Uncle Titus," replied Deck decidedly; "that's the
order of the meeting."

"But I'm going in if I'm shot for it," continued the applicant for
admission very quietly, but with none of the bluster which had become
almost a second nature to him.

Perhaps the interest he felt in the mission which brought him to the
schoolhouse had induced him to refrain from his usual potations, for he
appeared to be perfectly sober. He used none of the intemperate language
which was generally on his tongue, so that the boys were not roused to
indignation, even if they were tempted to use their weapons; but both of
them placed themselves in the doorway as though they intended to dispute
his passage into the room.

The meeting was proceeding with its business, though the orators had
finished their speeches. A Union farmer was telling about one of his
neighbors who had been threatened by the ruffians, as the Secessionists
had come to be generally called by this time. He was quite earnest in
his plea that something should be done to protect men who stood by the
government.

The two colonels were interested, and they had moved forward where they
could hear the farmer, who spoke in a low tone; and no one inside was
aware of what was transpiring in the lobby, so that the boys were
practically alone.

"We can't let you in, Uncle Titus, and we don't want to shoot you,"
interposed Artie. "I will call Colonel Cosgrove, and you can make your
request to him;" and he went to the place where the colonel was
standing.

"But I am going in," persisted Titus Lyon, attempting to push Deck
aside.

"You can't go in!" said Deck, as he crowded his uncle back from the
entrance. "Wait a moment, and you can tell Colonel Cosgrove what you
want!"

"I don't want anything of Colonel Cosgrove; he is worse than your
father," replied the applicant.

"Good-evening, Mr. Lyon," said the Kentuckian, presenting himself at the
door at this moment.

"I have something to say to this meeting, Colonel, which it is important
for the meeting to hear," added Titus.

"Come right in and say it, Mr. Lyon," replied the colonel, to the
astonishment of the young guardians of the portal.

He was as polite as a Kentucky gentleman generally is; and he took the
arm of the applicant, and marched with him to the space behind the
desks, where he halted till the former had finished his remarks. Noah
Lyon was taken "all back" by the appearance of his brother escorted by
the most influential Kentuckian in the county. The entire audience
turned and stared at the unexpected guest.

"Mr. Chairman, I have the honor to present Captain Titus Lyon of
Barcreek to the meeting," said the colonel. "He claims to have something
of importance to communicate. He is not a Union man, as is well known,
but I trust no objection will be made to hearing him."

"I am not a Union man, as Colonel Cosgrove says," Titus began. "When I
came to this State, I became a Kentuckian, and I go with the people of
this section of the country. But I did not come here to talk politics.
There is two sides to the question before the country, and each on 'em
has its rights. I belong to the party that is tryin' to keep the peace
in the State if we have to fight for it. As we had a perfect right to
do, we bought about three thousand dollars worth of arms and ammernition
to protect ourselves agin them that is tryin' to force the State into a
war of subjergation agin our own flesh and blood.

"Them arms and ammernition has been stole," continued Titus, waxing
indignant in spite of his effort to keep cool, and relapsing into his
everyday speech. "I believe it was done by what you call Union men, and
I cal'late I know jest who done it; and I cal'late, Mr. Chairman, you
know jest as well or better'n I do who done it."

"Who was it?" demanded a person in the audience.

"I h'ain't got nothin' to say here about that," answered Captain Titus.
"But if them arms and ammernition ain't given up right off, here and
now, on the spot, or some plan agreed on for doin' so afore to-morrer
noon, the blood will run in the low places round here, and the clouds in
the sky will give back the light from the fires that is burnin' down
some of the nicest houses in these parts. I hain't got nothin' more to
say; but if any one wants to see me about settlin' up this matter, I can
be found near the road in front of the schoolhouse."

"But this is war, Captain Lyon," suggested Colonel Belthorpe.

"I know 'tis; and that's jest what I mean. We want the Union thieves to
give up the property they stole; and that's all we ask now," replied
Titus, whose wrath was beginning to be stirred to the boiling point.

"We are ready to meet you on that ground!" shouted Squire Truman,
springing to his feet; for he knew that Captain Titus was the ringleader
of the ruffians in the vicinity, and his threat roused him to a fiery
indignation. "I know nothing about the arms and ammunition; but whoever
took possession of them has done a noble and patriotic deed, and, Mr.
Chairman, I move you that a vote of thanks be tendered to them for it."

This motion was hailed with thunders of applause; and when the presiding
officer put it to the meeting, it was carried unanimously, and no one
wished to delay it by making a speech.

Squire Truman then made another speech, in which he pictured the result
of permitting the arms to get into the hands of the ruffians for whose
use they were evidently intended; and he magnified the prudence and
forethought of the unknown persons who had taken the responsibility of
such a forward step. This speech was received with cheers, in which the
throats of the audience seemed to be strained to their utmost tension.

"Captain Lyon," said Colonel Cosgrove, when the tumult had subsided in a
measure, "no formal answer seems to be necessary to your demand. The
action of this meeting and the spirit with which it has been received
are a sufficient reply. Personally, I can only say I heartily rejoice
that the arms and ammunition have been turned aside from the purpose for
which they were intended, and we will take care that they are not used
against the government of the United States. We are loyal citizens, and
we shall do our duty to the glorious flag under which we live. Have you
any further communication to make to this meeting, Captain Lyon?"

"No, I haven't; I've said my say, and fire and blood is the next thing,"
replied Titus, as he rushed out of the schoolroom, furious with passion.

The business of the meeting was completed; but the boys informed the two
colonels that the road was full of men. Then several of the Unionists
drew revolvers from their pockets; for they had fully expected that the
meeting would be disturbed, and that it would end in a fight. They had
come prepared to defend themselves. The situation was discussed, but no
one was inclined to avoid the issue. If there was to be a fight, it
would be no new thing in the State.

Colonel Belthorpe, whose title was not one of mere courtesy, for he had
served in the regular army in his younger days, and won his later spurs
in the militia, advised that a procession be formed, with the armed men
on the right, while the others were told to obtain clubs, or anything
they could lay their hands upon. But before the column was formed Buck
Lagger appeared at the door.

"We want Major Lyon and his two cubs!" shouted the ruffian, who appeared
to be the right-hand man of Captain Titus.

The ruffians had held a meeting in the grove, privately notified by this
Buck,--for Titus had not been inclined to show his hand,--and a
delegation had been sent to try the temper of the assemblage in the
schoolhouse. They had been defeated and ejected. It was plain by this
time that the cavern had been visited and the loss of the munitions
discovered.

The speech of Captain Titus indicated that he knew who had taken
possession of the property, though Noah Lyon could not conjecture who
had given the information. He was inclined to believe that his brother
had jumped to his conclusion, though spies about the plantation might
have obtained some clew to the night visit to the sink-hole of the
Magnolia. The flatboat had been loaded with rocks and sunk in the
deepest water of the river, so that it need not betray the planter and
his people.

"We want Major Lyon and his cubs!" repeated Buck Lagger, in a voice loud
enough to be heard all over the building. "We don't mean to meddle with
nobody else, and all the rest o' you uns can go home without no trouble.
Hand over Major Lyon and his cubs so we can get the property he stole,
and we won't make no fuss."

"We shall not hand him over, but we will protect him to the last drop of
our blood!" yelled Squire Truman, hoarse with the strain upon his voice.
"Turn the ruffian out!"

But it was not necessary to turn him out, for he fled as soon as he had
executed his mission. There was no great commotion outside, though the
mob could be seen through the open door. The demand of Buck indicated
the principal object of the ruffians, and the purpose for which they had
assembled in the grove.

"My friends, I am grateful for your support and promise of protection to
me and my boys," said Noah Lyon, who had descended from the platform to
the floor, where the boys had joined him. "It appears from what the
messenger of the ruffians has said that I am the sole object of their
vengeance. I have the means here of taking good care of myself and my
boys, and I need not involve you all in a fight to protect me."

To a few of the prominent men near him he stated in a low tone, so that
he need not be heard by any ruffian lingering near the door, that his
boat was under the south window, and he could escape without confronting
the mob in the road. This course would save a fight, and the planter's
friends decided to adopt it. The door was closed, and the boys passed
out of the window first. They ordered the crew to be silent, and after
Noah Lyon had shaken hands with the principal men, he followed them. The
Magnolia was shoved out into the river. Deck headed it across the
stream, so as to keep the schoolhouse between it and the ruffians.

Under the lead of Colonel Belthorpe, with his revolver ready for use,
the Union men marched out of the building, forming four deep when they
reached the foot of the steps. The ruffians had placed themselves so
that the column passed through them, and they all scrutinized the faces
by the light of a fire they had kindled at the side of the road. They
did not see the victims for whom they were looking, and when the last of
the procession had passed them they set up a furious howl.

"We have been fooled!" shouted Buck Lagger, as he started after the
column. "Where is Major Lyon?" he demanded.

"He is not here," replied some one in the ranks.

"Where is he?"

"I don't know;" and he told the truth, for he had not heard the
planter's statement about the boat, and had not been near the window.

"Where is Major Lyon?" demanded Buck Lagger when he reached the head of
the procession.

"He came in his boat, and he has returned by it," replied Colonel
Belthorpe, with something like a chuckle at the discomfiture of the
ruffian.

"This is treachery!" howled Buck. "You were to give him up to us."

"No, we were not," returned the doughty colonel. "Didn't you hear us say
we would protect him to the last drop of our blood?"

"We will soon find him and his cubs!" growled the present leader, as he
fell back into the grove, followed by the rest of the mob.

The Magnolia reached the boat-pier, and Levi Bedford was there to
welcome the party.



CHAPTER XIX

THE CONFERENCE IN FORT BEDFORD


The two windows in the rear of the schoolhouse had been wide open all
the evening, and the negroes of the boat's crew could not help hearing
the excited speeches, and the thunders of applause in the meeting of the
Unionists; but not one of them spoke a word about them to the planter
and the boys. They pulled with all their might, and made a quick run to
the boat-pier.

The first thing that attracted the attention of Major Lyon--we may as
well call him so, as most of the people of Barcreek did--was the lights
in Fort Bedford. Through the embrasures which had been made in the front
and ends of the building it could be seen that the interior of the
building was brilliantly illuminated.

"You have come back safe and sound, Major," said Levi, as he took the
painter of the Magnolia.

"By the skin of our teeth we have," replied the planter.

"Then you have had trouble over there?" asked the overseer.

"Yes; some of the ruffians tried to break up the meeting, and we put
them out without any ceremony."

"Good!" exclaimed Levi heartily. "I feel as though I were an inch
taller. I was afraid our friends would let the ruffians bully you."

"Buck Lagger and about half a dozen others took places in the
schoolhouse, and began to yell while Squire Truman was making his
speech. He is a very smart young man, an eloquent orator, and full of
vim. When he proposed to put the disturbers out, we went in with him and
did it. The boys faced the music, and stood up to it like veteran
policemen," said Major Lyon.

"Good, boys! I knew you would do it," added Levi.

"But why is the fort lighted up so late in the evening, Levi?" asked the
planter.

"I have had a dozen hands at work there, all the carpenters and masons
included, and we have the building about ready for business," replied
the overseer. "The fact of it is, I am taking a more serious view of the
state of things than you appear to be doing, and I thought I would have
things ready for whatever comes, and as soon as it comes."

"I am glad you have done so; and I should have worked with you if I had
not had to attend the meeting," added the major. "The situation looks
decidedly serious to-night, and my eyes have been opened wide enough to
see it."

The boatmen had been ordered by the planter to take all the boats out of
the water; and while they were doing so the major informed the overseer
more fully in regard to the meeting, especially of the demand for the
restoration of the military supplies, and that he and the boys should be
given up to the mob.

"I didn't think Captain Titus would show himself in the meeting," said
Levi, as they walked up to the fort. "That Buck Lagger is one of the
biggest villains that goes unhung; and hanging would do him good. I
should say that the ball had opened."

The hands in the old ice-house were all hard at work, and it at once
appeared to the planter that a great deal of labor had been done in the
building during his absence. The cases had all been opened, the arms had
been removed from them, and arranged conveniently about the interior.
The two twelve-pounders had been mounted on their carriages, and the
pieces were pointed out at the two front embrasures, from which they
could be readily removed to those at the ends of the structure.

Two large chandeliers of three burners each had been removed from the
drawing-room of the mansion, and were suspended from the roof; but these
were for temporary use while the work was in progress. The ammunition
had been arranged for the present in the boxes outside of the building.

Major Lyon and the boys had hardly taken a hasty survey of the premises
in their changed aspect before the noise of carriage wheels was heard on
the road leading from the bridge to the fort by the side of the creek.
The vehicle was drawn by two horses, and was approaching at a rapid
rate.

"Who can that be?" asked Levi with a troubled expression on his round
face.

"It may be my brother coming to demand the arms," replied Noah Lyon, as
he took one of the muskets from the wall. "Probably he has a load of his
supporters with him if it is he."

"I think we are all ready for them," added the overseer; and he took a
gun, and handed one to each of the boys. "I think we had better go out
and meet them, for we don't care to have them see what we have been
doing here;" and he led the way hastily up the road.

His employer and the boys followed him, and soon confronted the
occupants of the wagon.

"Halt!" called Levi in a very decided tone, as he placed himself in
front of the team; and the driver reined in his horses. "What is your
business here?"

"Good-evening, Levi," came from the party in the wagon; and the
challenger promptly recognized the voice of Colonel Cosgrove. "I wish to
see Major Lyon at once."

"Here I am, Colonel; but I did not expect to see you again so soon,"
replied the planter, hastening to the carriage. "But drive on, and we
will see you at Fort Bedford."

"Fort Bedford!" exclaimed the Kentuckian; and he told his coachman to
drive on.

"This is Fort Bedford you see ahead of you; it is named after Levi, for
he originated the idea. To what am I indebted for this unexpected visit
to Riverlawn?" answered the planter.

"To the fact that we consider you in great danger, Major, and we thought
you would be in pressing need of assistance from your friends even this
very night."

"We are here to stand by you, Major," said one on the back seat of the
wagon, who proved to be Colonel Belthorpe.

"And to show that we can fight as well as talk," added Squire Truman,
who was seated at his side.

"I am very grateful to you for coming to my assistance, for you have all
proved this evening that talking is not your only strength," said the
planter, as he walked along at the side of the wagon.

"I see you are all armed and ready for business," continued Colonel
Cosgrove.

"When I heard the sound of your vehicle on the bridge, I suspected that
it might be my deluded brother and his supporters coming over here to
execute the threat he made at the meeting."

"No; after we got away from the ruffians, we talked the matter over,"
replied Colonel Cosgrove. "Buck Lagger demanded that the major and his
cubs should be given up to them when they did not find you and the boys
in the column. Then they swore that they would have you. I talked over
the situation with our friends here, and we concluded that the ruffians
would be over here before morning to capture their victims, and burn
your mansion. We decided to come here for this reason,--to warn you of
your danger, and help you beat them off if they came."

"I am very much obliged to you; but you will find everything in
readiness for their reception," replied Major Lyon, as they reached the
fort.

"You are lighted up here as though you were going to have a ball instead
of a fight," suggested Colonel Belthorpe.

"There are plenty of balls in the fort, but they are all
twelve-pounders," returned the major as the party alighted. "Levi has
been at work here while we were at the meeting, and he will explain
everything to you better than I can."

The trio of visitors entered the building, and were astonished at the
nature and extent of the preparations to defend the mansion and its
occupants from a hostile demonstration. Levi stated what he had done,
and pointed out everything in detail.

"You think the ruffians are coming over here to-night, do you, Colonel
Cosgrove?" asked the planter.

"I think they are on their way here now," replied the Kentuckian.

"Is there any other way they can get to your house than over that
bridge?" asked Colonel Belthorpe, who was the only military man in the
party who had seen real service, though Levi had been in the militia.

"There is no other way," replied Levi, when his employer nodded to him.
"No mob could get through the swamp back of the mansion in the daytime,
to say nothing of doing it in the night. The bridge is the only
approach; and, if worse comes to worst, we can cut that away."

"You are in a very strong position, and I don't believe it will be
necessary to cut away the bridge," added the military gentleman. "They
can only cross the creek in boats."

"Our boats are all taken out of the water."

"With those twelve-pounders you can beat off a regiment. You have
everything for the defence except soldiers," added the authority of the
party.

"Perhaps we can find them when they are needed," said Major Lyon.

The lawyer understood, but the planter did not. It was a delicate
subject, and it could not be considered in that presence. The former
realized this fact, and suggested that something ought to be done to
give them notice of the coming of the hostile ruffians.

"That's so," added Colonel Belthorpe. "I think you had better station
the two boys, who have proved that they have pluck enough for any duty,
where they can give us early notice of the approach of the enemy."

"We shall want the boys here, and a couple of negroes will do for that
duty just as well," replied Levi.

"All right," answered the military gentleman, who made no objection to
the employment of the servants for this duty. "Give each of them a
revolver, and tell them to fire three shots if any force approaches."

Rosebud and Mose were detailed for service at the bridge; and perhaps
this was the first time that negroes had ever been armed on the
plantation. They were proud of the position assigned to them, and
departed on the run, promising to be as faithful as white men could be.

"Where are you going to find your soldiers when you want them, Major
Lyon?" inquired Colonel Belthorpe. "You hinted that you knew where to
look for them."

"I think we had better not discuss that subject just now," interposed
the lawyer, as he looked around him at the negroes, who had finished all
the work given them to do, and were listening with their ears wide open
to all that was said.

Levi solved the difficulty by sending all the negroes out of the
building, and directing them to patrol the bank of the creek as far as
the swamp.

"On the question of enlisting negroes in the army, either as regulars or
volunteers, I have not yet come to a decision," said Major Lyon. "But in
defence of my property, and the protection of my family I should have no
objection to using all my hands who were willing to be so employed."

"Arm your negroes!" exclaimed Colonel Belthorpe.

"Not to fight the battles of the nation, but to protect my wife and
children and my property," answered the Riverlawn planter. "We can
muster but four white men, and two of them are boys. If a mob of fifty
or a hundred or five hundred ruffians come over here to hang me and burn
my house, shall I let them do so rather than employ the willing hands of
men with black faces to defend myself?" demanded Noah Lyon, earnestly
enough to mount almost to the height of eloquence.

"By the great Jehoshaphat, I believe you are right!" exclaimed Colonel
Belthorpe, with a stamp of his foot. "I did not look at it in that way.
But making soldiers of the niggers is another thing, and I'm not ready
for that."

"We are all agreed so far as the situation on this place is concerned.
If there were any State or national force at hand to call upon for
protection against these reckless ruffians, I should invoke its aid; but
there is none, and we must protect ourselves," added Colonel Cosgrove.
"I heartily approve of Major Lyon's purpose to use his negroes to defend
himself and his property."

"Then it is high time to get them in training for this service," said
the major with energy. "Levi, call in the hands you just sent away."

Two of them came back without any calling, for they burst into the fort
in a state of high excitement.

"Well, Bitts, what's the matter now?" asked Levi very calmly.

"Gouge and me done went down to de rapids, whar we kin see de bridge
ober de riber, and dar's more'n two tousand men comin' ober it!" gasped
Bitts.

"Call it fifty or a hundred, Bitts. But no matter, boy; call in all the
hands except the two on the creek bridge."

Both of the negroes rushed off on their mission.



CHAPTER XX

THE APPROACH OF THE RUFFIAN FORCES


If the negroes asked no questions, most of them were intelligent enough
to interpret the preparations which had been made at Fort Bedford. The
six boatmen who had remained half the night in the rear of the
schoolhouse had had time enough to do some talking among the hands,
though they had come in contact only with those who had been at work on
the fort.

These men had listened to the tumult in the building and in the road,
and through the open window near the boat had come to their ears the
demand of Titus Lyon when admitted, and the reply of the meeting. They
knew that Colonel Cosgrove, Colonel Belthorpe, and Squire Truman had
taken an active part in the meeting, and they could understand for what
purpose they had come to Riverlawn so late in the night.

The people on this plantation were doubtless better informed and more
intelligent than upon most of the estates in this portion of the South,
for they had always been treated with what other planters regarded as
imprudent indulgence. In the time of Colonel Lyon, slavery had been a
patriarchal institution, and the negroes regarded him as a father,
guide, and friend rather than as a taskmaster.

Many of them had learned to read, and even carried their education
several points farther. The planter had given them his illustrated
papers, and others fell into their hands. Their usefulness increased
with their intelligence; and to oblige his neighbors the colonel had
occasionally sent his carpenters and masons to do jobs for them.

The more intelligent of them had kept their eyes and ears open to learn
the "signs of the times" during the troubles which agitated the State;
and there were those among them who were well informed in matters which
were generally believed to be above their comprehension. They went about
among the people of other plantations, and when they obtained any news
in regard to the movements of either party, it was circulated among the
whole of them.

Neither Noah Lyon nor Levi Bedford ever said anything about politics or
the struggle between the contending parties for the mastery of the
State; but the silence of the people indicated that they understood the
situation. Though they were treated with what was considered extreme
indulgence, and were entirely devoted to the planter and his family, the
instinct of freedom doubtless existed in all of them.

In a short time about a dozen of the negroes had come to the fort in
obedience to the order of the overseer. Half of them were mechanics who
had been at work during the evening. They were collected in the
building, and the white men present proceeded to interrogate them in
regard to their qualifications.

"What is your name?" asked Colonel Belthorpe of the leader of the
boat-crew.

"General, sar," replied he.

"You are a big fellow; did you ever fire a gun?" asked the planter.

"Yes, sar; Cunnel Lyon done send me often to shoot some ducks for de
dinner."

"Are you a good shot?"

"De boys say I am," answered General modestly. "I done bring down tree
quails out'n five on de wing, mars'r."

"Did you ever fire a rifle?"

"Yes, sar; Christmas time mars'r cunnel lend us his two rifles to shoot
at a mark for a prize ob half a dollar; dis nigger won de prize,"
replied General, with a magnificent exhibition of ivory.

"Are you willing to fight for your master?" demanded Colonel Belthorpe
sharply, as though he expected a negative response to the question.

"Yes, sar!" answered General with more energy than he had spoken before.
"Ready to be killed for Mars'r Lyon; an' so's all de boys on de place."

"You will do," added the planter, as he handed him a breech-loader and a
small package of ammunition. "Do you know how to use this piece?"

"Yes, sar; seen 'em before," replied the boatman, as he took the weapon
and retired.

With the boys there were seven white men present, and each one of them
had examined a servant in regard to his qualifications. The questions
were similar, though not the same as those put by Colonel Belthorpe; and
it appeared that all of them were more or less familiar with the use of
firearms, for they were the best informed and most reliable hands on the
estate. They were all provided with breech-loaders and cartridges.
General and Dummy were sent with weapons to Rosebud and Mose at the
bridge, and ordered to remain there; but they were not to fire upon the
ruffians.

"Now we have a force of twenty-two men," said Colonel Belthorpe. "I
don't know about these recruits with black faces, and I have my doubts
about making soldiers of them. Fall in, and we will march up to the
bridge."

All the white men were armed with revolvers as well as rifles. The men
did not "fall in" in the military sense of the term, but simply followed
their leader, as the experienced soldier, who had rendered most of his
active service in fighting the Indians, was tacitly recognized to be.

"Don't you think we had better put out the lights in the fort, Colonel
Belthorpe?" asked Levi.

"By no means. I have had fighting enough with cut-throat Indians to
satisfy my tastes in that direction, and I am not anxious for any more
of it," replied the planter. "Let the building remain lighted, and it
will assure the ruffians that you are awake over here. If they will
about wheel and go off, that will suit me better than a fight with
them."

"Just my sentiments, Colonel," added Major Lyon.

"The creek is about fifty feet wide by the bridge," said Colonel
Cosgrove. "It widens at its mouth to about a hundred. Is there any way
by which the ruffians can get over at your boat-pier?"

"Without a boat there is no way to get across," replied Levi. "They must
come across the bridge if they come at all."

"There they come!" exclaimed Major Lyon, as he pointed to the
cross-roads where the creek road branched off from the others.

"They have provided themselves with lanterns and torches," said Levi.
"We can see just what they are about."

As they came opposite the boat-pier the ruffians halted. They were not
marching in any kind of order, but all of them were straggling along as
though the Home Guard to which they belonged had not yet done any
drilling.

"What have they stopped there for, Colonel Belthorpe?" asked Major Lyon.

"They can see your fort by this time, and the lights have attracted
their attention," replied the military gentleman. "They can see that you
are ready for them, and perhaps they will not deem it advisable to come
any farther."

"I hope they will not," added the owner of Riverlawn.

The aggressive force remained a long time at this spot. In the stillness
of the night the sounds which came up the creek indicated that a dispute
was in progress in the ranks of the enemy. It looked as though the
ruffians were divided among themselves in regard to the prudence of
advancing any farther. If Titus Lyon was there, he could readily see
that the stone ice-house had undergone some change. The brilliant light
within it flashed out through the open door in the rear, and through the
three embrasures in sight.

"Major Lyon, do those rascals know that you took possession of the
military stores, or do they only guess at it?" asked Colonel Cosgrove.

"They know the arms they stored in a sink-hole cavern are gone, and they
appeared at the meeting to know that I had caused their removal; but I
have no idea how or where they obtained their information," replied the
planter; and while they were waiting the approach of the ruffians, he
gave a full account of the discovery and removal of the ammunition.

"They don't know that three extra white men are with you, and I don't
think they would believe you would arm your servants, or that they would
be good for anything if you did so," added Colonel Belthorpe. "Perhaps
it would be a good idea to return to the fort and send a twelve-pound
shot over the heads of that crowd."

"It would let them know that we have the cannon, if nothing more," said
Colonel Cosgrove.

"You are a lawyer, Colonel; can't Captain Titus recover these arms by
process of law?" inquired the other colonel.

"There is no law in this part of the State at the present time. Men have
been murdered within a few miles of this spot, and no notice has been
taken of the fact. Those arms were brought here for the use of the Home
Guards, which is the same as saying that they are for the use of the
Secessionists. The law won't touch the arms," replied the legal
gentleman very deliberately.

"They have settled their dispute, whatever it was, and the ruffians are
moving again," said Levi. "It is too late to send a twelve-pound shot
over their heads, and if there is to be any fight, it will be at the
bridge."

"You are right," replied Colonel Belthorpe, after a long look at the
enemy; for as the road where they were was parallel to his line of
vision, it was difficult to determine whether they were moving or not.
"Let them come; and while they are doing so we will have a little drill
of the forces."

He formed the six white men in one line, and the fifteen negroes in
another, though some of the latter were only a shade or two darker than
the former. Levi Bedford soon proved that he was familiar with the
manual, and he was sent to drill the dark section of the army. But the
exercise was confined to loading and firing. The men were drawn up in
line across the bridge, and instructed as far as "shoulder arms," and
then the drill officer explained how they were to conduct themselves.

"The ruffians are getting pretty near, Colonel," suggested Major Lyon.

"We are all ready for them," replied he.

The men were then placed at "Order arms," and permitted to watch the
approach of the enemy. Their torches, which had probably been made in a
birch grove on the other side of the river, and must have been
occasionally renewed with material brought for the purpose, blazed
brightly, and lighted up the road, so that they could be plainly seen.

"There are at least a hundred of them," said the officer in command.

"And some of them have muskets," added Colonel Cosgrove.

"It looks as though some one or more of us might be shot," continued
Major Lyon. "If there is any man here, black or white, who wants to
leave and find a safer place than this may be in a few minutes, he is at
liberty to do so. I don't want any man to render unwilling service on my
account; and you can make peace with that gang by giving me and my boys
up to them."

"Never! Never! Never!" yelled every one of the servants.

"Mars'r Lyon foreber!" shouted General.

"Glory to God! We all die for Mars'r Lyon!" cried Dummy the preacher.

"Now all hands give three cheers!" interposed Colonel Belthorpe; and
they were given as vigorously as on the deck of a man-of-war. "That will
convince the enemy that we are wide awake, and don't mean to run away."

"I reckon that squad is just a little astonished about this time," said
Levi.

For this reason, or some other, the enemy suddenly made a halt, and the
tumult of many voices came up the road. If Captain Titus was in command
of the enemy, his force was not reduced to anything like discipline.
From the sounds there appeared to be many commanders, each of whom
wanted to have his own way. The defenders of the mansion waited full a
quarter of an hour before the tumult subsided, indicating that some
point had been carried, though enough of the shouts of the stormy
ruffians indicated that they were in favor of going ahead and making the
attack. It was plain to the listeners that some of the gang had cooler
heads, and knew what prudence meant.

Presently four men were seen marching up the road towards the bridge,
the two at the flanks carrying flaming torches, as if to illuminate a
white flag borne on a pole, which had possibly cost some member of the
troop his white shirt. The two in the middle were evidently the
officers, or ambassadors, of the ruffians. They came up to their end of
the bridge, and halted there.



CHAPTER XXI

THE BEGINNING OF HOSTILITIES


The representatives of the ruffians had halted about fifty feet from the
line of the defenders of Riverlawn, and they could be distinctly seen.
It was Buck Lagger who flaunted the flag of truce, and by his side stood
Titus Lyon. The other two were simply torch-bearers. There the party
stood, and there they seemed to be inclined to stand for an indefinite
period of time. They could see the line of the defenders extended across
the bridge, and the torches lent enough of their light to the scene to
enable Captain Titus to discover that the men were all provided with
muskets, though they probably could not make out the character of the
weapons.

"This is all nonsense!" exclaimed Colonel Belthorpe, apparently
disgusted with this peaceable display on the part of the enemy.

"Captain Titus wishes only to repeat the demand for the return of the
arms," added Colonel Cosgrove. "But we can't spare them just yet."

"That is their ostensible purpose, but the real one is to see whether or
not we are in condition to receive them," suggested Major Lyon.

"But I am not inclined to wait all night merely to be looked at,"
continued the commander of the forces impatiently.

"I think you had better speak to them, for they can hear you well enough
at this distance," said Major Lyon.

"I am more inclined to march over the bridge and drive them away than to
parley all night with them about nothing," replied Colonel Belthorpe.
"In military matters I believe in vigorous action."

"According to the customs of civilized warfare we should respect a flag
of truce, though we believe it is only an expedient to gain time," added
Colonel Cosgrove.

"What do you want?" demanded the commander, adopting the suggestion of
the planter of Riverlawn.

"We want to settle this business, and I want to see Major Lyon," replied
Captain Titus.

"Come to the middle of the bridge, and he will meet you," shouted the
officer in command.

Titus advanced with his three supporters, marching very slowly.

"I suppose I must see him," said Major Lyon, who would evidently have
been glad to be spared the interview.

"Three of us will go with you, and make an even thing of it," added
Colonel Belthorpe, as Noah Lyon stopped forward to discharge his
disagreeable duty.

The commander placed Colonel Cosgrove on one side of him and Squire
Truman on the other, taking position in front of them himself. He saw
the planter of the estate did not like to meet his brother.

"Major Lyon, I think you had better let me do the talking, for the
situation must be very annoying to you," suggested the leader.

"I shall be very glad to have you do so, Colonel," answered the planter.
"I am extremely sorry that my own brother is the leader of the ruffians,
and I did not expect to see him engaged in such a work. He warned me
yesterday that my place might be burned, and that I might be hung to one
of the big trees, though he had prevented such an outrage so far."

"I suppose the loss of the military stores has roused him to the highest
pitch of wrath, which he manifested in his visit to the meeting. But if
he can proceed so far as to bring a horde of ruffians to burn your house
and hang you to a tree, you can't do less than defend yourself, even if
he is your own brother," said the lawyer.

"I do not shrink from my duty," added Noah Lyon.

"March!" exclaimed the leader, as he advanced to the middle of the
bridge, where the party from the other side had halted by this time.

Captain Titus was evidently surprised to find his brother supported by
two of the most distinguished men of the county, to say nothing of the
eloquent village lawyer. He could not help seeing that there was law
enough on the other side, and that they knew what they were doing.

"What is your business here?" demanded Colonel Belthorpe in a very stern
tone.

"I stated my position in the meet'n' you held to-night, and you heard
what I had to say," Captain Titus began.

"We all heard you; and it is not necessary to repeat it," replied the
commander. "What is your business here at this time of night?"

"We came here for the arms and ammunition that was stole from us last
night. They were my property till they were given out to the company,"
Captain Titus explained.

"What company? Do you mean the ruffians you have led over here? They are
a horde of lawless men. You have no authority to raise a company, and it
does not appear in what service they are to be employed. They have made
war upon the peaceable people of this county, as they did this evening
at the schoolhouse."

"We hain't made war on nobody!" protested Titus, warming up to the
occasion.

"You sent some of your force into the schoolroom to break up a Union
meeting; and that was making war upon the people there assembled. The
man at your side with the white flag was one that I assisted in putting
out. We knew the arms were for the use of these ruffians in terrorizing
the whole country," said Colonel Belthorpe in the most emphatic speech;
and he used the "we" to shift the responsibility from the shoulders of
Major Lyon to those of himself and associates. "Captain Titus Lyon, you
and your gang have been bullying and persecuting the Union citizens of
this vicinity long enough; and from this time they intend to defend
themselves in earnest. You have made war on them, and the arms and
ammunition were simply the spoils of war."

"I come over here to talk with my brother, and not with you," Titus
objected, upset by the logic and by the announcement of the intentions
of the Unionists.

"Colonel Belthorpe represents me, as he does all the rest of us,"
interposed Major Lyon. "You threatened me yesterday to your heart's
content, Brother Titus, to burn my house and hang me to a big tree; and
I don't care to hear anything more of it."

"I have said all it is necessary to say," resumed the commander; "and we
decline to hear anything more from you. We shall defend Major Lyon and
his plantation from all enemies who may appear. The conference is
ended."

"Defend him with niggers!" shouted Buck Lagger. "Are we white men to
stand up and fight niggers in this war, as you call it? It is an
outrage, and we won't stand it! We will hang every nigger we catch with
arms in his possession!"

"Then a white ruffian will hang to the next tree! It will take two to
play at that game," responded the commander vigorously. "When about a
hundred ruffians, composed mostly of white trash, come over here to burn
Major Lyon's mansion and hang him to a big tree, he is quite justified
in calling in his servants to defend his property and himself."

The colonel had his doubts about the propriety of arming the negroes,
and he wished to be understood even by the enemy; and he certainly made
a plain case of it.

"We have had enough of your gabble!" continued the leader. "We decline
any further communication with you under a flag of truce or otherwise.
If you and your ruffians don't retire from this vicinity within five
minutes, we shall open fire upon you! About face, march!"

The three men behind the colonel turned about, and deliberately marched
back to the end of the bridge nearest to the mansion. The party of the
flag hesitated a few moments, and then returned to the main body of the
ruffians. At the end of the bridge the Riverlawn planter found his wife
and the two girls. From the windows of the mansion they had seen the
blazing torches of the ruffians, and the party who had marched from the
fort to oppose them.

They found Deck and Artie in the ranks drawn up on the bridge; and they
had explained the situation, including a brief account of the tumult at
the meeting. Mrs. Lyon and her daughters were much alarmed for the
safety of the male members of the family; but Levi succeeded in quieting
them, so that they were quite calm when the major returned.

"We have been terribly frightened, Noah," said Mrs. Lyon. "When you and
the boys did not come home from the meeting, I was afraid something had
happened to you."

The two colonels and the village lawyer saluted the ladies, and assured
them that there was no danger, and that they were amply able to defend
the place from the assault of a thousand men.

"Now go home, Ruth, and go to bed," added Noah. "We will join you as
soon as we have driven off these ruffians, and it won't take long to do
it."

She accepted this advice, though she still appeared to have her doubts,
and went back to the mansion. What she had seen looked like war to her;
and though she had freely consented that her husband and the two boys
should join the army of the Union, she and the girls had some of a
woman's timidity in the face of the awful calamities of actual war.

"What are they about now?" asked Colonel Belthorpe, as his friends took
their places in the ranks.

"They have sent a dozen men or more down the bank of the creek, and they
are out of sight now," replied Levi.

"They are looking for a chance to get across the stream," added the
commander. "They had better stay where they are if they don't intend to
go home. Is there any boat on that side of the river?"

"No boat of any kind; but there is a lot of logs on the shore, about
half-way to the river, and they might build a raft of them. I did not
think of those logs before, or I should have rolled them into the
creek," replied the overseer.

"It will be the worse for them if they attempt to cross. Some one said
you had served in an artillery company in Tennessee, Mr. Bedford; is
that so?" inquired the commander.

"That is so, Colonel; and I know how to handle a twelve-pounder,"
replied Levi.

"How many men will it take to manage one of the guns in the fort?"

"If you will give me the two boys, I can send a shot across the creek
every five minutes, and in less time when we get a little used to the
piece."

"Then take the boys, if Major Lyon does not object, and go to the fort."

"Of course I don't object, Colonel," added the father.

"We don't want to kill any of the ruffians if we can help it; but I am
decidedly in favor of driving them away. I saw plenty of broken lumber
about the fort; and I think you had better kindle a big fire on the
shore of the creek, so that you can see over on the other side. If they
attempt to build a raft, give them a shot; but not otherwise," said
Colonel Belthorpe, still straining his eyes to ascertain in the darkness
what the squad were doing on the bank of the creek.

"Shall you remain here, Colonel?" asked Levi.

"Not at all; we shall march over the bridge. This is a neighborhood war,
and I believe in carrying it on upon peace principles as far as
possible, and the first shot must come from the other side," replied the
planter from outside.

Levi departed for Fort Bedford, attended by Deck and Artie. The
commander then arranged his men in ranks by fours, and taught them how
to come in line again, using some technical terms which the negroes did
not understand; but he succeeded in getting them to perform the
manoeuvre quite clumsily. They marched over the bridge by fours. The
enemy still occupied the position where they had first halted, and the
colonel continued the march till the force was within hail of the enemy.

Some of the ruffians had muskets; and whether in obedience to the orders
of their leaders or not, three random shots were fired. This was enough
to satisfy the conscience of Colonel Belthorpe, and he gave the command
to halt, and the men came into line again across the road.

"Ready!" he shouted; and the men all brought themselves into position as
they had before been instructed. "Aim!"

These orders and the movements of the men appeared to produce a decided
sensation in the rabble in front of them; for they were simply a crowd,
not formed in any order. Some of them took to their heels, and were seen
running down the road at a breakneck speed.

"Fire!" added the commander.

A terrible yell came back as the men fired their rifles. That volley was
enough for them, and they bolted before the smoke of the powder had
blown aside. Two men were seen lying on the ground, killed or wounded,
and the ruffians were too much shaken to give them any attention.
Half-way to the river they halted again, as did the pursuing force. The
enemy scattered at this point; but in a few moments the whizzing of
bullets was heard over their heads by the defenders of the plantation.



CHAPTER XXII

THE FIRST SHOT FROM FORT BEDFORD


Levi Bedford had made all possible haste to reach the fort, and the boys
had not lingered far behind him, though they could not help giving some
of their attention to the enemy on the other side of the creek. The
ruffians remained at the position they had taken; and certainly they had
made no progress in the accomplishment of the purpose which had brought
them to the vicinity of Riverlawn. Probably if the darkness had not
concealed the artillery party, those with guns would have fired at them.

"Now, boys, the first order of Colonel Belthorpe was to build a fire,
and we will attend to that," said the overseer, as he led the way to the
rear of the stone building.

"Of course I obey orders," added Artie, "but I don't believe much in the
fire. As soon as it blazes up it will give the ruffians light enough to
see us. Some of them have guns, and they will fire at us then."

"What do you suppose these stone walls are for, Artie?" asked Levi with
his usual smile.

"They were put up to keep the ice cool originally," replied Artie.

"Then they ought to keep us cool," said the overseer. "When the man with
a big mouth opened it, the dentist told him he had opened it wide
enough, for he proposed to stand outside. But we don't propose to stand
outside, but inside, as soon as we have lighted the fire."

"But we have to see what the ruffians are about on the other side of the
creek; for you are not to fire a shot unless they attempt to build a
raft," suggested Artie.

"We can look through the port-holes, can't we?" asked Deck. "If they
build a raft they will make a fire the first thing they do, and we can
see what they are doing."

"We shall find a way to ascertain what they are doing," added Levi, as
he led the way to obtain more armfuls of the broken boards; and they
were the remains of the cases in which the arms and ammunition had been
packed.

The wood was piled up a couple of rods from the fort, though a little at
one side, so as not to obstruct the view of the party. Only a portion of
the fuel was used, and the rest saved to replenish the fire. The match
was applied, and in a short time the blaze mounted above the pile, and
lighted the surrounding region.

"Now, boys, if you feel as though you might get a bullet through your
heads, you can go into the fort, and you will be safe there," said Levi.

"Are you not going in, Levi?"

"I am when the occasion requires; but I want to see what they are about
over there," replied the overseer.

As he was in no haste to put the stone walls between himself and a
possible shot, the pride of the boys would not permit them to do so, and
it became a sort of contention to see who would be the first to seek
shelter.

"The Seceshers are firing at our people!" exclaimed Deck, quite excited
as he realized that hostilities had actually begun.

"The ruffians are firing, each on his own hook, for there is no order
among them," added Levi, as he heard several shots.

The plantation force could now be just seen, marching down the road, by
the light of the enemy's torches. The random shots from the ruffians
were continued, and it was evident that each man was his own commander.

"Colonel Belthorpe will not stand that sort of thing for any great
length of time," Levi remarked, as his eyes and ears gave him further
information in regard to the situation on the other side.

"They say chance shots sometimes do the most mischief, or I have read it
in some story," said Deck. "I hope one of them will not hit father."

"Of course any one of us is liable to be hit while this game is going
on. Perhaps you had better go into the fort, for this fire will soon
attract the enemy's attention," suggested the overseer.

"When you get ready to go in we will go in with you," replied Artie.

"There is no need of exposing all three of us to the changes of a shot."

"Then one of us boys will stay out, for you are nearly twice as big as
either one of us, and therefore twice as likely to get hit," laughed
Deck.

"There!" exclaimed Levi, without noticing the remark, "now there will be
music in the air!"

"What is it? I don't hear anything," added Deck.

"Don't you see that the colonel has halted his force? Now they have
formed a line across the road," continued the overseer, as he closely
watched the movements on the other side of the creek.

The fort party were silent with expectation and anxiety, and then they
heard the orders of the commander, which ended in a volley from the
fifteen breech-loaders. The birch torches still lighted up the ground,
and the observers saw two men fall. This discharge produced a panic in
the rabble, and they fled from the road to the shelter of a grove that
lay beyond. From the fort it could be seen that a few of the ruffians,
with guns in their hands, had taken refuge behind the trunks of the
large trees, where they were reloading their pieces.

"That's Indian fighting," said Levi. "Our men, from their position,
can't see these skulkers, who will have a good chance to pick off some
of them at their leisure. We must attend to this matter."

The overseer elevated his rifle, and took deliberate aim at one of the
ruffians behind a big tree, and fired. He saw his man fall. Deck and
Artie followed his example, though they could not see any single
individuals at whom they might direct their aim. They all continued to
fire till the chambers of their weapons were empty.

"I don't believe we hit anybody with those last shots; for as soon as my
man dropped and the others could see where the shot came from, they ran
away or moved to the other side of the tree," said Levi, as he carefully
observed the situation.

The retreat of the main body of the ruffians, taking the torches with
them, left the scene in darkness. The number and direction of the last
discharges assured those who had sought the shelter of the trees that
they were flanked. Nothing could be seen in the gloom of the grove; and,
as no more shots came from that quarter, it was supposed that the
skulkers had retreated to the main body.

"There's a light down the creek, Levi!" exclaimed Deck, as a blaze
flashed up at a point nearly opposite the boat-pier.

"That's where the logs lay," added the overseer. "The squad that was
sent down the bank of the stream has got to work at last."

"Perhaps they have been at work for the last half hour," suggested
Artie. "They didn't need any light to enable them to roll the logs into
the creek and build a raft."

"Quite right, my boy; you have hit the nail on the head. By the light of
the fire I can now see the raft, though they haven't finished it,"
replied Levi.

"Hadn't we better fire at them?" asked Deck.

"You might as well fire at the moon, my boys," returned the overseer.
"You haven't had much practice with these breech-loaders, and you
couldn't hit anything at the distance they are from us."

"But where is our army?" asked Artie rather facetiously.

"Colonel Belthorpe don't seem to be following up the enemy," replied
Levi. "Perhaps, as the ruffians are retreating, he is satisfied to let
them go home and dream over their work of this evening. The torches of
the main body of the enemy seem to be going out, and very likely their
stock of birch bark is all gone. They are about half-way between our
force and the raft."

"They are within rifle-shot of us, anyhow," suggested Deck. "We might
give them a little more waking up."

"Don't be too enthusiastic, Mr. Lyon. We don't win it to kill any more
of them than is absolutely necessary," said the overseer rather more
seriously than usual. "They have the raft in the water, and we will go
in the fort and see what can be done for them."

Neither of the boys knew anything about artillery tactics, or of the
process of loading a field-piece, and Levi proceeded to instruct them.

The creek bent a little to the south as it approached the river, and the
chief gunner directed one of the pieces at the western embrasure, so
that it covered the fire built near the logs. The inside of the opening
was bevelled, so that he could bring the cannon to bear upon the
objective point. It was then drawn in, and the charge, with a solid
shot, was rammed home by the boys.

The cannon was run out again at the embrasure, and Levi pointed it,
mindful of the instructions of the colonel commanding, so that the
missile would go over the men at work on the raft.

"Now you may go outside, and see what you can see," continued Levi. "I
don't mean to hit the men there, or even the raft; but I want you to
notice what effect the shot produces upon the ruffians at the work."

"All right, Levi; sing out when you are going to pull the lock-string,"
replied Deck as he followed Artie out of the fort.

"Ready! Fire!" shouted the overseer when time enough for them to take a
position had elapsed.

The discharge of the cannon gave forth a tremendous report, and the boys
heard the whizzing of the shot as it flew like a flash through the air.
The retreating army of the ruffians suddenly halted without any orders
from Captain Titus or any one else as the echo of the report struck upon
their ears. Doubtless they were astonished; but they were in darkness,
for the last of the torches had gone out, and it could only be seen that
they had halted as abruptly as though the shot from the piece had mowed
its way through the mob.

The shot, as intended, passed over the heads of the men at work on the
raft, and struck into a tree on the other side of the road, causing a
heavy branch to fall to the ground. The raft-builders suddenly took to
their heels, and disappeared in the grove.

"Did it hit anything, boys?" asked Levi, coming out of the fort.

"Nothing but a big tree beyond the road, and a large branch fell to the
ground," replied Deck.

"I had an idea that you had been fooling us at first, Levi," added
Artie, "and had fired at the main body, for they stopped as short as
though the cannon ball had gone through the crowd. All the men at work
on the raft knocked off instantly, and ran away as though the shot were
chasing them."

"I reckon we needn't fire another shot, for the ruffians won't go near
that raft again," added Levi. "I fired over their heads, as I told you I
should, and nobody was hurt by that shot. I dropped one man behind that
tree, and that is all the mischief I have done."

"Are you sorry for that one?" asked Deck.

"I am sorry for him, but not that I hit him, for he might have killed
two or three of our people from his hiding-place behind the tree. I
don't believe in killing anybody as long as it can possibly be avoided;
but the ruffians began the shooting, and they are responsible for the
consequences. At least half a dozen Union men have been killed in this
county by those ruffians, or those like them; and your father might have
been swinging from a big tree by this time if we hadn't taken the bull
by the horns. No, I am not sorry for anything I have done!"

"And the house would have been burnt down, and mother and the girls
subjected to the insults of these miscreants," added Artie; and all
three of them were much moved as they contemplated the possibilities
before them.

"Can you see anything of our people over there, Deck?" asked Levi.

"Not a thing; it is too dark."

"I don't believe there will be anything more to do at the fort to-night,
though the affair may not be over yet," continued Levi, after he had
anxiously peered through the gloom to discover the rest of the defenders
of Riverlawn. "I want you, Deck, to go up to the bridge, and down the
creek road, and ascertain what our people are doing. You may report to
Colonel Belthorpe that we have driven off the builders of the raft, and
that the main body of the ruffians have fallen back from the road into
the grove."

"All right, Levi," replied Deck, who was very glad to be appointed to
such a mission; and, with his breech-loader on his shoulder, he marched
in the direction indicated at a lively pace, though he was so tired and
sleepy that it required a determined effort to enable him to keep on his
feet, for it was now two o'clock in the morning.

When he reached the bridge he found there, to his intense astonishment,
a dozen horses, some of them with saddles and bridles on, and others
with bridles, and blankets in place of saddles. They were in charge of
Frank the coachman, with Woolly and Mose to assist him.



CHAPTER XXIII

THE PARTY ATTACKED IN THE CROSS-CUT


Deck Lyon could not imagine any possible use that could be made of the
horses in charge of the boys, and it was not probable that those in care
of them could afford him any information on the subject. It was evident
that some new movement was contemplated, and it looked as though the
commander of the forces intended to chase the ruffians with mounted men.

"Where is my father, Frank?" asked Deck.

"He's down the road with the rest of them; but I reckon they are all
marching back to the bridge," replied the coachman.

"What are you going to do with all these horses?" asked Deck, as he
began to move on.

"Dunno, Mars'r Deck, what they are for; but Mars'r Lyon sent us for
them."

Frank knew nothing about the use to which the horses were to be put, and
Deck continued on his way over the bridge. The fire from the blazing
boards in front of Fort Bedford sent some of the light across the creek;
but it did not reveal the presence of the defenders of the plantation,
and the messenger could not see anything of the force. It could not be
far away, and he continued to advance.

Just beyond the bridge he met a wagon coming towards him. When it came
near enough for him to see it in the gloom, he found that it belonged to
the plantation. Three men sat on the front seat, and were chattering at
a lively rate as they drew near.

"Who is driving that team?" demanded Deck.

"Me, Mars'r Deck," replied the man who held the reins.

"Who's me?"

"Clinker, sar, wid Bitts and Filly," replied the driver, who was the
blacksmith of the estate.

"What are you doing with the wagon over here?"

"Cart'n' off de wounded, mars'r."

"How many have you?"

"On'y two, sar."

These were the ruffians, doubtless, who had fallen when the volley was
fired at the beginning of the affair.

"You haven't got them all, then," added Deck. "There is another opposite
the fort, near a big tree, who was hit by Levi, firing from the other
side of the creek."

"We go for him when we done unload dese we got," said Clinker.

"Can you tell me where my father and the rest of them are?" inquired
Deck, who could see nothing of the main body.

"In de grove, Mars'r Deck. Wen de ruff'ns done runned off dat way Mars'r
Belt'orpe lead de sodjers arter 'em."

Deck was afraid he might not find his father before morning if they
pursued the retreating ruffians in that direction; for they would have
to follow the river, when they reached it, about ten miles before they
could come to a bridge by which they could cross. But he had a mission,
and he bravely fought against the fatigue and sleepiness that beset him,
and struck into the grove by a road some distance below the bridge over
the creek.

He had not gone twenty rods in the gloom of the wood before he heard the
sound of voices and the tramp of footsteps ahead of him, and he was
confident the force was returning to the plantation. He soon confronted
the little column, and placed himself by the side of the commander, who
was leading the way.

"Levi sent me over to report what we have been doing," said he.

"I heard the report of one of your guns, and I concluded that you had
work on your hands," replied Colonel Belthorpe, without slacking his
speed or halting to listen to the report.

"Not much work, Colonel. The ruffians were building a raft at the pile
of logs, and we fired over their heads, as ordered. The big branch of a
tree came down, and all the men on the raft and near them ran into the
woods. The road is all clear of them, and they are not going home by the
Rapids Bridge."

"No, the villains!" exclaimed the commander. "They have other business
on their hands. I am afraid we have been too tender with them."

"One thing more, Colonel, and I have done," continued Deck. "When the
ruffians retreated before your fire, those who had guns stationed
themselves behind the trees and began to fire at you. Then we three
opened upon them with the rifles, and when Levi fired a man dropped.
After that we saw nothing more of them."

"All right, my boy," added the colonel, hurrying his march. "I thought
the villains were only making a detour, intending to reach the Rapids
Bridge; but I find they are marching in the direction of my plantation."

Colonel Cosgrove and Major Lyon had been called forward to listen to the
report of Deck, and it was decided that, so far as Riverlawn was
concerned, the battle had been fought and won, inasmuch as the enemy had
been driven away. By the time the report was finished and the result
announced, the force had reached the bridge.

"Where are you going now, Clinker?" asked Major Lyon, when the wagon
returned from the hospital, as the small building set apart for the sick
of the plantation hands was called, and appeared on the bridge.

"Mars'r Deck done tell me a man dropped behind a tree down de creek, and
I'm gwine for him," replied the blacksmith.

"Go over and get the small wagon for that; we want this one," added the
planter.

"Where are you going, father?" asked Deck, who saw that some expedition
was in preparation.

"We are satisfied that the ruffians are going over to Colonel
Belthorpe's plantation, to do there what they intended to do here, and
we mean to get there before they do," replied Major Lyon. "We believe
that everything here is safe for the present."

The party crossed the bridge and came to the saddle horses. By this time
all the men on the plantation who had not before been called for duty
had assembled by the horses, and the four white men mounted at once. The
breech-loaders were provided with straps, and had been suspended at the
backs of those who used them. Eight of the men who had already seen
service were mounted and seven more were put into the wagon, provided
with weapons which had been sent for.

"Filly!" called Major Lyon, addressing a mulatto who had the reputation
of being a very intelligent fellow, "you will go to the fort and tell
Levi we are going over to Lyndhall, for we are sure the ruffians mean to
burn the house. Take the rest of the hands here with you, and tell him
to keep a close watch over the place. I shall take Dexter with me."

The rest of the party had already ridden off at full gallop, fearful
that they might be too late to protect the colonel's property.

"But I have no horse, father," said Deck, who had heard the planter tell
Filly that he should take him with him.

"You will go in the wagon," replied his father. "I see that you are
gaping, and you must be very tired. Get in; the body is filled with hay,
and it will give you a chance to get rested."

Deck did not like the arrangement very well, tired as he was, but he
obeyed the order. The negroes made way for him, and fixed him a nice
place to lie down in the wagon. He dropped asleep almost instantly, for
he had been up all the night before, and had worked hard and been
intensely excited since he left his bed just before noon.

Major Lyon had his late brother's favorite animal, a blood horse that
had won a small fortune for his master in the races, and he soon
overtook the advance of the party. The wagon could not keep up with him,
and was soon left far behind.

Near the east end of the Rapids Bridge over the river was a locality
called the "Cross Roads," where four highways came together. At this
point the one from the county town passing through Barcreek village
crossed the stream. Another road branched off here, leading up the
creek, from which the private way over the bridge led to Major Lyon's
mansion. It continued half a mile farther up the creek, and then turned
to the north-east. This was called the "New Road," and upon it, three
miles from the creek bridge, was the plantation of Colonel Belthorpe.

From the Cross Roads also extended what was called the "Old Road," which
was laid out nearer to the great river; and six miles distant by the
later-built highway the two came together, though it was over eight by
the older one. About half a mile of the new road was on the bank of Bar
Creek, and upon it had transpired most of the events related.

The ruffians had been driven down this road towards Rapids Bridge. They
had taken to the woods between the two highways; and by sending out the
village lawyer to reconnoitre, Colonel Belthorpe had discovered that the
enemy were marching, not to the bridge, but up the old road, which would
take them, after a three miles' walk, to a point near his plantation,
where they could easily cross to the new road. The distance by the new
road was a mile less than by the other, and the fleet horses would carry
the party to Lyndhall in abundant season to confront the marauders.

"I don't believe the villains can get there before we do," said Colonel
Belthorpe, as Major Lyon galloped his horse to his side. "If I had
anticipated the events of to-night, I should have been prepared for
them. My overseer is not a Union man, and I am afraid he will not do his
duty. My place is not so well situated for a defence as yours, Major."

"I believe we have force enough to drive the ruffians again, for they
don't like the smell of gun-powder any better than other bullies,"
replied the Riverlawn planter.

"My son Tom is at home, and my nephew, Major Gadbury, is visiting at
Lyndhall. But all of them, including my two daughters, have gone to a
party at Rock Lodge. I suppose you know the place, Major?"

"Not by that name."

"It is over on the old road, close by Rock Hill, from which it takes its
name. You must have met Captain Carms."

"I have met him, and we have called upon him, but I never heard the name
of his place before."

"Just at the foot of Rock Hill there is a cart-path connecting the two
roads, and the ruffians may come through by that passage, though it is
very rough. Most of our stone comes from the quarry there, and the teams
make bad work with the roads."

"The enemy can't be a great way behind us by this time," suggested Major
Lyon.

"We haven't wasted any time, and it is some distance they had to travel
round by the Cross Roads," replied the colonel, as he urged his steed to
greater speed.

Though the road was anything but a smooth one, Deck Lyon slept like a
log on the hay. His dusky companions did not speak a loud word for fear
of waking him. Nearly half an hour after the horsemen had passed it, the
wagon was approaching the cross-cut between the two roads at Rock Hill.
Clinker the blacksmith, who had been excused from ambulance duty and
another put in his place, was driving the horses.

"Cristofus! Wat's dat?" he exclaimed, as two very distinct female
screams struck his ears, and he set his team into a dead run.

"'Pears like it's women screeching," replied Mose, who was by his side
on the front seat. "Dar's trouble dar!"

"I reckon do screeches comed out'n de cross-cut," added Clinker.

The screams were repeated several times, and as the wagon passed the
hill the sounds of an encounter were heard. It was evident that a fight
of some kind was in progress, and the men in the wagon unslung their
breech-loaders ready for action; for they came to the conclusion at once
that the ruffians were at the bottom of it. No shots were heard, and it
did not appear that the marauders were armed.

"I reckon we mus' woke Mars'r Deck," said Clinker, as he reined in his
horses at the cross-cut.

One of the men at his side shook the tired boy, and he sprang to his
feet; for doubtless he was dreaming of the events of the night. Clinker
explained the situation in as few words as his vocabulary would permit.
Deck seized his musket and leaped from the wagon, followed by all but
the driver, who drove the horses to a tree and fastened them there.

Deck ran with all his might into the passage, and presently came to a
road wagon which had been "held up" by a gang of the ruffians. He
ordered his six followers to have their arms ready, but not to fire till
he gave them the word. With his revolver in his hand, which was a more
convenient weapon than the gun, he rushed into the midst of the fight.
The party attacked were the nephew and son of Colonel Belthorpe, with
his two daughters, who had been to the party at Rock Lodge.



CHAPTER XXIV

THE ENCOUNTER WITH THE RUFFIANS


Deck Lyon rushed furiously down the lane which connected the two roads
at this point. It was dark, and it was in vain that he tried to
understand the situation from anything he could see. He was sure that
the main body of the ruffians were not in the cross-cut, for there was
not room enough for them. He had to depend chiefly upon his ears for
information, for the trees on one side of the passage obscured his way.

The first sound that attracted his attention as he advanced, above the
general din, was a half-suppressed scream quite near him. The lane was
so rough that he was obliged to move more slowly than when he had left
the wagon, and he halted when he heard the cry. A moment later he
discovered a man bearing a form in his arms, whose cries he was
evidently trying to suppress with one of his hands placed over her
mouth.

An opening in the grove enabled him to see so much, and to note the
position of the ruffian. With his revolver in his hand he rushed
forward; and, finding himself behind the assailant of the female, he
threw himself upon him, and grasped him by the throat with both hands.
He had done some of this kind of work at the schoolhouse in the evening,
and the experience was useful to him.

He compelled the villain to release his hold upon his prisoner in order
to defend himself. Deck wrenched and twisted him in an effort to throw
him down, but his arms were not strong enough to accomplish his purpose,
and he called upon Mose to assist him. The faithful servant was close by
him; and perhaps he was desirous of striking a literal blow in defence
of his young master, for he delivered one squarely on the head of the
ruffian which knocked him six feet from the spot.

At this moment, and just as the captor of the lady went over backwards
into a hole by the side of the cart-path, a bright light was flashed
upon the scene, and Deck could see where he was and where the ruffian he
had encountered was. When Clinker had secured the horses at the end of
the lane, he realized the necessity of more light on the subject before
the party; for though he heard much he saw little.

Taking a quantity of the hay from the wagon, he hastened to the scene of
the conflict just as Deck had closed with the ruffian who was bearing
the lady away. Putting it on the ground, he lighted it with a match, and
then heaped on sticks and hits of board and plank scattered about by
those who had loaded stone in the passage. The blaze revealed the entire
situation to Deck and his companions, and it made a weird picture.

"Good, Clinker!" shouted Deck, as he saw the blacksmith standing with
his musket in his hand, busy doing what he had undertaken. "Keep the
fire up!"

The ruffian whom Mose, who was not much inferior to General and Dummy in
bulk and strength, had knocked both literally and slangily "in a hole,"
lay perfectly still. Some five rods ahead of him Deck discovered a road
wagon in the lane. Two horses were harnessed to it, and at the head of
each of them was a ruffian, doing his best to restrain the spirited
animals, frightened by the cries and the movements of the assailants.
Behind the wagon were two white men engaged in a terrible struggle with
half a dozen of the soldiers of the ruffian army. They were getting the
worst of it, though they fought with desperate energy.

From their appearance and the fact that they were defending themselves,
it was plain enough to Deck that they were in charge of the two females.
They were unarmed, though one of them had procured a piece of board, and
was doing good service with it. Just beyond the scene of the fight stood
Buck Lagger, holding a female by the arm. She evidently realized that
resistance was useless, and she had ceased to struggle or scream.

"Now follow me, boys!" shouted Deck. "You had better walk over to the
fire, miss," he added to the young lady redeemed from the hands of the
ruffian. "Clinker will see that no harm comes to you."

The six men who had followed the young man in advance of them, marched
close to him, with their muskets in readiness for use. Deck could not
order them to fire, for they were as likely to hit friends as enemies;
but he rushed to the scene of the conflict, where the two white men had
just been forced back by the marauders.

"Both fall back this way, gentlemen!" called the young leader.

Major Gadbury and Tom Belthorpe, as the colonel had given the names of
those who attended his two daughters to the party, could not help
realizing that assistance was at hand, though they saw only a stout boy
and half a dozen negroes, and they promptly detached themselves from
their assailants, and retreated behind the wagon.

"Now fire at them, one at a time!" shouted Deck, when it was safe to do
so.

Mose was nearest to him, and instantly discharged his musket at the
foremost assailants of the gentlemen. One of them dropped to the ground.
The ruffians had not bargained for this sort of discipline, and they
fled on the instant; for they had heard Deck's order, and saw that there
were more bullets where the first one came from. They ran into the
woods, and disappeared behind the trunks of the great trees.

"Don't fire again, but follow me!" said Deck, as he started at his best
speed towards the spot where Buck Lagger stood with his prisoner.

This ruffian perceived the defeat of his party, and he attempted to
force the lady in the direction taken by his infamous comrades. He led
the way, dragging his prisoner after him; but she resisted now, hanging
back so that he could not move at anything more than a snail's pace. She
screamed again, and Major Gadbury and Tom Belthorpe started to assist
her.

Deck had accomplished half the distance to the ruffian when he saw that
the strength of the lady was failing her, and Buck was advancing more
rapidly. He raised his revolver, and, aiming the weapon with all
possible care, he fired. Clinker had kept the fire blazing freely, and
he had plenty of light. The ruffian released his hold upon his prisoner,
and swung his right hand over to his left shoulder. Deck believed his
bullet had struck him there, though he continued his retreat to the
wood.

"I am sorry you didn't kill him!" exclaimed one of the two gentlemen, as
they halted at Deck's side.

"I had to be careful not to hit the lady," replied Deck. "But we have
driven them off. Now, boys, in line!" shouted the young leader to his
men. "Face the woods!"

[Illustration: "I HAD TO BE CAREFUL NOT TO HIT THE LADY."]

The six men came into line very promptly, though the movement would
hardly have been satisfactory to a drill officer.

"Ready!" he continued. "Aim! Fire!"

That was about the extent of the recruits' knowledge of the drill; but
they fired their weapons, and each of them sent two more shots after the
first as the command was given. One of the gentlemen suggested that none
of the ruffians were hit by the volley, and Deck explained that the last
discharges were for their moral effect, though not in these words.

"I don't know you, sir, but we are under ten thousand obligations to you
for this timely assistance," said the gentleman who remained with Deck,
for the other had hastened to the lady Buck had abandoned.

"My name is Dexter Lyon," replied the young defender. "What is yours?"

"Tom Belthorpe," returned the other, who appeared to be something over
twenty years of age. "We have been to a party with the girls at Rock
Lodge, and were on our way home."

"Then you are the son of Colonel Belthorpe. Who is the other gentleman?"

"That is Major Gadbury, who is spending a week at my father's
plantation," replied Tom, rubbing his head and some of his limbs, for he
was rather the worse for the wear in his conflict with the ruffians, as
the other gentleman conducted the terrified lady to the spot.

"I never was so frightened in all my life," gasped the lady, as they
stopped in front of Deck.

"It is all over now, and I would not mind any more about it," added the
Major cheerfully, though he was considerably battered after the fight
through which he had passed.

"This is Mr. Dexter Lyon, Major, the son of our neighbor," said Tom,
presenting the leader of the colored battalion, though Deck was somewhat
abashed at the formality, and to hear himself "mistered" was a new
experience to him.

"I am glad to know you, Captain Lyon," replied the Major, grasping his
hand and wringing it till the boy winced. "You have rendered us noble
and brave service, and we shall all be grateful to you as long as we
live. This is Miss Margie Belthorpe."

"I am delighted to see you, Mr. Lyon!" exclaimed the young lady, who was
only nineteen years old, as she sprang to the hero of the night, grasped
his hand, and then kissed him as though he had been a baby.

Deck was seventeen years old, and rather large of his age, as well as
somewhat forward for his years; and he felt as though he had tumbled
into a sugar-bowl at that moment. The blaze of Clinker's fire lighted up
his blushing face, and possibly he was sorry there were no more ruffians
at hand for him to shoot if such was to be his reward. He forgot that he
was tired and sleepy in the pleasurable excitement which followed the
encounter.

"If you please, we will go over to the fire where the other lady is
waiting for you," said he, as he started for the point indicated. "Fall
in behind and follow us, boys," he added to the recruits.

"I have never happened to meet any negroes in arms before," said Tom
Belthorpe, as he walked along with Deck. "But they seem to be ready for
business."

"They are indeed; and these boys are as brave as any white men could
be," added Deck, loud enough for the subject of his remark to hear it.

The two ruffians who had been left at the heads of the horses had fled
into the woods as soon as they saw that the assault was repulsed, and
the animals had become restive. Clinker had rushed over to secure them,
and he had quieted them down so they were quite reasonable by this time.
The young lady committed to his charge had followed him.

"This is my sister, Miss Kate Belthorpe," said Margie, when the party
reached the spot.

"Oh, I am so glad you came when you did, Mr.----"

"Dexter Lyon," added Tom.

"Mr. Lyon; and you were as brave as a lion!" exclaimed Kate, as she took
the hand of Deck; and either because she had witnessed the reception her
sister had given the hero, or as an inspiration of her own, she promptly
kissed him on both cheeks, and Deck felt as though he had fallen into a
barrel of sugar. "You grappled with that villain, just as though you had
been as big as he was, and held on to him till one of your boys knocked
him into the hole with his fist. You are a brave fellow, and I shall
remember you as long as I live."

"And 'none but the brave deserve the fair,'" added Major Gadbury.

"How did you happen to get into this scrape, Mr. Belthorpe?" asked Deck.

"We were all invited to a party at Rock Lodge, and we went. The governor
couldn't go, for he insisted upon attending a Union meeting at the Big
Bend schoolhouse," replied Tom. "But he promised to call for us on his
way home, for he drove us to the Lodge himself. Most of the guests left
by midnight, but father did not come, and we could not walk home. But at
three o'clock Captain Carms volunteered to send us home when we became
impatient."

"My father and I went to that meeting, and so did some of these ruffians
that committed this outrage," added Deck.

"But these scoundrels are not Union men," objected Tom.

"But some of them were there, all the same, and some of them got put
out. But it is a long story, and we had better be moving before we tell
it."

The ladies agreed to this last proposition, for they were in evening
dresses, and the chill air of the night made them shiver. The driver of
Captain Carms's wagon had come out of the quarry, whither he had
retreated, as soon as the danger was passed, and his team was ready to
proceed. Deck sent Clinker for his wagon, and he drew it up at the end
of the cross-cut.

The ladies were assisted to their seats again, while the two gentlemen
took the seat in front of them. Miss Kate insisted that Deck should ride
with them, for she wanted to hear the story about the meeting. More than
this, she insisted that he should sit on the back seat between her
sister and herself. Margie did not object, and the major and Tom only
laughed. Deck had his doubts about his ability to tell his story in the
midst of such delightful surroundings.

The team started, and at the corner Deck directed Clinker to follow
closely after him. But his story was interesting and exciting, and he
did not suffer from cold or embarrassment during his recital. When he
had disposed of the Union meeting, he described the battle fought at
Riverlawn, and the preparations which had been made for the onslaught,
including the discovery and removal of the arms and ammunition. He had
hardly finished before the wagon stopped at the plantation of Colonel
Belthorpe.



CHAPTER XXV

THE GRATITUDE OF TWO FAIR MAIDENS


The mansion house of Colonel Belthorpe was quite near the road. The
force under his command must have arrived some time before, for several
of the windows were lighted. The four white men were not to be seen, but
the eight boys who had been mounted stood near the house, apparently
waiting for orders.

Though the encounter of the wagon party with the ruffians has required a
considerable time for its recital, they had not been detained over half
an hour, if as long as that; but no one took account of time in the
exciting event of the night. The ladies were handed out of the wagon,
and Deck perceived that Major Gadbury was very attentive to Miss Margie,
while he waited upon Miss Kate, the younger, and, in his judgment, the
prettier of the two daughters of the colonel.

When the hero of the occasion had attended the young lady to the door of
the house, he excused himself, and hastened to the mounted men who stood
in front of the mansion. They were astonished at the arrival of two
wagons instead of one, and were discussing the matter among themselves.

"Where is Colonel Belthorpe, General?" inquired Deck, after he had
saluted the boys in his usual familiar manner; for he had none of the
haughtiness of those who were "to the manner born."

"Don't know, Mars'r Deck; he and the oder gen'lemen done went ober dat
way," replied General. "De ole road's ober dat way, and I 'spect dey
went to look out for de ruffi'ns."

"They won't be here for half an hour or more," added Deck, as Captain
Carms's man drove up to the party with the wagon.

"You done see 'em on de road, mars'r Deck?"

"I have seen some of them, General."

"Dey was ober on de ole road, mars'r, I t'ought."

But Deck did not stop to give them any information, for both wagons had
stopped near the party. The driver from Rock Lodge had run away as soon
as his vehicle was beset by the ruffians; yet he could tell his portion
of the story, while those from Riverlawn could relate the rest of it.
The hero went into the mansion, and a mulatto in a white jacket, who was
gaping with all his might, showed him to the sitting-room, where he
found the wagon party. There was no Mrs. Belthorpe, for she had passed
away years before.

"I was afraid you had run away and left us, Mr. Lyon," said Miss Kate,
rushing up to him as he entered.

"Please don't 'mister' me," replied Deck, laughing. "It makes me feel
just as though I was a dude."

"Well, you are not a dude," added the fair daughter of the planter, as
indignantly as though some person besides herself had called him by the
opprobrious name.

"And I don't run away, either."

"That's so!" exclaimed Major Gadbury with decided emphasis. "But I
really wonder that you did not run away instead of pitching into that
scoundrel who was carrying off Miss Kate."

"I couldn't have done that if I had tried while the lady seemed to be in
such a dangerous situation," answered Deck, as he seated himself as near
Miss Kate as he could find a place. "But I have been talking myself all
the time since we started from the cross-cut, and I don't know yet how
you happened to get into this scrape."

"We don't know much more about it than you do, Mr.----"

"Deck," interposed the hero.

"Deck, if you insist upon it, Mr. Lyon," laughed the major. "We left
Rock Lodge, and Tom told the driver to go by that cross road. It was a
terribly rough passage we had of it, and I think we went over rocks a
foot high."

"As I told you in my account of the troubles of the night, the ruffians,
after they had been driven off from Riverlawn, took the old road, and
Squire Truman found that they were going to this mansion," said Deck.
"Didn't you see anything of them before you turned into the cut-off?"

"We neither saw nor heard anything."

"The main body of the ruffians could not have been very far down the
road. I don't see how Buck Lagger happened to be where he was with the
rest of his gang," added Deck.

"He appears to have had six men with him as nearly as I can make it
out," said Tom Belthorpe.

"I don't know what he was doing there, but I can guess," continued Deck.

"But which was the fellow you call Buck Lagger?" asked the major.

"He was the one who captured Miss Margie, and whom I wounded with the
shot from my revolver," replied Deck. "I am sorry to say that my Uncle
Titus is a Northern doughface, and is the leader of these ruffians. He
bought the arms and ammunition of which we took possession at the
sink-hole. I believe he hates my father on account of his Unionism and
his taking of the arms worse than any man who is not his brother."

"I have heard something about him since I have been at Lyndhall," said
Major Gadbury.

"Buck Lagger is his lieutenant and supporter, and I have no doubt
Captain Titus sent him to the schoolhouse to disturb the meeting. He
carried the flag of truce to-night at the bridge over the creek when his
leader demanded the return of the arms," Deck explained. "Though I don't
know any more about it than you do, I have no doubt Captain Titus sent
this scalliwag ahead of the main body to see that all was clear."

"As scouts," suggested the major.

"Yes, sir; as scouts. As the ruffians had been severely punished in the
fight from the bridge, and by the shots from Fort Bedford, they were
likely to be more cautious than they had been before. They were whipped
out at every approach to Riverlawn. Captain Titus may have found out
that Colonel Belthorpe was on the way to his plantation to protect it
with force enough to do his ruffians a good deal of mischief. I think
Buck Lagger was sent out to obtain information."

"That is a reasonable supposition," the major acquiesced.

"Of course he could not expect to find the colonel and his force on the
old road, and he was going by the cross-cut to the new road, which
passes by the bridge over Bar Creek," Deck proceeded, perhaps feeling
that he had an inspiration of wisdom as well as of heroism. "When he
came to the cross-cut he must have seen that the Lodge was lighted."

"What you say reminds me that our party stood for some time on the
portico talking with Captain Carms and his family about an excursion up
the river which Tom suggested as we came out of the house. The wagon was
standing before the door waiting for us."

"I haven't any doubt Buck was near enough to hear what you said,"
interposed Deck. "Probably he had sent his scouts up the cross-cut, and
wanted to see why the mansion was lighted up at three o'clock in the
morning. He understood that those who were to go in the wagon belonged
to Colonel Belthorpe's family."

"The house is close by the road, and he could easily have seen who we
were," said Tom.

"He had been on the creek bridge when the colonel talked with Captain
Titus, and he saw that he was in command of the forces there. Very
likely he knew it was he who gave the order to fire upon his party below
the bridge. He must have been as hard down on your father as he was on
mine, Mr. Belthorpe. When he saw your two sisters ready to get into the
wagon, he had some trick in his head to obtain a hold upon your father.
The two ladies were to be hostages in the hands of the ruffians for the
conduct of your father."

"I think you have solved the problem, Deck, and only your bravery and
skill saved the girls," said Major Gadbury.

"My father would have burned his buildings himself to recover my
sisters, for no man was ever more devoted to his children than he is,"
added Tom. "If Buck had carried off the girls he would have had a
tremendous hold on him."

"I suppose the villain would have confined us in some hovel, under guard
of these miscreants, while he negotiated with my father with all the
odds in his favor," Miss Margie commented. "Perhaps that was his way to
have the arms returned to Captain Titus."

"You have saved us!" cried the younger and more impulsive Miss Kate, as
she rushed forward to grasp the hand of Deck; and perhaps she would have
kissed him again if Colonel Belthorpe had not entered the apartment at
this moment, and she retreated to the chair she had before occupied.

"I see you have arrived," said the devoted father. "I have been worrying
about you the last hour; but I concluded Captain Carms would send you
home. I left my wagon at the stable of a friend near the schoolhouse,
and I have been so busy all night that I have hardly thought of you, for
I knew that you would be safe at Captain Carms's."

"But we haven't been safe, papa," said Miss Kate, rushing into her
father's arms.

"Why, what has been the trouble, Kate?" asked the colonel, with his arms
around the beautiful girl.

Before she could answer, Colonel Cosgrove, followed by Major Lyon and
Squire Truman, entered the room.

"It seems that a fight has already come off in the cross-cut," said
Colonel Cosgrove, with some excitement in his manner. "Major Lyon's man
tells us you had a stormy time in the road, Deck. We did not wait to
bear the particulars."

Colonel Belthorpe presented his guest and the members of his family to
the party. Major Gadbury stated what had happened to them in the
cross-cut, and then asked Deck to describe the fight. But Deck, who was
not a bully or a blusterer, and was well ballasted with innate modesty
in spite of the great amount of talking he had done, declined to do so,
and the guest of the mansion described the fight with the marauders,
giving the young hero at least all the credit that was due to him.

Deck blushed up to the eyes at the praise bestowed upon him, and was
rather sorry he had not told the story, for he could have spared himself
the crimson on his cheeks.

"It is all true, every word of it, papa!" exclaimed Miss Kate.

"Deck, I am your debtor for life!" exclaimed Colonel Belthorpe,
detaching himself from the twining arms of his daughter, and rushing to
the hero of the night with both hands extended. "You are a noble and
brave fellow, Deck, and you will make your mark in the world!" And he
pressed both the hands of the boy.

"Upon my word, I think he has made his mark already!" added Major
Gadbury. "At any rate, he made it on the shoulder of Buck Lagger."

"My son, you have done well," said Major Lyon very quietly, as he took
the boy's hand. "I am glad I brought you with me."

"But, father, I was beaten by the ruffian who was holding Miss Kate; he
was too much for me, and he would have shaken me off if Mose had not
come up and given the fellow a sledge-hammer blow with his fist which
knocked him into a hole," Deck explained.

"Where is Mose?" demanded the father of the girl, as he took a gold
piece of money from his pocket. "Send for him, and let--"

"Excuse me, Colonel," interposed Major Lyon, placing his hand on his
arm. "I see what you mean, and I must beg you not to reward him, for
Mose did no more than every one of the faithful boys would have done if
he had had the opportunity, though all of them have not so hard a fist
as he."

"Just as you say, Major; but I feel grateful to Mose, as I do to Deck,
for the hard hit he made for the safety of my daughter," replied the
planter of Lyndhall. "We shall talk of this affair for the next week;
but just now perhaps we ought to attend to the duty of the present
moment. I sent the mounted men from Riverlawn down the old road for a
mile to reconnoitre, and those who came in the wagon over to the new
road to notify us of the approach of the enemy. We went over there on
our arrival to arrange a plan for the defence of the place."

"After hearing what transpired at the cross-cut, I doubt whether Captain
Titus will march his army up here," suggested Major Lyon.

"I think he will," added Colonel Cosgrove. "He is the maddest man I ever
met in my life, and he is determined to recover the arms."

"But the--I mean Captain Titus will try to gain his point by some
infamous trickery such as his lieutenant attempted at the cross road,"
said Major Gadbury, who was on the verge of calling him by some harsh
epithet.

"Your mansion is safe for the present, Colonel Belthorpe," said Major
Lyon, rising from the seat he had taken. "We might as well fight the
battle, if there is to be one, on the road near your house. I suggest
that we send our whole force down the new road, and drive the ruffians
across the river."

Before the others could express an opinion on this policy, the mulatto
in a white jacket announced that the horsemen were at the door, and
wanted to see "de ossifer."



CHAPTER XXVI

THE SKIRMISH ON THE NEW ROAD


The officer whom the riders wished to see was evidently Colonel
Belthorpe, as he had been in command from the beginning. He hastened to
the hall, and found General there, who was rather more excited than
usual, simply because he had something to communicate. In about every
assemblage of men, white or black, there is generally one who naturally
becomes the leader, though there may be a number of others who think
they could do better. General was this single man, and had thus won his
name.

"What is the matter, General?" asked the Colonel, as he confronted the
bulky form of the black leader.

"Not'in' de matter, Mars'r Cunnel, but de rebels is on de road, comin'
dis way," replied the self-appointed captain of cavalry.

"How far off are they?" asked the commander.

"About a mile, mars'r; but I reckon some ob 'em done went home, for dar
isn't more'n half as many as we done see near de creek bridge."

"I should think they might have got enough of it by this time," replied
the colonel. "What do you want now, Sam?" he said, turning to the
mulatto in a white jacket, who appeared to be the man-servant of the
house.

"Another man here wants to see you, mars'r," replied Sam, as he
presented Mose, who had just come to the front door, where a servant
does not usually come in the South. "He's a footman, an' not a hossman,
mars'r."

"What is your name, my boy?" asked the colonel, turning to the
new-comer.

"Mose is w'at dey all calls me, sar, but my truly name is 'Zekel. De
ruffins is stopped half a mile from whar we com'd out on de ole road,
mars'r," replied Mose, clinging to his old hat, which he pressed to his
chest, as he bowed low, trying to be as respectful and deferential as
possible.

"Did you go near them, Mose?" asked the commander.

"Not berry near, mars'r: but dey done make a fire, so we see 'em plain
nuff."

"The main body of the ruffians cannot very well be on both roads," said
the colonel.

"No, sar; but I reck'n Cap'n Titus done dewide his army, and he's gwine
to take de place on de front and on de back," suggested Mose.

"Quite right, my boy; you have a head on your shoulders, and we shall
not soon forget the hit you gave the fellow that was carrying off my
daughter," added the colonel, surveying the leader of the foot party, as
he proved to be. "How far off is this party at the fire?"

"About half a mile, mars'r. I reckon de fire is a signal to dem as is on
de new road," replied Mose, bowing low and hugging his old hat again.

"All right, my boys; now return to your men, and we will be with you
soon," said the commander as he returned to the party in the
sitting-room.

All the party in the apartment fixed their gaze earnestly on Colonel
Belthorpe as he entered, and there was an expression of fear and anxiety
on the fair faces of the two daughters. By this time they all understood
the situation perfectly. A gang of ruffians were approaching the mansion
to revenge their defeat at Riverlawn upon the owner of this plantation,
for he had been the chief man of the defence. It was evident that the
commander had been put in possession of additional information in regard
to the enemy.

He lost no time, but proceeded to state the facts which had just been
reported to him by the scouts he had sent out. It was plain to all the
defenders that another battle, if such a name could be properly applied
to the skirmish near the creek bridge, was imminent.

"I think we are ready for the enemy," said Major Lyon; "and it will not
be a difficult matter to drive the ruffians off. But I am not a military
man, and we leave the defence entirely in your hands, Colonel
Belthorpe."

"As I have said before, my place is not as favorable for a defence as
yours is, Major Lyon," replied the commander. "We have no stream or
swamp to cover our position, and we must act on open ground. Now, what
force can we take into the field?"

"We have all that we had at the bridge," replied Squire Truman.

"Including Dexter, we have five white men here," added Major Lyon.
"Eight of my boys are mounted, and seven came over in the wagon, and all
of these are armed with breech-loaders, so that they can fire seven
shots apiece. That makes twenty."

"And here we add to our number," said Colonel Cosgrove, glancing at
Major Gadbury and Tom Belthorpe.

"Certainly; we expect to take part in any fight that is to come off,"
added the major.

"We have three repeating rifles in the house, two double-barrelled
bucking guns, and four revolvers. We laid in a stock of arms when the
horse-stealers were at work in this county," said the commander. "But I
have never put arms in the hands of my negroes."

"I never did till to-night, and I found that all mine were as willing to
fight as to work for me," the major explained. "You have an overseer, of
course."

"I have; but I have my doubts about him. Tilford is rather a brutal
fellow, and I believe he is a Secessionist at heart, though he has never
said anything to commit himself. The worst thing I know about him is
that he associates with Buck Lagger."

"Make him face the music, governor," added Tom. "If he is not willing to
stand by you at such a time as this, he ought to be fired off the
place."

Sam was sent for the overseer. Everybody about the mansion had been
roused from his slumbers, and Tilford had been sulking about the space
in front of the house, evidently disgusted to see the negroes from
Riverlawn mounted on fine horses with breech-loaders slung at their
backs. He obeyed the order of his employer, and stalked into the
sitting-room with a defiant expression on his face.

"Tilford, something like a hundred ruffians are coming up the two roads
for the purpose of burning my mansion and hanging me to the nearest
tree," Colonel Belthorpe began in a mild tone. "With the aid of my
friends here, I intend to defend myself, my family, and my property."

"Are them niggers with guns strapped on their backs your friends?"
demanded the overseer, with a cynical smile on his ill-favored face.

"They are brave men, who have this night defended their master from an
attack of the reprobates who are marching upon my place; and I honor
them for their bravery and fidelity, for not one of them has flinched!"
returned the colonel vigorously. "I want to know now upon whom I can
depend to defend me from the violence of these villains who are coming
down upon me."

"I reckon you can depend upon your niggers, but you can't depend on me!"
replied the overseer, edging towards the door. "You have fotched all
this on yourself by turning abolitionist!"

"If assisting my neighbor and friend to defend himself and his family
from the attacks of a pack of ruffians is being an abolitionist, then I
am one with all my mind, heart, and soul!" replied the planter with a
vehemence that brought down the applause of his associates, even
including the ladies.

"Them gentlemen you call ruffi'ns is my friends, Colonel Belthorpe, and
I don't never go back on my friends, not unless they turn abolitionists,
and I ain't go'n' to fight ag'in 'em," added Tilford, working nearer to
the door. "I reckon my time's about done on this place."

"Quite done!" said the colonel, taking a revolver from his pocket.

"Go and join your friends! I will order every man with a gun to shoot
you if you are seen about the place in five minutes!"

The overseer did not like the looks of the revolver in the hands of his
employer, and he fled from the house. The commander had sent all the
Riverlawn force back to the two roads to observe the movements of the
ruffians, or he would have given the faithless fellow an escort from the
vicinity of the mansion.

"The boys will all stand by you, mars'r," said Sam in the white jacket
as the colonel followed the renegade to the front door.

"Then call two of them"--

"They're all right here, mars'r," interposed the servant.

The commander sent two of them to follow Tilford. He found, somewhat to
his astonishment, that all the servants on the place, even to the old
men, had armed themselves with clubs, pitchforks, shovels, or whatever
they could lay their hands upon, ready to defend their master, who had
always been kinder to them than the overseer. Besides, the armed negroes
from Riverlawn had remained some little time on the premises, and had
very fully informed them in regard to the events of the night, including
the capture of the two daughters of their master, which had roused them
to the highest pitch of indignation, for they looked upon Margie and
Kate as a pair of angels, and wondered they had no wings.

When Colonel Belthorpe returned to the sitting-room, he found that Tom
had collected all the arms and ammunition in the mansion, taking a
repeating rifle for himself, and giving another to the guest of the
house. Each of them took a revolver, and they were loading these weapons
for immediate use. The rest of the arms were given to a few of the most
trusty of the servants.

The commander led the way to the large courtyard in front of the
mansion, where he divided the force into two parties, one to meet the
enemy on each of the two roads. Before this could be done, the scouts on
the new road returned, with the two Lyndhall boys who had followed
Tilford. They had passed him through the ranks of the mounted men when
they were in sight of the ruffians, and some of them had stoned him as a
farewell salute.

The commander made Major Lyon the officer of the old road force. He
objected, and suggested Major Gadbury for the position; but it was found
that the visitor held his title only by courtesy, and was not a military
man, and then the Riverlawn planter accepted the position. Tom
Belthorpe, Squire Truman, Deck, and four of the eight mounted men, with
about twenty of the Lyndhall boys, were placed under his command.

The commander had endeavored to make a fair division of the force, and
Colonel Cosgrove, Major Gadbury, four Riverlawn horsemen, and a score of
his own people composed his own force. The ruffians were within fifty
rods of the mansion on the new road, and the division for this service
marched at once. The cavalry were sent out ahead, with orders not to
fire unless the ruffians opened upon them.

General was at the head of the horsemen, and he galloped his horse up to
the front of the ruffians. He and his men had loosened the slings of
their weapons, and brought them in front of them, so that they were
ready for immediate use. The ruffians had halted as soon as they
discovered the riders in front of them. Then they built a fire, and as
soon as its light shone upon them, General discovered a flag of truce.

The leader ventured to approach a little nearer to the enemy, when he
was saluted with a volley of oaths, and some one of them, not Captain
Titus, demanded where his master was.

"Ober on de ole road," replied General, almost as savagely as he had
been addressed.

"Do you know what this flag means, you nigger?" interrogated the speaker
with an oath.

"Yes, sar! Mars'r Belthorpe won't hab no more ob dat nonsense," answered
General.

"Tell him I want to see him under a flag of truce!" shouted the one who
appeared to be in command.

The horseman was afraid of making some mistake, and he sent one of his
boys back to the commander with this message. Colonel Belthorpe had sent
Sam back for his saddle horse, and presently he galloped to the front.

"Take in your flag of truce, or I will fire upon it!" shouted the
colonel. "No more fooling! I don't parley with ruffians!"

The flag immediately disappeared. By the light of the fire it could be
seen that about half a dozen men at the front of the column were armed
with muskets, which, with or without a command from the officer, they
brought to their shoulders and fired. Colonel Belthorpe put his hand on
his left arm, as though a ball had struck him there.

"Now, my boys, fire at them at will, just as you please," continued the
commander, as he began to blaze away with his heavy revolver.

The four mounted men began to use their repeaters; but their horses were
restive, and they could not fire at the best advantage, though several
of the ruffians were seen to fall, while the main body of them fled into
the adjoining fields.



CHAPTER XXVII

AN UNEXPLAINED GATHERING ON THE ROAD


The ruffians were a mere mob, entirely devoid of any semblance of
discipline; and it was again made manifest that they could not stand up
against a continuous fire such as the mounted boys and those on foot
were beginning to pour into them, scattered though it was at first by
the restiveness of the untrained horses. Titus Lyon was not a military
man, and he did not appear to appreciate the advantage of order in the
handling of his force.

It is true that the negroes that confronted him were not organized to
any adequate extent for military purposes, though the little training
Colonel Belthorpe had given them on the bridge had been of very great
service to them. It was absolutely astonishing to the commander that the
boys did not drop their weapons and run when the random shots from the
enemy were discharged at them; for this idea was in accordance with his
estimate of negro character.

It was a new revelation to him, the manner in which the men conducted
themselves under fire, hurried as they had been, without any training,
into the ranks; and the same number of white men of average ability
could hardly have done better under similar circumstances. But the negro
was strong in his affections, and the feeling that they were fighting
for the family who had used them kindly, and treated them with more
consideration than they had been in the habit of receiving, even under
the mild sway of Colonel Lyon, was the stimulus that strengthened their
souls and nerved their arms.

The "people" of Lyndhall were inspired by the example of those from
Riverlawn, and they were filled with admiration when they saw those of
their own kind bearing arms, some of them well mounted, and learned that
they had actually done duty during the night as soldiers. General,
Dummy, and Mose had talked to them, and roused their spirit of
emulation. Besides, they had been moved by the same devotion to the
members of the planter's family; and their indignation at the conduct of
the overseer, who had been their tyrant, had done not a little to
develop their belligerent feelings.

The ruffians had taken to their heels, and fled into the open country
between the old and the new road. There were some trees upon the tract,
and the fugitives proceeded to utilize them as far as they were
available to shelter them from the balls of the horsemen. At this point
the negroes of Lyndhall, unexpectedly to their owner, manifested their
presence in a very decided manner. The sight of the four stout boys on
the horses, undismayed by the random shots which had been fired at them,
had a tremendous influence upon them, and they became exceedingly
excited, not to say crazed; and, without any orders from the commander,
they rushed into the fields after the ruffians.

Doubtless they would have obeyed from instinct the order to return if
the colonel had given it; but he allowed them to have their own way.
With the various weapons with which they had armed themselves, they fell
upon the helpless fugitives, pounded, punched, and hammered them till
they begged for mercy. They, in turn, were confronted by an infuriated
mob. Those who were able to do so fled with all the speed they could
command towards the old road, which was nearly a mile distant at this
point. Not a few of them had been so beaten that they could not run, and
they dropped upon the ground. The victors were not cruel, and they did
not meddle with those who no longer made any resistance.

The Lyndhall boys had gone into the fight with no leader of their own
number; but as soon as they left the road one developed himself in the
person of the preacher of the plantation, a white-haired negro of over
seventy years of age, whom the family called "Uncle Dave." He had always
been a mild, gentle, and very religious man, and he was always treated
with respect.

Uncle Dave seemed to become a giant in strength, his voice that of a
stentor, and his manner fierce, as soon as his flock went into action.
He called upon his people not to kill the ruffians, for their souls were
black with unrepented sins; and when one of the marauders sunk to the
earth, he commanded them not to touch him again. The fleeing ruffians
were indebted to him for their lives, while he ordered his flock to
punish them severely as they deserved.

Colonel Belthorpe regarded this man with wonder; for he had always been
as gentle as a lamb, obedient in all things, and anxious to minister to
the people in sickness and death. Now he seemed to be the most terrible
fighting character he had ever met. He saw his volunteers, as he called
them, chase the ruffians till they disappeared in the distance and the
darkness. The mounted men had ceased firing, for there was no enemy
near, and they were fearful of hitting those who were fighting on their
own side.

"We have made a clean sweep here," said the commander, as Colonel
Cosgrove and Major Gadbury joined him in the road; for they had been in
the fields south of the road, engaged in a flank movement.

"It has been an easy victory," replied the gentleman from the county
town. "But they were nothing but a mob; and your boys seem to be
lunatics. They are likely to kill the whole of them before they get
through."

"They will not kill one of them unless it is by accident, for I heard
Uncle Dave order them as they took to the fields not to do so; and I
notice that when a man drops on the ground they let him alone," added
the Lyndhall planter.

"We have nothing more to do here, unless we go down the road and pick up
the wounded, for I see half a dozen of them in front of us, though they
are all sitting up and looking about them, so that none of them have
been killed," said Major Gadbury.

"Our occupation here appears to be gone," continued Colonel Belthorpe,
as he looked over the fields from which the combatants had disappeared,
with the exception of those who were unable to run away. "Major Lyon
over on the old road may not have been as fortunate as we have been, and
we must go over and re-enforce him. General!"

"Here, sar!" replied that worthy.

"We are going over to the old road to help out Major Lyon. You will
leave two of your men here, one mounted, and the other on foot, to watch
the enemy; the others will go with me," added the planter.

"Yes, sar," answered General, as he detailed the two scouts. "I reckon
we done finished 'em ober here, Mars'r Cunnel."

"No doubt of it, General; and I hope Major Lyon has done as well over on
the old road."

The commander started off at a gallop, and the mounted men closely
followed him. They passed through the deserted courtyard of the mansion,
where the planter was accosted by his two daughters, who had been
observing the movements of the combatants from the elevated veranda of
the house.

"Where are you going now, papa?" asked Miss Kate.

"We have driven off the ruffians from this side, and we are going over
to assist Major Lyon," replied the colonel. "Sam, you will remain here,
and look out for the house," he added to the man with the white jacket,
to whom this duty had been before assigned, and then rode on towards the
old road.

"Don't shoot, Colonel Belthorpe!" called a voice from behind the stable,
as the horsemen advanced, and a man came out into the roadway.

It was Tilford, the overseer, who had retreated from the mansion, and
joined the ruffians, whom he called his friends. At the first discharge
of the mounted men which followed the revolver practice of the
commander, he had been hit in the thigh with a bullet; and at the
general stampede of the enemy he had made his way into the field.
Realizing that there was no safety for him among "his friends," he had
limped all the way back to the mansion.

His wound was not a bad one, though it was painful, and partially
disabled him. As he had detached himself from the ruffians there was no
one to dispute his passage, and he had reached the stable, behind which
he had concealed himself when he heard the approach of the horsemen.
But, dark as it was, the colonel perceived and recognized him.

"What are you doing here, Tilford?" demanded the commander.

"I am wounded and in great pain," replied the overseer in weak and
submissive tones.

"Then why don't you join your friends?" asked the colonel.

"I made a mistake to-night, and I did not know who my friends were,"
pleaded the wounded man.

"Sam!" shouted the planter to the house servant, who had followed the
party nearly to the stable; and the boy immediately presented himself
before his master. "Take the overseer to his room, and do what you can
for him."

"Thank you, Colonel!" exclaimed Tilford; and his wound seemed to have
made another man of him.

Sam took the sufferer by the arm, wondering at the magnanimity of his
master, who had ordered all the people to shoot him if he was seen again
on the premises, and conducted him towards the mansion, where he had a
chamber back of the dining-room. As he led him up the steps, Margie and
Kate came to him; and they proved to be as forgiving as their father,
for they did everything they could to make him comfortable. One of the
old "aunties," skilled in nursing, was sent to him, and his wound was
dressed.

The mounted men, led by the commander, galloped over to the old road,
which was deserted at the place where they came out. On a slight
elevation in the highway a great fire was blazing brilliantly, and near
it was an assemblage of people, the nature of which the commander could
not make out.

"I don't understand that gathering," said he, as Major Gadbury rode up
to his side.

"It looks as though the enemy were using the flag of truce ruse over
here," replied the major.

"I don't believe Major Lyon would fool with them. They are marauders and
disturbers of the peace, and I think he is as disposed to deal summarily
with them as I am," added the commander. "But we will ride up to the
place, and we shall soon know what is going on."

"Who are these men coming into the road just ahead of us?" asked Major
Gadbury, pointing to three men who were making their way through the
field to the road. "The fire on the hill don't give quite light enough to
enable me to make them out; but I suppose they are ruffians who have
made their way from the new road."

"I don't know what they are, but we will go and see;" and they rode
forward about a dozen rods to the point where the men were emerging from
the field. "Who goes there?" demanded Colonel Belthorpe.

"Is that you, Mars'r Cunnel?" asked one of them.

"Uncle Dave!" exclaimed the planter.

"That's the parson," added Colonel Cosgrove.

"What are you doing over here, Uncle?" asked the commander.

"We done have nothin' more to do over yonder," replied the preacher.
"The boys are all movin' over this way."

"But where are the ruffians that retreated from the new road?"

"The boys fell upon 'em and drove 'em over to the west, sar," the parson
explained. "We don't kill any of 'em; but we bang 'em so they hold still
on the ground. We think they was comin' over here to help the ruffians
on this side, and we come over to 'tend to 'em."

"All right, venerable Uncle," laughed the colonel. "But can you tell me
what is going on upon the hill yonder?"

"I don't know, Mars'r Cunnel. I don't see 'em till now."

Uncle Dave had a pitchfork in his hand, and it was plain enough just now
that he was of the church militant, for he was in fighting condition. It
was said that he could read and write; but from motives of policy he
never allowed a white man to see him do either. He was a sensible old
man in spite of his condition, and was employed about the stable and
carriage-house, and was favored by his master and all the family. He had
learned to speak without using the negro dialect, though his sentences
were not rhetorical models, and from the force of habit he retained some
of the old forms to avoid the imputation of "putting on airs."

"There seems to be no fighting going on up there," said the commander
after he had studied the situation some time, though he could not
understand it. "If the ruffians are moving over here, as Uncle Dave
says, we shall be needed in that quarter."

"I don't think so, Mars'r Cunnel, for we maul the ruffians so that they
won't want to fight no more for two weeks and a half," added the
preacher, who heard the remark.

"You may stay here, and if your flock come to this road, send them up to
the hill where we are going," ordered the commander, as he dashed off,
followed by the other horsemen.

The gathering on the hill was not a parley under a flag of truce, as
Colonel Belthorpe feared it might be; but to explain its nature it will
be necessary to go back to the time when Major Lyon, followed by his
command, had marched over to the old road.



CHAPTER XXVIII

THE RESULT OF THE FLANK MOVEMENT


Even the title of major which had been thrust upon him could not make
the planter of Riverlawn feel like a military commander as he led his
battalion of foot and mounted volunteers to the old road, which might
prove to be a battle-field. His force consisted of only four white
men,--himself, his son, Tom Belthorpe, and Squire Truman. Deck had been
provided with a saddle horse from the stable of the Lyndhall planter, so
that all of them were well mounted.

Four of the mounted boys from Riverlawn, four of them on foot, and about
twenty of the colonel's ablest hands formed the rest of his force. The
latter were as emulous to fight the battle of their master as those who
had been sent to the new road. Major Lyon's boys had already been under
fire, and they were exceedingly proud of the experience. They talked
rather large, perhaps, to the Lyndhall volunteers, and told them they
must stand up to it when the enemy fired, and must not run away though
they were sure they would be shot. They were earnestly counselled not
"to disgrace the race."

At that time a negro soldier was unknown, and most white men, especially
at the South, would as soon have thought of arming and drilling a lot of
baboons and monkeys; and even those in Barcreek who were willing to
accept their services in defence of their families and their property
had never dreamed of such a thing as making soldiers of the negroes.
Their steadiness under fire, though they had been subjected to only a
discharge of random shots, filled the slaveholders present with
astonishment, if not with admiration.

When the force reached the old road, there was nothing to be seen of the
ruffians, for it was quite dark, and they were beyond the hill, which
obstructed their view. But the scouts had reported them as approaching,
and the major in command was not inclined to await their coming. He gave
the order to march; but they had gone only a few rods before the column
was seen at the top of the hill. A halt was called in order to enable
the prudent commander to prepare a plan for the assault.

The advance of the force was evidently perceived by the ruffians, for
they also halted, and in a few moments more a great fire was blazing up
at the side of the road. On the march so far, Tom and Deck had done a
good deal of talking together. Since his brave and determined defence of
Miss Kate in the cross-cut, and his strategy in disposing of Buck
Lagger, Tom had a very high respect and regard for Deck.

"My father isn't much of a soldier, any more than the rest of us," said
Deck, as the major gave the order to halt. "If we fire at those
scalliwags, they will scatter and run away, as they did at the creek
bridge, and be all ready to burn a house or run off with a girl as soon
as they get the chance. I believe we ought to punish them so that they
will remember it till to-morrow or next day."

"Just my idea," replied Tom. "These niggers stand up to the fight like
white men. I believed they would all run away at the first shot from an
enemy."

"Not one of them flinched on the bridge or in the road when the ruffians
fired into them, my father says, for I was not there then; I was in the
artillery service just at that time."

"In the artillery service!" exclaimed Tom, laughing at the magnificent
speech of his companion in arms.

"Exactly so; you have heard the story of the capture of the arms at the
sink-hole; the cannon are mounted in the ice-house. If you see one of
our darkeys flinch when the firing begins, I wish you would let me know,
and we will cut down his hominy ration," rattled Deck, as enthusiastic
as though he had slept all night instead of half an hour. "But I have
got an idea."

"You seem to have one in tow all the time."

"I want you to mention it to my father if you believe in it, and he will
think more of it than if I put it forward."

"Your father seems to think a good deal of what you say and do."

"He will think I am too old for my years; but he is the best father I
ever had, and I want him to come out of this scrape with flying colors."

"But what is your idea, Deck?" asked Tom curiously.

"I think my father is waked up to the bottom of his boots; he won't fool
with any flags of truce, and he will order us all to fire as soon as the
time comes, though his own brother is in the gang ahead of us, or in the
one over on the other road."

"I am sure he won't wince."

"And the moment we fire, the ruffians will all run away, which the
darkeys won't do. That is just what I have seen them do twice to-night.
I wonder what they came over here for if they didn't mean to fight."

"They came over here to burn your father's house and that of mine; but I
reckon they didn't expect to get the reception Major Lyon had prepared
for them."

"They will run away, Tom," repeated Deck; "and that is just what I don't
want them to be allowed to do."

"Not if we can prevent it; for I believe that hanging would do good to
some of them."

"We can prevent it if my father will adopt your suggestion," added Deck.

"My suggestion! I haven't got any suggestion, and I don't know what you
are talking about, Deck," replied Tom, puzzled with the remark. "All the
way I can see to manage this affair is to rush at the ruffians and drive
them off."

"We don't want to drive them off till we have given them a little
wholesome discipline. I suppose you know what a flank movement is,
fellow-soldier?"

"I have an idea what it is."

"We used to practise it when we were snowballing on sides away up in the
glorious State of New Hampshire, if we got a chance to do it."

"We don't practise snowballing much down here, and I never was engaged
in a flank movement at a snowball match. But I have an idea that it is
getting around the enemy, whether in a battle or a game, and taking them
on the side or in the rear."

"You could not have stated it any better if you had been studying the
art of war or the science of snowballing all your lifetime," added Deck.

"Be a little more serious, Mr. Lyon, and I shall understand you better,"
said Tom, looking very grave himself.

"I will be as serious as the parson at a funeral, Mr. Belthorpe. We have
plenty of men to flank them handsomely; for it don't take a great crowd
with seven-shooters in their hands to hold that gang where they are."

"I see what you mean now."

"What kind of ground is it over on the left of this road, Tom?"

"It is one of our best fields."

"Can horses travel on it?"

"Just as well as on this road."

"Then your suggestion to the commander-in-chief of the forces is that he
send a detachment of six men, mounted and armed with repeating rifles,
through the field on the left, with orders to fire on the ruffians when
the fight opens," continued Deck earnestly.

"It is a brilliant idea, and I will do it at once," replied Tom.

"Hold on a minute, and suggest that the detachment be under the command
of Captain Tom Belthorpe," added Deck.

"I shall amend that by substituting the name of Captain Deck Lyon,"
replied Tom, as he started ahead to overtake the commander.

"Don't do that!" shouted Deck.

Everything seemed to be at a standstill; but the blazing fire revealed a
flag of truce flying in front of the enemy. Tom delivered his suggestion
to Major Lyon without mentioning the fact that it came from his son; and
the commander promptly approved it. He believed that there must surely
be fighting this time, and that if the defenders, as he called them,
were defeated, Colonel Belthorpe's mansion would soon be in flames, and
perhaps his lovely daughters would fall into the hands of the vicious
wretches composing the mob.

"How many men do you need?"

"The four mounted men from your place, Deck, and myself," replied the
bearer of the suggestion.

"Very well, I give you the order to that effect; but don't you think
some older person than Dexter had better be in command?"

"Decidedly not, Major!" answered Tom with emphasis. "I believe Deck is
the smartest fellow in the crowd, except yourself."

"All right; have your own way, then," replied the commander. "But can
you tell me the nature of the land on the right hand side of the road?"

"The creek runs from above the mansion in that direction to the river,
and it is swampy on both sides of it," replied Tom, as he hurried away
to rejoin Deck.

During the absence of Tom Belthorpe, the young hero had been carefully
studying the position of the enemy and the surroundings. He could see
the brook, or creek as such streams are called in that region, by the
light of the fire on the hill, hardly deserving that appellation, for it
was only a very slight elevation. The bushes were like those he had seen
near the spring road, and several pools or ponds reflected the light of
the fire. He was satisfied that the ruffians could not retreat in that
direction.

Before Tom joined him the flag of truce with four men began to advance
towards Major Lynn's force. The commander's "infantry," consisting of
four Riverlawn negroes, were drawn up in front. The twenty Lyndhall
hands, miscellaneously armed with clubs and such implements as they had
been able to obtain, had also been formed across the road; and they were
as eager to "pitch into" the marauders as their fellows on the new road
had been; but the commander restrained them.

"Here you are, Captain Lyon, and my mission has been a success," said
Tom, as he rode up to the "cavalry" posted in the rear, where that arm
is not usually placed. "You are to command the flanking party, and
Squire Truman is requested to join the commander at the front."

The lawyer, who had not been informed of the intended movement,
immediately hastened to the front. Tom reported what had passed between
the major and himself, and a few minutes later the squire was seen
riding towards the hill. He had been directed by the major to inform the
ruffians that no flag of truce would be respected, and that he would
open fire very soon.

Deck objected to taking command of the cavalry; but Tom insisted, for he
really believed his companion was better qualified for the position than
himself, and the young man finally yielded the point. Captain Lyon, as
he had been called more than once during the night, proceeded to address
the four cavalrymen, informing them what was to be done, and what was
expected of them.

He did not put on any airs, though he could hardly help "feeling his
oats;" but he was too much absorbed in the success of his enterprise to
think much of his personal self. There were no fences at the side of the
road; and, giving the command to march, he started his spirited horse,
and dashed at full gallop into the field, with Tom at his side, and the
four riders from Riverlawn in rank behind them.

Deck passed beyond the range of the firelight, so that the enemy could
not see his force, and in less than ten minutes they were abreast of
them. By this time the message of the major had been delivered by the
squire; and the result was a manifestation on the part of the ruffians.
Those who were armed with muskets or other firearms appeared to have
been placed in front, and they delivered what was intended for a volley,
though it was a very shaky one.

As the cavalry were passing over a knoll, Deck saw that his father was
marching his fore up the road; for the combatants were too far apart to
do each other much mischief by their fire. The enemy kept up a desultory
discharge of their guns, but they were evidently not repeating-rifles.
When he had reduced the distance by one-half between them, he ordered a
halt. At this point he unslung his breech-loader, as the squire had done
before, and ordered the front rank to fire.

But Deck did not halt; on the contrary, he urged his horse forward at a
more rapid rate, and was closely followed by his command. The infantry
in the road continued to fire at will after the first volley, and it was
evident to Captain Lyon that the enemy were breaking under this hot
work. Those in the rear had already taken to their heels; but the
cavalry dashed in ahead of them, and the young commander drew up his
little force in front of them. As soon as he had given the order to
halt, and the six men in line faced the enemy, he gave the command to
fire in detail. In the case of Major Lyon and his son, both officers did
duty as privates as well as commanders. The retreat was instantly
checked; and this was the situation when Colonel Belthorpe appeared upon
the field.



CHAPTER XXIX

THE HUMILIATING RETREAT OF THE RUFFIANS


The situation on the rising ground was a puzzle to Colonel Belthorpe and
his companions. They could plainly see the little force of Captain Deck
in the rear of the enemy, and realized that it prevented the ruffians
from running away, as they had done on the new road. The commander was
inclined to laugh; for taking into account the fury with which the mob
had followed up their purpose, it was rather ludicrous to see them
penned in, as it were, on the hill.

As it was the policy of Major Lyon and his son to kill or wound as few
as possible of the ruffians, the firing had entirely ceased on the part
of the defenders, though an occasional shot came from the unorganized
mob. The negroes from the new road were coming in all the time; but
Uncle Dave had been studying the situation as well as his master, and
his flock obeyed him as implicitly as they did the colonel himself.

The preacher saw that the enemy were surrounded so far as the old road
was concerned, and could not retreat in the direction of the creek. The
field by which Captain Deck had reached his present position was still
open to them, and without orders or suggestions from any one he
proceeded to occupy it with the few of his people who had come with him.
He intercepted the others as they approached, and led them to a point
where they could fall upon the ruffians if they attempted to escape in
that direction.

The firing had ceased, and Captain Titus Lyon could not help seeing the
movement of the negroes under the lead of Uncle Dave. Probably a few of
the refugees from the skirmish on the new road succeeded in reaching the
hill where his advance had been checked, and had informed him of the
disaster to his other division. Even the desultory firing of his men was
discontinued very soon when they saw that they were hemmed in on all
sides, and that they were at the mercy of the victors.

"Well, Major Lyon, you seem to have brought everything to a standstill
on this portion of the field," said Colonel Belthorpe as he rode up to
the planter from Riverlawn after he had taken a full view of the
situation. "I see that you have made a flank movement, and placed a
portion of your force in the rear of the enemy."

"My son is in command of that detachment, and the movement was made at
his suggestion," replied the major, who could not help laughing in
sympathy with the colonel. "The movement was made at his suggestion, and
I think there is a great deal more military in Dexter's composition than
in mine."

"Captain Deck has skill as well as pluck, and he has put the enemy in a
tight place," added the commander-in-chief. "There they are like a flock
of sheep in a pen, and they cannot get out. What are you going to do
next, Major Lyon?"

"That is for you to say, for you command all the forces," answered the
major.

"You have brought this sore to a head, my friend, and probably you can
suggest in what manner the wound may be healed," returned the colonel,
still laughing; for to a military man like him the whole affair appeared
to be rather in the nature of a farce. "You have proved to be an able
commander, and I need your advice."

"You seem to look very lightly upon the whole matter, Colonel
Belthorpe," said the major, who could not understand why his superior
officer indulged in his continued laugh.

"Not at all, my dear sir; I have looked upon it, up to the present stage
of affairs, as a very serious matter; and I am confident that both your
mansion and mine would have been in ashes before this time if we had not
taken the bull by the horns as we did."

"You appear to be amused."

"I am amused at the present situation; and perhaps the victory we have
achieved puts me in condition to be amused. My property and my daughters
have been saved, and we have the ruffians pinched up in a tight place. I
think you have as much reason to rejoice as I have, Major Lyon."

"Certainly I have; but, not being a military man, it looks more serious
to me than to you. I thought you were inclined to make fun of the whole
affair."

"Not at all. For a civilian you have done wonders. As we have won we can
afford to laugh. But it is about daylight now, and this operation must
be finished. What is your counsel, Major?"

"I think we had better get a little nearer to the enemy," replied the
major. "I see a good many of your people in the field on our left."

"From mild, peaceable, and even timid people, they suddenly became as
brave as lions, and as ferocious as fiends, and they have severely
punished the ruffians who fled in this direction. I never supposed there
was anything like fight in them before."

"If you are ready we will advance, Colonel," added Major Lyon, as he
gave the order to march.

The commander took his place by the side of the planter of Riverlawn,
and the column moved up the declivity. The fire was still burning
brightly, and lighted up the whole of the surrounding region. It was
evidently replenished with fuel frequently, in order to enable the
entrapped foe to observe the movements of the visitors. The approach of
the forces appeared to cause a decided sensation in the ranks of the
ruffians, and presently a white flag was displayed in front of them.

"Captain Titus seems to have a passion for white flags," said the
colonel. "He tried that dodge for the second time over on the new road."

"And for the third time on this road," added the major. "But there
appears to be some reason for showing it this time."

The major did not give an order to halt this time; but the force marched
to a point within twenty-five feet of the front rank of the ruffians, if
there could be said to be anything like a rank in the mob. Then the
command to halt was given.

"I shall leave you to do all the talking, Colonel Belthorpe," said the
major, as he backed his horse so as to leave the commander alone at the
front.

"I am quite willing to do the talking, but I may need your advice,"
replied the colonel.

The planter of Riverlawn could distinctly make out his brother at this
distance, and he was glad that he had not been shot dead, or apparently
wounded. Two men came from the direction of the fire, bearing lighted
torches, and placed themselves one on each side of Captain Titus and
another person at his side, who carried the white flag.

"Do you know that man with the flag, Squire Truman?" asked Major Lyon,
as he observed the proceedings on the other side.

"I ought to know him, for I prosecuted him for an assault not long ago,"
replied the lawyer. "That is Swin Pickford, a bully and a ruffian of the
vilest sort."

"My brother is not very particular in the selection of his associates,"
added Noah Lyon very sadly.

Captain Titus advanced with the flag and the torches at a stately pace,
as though he were the victor instead of the vanquished in the several
conflicts of the night, and halted in the middle of the space between
the contestants.

"I desire to meet Noah Lyon," said he.

"I decline to meet him," called the owner of the name.

"He declines to meet you on the present occasion," replied the commander
sternly. "This is not exactly a fraternal meeting, and there is only one
question which is in order: Do you surrender?"

"Surrender? No! not as long as there is a breath left in my body!"
replied the leader of the ruffians, as fiercely as though he expected to
have all his own way in spite of his disastrous defeat.

"What do you want, then?" demanded the colonel.

"I want justice!" stormed Captain Titus.

"If you got it you would be swinging to one of these trees; and that is
where you would be if you were not the brother of Major Lyon."

"Major Lyon, as you call him, is a thief and a robber!" yelled Titus.
"The very guns and cannon you have turned against us to-night were
stolen from me by him!"

"At a meeting of the Union men of this vicinity last night, a vote of
thanks was passed to Major Lyon for taking possession of the arms and
ammunition found in a cavern; and we all stand by that vote," replied
the colonel with dignity.

"What do we care for the vote of a set of traitors to the State!"

"This is not the time or the place to discuss the subject. I desire only
to know what you and your mob are going to do about it."

"We are going to have justice if there is any such thing left in the
State."

"It is your next move, Captain Titus."

"I wish to be fair and reasonable," continued Titus, moderating his
speech and manner. "I have done my best to keep the gentlemen with me
from doing violence to them that stole our property, and"--

"And for that reason you became their leader and captain-general in an
attempt to burn your brother's house and mine!" interjected the colonel.

"No matter what we came out for; I have a plan to state that will settle
the difficulty," Titus proceeded, struggling to keep cool.

"State your plan, and be quick about it!"

"If the stolen arms and things are returned to us at once, we will go to
our several homes and let the matter end here," said Titus.

"That's enough!" exclaimed Colonel Belthorpe indignantly. "Have you come
over here under a flag of truce to say that?"

"That is what I come here for; and I insist on't that the things be
given up!" replied Titus, waxing wrathful.

"Now you can retire with your flag of truce."

"I won't do no such thing!"

"If you won't I shall be obliged to open fire upon you and your mob; and
you will be the first to fall," added the commander quietly.

"Do you mean to murder us?" demanded Titus, aghast at the determined
policy of the commander. "You have hemmed us in so that we can't get
out, and now you mean to fire on us! I cal'late you've got a bone to
pick with your feller-citizens for armin' niggers."

"I can pick it without any help from you. Now, do you surrender, or
shall I order my men to fire?" demanded the colonel so sternly that
Titus was silenced. "I give you five minutes to consider my offer."

"I don't want to be shot like a mule with a broken leg," said Swin
Pickford, loud enough to be heard in the front rank.

"Can't we make terms?" asked Titus, who was terribly alarmed.

"No terms with a mob," replied the colonel.

Half a dozen of the ruffians came forward to their leader, and it was
evident that they were quite as much frightened as he was himself.
Enough was heard from those in the front rank of the defenders to assure
them they pleaded for surrender. Some of them farther back even shouted,
"We surrender!"

"I s'pose we can't do nothin' but surrender or be shot," resumed Titus.

"That's all; and you may thank your stars that some of you are not
swinging by the neck from the trees at the side of the road."

"Then we surrender, for we can't do nothin' else," said Captain Titus.
"But I want to tell you, Colonel Belthorpe and Noah Lyon, that you
haven't seen the end of this thing yet. If the whole country don't howl
ag'in you within twenty-four hours, I lose my guess."

"You had better fall back on your ruffians and guess again," added the
colonel, as he placed himself at the side of Major Lyon.

"What does the surrender amount to, Colonel?" asked the planter of
Riverlawn.

"It really amounts to nothing but a way to get rid of these fellows. We
have had enough of them for to-night," replied the commander. "Captain
Gadbury, will you ride around through the fields to Captain Deck, and
ask him to let the mob move down the road toward the bridge? If any of
them have guns, take them from them."

Captain Gadbury started on his mission. Four mounted negroes were sent
after him to assist in disarming those who had weapons if needed. In a
short time the captain and his followers arrived at their destination,
as could be seen from the position of the main body. It was light enough
by this time to see the force there place themselves on each side of the
road.

Then the commander ordered his men to march, shouting to the mob to do
the same. The ruffians began their humiliating retreat, and the
defenders followed them as far as the bridge. The planters and their
attendants then returned to their homes.



CHAPTER XXX

LEVI BEDFORD AND HIS PRISONER


Colonel Cosgrove and Squire Truman returned to Riverlawn with Major Lyon
and his son. Colonel Belthorpe and Tom renewed their expressions of
gratitude to Deck for the important service he had rendered to the
family in the protection of Margie and Kate, and insisted that he should
visit Lyndhall as soon as possible. They parted at the cross roads, and
both parties received a warm welcome at their homes.

Levi Bedford and Artie Lyon had remained on watch in the fort, while a
sufficient number of the hands patrolled the bridge and the creek; but
the ruffians had found enough to do in the direction they had gone, and
there was no alarm during the rest of the night. The major took his
guests to the mansion, while Deck related to Levi and Artie the events
of the visit to Lyndhall.

"Captain Titus and the mob have really been thoroughly whipped out of
their boots," said the overseer, when Deck had finished his narrative.
"But, as the leader of the ruffians said, we haven't seen the end of
this thing yet."

"Do you think they will make another attack upon Riverlawn, Levi?" asked
Deck with along gape.

"I don't reckon they will try it in the same way they did before; at
least not till they are fully provided with arms and ammunition,"
replied Levi. "That attempt to capture the two daughters of Colonel
Belthorpe looks like one of Buck Lagger's schemes. If he had obtained
possession of the two girls, very likely he would have confined them in
one of the caverns like the one where they put the arms, with a guard
over them."

"That would have been awful," added Artie.

"I reckon they didn't mean to hurt the girls, and wouldn't if they had
got possession of them," continued Levi. "But you can see for
yourselves, boys, that they would have had the key to the fortress in
their own hands if they had obtained the girls."

"That's so!" exclaimed Deck, who had seen the point before without any
help from the overseer.

"I don't see what good the girls could have done them," said Artie, who
had been asleep most of the time during the absence of the planter and
his son.

"It is as plain as the nose on a monkey's face," added Deck. "With the
two girls as prisoners, Captain Titus would have demanded the return of
the arms and ammunition of Colonel Belthorpe."

"I see!" exclaimed Artie, as the object of the capture dawned upon him.
"But the colonel did not have the arms, and he could not have given them
up."

"But father would have made common cause with him, and he could not well
have helped giving up the arms to get back his neighbor's daughter,"
Deck explained.

"But I wonder they didn't try to take our girls," suggested Artie.

"That is what they may try to do next; and I shall advise your mother
not to permit Miss Dorcas or Miss Hope to go outside of the plantation
unless they are well guarded," added Levi. "If Captain Titus could get
away with your two sisters, and hide them, he could have things all his
own way with your father."

"We must keep a sharp lookout for the girls," said Artie.

"Buck Lagger, with his gang, must have gone ahead of the main body of
the ruffians," continued the overseer thoughtfully, "or he could not
have been in the cross-cut. He must have known about the party, and that
the colonel's daughters were there."

"Where does this Buck live?" asked Deck.

"He has a shanty on the road to the village, just above the schoolhouse.
He is a pedler when he does anything like work, and I suppose he knows
about every family in the county," replied Levi. "He could easily have
found out all about the party, and who were to be there."

"There is the breakfast-bell," said Deck, who was quite prepared by his
night's work for the summons.

At the table the story of the night's adventures was repeated for the
information of Mrs. Lyons and her daughters, and they wanted to hug
Deck; first, because he had been so brave and vigorous in the rescue of
Margie and Kate Belthorpe, and second, because he had not been killed or
severely wounded in the encounter of which he had been the hero.

After the meal Major Lyon and his two guests retired to the library,
while the boys went to bed. Before the former separated, they had
arranged a plan for the enlistment of a company of cavalry which had
been discussed at the meeting the evening before. But all concerned were
tired out after the labors of the night. Colonel Cosgrove was sent to
the place where he had left his team, and Squire Truman was driven to
the village by Levi, who had chosen this duty himself, in order to "see
what was going on," as he expressed it.

The ruffians who had formed the mob had been gathered from the region
around Barcreek, and not a few of them lived in the village. There
appeared to be no excitement there, and the overseer started for home.
On his way he had to pass the shanty of Buck Lagger, where he lived
alone when he was at home, which was not much of the time. His worldly
wealth, consisting of his stock of miscellaneous goods, was contained in
a couple of tin trunks, with which he tramped all over the county.

As Levi drove by the hovel a bullet whistled past his head; and,
removing his soft hat, he found that the missile had passed through it,
and within a couple of inches of the top of his head. It required no
reasoning to convince him that Buck Lagger had fired the shot which had
narrowly failed to send him to his long home. This particular kind of
outrage was not an uncommon occurrence in Kentucky during the exciting
period which followed the bombardment of Fort Sumter. Not a few who had
enlisted in the armies of the Union were killed in this cowardly manner.

Levi Bedford reined in his horses, and then secured them to a tree. He
was not a man to permit such a dastardly deed to remain unpunished a
moment longer than was necessary. The ruffian, who had appeared to be
the lieutenant of Captain Titus the night before, could not be far off.
Passing to the rear of the shanty, Levi discovered him running for the
woods a short distance from the road. In his hand he carried an old
flint-lock musket, from which he had doubtless fired the shot intended
to deprive Major Lyon of the services of his valuable overseer.

Buck turned to look at his pursuer, though he hardly abated his speed in
doing so. His left arm was hung in a sling, the material of which looked
as though it might have been a part of the flag of truce displayed on
the creek bridge the night before. Levi had the heavy revolver with
which he had armed himself still in his pocket; and it had even occurred
to him that he might have occasion to use it before he returned from his
present visit to the village.

Though he was a heavy man, Levi was agile in his movements, and the
ruffian could not help seeing that his pursuer was gaining upon him.
Before he reached the woods, he realized that he had no chance to
escape, and he halted. Elevating his gun, he took aim at the overseer.
But Levi knew that the weapon could not be loaded, for he had fired its
only charge at him, and had not had time to reload it.

"It won't go off again till you load it," said the overseer, as he
rushed up to him, and wrenched the musket from his hand, thinking he
might try to use it as a club. "It's no fault of yours, except in your
aim, that you are not a murderer, Buck Lagger!"

[Illustration: "IT WON'T GO OFF AGAIN UNTIL YOU LOAD IT."]

"I'm only sorry I missed my aim," replied Buck. "You have a revolver in
your hand, and you can shoot me as soon as you please."

"Shooting is too good for a ruffian like you. If I had a rope I would
hang you to one of the beams of your own shanty," replied Levi, as he
grasped the ruffian by the collar of his coat.

"Oh, I'll lend you a rope if you will come to the house," replied the
obliging ruffian. "But hold your hand! You hurt me! You can see for
yourself that I am wounded. One of Lyon's cubs put a ball through my
shoulder last night."

"It's a pity he did not put it through your brains, if you've got
anything of that sort in the top of your head," added Levi, as he
proceeded to lead his prisoner to his wagon.

"You hurt me, Bedford!" pleaded Buck. "If you want to hang me, I'll help
you do the job in proper fashion; but you needn't torture me before you
do it. When we lynch a fellow we don't do that."

Levi released his hold upon the prisoner.

"My aim is better than yours; walk to my wagon, and if you attempt to
run away, I won't kill you, but I will put two or three balls through
your legs, so that it won't be convenient for you to run," said he, as
he drove the villain before him towards the road.

"What are you go'n' to do with me, Bedford?" asked Buck.

"That's my business," replied Levi.

"Well, I think it rayther consarns me too."

"If you live long enough you will find out in time. Now get into the
wagon."

"Are you go'n' to take me down to Lyon's place?" asked Buck, looking his
captor in the face as they stopped at the side of the vehicle.

"Get in quick, or I may hurt you again!" said Levi impatiently. "You
won't get killed by a ball from my shooter, but you may have another
wound."

Probably the ruffian preferred shooting to hanging, and the remark of
the overseer did not please him. If he had told his whole story, he
would have said that he had been unable to sleep on account of the wound
in his shoulder, and for that reason he had been up early enough to see
Levi drive past his shanty with Squire Truman. The suffering made him
angry, stimulated his desire for revenge; and he had tried to put the
overseer out of the way.

He pretended to be more afraid of wounds than of death; and with the
assistance of Levi he climbed into the wagon, taking his place on the
front seat as directed. His captor put the gun he had brought with him
into the wagon, and then seated himself beside his prisoner. The
spirited horses went off at a lively pace, and Buck immediately
complained that the motion increased his pain.

"That wasn't a bad scheme of yours to get possession of Colonel
Belthorpe's girls, Buck. You meant to trade them off for the arms, I
suppose," said Levi, as he reduced the pace of his horses to a walk; for
he desired, if he could, to obtain some information from his prisoner.

"That was just it, Bedford; and if that cub of Lyon's hadn't interfered,
we should have had the arms before this time," replied Buck, with both a
chuckle and a groan.

"Why didn't you try it on Major Lyon's girls first, for that would have
brought the matter nearer home?"

"That's just what we meant to do," replied Buck, with refreshing
confidence in his custodian. "That was my plan; but Cap'n Titus was
obstinate, and wouldn't hear to me. He ain't much of a cap'n; and I'd
had the arms and the rest o' the things if he had left it to me."

"What was your plan, Buck?" asked Levi quietly.

"That's tellin'; we may try it on some other time, if I live long
enough. Our folks are fightin' this thing on principle, and we ain't
go'n' to see the good old State of Kaintuck turned over to the
Abolitionists."

"What do you mean by Abolitionists, Buck?"

"Such fellers as Lyon, Cosgrove, Belthorpe."

"They are all slaveholders."

"They're all Lincolnites, and gave arms to their niggers to shoot down
white Kaintuckians last night," replied Buck bitterly.

"Only when a mob of ruffians came down upon them to burn their property
and carry off their daughters!" added Levi. "They are Union men, and
they will stand by the old flag as long as there is anything left of
them."

"The Union's busted!"

"Not much! Why don't you enlist in the Confederate army, and carry out
your principles? You are a cowardly ruffian, Buck!"

"We can do more good to the cause by stoppin' here, Bedford; and when I
git command of that Home Guard, as I shall afore long, I'll clean out
the Abolitionists in less'n a week," said Buck boastfully.

"If you live long enough," suggested Levi.

"If I don't I'm willin' to be a martyr to the good cause!" protested the
reprobate.

As before suspected by Levi and his employer, "that Home Guard" was
composed of the ruffians who had been the assailants the night before.
Levi drove to the fort, where a guard of a dozen negroes, under the
command of General, had been placed over the arms and ammunition. The
prisoner was taken from the wagon, and permitted to lie on one of the
beds which had been brought from the mansion the night before for the
use of the defenders of the plantation. General and his men were charged
to shoot the captive if he attempted to escape.



CHAPTER XXXI

DR. FALKIRK VISITS RIVERLAWN


Levi Bedford, in spite of his threats to hang his prisoner, was a
kind-hearted man, and he did what he could for the comfort of Buck
Lagger. He had often been called upon to prescribe for the sick or
injured among the hands on the plantation. He examined the wound of the
ruffian; but it was beyond his skill, and he did not attempt to treat
the patient.

During the absence of the expedition for the defence of Lyndhall he had
done what he could for those who had been wounded on the creek road; but
he was not an expert in the treatment of gunshot wounds. There was
little he could do for them; and early in the morning he had sent Frank
to procure the attendance of Dr. Falkirk, who resided near the village.
He had been called to a case on a plantation several miles from
Barcreek. He had not returned when Levi went to his bed.

Major Lyon and the boys had taken to their beds as soon as the guests
departed, and the overseer was in condition to follow their example. The
premises were well guarded along the creek, and two men with
breech-loaders in their hands were in charge of the wounded prisoner. In
the mansion Mrs. Lyon and her daughters, who had been up most of the
night, for they could not sleep while the major and his sons were in
danger, had gone to bed to obtain needed rest.

Even the hands who had been on service the whole or a part of the
eventful night were asleep, and the guard at Fort Bedford had been
relieved. Levi slept soundly on the bed he had taken within the works,
in spite of the groans mingled with curses of the wounded ruffian. There
was no white person awake on the plantation to wonder what was to be the
outcome of the events of the night. Doubtless Colonel Cosgrove and
Squire Truman were also sleeping off the fatigues of the night. The
aggressive ruffians had fled to their several homes, defeated,
exhausted, and disgusted with the result of their labors in the cause of
Secession. There was a calm after the storm.

Dr. Falkirk appeared about the middle of the forenoon. He was of Scotch
descent; but his father had settled in New Orleans, and the son became
as violent a "fire-eater" as though he had been the possessor of half a
thousand slaves. He had made a fortune in the practice of his
profession, and had purchased a plantation in Kentucky, on the outskirts
of Barcreek, where he intended to end his days in peace and quiet. But
some of his investments had been unfortunate, and he had been compelled
to resume practice.

His skill as a physician and surgeon had brought to him an abundant
practice, though his patients were widely scattered, and he was obliged
to pass much of his time in his gig. When the troubles of the nation
began, he developed into a Secessionist of the most ultra stripe. He was
a highly educated man and a fluent speaker in public and private. In the
Lyceum of the village he and Squire Truman were often pitted against
each other, and one was quite as outspoken as the other.

But Dr. Falkirk was faithful to his patients, poor or rich, and without
regard to their creed or politics. Though his fortune had been impaired,
he was still in comfortable circumstances, and never refused to visit
any sick person to whom he was called, with no regard to color or the
expectation of payment for his services. In fact, he was the beau-ideal
of a good physician, and held the honor of his profession above every
other consideration.

The men on patrol at the bridge conducted the doctor to the fort as soon
as he appeared, in obedience to the orders of the overseer. When he
reached Fort Bedford he manifested no little astonishment at the
appearance of the old ice-house, with its four embrasures, through which
the twelve-pounders could be seen. The negroes with breech-loaders in
their hands were a disgusting exhibition to him, and he turned up his
nose, though he made no remark.

The sentinel at the door politely ushered him into the presence of his
patient. Without asking any questions in regard to the manner in which
the sufferer had received his wound, Dr. Falkirk proceeded to examine
him. Buck Lagger was still in great pain, and had kept up a continual
groaning all the forenoon. The doctor immediately gave him a couple of
little pills, intended to ease the pain. The skilful surgeon discovered
that a bullet was embedded in the shoulder, and he took from the handbag
the instruments for its extraction.

Then he called upon a couple of the guards to assist him. There were but
two sentinels in charge of the fort, who were faithfully marching up and
down outside the door. But they paid no attention to the call of the
doctor. Each of them seemed to be impressed with the idea that the
protection of the plantation and the lives of all the family depended
upon him, and that it would be treason for them to leave their posts.

"Can't you hear me, you black rascals?" demanded the surgeon in a loud
tone. "Come here, one of you!"

"Can't leabe de post, Mars'r Doctor," replied one of the men.

Probably there was no enemy within a mile of the fort; but they had been
told that they were not to leave their places for anything, and they
were disposed literally to obey their orders. But the angry tones of the
surgeon had awakened Levi Bedford, who was sleeping at one end of the
fort. He sprang to his feet, and discovered the doctor at the couch of
his patient.

"Good-morning, Doctor Falkirk," said he. "I did not know you were here."

"I knew I was here, and I ordered those black scoundrels to assist me,
and they refused to do so," replied the doctor angrily.

"They only obey their orders, but they rather overdo it. I will assist
you, Doctor," added Levi.

"Orders!" exclaimed the professional gentleman contemptuously. "One
would think this was a regular garrison."

"That is about what it is," replied the overseer.

"Humbug!" said the surgeon, as he turned to his patient.

Levi called in one of the sentinels, and the bed of the wounded man was
drawn out before the door where the light was best, and the doctor
proceeded with his work. The morphine pills he had given the patient
appeared to have relieved his pain. The operator probed for the ball,
and soon found it. Then he dressed the wound with as much care as though
the sufferer had been a Kentucky colonel. He had hardly completed his
office before Buck dropped asleep under the influence of the powerful
medicine he had taken. The bed was moved back without waking him, and
Dr. Falkirk passed out of the fort, followed by the overseer.

"Keep the man quiet for a week, and give him anything he wants to eat,"
said he, as he looked about him at the warlike preparations which had
been finished the day before.

"We have three more wounded men in the hospital who need a surgeon,"
added Levi.

"What are those niggers doing over on the other side of the creek?"
asked the surgeon, whose gaze had wandered to the grove at the side of
the road. Some of the hands had been directed to bury the man who had
fallen behind the tree where he had taken refuge from the shots of the
defenders of the plantation.

He had been seen in the act of levelling his gun at the advancing
column, and Levi had brought him down before he could discharge his
weapon.

"They are burying a man that fell in the skirmish last night," Levi
replied to the question of the doctor.

"What skirmish?" inquired Dr. Falkirk, with evident astonishment.

"You don't appear to have heard the news, Doctor," replied the overseer.

"What news? I was called to General Longman's plantation last evening; I
spent the night there, and did not get home till half-past eight this
morning."

As briefly as possible Levi gave the details of the events of the
preceding night, beginning with the meeting at Big Bend, and ending with
the final defeat and surrender of the ruffians.

"An Abolition row!" said the doctor contemptuously.

"Not exactly, Dr. Falkirk; it was a Secession row!" added Levi with
energy.

"Brought about by the insane wrangling of the traitors to the State of
Kentucky!" snapped the surgeon.

"The traitors to the State of Kentucky are loyal to the government of
the United States and the Union," protested the overseer.

"There is no longer any United States, and the Union has ceased to
exist! The men who are making all this trouble in Kentucky are those who
are trying to make war upon the Southern Confederacy, to subdue and
enslave a dozen sovereign States!" argued the doctor, almost furiously.

"I reckon it's no use for you and me to argue this question, for we
don't live in the same world on that subject," said the overseer, with a
smile on his round face. "But Kentucky is for the Union by a large
majority, and what you call sovereign States are in rebellion against
the lawful authorities of the nation, and the insurrection will be put
down just as sure as fate."

"This used to be a free country, though it isn't so now; but every man
can have his own opinion as long as he is willing to be responsible for
it."

"It isn't exactly a free country as long as the loyal citizens of this
county cannot hold a meeting without being attacked by the ruffians of
Secession, as was the case at Big Bend last night. Then the same
villains came over here in a mob of a hundred to burn Major Lyon's
house, and capture his daughters, as they tried to do with Colonel
Belthorpe's girls. They did not succeed, and some of them were shot down
in the attempt. The right to commit such outrages as these is what you
call free; but we at Riverlawn don't understand it in just that way."

"But, according to your own statement, Mr. Bedford, your people had
stolen the arms intended for the company of the Home Guards whom Captain
Titus Lyon has enlisted," returned the doctor.

"We took possession of the arms and ammunition, including the two guns
at those embrasures, to prevent these ruffians from using them against
the loyal citizens of the county in carrying out their ideas of
freedom," said Levi stoutly. "Do you believe these ruffians, the
offscourings of the county, ought to be permitted to burn, ravage, and
destroy the homes of some of the most respectable people in this
vicinity, Dr. Falkirk?"

"But your people were the aggressors, and I think they were justified in
trying to recover the property that had been stolen from them."

"The ruffians issued their threats to burn the mansion of Major Lyon
before the arms entered into the question."

The discussion might have continued all day, if Sam, Colonel Belthorpe's
house servant, had not ridden up at this moment.

"I come for the doctor, sar," said the man.

"Who is sick at Lyndhall, Sam?" asked Levi with much interest.

"Nobody sick, Mars'r Bedford; but Mars'r Tilford's very bad with his
wound, and Mars'r Cunnel send me for the doctor," replied the servant.

"Is this another of your victims, Mr. Bedford?" asked the doctor with a
heavy sneer.

"It is Colonel Belthorpe's overseer. He refused to assist in protecting
the family from the ruffians, and left the mansion. It seems that he was
shot in attempting to join your army, doctor."

"He's a brave fellow! I will go and see him."

"But he deserted your army of ruffians, and crawled back to the house,
where the girls nursed him and cared for him. Now the colonel sends for
you to patch him up, the ingrate!"

"True to his principles against his employer!"

The doctor was conducted to the hospital, where he did his duty
faithfully to those who had been wounded, though Levi reminded him that
they belonged to "his army." None of them were in a bad way, and the
surgeon said they would be all right in a few days.

All was quiet again at Riverlawn, and the sleepers used most of the day
in their beds. On the following morning, after the whole evening had
been used in discussing the events of the preceding night, everything
went along as usual on the plantation. No more ruffians appeared on the
other side of the creek, though Major Lyon and the boys remained on duty
at the fort.

"What is to be the end of all these disturbances, Noah?" asked Mrs.
Lyon, as the family seated themselves at the breakfast-table the second
morning after the battle, as they had come to call the events of that
stormy night.

"I think we all understand what is before us. We are to have war, and I
don't believe it will end in a hundred days, as the statesman at
Washington says," replied Major Lyon; and even some of his family had
learned to apply this title to him. "Within a few days we shall begin to
form a company of cavalry. I am still of military age, and the boys are
old enough to take part in the struggle before us. But Levi will remain
on the plantation; and as the hands have proved that they can stand up
under fire, he will have the means of protecting you, Ruth."

"Of course we shall be sorry to have you go, but I agree with you, Noah,
that your country has a claim upon you which you cannot shirk," replied
Mrs. Lyon, struggling to repress a tear.

"Buck Lagger asked me this morning if I thought he was well enough to be
hung," said Levi, perhaps to break off the conversation in that line.

"Do you think of hanging him, Levi?" inquired the planter.

"That is what I promised him; but I leave that matter to you, Major
Lyon. He is a murderer at heart, and the bullet from his gun passed
within two inches of the top of my head."

"I should not like to have him hung at Riverlawn," added the planter. "I
will talk with him, and see what can be done; but there is no law in
this part of the country just now."

The family were to dine that day at Lyndhall at one o'clock, so that
none of them need be absent after dark. Major Lyon left the house, and
was directing his steps towards Fort Bedford for an interview, when he
saw Captain Titus Lyon driving over the bridge. He did not care to meet
him, but he could hardly avoid doing so, and he stopped in front of the
flower-garden. Titus fastened his horse to a post, and approached his
brother.



CHAPTER XXXII

THE ARRIVAL OF THE RECRUITING OFFICER


Noah Lyon was not glad to see his brother; but this was a new experience
to him, for he had always had a fraternal feeling for him, and had done
everything in his power for him when he needed assistance. He was
willing to believe that Titus was sincere in his political convictions,
though it was impossible for him to understand how he could be a traitor
to the Union.

At the North both of the great parties were united in support of the
government, and at his former home Titus would have been almost alone if
he had clung to the opinions which now actuated him; for "copperheads"
were rare serpents there. Noah's brother would hardly have been one amid
the surroundings of his former home. It was evident that Kentucky
whiskey and a feeling of revenge, born of his disappointment over the
provisions of Duncan's will, had done more to make him a Secessionist
than the workings of his own reason.

"I have come to see you once more, Noah," Titus began quite mildly for
him, though it was plain to his brother that he was primed with his
favorite beverage as usual.

He was not intoxicated in any reasonable sense of the word; and he had
plainly resolved to make the interview a peaceable one. Doubtless he had
a point to carry, but within a few days he had probably learned more
about the character of his brother than he had ever known before. Noah
could not say that he was glad to see him, for even a "society lie" was
repulsive to him.

"I hope we shall be peaceable and pleasant this time, even if we cannot
agree in everything," he replied very gently and with a smile upon his
honest face.

"That's just what I want, Noah; and I have always tried to make things
peaceable between us," added Titus.

Noah wondered if he believed what he uttered, after coming with a mob to
his plantation to burn and ravage his property; but whatever doubts he
had, he kept them to himself, for he knew that the thought which was
uppermost in his mind, if expressed, would only irritate his brother,
and provoke him to wrath.

"I trust you will continue to do so," was his next remark, though he
thought that even this was admitting too much.

"There is a question between us, Noah," continued Titus, struggling to
retain his quiet demeanor as he approached the point of difference
between them. "I won't say a word about the way I have been used up to
three days ago, for I want to be on kind of brotherly terms with you, if
we don't agree on politics."

"I assuredly desire to be on brotherly terms with you, and it shall not
be any fault of mine that we are not brothers in spirit as well as in
fact," replied Noah, who became slightly hopeful of Titus, for he had
not recently heard him speak so many friendly words.

"There is only one question between us now, and we might just as well
come right down to business at once," said Titus, very nervous in his
manner, as though his hope of accomplishing anything with the stern
patriot his brother had proved to be was only slight. "Of course you
know that I mean about the arms."

"I understand you, Brother Titus," replied Noah, exceedingly unwilling
to fan the fire that was smouldering in the breast of the leader of the
ruffians.

"It seems to me that there ought to be no trouble between two brothers
like you and me about settling a question of this kind," continued
Titus, still toying with the subject. "Of course you must admit that the
arms did not belong to you."

"No more than Fort Sumter and a dozen other places built and maintained
by the Union belonged to the insurgents who have taken possession of
them," answered Noah very quietly.

"That's another matter," returned the captain, evidently thrown off his
base by this home argument.

"It is precisely the same thing to my mind."

"Do you call stealing my property the same thing as a nation taking
possession of forts and such things within its own territory, Noah
Lyon?"

"Precisely the same thing, though on a smaller scale."

"I used to think you had lots of logic in your head, Noah; but I believe
you hain't got none on't left," retorted Titus, relapsing into what he
called his "week-day speech." "I was in hopes you had come to sunthin'
like reason, and would be ready to give up the property you stole."

"I shall be quite ready to give it up when the insurrectionists give up
the property they stole."

"The two things ain't no more like than a nigger is like a white man,"
protested Titus, the bad blood, mingled with whiskey, in his veins
beginning to boil.

"I think we had better not discuss this question any more, Brother
Titus. It only stirs up bad blood, and does not accomplish anything,"
suggested Noah.

"I s'pose I'm to understand from what you say that you don't mean to
give up the arms you stole from me," said Titus, doubling his fist, and
holding it near the face of his brother.

"I do not consider that I have any right to deliver the arms to you; for
I understand that they were to be used to arm what you call the Home
Guards, or, in other words, the ruffians who came over here to burn my
house and lay waste my property. I shall not give up the arms to you, or
to any other person representing the enemies of the Union. The
insurrectionists have set the example of stealing arms, as you call it,
and forts, and public buildings by wholesale; and the Secessionists of
Kentucky are robbing the Union men of their arms. I hold that the
precedent has been well established by those on your side of the
question."

"I don't care for your precedents, and I wish my brother would deal with
the one question between us."

"I am entirely willing to do so, Brother Titus. You wish me to furnish
the brands with which you can burn my house and those of my neighbors."

"What sort of bosh is that?" demanded Titus, who did not see the point.

"If I should return to you the military supplies in my possession, they
would be used to arm the horde of ruffians you marched over here to burn
my property the other night."

"They would be used to arm my company of the Home Guards; and they are
regular under the call of the Governor of Kentucky."

"The Legislature of the State repudiate him, and the people are
enlisting the troops he refused to furnish."

"The Legislature is a fraud, and don't rightly represent the will of the
people. I came over here with the Home Guard and other friends of the
cause to get the arms. You turned our own weapons against us, and
without arms we could do nothing against armed niggers."

"I have put my place in a condition to be defended, and I have called
upon the United States government to send a body of troops here to
protect the Union people from the outrages of your people."

"They will have a hot time of it when they get here," replied Titus with
a sneer.

"In the meantime we shall defend ourselves. We have been attacked"--

"You have not been attacked!" protested the captain. "We came over here
to demand the arms. We put up a flag of truce, and wanted to talk with
you; but you drove us off, and fired upon us," answered Titus.

"Your people began the attack at the schoolhouse."

"'Tain't so! Some of our men went to the meeting, and you fell upon 'em
there."

"They had no business there, for the call was addressed to the Union men
of the county. They disturbed the meeting, and we put them out. Then
your company gathered in the woods, demanding 'Lyon and his cubs.' My
friends stood by me, and the meeting shouldered all the responsibility
in regard to the arms. We agreed to get up a company of cavalry for the
United States."

"And you mean to arm 'em with the things you stole from me!" almost
gasped Captain Titus.

"When a proper officer comes here he will give you a receipt for the
property."

"Which would not be worth the paper it is written on to me!"

"Not unless you could show that you were a Union man."

"My men are bent on gettin' them arms, and they will have them!"

"They will have to fight for them," added Noah quietly.

Perhaps the interview would have become still more stormy if Levi
Bedford had not approached with a gentleman wearing the uniform of a
cavalry officer. Captain Titus did not like the looks of him, and,
judging that Noah had proceeded farther than he had suspected in
providing for the protection of the loyal people of the county, he beat
a hasty retreat; and he drove across the bridge at a rate so furious as
to indicate his state of mind.

"Major Lyon, this is Lieutenant Gordon, of the United States Volunteer
Service," said Levi, as he approached with the visitor.

"I am very glad to see you, Lieutenant Gordon," added the planter,
extending his hand to the officer.

"I am rejoiced to meet you, Major Lyon; and I am glad to find that you
are a military man," replied Lieutenant Gordon.

"But I am not a military man, and was never even a private in a military
company," replied the major, laughing at the natural mistake of his
guest. "I protested against answering to my title till I found it was
useless to do so."

"If you are not a major now, perhaps you will be one very soon. I am
sent here by Major-General Buell, in reply to your letter to him," added
the officer, producing a document which authorized him to enlist,
enroll, and muster in a company of cavalry.

"You are the very man I wished most to see," said the planter, after he
had glanced at the paper. "Come to the house, if you please, and we will
consider the object of your visit."

"I had some trouble in getting here; for our information is that General
Buckner, with a considerable force of the enemy, is moving towards
Bowling Green, probably with the intention of occupying it, and I did
not deem it wise to go there, as I had been directed to do."

"What you say is news to us," replied the major, as he conducted the
officer into the house. "Have you been to breakfast, Lieutenant?"

"I have not, sir. I left the train last night at Dripping Spring, which
they told me was the last station before coming to Bowling Green. I
found a place to sleep, and a stable for my horse, which I brought down
in a baggage car, I started out early this morning to find Riverlawn,
and here I am."

The lieutenant was shown to one of the guest chambers of the mansion,
and the planter ordered breakfast for him, instructing Aunty Diana to
provide the best the house afforded. The officer wanted his saddle-bags,
which had gone to the stable with his horse, and they were carried up
for him. Before the morning meal was ready he came down, and was
presented to Mrs. Lyon and her daughters.

After he had washed and dressed himself, he proved to be what the girls
declared was a handsome man. He was not more than twenty-five years old,
and had a decidedly military air and manner. He made himself very
agreeable to the ladies; and Dorcas, who was a full-grown woman in
stature, wondered if he was to remain long at Riverlawn.

"You are on the very ragged edge of the Rebellion, Major Lyon," said the
visitor, as he seated himself at the table. "I should say you were not
more than fifteen miles from Bowling Green."

"I suppose you are acquainted with the country about here, Lieutenant?"
added the planter.

"Not at all, Major; I was born and always lived in the State of Ohio;
and I have never been in this direction farther than Lexington. But I
know that Bowling Green is near the junction of two railroads into
Tennessee and the South; and the Confederates can't help seeing that it
is an important point for them to possess and hold. There will be some
fighting in this quarter before long."

"There has been a skirmish or two. The Home Guards are making some
trouble in this vicinity, and I have put my place in a condition to be
defended from their assaults," added Major Lyon.

He proceeded to describe the affair at the bridge and on the two roads,
in which the officer was much interested. He was particularly delighted
with the capture of the arms and ammunition. The planter then conducted
him to Fort Bedford.



CHAPTER XXXIII

ONE AGAINST THREE ON THE ROAD


Lieutenant Gordon looked about him with something like amazement as he
entered the fort. Levi Bedford and the boys had arranged the arms in
racks made by the carpenters. The two Napoleons, as the twelve-pounders
are sometimes called, were pointed out at the embrasures, and the aspect
of the place was decidedly warlike. Buck Lagger had been removed to the
hospital, where he found three of his comrades of the Home Guards, two
others having been sent to their homes.

"These are my sons, Lieutenant," said Major Lyon, introducing each of
them by name. "They are stout boys, very nearly eighteen years old, and
are good riders. They will be the first recruits to put their names on
your paper after mine when you enter upon the work of your mission."

"They are the kind of recruits I like to add to our forces, for they are
not only stout, but intelligent," replied the officer, as he took from
his breast pocket the printed form of document for the enlistment of
soldiers. "Where did you get the name of this fort, Major Lyon?"

"From my overseer, the first man you met on my premises. He was formerly
connected with an artillery company in Tennessee; but he is a Union man
to the core," replied the planter, who proceeded to give Levi the
excellent character he deserved.

"Then he will be our fourth recruit?" suggested the lieutenant.

"No, sir; he is about fifty years old, and he is to take charge of my
plantation in my absence. But I think there are over a hundred men in
this vicinity who are ready to put their names down on your paper. The
horses are all ready for them, for they were pledged in the Union
meeting of which I told you."

"We shall not need the horses at first," added the lieutenant.

"Not need the horses, sir!" exclaimed Deck, who was listening with all
his ears to the conversation. "How are we going to get up a company of
cavalry without horses?"

"The company will be first drilled like infantry, and the exercises with
horses come in later," replied the officer with a smile at the eagerness
of the boy; and Artie was just as enthusiastic, though he said very
little.

"Both of them will make good soldiers, sir, for they have been under
fire in a small way," added the father.

"I should say that you have little need of soldiers for the protection
of your place, Major Lyon," added the officer, as he looked at the
cannon and the breech-loaders arranged around the interior of the fort.
"Are these the arms you captured in the cavern?"

"The same, sir; and they have already enabled us to defend ourselves
from the mob that came over here to burn my house."

"These muskets must have cost a round sum of money, for they are of the
best quality, and have the latest improvements. Unfortunately they are
not adapted to the use of cavalry, and we shall need carbines."

"Well, it is something to keep them out of the hands of the enemy,"
replied Major Lyon. "I suppose we are ready to make a beginning in the
business before us, Lieutenant Gordon. What is the first thing to be
done?"

"The first thing is to enlist the men," replied the officer, as he took
from his pocket a handbill, printed for use in some other locality. "We
must post bills like this one all about this vicinity."

"We can't get them printed short of Bowling Green," said Major Lyon,
after he had read the placard. "And the Home Guards will pull them down
as fast as we can put them up."

"But some of them will be seen, and the news that a recruiting office
has been established here will soon circulate. You are between two fires
here, and your foes will talk about it even more than your friends. We
must have the handbills at any rate."

"Very well. Artie, this will be a mission for you."

"I am ready and willing to do anything I can," replied the quiet boy;
and in half an hour he was mounted on a fleet horse on his way to a
printing-office.

"I suppose the village of which you speak would be the best place to
establish the recruiting office," suggested Lieutenant Gordon, as soon
as Artie had gone to the stable for a horse.

"I am afraid not," replied the planter. "I fear the ruffians who abound
in that vicinity would mob you. Why not establish the office here, where
we shall be able to protect you?"

"It seems to be too far from any centre of population," said the
officer.

"All the better for that; for in the village they would not only mob
you, but the ruffians would intimidate those who were willing to enlist.
People in this vicinity don't mind going two or three miles when
business calls them," continued the planter.

"I shall adopt your suggestion, Major Lyon," returned the recruiting
officer, as he proceeded to alter the handbill to suit the locality. "I
suppose everybody in this neighborhood will know where to find
Riverlawn."

"Everybody in the county," replied the major, as Artie dashed up to the
door of the fort, where the officer gave him his instructions, and the
planter supplied him with money to pay the bill.

"I think I had better take one of those revolvers in my pocket,"
suggested Artie. "If I get into any trouble it may be of use to me."

"Do you expect to get into any trouble, my boy?" asked the major,
anxiously gazing into the messenger's face.

"I don't expect any trouble, but something may happen."

"Perhaps I had better send half a dozen of the boys with you," suggested
his father.

"The boys?" queried the lieutenant, wondering where they were to come
from, as he had seen only two of them.

"I mean the negroes who defended the place the other night," added the
planter. "They have learned to handle the breech-loaders, and they would
fight for my boys as long as there was anything left of them."

"I dare say they would," replied the officer with a significant smile.
"But if you send six negroes armed with breech-loaders to Bowling Green,
you may be sure there will be a row."

"Just my sentiments," added Levi Bedford. "I don't think Artie will have
any trouble if he goes alone."

"Very well, let him go alone; but I am confident half a dozen of the
boys would make it hot for any band that attempted to molest him," said
the major; and the messenger departed on his mission.

"Have you an American flag, Major Lyon?" asked the lieutenant when he
had gone.

"Two of them, for my brother always celebrated the Fourth of July."

"We always hoist one on a recruiting office."

Under the direction of Levi a flagstaff was erected in front of the
fort, and before dinner-time the Star Spangled Banner was spread to the
breeze. Major Lyon took off his hat and bowed to it as soon as it was
shaken out to the breeze; and cheers were heard from the negroes in the
field beyond the stables.

"If you had set that flag over your office in the village, it would have
been hauled down and trampled under foot inside of an hour," said the
planter.

"Are the people of this vicinity so disloyal as that?" asked Lieutenant
Gordon, astonished at the remark. "I supposed the Unionists were in the
majority here."

"So they are; but they are not half so demonstrative as the other side."

The bell rang at the door of the mansion for dinner; and while the
family were attending to this midday duty, Artie was entering the county
town. He had taken his dinner with him, and had eaten it as he
approached his destination. There were two printing-offices in the
place, and he called at the first one he saw.

"What's this? 'Union Cavalry!'" demanded the printer, as he read the
head-line in displayed type.

"What will you charge for printing two hundred copies of that bill, and
doing it while I wait?" asked Artie.

"'Riverlawn!'" added the man, as he continued to read the placard. "Who
are you, boy?"

"My name is Artemas Lyon, and my father lives at Riverlawn," replied
Artie.

"Well, Artemas Lyon, I would not print that bill if your father would
give me a hundred dollars a letter for doing it!" stormed the printer,
as he tossed the copy back to the messenger with as much indignation in
his manner as in his speech.

"All right, sir; if you don't want to do the job you needn't!" replied
Artie, as he returned the bill to his pocket and moved to the door.

"Stop a minute, boy! So you are recruiting at Riverlawn for the
Abolition army?" called the printer, who was perhaps a member of the
Home Guards. "I want to know something about that business."

"If you want to enlist in the Union army, you can do so at Riverlawn. I
am in a hurry, and I can't stop to answer any questions," replied Artie,
as he bolted out at the door.

"What are you doing here, Artie Lyon?" called a voice from the other
side of the street as he was unhitching his horse.

It was Colonel Cosgrove, though his house was some distance farther up
the street. The lawyer came over to him, and he explained the object of
his visit to the county town.

"You ought to have come to me at once, Artie," said the colonel, as the
messenger showed him the handbill. "That printer runs a Secession paper,
and he would lose all his subscribers if it was known that he printed a
placard like this. Come with me, and I will get the work done for you."

Artie followed him to the office of a Union paper, and it looked as
though it was in a more prosperous condition than the other. The printer
readily undertook the work, and promised to have it done by three
o'clock in the afternoon. The messenger was invited to the mansion of
Colonel Cosgrove, where he dined with the family.

"I signed the letter to General Buell with your father, asking him to
send a recruiting officer to this locality," said the colonel, as he
conducted his guest to the library. "I am very glad he has come. I
should have been in favor of establishing his office in this place if it
were not a current report that the town is to be occupied by the
Confederates within a short time."

"Father thought Riverlawn would be a better place than Barcreek village
for it," added Artie.

"I think he is right."

The messenger was called upon to tell the news of his vicinity, and he
mentioned all that had occurred since the fight, including the attempt
to murder Levi Bedford, and the capture of Buck Lagger. At three o'clock
Artie went to the printing-office, and found the handbills all ready for
him. He paid the bill, and went back to the colonel's house for his
horse, which had been as well cared for as his rider. He was advised to
hurry out of the town, and he galloped his horse for the first mile till
he reached the open country. Half a mile ahead of him was a wood.

The young horseman had reduced his speed to a moderate gait before he
reached this grove; but he had not gone far before three men stepped out
of the bushes and stood in front of him in the road. They had flint-lock
guns in their hands, and it looked as though they were there for a
purpose.

"Stop, boy!" shouted the man who stood in the middle of the road, with
one on each side of him.

[Illustration: "'STOP, BOY!' SHOUTED THE MAN."]

"What do you want of me?" demanded Artie, with his right hand on the
handle of his revolver.

"I want them handbills you just got printed," replied the spokesman. "We
ain't go'n' to have no Abolition troops enlisted round here. And that
ain't all nuther; we're gwine to clean out that Major Lyon that sent you
over here."

"Hand over the papers and we won't hurt you," added another of the trio.

"I shall not give them up!" replied Artie as decidedly as though he had
the new company of cavalry behind him. "Get out of the road, or I will
ride over you!"

"You won't give em' up, won't yer?" returned the man in the middle, as
he brought his old gun to his shoulder.

"No!" yelled the messenger, as he fired his revolver at the spokesman.

At the same moment he drove his heels into the flanks of his spirited
steed, giving him the rein as he did so. The horse darted ahead like a
shot from a gun, and choosing his way between the men, he knocked two of
them over, and galloped on his way. The sudden movement of the animal
had prevented the men from bringing their guns to bear upon him. The man
on his feet fired, and the rider heard a ball whistle near him. In a
minute he was out of the range of such weapons, and reached Riverlawn in
season for supper.

He delivered the bills to the lieutenant, and told his story. The next
morning the early risers saw these placards posted all over Barcreek
village, and along the roads for five miles in all directions.



CHAPTER XXXIV

THE FIRE THAT WAS STARTED AT RIVERLAWN


Levi and Deck were the bill-stickers, and the night was chosen as the
time to post them, in order that the paste might be well dried and
hardened before they were seen. They had taken a wagon, and with the
coachman for driver they had gone their round after people generally
were asleep. Wherever a flat surface could be found by the light of a
lantern, on barns, fences, rocks, and shops, a placard was posted.

It would take the ruffian brigade a long time to pull them all down,
after the paste was dry; and the very wrath of these men would assist in
advertising the recruiting office at Riverlawn. The fact that the papers
were ready for signature could hardly fail to be known all over the
vicinity early in the morning, and all over the county in a day or two.
The information was already circulating in Bowling Green; for the editor
of _The Planter_, at whose office Artie had applied to have the bills
printed, had made it known soon enough to enable the three ruffians to
make an attempt to suppress the placards.

_The Kentuckian_ was the loyal paper, and would doubtless make at least
an item of the fact that the recruiting office had been established.
Possibly the other journal would make a "dastardly outrage" of the shot
which Artie had fired at the three ruffians who beset him on the road.
There was no doubt in the minds of the active men at Riverlawn that the
recruiting office would be known to the fullest extent even the day
after the bills were posted; for even the women would gossip about it as
they went from house to house, and the loafers in the "corner grocery"
would have an exciting theme for discussion.

The people had been terrorized by the ruffians, who had banded together
as Home Guards in this locality; and they had made noise enough to
create the belief among the less demonstrative citizens that the
Secessionists were in a majority. But Squire Truman had punctured this
bubble by an actual canvass of the inhabitants, and proved, as did the
vote of the Legislature, that loyalty was the predominant sentiment.

When Artie Lyon returned from his mission to the county town with the
bundle of placards in his possession, there was so much excitement at
Fort Bedford that he said nothing about his adventure on the road.
Lieutenant Gordon had counselled the sending away of the four wounded
ruffians, who had been carefully nursed and fed at the hospital. They
were all recovering from their injuries, and all of them walked about
the premises during a portion of the day.

"We don't want a lot of spies and enemies in our midst, for they will
report everything that is done to their friends who have been permitted
to visit them," he reasoned with the planter, and the major agreed with
him; and this was the work which was in progress when Artie arrived.

Deck had made a hero of himself at the cross-cut, and his brother was
not inclined to wear a wreath of laurel for the little exploit on the
road. He slept upon it, and the next morning he felt that it was his
duty to inform his father of the occurrence, as one of the indications
of public sentiment in the county. The ruffians evidently intended that
the Union army should not be recruited in the county.

Major Lyon praised him for his spirited conduct, and the lieutenant made
him blush with his commendation. But the incident was discussed more as
an exponent of the temper of the ruffians than as an exhibition of pluck
and courage on the part of the boy.

"You were right in calling these fellows the ruffians, Major Lyon," said
the recruiting officer. "I have no doubt there are many respectable
Secessionists in this part of the State, but I am confident they do not
associate with such fellows as you have had to deal with."

"Such men are simply in favor of neutrality, which I look upon as a
fraud and a humbug," replied the planter. "They are gentlemen in the
truest sense of the word, and I am only sorry they are on the wrong side
of the question."

The American flag was flying on the newly erected staff, and during the
forenoon the carpenters were busy preparing the fort for the new use to
which it was to be devoted. A skylight was put in the roof to afford
better light, a desk was brought from the library, and enclosed in rails
for the officer. Dr. Farnwright, who lived at Brownsville, was appointed
medical examiner, and the office was all ready for business by noon.

Before that time a dozen men had presented themselves for enlistment,
and had signed the roll. A camp for the volunteers was to be established
in the vicinity as soon as practicable. The lieutenant had sent off a
requisition for uniforms, arms, provisions, and such other supplies as
would be needed. At dinner all were in excellent spirits, and the
location of the camp was discussed, and was decided after considerable
disagreement. When the party returned to the fort they found half a
dozen men waiting for the officer. While he was questioning them, a
tremendous outcry came from the direction of the mansion.

"Fire! fire!" screamed the two girls, assisted by all the females in the
house.

The planter, Levi, and the boys ran with all their might to the point
from which the alarm came. Before they reached it a considerable cloud
of smoke rose from the rear of the building, indicating the locality of
the fire.

"The house is on fire!" screamed Dorcas.

Major Lyon ran into the house; but Levi, as soon as he saw the smoke,
rushed around the mansion, followed by the two boys. In the rear of the
building was an ell, to which a one-story structure had been added as a
storeroom. The flames rose from this part of the house. Against it was
heaped up a pile of dry wood and other combustibles, and it was
instantly apparent to the overseer that the fire was the work of an
incendiary. No time was to be lost, for the flames were rapidly
gathering headway, and in a few minutes the whole mansion would be on
fire.

The hands began to appear on the spot, and Levi sent the first one to
the stable for pitchforks; but he did not wait for them, and began to
draw away the combustibles with such sticks as he could obtain. The boys
followed his example, and the dry wood, blazing against the side of the
storeroom, was soon removed from its dangerous proximity to the
building. The work was effectively completed with the pitchforks as soon
as they came.

"There are three men running away towards the swamp!" shouted Deck.

"I see them!" added Artie.

"Put the fire out first, and we will attend to them afterwards!" said
Levi. "Keep an eye on them while you work, and see where they go."

The burning brands were removed from the house, but the flames were
already communicated to the building. Mrs. Lyon had not gone out at the
front door with the girls, but had rushed to the storeroom, where she
was soon joined by her husband. All the buckets in the house were
brought into use, including half a dozen leather ones that hung in the
main hall, and all the women were carrying water to the exposed point.
The fire had not yet come through the side of the building, and the
buckets were passed out the window to the overseer.

In a few moments the fire was thoroughly drowned out, and everybody
breathed more freely. The lieutenant and the recruits had followed the
others, and assisted in putting out the fire. Deck and Artie turned
their attention to the three men they had seen, and had started in
pursuit of them; but Levi called them back. Then he sent to the fort for
several revolvers, not doubting that the men who were engaged in this
desperate venture were armed.

But he did not wait for them, and told Artie to bring them to him as
soon as the messenger returned. Gordon and Deck went with him. The great
river was directly in the rear of the mansion, with the road to the
county town on its shore. The swamp between the lawn and the road was a
quagmire of mud, which was impassable for man or beast. The green from
which the estate had been named was high ground, and bordered on the
river, with the swamp between them.

"I suppose this fire is the work of the ruffians," said the lieutenant
when the party had reached the highest ground in the rear of the house.

"No doubt of that; but it is a mystery to me how any of them got this
side of the house without being seen," replied Levi.

"But there is the road I came over yesterday morning," suggested the
officer.

"And you can see that low place this side of it, where the ruffians
could neither walk nor swim. There is a pond farther along, with a
stream from it that flows into Bar Creek," the overseer explained.

While they were on this high land, surveying the surrounding region,
Artie brought them the weapons which had been sent for, and informed
Levi that his father and the recruits were following the creek, looking
for the incendiaries.

"I should say they came across the river above the bridge," said the
lieutenant, pointing in that direction.

"But the rapids run close to the shore, and they would not find very
good boating right there," replied the overseer with a smile. "However,
we will go over to the river, and beat the edge of the swamp to the
pond."

They went to the river; but nothing like a boat could be seen on the
shore. Then they followed the swamp till they heard a shot ahead of
them.

"That makes it look as though Major Lyon had fallen upon them," said
Levi, as he quickened his pace. "There is another and another;" and two
shots followed the first one.

The party broke into a run, and soon came in sight of the pond. On its
waters was a flatboat, or bateau, in which three men were paddling with
all their might towards the shore near the road to Bowling Green. The
planter had fired three shots at them; but they were too far off for the
range of the revolver.

"Out of the reach of the revolver; and he had better have brought one of
the breech-loaders," said the lieutenant. "It looks to me just as though
they had a first-rate chance to escape."

"We are not euchred yet," replied Levi, as he ran with all his might in
the direction of the pond, but to a point much nearer the road. "I have
often thought of this place since the troubles here began. The high
ground extends very nearly to the road, over which a bridge goes over a
small creek, flowing into the pond. I have crossed this place on a plank
to the road."

"Then we are all right."

"We are if I can find the plank. One of the cows got mired here, and it
was brought over to use in getting her out. There it is!" exclaimed the
overseer, rushing to the spot where it lay.

It was carried to the swamp; and though it was too short to bridge the
dangerous place, it assisted, with the help of two long leaps, in
carrying them over. It was now seen that the ruffians had a wagon, with
which they had probably brought the boat to the pond. The party reached
the road just as the incendiaries leaped from the bateau. Levi fired the
six shots of his weapon at them, and the others followed his example;
but the enemy were too far off, and not one of them appeared to be hit.

The moment they reached the shore they ran for the road, and struck it
at a considerable distance from the pursuers. The ruffians did not wait
to recover the team, but bolted with all their might towards Bowling
Green. It seemed useless to pursue them; for they had an advantage of a
hundred rods, and the overseer was too fat to compete in speed with
them.

The wagon was only a haycart, drawn by two mules; and the incendiaries
could easily outrun them if they were used for the pursuit. The purpose
of the villains had been defeated, and Levi was disposed to be satisfied
with this result. The bateau was taken from the water, and loaded upon
the wagon. Major Lyon and the recruits started back to the mansion as
soon as the ruffians had effected their escape.

The party seated themselves in the boat, and the mules were started for
a new home. When they reached the bridge over the upper part of the
rapids, they were not a little surprised, not to say startled, to see a
crowd of men marching over in the direction of Riverlawn. They were not
exactly a mob, for the head of the column was in regular ranks, and the
men were armed with muskets.

"What does that mean, Mr. Bedford?" asked the lieutenant.

"The placards we posted last night have waked up the ruffians, and they
are coming over here on the same mission as the three we have driven off
to Bowling Green," replied Levi, as he whipped up the mules. "They are
the ruffians without a doubt, and we are going to have music of some
sort before the sun goes down to-night."

The information was carried to Major Lyon, who had reached the fort in
advance of them. The ruffians had doubtless made up their minds that a
company of cavalry should not be enlisted at Riverlawn, as advertised,
and it was evident enough to all that there was to be a fight before
this question could be settled.



CHAPTER XXXV

A BATTLE IN PROSPECT ON THE CREEK


So far as the overseer and the boys had been able to observe the crowd
on Rapids Bridge, they were in much better condition for an assault than
when they came before. The right of the line was formed in ranks, all
they could see of the assailants, for they had just begun to cross the
river. They were armed with muskets, or something that looked like such
weapons.

Levi drove directly to the fort, where Major Lyon was telling those who
had not gone with him the result of the visit to the pond. There were
only six recruits present, though a dozen had before been enlisted.
These were all young men, generally the sons of the farmers of the
vicinity, and doubtless adopted the political sentiments of their
fathers. They were of a better class than the ruffians morally.

"I did not expect to be besieged so soon, Major Lyon," said Lieutenant
Gordon with a pleasant laugh, though he had never been in anything but a
skirmish so far.

"We shall hardly be besieged, Lieutenant, for I think it will be a fight
as soon as they get near enough to begin it," replied the planter, who
was seated on a log, resting himself after the hard tramp he had had
after the incendiaries. "But the enemy seem to be better prepared for
business than they were when they came before, for you say that all you
could see were armed with muskets."

"I could not see at the distance they were from us how well they were
armed," added the officer.

"About every family in these parts has one or more persons who do
something at hunting in the woods and swamps, and I reckon it would be
hard to find a house without a fowling-piece or an old king's arm in
it," said Levi.

"They have all got guns of some sort," interposed Simeon Enbank, one of
the recruits. "They have been drilling all the time for the last two
days in one of Dr. Falkirk's fields."

"I went over to look at them this morning, and the sight of them made me
so mad that I came right over here and enlisted," added Robert Yowell.

"Good for you, Yowell!" exclaimed the officer. "Could you see what sort
of guns they had?"

"I went in and looked at them; for they were not using them when I was
there. They were in line, sort of taking steps, as they do in a
dancing-school," answered the recruit.

"But the arms?"

"They were all sorts and kinds, mostly fowling-pieces and old
flint-locks that might have been used in the Revolutionary War."

"But we are losing time," said Major Lyon impatiently. "If they had
reached the bridge when you saw them, they will be here very soon."

"We don't lose time while we are looking up the condition of the enemy.
I believe you are all ready for an attack, and we can do nothing till
they reach the other side of the creek. But we can talk while we work,"
replied the officer. "I suppose these recruits will assist us in the
defence of the place?"

The six men all volunteered to perform the service required.

"There are a dozen more men over in the grove," said Ben Decker; "for I
had a talk with them as I came along from the old road. They said they
expected to stay here all day, and they brought their dinners with
them."

This was good news, and Deck was sent over after them. Major Lyon went
to the desk, and wrote a brief note to Colonel Belthorpe. He had already
ordered all the horses that could be saddled, and Frank was sent to
deliver the message the planter had written to Lyndhall. Decker was
provided with a steed for his mission, and a wagon was sent for the men
a little later.

The negroes who had been slightly drilled in the use of the arms were
ordered to report at the fort, and all the hands on the place were
summoned from the fields, and held in readiness for anything required of
them. The six recruits were drilled for a little while in the use of the
breech-loaders. At the same time Levi did what he could to instruct the
negroes, though nothing like a military organization could be attempted
in the brief space of time available for the purpose.

The twelve-pounders were loaded with canister this time; and Levi, with
four of the hands, was placed in charge of the fort. Deck and Artie Lyon
were sent down the creek to report the approach of the enemy, and found
they had halted at the cross roads, evidently to prepare for the attack.
The boys climbed a big tree to obtain a better view of the proceedings
of the ruffians, as they still called them, though they had reduced
themselves to something like an organization.

[Illustration: "THE BOYS CLIMBED A BIG TREE TO OBTAIN A BETTER VIEW."]

"There are a lot of wagons on the bridge," said Deck, who was the first
to discover them. "What do you suppose that means?"

"There are three mule teams," added Artie, who had taken a higher place
in the tree than his brother. "I see now; the wagons are loaded with
boats."

"That means that they intend to cross the creek," replied Deck. "They
ought to know this at the fort at once; and if you will study up the
thing while I am gone, Artie, I will run up and carry the information."

"That is a good scheme; go ahead with it as quick as you can."

Deck descended the tree with a haste which threatened the safety of the
bones of his body, and ran with all the speed he could command to Fort
Bedford.

Lieutenant Gordon was drilling the eighteen recruits, the number from
the grove on the other side of the creek having arrived, and Levi was
training the negroes in the rear of the fort. All the men had been
supplied with muskets and rounds of ammunition. No attention was given
to facing, wheeling, or marching; for the use of the weapon was more
important than any other detail in the brief space of time available.

Deck reported to his father, who was observing the drill of the
Africans, and in the hearing of Levi. It was not a mere accident that
Squire Truman was seen approaching the fort from the bridge; for he had
observed the movement among the ruffians in the village, and had seen
that the column was moving by a roundabout road in the direction of the
Rapids Bridge. He had no horse, but he had started at once on foot for
Riverlawn, to apprise the planter of the danger that menaced him.

"It is time to do something," said the major, after he had welcomed the
young lawyer. "The ruffians have a wagon-train loaded with boats in
their rear, as my son has just informed me. We will adjourn to the fort
and call in the lieutenant."

The information was imparted to the officer, and he joined the others in
the fort.

"They intend to make it easy work for us to repel them," said the
lieutenant with a smile.

"You are the only military man among us just now, Lieutenant, and I
place you in command of all the forces," added Major Lyon. "Levi had
some experience in the artillery many years ago."

"I don't aspire to any command," added the overseer. "I will obey orders
as a private; and that is all I ever was in the artillery."

"But I shall do something better for you," replied Captain Gordon, as
they began to call him from this time. "You are a good soldier, Mr.
Bedford, and I shall make an officer of you at once. You will limber up
your two guns, and haul them down to the boathouse. Have you any
gunners?"

"Plenty of them, Captain; for I have trained enough of the hands to
handle a full battery," answered Levi.

The planter had ordered both horses and wagons to be assembled in the
rear of Fort Bedford, in readiness for any emergency. A pair of horses
were promptly harnessed to each gun by the enthusiastic negroes whom the
overseer had trained for battery service, and the artillery was soon on
its way to the anticipated field of action. A supply of ammunition was
sent down by a wagon.

The major and the squire mounted a couple of steeds, and rode to the
front of the fort, a horse having been sent for the use of the new
commander. The recruits were standing in line, leaning on their weapons;
but they seemed to be engaged in a lively conversation. As the
lieutenant approached, Jim Keene, one of the recruits, stepped forward
with an awkward attempt to be polite, and addressed the officer:--

"Captain Gordon, we are not going into the army with niggers," said he
in a very decided tone. "We ain't going to drop down to the level of
niggers, and we want to take our names off that paper."

"Not a single negro has been enlisted, and will not be," replied Captain
Gordon.

"But there is a squad of niggers marching down to the creek with muskets
in their hands," added Keene, pointing to the detachment that followed
the guns, with Levi at their head, mounted on his favorite colt.

"If we had a sufficient force of white men here, we should not call in
the negroes as fighting men," interposed Major Lyon. "That Home Guard
that has just crossed the bridge over the river consists of over a
hundred men, and this time they are armed with guns. We can muster only
twenty-four white men at present to beat them off. The other night we
called upon the hands to help defend the place because no others were to
be had; and to some extent the same is true to-day. My house has been
set on fire, and that mob are coming to burn my buildings and capture my
wife and daughters. If the white man won't fight for me, the negro
will!"

"That alters the case," replied Keene. "We didn't understand it before,
and we will fight for you, one and all;" and all the other recruits
shouted their acquiescence with one voice.

"No negroes will be enlisted for the army, for there are no orders to
that effect," added Captain Gordon.

"That's enough!" exclaimed Enbank. "We will stand by Major Lyon as long
as there is a Secesher in sight."

"And you will find the negroes as stiff under fire as any white man
ought to be," said Major Lyon, as he galloped down to the boathouse,
followed by Squire Truman.

Artie, up in the tree, had kept his eyes wide open, but there was
nothing more to be seen. Deck returned to him, and took his place near
him. The enemy was still halted at the cross roads. The wagon-train had
come up with the main body, and stopped in the road at the side of the
creek. Whoever directed the movements of the column had evidently
blundered, for the assailants did not appear to know what to do next.

"There is only one boat on each wagon, which is drawn by two mules,"
said Artie in the tree.

"They must have expected to get the boats into the water before they
were discovered," added Deck. "Perhaps they would have done so if we had
not happened to see them crossing the bridge when we were coming up
after the hunt for the firebugs."

"There comes our artillery," continued Artie, as Levi's section of a
battery galloped down the descent from the fort.

At this moment a bullet from the enemy struck a branch of the tree just
above Artie's head. The boys had been discovered; and some one, with a
better weapon than most of those with which the guards were armed, had
fired upon them.

"Get behind the trunk, Artie!" shouted Deck, a position he had secured
before. "Now use your musket, my boy!"

They were near enough at their lofty position to make out individuals at
the cross roads, which were distant hardly more than double the width of
the creek. Deck had seen one man, who wore a semi-uniform, that took a
very active part in the movement. Having assured himself that this
person was not his uncle, the enterprising young soldier took careful
aim at him, and fired. Artie discharged his piece a moment later.

"I hit the man in uniform!" exclaimed Deck, with no little exultation.
"A man is tying up one of his arms."

Major Lyon heard the shot, and shouted to the boys to come to the
boathouse; and they obeyed the order, keeping the trunks of the trees
between themselves and the enemy as far as possible. They were no longer
needed in the tree, for the ruffian band could be plainly seen from the
boathouse, which was at a safe distance from the enemy.



CHAPTER XXXVI

THE SECOND BATTLE OF RIVERLAWN


The enemy did nothing, and seemed to be still in a state of confusion
and uncertainty as to what they should do. The new commander of their
forces was certainly even more stupid than Captain Titus had been. As
Deck had suggested, he had expected to surprise the defenders at
Riverlawn, so far, at least, as to get their boats into the water before
they discovered that they were attacked.

"If they had any plan of attack it is a failure," said Captain Gordon,
as he and the planter were seated on their horses watching the enemy
from the front of the boathouse. "One of the recruits informs me that
they have a leader in the person of a captain from the Confederate army
in Tennessee, who was either sent for by Captain Titus, or was
despatched by General Buckner to organize recruits for the Southern
army."

"I should say that his first business would be to prevent recruiting for
the Union forces," replied Major Lyon.

"Whatever he is, he has made a mess of it," added Captain Gordon.

"But what did he expect to do?" asked the planter.

"Of course he expected to put his pontoons into the water, and send over
a force of from thirty to fifty men before they were discovered. If he
had done that, they could have acted as sharpshooters from behind the
trees on this side. They are just out of range of our muskets now,
though the twelve-pounders would catch them with a single shot of
canister."

"But I don't wish to have any more of them killed and wounded than is
absolutely necessary," said the planter.

"You desire to carry on the war on peace principles," answered the
captain with a smile. "You don't seem to understand that the war has
actually begun, and the more damage we can do the enemy, the better it
will be for us."

"You are in command, and I shall not interfere with your operations,"
said Major Lyon, as he rode off to the point where Levi was training his
gunners.

The recruits in front of the boathouse were impatient for something to
be done. They were from the country around the village of Barcreek. The
frequent outrages against Union men and families had kindled a feeling
of hatred in them, and they were anxious to retaliate. The influence of
certain men like Colonel Cosgrove and Colonel Belthorpe had created more
Union sentiment than prevailed in many of the Southern counties of the
State, and the loyal men had been terrorized from the first indications
of trouble.

"Why don't we fire at them, Captain?" demanded Enbank.

"Why don't you fire at the moon? Because you are too far off, and
nothing is to be gained by it," replied the commander. "I am waiting for
the enemy to make a movement of some kind; and as soon as they do so,
you shall have enough of it, I will warrant you."

"They are doing something now!" exclaimed Sam Drye.

"The mule-teams are in motion!" exclaimed Major Lyon, returning to the
front of the building.

"I see they are," replied Captain Gordon; "and there is a movement up
the new road, as you call it."

"What does that mean?"

"Probably it is intended to cover the launching of the boats. I think
the reprobates are in earnest this time," added the commander.

About fifty men started up the new road, and immediately broke into a
run. The territory between the new and the old road was covered with
trees of large growth, though rather too sparsely to be a wood, but was
rather a grove. For about twenty rods above the cross roads the trees
had been cut off, and it was a stump field. As soon as the detachment
reached the grove they scattered and took refuge behind the trunks of
the big trees.

"That is the idea, is it?" said Captain Gordon. "They intend to pick us
off from their covert. We must do the same thing. Scatter, my men; and
fire at will as you see a head."

The recruits obeyed the order, and were sheltered behind the big trees
by the time the enemy reached the positions they had chosen. A desultory
firing was begun on both sides of the creek. The commander and the major
were on horseback, and they could not protect themselves as the recruits
did, and they rode to the rear of the boathouse. They found that Levi
had organized a shovel brigade there. The Magnolia had been taken out of
the water to prevent it from being captured by the marauders, and had
been placed behind the boathouse.

Levi had moved the craft about twenty feet from the building, and had
propped it up, with the keel nearest to the creek. This was as far as he
had proceeded when the officer presented himself on the ground. Twenty
negroes, armed with shovels, which had before been brought down in the
wagon, were standing ready for orders.

"What in the world are you doing now, Levi?" asked the planter, when he
saw what had been done.

"I am throwing up a breastwork, so that my men can work the guns without
being shot down by the enemy on the other side of the creek," replied
the overseer.

"A capital idea!" exclaimed Captain Gordon.

"But you are putting it behind the boathouse, man!" shouted the major,
who thought he had detected Levi in an egregious blunder.

"These negroes are worth from five hundred to a thousand dollars apiece
if you want to sell them, and not many of them would be left if I should
set them to digging in the open," replied Levi, laughing at his own
argument. "Those ruffians could pick them off at their leisure, and we
might as well not have any artillery if the cannoneers are to be shot
down as fast as they show themselves. I will warrant that fellow in
command on the other side has picked out his best riflemen for duty in
the grove."

"The negroes are not for sale," replied the planter. "I should as soon
think of selling one of my sons as one of them. But the boathouse is
between you and the enemy, Levi."

"How long do you think it will take me with the force at hand to move
the boathouse out of the way, Major Lyon?" demanded the overseer with a
very broad smile.

"I indorse Mr. Bedford's work," added Captain Gordon, who had turned to
observe the operation of the enemy at the cross roads. "They are not
making a good job of their work."

As soon as the recruits had been ordered to the trees, and before the
detachment sent to the grove had obtained their positions, Deck and
Artie had obeyed the commander's order in hot haste. They had chosen a
couple of trees on the very verge of the quagmire which lay between the
lawn and the road to the south; and when the ruffians attempted to move
the mules, both of them opened fire upon the animals.

Both of the boys were good shots, and they hit the mark every time. The
mule, though one of the most useful beasts in the world, is very
uncertain at times. The testimony of soldiers is to the effect that
mules object to being under fire. The two boys were near enough to each
other to talk together, and they had agreed to fire into different
teams, and they had wounded one in each of them. The two that had been
hit not only made a disturbance, braying furiously, but they
communicated the scare to the others. The mule drivers could do nothing
with them, and in a minute or two the whole of them were all snarled up,
and the men were obliged to unhitch them from the wagons and lead them
away.

The animals were so terrified that they bolted up the new road in spite
of the drivers, and turned in at the bridge, which seemed to promise
them a place of security, just as Colonel Belthorpe and his party
galloped up to it. The mules were permitted to take the lead. Major
Gadbury and Tom were with the planter of Lyndhall. Major Lyon saw them,
and, by a roundabout course, joined them in season to prevent them from
coming within range of the sharpshooters in the grove.

It did not take the planter of Riverlawn long to explain the situation;
and he was informed that twenty Lyndhall negroes, under the lead of
Uncle David, in wagons, were on their way to the seat of danger. The
horses were left in charge of the servants, and the party made their way
to the fort, where they armed themselves with breech-loaders, and took
places behind the trees with the recruits.

At the cross roads the enemy were attempting to get the boats to the
creek by hauling the wagons by man-power. It was a long pull for them,
but they succeeded at the end of a couple of hours. The party in the
grove and the one on the lawn were careful about showing themselves, and
the firing was continued on both sides without producing any decided
result. But by this time Levi had completed his breastwork. Rather to
make a smoke than for any other purpose, both of the twelve-pounders
were discharged, aimed into the grove.

While the smoke hung about the boathouse, for one of the pieces had been
fired on each side of it, all hands seized hold of the building, lifted
it from its foundations, and bore it some distance towards the mansion.
The cannon were then drawn into the hastily constructed fort, loaded
with round shot this time, and were ready for use. The cracking of the
rifles in the grove had been quite lively during this operation, and two
of the negroes were wounded.

By this time the first of the boats had been filled with men, who were
paddling it with all their might to a clump of bushes near the trees
where Deck and Artie were sheltered. Both of them fired into the crowd
in the boat. But it was hardly under way before Levi had brought one of
his guns to bear upon it. He was very careful in pointing the piece, and
the solid shot struck the craft squarely on its bow, knocking the thing
all to pieces. The black gunners cheered, and were almost mad with
enthusiasm.

Another of the boats which had just been launched had to be used to pick
up the men from the first. They were taken to the shore. Then some sort
of a contention seemed to be stirred up among the party, the nature of
which could be easily understood, for it was almost sure death to embark
in the boats. In the mean time the shots from the recruits and others
behind the trees were picking them off, and the dispute ended in the
whole of them taking to their heels and fleeing towards the bridge.

The fire from the grove seemed to be suspended at the same time; for the
sharpshooters could not help seeing that the plan of attack, whatever it
was, had failed. Colonel Belthorpe and Major Lyon came out from behind
their trees. Captain Gordon, who was a cavalry officer, thought it was
time for his arm of the service to come into action to harass the
retreat of the enemy, if nothing more, and he called in all the recruits
from their covert, and ordered as many men as could be mounted to rally
at the bridge.

Twenty-four mounted men, including those from Lyndhall, were mustered,
each with a breech-loader, in the absence of sabres and carbines.
Captain Gordon led them down the new road to the grove. The force
occupying it had fled to the old road, and were hurrying to the Rapids
Bridge. Among the trees they found two men killed and three badly
wounded. Each of them had a rifle on the ground near him, and they were
weapons of excellent quality.

The cavalry party followed the fugitives to the bridge, and at the
intercession of Major Lyon they were permitted to escape; for he was
confident they would not make another attack upon Riverlawn, at least
not till they had an organized regiment for the purpose.

While they were upon the ground, Tom Belthorpe and Major Gadbury signed
the enlistment papers, as Deck and Artie had done before, and the
Lyndhall party went home. The recruits were dismissed for a week, and
ordered to report at Riverlawn at the end of that time.

The second battle had been fought and won, and there was no present
danger of another attack, though patrols were kept along the creek till
the camp was formed the following week. The two attacks upon Riverlawn
was the current topic of conversation all over the county for the next
week; and so far from damaging the Union cause, it stimulated the
recruiting, and at the end of the week Lieutenant Gordon had the names
of a full company on his roll. He had reported his success, and had
received orders to enlist another company.

The government supplied everything that was required, including sabres,
carbines, uniforms, ammunition, and lumber for barracks. Steamboats from
Evansville came up the river loaded with supplies; and as the water was
high from unusual rains, they landed their cargoes at the boathouse
pier, enlarged for the purpose. Each boat was provided with a guard, for
they were occasionally fired upon from the shore. Another officer and
several non-commissioned officers were sent to the camp.

Barracks and stables were built, and the drill was kept up very
diligently. Riverlawn was no longer between two fires, for they were now
all on one side. Before, the fight had been a sort of neighborhood
quarrel; but now it had become a national affair. The outrages upon
Union men ceased in that locality, though they still occurred in other
parts of the State. At the end of a month two companies of cavalry had
been enlisted, forming a squadron, if another could be raised.

About this time the Home Guard, under command of Captain Titus Lyon,
marched to Bowling Green for the purpose of joining the Confederate army
that was expected there. They went with such arms as they had used in
the second battle of Riverlawn, and without uniforms. They had a hard
time of it; for they had no supplies, and suffered from hunger and cold
in the cool nights. Titus's two sons, Sandy and Orly, were enrolled in
the company; but both of them deserted, though they had not been
mustered in, and went back to their mother, where they could at least
get enough to eat. The captain could not go home, for it required his
presence and all his skill and energy to keep his recruits from
abandoning the company.

Noah Lyon saw nothing more of his brother after his visit to Riverlawn
when the lieutenant arrived. After he had gone to the South, his wife
and daughters called at the mansion, and declared that they were left
without money or means of support, except so far as they could obtain it
from the little farm.

Deck and Artie Lyon, whose career as soldiers is to appear in these
volumes, now appeared wearing the uniform of cavalrymen, with sabres
clinking at their sides. They have been under fire, though not in a
pitched battle. They are frequent visitors on Sundays at Lyndhall, and
Kate Belthorpe has what her father called "a violent admiration for
Captain Deck," as he still insists upon styling him, assured that, if he
is not of that rank now, he will be in due time. The next volume will
present the two boys and others engaged in actual warfare; and what they
did will be found in "IN THE SADDLE."



THE BLUE AND THE GRAY

NAVY SERIES

    TAKEN BY THE ENEMY
    WITHIN THE ENEMY'S LINES ON THE BLOCKADE
    STAND BY THE UNION
    FIGHTING FOR THE RIGHT
    A VICTORIOUS UNION


ARMY SERIES

    BROTHER AGAINST BROTHER
    IN THE SADDLE (In Press)
    A LIEUTENANT AT EIGHTEEN (In Press)

    (Other volumes in preparation)



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