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Title: Cudjo's Cave
Author: Trowbridge, J. T. (John Townsend), 1827-1916
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Cudjo's Cave" ***

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                                  CUDJO'S CAVE.

                               BY J. T. TROWBRIDGE

              AUTHOR OF "NEIGHBOR JACKWOOD," "THE DRUMMER BOY," ETC.



BOSTON:
J. E. TILTON AND COMPANY.
1864.

Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1863, by
J. T. TROWBRIDGE,
In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the District
of Massachusetts.

ELECTROTYPED AND PRINTED
BY THE BOSTON STEREOTYPE FOUNDRY,
4 SPRING LANE.



CONTENTS.


I. The Schoolmaster in Trouble

II. Penn and the Ruffians

III. The Secret Cellar

IV. The Search for the Missing

V. Carl and his Friends

VI. A Strange Coat for a Quaker

VII. The Two Guests

VIII. The Rover

IX. Toby's Patient has a Caller

X. The Widow's Green Chest

XI. Southern Hospitality

XII. Chivalrous Proceedings

XIII. The Old Clergyman's Nightgown has an Adventure

XIV. A Man's Story

XV. An Anti-Slavery Document on Black Parchment

XVI. In the Cave and on the Mountain

XVII. Penn's Foot Knocks Down a Musket

XVIII. Condemned to Death

XIX. The Escape

XX. Under the Bridge

XXI. The Return into Danger

XXII. Stackridge's Coat and Hat get Arrested

XXIII. The Flight of the Prisoners

XXIV. The Dead Rebel's Musket

XXV. Black and White

XXVI. Why Augustus did not Propose

XXVII. The Men with the Dark Lantern

XXVIII. Beauty and the Beast

XXIX. In the Burning Woods

XXX. Refuge

XXXI. Lysander Takes Possession

XXXII. Toby's Reward

XXXIII. Carl Makes an Engagement

XXXIV. Captain Lysander's Joke

XXXV. The Moonlight Expedition

XXXVI. Carl finds a Geological Specimen

XXXVII. Carl Keeps his Engagement

XXXVIII. Love in the Wilderness

XXXIX. A Council of War

XL. The Wonders of the Cave

XLI. Prometheus Bound

XLII. Prometheus Unbound

XLIII. The Combat

XLIV. How Augustus Finally Proposed

XLV. Master and Slave Change Places

XLVI. The Traitor

XLVII. Bread on the Waters

XLVIII. Conclusion

L'Envoy



CUDJO'S CAVE.



I.

_THE SCHOOLMASTER IN TROUBLE._


Carl crept stealthily up the bank, and, peering through the window, saw
the master writing at his desk.

In his neat Quaker garb, his slender form bent over his task, his calm
young face dimly seen in profile, there he sat. The room was growing
dark; the glow of a March sunset was fading fast from the paper on which
the swift pen traced these words:--

"Tennessee is getting too hot for me. My school is nearly broken up, and
my farther stay here is becoming not only useless, but dangerous. There
are many loyal men in the neighborhood, but they are overawed by the
reckless violence of the secessionists. Mobs sanctioned by self-styled
vigilance committees override all law and order. As I write, I can hear
the yells of a drunken rabble before my school-house door. I am an
especial object of hatred to them on account of my northern birth and
principles. They have warned me to leave the state, they have threatened
me with southern vengeance, but thus far I have escaped injury. How long
this reign of terror is to last, or what is to be the end----"

A rap on the window drew the writer's attention, and, looking up, he
saw, against the twilight sky, the broad German face of the boy Carl
darkening the pane. He stepped to raise the sash.

"What is it, Carl?"

The lad glanced quickly around, first over one shoulder, then the other,
and said, in a hoarse whisper,--

"Shpeak wery low!"

"Was it you that rapped before?"

"I have rapped tree times, not loud, pecause I vas afraid the men would
hear."

"What men are they?"

"The Wigilance Committee's men! They have some tar in a kettle. They
have made a fire unter it, and I hear some of 'em say, 'Run, boys, and
pring some fedders.'"

"Tar and feathers!" The young man grew pale. "They have threatened it,
but they will not dare!"

"They vill dare do anything; but you shall prewent 'em! See vat I have
prought you!" Carl opened his jacket, and showed the handle of a
revolver. "Stackridge sent it."

"Hide it! hide it!" said the master, quickly. "He offered it to me
himself. I told him I could not take it."

"He said, may be when you smell tar and see fedders, you vill change
your mind," answered Carl.

The schoolmaster smiled. The pallor of fear which had surprised him for
an instant, had vanished.

"I believe in a different creed from Mr. Stackridge's, honest man as he
is. I shall not resist evil, but overcome evil with good, if I can; if I
cannot, I shall suffer it."

"You show you vill shoot some of 'em, and they vill let you go," said
Carl, not understanding the nobler doctrine. "Shooting vill do some of
them willains some good!" his placid blue eyes kindling, as if he would
like to do a little of the shooting. "You take it?"

"No," said the young man, firmly. "Such weapons are not for me."

"Wery vell!" Carl buttoned his jacket over the revolver. "Then you come
mit me, if you please. Get out of the vinder and run. That is pest, I
suppose."

"No, no, my lad. I may as well meet these men first as last."

"Then I vill go and pring help!" suddenly exclaimed, the boy; and away
he scampered across the fields, leaving the young man alone in the
darkening school-room.

It was not a very pleasant situation to be in, you may well believe. As
he closed the sash, a faint odor of tar was wafted in on the evening
breeze. The voices of the ruffians at the door grew louder and more
menacing. He knew they were only waiting for the tar to heat, for the
shadows of night to thicken, and for him to make his appearance. He
returned to his desk, but it was now too dark to write. He could barely
see to sign his name and superscribe the envelope. This done, he
buttoned his straight-fitting brown coat, put on his modest hat, and
stood pondering in his mind what he should do.

A young man scarcely twenty years old, reared in the quiet atmosphere of
a community of Friends, and as unaccustomed, hitherto, to scenes of
strife and violence as the most innocent child,--such was Penn Hapgood,
teacher of the "Academy" (as the school was proudly named) in
Curryville. This was the first great trial of his faith and courage. He
had not taken Carl's advice, and run, because he did not believe that he
could escape the danger in that way. And as for fighting, that was not
in his heart any more than it was in his creed. But to say he did not
dread to meet his foes at the door, that he felt no fear, would be
speaking falsely. He was afraid. His entire nature, delicate body and
still more delicate soul, shrank from the ordeal. He went to the outer
door, and laid his hand on the bolt, but could not, for a long time,
summon resolution to open it.

As he hesitated, there came a loud thump on one of the panels which
nearly crushed it in, and filled the hollow building with ominous
echoes.

"Make ready in thar, you hound of a abolitionist!" shouted a brutal
voice; "we're about ready fur ye!" Penn's hand drew back. I dare say it
trembled, I dare say his face turned white again, as he felt the danger
so near. How could he confront, with his sensitive spirit, those
merciless, coarse men?

"I'll wait a little," he thought within himself. "Perhaps Carl _will_
bring help."

There were good sturdy Unionists in the place, men who, unlike the
Pennsylvania schoolmaster, believed in opposing evil with evil, force by
force. Only last night, one of them entered this very school-room,
bolted the door carefully, and sat down to unfold to the young master a
scheme for resisting the plans of the secessionists. It was a league for
circumventing treason; for keeping Tennessee in the Union; for
preserving their homes and families from the horrors of the impending
civil war. The conspirators had arms concealed; they met in secret
places; they were watching for the hour to strike. Would the
schoolmaster join them? Strange to say, they believed in him as a man
who had abilities as a leader, "an undeveloped fighting man"--he, Penn
Hapgood, the Quaker! Penn smiled, as he declined the farmer's offer of a
commission in the secret militia, and refused to accept the weapon of
self-defence which the same earnest Unionist had proffered him again,
through Carl, the German boy, this night.

Penn thought of these men now, and hoped that Carl would haste and bring
them to the rescue. Then immediately he blushed at his own cowardly
inconsistency; for something in his heart said that he ought not to wish
others to do for him what he had conscientious scruples against doing
for himself.

"I'll go out!" he said, sternly, to his trembling heart.

But he would first make a reconnoissance through the keyhole. He looked,
and saw one ruffian stirring the fire under the tar kettle, another
displaying a rope, and two others alternately drinking from a bottle. He
started back, as the thundering on the panel was repeated, and the same
voice roared out, "You kin be takin' off them clo'es of yourn; the tar
is about het!"

"I'll wait a few minutes longer for Carl!" said Penn to himself, with a
long breath.

Unfortunately, Carl was not just now in a situation to render much
assistance.

Although he had arrived unseen at the window, he did not retire
undiscovered. He had run but a short distance when a gruff voice ordered
him to stop. He had a way, however, of misunderstanding English when he
chose, and interpreted the command to mean, run faster. Receiving it in
that sense, he obeyed. Somebody behind him began to run too. In short,
it was a chase; and Carl, glancing backwards, saw long-legged Silas
Ropes, one of the ringleaders of the mob, taking appalling strides after
him, across the open field.

There were some woods about a quarter of a mile away, and Carl made for
them, trusting to their shelter and the shades of night to favor his
escape. He was fifteen years old, strong, and an excellent runner. He
did not again look behind to see if Silas was gaining on him, but
attended strictly to his own business, which was, to get into the
thickets as soon as possible. His success seemed almost certain; a few
rods more, and the undergrowth would be reached; and he was
congratulating himself on having thus led away from the schoolmaster one
of his most desperate enemies, when he rushed suddenly almost into the
arms of two men,--or rather, into a feather-bed, which they were
fetching by the corner of the wood lot.

"Ketch that Dutchman!" roared Silas. And they "ketched" him.

"What's the Dutchman done?" said one of the men, throwing himself lazily
on the feather-bed, while his companion held Carl for his pursuer.

"I don't know," said Carl, opening his eyes with placid wonder. "I
tought he vas vanting to run a race mit me."

"A race, you fool!" said Silas, seizing and shaking him. "Didn't you
hear me tell ye to stop?"

"Did you say _shtop_?" asked Carl, with a broad smile. "It ish wery
queer! Ven it sounded so much as if you said _shtep_! so I _shtepped_
just as fast as I could."

"What was you thar at the winder fur?"

"Vot vinder?" said Carl.

"Of the Academy," said Silas.

"O! to pe sure! I vas there," said Carl. "Pecause I left my books in
there last week, and I vas going to get 'em. But I saw somebody in the
house, and I vas afraid."

"Wasn't it the schoolmaster?"

"I shouldn't be wery much surprised if it vas the schoolmaster," said
Carl, with blooming simplicity.

"You lying rascal! what did you say to him through the winder?"

Carl looked all around with an expression of mild wonder, as if
expecting somebody else to answer.

"Why don't you speak?" And Silas gave his arm a fierce wrench.

"Vat did you say?"

"I said, you lying rascal!----"

"That is not my name," said Carl, "and I tought you vas shpeaking to
somebody else. I tought you vas conwersing mit this man," pointing at
the fellow on the bed.

"Dan Pepperill!" said Silas, turning angrily on the recumbent figure,
"what are you stretching your lazy bones thar fur? We're waiting fur
them feathers, and you'll git a coat yourself, if you don't show a
little more of the sperrit of a gentleman! You don't act as if your
heart was in this yer act of dooty we're performin', any more'n as if
you was a northern mudsill yourself!"

"Wal, the truth is," said Dan Pepperill, reluctantly getting up from the
bed, and preparing to shoulder it, "the schoolmaster has allus treated
me well, and though I hate his principles,----"

"You don't hate his principles, neither! You're more'n half a
abolitionist yourself! And I swear to gosh," said Silas, "if you don't
do your part now----"

"I will! I'm a-going to!" said Dan, with something like a groan.
"Though, as I said, he has allus used me well----"

"Shet up!" Silas administered a kick, which Dan adroitly caught in the
bed. Mr. Ropes got his foot embarrassed in the feathers, lost his
balance, and fell. Dan, either by mistake or design, fell also, tumbling
the bed in a smothering mass over the screaming mouth and coarse red
nose of the prostrate Silas.

The third man, who was guarding Carl, began to laugh. Carl laughed too,
as if it was the greatest joke in the world; to enhance the fun of
which, he gave his man a sudden push forwards, tripped him as he went,
and so flung him headlong upon the struggling heap. This pleasant feat
accomplished, he turned to run; but changed his mind almost instantly;
and, instead of plunging into the undergrowth, threw himself upon the
accumulating pile.

There he scrambled, and kicked, with his heels in the air, and rolled
over the topmost man, who rolled over Mr. Pepperill, who rolled over the
feather-bed, which rolled again over Mr. Ropes, in a most lively and
edifying manner.

At this interesting juncture Carl's reason for changing his mind and
remaining, became manifest. Two more of the chivalry from the tar kettle
came rushing to the spot, and would speedily have seized him had he
attempted to get off. So he staid, thinking he might be helping the
master in this way as well as any other.

And now the miscellaneous heap of legs and feathers began to resolve
itself into its original elements. First Carl was pulled off by one of
the new comers; then Dan and the man Carl had sent to comfort him fell
to blows, clinched each other, and rolled upon the earth; and lastly,
Mr. Silas Ropes arose, choked with passion and feathers, from under the
rent and bursting bed. The two squabbling men were also quickly on their
feet, Mr. Pepperill proving too much for his antagonist.

"What did you pitch into me fur?" demanded Silas, threatening his friend
Dan.

"What did Gad pitch into me fur?" said the irate Dan, shaking his fist
at Gad.

"What did you push and jump on to me fur?" said Gad, clutching Carl, who
was still laughing.

Thus the wrath of the whole party was turned against the boy.

"Pless me!" said he, staring innocently, "I tought it vas all for
shport!"

The furious Mr. Ropes was about to convince him, by some violent act, of
his mistake, when cries from the direction of the school-house called
his attention.

"See what's there, boys!" said Silas.

"Durn me," said Mr. Pepperill, looking across the field as he brushed
the feathers from his clothes, "if it ain't the master himself!"

In fact, Penn had by this time summoned courage to slip back the bolt,
throw open the school-house door, and come out.

The gentlemen who were heating the tar and drinking from the bottle were
taken by surprise. They had not expected that the fellow would come out
at all, but wait to be dragged out. Their natural conclusion was, that
he was armed; for he appeared with as calm and determined a front as if
he had been perfectly safe from injury himself, while it was in his
power to do them some fatal mischief. They could not understand how the
mere consciousness of his own uprightness, and a sense of reliance on
the arm of eternal justice, could inspire a man with courage to face so
many.

"My friends," said Penn, as they beset him with threats and blasphemy,
"I have never injured one of you, and you will not harm me."

And as if some deity held an invisible shield above him, he passed by;
and they, in their astonishment, durst not even lay their hands upon
him.

"I've hearn tell he was a Quaker, and wouldn't fight," muttered one;
"but I see a revolver under his coat!"

"Where's Sile? Where's Sile Ropes?" cried others, who, though themselves
unwilling to assume the responsibility of seizing the young master,
would have been glad to see Silas attempt it.

Great was the joy of Carl when he saw Mr. Hapgood walking through the
guard of ruffians untouched. But, a moment after, he uttered an
involuntary groan of despair. It was Penn's custom to cross the fields
in going from the Academy to the house where he boarded, and his path
wound by the edge of the woods, where Silas and his accomplices were at
this moment gathering up the spilt feathers.

"All right!" said Mr. Ropes, crouching down in order to remain concealed
from Penn's view. "This is as comf'table a place to do our dooty by him
as any to be found. Keep dark, boys, and let him come!"



II.

_PENN AND THE RUFFIANS_.


Penn traversed the field, followed by the gang from the school-house. As
he approached the woods, Silas and his friends rose up before him. He
was thus surrounded.

"Thought you'd come and meet us half way, did ye?" said Mr. Ropes,
striding across his path. "Very accommodating in you, to be shore!" And
he laughed a brutal laugh, which was echoed by all his friends except
Dan.

"I have not come to meet you," replied Penn, "but I am going about my
own private business, and wish to pass on."

"Wal, you can't pass on till we've settled a small account with you
that's been standing a little too long a'ready. Bring that tar, some on
ye! Come, Pepperill! show your sperrit!"

This Pepperill was a ragged, lank, starved-looking man, whose appearance
was on this occasion rendered ludicrous by the feathers sticking all
over him, and by an expression of dejection which _would_ draw down the
corners of his miserable mouth and roll up his piteous eyes,
notwithstanding his efforts to appear, what Silas termed, "sperrited."

"You, too, among my enemies, Daniel!" said Penn, reproachfully.

It was a look of grief, not of anger, which he turned on the wretched
man. Poor Pepperill could not stand it.

"I own, I own," he stammered forth, a picture of mingled fear and
contrition, "you've allus used me well, Mr. Hapgood,--but," he hastened
to add, with a scared glance at Silas, "I hate your principles!"

"Look here, Dan Pepperill!" remarked Mr. Ropes, with grim significance,
"you better shet your yaup, and be a bringin' that ar kittle!"

Dan groaned, and departed. Penn smiled bitterly. "I have always used him
well; and this is the return I get!" He thought of another evening, but
little more than a week since, when, passing by this very path, he heard
a deeper groan than that which the wretch had just uttered. He turned
aside into the edge of the woods, and there beheld an object to excite
at once his laughter and compassion. What he saw was this.

Dan Pepperill, astride a rail; his hands tied together above it, and his
feet similarly bound beneath. The rail had been taken from a fence a
mile away, and he had been carried all that distance on the shoulders of
some of these very men. They had taken turns with him, and when, tired
at last, had placed the rail in the crotches of two convenient saplings,
and there left him. The crotch in front was considerably higher than
that behind, which circumstance gave him the appearance of clinging to
the back of an animal in the act of rearing frightfully, and exposed a
delicate part of his apparel that had been sadly rent by contact with
splinters. And there the wretch was clinging and groaning when Penn came
up.

"For the love of the Lord!" said Dan, "take me down!"

"Why, what is the matter? How came you here?"

"I'm a dead man; that's the matter! I've been wipped to death, and then
rode on a rail; that's the way I come here!"

"Whipped! what for?" said Penn, losing no time in cutting the sufferer's
bonds.

"Ye see," said Dan, when taken down and laid upon the ground, "the
patrolmen found Combs's boy Pete out t'other night without a pass, and
took him and tied him to a tree, and licked him."

The "boy Pete" was a negro man upwards of fifty years old, owned by the
said Combs.

"Wal, ye see, jest cause I found him, and took him home with me, and
washed his back fur him, and bound cotton on to it, and kep' him over
night, and gin him a good breakfast, and a drink o' suthin' strong in
the morning, and then went home with him, and talked with his master
so'st he wouldn't git another licking,--just for that, Sile Ropes and
his gang took me and served me wus'n ever they served him!" And the
broken-spirited man cried like a child at the recollection of his
injuries.

He was one of the "white trash" of the south, whom even the negroes
belonging to good families look down upon; a weak, degraded,
kind-hearted man, whose offence was not simply that he had shown mercy
to the "boy Pete," after his flogging, but that he associated on
familiar terms with such negroes as were not too proud to cultivate his
acquaintance, and secretly sold them whiskey. After repeated warnings,
he had been flogged, and treated to a ride on a three-cornered rail, and
hung up to reflect upon his ungentlemanly conduct and its sad
consequences.

At sight of him, Penn, who knew nothing of his selling whiskey to the
blacks, or of any other offence against the laws or prejudices of the
community, than that of befriending a beaten and bleeding slave, felt
his indignation roused and his sympathies excited.

"It's a dreadful state of society in which such outrages are tolerated!"
he exclaimed.

"_I_ say, dreadful!" sobbed Mr. Pepperill.

"The good Samaritan himself would be in danger of a beating here!" said
Penn.

"I don't know what good smart 'un you mean," replied the weeping Dan,
whose knowledge of Scripture was extremely limited, "but I bet he'd git
some, ef he didn't keep his eyes peeled!" And he wiped his nose with his
sleeve.

Penn smiled at the man's ignorance, and said, as he lifted him up,--

"Friend Daniel, do you know that it is partly your own fault that this
deplorable state of things exists?"

"How's it my fault, I'd like to know?" whimpered Daniel.

"Come, I'll help thee home, and tell thee what I mean, by the way," said
Penn, using the idiom of his sect, into which familiar manner of speech
he naturally fell when talking confidentially with any one.

"I am stiff as any old spavined hoss!" whined the poor fellow,
straightening his legs, and attempting to walk.

Penn helped him home as he promised, and comforted him, and said to him
many things, which he little supposed were destined to be brought
against him so soon, and by this very Daniel Pepperill.

This was the way of it. When it was known that Penn had befriended the
friend of the blacks, Silas Ropes paid Dan a second visit, and by
threats of vengeance, on the one hand, and promises of forgiveness and
treatment "like a gentleman," on the other, extorted from him a
confession of all Penn had said and done.

"Now, Dan," said Mr. Ropes, patronizingly, "I'll tell ye what you do.
You jine with us, and show yourself a man of sperrit, a payin' off this
yer abolitionist for his outrageous interference in our affairs."

"Sile," interrupted Dan, earnestly, "what 'ge mean I'm to do? Turn agin'
him?"

"Exactly," replied Mr. Ropes.

"Sile," said Dan, excitedly, "I be durned if I do!"

"Then, I swear to gosh!" said Sile, spitting a great stream of tobacco
juice across Mrs. Pepperill's not very clean floor, "you'll have a dose
yourself before another sun, which like as not'll be your last!"

This terrible menace produced its desired effect; and the unwilling Dan
was here, this night, one of Penn's persecutors, in consequence.

It was not enough that he had shown his "sperrit" by fetching the
victim's own bed from his boarding-house, telling his landlady, the
worthy Mrs. Sprowl, that Sile said she must "charge it to her abolition
boarder." He must now show still more "sperrit" by bringing the tar. A
well-worn broom had been borrowed of Mrs. Pepperill, by those who knew
best how the tar in such cases should be applied: the handle of this was
thrust by one of the men, named Griffin, through the bail of the kettle,
and Dan was ordered to "ketch holt o' t'other eend," and help carry.

Dan "ketched holt" accordingly. But never was kettle so heavy as that;
its miserable weight made him groan at every step. Suddenly the
broom-handle slipped from his hand, and down it went. No doubt his
laudable object was to spill the tar, in order to gain time for his
benefactor, and perhaps postpone the tarring and feathering altogether.
But Griffin grasped the kettle in time to prevent its upsetting, and the
next instant flourished the club over Dan's head.

"I didn't mean tu! it slipped!" shrieked the terrified wretch. After
which he durst no more attempt to thwart the chivalrous designs of his
friends, but carried the tar like a gentleman.

"This way!" said Silas, getting the escaped feathers into a pile with
his foot. "Thar! set it down. Now, sir," throwing away his own coat,
"peel off them clo'es o' yourn, Mr. Schoolmaster, mighty quick, if you
don't want 'em peeled off fur ye!"

Penn gave no sign of compliance, but fixed his eye steadfastly upon Mr.
Ropes.

"I insist," said he,--for he had already made the request while the men
were bringing the tar,--"on knowing what I have done to merit this
treatment."

"Wal, that I don't mind tellin' ye," said Silas, "for we've all night
for this yer little job before us. Dan Pepperill, stand up here!"

Dan came forward, appearing extremely low-spirited and weak in the
knees.

"Is it you, Daniel, who are to bear witness against me?" said Penn, in a
voice of singular gentleness, which chimed in like a sweet and solemn
bell after the harsh clangor of Silas's ruffian tones.

Dan rolled up his eyes, hugged his tattered elbows, and gave a dismal
groan.

"Come!" said Silas, bestowing a slap on his back which nearly knocked
him down, "straighten them knees o' yourn, and be a man. Yes, Mr.
Schoolmaster, Dan is a-going to bear witness agin' you. He has turned
from the error of his ways, and now his noble southern heart is
a-burnin' to take vengeance on all the enemies of his beloved country.
Ain't it, Dan?--say yes," he hissed in his ear, giving him a second
slap, "or else--you know!"

"O Lord, yes!" ejaculated Dan, with a start of terror. "What Mr. Ropes
says is perfectly--perfectly--jes' so!"

"Your heart is a-burnin', ain't it?" said Silas.

"Ye--yes! I be durned if it ain't!" said Dan.

"This man," continued Ropes, who prided himself on being a great orator,
with power to "fire the southern heart," and never neglected an occasion
to show himself off in that capacity,--"this individgle ye see afore ye,
gentlemen,"--once more hitting Dan, this time with the toe of his boot,
gently, to indicate the subject of his remarks,--"was lately as
low-minded a peep as ever you see. He had no more conscience than to
'sociate with niggers, and sell 'em liquor, and even give 'em liquor
when they couldn't pay fur't; and you all know how he degraded himself
by takin' Combs's Pete into his house and doin' for him arter he'd been
very properly licked by the patrol. All which, I am happy to say, the
deluded man sincerely repents of, and promises to behave more like a
gentleman in futur'. Don't you, Dan?"

As Dan, attempting to speak, only gasped, Ropes administered a sharp
poke in his ribs, whispering fiercely,--

"Say you do, mighty quick, or I'll----!"

"O! I repents! I--I be durned if I don't!" said Dan.

"And now, as to you!" Silas turned on the schoolmaster. "Your offence in
gineral is bein' a northern abolitionist. Besides which, your offences
in partic'ler is these. Not contented with teachin' the Academy, which
was well enough, since it is necessary that a few should have larnin',
so the may know how to govern the rest,--not contented with that, you
must run the thing into the ground, by settin' up a evenin' school, and
offerin' to larn readin', writin', and 'rithmetic, free gratis, to
whosomever wanted to 'tend. Which is contrary to the sperrit of our
institootions, as you have been warned more 'n oncet. That's charge
Number Two. Charge Number Three is, that you stand up for the old rotten
Union, and tell folks, every chance you git, that secession, that noble
right of southerners, is a villanous scheme, that'll ruin the south, if
persisted in, and plunge the whole nation into war. Your very words, I
believe. Can you deny it?"

"Certainly, I have said something very much like that, and it is my
honest conviction," replied Penn, firmly.

"Gentlemen, take notice!" said Mr. Ropes. "We will now pass on to charge
Number Four, and be brief, for the tar is a-coolin'. Suthin' like eight
days ago, when the afore-mentioned Dan Pepperill was in the waller of
his degradation, some noble-souled sons of the sunny south"--the orator
smiled with pleasant significance--"lifted him up, and hung him up to
air, in the crotches of two trees, jest by the edge of the woods here,
and went home to supper, intending to come back and finish the purifying
process begun with him later in the evenin'. But what did you do, Mr.
Schoolmaster, but come along and take him down, prematoorely, and go to
corruptin' him agin with your vile northern principles! Didn't he, Dan?"

"I--I dun know" faltered Dan.

"Yes, you do know, too! Didn't he corrupt you?"

These words being accompanied by a severe hint from Sile's boot, Mr.
Pepperill remembered that Penn _did_ corrupt him.

"And if I hadn't took ye in season, you'd have returned to your
base-born mire, wouldn't you?"

"I suppose I would," the miserable Dan admitted.

"Wal! now!"--Sile spread his palm over the tar to see if it retained its
temperature,--"hurry up, Dan, and tell us all this northern agitator
said to you that night."

"O Lord!" groaned Pepperill, "my memory is so short!"

"Bring that rope, boys! and give him suthin' to stretch it!" said Silas,
growing impatient.

Dan, knowing that stretching his memory in the manner threatened,
implied that his neck was to be stretched along with it, made haste to
remember.

"My friends," said Penn, interrupting the poor man's forced and
disconnected testimony, "let me spare him the pain of bearing witness
against me. I recall perfectly well every thing I said to him that
night. I said it was a shame that such outrages as had been committed on
him should be tolerated in a civilized society. I told him it was partly
his own fault that such a state of things existed. I said, 'It is owing
to the ignorance and degradation of you poor whites that a barbarous
system is allowed to flourish and tyrannize over you.' I said----"

But here Penn was interrupted by a violent outcry, the majority of the
persons present coming under the head of "poor whites."

"Let him go on! let him perceed!" said Silas. "What did you mean by
'barbarous system'?"

"I meant," replied Penn, all fear vanishing in the glow of righteous
indignation which filled him,--"I meant the system which makes it a
crime to teach a man to read--a punishable offence to befriend the poor
and down-trodden, or to bind up wounds. A system which makes it
dangerous for one to utter his honest opinions, even in private, to a
person towards whom he is at the same time showing the mercy which
others have denied him." He looked at Dan, who groaned. "A system----"

"Wal, I reckon that'll do fur one spell," broke in Silas Ropes. "You've
said more 'n enough to convict you, and to earn a halter 'stead of a
mild coat of tar and feathers."

"I am well aware," said Penn, "that I can expect no mercy at your hands;
so I thought I might as well be plain with you."

"And plain enough you've been, I swear to gosh!" said Silas. "Boys,
strip him!"

"Wait a moment!" said Penn, putting them off with a gesture which they
mistook for an appeal to some deadly weapon in his pocket. "What I have
said has been to free my mind, and to save Daniel trouble. Now, allow me
to speak a few words in my own defence. I have committed no crime
against your laws; if I have, why not let the laws punish me?"

"We take the laws into our hands sech times as these," said the man
called Gad.

"You're an abolitionist, and that's enough," said another.

"If I do not believe slavery to be a good thing, it is not my fault; I
cannot help my belief. But one thing I will declare. I have never
interfered with your institution in any way at all dangerous to you, or
injurious to your slaves. I have not rendered them discontented, but,
whenever I have had occasion, I have counselled them to be patient and
faithful to their masters. I came among you a very peaceable man, a
simple schoolmaster, and I have tried to do good to everybody, and harm
to no one. With this motive I opened an evening school for poor whites.
How many men here have any education? How many can read and write? Not
many, I am sure."

"What's the odds, so long as they're men of the true sperrit?"
interrupted Silas Ropes. "I can read for one; and as for the rest, what
good would it do 'em to be edecated? 'Twould only make 'em jes' sech
low, sneakin', thievin' white slaves, like the greasy mechanics at the
north."

"The white slaves are not at the north," said Penn. "Education alone
makes free men. If you, who threaten me with violence here to-night, had
the common school education of the north, you would not be engaged in
such business; you would be ashamed of assaulting a peaceable man on
account of his opinions; you would know that the man who comes to teach
you is your best friend. If you were not ignorant men, you, who do not
own slaves, would know that slavery is the worst enemy of your
prosperity, and you would not be made its willing tools."

The firm dignity of the youth, assisted by the illusion that prevailed
concerning a revolver in his pocket, had kept his foes at bay, and
gained him a hearing. He now attempted to pass on, when the man Gad,
stepping behind him, raised the broom-handle, and dealt him a stunning
blow on the back of the head.

"Down with him!" "Strip him!" "Give him a thrashing first!" "Hang him!"

And the ruffians threw themselves furiously upon the fallen man.

"Whar's that Dutch boy?" cried Silas. "I meant he should help Dan lay on
the tar."

But Carl was nowhere to be seen, having taken advantage of the confusion
and darkness to escape into the woods.



III.

_THE SECRET CELLAR._


No sooner did the lad feel himself safe from pursuit, than he made his
way out of the woods again, and ran with all speed to Mr. Stackridge's
house.

To his dismay he learned that that stanch Unionist was absent from home.

"Is he in the willage?" said the breathless Carl.

"I reckon he is," said the farmer's wife; adding in a whisper,--for she
guessed the nature of Carl's business,--"inquire for him down to barber
Jim's." And she told him what to say to the barber.

Barber Jim was a colored man, who had demonstrated the ability of the
African to take care of himself, by purchasing first his own freedom of
his mistress, buying his wife and children afterwards, and then
accumulating a property as much more valuable than all Silas Ropes and
his poor white minions possessed, as his mind was superior to their
combined intelligence.

Jim had accomplished this by uniting with industrious habits a natural
shrewdness, which enabled him to make the most of his labor and of his
means. He owned the most flourishing barber-shop in the place, and kept
in connection with it (I am sorry to say) a bar, at which he dealt out
to his customers some very bad liquors at very good prices. Had Jim been
a white man, he would not, of course, have stooped to make money by any
such low business as rum-selling--O, no! but being only a "nigger," what
else could you expect of him?

Well, on this very evening Jim's place began to be thronged almost
before it was dark. A few came in to be shaved, while many more passed
through the shop into the little bar-room beyond. What was curious, some
went in who appeared never to come out again; Mr. Stackridge among the
number.

It was not to get shaved, nor yet to get tipsy, that this man visited
Jim's premises. The moment they were alone together in the bar-room, he
gave the proprietor a knowing wink.

"Many there?"

"I reckon about a dozen," said Jim. "Go in?" Stackridge nodded; and with
a grin Jim opened a private door communicating with some back stairs,
down which his visitor went groping his way in the dark.

Customers came and went; now and then one disappeared similarly down the
back stairs; many remained in the barber's shop to smoke, and discuss in
loud tones the exciting question of the day--secession; when, lastly, a
boy of fifteen came rushing in. His face was flushed with running, and
he was quite out of breath.

"What's wanting, Carl?" said the barber. "A shave?"

This was one of Jim's jokes, at which his customers laughed, to the
boy's confusion, for his cheeks were as smooth as a peach.

"I vants to find Mishter Stackridge," said the lad.

"He ain't here," said Jim, looking around the room.

"It is something wery partic'lar. One of his pigs have got choked mit a
cob, and he must go home and unchoke him."

This was what Carl had been directed by the farmer's wife to say to the
barber, in case he should profess ignorance concerning her husband.

"Pity about the pig," said Jim. "Mabby Stackridge'll be in bime-by. Any
thing else I can do for ye?"

Carl stepped up to the barber, and said in a hoarse whisper, loud enough
to be heard by every body,--

"A mug of peer, if you pleashe."

"I got some that'll make a Dutchman's head hum!" said Jim, leading the
way into the little grog room.

"That's Villars's Dutch boy," said one of the smokers in the
barber-shop. "Beats all nater, how these Dutch will swill down any thing
in the shape of beer!"

This elegant observation may have had a grain of truth in it, as we who
have Teutonic friends may have reason to know. However, the man had
mistaken the boy this time.

"It is not the peer I vants, it is Mr. Stackridge," whispered Carl, when
alone with the proprietor.

Jim regarded him doubtfully a moment, then said, "I reckon I shall have
to open a cask in the suller. You jest tend bar for me while I am gone."

He descended the stairs, closing the door after him. Carl, who thought
of the schoolmaster in the hands of the mob, felt his heart swell and
burn with anxiety at each moment's delay. Jim did not keep him long
waiting.

"This way, Carl, if you want some of the right sort," said the negro
from the stairs.

Carl went down in the darkness, Jim taking his hand to guide him. They
entered a cellar, crowded with casks and boxes, where there was a dim
lamp burning; but no human being was visible, until suddenly out of a
low, dark passage, between some barrels, a stooping figure emerged,
giving Carl a momentary start of alarm.

"What's the trouble, Carl?"

"O! Mishter Stackridge! is it you?" said Carl, as the figure stood erect
in the dim light,--sallow, bony, grim, attired in coarse clothes. "The
schoolmaster--that is the trouble!" and he hastily related what he had
seen.

"Wouldn't take the pistol? the fool!" muttered the farmer. "But I'll see
what I can do for him." He grasped the boy's collar, and said in a
suppressed but terribly earnest voice, "Swear never to breathe a word of
what I'm going to show you!"

"I shwear!" said Carl.

"Come!"

Stackridge took him by the wrist, and drew him after him into the
passage. It was utterly dark, and Carl had to stoop in order to avoid
hitting his head. As they approached the end of it, he could distinguish
the sound of voices,--one louder than the rest giving the word of
command.

"_Order--arms!_"

The farmer knocked on the head of a cask, which rolled aside, and opened
the way into a cellar beyond, under an old storehouse, which was
likewise a part of Barber Jim's property.

The second cellar was much larger and better lighted than the first, and
rendered picturesque by heavy festoons of cobwebs hanging from the dark
beams above. The rays of the lamps flashed upon gun-barrels, and cast
against the damp and mouldy walls gigantic shadows of groups of men.
Some were conversing, others were practising the soldiers' drill.

"Neighbors!" said Stackridge, in a voice which commanded instant
attention, and drew around him and Carl an eager group. "It's just as I
told you,--Ropes and his gang are lynching Hapgood!"

"It's the fellow's own fault," said a stern, dark man, the same who had
been drilling the men. "He should have taken care of himself."

"Young Hapgood's a decent sort of cuss," said another whom Carl knew,--a
farmer named Withers,--"and I like him. I believe he means well; but he
ain't one of us."

"I've been deceived in him," said a third. "He always minded his own
business, and kept so quiet about our institutions, I never suspected he
was anti-slavery till I talked with him t'other day about joining
us--then he out with it."

"He thinks we're all wrong," said a bigoted pro-slavery man named
Deslow. "He says slavery's the cause of the war, and it's absurd in us
to go in for the Union and slavery too!" For these men, though loyal to
the government, and bitterly opposed to secession, were nearly all
slaveholders or believers in slavery.

"May be the fellow ain't far wrong there," said he who had been drilling
his comrades. "I think myself slavery's the cause of the war, and that's
what puts us in such a hard place. The time may come when we will have
to take a different stand--go the whole figure with the free north, or
drift with the cotton states. But that time hain't come yet."

"But the time _has_ come," said Stackridge, impatiently, "to do
something for Hapgood, if we intend to help him at all. While we are
talking, he may be hanging."

"And what can we do?" retorted the other. "We can't make a move for him
without showing our hand, and it ain't time for that yet."

"True enough, Captain Grudd," said Stackridge. "But three or four of us,
with our revolvers, can happen that way, and take him out of the hands
of Ropes and his cowardly crew without much difficulty. I, for one, am
going."

"Hapgood don't even believe in fighting!" observed Deslow, with immense
disgust; "and blast me if I am going to fight _for_ him!"

Carl was almost driven to despair by the indifference of these men and
the time wasted in discussion. He could have hugged the grim and bony
Stackridge when he saw him make a decided move at last. Three others
volunteered to accompany them. The cask was once more rolled away from
the entrance, and one by one they crept quickly through the passage into
the first cellar.

Stackridge preceded the rest, to see that the way was clear. There was
no one at the bar; the door leading into the shop was closed; and Carl,
following the four men, passed out by a long entry communicating with
the street, the door of which was thrown open to the public on occasions
when there was a great rush to Jim's bar, but which was fastened this
night by a latch that could be lifted only from the inside.



IV.

_A SEARCH FOR THE MISSING._


The academy was situated in a retired spot, half a mile out of the
village. Stackridge and his party were soon pushing rapidly towards it
along the dark, unfrequented road. Carl ran on before, leading the way
to the scene of the lynching.

The place was deserted and silent. Only the cold wind swept the bleak
wood-side, making melancholy moans among the trees. Overhead shone the
stars, lighting dimly the desolation of the ground.

"Now, where's yer tar-and-feathering party?" said Stackridge. "See here,
Dutchy! ye hain't been foolin' us, have ye?"

"I vish it vas notting but fooling!" said Carl, full of distress,
fearing the worst. "We have come too late. The willains have took him
off."

"Feathers, men!" muttered Stackridge, picking up something from beneath
his feet. "The boy's right! Now, which way have they gone?--that's the
question."

"Hark!" said Carl. "I see a man!"

Indeed, just then a dim figure arose from the earth, and appeared slowly
and painfully moving away.

"Hold on there!" cried Stackridge. "Needn't be afeared of us. We're your
friends."

The figure stopped, uttering a deep groan.

"Is it you, Hapgood?"

"No," answered the most miserable voice in the world. "It's me."

"Who's _me_?"

"Pepperill--Dan Pepperill; ye know me, don't ye, Stackridge?"

"You? you scoundrel!" said the farmer. "What have ye been doing to the
schoolmaster? Answer me this minute, or I'll----"

"O, don't, don't!" implored the wretch. "I'll answer, I'll tell every
thing, only give me a chance!"

"Be quick, then, and tell no lies!"

The poor man looked around at his captors in the starlight, stooping
dejectedly, and rubbing his bent knees.

"I ain't to blame--I'll tell ye that to begin with. I've been jest
knocked about, from post to pillar, and from pillar to post, till I
don't know who's my friends and who ain't. I reckon more ain't than is!"
added he, dismally.

"That's neither here nor there!" said Stackridge. "Where's Hapgood?
that's what I want to know."

"Ye see," said Dan, endeavoring to collect his wits (you would have
thought they were in his kneepans, and he was industriously rubbing them
up), "Ropes sent me to tote the kittle home, and when I got back here, I
be durned if they wasn't all gone, schoolmaster and all."

"But what had they done to him?"

"I don't know, I'm shore! That's what I was a comin' back fur to see. He
let me down when I was hung up on the rail, and helped me home; and so I
says to myself, says I, 'Why shouldn't I do as much by him?' so I come
back, and found him gone."

"What was in the kittle?" Stackridge took him by the throat.

"O, don't go fur to layin' it to me, and I'll tell ye! Thar'd been tar
in the kittle! It had been used to give him a coat. That's the fact,
durn me if it ain't! They put it on with the broom--my broom--they made
me bring my own broom, that's the everlastin' truth! made me do it
myself, and spile my wife's best broom into the bargain!" And Pepperill
sobbed.

"You put on the tar?"

"Don't kill me, and I'll own up! I did put on some on't, that's a fact.
Ropes would a' killed me if I hadn't, and now you kill me fur doin' of
it. He did knock me down, 'cause he said I didn't rub it on hard enough;
and arter that he rubbed it himself."

"What next, you scoundrel?"

"Next, they rolled him in the feathers, and sent me, as I told ye, to
tote the kittle home. Now don't, don't go fur to hang me, Mr.
Stackridge! Help me, men! help me, Withers,--Devit! For he means to be
the death of me, I'm shore!"

Indeed, Stackridge was in a tremendous passion, and would, no doubt,
have done the man some serious injury but for the timely interposition
of Carl.

"O, you're a good boy, Carl!" cried Dan, in an exstasy of terror and
gratitude. "You know they druv me to it, don't ye? You know I wouldn't
have gone fur to do it no how, if 't hadn't been to save my life. And as
fur rubbing on the tar, I know'd they'd rub harder 'n I did; so I took
holt, if only to do it more soft and gentle-like."

Carl testified to Dan's apparent unwillingness to participate in the
outrage; and Stackridge, finding that nothing more could be got out of
the terror-stricken wretch, flung him off in great rage and disgust.

"We must find what they have done with Hapgood," he said. "We're losing
time here. We'll go to his boarding-place first."

As Pepperill fell backwards upon some stones, and lay there helplessly,
Carl ran to him to learn if he was hurt.

"Wal, I be hurt some," murmured Dan; "a good deal in my back, and a
durned sight more in my feelin's. As if I wan't sufferin' a'ready the
pangs of death--wus'n death!--a thinkin' about the master, and what's
been done to him, arter he'd been so kind to me--and thinkin' he'd think
I'm the ongratefulest cuss out of the bad place!--and then to have it
all laid on to me by Stackridge and the rest! that's the stun that hurts
me wust of any!"

Carl thought, if that was all, he could not assist him much; and he ran
on after the men, leaving Pepperill snivelling like a whipped schoolboy
on the stones.

Penn's landlady, the worthy Mrs. Sprowl, lived in a lonesome house that
stood far back in the fields, at least a dozen rods from the road. She
was a widow, whose daughters were either married or dead, and whose only
son was a rover, having been guilty of some crime that rendered it
unsafe for him to visit his bereaved parent. Penn had chosen her house
for his home, partly because she needed some such assistance in gaining
a living, but chiefly, I think, because she did not own slaves. The
other inmates of her solitary abode were two large, ferocious dogs,
which she kept for the sake of their company and protection.

But this night the house looked as if forsaken even by these. It was
utterly dark and silent. When Stackridge shook the door, however, the
illusion was dispelled by two fierce growls that resounded within.

"Hello! Mrs. Sprowl!" shouted the farmer, shaking the door again, and
knocking violently. "Let me in!"

At that the growling broke into savage barks, which made Stackridge lay
his hand on the revolver Carl had returned to him. A window was then
cautiously opened, and a bit of night-cap exposed.

"If it's you agin," said a shrill feminine voice, "I warn you to be
gone! If you think I can't set the dogs on to you, because you've slep'
in my house so long, you're very much mistaken. They'll tear you as they
would a pa'tridge! Go away, go away, I tell ye; you've been the ruin of
me, and I ain't a-going to resk my life a-harboring of you any longer."

"Mrs. Sprowl!" answered the stern voice of the farmer.

"Dear me! ain't it the schoolmaster?" cried the astonished lady. "I
thought it was him come back agin to force his way into my house, after
I've twice forbid him!"

"Why forbid him?"

"Is it you, Mr. Stackridge? Then I'll be free, and tell ye. I've been
informed he's a dangerous man. I've been warned to shet my doors agin'
him, if I wouldn't have my house pulled down on to my head."

"Who warned you?"

"Silas Ropes, this very night. He come to me, and says, says he, 'We've
gin your abolition boarder a coat, which you must charge to his
account;' for you see," added the head at the window, pathetically,
"they took the bed he has slep' on, right out of my house, and I don't
s'pose I shall see ary feather of that bed ever agin! live goose's
feathers they was too! and a poor lone widder that could ill afford it!"

"Where is the master?"

"Wal, after Ropes and his friends was gone, he comes too, an awful
lookin' object as ever you see! 'Mrs. Sprowl,' says he, 'don't be
scared; it's only me; won't ye let me in?' for ye see, I'd shet the
house agin' him in season, detarmined so dangerous a character should
never darken my doors agin."

"And he was naked!"

"I 'spose he was, all but the feathers, and suthin' or other he seemed
to have flung over him."

"Such a night as this!" exclaimed Stackridge. "You're a heartless jade,
Mrs. Sprowl!--I don't wonder the fellow hates slavery," he muttered to
himself, "when it makes ruffians of the men and monsters even of the
women!--Which way did he go?"

"That's more'n I can tell!" answered the lady, sharply. "It's none o' my
business where he goes, if he don't come here! That I won't have, call
me what names you please!" And she shut the window.

"Hang the critter! after all Hapgood has done for her!" said the
indignant Stackridge,--for it was well-known that she was indebted to
the gentle and generous Penn for many benefits. "But it's no use to
stand here. We'll go to my house, men,--may be he's there."



V.

_CARL AND HIS FRIENDS._


Carl Minnevich was the son of a German, who, in company with a brother,
had come to America a few years before, and settled in Tennessee. There
the Minneviches purchased a farm, and were beginning to prosper in their
new home, when Carl's father suddenly died. The boy had lost his mother
on the voyage to America. He was now an orphan, destined to experience
all the humiliation, dependence, and wrong, which ever an orphan knew.

Immediately the sole proprietorship of the farm, which had been bought
by both, was assumed by the surviving brother. This man had a selfish,
ill-tempered wife, and a family of great boys. Minnevich himself was
naturally a good, honest man; but Frau Minnevich wanted the entire
property for her own children, hated Carl because he was in the way, and
treated him with cruelty. His big cousins followed their mother's
example, and bullied him. How to obtain protection or redress he knew
not. He was a stranger, speaking a strange tongue, in the land of his
father's adoption. Ah, how often then did he think of the happy
fatherland, before that luckless voyage was undertaken, when he still
had his mother, and his friends, and all his little playfellows, whom he
could never see more!

So matters went on for a year or two, until the boy's grievances grew
intolerable, and he one day took it into his head to please Frau
Minnevich for once in his life, if never again. In the night time he
made up a little bundle of his clothes, threw it out of the window, got
out himself after it, climbed down upon the roof of the shed, jumped to
the ground, and trudged away in the early morning starlight, a wanderer.
It has been necessary to touch upon this point in Carl's history, in
order to explain why it was he ever afterwards felt such deep gratitude
towards those who befriended him in the hour of his need.

For many days and nights he wandered among the hills of Tennessee,
looking in vain for work, and begging his bread. Sometimes he almost
wished himself a slave-boy, for then he would have had a home at least,
if only a wretched cabin, and friends, if only negroes,--those
oppressed, beaten, bought-and-sold, yet patient and cheerful people,
whose lot seemed, after all, so much happier than his own. Carl had a
large, warm heart, and he longed with infinite longing for somebody to
love him and treat him kindly.

At last, as he was sitting one cold evening by the road-side, weary,
hungry, despondent, not knowing where he was to find his supper, and
seeing nothing else for him to do but to lie down under some bush, there
to shiver and starve till morning, a voice of unwonted kindness accosted
him.

"My poor boy, you seem to be in trouble; can I help you?"

Poor Carl burst into tears. It was the voice of Penn Hapgood; and in its
tones were sympathy, comfort, hope. Penn took him by the arm, and lifted
him up, and carried his bundle for him, talking to him all the time so
like a gentle and loving brother, that Carl said in the depths of his
soul that he would some day repay him, if he lived; and he prayed God
secretly that he might live, and be able some day to repay him for those
sweet and gracious words.

Penn never quitted him until he had found him a home; neither after that
did he forget him. He took him into his school, gave him his tuition,
and befriended him in a hundred little ways beside.

And now the time had arrived when Penn himself stood in need of friends.
The evening came, and Carl was missing from his new home.

"Whar's dat ar boy took hisself to, I'd like to know!" scolded old Toby.
"I'll clar away de table, and he'll lose his supper, if he stays anoder
minute! Debil take me, if I don't!"

He had made the same threat a dozen times, and still he kept Carl's
potatoes hot for him, and the table waiting. For the old negro, though
he loved dearly to show his importance by making a good deal of bluster
about his work, had really one of the kindest hearts in the world, and
was as devoted to the boy he scolded as any indulgent old grandmother.

"The 'debil' will take you, sure enough, I'm afraid, Toby, if you appeal
to him so often," said a mildly reproving voice.

It was Mr. Villars, the old worn-out clergyman; a man of seventy
winters, pale, white-haired, blind, feeble of body, yet strong and
serene of soul. He came softly, groping his way into the kitchen, in
order to put his feet to Toby's fire.

"Laws, massa," said old Toby, grinning, "debil knows I ain't in 'arnest!
he knows better'n to take me at my word, for I speaks his name widout no
kind o' respec', allus, I does. Hyar's yer ol' easy char fur ye, Mass'
Villars. Now you jes' make yerself comf'table." And he cleared a place
on the stove-hearth for the old man's feet.

"Thank you, Toby." With his elbows resting on the arms of the chair, his
hands folded thoughtfully before his breast, and his beautiful old face
smiling the kindness which his blind eyes could not _look_, Mr. Villars
sat by the fire. "Where is Carl to-night, Toby?"

"Dat ar's de question; dat's de pint, massa. Mos' I can say is, he ain't
whar he ought to be, a eatin' ob his supper. Chocolate's all a bilin'
away to nuffin! ketch dis chile tryin' to keep tings hot for his supper
anoder time!" And Toby added, in a whisper expressive of great
astonishment at himself, "What I eber took dat ar boy to keep fur's one
ob de mysteries!"

For Toby, though only a servant (indeed, he had formerly been a slave in
the family), had had his own way so long in every thing that concerned
the management of the household, that he had come to believe himself the
proprietor, not only of the house and land, and poultry and pigs, but of
the family itself. He owned "ol' Mass Villars," and an exceedingly
precious piece of property he considered him, especially since he had
become blind. He was likewise (in his own exalted imagination) sole
inheritor and guardian-in-chief of "Miss Jinny," Mr. Villars's youngest
daughter, child of his old age, of whom Mrs. Villars said, on her
death-bed, "Take always good care of my darling, dear Toby!"--an
injunction which the negro regarded as a sort of last will and testament
bequeathing the girl to him beyond mortal question.

There was, in fact, but one member of the household he did not
exclusively claim. This was the married daughter, Salina, whose life had
been embittered by a truant husband,--no other, in fact, than the erring
son of the worthy Mrs. Sprowl. The day when the infatuated girl made a
marriage so much beneath the family dignity, Toby, in great grief and
indignation, gave her up. "I washes my hands ob her! she ain't no more a
chile ob mine!" said the old servant, passionately weeping, as if the
washing of his hands was to be literal, and no other fluid would serve
his dark purpose but tears. And when, after Sprowl's desertion of her,
she returned, humiliated and disgraced, to her father's house,--that is
to say, Toby's house,--Toby had compassion on her, and took her in, but
never set up any claim to her again.

"Where is Carl? Hasn't Carl come yet?" asked a sweet but very anxious
voice. And Virginia, the youngest daughter, stood in the kitchen door.

"He hain't come yet, Miss Jinny; dat ar a fact!" said Toby. "'Pears like
somefin's hap'en'd to dat ar boy. I neber knowed him stay out so, when
dar's any eatin' gwine on,--for he's a master hand for his supper, dat
boy ar! Laws, I hain't forgot how he laid in de vittles de fust night
Massa Penn fetched him hyar! He was right hungry, he was, and he took
holt powerful! 'I neber can keep dat ar boy in de world,' says I; 'he'll
eat me clar out o' house an' home!' says I. But, arter all, it done my
ol' heart good to see him put in, ebery ting 'peared to taste so d'effle
good to him!" And Toby chuckled at the reminiscence.

"My daughter," said Mr. Villars, softly.

She was already standing behind his chair, and her trembling little
hands were smoothing his brow, and her earnest face was looking pale and
abstracted over him. He could not see her face, but he knew by her touch
that the tender act was done some how mechanically to-night, and that
she was thinking of other things. She started as he spoke, and, bending
over him, kissed his white forehead.

"I suspect," he went on, "that you know more of Carl than we do. Has he
gone on some errand of yours?"

"I will tell you, father!" It seemed as if her feelings had been long
repressed, and it was a relief for her to speak at last. "Carl came to
me, and said there was some mischief intended towards Penn. This was
long before dark. And he asked permission to go and see what it was. I
said, 'Go, but come right back, if there is no danger.' He went, and I
have not seen him since."

"Is this so? Why didn't you tell me before?"

"Because, father, I did not wish to make you anxious. But now, if you
will let Toby go----"

"I'll go myself!" said the old man, starting up. "My staff, Toby! When I
was out, I heard voices in the direction of the school-house,--I felt
then a presentiment that something was happening to Penn. I can control
the mob,--I can save him, if it is not too late." He grasped the staff
Toby put into his hand.

"O, father!" said the agitated girl; "are you able?"

"Able, child? You shall see how strong I am when our friend is in
danger."

"Let me go, then, and guide you!" she exclaimed, glad he was so
resolved, yet unwilling to trust him out of her sight.

"No, daughter. Toby will be eyes for me. Yet I scarcely need even him. I
can find my way as well as he can in the dark."

The negro opened the door, and was leading out the blind old minister,
when the light from within fell upon a singular object approaching the
house. It started back again, like some guilty thing; but Toby had seen
it. Toby uttered a shriek.

"De debil! de debil hisself, massa!" and he pulled the old man back
hurriedly into the house.

"The devil, Toby? What do you mean?" demanded Mr. Villars.

"O, laws, bress ye, massa, ye hain't got no eyes, and ye can't see!"
said Toby, shutting the door in his fright, and rolling his eyes wildly.
"It's de bery debil! he's come for dis niggah dis time, sartin'. Cos I,
cos I 'pealed to him, as you said, massa! cos I's got de habit ob
speakin' his name widout no kind o' respec'!"

And he stood bracing himself, with his back against the door, as if
determined that not even that powerful individual himself should get in.

"You poor old simpleton!" said Mr. Villars, "there is no fiend except in
your own imagination. Open the door!"

"No, no, massa! He's dar! he's dar! He'll cotch old Toby, shore!" And
the terrified black held the latch and pushed with all his might.

"What did he see, Virginia?"

"I don't know, father! There was certainly somebody, or something,--I
could not distinguish what."

"It's what I tell ye!" gibbered Toby. "I seed de great coarse har on his
speckled legs, and de wings on his back, and a right smart bag in his
hand to put dis niggah in!"

"It might have been Carl," said Virginia.

"No, no! Carl don't hab sech legs as dem ar! Carl don't hab sech great
big large ears as dem ar! O good Lord! good Lord!" the negro's voice
sank to a terrified whisper, "he's a-knockin' for me now!"

"It's a very gentle rap for the devil," said Mr. Villars, who could not
but be amused, notwithstanding the strange interruption of his purpose,
and Toby's vexatious obstinacy in holding the door. "It's some stranger;
let him in!"

"No, no, no!" gasped the negro. "I won't say nuffin, and you tell him I
ain't to home! Say I'se clar'd out, lef', gone you do'no' whar!"

"Toby!" was called from without.

"Dat's his voice! dat ar's his voice!" said Toby. And in his desperate
pushing, he pushed his feet from under him, and fell at full length
along the floor.

"It's the voice of Penn Hapgood!" exclaimed the old minister. "Arise,
quick, Toby, and open!"

Toby rubbed his head and looked bewildered.

"Are ye sartin ob dat, massa? Bress me, I breeve you're right, for
oncet! It _ar_ Mass' Penn's voice, shore enough!"

He opened the door, but started back again with another shriek,
convinced for an instant that it was, after all, the devil, who had
artfully borrowed Penn's voice to deceive him.

But no! It was Penn himself, his hat and clothes in his hand, smeared
with black tar and covered with feathers from head to foot; not even his
features spared, nor yet his hair; on his cheeks great clumps of gray
goose plumes, suggestive of diabolical ears, and with no other covering
but this to shield him from the night wind, save the emptied bed-tick,
which he had drawn over his shoulders, and which Toby had mistaken for
Satanic wings.



VI.

_A STRANGE COAT FOR A QUAKER._


Now, Virginia Villars was the very last person by whom Penn would have
wished to be seen. He was well aware how utterly grotesque and ludicrous
he must appear. But he was not in a condition to be very fastidious on
this point. Stunned by blows, stripped of his clothing (which could not
be put on again, for reasons), cruelly suffering from the violence done
him, exposed to the cold, excluded from Mrs. Sprowl's virtuous abode, he
had no choice but to seek the protection of those whom he believed to be
his truest friends.

In the little sitting-room of the blind old minister he had always been
gladly welcomed. Such minds as his were rare in Curryville. His purity
of thought, his Christian charity, his ardent love of justice, and
(quite as much as any thing) his delight in the free and friendly
discussion of principles, whether moral, political, or theological, made
him a great favorite with the lonely old man. His coming made the winter
evenings bloom. Then the aged clergyman, deprived of sight, bereft of
the companionship of books, and of the varied consolations of an active
life, felt his heart warmed and his brain enlivened by the wine of
conversation. He and Penn, to be sure, did not always agree. Especially
on the subject of _non-resistance_ they had many warm and well-contested
arguments; the young Quaker manifesting, by his zeal in the controversy,
that he had an abundance of "fight" in him without knowing it.

Nor to Mr. Villars alone did Penn's visits bring pleasure. They
delighted equally young Carl and old Toby. And Virginia? Why, being
altogether devoted to her blind parent, for whose happiness she could
never do enough, she was, of course, enchanted with the attentions she
saw Penn pay _him_. That was all; at least, the dear girl thought that
was all.

As for Salina, forsaken spouse of the gay Lysander Sprowl, she too,
after sulkily brooding over her misfortunes all day, was glad enough to
have any intelligent person come in and break the monotony of her sad
life in the evening.

Such were Penn's relations with the family to whom alone he durst apply
for refuge in his distress. Others might indeed have ventured to shelter
him; but they, like Stackridge, were hated Unionists, and any mercy
shown to him would have brought evil upon themselves. Mr. Villars,
however, blind and venerated old man, had sufficient influence over the
people, Penn believed, to serve as a protection to his household even
with him in it.

So hither he came--how unwillingly let the proud and sensitive judge.
For Penn, though belonging to the meekest of sects, was of a soul by
nature aspiring and proud. He had the good sense to know that the
outrage committed on him was in reality no disgrace, except to those
guilty of perpetrating it. Yet no one likes to appear ridiculous. And
the man of elevated spirit instinctively shrinks from making known his
misfortunes even to his best friends; he is ashamed of that for which he
is in no sense to blame, and he would rather suffer heroically in
secret, than become an object of pity.

Most of all, as I have said, Penn dreaded the pure Virginia's eyes. Mr.
Villars could not see him, and for Salina he did not care
much--singularly enough, for she alone was of an acrid and sarcastic
temper. What he devoutly desired was, to creep quietly to the kitchen
door, call out Carl if he was there, or secretly make known his
condition to old Toby, and thus obtain admission to the house,
seclusion, and assistance, without letting Virginia, or her father even,
know of his presence.

How this honest wish was thwarted we have seen. When the door was first
opened, he had turned to fly. But that was cowardly; so he returned, and
knocked, and called the negro by name, to reassure him. And the door was
once more opened, and Virginia saw him--recognized him--knew in an
instant what brutal deed had been done, and covered her eyes
instinctively to shut out the hideous sight.

But it was no time to indulge in feelings of false modesty, if she felt
any. It was no time to be weak, or foolish, or frightened, or ashamed.

"It is Penn!" she exclaimed in a burst of indignation and grief. "Toby!
Toby! you great stupid----! what are you staring for? Take him in! why
don't you? O, father!" And she threw herself on the old man's bosom, and
hid her face.

"What has happened to Penn?" asked the old man.

"I have been tarred-and-feathered," answered Penn, entering, and closing
the door behind him. "And I have been shut out of Mrs. Sprowl's house.
This is my excuse for coming here. I must go somewhere, you know!"

"And where but here?" answered the old man. He had suppressed an
outburst of feeling, and now stood calm, compassionating, extending his
hands,--his staff fallen upon the floor. "I feared it might come to
this! Terrible times are upon us, and you are only one of the first to
suffer. You did well to come to us. Are you hurt?"

"I hardly know," replied Penn. "I beg of you, don't be alarmed or
troubled. I hope you will excuse me. I know I am a fearful object to
look at, and did not intend to be seen."

He stood holding the bed-tick over him, and his clothes before him, to
conceal as much as possible his hideous guise, suffering, in that moment
of pause, unutterable things. Was ever a hero of romance in such a
dismal plight? Surely no writer of fiction would venture to show his
hero in so ridiculous and damaging an aspect. But this is not altogether
a romance, and I must relate facts as they occurred.

"Do not be sorry that I have seen you," said Virginia, lifting her face
again, flashing with tears. "I see in this shameful disguise only the
shame of those who have so cruelly treated you! Toby will help you. And
there is Carl at last!"

She retreated from the room by one door just as Carl and Stackridge
entered by the other.

Poor Penn! gentle and shrinking Penn! it was painful enough for him to
meet even these coarser eyes, friendly though they were. The shock upon
his system had been terrible; and now, his strength and resolution
giving way, his bewildered senses began to reel, and he swooned in the
farmer's arms.



VII.

_THE TWO GUESTS._


Virginia entered the sitting-room--the same where so many happy evenings
had been enjoyed by the little family, in the society of him who now lay
bruised, disfigured, and insensible in Toby's kitchen.

She walked to and fro, she gazed from the windows out into the darkness,
she threw herself on the lounge, scarce able to control the feelings of
pity and indignation that agitated her. For almost the first time in her
life she was fired with vindictiveness; she burned to see some swift and
terrible retribution overtake the perpetrators of this atrocious deed.

Mr. Villars soon came out to her. She hastened to lead him to a seat.

"How is he?--much injured?" she asked.

"He has been brutally used," said the old man. "But he is now in good
hands. Where is Salina?"

"I don't know. I had been to look for her, when I came and found you in
the kitchen. I think she must have gone out."

"Gone out, to-night? That is very strange!" The old man mused. "She will
have to be told that Penn is in the house. But I think the knowledge of
the fact ought to go no farther. Mr. Stackridge is of the same opinion.
Now that they have begun to persecute him, they will never cease, so
long as he remains alive within their reach."

"And we must conceal him?"

"Yes, until this storm blows over, or he can be safely got out of the
state."

"There is Salina now!" exclaimed the girl, hearing footsteps approach
the piazza.

"If it is, she is not alone," said the old man, whose blindness had
rendered his hearing acute. "It is a man's step. Don't be agitated, my
child. Much depends on our calmness and self-possession now. If it is a
visitor, you must admit him, and appear as hospitable as usual."

It was a visitor, and he came alone--a young fellow of dashy appearance,
handsome black hair and whiskers, and very black eyes.

"Mr. Bythewood, father," said Virginia, showing him immediately into the
sitting-room.

"I entreat you, do not rise!" said Mr. Bythewood, with exceeding
affability, hastening to prevent that act of politeness on the part of
the blind old man.

"Did you not bring my daughter with you?" asked Mr. Villars.

"Your daughter is here, sir;" and he of the handsome whiskers gave
Virginia a most captivating bow and smile.

"He means my sister," said Virginia. "She has gone out, and we are
feeling somewhat anxious about her." She thought it best to say thus
much, in order that, should the visitor perceive any strangeness or
abstraction on her part, he might think it was caused by solicitude for
the absent Salina.

"Nothing can have happened to her, certainly," remarked Mr. Bythewood,
seating himself in an attitude of luxurious ease, approaching almost to
indolent recklessness. "We are the most chivalrous people in the world.
There is no people, I think, on the face of the globe, among whom the
innocent and defenceless are so perfectly secure."

Virginia thought of the hapless victim of the mob in the kitchen yonder,
and smiled politely.

"I have no very great fears for her safety," said the old man. "Yet I
have felt some anxiety to know the meaning of the noises I heard in the
direction of the academy, an hour ago."

Bythewood laughed, and stroked his glossy mustache.

"I don't know, sir. I reckon, however, that the Yankee schoolmaster has
been favored with a little demonstration of southern sentiment."

"How! not mobbed?"

"Call it what you please, sir," said Bythewood, with an air of
pleasantry. "I think our people have been roused at last; and if so,
they have probably given him a lesson he will never forget."

"What do you mean by 'our people'?" the old man gravely inquired.

"He means," said Virginia, with quiet but cutting irony, "the most
chivalrous people in the world! among whom the innocent and defenceless
are more secure than any where else on the globe!"

"Precisely," said Mr. Bythewood, with a placid smile. "But among whom
obnoxious persons, dangerous to our institutions, cannot be tolerated.
As for this affair,"--carelessly, as if what had happened to Penn was of
no particular consequence to anybody present, least of all to him,--"I
don't know anything about it. Of course, I would never go near a popular
demonstration of the kind. I don't say I approve of it, and I don't say
I disapprove of it. These are no ordinary times, Mr. Villars. The south
is already plunged into a revolution."

"Indeed, I fear so!"

"Fear so? I glory that it is so! We are about to build up the most
magnificent empire on which the sun has ever shone!"

"Cemented with the blood of our own brethren!" said the old man,
solemnly.

"There may be a little bloodshed, but not much. The Yankees won't fight.
They are not a military people. Their armies will scatter before us like
chaff before the wind. I know you don't think as I do. I respect the
lingering attachment you feel for the old Union--it is very natural,"
said Bythewood, indulgently.

The old man smiled. His eyes were closed, and his hands were folded
before him near his breast, in his favorite attitude. And he answered,--

"You are very tolerant towards me, my young friend. It is because you
consider me old, and helpless, and perhaps a little childish, no doubt.
But hear my words. You are going to build up a magnificent empire,
founded on--slavery. But I tell you, the ruin and desolation of our dear
country--that will be your empire. And as for the institution you mean
to perpetuate and strengthen, it will be crushed to atoms between the
upper and nether millstones of the war you are bringing upon the
nation."

He spoke with the power of deep and earnest conviction, and the
complacent Bythewood was for a moment abashed.

"I was well aware of your opinions," he remarked, rallying presently.
"It is useless for us to argue the point. And Virginia, I conceive, does
not like politics. Will you favor us with a song, Virginia?"

"With pleasure, if you wish it," said Virginia, with perfect civility,
although a close observer might have seen how repulsive to her was the
presence of this handsome, but selfish and unprincipled man. He was
their guest; and she had been bred to habits of generous and
self-sacrificing hospitality. However detested a visitor, he must be
politely entertained. On this occasion, she led the way to the parlor,
where the piano was,--all the more readily, perhaps, because it was
still farther removed from the kitchen. Bythewood followed, supporting,
with an ostentatious show of solicitude, the steps of the feeble old
man.

Bythewood named the pieces he wished her to sing, and bent graciously
over the piano to turn the music-leaves for her, and applauded with
enthusiasm. And so she entertained him. And all the while were passing
around them scenes so very different! There was Penn, heroically
stifling the groans of a wounded spirit, within sound of her sweet
voice, and Bythewood so utterly ignorant of his presence there! A little
farther off, and just outside the house, a young woman was even then
parting, with whispers and mystery, from an adventurous rover. Still a
little farther, in barber Jim's back room, Silas Ropes was treating his
accomplices; and while these drank and blasphemed, close by, in the
secret cellar, Stackridge's companions were practising the soldier's
drill.

Salina parted from the rover, and came into the house while Virginia was
singing, throwing her bonnet negligently back, as she sat down.

"Why, Salina! where have you been?" said Virginia, finishing a strain,
and turning eagerly on the piano stool. "We have been wondering what had
become of you!"

"You need never wonder about me," said Salina, coldly. "I must go out
and walk, even if I don't have time till after dark."

She drummed upon the carpet with her foot, while her upper lip twitched
nervously. It was a rather short lip, and she had an unconscious habit
of hitching up one corner of it, still more closely, with a spiteful and
impatient expression. Aside from this labial peculiarity (and perhaps
the disproportionate prominence of a very large white forehead), her
features were pretty enough, although they lacked the charming freshness
of her younger sister's.

Virginia knew well that the pretence of not getting time for her walk
till after dark was absurd, but, perceiving the unhappy mood she was in,
forbore to say so. And she resumed her task of entertaining Bythewood.



VIII.

_THE ROVER._


Meanwhile the nocturnal acquaintance from whom Salina had parted took a
last look at the house, and shook his envious head darkly at the room
where the light and the music were; then, thrusting his hands into his
pockets, with a swaggering air, went plodding on his lonely way across
the fields, in the starlight.

The direction he took was that from which Penn had arrived; and in the
course of twenty minutes he approached the door of the solitary house
with the dark windows and the dogs within. He walked all around, and
seeing no light, nor any indication of life, drew near, and rapped
softly on a pane.

The dogs were roused in an instant, and barked furiously. Nothing
daunted, he waited for a lull in the storm he had raised, and rapped
again.

"Who's there?" creaked the stridulous voice of good Mrs. Sprowl.

"_You know!_" said the rover, in a suppressed, confidential tone. "One
who has a right."

Now, the excellent relict of the late lamented Sprowl reflected,
naturally, that, if anybody had a right there, it was he who paid her
for his board in advance.

"You, agin, after all, is it!" she exclaimed, angrily. "Couldn't you
find nowhere else to go to? But if you imagine I've thought better on't,
and will let you in, you're grandly mistaken! Go away this instant, or
I'll let the dogs out!"

"Let 'em out, and be----!"

No matter about the last word of the rover's defiant answer. It was a
very irritating word to the temper of the good Mrs. Sprowl. This was the
first time (she thought) she had ever heard the mild and benignant
schoolmaster swear; but she was not much surprised, believing that it
was scarcely in the power of man to endure what he had that night
endured, and not swear.

"Look out for yourself then, you sir! for I shall take you at your
word!" And there was a sound of slipping bolts, followed by the careful
opening of the door.

Out bounced the dogs, and leaped upon the intruder; but, instead of
tearing him to pieces, they fell to caressing him in the most vivacious
and triumphant manner.

"Down, Brag! Off, Grip! Curse you!" And he kicked them till they yelped,
for their too fond welcome.

"How dare you, sir, use my dogs so!" screamed the lady within, enraged
to think they had permitted that miserable schoolmaster to get the
better of them.

"I'll kick them, and you too, for this trick!" muttered the man. "I'll
learn ye to shut me out, and make a row, when I'm coming to see you at
the risk of my----"

She cut him short, with a cry of amazement.

"Lysander! is it you!"

"Hold your noise!" said Lysander, pressing into the house. "Call my name
again, and I'll choke you! Where's your schoolmaster? Won't he hear?"

"Dear me! if it don't beat everything!" said Mrs. Sprowl in palpitating
accents. "Don't you know I took you for the master!"

"No, I didn't know it. This looks more like a welcome, though!" Lysander
began to be mollified. "There, there! don't smother a fellow! One kiss
is as good as fifty. The master is out, then? Anybody in the house?"

"No, I'm so thankful! It seems quite providential! O, dearie, dearie,
sonny dearie! I'm so glad to see you agin!"

"Come! none of your sonny dearies! it makes me sick! Strike a light, and
get me some supper, can't you?"

"Yes, my boy, with all my heart! This is the happiest day I've seen----"

"Ah, what's happened to-day?" said Lysander, treating with levity his
mother's blissful confession.

"I mean, this night! to have you back again! How could I mistake you for
that dreadful schoolmaster!" Here her trembling fingers struck a match.

"Draw the curtains," said Lysander, hastily executing his own order, as
the blue sputter kindled up into a flame that lighted the room. "It
ain't quite time for me to be seen here yet."

"Where did you come from? What are you here for? O, my dear, dear
Lysie!" (she gazed at him affectionately), "you ain't in no great
danger, be you?"

"That depends. Soon as Tennessee secedes, I shall be safe enough. I'm
going to have a commission in the Confederate army, and that'll be
protection from anything that might happen on account of old scores. I'm
going to raise a company in this very place, and let the law touch me if
it can!"

He tossed his cap into a corner, and sprawled upon a chair before the
stove, at which his devoted mother was already blowing her breath away
in the endeavor to kindle a blaze. She stopped blowing to gape at his
good news, turning up at him her low, skinny forehead, narrow nose, and
close-set, winking eyes.

"There! I declare!" said she. "I knowed my boy would come back to me
some day a gentleman!"

"A gentleman? I'm bound to be that!" said the man, with a braggart laugh
and swagger. "I tell ye, mar, we're going to have the greatest
confederacy ever was!"

"Do tell if we be!" said the edified "mar."

"Six months from now, you'll see the Yankees grovelling at our feet,
begging for admission along with us. We'll have Washington, and all of
the north we want, and defy the world!"

"I want to know now!" said Mrs. Sprowl, overcome with admiration.

"The slave-trade will be reopened, Yankee ships will bring us cargoes of
splendid niggers, not a man in the south but'll be able to own three or
four, they'll be so cheap, and we'll be so rich, you see," said
Lysander.

"You don't say, re'lly!"

"That's the programme, mar! You'll see it all with your own eyes in six
months."

"Why, then, why _shouldn't_ the south secede!" replied "mar," hastening
to put on the tea-kettle, and then to mix up a corn dodger for her son's
supper. "I'm sure, we ought all on us to have our servants, and live
without work; and I knowed all the time there was another side to what
Penn Hapgood preaches (for he's dead set agin' secession), though I
couldn't answer him as _you_ could, Lysie dear!"

"Wal, never mind all that, but hurry up the grub!" said "Lysie dear,"
putting sticks in the stove. "I hain't had a mouthful since breakfast."

"You hain't seen _her_, of course," observed Mrs. Sprowl, mysteriously.

"Her? who?"

"Salina!" in a whisper, as if to be overheard by a mouse in the wall
would have been fatal.

"Wal, I have seen _her_, I reckon! Not an hour ago. By appointment. I
wrote her I was coming, got a woman to direct the letter, and had a long
talk with her to-night. What I want just now is, a little money, and
she's got to raise it for me, and what she can't raise I shall look to
you for."

"O dear me! don't say money to me!" exclaimed the widow, alarmed.
"Partic'larly now I've lost my best feather-bed and my boarder!"

"What is it about your boarder? Out with it, and stop this hinting
around!"

Thus prompted, Mrs. Sprowl, who had indeed been waiting for the
opportunity, related all she knew of what had happened to Penn. Lysander
kindled up with interest as she proceeded, and finally broke forth with
a startling oath.

"And I can tell you where he has gone!" he said. "He's gone to the house
I can't get into for love nor money! She refused me admission
to-night--refused me money! but he is taken in, and their money will be
lavished on him!"

"But how do you know, my son,----"

"How do I know he's there? Because, when I was with her in the orchard,
we saw an object--she said it was some old nigger to see Toby--go into
the kitchen. Then in a little while a man--it must have been Stackridge,
if you say he was looking for him--went in with Carl, and didn't come
out again, as I could see. I staid till the light from the kitchen went
up into the bedroom, in the corner of the house this way. There's yer
boarder, mar, I'll bet my life! But he won't be there long, I can tell
ye!" laughed Lysander, maliciously.



IX.

_TOBY'S PATIENT HAS A CALLER._


Mr. Bythewood had now taken his departure; Salina had been intrusted
with the secret; and Penn had been put to bed (as the rover correctly
surmised) in the corner bedchamber.

He had been diligently plucked; as much of the tar had been removed as
could be easily taken off by methods known to Stackridge and Toby, and
his wounds had been dressed. And there he lay, at last, in the soothing
linen, exhausted and suffering, yet somehow happy, thinking with
gratitude of the friends God had given him in his sore need.

"Bress your heart, dear young massa!" said old Toby, standing by the bed
(for he would not sit down), and regarding him with an unlimited variety
of winks, and nods, and grins, expressive of satisfaction with his work;
"ye're jest as comf'table now as am possible under de sarcumstances. If
dar's anyting in dis yer world ye wants now, say de word, and ol'
Toby'll jump at de chance to fetch 'em fur ye."

"There is nothing I want now, good Toby, but that you and Carl should
rest. You have done everything you can--and far more than I deserve. I
will try to thank you when I am stronger."

"Can't tink ob quittin' ye dis yer night, nohow, massa! Mr. Stackridge
he's gone; Carl he can go to bed,--he ain't no 'count here, no way. But
I'se took de job o' gitt'n you well, Mass' Penn, and I'se gwine to put
it frew 'pon honor,--do it up han'some!"

And notwithstanding Penn's remonstrances, the faithful black absolutely
refused to leave him. Indeed, the most he could be prevailed upon to do
for his own comfort, was to bring his blanket into the room, and promise
that he would lie down upon it when he felt sleepy. Whether he kept his
word or not, I cannot say; but there was no time during the night when,
if Penn happened to stir uneasily, he did not see the earnest, tender,
cheerful black face at his pillow in an instant, and hear the
affectionate voice softly inquire,--

"What can I do fur ye, massa? Ain't dar nuffin ol' Toby can be a doin'
fur ye, jes' to pass away de time?"

Sometimes it was water Penn wanted; but it did him really more good to
witness the delight it gave Toby to wait upon him, than to drink the
coolest and most delicious draught fresh from the well.

At length Penn began to feel hot and stifled.

"What have you hung over the window, Toby?"

"Dat ar? 'Pears like dat ar's my blanket, sar. Ye see, 'twouldn't do,
nohow, to let nary a chink o' light be seen from tudder side, 'cause dat
'ud make folks s'pec' sumfin', dis yer time o' night. So I jes' sticks
up my ol' blanket--'pears like I can sleep a heap better on de bar
floor!"

"But I must have some fresh air, you dear old hypocrite!" said Penn,
deeply touched, for he knew that the African had deprived himself of his
blanket because he did not wish to disturb him by leaving the room for
another.

"I'll fix him! Ill fix him!" said Toby. And he seemed raised to the very
summit of happiness on discovering that there was something, requiring
the exercise of his ingenuity, still to be done for his patient.

After that Penn slept a little. "Tank de good Lord," said the old negro
the next morning, "you're lookin' as chirk as can be! I'se a right smart
hand fur to be nussin' ob de sick; and sakes! how I likes it! I'se gwine
to hab you well, sar, 'fore eber a soul knows you'se in de house." Yet
Toby's words expressed a great deal more confidence than he felt; for,
though he had little apprehension of Penn's retreat being discovered, he
saw how weak and feverish he was, and feared the necessity of sending
for a doctor.

Penn now insisted strongly that the old servant should not neglect his
other duties for him.

"Now you jes' be easy in yer mind on dat pint! Dar's Carl, tends to
out-door 'rangements, and I'se got him larnt so's't he's bery good, bery
good indeed, to look arter my cow, and my pigs, and sech like chores,
when I'se got more 'portant tings on hand myself. And dar's Miss Jinny,
she's glad enough to git de breakfust herself dis mornin'; only jes' I
kind o' keeps an eye on her, so she shan't do nuffin wrong. She an'
Massa Villars come to 'quire bery partic'lar 'bout you, 'fore you was
awake, sar."

These simple words seemed to flood Penn's heart with gratitude. Toby
withdrew, but presently returned, bringing a salver.

"Nuffin but a little broff, massa. And a toasted cracker."

"O, you are too kind, Toby! Really, I can't eat this morning."

"Can't eat, sar? I declar, now!" (in a whisper), "how disappinted she'll
be!"

"Who will be disappointed?"

"Who? Miss Jinny, to be sure! She made de broff wid her own hands. Under
my d'rections, ob course! But she would make 'em herself, and took a
heap ob pains to hab 'em good, and put in de salt wid her own purty
fingers, and looked as rosy a stirrin' and toastin' ober de fire as eber
you see an angel, sar!"

For some reason Penn began to think better of the broth, and, to Toby's
infinite satisfaction, he consented to eat a little. Toby soon had him
bolstered up in bed, and held the salver before him, and looked a
perfect picture of epicurean enjoyment, just from seeing his patient
eat.

"It is delicious!" said Penn; at which brief eulogium the whole rich,
exuberant, tropical soul of the unselfish African seemed to expand and
blossom forth with joy. "I shall be sure to get well and strong soon,
under such treatment. You must let Carl go to Mrs. Sprowl's and fetch my
clothes; I shall want some of them when I get up."

"Bress you, sar! you forgets nobody ain't to know whar you be! Mass'
Villars he say so. You jes' lef' de clo'es alone, yit awhile. Wouldn't
hab dat ar Widder Sprowl find out you'se in dis yer house, not if you'd
gib me----"

Rap, rap, at the chamber door; two light, hurried knocks.

"Miss Jinny herself!" said old Toby, forgetting Mrs. Sprowl in an
instant. And setting down the salver, he ran to the door.

Penn heard quick whispers of consultation; then Toby came back, his eyes
rolling and his ivory shining with a ludicrous expression of wrath and
amazement.

"It's de bery ol' hag herself! Speak de debil's name and he's allus at
de door!"

"Who? Mrs. Sprowl?"

"Yes, sar! and I wish she was furder, sar! She's a 'quirin' fur
you,--says she knows you'se in de house, and it's bery 'portant she must
see ye. But, tank de Lord, massa!" chuckled the old negro, "Carl's
forgot his English, and don't know nuffin what she wants! he, he, he! Or
if she makes him und'stan' one ting, den he talks Dutch, and _she_ don't
und'stan.' And so dey'se habin' it, fust one, den tudder, while Miss
Jinny she hears 'em and comes fur to let us know. But how de ol' critter
eber found you out, dat am one ob de mysteries!"

"She merely guesses I am here," said Penn. "I'm only afraid Carl will
overdo his part, and confirm her suspicions."

"'Sh!" hissed Toby in sudden alarm. "She's a comin! She's a comin' right
up to dis yer door!" And he flew to fasten it.

He had scarcely done so when a hand tried the latch, and a voice
called,--

"Come! ye needn't, none of ye, try to impose on me! I know you're in
this very room, Penn Hapgood, and you'll let me in, old friends so, I'm
shore! I've bothered long enough with that stupid Dutch boy, and now
Virginny wants to keep me, and talk with me; but I've nothing to do with
nobody in this house but _you_!"

Mrs. Sprowl had not been on amicable terms with her daughter-in-law's
family since Salina and her husband separated; and this last declaration
she made loud enough for all in the house to hear.

Penn motioned for Toby to open the door, believing it the better way to
admit the lady and conciliate her. But Toby shook his head--and his fist
with grim defiance.

"Wal!" said Mrs. Sprowl, "you can do as you please about lettin' a body
in; but I'll give ye to understand one thing--I don't stir a foot from
this door till it's opened. And if you want it kept secret that you're
here, it'll be a great deal better for you, Penn Hapgood, to let me in,
than to keep me standin' or settin' all day on the stairs."

The idea of a long siege struck Toby with dismay. He hesitated; but Penn
spoke.

"I am very weak, and very ill, madam. But I have learned what it is to
be driven from a door that should be opened to welcome me; and I am not
willing, under any circumstances, to treat another as you last night
treated me."

This was spoken to the lady's face; for Toby, seeing that concealment
was at an end, had slipped the bolt, and she had come in.

"Wal! now! Mr. Hapgood!" she began, with a simper, which betrayed a
little contrition and a good deal of crafty selfishness,--"you mustn't
go to bein' too hard on me for that. Consider that I'm a poor widder,
and my life war threatened, and I _had_ to do as I did."

"Well, well," said Penn, "I certainly forgive you. Give her a chair,
Toby."

Toby placed the chair, and widow Sprowl sat down.

"I couldn't be easy--old friends so--till I had come over to see how you
be," she said, folding her hands, and regarding Penn with a solemn
pucker of solicitude. "I know, 'twas a dreadful thing; but it's some
comfort to think it's nothing I'm any ways to blame fur. It's hard
enough for me to lose a boarder, jest at this time,--say nothing about a
friend that's been jest like one of my own family, and that I've cooked,
and washed, and ironed fur, as if he war my own son!"

And Mrs. Sprowl wiped her eyes, while she carefully watched the effect
of her words.

"I acknowledge, you have cooked, washed, and ironed for me very
faithfully," said Penn.

"And I thought," said she,--"old friends so,--may be you wouldn't mind
making me a present of the trifle you've paid over and above what's due
for your board; for I'm a poor widder, as you know, and my only son is a
wanderer on the face of the 'arth."

Penn readily consented to make the present--perhaps reflecting that it
would be equally impossible for him ever to board it out, or get her to
return the money.

"Then there's that old cloak of yourn," said Mrs. Sprowl,
sympathizingly. "I believe you partly promised it to me, didn't you? I
can manage to get me a cape out on't."

"Yes, yes," said Penn, "you can have the cloak;" while Toby glared with
rage behind her chair.

"And I considered 'twouldn't be no more'n fair that you should pay for
the----I don't see how in the world I can afford to lose it, bein' a
poor widder, and live geeses' feathers at that, and my only son----" She
hid her face in her apron, overcome with emotion.

"What am I to pay for?" asked Penn.

"Fur, you know," she said, "I never would have parted with it fur any
money, and it will take at least ten dollars to replace it, which is
hard, bein' a poor widder, and as strong a linen tick as ever you see,
that I made myself, and that my blessed husband died on, and helped me
pick the geese with his own hands; and I never thought, when I took you
to board, that ever _that_ bed would be sacrificed by it,--for 'twas on
your account, you are ware, it was took last night and done for."

"And you think I ought to pay for the bed!" said Penn, as much
astonished as if Silas Ropes had sent in his bill, "To 1 coat tar and
feathers, $10.00."

"They said I must look to you," whined the visitor; "and if you don't
pay fur't, I don't know who will, I'm shore! for none of them have sot
at my board, and drinked of my coffee, and e't of my good corn dodgers,
and slep' in my best bed, all for four dollars fifty a week, washing and
ironing throwed in, and a poor widder at that!"

"Mrs. Sprowl," said Penn, laughing, ill as he was, "have the kindness
not to tell any one that I am here, and as soon as I am able to do so, I
will pay you for your excellent feather-bed."

"Thank you,--very good in you, I'm shore!" said the worthy creature,
brightening. "And if there's anything else among your things you can
spare."

"I'll see! I'll see!" said Penn, wearily. "Leave me now, do!"

"But if you had a few dollars, this morning, towards the bed," she
insisted, "for my son----" She almost betrayed herself; being about to
say that Lysander had arrived, and must have money; but she coughed, and
added, in a changed voice, "is a wanderer on the face of the 'arth."

Penn, however, reflecting that she would have more encouragement to keep
his secret if he held the reward in reserve, replied, that he could not
possibly spare any money before collecting what was due him from the
trustees of the Academy. Her countenance fell on hearing this; and,
reluctantly abandoning the object of her mission, she took her leave,
and went home to her hopeful son.



X.

_THE WIDOW'S GREEN CHEST._


Mr. Villars had spoken truly when he said Penn's persecutors would not
rest here. In fact, Mr. Ropes, and three of his accomplices, were even
now on the way to Mrs. Sprowl's abode, to make inquiries concerning the
schoolmaster.

That lone creature had scarcely reached her own door when she saw them
coming. Now, though Penn was not in the house, her son was. Great,
therefore, was her trepidation at the sight of visitors; and she evinced
such eagerness to assure them that the object of their pursuit was not
there, and appeared altogether so frightened and guilty, that Ropes
winked knowingly at his companions, and said,--

"He's here, boys, safe enough."

So they forced their way into the house; her increased tremor and
confusion serving only to confirm them in their suspicions.

"Not that we doubt your word in the least, Mrs. Sprowl,"--Ropes smiled
sarcastically. "But of course you can't object to our searching the
premises, for we're in the performance of a solemn dooty. Any whiskey in
the house, widder?"

The obliging lady went to find a bottle. She was gone so long, however,
that the visitors became impatient. Ropes accordingly stationed two of
his men at the doors, and with the third went in pursuit of Mrs. Sprowl,
whom they met coming down stairs.

"Keep your liquor up there, do ye?" said Ropes, significantly.

"I--I thought--" Mrs. Sprowl gasped for breath before she could
proceed--"the master had some in his room. But I can't find it. You are
at liberty to--to look in his room, if you wants to."

"Wal, it's our dooty to, I suppose. Meantime, you can be bringing the
whiskey. Give some to the boys outside, then bring the bottle up to us.
That's the way, Gad," said Silas, as she unwillingly obeyed; "allus be
perlite to the sex, ye know."

"Sartin! allus!" said Gad.

It was evident these men fancied themselves polite.

"But he ain't here," said Silas, just glancing into Penn's room, "or
else she wouldn't have been so willing for us to search. Le's begin at
the top of the house, and look along down." They entered a low-roofed,
empty garret. "As we can't perceed without the whiskey, we'll wait here.
Meantime, I'll tell you what you wanted to know."

They sat down on a little old green chest, and Ropes, producing a plug
of tobacco, gave his friend a bite, and took a bite himself.

"What I'm going to say is in perfect confidence, between friends;"
chewing and crossing his legs.

Gad chewed, and crossed his legs, and said, "O, of course! in perfect
confidence!"

"Wal, then, I'll tell ye whar the money fur our job comes from. It comes
from Gus Bythewood."

"Sho!" said Gad, looking surprised at Silas.

"Fact!" said Silas, looking wise at Gad.

"But what's he so dead set agin' the master fur?"

"I'll tell ye, Gad." And Mr. Ropes rested a finger confidingly on his
friend's knee. "Fur as I kin jedge, Gus has a sneakin' notion arter that
youngest Villars gal; Virginny, ye know."

"Don't blame him!" chuckled Gad.

"But ye see, thar's that Hapgood; he's a great favoryte with the
Villarses, and Gus nat'rally wants to git him out of the way. It won't
do, though, for him to have it known he has any thing to do with our
operations. He pays us, and backs us up with plenty of cash if we get
into trouble; but he keeps dark, you understand."

"The master ought to be hung for his abolitionism!" said Gad, by way of
self-excuse for being made a jealous man's tool.

"That ar's jest my sentiment," replied Silas. "But then he's allus been
a peaceable sort of chap, and held his tongue; so he might have been let
alone some time yet, if it hadn't been for----What in time!"

Ropes started, and changed color, glancing first at Gad, then down at
the chest.

"He's in it!" whispered Gad.

Both jumped up, and, facing about, looked at the green lid, and at each
other.

The chest was so small it had not occurred to them that a man could get
into it. Lysander had got into it, however, and there he lay, so
cramped, and stifled, and compressed, that he could not endure the
torture without an effort to ease it by moving a little. He had stirred;
then all was still again.

"Think he's heerd us?" said Silas.

"Must have heerd something," said Gad.

"Then he's as good as a dead man!"

Silas drew his pistol, resolved to sacrifice the schoolmaster on the
altar of secrecy. But as he was about to fire into the chest at a
venture (for your cowardly assassin does not like to face his victim),
the lid flew open, the chivalry stepped hastily back, and up rose out of
the chest--not the schoolmaster, but--Lysander Sprowl.

Silas had struck his head against a rafter, and was quite bewildered for
a moment by the shock, the multitude of meteors that rushed across his
firmament, and the sudden apparition. Gad, at the same time, stood ready
to take a plunge down the stairs in case the schoolmaster should show
fight.

"Gentlemen," said the "wanderer on the face of the 'arth," straightening
his limbs, and saluting with a reckless air, "I hope I see ye well.
Never mind about shooting an old friend, Sile Ropes. I reckon we're
about even; and I'll keep your secret, if you'll keep mine."

"That's fair," said Ropes, recovering from the falling stars, and
putting up his weapon. "Lysander, how are ye? Good joke, ain't it?" And
they shook hands all around. "But whar's the schoolmaster?" And Silas
rubbed his head.

"I know all about the schoolmaster," said Lysander, stepping out of the
chest; "he ain't in this house, but I know just where he is. And I
reckon 'twill be for the interest of me and Gus Bythewood if we can have
a little talk together, tell him. If he's got money to spare, that'll be
to my advantage; and what I know will be to his advantage."

So saying, Lysander closed the chest, and coolly invited the chivalry to
resume their seats. They did so, much to the amazement of Mrs. Sprowl,
who came up stairs with the whiskey, and found the "wanderer on the face
of the 'arth" conversing in the most amicable manner with Gad and Silas.



XI.

_SOUTHERN HOSPITALITY._


If what Silas Ropes had said of his patron, Augustus Bythewood, was
true, great must have been the chagrin of that chivalrous young
gentleman when an interview was brought about between him and Lysander,
and he learned that Penn, instead of being driven from the state, had
found refuge in the family of Mr. Villars--that he was there even at the
moment when he made his delightful little evening call, and was
entertained so charmingly by Virginia.

Bythewood gave Sprowl money, and Sprowl gave Bythewood information and
advice. It was in accordance with the programme decided upon by these
two worthies, that Mr. Ropes at the head of his gang presented himself
the next night at Mr. Villars's door.

Virginia, by her father's direction, admitted them. They crowded into
the sitting-room, where the old man rose to receive them, with his usual
urbanity.

"Virginia, have chairs brought for all our friends. I cannot see to
recognize them individually, but I salute them all."

"No matter about the cheers," said Silas. "We can do our business
standing. Sorry to trouble you with it, sir, but it's jest this. We
understand you're harboring a Yankee abolitionist, and we've called to
remind you that sech things can't be allowed in a well-regulated
community."

The old man, holding himself still erect with punctilious
politeness,--for his guests were not seated,--and smiling with grand and
venerable aspect, made reply in tones full of dignity and sweetness: "My
friends, I am an old man; I am a native of Virginia, and a citizen of
Tennessee; and all my life long I have been accustomed to regard the
laws of hospitality as sacred."

"My sentiments exactly. I won't hear a word said agin' southern
horsepitality, or southern perliteness." Mr. Ropes illustrated his
remark by spitting copious tobacco-juice on the floor. "Horsepitality I
look upon as one of the stable institootions of our country."

"No doubt it is so," said Mr. Villars, smiling at the unintentional pun.

"That's one thing," added Silas; "but harboring a abolitionist is
another. That's the question we've jest took the liberty to call and
have a little quiet talk about, to-night."

"Sit down, dear father, do!" entreated Virginia, remaining at his side
in spite of her dread and abhorrence of these men. Holding his hand, and
regarding him with pale and anxious looks, she endeavored with gentle
force to get him into his chair. "My father is very feeble," she said,
appealing to Silas, "and I beg you will have some consideration for
him."

"Sartin, sartin," said Silas. "Keep yer settin', keep yer settin', Mr.
Villars."

But the old man still remained upon his feet,--his tall, spare form,
bent with age, his long, thin locks of white hair, and his wan,
sightless, calm, and beautiful countenance presenting a wonderful
contrast to the blooming figure at his side. It was a picture which
might well command the respectful attention of Silas and his compeers.

"My friends," he said, with a grave smile, "we men of the south are
rather boastful of our hospitality. But true hospitality consists in
something besides eating and drinking with those whose companionship is
a sufficient recompense for all that we do for them. It clothes the
naked, feeds the hungry, shelters the distressed. With the Arabs, even
an enemy is sacred who happens to be a guest. Shall an old Virginian
think less of the honor of his house than an Arab?"

Silas looked abashed, silenced for a moment by these noble words, and
the venerable and majestic mien of the blind old clergyman. It would not
do, however, to give up his mission so; and after coughing, turning his
quid, and spitting again, he replied,--

"That'll do very well to talk, Mr. Villars. But come to the pint. You've
got a Yankee abolitionist in your house--that you won't deny."

"I have in my house," said the old man, "a person whose life is in
danger from injuries received at your hands last night. He came to us in
a condition which, I should have thought, would excite the pity of the
hardest heart. Whether or not he is a Yankee abolitionist, I never
inquired. It was enough for me that he was a fellow-creature in
distress. He is well known in this community, where he has never been
guilty of wrong towards any one; and, even if he were a dangerous
person, he is not now in a condition to do mischief. Gentlemen, my guest
is very ill with a fever."

"Can't help that; you must git red of him," said Silas. "I'm a talking
now for your own good as much as any body's, Mr. Villars. You're a man
we all respect; but already you've made yourself a object of suspicion,
by standing up fur the old rotten Union."

"When I can no longer befriend my guests, or stand up for my country,
then I shall have lived long enough!" said the old man, with impressive
earnestness.

"The old Union," said Gad, coming to the aid of Silas, "is played out.
We couldn't have our rights, and so we secede."

"What rights couldn't you have under the government left to us by
Washington?"

"That had become corrupted," said Mr. Ropes.

"How corrupted, my friend?"

"By the infernal anti-slavery element!"

"You forget," said Mr. Villars, "that Washington, Jefferson, and indeed
all the wisest and best men who assisted to frame the government under
which we have been so prospered, were anti-slavery men."

"Wal, I know, some on 'em hadn't got enlightened on the subject," Mr.
Ropes admitted.

"And do you know that if a stranger, endowed with all the virtues of
those patriots, should come among you and preach the political doctrines
of Washington and Jefferson, you would serve him as you served Penn
Hapgood last night?"

"Shouldn't wonder the least mite if we should!" Silas grinned. "But
that's nothing to the purpose. We claim the right to carry our slaves
into the territories, and Lincoln's party is pledged to keep 'em out,
and that's cause enough for secession."

"How many slaves do you own, Mr. Ropes?" Mr. Villars, still leaning on
his daughter's arm, smiled as he put this mild question.

"I--wal--truth is, I don't own nary slave myself--wish I did!" said
Silas.

"How many friends have you with you?"

"'Lev'n," said Gad, rapidly counting his companions.

"Well, of the eleven, how many own slaves?"

"I do!" "I do!" spoke up two eager voices.

"How many slaves do you own?"

"I've got as right smart a little nigger boy as there is anywheres in
Tennessee!" said the first, proudly.

"How old is he?"

"He'll be nine year' old next grass, I reckon."

"Well, how many negroes has your friend?"

"I've got one old woman, sir."

"How old is she?"

"Wal, plaguy nigh a hunderd,--old Bess, you know her."

"Yes, I know old Bess; and an excellent creature she is. So it seems
that you eleven men own two slaves. And these you wish to take into some
of the territories, I suppose."

The men looked foolish, and were obliged to own that they had never
dreamed of conveying either the nine-year-old lad or the female
centenarian out of the state of Tennessee.

"Then what is the grievance you complain of?" asked the old man. They
could not name any. "O, now, my friends, look you here! I believe in the
right of revolution when a government oppresses a people beyond
endurance. But in this case it appears, by your own showing, that not
one of you has suffered any wrong, and that this is not a revolution in
behalf of the poor and oppressed. If anybody is to be benefited by it,
it is a few rich owners of slaves, who are prosperous enough already,
and have really no cause of complaint. It is a revolution precipitated
by political leaders, who wish to be rulers; and what grieves me at the
heart is, that the poor and ignorant are thus permitting themselves to
be made the tools of this tyranny, which will soon prove more despotic
than it was possible for the dear old government ever to become. God
bless my country! God bless my poor distracted country!"

As he finished speaking, the old man sank down overcome with emotion
upon his chair, clasping his daughter's hand, while tears ran down his
cheeks.

His argument was so unanswerable that nothing was left for Silas but to
get angry.

"I see you're not only a Unionist, but more'n half a Yankee abolitionist
yourself! We didn't come here to listen to any sech incendiary talk.
Kick out the schoolmaster, if you wouldn't git into trouble,--I warn
you! That's the business we've come to see to, and you must tend to't."

"Pity him--spare him!" cried Virginia, shielding her aged father as
Ropes approached him. "He cannot turn a sick man out of his house, you
know he cannot!"

"You're partic'larly interested in the young man, hey?" said Ropes,
grinning insolently.

"I am interested that no harm comes either to my father or to his
guests," said the girl. "Go, I implore you! As soon as Mr. Hapgood is
able to leave us, he will do so,--he will have no wish to stay,--this I
promise you."

"I'll give him three days to quit the country," said Silas. "Only three
days. He'd better be dead than found here at the end of that time.
Gentlemen, we've performed this yer painful dooty; now le's adjourn to
Barber Jim's and take a drink."

With these words Mr. Ropes retired. While, however, he was treating his
men to whiskey and cigars with Augustus Bythewood's money, advanced for
the purpose, one of the eleven, separating himself from the rest,
hurried back to the minister's house. He had taken part in the patriotic
proceedings of his friends with great reluctance, as appeared from the
manner in which he shrank from view in corners and behind the backs of
his comrades, and drew down his woe-begone mouth, and rolled up his
dismal eyes, during the entire interview. And he had returned now, at
the risk of his life, to do Penn a service.

He crept to the kitchen door, and knocked softly. Carl opened it. There
stood the wretched figure, terrified, panting for breath.

"Vat is it?" said Carl.

"I've come fur to tell ye!" said the man, glancing timidly around into
the darkness to see if he was followed. "They mean to kill him! They
told you they'd give him three days, but they won't. I heard them saying
so among themselves. They may be back this very night, for they'll all
git drunk, and nothing will stop 'em then."

Carl stared, as these hoarsely whispered words were poured forth rapidly
by the frightened man at the door.

"Come in, and shpeak to Mishter Willars."

"No, no! I'll be killed if I'm found here!"

But Carl, sturdy and resolute, had no idea of permitting him to deliver
so hasty and alarming a message without subjecting him to a
cross-examination. He had already got him by the collar, and now he
dragged him into the house, the man not daring to resist for fear of
outcry and exposure.

"What is it?" asked Mr. Villars.

"A wisitor!" said Carl. And he repeated Dan's statement, while Dan was
recovering his breath.

"Is this true, Mr. Pepperill?" asked the old man, deeply concerned.

"Yes, I be durned if it ain't!" said Dan.

Virginia clung to her father's chair, white with apprehension. Toby was
also present, having left his patient an instant to run down stairs, and
learn what was the cause of this fresh disturbance.

"He's a lyin' to ye, Mass' Villars; he's a lyin' to ye! White trash
can't tell de troof if dey tries! Don't ye breeve a word he says,
massa."

Yet it was evident from the consternation the old negro's face betrayed
that he believed Dan's story,--or at least feared it would prove true if
he did not make haste and deny it stoutly; for Toby, like many persons
with whiter skins, always felt on such occasions a vague faith that if
he could get the bad news sufficiently denounced and discredited in
season, all would be well. As if simply setting our minds against the
truth would defeat it!

"But they spoke of fittin' yer neck to a noose too!"

"Mine? Ah, if nobody but myself was in danger, I should be well content!
What do you think we ought to do, Mr. Pepperill?"

"The master has done me a good turn, and I'll do him one, if I swing
fur't!" said Dan, straightening himself with sudden courage. "Get him
out 'fore they suspect what you're at, and I'll take him to my house and
hide him, I be durned if I won't!"

"It is a kind offer, and I thank you," said the old man. "But how can I
resolve to send a guest from my house in this way? Not to save my own
life would I do it!"

"But to save his, father!"

"It is only of him I am thinking, my child. Would it be safe to move
him, Toby?"

"Safe to move Massa Penn!" ejaculated the old negro, choking with wrath
and grief. "Neber tink o' sech a ting, massa! He'd die, shore, widout I
should go 'long wid him, and tote him in my ol' arms on a fedder-bed
jes' like I would a leetle baby, and den stay and nuss him arter I got
him dar. For dem 'ar white trash, what ye s'pose day knows 'bout takin'
keer ob a sick gemman like him? It's a bery 'tic'lar case. He's got de
delirimum a comin' on him now, and I can't be away from him a minute. I
mus' go back to him dis bery minute!"

And Toby departed, having suddenly conceived an idea of his own for
hiding Penn in the barn until the danger was over.

He had been absent from the room but a moment, however, when those
remaining in it heard a wild outcry, and presently the old negro
reappeared, inspired with superstitious terror, his eyes starting from
their sockets, his tongue paralyzed.

"What's the matter, Toby?" cried Virginia, perceiving that something
really alarming had happened.

The negro tried to speak, but his throat only gurgled incoherently,
while the whites of his eyes kept rolling up like saucers.

"Penn--has anything happened to Penn?" said Mr. Villars.

"O, debil, debil, Lord bress us!" gibbered Toby.

"Dead?" cried Virginia.

"Gone! gone, missis!"

Struck with consternation, but refusing to believe the words of the
bewildered black, Virginia flew to the sick man's chamber.

Then she understood the full meaning of Toby's words. Penn was not in
his bed, nor in the room, nor anywhere in the house. He had disappeared
suddenly, strangely, totally.



XII.

_CHIVALROUS PROCEEDINGS._


Thus the question of what should be done with his guest, which Mr.
Villars knew not how to decide, had been decided for him.

Great was the mystery. There was the bed precisely as Penn had left it a
minute since. There was the candle dimly burning. The medicines remained
just where Toby had placed them, on the table under the mirror. But the
patient had vanished.

What had become of him? It was believed that he was too ill to leave his
bed without assistance. And, even though he had been strong, it was by
no means probable that one so uniformly discreet in his conduct, and
ever so regardful of the feelings of others, would have quitted the
house in this abrupt and inexplicable manner.

In vain the premises were searched. Not a trace of him could be anywhere
discovered. Neither were there any indications of a struggle. Yet it was
Toby's firm conviction that the ruffians had entered the house, and
seized him; that Pepperill was in the plot, the object of whose visit
was merely a diversion, while Ropes and the rest accomplished the
abduction. This could not, of course, have been done without the aid of
magic and the devil; but Toby believed in magic and the devil. The fact
that Dan had taken advantage of the confusion to escape, appeared to the
Ethiopian mind conclusive.

Nor was the negro alone in his bewilderment. Carl was utterly
confounded. The old clergyman, usually so calm, was deeply troubled;
while Virginia herself, pierced with the keenest solicitude, could
scarce keep her mind free from horrible and superstitious doubts. The
doors between the sitting-room and back stairs were all wide open, and
it seemed impossible that any one could have come in or gone out that
way without being observed. On the other hand, to have reached the front
stairs Penn must have passed through Salina's room. But Salina, who was
in her room at the time, averred that she had not been disturbed, even
by a sound.

"He has got out the vinder," said Carl. But the window was fifteen feet
from the ground.

Thus all reasonable conjecture failed, and it seemed necessary to accept
Toby's theory of the ruffians, magic, and the devil. Only one thing was
certain: Penn was gone. And, as if to add to the extreme and painful
perplexity of his friends, the clothes, which had been stripped from him
by the lynchers, which he had brought away in his hands, and which had
been hung up in his room by Toby, were left hanging there still,
untouched.

The family had not recovered from the dismay his disappearance
occasioned, when they had cause to rejoice that he was gone. Ropes and
his crew returned, as Pepperill had predicted. They were intoxicated and
bloodthirsty. They had brought a rope, with which to hang their victim
before the old clergyman's door. They were furious on finding he had
eluded them, and searched the house with oaths and uproar. Virginia, on
her knees, clung to her father, praying that he might not be harmed, and
that Penn, whom all had been so anxious just now to find, might be safe
from discovery.

Exasperated by their unsuccessful search, the villains hesitated about
laying violent hands on the blind old man, and concluded to wreak their
vengeance on Toby. That he was a freed negro, was alone a sufficient
offence in their eyes to merit a whipping. But he had done more; he had
been devoted to the schoolmaster, and they believed he had concealed
him. So they seized him, dragged him from the house, bared his back, and
tied him to a tree.

As long as the mob had confined itself to searching the premises, Mr.
Villars had held his peace. But the moment his faithful old servant was
in danger, he roused himself. He rushed to the door, bareheaded, his
white hair flowing, his staff in his hand. Both his children accompanied
him,--Salina, who was really not void of affection, appearing scarcely
less anxious and indignant than her sister.

There, in the light of a wood-pile to which fire had been set, stood the
old negro, naked to the waist, lashed fast to the trunk, writhing with
pain and terror; his brutal tormentors grouped around him in the glare
of the flames, preparing, with laughter, oaths, and much loose,
leisurely swaggering, to flay his flesh with rods.

"My friends!" cried the old clergyman, with an energy that startled
them, "what are you about to do?"

"We're gwine to sarve this nigger," said the man Gad, "jest as every
free nigger'll git sarved that's found in the state three months from
now."

"Free niggers is a nuisance," added Ropes, now very drunk, and very much
inclined to make a speech on a barrel which his friends rolled out for
him. "A nuisance!" he repeated, with a hiccough, steadying himself on
his rostrum by holding a branch of the tree. "And let me say to you,
feller-patriots, that one of the glorious fruits of secession is, that
every free nigger in the state will either be sold for a slave, or druv
out, or hung up. I tell you, gentlemen, we're a goin' to have our own
way in these matters, spite of all the ministers in creation!"

The men cheered, and one of them struck Toby a couple of preliminary
blows, just to try his hand, and to add the poor old negro's howls to
the chorus.

"No doubt,"--the old clergyman's voice rose above the tumult,--"you will
have your way for a season. You will commit injustice with a high hand.
You will glut your cruelty upon the defenceless and oppressed. But, as
there is a God in heaven,"--he lifted up his blind white face, and with
his trembling hands shook his staff on high, like a prophet foretelling
woe,--"as there is a God of justice and mercy who beholds this
wickedness,--just so sure the hour of your retribution will come! so
sure the treason you are breathing, and the despotism you are
inaugurating, will prove a snare and a destruction to yourselves! Unbind
that man! leave my house in peace! go home, and learn to practise a
little of the mercy of which you will yourselves soon stand in need."
His venerable aspect, and the power and authority of his words, awed
even that drunken crew. But Silas, vain of his oratorical powers, was
enraged that anybody should dispute his influence with the crowd.
Holding the branch with one hand, and gesticulating violently with the
other, he exclaimed,--

"Who is boss here? Who ye goin' to mind? that old traitor, or me? I say,
lick the nigger! We're a goin' to have our way now, and we're a goin' to
have our way to the end of the 'arth, sure as I am a gentleman standing
on this yer barrel!"

To emphasize his declaration, he stamped with his foot; the head of the
cask flew in, and down went orator, cask, and all, in a fashion rendered
all the more ridiculous by the climax of oratory it illustrated.

"Just so sure will your hollow and inhuman schemes fail from under your
feet!" exclaimed Mr. Villars, as soon as he learned what had happened.
"So surely and so suddenly will you fall."

This incident occurred as Toby's flogging was about to begin in earnest.
Virginia had instinctively covered her eyes to shut out the terrible
sight, her ears to shut out the sounds of the beating and the poor old
fellow's groans. Luckily, Silas had fallen partly in the barrel, and
partly across the sharp edge of it, and being too tipsy to help himself,
had been seriously hurt, and was now helpless. The ruffians hastened to
extricate him, and raise him up. Carl, who, with an open knife concealed
in his sleeve, had been waiting for an opportunity, darted at the tree,
cut the negro's bonds in a twinkling, and set him free.

Both took to their heels without an instant's delay. But the trick was
discovered. They were pursued immediately. Carl was lively on his legs,
as we know; but poor old Toby, never a good runner, and now stiff and
decrepit with age, was no match even for the slowest of their pursuers.

They ran straight into the orchard, hoping to lose themselves among the
shadows. The glare of the burning wood-pile flickered but faintly and
unsteadily among the trees. Carl might easily have escaped; but he
thought only of Toby, and kept faithfully at his side, assisting him,
urging him. A fence was near--if they could only reach that! But Toby
was wheezing terribly, and the hand of the foremost ruffian was already
extended to seize him.

"Jump the vence over!" was Carl's parting injunction to the old negro,
who made a last desperate effort to accomplish the feat; while Carl,
turning sharp about, tripped the foot of him of the extended hand, and
sent him headlong. The second pursuer he grappled, and both rolled upon
the ground together.

Favored by this diversion, Toby reached the fence, climbed it, and
without looking how, he leaped, jumped down upon--a human figure,
stretched there upon the ground!

Notwithstanding his own danger, Toby thought of his patient, and
stopped.

"Is it you, massa?"

The man rose slowly to his feet. It was not Penn; it was, on the
contrary, the worst of Penn's enemies, who had stationed himself here,
in order to observe, unseen, and from a safe distance, the operations of
Silas Ropes and his band of patriots.

"O, Massa Bythewood!" ejaculated Toby, inspired with sudden joy and
hope; "help a poor old niggah! Help! De Villarses will remember it ob ye
de longest day you live, if you on'y will."

"Why, what's the matter, Toby?" said Augustus, full of rage at having
been thus discovered, yet assuming a gracious and patronizing manner.

Toby did not make a very coherent reply; but probably the young
gentleman was already sufficiently aware of what was going on. He had no
especial regard for Toby, yet his credit with Virginia and her father
was to be sustained. And so Toby was saved.

Augustus met and rebuked his pursuers, released Carl, who was suffering
at the hands of his antagonist, and led the way back to the house. There
he expressed to Mr. Villars and his daughters the utmost regret and
indignation for what had occurred, and took Mr. Ropes aside to
remonstrate with him for such violent proceedings. His influence over
that fallen orator was extraordinary. Ropes excused himself on the plea
of his patriotic zeal, and called off his men.

"How fortunate," said Augustus, conducting the old man, with an
excessive show of deference and politeness, back into the
sitting-room,--"how extremely fortunate that I happened to be walking
this way! I trust no serious harm has been done, my dear Virginia?"

Bythewood no doubt thought himself entitled to use this affectionate
term, after the service he had rendered the family.

After he was gone, Toby, having recovered from his fright and the
fatigue of running, and got his clothes on again, rushed into the
presence of his master and the young ladies.

"I've seed Mass' Penn!" he said. "Arter Bythewood done got up from under
de fence whar I jumped on him, I seed anoder man a crawlin' away on his
hands and knees jest a little ways off. 'Twas Mass' Penn! I know 'twas
Mass' Penn."

But Toby was mistaken. The second figure he had seen was Mr. Lysander
Sprowl, now the confidential adviser and secret companion of Augustus.



XIII.

_THE OLD CLERGYMAN'S NIGHTGOWN HAS AN ADVENTURE._


Where, then, all this time, was Penn? He was himself almost as
profoundly ignorant on that subject as anybody. For two or three hours
he had been lost to himself no less than to his friends.

When he recovered his consciousness he found that he was lying on the
ground, in the open air, in what seemed a barren field, covered with
rocks and stunted shrubs.

How he came there he did not know. He had nothing on but his
night-dress,--a loan from the old clergyman,--besides a blanket wrapped
about him. His feet were bare, and he now perceived that they were
painfully aching.

Almost too weak to lift a hand to his head, he yet tried to sit up and
look around him. All was darkness; not a sign of human habitation, not a
twinkling light was visible. The cold night wind swept over him, sighing
drearily among the leafless bushes. Chilled, shivering, his temples
throbbing, his brain sick and giddy, he sat down again upon the rocks,
so ill and suffering that he could scarcely feel astonishment at his
situation, or care whether he lived or died.

Where had he been during those hours of oblivion? He seemed to have
slept, and to have had terrible dreams. Could he have remembered these
dreams, it seemed to him that the whole mystery of his removal to this
desolate spot would be explained. And he knew that it required but an
effort of his will to remember them. But his soul was too weak: he could
not make the effort.

To get upon his feet and walk was impossible. What, then, was left him
but to perish here, alone, uncared for, unconsoled by a word of love
from any human being? Death he would have welcomed as a relief from his
sufferings. Yet when he thought of his home far away, in the peaceful
community of Friends, of his parents and sisters now anxiously expecting
his return,--and again when he remembered the hospitable roof under
which he lay, so tenderly nursed, but a little while ago, and thought of
the blind old clergyman, of Virginia fresh as a rose, of kind-hearted
Carl, and the affectionate old negro,--he was stung with the desire to
live, and he called feebly,--

"Toby! Toby!"

Was his cry heard? Surely, there were footsteps on the rocks! And was
not that a human form moving dimly between him and the sky? It passed
on, and was lost in the shadows of the pines. Was it some animal, or
only a phantom of his feverish brain?

"Toby!" he called again, exerting all his force. But only the wailing
wind answered him, and, overcome by the effort, he sunk into a swoon. In
that swoon it seemed to him that Toby had heard his voice, and that he
came to him. Hands, gentle human hands, groped on him, felt the blanket,
felt his bare feet, and his head, pillowed on stones. Then there seemed
to be two Tobys, one good and the other evil, holding a strange
consultation over him, which he heard as in a dream.

"We can't leave him dying here!" said the good Toby.

"What dat to me, if him die, or whar him die?" said the other Toby.
"Straight har!" He seemed to be feeling Penn's locks, in order to
ascertain to which race he belonged. "Dat's nuff fur me! Lef him be, I
tell ye, and come 'long!"

"Straight hair or curly, it's all the same," said Toby the Good. "Take
hold here; we must save him!"

"Hyah-yah! ye don't cotch dis niggah!" chuckled Toby the Bad,
maliciously. "Nuff more ob his kind, in all conscience! Reckon we kin
spar' much as one! Hyah-yah!"

Something like a quarrel ensued, the result of which was, that Toby the
Good finally prevailed upon Toby the Malevolent to assist him. Then Penn
was dreamily aware of being lifted in the strong arms of this double
individual, and borne away, over rocks, and among thickets, along the
mountain side; until even this misty ray of consciousness deserted him,
and he fell into a stupor like death.

And what was this he saw on awaking? Had he really died, and was this
unearthly place a vestibule of the infernal regions? Days and nights of
anguish, burning, and delirium, relieved at intervals by the same
death-like stupor, had passed over him; and here he lay at length,
exhausted, the terrible fever conquered, and his soul looking feebly
forth and taking note of things.

And strange enough things appeared to him! He was in an apartment of
prodigious and uncouth architecture, dimly lighted from one side by some
opening invisible to him, and by a blazing fire in a little fireplace
built on the broad stone floor. The fireplace was without chimney, but a
steady draught of air, from the side where the opening seemed to be,
swept the smoke away into sombre recesses, where it mingled with the
shadows of the place, and was lost in gloom which even the glare of the
flames failed to illumine.

Such a cavernous room Penn seemed to have seen in his dreams. The same
irregular, rocky roof started up from the wall by his bed, and stretched
away into vague and obscure distance. All was familiar to him, but all
was somehow mixed up with frightful fantasies which had vanished with
the fever that had so recently left him. The awful shapes, the struggles
of demoniac men, the processions of strange and beautiful forms, which
had visited him in his delirious visions,--all these were airy nothings;
but the cave was real.

Here he lay, on a rude bed constructed of four logs, forming the ends
and sides, with canvas stretched across them, and secured with nails.
Under him was a mattress of moss, over him a blanket like that which he
remembered to have had wrapped about him last night in the field.

Last night! Poor Penn was deeply perplexed when he endeavored to
remember whether his mysterious awaking in the open air occurred last
night, or many nights ago. He moved his head feebly to look for Toby.
Which Toby? for all through his sufferings the same two Tobys, one good
and the other evil, who had taken him from the field, had appeared still
to attend him, and he now more than half expected to see the faithful
old negro duplicated, and waiting upon him with two bodies and four
hands.

But neither the better nor even the worse half of that double being was
near him now. Penn was alone, in that subterranean solitude. There
burned the fire, the shadows flickered, the smoke floated away into the
depths of the dark cavern, in such loneliness and silence as he had
never experienced before. He would have thought himself in some grotto
of the gnomes, or some awful cell of enchantment, whose supernatural
fire never went out, and whose smoke rolled away into darkness the same
perpetually,--but for the sound of the crackling flames, and the sight
of piles of wood on the floor, so strongly suggestive of human agency.

On one side was what appeared to be an artificial chamber built of
stones, its door open towards the fire. Ranged about the cave, in
something like regular order, were several massy blocks of different
sizes, like the stools of a family of giants. But where were the giants?

Ah, here came Toby at last, or, at any rate, the twin of him. He
approached from the side where the daylight shone, bearing an armful of
sticks, and whistling a low tune. With his broad back turned towards
Penn, he crouched before the fire, which he poked and scolded with
malicious energy, his grotesque and gigantic shadow projected on the
wall of the cave.

"Burn, ye debil! K-r-r-r! sputter! snap! git mad, why don't ye?"

Then throwing himself back upon a heap of skins, with his heels at the
fire, and his long arms swinging over his head, in a savage and
picturesque attitude, he burst into a shout, like the cry of a wild
beast. This he repeated several times, appearing to take delight in
hearing the echoes resound through the cavern. Then he began to sing,
keeping time with his feet, and pausing after each strain of his wild
melody to hear it die away in the hollow depths of the cave.

    "De glory ob de Lord, it am comin', it am comin',
        De glory ob de Lord, let it come!
    De angel ob de Lord, hear his trumpet, hear his trumpet,
        De angel ob de Lord, he ar come!"

At the last words, "_He ar come!_" a shadow darkened the entrance, and
Penn looked, almost expecting to see a literal fulfilment of the
prophecy. A form of imposing stature appeared. It was that of a negro
upwards of six feet in height, magnificently proportioned, straight as a
pillar, and black as ebony. He wore a dress of skins, carried a gun in
his hand, and had an opossum slung over his shoulder.

"Hush your noise!" he said to the singer, in a tone of authority.
"Haven't I told you not to _wake him_?"

"No fear o' dat!" chuckled the other. "Him's past dat! Ki! how fat he
ar!" seizing the opossum, and beginning to dress him on the spot.

"Past waking! I tell you he's asleep, and every thing depends on his
waking up right. But you set up a howl that would disturb the dead!"

"Howl! dat's what ye call singin'; me singin', Pomp."

"Well, keep your singing to yourself till he is able to stand it, you
unfeeling, ungrateful fellow!"

"What dat ye call dis nigger?" cried the singer, jumping up in a
passion, with his blood-stained knife in his hand. "Ongrateful! Say dat
ar agin, will ye?"

"Yes, Cudjo, as often as you please," said Pomp, calmly placing his gun
in the artificial chamber. "You are an unfeeling, ungrateful fellow."

He turned, and stood regarding him with a proud, lofty, compassionating
smile. Cudjo's anger cooled at once. Penn had already recognized in them
the twin Tobys of his dreams. And what a contrast between the two! There
was Toby the Good, otherwise called Pomp, dignified, erect, of noble
features; while before him cringed and grimaced Toby the Malign, alias
Cudjo, ugly, deformed, with immensely long arms, short bow legs
resembling a parenthesis, a body like a frog's, and the countenance of
an ape.

"You know," said Pomp, "you would have left this man to die there on the
rocks, if it hadn't been for me."

"Gorry! why not?" said Cudjo. "What's use ob all dis trouble on his
'count?"

"He has had trouble enough on our account," said Pomp.

"On our 'count? Hiyah-yah!" laughed Cudjo, getting down on his knees
over the opossum; "how ye make dat out, by?"

"Pay attention, Cudjo, while I tell ye," said Pomp, stooping, and laying
his finger on the deformed shoulder. Cudjo looked up, with his hands and
knife still in the opossum's flesh. "This is the way of it, as I heard
last night from Pepperill himself, who got into trouble, as you know, by
befriending old Pete after his licking. And you know, don't you, how
Pete came by his licking?"

"Bein' out nights, totin' our meal and taters to de mountains,--dough I
reckon de patrol didn't know nuffin' 'bout dat ar, or him wouldn't got
off so easy!" said Cudjo.

"Well, it was by befriending Pepperill, who had befriended Pete, who
brings us meal and potatoes, that this man got the ill will of those
villains. Do you understand?"

"Say 'em over agin, Pomp. How, now? Lef me see! Dat ar's old Pete,"
sticking up a finger to represent him. "Dat ar's Pepperill," sticking up
a thumb. "Now, yonder is dis yer man, and here am we. Now, how is it,
Pomp?"

Pomp repeated his statement, and Cudjo, pointing to his long, black
finger when Pete was alluded to, and tapping his thumb when Pepperill
was mentioned, succeeded in understanding that it was indirectly in
consequence of kindness shown to himself that Penn had come to grief.

"Dat so, Pomp?" he said, seriously, in a changed voice. "Den 'pears like
dar's two white men me don't wish dead as dis yer possom! Pepperills
one, and him's tudder."

Pomp, having made this explanation, walked softly to the bedside. He had
not before perceived that Penn, lying so still there, was awake. His
features lighted up with intelligence and sympathy on making the
discovery, and finding him free from feverish symptoms.

"Well, how are you getting on, sir?" he said, feeling Penn's pulse, and
seating himself on one of the giant's stools near the bedstead.

"Where am I?" was Penn's first anxious question.

"I fancy you don't know very well where you are, sir," said the negro,
with a smile; "and you don't know me either, do you?"

"I think--you are my preserver--are you not?"

"That's a subject we will not talk about just now, sir; for you must
keep very quiet."

"I know," said Penn, not to be put off so, "I owe my life to you!"

"Dat's so! dat ar am a fac'!" cried Cudjo, approaching, and wrapping the
warm opossum skin about his naked arm as he spoke. "Gorry! me sech a
brute, me war for leavin' ye dar in de lot. But, Pomp, him wouldn't; so
we toted you hyar, and him's doctored you right smart eber sence. He ar
a great doctor, Pomp ar! Yah!" And Cudjo laughed, showing two tremendous
rows of ivory glittering from ear to ear; capering, swinging the opossum
skin over his head, and, on the whole, looking far more like a demon of
the cave than a human being.

"Go about your business, Cudjo!" said Pomp. "You mustn't mind his
freaks, sir," turning to Penn. "You are a great deal better; and now, if
you will only remain quiet and easy in your mind, there's no doubt but
you will get along."

Many questions concerning himself and his friends came crowding to
Penn's lips; but the negro, with firm and gentle authority, silenced
him.

"By and by, sir, I will tell you everything you wish to know. But you
must rest now, while I see to making you a suitable broth."

And nothing was left for Penn but to obey.



XIV.

_A MAN'S STORY._


Three days longer Penn lay there on his rude bed in the cave, helpless
still, and still in ignorance.

Pomp repeatedly assured him that all was well, and that he had no cause
for anxiety, but refused to enlighten him. The negro's demeanor was well
calculated to inspire calmness and trust. There was something truly
grand and majestic, not only in his person, but in his character also.
He was a superb man. Penn was never weary of watching him. He thought
him the most perfect specimen of a gentleman he had ever seen; always
cheerful, always courteous, always comporting himself with the ease of
an equal in the presence of his guest. His strength was enormous. He
lifted Penn in his arms as if he had been an infant. But his grace was
no less than his vigor. He was, in short, a lion of a man.

Cudjo was more like an ape. His gibberings, his grimaces, his antics,
his delight in mischief, excited in the mind of the convalescent almost
as much surprise as the other's princely deportment. For hours together
he would lie watching those two wonderfully contrasted beings. Petulant
and malicious as Cudjo appeared, he was completely under the control of
his noble companion, who would often stand looking down at his tricks
and deformity, with composedly folded arms and an air of patient
indulgence and compassion beautiful to witness.

Meanwhile Penn gradually regained his strength, so that on the fourth
day Pomp permitted him to talk a little.

"Tell me first about my friends," said Penn. "Are they well? Do they
know where I am?"

"I hope not, sir," said the negro, with a significant smile, seating
himself on the giant's stool. "I trust that no one knows where you are."

"What, then, must they think?" said Penn. "How did I leave them?"

"That is what they are very much perplexed to find out, sir."

"You have heard from them, then?"

"O, yes; we have a way of getting news of people down there. Toby has
nearly gone distracted on your account. He is positive that you are
dead, for he believes you could never have got well out of his hands."

"And Miss--Mr. Villars----?"

"They have been so much disturbed about you, that I would have been glad
to inform them of your safety, if I could. But not even they must know
of this place."

"Where am I, then?"

"You are, as you perceive, in a cave. But I suppose you know so little
how you came here that you would find some difficulty in tracing your
way to us again?" This was spoken interrogatively, with an intelligent
smile.

"I am so ignorant of the place," said Penn, "that it may be in the
planet Mars, for aught I know."

"That is well! Now, sir," continued the negro, "since you have several
times expressed your obligations to us for preserving your life, I wish
to ask one favor in return. It is this. You are welcome to remain here
as long as you find your stay beneficial; but when you conclude to go,
we desire the privilege of conducting you away. That is not an
unreasonable request?"

"Far from it. And I pledge you my word to make no movement without your
sanction, and to keep your secret sacredly. But tell me--will you
not?--how you came to inhabit this dreadful place?"

"Dreadful? There are worse places, my friend, than this. Is it gloomy?
The house of bondage is gloomier. Is it damp? It is not with the cruel
sweat and blood of the slave's brow and back. Is it cold? The hearts of
our tyrants are colder."

"I understand you," said Penn, whose suspicion was thus confirmed that
these men were fugitives. "And I am deeply interested in you. How long
have you lived here?"

"Would you like to hear something of my story?" said the negro, the
expression of his eyes growing deep and stern,--his black, closely
curling beard stirring with a proud smile that curved his lips. "Perhaps
it will amuse you."

"Amuse me? No!" said Penn. "I know by your looks that it will not amuse:
it will absorb me!"

"Well, then," said Pomp, bearing his head upon his massy and flexible
neck of polished ebony like a king, yet speaking in tones very gentle
and low,--and he had a most mellow, musical, deep voice,--"you are
talking with one who was born a slave."

"You know what I think of that!" said Penn. "Even such a birth could not
debase the manhood of one like you."

"It might have done so under different circumstances. But I was so
fortunate as to be brought up by a young master who was only too kind
and indulgent to me, considering my station. We were playmates when
children; and we were scarcely less intimate when we had both grown up
to be men. He went to Paris to study medicine, and took me with him. I
passed for his body servant, but I was rather his friend. He never took
any important step in life without consulting me; and I am happy to
know," added Pomp, with grand simplicity, "that my counsel was always
good. He acknowledged as much on his death-bed. 'If I had taken your
advice oftener,' said he, 'it would have been better for me. I always
meant to reward you. You are to have your freedom--your freedom, my dear
boy!'"

The negro knitted his brows, his breath came thick, and there was a
strange moisture in his eye.

"I loved my master," he continued, with simple pathos. "And when I saw
him troubled on my account, when he ought to have been thinking of his
own soul, I begged him not to let a thought of me give him any
uneasiness. My free papers had not been made out, and he was for sending
at once for a notary. But his younger brother was with him--he who was
to be his heir. 'Don't vex yourself about Pomp, Edwin,' said he. 'I will
see that justice is done him.'

"'Ah, thank you, brother!' said Edwin. 'You will set him free, and give
him a few hundred dollars to begin life with. Promise that, and I will
rest in peace.' For you must know Edwin had neither wife nor child, and
I was the only person dependent on his bounty. He was not rich; he had
spent a good part of his fortune abroad, and had but recently
established himself in a successful practice in Montgomery. Yet he left
enough so that his brother could have well afforded to give me my
freedom, and a thousand dollars."

"And did he not promise to do so?"

"He promised readily enough. And so my master died, and was buried, and
I--had another master. For a few days nothing was said about free
papers; and I had been too much absorbed in grief for the only man I
loved to think much about them. But when the estate was settled up, and
my new master was preparing to return to his home here in Tennessee, I
grew uneasy.

"'Master,' said I, taking off my hat to him one morning, 'there is
nothing more I can do for him who is gone; so I am thinking I would like
to be for myself now, if you please.'

"'For yourself, you black rascal?' said my new master, laughing in my
face.

"I wasn't used to being spoken to in that way, and it cut. But I kept
down that which swelled up in here"--Pomp laid his hand on his
heart--"and reminded him, respectfully as I could, of the doctor's last
words about me, and of his promise.

"'You fool!' said he, 'do you think I was in earnest?'

"'If you were not,' said I, 'the doctor was.'

"'And do you think,' said he, 'that I am to be bound by the last words
of a man too far gone to know his own mind in the matter?'

"'He always meant I should have my freedom,' I answered him, 'and always
said so.'

"'Then why didn't he give it to you before, instead of requiring me to
make such a sacrifice? Come, come, Pomp!' he patted my shoulder; 'you
are altogether too valuable a nigger to throw away. Why, people say you
know almost as much about medicine as my brother did. You'll be an
invaluable fellow to have on a plantation; you can doctor the field
hands, and, may be, if you behave yourself, get a chance to prescribe
for the family. Come, my boy, you musn't get foolish ideas of freedom
into your head; they're what spoil a nigger, and they'll have to be
whipped out of you, which would be too bad for a fine, handsome darkey
like you.'

"He patted my shoulder again, and looked as pleasant and flattering as
if I had been a child to be coaxed,--I, as much a man, every bit, as
he!" said Pomp, with a gleam of pride. "I could have torn him like a
tiger for his insolence, his heartless injustice. But I repressed
myself; I knew nothing was to be gained by violence.

"'Master,' said I, 'what you say is no doubt very flattering. But I want
what my master gave me--what you promised that I should have--I shall be
contented with nothing else.'

"'What! you persist?' he said, kindling up. 'Let me tell you now, Pomp,
once for all, you'll have to be contented with a good deal less; and
never mention the word "freedom" to me again if you would keep that
precious hide of yours whole!'

"I saw he meant it, and that there was no help for me. Despair and fury
were in me. Then, for the only time in my life, I felt what it was to
wish to murder a man. I could have smitten the life out of that smiling,
handsome face of his! Thank God I was kept from that. I concealed what
was burning within. Then first I learned to pray,--I learned to trust in
God. And so better thoughts came to me; and I said, 'If he uses me well,
I will serve him; if not, I will run for my life.'

"Well, he brought me here to Tennessee. Here he was managing his aunt's
estate, which she, soon dying, bequeathed to him. Up to this time I had
got on very well; but he never liked me; he often said I knew too much,
and was too proud. He was determined to humiliate me; so one day he said
to me, 'Pomp, that Nance has been acting ugly of late, and you permit
her.' I was a sort of overseer, you see. 'Now I'll tell you what I am
going to have done. Nance is going to be whipped, and you are the fellow
that's going to whip her.'

"'Pardon, master,' said I, 'that's what I never did--to whip a woman.'

"'Then it's time for you to begin. I've had enough of your fine manners,
Pomp, and now you have got to come down a little.'

"'I will do any thing you please to serve your interests, sir,' said I.
'But whip a woman I never can, and never will. That's so, master.'

"'You villain!' he shouted, seizing a riding whip, 'I'll teach you to
defy my authority to my face!' And he sprang at me, furious with rage.

"'Take care, sir!' I said, stepping back. ''Twill be better for both of
us for you not to strike me!'

"'What! you threaten, you villain?'

"'I do not threaten, sir; but I say what I say. It will be better for
both of us. You will never strike me twice. I tell you that.'

"I reckon he saw something dangerous in me, as I said this, for, instead
of striking, he immediately called for help. 'Sam! Harry! Nap! bind this
devil! Be quick!'

"'They won't do it!' said I. 'Woe to the man that lays a finger on me,
be he master or be he slave!'

"'I'll see about that!' said he, running into the house. He came out
again in a minute with his rifle. I was standing there still, the boys
all keeping a safe distance, not one daring to touch me.

"'Master,' said I, 'hear one word. I am perfectly willing to die. Long
enough you have robbed me of my liberty, and now you are welcome to what
is less precious--my poor life. But for your own sake, for your dead
brother's sake, let me warn you to beware what you do.'

"I suppose the allusion to his injustice towards me maddened him. He
levelled his piece, and pulled the trigger. Luckily the percussion was
damp,--or else I should not be talking with you now. His aim was
straight at my head. I did not give him time for a second attempt. I was
on him in an instant. I beat him down, I trampled him with rage. I
snatched his gun from him, and lifted it to smash his skull. Just then a
voice cried, 'Don't, Pomp! don't kill master!'

"It was Nance, pleading for the man who would have had her whipped. I
couldn't stand that. Her mercy made me merciful. 'Good by, boys!' I
said. They were all standing around, motionless with terror. 'Good by,
Nance! I am off; live or die, I quit this man's service forever!'

"So I left him," said Pomp, "and ran for the woods. I was soon ranging
these mountains, free, a wild man whom not even their blood-hounds could
catch. I took the gun with me--a good one: here it is." He removed the
rifle from its crevice in the rocks. "Do you know that name? It is that
of its former owner--the man who called himself my master. Do you think
it was taking too much from one who would have robbed me of my soul?"

He held the stock over the bed, so that Penn could make out the
lettering. Delicately engraved on a surface of inlaid silver, was the
well-known name,--

    "_Augustus Bythewood._"



XV.

_AN ANTI-SLAVERY DOCUMENT ON BLACK PARCHMENT._


Penn was not surprised at this discovery. He had already recognized in
Pomp the hero of a story which he had heard before.

"But all this happened before I came to Tennessee, did it not? Have you
lived in this cave ever since?"

"It is three years since I took to the mountains. But I have spent but a
little of that time here. Sometimes, for weeks together, I am away,
tramping the hills, exploring the forests, sleeping on the ground in the
open air, living on fish, game, and fruits. That is in the summer time.
Winters I burrow here."

"If you are so independent in your movements, why have you never escaped
to the north?"

"Would I be any better off there? Does not the color of a negro's skin,
even in your free states, render him an object of suspicion and hatred?
What chance is there for a man like me?"

"Little--very true!" said Penn, sadly, contemplating the form of the
powerful and intelligent black, and thinking with indignation and shame
of the prejudice which excludes men of his race from the privileges of
free men, even in the free north.

"These crags," said the African, "do not look scornfully upon me because
of the color of my skin. The watercourses sing for me their gladdest
songs, black as I am. And the serious trees seem to love me, even as I
love them. It is a savage, lonely, but not unhappy life I lead--far
better for a man like me than servitude here, or degradation at the
north. I have one faithful human friend at least. Cudjo, cunning and
capricious as he seems, is capable of genuine devotion."

"Have you two been together long?"

"One day, a few weeks after I took to the mountains, I was watching for
an animal which I heard rustling the foliage of a tree that grows up out
of a chasm. I held my gun ready to fire, when I perceived that my animal
was something human. It climbed the tree, ran out on one of the
branches, leaped, like a squirrel, to some bushes that grew in the wall
of the chasm, and soon pulled itself up to the top. Then I saw that it
was a man--and a black man. He came towards the spot where I was
concealed, sauntering along, chewing now and then a leaf, and muttering
to himself; appearing as happy as a savage in his native woods, and
perfectly unconscious of being observed. Suddenly I rose up, levelling
my gun. He uttered a yell of terror, and started to cast himself again
into the chasm. But with a threat I prevented him, and he threw himself
at my feet, begging me to grant him his life, and not to take him back
to his master.

"'Who is your master?' said I.

"'Job Coombs was my master,' said he, 'but I left him.'

"'You are Cudjo, then!' said I,--for I had heard of him. He ran away
from a tolerably good master on account of unmercifully cruel treatment
from the overseer. But as he had been frightfully cut up the night
before he disappeared, it was generally believed he had crawled into a
hole in the rocks somewhere, and died, and been eaten by buzzards. But
it seems that he had been concealed and cured by an old slave on the
plantation named Pete."

"Coombs's Pete!" exclaimed Penn.

"You have good cause to remember the name!" said Pomp. "As soon as Cudjo
was well enough to tramp, he took to the mountains. It was a couple of
years afterwards that I met him. We soon came to an understanding, and
he conducted me to his cave. Here he lived. He has always kept up a
communication with some of his friends--especially with old Pete, who
often brings us provisions to a certain place, and supplies us with
ammunition. We give him game and skins, which he disposes of when he
can, generally to such men as Pepperill. He was going to Pepperill's
house, after meeting Cudjo, that night when the patrolmen discovered and
whipped him. That led to Pepperill's punishment, and that led to your
being here."

"Does old Pete visit you since?"

"No, but he has sent us a message, and I have seen Pepperill."

"Not here!"

"Nobody ever comes here, sir. We have a place where we meet our friends;
and as for Pepperill, I went to his house."

"That was bold in you!"

"Bold?" The negro smiled. "What will you say then when I tell you I have
been in Bythewood's house, since I left him? I wanted my medicine-case,
and the bullet-moulds that belong with the rifle. I entered his room,
where he was asleep. I stood for a long time and looked at him by the
moonlight. It was well for him he didn't wake!" said Pomp, with a
dancing light in his eye. "He did not; he slept well! Having got what I
wanted, I came away; but I had changed knives with him, and left mine
sticking in the bedstead over his head, so that he might know I had been
there, and not accuse any one else of the theft."

"The sight of that knife must have given him a shudder, when he woke,
and saw who had been there, and remembered his wrongs towards you!" said
Penn.

"Well it might!" said Pomp. "Come here, Cudjo."

Cudjo had just entered the cave, bringing some partridges which he had
caught in traps.

"It's allus 'Cudjo! Cudjo do dis! Cudjo do dat!' What ye want o' Cudjo?"

Pomp paid no heed to the ill-natured response, but said calmly,
addressing Penn,--

"I have told you my reasons for escaping out of slavery: now I will show
you Cudjo's."

The back of the deformed was stripped bare. Penn uttered a groan of
horror at the sight.

"Dem's what ye call lickins!" said Cudjo, with a hideous grin over his
shoulder. "Dat ar am de oberseer's work."

"Good Heaven!" said Penn, sick at the sight of the scars. "I can't
endure it! Take him away!"

"Don't be 'fraid!" said Cudjo. "Feel of 'em, sar!" And taking Penn's
hand, he seemed to experience a vindictive joy in passing it over his
lash-furrowed flesh. "Not much skin dar, hey? Rough streaks along dar,
hey? Needn't pull your hand away dat fashion, and shet yer eyes, and
look so white! It's all ober now. What if you'd seen dat back when 'twas
fust cut up? or de mornin' arter? Shouldn't blame ye, if 't had made ye
sick den!"

"But what had you done to merit such cruelty?" exclaimed Penn, relieved
when the back was covered.

"What me done? De oberseer didn't hap'm to like me; dat's what me done.
But he did hap'm to like my gal; dat's more what me done! So he cut me
up wid his own hand,--said me sassy, and wouldn't work. Coombs, him's a
good man 'nuff,--neber found no fault 'long wid him; but debil take dat
ar Silas Ropes!"

"Silas Ropes!"

"Him was Coombs's oberseer dem times," said Cudjo. "Him gi' me de
lickins; him got my gal--me owe him for dat!" And, with a ferocious
grimace, clinching his hands together as if he felt his enemy's throat,
he gave a yell of rage which resounded through the cavern.

"Go about your work, Cudjo," said Pomp. "What do you think of that back,
sir?"

"It is the most powerful anti-slavery document I ever saw!" said Penn.

"He is a native African," said Pomp. "He was brought to this country a
young barbarian; and he has barely got civilized--hardly got
Christianized yet! I will make him tell you more of his history some
day. Then you will no longer wonder that his lessons in Christian love
have not made a saint of him! Now you must rest, while I help him get
dinner."

The manner of cooking practised in the cave was exceedingly primitive.
The partridges broiled over the fire, the potatoes roasted in the ashes,
and the corn-cake baked in a kettle, the meal was prepared. The
artificial chamber was Cudjo's pantry. One of the giant's stools, having
a broad, flat surface, served as a table. On this were placed two or
three pewter plates, and as many odd cups and saucers. Cudjo had an old
coffee-pot, in which he made strong black coffee. He could afford,
however, neither sugar nor milk.

Penn's wants were first attended to. He picked the bones of a partridge
lying in bed, and thought he had never tasted sweeter meat.

"With how few things men can live, and be comfortable! and what simple
fare suffices for a healthy appetite!" he said to himself, watching Pomp
and Cudjo at their dinner. Pomp did not even drink coffee, but quenched
his thirst with cold water dipped from a pool in the cave.



XVI.

_IN THE CAVE AND ON THE MOUNTAIN._


That afternoon, as Penn was alone, the mystery of his removal from Mr.
Villars's house was suddenly revealed to him.

"I remember it very distinctly now," he said to Pomp, who presently came
in and sat by his bed. "Ropes and his crew had been to the house for me.
Sick and delirious as I was, I knew the danger to my friends, and it
seemed to me that I _must_ leave the house. So I watched my opportunity,
and when Toby left me for a minute, I darted through his room over the
kitchen, climbed down from the window to the roof of the shed, and from
there descended by an apple tree to the ground. This is the dream I have
been trying to recall. It is all clear to me now. But I do not remember
any thing more. The delirium must have given me preternatural strength,
if I walked all the distance to the spot where you found me."

"That you did walk it, your bruised and bleeding feet were a sufficient
evidence," said the negro. "You had just such delirious attacks
afterwards, when it was as much as Cudjo and I wanted to do to hold
you."

"And the blanket--it is Toby's blanket, which I caught up as I fled,"
added Penn.

He now became extremely anxious to communicate with his friends, to
explain his conduct to them, and let them know of his safety. Besides,
he was now getting sufficiently strong to sit up a little, and other
clothing was necessary than the old minister's nightgown and Toby's
blanket.

"I have been thinking it all over," said Pomp, "and have concluded to
pay your friends a visit."

"No, no, my dear sir!" exclaimed Penn, with gratitude. "I can't let you
incur any such danger on my account. I can never repay you for half you
have done for me already!" And he pressed the negro's hand as no white
man had ever pressed it since the death of his good master, Dr.
Bythewood.

Pomp was deeply affected. His great chest heaved, and his powerful
features were charged with emotion.

"The risk will not be great," said he. "I will take Cudjo with me, and
between us we will manage to bring off your clothes."

At night the two blacks departed, leaving Penn alone in the fire-lit
cave, waiting for their return, picturing to himself all the
difficulties of their adventure, and thinking with warm gratitude and
admiration of Pomp, whose noble nature not even slavery could corrupt,
whose benevolent heart not even wrong could embitter.

It was late in the evening when the two messengers arrived at Mr.
Villars's house. All was dark and still about the premises. But one
light was visible, and that was in the room over the kitchen.

"That is Toby's room," said Pomp. "Stay here, Cudjo, while I give him a
call."

"Stay yuself," said Cudjo, "and lef dis chil' go. Me know Toby; you
don't."

So Pomp remained on the watch while Cudjo climbed the tree by which Penn
had descended, scrambled up over the shed-roof, reached the window,
opened it, and thrust in his head.

Toby, who was just going to bed, heard the movement, saw the frightful
apparition, and with a shriek dove under the bed-clothes, where he lay
in an agony of fear, completely hidden from sight, while Cudjo, grinning
maliciously, climbed into the room.

"See hyar, ye fool! none ob dat! none ob your playin' possum wid me!"
said the visitor, rolling Toby over, while Toby held the clothes tighter
and tighter, as if to show a lock of wool or the tip of an ear would
have been fatal. "Me's Cudjo! don't ye know Cudjo? Me come for de
gemman's clo'es!"

"Hey? dat you, Cudjo?" said Toby, venturing at length to peep out.
"Wha--wha--what de debil you want hyar?"

"De gemman sent me. Dis yer letter's for your massy."

"De gemman?" cried Toby, jumping up. "Not Mass' Penn? not Mass'
Hapgood?"

Immense was his astonishment on being assured that Penn was alive,
recovering, and in need of garments. Carl, who had been awakened in the
next room by the noise, now came in to see what was the matter. He
recognized Penn's handwriting on the note, and immediately hastened with
it to Virginia's room. A minute after she was reading it to her father
at his bedside. It was written with a pencil on a leaf torn from a
little blank book in which Pomp kept a sort of diary; but never had
gilt-edged or perfumed billet afforded the blind old minister and his
daughter such unalloyed delight.

It was long past midnight when Pomp and Cudjo returned to the cave,
bringing with them not only Penn's garments, but a goodly stock of
provisions, which Cudjo had hinted to Toby would be acceptable, and,
more precious still, a letter from Mr. Villars, written by his
daughter's own hand.

Penn now began to sit up a little every day. Gloomy as the cave was, it
was not an unwholesome abode even for an invalid. The atmosphere was
pure, cool, and bracing; the temperature uniform. Nor did Penn suffer
inconvenience from dampness; though often, in the deep stillness of the
night, he could hear the far-off, faint, and melancholy murmur of
dropping water in the hollow recesses of the cavern beyond.

One day, as soon as he was well enough for the undertaking, Pomp ordered
Cudjo to light torches and show them the hidden wonders of his
habitation. Cudjo was delighted with the honor. He ran on before, waving
the flaring pine knots over his head, and shouting.

Penn's astonishment was profound. Keen as had been his curiosity as to
what was beyond the shadowy walls the fire dimly revealed, he had formed
no conception of the extent and sublimity of the various galleries,
chambers, glittering vaults, and falling waters, embosomed there in the
mountain.

"Dis yer all my own house!" Cudjo kept repeating, with fantastic
grimaces of satisfaction. "Me found him all my own self. Nobody war eber
hyar afore me; Pomp am de next; and you's de on'y white man eber seen
dis yer cave."

It grew light as they proceeded, Cudjo's torch paled, and the waters of
a subterranean stream they were following caught gleams of the
struggling day from another opening beyond. Climbing over fragments of
huge tumbled rocks, and up an earthy bank, Penn found himself in the
bottom of an immense chasm. It had apparently been formed by the sinking
down of the roof of the cave, with a tremendous superincumbent weight of
forest trees. There, on an island, so to speak, in the midst of the
subterranean darkness, they were growing still, their lofty tops barely
reaching the level of the mountain above.

"It was out of this sink I saw the wild beast climbing, that turned out
to be Cudjo," said Pomp.

"Dat ar am de tree," said Cudjo. "No oder way but dat ar to get up out
ob dis yer hole."

"What a terrible place!" said Penn, little thinking at the time how much
more terrible it was soon to become as a scene of deadly human conflict.

Beyond the chasm the stream flowed on into still more remote parts of
the cave. But Penn had seen enough for one day, and the torch-bearing
Cudjo guided them back to the spot from which they had started.

Penn had now completely won the confidence of the blacks, who no longer
placed any restrictions on his movements. It had been their original
purpose never to suffer him to leave the cave without being blindfolded.
But now, having shown him one opening, they freely permitted him to pass
out by the other. This was that by which he had been brought in, and
which was used by the blacks themselves on all ordinary occasions. It
was a mere fissure in the mountain, hidden from external view by
thickets. Above rose steep ledges of rocks, thickly covered with earth
and bushes. Below yawned an immense ravine, far down in the cool, dark
depths of which a little streamlet flowed.

Pomp piloted his guest through the thickets, and along a narrow shelf,
from which the ascent to the barren ledges was easy. Upon these they sat
down. It was a beautiful April day. This was Penn's first visit to the
upper world since he was brought to the cave. The scene filled him with
rapture; the loveliness of earth and sky intoxicated him. Here he was
among the rugged ranges of the Cumberland Mountains, in the heart of
Tennessee. On either hand they rolled away in tremendous billows of
forest-crowned rocks. The ravines in their sides opened into little
valleys, and these spread out into a broad and magnificent intervale,
checkered with farms, streaked with roads, and dotted with dwellings.
Spring seemed to have come in a night. It was chill March weather when
Penn left the world, which was now warm with sweet south winds, and
green with April verdure.

"How beautiful, how beautiful!" said he, receiving, with the
susceptibility of a convalescent, the exquisite impression made upon the
senses by every sight and sound and odor. "O! and to think that all this
divine loveliness is marred by the passions of men! Up here, what glory,
what peace! Down yonder, what hatred, violence, and sin! No wonder,
Pomp, you love the mountains so!"

"It is doubtful if they leave the mountains in peace much longer," said
Pomp. He had heard the night before that fighting had begun at
Charleston, and the news had stirred his soul. "The country is all alive
with excitement, and the waves of its fury will reach us here before
long. Take this glass, sir: you can see soldiers marching through the
streets."

"They are marching past my school-house!" said Penn. He became very
thoughtful. He knew that they were soldiers recruited in the cause of
rebellion, although Tennessee had not yet seceded,--although the people
had voted in February against secession: a dishonest governor, and a
dishonest legislature, aided by reckless demagogues everywhere, being
resolved upon precipitating the state into revolution, by fraud and
force,--if not with the consent of the people, then without it. "I had
hoped the storm would soon blow over, and that it would be safe for me
to go peaceably about my business."

"The storm," said Pomp, his soul dilating, his features kindling with a
wild joy, "is hardly begun yet! The great problem of this age, in this
country, is going to be solved in blood! This continent is going to
shake with such a convulsion as was never before. It is going to shake
till the last chain of the slave is shaken off, and the sin is punished,
and God says, 'It is enough!'"

He spoke with such thrilling earnestness that Penn regarded him in
astonishment.

"What makes you think so, Pomp?"

"That I can't tell. The feeling rises up here,"--the negro laid his hand
upon his massive chest,--"and that is all I know. It is strong as my
life--it fills and burns me like fire! The day of deliverance for my
race is at hand. That is the meaning of those soldiers down there,
arming for they know not what."



XVII.

_PENN'S FOOT KNOCKS DOWN A MUSKET._


Weeks passed. But now every day brought to Penn increasing anxiety of
mind with regard to his situation. His abhorrence of war was as strong
as ever; and his great principle of non-resistance had scarcely been
shaken. But how was he to avoid participating in scenes of violence if
he remained in Tennessee? And how was his escape from the state to be
effected?

"You are welcome to a home with us as long as you will stay," said Pomp.
"I shall miss you--even Cudjo will hate to see you go."

Penn thanked him, fully appreciating their kindness; but his heart was
yearning for other things.

Day after day he lingered still, however. The difficulties in the way of
escape thickened, instead of diminishing. In February, as I have said,
the people had voted against secession. Not content with this, the
governor called an extra session of the legislature, which proceeded to
carry the state out of the Union by fraud. On the sixth of May an
ordinance of separation was passed, to be submitted to the vote of the
people on the eighth of June. But without waiting for the will of the
people to be made manifest, the authors of this treason went on to act
precisely as if the state had seceded. A league was formed with the
confederate states, the control of all the troops raised in Tennessee
was given to Davis, and troops from the cotton states were rushed in to
make good the work thus begun. The June election, which took place under
this reign of terror, resulted as was to have been expected. Rebel
soldiers guarded the polls. Few dared to vote openly the Union ticket;
while those who deposited a close ticket were "spotted." Thus timid men
were frightened from the ballot-box; while soldiers from the cotton
states voted in their places. Then, as it was charged, there were the
grossest frauds in counting the votes. And so Tennessee "seceded."

The state authorities had also achieved a politic stroke by disarming
the people. Every owner of a gun was compelled to deliver it up, or pay
a heavy fine. The arms thus secured went to equip the troops raised for
the Confederacy; while the Union cause was left crippled and
defenceless. Many firelocks were of course kept concealed: some were
taken to pieces, and the pieces scattered,--the barrel here, the stock
there, and the lock in still another place,--to come together again only
at the will of the owner: but, as a general thing, the loyalists could
not be said to have arms. It was in those times that the precaution of
Stackridge and his fellow-patriots was justified. The secrecy with which
they had conducted their night-meetings and drills, though seemingly
unnecessary at first, saved them from much inconvenience when the full
tide of persecution set in. They were suspected indeed, and it was
believed they had arms; but they still met in safety, and the place
where their arms were deposited remained undiscovered.

All this time, Penn had no money with which to defray the expenses of
travel. When his school was broken up, several hundred dollars were due
him for his services. This sum the trustees of the Academy placed to his
credit in the Curryville Bank; but, in consequence of a recent
enactment, designed to rob and annoy loyal men, he could not draw the
money without appearing personally, and first taking the oath of
allegiance to the confederate government. This, of course, was out of
the question.

Meanwhile he learned to rough it on the mountain with the fugitives.
Pomp taught him the use of the rifle, and he was soon able to shoot,
dress, and cook his own dinner. He grew robust with the exercise and
exposure. But every day his longing eyes turned towards the valley where
the friends were whom he loved, and whom he resolved at all hazards to
visit again, if for the last time.

At length, one morning at breakfast, he informed Pomp and Cudjo of his
intention to leave them,--to return secretly to the village, place
himself under the protection of certain Unionists he knew, and attempt,
with their assistance, to make his way out of the state.

"Why go down there at all?" said Pomp. "If you are determined to leave
us, let me be your guide. I will take you over the mountains into
Kentucky, where you will be safe. It will be a long, hard journey; but
you are strong now; we will take it leisurely, killing our game by the
way."

"You are very kind--and----"

Penn blushed and stammered. The truth was, he was willing to risk his
life to see Virginia once more; and the thought of quitting the state
without bidding her good by was intolerable to him.

"And what?" said Pomp, smiling intelligently.

"And I may possibly be glad to accept your proposal. But I am determined
to try the other way first."

Both Pomp and Cudjo endeavored to dissuade him from the undertaking, but
in vain. That evening he took his departure. The blacks accompanied him
to the foot of the mountain. Notwithstanding the friendship and
gratitude he had all along felt towards them, he had not foreseen how
painful would be the separation from them.

"I never quitted friends more reluctantly!" he said, choked with his
emotion. "Never, never shall I forget you--never shall I forget those
rambles on the mountains, those days and nights in the cave! Let me hope
we shall meet again, when I can make you some return for your kindness."

"We may meet again, and sooner than you suppose," said Pomp. "If you
find escape too difficult, be sure and come back to us. Ah, I seem to
foresee that you will come back!"

With this prediction ringing in his ears, and filling him with vague
forebodings, Penn went his way; while the negroes, having shaken hands
with him in sorrowful silence, returned to their savage mountain home,
which had never looked so lonely to them as now, since their beloved and
gentle guest had departed.

The night was not dark, and Penn, having been guided to a bridle-path
that led to the town, experienced no difficulty in finding his way on
alone. He approached the minister's house from the fields. Although late
in the evening, the windows were still lighted. He was surprised to see
men walking to and fro by the house, and to hear their footsteps on the
piazza floor. He drew near enough to discern that they carried muskets.
Then the truth flashed upon him: they were soldiers guarding the house.

Whether they were there to protect the venerable Unionist from
mob-violence, or to prevent his escape, Penn could only conjecture. In
either case it would have been extremely indiscreet for him to enter the
house. Bitter disappointment filled him, mingled with apprehensions for
the safety of his friends, and remorse at the thought that he himself
had, although unintentionally, been instrumental in drawing down upon
them the vengeance of the secessionists.

Penn next thought of Stackridge. It was indeed upon that sturdy patriot
that he relied chiefly for aid in leaving the state. He took a last,
lingering look at the minister's house,--the windows whose cheerful
light had so often greeted him on his way thither, in those delightful
winter evenings which were gone, never to return,--the soldiers on the
piazza, symbolizing the reign of terror that had commenced,--and with a
deep inward prayer that God would shield with his all-powerful hand the
beleaguered family, he once more crossed the fields.

By a circuitous route he came in sight of Stackridge's house. There were
lights there also, although it must have been now near midnight. And as
Penn discerned them, he became aware of loud voices engaged in angry
altercation around the farmer's door. It was no time for him to
approach. He stole away as noiselessly as he had come. In the still,
quiet night he paused, asking himself what he should do.

The Academy was not far off. He remembered that he had left there, among
other things, a pocket Bible, a gift from his sister, which he wished to
preserve. Perhaps it was there still; perhaps he could get in and
recover it. At all events, he had plenty of leisure on his hands, and
could afford to make the trial.

He heard the mounted patrol pass by, and waited for the sound of hoofs
to die in the distance. Then cautiously he drew near the gloomy and
silent school-house. Not doubting but the door was locked,--for he still
had the key with him which he had turned for the last time when he
walked out in defiance of the lynchers,--he resolved not to unlock it,
but to keep in the rear of the building, and enter, if possible, by a
window.

The window was unfastened, as it had ever remained since he had opened
it, on that memorable occasion, to communicate with Carl. Softly he
raised the sash, and softly he crept in. His foot, however, struck an
object on the desk, and swept it down. It fell with a loud, rattling
sound upon the floor.

It was a musket; the owner of which bounded up on the instant from a
bench where he was lying, and seized Penn by the leg. The school-house
had been turned into a barrack-room for recruits, and the late master
found that he had descended upon a squad of confederate soldiers.

Lights were struck, and the sleepy sentinels, rubbing their eyes open,
recognized, struggling in the arms of their companion, the unfortunate
young Quaker.

"I knowed 'twas him! I knowed 'twas him!" cried his overjoyed captor,
who proved to be no other than Silas Ropes's worthy friend Gad. "I heern
him gittin' inter the winder, but I kept dark till he knocked my gun
down; then I grabbed him! He's a traitor, and this time will meet a
traitor's doom!"

"My friends," said Penn, recovering from the agitation of his first
surprise and struggle, "I am in your power. It is perhaps the best thing
that could happen to me; for I have committed no crime, and I cannot
doubt but that I shall receive justice all the sooner for this accident.
You need not take the trouble to bind me; I shall not attempt to
escape."

His captors, however, among whom he recognized with some uneasiness more
than one of those who had been engaged in lynching him, persisted in
binding him upon a bench, in no very comfortable position, and then set
a guard over him for the remainder of the night.



XVIII.

_CONDEMNED TO DEATH._


Early the next morning Virginia Villars overheard the soldiers
conversing on the piazza. The mention of a certain name arrested her
attention. She listened: what they said terrified her. Penn Hapgood had
been apprehended during the night, and his trial by drum-head
court-martial was at that moment proceeding.

"Mr. Pepperill!" she called, in a scarcely audible whisper; and, looking
around, Daniel saw her alarmed face at the window.

Daniel was one of the soldiers who had been detailed to guard the house.
Strongly against his will, he had been compelled to enlist, in order to
avoid the persecutions of his secession neighbors. Such was already
becoming the fate of many whose hearts were not in the cause, whose
sympathies were all with the government against which they were forced
to rebel.

"What, marm?" said Pepperill, meekly.

"Is it true what that man is saying?"

"About the schoolmaster? I--I'm afeard it ar true! They've cotched him,
marm, and there's men that's swore the death of him, marm."

Virginia flew to inform her father. The old man rose up instantly,
forgetting his blindness, forgetting his own feebleness, and the danger
into which he would have rushed, to go and plead Penn's cause.

Fortunately, perhaps, for him, the guard crossed their muskets before
him, refusing to let him pass. Their orders were, not only to defend the
house, but also to prevent his leaving it.

"Then I will go alone!" said Carl, who was to have been his guide. And
scarcely waiting to receive instructions from Virginia and her father,
he ran out, slipping between the soldiers, who had no orders to detain
any person but the minister, and ran to the Academy.

The mockery of a trial was over. The prisoner had been condemned. The
penalty pronounced against him was death. Already the noose was dangling
from a tree, and some soldiers were bringing from the school-house a
table to serve as a scaffold. Silas Ropes, who had a feather stuck in
his cap, and wore an old rusty scabbard at his side, and flourished a
sword, enjoying the title of "lieutenant," obtained for him through
Bythewood's influence; Lysander Sprowl, who had been honored with a
captaincy from the same source, and who, though a forger, and late a
fugitive from justice, now boldly defied the power of the civil
authorities to arrest him, trusting to that atrocious policy of the
confederate government which virtually proclaimed to the robber and
murderer, "Become, now, a traitor to your country, and all other crimes
shall be forgiven you;"--these, and other persons of like character,
appeared chiefly active in Penn's case. That they had no right whatever
to constitute themselves a court-martial, and bring him to trial, they
knew perfectly well. They had not waited even for a shadow of authority
from their commanding officer. What they were about to do was nothing
more nor less than murder.

Penn, with his hands tied behind him, and surrounded by a violent
rabble, some armed, and others unarmed, was already mounted upon the
table, when Carl arrived, and attempted to force his way through the
crowd.

"Feller-citizens and soldiers!" cried Lieutenant Ropes, standing on a
chair beside the scaffold, "this here man has jest been proved to be a
traitor and a spy, and he is about to expatiate his guilt on the
gallus."

Two men then mounted the table, passed the noose over Penn's neck, drew
it close, and leaped down again.

"Now," said Ropes, "if you've got any confession to make 'fore the table
is jerked out from under ye, you can ease your mind. Only le' me
suggest, if you don't mean to confess, you'd better hold yer tongue."

Penn, pale, but perfectly self-possessed, expecting no mercy, no
reprieve, made answer in a clear, strong voice,--

"I can't confess, for I am not guilty. I die an innocent man. I appeal
to Heaven, before whose bar we must all appear, for the justice you deny
me."

In his shirt sleeves, his head uncovered, his feet bare, his naked
throat enclosed by the murderous cord, his hands bound behind him, he
stood awaiting his fate. Carl in the mean time struggled in vain to
break through the ring of soldiers that surrounded the extemporized
scaffold,--screamed in vain to obtain a hearing.

"Let him go, and you may hang me in his place!"

The soldiers answered with a brutal laugh,--as if there would be any
satisfaction in hanging him! But the offer of self-sacrifice on the part
of the devoted Carl touched one heart, at least. Penn, who had
maintained a firm demeanor up to this time, was almost unmanned by it.

"God bless you, dear Carl! Remember that I loved you. Be always honest
and upright; then, if you die the victim of wrong, it will be your
oppressors, not you, who will be most unhappy. Good by, dear Carl. Bear
my farewell to those we love. Don't stay and see me die, I entreat you!"

Yet Carl staid, sobbing with grief and rage.

"Why don't you hurry up this business?" cried Lysander Sprowl, angrily,
coming out of the school-house. "Somebody tie a handkerchief over his
eyes, and get through some time to-day."

"All right, cap'm," said Ropes. "Make ready now, boys, and take away
this table in a hurry, when I give the word."

"Hold on, there! What's going on?" cried an unexpected voice, and a
recruiting officer from the village made his appearance, riding up on a
white horse.

The summary proceedings were stayed, and the case explained. The man
listened with an air of grim official importance, his coarse red
countenance betraying not a gleam of sympathy with the prisoner. Yet
being the superior in rank to any officer present (Silas called him
"kunnel"), besides being the only one of them all who had been regularly
commissioned by the confederate government, this man held Penn's fate in
his hands.

"Hanging's too good for such scoundrels!" he said, frowning at the
prisoner. "As for this particular case, there's only one thing to be
said: his life shall be spared on only one condition."

Carl's heart almost stood still, in his eagerness to listen. Even Penn
felt a faint--a very faint--pulse of hope in his breast. The "kunnel"
went on.

"Let him take his choice--either to hang, or enlist. What do you say,
youngster? Which do you prefer--the death of a traitor, or the glorious
career of a soldier in the confederate army?"

"It is impossible for me, sir," said Penn, in a voice of deep feeling
and unalterable conviction--"it is impossible for me to bear arms
against my country!"

"But the Confederate States shall be your country, and a country to be
proud of!" said the man.

"I am a citizen of the United States; to the United States I owe
allegiance," said Penn. "So far from being a traitor, I am willing to
die rather than appear one."

"Then you won't enlist?"

"No, sir."

"Not even to save your life?"

"Not even to save my life!"

"Then," growled the man, turning away, "if you will be such a fool, I've
nothing more to say."

So it only remained for Penn to submit quietly to his fate. The
executioners laid hold of the table, and waited for the order to remove
it.

But just then Carl, breaking through the crowd, threw himself before the
officer's horse.

"O, Colonel Derring! hear me--von vord!"

"Von vord!" repeated the officer, with a coarse laugh, mocking him.
"What's that, you Dutchman?"

"You vill let him go, and I shall wolunteer in his place!" said Carl.

"You!" The officer regarded him critically. Carl, though so young, was
very sturdy. "You offer yourself as a substitute, eh, if I will spare
his life?"

"Carl!" cried Penn, "I forbid you! You shall not commit that sin for me!
Better a thousand times that I should die than that you should be a
rebel in arms against your country."

"I have no country," answered Carl, ingeniously excusing himself. "I am
vot this man says, a Tuchman. I vill enlisht mit him, and he vill shpare
your life."

"Boy, it's a bargain," said Colonel Derring, whose passion for obtaining
recruits overruled every other consideration. "Cut that fellow's cords,
lieutenant, and let him go. Come along with me, Dutchy."

Ropes obeyed, and Penn, bewildered, almost stunned, by the sudden change
in his destiny, saw himself released, and beheld, as in a dream, poor
Carl marching off as his substitute to the recruiting station.

"Now let me give you one word of advice," said Captain Sprowl in his
ear. "Don't let another night find you within twenty miles of that
halter there, if you wouldn't have your neck in it again."

"Will you give me a safe conduct?" said Penn, who thought the advice
excellent, and would have been only too glad to act upon it.

"I've no authority," said Sprowl. "You must take care of yourself."

Penn looked around upon the ferocious, disappointed faces watching him,
and felt that he might about as well have been despatched in the first
place, as to be let loose in the midst of such a pack of wolves
thirsting for his blood. He did not despair, however, but, putting on
his clothes, determined to make one final and desperate effort to
escape.



XIX.

_THE ESCAPE._


Walking off quickly across the field towards Mrs. Sprowl's house, he
turned suddenly aside from the path and plunged into the woods.

He soon perceived that he was followed. A man--only one--came through
the undergrowth. Penn stopped. "God forgive me!" he said within himself;
"but this is more than human nature can bear!" He had been, as it were,
smitten on one cheek and on the other also: it was time to smite back.
He picked up a club: his nerves became like steel as he grasped it: his
eyes flashed fire.

The man advanced; he was unarmed. Suddenly Penn dropped his club, and
uttered a cry of joy. It was his friend Stackridge.

"What! the Quaker will fight?" said the farmer, with a grim smile.

"That shows," said Penn, bursting into tears as he wrung the farmer's
hand, "that I have been driven nearly insane!"

"It shows that some of the insanity has been driven out of you!" replied
Stackridge, beginning to have hopes of him. "If you had taken my pistol
and used it freely in the first place, or at least shown a good will to
use it, you'd have proved yourself a good deal more of a man in my
estimation, and been quite as well off."

"Perhaps," murmured Penn, convinced that this passive submission to
martyrdom was but a sorry part to play.

"But now to business," said Stackridge. "You must get away as quickly
and secretly as possible, unless you mean to stay and fight it out. I am
here to help you. I have a horse in the woods here, at your disposal. I
thought there might be such a thing as your slipping through their
hands, and so I took this precaution. I will show you a bridle-road that
will take you to the house of a friend of mine, who is a hearty
Unionist. You can leave my horse with him. He will help you on to the
house of some friend of his, who will do the same, and so you will
manage to get out of the state. I advise you to travel by night, as a
general thing; but just now it seems necessary that you should see a
little hard riding by daylight. You'll find some luncheon in the
saddlebags. When you get into some pretty thick woods, leave the road,
and find a good place to tie up till night; then go on cautiously to my
friend's house. I'll give you full directions, while we're finding the
horse."

They made haste to the spot where the animal was tied.

"He has been well fed," said the farmer. "You will water him at the
first brook you cross, and let him browse when you stop. Now just trade
that coat for one that will make you look a little less like a Quaker
schoolmaster."

He had brought one of his own coats, which he made Penn put on, and then
exchanged hats with him. Penn was admirably disguised. Brief, then, were
the thanks he uttered from his overflowing heart, short the
leave-takings. He was mounted. Stackridge led the horse through the
bushes to the bridle-path.

"Now, don't let the grass grow under your feet till you are at least
five miles away. If you meet anybody, get along without words if you
can; if you can't, let words come to blows as quick as you please, and
then put faith in Dobbin's heels."

Again, for the last time, he made Penn the offer of a pistol. There was
no leisure for idle arguments on the subject. The weapon was accepted.
The two wrung each other's hands in silence: there were tears in the
eyes of both. Then Stackridge gave Dobbin a resounding slap, and the
horse bounded away, bearing his rider swiftly out of sight in the woods.

All this had passed so rapidly that Penn had scarcely time to think of
any thing but the necessity of immediate flight. But during that
solitary ride through the forest he had ample leisure for reflection. He
thought of the mountain cave, whose gloomy but quiet shelter, whose dark
but nevertheless humane and hospitable inmates he seemed to have quitted
weeks ago, so crowded with experiences had been the few hours since last
he shook Pomp and Cudjo by the hand. He thought of Virginia and her
father, to visit whom for perhaps the last time he had incurred the risk
of descending into the valley; whom now he felt, with a strangely
swelling heart, that he might never see again. And he thought with
grief, pity, and remorse of Carl, a rebel now for his sake.

These things, and many more, agitated him as he spurred the farmer's
horse along the narrow, shaded, lonesome path. He met an old man on
horseback, with a bright-faced girl riding behind him on the crupper,
who bade him a pleasant good morning, and pursued their way. Next came
some boys driving mules laden with sacks of corn. At last Penn saw two
men in butternut suits with muskets on their shoulders. He knew by their
looks that they were secessionists hastening to join their friends in
town. They regarded him suspiciously as he came galloping up. Penn
perceived that some off-hand word was necessary in passing them.

"Hurry on with those guns!" he cried; "they are wanted!"

And he dashed away, as if his sole business was to hurry up guns for the
confederate cause.

He met with no other adventure that day. He followed Stackridge's
directions implicitly, and at evening, leaving his horse tied in the
woods, approached on foot the house to which he had been sent.

He was cordially received by the same old man whom he had seen riding to
town in the morning with a bright-faced girl clinging behind him. At a
hint from Stackridge the man had hastily ridden home again, passing Penn
at noon while he lay hidden in the woods; and here he was, honest,
friendly, vigilant, to receive and protect his guest.

"You did well," he said, "to turn off up the mountain; for I am not the
only man that passed you there. You have been pursued. Three persons
have gone on after you. I met them as I was going into town; they
inquired of me if I had seen you, and when I got home I found they had
passed here in search of you. They have not yet gone back."

This was unpleasant news. Yet Penn was soon convinced that he had been
extremely fortunate in thus throwing his pursuers off his track. It was
far better that they should have gone on before him, than that they
should be following close upon his heels.

He staid with the farmer all night, and departed with him early the next
morning to pursue his journey. It was not safe for him to keep the road,
for he might at any moment meet his pursuers returning; accordingly, the
old man showed him a circuitous route along the base of the mountains,
which could be travelled only on foot, and by daylight.

"Here I leave you," said his kind old guide, when they had reached the
banks of a mountain stream. "Follow this run, and it will take you
around to the road, about a mile this side of my brother's house.
There's a bridge near which you can wait, when you get to it. If your
pursuers go back past my house, then I will harness up and drive on to
the bridge, and water my horse there. You will see me, and get in to
ride, and I will take you to my brother's, and make some arrangement for
helping you on still farther to night."

So they parted; the lonely fugitive feeling that the kindness of a few
such men, scattered like salt through the state, was enough to redeem it
from the fate of Sodom, which otherwise, by its barbarism and injustice,
it would have seemed to deserve.

Following the stream in its windings through a wilderness of thickets
and rocks, he reached the bridge about the middle of the afternoon. His
progress had been leisurely. The day was warm, bright, and tranquil. The
stream poured over ledges, or gushed among mossy stones, or tumbled down
jagged rocks in flashing cascades. Its music filled him with memories of
home, with love that swelled his heart to tears, with longings for peace
and rest. Its coolness and beauty made a little Sabbath in his soul, a
pause of holy calm, in the midst of the fear and tumult that lay before
and behind him.

During that long, solitary ramble he had pondered much the great
question which had of late agitated his mind--the question which, in
peaceful days, he had thought settled with his own conscience forever.
But days of stern experience play sad havoc with theories not founded in
experience. In all the ordinary emergencies of life Penn had found the
doctrine of non-resistance to evil, of overcoming evil with good,
beautiful and sublime. But had he not the morning before given way to a
natural impulse, when he seized a club, firmly resolved to oppose force
with force? The recollection of that incident had led him into a
singular train of reasoning.

"I know," he said, "that it is still the highest doctrine. But am I
equal to it? Can I, under all circumstances, live up to it? I have seen
something of the power and recklessness of the faction that would
destroy my country. Would I wish to see my country submit? Never! Such
submission would be the most unchristian thing it could do. It would be
the abandonment of the cause of liberty; it would be to deliver up the
whole land to the blighting despotism of slavery; it would postpone the
millennium I hope for thousands of years. I see no other way than that
the nation must resist; and what I would have the nation do I should be
prepared, if called upon, to do myself. If this government were a
Christian government I would have it use only Christian weapons, and no
doubt those would be effectual for its preservation. But there never was
a Christian government yet, and probably there will not be for an age or
two. Governments are all founded on human policy, selfishness, and
force. Or if _I_ was entirely a Christian, then _I_ would have no
temptation, and no right, to use any but spiritual weapons. But until I
attain to these, may I not use such weapons as I have?"

These thoughts revolved slowly and somewhat confusedly in the young
man's mind, when an incident occurred to bring form, sharply and
suddenly, out of that chaos.

He had reached the bridge. He looked up and down the road, and saw no
human being. It was hardly time to expect the farmer yet; so he climbed
down upon some dry stones in the bed of the stream, where he could watch
for his coming, and be at the same time hidden from view and sheltered
from the sun.

He had not been long in that situation when he heard the sounds of
hoofs. It was not his white-haired farmer whom he saw approaching, but
two men on horseback. They were coming from the same direction in which
he was looking for the old man. As they drew near, he discovered that
one was a negro. The face of the other he recognized shortly afterwards.
It was that of Mr. Augustus Bythewood, who was evidently taking
advantage of the fine weather to make a little journey, accompanied by a
black servant.

Penn's heart contracted within him as he thought of his friend Pomp, and
of the wrongs he had suffered at this man's hands. He thought of his own
safety too, and crept under the bridge. He had time, however, before he
disappeared, to catch a glimpse of three other horsemen coming from the
north. His heart beat fast, for he knew in an instant that these were
his pursuers returning.

He had already prepared for himself a good hiding-place, in a cavity
between the two logs that supported the bridge. Upon the butment, close
under the trembling planks, he lay, when Bythewood and his man rode
over. The dust rattled upon him through the cracks, and sifted down into
the stream. The thundering and shaking of the planks ceased, but he
listened in vain to hear the hoofs of the two horses clattering off in
the distance. To his alarm he perceived that Bythewood and his man had
halted on the other side of the bridge, and were going to water their
horses in the bed of the stream. Clashing and rattling down the steep,
stony banks, and plashing into the water, came the foam-streaked
animals. The negro rode one, and led the other by the bridle. There he
sat in the saddle, watching the eager drinking of the thirsty beasts,
and pulling up their heads occasionally to prevent them from swallowing
too fast or too much; all in full sight of the concealed schoolmaster.
Bythewood, after dismounting, also walked down to the edge of the stream
in full view.

Such was the situation when the three horsemen from the north arrived.
They all rode their animals down the bank into the water. Penn had not
been mistaken as to their character and business. Two of them were the
men who had adjusted the noose to his neck the day before. The third was
no less a personage than Captain Lysander Sprowl. Penn lay breathless
and trembling in his hiding-place; for those men were but a few yards
from him, and all in such plain view that it seemed inevitable but they
must discover him.

"What luck?" said Bythewood, carelessly, seating himself on a rock and
lighting a cigar.

"The rascal has given us the slip," said Lysander, from his horse. "I
believe we have passed him, and so, on our way back, we'll search the
house of every man suspected of Union sentiments. He started off with
Stackridge's horse, and we tracked him easy at first, but to-day we
haven't once heard of him."

"It's my opinion he don't intend to leave the state," said Bythewood,
coolly smoking. "Sam, walk those horses up and down the road till I call
you: I want a little private talk with the captain."

The captain's attendants likewise took the hint, reined their horses up
out of the water, rode over the shaking bridge and Penn's head under it,
and proceeded to search the next house for him, while Sprowl was
conversing with Augustus.

"Let's go over the other side," said Bythewood, "where we can be in the
shade. The sun is powerful hot."

They accordingly walked over Penn's head a moment later, climbed down
the same rocks he had descended, picked their way along the dry stones
to the bridge, and took their seats in its shadow beneath him, and so
near that he could easily have reached over and taken the captain's cap
from his head!



XX.

_UNDER THE BRIDGE._


"The colonel wasn't aware of your sentiments," said Sprowl, "or he
wouldn't have let him off for fifty substitutes."

"Or if you and Ropes," retorted Bythewood, "had only put through the job
with the celerity I had a right to expect of you, he would have been
strung up before the colonel had a chance to interfere." And he puffed
impatiently a cloud of smoke, whose fragrance was wafted to the nostrils
of the listener under the planks.

"Well," said Lysander, accepting a cigar from his friend, "if he gets
out of the state,"--biting off the end of it,--"and never shows himself
here again,"--rubbing a match on the stones,--"you ought to be
satisfied. If he stays, or comes back,"--smoking,--"then we'll just
finish the little job we begun."

Penn lay still as death. What his thoughts were I will not attempt to
say; but it must have given him a curious sensation to hear the question
of his life or death thus coolly discussed by his would-be assassins
over their cigars.

"Where are you bound?" asked Lysander.

"O, a little pleasure excursion," said Bythewood. "There's to be some
lively work at home this evening, and I thought I'd better be away."

"What's going on?"

"The colonel is going to make some arrests. About fifteen or twenty
Union-shriekers will find themselves snapped up before they think of it.
Stackridge among the first. 'Twas he, confound him! that helped the
schoolmaster off."

"Has the colonel orders to make the arrests?"

"No, but he takes the responsibility. It's a military necessity, and the
government will bear him out in it. Every man that has been known to
drill in the Union Club, and has refused to deliver up his arms, must be
secured. There's no other way of putting down these dangerous fellows,"
said Augustus, running his jewelled fingers through his curls.

"But why do you prefer to be away when the fun is going on?"

"There may be somebody's name in the list on whose behalf I might be
expected to intercede."

"Not old Villars!" exclaimed Lysander.

"Yes, old Villars!" laughed Augustus,--"if by that lively epithet you
mean to designate your venerable father-in-law."

"By George, though, Gus! ain't it almost too bad? What will folks say?"

"Little care I! Old and blind as he is, he is really one of the most
dangerous enemies to our cause. His influence is great with a certain
class, and he never misses an opportunity to denounce secession. That he
openly talks treason, and harbors and encourages traitors arming against
the confederate government, is cause sufficient for arresting him with
the others."

"Really," said Sprowl, chuckling as he thought of it, "'twill be better
for our plans to have him out of the way."

"Yes," said Bythewood; "the girls will need protectors, and your wife
will welcome you back again."

"And Virginia," added Sprowl, "will perhaps look a little more favorably
on a rich, handsome, influential fellow like you! I see! I see!"

There was another who saw too,--a sudden flash of light, as it were,
revealing to Penn all the heartless, scheming villany of the
friendly-seeming Augustus. He grasped the Stackridge pistol; his eyes,
glaring in the dark, were fixed in righteous fury on the elegant curly
head.

"If I am discovered, I will surely shoot him!" he said within himself.

"The old man," suggested Sprowl, "won't live long in jail."

"Very well," said Bythewood. "If the girls come to terms, why, we will
secure their everlasting gratitude by helping him out. If they won't, we
will merely promise to do everything we can for him--and do nothing."

"And the property?" said Lysander, somewhat anxiously.

"You shall have what you can get of it,--I don't care for the property!"
replied Bythewood, with haughty contempt. "I believe the old man,
foreseeing these troubles, has been converting his available means into
Ohio railroad stock. If so, there won't be much for you to lay hold of
until we have whipped the north."

"That we'll do fast enough," said Lysander, confidently.

"Well, I must be travelling," said Augustus.

"And I must be looking for that miserable schoolmaster."

So saying the young men arose from their cool seats on the
stones,--Lysander placing his hand, to steady himself, on the edge of
the butment within an inch of Penn's leg.

Darkness, however, favored the fugitive; and they passed out from the
shadow of the bridge without suspecting that they had held confidential
discourse within arms' length of the man they were seeking to destroy.
They ascended the bank, mounted their horses, and took leave of each
other,--Bythewood and his black man riding north, while Sprowl hastened
to rejoin his companions in the search for the schoolmaster.



XXI.

_THE RETURN INTO DANGER._


Trembling with excitement Penn got down from the butment, and peering
over the bank, saw his enemies in the distance.

What was to be done? Had he thought only of his own safety, his way
would have been clear. But could he abandon his friends? forsake
Virginia and her father when the toils of villany were tightening around
them? leave Stackridge and his compatriots to their fate, when it might
be in his power to forewarn and save them?

How he, alone, suspected, pursued, and sorely in need of assistance
himself, was to render assistance to others, he did not know. He did not
pause to consider. He put his faith in the overruling providence of God.

"With God's aid," he said, "I will save them or sacrifice myself."

As for fighting, should fighting prove necessary, his mind was made up.
The conversation of the villains under the bridge had settled that
question.

Instead, therefore, of waiting for the friend who was to help him on his
journey, he leaped up from under the bridge, and set out at a fast walk
to follow his pursuers back to town.

He had travelled but a mile or two when he saw the farmer driving
towards him in a wagon.

"Are you lost? are you crazy?" cried the astonished old man. "You are
going in the wrong direction! The men have been to my house, searched
it, and passed on. Get in! get in!"

"I will," said Penn; "but, Mr. Ellerton, you must turn back."

He briefly related his adventure under the bridge. The old man listened
with increasing amazement.

"You are right! you are right!" he said. "We must get word to
Stackridge, somehow!" And turning his wagon about, he drove back over
the road as fast as his horse could carry them.

It was sunset when they reached his house. There they unharnessed his
horse and saddled him. The old man mounted.

"I'll do my best," he said, "to see Stackridge, or some of them, in
season. If I fail, may be you will succeed. But you'd better keep in the
woods till dark."

Ellerton rode off at a fast trot. Penn hastened to the woods, where
Stackridge's horse was still concealed. The animal had been recently fed
and watered, and was ready for a hard ride. The bridle was soon on his
head, and Penn on his back, and he was making his way through the woods
again towards home.

As soon as it was dark, Penn came out into the open road; nor did he
turn aside into the bridle-path when he reached it, because he wished to
avoid travelling in company with Ellerton, who was to take that route.
He also supposed that Sprowl's party would be returning that way. In
this he was mistaken. Riding at a gallop through the darkness, his heart
beating anxiously as the first twinkling lights of the town began to
appear, he suddenly became aware of three horsemen riding but a short
distance before him. They had evidently been drinking something stronger
than water at the house of some good secessionist on the road, perhaps
to console themselves for the loss of the schoolmaster,--for these were
the excellent friends who were so eager to meet with him again! They
were merry and talkative, and Penn, not ambitious of cultivating their
acquaintance, checked his horse.

It was too late. They had already perceived his approach, and hailed
him.

What should he do? To wheel about and flee would certainly excite their
suspicions; they would be sure to pursue him; and though he might
escape, his arrival in town would be thus perhaps fatally delayed. The
arrests might be even at that moment taking place.

He reflected, "There are but three of them; I may fight my way through,
if it comes to that."

Accordingly he rode boldly up to the assassins, and in a counterfeit
voice, answered their hail. He was but little known to either of them,
and there was a chance that, in the darkness, they might fail to
recognize him.

"Where you from?" demanded Sprowl.

"From a little this side of Bald Mountain," said Penn,--which was true
enough.

"Where bound?"

"Can't you see for yourself?" said Penn, assuming a reckless,
independent air. "I am following my horse's nose, and that is going
pretty straight into Curryville."

"Glad of your company," said Sprowl, riding gayly alongside. "What's
your business in town, stranger?"

"Well," replied Penn, "I don't mind telling you that my business is to
see if I and my horse can find something to do for old Tennessee."

"Ah! cavalry?" suggested Lysander, well pleased.

"I should prefer cavalry service to any other," answered Penn.

"There's where you right," said Sprowl; and he proceeded to enlighten
Penn on the prospects of raising a cavalry company in Curryville.

"Did you meet any person on the road, travelling north?"

"What sort of a person?"

"A young feller, rather slim, brown hair, blue eyes, with a half-hung
look, a perfect specimen of a sneaking abolition schoolmaster."

"I--I don't remember meeting any such a person," said Penn, as if
consulting his memory. "I met _two_ men, though, this side of old Bald.
One of them was a rather gentlemanly-looking fellow; but I think his
hair was black and curly."

"The schoolmaster's har is wavy, and purty dark, I call it," said one of
Sprowl's companions.

"He must have been the man!" said Lysander, suddenly stopping his horse.
"What sort of a chap was with him? Did he look like a Union-shrieker?"

"Now I think of it," said Penn, "if that man wasn't a Unionist at heart,
I am greatly mistaken. His sympathies are with the Lincolnites, I know
by his looks!" He neglected to add, however, that the man was black.

Sprowl was excited.

"It was some tory, piloting the schoolmaster! Boys, we must wheel about!
It never'll do for us to go home as long as we can hear of him alive in
the state. Remember the pay promised, if we catch him."

"Luck to you!" cried Penn, riding on, while Sprowl turned back in
ludicrous pursuit of his own worthy friend, Mr. Augustus Bythewood, and
his negro man Sam.

Penn lost no time laughing at the joke. His heart was too full of
trouble for that. It had seemed to him, at each moment of delay, that
the blind old minister was even then being torn from his home--that he
could hear Virginia's sobs of distress and cries for help. He urged his
horse into a gallop once more, and struck into a path across the fields.
He rode to the edge of the orchard, dismounted, tied the horse, and
hastened on foot to the house.

The guard was gone from the piazza, and all seemed quiet about the
premises. The kitchen was dark. He advanced quickly, but noiselessly, to
the door. It was open. He went in.

"Toby!" No answer. "Carl! Carl!" he called in a louder voice. No Carl
replied. Then he remembered--what it seemed so strange that he could
even for an instant forget--that Carl was in the rebel ranks, for his
sake.

He had seen a light in the sitting-room. He found the door, and knocked.
No answer came. He opened it softly, and entered. There burned the lamp
on the table--there stood the vacant chairs--he was alone in the
deserted room.

"Virginia!"

He started at his own voice, which sounded, in the hollow apartment,
like the whisper of a ghost.

He was proceeding still farther, wondering at the stillness, terrified
by his own forebodings, feeling in his appalled heart the contrast
between this night, and this strange, furtive visit, and the happy
nights, and the many happy visits, he had made to his dear friends there
only a few short months before,--pausing to assure himself that he was
not walking in a dream,--when he heard a footstep, a flutter, and saw,
spring towards him through the door, pale as an apparition, Virginia.
Speechless with emotion, she could not utter his name, but she testified
the joy with which she welcomed him by throwing herself, not into his
arms, but upon them, as he extended his hands to greet her.

"What has happened?" said Penn.

"O, my father!" said the girl. And she bowed her face upon his arm,
clinging to him as if he were her brother, her only support.

"Where is he?" asked Penn, alarmed, and trembling with sympathy for that
delicate, agitated, fair young creature, whom sorrow had so changed
since he saw her last.

"They have taken him--the soldiers!" she said.

And by these words Penn knew that he had come too late.



XXII.

_STACKRIDGE'S COAT AND HAT GET ARRESTED._


The outrage had been committed not more than twenty minutes before. Toby
had followed his old master, to see what was to be done with him, and
Virginia and her sister were in the street before the house, awaiting
the negro's return, when Penn arrived.

"You could have done no good, even if you had come sooner," said
Virginia. "There is but one man who could have prevented this cruelty."

"Why not send for him?"

"Alas! he left town this very day. He is a secessionist; but he has
great influence, and appears very friendly to us."

Penn started, and looked at her keenly.

"His name?"

"Augustus Bythewood."

Penn recoiled.

"What's the matter?"

"Virginia, that man is thy worst enemy? I did not tell thee how I
learned that the arrests were to be made. But I will!" And he told her
all.

"O," said she, "if I had only believed what my heart has always said of
that man, and trusted less to my eyes and ears, he would never have
deceived me! If he, then, is an enemy, what hope is there? O, my
father!"

"Do not despair!" answered Penn, as cheerfully as he could. "Something
may be done. Stackridge and his friends may have escaped. I will go and
see if I can hear any thing of them. Have faith in our heavenly Father,
my poor girl! be patient! be strong! All, I am sure, will yet be well."

"But you too are in danger! You must not go!" she exclaimed,
instinctively detaining him.

"I am in greater danger here, perhaps, than elsewhere."

"True, true! Go to your negro friends in the mountain--there is yet
time! go!" and she hurriedly pushed him from her.

"When I find that nothing can be done for thy father, then I will return
to Pomp and Cudjo--not before."

And he glided out of the back door just as Salina entered from the
street.

He left the horse where he had tied him, and hastened on foot to
Stackridge's house.

He approached with great caution. There was a light burning in the
house, as on other summer evenings at that hour. The negroes--for
Stackridge was a slaveholder--had retired to their quarters. There were
no indications of any disturbance having taken place. Penn reconnoitred
carefully, and, perceiving no one astir about the premises, advanced
towards the door.

"Halt!" shouted a voice of authority.

And immediately two men jumped out from the well-curb, within which they
had been concealed. Others at the same time rushed to the spot from dark
corners, where they had lain in wait. Almost in an instant, and before
he could recover from his astonishment, Penn found himself surrounded.

"You are our prisoner, Mr. Stackridge!" And half a dozen bayonets
converged at the focus of his breast.

The young man comprehended the situation in a moment. Stackridge had not
been arrested; he was absent from home; these ambushed soldiers had been
awaiting his return; and they had mistaken the schoolmaster for the
farmer.

The night was just light enough to enable them to recognize the coat and
hat which had been Stackridge's, and which Penn still wore as a
disguise. Features they could not discern so easily. The prisoner made
no resistance, for that would have been useless; no outcry, for that
would have revealed to them their mistake. He submitted without a word;
and they marched him away, just as his supposed wife and children flew
to the door, calling frantically, "Father! father!" and lamenting his
misfortune.

By proclaiming his own identity, the prisoner would have gained nothing,
probably, but a halter on the spot. On the other hand, by accepting the
part forced upon him, he was at least gaining time. It might be, too,
that he was rendering an important service to the real Stackridge by
thus withdrawing the soldiers from their ambush, and giving him an
opportunity to reach home and learn the danger he had escaped.

These considerations passed rapidly through his mind. He slouched his
hat over his eyes, and marched with sullen, stubborn mien. In this
manner he was taken to the village, and conducted to an old storehouse,
which had lately been turned into a guard-house by the confederate
authorities.

There was a great crowd around the dimly-lighted door, and other
prisoners, similarly escorted, were going in. Amid the press and hurry,
Penn passed the sentinels still unrecognized. He immediately found
himself wedged in between the wall and a number of Tennessee Union men,
some terrified into silence, others enraged and defiant, but all
captives like himself.

In the farther end of the room, at a desk behind the counter, with
candles at each side, sat the confederate colonel to whom Penn owed his
life. He seemed to be receiving the reports of those who had conducted
the arrests, and to be examining the prisoners. Beside him sat his aids
and clerks. Before him Penn knew that he must soon appear. He was in
darkness and disguise as yet, but he could not long avoid facing the
light and the eyes of those who knew him well. What, then, would be his
fate? Would he be retained a prisoner, like the rest, or delivered over
to the mob that sought his life? He had time to decide upon a course
which he hoped might gain him some favor.

Taking advantage of the shadow and confusion in which he was, he slipped
off his disguise, and, elbowing his way through the crowd of prisoners,
appeared, hat in hand and coat on arm, before the interior guard, and
demanded to speak with the commanding officer.

"Sir, who are you?" said the colonel, failing, at first, to recognize
him. Upon which Mr. Ropes, who was at his side, swore a great oath that
it was the schoolmaster himself.

"But I have had no report of his arrest," cried the colonel. "How came
you here, sir?"

"I wish to place myself under your protection," said Penn. "You received
a substitute in my place, and ordered me to be set at liberty. But your
commands have been disregarded; I have been hunted for two days; and
men, calling themselves confederate soldiers, are still pursuing me.
Under these circumstances I have thought it best to appeal to you,
relying upon your honor as a gentleman and an officer."

"But how came you here? Who brought in this fellow?"

Nobody could answer that question, although the leader of the party that
had brought him in was at the very moment on the spot, waiting to make
his report of Stackridge's arrest.

As soon, therefore, as Penn could gain a hearing, he continued.

"I came in, sir, with a crowd of soldiers and prisoners, none of whom
recognized me. The sentinels no doubt supposed I was arrested, and so
let me pass."

"Well, sir, you have done a bold thing, and perhaps the best thing for
you. Since you have voluntarily delivered yourself up, I shall feel
bound to protect you. But I have only one of two alternatives to offer
you--the same I offer to each of these worthy gentlemen here, giving
them their choice. Take the oath of allegiance to the confederate
government, and volunteer; that is one condition."

"I am a northern man," replied Penn, "and owe allegiance to the United
States; so that condition it is impossible for me to accept."

"Very well; I'll give you time to think of it. In the mean while, my
only means of affording the protection you demand will be to retain you
a prisoner. Guard, take this man below."

Not another word was said; and, indeed, Penn had already gained more
than he hoped for, with the eyes of Lieutenant Ropes glaring on him so
murderously. He was conducted to a stairway that led to the cellar, and
ordered to descend. He obeyed, marching down between two soldiers on
guard at the door, and two more at the foot of the stairs.

It was a lugubrious subterranean apartment, lighted by a single lantern
suspended from a beam. By its dim rays he discovered the figures of half
a dozen fellow-prisoners; and, in the midst of the group, he recognized
one, the sight of whom caused him to forget all his own misfortunes in
an instant.

"My dear Mr. Villars! I have found you at last!" he exclaimed, grasping
the old clergyman's hand.

"Penn, is it you?" said the blind old man.

He was seated on a dry goods box. Trembling and feeble, he arose to
greet his young friend, with a noble courtesy very beautiful and
touching under the circumstances.

"I cannot tell thee," said Penn, in a choked voice, "how grieved I am to
see thee here!"

"And grieved am I that you should see me here!" Mr. Villars replied. "I
hoped you were a hundred miles away. I was never sorry to have your
company till now! How does it happen?"

Penn made him sit down again, giving him Stackridge's coat for a
cushion, and related briefly his adventures.

"It is very singular," said the old man, thoughtfully. "It seems almost
providential that you are here."

"I think it is so," said Penn. "I think I am here because I may be of
service to you."

"Ah!" replied the old man, with a tender smile, "my life is of but
little value compared with yours. I am a worn-out servant; my day of
usefulness is past; I am ready to go home. I do not speak repiningly,"
he added. "If I can serve my country or my God by suffering--if nothing
remains for me but that--then I will cheerfully suffer. Our heavenly
Father orders all things; and I am content. All will be well with us, if
we are obedient children; all will yet be well with our poor country, if
it is true to itself and to Him."

"O, do not say thy day of usefulness is past, as long as thou canst
speak such words!" said Penn, deeply moved.

"Thank God, I have faith! Even in this darkest hour of my life and of my
country, I think I have more faith than ever. And I have love, too--love
even for those violent men who have thrown us into this dungeon. They
know not what they do. They act in ignorance and passion. They seek to
destroy our dear old government; but they will only destroy what they
are striving so madly to build up."

"Yes," said one of the prisoners, "the institution will be ruined by
those very men! They are worse than the abolitionists themselves; and I
hate 'em worse!"

"Hate their errors, Captain Grudd, hate their crimes, but hate no man,"
Mr. Villars softly replied.

"And you would have us submit to them?"

"Submit, when you can do no better. But even for their sakes, even for
the love of them, my friend, resist their crimes when you can. No man
will stand by and see a maniac murder his wife and children. It will be
better for the poor maddened wretch himself to prevent him; don't you
think so, Penn?"

"I do," said Penn, who knew that the argument was meant for himself, not
for the rest. "I am thoroughly convinced. You were always right on that
subject; and I was always wrong."

"I perceive," said the old man, "that you have had experience. It is not
I that have convinced you; it is the logic of events."

One by one, the prisoners from above followed Penn down the dismal
stairs. Only now and then a fainthearted Unionist consented to regain
his liberty by taking the oath of allegiance, and "volunteering." At
length the room above was cleared, and no more prisoners arrived. Penn,
who had kept anxious watch for his friend Stackridge, was congratulating
himself upon the perfect success of his stratagem, when the corporal who
had brought him in came rushing down the stairs, accompanied by
Lieutenant Ropes.

"Stackridge!" he called, searching among the prisoners; "is Medad
Stackridge here?"

No man had seen him.

"Then I tell you," said the corporal to Silas, "he is hid somewhere up
stairs, or else he has escaped; for I can swear I arrested him."

"I can swear you was drunk," said Silas, much disgusted. "You have let
the wust man of the lot slip through your fingers; for it's certain he
ain't here."

Penn trembled for a minute. But both Ropes and the corporal passed him
without a suspicion of what was agitating him; and he felt immensely
relieved when they returned up the stairs, and the mystery remained
unexplained.

The prisoners in the cellar were about twelve in number. Nearly all were
sturdy, earnest men. Penn noticed that they were not cast down by their
misfortunes, but that they whispered among themselves, exchanging
glances of intelligence and defiance. At length Captain Grudd came to
him, and taking him aside, said,--

"Well, professor, what do you think of the situation?"

"We seem to be at the mercy of the villains," replied Penn.

"Not so much at their mercy either, if we choose to be men! What we want
to know is, will you join us? And if there should be a little fighting
to do, will you help do it?"

Penn grasped his hand. "Show me that we have any chance of escape, and I
am with you!"

"I thought you would come to it at last!" Grudd smiled grimly. "What we
want, to begin with, is a few handy weapons. But we have all been
disarmed. Have you anything? I noticed they did not search you, probably
because you came voluntarily and gave yourself up."

"I have Stackridge's pistol. It is in the coat Mr. Villars is sitting
on."

Grudd's eyes lighted up at this unexpected good news. "It will come in
play! We must shoot or strangle these fellows, and have their
guns,"--with a glance at the soldiers on guard.

"But the room up stairs is full of soldiers, and there is a strong guard
posted outside, probably surrounding the building."

"We will have as little to do with them as possible. Young man, I have a
secret for you. Do you know whose property this is?"

"Barber Jim's, I believe."

"And do you know there's a secret passage from this cellar into the
cellar under Jim's shop? It was dug by Jim himself, as a hiding-place
for his wife and children. He had bought them, but the heirs of their
former owner had set up a claim to them. After that matter was settled,
he showed Stackridge the place; and that's the way we came to make use
of it. We stored our guns in the passage, and came through into this
cellar at night to consult and drill. The store being shut, and the
windows all fastened and boarded up, made a quiet place of it. As good
luck would have it, the night before the military took possession, Jim
warned us, and we carefully put back every stone in the wall, and left.
But some of our guns are still in the passage, if they have not been
discovered. We have only to open the wall again to get at them. But
before that can be done, the guard must be disposed of."

Penn, who had listened with intense interest to this recital, drew a
long breath.

"Is the passage behind the spot where Mr. Villars is sitting?"

"Within three feet of the box."

"Then I fear it is discovered. I heard a noise behind that wall not ten
minutes ago."

Grudd started. "Are you sure?"

"Quite sure."

"It must be Jim himself; or else we have been betrayed."

"Was the secret known to many?"

"To all our club, and one besides," said Grudd, frowning anxiously.
"Stackridge made a mistake; I told him so!"

"How?"

"We were drilling here that night when Dutch Carl came to tell us you
were in danger. Stackridge said he knew the boy, and would trust him. So
he brought him in here. And Carl is now a rebel volunteer."

"With him your secret is safe!" Penn hastened to assure the captain.
"Stackridge was right. Carl----"

He paused suddenly, looking at the stairs. Even while the boy's name was
on his lips, the boy himself was entering the cellar. He carried a
musket. He wore the confederate uniform. He was accompanied by Gad and
an officer. They had come to relieve the guard. The men who had
previously been on duty at the foot of the stairs retired with the
officer, and Gad and Carl remained in their place.

Penn at the sight was filled with painful solicitude. To have seen his
young friend and pupil shoulder a confederate musket, knowing that it
was the love of him that made him a rebel, would alone have been grief
enough. How much worse, then, to see him placed here in a position where
it might be necessary, in Grudd's opinion, to "shoot or strangle" him!
But having once exchanged glances with the boy, Penn's mind was set at
rest.

"He has kept your secret," he said to Grudd. "He is very shrewd; and if
we need help, he will help us."

But the noise Penn had heard behind the wall was troubling the captain.
They retired to that part of the cellar. They had been there but a short
time when a very distinct knock was heard on the stones. It sounded like
a signal. Grudd responded, striking the wall with his heel as he leaned
his back against it. Then followed a low whistle in the passage. The
captain's dark features lighted up.

"We are safe!" he whispered in Penn's ear. "It is Stackridge himself!"



XXIII.

_THE FLIGHT OF THE PRISONERS._


Then commenced strategy. The prisoners gathered in a group before the
closed passage, and talked loud, while Grudd established a communication
with Stackridge. In the course of an hour a single stone in the wall had
been removed. Through the aperture thus formed a bottle was introduced.
This Grudd pretended afterwards to take from his pocket; and having
(apparently) drank, he offered it to his friends. All drank, or appeared
to drink, in a manner that provoked Gad's thirst. He vowed that it was
too bad that anything good should moisten the lips of tory prisoners
while a soldier like him went thirsty.

"I never saw the time, Gad," said the captain, "when I wouldn't share a
bottle with you, and I will now."

Gad held his gun with one hand and grasped the bottle with the other.
Penn seized the moment when his eyes were directed upwards at the cobweb
festoons that adorned the cellar, and the sound of gurgling was in his
throat, to whisper in Carl's ear,--

"Appear to drink, and by and by pass the bottle up stairs."

Carl understood the game in an instant.

"Here, you fish!" he said, in the midst of Gad's potation. "Leafe a
little trop for me, vill you?"

It was some time before the torrent in Gad's throat ceased its
murmuring, and he removed his eyes from the cobwebs. Then, smacking his
lips, and remarking that it was the right sort of stuff, he passed the
bottle to Carl.

"Who's the fish this time?" said he, enviously, after Carl had made
believe swallow for a few seconds.

He snatched the bottle, and was drinking as before, when the guard
above, hearing what passed, called for a taste.

"You shust vait a minute till Gad trinks it all up, then you shall pe
velcome to vot ish left," said Carl. And, possessing himself of the
bottle, he handed it up to his comrades.

All the soldiers above were asleep except the sentinels. They drank
freely, and returned the bottle to Gad. He had not finished it before he
began to be overcome by drowsiness, its contents having been drugged for
the occasion.

He sat down on the stairs, and soon slid off upon the ground. Carl, who
had not in reality swallowed a drop, followed his example. Their guns
were then taken from them. Penn stole softly up the stairs, and
reconnoitred while Grudd and his companions opened the passage in the
wall.

"All asleep!" Penn whispered, descending. "Carl!"

Carl opened one eye, with a droll expression.

"Are you asleep?"

"Wery!" said Carl.

"Will you stay here, or go with us?"

"You vill take me prisoner?"

"If you wish it."

"Say you vill plow my brains out if I say vun vord, or make vun noise."

"Come, come! there's no time for fooling, Carl!"

"It ish no vooling!" And Carl insisted on Penn's making the threat.
"Veil, then, I vill vake up and go 'long mit you."

Mr. Villars had been for some time sleeping soundly; for it was now long
past midnight, and weariness had overcome him. Penn awoke him; but the
old man refused to escape. "Go without me. I shall be too great a burden
for you." But not one of his fellow-prisoners would consent to leave him
behind; and, listening to their expostulations, he at length arose to
accompany them.

Stackridge was in the passage, with the old man Ellerton, whom Penn had
sent to warn him. They had brought a supply of ammunition for the guns,
which they had loaded and placed ready for use. Penn, supporting and
guiding the old minister, was the first to pass through into the cellar
under Jim's shop. Stackridge, preceding them with a lantern, greeted
their escape with silent and grim exultation. Carl came next. Then, one
by one, the others followed, each grasping his gun; the rays of the
lantern lighting up their determined faces, as they emerged from the low
passage, and stood erect, an eager, whispering group, around Stackridge.

Brief the consultation. Their plans were soon formed. Leaving Gad asleep
in the cellar behind them; the guard asleep, the soldiers all asleep, in
the room above; the sentinels outside the old storehouse keeping watch,
pacing to and fro around the cellar, in which not a prisoner
remained,--Stackridge and his companions filed out noiselessly through
Jim's closed and silent shop, upon the other street, and took their way
swiftly through the town.

Having appointed a place of meeting with his friends, Penn left them,
and hastened alone to Mr. Villars's house. The lights had long been out.
But the sisters were awake; Virginia had not even gone to bed. She was
sitting by her window, gazing out on the hushed, gloomy, breathless
summer night,--waiting, waiting, she scarce knew for what,--when she was
aware of a figure approaching, and knew Penn's light, quick tap at the
door.

She ran down to admit him. His story was quickly told. Toby was roused
up; blankets were rolled together, and all the available provisions that
could be carried were thrust into baskets.

"How shall we get news to you? You will want to hear from your father."
Penn hastily thought of a plan. "Send Toby to the round rock,--he knows
where it is,--on the side of the mountain. Between nine and ten o'clock
to-morrow night. I will try to communicate with him there." And Penn,
bidding the young girl be of good cheer, departed as suddenly as he had
arrived.

The old negro accompanied him, assisting to carry the burdens. They
found Stackridge's horse where he had been fastened. Penn made Toby
mount, take a basket in each hand, and hold the blankets before him on
the neck of the horse; then, seizing the bridle, and running by his
side, he trotted the beast away across the field in a manner that shook
the old negro up in lively style.

"O, Massa Penn! I can't stan' dis yere! I's gwine all to pieces! I shall
drap some o' dese yer tings, shore!"

"You must stand it! hold on to them!" said Penn. "And now keep still,
for we are near the road."

The party had halted at the rendezvous. Mr. Villars, quite exhausted by
his unusual exertions, was seated on the ground when Penn came up with
Toby and the horse. Toby dismounted; the old minister mounted in his
place, and the negro was sent back.

All this passed swiftly and silently; the fugitives were once more on
the march, Penn walking by the old man's side. Scarce a word was spoken;
the tramp of feet and the sound of the horse's hoofs alone broke the
silence of the night. Suddenly a voice hailed them:--

"Who goes there?"

And they discovered some horsemen drawn up before them beside the road.
It was the night-patrol.

"Friends," answered Stackridge, marching straight on.

"Halt, and give an account of yourselves!" shouted the patrol.

"We are peaceable citizens, if let alone," said Stackridge. "You'd
better not meddle with us."

The horsemen waited for them to pass, then, firing their pistols at the
fugitives, put spurs to their horses, and galloped away towards the
village.

"Don't fire!" cried Stackridge, as half a dozen pieces were levelled in
the darkness. "We've no ammunition to throw away, and no time to lose.
They'll give the alarm. Take straight to the mountains!"

Nobody had been hit. Turning aside from the road, they took their way
across the broad pasture lands that sloped upwards to the rocky hills.
The dark valley spread beneath them; on the other side rose the dim
outlines of the shadowy mountain range; over all spread a still,
cloudless sky, thick-strewn with glittering star-dust.

In the village, the ringing of bells startled the night with a wild
clamor. Stackridge laughed.

"They'll make noise enough now to wake Gad himself! But noise won't hurt
anybody. Hear the drums!"

"They are coming this way," said Penn.

"Fools, to set out in pursuit of us with drums beating!" said Captain
Grudd. "Very kind in them to give us notice! They should bring lighted
torches, too."

"Once in the mountains," said Stackridge, "we are safe. There we can
defend ourselves against a hundred. Other Union men will join us, or
bring us supplies. We ought to have made this move before; and I'm glad
we've been forced to it at last. If every Union man in the south had
made a bold stand in the beginning, this cursed rebellion never would
have got such a start."

Suddenly bells and drums were silent. "The less noise the more danger,"
said Stackridge. The way was growing difficult for the horse's feet. The
cow-paths, which it had been easy to follow at first, disappeared among
the thickets. At length, on the crest of a hill, the party halted to
rest.

"Daylight!" said Stackridge, turning his face to the east.

The sky was brightening; the shadows in the valley melted slowly away;
far off the cocks crew.

"Hark!" said the captain. "Do you hear anything?"

"I heard a woice!" said Carl.

"Hist!" said Penn. "Look yonder! there they come! around those bushes at
the foot of the oak!"

"Sure as fate, there they are!" said the captain.

The fugitives crowded to his side, eager, grasping their gunstocks, and
peering with intent eyes through the darkness in the direction in which
he pointed.

"Take the horse," said Stackridge to Penn, "and lead him up through that
gap out of the reach of the bullets. We'll stay and give these rascals a
lesson. Go along with him, Carl, if you don't want to fight your
friends."

There were not guns enough for all; and Grudd had Stackridge's revolver.
There was nothing better, then, for Penn and Carl to do than to consent
to this arrangement.

Penn went before, leading the horse up the dry bed of a brook. Carl
followed, urging the animal from behind. Mr. Villars rode with the
baggage, which had been lashed to the saddle. Only the clashing of the
iron hoofs on the stones broke the stillness of the morning in that
mountain solitude. Stackridge and his compatriots had suddenly become
invisible, crouching among bushes and behind rocks.

The retreat of Penn and his companions was discovered by the pursuing
party, who mistook it for a general flight of the fugitives. They rushed
forward with a shout. They had a rugged and barren hill to ascend. Half
way up the slope they saw flashes of fire burst from the rocks above,
heard the rapid "crack--crackle--crack!" of a dozen pieces, and
retreated in confusion down the hill again.

Stackridge and his companions coolly proceeded to reload their guns.

"They didn't know we had arms," said the farmer, with a grim smile.
"They'll be more cautious now."

"We've done for two or three of 'em!" said Captain Grudd. "There they
lie; one is crawling off."

"Let him crawl!" said Stackridge. "Sorry to kill any of 'em; but it's
about time for 'em to know we're in 'arnest."

"They've gone to cover in the laurels," said Grudd. "Let's shift our
ground, and watch their movements."

Penn and Carl in the mean time made haste to get the horse and his
burden beyond the reach of bullets. They toiled up the bed of the brook
until it was no longer passable. Huge bowlders lay jammed and crowded in
clefts of the mountain before them. Penn remembered the spot. He had
been there in spring, when down over the rocks, now covered with lichens
and dry scum, poured an impetuous torrent.

"Now I know where I am," he said. "I don't believe it is possible to get
the horse any farther. We will wait here for our friends. Mr. Villars,
if you will dismount, we will try to get you up on the bank."

"I pity you, my children," said the old man. "You should never have
encumbered yourselves with such a burden as I am. I can neither fight
nor run. Is it sunrise yet?"

"It is sunrise, and a beautiful morning! The fresh rays come to us here,
sifted through the dewy trees. Sit down on this rock. Find the luncheon,
Carl. Ah, Carl!"--Penn regarded the boy affectionately,--"I am glad to
have you with me again, but I can't forget that you are a rebel! and a
deserter!"

"I a deserter? you mishtake," said Carl. "I am a prisoner."

"You disobeyed me, Carl! I told you not to enlist. You did wrong."

"Now shust listen," said Carl, "and I vill tell you. I did right. Cause
vy. You are alive and vell now, ain't you?"

Penn smilingly admitted the fact.

"And that is petter as being hung?"

"I am not so very certain of that, Carl!"

"Vell, I am certain for you. Hanging ish no goot. Hunderts of vellers
that don't like the rebels no more as you do, wolunteer rather than to
be hung. Shows their goot sense."

"But you have taken an oath--you are under a solemn engagement, Carl, to
fight against the government."

"You mishtake unce more--two times. I make a pargain. I say to that man,
'You let Mishter Hapgoot go free, and not let him be hurt, and I vill be
a rebel.' Vell, he agrees. But he don't keep his vord. He lets 'em go
for to hang you vunce more. Now, if he preaks his part of the pargain,
vy shouldn't I preak mine?"

"Well, Carl," said Penn, laughing, while his eyes glistened, "I trust
thy conscience is clear in the matter. I can only say that, though I
don't approve of thy being a rebel, I love thee all the better for it.
What do you think, Mr. Villars?"

"Sometimes people do wrong from a motive so pure and disinterested that
it sanctifies the action. This is Carl's case, I think."

"Hello!" cried Carl, jumping up from the bank on which they were seated.
"Guns! They are at it again! I vill go see!"

The boy disappeared, scrambling down the dry bed of the torrent.

The firing continued at irregular intervals for half an hour. Carl did
not return. Penn grew anxious. He stood, intently listening, when he
heard a noise behind him, and, turning quickly, saw the glimmer of
musket-barrels over the rocks.

"Fire!" said a voice.

And Penn threw himself down under the bank just in time to avoid the
discharge of half a dozen pieces aimed at his head.

"What is the trouble?" asked the old man, who was lying on some blankets
spread for him there in the shade.

Before Penn could reply, Silas Ropes and six men came rushing down upon
them. Stackridge had been out-generalled. Whilst he and his men were
being diverted by a feigned attack in front, two different parties had
been despatched by circuitous routes to get in his rear. In executing
the part of the plan intrusted to him, Ropes had unexpectedly come upon
the schoolmaster and his companion. A minute later both were seized and
dragged up from the bed of the torrent.

"Ye don't escape me this time!" said Silas, with brutal exultation. "Tie
him up to the tree thar; serve the old one the same. We can't be
bothered with prisoners."

"What are you going to do to that helpless, blind old man?" cried Penn.
"Do what you please with me; I expect no mercy,--I ask none. But I
entreat you, respect his gray hair!"

The appeal seemed to have some effect even on the savage-hearted Silas.
He glanced at his men: they were evidently of the opinion that the
slaughter of the old clergyman was uncalled for.

"Wal, tie the old ranter, and leave him. Quick work, boys. Got the
schoolmaster fast?"

"All right," said the men.

"Wal, now stand back here, and les' have a little bayonet practice."

Penn knew very well what that meant. His clothes were stripped from him,
in order to present a fair mark for the murderous steel; and he was
bound to a tree.

"One at a time," said Silas. "Try your hand, Griffin.
_Charge--bayonet!_"

In vain the old minister endeavored to make himself heard in his
friend's behalf. He could only pray for him.

Penn saw the ferocious soldier springing towards him, the deadly bayonet
thrust straight at his heart. In an instant the murder would have been
done. But when within two paces of his victim, the steel almost touching
his breast, Griffin uttered a yell, dropped his gun, flung up his hands,
and fell dead at Penn's feet.

At the same moment a light curl of smoke was wafted from the heaped
bowlders in the chasm above, and the echoes of a rifle-crack
reverberated among the rocks.

The assassins were terror-struck. They looked all around; not a human
being was in sight. Distant firing proclaimed that Stackridge and his
men were still engaged. The death that struck down Griffin seemed to
have fallen from heaven. They waited but a moment, then fled
precipitately, leaving Penn still bound, but uninjured, with the dead
rebel at his feet.

Then two figures came gliding swiftly down over the rocks. Penn uttered
a cry of joy. It was Pomp and Cudjo.



XXIV.

_THE DEAD REBEL'S MUSKET._


Pomp came reloading his rifle, while Cudjo, knife in hand, flew at the
cords that confined the schoolmaster.

In his gratitude to Heaven and his deliverers, Penn could have hugged
that grotesque, half-savage creature to his heart. But no time was to be
lost. Snatching the knife, he hastened to release the bewildered
clergyman.

"Pomp, my noble fellow!" The negro turned from looking after the
retreating rebels, with a gleam of triumph on his proud and lofty
features: Penn wrung his hand. "You have twice saved my life--now let me
ask one more favor of you! Take Mr. Villars to your cave--do for him
what you have done for me. He is a much better Christian, and far more
deserving of your kindness, than I ever was."

"And you?" said Pomp, quietly.

"I will take my chance with the others." And Penn in few words explained
the occurrences of the night and morning.

Pomp shrugged his shoulders frowningly. The time was at hand when he and
Cudjo could no longer enjoy in freedom their wild mountain life; even
they must soon be drawn into the great deadly struggle. This he foresaw,
and his soul was darkened for a moment.

"Cudjo! Shall we take this old man to our den?"

"No, no! Don't ye take nobody dar! on'y Massa Hapgood."

"But he is blind!" said Penn.

"Others will come after who are not blind," said Pomp, his brow still
stern and thoughtful.

"My friends," interposed the old clergyman, mildly, "do nothing for me
that will bring danger to yourselves, I entreat you!"

These unselfish words, spoken with serious and benignant aspect, touched
the generous chords in Pomp's breast.

"Why should we blacks have anything to do with this quarrel?" he said
with earnest feeling. "Your friends down there"--meaning Stackridge and
his party--"are all slaveholders or pro-slavery men. Why should we care
which side destroys the other?"

"There is a God," answered Mr. Villars, with a beaming light in his
unterrified countenance, "who is not prejudiced against color; who loves
equally his black and his white children; and who, by means of this war
that seems so needless and so cruel, is working out the redemption, not
of the misguided white masters only, but also of the slave. Whether you
will or not, this war concerns the black man, and he cannot long keep
out of it. Then will you side with your avowed enemies, or with those
who are already fighting in your cause without knowing it?"

These words probed the deep convictions of Pomp's breast. He had from
the first believed that the war meant death to slavery; although of late
the persistent and almost universal cry of Union men for the "Union as
it was,"--the Union with the injustice of slavery at its core,--had
somewhat wearied his patience and weakened his faith.

"Here, Cudjo! help get this horse up--we can find a path for him."

Reluctantly Cudjo obeyed; and almost by main strength the two athletic
blacks lifted and pulled the animal up the bank, and out of the chasm.

Penn assisted his old friend to remount, then took leave of him.

"I will be with you again soon!" he cried, hopefully, as the negroes
urged the horse forward into the thickets.

Then the young Quaker, left alone, turned to look at the dead rebel. For
a moment horrible nausea and faintness made him lean against the tree
for support. It was the first violent death of which he had ever been an
eye-witness. He had known this man,--who was indeed the same Griffin,
who had assisted the unwilling Pepperill to bring the tar-kettle to the
wood-side on a certain memorable evening; ignorant, intemperate, too
proud to work in a region where slavery made industry a disgrace, and
yet a fierce champion of the system which was his greatest curse. Now
there he lay, in his dirt, and rags, and blood, his neck shot through;
the same expression of ferocious hate with which he had rushed to
bayonet the schoolmaster still distorting his visage;--an object of
horror and loathing. Was it not assuming a terrible responsibility to
send this rampant sinner to his long account? Yet the choice was between
his life and Penn's; and had not Pomp done well? Still Penn could not
help feeling remorse and commiseration for the wretch.

"Poor Griffin! I have no murderous hatred for such as you! But if you
come in the way of my country's safety, or of the welfare of my friends,
you must take the penalty!"

He picked up the musket that had fallen at his feet where he stood
bound. Then, stifling his disgust, he felt in the dead man's pockets for
ammunition. Cartridges there were none; but in their place he found some
bullets and a powder-flask. Then putting in practice the lessons he had
learned of Pomp when they hunted together on the mountain, he loaded the
gun, resolutely setting his teeth and drawing his breath hard when he
thought of the different kind of game it might now be his duty to shoot.

While thus occupied he heard footsteps that gave him a sudden start. He
turned quickly, catching up the gun. To his immense relief he saw Pomp,
approaching with a smile.

"I thought you were with Mr. Villars!"

"Cudjo has gone with him. I am going with you."

"O Pomp!" cried Penn, with a joyful sense of reliance upon his powerful
and sagacious black friend. "But is Mr. Villars safe?"

"Cudjo is faithful," said Pomp. "He believes the old man is your friend,
and a friend of the slave. Besides, I promised, if he would take him to
the cave, that my next shot, if I have a chance, should be at his old
acquaintance, Sile Ropes."

Pomp took the lead, guiding Penn through hollows and among thickets to a
ledge crowned with shrubs of savin, whose summit commanded a view of all
that mountain-side.

They crept among the bushes to the edge of the cliff. There they paused.
Neither friend nor foe was in sight. No sound of fire-arms was
heard,--only the birds were singing.

Penn never forgot that scene. How fresh, and beautiful, and still the
morning was! The sunlight flushed the craggy and wooded slopes. Far off,
dim with early mist, lay the lovely hills and valleys of East Tennessee.
On the north the peaks of the mountain range soared away, purple, rosy,
glorious, in soft suffusing light. In the south-west other peaks
receded, billowy and blue. And God's pure, deep sky was over all.

Touched by the divine beauty of the day, Penn lay thinking with shame of
the scenes of human folly and violence with which it had been
desecrated, when the negro drew him softly by the sleeve.

"Look yonder! down in the edge of that little grove!"

Peering through an opening in the savins through which Pomp had thrust
his rifle, Penn saw, stealing cautiously out of the grove, a man.

"It is Stackridge! He is reconnoitring."

"It is a retreat," said Pomp. "See, there they all come!"

"Carl with the rest, showing them the way!" added Penn.

He was watching with intense interest the movements of his friends, and
rejoicing that no foe was in sight, when suddenly Pomp uttered a warning
whisper.

"Where? what?" said Penn, eagerly looking in the direction in which the
negro pointed.

Down at their left was a long line of dark thickets which marked the
edge of a ravine; out of which he now saw emerging, one by one, a file
of armed men. They climbed up a narrow and difficult pass, and halted on
the skirts of the thicket. Ten--twelve--fifteen, Penn counted. It was
the other party that had been sent out simultaneously with that under
Lieutenant Ropes, to get in the rear of the fugitives. And they had
succeeded. Only a bushy ridge concealed them from Stackridge's men, who
were coming up under the shelter of the same ridge on the other side.

Penn trembled with excitement as he saw the rebels cross swiftly
forward, skulking among the bushes, to the summit of the ridge. The
negro's eyes blazed, but he was perfectly cool. On one knee, his left
foot advanced,--holding his rifle with one hand, and parting the bushes
with the other,--he smiled as he observed the situation.

"Here," said he to Penn, "rest your gun in this little crotch. Now can
you see to take aim?"

"Yes," said Penn, with his heart in his throat.

"Calm your nerves! Everything depends on our first shot. Wait till I
give the word. See! they have discovered Stackridge!"

"We might shout, and warn him," said Penn, whose nature still shrank
from using any more deadly means of saving his friends.

"And so discover ourselves! That never'll do. Have you sighted your
man?"

"Yes--the one lying on his belly behind that cedar."

"Very well! I'll take the fellow next him. The moment you have fired,
keep perfectly still, only draw your gun back and load. Now--fire!"

Just then Stackridge and his men, in full view of their hidden friends
on the ledge, were appearing to the fifteen ambushed rebels also.
Suddenly the loud bang of a musket, followed instantly by the sharp
crack of a rifle, echoed down the mountain side. The rebel behind the
cedar sprang to his feet, dropping his gun, and throwing up his hands,
and rushed back down the ridge, screaming, "I'm hit! I'm hit!" while the
man next him also attempted to rise, but fell again, Pomp having
discreetly aimed at an exposed leg.

"I'm glad we've only wounded them!" whispered Penn, very pale, his lips
compressed, his eyes gleaming.

"It has the effect!" said Pomp. "Your friends have discovered the
ambush, thanks to that coward's uproar; and now the rascals are
panic-struck! Fire again as they go into the ravine--powder alone will
do now--a little noise will send them tumbling!"

They accordingly fired blank discharges; at the same time Stackridge and
his friends, recovering from their momentary astonishment, charged after
the retreating rebels, who had barely time to carry off their wounded
and escape into the ravine, when their pursuers scaled the ridge.

"I'm off!" said Pomp, creeping back through the savins. "These men are
not my friends, though they are yours. I'll go and look after Cudjo."
And bounding down into a hollow, he was quickly out of sight.



XXV.

_BLACK AND WHITE._


Penn attached his handkerchief to the end of the musket, and standing
upon the ledge, waved it over the bushes. Carl, recognizing him, was the
first to scramble up the height. The whole party followed, each sturdy
patriot wringing the schoolmaster's hand with hearty congratulations
when they learned what use he had made of the rebel musket.

"But the whole credit of the manoeuvre belongs not to me, but to the
negro Pomp!" And he related the story of his own rescue and theirs.

The patriots looked grave.

"Where is the fellow?" asked Stackridge.

"Being a fugitive slave, he feared lest he should find little favor in
the eyes of his master's neighbors," said Penn.

"That's where he was right!" said Deslow, with a bigoted and unforgiving
expression. "Nothing under the sun shall make me give encouragement to a
nigger's running away."

Two or three others nodded grim assent to this first principle of the
slaveholder's discipline. Penn was fired with exasperation and scorn,
and would have separated himself from these narrow-minded patriots on
the spot, had not Stackridge jumped up from the ground upon which he had
thrown himself, and, striking his gun barrel fiercely, exclaimed,--

"Now, that's what I call cursed foolishness, Deslow! and every man that
holds to that way of thinking had better go over to t'other side to
oncet! If we can't make up our minds to sacrifice our property, and,
what's more to some folks, our prejudices, in the cause we're fighting
for, we may as well stop before we stir a step further. I'm a
slaveholder, and always have been; but I swear, I can't say as I ever
felt it was such a divine institution as some try to make it out, and I
don't believe there's a man here that thinks in his heart that it's just
right. And as for the niggers running away, my private sentiment is,
that I don't blame 'em a mite. You or I, Deslow, would run in their
place; you know you would." And Stackridge wiped his brow savagely.

"And as for this particular case," said Captain Grudd, with a gleam of
light in his lean and swarthy countenance, "don't le's be blind to our
own interests; don't le's be downright fools. I've said from the first
that slavery and the rebellion was brother and sister,--they go
together; and I've made up my mind to stand by my country and the old
flag, whatever comes of the institution." All, except the conservative
Deslow, applauded this resolution. "Then consider," added the captain,
his deliberate, impressive manner proving quite as effective as
Stackridge's more excited and fiery style,--"here we are fighting for
our very lives and liberties; and if, as I say, slavery's the cause of
this war, then we're fighting against slavery, the best we can fix it.
How monstrous absurd 'twill be, then, for us to refuse the assistance of
any nigger that has it to give! Bythewood, Pomp's owner, is one of the
hottest secessionists I know; and d'ye think I want Pomp sent back to
him, to help that side, when he has shown that he can be of such mighty
good service to us? I move that we send the professor to make a treaty
with him. What do you say, Mr. Hapgood?"

"I say," replied Penn with enthusiasm, "that he and Cudjo are in a
condition to do infinitely more for us than we can do for them; and if
their alliance can be secured, I say that we ought by all means to
secure it."

"That depends," said Grudd, "upon what we intend to do. Are we going to
make a stand here, and see if the loyal part of old Tennessee will rise
up and sustain us? or are we going to fight our way over the mountains,
and never come back till a Union army comes with us to set things a
little to rights here?"

"Wa'al," said Withers, who concealed a hardy courage and earnest
patriotism under a phlegmatic and droll exterior, "while we're
discussin' that question, I reckon we may as well have breakfast. This
is as good a place as any,--we can take turns keeping a lookout from
that ledge."

He proceeded to kindle a fire in the hollow. The fugitives, in passing a
field of corn, had thrust into their pockets a plentiful supply of green
ears, which they now husked and roasted. There was a spring in the rocks
near by, from which they drank lying on their faces, and dipping in
their beards. This was their breakfast; during which Penn's mission to
the blacks was fully discussed, and finally decided upon.

The meal concluded, the refugees resumed their march, and entered an
immense thick wood farther up the mountain. In a cool and shadowy spot
they halted once more; and here Penn took leave of them, setting out on
his visit to the cave.

He had a mile to travel over a rough, wild region, where the fires that
had formerly devastated it had left the only visible marks of a near
civilization. In a tranquil little dell that had grown up to wild grass,
he came suddenly upon a horse feeding. It was Stackridge's useful nag,
which looked up from his lofty grove-shaded pasture with a low whinny of
recognition as Penn patted his neck and passed along.

A furlong or two farther on the well-known ravine opened,--dark, silent,
profound, with its shaggy sides, one in shadow and the other in the sun,
and its little embowered brook trickling far down there amid mossy
stones;--as lonesome, wild, and solitary as if no human eye had ever
beheld it before.

Penn glided over the ledges, and descended along the narrow shelf of
rock, behind the thickets that screened the entrance to the cave.
Sunlight, and mountain wind, and summer heat he left behind, and entered
the cool, still, gloomy abode.

Cudjo ran to the mouth of the cave to meet him. "Lef me frow dis yer
blanket ober your shoulders, while ye cool off; cotch yer de'f cold, if
ye don't. De ol' man's a 'speckin' ye."

Penn was relieved to learn that Mr. Villars had arrived in safety, and
gratified to find him lying comfortably on the bed conversing with Pomp.

"By the blessing of God, I am very well indeed, my dear Penn. These
excellent fellow-Christians have taken the best of care of me. The
atmosphere of the cave, which I thought at first chilly, I now find
deliciously pure and refreshing. And its gloom, you know, don't trouble
me," added the blind old man with a smile. "Have you had any more
trouble since Pomp left you?"

"No," said Penn; "thanks to him. Pomp, our friends want to see you and
thank you, and they have sent me to bring you to them."

The negro merely shrugged his shoulders, and smiled.

"What good der tanks do to we?" cried Cudjo. "Ain't one ob dem ar men
but what would been glad to hab us cotched and licked for runnin' away,
fur de 'xample to de tudder niggers."

"If that was true of them once, it is not now," said Penn. "Yet, Pomp,
if you feel that there is the least danger in going to them, do not go."

"Danger?" The negro's proud and lofty look showed what he thought of
that. "Cudjo, make Mr. Hapgood a cup of coffee; he looks tired. You have
had a hard time, I reckon, since you left us."

"Him stay wid us now till he chirk up again," said Cudjo, running to his
coffee-box. "Him and de ol' gemman stay--nobody else."

While the coffee was making, Penn, sitting on one of the stone blocks
which he had named giant's stools, repeated such parts of the late
breakfast talk of Stackridge and his friends as he thought would
interest Pomp and win his confidence. Then he drank the strong, black
beverage in silence, leaving the negro to his own reflections.

"Are you going again?" said Pomp.

"Yes; I promised them I would return."

"Take some coffee and a kettle to boil it in; they will be glad of it, I
should think."

"O Pomp! you know how to do good even to your enemies! What shall I say
to them for you?"

"What I have to say to them I will say myself," said Pomp, taking his
rifle in one hand, and the kettle in the other, to Cudjo's great wrath
and disgust.

He set out with Penn immediately. They found the patriots reposing
themselves about the roots of the forest trees, on the banks of a stream
that came gurgling and plashing down the mountain side. Above them
spread the beautiful green tops of maples, tinted with sunshine and
softly rustling in the breeze. The curving banks formed here a little
natural amphitheatre, carpeted with moss and old leaves, on which they
sat or reclined, with their hats off and their guns at their sides.

A sentry posted on the edge of the forest brought in Penn and his
companion. There was a stir of interest among the patriots, and some of
them rose to their feet. Stackridge, Grudd, and two or three others
cordially offered the negro their hands, and pledged him their gratitude
and friendship. Pomp accepted these tokens of esteem in silence,--his
countenance maintaining a somewhat haughty expression, his lips firm,
his eyes kindling with a strange light.

Penn took the kettle, and proceeded, with Carl's help, to make a fire
and prepare coffee for the company, intently listening the while to all
that was said.

Jutting from one bank of the stream, which washed its base, was a huge,
square block covered with dark-green moss. Upon this Pomp stepped, and
rested his rifle upon it, and bared his massive and splendid head, and
stood facing his auditors with a placid smile, under the canopy of
leaves. There was not among them all so noble a figure of a man as he
who stood upon the rock; and he seemed to have chosen this somewhat
theatrical attitude in order to illustrate, by his own imposing personal
presence, the words that rose to his lips.

"You will excuse me, gentlemen, if I cannot forget that I am talking
with those who buy and sell men like me!"

Men like him! The suggestion seemed for a moment to strike the
slave-owning patriots dumb with surprise and embarrassment.

"No, no, Pomp," cried Stackridge, "not men like you--there are few like
you anywhere."

"I wish there was more like him, and that I owned a good gang of 'em!"
muttered the man Deslow.

"I don't," replied Withers, with a drawl which had a deep meaning in it;
"twould be too much like sleeping on a row of powder barrels, with
lighted candles stuck in the bung holes. Dangerous, them big knowin'
niggers be."

Pomp did not answer for a minute, but stood as if gathering power into
himself, with one long, deep breath inflating his chest, and casting a
glance upward through the sun-lit summer foliage.

"You buy and sell men, and women, and children of my race. If I am not
like them, it is because circumstances have lifted me out of the
wretched condition in which it is your constant policy and endeavor to
keep us. By your laws--the laws you make and uphold--I am this day
claimed as a slave; by your laws I am hunted as a slave;--yes, some of
you here have joined your neighbor in the hunt for me, as if I was no
more than a wild beast to be hounded and shot down if I could not be
caught. Now tell me what union or concord there can be between you and
me!"

"I own," said Deslow,--for Pomp's gleaming eyes had darted significant
lightnings at him,--"I did once come up here with Bythewood to see if we
could find you. Not that I had anything against you, Pomp,--not a thing;
and as for your quarrel with your master, I ain't sure but you had the
right on't; but you know as well as we do that we can't countenance a
nigger's running away, under any circumstances."

"No!" said Pomp, with sparkling sarcasm. "Your secessionist neighbors
revolt against the mildest government in the world, and resort to
bloodshed on account of some fancied wrongs. You revolt against them
because you prefer the old government to theirs. Your forefathers went
to war with the mother country on account of a few taxes. But a negro
must not revolt, he must not even attempt to run away, although he feels
the relentless heel of oppression grinding into the dust all his rights,
all that is dear to him, all that he loves! A white man may take up arms
to defend a bit of property; but a black man has no right to rise up and
defend either his wife, or his child, or his liberty, or even his own
life, against his master!"

Only the narrow-minded Deslow had the confidence to meet this stunning
argument, enforced as it was by the speaker's powerful manner, superb
physical manhood, and superior intelligence.

"You know, Pomp, that your condition, to begin with, is very different
from that of any white man. Your relation to your master is not that of
a man to his neighbor, or of a citizen to the government; it is that of
property to its owner."

"Property!" There was something almost wicked in the wild, bright glance
with which the negro repeated this word. "How came we property, sir?"

"Our laws make you so, and you have been acquired as property," said
Deslow, not unkindly, but in his bigoted, obstinate way. "So, really,
Pomp, you can't blame us for the view we take of it, though it does
conflict a little with your choice in the matter."

"But suppose I can show you that you are wrong, and that even by your
own laws we are not, and cannot be, property?" said Pomp, with a
princely courtesy, looking down from the rock upon Deslow, so evidently
in every way his inferior. "I will admit your title to a lot of land you
may purchase, or reclaim from nature; or to an animal you have captured,
or bought, or raised. But a man's natural, original owner is--himself.
Now, I never sold myself. My father never sold himself. My father was
stolen by pirates on the coast of Africa, and brought to this country,
and sold. The man who bought him bought what had been stolen. By your
own laws you cannot hold stolen property. Though it is bought and sold a
thousand times, let the original owner appear, and it is his,--nobody
else has the shadow of a claim. My father was stolen property, if he was
property at all. He was his own rightful owner. Though he had been
robbed of himself, that made no difference with the justice of the case.
It was so with my mother. It is so with me. It is the same with every
black man on this continent. Not one ever sold himself, or can be sold,
or can be owned. For to say that what a man steals or takes by force is
his, to dispose of as he chooses, is to go back to barbarism: it is not
the law of any Christian land. So much," added Pomp, blowing the words
from him, as if all the false arguments in favor of slavery were no more
to the man's soul, and its eternal, God-given rights, than the breath he
blew contemptuously forth into those mountain woods,--"so much for the
claim of PROPERTY!"

Penn was so delighted with this triumphant declaration of principles
that he could have flung his hat into the maple boughs and shouted
"Bravo!" He deemed it discreet, however, to confine the expression of
his enthusiasm to a tight grasp on Carl's sympathetic hand, and to watch
the effect of the speech on the rest.

"Deslow," laughed Stackridge, himself not ill pleased with Pomp's
arguments, "what do you say to that?"

"Wal," said Deslow, "I never thought on't in just that light before; and
I own he makes out a pooty good show of a case. But yet--" He hesitated,
scratching for an idea among the stiff black hair that grew on his low,
wrinkled forehead.

"But yet, but yet, but yet!" said Pomp, ironically. "It's so hard, when
our selfish interests are at stake, to confess our injustice or give up
a bad cause! But I did not come here to argue my right to my own
manhood. I take it without arguing. Neither did I come to ask anything
for myself. You can do nothing for me but get me into trouble. Yet I
believe in the cause in which you have taken up arms. I have served you
this morning without being asked by you to do it; and I may assist you
again when the time comes. In the mean while, if you want anything that
I have, it is yours; for I recognize that we are brothers, though you do
not. But I will not join you, for I am neither slave nor inferior, and I
have no wish to be acknowledged an equal." And Pomp stepped off the rock
with an air that seemed to say, "_I_ know who is the equal of the best
of you; and that is enough." If this man had any fault more prominent
than another, it was pride; yet that haughty self-assertion which would
have been offensive in a white man, was vastly becoming to the haughty
and powerful black.

"I, for one," said the impulsive Stackridge, again grasping his hand,
"honor the position you take. What I wanted was to thank you for what
you have done, and to promise that you are safe from danger as far as
regards us. I'm glad you've got your liberty. I hope you will keep it.
You deserve it. Every slave deserves the same that has the manliness to
strike a blow for the good old government----"

"That has kept him a slave," added Pomp, with a bitter smile.

"Yes; and so much the more noble in him to fight for it!" said
Stackridge. "Now, if you don't want to let us into the secrets of your
way of life, I can't say I blame ye. We're glad to get the coffee; and
if you've any game or potatoes on hand, that you can spare, we'll take
'em, and pay ye when we have a chance to forage for ourselves, which
won't be long first."

"I have some salted bear's meat that you'll be welcome to; and may be
Cudjo can spare a little meal." His eye rested on Carl, whose fidelity
he knew. "Let that boy come with us! We will send the provisions by
him."

Carl was delighted with the honor, for Penn was likewise going back to
Mr. Villars with the negro.



XXVI.

_WHY AUGUSTUS DID NOT PROPOSE._


The valiant confederates, returning from the pursuit of the escaped
prisoners, proved themselves possessed of at least one important
qualification for serving the rebel cause. They were able to give a
marvellously good account of themselves. Whatever the military
authorities may have thought of it, the people believed that the little
band of Union men had been nearly annihilated.

In the midst of the excitement, Mr. Augustus Bythewood returned home,
and went in the evening to call upon, counsel, and console the daughters
of the old man Villars.

"O, Massa Bythewood!" cried Toby, in great joy at sight of him, "dey
been killin' ol' massa up on de mountain; and de young ladies--O, Massa
Bythewood! ye must do sumfin' for de young ladies and ol' massa!"

Mr. Augustus flattered himself that he had arrived at just the right
time.

"My dear Virginia! you cannot conceive of my astonishment and grief on
hearing what has happened to your family! I have but just this hour
returned to town, or I should have hastened before to assure you that
all I can do for you I will most gladly undertake. My very dear young
lady, be comforted, I conjure you; for it grieves me to the heart to see
how pale, how very pale and distressed, you look!"

Thus the amiable, the chivalrous, the friendly Gus overflowed with
eloquent sympathy and protestation, pressing affectionately the hand of
the "very pale and distressed" fair one, and bowing low his dark,
aristocratic southern curls over it; appearing, in short, the very
courteous, noble, and devoted gentleman he wasn't.

Virginia breathed hard, compressed her lips, white with indignation as
well as with suffering, and let him act his part. And the confident
lover did not dream that those eyes, red with grief and surrounded by
dark circles, saw through all his hypocritical professions, or that the
cold, passive little hand, abandoned through the apathy of despair to
his caresses, would have been thrust into the fire, before ever he would
have been allowed to win it.

"Surely," she managed to say in a voice scarce above a whisper, "if ever
we needed a true, disinterested friend, it is now. Sit down; and be so
kind as to excuse me a moment. I will call my sister."

So she withdrew. And Augustus smiled. "Now is my time!" he said
complacently to himself, resolved to make an offer of that valuable hand
of his that very night: forlorn, friendless, wretched, was it possible
that she could refuse such a prize? So he sat, and fondled his curls,
and practised sweet smiles, and sympathized with Salina when she came,
and waited for Virginia,--little knowing what was to happen to her, and
to him, and to all, before ever he saw that vanished face again.

For Virginia had business on her hands that night. She remembered the
hurried directions Penn had given for communicating with her father, and
she was already preparing to send off Toby to the round rock.

"Gracious, missis!" said the old negro, returning hastily to the kitchen
door where she stood watching his departure, "dar's a man out dar, a
waitin'! Did ye see him, missis?"

She had indeed seen a human figure advance in the darkness, as if with
intent to intercept or follow him. Perplexed and indignant at the
discovery, she suffered the old servant to return into the house, and
remained herself to see what became of the figure. It moved off a little
way in the darkness, and disappeared.

"Wha' sh'll we do?" Toby rolled up his eyes in consternation. "Do jes'
speak to Mr. Bythewood, Miss Jinny; he's de bestist friend--he'll tell
what to do."

"No, no, Toby!" said Virginia, collecting herself, and speaking with
decision. "He is the last person I would consult. Toby, you must try
again; for either you or I must be at the rock before ten o'clock."

"You, Miss Jinny? Who eber heern o' sich a ting!"

"Go yourself, then, good Toby!" And she earnestly reminded him of the
necessity.

"O, yes, yes! I'll go! Massa can't lib widout ol' Toby, dat's a fac'!"

But looking out again in the dark, his zeal was suddenly damped. "Dey
cotch me, dey sarve me wus 'n dey sarved ol' Pete, shore! Can't help
tinkin' ob dat!"

Virginia saw what serious cause there was to dread such a catastrophe.
But her resolution was unshaken.

"Toby, listen. That man out there is a spy. His object is to see if any
of our friends come to the house, or if we send to them. He won't molest
you; but he may follow to see where you go. If he does, then make a wide
circuit, and return home, and I will find some other means of
communication."

Thus encouraged, the negro set out a second time. Virginia followed him
at a distance. She saw, as she anticipated, the figure start up again,
and move off in the direction he was going. Toby accordingly commenced
making a large detour through the fields, and both he and the shadow
dogging him were soon out of sight.

Then Virginia lost no time in executing the other plan at which she had
hinted. Instead of returning, to give up the undertaking in despair, and
listen to matrimonial proposals from Gus Bythewood, she took a long
breath, gathered up her skirts, and set out for the mountain.

There was a new moon, but it was hidden by clouds. Still the evening was
not very dark. The long twilight of the summer day still lingered in the
valley. Here and there she could distinguish landmarks,--a knoll, a
rock, or a tree,--which gave her confidence. I will not say that she
feared nothing. She was by nature timid, imaginative, and she feared
many things. Her own footsteps were a terror to her. The moving of a
bush in the wind, the starting of a rabbit from her path, caused her
flesh to thrill. At sight of an object slowly and noiselessly emerging
from the darkness and standing before her, motionless and spectral, she
almost fainted, until she discovered that it was an old acquaintance, a
tall pine stump. But all these childish terrors she resolutely overcame.
Her heart never faltered in its purpose. Affection for her father,
anxiety for his welfare, and, it may be, some little solicitude for her
father's friend, who had appointed the tryst at the rock,--not with
herself, indeed, but with Toby,--kept her firm and unwavering in her
course. And beneath all, deep in her soul, was a strong religious sense,
a faith in a divine guidance and protection.

What most she feared was neither ghost nor wild beast of the mountains.
She felt that, if she could avoid encountering the brutal soldiers of
secession, keeping watch along the mountain-side, she would willingly
risk everything else. With the utmost caution, with breathless tread,
she drew near the road she was to cross. Her footsteps were less loud
than her heart-beats. Dogs barked in the distance. In a pool near by,
some happy frogs were singing. The shrill cry of a katydid came from a
poplar tree by the road--"Katy did! Katy didn't!" with vehement
iteration and contradiction. No other sounds; she waited and listened
long; then glided across the road.

She had come far from the village in order to avoid meeting any one. Her
course now lay directly up the mountain-side. The round rock was a
famous bowlder known to picnic parties that frequented the spot in
summer to enjoy a view from its summit, and a luncheon under its shadow.
She had been there a dozen times; but could she find it in the night? In
vain, as she toiled upwards, she strained her eyes to see the huge dim
stone jutting out from the shadowy rocks and bushes.

At length a sudden light, faint and silvery, streamed down upon her. She
looked and saw the clouds parted, and below them the crescent moon
setting, like a cimeter of white flame withdrawn by an invisible hand
behind the vast shadowy summit of the mountain. Almost at the same
moment she discovered the object she sought. The rock was close before
her; and close upon her right was the grove which she herself had so
often helped to fill with singing and laughter. How little she felt like
either singing or laughing now!

She remembered--indeed, had she not remembered all the way?--that the
last time she visited the spot it was in company with Penn. Now she had
come to meet him again--how unmaidenly the act! In darkness, in
loneliness, far from the village and its twinkling lights, to meet an
attractive and a very good looking young man! What would the world say?
Virginia did not care what the world would say. But now she began to
question within herself, "What would Penn think?" and almost to shrink
from meeting him. Strong, however, in her own conscious purity of heart,
strong also in her confidence in him, she put behind her every unworthy
thought, and sought the shelter of the rock.

And there, after all her labors and fears, scratches in her flesh and
rents in her clothes,--there she was alone. Penn had not come. Perhaps
he would not come. It was by this time ten o'clock. What should she do?
Remain, hoping that he would yet fulfil his promise? or return the way
she came, unsatisfied, disheartened, weary, her heart and strength
sustained by no word of comfort from him, by no tidings from her father?

She waited. It was not long before her eager ear caught the sound of
footsteps. An active figure was coming along the edge of the grove. How
joyously her heart bounded! In order that Penn might not be too suddenly
surprised at finding her in Toby's place, she stepped out from the
shadow of the bowlder, and advanced to meet him. She shrank back again
as suddenly, fear curdling her blood.

The comer was not Penn. He wore the confederate uniform: this was what
terrified her. She crouched down under the rock; but perceiving that the
man did not pass by,--that he walked straight up to her,--she started
forth again, in the vain hope to escape by flight. Almost at the first
step she tripped and fell; and the hand of the confederate soldier was
on her arm.



XXVII.

_THE MEN WITH THE DARK LANTERN._


The moon had now set, and it was dark. The frightened girl could not
distinguish the features of him who bent over her; but through the
trance of horror that was upon her, she recognized a voice.

"Wirginie! I tought it vas you! Don't you know me, Wirginie?"

No voice had ever before brought such joy to her soul.

"O Carl! why didn't I know you?"

"Vy not? Pecause maybe you vas looking for somepody else. Mishter
Hapgoot came part vay mit me, but he vas so used up I made him shtop
till I came to pring Toby up vere he is."

Then Virginia, recovering from her agitation, had a score of questions
to ask about her father, about the fight, and about Penn.

"If you vill only go up, he vill tell you so much more as I can. Then
you vill go and see your fahder. That vill be petter as going back
to-night, vere there is no goot shtout fellow in the house to prewail on
them willains to keep their dishtance."

Even at the outset of her adventurous journey Virginia had felt a vague
hope that she should visit her father before she returned. What the boy
said inspired her with courage to proceed. She would go up as far as
where Penn was waiting, at all events: then she would be guided by his
advice.

The two set out, Carl leading her by the hand, and assisting her. It
grew darker and darker. The stars were hidden: the sky was almost
completely overcast by black clouds. Slowly and with great difficulty
they made their way among trees and bushes, through abrupt hollows, and
over rocks. Virginia felt that she could have done nothing without Carl;
and the thought of returning alone, in such darkness, down the mountain,
made her shudder.

But at length even Carl began to sweat with something besides the
physical exertion required in making the ascent. His mind had grown
exceedingly perturbed, and Virginia perceived that his course was
wavering and uncertain.

He stopped, blowing and wiping his face.

"Dish ish de all confoundedesht, meanesht, mosht dishgusting road for a
dark night the prince of darkness himself ever inwented!" he exclaimed,
speaking unusually thick in his heat and excitement. "I shouldn't be
wery much surprised if I vas a leetle out of the right vay. You shtay
right here till I look."

She sat down and waited. Intense darkness surrounded her; not a star was
visible; she could not see her own hand. For a little while Carl's
footsteps could be heard feeling for more familiar ground; and then,
occasionally, the crackling of a dry twig, as he trod upon it, showed
that he was not far off. Then he whistled; then he softly called,
"Hello!" in the woods; moving all the time farther and farther away.

Carl believed that Penn could not be far distant, and, in order to get
an answering signal, he kept whistling and calling louder and louder. At
length came a response--a low warning whistle. So he plodded on, and had
nearly reached the spot where he was confident Penn was searching for
him, when there came a rush of feet, and he was suddenly and violently
seized by invisible assailants.

"Got him?"

"Yes! all right!"

"Hang on to him! It's the Dutchman, ain't it? I thought I knew the
brogue!"

The last speaker was Lieutenant Silas Ropes; and Carl perceived that he
had fallen into the hands of a squad of confederate soldiers. That he
was vastly astonished and altogether disconcerted at first, we may well
suppose. But Carl was not a lad to remain long bereft of his wits when
they were so necessary to him.

"Ho! vot for you choke a fellow so?" he indignantly demanded. "I vas
treated petter as that ven I vas a prisoner."

"What do you mean, you d--d deserter?"

"Haven't I just got avay from Stackridge? and vasn't I running to find
you as vast as ever a vellow could? And now you call me a deserter!"
retorted Carl, aggrieved.

"Running to find _us_!"

"To be sure! Didn't I say, 'Is it you?' For they said you vas on the
mountain. Though I did not think I should find you so easy!" which was
indeed the truth.

Carl persisted so earnestly in regarding the affair from this point of
view, that his captors began to think it worth while to question him.

"Vun of them vellows just says to me, he says, 'Shpeak vun vord, or make
vun noise, and I vill plow your prains out!' I vasn't wery much in favor
to have my prains plowed out, so I complied mit his wery urgent request.
That's the vay they took me prisoner."

"Wal," remarked Silas, "what he says may be true, but I don't believe
nary word on't. Got his hands tied? Now lock arms with him, and bring
him along."

Carl was in despair at this mode of treatment, for it rendered escape
impossible,--and what would become of Virginia? His anxiety for her
safety became absolute terror when he discovered the errand on which
these men were bound.

By the light of a dark lantern they led him through the grove, across a
brook that came tumbling down out of a wild black gorge, and up the
mountain slope into the edge of the great forest above. Here they
stopped.

"This yer's a good place, boys, to begin. Kick the leaves together.
That's the talk."

They were in a leafy hollow of the dry woods. A blaze was soon kindled,
which shot up in the darkness, and threw its ruddy glare upon the trunks
and overhanging canopy of foliage, and upon the malignant, gleaming
faces of the soldiers. Little effort was needed to insure the spreading
of the flames. They ran over the ground, licking up the dry leaves,
crackling the twigs, catching at the bark of trees, and filling the
forest, late so silent and black, with their glow and roar.

"That's to smoke out your d--d Union friends!" said Silas to Carl, with
a hideous grin.

Yes, Carl understood that well enough. In this same forest, on the banks
of the brook above where it fell into the gorge, the patriots were
encamped. And Virginia? Still believing that the worst that could happen
to her would be to fall into the hands of these ruffians, the lad
sweated in silent agony over the secret he was bound to keep.

"What makes ye look so down-in-the-mouth, Dutchy? 'Fraid your friends
will get scorched?"

"I vas thinking the fire vill be apt to scorch us as much as it vill
them. And I have my hands tied so I can't run."

"Don't be afraid; we'll look out for you. I swear, boys! the fire looks
as though 'twas dying down! Get out o' this yer holler and there ain't
no leaves to feed it; and I be hanged if the wind ain't gitting
contrary!"

Carl witnessed these effects with a gleam of hope. The soldiers fell to
gathering bark and sticks, which they piled at the roots of trees. The
lad was left almost alone. Had his hands been free, he would have run. A
soldier passed near him, dragging a dead bush.

"Dan Pepperill! cut the cord!" Dan shook his head, with a look of
terror. "Drop your knife, then!"

"O Lord!" said Dan. "They'd hang me! I be durned if they wouldn't!"

"Dan, you must! I don't care vun cent for myself. But Wirginie
Willars--she is just beyond vere you took me. Vill you leave her to die?
And Mishter Hapgoot is just a little vay up the mountain, and there is
nopody to let him know!"

A look of ghastly intelligence came into Dan's face as he stopped to
listen to this explanation. He seemed half inclined to set the boy's
limbs free, and risk the consequences. But just then Ropes shouted at
him,--

"What ye at thar, Pepperill? Why don't ye bring along that ar brush?"

So the brief conference ended, and the cords remained uncut. And a
great, dangerous fire was kindling in the woods. And now Carl's only
hope for Virginia was, that she would take advantage of its light to
make good her retreat from the mountain.



XXVIII.

_BEAUTY AND THE BEAST._


Unfortunately the poor girl had no suspicion of the mischance that had
overtaken her guide. She heard voices, and believed that he had fallen
in with some friends. Thus she waited, expecting momently that he would
return to her. She saw a single gleam of light that vanished in the
darkness. Then the voices grew fainter and fainter, and at length died
in the distance. And she was once more utterly alone.

Fearful doubt and uncertainty agitated her. In a moment of despair,
yielding to the terrors of her situation, she wrung her hands and called
on Carl imploringly not to abandon her, but to come back--"O, dear, dear
Carl, come back!"

Suddenly she checked herself. Why was she sitting there, wasting the
time in tears and reproaches?

"Poor Carl never meant to desert me in this way, I know. If I ever see
him again, he will make me sorry that I have blamed him. No doubt he has
done his best. But, whatever has become of him, I am sure he cannot find
his way back to me now. I'll follow him; perhaps I may find him, or
Penn, or some of their friends."

She arose accordingly, and groped her way in the direction in which she
had seen the light and heard the voices. And soon another and very
different light gladdened her eyes--a faint glow, far off, as of a fire
kindled among the forest trees. It was the camp of the patriots, she
thought.

She came to the brook, which, invisible, mysterious, murmuring, rolled
along in the midnight blackness, and seemed too formidable for her to
ford. She felt the cold rush of the hurrying water, the slippery slime
of the mossy and treacherous stones, and withdrew her appalled hands. To
find a shallow place to cross, she followed up the bank; and as the
light was still before her, higher on the mountain, she kept on, groping
among trees, climbing over logs and rocks, falling often, but always
resolutely rising again, until, to her dismay, the glow began to
disappear. She had, without knowing it, followed the stream up into the
deep gorge through which it poured; and now the precipitous wood-crowned
wall, rising beside her, overhanging her, shut out the last glimpse of
the fire.

She was by this time exceedingly fatigued. It seemed useless to advance
farther; she felt certain that she was only getting deeper and deeper
into the entangling difficulties of that unknown, horrible place.
Neither had she the courage or strength to retrace her steps. Nothing
then remained for her but to pass the remainder of the night where she
was, and wait patiently for the morning.

Little knowing that the light she had seen was the glare of the kindled
forest, she endeavored to convince herself that she had nothing to fear.
At all events, she knew that trembling and tears could avail her
nothing. She had not ventured to call very loudly for help, fearing lest
her voice might bring foe instead of friend. And now it occurred to her
that perhaps Carl had been taken by the soldiers: yes, it must be so:
she explained it all to herself, and wondered why she had not thought of
it before. It would therefore be folly in her now to scream for aid.

Comfortless, yet calm, she explored the ground for a resting-place. She
cleared the twigs away from the roots of a tree, and laid herself down
there on the moss and old leaves. Everything seemed dank with the
never-failing dews of the deep and sheltered gorge; but she did not mind
the dampness of her couch. A strong wind was rising, and the great trees
above her swayed and moaned. She was vexed by mosquitoes that bit as if
they then for the first time tasted blood, and never expected to taste
it again; but she was too weary to care much for them either. She rested
her arm on the mossy root; she rested her head on her arm; she drew her
handkerchief over her face; she shut out from her soul all the miseries
and dangers of her situation, and quietly said her prayers.

There is nothing that calms the perturbations of the mind like that
inward looking for the light of God's peace which descends upon us when
in silence and sweet trust we pray to him. A delicious sense of repose
ensued, and her thoughts floated off in dreams.

She dreamed she was flying with her father from the fury of armed men.
She led him into a wilderness; and it was night; and great rocks rose up
suddenly before them in the gloom, and awful chasms yawned. Then she was
wandering alone; she had lost her father, and was seeking him up and
down. Then it seemed that Penn was by her side; and when she asked for
her father he smilingly pointed upward at a wondrously beautiful light
that shone from the summit of a hill. She sought to go up thither, but
grew weary, and sat down to rest in a deep grove, with an ice-cold
mountain stream dashing at her feet. Then the light on the hill became a
lake of fire, and it poured its waves into the stream, and the stream
flowed past her a roaring river of flame. Lightnings crackled in the air
above her. Thunderbolts fell. The heat was intolerable. The river had
overflowed, and set the world on fire. And she could not fly, for terror
chained her limbs. She struggled, screamed, awoke. She started up. Her
dream was a reality.

Either the fire set by the soldiers had spread, driven by the wind over
the dry leaves, into the grove below her, or else they had fired the
grove itself on their retreat. Her eyes opened upon a vision of
appalling brightness. For a moment she stood utterly dazzled and
bewildered, not knowing where she was. Memory and reason were paralyzed:
she could not remember, she could not think: amazement and terror
possessed her.

Instinctively shielding her eyes, she looked down. The ground where she
had lain, the log, the sticks, the moss, and her handkerchief fallen
upon it, were illumined with a glare brighter than noonday. At sight of
the handkerchief came recollection. Her terrible adventure, the glow she
had seen in the woods, her bed on the earth,--she remembered everything.
And now the actual perils of her position became apparent to her
returning faculties.

Where all was blackness when she lay down, now all was preternatural
light. Every bush and jutting rock of the wild overhanging cliffs stood
out in fearful distinctness. The saplings and trees on their summits,
fifty feet above her head, seemed huddling together, and leaning forward
terror-stricken, in an atmosphere of whirling flame and smoke. Climb
those cliffs she could not, though she were to die.

She must then flee farther up into the deep and narrow gorge, or
endeavor to escape by the way she had come. But the way she had come was
fire.

The conflagration already enveloped the mouth of the gorge, shutting her
in. The trunks of near trees stood like the bars of a stupendous cage,
through which she looked at the raging demons beyond. Burning limbs
fell, shooting through the air with trails of flame. Every tree was a
pillar of fire. Here a bough, still untouched, hung, dark and impassive,
against the lurid, surging chaos. Then the whirlwind of heated air
struck it, and you could see it writhe and twist, until its darkness
burst into flame. There stood what was late a lordly maple, but
now,--trunk, and limb, and branch,--a tree of living coal. And down
under this gulf of fire flowed the brook, into which showers of sparks
fell hissing, while over all, fearfully illumined clouds of smoke and
cinders and leaves went rolling up into the sky.

Virginia approached near enough to be impressed with the dreadful
certainty that there was no outlet whatever, for any mortal foot, in
that direction. Tortured by the heat, and pursued by lighted twigs, that
fell like fiery darts around her, she fled back into the gorge.

The conflagration was still spreading rapidly. The timber along both
sides of the gorge, at its opening, began to burn upwards towards the
summits of the cliffs. Soon the very spot where she had slept, and where
she now paused once more in her terrible perplexity and fear, would be
an abyss of flame.

Again she took to flight, hasting along the edge of the stream, up into
the heart of the gorge. Over roots of trees, over old decaying trunks,
over barricades of dead limbs brought down by freshets and left lodged,
she climbed, she sprang, she ran. All too brightly her way was lighted
now. A ghastly yellow radiance was on every object. The waters sparkled
and gleamed as they poured over the dark brown stones. Every slender,
delicate fern, every poor little startled wild flower nestled in cool,
dim nooks, was glaringly revealed. Little the frightened girl heeded
these darlings of the forest now.

All the way she looked eagerly for some slant or cleft in the mountain
walls where she might hope to ascend. Here, over the accumulated soil of
centuries, fastened by interwoven roots to the base of the cliff, she
might have climbed a dozen feet or more. Yonder, by the aid of shrubs
and boughs, she might have drawn herself up a few feet farther. But,
wherever her eye ranged along the ledges above, she beheld them
dizzy-steep and unscalable. And so she kept on until even the way before
her was closed up.

On the brink of a rock-rimmed, flashing basin she stopped. Down into
this, from a shelf twenty feet in height, fell the brook in a bright,
fire-tinted cascade. Fear-inspired as she was, she could not but pause
and wonder at the strange beauty of the scene,--the plashy pool before
her, the flame-color on the veil of silver foam dropped from the brow of
the ledge, and--for a wild background to the picture--the wooded,
fire-lit, shadowy gorge, opening on a higher level above.

During the moment that she stood there, a great bird, like an owl, that
had probably been driven from his hollow tree or fissure in the rocks by
the conflagration, flapped past her face, almost touching her with his
wings, and dashed blindly against the waterfall. He was swept down into
the pool. After some violent fluttering and floundering in the water, he
extricated himself, perched on a stone at its edge, shook out his wet
feathers, and stared at her with large cat-like eyes, without fear. She
was near enough to reach him with her hand; but either he was so dazzled
and stunned that he took no notice of her, or else the greater terror
had rendered him tame to human approach. She believed the latter was the
case, and saw something exceedingly awful in the incident. When even the
wild winged creatures of the forest were stricken down with fear, what
cause had she to apprehend danger to herself!

On reaching the waterfall she had felt for a moment that all was
over--that certain death awaited her. Then, out of her very despair,
came a gleam of hope. She might creep under the cascade, or behind it,
and that would protect her. But when she looked up, and saw, around and
above her, the forest trees with the frightful and ever-increasing glow
upon them, and knew that they too soon must kindle, and thought of
firebrands rained down upon her, and falling columns of fire filling the
gorge with burning rubbish,--then her soul sickened: what protection
would a little sheet of water prove against such furnace heat?

No: she must escape, or perish. Beside the cascade there was a broken
angle of the rocks, by which, if she could reach it, she might at least,
she thought, climb to the upper part of the gorge. But the nearest
foothold she could discover was ten feet above the basin, in sheer
ascent. The ledge was dank and slippery with the dashing spray. Gain the
top of it, however, she must. She ran up the embankment under the cliff.
Here a sapling gave her support; she clung to a crevice or projection
there; a drooping bough saved her from falling when the soft earth slid
from beneath her feet farther on. So she climbed along the side of the
precipice, until the broken corner of the cliff was hardly two yards off
before her. Yes, a secure foothold was there, and above it rose
irregular pointed stairs, leading steeply to the top of the cascade. O,
to reach that shattered ledge! A space of perpendicular wall intervened.
No shrub, no drooping bough, was there. Here was only a slight
projection, just enough to rest the edge of a foot upon. She placed her
foot upon it. She found a crevice above, and thrust her fingers into it
as if there was no such thing as pain. She clung, she took a step--she
was half a yard nearer the angle. But what next could she do? She was
hanging in the air above the basin, into which the slightest slip would
precipitate her. To change hands--relieve the one advanced and insert
the fingers of the other in its place,--was a perilous undertaking. But
she did it. Then she reached forward again with hand and foot, found
another spot to cling to, and took another step. She was thankful for
the great light that lighted the rocks before her. Close by now was the
fractured angle of the cliff: one more step, and she could set her foot
upon the nethermost stair. Her strength was almost gone; her hands,
though insensible to pain, were conscious of slipping. To fall would be
to lose all she had gained, and all the strength she had exhausted in
the effort. Her feet now--or rather one of them--had a tolerably secure
hold on the rib of the ledge. She made one last effort with her hands,
and, just as she was falling, gave a spring. She knew that all was
staked upon that one dizzy instant of time. But for that knowledge she
could never have accomplished what she did. She fell forwards towards
the angle, caught a point of the rock with her hands, and clung there
until she had safely placed her feet.

This done, it was absolutely necessary to stop a moment to rest. She
looked downwards and behind her, to see what she had done. The sight
made her dizzy--it seemed such a miracle that she could ever have scaled
that wall!

Nearer and louder roared the conflagration, and she had little time to
delay. Her labor was not ended, neither was the danger past. She cast a
hurried glance upwards over the ridge she was to climb, and advanced
cautiously, step by step. Her soul kept saying within her, "I will not
fall; I will not fall;" but she dared not look backwards again, lest
even then she should grow giddy and miss her hold.

As she ascended, the ridge inclined nearer and nearer to the side of the
cascade, until she found the stones slimy and dripping. This was an
unforeseen peril. Still she resolutely advanced, taking the utmost
precaution at each step against slipping. At length she was at the top
of the waterfall. She could look up into the upper gorge, and see the
water come rushing down. There was space beside the brook for her to
continue her flight; and the sides of the gorge above were far less
steep and rugged than below. She was thrilled with hope. She had but one
steep, high stair to surmount. She was getting her knee upon it, when a
crashing sound in the underbrush arrested her attention. The crashing
was followed by a commotion in the water, and she saw a huge black
object plunge into the stream, and come sweeping down towards her.

On it came, straight at the rock on which she clung, and from which a
motion, a touch, might suffice to hurl her back into the lower gorge.
She saw what it was; and for a moment she was frozen with terror. She
was directly in its path: it would not stop for her. The sight of the
blazing woods below, however, brought it to a sudden halt. And there,
close by the brink of the waterfall, facing her, not a yard distant, in
the full glare of the fire, it rose slowly on its hind feet to look--a
monster of the forest, an immense black bear.

And now, but for the nightmare of horror that was upon her, Virginia
might have perceived that the forest _above_ the cascade was likewise
wrapped in flames. The bear had been driven by the terror of them down
the stream; and here, between the two fires, on the verge of the
waterfall, the slight young girl and the great shaggy wild beast had
met. She would have shrieked, but she had no voice. The bear also was
silent; with his huge hairy bulk reared up before her, his paws pendant,
and his jaws half open in a sort of stupid amazement, he stood and
gazed, uttering never a growl.



XXIX.

_IN THE BURNING WOODS._


The incessant excitement and fatigue of the past few days had caused
Penn to fall asleep almost immediately after Carl left him. The rude
ground on which he stretched himself proved a blissful couch of repose.
Virginia climbed the mountain to meet him, and no fine intuitive sense
of her approach thrilled him with wakeful expectancy. Carl was captured,
and still he slept. The lost young girl wandered within fifty yards of
where he lay steeped in forgetfulness, dreaming, perhaps, of her; and
all the time they were as unconscious of each other's presence as were
Evangeline and her lover when they passed each other at night on the
great river.

Penn was the first to wake; and still his stupid heart whispered to him
no syllable of the strange secret of the beautiful sleeper whom he might
have looked down upon from the edge of the cliff so near.

The grove had been but recently fired, and it would have been easy
enough then for him to rush into the gorge and rescue her. From what
terrors, from what perils would she have been saved! But he wasted the
precious moments in staring amazement; then, thinking of his own safety,
he commenced running _away_ from her,--his escape lighted by the same
fatal flames that were enclosing her within the gorge.

She never knew whether, on awaking, she cried for help or remained dumb;
nor did it matter much then: he was already too far off to hear.

The glow on the clouds lighted all the broad mountain side. Under the
ruddy canopy he ran,--now through dimly illumined woods, and now over
bare rocks faintly flushed by the glare of the sky.

As he drew near the cave, he saw, on a rock high above him, a wild human
figure making fantastic gestures, and prostrating itself towards the
burning forests. He ran up to it, and, all out of breath, stood on the
ledge.

"Cudjo! Cudjo! what are you doing here?"

The negro made no reply, but, folding his arms above his head, spread
them forth towards the fire, bowing himself again and again, until his
forehead touched the stone.

Penn shuddered with awe. For the first time in his life he found himself
in the presence of an idolater. Cudjo belonged to a tribe of African
fire-worshippers, from whom he had been stolen in his youth; and,
although the sentiment of the old barbarous religion had smouldered for
years forgotten in his breast, this night it had burst forth again,
kindled by the terrible splendors of the burning mountain.

Penn waited for him to rise, then grasped his arm. The negro, startled
into a consciousness of his presence, stared at him wildly.

"That is not God, Cudjo!"

"No, no, not your God, massa! My God!" and the African smote his breast.
"Me mos' forgit him; now me 'members! Him comin' fur burn up de white
folks, and set de brack man free!"

Penn stood silent, thinking the negro might not be altogether wrong. No
doubt the dim, dark soul of him saw vaguely, with that prophetic sense
which is in all races of men, a great truth. A fire was indeed
coming--was already kindled--which was to set the bondman free: and God
was in the fire. But of that mightier conflagration, the combustion of
the forests was but a feeble type.

Penn turned from Cudjo to watch the burning, and became aware of its
threatening and rapidly increasing magnitude. The woods had been set in
several places, but the different fires were fast growing into one,
swept by a strong wind diagonally across and up the mountain. It seemed
then as if nothing could prevent all the forest growths that lay to the
southward and westward along the range from being consumed.

As he gazed, he became extremely alarmed for the safety of Stackridge
and his friends: and where all this time was Carl? In vain he questioned
Cudjo. He turned, and was hastening to the cave when he met Pomp coming
towards him. Tall, majestic, naked to the waist, wearing a garment of
panther-skins, with the red gleam of the fire on his dusky face and
limbs, the negro looked like a native monarch of the hills.

"O Pomp! what a fire that is!"

"What a fire it is going to be!" answered Pomp, with a lurid smile. "Our
new neighbors have brought us bad luck. All those woods are gone. The
fire is sweeping up directly towards us--it will pass over all the
mountain--nothing will be left." Yet he spoke with a lofty calmness that
astonished Penn.

"And our friends!--Carl!--have you heard from them?"

"I have not seen Carl since he left the cave with you, nor any of
Stackridge's people to-night."

"Then they are in the woods yet!"

"Yes; unless they have been wise enough to get out of them! I was just
starting out to look for them.--Who comes there?"--poising his rifle.

"It's Carl!" exclaimed Penn, recognizing the confederate coat. But in an
instant he saw his mistake.

"It is one of Ropes's men!" said Pomp. "He has discovered us--he shall
die for setting my mountains on fire!"

"Hold!" Penn grasped his arm. "He is beckoning and calling!"

Pomp frowned as he lowered his rifle, and waited for the soldier to come
up.

"What! is it you? I didn't know you in that dress, and came near
shooting you, as you deserve, for wearing it!" And Pomp turned
scornfully away.

The comer was Dan Pepperill, breathless with haste, horror-struck,
haggard. It was some time before he could reply to Penn's impetuous
demand--what had brought him up thither?

"Carl!" he gasped.

"What has happened to Carl?"

"Ben tuck! durned if he hain't! But that ar ain't the wust!"

"What, then, is the worst?" for that seemed bad enough.

"Virginny--Miss Villars!"

"Virginia! what of her?"

"She's down thar! in the fire!"

"Virginia in the fire!"

"She ar,--durned if she ain't! Carl said she war on the mountain, and
wanted me to hurry up and help her or find you; and I'd a done it, but I
couldn't git off till we was runnin' from the fires we'd sot; then I
kinder got scattered a puppus; t'other ones hung on to Carl, though, so
I had to come alone."

Penn interrupted the loose and confused narrative--Virginia: had he
_seen_ her?

"Wal, I reckon I hev! Ye see I war huntin' fur her thar, above the round
rock; fur Carl said,----"

A short, sharp groan broke from the lips of Penn. At first the idea of
Virginia being on the mountain had appeared to him incredible. But at
the mention of the place of rendezvous the truth smote him: she had come
up there with Toby, or in his stead. With spasmodic grip he wrung
Pepperill's arm as if he would have wrung the truth out of him that way.

"You saw her!--where?"

His hoarse voice, his terrible look, bewildered the poor man more and
more.

"I war a tellin' ye! Don't break my arm, and don't look so durned f'erce
at me, and I'll out with the hull story. Ye see, I warn't to blame, now,
no how. They sot the fires; they sot the grove on our way back; and if I
helped any, 'twas cause I had ter. But about _her_. Wal, I begun to the
big rock, and war a-huntin' up along, till the grove got all in a blaze,
and the red limbs begun ter fall, and I see 'twas high time for me to
put. Says I ter myself, 'She hain't hyar; she ar off the mountain and
safe ter hum afore this time, shore!' But jest then I heern a screech;
it sounded right inter the grove, and I run up as clust ter the fire's I
could, and looked, and thar I seen right in the middle on't, amongst the
burnin' trees, a woman's gownd, and then a face: 'twas her face, I
knowed it, fur she hadn't nary bunnit on, and the fire shone on it
bright as lightnin'! But thar war half a acre o' blazin' timber atween
her and me; and besides, I was so struck up all of a heap, I couldn't do
nary thing fur nigh about a minute--I couldn't even holler ter let her
know I war thar. And 'fore I knowed what I war about, durned if she
hadn't gone!"

Penn afterwards understood that Dan had actually had a glimpse of
Virginia when she ran out to the entrance of the gorge, and stood there
a moment in the terrible heat and glare.

"Where--show me where!" he exclaimed with fierce vehemence, dragging
Pepperill after him down the rocks.

"It war a considerable piece this side the round rock, nigh the upper
eend o' the grove," said Dan, in a jarred voice, clattering after him,
as fast as he could. "I reckon I kin find it, if 'tain't too late."

Too late? It must not be too late! Penn leaps down the ledges, and
rushes through the thickets, as if he would overtake time itself. They
reach the burning grove. Pepperill points out as nearly as he can the
spot where he stood when he saw Virginia. Great God! if she was in
there, what a frightful end was hers!

"Daniel! are you sure?"--for Penn cannot, will not believe--it is too
terrible!

Daniel is very sure; and he withdraws from the insufferable heat, to
which his companion appears insensible.

"There is a gorge just above there; perhaps she escaped into the gorge.
O, if I had known!" groans the half-distracted youth, thinking how near
he must have been to her when the fire awoke him.

He still hopes that Dan's vision of her in the fire was but the
hallucination of a bewildered brain. Yet no effort will he spare, no
danger will he shun. The entrance to the gorge is all a gulf of flame;
and the woods are blazing upwards along the cliffs, and all the forest
beyond is turning to a sea of fire. Yet the gorge must be reached. Back
again up the steep slope they climb. Penn flies to the verge of the
cliff. He looks down: the chasm is all a glare of light. There runs the
red-gleaming brook. He sees the logs, the stones, the mosses, all the
wild entanglement, deep below. But no Virginia. He runs almost into the
crackling flames, in order to peer farther down the gorge. Then he darts
away in the opposite direction, along the very brink of the precipice,
among the fire-lit trees,--Pepperill stupidly following. He seizes hold
of a sapling, and, with his foot braced against its root, swings his
body forward over the chasm, the better to gaze into its depths. From
that position he casts his eye up the gorge. He sees the cascade falling
over the ledge in a sheet of ruddy foam. He discovers the upper gorge;
sees a monster of the forest come plunging and plashing down to the
fall, and there lift himself on his haunches to look;--and what is that
other object, half hidden by a drooping bough? It is Virginia clinging
to the rocks.

A moment before, had Penn made the discovery of the young girl still
unharmed by fire, his happiness would have been supreme. But now joy was
checked by an appalling fear. The bear might seize her, or with a stroke
of his paw hurl her from his path.

Penn caught hold of the bough that impeded his view, and saw how
precarious was her hold. He dared not so much as call to her, or shout
to frighten the monster away, lest, her attention being for an instant
distracted, she might turn her head, lose her balance, and fall
backwards from the rocks.

"Durned if she ain't thar!" said Dan, excitedly. "But she's got a
powerful slim chance with the bar!"

"Come with me!" said Penn.

He ran to the upper gorge, showed himself on the bank above the cascade,
and shouted. The bear, as he anticipated, turned and looked up at him.
Virginia at the same time saw her deliverer.

"Hold on! I'll be with you in a minute!" he cried in a voice heard above
the noise of the waterfall and the roar of the conflagration.

She clung fast, hope and gladness thrilling her soul, and giving her new
strength.

To reach her, Penn had a precipitous descent of near thirty feet to
make. He did not pause to consider the difficulty of getting up again,
or the peril of encountering the bear. He jumped down over a
perpendicular ledge upon a projection ten feet below. Beyond that was a
rapid slope covered with moss and thin patches of soil, with here and
there a shrub, and here and there a tree. Striking his heels into the
soil, and catching at whatever branch or stem presented itself, he took
the plunge. Clinging, sliding, falling, he arrived at the bottom. In a
posture half sitting, half standing, and considerably jarred, he found
himself face to face with Bruin. The animal had settled down on all
fours, and now, with his surly, depressed head turned sullenly to one
side, he looked at Penn, and growled. Penn looked at him, and said
nothing. He had heard of staring wild beasts out of countenance--an
experiment that could be conducted strictly on peace principles, if the
bear would only prove as good a Quaker as himself. He resolved to try
it: indeed, all unarmed as he was, what else could he do? He might at
least, by diverting the brute's attention, give Virginia time to get
into a position of safety. So he stood up, and fixed his eyes on the
red-blinking eyes of the ferocious beast. Something Bruin did not like:
it might have been the youth's company and valiant bearing, but more
probably his observation of the fire had satisfied him that he was out
of his place. With another growl, that seemed to say, "All I ask is to
be let alone," he seceded,--turning his head still more, twisting his
body around, after it, and retreating up the gorge.

In an instant Penn was at the young girl's side: his hand clasped hers;
he drew her up over the rock.

Not a word was uttered. He was too agitated to speak; and she, after the
terror and the strain to which her nerves had been subjected so long,
felt all her strength give way. But as he lifted her in his arms, a
faint smile of happiness flitted over her white face, and her lips moved
with a whisper of gratitude he did not hear.

In spite of all the dangers behind them, and of the dangers still
before, both felt, in that moment, a shock of mutual bliss. Neither had
ever known till then how dear the other was.

Pepperill had by this time leaped down upon the bulge of the bank. There
he waited for them, shouting,--

"Hurry up! the bar'll meet the fire up thar, and be comin' down agin!"

Penn required no spur to his exertions: he knew too well the necessity
of getting speedily beyond the reach, not of the bear only, but also of
the fire, which threatened them now on three sides--below, above, and on
the farther bank of the gorge.

Clasping the burden more precious to him than life, resolved in his soul
to part with it only with life, he toiled heavily up the bank, down
which he had descended with such tremendous swiftness a few minutes
before.

But it was not in Virginia's nature to remain long a helpless
encumbrance. Seeing the labor and peril still before them, her will
returned, and with it her strength. She grasped a branch by which he was
trying in vain with one hand, holding her with the other, to draw them
both up a steep place. Her prompt action enabled him to seize the trunk
of a young tree: she assisted still, and slipping from his hands, clung
to it until he had reached the next tree above. He pulled her up after
him, and then pushed her on still farther, until Pepperill could reach
her from where he stood. A minute later the three were together on the
summit of the slope.

But now they had above them the ten feet of sheer perpendicularity down
which Dan had indiscreetly jumped, following Penn's lead. A single hand
above them would now be worth several hands below.

"What a fool I war! durned if I warn't!" said Dan, endeavoring
unsuccessfully to find a place by which he could reascend.

"Get on my shoulders!" And Penn braced himself against the ledge.

Dan made the attempt, but fell, and rolled down the bank.

Just then a grinning black face appeared above.

"Gib me de gal! gib me de gal!" and a prodigiously long arm reached
down.

"O Cudjo! you are an angel!" cried Penn, "Daniel! Here!"

Pepperill was up the bank again in a minute, at Penn's side. They lifted
Virginia above their heads. Holding on by a sapling with one hand, the
negro extended the other far down over the ledge. Those miraculous arms
of his seemed to have been made expressly for this service. He grasped a
wrist of the girl; with the other hand she clung to his arm until he had
drawn her up to the sapling; this she seized, and helped herself out.
Then once more Penn gave Daniel his shoulder, while Cudjo gave him a
hand from above; and Daniel was safe. Last of all, Penn remained.

"Cotch holt hyar!" said Cudjo, extending towards him the end of a branch
he had broken from a tree.

To this Penn held fast, assisting himself with his feet against the
ledge, while Cudjo and Dan hauled him up.

"Good Cudjo! how came you here?"

"Me see you and Pepperill a gwine inter de fire. So me foller."

"This is the old man's daughter, Cudjo."

Cudjo regarded the beautiful young girl with a look of vague wonder and
admiration.

"He remembers me," said Virginia. "I saw him the night he climbed in at
Toby's window." She gave him her hand; it trembled with emotion. "I
thank you, Cudjo, for what you have done for my father--and for me."

"Now, Cudjo! show us the nearest and easiest path. We must take her to
the cave--there is no other way."

"You must be right spry, den!" said Cudjo. "De fire am a runnin' ober
dat way powerful!"

Indeed, it had already crossed the upper end of the gorge, where the
forest brook fell into it; and, getting into some beds of leaves, and
thence into dense and inflammable thickets, it was now blazing directly
across their line of retreat.

Penn would have carried Virginia in his arms, but she would not suffer
him.

"I can go where you can!" she cried, once more full of spirit and
daring. "Just give me your hand--you shall see!"

Penn took one of her hands, Pepperill the other, and with their aid,
supporting her, lifting her, she sprang lightly up the ledges, and from
rock to rock.

Cudjo, carrying Dan's gun, ran on before, leading the way through
hollows and among bushes, by a route known only to himself. So they
reached a piece of woods, by the thin skirts of which he hoped to head
off the fire. Too late--it was there before them. It ran swiftly among
the fallen leaves and twigs, and spread far into the woods.

The negro turned back. There was a wild grimace in his face, and a
glitter in his eyes, as he threw up his hand, by way of signal that
their flight in that direction was cut off.

"Cudjo! what is to be done!" And Penn drew Virginia towards him with a
look that showed his fears were all for her.

"We can't git off down the mountain, nuther!" said Dan. "It's gittin'
into the woods down thar. It'll be all around us in no time!"

"You let Cudjo do what him pleases?" said the black.

"I can trust you! Can you, Virginia?"

"He should know what is best. Yes, I will trust him."

"Take dat 'ar!" Pepperill received his gun. "Now you look out fur
youselves. Me tote de gal."

And catching up Virginia, before Penn could stop him, or question him,
he rushed with her into the fire.

Penn ran after him, perceiving at once the meaning of this bold act. The
woods were not yet fairly kindled; only now and then the loose bark of a
dry trunk was beginning to blaze. Cudjo leaped over the line of flame
that was running along the ground, and bore Virginia high above it to
the other side. Penn followed, and Dan came close behind. They then had
before them a tract of blackened ground which the flames had swept,
leaving here and there a dead limb or mat of leaves still burning.

These little fires were easily avoided. But they soon came to another
line of flame raging on the upper side of the burnt tract. They were
almost out of the woods: only that red, crackling hedge fenced them in;
but that they could not pass: the underbrush all along the forest edge
was burning. And there they were, brought to a halt, half-stifled with
smoke, in the midst of woods kindling and blazing all around them.

"May as well pull up hyar, and take a bref," remarked Cudjo, grimly,
placing Virginia on a log too dank with decay and moss to catch fire
easily. "Den we's try 'em agin."

A horrible suspicion crossed Penn's mind; the fanatical fire-worshipper
had brought them there to destroy them--to sacrifice them to his god!

"Virginia!"--eagerly laying hold of her arm,--"we must retreat! It will
soon be too late! We can get out of the woods where we came in, if we go
at once!"

"Beg pardon, sar," said Cudjo, stamping out fire in the leaves by the
end of the log,--and he looked up through the smoke at Penn, with the
old malignant grin on his apish face.

"What do you mean, Cudjo?" said Penn, in an agony of doubt.

"Can't get back dat way, sar!"

"Then you have led us here to destroy us!"

"You's no longer trust Cudjo!" was the negro's only reply.

"Didn't we trust you? Haven't we come through fire, following you? O
Cudjo! more than once you have helped to save my life! You have helped
to save this life, dearer than mine! Why do you desert us now?"

"'Sert you? Cudjo no 'sert you." But the negro spoke sullenly, and there
was still a sparkle of malignancy in his look.

"Then why do you stop here?"

"Hugh! tink we's go trough dat fire like we done trough tudder?"

"What then are we to do?"

"You's no longer trust Cudjo!" was once more the sullen response.

Virginia, with her quick perceptions, saw at once what Penn was either
too dull or too much excited to see. Cudjo felt himself aggrieved; but
he was not unfaithful.

"_I_ trust you, Cudjo!"--and she laid her hand frankly and confidingly
on his shoulder. "Did I tremble, did I shrink when you carried me
through the fire? I shall never forget how brave, how good you are! He
trusts you too,--only he is so afraid for me! You can forgive that,
Cudjo."

"She is right," said Penn, though still in doubt. "If you know a way to
save her, don't lose a moment!"

"He knows; on'y let him take his time," said Pepperill, whose firm faith
in the negro's good will shamed Penn for his distrust. And yet Pepperill
did not love, as Penn loved, the girl whose life was in danger; and he
had not seen the evidences of Cudjo's fire-worshipping fanaticism which
Penn had seen.

Under the influence of Virginia's gentle and soothing words, the glitter
of resentment died out of the negro's face. But his aspect was still
morose.

"De fire take his time to burn out; so we's take our time too," said he.
"You try your chance wid Cudjo agin, miss?"

"Certainly! for I am sure you will take us safely through yet!" said
Virginia, without a shadow of doubt or hesitation on her face, however
dark may have been the shadow on her heart.

The negro was evidently well pleased. He examined carefully the line of
fire in the undergrowth. And now Penn discovered, what Cudjo had known
very well from the first, that there were barren ledges above, and that
the fire was rapidly burning itself out along their base. An opening
through which a courageous and active man might dash unscathed soon
presented itself. Then Cudjo waited no longer to "take bref." He caught
Virginia in his arms, and bore her through the second line of fire, as
he had borne her through the first, and placed her in safety on the
rocks above.

"Cudjo, my brave, my noble fellow!" said Penn, deeply affected, "I have
wronged you; I confess it with shame. Forgive me!"

"Cudjo hab nuffin to forgib," replied the negro, with a laugh of
pleasure "Neber mention um, massa! All right now! Reckon we's better be
gitt'n out o' dis yer smudge!"

He showed the way, and Penn and Daniel helped Virginia up the rocks as
before.

They had reached a smooth and unsheltered ledge near the ravine, a
little below the mouth of the cave, when a hideous and inhuman shriek
rent the air.

"What dat?" cried Cudjo, stopping short; and his visage in the smoky and
lurid light looked wild with superstitious alarm.

The sound was repeated, louder, nearer, more hideous than before,
seeming to make the very atmosphere shudder above their heads.

"Go on, Cudjo! go on!" Penn commanded.

The terrified black crouched and gibbered, but would not stir. Then
straightway a sharp clatter, as of iron hoofs flying at a furious
gallop, resounded along the mountain-side. By a simultaneous impulse the
little party huddled together, and turned their faces towards the fire,
and saw coming down towards them a horse with the speed of the wind.

"Stand close!" said Penn; and he threw himself before Virginia, to
shield her, shouting and swinging his hat to frighten the animal from
his course.

"Stackridge's hoss!" exclaimed Cudjo, recovering from his fright,
leaping up, and flinging abroad his long arms in the air. "Wiv some poor
debil onter him's back!"

It was so. The little group stood motionless, chilled with horror. The
beast came thundering on, with lips of terror parted, nostrils wide and
snorting, mane and tail flying in the wild air, hoofs striking fire from
the rocks. A human being--a man--was lying close to his neck, and
clinging fast: the face hidden by the tossing and streaming mane: a
fearful ride! the mystery surrounding him, and the awful glare and
smoke, enhancing the horror of it.

Approaching the group on the ledge, the animal veered, and shot past
them like a thunderbolt; clearing rocks, hollows, bushes, with
incredible bounds; nearing the ravine, but halting not; dashing into the
thickets there, missing suddenly the ground beneath his feet, striking
only the air and yielding boughs with frantic hoofs; then plunging down
with a dull, reverberant crash,--horse and unknown rider rolling
together over rocks and spiked limbs to the bottom of the ravine.

Then all was still again: it had passed like a vision of fear.



XXX.

_REFUGE._


For a moment the little group stood dumb and motionless on the ledge, in
the flare of the vast flame-curtains. They looked at each other. Penn
was the first to speak.

"Which of us goes down into the ravine?"

"Wha' fur?" said Cudjo.

"To find him!" And Penn gazed anxiously towards the thickets into which
the horse and horseman had gone down.

"Dat no good! Deader 'n de debil, shore!"

"O, may be he is not!" exclaimed Virginia, full of compassion for the
unfortunate unknown. "Do go and see, Cudjo!"

"Fire'll be dar in less'n no time. Him nuffin to Cudjo. We's best be
gwine." And the negro started off, doggedly, towards the cave.

Then Penn took the resolution which he would have taken at once but for
Virginia. "Stay with her, Daniel! I will go!"

Virginia turned pale; she had not thought of that. But immediately she
controlled her fears: she would not be selfish: if he was brave and
generous enough to descend into the ravine for one he did not know, she
would be equally brave and generous, and let him go. She clasped her
hands together so that they should not hold him back, and forced her
lips to say,--

"I will wait for you here."

"No, I be durned if ye shall! Hapgood, you stick to her: take this yer
gun, and I'll slip down inter the holler, and see whuther the cuss's
alive or dead, any how."

"O, Mr. Pepperill, if you will!" said Virginia, overjoyed.

Penn remonstrated,--rather feebly, it must be confessed, for the
determination to part from her had cost him a struggle, and the
privilege of keeping by her side till all danger was past, seemed too
sweet to refuse.

"I'll take her to her father, and hurry back, and meet you."

"All right!" came the response from Dan, already far down the rocks.

"The cave is close by," said Penn. "There is Cudjo, waiting for us!"

Coming up with the black, and once more following his lead, they
descended along the shelf of rocks, between the thickets and the
overhanging ledge. So they came to the still dark jaws of the cavern. A
grateful coolness breathed in their faces from within. But how dismal
the entrance seemed to eyes lately dazzled by the blazing woods!
Virginia clung tightly to Penn's hand, as they groped their way in.

At first nothing was visible but a few smouldering embers, winking their
sleepy eyes in the dark. Out of these Cudjo soon blew a little blaze,
which he fed with sticks and bits of bark until it lighted up fitfully
the dim interior and shadowy walls of his abode.

Penn hushed Virginia with a finger on his lips, and restrained her from
throwing herself forward upon the rude bed, where the blind old man was
just awaking from a sound sleep.

In that profound subterranean solitude the roar of the fiery breakers,
dashing on the mountain side, was subdued to a faint murmur, less
distinct than the dripping of water from roof to floor in the farther
recesses of the cave. There, left alone, lulled by the dull, monotonous
trickle,--thinking, if he heard the roar at all, that it was the
mountain wind blowing among the pines,--Mr. Villars had slept tranquilly
through all the horrors of that night.

"Is it you, Penn? Safe again!" And sitting up, he grasped the young
man's hand. "What news from my dear girl?--from my two dear girls?" he
added, remembering Virginia was not his only child.

"Toby did not come to the rock," said Penn, still holding Virginia back.

"O! did he not?" It seemed a heavy disappointment; but the patient old
man rallied straightway, saying, with his accustomed cheerfulness, "No
doubt something hindered him; no doubt he would have come if he could.
My poor, dear girl, how I wish I could have got word to her that I am
safe! But I thank you all the same; it was kind in you to give yourself
all that trouble."

"I believe all is for the best," said Penn, his voice trembling.

"No doubt, no doubt. It will be some time before I can have the
consolation of my dear girl's presence again; I, who never knew till now
how necessary she is to my happiness,--I may say, to my very life!" Mr.
Villars wiped a tear he could not repress, and smiled. "Yes, Penn, God
knows what is best for us all. His will be done!"

But now Virginia could restrain herself no longer; her sobs would burst
forth.

"Father! father!"--throwing herself upon his neck. "O, my dear, dear
father!"

Penn had feared the effect of the sudden surprise upon the old and
feeble man, and had meant to break the good news to him softly. But
human nature was too strong; his own emotions had baffled him, and the
pious little artifice proved a complete failure. So now he could do
nothing but stand by and make grim faces, struggling to keep down what
was mastering him, and turning away blindly from the bed.

Even Cudjo appeared deeply affected, staring stupidly, and winking
something like a tear from the whites of his eyes at sight of the father
embracing his child, and the white locks mingling with the wet, tangled
curls on her cheek. He was a ludicrous, pathetic object, winking and
staring thus; and Penn laughed and cried too, at sight of him.

"Luk dar!" said Cudjo, coming up to him, and pointing at the little
walled chamber that served as his pantry. "She hab dat fur her dressum
room. Sleep dar, too, if she likes."

"Thank you, Cudjo! it will be very acceptable, I am sure."

"Me clar it up fur her all scrumptious!" added the negro, with a grin.

Penn had thought of that. But now he had other business on his hands: he
must hasten to find Pepperill: nor could he keep anxious thoughts of
Stackridge and his friends out of his mind. And Pomp--where all this
time was Pomp? He had hoped to find him and the patriots all safely
arrived in the cave.

Virginia was seated on the bed by her father's side. Penn threw a
blanket over the dear young shoulders, to shield her from the sudden
cold of the cave; then left her relating her adventures,--beckoning to
Cudjo, who followed him out.

"Cudjo!"--the black glided to his side as they emerged from the
ravine,--"you must go and find Pomp."

Cudjo laughed and shrugged.

"No use't! Reckon Pomp take keer o' hisself heap better'n we's take keer
on him!"

True. Pomp knew the woods. He was athletic, cautious, brave. But he had
gone to extricate from peril others, in whose fate he himself might
become involved. Cudjo refused to take this view of the matter; and it
was evident that, while he comforted himself with his deep convictions
of Pomp's ability to look out for his own safety, he was, to say the
least, quite indifferent as to the welfare of the patriots.

Forgetting Dan and the unknown horseman in his great solicitude for his
absent friends, Penn climbed the ledges, and gazed away in the direction
of the camp, and beheld the forest there a raging gulf of fire.

Assuredly, they must have fled from it before this time; but whither had
they gone? Had Pomp been able to find them? Or might they not all have
become entangled in the intricacies of the wilderness until encompassed
by the fire and destroyed?

Penn watched in vain for their coming--in vain for some signal of their
safety on the crags above the forest. Had they reached the crags, he
thought he might discover them somewhere with a glass, so vividly were
those grim rock-foreheads of the hills lighted up beneath the red sky.

He sent Cudjo to find Dan, ran to the cave for Pomp's glass, and
returned to the ledge. There he waited; there he watched; still in vain.
Wider and wider, spread the destroying sea; fiercer and fiercer leaped
the billows of flame--the billows that did not fall again, but broke
away in rent sheets, in red-rolling scrolls, and vanished upward in
their own smoke.

And now Penn, lowering the glass, perceived what he must long since have
been made aware of, had not the greater light concealed the less. It was
morning; a dull and sunless dawn; the despairing daylight, filtered of
all warmth and color, spreading dim and gray on the misty valleys, and
on the sombre, far-off hills, under an interminable canopy of cloud.

Pepperill came clambering up the rocks. Penn turned eagerly to meet and
question him.

"Find him?"

"Wal, a piece on him."

"Killed?"

"I reckon he ar that!"

"Who is it?"

"Durned if I kin tell! He's jammed in thar 'twixt two gre't stuns, and
the hoss is piled on top, and you can't see nary featur' of his face,
only the legs,--but durned if I know the legs!"

"Couldn't you move the horse?"

"Nary a bit. His neck is broke, and he lays wedged so clust, right on
top o' the poor cuss, 'twould take a yoke o' oxen to drag him out."

"Are you sure the man is dead?"

"Shore? I reckon! He had one arm loose. I jest lifted it, and it drapped
jest like a club when I let go; then I see 'twas broke square off jest
above the elbow, about where the backbone o' the hoss comes. Made me
durned sick!"

"What have you got in your hand?"

"A boot--one o' his'n--thought I'd pull it off, his leg stuck up so kind
o' handy; didn't know but some on ye might know the boot." And Dan held
it up for Penn's inspection.

"What is this on it? Blood?"

"It ar so! Mebby it's the hoss's, and then agin mebby it's his'n; I
hadn't noticed it afore."

"I'll go back with you, Daniel. Together perhaps we can move the horse."

"Ye're behind time for that! The fire's thar. I hadn't only jest time to
git cl'ar on't myself. The poor cuss is a br'ilin'!"

"K-r-r-r! hi! don't ye har me callin'!" Cudjo sprang up the ledge.
"Fire's a comin' to de cave! All in de brush dar! Can't get in widout ye
go now!"

"And Pomp and the rest! They will be shut out, if they are not lost
already!"

"Pomp know well 'nuff what him 'bout, tell ye! Gorry, massa! ye got to
come, if Cudjo hab to tote ye!"

Yielding to his importunity, Penn quitted the ledge. On the shelf of
rock Cudjo paused to gnash his teeth at the flames sweeping up towards
them. He had long since recovered from his fit of superstitious frenzy.
He had seen the fire burning the woods that sheltered him in his
mountain retreat, instead of going intelligently to work to destroy the
dwellings of the whites; and he no longer regarded it as a deity worthy
of his worship.

"All dis yer brush be burnt up! Den nuffin' to hide Cudjo's house!"

"Don't despair, Cudjo. We will trust in Him who is God even of the
fire."

Even as Penn spoke, he felt a cool spatter on his hand. He looked up;
sudden, plashy drops smote his face.

"Rain! It is coming! Thank Heaven for the rain!"

At the same time, the wind shifted, and blew fitful gusts down the
mountain. Then it lulled; and the rain poured.

"Cudjo, your thickets are saved!" said Penn, exultantly. Then
immediately he thought of the absent ones, for whom the rain might be
too late; of the beautiful forests, whose burning not cataracts could
quench; of the unknown corpse far below in the ravine there, and the
swift soul gone to God.

"What news?" asked the old man as he entered the cave.

"It is morning, and it rains; but your friends are still away.--The man
is dead," aside to Virginia.

"Heaven grant they be safe somewhere!" said the old man. "And Pomp?"

"He is missing too."

There was a long, deep silence. A painful suspense seemed to hold every
heart still, while they listened. Suddenly a strange noise was heard, as
of a ghost walking. Louder and louder it sounded, hollow, faint,
far-off. Was it on the rocks over their heads? or in caverns beneath
their feet?

"Told ye so! told ye so!" said Cudjo, laughing with wild glee.

The fire had burnt low again, and he was in the act of kindling it, when
a novel idea seemed to strike him, and, seizing a pan, he inverted it
over the little remnant of a flame. In an instant the cave was dark. It
was some seconds before the eyes of the inmates grew accustomed to the
gloom, and perceived the glimmer of mingled daylight and firelight that
shone in at the entrance.

"Luk a dar! luk a dar!" said Cudjo.

And turning their eyes in the opposite direction, they saw a faint
golden glow in the recesses of the cave. The footsteps approached; the
glow increased; then the superb dark form of Pomp advanced in the light
of his own torch. Penn hastened to meet him, and to demand tidings of
Stackridge's party.

Pomp first saluted Virginia, with somewhat lofty politeness, holding the
torch above his head as he bowed. Then turning to Penn,--

"Your friends are all safe, I believe."

"All?" Penn eagerly asked, his thoughts on the luckless horseman. "None
missing?"

"There were three absent when I reached their camp. They had gone on a
foraging expedition. I found the rest waiting for them, standing their
ground against the fire, which was roaring up towards them at a
tremendous rate. Soon the foragers came in. They brought a basket of
potatoes and a bag of meal, but no meat. Withers had caught a pig, but
it had got away from him before he could kill it, and he lost it in the
dark. The others were cursing the rascals who had set the woods afire,
but Withers lamented the pig.

"'Gentlemen,' said I, 'you have not much time to mourn either for the
woods or the pork. We must take care of ourselves.' And I offered to
bring them here. But just then we heard a rushing noise; it sounded like
some animal coming up the course of the brook; and the next minute it
was amongst us--a big black bear, frightened out of his wits, singed by
the fire, and furious."

"Your acquaintance of the gorge, Virginia!" said Penn.

"You will readily believe that such an unexpected supply of fresh meat,
sent by Providence within their reach, proved a temptation to the
hungry. Withers, in his hurry to make up for the loss of the pig, ran to
head the fellow off, and attempted to stop him with his musket after it
had missed fire. In an instant the gun was lying on the ground several
yards off, and Withers was sprawling. The bear had done the little
business for him with a single stroke of his paw; then he passed on,
directly over Withers's body, which happened to be in his way, but which
he minded no more than as if it had been a bundle of rags. All this time
we couldn't fire a shot; there was the risk, you see, of hitting Withers
instead of the bear. Even after he was knocked down, he seemed to think
he had nothing more formidable than his stray pig to deal with, and
tried to catch the bear by the tail as he ran over him."

"So ye lost de bar!" cried Cudjo, greatly excited. "Fool, tink o'
cotchin' on him by de tail!"

"Still we couldn't fire, for he was on his legs again in a second,
chasing the bear's tail directly before our muzzles," said Pomp, quietly
laughing. "But luckily a stick flew up under his feet. Down he went
again. That gave two or three of us a chance to send some lead after the
beast. He got a wound--we tracked him by his blood on the ground--we
could see it plain as day by the glare of light--it led straight towards
the fire that was running up through the leaves and thickets on the
north. I expected that when he met that he would turn again; but he did
not: we were just in time to see him plough through it, and hear him
growl and snarl at the flames that maddened him, and which he was
foolish enough to stop and fight. Then he went on again. We followed.
Nobody minded the scorching. We kept him in sight till he met the fire
again--for it was now all around us. This time his heart failed him; he
turned back only to meet us and get a handful of bullets in his head.
That finished him, and he fell dead."

"Poor brute!" said Mr. Villars; "he found his human enemies more
merciless than the fire!"

"That's so," said Pomp, with a smile. "But we had not much time to
moralize on the subject then. The fire we had leaped through had become
impassable behind us. The men hurried this way and that to find an
outlet. They found only the fire--it was on every side of us like a
sea--the spot where we were was only an island in the midst of it--that
too would soon be covered. The bear was forgotten where he lay; the men
grew wild with excitement, as again and again they attempted to break
through different parts of the ring that was narrowing upon us, and
failed. Brave men they are, but death by fire, you know, is too
horrible!"

"How large was this spot, this island?" asked Penn.

"It might have comprised perhaps twenty acres when we first found
ourselves enclosed in it. But every minute it was diminishing; and the
heat there was something terrific. The men were rather surprised, after
trying in vain on every side to discover a break in the circle of fire,
to come back and find me calm.

"'Gentlemen,' said I, 'keep cool. I understand this ground perhaps
better than you do. Don't abandon your game; you have lost your meal and
potatoes, and you will have need of the bear.'

"'But what is the use of roast meat, if we are to be roasted too?' said
Withers, who will always be droll, whatever happens.

"Then Stackridge spoke. He proposed that they should place themselves
under my command; for I knew the woods, and while they had been running
to and fro in disorder, I had been carefully observing the ground, and
forming my plans. I laughed within myself to see Deslow alone hang back;
he was unwilling to owe his life to one of my complexion--one who had
been a slave. For there are men, do you know," said Pomp, with a smile
of mingled haughtiness and pity, "who would rather that even their
country should perish than owe in any measure its salvation to the race
they have always hated and wronged!"

"I trust," said Mr. Villars, "that you had the noble satisfaction of
teaching these men the lesson which our country too must learn before it
can be worthy to be saved."

"I showed them that even the despised black may, under God's providence,
be of some use to white men, besides being their slave: I had that
satisfaction!" said Pomp, proudly smiling. "Stackridge was right: I had
observed: I saw what I could do. On one side was a chasm which you know,
Mr. Hapgood."

"Yes! I had thought of it! But I knew it was in the midst of the burning
forest, and never supposed you could get to it."

"The fire was beyond; and it also burned a little on the side nearest to
us. But the vegetation there is thin, you remember. The chasm could be
reached without difficulty.

"'Follow me who will!' said I. 'The rest are at liberty to shirk for
themselves.'

"'Follow--where?' said Deslow. I couldn't help smiling at the man's
distress. All the rest were prepared to obey my directions; and it was
hard for him to separate himself from them. But it seemed harder still
for him to trust in me. I was not a Moses; I could not take them through
that Red Sea. What then?

"I made for the chasm. All followed, even Deslow,--dragging and lugging
the bear. We came to the brink. The place, I must confess, had an awful
look, in the light of the trees burning all around it! Deslow was not
the only one who shrank back then; for though the spot was known to some
of them, they had never explored it, and could not guess what it led to.
It was difficult, in the first place, to descend into it; it looked
still more difficult ever to get out again; and there was nothing to
prevent the burning limbs above from falling into it, or the trees that
grew in it from catching fire. For this is the sink, Mr. Villars, which
you have probably heard of,--where the woods have been undermined by the
action of water in the limestone rocks, and an acre or more of the
mountain has fallen in, with all its trees, so that what was once the
roof of an immense cavern is now a little patch of the forest growing
seventy feet below the surface of the earth. The sides are precipitous
and projecting. Only one tree throws a strong branch upwards to the edge
of the sink.

"'This way, gentlemen,' said I, 'and you are safe!'

"It was a trial of their faith; for I waited to explain nothing. First, I
tumbled the bear off the brink. We heard him go crashing down into the
abyss, and strike the bottom with a sound full of awfulness to the
uninitiated. Then, with my rifle swung on my back, I seized the limb,
and threw myself into the tree.

"'Where he can go, we can!' I heard Stackridge say; and he followed me.
I took his gun, and handed it to him again when he was safe in the tree.
He did the same for another; and so all got into the branches, and
climbed down after us. The trunk has no limbs within twenty feet of the
bottom, but there is a smaller tree leaning into it which we got into,
and so reached the ground.

"'Now, gentlemen,' said I, when all were down, 'I will show you where
you are.' And opening the bushes, I discovered a path leading down the
rocks into the caverns, of which this cave is only a branch. Then I made
them all take an oath never to betray the secret of what I had shown
them. Then I lighted one of the torches Cudjo and I keep for our
convenience when we come in that way, and gave it to them; lighted
another for my own use; invited them to make themselves quite at home in
my absence; left them to their reflections;--and here I am."

Still the mystery with regard to the unknown horseman was in no wise
explained. Pomp, informed of what had happened, arose hastily. Penn
followed him from the cave. Pepperill accompanied them, to show the way.
It was raining steadily; but the thickets in which lay the dead horse
and his rider were burning still.

"As I was going to Stackridge's camp," said Pomp, "I thought I saw a man
crawling over the rocks above where the horse was tied. I ran up to find
him, but he was gone. Peace to his ashes, if it was he!"

"Won't be much o' the cuss left but ashes!" remarked Pepperill.

Pomp ascended the ledges, and stood, silent and stern, gazing at the
destruction of his beloved woods.

The winds had died. The fires had evidently ceased to spread. Portions
of the forest that had been kindled and not consumed were burning now
with slow, sullen combustion, like brands without flame. Stripped of
their foliage, shorn of their boughs, and seen in the dull and smoky
daylight, through the rain, they looked like a forest of skeletons, all
of glowing coal, brightening, darkening, and ever crumbling away.

All at once Pomp seemed to rouse himself, and direct his attention more
particularly at the part of the woods in which the patriots' camp had
been.

"Come with me, Pepperill, if you would help do a good job!"

They started off, and were soon out of sight. As Penn turned from gazing
after them, he heard a voice calling from the opposite side of the
ravine. He looked, but could see no one. The figure to which the voice
belonged was hidden by the bushes. The bushes moved, however; the figure
was descending into the ravine. It arrived at the bottom, crossed, and
began to ascend the steep side towards the cave. Penn concealed himself,
and waited until it had nearly emerged from the thickets beneath him,
and he could distinctly hear the breath of a man panting and blowing
with the toil of climbing. Then a well-known voice said in a hoarse
whisper,--

"Massa Hapgood! dat you?"

And peering over the bank, he saw, upturned in the rain and murky light,
among the wet bushes, the black, grinning face of old Toby.

He responded by reaching down, grasping the negro's hand, and drawing
him up.

The grin on the old man's face was a ghastly one, and his eyes rolled as
he stammered forth,--

"Miss Jinny--ye seen Miss Jinny?"

Penn did not answer immediately; he was considering whether it would be
safe to conduct Toby into the cave. Toby grew terrified.

"Don't say ye hain't seen her, Massa Penn! ye kill ol' Toby if ye do! I
done lost her!" And the poor old faithful fellow sobbed out his
story,--how Virginia had disappeared, and how, on discovering the woods
to be on fire, he had set out in search of her, and been wandering he
scarcely knew where ever since. "Now don't say ye don't know nuffin'
about her! don't say dat!" falling on his knees, and reaching up his
hands beseechingly, as if he had only to prevail on Penn to _say_ that
all was well with "Miss Jinny," and that would make it so. Such faith is
in simple souls.

"I'll say anything you wish me to, good old Toby! only give me a
chance."

"Den say you _has_ seen her."

"I _has seen her_," repeated Penn.

"O, bress you, Massa Penn! And she ar safe--say dat too!"

"_She ar safe_," said Penn, laughing.

"Bress ye for dat!" And Toby, weeping with joy, kissed the young man's
hand again and again. "And ye knows whar she ar?"

"Yes, Toby! So now get up: don't be kneeling on the rocks here in the
rain!"

"Jes' one word more! Say ye got her and ol' Massa Villars safe stowed
away, and ye'll take me to see 'em; den dis ol' nigger'll bress you and
de Lord and dem, and be willin' fur to die! only say dat, massa!"

"Ah! did I promise to say all you wished?"

"Yes, you did, you did so, Massa Penn!" cried Toby, triumphantly.

"Then I suppose I must say that, too. So come, you dear old simpleton!
Cudjo!" to the proprietor of the cave, who just then put out his head to
reconnoitre, "Cudjo! Here is your friend Toby, come to pay his master
and mistress a visit!"

"What business he got hyar?" said Cudjo, crossly. "We's hab all de wuld,
and creation besides, comin' bime-by!"

"Cudjo! You knows ol' Toby, Cudjo!" said Toby, in the softest and most
conciliatory tone imaginable.

"Nose ye!" Cudjo snuffed disdainfully. "Yes! and wish you'd keep fudder
off!"

"Why, Cudjo! don't you 'member Toby? Las' time I seed you! ye 'member
dat, Cudjo!"

"Don't 'member nuffin'!"

"'Twan't you, den, got inter my winder, and done skeert me mos' t' def
'fore I found out 'twas my ol' 'quaintance Cudjo, come fur Massa Penn's
clo'es! Dat ar wan't you, hey?" And Toby's honest indignation cropped
out through the thin crust of deprecating obsequiousness which he still
thought it politic to maintain.

Penn got under the shelter of the ledge, and waited for the dispute to
end. It was evident to him that Cudjo was not half so ill-natured as he
appeared; but, feeling himself in a position of something like official
importance, he had the human weakness to wish to make the most of it.

"Your massa and missis bery well off. Dey in my house. No room dar for
you. Ain't wanted hyar, nohow!" turning his back very much like a
personage of lighter complexion, clad in brief authority.

"Ain't wanted, Cudjo? You don't know what you's sayin' now. Whar my ol'
massa and young missis is, dar ol' Toby's wanted. Can't lib widout me,
dey can't! Ol' massa wants me to nuss him. Ye don't tink--you's a nigger
widout no kind ob 'sideration, Cudjo."

"Talk o' you nussin' him when him's got Pomp!"

"Pomp! what can Pomp do? Wouldn't trust him to nuss a chick sicken!"
Toby talked backwards in his excitement.

"Ki! didn't him take Massa Hapgood and make him well? Don't ye know
nuffin'?"

Toby seemed staggered for a moment. But he rallied quickly, and said,--

"He cure Massa Hapgood? He done jes' nuffin' 't all fur him. De fac's
is, I had de nussin' on him for a spell at fust, and gib him a start.
Dar's ebery ting in a start, Cudjo."

"O, what a stupid nigger!" said Cudjo. "Hyar's Massa Hapgood hisself!
leab it to him now!"

"You are both right," said Penn. "Toby did nurse me, and give me a good
start; for which I shall always thank him."

"Dar! tol' ye so, tol' ye so!" said Toby.

"But it was Pomp who afterwards cured me," added Penn.

"Dar! tol' you so!" cried Cudjo, while Toby's countenance fell.

"For while Toby is a capital nurse" (Toby brightened), "Pomp is a
first-rate doctor" (Cudjo grinned). "So don't dispute any more. Shake
hands with your old friend, Cudjo, and show him into your house."

Cudjo was still reluctant; but just then occurred a pleasing incident,
which made him feel good-natured towards everybody. Pomp and Pepperill
arrived, bringing the bag of meal and the basket of potatoes which the
bear-hunters had forsaken in the woods, and which the rain had preserved
from the fire.



XXXI.

_LYSANDER TAKES POSSESSION._


Gad the "Sleeper" (he had earned that title) had been himself placed
under guard for drinking too much of the prisoners' liquor, and
suffering them to escape. Miserable, sullen, thirsty, he languished in
confinement.

"Let 'em shoot me, and done with it, if that's the penalty," said this
chivalrous son of the south; "only give a feller suthin' to drink!"

But that policy of the confederates, which opened the jails of the
country, and put arms in the hands of the convicts, and pardoned every
felon that would fight, might be expected to find a better use for an
able-bodied fellow, like Gad, than to shoot him.

The use they found for him was this: He had been a mighty hunter before
the Lord, ere he became too besotted and lazy for such sport; and he
professed to know the mountains better than any other man. Accordingly,
on the recommendation of his friend Lieutenant Ropes, it was resolved to
send him to spy out the position of the patriots. It was an enterprise
of some danger, and, to encourage him in it, he was promised two
things--pardon for his offence, and, what was of more importance to him,
a bottle of old whiskey.

"I'll see that you have light enough," said Ropes, significantly.

It was the evening of the firing of the forests. How well the lieutenant
fulfilled his part of the engagement, we have seen.

Gad put the bottle in his pocket, and set off at dark by routes obscure
and circuitous to get upon the trail of the patriots. How well _he_
succeeded will appear by and by.

The burning of the forests caused a great excitement in the valley,
especially among those families whose husbands and fathers were known to
have taken refuge in them. Who had committed the barbarous act? The
confederates denounced it with virtuous indignation, charging the
patriots with it, of course. There was in the village but one witness
who could have disputed this charge, and he now occupied Gad's place in
the guard-house. It was the deserter Carl.

All the morning Gad's return was anxiously awaited. No doubt there were
good reasons why he did not come. So said his friend Silas; and his
friend Silas was right: there were good reasons.

"Anyhow, I kep' my word--I giv him light enough, I reckon!" chuckled
Silas.

That was true: Gad had had light enough, and to spare.

The rain continued all the morning. Perhaps that was what detained the
scout; for it was known that he had a great aversion to water.

In the afternoon came one with tidings from the mountain. It was not
Gad. It was old Toby.

He was seized by some soldiers and taken before Captain Sprowl, at the
school-house.

"Toby, you black devil, where have you been?" This was Lysander's
chivalrous way of addressing an inferior whom he wished to terrify.

Now, if there was a person in the world whom Toby detested, it was this
roving Lysander, who had disgraced the Villars family by marrying into
it. However, he concealed his contempt with a politic hypocrisy worthy
of a whiter skin.

"Please, sar," said the old negro, cap in hand, "I'se been lookin' for
my ol' massa and my young missis."

"Well, what luck, you lying scoundrel?"

"O, no luck 't all, I 'sure you, sar!"

"What! couldn't you find 'em? Don't you lie, you ----." (We may as well
omit the captain's energetic epithets.)

"O, sar!"--Toby looked up earnestly with counterfeit grief in his
wrinkled old face,--"dey ain't nowhars on de face ob de 'arth!"

"Not on the face of the earth!"

"If dey is, den de fire's done burnt 'em all up. I seen, down in a big
holler, a place whar somebody's been burnt, shore! Dar's a man, and a
hoss on top on him, and de hoss's har am all burnt off, and de man's
trouse's-legs am all burnt off too, and one foot's got a fried boot onto
it, and tudder han't got nuffin' on, but jes' de skin and bone all
roasted to a crisp; and I 'specs dar's 'nuff sight more dead folks down
in dar, on'y I didn't da's to look, it make me feel so skeerylike!"

All which, and much more, Toby related so circumstantially, that Captain
Sprowl was strongly impressed with the truth of the story. Great,
therefore, was the joy of the captain. Perhaps the patriots had been
destroyed: he hoped so! Still more ardently he hoped that Virginia had
perished with her father. For was he not the husband of Salina? and the
snug little Villars property, did he not covet it?

"Can you show me that spot, Toby?"

"'Don'o', sar: I specs I could, sar."

"Don't you forget about it! Now, Toby, go home to your mistress,--my
wife's your mistress, you know,--and wait till you are wanted."

"Yes, sar,"--bowing, and pulling his foretop.

Captain Sprowl did not overhear the irrepressible chuckle of
satisfaction in which the old negro indulged as he retired, or he would
have perceived that he had been trifled with. We are apt to be extremely
credulous when listening to what we wish to believe; and Lysander's
delight left no room in his heart for suspicion. All he desired now was
that Gad should appear and confirm Toby's report; for surely Gad must
know something about the dead horse and the dead man under him; and why
did not the fellow return?

As for Toby, he hastened home as fast as his tired old legs could carry
him, chuckling all the way over his lucky escape, and the cunning
answers by which he had mystified the captain without telling a
downright falsehood. "Ob course, dey ain't on de face ob de 'arth, long
as dey's inside on't! Hi, hi, hi!"

He did not greatly relish reporting himself to Salina: nevertheless, he
had been ordered to do so, not only by the captain, but by those whose
authority he respected more.

Salina, though so bitter, was not without natural affection, and she had
suffered much and waited anxiously ever since Toby, terrified into the
avowal of his belief that Virginia was in the burning woods, had set out
in search of her. She was not patient; she was wanting in religious
trust. She had not slept. All night and all day she had tortured herself
with terrible fancies. Instead of calming her spirit with prayer, she
had kept it irritated with spiteful thoughts against what she deemed her
evil destiny.

There are certain natures to which every misfortune brings a blessing;
for, whatever it may take away, it is sure to leave that divine
influence which comes from resignation and a deepened sense of reliance
upon God. Such a nature was the old clergyman's. Every blow his heart
had received had softened it; and a softened heart is a well of interior
happiness; it is more precious to its possessor than all outward gifts
of friends and fortune. Such a nature, too, was Virginia's. She too,
through all things, kept warm in her bosom that holy instinct of faith,
that blessed babe named Love, ever humbly born, whose life within is a
light that transfigures the world. To such, despair cannot come; for
when the worst arrives, when all they cherished is gone, heaven is still
left to them; and they look up and smile. To them sorrow is but a
preparation for a diviner joy. All things indeed work together for their
good; since, whether fair fortune comes, or ill, they possess the
spiritual alchemy that transmutes it into blessing.

This love, this faith, Salina lacked. She fostered in their place that
selfishness and discontent which sour the soul. Every blow upon her
heart had hardened it. Every trial embittered and angered her. Hence the
swollen and flaming eyes, the impatient and scowling looks, with which
she met the returning Toby.

"Where is Virginia?"

"Dat I can't bery well say, Miss Salina," replied Toby, scratching his
woolly head. He would never sacrifice his family pride so far as to call
her Mrs. Sprowl.

"How dare you come back without her?" And she heaped upon him the
bitterest reproaches. It was he who, through his cowardice, had been the
cause of Virginia's night adventure. It was he who had ruined everything
by concealing her departure until it was too late. Then he might have
found her, if he had so resolved. But if he could not, why had he
remained absent all day?

Under this sharp fire of accusations Toby stood with ludicrous
indifference, grinning, and scratching his head. At length he scratched
out of it a little roll of paper that had been confided to his wool for
safe keeping, in case he should be seized and searched. It fell upon the
floor. He hastily snatched it up, and gave it, with obsequious alacrity,
to Mrs. Sprowl. She took, unrolled it, and read. It was a pencilled note
in the handwriting of Virginia.

       *       *       *       *       *

"Dear Sister: Thanks to a kind Providence and to kind friends, we are
safe. I was rescued last night from the most frightful dangers in the
burning woods. I had come, without your knowledge, to get news of our
dear father. I am now with him. He has excellent shelter, and devoted
attendants; but the comforts of his home are wanting, and I have learned
how much he is dependent upon us for his happiness. For this reason I
shall remain with him as long as I can. To relieve your mind we send
Toby back to you. V."

       *       *       *       *       *

That evening Captain Sprowl entered the house of the absent Mr. Villars
with the air of one who had just come into possession of that little
piece of property. He nodded with satisfaction at the walls, glanced
approvingly at the furniture, curved his lip rather contemptuously at
the books (as much as to say, "I'll sell off all that sort of rubbish"),
and expressed decided pleasure at sight of old Toby. "Worth eight
hundred dollars, that nigger is!" He had either forgotten that Mr.
Villars had given Toby his freedom, or he believed that, under the new
order of things, in a confederacy founded on slavery, such gifts would
not be held valid.

"Well, Sallie, my girl,"--throwing himself into the old clergyman's easy
chair,--"here we are at home! Bring me the bootjack, Toby."

"I don't know about your being at home!" said Salina, indignantly.

And it was evident that Toby did not know about bringing the bootjack.
He looked as if he would have preferred to jerk the chair from beneath
the sprawling Lysander, and break it over him.

"I suppose Toby has told you the news? Awful news! a fearful
dispensation of Providence! Pepperill came in this afternoon and
confirmed it. We thought he had deserted, but it appears he had only got
lost in the woods. He reports some dead bodies in a ravine, and his
account tallies very well with Toby's. We'll wear mourning, of course,
Sallie."

Lysander stroked his chin. Mrs. Lysander tapped the floor with her
impatient foot, gnawed her lip, and scowled.

"Come, my dear!" said the captain, coaxingly; "we may as well understand
each other. Times is changed. I tell ye, I'm going to be one of the big
men under the new government. Now, Sal, see here. I'm your husband, and
there's no getting away from it. And what's the use of getting away from
it, even if we could? Let's settle down, and be respectable. We've had
quarrels enough, and I've got tired of 'em. Toby, why don't you bring
that bootjack?"

Lysander swung his chair around towards Salina. She turned hers away
from him, still knitting her brows and gnawing that disdainful lip.

"Now what's the use, Sal? Since the way is opened for us to live
together again, why can't you make up your mind to it, let bygones be
bygones, and begin life over again? When I was a poor devil, dodging the
officers, and never daring to see you except in the dark, I couldn't
blame you for feeling cross with me; for it was a cursed miserable state
of things. But you're a captain's wife now. You'll be a general's wife
by and by. I shall be off fighting the battles of my country, and you'll
be proud to hear of my exploits."

Salina was touched. Weary of the life she led, morbidly eager for
change, she was a secessionist from the first, and had welcomed the war.
Moreover, strange as it may seem, she loved this worthless Lysander. She
hated him for the misery he had caused her; she was exceedingly bitter
against him; yet love lurked under all. She was secretly proud to see
him a captain. It was hard to forgive him for all the wrongs she had
suffered; but her heart was lonely, and it yearned for reconciliation.
Her scornful lip quivered, and there was a convulsive movement in her
throat.

"Go away!" she exclaimed, violently, as he approached to caress her. "I
am as unhappy as I can be! O, if I had never seen you! Why do you come
to torture me now?"

This passion pleased Lysander: it was a sign that her spirit was
breaking. He caught her in his arms, called her pet names, laughed, and
kissed her. And this woman, after all, loved to be called pet names, and
kissed.

"Toby! you devil!" roared Lysander, "why don't you bring that bootjack?"

The old negro stood behind the door, with the bootjack in his hand,
furious, ready to hurl it at the captain's head. He hesitated a moment,
then turned, discreetly, and flung it out of the kitchen window.

"Ain't a bootjack nowars in de house, sar!"

"Then come here yourself!"

And the gay captain made a bootjack of the old negro.

"Now shut up the house and go to bed!" he said, dismissing him with a
kick.

After Toby had retired, and Salina had wiped her eyes, and Lysander had
got his feet comfortably installed in the old clergyman's slippers, the
long-estranged couple grew affectionate and confidential.

"Law, Sallie!" said the captain, caressingly, "we can be as happy as two
pigs in clover!" And he proceeded to interpret, in plain prosaic detail,
those blissful possibilities expressed by the choice poetic figure.

It was evident to Salina that all his domestic plans were founded on the
supposition that the slippers he had on were the dead man's shoes he had
been waiting for. Was she shocked by this cold, atrocious spirit of
calculation? At first she was; but since she had begun to pardon his
faults, she could easily overlook that. She, who had lately been so
spiteful and bitter, was now all charity towards this man. Even the
image of her blind and aged father faded from her mind; even the pure
and beautiful image of her sister grew dim; and the old, revivified
attachment became supreme. Shall we condemn the weakness? Or shall we
pity it, rather? So long her affections had been thwarted! So long she
had carried that lonely and hungry heart! So long, like a starved, sick
child, it had fretted and cried, till now, at last, nurture and warmth
made it grateful and glad! A babe is a sacred thing; and so is love. But
if you starve and beat them? Perhaps Salina's unhappiness of temper owed
its development chiefly to this cause. No wonder, then, that we find her
melancholy, morbid, unreasonable, and now so ready to cling again to
this wretch, this scamp, her husband, forgiving all, forgetting all (for
the moment at least), in the wild flood of love and tears that drowned
the past.

"O, yes! I do think we can be happy!" she said--"if you will only be
kind and good to me! If not here, why, then, somewhere else; for place
is of no consequence; all I want is love."

"Ah!" said Lysander, knocking the ashes from his cigar, "but I have a
fancy for this place! And what should we leave it for?"

"Because--you know--there is no certainty--I believe father is alive
yet, and well."

"Not unless Toby lied to me!--Did he?"

"Pshaw! you can't place any reliance on what Toby says!"--evasively.

"But I tell you Pepperill confirms his report about the dead bodies in
the ravine! Now, what do you know to the contrary?" Lysander appeared
very much excited, and a quarrel was imminent. Salina dreaded a quarrel.
She broke into a laugh.

"The truth is, Toby did fool you. He couldn't help bragging to me about
it."

O Toby, Toby! that little innocent vanity of yours is destined to cost
you, and others besides you, very dear! Lysander sprang upon his feet;
his eyes sparkled with rage. Salina saw that it was now too late to keep
the secret from him; there was no way but to tell him all. She showed
Virginia's note. Virginia and her father alive and safe--that was what
maddened Lysander!

But where were they?

Salina could not answer that question; for the most she had been able to
get out of Toby was only a vague hint that they were hidden somewhere in
a cave.

"No matter!" said Lysander, with a diabolical laugh showing his clinched
and tobacco-stained teeth. "I'll have the nigger licked! I'll have the
truth out of him, or I'll have his life?"



XXXII.

_TOBY'S REWARD._


Filled with disgust and wrath, Toby had obeyed the man who assumed to be
his master, and gone to bed. But he was scarcely asleep, when he felt
somebody shaking him, and awoke to see bending over him, with smiling
countenance, lamp in hand, Captain Lysander.

"What's wantin', sar?"

"I want you to do an errand for me, Toby," Lysander kindly replied.

"Wal, sar, I don'o', sar," said Toby, reluctant, sitting up in bed and
rubbing his elbows. "You know I had a right smart tramp. I's a
tuckered-out nigger, sar; dat's de troof."

"Yes, you had a hard time, Toby. But you'll just run over to the
school-house for me, I know. That's a good fellow!"

Toby hardly knew what to make of Lysander's extraordinarily persuasive
and indulgent manner. He didn't know before that a Sprowl could smile so
pleasantly, and behave so much like a gentleman. Then, the captain had
called him a good fellow, and his African soul was not above flattery.
Weary, sleepy as he was, he felt strongly inclined to get up out of his
delicious bed, and go and do Lysander's errand.

"You've only to hand this note to Lieutenant Ropes. And I'll give you
something when you come back--something you don't get every day, Toby!
Something you've deserved, and ought to have had long ago!" And
Lysander, all smiles, patted the old servant's shoulder.

This was too much for Toby. He laughed with pleasure, got up, pulled on
his clothes, took the note, and started off with alacrity, to convince
the captain that he merited all the good that was said of him, and that
indefinite "something" besides.

What could that something be? He thought of many things by the way: a
dollar; a knife; a new pair of boots with red tops, such as Lysander
himself wore;--which last item reminded him of the bootjack he had been
used for, and the kick he had received.

He stopped in the street, his wrath rising up again at the recollection.
"Good mind ter go back, and not do his old arrant." But then he thought
of the smiles and compliments, and the promised reward. "Somefin' kinder
decent 'bout dat mis'ble Sprowl, 'long wid a heap o' mean tings, arter
all!" And he started on again.

Lysander's note was in these words:--

"Leiutent Ropes Send me with the bearrer of This 2 strappin felloes
capble of doin a touhgh Job."

This letter was duly signed, and duly delivered, and it brought the "2
strappin felloes." The internal evidence it bore, that Lysander had not
pursued his studies at school half as earnestly as he had of late
pursued the schoolmaster, made no difference with the result.

The two strapping fellows returned with Toby. They were raw recruits,
who had travelled a long distance on foot in order to enlist in the
confederate ranks. They had an unmistakable foreign air. They called
themselves Germans. They were brothers.

"All right, Toby!" said Lysander, well pleased. "What are you bowing and
grinning at me for? O, I was to give you something!"

"If you please, sar," said Toby--wretched, deceived, cajoled, devoted
Toby.

"Well, you go to the woodshed and bring the clothes line for these
fellows--to make a swing for the ladies, you know--then I'll tell you
what you're to have."

"Sartin, sar." And Toby ran for the clothes line.

"Good old Toby! Now, what you have deserved so long, and what these
stout Dutchmen will proceed to give you, is the damnedest licking you
ever had in your life!"

Toby almost fainted; falling upon his knees, and rolling up his eyes in
consternation. Sprowl smiled. The "Dutchmen" grinned. Just then Salina
darted into the room.

"Lysander! what are you going to do with that old man?"

She put the demand sharply, her short upper lip quivering, cheeks
flushed, eyes flaming.

"I'm going to have him whipped."

"No, you are not. You promised me you wouldn't. You told me that if he
would go to the Academy for you, and be respectful, you would forgive
him. If I had known what you were sending for, he should never have left
this house. Now send those men back, and let him go."

"Not exactly, my lady. I am master in this house, whatever turns up. I
am this nigger's master, too."

"You are not; you never were. Toby has his freedom. He shall not be
whipped!" And with a gesture of authority, and with a stamp of her foot,
Salina placed herself between the kneeling old servant and the grinning
brothers.

Alas! this woman's dream of love and happiness had been brief, as all
such dreams, false in their very nature, must ever be. She loved him
well enough to concede much. She was not going to quarrel with him any
more. To avoid a threatened quarrel, she betrayed Toby. But she was not
heartless: she had a sense of justice, pride, temper, an impetuous will,
not yet given over in perpetuity to the keeping of her husband.

The captain laughed devilishly, and threw his arms about his wife (this
time in no loving embrace), and seizing her wrists, held them, and
nodded to the soldiers to begin their work.

They laid hold of Toby, still kneeling and pleading, bound his arms
behind him with the cord, and then looked calmly at Lysander for
instructions.

"Take him to the shed," said the captain. "One of you carry this light.
You can string him up to a crossbeam. If you don't understand how that's
done, I'll go and show you. He's to have twenty lashes to begin with,
for lying to me. Then he's to be whipped till he tells where our escaped
prisoners are hid in the mountains. You understand?"

"Ve unterstan," said the brothers, coldly.

Toby groaned. They took hold of him, and dragged him away.

"Now will you behave, my girl? A pretty row you're making! Ye see it's
no use. I am master. The nigger'll only get it the worse for your
interference."

Lysander looked insolently in his wife's face. It was livid.

"Hey?" he said. "One of your tantrums?"

He placed her on a chair. She was rigid; she did not speak; he would
have thought she was in a fit but for the eyes which she never took off
of him--eyes fixed with deep, unutterable, deadly, despairing hate.

"I reckon you'll behave--you'd better!" he said, shaking his finger
warningly at her as he retired backwards from the room.

She saw the door close behind him. She did not move: her eyes were still
fixed on that door: heavy and cold as stone, she sat there, and gazed,
with that same look of unutterable hate. Perhaps five minutes. Then she
heard blows and shrieks. Toby's shrieks: he had no Carl now to rush in
and cut his bands.

The twenty lashes for lying had been administered on the negro's bare
back. Then Lysander put the question: Was he prepared to tell all he
knew about the fugitives and the cave?

"O, pardon, sar! pardon, sar!" the old man implored; "I can't tell
nuffin', dat am de troof!"

"Work away, boys," said Lysander.

Was it supposed that the good old practice of applying torture to
enforce confession had long since been done away with? A great mistake,
my friend. Driven from that ancient stronghold of conservatism, the
Spanish Inquisition, it found refuge in this modern stronghold of
conservatism, American Slavery. Here the records of its deeds are
written on many a back.

But Toby was not a slave. No matter for that. For in the school of
slavery, this is the lesson that soon or late is learned: Not simply
that there are two castes, freeman and slave; two races, white and
black; but that there are two great classes, the rich and the poor, the
strong and the weak, the lord and the laborer, one born to rule, and the
other to be ruled. All, who are not masters, are, or ought to be,
slaves: black or white, it makes no difference; and the slave has no
rights. This is the first principle of human slavery. This every slave
society tends directly to develop. It may be kept carefully out of
sight, but there it lurks, in the hardened hearts of men, like water
within rocks. It is forever gushing up in little springs of despotism.
Once it burst forth in a vast convulsive flood, and that was the
Rebellion.

Although Lysander had never owned a slave, he had all his life breathed
the atmosphere of the institution, and imbibed its spirit. He hated
labor. He was ambitious. But he was poor. Like a flying fish, he had
forced himself out of the lower element of society, to which he
naturally belonged, and had long desperately endeavored to soar. The
struggle it had cost him to attain his present position rendered him all
the more violent in his hatred of the inferior class, and all the more
eager to enjoy the privileges of the aristocracy. Do not blame this man
too much. The injustice, the cruelty, the atrocious selfishness he
displays, do not belong so much to the individual as to the institution.
The milk of this wolf makes the child it nourishes wolfish.

Torture to the extent of ten lashes was applied; then once more the
question was put. Gashed, bleeding, strung up by his thumbs to the
crossbeam; every blow of the extemporized whips extorting from him a
howl of agony; no rescue at hand; Lysander looking on with a merciless
smile; the brothers doing their assigned work with merciless
nonchalance; well might poor Toby cry out, in the wild insanity of
pain,--

"Yes, sar! I'll tell, I'll tell, sar!"

"Very good," said Lysander. "Let him breathe a minute, boys."

But in that minute Toby gathered up his soul again, dismissed the
traitor, Cowardice, and took counsel of his fidelity. Betray his good
old master to these ruffians? Break his promise to Virginia, his oath to
Cudjo and Pomp? No, he couldn't do that. He thought of Penn, who would
certainly be hung if captured; and hung through his treachery!

"Now, out with it," said Lysander. "All about the cave. And don't ye
lie, for you'll have to go and show it to us when we're ready."'

"I can't tell!" said Toby. "Dar ain't no cave! none't I knows
about--dat's shore!" This was of course a downright lie; but it was told
to save from ruin those he loved; and I do not think it stands charged
against his soul on the books of the recording angel.

"Ten more, boys," said Lysander.

"O, wait, wait, sar!" shrieked Toby. "Des guv me time to tink!"

He thought of ten lashes; ten more afterwards; and still another ten;
for he knew that the whipping would not cease until either he betrayed
the fugitives or died; and every lash was to him an agony.

"Think quick," said Captain Sprowl.

Just then the door, of the kitchen opened. Toby grasped wildly at that
straw of hope. It broke instantly. The comer was Salina. She had had the
power to betray him, but not the power to save. She stood with folded
arms, and smiled.

"I can't help you, Toby, but I can be revenged."

"Hello!" cried Lysander, with a start. "What smoke is that?"

She had left the door open, and a draught of air wafted a strange smell
of burning cloth and pine wood to his nostrils.

"Nothing," replied Salina, "only the house is afire."



XXXIII.

_CARL MAKES AN ENGAGEMENT._


Lysander looked in through the doors and saw flames. She had touched the
lamp to the sitting-room curtains, and they had ignited the wood-work.

"Your own house," he said, furiously. "What a fiend!"

"It was my father's house until you took possession of it," she
answered. "Now it shall burn."

If he had not already considered that he had an interest at stake, that
gentle remark reminded him.

"Boys! come quick! By----! we must put out the fire!"

He rushed into the kitchen. The German brothers had come to execute his
commands: whether to flay a negro or extinguish a fire, was to them a
matter of indifference; and they followed him, seizing pails.

Salina was prepared for the emergency. She held a butcher-knife
concealed under her folded arms. With this she cut the cords above
Toby's thumbs. It was done in an instant.

"Now, take this and run! If they go to take you, kill them!"

She thrust the handle of the knife into his hand, and pushed him from
the shed. Terrified, bewildered, weak, he seemed moving in a kind of
nightmare. But somehow he got around the corner of the shed, and
disappeared in the darkness.

The brothers saw him go. They were drawing water at the well, and
handing it to Lysander in the house. But they had been told to hand
water, not to catch the negro. So they looked placidly at each other,
and said nothing.

The fire was soon extinguished; and Lysander, with his coat off, pail in
hand, excited, turned and saw his "fiend" of a wife seated composedly in
a chair, regarding him with a smile sarcastic and triumphant. He uttered
a frightful oath.

"Any more of your tantrums, and I'll kill you!"

"Any more of yours," she replied, "and I'll burn you up. I can set fires
faster than you can put them out. I don't care for the house any more
than I care for my life, and that's precious little."

By the tone in which she said these words, level, determined, distinct,
with that spice which compressed fury lends, Captain Lysander Sprowl
knew perfectly well that she meant them.

The brothers looked at each other intelligently. One said something in
German, which we may translate by the words "Incompatibility of temper;"
and he smiled with dry humor. The other responded in the same tongue,
and with a sleepy nod, glancing phlegmatically at Sprowl. What he said
may be rendered by the phrase--"Caught a Tartar."

Although Lysander did not understand the idiom, he seemed to be quite of
the Teutonic opinion. He regarded Mrs. Sprowl with a sort of impotent
rage. If he was reckless, she had shown herself more reckless. Though he
was so desperate, she had outdone him in desperation. He saw plainly
that if he touched her now, that touch must be kindness, or it must be
death.

"Have you let Toby go?"

"Yes," replied Salina.

"We can catch him," said Lysander.

"If you do you will be sorry. I warn you in season."

Since she said so, Lysander did not doubt but that it would be so. He
concluded, therefore, not to catch Toby--that night. Moreover, he
resolved to go back to his quarters and sleep. He was afraid of that
wildcat; he dreaded the thought of trusting himself in the house with
her. He durst not kill her, and he durst not go to sleep, leaving her
alive. The Germans, perceiving his fear, looked at each other and
grunted. That grunt was the German for "mean cuss." They saw through
Lysander.

After all were gone, Salina went out and called Toby. The old negro had
fled for his life, and did not hear. She returned into the house, the
aspect of which was rendered all the more desolate and drear by the
marks of fire, the water that drenched the floor, the smoky atmosphere,
and the dim and bluish lamp-light. The unhappy woman sat down in the
lonely apartment, and thought of her brief dream of happiness, of this
last quarrel which could never be made up, and of the hopeless,
loveless, miserable future, until it seemed that the last drop of
womanly blood in her veins was turned to gall.

At the same hour, not many miles away, on a rude couch in a mountain
cave, by her father's side, Virginia was tranquilly sleeping, and
dreaming of angel visits. Across the entrance of the cavern, like an
ogre keeping guard, Cudjo was stretched on a bed of skins. The fire,
which rarely went out, illumined faintly the subterranean gloom. By its
light came one, and looked at the old man and his child sleeping there,
so peacefully, so innocently, side by side. The face of the father was
solemn, white, and calm; that of the maiden, smiling and sweet. The
heart of the young man yearned within him; his eyes, as they gazed,
filled with tears; and his lips murmured with pure emotion,--

"O Lord, I thank thee for their sakes! O Lord, preserve them and bless
them!"

And he moved softly away, his whole soul suffused with ineffable
tenderness towards that good old man and the dear, beautiful girl. He
had stolen thither to see that all was well. All was indeed well. And
now he retired once more to a recess in the rock, where he and Pomp had
made their bed of blankets and dry moss.

The footsteps on the solid floor of stone had not awakened her. And what
was more remarkable, the lover's beating heart and worshipping gaze had
not disturbed her slumber. But now the slightest movement on the part of
her blind parent banishes sleep in an instant.

"Daughter, are you here?"

"I am here, father!"

"Are you well, my child?"

"O, very well! I have had such a sweet sleep! Can I do anything for
you?"

"Yes. Let me feel that you are near me. That is all." She kissed him.
"Heaven is good to me!" he said.

She watched him until he slept again. Then, her soul filled with
thankfulness and peace, she closed her eyes once more, and happy
thoughts became happy dreams.

At about that time Salina threw herself despairingly upon her bed, at
home, gnashing her teeth, and wishing she had never been born. And these
two were sisters. And Salina had the house and all its comforts left to
her, while Virginia had nothing of outward solace for her delicate
nature but the rudest entertainment. So true it is that not place, and
apparel, and pride make us happy, but piety, affection, and the
disposition of the mind.

The night passed, and morning dawned, and they who had slept awoke, and
they who had not slept watched bitterly the quickening light which
brought to them, not joy and refreshment, but only another phase of
weariness and misery.

Captain Lysander Sprowl was observed to be in a savage mood that day.
The cares of married life did not agree with him: they do not with some
people. Because Salina had baffled him, and Toby had escaped, his
inferiors had to suffer. He was sharp even with Lieutenant Ropes, who
came to report a fact of which he had received information.

"Stackridge was in the village last night!"

"What's that to me?" said Lysander.

"The lieutenant-colonel--" whispered Silas. Sprowl grew attentive. By the
lieutenant-colonel was meant no other person than Augustus Bythewood,
who had received his commission the day before. Well might Lysander, at
the mention of him to whom both these aspiring officers owed everything,
bend a little and listen. Ropes proceeded. "He feels a cussed sight
badder now he believes the gal is in a cave somewhars with the
schoolmaster, than he did when he thought she was burnt up in the woods.
He entirely approves of your conduct last night, and says Toby must be
ketched, and the secret licked out of him. In the mean while he thinks
sunthin' can be done with Stackridge's family. Stackridge was home last
night, and of course his wife will know about the cave. The secret might
be frightened out on her, or, I swear!" said Silas, "I wouldn't object
to using a little of the same sort of coercion you tried with Toby; and
Bythewood wouldn't nuther. Only, you understand, he musn't be supposed
to know anything about it."

Lysander's eyes gleamed. He showed his tobacco-stained teeth in a way
that boded no good to any of the name of Stackridge.

"Good idee?" said Silas, with a coarse and brutal grin.

"Damned good!" said Lysander. Indeed, it just suited his ferocious mood.
"Go yourself, lieutenant, and put it into execution."

"There's one objection to that," replied Silas, thrusting a quid into
his cheek. "I know the old woman so well. It's best that none of us in
authority should be supposed to have a hand in't. Send somebody that
don't know her, and that you can depend on to do the job up harnsome.
How's them Dutchmen?"

"Just the chaps!" said Lysander, growing good-natured as the pleasant
idea of whipping a woman developed itself more and more to his
appreciative mind.

From flogging a slave, to flogging a free negro, the step is short and
easy. From the familiar and long-established usage of beating
slave-women, to the novel fashion of whipping the patriotic wives of
Union men, the step is scarcely longer, or more difficult. Even the
chivalrous Bythewood, who was certainly a gentleman in the common
acceptation of the term, magnificently hospitable to his equals, gallant
to excess among ladies worthy of his smiles,--yet who never interfered
to prevent the flogging of slave-mothers on his estates,--saw nothing
extraordinary or revolting in the idea of extorting a secret from a
hated Union woman by means of the lash. To such gross appetites for
cruelty as Ropes had cultivated, the thing relished hugely. The keen,
malignant palate of Lysander tasted the flavor of a good joke in it.

The project was freely discussed, and in the hilarity of their hearts
the two officers let fall certain words, like crumbs from their table,
which a miserable dog chanced to pick up.

That miserable dog was Dan Pepperill, whose heart was so much bigger
than his wit. He knew that mischief was meant towards Mrs. Stackridge.
How could he warn her? The drums were already beating for company drill,
and he despaired of doing anything to save her, when by good fortune--or
is there something besides good fortune in such things?--he saw one of
his children approaching.

The little Pepperill came with a message from her mother. Dan heard it
unheedingly, then whispered in the girl's ear,--

"Go and tell Mrs. Stackridge her and the childern's invited over to our
house this forenoon. Right away now! Partic'lar reasons, tell her!"
added Dan, reflecting that ladies in Mrs. Stackridge's station did not
visit those in his wife's without particular reasons.

The child ran away, and Pepperill fell into the ranks, only to get
repeatedly and severely reprimanded by the drill-officer for his
heedlessness that morning. He did everything awkwardly, if not
altogether wrong. His mind was on the child and the errand on which he
had sent her, and he kept wondering within himself whether she would do
it correctly (children are so apt to do errands amiss!), and whether
Mrs. Stackridge would be wise enough, or humble enough, to go quietly
and give Mrs. P. a call.

After company drill the brothers were summoned, and Lysander gave them
secret orders. They were to visit Stackridge's house, seize Mrs.
Stackridge and compel her, by blows if necessary, to tell where her
husband was concealed.

"You understand?" said the captain.

"Ve unterstan," said they, dryly.

Scarcely had the brothers departed, when a prisoner was brought in. It
was Toby, who had been caught endeavoring to make his way up into the
mountains.

"Now we've got the nigger, mabby we'd better send and call the Dutchmen
back," said Silas Ropes.

"No, no!" said Lysander, through his teeth. "'Twon't do any harm to give
the jade a good dressing down. I wish every man, woman, and child, that
shrieks for the old rotten Union, could be served in the same way."

Having set his heart on this little indulgence, Sprowl could not easily
be persuaded to give it up. It was absolutely necessary to his peace of
mind that somebody should be flogged. The interesting affair with Toby,
which had been so abruptly broken off,--left, like a novelette in the
newspapers, to be continued,--must be concluded in some shape: it
mattered little upon whose flesh the final chapters were struck off.

In the mean time the recaptured negro was taken to the guard-house.
There he found a sympathizing companion. It was Carl. To him he told his
story, and showed his wounds, the sight of which filled the heart of the
lad with rage, and pity, and grief.

"Vot sort of Tutchmen vos they?" Toby described them. Carl's eyes
kindled. "I shouldn't be wery much susprised," said he, "if they vos--no
matter!"

Lieutenant Ropes arrived, bringing into the guard-house a formidable
cat-o'-nine-tails.

"String that nigger up," said Silas.

Ropes was not the man to await patiently the issue of the
woman-whipping, while here was a chance for a little private sport. He
remembered how Toby had got away from him once--that he too owed him a
flogging. Debts of this kind, if no others, Silas delighted to pay; and
accordingly the negro was strung up. It was well for the lieutenant that
Carl had irons on his wrists.

The sound of the poor old man's groans,--the sight of his gashed,
oozing, and inflamed back, bared again to the whip,--was to Carl
unendurable. But as it was not in his power to obey the impulse of his
soul, to spring for a musket and slay that monster of cruelty, Ropes, on
the spot,--he must try other means, perhaps equally unwise and
desperate, to save Toby from torture.

"Vait, sir, if you please, vun leetle moment," he called out to Silas.
"I have a vord or two to shpeak."

He had as yet, however, scarcely made up his mind what to propose. A
moment's reflection convinced him that only one thing could purchase
Toby's reprieve; and perhaps even that would fail. Regardless of
consequences to himself, he resolved to try it.

"I know petter as he does about the cave; I vos there," he cried out,
boldly.

"Hey? You offer yourself to be whipped in this old nigger's place?" said
Ropes.

"Not wery much," replied Carl. "I can go mit you or anypody you vill
send, and show vair the cave is. I remember. But if you vill have me
whipped, I shouldn't be wery much surprised if that vould make me to
forget. Whippins," he added, significantly, "is wery pad for the
memory."

"You mean to say, if you are licked, then you won't tell?"

"That ish the idea I vished to conwey."

"We'll see about that." Silas laughed. "In the mean time we'll try what
can be got out of this nigger."

Toby, who had had a gleam of hope, now fell again into despair. Just
then Captain Sprowl came in.

"Hold! What are you doing with that nigger?"

Silas explained, and Carl repeated his proposal. Lysander caught eagerly
at it. He remembered Salina's warning, and was glad of any excuse to
liberate the old negro.

"You promise to take me to the cave?" Carl assented. "Why, then,
lieutenant, that's all we want, and I order this boy to be set free."

"This boy" was Toby, who was accordingly let off, to his own
inexpressible joy and Ropes's infinite disgust.

"If Carl he take de responsumbility to show de cave, dat ain't my fault.
'Sides, dat boy am bright, he am; de secesh can't git much de start o'
him!"

Thus the old negro congratulated himself on his way home. At the same
time Carl, still in irons, was saying to himself,--

"So far so goot. If they had whipped Toby, two things vould be wery
pad--the whipping, for one, and he would have told, for another. But I
have made vun promise. It vas a pad promise, and a pad promise is petter
proken as kept. But if I preak it, they vill preak my head. Vot shall I
do? Now let me see!" said Carl.

And he remained plunged in thought.



XXXIV.

_CAPTAIN LYSANDER'S JOKE._


Since the time when she lost her best feather-bed and her boarder, the
worthy widow Sprowl had suffered serious pecuniary embarrassment. She
missed sadly the regular four dollars a week, and the irregular
gratuities, she had received from Penn. So much secession had cost her,
without yielding as yet any of its promised benefits. The Yankees had
not stepped up with the alacrity expected of them, and thrust their
servile necks into the yoke of their natural masters. The slave trade
was not reopened. Niggers were not yet so cheap that every poor widow
could, at a trifling expense, provide herself with several, and grow
rich on their labor. In the pride of seeing her son made what she called
a "capting," and in the hope of enjoying some of the golden fruits of
his valor, she had given him her last penny, and received up to the
present time not a penny from him in return. In short, Lysander was
ungrateful, and the widow was a disappointed woman.

So it happened that the sugar-bowl and tea-canister were often empty,
and the poor widow had no legitimate means of replenishing them. In this
extremity she resorted to borrowing. She borrowed of everybody, and
never repaid. She borrowed even of the hated Unionists in the
neighborhood, and confessed with bitterness to her son that she found
them more ready to lend to her than the families of secessionists.

Again, on the morning of the events related in the last chapter, she
found herself in want of many things--tea, sugar, meal, beans, potatoes,
snuff, and tobacco; for this excellent woman snuffed, "dipped," and
smoked.

"Where shall I go and borry to-day?" said she, counting her patrons, and
the number of times she had been to borrow of each, on her fingers.
"Thar's Mis' Stackridge. I hain't been to her but oncet. I'll go agin,
and carry the big basket."

With her basket on her arm, and an ancient brown bonnet (which had been
black at the time of the demise of the late lamented Sprowl,) on her
head, and a multitude of excuses on her tongue, she set out, and walked
to the farmer's house. This had one of those great, shed-like openings
through it, so common in Tennessee. A door on the left, as you entered
this covered space, led to the kitchen and living-room of the family.
Here the widow knocked.

There was no response. She knocked again, with the same result. Then she
pulled the latch-string--for the door even of this well-to-do farmer had
a latch-string. She entered. The house was deserted.

"Ain't to home, none of 'em, hey?" said the widow, peering about her
with a disagreeable scowl. "House wan't locked, nuther. Wonder if Mis'
Stackridge and the childern have gone to the mountains too? And whar's
old Aunt Deb?"

Her first feeling was that of resentment. What right had Mrs. Stackridge
to be absent when she came to borrow? As she explored the pantry and
closets, however, and became convinced that she was absolutely alone in
a well-provisioned farm-house, her countenance lighted up with a smile.

"I can borry what I want jest exac'ly as well as if Mis' Stackridge war
to home," thought the widow.

And she proceeded to fill her basket. She helped herself to a pan of
meal, borrowing the pan with it. "I'll fetch home the pan," said she,
"when I do the meal,"--exposing her craggy teeth with a grim smile. "If
I don't before, I'm a feared Mis' Stackridge'll haf to wait for't a
considerable spell! What's in this box? Coffee! May as well take box and
all. Bring back the box when I do the coffee. Wish I could find some
tobacky somewhars--wonder whar they keep their tobacky!"

Now, the excellent creature did not indulge in these liberties without
some apprehension that Mrs. Stackridge might return suddenly and
interrupt them. Perhaps she had not followed Mr. Stackridge to the
mountains. Perhaps she had only gone into the village to buy shoes for
her children, or to call on a neighbor. "If she should come back and
ketch me at it,--why, then, I'll tell her I'm only jest a borryin', and
see what she'll do about it. The prop'ty of these yer durned
Union-shriekers is all gwine to be confisticated, and I reckon I may as
well take my sheer when I can git it. Thar's a paper o' black pepper,
and I'll take it jest as 'tis. Thar's a jar o' lump butter,--wish I
could tote jar and all!--have some of the lumps on a plate anyhow!"

She had soon filled her basket, and was regretting she had not brought
two, or a larger one, when a handsome, new tin pail, hanging in the
pantry, caught her eye. "Been wantin' jest sich a pail as that, this
long while!" And she proceeded to fill that also.

Just as she was putting the cover on, she was very much startled by
hearing footsteps at the door.

"O, dear me! What shall I do? If it should be Mr. Stackridge! But it
can't be him! If it's only Mis' Stackridge or one of the niggers, I'll
face it out! They won't das' to make a fuss, for they're
Union-shriekers, and my son's a capting in the confederate army!"

Thump, thump, thump!--loud knocking at the door.

"My, it's visitors! Who can it be?" She set down her pail and basket.
"I'll act jest as if I had a right here, anyhow!"

She was hesitating, when the string was pulled, and two strangers,
stout, square built, with foreign looking faces, carrying muskets, and
dressed in confederate uniform, entered.

"Mrs. Stackridge?" said they, in a heavy Teutonic accent.

"Ye--ye--yes--" stammered the widow, trying to hide the guilty basket
and pail behind her skirts. "What do you want of Mis' Stackridge?"

One of the strangers said to the other, in German, indicating the
plunder,--

"This is the woman. She is getting provisions ready to send to her
husband in the mountains."

"Let us see what there is good to eat," said the other.

Mrs. Sprowl, although understanding no word that was spoken, perceived
that the borrowed property formed the theme of their remarks.

"Have some?" she hastened to say, with extreme politeness, as the
Germans approached the provisions.

"Tank ye," said they, finding some bread and cold meat. And they ate
with appetite, exchanging glances, and grunting with satisfaction.

"O, take all you want!" said the widow. "You're welcome to anything
there is in the house, I'm shore!"--adding, within herself, "I am so
glad these soldiers have come! Now, whatever is missing will be laid to
them."

"You de lady of de house?" said the foreigners, munching.

"Yes, help yourselves!" smiled the hospitable widow.

"You Mrs. Stackridge?" they inquired, more particularly.

"Yes; take anything you like!" replied the widow.

"Where your husband?"

"My husband! my poor dear husband! he has been dead these----"

She checked herself, remembering that the soldiers took her for Mrs.
Stackridge. If she undeceived them, then they would know she had been
stealing.

"Dead?" The Germans shook their heads and smiled. "No! He was here last
night. He was seen. You take dese tings to him up in de mountain."

"Would you like some cheese?" said the embarrassed widow.

"Tank ye. Dis is better as rations."

Mrs. Sprowl returned to the pantry, in order to replace the provisions
she had so generously given away, and prepared to depart with the basket
and pail; inviting the guests repeatedly to make themselves quite at
home, and to take whatever they could find.

"Wait!" said they. Each had a knee on the floor, and one hand full of
bread and cheese. They looked up at her with broad, complacent, unctuous
faces, smiling, yet resolute. And one, with his unoccupied hand, laid
hold of the handle of the basket, while the other detained the pail.
"You will tell us where is your husband," said they.

"O, dear me, I don't know! I'm a poor lone woman, and where my husband
is I can't consaive, I'm shore!"

"You will tell us where is your husband," repeated the men; and one of
them, getting upon his feet, stood before her at the door.

"He's on the mountain somewhars. I don't know whar, and I don't keer,"
cried the widow, excited. There was something in the stolid, determined
looks of the brothers she did not like. "He's a bad man, Mr. Stackridge
is! I'm a secessionist myself. You are welcome to everything in the
house--only let me go now."

"You will not go," said the soldier at the door, "till you tell us. We
come for dat."

On entering, they had placed their muskets in the corner. The speaker
took them, and handed one to his comrade. And now the widow observed
that out of the muzzle of each protruded the butt-end of a small
cowhide. Each soldier held his gun at his side, and laying hold of the
said butt-end, drew out the long taper belly and dangling lash of the
whip, like a black snake by the neck.

The widow screamed.

"It's all a mistake. Let me go! I ain't Mis' Stackridge"

Nothing so natural as that the wife of the notorious Unionist should
deny her identity at sight of the whips. The soldiers looked at each
other, muttered something in German, smiled, and replaced their muskets
in the corner.

"You tell us where is your husband. Or else we whip you. Dat is our
orders."

This they said in low tones, with mild looks, and with a calmness which
was frightful. The widow saw that she had to do with men who obeyed
orders literally, and knew no mercy.

"I hain't got no husband. I ain't Mis' Stackridge. I'm a poor lone
widder, that jest come over here to borry a few things, and that's all."

"Ve unterstan. You say shust now you are Mrs. Stackridge. Now you say
not. Dat make no difruns. Ve know. You tell us where is your husband, or
ve string you up."

This speech was pronounced by both the foreigners, a sentence by each,
alternately. At the conclusion one drew a strong cord from his pocket,
while the other looked with satisfaction at certain hooks in the
plastering overhead, designed originally for the support of a kitchen
pole, but now destined for another use.

"Don't you dast to tech me!" screamed the false Mrs. Stackridge. "I'm a
secessionist myself, that hates the Union-shriekers wus'n you do, and
I've got a son that's a capting, and a poor lone widder at that!"

"Dat we don't know. What we know is, you tell what we say, or we whip
you. Dat's Captain Shprowl's orders."

"Capting Sprowl! That's my son! my own son! If he sent you, then it's
all right!"

"So we tink. All right." And the soldiers, seizing her, tied her thumbs
as Lysander had taught them, passed the cords over the hook as they had
passed the clothesline over the crossbeam the night before, and drew the
shrieking woman's hands above her head, precisely as they had hauled up
Toby's. They then turned her skirts up over her head, and fastened them.
This also they had been instructed to do by Lysander. It was, you will
say, shameful; for this woman was free and white. Had she been a slave,
with a different complexion, although perhaps quite as white, would it
have been any the less shameful? Answer, ye believers in the divine
rights of slave-masters!

"Now you vill tell?" said the phlegmatic Teutons, measuring out their
whips.

"Go for my son! My son is Capting Sprowl!" gasped the stifled and
terror-stricken widow.

"Dat trick won't do. You shpeak, or we shtrike."

"It is true, it is true! I am Mrs. Sprowl, and my husband is dead, and
my son is Capting Sprowl, and a poor lone widder, that if you strike her
a single blow he'll have you took and hung!"

"If he is your son, den by your own son's orders we whip you. He vill
not hang us for dat. You vill not tell? Den we give you ten lash."

Blow upon blow, shriek upon shriek, followed. The soldiers counted the
strokes aloud, deliberately, conscientiously, as they gave them, "Vun,
two, tree," &c, up to ten. There they stopped. But the screams did not
stop. This punishment, which it was sport to inflict upon a faithful old
negro, which it would have been such a good joke to have bestowed upon
the wife of a stanch Unionist, was no sport, no joke, but altogether a
tragic affair to thy mother, O Lysander!

Then she, who had so often wished that she too owned slaves, that when
she was angry she might have them strung up and flogged, knew by fearful
experience what it was to be strung up and flogged. Then she, who
sympathized with her son in his desire to see every man, woman, and
child, that loved the old Union, served in this fashion, felt in her own
writhing and bleeding flesh the stings of that inhuman vengeance.
Terrible blunder, for which she had only herself to thank! Robbery of
her neighbor's house--the dishonest "borrowing," not of these ill-gotten
goods only, but also of her neighbor's name--had brought her, by what we
call fatality, to this strait.

Fatality is but another name for Providence.

The soldiers waited for a lull in the shrieks, then put once more the
question.

"You tell now? Where is your husband? No? Den you git ten lash more.
Always ten lash till you tell."

A storm of incoherent denial, angry threats, sobs, and screams, was the
response. One of the soldiers drew her skirts over her head again, and
gave another pull at the cords that hauled up her thumbs, while the
other stood off and measured out his whip.

Just then the door opened, and Captain Sprowl looked in.

"How are you getting on, boys?"

The question was accompanied by an approving smile, which seemed to say,
"I see you are getting on very well."

"We whip her once. We give her ten lash. She not tell."

"Very well. Give her ten more."

The widow struggled and screamed. Had she recognized her son's voice?
Muffled as she was, he did not recognize hers. Nor was it surprising
that, in the unusual posture in which he found her, he did not know her
from Mrs. Stackridge.

He stood in the door and smiled while the soldier laid on.

"Make it a dozen," he quietly remarked. "And smart ones, to wind up
with!"

So it happened that, thanks to her son's presence, the screeching victim
got two "smart ones" additional.

"Now uncover her face. Ease away on her thumbs a little. I'll question
her mys--Good Lucifer!" exclaimed the captain, finding himself face to
face with his own mother.

Twenty-two lashes and the torture of the strung-up thumbs had proved too
much even for the strong nerves of Widow Sprowl. She fell down in a
swoon.

Lysander, furious, whipped out his sword, and turned upon the soldiers.
They quietly stepped back, and took their guns from the corner. He would
certainly have killed one of them on the spot had he not seen by the
glance of their eyes that the other would, at the same instant, as
certainly have killed him.

"You scoundrels! you have whipped my own mother!"

"Captain," they calmly answered, "we opey orders."

"Fools!"--and Lysander ground his teeth,--"you should have known!"

"Captain," they replied, "if you not know, how should we know? We never
see dis woman pefore. We come. We find her taking prowisions from de
house. We say, 'She take dem to her husband in de mountains.' We say,
'You Mrs. Stackridge?' She say yes to everyting. We not know she lie. We
not know she steal. We not say, 'You somepody else.' We opey orders. We
take and we whip her. You come in and say, 'Whip more.' We whip more.
Now you say to us, 'Scoundrels!' You say, 'Fools!' We say, 'Captain, it
was your orders; we opey.'"

Having by a joint effort at sententious English pronounced this speech,
the brothers stood stolidly awaiting the result; while the captain,
still gnashing his teeth, bent over the prostrate form of his mother.

"Bring some water and throw on her! you idiots!" he yelled at them.
"Would you see her die?"

They looked at each other. "Water?" Yes, that was what was wanted. They
remembered their practice of the previous evening. One found a wooden
pail. The other emptied upon the floor the contents of the tin pail the
widow had "borrowed." They went to the well. They brought water. "To
throw on her?" Yes, that was what he said. And together they dashed a
sudden drenching flood over the poor woman, as if the swoon were another
fire to be extinguished.

These fellows obeyed orders literally--a merit which Lysander now failed
to appreciate. He swore at them terribly. But he did not countermand his
last order. Accordingly they proceeded stoically to bring more water.
Lysander had got his mothers head on his knee, and she had just opened
her eyes to look and her mouth to gasp, when there came another double
ice-cold wave, blinding, stifling, drowning her. Too much of water hadst
thou, poor lone widow!

Lysander let fall the maternal head, and bounded to his feet, roaring
with wrath. The brothers, imperturbable, with the empty pails at their
sides, stared at him with mute wonder.

"Captain, dat was your orders. You say, 'Pring vasser and trow on.' We
pring vasser and trow on. Dat is all."

"But I didn't tell you to fetch pailfuls!"

This sentence rushed out of Lysander's soul like a rocket, culminated in
a loud, explosive oath, and was followed by a shower of fiery curses
falling harmless on the heads of the unmoved Teutons.

They waited patiently until the pyrotechnic rain ceased, then answered,
speaking alternately, each a sentence, as if with one mind, but with two
organs.

"Captain, you hear. Last night vas de house afire. You say, 'Pring
vasser.' We pring a little. Den you say to us, 'Tarn you! why in hell
you shtop?' And you say, 'Von I tell you pring vasser, pring till I say
shtop.' Vun time more to-day you say, 'Pring vasser,' and you never say
shtop. You say, 'Trow on.' We trow on. Vat you say we do. You not say
vat you mean, dat is mishtake for you."

It is not to be supposed that Lysander listened meekly to the end of
this speech. He had caught the sound of voices without that interested
him more; and, looking, he saw Mrs. Stackridge returning, with her
children.

The Pepperill young-one had faithfully done her errand; and the farmer's
wife, believing something important was meant by it, had hastened to
accept the singular and urgent invitation. But, arrived at the poor
man's shanty, she was astonished to find Mrs. Pepperill astonished to
see her. They talked the matter over, questioned the child, and finally
concluded that Daniel had said something quite different, which the
child had misunderstood.

"Well," said Mrs. Stackridge, after sitting a-while, "I reckon I may as
well be going back, for I've left only old Aunt Deb to home, and she's
scar't to death to be left alone these times; thinks the secesh
soldiers'll kill her. But I tell her not to be afeared of 'em. I ain't!"

So this woman, little knowing how much real cause she had to be afraid,
returned home with her family. When near the house she met Gaff and
Jake, negroes belonging to the farm, who had been in the field at work,
running towards her, in great terror, declaring that they heard somebody
killing Aunt Deb.

"Nonsense!" said she; and in spite of their assurances and entreaties,
she marched straight towards the door through which the captain saw her
coming.

"Clear out!" said Lysander to the soldiers. "Go to your quarters. I'll
have your case attended to!" This was spoken very threateningly. Then,
as soon as they were out of hearing, he said to Mrs. Stackridge, "I'm
sorry to say a couple of my men have been plundering your house. Them
Dutchmen you just saw go out. Worse, than that, my mother was going by,
and she came in to save your stuff, and they, it seems, took her for
you, and beat her. You see, they have beat her most to death," said
Lysander.

"Lordy massy!" said Mrs. Stackridge.

"Do help me! do take off my clo'es! a poor lone widder!" faintly moaned
Mrs. Sprowl.

"When I got here," added the captain, "she had fainted, and they had
used her basket to pack things in, as you see, and filled this pail,
which they emptied afterwards, so as to bring water and fetch her to.
Scoundrels! I'm glad they ain't native-born southerners!"

"And where is Aunt Deb?" said Mrs. Stackridge, hastening to raise the
widow up.

"I dono'; I hain't seen her. O, dear, them villains!" groaned Mrs.
Sprowl. "I was just comin' over to borry a few things, you know."

"Going by; she wasn't coming here," said Lysander.

"Going by," repeated the widow. "O, shall I ever git over it! O, dear
me, I'm all cut to pieces! A poor forlorn widder, and my only son--O,
dear!"

"Her only son," cried Lysander in a loud voice, "couldn't get here in
time to prevent the outrage. That's what she wants to say. I leave her
in your care, Mrs. Stackridge. She was doing a neighborly thing for you
when she came in to stop the pillaging, and I'm sure you'll do as much
for her."

And the captain retired, his appetite for woman-whipping cloyed for the
present.

"Where is Aunt Deb?" repeated Mrs. Stackridge. "Aunt Deb!" she called,
"where are you? I want you this minute!"

"Here I is!" answered a voice from heaven, or at least from that
direction.

It was the voice of the old negress, who had hid herself in the
chambers, and now spoke through a stove-pipe hole from which she had
observed all that was passing from the time when the widow entered with
her empty basket.



XXXV.

_THE MOONLIGHT EXPEDITION._


Toby had been released. Mrs. Stackridge had been whipped by proxy, and
had kept her husband's secret. Gad, the spy, was still unaccountably
absent. These three sources of information were, therefore, for the
time, considered closed; and it was determined to have recourse to the
fourth, namely, Carl.

Here it should, perhaps, be explained that the confederate government,
informed of the position of armed resistance assumed by the little band
of patriots, had immediately telegraphed orders to recapture the
insurgents. Among the Union-loving mountaineers of East Tennessee the
mutterings of a threatened rebellion against the new despotism had long
been heard, and it was deemed expedient to suppress at once this
outbreak.

"Try the ringleaders by drum-head court-martial, and, if guilty, hang
them on the spot," said a second despatch.

These instructions were purposely made public, in order to strike terror
among the Unionists. They were discussed by the soldiers, and reached
the ears of Carl.

"Hang them on the spot." That meant Stackridge and Penn, and he knew not
how many more. "And I," said Carl, "have agreed to show the vay to the
cave."

He was sweating fearfully over the dilemma in which he had placed
himself, when a sergeant and two men came to conduct him to
head-quarters.

"Now it begins," said Carl to himself, drawing a deep breath.

The irons remained on his wrists. In this plight he was brought into the
presence of the red-faced colonel.

"I hate a damned Dutchman!" said Lysander, who happened to be at
head-quarters.

He had had experience, and his prejudice was natural.

The colonel poised his cigar, and regarded Carl sternly. The boy's heart
throbbed anxiously, and he was afraid that he looked pale. Nevertheless,
he stood calmly erect on his sturdy young legs, and answered the
officer's frown with an expression of placid and innocent wonder.

"Your name is Carl," said the colonel.

"I sushpect that is true," replied Carl, on his guard against making
inadvertent admissions.

"Carl what?"

"Minnevich."

"Minny-fish? That's a scaly name. And they say you are a scaly fellow.
What have you got those bracelets on for?"

"That is vat I should pe wery much glad to find out," said Carl,
affectionately regarding his handcuffs.

"You are the fellow that enlisted to save the schoolmaster's neck, ain't
you?"

"I suppose that is true too."

"Suppose? Don't you know?"

"I thought I knowed, for you told me so; but as they vas hunting for him
aftervards to hang him, I vas conwinced I vas mishtaken."

This quiet reply, delivered in the lad's quaint style, with perfect
deliberation, and with a countenance shining with simplicity, was in
effect a keen thrust at the perfidy of the confederate officers. The
colonel's face became a shade redder, if possible, and he frowningly
exclaimed,--

"And so you deserted!"

"That," said Carl, "ish not quite so true."

"What! you deny the fact?"

"I peg your pardon, it ish not a fact. I vas took prisoner."

"And do you maintain that you did not go willingly?"

"I don't know just vat you mean by villingly. Ven vun of them fellows
puts his muzzle to my head and says, 'You come mit us, and make no noise
or I plow out your prains,' I vas prewailed upon to go. I vas more
villing to go as I vas to have my prains spilt. If that is vat you mean
by villing, I vas villing."

"Why did they take you prisoner?"

"Pecause. I vill tell you. Gad vas shleeping like thunder: you know vat
I mean--shnoring. Nothing could make him vake up; so they let him
shnore. But I vake up, and they say, I suppose, they must kill me or
take me off, for if I vas left pehind I vould raise the alarm too soon."

"Well, where did they take you?"

Carl was silent a moment, then looking Colonel Derring full in the face,
he said earnestly,--

"They make me shwear I vould not tell."

"Minny-fish," said the colonel, "this won't do. The secret is out, and
it is too late for you to try to keep it back. Toby betrayed it. Mrs.
Stackridge has been arrested, and she has confessed that her husband and
his friends are hid in a cave. We sent out a scout, who has come in and
corroborated both their statements. Gad discovered the cave; but he has
sprained his ankle. He describes the spot accurately, but he's too lame
to climb the hills again. What we want is a guide to go in his place.
Now, Minny-fish, here's a chance for you to earn a pardon, and prove
your loyalty. You promised Captain Sprowl, did you not, that you would
conduct him to the cave?"

Carl, overwhelmed by the colonel's confident assertions, breathed a
moment, then replied,--

"I pelieve I vas making him some promise."

"Notwithstanding your oath that you would not tell?" said Lysander,
eager to cross and corner him.

"To show the vay, that is not to tell," replied Carl. "I shwore I vould
not tell, and I shall not tell. But if you vill go mit me to the cave, I
vill go mit you and take you. Then I keep my promise to you and my oath
to them. You see, I did not shwear not to take you," he added, with a
smile.

With a smile on his face, but with profound perturbations of the soul.
For he saw himself sinking deeper and deeper into this miry difficulty,
and how he was to extricate himself without dragging his friends down,
was still a terrible enigma.

"I believe the boy is honest," said Derring. "Sergeant, have those irons
taken off. Captain Sprowl, you will manage the affair, and take this boy
as your guide. I advise you to trust him. But until he has thoroughly
proved his honesty, keep a careful eye on him, and if you become
convinced that he is deceiving you, shoot him down on the spot. I say,
shoot him on the spot," repeated the colonel, impressively. "You both
understand that. Do you, Minny-fish?"

"I vas never shot," said Carl, "but I sushpect I know vat shooting is."
And he smiled again, with trouble in his heart, that would have quite
disconcerted a youth of less nerve and phlegm.

"Well," said Captain Sprowl, "if you don't, you will know, if you
undertake to play any of your Dutch tricks with me!"

"O, sir!" said Carl, humbly, "if I knowed any trick I vouldn't ever
think of playing it on you, you are so wery shmart!"

"How do you know I am?" said Lysander, who felt flattered, and thought
it would be interesting to hear the lad's reasons; for neither he, nor
any one present, had perceived the craft and sarcasm concealed under
that simple, earnest manner.

"How do I know you are shmart? Pecause," replied Carl, "you have such a
pig head. And such a pig nose. And such a pig mouth. That shows you are
a pig man."

This was said with an air of intense seriousness, which never changed
amid the peals of laughter that followed. Nobody suspected Carl of an
intentional joke; and the round-eyed innocent surprise with which he
regarded the merriment added hugely to the humor of it. Everybody
laughed except Lysander, who only grimaced a little to disguise his
chagrin. This upstart officer was greatly disliked for his conceited
ways, and it was not long before the "Dutch boy's compliments" became
the joke of the camp, and wherever Lysander appeared some whisper was
sure to be heard concerning either the "pig mouth," or "pig nose," of
that truly "pig man."

As for Carl, he had something far more serious to do than to laugh. How
to circumvent the designs of these men? That was the question.

In the first place, it is necessary to state that his conscience
acquitted him entirely of all obligations to them or their cause. He was
no secessionist. He had enlisted to save his benefactor and friend. He
had said, "I will give you my services if you will give that man his
life." They had immediately afterwards broken the contract by seeking to
kill his friend, and he felt that he no longer owed them anything. But
they held _him_ by force, against which he had no weapon but his own
good wit. This, therefore, he determined to use, if possible, to their
discomfiture, and the salvation of those to whom he owed everything. But
how?

He had saved Toby from torture and confession by promising what he never
intended literally to perform.

Once more in the guard-house, retained a prisoner until wanted as a
guide, he reasoned with himself thus:--

"If I do not go, then they vill make Gad go, lame or no lame, and he
vill not be half so lucky to show the wrong road as I can be;"--for Carl
never suspected that what had been said with regard to Mrs. Stackridge's
arrest and confession, and Gad's successful reconnoissance and return,
was all a lie framed to induce him to undertake this very thing. "And if
I did not make pelieve I vas villing to go, then they vould not give me
my hands free, and some chances for myself. I think there vill be some
chances. But Sprowl is to watch, and be ready to shoot me down?" He
shook his head dubiously, and added, "That is vat I do not like quite so
vell!"

He remained in a deep study until dusk. Then Captain Sprowl appeared,
and said to him,--

"Come! you are to go with me."

Carl's heart gave a great bound; but he answered with an air of
indifference,--

"To-night?"

"Yes. At once. Stir!"

"I have not quite finished my supper; but I can put some of it in my
pockets, and be eating on the road." And he added to himself, "I am glad
it is in the night, for that vill be a wery good excuse if I should be
so misfortunate as not to find the cave!"

"Here," said Lysander, imperiously, giving him a twist and push,--"march
before me! And fast! Now, not a word unless you are spoken to; and don't
you dodge unless you want a shot."

Thus instructed, Carl led the way. He did not speak, and he did not
dodge. One circumstance overjoyed him. He saw no signs of a military
expedition on foot. Was Lysander going alone with him to the mountains?
"I sushpect I can find some trick for him, shmart as he is!" thought
Carl.

They left the town behind them. They took to the fields; they entered
the shadow of the mountains, the western sky above whose tops was yet
silvery bright with the shining wake of the sunset. A few faint stars
were visible, and just a glimmer of moonlight was becoming apparent in
the still twilight gloom.

"We are going to have a quiet little adwenture together!" chuckled Carl.
One thing was singular, however. Lysander did not tamely follow his
lead: on the contrary, he directed him where to go; and Carl saw, to his
dismay, that they were proceeding in a very direct route towards the
cave.

"Never mind! Ven ve come to some conwenient place maybe something vill
happen," he said consolingly to himself.

Then suddenly consternation met him, as it were face to face. The enigma
was solved. From the crest of a knoll over which Lysander drove him like
a lamb, he saw, lying on the ground in a little glen before them, the
dark forms of some forty men.

One of these rose to his feet and advanced to meet Lysander. It was
Silas Ropes.

"All ready?" said Sprowl.

"Ready and waiting," said Silas.

"Well, push on," said the captain. "We'll go to the dead bodies in the
ravine first. Where's Pepperill?"

"Here," replied Ropes; and at a summons Dan appeared.

Carl's heart sank within him. Toby in the guard-house had told him about
the dead bodies, and he knew that they were not far from the cave. He
was aware, too, that Pepperill knew far more than one of such shallow
mental resources and feeble will, wearing that uniform, and now in the
power of these men, ought to know.

There in the little moonlit glen they met and exchanged glances--the
sturdy, calm-faced boy, and the weak-kneed, trembling man. Pepperill had
not recovered from the terror with which he had been inspired, when
summoned to guide a reconnoitring party to the ravine. But he had not
yet lisped a syllable of what he knew concerning the cave. Carl gave him
a look, and turned his eyes away again indifferently. That look said,
"Be wery careful, Dan, and leave a good deal to me." And Dan, man as he
was, felt somehow encouraged and strengthened by the presence of this
boy.

"Now, Pepperill," said Sprowl, "can you move ahead and make no mistake?"

"I kin try," answered Pepperill, dismally. "But it's a heap harder to
find the way in the night so; durned if 'tain't!"

"None o' that, now, Dan," said Ropes, "or you'll git sunthin' to put
sperrit inter ye!"

Dan made no reply, but shivered. The mountain air was chill, the
prospect dreary. Close by, the woods, blackened by the recent fire, lay
shadowy and spectral in the moon. Far above, the dim summits towards
which their course lay whitened silently. There was no noise but the low
murmur of these men, bent on bloody purposes. No wonder Dan's teeth
chattered.

As for Carl, he killed a mosquito on his cheek, and smiled triumphantly.

"You got a shlap, you warmint!" he said, as if he had no other care on
his mind than the insect's slaughter.

"Who told you to speak?" said Lysander sharply.

"Vas that shpeaking?" Carl scratched his cheek complacently. "I vas only
making a little obserwation to the mosquito."

"Well, keep your observations to yourself!"

"That is vat I vill try to do."

The order to march was given. Lysander proceeded a few paces in advance,
accompanied by Ropes and the two guides. The troops followed in silence,
with dull, irregular tramp, filing through obscure hollows, over barren
ridges crowned by a few thistles and mulleins, and by the edges of
thickets which the fires had not reached. At length they came to a tract
of the burned woods. The word "halt!" was whispered. The sound of
tramping feet was suddenly hushed, and the slender column of troops,
winding like a dark serpent up the side of the mountain, became
motionless.

"All right so far, Pepperill?"

"Wal, I hain't made nary mistake yet, cap'm."

Pepperill recognized the woods in which, when flying to the cave with
Virginia, Penn, and Cudjo, they had found themselves surrounded by
fires.

"How far is it now to your ravine?"

"Nigh on to half a mile, I reckon."

"Shall we go through these woods?"

"It's the nighest to go through 'em. But I s'pose we can git around if
we try."

"The moon sets early. We'd better take the nearest way," said the
captain. "Well, Dutchy,"--for the first time deigning to consult
Carl,--"this route is taking us to the cave, too, ain't it?"

"Wery certain," said Carl, "prowided you go far enough, and turn often
enough, and never lose the vay."

"That'll be your risk, Dutchy. Look out for the landmarks, so that when
Pepperill stops you can keep on."

"I vill look out, but if they have all been purnt up since I vas here,
how wery wexing!"

This wood had been but partially consumed when the flames were checked
by the rain. Many trunks were still standing, naked, charred, stretching
their black despairing arms to the moon. The shadows of these ghostly
trees slanted along the silent field of desolation, or lay entangled
with the dark logs and limbs of trees which had fallen, and from which,
at short distances, they were scarcely distinguishable. Here and there
smouldered a heap of rubbish, its pallid smoke rising noiselessly in the
bluish light. There were heaps of ashes still hot; half-burned brands
sparkled in the darkness; and now and then a stump or branch emitted a
still bright flame.

Through this scene of blackness and ruin, rendered gloomily picturesque
by the moonlight, the men picked their way. Not a word was spoken; but
occasionally a muttered curse told that some ill-protected foot had come
in contact with live cinders, or that some unlucky leg had slumped down
into one of those mines of fire, formed by roots of old dead stumps,
eaten slowly away to ashes under ground.

Carl had hoped that the woods would prove impassable, and that the party
would be compelled to turn back. That would gain for him time and
opportunity. But the men pushed on. "Vill nothing happen?" he said to
himself, in despair at seeing how directly they were travelling towards
the cave. The burned tract was not extensive, and he soon saw,
glimmering through the blackened columns, the clear moonlight on the
slopes above.

Pepperill, not daring to assume the responsibility of misleading the
party, knew no better than to go stumbling straight on.

"I vish he would shtumple and preak his shtupid neck!" thought Carl.

They emerged from the burned woods, and came out upon the ledges beyond;
and now the lad saw plainly where they were. On the left, the deep and
quiet gulf of shadow was the ravine. They had but to follow this up, he
knew not just how far, to reach the cave. And still Pepperill advanced.
Carl's heart contracted. He knew that the critical moment of the night,
for him and for his fugitive friends, was now at hand.

"Do you see any landmarks yet?" Sprowl whispered to him.

"I can almost see some," answered Carl, peering earnestly over a moonlit
bushy space. "Ve shall pe coming to them py and py."

"Do you know this ravine?"

"I remember some rawines. I shouldn't be wery much surprised if this vas
vun of 'em."

"Look here," said Lysander. Carl looked, and saw a pistol-barrel.
"Understand?"--significantly.

"Is it for me?"' And Carl extended his hand ingenuously.

"For you?--yes." But instead of giving the weapon to the boy, he
returned it to his pocket, with a smile the boy did not like.

"Ah, yes! a goot joke!" And Carl smiled too, his good-humored face
beaming in the moon.

At the same time he said to himself, "He hates me pecause I am Hapgood's
friend; and he vill be much pleased to have cause to shoot me."

Just then Dan stopped. Lysander put up his hand as a signal. The troops
halted.

"It's somewhars down in hyar, cap'm," Pepperill whispered.

"It's a horrid place!" muttered Sprowl.

"It ar so, durned if 'tain't!" said Dan, discouragingly.

Before them yawned the ravine, bristling with half-burned saplings, and
but partially illumined by the moon. The babble of the brook flowing
through its hidden depths was faintly audible.

"See the bodies anywhere?" said Lysander.

"Can't see ary thing by this light," replied Dan. "But we can go down
and find 'em."

Sprowl did not much fancy the idea of descending.

"It will be a waste of time to stop here," he said to Silas. "The live
traitors are of more consequence than the dead ones. Supposing we go to
the cave first, and come back and find the bodies afterwards. Have you
got your bearings yet, Carl?"

"I am peginning," said Carl, staring about him, with his hands in his
pockets. "I think I vill have 'em soon."

Sprowl looked at him with suppressed rage. "How cussed provoking!" he
muttered.

"It is--wery prowoking!" said Carl, looking at the moon. "Aggrawating!"

"Well, make up your mind quick! What will you do?"

Then it seemed as if a bright idea occurred to Carl.

"I vill tell you. You go down and find the podies, and I vill be
looking. Ven you come up again, I shouldn't be surprised if I could see
vair the cave is."

"Ropes," said Sprowl, "take a couple of men, and go down in there with
Pepperill. I think it's best to stay with this boy."

This arrangement did not please Carl at all; but, as he could not
reasonably complain of it, he said, stoically, "Yes, it vill be petter
so."

Ropes selected his two men, and left the rest concealed in the shadows
of the thickets.

"If I could go up on the rocks there, I suppose I could see something,"
said Carl.

"Well, I'll go with you. I mean to give you a fair chance." Carl felt a
secret hope. Once more alone with this villain, would not some
interesting thing occur? "Wait, though!" said Sprowl; and he called a
corporal to his side. "Come with us. Keep close to this boy. At the
first sign of his giving us the slip, put your bayonet through him."

"I will," said the corporal.

This was discouraging again. But Carl looked up at the captain and
smiled--his good-humored, placid smile.

"You do right. But you vill see I shall not give you the shlip. Now
come, and be wery still."

In the mean time, Pepperill, with the three rebels, descended into the
ravine. The spot where the dead man and horse had been was soon found.
But now no dead man was to be seen. The horse had been removed from the
rocks between which his back was wedged, and rolled down lower into the
ravine. A broad, shallow hole had been dug there, as if to bury him. But
the work had been interrupted. There was a shovel lying on the heap of
earth. Near by was another spot where the soil had been recently
stirred--a little mound: it was shaped like a grave.

"They've buried the poor cuss hyar," said Dan.

"We'll see." Ropes took the shovel. "They can't have put him in very
deep, fur they've struck the rock in this yer t'other hole."

He threw up a little dirt, then gave the shovel to one of the soldiers.
The moon shone full upon the place. The man dug a few minutes, and came
to something which was neither rock nor soil. He pulled it up. It was a
man's arm.

"You didn't guess fur from right this time, Dan! Scrape off a little
more dirt, and we'll haul up the carcass. Needn't be partic'lar 'bout
scrapin' very keerful, nuther. He's a mean shoat, whoever he is; one o'
them cussed Union-shriekers. Wish they was all planted like he is! Hope
we shall find five or six more. Ketch holt, Dan!"

Dan caught hold. The body was dragged from the lonely resting-place to
which it had been consigned. Parts of it, which had not been protected
by the superincumbent bulk of the horse, were hideously burned. Ropes
rolled it over on the back, and kicked it, to knock off the dirt. He
turned up the face in the moonlight--a frightful face! One side was
roasted; and what was left of the hair and beard was full of sand.

"Damn him!" said Ropes, giving it a wipe with the spade.

The eyes were open, and they too were full of sand.

But the features were still recognizable. The men started back with
horror. They knew their comrade. It was the spy who had been sent out to
watch the fugitives. It was "the sleeper," whom nought could waken more.
It was Gad.

"Wal, if I ain't beat!" said Silas, with a ghastly look. "Fool! how did
he come hyar?"

This question has never been satisfactorily answered. The fatal leap of
the terrified horse with his rider is known; but how came Gad on the
horse? Those who knew the character of the man account for it in this
way: He had been something of a horse-thief in his day; and it is
supposed that, finding Stackridge's horse on the mountain, he fell once
more into temptation. He was probably a little drunk at the time; and he
was a man who would never walk if he could ride, especially when he was
tipsy. So he mounted. But he had no sooner commenced the descent of the
mountain, than the fire, which had been previously concealed from the
animal by the clump of trees behind which he was hampered, burst upon
his sight, and filled him with uncontrollable frenzy.

Dan, who had witnessed the flight and plunge, could have contributed an
item towards the solution of the mystery. But he opened not his mouth.

"Them cussed traitors shall pay fur this!" said Ropes. This was the only
consolatory thought that occurred to him. Having uttered it, he looked
remorsefully at the spade with which he had rudely wiped the face of his
dead friend. "I thought 'twas one o' them rotten scoundrels, or I--But
never mind! Kiver him up agin, boys! We can't take him with us, and
we've no time to lose."

So they laid the corpse once more in the grave, and heaped the sand upon
it.



XXXVI.

_CARL FINDS A GEOLOGICAL SPECIMEN._


In the mean time Carl ascended the moonlit slope, with Sprowl's pistol
on one side of him, and the corporal's bayonet on the other. Between the
two he felt that he had little chance. But he did not despair. He
reasoned thus with himself:--

"These two men vill not think to take the cave alone. They must go back
for reënforcements. That shall make a diwersion in my favor. If I show
them some dark place, and make them think it is there, they vill not go
wery near to examine." And he arrived at this conclusion: "I suppose I
shall inwent a cave."

They were advancing cautiously towards the summit of a bushy ridge.
Suddenly Carl stopped.

"Anything?" said Sprowl. Carl nodded, with a pleased and confident
smile. "What?"

"You shall see wery soon. Shtoop low." He himself crouched close to the
ground. The men followed his example. "Come a little more on. Now you
see that rock?" Lysander saw it. "Vell, it is not there."

They crept forward a little farther. Then Carl stopped again, and
said,--

"You see that tree?"

"Which?"

"All alone in the moonshine." Lysander perceived it.

"Vell," said Carl, "it is not there."

Again they advanced, and again he paused and pointed.

"You see them little saplings?" Lysander distinguished them revealed
against the sky.

"Vell," said Carl, "it is not there neither."

He was crawling on again, when Sprowl seized his collar.

"What the devil do you mean?--if I see these things!"

Carl turned on his side, smiled intelligently, and, beckoning the
captain to bring his ear close, put his lips to it, covered them with
his hand, with an air of secrecy, and whispered hoarsely,--

"Landmarks!"

"Ah! well!" said Lysander, suffering him to proceed.

Carl crept slowly, raising his head at every moment to observe. The
bayonet came behind; the captain continued at his side. "The further I
take these willains from the others, the petter," thought he. At length
he came in view of the high ledge upon which Penn had discovered Cudjo
at his idolatrous devotions, on the night of the fire. The moon was
getting behind the mountain, and there were dark shadows beneath this
ledge. Though he should travel a mile, he might not find a more suitable
spot to locate his fictitious cave. He hesitated; considered well; then
gently tapped Lysander's arm.

"You see vair the rock comes down? And some pushes just under it? Vell,
the cave is pehind the pushes, ven you find it!" Which was indeed true.

Lysander crept a few paces nearer, stealthily, flat on his belly, with
his head slightly elevated, like a dark reptile gliding over the moonlit
ground.

"Now is my time!" thought Carl. His heart beat violently. He raised
himself on his knees, preparing to spring. Lysander was at least ten
feet in advance of him, and he thought he would risk the pistol. "I
run--he fires--he vill miss me--I shall get avay." But the corporal?
Just then he felt a piercing pressure in his side. It was the corporal,
nudging him with the bayonet to make him lie down.

"I vas shust going a little nearer."

The corporal seemed satisfied with the explanation; but, as the boy
advanced on his hands and knees, he advanced close behind him,--holding
the bayoneted gun ready for a thrust.

So Carl succeeded only in getting a little nearer Lysander, without
increasing at all the distance between him and the corporal. It was a
state of affairs that required serious consideration. He lay dawn again,
and pretended to be anxiously looking for the mouth of the cave, whilst
watching and reflecting.

Just then occurred a circumstance which seemed almost providentially
designed to favor the boy's strategy. Upon the ledge appeared two human
figures, male and female, touched by the moonlight, and defined against
the sky. They remained but a moment on the summit, then began to descend
in the shadow of the ledge. Their movements were slow, uncertain,
mysterious. Below the base of the rock they stood once more in the
moonlight, and after appearing to consult together for a few seconds,
disappeared behind the bushes where Carl had placed his imaginary cave.

If Sprowl had any doubts on the subject before, he was now entirely
satisfied. He believed the forms to be those of Virginia and the
schoolmaster; they had been out to enjoy solitude and sentiment in the
moonlight; and now they were returning reluctantly to the cave.

"Wouldn't Gus be edified if he was in my place!" Lysander little thought
that _he_ was the one to be edified,--as he would certainly have been,
to an amazing degree, had he known the truth. "But we'll spoil their fun
in a few minutes!" he said to himself, as he crept back towards his
former position.

As for Carl, it was he who had been most astonished by the phenomenon.
No sooner had he invented a cave, than two phantoms made their
appearance, and walked into it! The illusion was so perfect, that he
himself was almost deceived by it. Only for an instant, however.
Continuing to gaze, he had another glimpse of the apparitions, when,
having merely passed behind the bushes, they came out beyond them, in
the direction of the real cave, and were lost once more in shadow.
Lysander, engaged in making his retrograde movement, did not notice this
very important circumstance; and the corporal was too intently occupied
in watching Carl to observe anything else.

The captain got behind the shelter of a cluster of thistles, and
beckoned for the two to approach.

"Corporal," said he, "hurry back and tell Ropes to bring up his men.
I'll wait here."

The corporal crawled off.

Carl heard the order, saw the movement, and felt thrilled to the heart's
core with joy. He was now alone with the captain. And he was no longer
unarmed. In creeping towards the thistles, he had laid his hand on a
wonderful little stone. Somehow, his fingers had closed upon it. It was
about the size of an apple, slightly flattened, rough, and heavy. "I
thought," he said afterwards, "if anything vas to happen, that stone
might be waluable." And so it proved. Lysander, considering that the
cave was found, had become less suspicious. "These Dutch are stupid, and
that's all," he thought.

"You vas going to shoot me," said Carl, with an honest laugh at the
ludicrousness of the idea.

"And so I would," said Sprowl, with an oath, "if you hadn't brought us
to the cave."

"That means," thought Carl, "he vill kill me yet if he can, ven he finds
out." He observed, also, that Sprowl, lying on his left side, had his
right hand free, and near the pocket where his pistol was. It was not
yet too late for him to be shot if he attempted an escape without first
attempting something else. The violent beating of his heart recommenced.
He felt a strange tremor of excitement thrilling through every nerve.
His hand still held the pebble, covering and concealing it as he leaned
forward on the ground. He crept a little nearer Lysander.

"The vay they go into the cave," he said, "is wery queer."

"How so?" asked the captain.

They were facing each other. Carl drew still a little nearer, and raised
himself slightly on the hand that grasped the geological specimen.

"I promised to take you in. I vill take you in on vun condition."

"Condition?" repeated Lysander.

"That is vat I said. Vun leetle condition. Let me whishper."

Carl put up his left hand as if to cover the communication he was about
to breathe into Lysander's ear.

"The condition--IS THIS!"

As he uttered the last words, he seized Lysander's wrist with his left
hand, and at the same instant, with a stroke rapid as lightning, smote
him on the temple with the stone.

All this, being interpreted, meant, "I take you to the cave on condition
that you go as my prisoner." Thus Carl designed to keep his promise.

As he struck he sprang up, to be ready for any emergency. He had
expected a struggle, an outcry. He never dreamed that he could strike a
man dead with a single blow!

Without a shriek, without even a moan, Lysander merely sunk back upon
the ground, gasped, shuddered, and lay still.

Carl was stupefied. He looked at the prostrate man. Then he cast his eye
all around him on the moonlit mountain slope. No one was in sight. Was
this murder he had committed? He knelt down, bending over the horribly
motionless form. He gazed on the ghastly-pale face, and saw issuing from
the nostrils a dark stream. It was blood.

Was it not all a dream? He still held the stone in his hand. He looked
at it, and mechanically placed it in his pocket. Nothing now seemed left
for him but to escape to the cave; and yet he remained fixed with horror
to the spot, regarding what he had done.



XXXVII.

_CARL KEEPS HIS ENGAGEMENT._


Of the two forms that had been seen on the ledge, the female was not
Virginia, and the other was not Penn. A word of explanation is
necessary.

Filled with hatred for her husband,--filled with shame and disgust, too,
on hearing how he had caused his own mother to be whipped (for the
secret was out, thanks to Aunt Deb at the stove-pipe hole),--resolved in
her soul never to forgive him, never even to see him again if she could
help it, yet intolerably wretched in her loneliness,--Salina had that
afternoon taken Toby into her counsel.

"Toby, what are we to do?"

"Dat's what I do'no' myself!" the sore old fellow confessed; even his
superior wisdom, usually sufficient (in his own estimation) for the
whole family, failing him now. "When it comes to lickin' white women and
'spec'able servants, ain't nobody safe. I's glad ol' massa and Miss
Jinny's safe up dar in de cave; and I on'y wish we war safe up dar too."

"Toby," said Salina, "we will go there. Can you find the way?"

"Reckon I kin," said Toby, delighted at the proposal.

They set out early. They succeeded in reaching the woods without
exciting suspicion. They kept well to the south, in order to approach
the cave on the same side of the ravine from which Toby had discovered
it, or rather Penn near the entrance of it, before. He thought he would
be more sure to find it by that route. At the same time he avoided the
burned woods, and, without knowing it, the soldiers.

But, the best they could do, the daylight was gone when they came to the
ravine; and Toby could not find the place where he had previously
crossed. He passed beyond it. Then they crossed at random in the easiest
place. Once on the side where the cave was, Toby decided that they were
above it; and, owing to the steepness of the banks, it was necessary to
go around over the rocks, at a short distance from the ravine, in order
to reach the shelf behind the thickets. It was in making this movement
that they had been seen to descend the ledge and pass behind the bushes
at its base.

"Now," said Toby, "you jes' wait while I makes a reckonoyster!"

Salina, weary, sat down in the shadow of a juniper-tree.

Toby made his reconnoissance, discovered nothing, and returned. She,
sitting still there, had been more successful. She pointed.

"What dar?" whispered Toby, frightened.

"There is somebody. Don't you see? By those shrub-like things."

"Dey ain't nobody dar!"--with a shiver.

"Yes there is. I saw a man jump up. He is bending over something now,
trying to lift it. It must be Penn, or some of his friends. Go softly,
and see."

Toby, imaginative, superstitious, did not like to move. But Salina urged
him; and something must be done.

"I--I's mos' afeard to! But dar's somebody, shore!"

He advanced, with eyes strained wide and cold chills creeping over him.
What was the man doing there? What was he trying to lift and drag along
the ground? It was the body of another man.

"Who dar?" said Toby.

"Be quiet. Come here!" was the answer.

"What! Carl! Carl! dat you? What you doin' dar? massy sakes!" said Toby.

"I've got a prisoner," said Carl.

"Dead! O de debil!" said Toby.

"I've knocked him on the head a little, but he is not dead," said Carl.
"Be still, for there's forty more vithin hearing!"

Toby, with mouth agape, and hands on knees, crouching, looked in the
face of the lifeless man. That jaunty mustache, with the blood from the
nostrils trickling into it, was unmistakable.

"Dat Sprowl!" ejaculated the old negro, with horrified recoil.

"He won't hurt you! Take holt! I pelief Ropes is coming, mit his men,
now!"

"Le' 'm drap, den. Wha' ye totin' on him fur?"

Carl had quite recovered from his stupefaction. His wits were clear
again. Why did he not leave the body? His reasons against such a course
were too many to be enumerated on the spot to Toby. In the first place,
he had promised to take the captain to the cave; and he felt a stubborn
pride in keeping his engagement. Secondly, the man might die if he
abandoned him. Moreover, the troops arriving, and finding him, would
know at once what had happened; while, on the contrary, if both Carl and
the captain should be missing, it would be supposed that they had gone
to make observations in another quarter; they would be waited for, and
thus much time would be gained.

Carl had all these arguments in his brain. But instead of stopping to
explain anything, he once more, and alone, lifted the head and shoulders
of the limp man, and recommenced bearing him along.

"Toby, who is that?"

"Dat am Miss Salina."

Carl asked no explanations. "Vimmen scream sometimes. Tell her she is
not to scream. You get her handkersheaf. And do not say it is Shprowl."

"Who--what is it?" Salina inquired.

"Our Carl! don't ye know?" said Toby. "He's got one ob dem secesh he's
knocked on de head."

"Has he killed him?"

"Part killed him, and part took him prisoner,--about six o' one and half
a dozen o' tudder. He say you's specfully 'quested not to scream; and he
wants your hank'cher."

"What does he want of it?"--giving it.

"Dat he best know hisself; but if my 'pinion am axed, I should say, to
wipe de fellah's nose wiv."

Having delivered this profound judgment, Toby carried the handkerchief
to Carl, who spread it over the wounded man's face.

"That prewents her seeing him, and prewents his seeing the vay to the
cave."

"Who eber knowed you's sech a powerful smart chil'?" said old Toby,
amazed.

A new perception of Carl's character had burst suddenly, with a
wonderful light, upon his dazzled understanding. In the terror of their
first encounter, in this strange place, he had comprehended nothing of
the situation. He had not even remembered that he last saw Carl in the
guard-house, with irons on his wrists. It was like a fragment of some
dream to find him here, holding the lifeless Lysander in his arms. But
now he remembered; now he comprehended. Carl had saved him from torture
by engaging to bring this man to the cave; whom by some miracle of
courage and valor, he had overcome and captured, and brought thus far
over the lonely rocks. All was yet vague to the old negro's mind; but it
was nevertheless strange, great, prodigious. And this lad, this Carl,
whom Penn had brought, a sort of vagabond, a little hungry beggar, to
Mr. Villars's house--that is to say, Toby's; whom the vain, tender,
pompous, affectionate old servant had had the immense satisfaction of
adopting into the family, patronizing, scolding, tyrannizing over, and
tenderly loving; who had always been to him "Dat chil'!" "dat
good-for-nuffin'!" "dat mis'ble Carl!"--the same now loomed before his
imagination a hero. The simple spreading of the handkerchief over the
face appeared to him a master-stroke of cool sagacity. He himself, with
all that stupendous wisdom of his, would not have thought of that! He
actually found himself on the point of saying "Massa Carl!"

Ah, this foolish old negro is not the only person who, in these times of
national trouble, has been thus astonished! Carl is not the only hero
who has suddenly emerged, to thrilled and wondering eyes, from the
disguises of common life. How many a beloved "good-for-nothing" has gone
from our streets and firesides, to reappear far off in a vision of
glory! The school-fellows know not their comrade; the mother knows not
her own son. The stripling, whose outgoing and incoming were so familiar
to us,--impulsive, fun-loving, a little vain, a little selfish, apt to
be cross when the supper was not ready, apt to come late and make you
cross when the supper was ready and waiting,--who ever guessed what
nobleness was in him! His country called, and he rose up a patriot. The
fatigue of marches, the hardships of camp and bivouac, the hard fare,
the injustice that must be submitted to, all the terrible trials of the
body's strength and the soul's patient endurance,--these he bore with
the superb buoyancy of spirit which denotes the hero. Who was it that
caught up the colors, and rushed forward with them into the thick of the
battle, after the fifth man who attempted it had been shot down? Not
that village loafer, who used to go about the streets dressed so
shabbily? Yes, the same. He fell, covered with wounds and glory. The
rusty, and seemingly useless instrument we saw hang so long idle on the
walls of society, none dreamed to be a trumpet of sonorous note until
the Soul came and blew a blast. And what has become of that
white-gloved, perfumed, handsome cousin of yours, devoted to his
pleasures, weary even of those,--to whom life, with all its luxuries,
had become a bore? He fell in the trenches at Wagner. He had
distinguished himself by his daring, his hardihood, his fiery love of
liberty. When the nation's alarum beat, his manhood stood erect; he
shook himself; all his past frivolities were no more than dust to the
mane of this young lion. The war has proved useful if only in this, that
it has developed the latent heroism in our young men, and taught us what
is in humanity, in our fellows, in ourselves. Because it has called into
action all this generosity and courage, if for no other cause, let us
forgive its cruelty, though the chair of the beloved one be vacant, the
bed unslept in, and the hand cold that penned the letters in that sacred
drawer, which cannot even now be opened without grief.

As Toby had never been conscious what stuff there was in Carl, so he had
never known how much he really loved, admired, and relied upon him. He
stood staring at him there in the moonlight as if he then for the first
time perceived what a little prodigy he was.

"Take holt, why don't you?" said Carl.

And this time Toby obeyed: he secretly acknowledged the authority of a
master.

"Sartin, sah!"

He had checked himself when on the point of saying "Massa Carl;" but the
respectful "sah" slipped from his tongue before he was aware of it.

Among the bushes, and in the shadows of the rocks, they bore the body in
swiftness and silence. Salina followed.

In the cave the usual fire was burning; by the light of which only
Virginia and her father were to be seen. The sisters fell into each
other's arms. Salina was softened: here, after all her sufferings, was
refuge at last: here, in the warmth of a father's and a sister's
affection, was the only comfort she could hope for now, in the world she
had found so bitter.

"Who is with you?" said the old man. "Toby? and Carl? What is the
matter?"

"I vants Mr. Hapgood, or Pomp, or Cudjo!" said Carl, laying down his
burden.

"They have gone to bury the man in the rawine," said Virginia.

Carl opened great eyes. "The man in the rawine? That's vair Ropes and
the soldiers have gone."

"What soldiers?--Who is this?"

"This is their waliant captain! I am wery sorry, ladies, but I have
given him a leetle nose-pleed. Some vater, Toby! Your handkersheaf,
ma'am, and wery much obliged."

Salina stooped to take the handkerchief. A flash of the fire shone upon
the uncovered face. The eyes opened; they looked up, and met hers
looking down.

"Lysander!"

"Sal, is it you? Where am I, anyhow?" And the husband tried to raise
himself. "Carl, what's this?"

"Don't be wiolent!" said Carl, gently laying him down again, "and I vill
tell you. I vas your prisoner, and I vas showing you the cave. Veil,
this is the cave; but things is a little inwerted. You are my prisoner."

"Is that so?" said the astonished Lysander.

"Wery much so," replied Carl.

"Didn't somebody knock me on the head?"

"I shouldn't be wastly surprised if somepody _did_ knock you on the
head."

"Was it you?"

"I rather sushpect it vas me."

Lysander rubbed his bruised temple feebly, looking amazed.

"But how came _she_ here?"

"It vas she and Toby we saw going into the cave."

"What's that?"--to Toby, bringing a gourd.

"It is vater; it vill improve your wysiognomy. You can trink a little.
You feel pretty sound in your witals, don't you? I vas careful not to
hurt your witals," said Carl, kindly, raising Sprowl's head and holding
the water for him to drink.

Lysander, ungrateful, instead of drinking, started up with sudden fury,
struck the gourd from him with one hand, and thrust the other into the
pocket where his pistol was, at last accounts.

"Vat is vanting?" Carl inquired, complacently.

Lysander, fumbling in vain for his weapon, muttered, "Vengeance!"

"Wery good," said Carl. "Ve vill discuss the question of wengeance, if
you like."' And drawing the pistol from _his_ pocket, he coolly
presented it at Sprowl's head. "Vat for you dodge? You think, maybe, the
discussion vould not be greatly to your adwantage?"

Lysander felt for his sword, found that gone also, and muttered again,
"Villain!"

"Did somepody say somepody is a willain?" remarked Carl. "I should not
be wery much surprised if that vas so. Willains nowdays is cheap. I have
known a great wariety since secesh times pegan. But as for your
particular case, sir, I peg to give some adwice. There is some ladies
present, and you must keep quiet. Do you remember how I vas kept quiet
ven I vas _your_ prisoner? I had pracelets on. And do you remember I vas
putting some supper in my pocket ven you took me to show you the cave?
Veil, I make von great mishtake; instead of supper, vat I vas putting in
my pocket vas them wery pracelets!"

And Carl produced the handcuffs. At that moment Penn and Cudjo arrived;
and Lysander, observing them, submitted to his fate with beautiful
resignation. The irons were put on, and Carl mounted guard over him with
the pistol.



XXXVIII.

_LOVE IN THE WILDERNESS._


Cudjo was highly exasperated to find strangers in the cave. He became
quickly reconciled to the presence of Virginia's sister, but not to that
of Lysander. To pacify him, Carl made him a present of the sword which
he had removed from the captain's noble person on arriving.

Cudjo received the weapon with unbounded delight, and proceeded to
adjust the belt to his own Ethiopian waist. It mattered little with him
that he got the scabbard on the wrong side of his body: a sword was a
sword; and he wore it in awkward and ridiculous fashion, strutting up
and down in the fire-lighted cave, to the envy and disgust of old Toby,
the rage of Lysander, and the amusement of the rest.

Penn meanwhile related to his friends his evening's adventures. He had
gone down to the ravine with the negroes to bury the horse and his dead
rider. He was keeping watch while they worked; the man was interred, and
they were digging a pit for the animal, when they discovered the
approach of the soldiers, and retired to a hiding-place close by. There
they lay concealed, whilst Ropes and his men descended to the spot,
exhumed the corpse with Cudjo's shovel, made their comments upon it, and
put it back into the ground. During this operation it had required all
Pomp's authority, and the restraint of his strong hand, to keep Cudjo
from pouncing upon his old enemy and former overseer, Silas Ropes.

"There were three of us," said Penn, "and only three of them, besides
Pepperill; and no doubt a struggle would have resulted in our favor. But
we did not want to be troubled with prisoners; and Pomp and I could not
see that anything was to be gained by killing them. Besides, we knew
they had a strong reserve within call. So we waited patiently until they
finished their work, and climbed up out of the ravine; then we climbed
up after them. We thought their main object must be to find the cave,
and Pomp strongly suspected Pepperill of treachery. We found a large
number of soldiers lying under some bushes, and crept near enough to
hear what they were saying. They were going to take the cave by
surprise, and an order had just come for them to move farther up the
mountain. They set off with scarcely any noise, reminding me of the
'Forty Thieves,' as they filed away in the moonlight, and disappeared
among the bushes and shadows. Pomp is on their trail now; he has his
rifle with him, and it may be heard from if he sees them change their
course and approach too near the cave."

Penn had come in for his musket. It was the same that had fallen from
the hands of the man Griffin at the moment when that unhappy rebel was
in the act of charging bayonet at his breast. Assuring Virginia--who
could not conceal her alarm at seeing him take it from its corner--that
he was merely going out to reconnoitre, he left the cave.

He was gone several hours. At length he and Pomp returned together. The
moon had long since set, but it was beautiful starlight; and, themselves
unseen, they had watched carefully the movements of the soldiers.

"You would have laughed to have been in my place, Carl!" said Penn,
laying his hand affectionately on the shoulder of his beloved pupil.
"They besieged the ledge where your imaginary cave is for full two hours
after I went out, apparently without daring to go very near it."

"I suppose," replied Carl, "they vas vaiting for me and the captain. It
vas really too pad now for us to make them lose so much waluable time!
But they vill excuse Mishter Shprowl; his absence is unawoidable." And
lifting his brows with a commiserating expression, he gave a comical
side-glance from under them at the languishing Lysander.

All laughed at the lad's humor except the captain himself--and Salina.

After besieging the imaginary cave as Penn had described, several of the
confederates, he said, at last ventured with extreme caution to approach
it.

"And found," added Carl, "they had been made the wictims of von leetle
stratagem!"

"I suppose so," said Penn; "for immediately an unusual stir took place
amongst them."

"In searching for the entrance," laughed Pomp, leaning on his rifle,
"they came close under a juniper-tree I had climbed into, and I could
hear them cursing the little Dutchman----"

"I suppose that vas me," smiled the good-natured Carl.

"And the 'pig-headed captain' who had gone off with him."

"The pig-headed captain is this indiwidual"--indicating Sprowl. "But it
is wery unjust to be cursing him, for it vas not his fault. It vas my
legs and Toby's that conweyed him; and he had a handkersheaf over his
face for a wail."

"I suspected how it was, even before I met Penn and learned what had
happened. I am sorry to see this fellow in this place,"--Pomp turned a
frowning look at the corner where Lysander lay,--"but now that he is
here, he must stay."

Carl, upon whom the only noticeable effect produced by his exciting
adventure was a lively disposition to talk, quite unusual with him,
entered upon a full explanation of the circumstances which had led to
Lysander's capture. His narrative was altogether so simple, so honest,
so droll, that even the bitter Salina had to smile at it, while all the
rest, the old clergyman included, joined in a hearty laugh of admiring
approval at its conclusion.

"I don't see but that you did the best that could be done," said Pomp.
"At all events, the villains seem to have been completely baffled. The
last I saw of them they were retreating through the burned woods, as if
afraid to have daylight find them on the mountain."

The daylight had now come; and Penn, who went out to take an
observation, could discover no trace of the vanished rebels. The eastern
sky was like a sheet of diaphanous silver, faintly crimsoned above the
edges of the hills with streaks of the brightening dawn. All the valley
below was inundated by a lake of level mist, whose subtle wave made
islands of the hills, and shining inlets of the intervales. Above this
sea of white silence rose the mountain ranges, inexpressibly calm and
beautiful, fresh from their bath of starlight and dew, and empurpled
with softest tints of the early morning.

Penn heard a footstep, and felt a touch on his arm. Was it the beauty of
the earth and sky that made him shiver with so sudden and sweet a
thrill? or was it the lovely presence at his side, in whom was
incarnated, for him, all the beauty, all the light, all the joy of the
universe?

It was Virginia, who leaned so gently on his arm, that not the slight
pressure of her weight, but rather the impalpable shock of bliss her
very nearness brought, made him aware of her approach. Toby followed,
supporting her along the shelf of rock--a dark cloud in the wake of that
rosy and perfumed dawn.

"O, how delicious it is out here!" said the voice, which, if we were to
describe it from the lover's point of view, could be likened only to the
songs of birds, the musical utterance of purest flutes, or the blowing
of wild winds through those grand harp-strings, the mountain pines; for
there was more of poetry and passion compressed in the heart of this
quiet young Quaker than we shall venture to give breath to in these
pages.

"It is--delicious!" he quiveringly answered, in his happy confusion
blending _her_ with his perception of the daybreak.

She inhaled deep draughts of the mountain air.

"How I love it! The breath of trees, and grass, and flowers is in
it,--those dear friends of mine, that I pine for, shut up here in
prison!"

"Do you?" said Penn, vaguely, half wishing that he was a flower, a blade
of grass, or a tree, so that she might pine for him.

"The air of the cave," she said, "is cold; it is odorless. The cave
seems to me like the great, chill hearts of some of your profound
philosophers! Some of those tremendous books father makes me read to him
came out of such hearts, I am sure; great hollow caverns, full of
mystery and darkness, and so cold and dull they make me shudder to touch
them;--but don't you, for the world, tell him I said so,--for, to please
him, I let him think I am ever so much edified by everything that he
likes."

"What sort of books _do_ you like?"

"O, I like books with daylight in them! I want them to be living,
upper-air, joyous books. There must be sunshine, and birds, and
brooks,--human nature, life, suffering, aspiration, and----"

"And love?"

"Of course, there should be a little love in books, since there is
sometimes a little, I believe, in real life." But she touched this
subject with such airy lightness,--just hovering over it for an instant,
and then away, like a butterfly not to be caught,--that Penn felt a
jealous trouble. "How long," she added immediately, "do you imagine we
shall have to stay here?"

"It is impossible to say," replied Penn, turning with reluctance to the
more practical topic. "One would think that the government cannot leave
us much longer subject to this atrocious tyranny. An army may be already
marching to our relief. But it may be weeks, it may be months, and I am
not sure," he added seriously, "but it may be years, before Tennessee is
relieved."

"Why, that is terrible! Toby says that poor old man, Mr. Ellerton, who
assisted you to escape, was caught and hung by some of the soldiers
yesterday."

"I have no doubt but it is true. Although he had returned to his home,
he was known to be a Unionist, and probably he was suspected of having
aided us; in which case not even his white hairs could save him."

"But it is horrible! They have commenced woman-whipping. And Toby says a
negro was hung six times a couple of days ago, and afterwards cut to
pieces, for saying to another negro he met, 'Good news; Lincoln's army
is coming!' What is going to become of us, if relief doesn't arrive
soon? O, to look at the beautiful world we are driven from by these
wicked, wicked men!"

"And are you so very weary of the cave?"

Penn gave her a look full of electric tenderness, which seemed to say,
"Have not I been with you? and am I nothing to you?"

She smiled, and her voice was tremulous as she answered,--

"I wish I could go out into the sunshine again! But I have not been
unhappy. Indeed, I think I have been very happy."

There was an indescribable pause; Virginia's eyes modestly veiled, her
face suffused with a blissful light, as if her soul saw some soft and
exquisite dream; while Penn's bosom swelled with the long undulations of
hope and transport. Toby still lingered in the entrance of the cave.

"Toby," said Penn, such a radiance flashing from his brow as the negro
had never seen before, "my good Toby,"--and what ineffable human
sympathy vibrated in his tones!--"I wish you would go in and tell our
friends that the enemy has quite disappeared: will you?"

"Yes, massa!" said Toby, a ray of that happiness penetrating even the
old freedman's breast. For such is the beautiful law of our nature, that
love cannot be concealed; it cannot be monopolized by one, nor yet by
two; but when its divine glow is kindled in any soul, it beams forth
from the eyes, it thrills in the tones of the voice, it breathes from
all the invisible magnetic pores of being, and sheds sunshine and warmth
on all.

Toby went. Then an arm of manly strength, yet of all manly gentleness,
stole about the waist of the girl, and drew her softly, close, closer;
while something else, impalpable, ravishing, holy, drew her by a still
more potent attraction; until, for the first time in her young and pure
life, her mouth met another mouth with the soul's virgin kiss. Her lips
had kissed many times before, but her soul never. How long it lasted,
that sweet perturbation, that fervent experience of a touch, neither, I
suppose, ever knew; for at such times a moment is an eternity. As a
lightning flash in a dark night reveals, for a dazzling instant, a world
concealed before, so the electric interchange of two hearts charged with
love's lightning seems to open the very doors of infinity; and it is the
glory of heaven that shines upon them.

Not a word was spoken.

Then Penn held Virginia before him, and looked deep into her eyes, and
said, with a strange tremor of lip and voice,--using the gentle speech
of the Friends, into which old familiar channel his thoughts flowed
naturally in moments of strong feeling,--

"Wherever this dear face smiles upon me, there is my sunshine. I must be
very selfish; for notwithstanding all the dangers and discomforts by
which I see thee and thy father surrounded, the hours we have passed
together here have been the happiest of my life. Yea, and suffering and
privation would be never anything to me, if I could always have thee
with me, Virginia!"

How different, meanwhile, was the scene within the cave! How chafed the
fiery Lysander! How spitefully Salina bit her lips ever at sight of him!
And these two had once been lovers, and had seen rainbows span their
future also! Is it love that unites such, or is it only the yearning for
love? For love, the reality, fuses all qualities, and brings into
harmony all clashing chords.

Toby entered, the gleam of others' happiness still in his countenance.

"De enemy hab dis'peared; all gone down in de frog."

"The frog, Toby?" said Mr. Villars.

"Yes, sar; right smart frog down 'ar in de volley!"

"He means, a fog in the walley," said Carl.



XXXIX.

_A COUNCIL OF WAR._


Owing to the disturbances of the night the old clergyman had slept
little. He now lay down on the couch, and soon sank into a profound
slumber. When he awoke he heard the hum of voices. The cave was filled
with armed men.

"It is Mr. Stackridge and his friends," said Virginia. "They have come
to hold a council of war; and they look upon you as their grand sachem."

"I have brought them here," said Pomp, "at their request--all except
Deslow."

"Where is he?"

"Deslow, I believe, has deserted!" said Stackridge.

"Ah! What makes you think so?"

"Well, I've watched him right close, and I've seen a good deal of what's
been working in his mind. He's one o' them fools that believe Slavery is
God; and he can't get over it. Pomp, here, saved our lives in the fire
the other night; and Deslow couldn't stand it. To owe his life to a
runaway slave--that was too dreadful!" said Stackridge with savage
sarcasm. "He's a man that would rather be roasted alive, and see his
country ruined, I suppose, than do anything that might damage in the
least degree his divine institution! There's the difference 'twixt him
and me. Sence slavery has made war agin' the Union, and turned us out of
our homes, I say, by the Lord! let it go down to hell, as it desarves!"

"You use strong language, neighbor!"

"I do; and it's time, I reckon, when strong language, and strong actions
too, are called fur. You hate a man that you've befriended, and that's
turned traitor agin' ye, worse'n you hate an open inemy, don't ye? Wal,
I've befriended slavery, and it's turned traitor agin' me, and all I
hold most sacred in this world, and I'm jest getting my eyes open to it;
and so I say, let it go down! I've no patience with such men as Deslow,
and I'm glad, on the whole, he's gone. He don't belong with us anyhow. I
say, any man that loves any kind of property, or any party, or
institution, better than he loves the old Union"--Stackridge said this
with tears of passion in his eyes,--"such a man belongs with the rebels,
and the sooner we sift 'em out of our ranks the better."

"When did he go?"

"Some of us were out foraging again last night; Withers and Deslow with
the rest. Tell what he said to you, Withers."

The group of fugitives had gathered about the bed on which the old
clergyman sat. Withers was scraping his long horny nails with a huge
jackknife.

"He says to me, says he, 'Withers, we've got inter a bad scrape.' 'How
so?' says I; for I thought we war gittin' out of a right bad scrape when
we got out of that temp'rary jail. 'The wust hain't happened yet,' says
he. 'That's bad,' says I, 'fur it's allus good fur a feller to know the
wust has happened.' And so I told him a little story. Says I, 'When I
was a little boy 'bout that high, I was helping my daddy one day secure
some hay. Wal, it looked like rain, and we put in right smart till the
fust sprinkles begun to fall,--great drops, big as ox-eyes,--and they
skeert me, for I war awful 'fraid of gittin' wet. So what did I do but
run and git under some boards. My daddy war so busy he didn't see me,
till bime-by he come that way, rolling up the hay-cocks to kill, and
looked, and thar I war under the pile o' boards, curled up like a
hedgehog to keep dry. 'Josh,' says he, 'what ye doin' thar? Why ain't ye
to work?' ''Fraid o' gittin' wet!' says I. 'Pon that he didn't say a
word, but jest come and took me by the collar, and led me to a little
run close by, and jest casoused me in the water, head over heels, and
then jest pulled me out agin. 'Now,' says he, 'ye can go to work, and
you won't be the leastest mite afeard o' gittin' wet. Wal, 'twas about
so. I didn't mind the rain, arter that. 'Wal, Deslow,' says I, 'that
larnt me a lesson; and ever sence I've always thought 'twas a good thing
fur us, when trouble comes, to have the wust happen, and know it's the
wust, fur then we'se prepared fur't, and ain't no longer to be skeert by
a little shower.' That's what I said to Deslow." And Withers continued
scraping his nails.

"Very good philosophy, indeed!" said Mr. Villars. "And what did he
reply?"

"He said, when the wust happened to us, we'd find we had no home, no
property, and no country left; and fur his part he had been thinking
we'd better go and give ourselves up, make peace with the authorities,
and take the oath of allegiance. 'Lincoln won't send no army to relieve
us yet a-while,' says he, 'and even if he does, you know, victory for
the Federals means the death of our institootions! So I see where the
shoe pinched with him; and I said, 'If that continners to be your ways
of thinkin', I hain't the least objections to partin' comp'ny with ye,
as the house dog said to the skunk; only,' says I, 'don't ye go to
betrayin' us, if you conclude to go.' Soon arter that we separated, and
that's the last any on us have seen of him."

"They've begun to whip women, too," said Stackridge. "But, by right good
luck, when this scamp here--" glowering upon Lysander--"sent to have my
wife whipped, he got his own mother whipped in her place! He's a
connection o' your family, I know, Mr. Villars; but I never spile a
story for relation's sake."

"Nor need you, friend Stackridge. Sorry I am for that deluded young man;
but he reaps what he has sown, and he has only himself to blame."

"'Twas a regular secesh operation, that of having his own mother strung
up," said Captain Grudd. "They are working against their own interests
and families without knowing it. When they think they are destroying the
Union, they are destroying their own honor and influence; for so it 'ill
be sure to turn out."

"It was Liberty they intended to have beaten," said Penn; "but they will
find that it is the back of their own mother, Slavery, that receives the
rods."

"Just what I meant to say; but it took the professor to put it into the
right shape. By the way, neighbors, we owe the professor an apology.
Some of us found fault with his views of slavery and secession; but
we've all come around to 'em pretty generally, I believe, by this time.
Here's my hand, professor, and let me say I think you was right enough
in all but one thing--your plaguy non-resistance."

"He has thought better of that," said Mr. Villars, pleasantly.

"Yes, zhentlemen," said Carl, anxious to exonerate his friend, "he has
been conwerted."

"We have found that out, to his credit," said Stackridge.

And, one after another, all took Penn cordially by the hand.

"We are all brothers in one cause, OUR COUNTRY," said Penn. Nor did he
stop when the hand of the last patriot was shaken; he took the hand of
Pomp also. "We are all men in the sight of God!" His heart was full;
there was a thrill of fervent emotion in his voice. His calm young face,
his firm and finely-cut features, always noticeable for a certain
massiveness and strength, were singularly illumined. He went on, the
light of the cave-fire throwing its ruddy flash on the group. "We are
all His children. He has brought us together here for a purpose. The
work to be done is for all men, for humanity: it is God's work. To that
we should be willing to give everything--even our lives; even our
selfish prejudices, dearer to some than their lives. I believe that upon
the success of our cause depends, not the prosperity of any class of
men, or of any race of men, only, but of all men, and all races. For
America marches in the van of human progress, and if she falters, if she
ignobly turns back, woe is to the world! Perhaps you do not see this
yet; but never mind. One thing we all see--a path straight before us,
our duty to our country. We must put every other consideration aside,
forget all minor differences, and unite in this the defence of the
nation's life."

An involuntary burst of applause testified how ardently the hearts of
the patriots responded to these words. Some wrung Penn's hand again.
Pomp meanwhile, erect, and proud as a prince, with his arms folded upon
his massive and swelling chest, smiled with deep and quiet satisfaction
at the scene. There was another who smiled, too, her face suffused with
love and pride ineffable, as her eyes watched the young Quaker, and her
soul drank in his words.

"That's the sentiment!" said Stackridge. "And now, what is to be done?
We have been disappointed in one thing. Our friends don't join us. One
reason is, no doubt, they hain't got arms. But the main reason is, they
look upon our cause as desperate. Desperate or not, it can't be helped,
as I see. With or without help, we must fight it through, or go back,
like that putty-head Deslow, and take the oath of allegiance to the
bogus government. Mr. Villars, you're wise, and we want your opinion."

"That, I fear, will be worth little to you!" answered the old man,
bowing his head with true humility. "It seems to me that you are not to
rely upon any open assistance from your friends. And sorry I am to add,
I think you should not rely, either, upon any immediate aid from the
government. The government has its hands full. The time is coming when
you who have eyes will see the old flag once more floating on the
breezes of East Tennessee. But it may be long first. And in the mean
time it is your duty to look out for yourselves."

"That is it," said Stackridge. "But how?"

"It seems to me that your retreat cannot remain long concealed.
Therefore, this is what I advise. Make your preparations to disperse at
any moment. You may be compelled to hide for months in the mountains and
woods, hunted continually, and never permitted to sleep in safety twice
in the same place. That will be the fate of hundreds. There is but one
thing better for you to do. It is this. Force your way over the
mountains into Kentucky, join the national army, and hasten its
advance."

"And you?" said Captain Grudd.

The old man smiled with beautiful serenity.

"Perhaps I shall have my choice, after all. You remember what that was?
To remain in the hands of our enemies. I ought never to have attempted
to escape. I cannot help myself; I am only a burden to you. My daughters
cannot continue to be with me here in this cave; and, if I am to be
separated from them, I may as well be in a confederate prison as
elsewhere. If the traitors seek my life, they are welcome to it."

"O, father! what do you say!" exclaimed Virginia, in terror at his
words.

"I advise what I feel to be best. I will give myself up to the military
authorities. You, and Salina, if she chooses, will, I am certain, be
permitted to go to your friends in Ohio. But before I take this step,
let all here who have strong arms to lend their country be already on
their way over the mountains. Penn and Carl must go with them. Nor do I
forget Pomp and Cudjo. They shall go too, and you will protect them."

Penn turned suddenly pale. It was the soundness of the good old man's
counsel that terrified him. Separation from Virginia! She to be left at
the mercy of the confederates! This was the one thing in the world he
had personally to dread.

"It may be good advice," he said. "It is certainly a noble
self-sacrifice, Mr. Villars proposes. But I do not believe there is one
here who will consent to it. I say, let us keep together. If necessary,
we can die together. We cannot separate, if by so doing we must leave
him behind."

He spoke with intense feeling, yet his words were but feebly echoed by
the patriots. The truth was, they were already convinced that they ought
to be making their way out of the state, and had said so among
themselves; but, being unwilling to abandon the old minister, and
knowing well that he could never think of undertaking the terrible
journey they saw before them, hither they had come to hear what he had
to suggest.

"What do you think, Pomp?" Penn asked, in despair.

"I think that what Mr. Villars advises these men to do is the best
thing."

Penn was stupefied. He saw that he stood alone, opposed to the general
opinion. And something within himself said that he was selfish, that he
was wrong. He did not venture to glance at Virginia, but bent his eyes
downward with a stunned expression at the floor of the cave.

"But as for himself, and us, I am not so sure. There are recesses in
this cave that cannot easily be discovered. He shall remain, and we will
stay and take care of him, if he will."

These calm words of the negro sounded like a reprieve to Penn's soul. He
caught eagerly at the suggestion.

"Yes, if there must be a separation, Pomp is right. If many go, it will
be believed that all are gone, and the rest can remain in safety."

"You are all too generous towards me," said the old minister. "But I
have nothing more to say. I am very patient. I am willing to accept
whatever God sends, and to wait his own blessed time for it. When you,
Penn, were sick in my house, and the ruffians were coming to kill you,
and I could not determine what to do, the question was decided for me:
Providence decided it by taking you, by what seemed a miracle, beyond
the reach of all of us. So I believe this question, which troubles us
now, will be decided for us soon. Something is to happen that will show
us plainly what must be done."

So it was: something was indeed to happen, sooner even than he supposed.



XL.

_THE WONDERS OF THE CAVE._


The other inmates of the cave had breakfasted whilst the old clergyman
was asleep. Toby was now occupied in preparing his dish of coffee, and
Mr. Villars invited the patriots to remain and take a cup with him.

Penn noticed Cudjo's discontent at seeing Toby usurp his function. He
remembered also a rare pleasure he had been promising himself whenever
he should find Cudjo at leisure and circumstances favorable for his
purpose.

"Now is our time," he whispered Virginia. "Will Salina come too?"

"What to do?" Salina asked.

"To explore the cave," said Penn, courteously, yet trembling lest the
invitation should be accepted.

She excused herself: she was feeling extremely fatigued; much to Penn's
relief--that is to say, regret, as he hypocritically gave her to
understand.

She smiled: though she had declined, Virginia was going, and she thought
he looked consoled.

"What does anybody care for me?" she said bitterly to herself.

It was to save her the pain of a slight that Penn, always too honest to
resort to dissimulation from selfish motives, had assumed towards her a
regard he did not feel. But the little artifice failed. She saw she was
not wanted, and was jealous--angry with him, with Virginia, with
herself. For thus it is with the discontented and envious. They cannot
endure to see others happy without them. They gladly make the most of a
slight, pressing it like a thistle to the breast, and embracing it all
the more fiercely as it pierces and wounds. But he who has humility and
love in his heart says consolingly at such times, "If they can be happy
without me, why, Heaven be thanked! If I am neglected, then I must draw
upon the infinite resources within myself. And if I am unloved, whose
fault is it but my own? I will cultivate that sweetness of soul, the
grace, and goodness, and affection, which shall compel love!"

Something like this Carl found occasion to say to himself; for if you
think he saw the master he loved, and her who was dear to him as ever
sister was to younger brother, depart with Cudjo and the torches,
without longing to go with them and share their pleasure, you know not
the heart of the boy. He was almost choking with tears as he saw the
torches go out of sight. But just as he had arrived at this
philosophical conclusion, O joy! what did he see? Penn returning! Yes,
and hastening straight to him! "Carl, why don't you come too?"

There was no mistaking the sincerity of Penn's frank, animated face.
Again the tears came into Carl's eyes; but this time they were tears of
gratitude.

"Vould you really be pleased to have me?"

"Certainly, Carl! Virginia and I both spoke of it, and wondered why we
had not thought to ask you before."

"Then I vill get my wery goot friend the captain to excuse me. I
sushpect he vill be wexed to part from me; but I shall take care that
the ties that bind us shall not be proken."

In pursuance of this friendly design, Carl produced a good strong cord
which he had found in the cave. This he attached to the handcuffs by a
knot in the middle; then, carrying the two ends in opposite directions
around one of the giant's stools, he fastened them securely on the side
farthest from the prisoner. This done, he gave the pistol to Toby, and
invested him with the important and highly gratifying office of guarding
"dat Shprowl."

"If you see him too much unhappy for my absence, and trying for some
diwersion by making himself free," said Carl, instructing him in the use
of the weapon, "you shall shust cock it _so_,--present it at his head or
stomach, vichever is conwenient--_so_,--then pull the trigger as you
please, till he is vunce more quiet. That is all. Now I shall say goot
pie to him till I come pack."

"Why don't you kill and eat him?" asked Withers, watching the boy's
operations with humorous enjoyment.

"Him?" said Carl, dryly. "Thank ye, sir; I am not fond of weal."

As Pomp and the patriots remained in the cave, it was not anticipated
that Lysander would give any trouble.

With Carl at his side, Penn bore the torch above his head, and plunged
into the darkness, which seemed to retreat before them only to reappear
behind, surrounding and pursuing their little circle of light as it
advanced.

A gallery, tortuous, lofty, sculptured by the gnomes into grotesque and
astonishing forms, led from the inhabited vestibule to the wonders
beyond. They had gone but a few rods when they saw a faint glimmer
before them, which increased to a mild yellowish radiance flickering on
the walls. It was the light of Cudjo's torch.

They found Cudjo and Virginia waiting for them at the entrance of a long
and spacious hall, whose floor was heaped with fragments of rock, some
of huge size, which had evidently fallen from the roof.

"De cave whar us lives, des' like dis yer when me find um in de fust
place," the negro was saying to Virginia. "Right smart stuns dar."

"What did you do with them?"

"Tuk all me could tote to make your little dressum-room wiv. Lef' de big
'uns fur cheers when me hab comp'ny, hiah yah! When Pomp come, him help
me place 'em around scrumptious like. Pomp bery strong--lif' like you
neber see!"

Climbing over the stones, they reached, at the farther end of the hall,
an abrupt termination of the floor. A black abyss yawned beyond. In its
invisible depths the moan of waters could be heard. Virginia, who had
been thrilled with wonder and fear, standing in the hall of the stones,
and thinking of those crushing masses showered from the roof, now found
it impossible not to yield to the terrors of her excited imagination.

"I cannot go any farther!" she said, recoiling from the gulf, and
drawing Penn back from it.

"Come right 'long!" cried Cudjo; "no trouble, missis!"

"See, he has piled stones in here and made some very good and safe
stairs. Take my torch, Carl, and follow; Cudjo will go before with his.
Now, one step at a time. I will not let thee fall."

Thus assured, she ventured to make the descent. A strong arm was about
her waist; a strong and supporting spirit was at her side; and from that
moment she felt no fear.

The limestone, out of which the cave was formed, lay in nearly
horizontal strata; and, at the bottom of Cudjo's stairs, they came upon
another level floor. It was smooth and free from rubbish. A gray vault
glimmered above their heads in the torchlight. The walls showed strange
and grotesque forms in bas-relief, similar to those of the first
gallery: here a couchant lion, so distinctly outlined that it seemed as
if it must have been chiselled by human art; an Indian sitting in a
posture of woe, with his face buried in his hands; an Arctic hunter
wrestling with a polar bear; the head of a turbaned Turk; and, most
wonderful of all, the semblance of a vine (Penn named it "Jonah's
gourd"), which spread its massive branches on the wall, and, climbing
under the arched roof, hung its heavy fruit above their heads.

Close by "Jonah's gourd" a little stream gushed from the side of the
rock, and fell into a fathomless well. The torches were held over it,
and the visitors looked down. Solid darkness was below. Carl took from
his pocket a stone.

"It is the same," he said, "that Mishter Sprowl pumped his head against.
I thought I should find some use for it; and now let's see."

He dropped it into the well. It sunk without a sound, the noise of its
distant fall being lost in the solemn and profound murmur of the
descending water.

"What make de cave, anyhow?" asked Cudjo.

"The wery question I vas going to ask," said Carl.

"It will take but a few words to tell you all I know about it," said
Penn. "Water containing carbonic acid gas has the quality of dissolving
such rock as this part of the mountain is made of. It is limestone; and
the water, working its way through it, dissolves it as it would sugar,
only very slowly. Do you understand?"

"O, yes, massa! de carbunkum asses tote it away!"

Penn smiled, and continued his explanation, addressing himself to Carl.

"So, little by little, the interior of the rock is worn, until these
great cavities are formed."

"But what comes o' de rock?" cried Cudjo; "dat's de question!"

"What becomes of the sugar that dissolves in your coffee?"

"Soaks up, I reckon; so ye can't see it widout it settles."

"Just so with the limestone, Cudjo. It _soaks up_, as you say. And
see!--I will show you where a little of it has settled. Notice this long
white spear hanging from the roof."

"Dat? Dat ar a stun icicle. Me broke de pint off oncet, but 'pears like
it growed agin. Times de water draps from it right smart."

"A good idea--a stone icicle! It grew as an icicle grows downward from
the eaves. It was formed by the particles of lime in the water, which
have collected there and hardened into what is called _stalactite_.
These curious smooth white folds of stone under it, which look so much
like a cushion, were formed by the water as it dropped. This is called
_stalagmite_."

"Heap o' dem 'ar sticktights furder 'long hyar," observed Cudjo, anxious
to be showing the wonders.

They came into a vast chamber, from the floor of which rose against the
darkness columns resembling a grove of petrified forest trees. The
flaming torches, raised aloft in the midst of them, revealed, supported
by them, a wonderful gothic roof, with cornice, and frieze, and groined
arches, like the interior of a cathedral. A very distinct fresco could
also be seen, formed by mineral incrustations, on the ceiling and walls.
On a cloudy background could be traced forms of men and beasts, of
forests and flowers, armies, castles, and ships, not sculptured like the
figures before described, but designed by the subtile pencil of some
sprite, who, Virginia suggested, must have been the subterranean brother
of the Frost.

"How wonderful!" she said. "And is it not strange how Nature copies
herself, reproducing silently here in the dark the very same forms we
find in the world above! Here is a rose, perfect!"

"With petals of pure white gypsum," said Penn.

Whilst they were talking, Cudjo passed on. They followed a little
distance, then halted. The light of his torch had gone out in the
blackness, and the sound of his footsteps had died away. Carl remained
with the other torch; and there they stood together, without speaking,
in the midst of immense darkness ingulfing their little isle of light,
and silence the most intense.

Suddenly they heard a voice far off, singing; then two, then three
voices; then a chorus filling the heart of the mountain with a strange
spiritual melody. Virginia was enraptured, and Carl amazed.

Penn, who had known what was coming, looked upon them with pride and
delight. At length the music, growing faint and fainter, melted and was
lost in the mysterious vaults through which it had seemed to wander and
soar away.

It was a minute after all was still before either spoke.

"Certainly," Virginia exclaimed, "if I had not heard of a similar effect
produced in the Mammoth Cave, I should never have believed that
marvellous chorus was sung by a single voice!"

"A single woice!" repeated Carl, incredulous. "There vas more as a dozen
woices!"

"Right, Carl!" laughed Penn. "The first was Cudjo's; and all the rest
were those, of the nymph Echo and her companions."

They continued their course through the halls of the echoes, and soon
came to an arched passage, at the entrance of which Penn paused and
placed the torch in a niche. A projection of the rock prevented the
light from shining before them, yet their way was softly illumined from
beyond, as by a dim phosphorescence. They advanced, and in a moment
their eyes, grown accustomed to the obscurity, came upon a scene of
surprising and magical beauty.

"The Grotto of Undine," said Penn.

It was, to all appearances, a nearly spherical concavity, some thirty
yards in length, and perhaps twenty in perpendicular diameter. Carl's
torch was concealed in the niche, and Cudjo's was nowhere visible; yet
the whole interior was luminous with a dim and silvery halo. A narrow
corridor ran round the sides, and resembled a dark ring swimming in
nebulous light, midway between the upper and nether hemispheres of the
wondrous hollow globe. Within this horizontal rim, floor there was none;
and they stood upon its brink; and, looking up, they saw the marvellous
vault all sparkling with stars and beaming with pale, pendent, taper,
crystalline flames, noiseless and still; and, looking down, beheld
beneath their feet, and shining with a yet more soft and dreamy lustre,
the perfect counterpart of the vault above.

Penn held Virginia upon the verge. A bewildering ecstasy captivated her
reason as she gazed. They seemed to be really in the grotto of some
nymph who had fled the instant she saw her privacy invaded, or veiled
the immortal mystery and loveliness of her charms in some mesh of the
glimmering nimbus that baffled and entangled the sight. Save one or two
stifled cries of rapture from Virginia and Carl, not a syllable was
uttered: perfect stillness prevailed, until Penn said, in a whisper,--

"Wouldst thou like to see the face of Undine? Bend forward. Do not fear:
I hold thee!"

By gentle compulsion he induced her to comply. She bent over the brink,
and looked down, when, lo! out of the hazy effulgence beneath, emerged a
face looking up at her--a face dimly seen, yet full of vague wonder and
surprise--a face of unrivalled sweetness and beauty, Penn thought. What
did Virginia think?--for it was the reflection of her own.

"O, Penn! how it startled me!"

"But isn't she a Grace? Isn't she loveliness itself?"

"I hope you think so!" she whispered, with arch frankness, a sweet
coquettish confidence ravishing to his soul.

"I do!" And in the privacy of telling her so, his lips just brushed her
ear. Did you ever, in whispering some secret trifle, some all-important,
heavenly nothing, just brush the dearest little ear in the world with
your lips? or, in listening to the syllables of divine nonsense, feel
the warm breath and light touch of the magnetic thrilling mouth? Then
you know something of what Penn and Virginia experienced for a brief
moment in the Grotto of Undine.

Just then a duplicate glow, like a double sunrise, one part above and
the other below the horizon, appeared at the farther end of the grotto.
It increased, until they saw come forth from behind an upright rock an
upright torch; and at the same time, from behind a suspended rock
beneath, an inverted torch. Immediately after two Cudjoes came in sight;
one standing erect on the rock above, and the other standing upside down
on--or rather under--the rock below.

"Take your torch, Carl," said Penn, "and go around and meet him."

The boy returned to the niche; and presently two Carls, with two
torches, were seen moving around the rim of the corridor, one upright
above, the other walking miraculously, head downwards, below.

The two Carls had not reached the rock, when the two Cudjoes stooped,
and took up each a stone and threw them. One fell _upward_ (so to
speak), as the other fell downward: they met in the centre: there was a
strange clash, which echoed through the hollow halls; and in a moment
the entire nether hemisphere of the enchanted grotto was shattered into
numberless flashing and undulating fragments.

Virginia had already perceived that the appearance of a concave sphere
was an illusion produced by the ceiling lighted by Cudjo's hidden torch,
and mirrored in a floor of glassy water. Yet she was entirely unprepared
for this astonishing result; and at sight of the Cudjo beneath
instantaneously annihilated by the plashing of a stone, she started back
with a scream. Fortunately, Penn still held her close, no doubt in a fit
of abstraction, forgetting that his arms were no longer necessary to
prevent her falling, as when she leaned to look at the shadowy Undine.

"All those stalactites," said he, as the two torches were held towards
the roof, "are of the most beautiful crystalline structure; and the
spaces between are all studded with brilliant spars. The first time I
was here, it was April; the mountain springs were full, and every one of
these _stone icicles_ was dripping with water that percolated through
the strata above. The effect was almost as surprising as what we saw
before Cudjo cast the stone. The surface of the pool seemed all leaping
and alive with perpetual showers of dancing pearls. But now the springs
are low, or the water has found another channel. Yet this basin is
always full."

"Why, so it is! I had no idea the water was so near!" And Virginia,
stooping, dipped her hand.

The mirrored crystals were still coruscating and waving in the ripples,
as they passed around the rim of rock, and followed Cudjo into a
scarcely less beautiful chamber beyond.

Here was no water; but in its place was a floor of alabaster, from which
arose a great variety of pure white stalagmites, to meet each its twin
stalactite pendent from above. In some cases they did actually meet and
grow together in perfect pillars, reaching from floor to roof.

"The stalagmites are very beautiful," said Virginia; "but the
stalactites are still more beautiful."

"I think," said Penn, "there is a moral truth symbolized by them. As the
rock above gives forth its streaming life, it benefits and beautifies
the rock below, while at the same time it adorns still more richly its
own beautiful breast. So it always is with Charity: it blesses him that
receives, but it blesses far more richly him that gives."

"O, must we pass on?" said Virginia, casting longing eyes towards all
those lovely forms.

"We are to return the same way," replied Penn. "But now Cudjo seems to
be in a hurry."

"Dat's de last ob de sticktights," cried the black, standing at the end
of the colonnade, and waving his torch above his head. "Now we's comin'
to de run."

"Come," said Penn, "and I will show thee what Hood must have meant by
the 'dark arch of the black flowing river.'"

A stupendous cavern of seemingly endless extent opened before them.
Cudjo ran on ahead, shouting wildly under the hollow, reverberating
dome, and waving his torch, which soon appeared far off, like a flaming
star amid a night of darkness. Then there were two stars, which
separated, and, standing one above the other, remained stationary.

"Listen!" said Penn. And they heard the liquid murmur of flowing water.

He took the torch from Carl, and advancing towards the right wall of the
cavern, showed, flowing out of it, through a black, arched opening, a
river of inky blackness. It rolled, with scarce a ripple, slow, and
solemn, and still, out of that impenetrable mystery, and swept along
between the wall on one side and a rocky bank on the other. By this bank
they followed it, until they came to a natural bridge, formed by a
limestone cliff, through which it had worn its channel, and under which
it disappeared. On this bridge they found Cudjo perched above the water
with his torch.

They passed the bridge without crossing,--for the farther end abutted
high upon the cavern wall,--and found the river again flowing out on the
lower side. Few words were spoken. The vastness of the cave, the
darkness, the mystery, the inky and solemn stream pursuing its noiseless
course, impressed them all. Suddenly Virginia exclaimed,--

"Light ahead!" though Carl was with her, and Cudjo now walked behind.

It was a gray glimmer, which rapidly grew to daylight as they advanced.

"It is the chasm, or sink, where the roof of the cave has fallen in,"
said Penn.

While he spoke, a muffled rustling of wings was heard above their heads.
They looked up, and saw numbers of large black bats, startled by the
torches, darting hither and thither under the dismal vault. Birds, too,
flew out from their hiding-places as they advanced, and flapped and
screamed in the awful gloom.

To save the torches for their return, Cudjo now extinguished them. They
walked in the brightening twilight along the bank of the stream, and
found, to the surprise and delight of Virginia, some delicate ferns and
pale green shrubs growing in the crevices of the rock. Vegetation
increased as they proceeded, until they arrived at the sink, and saw
before them steep banks covered with vines, thickets, and forest trees.

The river, whose former course had evidently been stopped by the falling
in of the forest, here made a curve to the right around the banks, and
half disappeared in a channel it had hollowed for itself under the
cliff. Here they left it, and climbed to the open day.

"How strangely yellow the sunshine looks!" said Virginia. "It seems as
though I had colored glasses on. And how sultry the air!"

She looked up at the towering rocks that walled the chasm, and at the
trees upon whose roots she stood, and whose tops waved in the summer
breeze and sunshine, at the level of the mountain slope so far above.
She could also see, on the summit of the cliffs, the charred skeletons
of trees the late fire had destroyed.

"It was here," said Penn, "that Stackridge and his friends escaped. This
leaning tree with its low branches forms a sort of ladder to the limbs
of that larger one; and by these it is easy to climb----"

As he was speaking, all eyes were turned upwards; when suddenly Cudjo
uttered a warning whistle, and dropped flat upon the ground.

"A man!" said Carl, crouching at the foot of the tree.

Penn did not fall or crouch, nor did Virginia scream, although, looking
up through the scant leafage, they saw, standing on the cliff, and
looking down straight at them, at the same time waving his hand
exultantly, one whom they well knew--their enemy, Silas Ropes.



XLI.

_PROMETHEUS BOUND._


At the wave of the lieutenant's hand, a squad of soldiers rushed to the
spot. In a minute their muskets were pointed downwards, and aimed.
"Fly!" said Penn, thrusting Virginia from him. "Carl, take her away!"

The boy drew her back down the rocks, following Cudjo, who was
descending on all fours, like an ape. She turned her face in terror to
look after Penn. There he stood, where she had left him, intrepid, his
fine head uncovered, looking steadfastly up at the men on the cliff, and
waving his hat, defiantly. At once she recognized his noble
self-sacrifice. It was his object to attract their fire, and so shield
her from the bullets as she fled.

She struggled from Carl's grasp. "O, Penn," she cried, extending her
hands beseechingly, and starting to return to him.

"Fire!" shouted Silas Ropes.

Crack! went a gun, immediately succeeded by an irregular volley, like a
string of exploding fire-crackers. Penn, expecting death, saw first the
rapid flashes, then the soldiers half concealed by the smoke of their
own guns. The smoke cleared, and there he still stood, smiling--for
Virginia was unhurt.

"Your practice is very poor!" he shouted up at the soldiers; and,
putting on his hat, he walked calmly away.

The bullets had struck the trees and flattened on the stones all around
him; but he was untouched. And before the rebels could reload their
pieces, he was safe with his companions in the cavern.

He found Cudjo hastily relighting his torch. Virginia was sitting on a
stone where Carl had placed her; powerless with the reaction of fear;
her countenance, white as that of a snow-image in the gloom, turned upon
Penn as if she knew not whether it was really he, or his apparition. She
did not rise to meet him. She could not speak. Her eyes were as the eyes
of one that beholds a miracle of God's mercy.

"Is no guns here?" cried Carl.

"De men hab all urn's guns,"' said Cudjo, over his kindlings. "Me gwine
fotch 'em!" And, his torch lighted, he darted away. In a minute he was
out of sight and hearing; only the flame he bore could be seen dancing
like an ignis fatuus in the darkness of the cavern.

"O, if I had only that pistol, Carl!" said Penn. "I could manage to
defend the chasm with it until they come. But wishes won't help us.
Virginia, Deslow has turned traitor! He must have known his friends were
going this morning to visit thy father, or else he could not so well
have chosen his time for betraying them." He lighted his torch, and
lifted Virginia to her feet. "Have no fear. Even if the rebels get
possession here, the subterranean passages can be held by a dozen men
against a hundred."

"I am not afraid now; I am quite strong."

"That is well. Carl, take the light and go with her."

"And vat shall you do?"

"I will stay and watch the movements of the soldiers."

"Wery goot. But I have vun little obshection."

"What is it?"

"You know the vay petter, and you vill take her safer as I can. But my
eyes is wery wigorous, and I vill engage to vatch the cusses myself."

"Thou art right, my Carl!" said Penn, who indeed felt that it was for
him, and for no other, to convey Virginia back to her father and safety.

He crept upon the rocks, and took a last observation of the cliffs. Not
a soldier was in sight. But that fact did not delight him much.

"They fear a possible shot or two. No doubt they are making
preparations, and when all is ready they will descend. I only hope they
will delay long enough! Farewell, Carl!"

"Goot pie, Penn! Goot pie, Wirginie!" cried Carl, with stout heart and
cheery voice. And as he saw them depart,--Penn's arm supporting
her,--listened for the last murmur of their voices, and watched for the
last glimmer of the torch as it was swallowed by the darkness, and he
was left alone, he continued to smile grimly; but his eyes were dim.

"They are wery happy together! And I susphect the time vill come ven he
vill marry her; and then they vill neither of 'em care much for me.
Veil, I shall love 'em, and wish 'em happy all the same!"

With which thought he smiled still more resolutely than before, and
squeezed the tears from his eyes very tenderly, in order, probably, to
keep those useful organs as "wigorous" as possible for the work before
him.

       *       *       *       *       *

Handcuffed and securely bound to the rock, that modern Prometheus,
Captain Lysander Sprowl, like his mythical prototype, felt the vulture's
beak in his vitals. Chagrin devoured his liver. An overflow of southern
bile was the result, and he turned yellow to the whites of his eyes.

Old Toby noticed the phenomenon. Poor old Toby, with that foolish head
and large tropical heart of his, knew no better than to feel a movement
of compassion.

"Kin uh do any ting fur ye, sar?"

The unfeigned sympathy of the question gave the wily Prometheus his cue.
He uttered a feeble moan, and studied to look as much sicker than he was
as possible.

Pity at the sight made the old negro forget much which a white man would
have been apt to remember--the disgrace this wretch had brought upon
"the family;" and the recent cruel whipping, from which his own back was
still sore.

"Ye pooty sick, sar?"

"Water!" gasped Lysander.

The patriots had finished their coffee and taken their guns. Toby ran to
them.

"Some on ye be so good as keep an eye skinned on de prisoner, while I's
gittin' him a drink!"

He hastened with the gourd to a dark interior niche where a little
trickling spring dripped, drop by drop, into a basin hollowed in the
rocky floor. As he bore it, cool and brimming, to his captive-patient,
Withers said,--

"I don't keer! it's a sight to make most white folks ashamed of their
Christianity, to see that old nigger waiting on that rascal, 'fore his
own back has done smarting!"

"If, as I believe," said Mr. Villars, "men stand approved before God,
not for their pride of intellect or of birth, but for the love that is
in their hearts, who can doubt but there will be higher seats in heaven
for many a poor black man than for their haughty masters?"

"According to that," replied Withers, "maybe some besides the haughty
masters will be a little astonished if they ever git into
heaven--nigger-haters that won't set in a car, or a meeting-house, or to
see a theatre-play, if there's a nigger allowed the same privilege! Now
I never was any thing of an emancipationist; but by George! if there's
anything I detest, it's this etarnal and unreasonable prejudice agin'
niggers! How do you account for it, Mr. Villars?"

"Prejudice," said the old man, "is always a mark of narrowness and
ignorance. You might almost, I think, decide the question of a man's
Christianity by his answer to this: 'What is your feeling towards the
negro?' The larger his heart and mind, the more compassionate and
generous will be his views. But where you find most bigotry and
ignorance, there you will find the negro hated most violently. I think
there are men in the free states whose sins of prejudice and blind
passion against the unhappy race are greater than those of the
slaveholders themselves."

"Our interest is in our property--that's nat'ral; but what possesses
them to want to see the nigger's face held tight to the grindstone, and
never let up?" said Withers. "Their howl now is, 'Put down the
rebellion! but don't tech slavery, and don't bring in the nigger!' As
if, arter dogs had been killing my sheep, you should preach to me, 'Save
your sheep, neighbor, but don't agitate the dog question! You mustn't
tech the dogs!' I say, if the dogs begin the trouble, they must take the
consequences, even if my dog's one."

"They maintain," said Grudd, "that, no matter what slavery may have
done, there is no power in the constitution to destroy it."

"I am reminded of a story my daughter Virginia was reading to me not
long ago,--how the great polar bear is sometimes killed. The hunter has
a spear, near the pointed end of which is securely fastened a strong
cross-piece. The bear, you know, is aggressive; he advances, meets the
levelled shaft, seizes the cross-piece with his powerful arms, and with
a growl of rage hugs the spear-head into his heart. Now, slavery is just
such another great, stupid, ferocious monster. The constitution is the
spear of Liberty. The cross-piece, if you like, is the republican policy
which has been nailed to it, and which has given the bear a hold upon
it. He is hugging it into his heart. He is destroying himself."

The story was scarcely ended when Cudjo leaped into the circle,
crying,--

"De sogers! de sogers!"

"Where?" said Pomp, instinctively springing to his rifle.

"In de sink! Dey fire onto we and de young lady!"

"Any one hurt?"

"No. Massa Hapgood cotch de bullets in him's hat!" for this was the
impression the negro had brought away with him. "Hull passel sogers!
Sile Ropes,--seed him fust ob all!"

It was some moments before the patriots fully comprehended this alarming
intelligence. But Pomp understood it instantly.

"Gentlemen, will you fight? Your side of the house is attacked!"

There was a moment's confusion. Then those who had not already taken
their guns, sprang to them. They had brought lanterns, which were now
burning. They plunged into the gallery, following Pomp. Cudjo ran for
his sword, drew it from the scabbard, and ran yelling after them.

The sudden tumult died in the depths of the cavern; and all was still
again before those left behind had recovered from their astonishment.

There was one whose astonishment was largely mixed with joy. A moment
since he was lying like a man near the last gasp; but now he started up,
singularly forgetful of his dying condition, until reminded of it by
feeling the restraint of the rope and seeing Toby. Lysander sank back
with a groan.

"'Pears like you's a little more chirk," said Toby.

"My head! my head!" said Lysander. "My skull is fractured. Can't you
loose the rope a little? The strain on my wrists is--" ending the
sentence with a faint moan.

Had Toby forgotten the strain on _his_ wrists, and the anguish of the
thumbs, when this same cruel Lysander had him strung up?

"Bery sorry, 'deed, sar! But I can't unloosen de rope fur ye."

And, full of pity as he was, the old negro resolutely remained faithful
to his charge. Sprowl tried complaints, coaxing, promises, but in vain.

"Well, then," said he, "I have only one request to make. Let me see my
wife, and ask her forgiveness before I die."

"Dat am bery reason'ble; I'll speak to her, sar." And, without losing
sight of his prisoner, Toby went to Cudjo's pantry, now Virginia's
dressing-room, into which Salina had retreated, and notified her of the
dying request.

Salina was in one of her most discontented moods. What had she fled to
the mountain for? she angrily asked herself. After the first gush of
grateful emotion on meeting her father and sister, she had begun quickly
to see that she was not wanted there. Then she looked around
despairingly on the dismal accommodations of the cave. She had not that
sustaining affection, that nobleness of purpose, which enabled her
father and sister to endure so cheerfully all the hardships of their
present situation. The rude, coarse life up there, the inconveniences,
the miseries, which provoked only smiles of patience from them, filled
her with disgust and spleen.

But there was one sorer sight to those irritated eyes than all else they
saw--her captive husband. She could not forget that he _was_ her
husband; and, whether she loved or hated him, she could not bear to
witness his degradation. Yet she could not keep her eyes off of him; and
so she had shut herself up.

"He wishes to speak with me? To ask my forgiveness? Well! he shall have
a chance!"

She went and stood over the prisoner, looking down upon him coldly, but
with compressed lips.

"Well, what do you want of me?"

Sprowl made a motion for Toby to retire. Humbly the old negro obeyed,
feeling that he ought not to intrude upon the interview; yet keeping his
eye still on the prisoner, and his hand on the pistol.

"Sal,"--in a low voice, looking up at her, and showing his manacled
hands,--"are you pleased to see me in this condition?"

"I'd rather see you dead! If I were you, I'd kill myself!"

"There's a knife on the table behind you. Give it to me, free my hands,
and you won't have to repeat your advice."

She merely glanced over her shoulder at the knife, then bent her
scowling looks once more on him.

"A captain in the confederate army! outwitted and taken prisoner by a
boy! kept a prisoner by an old negro! This, then, is the military glory
you bragged of in advance! And I was going to be so proud of being your
wife! Well, I am proud!"

There was gall in her words. They made Lysander writhe.

"Bad luck will happen, you know. Once out of this scrape, you'll see
what I'll do! Come, Sal, now be good to me."

"Good to you! I've tried that, and what did I get for it?"

"I own I've given you good cause to hate me. I'm sorry for it. The truth
is, we never understood each other, Sal. You was always quick and sharp
yourself; you'll confess that. You know how easy it is to irritate me;
and I'm a devil when in a passion. But all that's past. Hate me, if you
will--I deserve it. But you don't want to see me eternally disgraced, I
know."

She laughed disdainfully. "If you will disgrace yourself, how can I help
it?"

"The other end of the cave is attacked, and it is sure to be carried. I
shall soon be in the hands of my own men. If I don't succeed in doing
something for myself first, it'll be impossible for me to regain the
position I've lost."

"Well, do something for yourself! What hinders you?"

"This cursed rope! I wouldn't mind the handcuffs if the rope was away.
Just a touch with that knife--that's all, Sal."

"Yes! and then what would you do?"

"Run."

"And lose no time in sending your men to attack this end of the cave,
too! O, I know you!"

"I swear to you, Sal! I never will take advantage of it in that way, if
you will do me just this little favor. It will be worth my life to me;
and it shall cost you nothing, nor your friends."

"Hush! I know too well what your promises amount to. How can I depend
even upon your oath? There's no truth or honor in you!"

"Well?" said Lysander, despairingly.

"Well, I am going to help you, for all that. Only it must not appear as
if I did it. And you shall keep your oath,--or one of us shall die for
it! Now be still!"

She walked back past the block that served as a table, and, when between
it and Toby, quietly took the knife from it, concealing it in her
sleeve.

"Don't come for me to hear any more dying requests," she said to the old
negro, with a sneer. "Your prisoner will survive. Only give him a little
coffee, if there is any. Here is some: I will wait upon him."

And, carrying the coffee, she dropped the knife at Lysander's side.



XLII.

_PROMETHEUS UNBOUND._


Five minutes later Penn and Virginia arrived. Penn ran eagerly for his
musket. At the same time, looking about the cave, he was surprised to
see only the old clergyman sitting by the fire, and Prometheus reclining
by his rock.

"Where is Salina? Where is Toby?"

"Toby has just left his charge to see what discovery Salina has made
outside. She went out previously and thought she saw soldiers."

At that moment Toby came running in.

"Dar's some men way down by the ravine! O, sar! I's bery glad you's
come, sar!"

Having announced the discovery, and greeted Penn and Virginia, he went
to look at his prisoner. He had been absent from him but a minute: he
found him lying as he had left him, and did not reflect, simple old
soul, how much may be secretly accomplished by a desperate villain in
that brief space of time.

Penn took Pomp's glass, climbed along the rocky shelf, peered over the
thickets, and saw on the bank of the ravine, where Salina pointed them
out to him, several men. They were some distance below Gad's Leap (as he
named the place where the spy met his death), and seemed to be occupied
in extinguishing a fire. He levelled the glass. The recent burning of
the trees and undergrowth had cleared the field for its operation. His
eye sparkled as he lowered it.

"I recognize one of our friends in a new uniform!"--handing the glass to
Salina.

Returning to the cave, he added, in Virginia's ear,--

"Augustus Bythewood!"

The bright young brow contracted: "Not coming here?"

"I trust not. Yet his proximity means mischief. Pomp will be
interested!"

He took his torch and gun. There was no time for adieus. In a moment he
was gone. There was one who had been waiting with anxious eyes and
handcuffed hands to see him go.

Meanwhile Mr. Villars had called Toby to him, and said, in a low
voice,--

"Is all right with your prisoner?"

"O, yes; he am bery quiet, 'pears like."

"You must look out for him. He is crafty. I feel that all is not right.
When you were out, I thought I heard something like the sawing or
tearing of a cord. Look to him, Toby."

"O, yes, sar, I shall!" And the confident old negro approached the rock.

There lay the rope about the base of it, still firmly tied on the side
opposite the prisoner. And there crouched he, in the same posture of
durance as before, except that now he had his legs well under him. His
handcuffed hands lay on the rope.

"Right glad ter see ye convanescent, sar!"

Toby was bending over, examining his captive with a grin of
satisfaction; when the latter, in a weak voice, made a humble request.

"I wish you would put on my cap."

"Wiv all de pleasure in de wuld, sar."

The cap had been thrown off purposely. Unsuspecting old Toby! The pistol
was in his pocket. He stooped to pick up the cap and place it on
Sprowl's head; when, like a jumping devil in a box when the cover is
touched, up leaped Lysander on his legs, knocking him down with the
handcuffs, and springing over him.

Before the old man was fully aware of what had happened, and long before
he had regained his feet, Lysander was in the thickets. In his hurry he
thrust his wife remorselessly from the ledge before him, and flung her
rudely down upon the sharp boughs and stones, as he sped by her. There
Toby found her, when he came too late with his pistol. Her hands were
cut; but she did not care for her hands. Ingratitude wounds more cruelly
than sharp-edged rocks.

Penn had judged correctly in two particulars. Deslow had turned traitor.
And the personage in the new uniform down by the ravine was
Lieutenant-Colonel Bythewood.

Deslow had gone straight to head-quarters after quitting Withers the
previous night, given himself up, taken the oath of allegiance to the
confederacy, and engaged to join the army or provide a substitute. As if
this were not enough, he had also been required to expose the secret
retreat of his late companions. To this, we know not whether
reluctantly, he had consented; and it was this act of treachery that had
brought Silas Ropes to the sink, and Bythewood to the ravine.

Advantage had been taken of the fog in the morning to march back again,
up the mountain, the men who had marched down, baffled and inglorious,
after the wild-goose chase Carl led them the night before. Bythewood
commanded the expedition at his own request, being particularly
interested in two persons it was designed to capture--Virginia and Pomp.
It is supposed that he took a sinister interest in Penn also.

But Bythewood was not anxious to deprive Ropes of his laurels; and
perhaps he felt himself to be too fine a gentleman to mix in a vulgar
fight. He accordingly sent Ropes forward to surprise the patriots at the
sink, while he moved with a small force cautiously up towards Gad's
Leap, with two objects in view. One was, to make some discovery, if
possible, with regard to the missing Lysander; the other, to intercept
the retreat of the fugitives, should they be driven from the cave
through the opening unknown to Deslow, but which he believed to be in
this direction.

The firing on the right apprised Augustus that the attack had commenced.
This was the signal for him to advance boldly up from the ravine, and
establish himself on an elevation commanding a view of the slopes. Here
he had been discovered very opportunely by Salina, who was seeking some
pretext for calling Toby from his prisoner. In the shade of some bushes
that had escaped the fire, he sat comfortably smoking his cigar on one
end of a log, which was smoking on its own account at the other end.

"Put out that fire, some of you," said Augustus.

This was scarcely done, when suddenly a man came leaping down the slope,
holding his hands together in a very singular manner. Bythewood started
to his feet.

"Deuce take me!" said he, "if it ain't Lysander! But what's the matter
with his hands, sergeant?"

"Looks to me as though he had bracelets on," replied the experienced
sergeant.

Some men were despatched to meet and bring the captain in. The sergeant
found a key in his pocket to unlock the handcuffs. Then Lysander told
the story of his capture, which, though modified to suit himself,
excited Bythewood's derision. This stung the proud captain, who, to wash
the stain from his honor, proposed to take a squad of men and surprise
the cave.

Fired by the prospect of seeing Virginia in his power, Augustus had but
one important order to give: "Bring your prisoners to me here!"

Instead of proceeding directly to the cave, Lysander used strategy. He
knew that if his movements were observed, and their object suspected,
Virginia would have ample time to escape with her father and old Toby
into the interior caverns, where it might be extremely difficult to
discover them. He accordingly started in the direction of the sink, as
if with intent to reënforce the soldiers fighting there; then, dropping
suddenly into a hollow, he made a short turn to the left, and advanced
swiftly, under cover of rocks and bushes, towards the ledge that
concealed the cave.

       *       *       *       *       *

"How _could_ you let him go, Toby!" cried Virginia, filled with
consternation at the prisoner's escape. For she saw all the mischievous
consequences that were likely to follow in the track of that fatal
error: Cudjo's secret, so long faithfully kept, now in evil hour
betrayed; the cave attacked and captured, and the brave men fighting at
the sink, believing their retreat secure, taken suddenly in the rear;
and so disaster, if not death, resulting to her father, to Penn, to all.

The anguish of her tones pierced the poor old negro's soul.

"Dunno', missis, no more'n you do! 'Pears like he done gnawed off de
rope wiv his teef!" For Lysander, having used the knife, had hidden it
under the skins on which he sat.

Then Salina spoke, and denounced herself. After all the pains she had
taken to conceal her agency in Sprowl's escape,--inconsistent,
impetuous, filled with rage against herself and him,--she exclaimed,--

"I did it! Here is the knife I gave him!"

Virginia stood white and dumb, looking at her sister. Toby could only
tear his old white wool and groan.

"Salina," said her father, solemnly, "you have done a very treacherous
and wicked thing! I pity you!"

Severest reproaches could not have stung her as these words, and the
terrified look of her sister, stung the proud and sensitive Salina.

"I have done a damnable thing! I know it. Do you ask what made me? The
devil made me. I knew it was the devil at the time; but I did it."

"O, what shall we do, father?" said Virginia.

"There is nothing you can do, my daughter, unless you can reach our
friends and warn them."

"O," she said, in despair, "there is not a lamp or a torch! All have
been taken!"

"And it is well! It would take you at least an hour to go and return;
and that man--" Mr. Villars would never, if he could help it, speak
Lysander's name--"will be here again before that time, if he is coming."

"He is not coming," said Salina. "He swore to me that he would not take
advantage of his escape to betray or injure any of you. He will keep his
oath. If he does not----"

She paused. There was a long, painful silence; the old man musing,
Virginia wringing her hands, Toby keeping watch outside.

"Listen!" said Salina. "I am a woman. But I will defend this place. I
will stand there, and not a man shall enter till I am dead. As for you,
Jinny, take _him_, and go. You can hide somewhere in the caves. Leave me
and Toby. I will not ask you to forgive me; but perhaps some time you
will think differently of me from what you do now."

"Sister!" said Virginia, with emotion, "I do forgive you! God will
forgive you too; for he knows better than we do how unhappy you have
been, and that you could not, perhaps, have done differently from what
you have done."

Salina was touched. She threw her arms about Virginia's neck.

"O, I have been a bad, selfish girl! I have made both you and father
very unhappy; and you have been only too kind to me always! Now leave me
alone--go! I hope I shall not trouble you much longer."

She brushed back her hair from her large white forehead, and smiled a
strange and vacant smile. Virginia saw that her wish was to die.

"Sister," she said gently, "we will all stay together, if you stay. We
must not give up this place! Our friends are lost--we are lost--if we
give it up! Perhaps we can do something. Indeed, I think we can! If we
only had arms! Women have used arms before now!"

Toby entered. "Dey ain't comin' dis yer way, nohow! Dey's gwine off to
de norf, hull passel on 'em."

"Give me that pistol, Toby," said Salina. "You can use Cudjo's axe, if
we are attacked. Place it where you can reach it, and then return to
your lookout. Don't be deceived; but warn us at once if there is
danger."

"My children," said the old man, "come near to me! I would I could look
upon you once; for I feel that a separation is near. Dear
daughters!"--he took a hand of each,--"if I am to leave you, grieve not
for me; but love one another. Love one another. To you, Salina, more
especially, I say this; for though I know that deep down in your heart
there is a fountain of affection, you are apt to repress your best
feelings, and to cherish uncharitable thoughts. For your own good, O, do
not do so any more! Believe in God. Be a child of God. Then no
misfortune can happen to you. My children, there is no great misfortune,
other than this--to lose our faith in God, and our love for one another.
I do not fear bodily harm, for that is comparatively nothing. For many
years I have been blind; yet have I been blest with sight; for night and
day I have seen God. And as there is a more precious sight than that of
the eyes, so there is a more precious life than this of the body. The
life of the spirit is love and faith. Let me know that you have this,
and I shall no longer fear for you. You will be happy, wherever you are.
Why is it I feel such trust that Virginia will be provided for? Salina,
let your heart be like hers, and I shall no longer fear for you!"

"I wish it was! I wish it was!" said Salina, pouring out the anguish of
her heart in those words. "But I cannot make it so. I cannot be good! I
am--Salina! Is there fatality in a name?"

"I know the infirmity of your natural disposition, my child. I know,
too, what circumstances have done to embitter it. Our heavenly Father
will take all that into account. Yet there is no one who has not within
himself faults and temptations to contend with. Many have far greater
than yours to combat, and yet they conquer gloriously. I cannot say
more. My children, the hour has come which is to decide much for us all.
Remember my legacy to you,--Have Faith and Love."

They knelt before him. He laid his hands upon their heads, and in a
brief and fervent prayer blessed them. Both were sobbing. Tears ran down
his cheeks also; but his countenance was bright in its uplifted
serenity, wearing a strange expression of grandeur and of joy.



XLIII.

_THE COMBAT._


Pomp, rifle in hand, bearing a torch, led the patriots on their rapid
return through the caverns.

"Lights down!" he said, as they approached the vicinity of the sink. "We
shall see them; but they must not see us."

They halted at the natural bridge; the torch was extinguished, and the
patriots placed their lanterns under a rock. They then advanced as
swiftly as possible in the obscurity, along the bank of the stream. In
the hall of the bats they met Carl, who had seen their lights and come
towards them.

"Hurry! hurry!" he said. "They are coming down the trees like the
devil's monkeys! a whole carawan proke loose!"

Captain Grudd commanded the patriots; but Pomp commanded Captain Grudd.

"Quick, and make no noise! We have every advantage; the darkness is on
our side--those loose rocks will shelter us."

They advanced until within a hundred yards of where the shaft of
daylight came down. There they could distinguish, in the shining cleft
under the brow of the cavern, and above the rocky embankment, the forms
of their assailants. Some had already gained a footing. Others were
descending the tree-trunks in a dark chain, each link the body of a
rebel.

"We must stop that!" said Pomp.

The men were deployed forward rapidly, and a halt ordered, each choosing
his position.

"Ready! Aim!"

At that moment, half a dozen men of the attacking party advanced,
feeling their way over the rocks down which Penn and his companions had
been seen to escape. The leader, shielding his eyes with his hand,
peered into the gloom of the cavern. Coming from the light, he could see
nothing distinctly. Suddenly he paused: had he heard the words of
command whispered? or was he impressed by the awful mystery and silence?

"Fire!" said Captain Grudd.

Instantly a jagged line of flashes leaped across the breast of the
darkness, accompanied by a detonation truly terrible. Each gun with its
echoes, in those cavernous solitudes, thundered like a whole park of
artillery: what, then, was the effect of the volley? The patriots were
themselves appalled by it. The mountain trembled, and a gusty roar swept
through its shuddering chambers, throbbing and pulsing long after the
smoke of the discharge had cleared away.

Pomp laughed quietly, while Withers exclaimed, "By the Etarnal! if I
didn't fancy the hull ruf of the mountain had caved in!"

"Load!" said Captain Grudd, sternly.

The rebels advancing over the rocks had suddenly disappeared, having
either fallen in the crevices or scrambled back up the bank while hidden
from view by the smoke. The chain descending the tree had broken; those
near the ground leaped down or slid, while those above seemed seized by
a wild impulse to climb back with all haste to the summit of the wall. A
few threw away their guns, which fell upon the heads of those below. At
the same time those below might have been seen scampering to places of
shelter behind rocks and trees.

If ever panic were excusable, this surely was. Since the patriots were
terrified by their own firing, we need not wonder at the alarm of the
rebels. Some had seen the flashes sever the darkness, and their comrades
fall; while all had felt the earthquake and the thundering. To those at
the entrance it had seemed that these were the jaws and throat of a
monster mountain-huge, which at their approach spat flame and bellowed.

"Now is our time! Clear them out!" said Grudd.

"Rush in and finish them with the bayonet!" said Stackridge. Six of the
guns had bayonets, and his was one of them.

"Not yet!" said Pomp. "They will fire on you from above. We must first
attend to that. Shall I show you? Then do as I do!"

Instinctively they accepted his lead. Loading his piece, he ran forward
until, himself concealed under the brow of the cavern, he could see the
rebels in the tree and on the cliff.

"Once more! All together!" he said, taking aim. "Give the word,
captain!"

The men knelt among the loosely tumbled rocks, which served at once as a
breastwork and as rests for their guns. The projecting roof of the cave
was over them; through the obscure opening they pointed their pieces.
Above them, in the full light, were the frightened confederates, some on
the tree, some on the cliff, some leaping from the tree to the cliff;
while their comrades in the sink lurked on the side opposite that where
the patriots were.

"Take the cusses on the top of the rocks!" said Stackridge. "The rest
are harmless."

"It's all them in the tree can do to take keer of themselves," added
Withers. "Reg'lar secesh! All they ax is to be let alone."

Grudd gave the word. Flame from a dozen muzzles shot upwards from the
edge of the pit. When the smoke rolled away, the cliff was cleared. Not
a rebel was to be seen, except those in the tree franticly scrambling to
get out, and two others. One of these had fallen on the cliff: his head
and one arm hung horribly over the brink. The other, in his too eager
haste to escape from the tree, had slipped from the limb, and been saved
from dashing to pieces on the rocks below only by a projection of the
wall, to which he had caught, and where he now clung, a dozen feet from
the top, and far above the river that rolled black and slow in its
channel beneath the cliff.

"Now with your bayonets!" said Pomp. "This way!"

There were six bayonets before; now there were eight.

"That Carl is worth his weight in gold!" said the enthusiastic
Stackridge.

While the patriots, preparing for their second volley, were getting
positions among the rocks on the left, Carl had crept up the embankment
in front, and brought away two muskets from two dead rebels. These were
they who had fallen at the first fire. Both guns had bayonets. Pomp took
one; Carl kept the other. Cudjo with his sword accompanied the charging
party; Grudd and the rest remaining at their post, ready to pick off any
rebel that should appear on the cliff.

Swift and stealthy as a panther, Pomp crept around still farther to the
left, under the projecting wall, raising his head cautiously now and
then to look for the fugitives.

"As I expected! They are over there, afraid to follow the stream into
the cave, and hesitating whether to make a rush for the tree. All
ready?"

He looked around on his little force and smiled. Instead of eight
bayonets, there were now nine. Penn had arrived.

"All ready!" answered Stackridge.

Pomp bounded upon the rocks and over them, with a yell which the rest
took up as they followed, charging headlong after him. Cudjo,
brandishing his sword, leaped and yelled with the foremost--a figure
fantastically terrible. Penn, with the fiery Stackridge on one side, and
his beloved Carl on the other, forgot that he had ever been a Quaker,
hating strife. Not that he loved it now; but, remembering that these
were the deadly foes of his country, and of those he loved, and feeling
it a righteous duty to exterminate them, he went to the work, not like
an apprentice, but a master,--without fear, self-possessed, impetuous,
kindled with fierce excitement.

The rebels in the sink, fifteen in number, had had time to rally from
their panic; and they now seemed inclined to make resistance. They were
behind a natural breastwork, similar to that which had sheltered the
patriots on the other side. They levelled their guns hastily and fired.
One of the patriots fell: it was Withers.

"Give it to them!" shouted Pomp.

"Every cussed scoundrel of 'em!" Stackridge cried.

"Kill! kill! kill!" shrieked Cudjo.

"Surrender! surrender!" thundered Penn.

With such cries they charged over the rocks, straight at the faces and
breasts of the confederates. Some turned to fly; but beyond them was the
unknown darkness into which the river flowed: they recoiled aghast from
that. A few stood their ground. The bayonet, which Penn had first made
acquaintance with when it was thrust at his own breast, he shoved
through the shoulder of a rebel whose clubbed musket was descending on
Carl's head. Three inches of the blade come out of his back; and,
bearing him downwards in his irresistible onset, Penn literally pinned
him to the ground. Cudjo slashed another hideously across the face with
the sword. Pomp took the first prisoner: it was Dan Pepperill. The rest
soon followed Dan's example, cried quarter, and threw down their arms.

"Quarter!" gasped the wretch Penn had pinned.

"You spoke too late--I am sorry!" said Penn, with austere pity, as,
placing his foot across the man's armpit to hold him while he pulled, he
put forth his strength, and drew out the steel. A gush of blood
followed, and, with a groan, the soldier swooned.

"It is one of them wagabonds that gave you the tar and fedders!" said
Carl.

"And assisted at my hanging afterwards!" added Penn, remembering the
ghastly face.

Thus retribution followed these men. Gad and Griffin he had seen dead.
Was it any satisfaction for him to feel that he was thus avenged? I
think, not much. The devil of revenge had no place in his soul; and
never for any personal wrong he had received would he have wished to see
bloody violence done.

The prisoners were disarmed, and ordered to remain where they were.

"Bring the wounded to me," said Pomp, hastening back to the spot where
Withers had fallen.

Stackridge and another were lifting the fallen patriot and bearing him
to the shelter of the cave. Pomp assisted, skilfully and tenderly. Then
followed those who bore away the wounded prisoners and the guns that had
been captured. Pepperill had been ordered to help. He and Carl carried
the man whose face Cudjo had slashed. This was the only rebel who had
fought obstinately: he had not given up until an arm was broken, and he
was blinded by his own blood. Penn and Devitt brought up the rear with
the swooning soldier. When half way over they were fired upon by the
rebels rallying to the edge of the cliff. Grudd and his men responded
sharply, covering their retreat. Penn felt a bullet graze his shoulder.
It made but a slight flesh wound there; but, passing down, it entered
the heart of the wounded man, whose swoon became the swoon of death.
This was the only serious result of the confederate fire.

"I am glad I did not kill him!" said Penn, as they laid the corpse
beside the stream.

Then out of the mask of blood which covered the face of the stout fellow
who had fought so well, there issued a voice that spoke, in a strange
tongue, these words:--

"_Was hat man mir gethan? Wo bin ich, mutter?_"

But the words were not strange to Carl; neither was the voice strange.

"Fritz! Fritz!" he answered, in the same language, "is it you?"

"I am Fritz Minnevich; that is true. And you, I think, are my cousin
Carl."

They laid the wounded man near the stream, where Pomp was examining
Withers's hurt.

"O, Fritz!" said Carl, "how came you here?"

"They said the Yankees were coming to take our farm. So Hans and I
enlisted to fight. I got in here because I was ordered. We do as we are
ordered. It was we who whipped the woman. We whipped her well. I hope my
good looks will not be spoiled; for that would grieve our mother."

Thus the soldier talked in his native tongue, while Carl, in sorrow and
silence, washed the blood from his face. He remembered he was his
father's brother's son; a good fellow, in his way; dull, but faithful;
and he had not always treated him cruelly. Indeed, Carl thought not of
his cruelty now at all, but only of the good times they had had
together, in days when they were friends, and Frau Minnevich had not
taught her boys to be as ill-natured as herself.

"What for do you do this, Carl?" said Fritz. "There is no cause that you
should be kind to me. I did you some ill turns. You did right to run
away. But our father swears you shall have your share of the property if
you ever come back for it, and the Yankees do not take it."

"It is all lies they tell you about the Yankees!" said Carl. "O Pomp!
this is my cousin--see what you can do for him."

Pomp had been reluctantly convinced that he could do nothing for
Withers: his wound was mortal. And Withers had said to him, in cheerful,
feeble tones, "I feel I'm about to the eend of my tether. So don't waste
yer time on me."

So Pomp turned his attention to the Minnevich. But Penn and Stackridge
remained with the dying patriot.

"Wish ye had a Union flag to wrap me in when I'm dead, boys! That's what
I've fit fur; that's what I meant to die fur, if 'twas so ordered. It's
all right, boys! Jest look arter my family a little, won't ye? And don't
give up old Tennessee!"

These were his last words.

Penn and Stackridge rejoined their comrades in the fight.

"Shoot him! shoot him! shoot him!" cried Cudjo, in a frenzy of
excitement, pointing at the rebel who had fallen from the tree upon the
projection of the chasm wall. "Him dar! Dat Sile Ropes!"

"Ropes?" said Penn, looking up through the opening. "That he!"--raising
his gun. "But he can do no harm there; and he can't get out."

"Don' ye see? Dey's got a rope to help him wif! Gib him a shot fust! O,
gib him a shot!"

The projection to which the lieutenant clung was a broken shelf less
than half a yard in breadth. There he cowered in abject terror betwixt
two dangers, that of falling if he attempted to move, and that of being
picked off if he remained stationary and in sight. To avoid both, he got
upon his hands and knees, and hid his face in the angle of the ledge,
leaving the posterior part of his person prominent, no doubt thinking,
like an ostrich, that if his head was in a hole, he was safe. The very
ludicrousness of his situation saved him. The patriots reserved him to
laugh at, and fired over him at the rebels on the cliff. At each shot,
Silas could be seen to root his nose still more industriously into the
rock. At length, however, as Cudjo had declared, a rope was brought and
let down to him.

"Take hold there!" shouted the rebels on the cliff. Ropes could feel the
cord dangling on his back. "Tie it around your waist!"

Silas, without daring to look up, put out his hand, which groped
awkwardly and blindly for the rope as it swung to and fro all around it.
Finally, he seized it, but ran imminent risk of falling as he drew it
under his body. At length he seemed to have it secured; but in his hurry
and trepidation he had fastened it considerably nearer his hips than his
arms. The result, when the rebels above began to haul, can be imagined.
Hips and heels were hoisted, while arms and head hung down, causing him
to resemble very strikingly a frog hooked on for bait at the end of a
fish-line. The affrighted face drawn out of its hole, looked down
ridiculously hideous into the rocky and bristling gulf over which he
swung.

"Fire!" said Captain Grudd.

The volley was aimed, not at Silas, but at those who were hauling him
up. Cudjo shrieked with frantic joy, expecting to see his old enemy
plunge head foremost among the stones on the bank of the stream. Such,
no doubt, would have been the result, but for one sturdy and brave
fellow at the rope. The rest, struck either with bullets or terror, fell
back, loosing their hold. But this man clung fast, imperturbable. Alone,
slowly, hand over hand, he hauled and hauled; grim, unterrified,
faithful. But it was a tedious and laborious task for one, even the
stoutest. The man had but a precarious foothold, and the rope rubbed
hard on the edge of the cliff. Cudjo shrieked again, this time with
despair at seeing his former overseer about to escape.

"That's a plucky fellow!" said Stackridge, with stern admiration of the
soldier's courage. "I like his grit; but he must stop that!"

He reached for a loaded gun. He took Carl's. The boy turned pale, but
said never a word, setting his lips firmly as he looked up at the cliff.
Silas was swinging. The soldier was pulling in the rope, hitch by hitch,
over the ledge. Stackridge took deliberate aim, and fired.

For a moment no very surprising effect was perceptible, only the man
stopped hauling. Then he went down on one knee, paying out several
inches of the rope, and letting the suspended Silas dip accordingly. It
became evident that he was hit; he still grasped the rope, but it began
to glide through his hands. Silas set up a howl.

"Hold me! hold me!"--at the same time extending all his fingers to grasp
the rocks.

The brave fellow made one last effort, and took a turn of the rope about
his wrist. It did not slip through his hands any more. But soon _he_
began to slip--forward--forward--on both knees now--his head reeling
like that of a drunken man, and at last pitching heavily over the cliff.

Some of the cowards who had deserted their post sprang to save him; but
too late: the man was gone.

It was fortunate for Silas that he had been let down several feet thus
gradually. He was near the ledge from which he had been lifted, and had
just time to grasp it again and crawl upon it, when the man fell,
turning a complete somerset over him, fearful to witness! revolving
slowly in his swift descent through the air; still holding with
tenacious grip the rope; plunging through the boughs like a mere log
tumbled from the cliff, and striking the rocks below--dead.

He had taken the rope with him; and Silas had been preserved from
sharing his fate only by a lucky accident. The knot at his hips loosened
itself as he clutched the ledge, and let the coil fly off as the man
shot down.

Not a gun was fired: rebels and patriots seemed struck dumb with horror
at the brave fellow's fate. Then Carl whispered,--

"That vas my other cousin! That vas Hans!"

"Cudjo! Cudjo! what are you about?" cried Penn.

The black did not answer. Beside himself with excitement, he ran to the
leaning tree and climbed it like an ape. The naked sword gleamed among
the twigs. Reaching the trunk of the tall tree he ascended that as
nimbly, never stopping until he had reached the upper limbs. There was
one that branched towards the ledge where Silas clung. At a glance
choosing that, Cudjo ran out upon it, until it bent beneath his weight.
There he tried in vain to reach his ancient enemy with the sword; the
distance was too great, even for his long arms.

"Sile Ropes! ye ol' oberseer! g'e know Cudjo? Me Cudjo!" he yelled,
slashing the end of the branch as if it had been his victim's flesh.
"'Member de lickins? 'Member my gal ye got away? Now ye git yer pay!"

While he was raving thus, one of the soldiers above, sheltering himself
from the fire of the patriots by lying almost flat on the ground,
levelled his gun at the half-crazed negro's breast, and pulled the
trigger.

A flash--a report--the sword fell, and went clattering down upon the
rocks. Cudjo turned one wild look upward, clapping his hand to his
breast. Then, with a terrible grimace, he cast his eyes down again at
Ropes,--crept still farther out on the branch,--and leaped.

Silas had his nose in the angle of the ledge again, and scarcely knew
what had happened until he felt the negro alight on his back and fling
his arms about him.

"Cudjo shot! Cudjo die! But you go too, Sile Ropes!"

As he gibbered forth these words, his long hands found the lieutenant's
throat, and tightened upon it. A fearfully quiet moment ensued; then
living and dying rolled together from the ledge, and dropped into the
chasm. They struck the body of the dead Hans; that broke the fall; and
Cudjo was beneath his victim. Ropes, stunned only, struggled to rise;
but, held in that deadly embrace, he only succeeded in rolling himself
down the embankment, Cudjo accompanying. The stream flowed beneath,
black, with scarce a murmur. Silas neither saw nor heard it; but,
continuing to struggle, and so continuing to roll, he reached the verge
of the rocks, and fell with a splash into the current.

Penn ran to the spot just in time to see the two bodies disappear
together; the dying Cudjo and the drowning Silas sinking as one, and
drifting away into the cavernous darkness of the subterranean river.



XLIV.

_HOW AUGUSTUS FINALLY PROPOSED._


After this there was a lull; and Penn, who had forgotten every thing
else whilst the conflict was raging, remembered that he had seen
Bythewood at the ravine, and hastened to inform Pomp of the
circumstance.

The death of Cudjo had plunged Pomp into a fit of stern, sad reverie.
His surgical task performed, he stood leaning on his rifle, gazing
abstractedly at the darkly gliding waves, when Penn's communication
roused him.

"Ha!" said he, with a slight start. "We must look to that! The danger
here is over for the present, and two or three of us can be spared."

"Shall I go, too?" said Carl. "It is time I vas seeing to my prisoner."

"Come," said Pomp. And the three set out to return.

Having but slight anticipations of trouble from the side of the ravine,
they came suddenly, wholly unprepared, upon a scene which filled them
with horror and amazement.

The prisoner, as we know, had fled. We left him on his way back to the
cave with a squad of men. Since which time, this is what had occurred.

The assailants had approached so stealthily over the ledges, below which
Toby was stationed, looking intently for them in another direction, that
he had no suspicions of their coming until they suddenly dropped upon
him as from the clouds. He had no time to run for his axe; and he had
scarcely given the alarm when he was overpowered, knocked down, and
rolled out of the way off the rocks.

The assailants then, with Lysander at their head, rushed to the entrance
of the cave. But there they encountered unexpected resistance: the two
sisters--Salina with the pistol, Virginia with the axe.

"Hello! Sal!" cried Lysander, recoiling into the arms of his men; "what
the devil do you mean?"

"I mean to kill you, or any man that sets foot in this place! That is
what I mean!"

There could be no doubt about it: her eyes, her attitude, her whole
form, from head to foot, looked what she said. She was flushed; a smile
of wild and reckless scorn curved her mouth, and her countenance gleamed
with a wicked light.

By her side was Virginia, with the uplifted axe, expressing no less
determination by her posture and looks, though she did not speak, though
there was no smile on her pale lips, and though her features were as
white as death.

"It's no use, gals!" said Sprowl. "Don't make fools of yourselves! You
won't be hurt; but I'm bound to come in!"'

"Do not attempt it! You have broken your oath to me. But I have made an
oath I shall not break!"

What that oath was Salina did not say; but Lysander's changing color
betrayed that he guessed it pretty well.

"I don't care a d--n for you! Virginia, drop that axe, and come out here
with your father, and I pledge my sacred honor that neither of you shall
receive the least harm."

"Your sacred honor!" sneered Salina.

But Virginia said nothing. She stood like a clothed statue; only the
eyes through which the fire of the excited spirit shone were not those
of a statue; and the advanced white arm, beautiful and bare, from which
the loose sleeve fell as it reared the axe, was of God's sculpture, not
man's.

She seemed not to hear Lysander; for the promise of safety for herself
was as nothing to her: she felt that she was there to defend, with her
life, if needs were, the friends whom he had betrayed. Only a holy and
great purpose like this could have nerved that gentle nature for such
work, and made those tender sinews firm as steel.

There was something slightly devilish in the aspect of Salina; but
Virginia was all the angel; yet it was the angel roused to strife.

"Call off your gals, Mr. Villars!" said Sprowl.

"Lysander!" said the solemn voice of the old minister from within, "hear
me! We are but three here, as you see: a blind and helpless old man and
two girls. Why do you follow to persecute us? Go your way, and learn to
be a man. The business you are engaged in is unworthy of a man. My
daughters do right to defend this place, which you, false and
ungrateful, have betrayed. Attempt nothing farther; for we are not
afraid to die!"

"Go in, boys!" shouted Lysander, himself shrinking aside to let the
soldiers pass.

Salina fired the pistol--not at the soldiers.

"She has shot me!" said Lysander, staggering back. "Kill the fiend! kill
her!"

Instantly two bayonets darted at her breast. One of them was struck down
by Virginia's axe, which half severed the soldier's wrist. But before
the axe could rise and descend again, the other bayonet had done its
work; and the soldiers rushed in.

It was all over in a minute. The axe was seized and wrenched violently
away. Toby lay senseless on the rocks without. Lysander was leaning
dizzily, clutching at the ledge, a ghastly whiteness settling about the
gay mustache, and a strange glassiness dimming his eyes. The soldiers
had possession. Virginia was a prisoner, and her father; but not Salina.
There was the body which had been hers, transfixed by the bayonet, and
fallen upon the ground: that was palpable: but who shall capture the
escaping soul?

When Penn and his companions arrived, not a living person was there; but
alone, stretched upon the cold stone floor, where the gray light from
the entrance fell,--pulseless, pallid, with pale hands crossed
peacefully on her breast, hiding the wound, and features faintly smiling
in their stony calm,--lay the corpse of her that was Salina. The fair
cup that had brimmed with the bitterness of life was shattered. The soul
that drank thereat had fled away in haughtiness and scorn.

Toby, groaning on the stones outside, felt somebody shaking him, and
heard the voice of Carl asking how he was.

"Dunno'; sort o' common," said the old negro, trying to rise.

He knew nothing of what had happened, except that he had been fallen
upon and beaten down: for the rest, it was useless to question him: not
even Penn's agonies of doubt and fear could rouse his recollection.

       *       *       *       *       *

Lieutenant-colonel Bythewood had committed the error of an officer green
in his profession. The cave surprised, and the prisoners taken, the men
retired in all haste, simply because they had received no orders to the
contrary. Thus no advantage whatever was taken of the very important
position which had been gained.

Leaving the dead behind, and carrying off the wounded and the prisoners,
the sergeant, upon whom the command devolved after his captain was
disabled, lost no time in reporting to the lieutenant-colonel.

Augustus stood up to receive the report and the prisoners,--extremely
pale, but appearing preternaturally courteous and composed. He bowed
very low to the old clergyman (who, he forgot, could not witness and
appreciate that graceful act of homage), and expressed infinite regret
that "his duty had rendered it necessary," and so forth. Then turning to
Virginia, whose look was scarcely less stony than that of her dead
sister in the cave, he bowed low to her also, but without speaking, and
without raising his eyes to her face.

"Have this old gentleman carried to his own house, and see that every
attention is paid to him."

"And my daughter?" said the blind old man, meekly.

"She shall follow you. I will myself accompany her."

"And my dead child up yonder?"

"She shall be brought to you at the earliest possible moment."

"And my faithful servant?"

"He shall be cared for."

"Thank you." And Mr. Villars bowed his white head upon his breast.

"Take the captain immediately to the hospital! And you fellow with the
hacked wrist, go with him."

The number of men required to execute these orders (since both the old
clergyman and the wounded captain had to be carried) left Augustus
almost alone with Virginia. Having previously sent off all his available
force to Ropes at the sink, in answer to a pressing call for
reënforcements, he had now only the sergeant and two men at his beck.
But perhaps this was as he wished it to be. He approached Virginia, and,
bowing formally, still without speaking, offered her his arm.

"Thank you. I can walk without assistance." Like marble still, but with
the same wild fire in her eyes. "The only favor I ask of you is to be
permitted to leave you."

Bythewood made a motion to the sergeant, who removed his men farther
off.

"I wish to have a few words of conversation with you, Miss Villars. I
beg you to be seated here in the shade."

Virginia remained standing, regarding him with features pale and firm as
when she held the axe. It was evident to her that here was another
struggle before her, scarcely less to be dreaded than the first.
Augustus looked at her, and smiled pallidly.

"If eyes could kill, Miss Villars, I think yours would kill me!"

"If polite cruelty can kill, YOU HAVE killed my sister!"

"O, I beg your pardon, dear Miss Villars, but it was not I!"

"I beg no pardon, but I say it WAS you! And now you will murder my
father--perhaps me."

"O, my excellent young lady, how you have misunderstood me! By Heaven, I
swear!"--his voice shook with sincere emotion,--"if I have committed a
fault, it has been for the love of you! Such faults surely may be
pardoned. Virginia! will you accept my life as an atonement for all I
have done amiss? You shall bear my name, possess my wealth, and, if you
do not like the cause I am engaged in, I will throw up my commission
to-morrow. I will take you to France--Italy--Switzerland--wherever you
wish to go. Nor do I forget your father. Whatever you ask for him shall
be granted. I have money--influence--position--every thing that can make
you happy."

There was a minute's pause, the intense glances of the girl piercing
through and through that pale, polite mask to his soul. A selfish,
chivalrous man; not a great villain, by any means; moved by a genuine,
eager, unscrupulous passion for her--sincere at least in that; one who
might be influenced to good, and made a most convenient and devoted
husband: this she saw.

"Well, what more?"

"What more? Ah, you are thinking of your friends--I should say, of your
friend! It is natural. I have no ill will against him. Whatever you ask
for him shall be granted. At a word from me, the fighting up there
ceases; and he and the rest shall be permitted to go wherever they
choose, unharmed."

"Well, and if I reject your generous offer?"

Augustus smiled as he answered, with a hard, inexorable purpose in his
tones,--

"Then, much as I love you, I can do nothing!"

"Nothing for my father?"

"Nothing!"

"Nor for me?"

"Not even for you!"

"Why, then, God pity us all!" said Virginia, calmly.

"Truly you may say, God pity you! For do you know what will happen? Your
father will die in prison: you will never see him again. Your friends
will be massacred to a man. I will be frank with you: to a man they will
be given to the sword. They are but a dozen; we are fifty--a hundred--a
thousand, if necessary. The sink has already been taken, and a force is
on its way to occupy this end of the cave. If your friends hold out,
they will be starved. If they fight, they will be bayoneted and shot. If
they surrender, every living man of them shall be hung. There is no help
for them. Lincoln's army, that has been coming so long, is a chimera; it
will never come. The power is all in our hands; and not even God can
help them. That sounds blasphemous, I know; but it is true. They are
doomed. But I can save them--and you can save them."

"And what is to become of me?" asked Virginia, calmly as before.

"Your future is entirely in your own hands. On the one side, what I have
promised. On the other----" Augustus thought he heard a crackling of
sticks, and looked around.

"On the other,"--Virginia took up the unfinished speech,--"the fate of a
friendless, fatherless, Union-loving woman in this chivalrous south! I
know how you treat such women. I know what awaits me on that side. And I
accept it. My friends can die. My father can die; and I can. All this I
accept; all the rest, you and your offers, I reject. I would not be your
wife to save the world. Because I not only do not love you, but because
I detest you. You have my answer."

With swelling breast and set teeth Augustus kept his eyes upon her for
full a minute, then replied, in a low voice shaken by passion,--

"I hoped your decision would be different. But it is spoken. I cannot
hope to change it?"

"Can you change these rocks under our feet with empty words?" she said,
with a white smile.

"All is over, then! Without cause you hate me, Miss Villars. Hitherto,
in all that has happened to you and your friends, I have been blameless.
If in the future I am not so, remember it is your own fault."

Then the fire flashed into Virginia's cheeks, and indignation rang in
her tones as she denounced the falsehood.

"Hitherto, in the wrong that has happened to me and my friends, you have
NOT been blameless! In the future you cannot do more to injure us than
you have already done, or meant to do. Look at me, and listen while I
prove what I say."

Again there was a slight noise in the thicket behind them, and he would
have been glad to make that an excuse for leaving her a moment; but her
spirit held him.

"I listen," he said, inwardly quaking at he knew not what.

"Do you remember the night my father was arrested?"

"I do."

"And how you that day took a journey to be away from us in our trouble?"

"I certainly took a short journey that day, but--" his eyes flickering
with the uneasiness of guilt.

"And do you remember a conversation you had with Lysander under a
bridge?"

His face suddenly flushed purple. "The villain has betrayed me!" he
thought. Then he stammered, "I hope you have not been listening to any
of that fellow's slanders!"

"You talked with Lysander under the bridge. Your conversation was heard,
every word of it, by a third person, who lay concealed under the planks,
behind you."

"A villanous spy!" articulated Augustus.

"No spy--but the man you two were at that moment seeking to kill: Penn
Hapgood, the Schoolmaster."

It was a blow. Poor Bythewood, too luxurious and inert to be a great
villain, was only a weak one; and, wounded in his most sensitive point,
his pride, he writhed for a space with unutterable chagrin and rage.
Then he recovered himself. He had heard the worst; and now there was
nothing left for him but to cast down and trample with his feet (so to
speak) the mask that had been torn from his face.

"Very well! You think you know me, then!"--He seized her wrists.--"Now
hear me! I am not to be spurned like a dog, even by the foot of the
woman I love. You reject, despise, insult me. As for me, I say this: all
shall be as I have pronounced. Your father, your lover,--not Fate itself
shall intervene to save them! And as for you----"

Again he heard a rustling by the ravine; this time so near that it
startled him. He looked quickly around, and saw, slowly peering through
the bushes, a dark human face. Had it been the terrible front of the
Fate he had just defied, the soul of Augustus Bythewood could not have
shrunk with a more sudden and appalling fear. It was the face of Pomp.



XLV.

_MASTER AND SLAVE CHANGE PLACES._


The sergeant and his men were several rods distant: the bush through
which that menacing visage peered was within as many feet. Augustus
reached for his revolver.

"Make a single move--speak a single word--and you are food for the
buzzards!" came a whisper from the bush that well might chill his blood.
"You know this rifle--and you know me!" And in the negro's face shone a
persuasive glitter of the old, untamable, torrid ferocity of his
tribe--not pleasing to Augustus.

"What do you want?"

"Give your revolver to that girl--instantly!"

"I have men within call!"

"So have I."

Through the bush, advancing noiselessly, came the straight steel barrel
of a rifle that had never missed fire but once: that was when it had
been aimed by Augustus at the head of Pomp. Now it was aimed by Pomp at
the head of Augustus; and it was hardly to be expected that it would be
so obliging as to remember that one fault, and, for the sake of
fairness, repeat it, now that positions were reversed. Bythewood
hesitated, in mortal fear.

"Obey me! I shall not speak again!"

And there was heard in the bush another slight noise, too short, quick,
and clicking, to be the crackle of a twig. Neither was that pleasing to
the mind of Augustus. He turned, and with trembling hand made Virginia a
present of the revolver.

"Do you know how to use it?" Pomp asked. She nodded, breathless. "And
you will use it if necessary?" She nodded again, and held the weapon
prepared. "Now,"--to Bythewood,--"send those men away."

"What do you mean to do?"

"I mean to spare their lives and yours, if you obey me. To kill you
without much delay if you do not."

"If you shoot,"--Bythewood was beginning to regain his dignity,--"they
will rush to the spot before you can escape, and avenge me well!"

A superb, masterful smile mounted to the ebon visage, and the answer
came from the bush,--

"Look where the bowlder lies, up there by the ravine. You will see a
twinkle of steel among the leaves. There are guns aimed at your men. You
understand."

Perhaps Augustus did not distinguish the guns; but he understood. At a
signal, his men would be shot down.

"I would prefer not to shed blood. So decide and that quickly!" said
Pomp.

"And if I comply?"

"Comply readily with all I shall demand of you, and not a hair of
your head shall be harmed. Now I count ten. At the word ten, I send
a bullet through your heart if those men are still there." He
commenced, like one telling the strokes of a tolling bell:
"One----two----three----four----five----"

"Sergeant," called Augustus, "take your men and report to Lieutenant
Ropes at the sink."

"A fine time to be taken up with a love affair!" growled the sergeant,
as he obeyed.

"Now what?" said Bythewood, under an air of bravado concealing the
despair of his heart.

"Come!" said Pomp, with savage impatience,--for he knew well that, if
Bythewood had not yet learned of Ropes's death, messengers must be on
the way to him, and therefore not a moment was to be lost. He opened the
bushes. Augustus crept into them: Virginia followed. But then suddenly
the negro seemed to change his plans, the spirit and firmness of the
girl inspiring him with a fresh idea.

"Miss Villars, we are going to the cave. Look down the ravine
there;--you see this path is rough."

"O, I can go anywhere, you know!"

"But haste is necessary. You shall return the way you came. Take this
man with you. If you are seen by his soldiers, they will think all is
well. Make him go before. Shoot him if he turns his head. Dare you?"

"I will!" said Virginia.

"Keep near the ravine. My rifle will be there. If you have any
difficulty, I will end it. Now march!"--thrusting Bythewood out of the
thicket.--"Straight on!--Carry your pistol cocked, young lady!"

Bitterly then did the noble Augustus repent him of having sent his guard
away: "I ought to have died first!" But it was too late to recall them;
and there was no way left him but to yield--or appear to yield--implicit
obedience.

What a situation for a son of the chivalrous south! He had reviled
Lysander for having been made prisoner by a boy; and here was he, the
haughty, the proud, the ambitious, overawed by a negro's threats, and
carried away captive by a girl! However, he had a hope--a desperate one,
indeed. He would watch for an opportunity, wheel suddenly upon Virginia,
seize the pistol, and escape,--risking a shot from it, which he knew she
was firmly determined to deliver in case of need (for had he not seen
the soldier's gashed wrist?)--and risking also (what was more serious
still) a shot from the rifle in the ravine.

But when they came to the bowlder, there the resolution he had taken
fell back leaden and dead upon his heart. He had, on reflection,
concluded that the twinkle of guns in the leaves there was but a fiction
of the wily African brain. As he passed, however, he perceived two guns
peeping through. He knew not what exultant hearts were behind
them,--what eager eyes beneath the boughs were watching him, led thus
tamely into captivity; but he was impressed with a wholesome respect for
them, and from that moment thought no more of escape.

As Virginia approached the cave with her prisoner, the two guns, having
followed them closely all the way, came up out of the ravine. They were
accompanied by Penn and Carl. In the gladness of that sight Virginia
almost forgot her dead sister and her captive father. Those two dear
familiar faces beamed upon her with joy and triumph. But there was one
who was not so glad. This Quaker schoolmaster, turned fighting man, was
the last person Augustus (who was unpleasantly reminded of the
conversation under the bridge) would have wished to see under such
embarrassing circumstances.

In the cave was Toby, wailing over the dead body of Salina. But at sight
of the living sister he rose up and was comforted.

Pomp had remained to cover the retreat. When all were safely arrived, he
came bounding into the cave, jubilant. His bold and sagacious plans were
thus far successful; and it only remained to carry them out with the
same inexorable energy.

"Sit here." Augustus took one of the giant's stools. "I have a few words
to say to this man: in the mean while, one of you"--turning to Penn and
Carl--"hasten to the sink, and ask Stackridge to send me as many men as
he can spare. Bring a couple of the prisoners--we shall need them."

"I'll go!" Carl cried with alacrity.

"And," added Pomp, "if there are any wounded needing my assistance, have
them brought here. I shall not, probably, be able to go to them."

While he was giving these directions, with the air of one who felt that
he had a momentous task before him, Bythewood sat on the rock, his head
heavy and hot, his feet like clods of ice, and his heart collapsing with
intolerable suspense. The gloom of the cave, and the strangeness of all
things in it; the sight of the corpse near the entrance,--of Toby, at
Virginia's suggestion, wiping up the pools of blood,--Virginia herself
perfectly calm; Penn carefully untying and straightening the pieces of
rope that had served to bind Lysander,--all this impressed him
powerfully.

"I suppose," said he, "I am to be treated as a prisoner of war."

Pomp smiled. "Answer me a question. If you had caught me, would you have
treated me as a prisoner of war?--Yes or no; we have no time for
parley."

"No," said Augustus, frankly.

"Very well! I have caught you!"

Fearfully significant words to the prisoner, who remembered all his
injustice to this man, and the tortures he had prepared for him when he
should be taken! But he had not been taken. On the contrary, he, the
slave, could stand there, calm and smiling, before him, the master, and
say, with peculiar and compressed emphasis, "_Very well! I have caught
you!_"

"You promised that not a hair of my head should be injured."

"The hair of your head is not the flesh of your body. No, I will not
injure _the hair_!"--Pomp waited for his prisoner to take in all the
horrible suggestiveness of this equivocation; then resumed. "Is not that
what you would have said to me if you had found me in your power after
making me such a promise? The black man has no rights which the white
man is bound to respect! The most solemn pledges made by one of your
race to one of mine are to be heeded only so long as suits your
convenience. Did you not promise your dying brother in your presence to
give me my freedom? Answer,--yes or no."

"Yes," faltered Augustus.

"And did you give it me?"

"No." And Augustus felt that out of his own mouth he was condemned.

"Well, I shall keep my promise better than you kept yours. Comply with
all I demand of you (this is what I said), and no part of you, neither
flesh nor hair, shall be harmed."

"What do you demand of me?"

"This. Here are pen and ink. Write as I dictate."

"What?"

"An order to have the fighting on your side discontinued, and your
forces withdrawn."

Augustus hesitated to take the pen.

"I have no words to waste. If you do not comply readily with what I
require, it is no object for me that you should comply at all."

Penn came and stood by Pomp, looking calm and determined as he. Virginia
came also, and looked upon the prisoner, without a smile, without a
frown, but strangely serious and still. These were the three against
whom he had sinned in the days of his power and pride; and now his shame
was bare before them. He took the quill, bit the feather-end of it in
supreme perplexity of soul, then wrote.

"Very well," said Pomp, reading the order. "But you have forgotten to
sign it." Augustus signed. "Now write again. A letter to your colonel.
Mr. Hapgood, please dictate the terms."

Penn understood the whole scheme; he had consulted with Virginia, and he
was prepared.

"A safe conduct for Mr. Villars, his daughter and servants, beyond the
confederate lines. This is all I have to insist upon."

"I," said Pomp, "ask more. The man who betrayed us must be sent here."

"If you mean Sprowl," said Bythewood, "his wife has no doubt saved the
trouble."

"Not Sprowl, but Deslow."

Bythewood was terrified. Pomp had spoken with the positiveness of clear
knowledge and unalterable determination. But how was it possible to
comply with his demand? Deslow had been promised not only pardon, but
protection from the very men he betrayed! Therefore he could not be
given up to them without the most cowardly and shameful perfidy.

"I have no influence whatever with the military authorities," the
prisoner said, after taking ample time for consideration.

"You forget what you boasted to Sprowl, under the bridge," said Penn.

"You forget what you just now boasted to me," said Virginia.

"Call it boasting," said Bythewood, doggedly. "Absolutely, I have not
the power to effect what you require."

"It is your misfortune, then," said Pomp. "To have boasted so, and now
to fail to perform, will simply cost you your life. Will you write? or
not?"

The prisoner remained sullen, abject, silent, for some seconds. Then,
with a deep breath which shook all his frame, and an expression of the
most agonizing despair on his face, he took the pen.

"I will write; but I assure you it will do no good."

"So much the worse for you," was the grim response.

Mechanically and briefly Bythewood drew up a paper, signed his name, and
shoved it across the table.

"Does that suit you?"

Pomp did not offer to take it.

"If it suits you, well. I shall not read it. It is not the letter that
interests us; it is the result."

Bythewood suddenly drew back the paper, pondered its contents a moment,
and cast it into the fire.

"I think I had better write another."

"I think so too. I fear you have not done what you might to impress upon
the colonel's mind the importance of these simple terms--a safe conduct
for Mr. Villars and family, the troops withdrawn entirely from the
mountains, and Deslow delivered here to-night. This is plain enough; and
you see the rest of us ask nothing for ourselves. I advise you to write
freely. Open your mind to your friend. And beware,"--Pomp perceived by a
strange expression which had come into the prisoner's face that this
counsel was necessary,--"beware that he does not misunderstand you, and
send a force to rescue you from our hands. If such a thing is attempted,
this cave will be found barricaded. With what, you wonder? With those
stones? With your dead body, my friend!"

After that hint, it was evident Augustus did not choose to write what
had first entered his mind on learning that his address to the colonel
was not to be examined. Penn handed him a fresh sheet, and he filled
it--a long and confidential letter, of which we regret that no copy now
exists.

Before it was finished, Carl returned, accompanied by four of the
patriots and two of the prisoners. One of these last was Pepperill. He
was immediately paroled, and sent off to the sink with the order that
had been previously written. The letter completed, it was folded,
sealed, and despatched by the other prisoner to Colonel Derring's
head-quarters.

"Do you believe Deslow will be delivered up?" said Stackridge, in
consultation with Penn in a corner of the cave; the farmer's gray eye
gleaming with anticipated vengeance.

"I believe the confederate authorities, as a general thing, are capable
of any meanness. Their policy is fraud, their whole system is one of
injustice and selfishness. If Derring, who is Bythewood's devoted
friend, can find means to give up the traitor without too gross an
exposure of his perfidy, he will do it. But I regret that Pomp insisted
on that hard condition. He was determined, and it was useless to reason
with him."

"And he is right!" said Stackridge. "Deslow, if guilty, must pay for
this day's work!"

"There is no doubt of his guilt. Pepperill knew of it--he whispered it
to Pomp at the sink."

"Then Deslow dies the death! He was sworn to us! He was sworn to
Pomp; and Pomp had saved his life! The blood of Withers, my best
friend----" The farmer's voice was lost in a throe of rage and grief.

"And the blood of Cudjo, whom Pomp loved!" said Penn. "I feel all you
feel--all Pomp feels. But for me, I would leave vengeance with the
Lord."

"So would I," said Pomp, standing behind him, composed and grand. "And I
would be the Lord's instrument, when called. I am called. Deslow comes
to me, or I go to him."

"Then the Lord have mercy on his soul!"



XLVI.

_THE TRAITOR._


The news of the disaster at the sink, and of the loss of prisoners, had
reached Colonel Derring, and he was preparing to forward reënforcements,
when Bythewood's letter arrived.

Of the colonel's reflections on the receipt of that singular missive
little is known. He was unwontedly cross and abstracted for an hour. At
the end of that time he asked for the renegade Deslow.

At the end of another hour Deslow had been found and brought to
head-quarters. The colonel, having now quite recovered his equanimity of
temper, received him with the most flattering attentions.

"You have done an honorable and patriotic work, Mr. Deslow. Your friends
are coming to terms. Bythewood is at this moment engaged in an amicable
conference with them. Your example has had a most salutary effect. They
all desire to give themselves up on similar terms. But they will not
believe as yet that you have been pardoned and received into favor."

The dark brow of the traitor brightened.

"And they have no suspicions?"

"None whatever. They do not imagine you had anything to do with the
discovery of their retreat. Now, I've been thinking you might help along
matters immensely, if you would go up and join Bythewood, and represent
to your friends the folly of holding out any longer, and show them the
advantage of following your example."

Deslow felt strong misgivings about undertaking this delicate business.
But persuasions, flatteries, and promises prevailed upon him at last.
And at sundown he set out, accompanied by the man who had brought
Bythewood's letter.

In consequence of the messenger's long absence, it was beginning to be
feared, by those who had sent him, that he had gone on a fruitless
errand. Evening came. There was sadness on the faces of Penn and
Virginia, as they sat by the corpse of Salina. Pomp was gloomy and
silent. Bythewood, bound to Lysander's rock, sat waiting, with feelings
we will not seek to penetrate, for the answer to his letter. In that
letter he had mentioned, among other things, a certain pair of horses
that were in his stable. Had he known that the colonel, during his hour
of moroseness, had gone over to look at these horses, and that he was
now driving them about the village, well satisfied with the munificent
bribe, he would, no doubt, have felt easier in his mind.

"You will not go to your father to-night," said Penn, having looked out
into the gathering darkness, and returned to Virginia's side. "We have
one night more together. May be it is the last."

Carl was comforting his wounded cousin, who had been brought and placed
on some skins on the floor. The patriots were holding a consultation.
Suddenly the sentinel at the door announced an arrival; and to the
amazement of all, the messenger entered, followed by Deslow.

The traitor came in, smiling in most friendly fashion upon his late
companions, even offering his hand to Pomp, who did not accept it. Then
he saw in the faces that looked upon him a stern and terrible triumph.
By the rock he beheld Bythewood bound. And his heart sank.

The messenger brought a letter for Augustus. Pomp took it.

"This interests us!" he said, breaking the seal. "Excuse me, sir!"--to
Bythewood.--"I was once your servant; and I had forgotten that
circumstances have slightly changed! As your hands are confined, I will
read it for you."

He read aloud.

     "Dear Gus: This is an awful bad scrape you have got into; but I
     suppose I must get you out of it. Villars shall have passports, and
     an escort, if he likes. I'll keep the soldiers from the mountains.
     The hardest thing to arrange is the Deslow affair. I don't care a
     curse for the fellow but I don't want the name of giving him up.
     So, if I succeed in sending him, keep mum. Probably _he_ never will
     come away to tell a tale."

     "Yours, etc., Derring."

     "P. S. Thank you for the horses."

Then Pomp turned and looked upon the traitor, who had been himself
betrayed. His ghastly face was of the color of grayish yellow parchment.
His hat was in his hand, and his short, stiff hair stood erect with
terror. If up to this moment there had been any doubt of his guilt in
Pomp's mind, it vanished. The wretch had not the power to proclaim his
innocence, or to plead for mercy. No explanations were needed: he
understood all: with that vivid perception of truth which often comes
with the approach of death, he knew that he was there to die.

"Have you anything to confess?" Pomp said to him, with the solemnity of
a priest preparing a sacrifice. "If so, speak, for your time is short."

Deslow said nothing: indeed, his organs of speech were paralyzed.

"Very well: then I will tell you, we know all. We trusted you. You have
betrayed us. Withers is dead: you killed him. Cudjo is dead: his blood
is upon your soul. For this you are now to die."

There was another besides Deslow whom these calm and terrible words
appalled. It was Bythewood, who feared lest, after all he had
accomplished, his turn might come next.

It was some time before the fear-stricken culprit could recover the
power of speech. Then, in a sudden, hoarse, and scarcely articulate
shriek, his voice burst forth:--

"Save me! save me!"

He rushed to where the patriots stood. But they thrust him back sternly.

"This is Pomp's business. Deal with him!"

"Will no one save me? Will no one speak for my life?" These words were
ejaculated with the ghastly accent and volubility of terror.

"Your life is forfeited. Pomp saved it once; now he takes it. It is
just," said Stackridge.

"My God! my God! my God!" Thrice the doomed man uttered that sacred name
with wild despair, and with intervals of strange and silent horror
between. "Then I must die!"

"_I_ will speak for you," said a voice of solemn compassion. And Penn
stepped forward.

"You? you? you will?"

"Do not hope too much. Pomp is inexorable as he is just. But I will
plead for you."

"O, do! do! There is something in his face--I cannot bear it--but you
can move him!"

Pomp was leaning thoughtfully by one of the giant's stools. Penn drew
near to him. Deslow crouched behind, his whole frame shaking visibly.

"Pomp, if you love me, grant me this one favor. Leave this wretch to his
God. What satisfaction can there be in taking the life of so degraded
and abject a creature?"

"There is satisfaction in justice," replied Pomp, quietly smiling.

"O, but the satisfaction there is in mercy is infinitely sweeter!
Forgiveness is a holy thing, Pomp! It brings the blessing of Heaven with
it, and it is more effective than vengeance. This man has a wife; he has
children; think of them!"

These words, and many more to the same purpose, Penn poured forth with
all the earnestness of his soul. He pleaded; he argued; he left no means
untried to melt that adamantine will. In vain all. When he finished,
Pomp took his hand in one of his, and laying the other kindly on his
shoulder, said in his deepest, tenderest tones,--

"I have heard you because I love you. What you say is just. But another
thing is just--that this man should die. Ask anything but this of me,
and you will see how gladly I will grant all you desire."

"I have done."--Penn turned sadly away.--"It is as I feared. Deslow, I
will not flatter you. There is no hope."

Then Deslow, regaining somewhat of his manhood, drew himself up, and
prepared to meet his fate.

"Soon?" he asked, more firmly than he had yet spoken.

"Now," said Pomp. He lighted a lantern. "You must go with me. There are
eyes here that would not look upon your death." He took his rifle. "Go
before." And he conducted his victim into the recesses in the cave.

They came to the well, into the unfathomable mystery of which Carl had
dropped the stone. There Pomp stopped.

"This is your grave. Would you take a look at it?" He held the lantern
over the fearful place. The falling waters made in those unimaginable
depths the noise of far-off thunders. Half dead with fear already, the
wretch looked down into the hideous pit.

"Must I die?" he uttered in a ghastly whisper.

"You must! I will shoot you first in mercy to you; for I am not cruel.
Have you prayers to make? I will wait."

Deslow sank upon his knees. He tried to confess himself to God, to
commit his soul with decency into His hands. But the words of his
petition stuck in his throat: the dread of immediate death absorbed all
feeling else.

Pomp, who had retired a short distance, supposed he had made an end.

"Are you ready?" he asked, placing his lantern on the rock, and poising
his rifle.

"I cannot pray!" said Deslow. "Send for a minister--for Mr. Villars!--I
cannot die so."

"It is too late," answered Pomp, sorrowful, yet stern. "Mr. Villars has
been carried away by the soldiers you sent. If you cannot pray for
yourself, then there is none to pray for you."

Scarce had he spoken, when out of the darkness behind him came a voice,
saying with solemn sweetness, as if an angel responded from the
invisible profound,--

"I will pray for him!"

He turned, and saw in the lantern's misty glimmer a spectral form
advancing. It drew near. It was a female figure, shadowy, noiseless; the
right hand raised with piteous entreaty; the countenance pale to
whiteness,--its fresh and youthful beauty clothed with sadness and
compassion as with a veil.

It was Virginia. All the way through the dismal galleries of the cave,
and down Cudjo's stairs, she had followed the executioner and his
victim, in order to plead at the last moment for that mercy for which
Penn had pleaded in vain.

Struck with amazement, Pomp gazed at her for a moment as if she had been
really a spirit.

"How came you here?"

She laid one hand upon his arm; with the other she pointed upwards; her
eyes all the while shining upon him with a wondrous brilliancy, which
was of the spirit indeed, and not of the flesh.

"Heaven sent me to pray for him--and for you."

"For me, Miss Villars?"

"For you, Pomp!"--Her voice also had that strange melting quality which
comes only from the soul. It was low, and full of love and sorrow. "For
if you slay this man, then you will have more need of prayers than he."

Pomp was shaken. The touch on his arm, the tones of that voice, the
electric light of those inspired eyes, moved him with a power that
penetrated to his inmost soul. Yet he retained his haughty firmness, and
said coldly,--

"If there had been mercy for this man, Penn would have obtained it. The
hardest thing I ever did was to deny him. What is there to be said which
he did not say?"

"O, he spoke earnestly and well!" replied Virginia. "I wondered how you
could listen to him and not yield. But he is a man; and as a man he gave
up all hope when reason failed, and he saw you so implacable. But I
would never have given up. I would have clung to your knees, and
pleaded with you so long as there was breath in me to ask or heart
to feel. I would not have let you go till you had shown mercy to
this poor man!"--(Deslow had crawled to her feet: there he knelt
grovelling),--"and to yourself, Pomp! If he dies repenting, and you kill
him unrelenting, I would rather be he than you. When we shut the gate of
mercy on others we shut it on ourselves. For all that you have done for
my father and friends, and for me, I am filled with gratitude and
friendship. Your manly traits have inspired me with an admiration that
was almost hero-worship. For this reason I would save you from a great
crime. O, Pomp, if only for my sake, do not annihilate the noble and
grand image of you which has built itself up in my heart, and leave only
the memory of a strange horror and dread in its place!"

Pomp had turned his eyes away from hers, knowing that if he continued to
be fascinated by them, he must end by yielding. He drooped his head,
leaning on his rifle, and looking down upon the wretch at their feet. A
strong convulsion shook his whole frame, as she ceased speaking. There
was silence for some seconds. Then he spoke, still without raising his
eyes, in a deep, subdued voice.

"This man is the hater of my race. He is of those who rob us of our
labor, our lives, our wives, and children, and happiness. They enslave
both body and soul. They damn us with ignorance and vice. To take from
us the profits of our toil is little; but they take from us our manhood
also. Yet here he came, and accepted life and safety at my hands. He
made an oath, and I made an oath. His oath was never to betray my poor
Cudjo's secret. The oath I made was to kill him as I would a dog if his
should be broken. It has been broken. My poor Cudjo is dead. Withers is
dead. Your sister is dead. I see it to be just that this traitor too
should now die!"

Again he poised his rifle. But Virginia threw herself upon the victim,
covering with her own pure bosom his miserable, guilty breast.

Pomp smiled. "Do not fear. For your sake I have pardoned him."

"O, this is the noblest act of your life, Pomp!" she exclaimed, clasping
his hand with joy and gratitude.

He looked in her face. A great weight was taken from his soul. His
countenance was bright and glad.

"Do you think it was not a bitter cup for me? You have taken it from me,
and I thank you. But Bythewood must not know I have relented. We have
yet a work to do with him."

Then those who had been left behind in the cave, listening for the
death-signal, heard the report of a rifle ringing through the chambers
of rock. Not long after Pomp and Virginia returned; and Deslow was not
with them. Augustus heard--Augustus saw--nor knew he any reason why the
fate of Deslow should not presently be his own.

"Is justice done?" said Stackridge, with stern eyes fixed on Pomp.

"Is justice done?" said Pomp, turning to Virginia.

"Justice is done!" she answered, in a serious, firm voice.



XLVII.

_BREAD ON THE WATERS._


The next morning a singular procession set out from the cave. Stretchers
had been framed of the trunks and boughs of saplings, and upon these the
dead and wounded of yesterday were placed. They were borne by the
prisoners of yesterday, who had been paroled for the purpose. Carl
walked by the side of the litter that conveyed his cousin Fritz, talking
cheerfully to him in their native tongue. Behind them was carried the
dead body of Salina, followed by old Toby with uncovered head. With him
went Pepperill, charged with the important business of seeing that all
was done for the Villars family which had been stipulated, and of
reporting to Pomp at the cave afterwards.

Last of all came Virginia, leaning on Penn's arm. He was speaking to her
earnestly, in low, quivering tones: she listened with downcast
countenance, full of all tender and sad emotions; for they were about to
part.

Pepperill was intrusted with a second letter from Bythewood to the
colonel, couched in these terms:--

"_Deslow was taken last night, and slaughtered in cold blood. The same
will happen to me if all is not done as agreed. I am to be retained as a
hostage until Pepperill's return. For Heaven's sake, help Mr. Villars
and his family off with all convenient despatch, and oblige,_" &c.

Virginia was going to try her fortune with her father; but Penn's lot
was cast with his friends who remained at the cave. From these he could
not honorably separate himself until all danger was over; and, much as
he longed to accompany her, he knew well that, even if he should be
permitted to do so, his presence would be productive of little good to
either her or her father. Moreover, it had been wisely resolved not to
demand too much of the military authorities. A safe conduct could be
granted with good grace to a blind old minister and his daughter, but
not to men who had been in arms against the confederate government. Nor
was it thought best to trust or tempt too far these minions of the new
slave despotism, whose recklessness of obligations which interest or
revenge prompted them to evade, was so notorious.

Penn would have attended Virginia to the base of the mountain, risking
all things for the melancholy pleasure of prolonging these last moments.
But this she would not permit. Hard as it was to utter the word of
separation,--to see him return to those solitary and dangerous rocks,
not knowing that he would ever be able to leave them, or that she would
ever see him again in this world;--still, her love was greater than her
selfishness, and she had strength even for that.

"No farther now! O, you must go no farther!" And, resolutely pausing,
she called to Carl,--for Carl's lot too lay with his. Toby and Pepperill
also stopped.

"Daniel," said Penn, with impressive solemnity, "into thy hands I commit
this precious charge. Be faithful. Good Toby, I trust we shall meet
again in God's good time. Farewell! farewell!"

And the procession went its way; only Penn and Carl remained gazing
after it long, with hearts too full for words.

When it was out of sight, and they were turning silently to retrace
their steps, they saw a man come out of the woods, and beckon to them.
It was a negro--it was Barber Jim.

Permitted to approach, he told his story. Since the escape of the
arrested Unionists through his cellar, he had been an object of
suspicion; and last night his house had been attacked by a mob. He had
managed to escape, and was now hiding in the woods to save his life.

"Deslow betrayed you with the rest," said Penn; "that explains it."

"My wife--my two daughters: what will become of them?" said the wretched
man. "And my property, that I have been all this while laying up for
them!"

"Do not despair, my friend. Your property is mostly real estate, and
cannot be so easily appropriated to rebel uses, as the money deposited
for me in the bank, from which I was never allowed to draw it! It will
wait for you. A kind Providence will care for your family, I am sure. As
for you, I do not see what else you can do but share our fortunes. There
is one comfort for you,--we are all about as badly off as yourself."

"You shall have your pick of some muskets," said Carl, gayly; "and you
vill find us as jolly a set of wagabonds as ever you saw!"

"Have you plenty of arms?"

"Arms is more plenty as prowisions. Vat is vanted is wittles. Vat is
vanted most is wegetables. Bears and vild turkeys inwite themselves to
be shot, but potatoes keep wery shy, and ve suffers for sour krout."

Barber Jim mused. "I will go with you. I am glad," he added, as if to
himself, "that I paid Toby off as I did."

What he meant by this last remark will be seen.

       *       *       *       *       *

Mr. Villars had taken the precaution to invest his available funds in
Ohio Railroad stock some time before. Arrived in Cincinnati, he would be
able to reap the advantages of this timely forethought. But in the mean
time the expenses of a long journey must be defrayed; and he found it
impossible now to raise money on his house or household goods. All the
ready cash he could command was barely sufficient to afford a decent
burial to his daughter. He was discussing this serious difficulty with
Virginia, whilst preparations for Salina's funeral and their own
departure were going forward simultaneously, when Toby came trotting in,
jubilant and breathless, and laid a little dirty bag in his lap.

"I's fotched 'em! dar ye got 'em, massa!" And the old negro wiped the
sweat from his shining face.

"What, Toby! Money!" (for the little bag was heavy). "Where did you get
it?"

"Gold, sar! Gold, Miss Jinny! Needn't look 'spicious! I neber got 'em by
no underground means!" (He meant to say _underhand_.) "I'll jes' 'splain
'bout dat. Ye see, Massa Villars, eber sence ye gib me my freedom, ye
been payin' me right smart wages,--seben dollah a monf! Dunno' how much
dat ar fur a year, but I reckon it ar a heap! An' you rec'lec' you says
to me, you says, 'Hire it out to some honest man, Toby, and ye kin draw
inference on it,' you says. So what does I do but go and pay it all to
Barber Jim fast as eber you pays me. 'Pears like I neber knowed how much
I was wuf, till tudder day he says to me, 'Toby,' he says, 'times is so
mighty skeery I's afeard to keep yer money for ye any longer; hyar 'tis
fur ye, all in gold.' So he gibs it to me in dis yer little bag, an' I
takes it, an' goes an' buries it 'hind de cow shed, whar 'twould keep
sweet, ye know, fur de family. An' hyar it ar, shore enough, massa, jes'
de ting fur dis yer 'casion!"

"So you got it by _underground means_, after all!" said Virginia, with
mingled laughter and tears, opening the bag and pouring out the bright
eagles.

The old clergyman was silent for a space, overcome with emotion.

"God bless you for a faithful servant, Toby! and Barber Jim for an
honest man."

"Dat's nuffin!" said Toby, snuffing and winking ludicrously. "Why
shouldn't a cullud pusson hab de right to be honest, well as white
folks? If you's gwine to tank anybody, ye better jes' tink and tank
yersef! Who gib ol' Toby his freedom, an' den 'pose to pay him wages?
Reckon if 't hadn't been fur dat, massa, I neber should hab de bressed
chance to do dis yer little ting fur de family!"

"We will thank only our heavenly Father, whose tender care we will never
doubt, after this!" said the old minister, with deep and solemn joy.

"Wust on't is, Jim hissef's got inter trouble now," said Toby. "He hab
to put fur de woods; an' his family wants to git to de norf, whar dey
tinks he'll mabby be gwine to meet 'em; but dey can't seem to manage
it."

"O, father, I have an idea! You will have a right to take your
_servants_ with you; and Jim's wife and daughters might pass as
servants."

"I shall be rejoiced to help them in any way. Go and find them, Toby.
Thus the bread we cast on the water sometimes returns to us _before_
many days!"



XLVIII.

_EMANCIPATION OF THE BONDMEN.--CONCLUSION._


A week had elapsed since Augustus became a captive; when, one cloudy
afternoon, Dan Pepperill returned alone to the mountain cave. Pomp met
him at the entrance.

"All safe?"

"I be durned if they ain't!" said Dan, exultant. "The ol' man, and the
nigger, and the gal, and Jim's wife and darters inter the bargain! Went
with 'em myself all the way, by stage and rail, till I seen 'em over the
line inter ol' Kentuck'. Durned if I didn't wish I war gwine for good
myself."

"You shall go now if you will. I have been waiting only for you. Cudjo
is dead. All the rest are gone. There is nothing to keep me here. Will
you go back to the rebels, or make a push with us for the free states?
Speak quick!"

Pepperill only groaned.

"Nine more have joined since Jim came. They make a strong party, all
armed, and determined to fight their way through. They are already
twenty miles away; but we will overtake them to-morrow. I am to guide
them. I know every cave and defile. Will you come?"

"Pomp, ye know I'd be plaguy glad ter; but 'tain't so ter be! I hain't
no gre't fancy fur this secesh business, that ar' a fact. But I'm in
fur't, and I reckon I sh'll haf' ter put it through;" and Dan heaved a
deep sigh of regret. Without knowing it, he was a fatalist. Being too
weak or inert to resist the hand of despotism laid upon him, he yielded
to its weight and accepted it as destiny. The rebel ranks have been
filled with such.

Pomp smiled with mingled pity and derision. "Good by, then! I hope this
war will do something for your class as well as for mine--you need it as
much! Wait here, and you shall have company."

He took a lantern, and entered the interior chamber of the cave. After
the lapse of many minutes he returned, dragging, as from a dungeon, into
the light of day, a wretch who could scarcely have expected ever to
behold that blessed boon again,--he was so abject, so filled with joy
and trembling. It was Deslow. Then turning to the corner where Augustus
sat confined, the negro cut his bonds and lifted him to his feet. Poor
Bythewood, rheumatic, stiff in the joints, and terribly wasted by
anxiety and chagrin, presented a scarcely less piteous spectacle than
Deslow; nor were his fallen spirits revived by the sight of this craven,
whom he had supposed to be long since past the memory of the wrong he
had done him, and the earthly passion for revenge.

"My friends," said Pomp, leading them to the entrance, and showing them
to each other in the gray glimmer of that cloudy afternoon, "our little
accounts are now closed for the present, and my business with you ends.
You are at liberty to depart. Deslow, do not hate too bitterly this man
for betraying you into my hands. Remember that you set the example of
treachery, and that the cause to which you are both sworn is itself
founded on treachery. As for you, Mr. Bythewood, I trust that you will
pardon the inconvenience I have found it necessary to subject you to. I
have restrained you of your liberty for some days. You restrained me of
mine for nearly as many years. I have no longer any ill will towards
either of you. Go in peace. I emancipate you. I shall not hunt you with
hounds, because I have been your master for a little while. I shall not
put iron collars on your necks. I shall neither brand nor beat you. You
are free! Does the word sound pleasant to your ears? Think then of those
to whom it would sound just as sweet. Has the rule of a hard master
seemed grievous to you? Remember those to whom it is no less grievous.
If might makes right, then you have been as much my property as ever
black man was yours. Is there no law, no justice, but the power of the
strongest? You have had a few days' experience of that power, and can
judge what a life's experience of it might be. Reflect upon it, my
friends."

He led them to the opening of the cave. Then he pointed to the clouds.
"You cannot see the sun; but the sun is there. You do not see God,
through the troubled affairs of this world; but God is over all. He
governs, although you have left him quite out of your plans. Your plans
are, no doubt, very great and mighty,--but see!"--passing over his knee
the cord with which Bythewood had been bound. "This is the chain with
which you bind my brothers and sisters. It is strong. You have drawn it
very tight about them. But you thought to draw it tighter still, to hold
them fast forever; and look, you have broken it!"

So saying, he displayed with a smile the two fragments of the rope that
had snapped like a mere string in his hands.

"So tyranny is made to defeat itself!"--trampling the ends under his
feet. "I have said it. Remember!"

Uttering these last words, he walked backwards slowly, resumed his rifle
and lantern, and disappeared in the dark recesses of the cave. The freed
prisoners then, joining Pepperill, took their way slowly down the
mountain, sadder if not wiser men.

The reappearance of Bythewood was a signal for sending immediately two
full companies to capture the cave. They succeeded; but they captured
nothing else. Pomp, escaping through the sink, was already miles away on
the trail of the refugees.

       *       *       *       *       *

Thus ends the story of Cudjo's Cave. Other conclusion, to give it
dramatic completeness, it ought, perhaps, to have; but the struggles, of
which we have here witnessed the beginning, have not yet ended [Nov.,
1863]; and one can scarcely be expected to describe events before they
transpire.

We may add, however, that Mr. Villars, Virginia, and Toby, arrived
safely at their destination,--a small town on the borders of
Ohio,--where they were cordially welcomed by relatives of the family.
There, three weeks later, they were visited by two very suspicious
looking characters,--one a bronzed and bearded young man, robust, rough,
with an eye like an eagle's gleaming from under his old slouched hat,
whom nobody, I am sure, would ever have taken for a Quaker schoolmaster;
the other a stout, ruddy, blue-eyed, laughing, ragged lad of sixteen,
who certainly did not pass for a rebel deserter. Strange to say, these
pilgrims of the dusty roads and rocky wildernesses were welcomed (not to
speak it profanely) like angels from heaven by the old man, his
daughter, and Toby,--their brown hands shaken, their coarse, torn
clothes embraced, and their sunburnt faces kissed, with a rapture
amazing to strangers of the household. They were travelling (as the
younger remarked in an accent which betrayed his Teutonic origin) to
"Pennsylwany," the home of the elder; and they had come thus far out of
their way to make this angels' visit.

With these two Barber Jim had journeyed as far as Cincinnati, where he
found his family comfortably provided for by persons to whose
benevolence Mr. Villars had recommended them. The other refugees had
also got safely over the mountains, after a march full of toils and
dangers; and nearly all were now in the federal camps. A long history,
full of deep and painful interest, might be written concerning the
subsequent fortunes of these men, and of their families and neighbors
left behind,--a history of hardships, of forced separations and ruined
homes,--of starvation in woods and caves to which loyal citizens were
driven by the rage of persecution,--and of terrible retribution.
Stackridge, Grudd, and many of their brother refugees, had the joy of
participating in those military movements of last summer, by which East
Tennessee was relieved; of beholding the tremendous ruin which the blind
pride of their foes had pulled down upon itself; and of witnessing the
jubilee of a patriotic people released from a remorseless and unsparing
tyranny.

A word of Pomp. Have you read the newspaper stories of a certain negro
scout, who, by his intrepidity, intelligence, and wonderful celerity of
movement, has rendered such important services to the Army of the
Cumberland? He is the man.

Dan Pepperill fell in the battle of Stone River, fighting in a cause he
never loved--the type of many such. Bythewood, after losing his
influence at home, and trying various fortunes, became attached to the
staff of the notorious Roger A. Pryor, in whose disgrace he shared, when
that long-haired rebel chief was reduced to the ranks for cowardice.

As for Carl, he is now a stalwart corporal in the --th Pennsylvania
regiment. He serves under a dear friend of his, known as the "Fighting
Quaker," and distinguished for that rare combination of military and
moral qualities which constitutes the true hero.

I regret that I cannot brighten these prosaic last pages with the halo
of a wedding. But Penn had said, "Our country first!" and Virginia,
heroic as he, had answered bravely, "Go!" Whether they will ever be
happily united on earth, who can say? But this we know: the golden halo
of the love that maketh one has crowned their united souls, and, with
perfect patience and perfect trust, they wait.



_L'ENVOY._


The foregoing pages are, as the writer sincerely believes, true to
history and life in all important particulars. In order to give form and
unity to the narrative, characters and incidents have been brought
together within a much narrower compass, both of time and space, than
they actually occupied: events have been described as occurring in the
summer of 1861, many of which did not take place till some months later;
and certain other liberties have been taken with facts. Two separate and
distinct caves have been connected, in the story, by expanding both into
one, which is for the most part imaginary, but which, I trust, will not
be considered as a too improbable fiction in a region where caves and
"sinks" abound.

Lastly, is an apology needed for the scenes of violence here
depicted?--Neither do I, O gentle reader, delight in them. But the book
that would be a mirror of evil times, must show some repulsive features.
And this book was written, not to please merely, but for a sterner
purpose.

For peaceful days, a peaceful and sunny literature: and may Heaven
hasten the time when there shall be no more strife, and no more human
bondage; when under the folds of the starry flag, from the lake chain to
the gulf, and from sea to sea, freedom, and peace, and righteousness
shall reign; when all men shall love each other, and the nations shall
know God!





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