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´╗┐Title: Richard Judkins' Wooing - A Tale of Virginia in the Revolution
Author: Hains, T. Jenkins (Thornton Jenkins)
Language: English
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RICHARD JUDKINS' WOOING

A Tale of Virginia in the Revolution

by

T. JENKINS HAINS

(Author of "Captain Gore," etc.)



[Illustration: Logo]

F. Tennyson Neely
New York and London
1898

Copyright, 1898.
By
T. Jenkins Hains.



Richard Judkins' Wooing



CHAPTER I


I was sitting in an arm chair with my feet upon the hand rail of the
verandah--very much at my ease--when Major Bullbeggor rode around the
bend of the turnpike and came into view.

I watched him lazily and noted the action of his mare's hind feet as she
threw little jets of dust off to either side. The jets mingled together
and formed a yellow cloud in the rear, through which could be seen the
grinning teeth of Snake in the Grass, the Major's nigger, who always
acted as his body-servant. Snake was mounted ungracefully upon an old
spavined clay bank, and he came loping along some three or four fathoms
behind his master.

The sky was cloudless and the warm sunshine appeared to annoy the Major.

I was so comfortable, sitting there with the buzzards soaring in silent
circles overhead and listening to the small birds singing in the
shrubbery on the lawn, that I had just made up my mind to hail the
horseman and ask him to accept the hospitalities of Judkins' Hall--and
all who have been anywhere in the state know the reputation of my
house--when the single-footing mare turned sharply from the main road
and came loping up the carriage drive toward me.

I might as well tell you now, that the Judkinses were never of a nervous
or excitable temperament. Even the first Richard Judkins, Earl of
Belldon, and viscount Ansley, was noted for his cool and calculating
disposition. But if you think I am overstepping the bounds of courtesy
by dwelling too much upon the characteristics of my family, I will say
that I only do so for fear someone may hear this who is a stranger in
the colonies, and who might, therefore, get a wrong impression of the
manners bred in and taught to a Virginia gentleman.

As I said before, I am not nervous; so I sat calmly watching the Major
and his servant until they halted within ten feet of the soles of my
shoes.

"Good morning, Major!" I cried, "How are you to-day? Jump down and come
in!" And with that I took down my feet and rose to greet him.

The Major's face seldom relaxed its grave expression, although he had a
sympathetic eye, but this day he looked more stern and military than
ever. His dress added to this effect, for he now appeared for the first
time in the uniform of Woodford's irregulars, with a long, straight
sword dangling from his broad belt.

He stroked his pointed, tuft-like beard which hung from the end of his
chin, and twirled his long, grey moustaches, while his eyes looked from
one object to another as if searching for something. Then he saluted,
saying, "Is there a Prince George county nigger about here, Mr.
Judkins?"

Snake in the Grass bent forward in his saddle, and I noticed a thin,
rod-like contrivance rise from the back of his coat collar and lift off
his hat, replacing it again the instant he sat up straight.

"Yes, sir, there is. Here, Sam!" I cried, and my boy stepped out from
behind a corner of the house and stood attention.

"If there is," continued the Major, "he can hold my horse a few moments
while Snake, there, takes up my left stirrup a hole or two. It is an
outrage the way some saddles are built, and I'm certain this one will
be the death of me yet. It has already given me trouble in my left knee
joint."

I gave a look at Sam who sprang to the Major's bridle--and I might say
here, that for an all-around good nigger, my boy Sam was hard to beat.
He stood six feet one inch on a pair of ham like feet and weighed two
hundred weight. He was a black, big-limbed, bullet-headed, broad-faced,
hog-nosed nigger of the pure Guinea breed, and he came from the best
stock in Prince George's--but that goes without saying, for the Major
would rather have seen his favorite mare struck with a whip than in care
of any other but a Prince George nigger.

"Well, sir, how do you feel, and what is the news to-day?" I asked, as
I stepped down from the verandah and shook his hand when he had
dismounted.

It was always the custom to ask Major Bullbeggor how he felt, for
although he was only fifty, or but little over twice my age, he always
appeared to be suffering very much.

"I feel a little better than I did last week," he answered, "but I have
some pains shooting all through me, sir. Yes, sir, a pain, now and then,
a shooting all through me. I've been taking Miranda Jones' spring
medicine, but it don't seem to do me much good. I'm quite certain
there's a settling in my joints, coupled with a numbing of the nerves
and twitching of the scalp. Dr. McGuire bled me twice last week and
drenched me three times--but no matter, a soldier has no time to devote
to talking about his physical sufferings, even if they are unwarranted.
News I have, unless you have seen Roger Booker to speak to while he was
riding an express to the assembly at Richmond."

"No!" I answered, "I've not seen Booker since last May, when he went
with you to help organize some of the colonial companies. But what has
happened? No more of that rioting and massacre like the affair of
Concord and Lexington, I hope?"

The Major walked slowly up the steps and seated himself comfortably in
the arm-chair I had just occupied, and then waited patiently until I
drew up a chair and was seated. I saw he had some important news, but,
of course, was not discourteous in my haste to find it out. The Major
had served through the entire French war with Colonel George Washington,
and was a man of the most pronounced military method in all things. It
would have been showing a gross disregard for his training had I even
suggested that he should hurry and tell me what was uppermost in his
mind, before he had thought carefully upon the proper manner and time
for doing so. For himself, he was most punctilious, at all times, in his
manner and address to gentlemen of his own rank and station. He was
sometimes truculent of speech, but he even went so far into the matter
of politeness and good breeding that when his trusty body servant,
Snake in the Grass--he always had a humorous way of naming his
people--forgot to bow properly and remove his hat on one or two
occasions, he had the rod-like contrivance rigged upon the slave's back
which lifted and replaced his hat as I have described. The idea that
Snake was a lazy, shiftless nigger, never entered the Major's head.
Snake may have been a good servant, but for my part, I've always stuck
to the old method of training one's people and have seen more than one
Prince George county nigger all the better for a little dressing with a
small hickory switch; especially when extenuating his circumstances.

My cousin, Will Byrd, who was a few years my senior, came out of the
house on hearing us talking, and, after greeting the Major, had a small
table brought within easy reach. Upon this was placed a bottle of
brandy, some sugar, ice and sprigs of young mint.

The Major sat there silently stroking his beard while Will mixed the
beverage, nor did he even offer my cousin a suggestion, knowing well the
mixture that had been famous in Judkins' Hall ever since the days my
grandfather and Lord George Fairfax honored its roof.

But because we held our English ancestry dear, and observed their
customs, don't think that we were rank tories.

Will and I had both been friends of Lord Dunmore, before he started his
aggressive policy, but since then we had had little to do with him. We
also held aloof from the too radical followers of Mr. Patrick Henry.
That is, from all except Major Bullbeggor. The Major had been my
father's friend, and since his death had always been a welcome visitor
at the Hall, even though he had helped to raise a company sent to
Boston, and had joined Colonel Woodford's militia.

Berkley Harrison and Captain Barron were in the breakfast room talking
to my mother and sister. They had just finished lunch. Harrison was an
outspoken tory who lived upon the adjoining plantation, and who, though
only thirty years of age, was one of the richest planters on the James
river. My mother had a high regard for his many accomplishments, for he
had lived much in England, and had the bearing of a man who had seen
something of the life at His Majesty's court.

Therefore Will and I were anxious to hear what important news the Major
had to tell before anyone else joined us, for we were afraid lest his
radical views should reach the ears of Mr. Harrison.

When the Major put down his glass he looked at us, and it was strange to
note the effects of the liquor in the old soldier's face. Every line,
from the heavy creases about his square jaw to the fan-like wrinkles
that stretched away from the corners of his eyes, seemed to stand out
more clearly. His eyes brightened and he spoke with great feeling--

"Gage's men stormed the hill defenses at Boston last week, and carried
them by assault," he said.

"The devil," said Will.

"And then what happened?" I asked, jumping from my chair.

"What could happen with a lot of yokels against regular troops, hey?
What could happen? But," he added, and his eyes fairly flashed, "our
boys made a fine stand, sir. Yes, sir, stood there on Bunker Hill 'till
the last dram of powder was burned, and the scoundrels were running in
and jabbing them with the bayonet. Yes, sir, by Gad, sir, they have the
making of the finest men in them that ever stood up to be killed."

"I wish I had been there," said Will.

"Wish thunder!" roared Bullbeggor, half rising from his chair. "What's
the use of wishing! Why don't you do something besides lying around here
and wishing. Holy thunder! If I was your age I would have been there in
the thick of it with our company of Prince George boys. Wish to
thunder!" And the old soldier reached for the bottle.

"That is as may be," remarked Will, quietly, referring to the Major's
imaginary military movements.

"Wish smoke and blazes!" growled the old fighter, putting down his empty
glass. "If it wasn't for this settling in the bones and numbing of the
joints, and having pains shooting all through me, to say nothing of a
vertigris in the head when I stoop over, I'd have gone up there with the
boys. As it is, I'll do what I can against that rascal Dunmore,--and
stay here with Woodford _toe_ do it."

"But give us the details of the Boston fight," I urged.

"That's all I know," he answered. "I met Booker riding an express to
Richmond, and he told me just what I've told you. I think you and Will
here would be welcome at Woodford's--if you don't want to go so far from
home--and he will give you enough fighting before the year is out. But
isn't that Berk Harrison's voice I hear? He's hand and glove with
Phripps and Dunmore, and, perhaps, he would not care to hear my
sentiments on the affairs of the day."

"Old Captain Barron is in there with him," said Will, motioning with his
hand toward the room. "It's nearly two, so they ought to be through
breakfast and be out in a few minutes."

"There isn't a better soldier than old Barron alive, although he places
too much value in the small sword and pistol--two worthless weapons for
real fighting--Ah!"

At this instance the figure of Berk Harrison appeared, issuing from the
window of the breakfast room, which being cut level with the floor
within enabled anyone to walk out on the verandah. He was closely
followed by Captain Barron and my sister, Mary. Harrison was dressed
with his usual care, wearing a buff waistcoat and snowy ruffles.
Although he had slept in the Hall over night, he had not appeared in the
breakfast room until after I had finished my midday meal. He wore his
hair carefully queued, and his lean, smooth face, with its arched
eyebrows, aquiline nose, and thin, straight lips, bespoke the cynical
man of the world--and also of fierce passion.

There was a hard glint in his eyes the instant they were directed toward
the Major, but the glance softened a little when he noticed me.

"Good morning, Major Bullbeggor," he said, advancing toward the old
soldier, who rose to greet him. "How are you, sir, this morning?"

"Pretty well, thank you, sir; yes, sir, pretty well, considering a
little settling of the bones I probably got by riding too long
yesterday--Ah! Good morning, Miss Judkins." And then he shook hands with
my sister and Barron. The Captain and he had served together and were
old friends.

"Always well and hearty, Barron, eh?" he cried.

"You see, Miss Judkins, the difference time makes with men. Here's
Barron sitting around all the time with the ladies as young as he was
twenty years ago, and just look at me--a perfect wreck, yes, Miss, a
perfect wreck. I shouldn't wonder if he began to think of getting
married next--if he only had a pension, eh."

"My face ought to be worth a thousand a year to any woman," laughed
Barron, drawing up a chair, while Mary stepped down from the verandah to
pet the Major's mare and have a word with his strangely attired nigger,
Snake in the Grass.

"Your face, indeed, ought to be worth that, Barry," continued the Major,
smiling at him thoughtfully, "but it is a question that might admit of
some diversity of opinion among women, in comparing it to the relative
value of affections."

"It is strange that women should put such a value on such things as
affections," said Harrison, smiling at me, "but self esteem is to be
commended in the sex."

Barron laughed heartily, as he always did when jokes were made at his
expense. He always laughed at, and took a light view of, everything, and
it was this that made him so popular with the young people, for he was,
physically, the ugliest man on the river. He refused to wear any hair
except his own, which consisted of two little red tufts just over his
ears. These latter stuck out from the sides of his head like a pair of
fans. His face was full, bronzed and rugged featured, and absolutely
hairless, and his mouth curled up at the corners in a perpetual smile.
His great, red nose was almost purple, and its color, he claimed, had
cost him much time and money to develop. He was short and stout, but
always wore the baggiest of brown homespun breeches.

"Women are not the only persons who like comfort," said he, and the
Major, very thoughtfully, passed him the bottle.

"No, no," he cried, motioning away the liquor, "I never drink at this
time of day, and very little now at all. Only a bracer or two when I
rise, then another before eating, along with two or three in the late
afternoon--and a couple before dinner--and--well, I'll take just one, if
you insist."

"Its easy to see that Barron's heart lies in his stomach," said the
Major. "There's an old woman's saying that 'to win a man's esteem, you
must feed the brute.'"

"And, likewise, to win a woman's, 'dress the animal,'" laughed Barron.

"But what was the news, Major, from Boston? I thought I overheard you
say something about a fight," asked Harrison.

"He did," said Will. "Gage's men carried Bunker Hill by assault, last
week. But he says the Virginia boys fought well and gave the reddies all
they wanted."

"They did that, and Woodford's men will give Dunmore about the same, if
he doesn't bear a hand and leave," interrupted the Major sententiously.

"You don't say!" laughed Barron, raising his glass. "Well, here's to the
army of Virginia, and may it reap much benefit from the Major and his
combination of Christian men."

"And have reason to give thanks that they'll be in no worse condition
than that which they find themselves," muttered Harrison, putting down
his untouched glass. "They'll be damned lucky if they're not."

"Oh, well, it is hardly necessary to be profane about it," said the
Major, quietly.

Barron smacked his huge lips and smiled blandly, then murmured softly--


     "And when they pawned and damned their souls
     They were but prisoners on paroles."


"An apt quotation," snapped Harrison ill-humoredly.

"You don't look as if you were much given to poetry, especially
Butler's."

"An angel is sometimes disguised as a devil," laughed Barron.

"But never as a soldier," said Harrison, dryly.

"Nor as a fop," growled Bullbeggor, "which the same might be said of
some people who dress to appear like gentlemen, but about whom there
might be some diversity of opinion among men." And he looked straight
before him.

"Your wit is coarse, and if you mean that for me, I'll say you are
damned insolent," said Harrison with some energy.

"Oh, hold on!" said Will.

"The Major did not mean that for you," I said quietly, advancing toward
Harrison, who stood leaning against a pillar of the verandah. "He never
makes rude remarks to anyone," I continued, trying to pacify his rising
anger, "and he simply meant the _vice versa_ of Barron's jest."

"I don't overstep the rules of politeness very often," said the Major,
slowly, "but I don't believe in fitting all cases to a set of rules. It
is better sometimes to make a rule to fit a case, such as this, for
instance. If Mr. Harrison thinks I made the remark for the purpose of
comparing him to an angel, he is most unaccountably satisfied with his
personal appearance and certainly flatters himself, but if so, he is
welcome, and be damned to him. I'll give him whatever redress he wishes
at any time. Only I'd rather take it out of his friend, Dunmore, if--"

"Hold on, Major! You forget yourself," cried Will, placing a hand on his
shoulder.

"I'll see that you make good your words to-morrow morning, old as you
are," said Harrison, now white to the lips with passion. And he walked
away and down the steps, meeting my sister Mary, who had just heard the
raised voices and had turned to see what had happened.

"Why do you waste time talking to those old men," I heard her say as
they walked together down the path which led to the grove of live oaks
that separated the estates. But he appeared not to answer, so I knew
there was trouble ahead.

"Harrison has horrible taste to get angry at such an old fellow as you,"
laughed Barron. "Also a pretty clever opinion of his presence."

"I am old, Barry, sure enough, but I can't abide a man who lives in a
country as a gentleman and then fights against it. I've got these pains
shooting all through me and considerable twitching of the skull, but
I'll meet him, sir; yes, sir, I'll meet him to-morrow morning if I'm
alive. I offer you my humblest apology, Mr. Judkins, for being party to
a scene on your verandah, but you heard what he said in regard to
soldiers, sir; yes sir, you heard what he said." And the Major reached
for the bottle, while I entered the house to leave again by a side door
and follow Harrison to do what I could to pacify him.

Will Byrd was living with us, so I felt sure he would keep Barron and
the Major in good humor until I came back.

Mary met me on the pathway leading to Harrison's. She had just left him
and was much upset at his temper.

"I don't see why you have these old duffers come up here and make
trouble," she said. "Captain Barron is bad enough by himself, but when
that horrid old Major Bullbeggor and he get together, they just sit
around to drink and make trouble. It's only an hour's ride to his place
and I don't see why Sam can't help Snake take him home."

"My dear sister," I said, "you know the traditions of Judkins' Hall. The
Major shall, therefore, always be a welcome visitor. He is a good
soldier, and the time will come--if it is not here already--when
Virginia will need just such men. We cannot put up with Dunmore's
violence any longer, and if Berk Harrison can't understand this the
sooner we see less of him, the better it will be for us all."

"Good soldier! Huh!" she cried, with a pretty toss of her head. "If
Virginia depends on such men for soldiers, my lord Dunmore will soon
settle the disturbance. Good soldier, indeed! Why it was only last week
he and Captain Barron were sitting up drinking and telling their
abominable adventures, and they were anything but a soldier-like kind.
Poor Mrs. Bullbeggor overheard them and has threatened to get a divorce.
Snake said she had hysterics, and kept screaming that her husband was
fit for nothing but paying bills. Good soldier, indeed!" And Mary went
into the house with an air of indignation that would have done credit to
a queen--or a Judkins.

I went over to Harrison's, but on the way I couldn't help wondering if
this power to pay bills, which Mary held in such high disdain in the
Major, was not just a little attractive in young Harrison. Women have
strange methods of reasoning out the proper way to look at things.

Harrison declined to see me, at first, but after I had sat out two
cigars on his verandah, he appeared.

He refused to listen to any peaceful overtures that I advanced, and I
wasted all the afternoon and evening trying to settle matters without a
meeting. His friend Phripps dined with him and afterwards left with a
formal challenge to the Major, requesting a meeting at sunrise the next
morning. I left Harrison at about nine in the evening, after an
uncomfortable meal, with the feeling that trouble was in store for the
Major.

On reaching the Hall, I found dinner over and the Major and Barron in
bed. The Major had requested Barron to act for him and had accepted the
challenge. They had settled upon a spot down on the river shore, and all
who know the James will remember how flat and smooth the shore is at
this bend.

The fact that there was to be a meeting had been kept secret from my
mother and sister, for even Mary did not think the last words she had
overheard meant anything dangerous, but, in spite of this, it was easy
to see that the house servants suspected something was wrong.

My mother gave me a lecture about the advisibility of taking her advice,
and also how to treat the Major. She really liked the old soldier, in
spite of his eccentricities, but wished, also, to avoid offending
Harrison. I forget now just what the advice was, but, as a matter of
course, had I taken it, all must have ended well, for time and again
afterwards have I heard her affirm this--so also has she in regard to
other matters.

I walked out on the cool lawn under the bright stars, and then around
the house, hoping to find Will who had stepped over to the stables. I
met him as he was coming back and together we walked around behind the
slave quarters, discussing the affair of the Major's and also the gloomy
outlook of war in the colonies. The news of Bunker Hill had affected
both of us greatly. As we passed an angle of the house we heard voices.

"Is yo' sho' nuff a Prince Gawge nigger?" said one.

"Dat I is, honey, sho'; an' I's de nigger uf er Prince Gawge man,"
answered the other.

"Kin he stan' agin Marse Berk?"

"Doan make no moan, honey, dere'll be bluddy murder an' suddin demise in
der mawnin'."



CHAPTER II


Just before daybreak I was suddenly aroused by the violent movements of
the Major, who occupied a room next to mine.

The bell-cord was pulled viciously for some moments, and this was
followed by hoarse exclamations.

Finally someone answered the bell and knocked at the Major's door.

A deep grunt followed and the door was partly opened.

"Are yo' a Prince George nigger?" asked the Major, sleepily.

"No sir!"

"Then git out and send me one right away."

The door closed, a short period of silence followed, which was suddenly
broken by more violent pulls at the bell cord. Then I thought I
recognized Sam's footsteps sounding softly along the hall, and the door
opened again.

"Are yo' a Prince George nigger?" grunted the Major.

"I is sir," came Sam's answer.

"Then for the Lord's sake take a look around and tell me where I am at."

"You'se right heah, Major. Right heah, sah."

"I thought so," said the Major with a satisfied sigh, and as the door
closed again a long drawn snore told plainly that he had relapsed into
peaceful sleep.

I was too much aroused, by this time, to sleep any more, so I lay awake
thinking of the possible dangerous outcome of the meeting that would
soon take place.

Soon I heard footsteps again approaching along the corridor, and I was
then aware that Barron and Will Byrd were approaching the Major's room.
It was barely daylight, but I jumped up and dressed and made my way into
the room to join them.

The Major was still undressed. He sat on the edge of the bed and
appeared so nervous that he could hardly put on his clothes.

This amused Barron very much.

"It's no use, Barry! you know the old saying about the dogs' hair being
good for his bite," said the Major, throwing down his clothes. "Gimme
some of the hair, and I'll see if this twitching of the bones and
numbing of the nerves don't hold off a bit. Lord! I didn't drink
anything last night to amount to anything. I was just a little tired out
riding over from Pendletons."

Barron poured out a good, stiff drink of brandy, and the Major gulped it
down without winking.

Then a most remarkable change came over the old fighter's grizzled
features. He jumped up, and in less time than it takes to tell of it, he
had his clothes on, and was just buckling on his sword belt, when Barron
stopped him.

"Now, Bull, whoever heard of fighting a duel in such a rig," he cried.
"Take it off, man. Byrd has the tooth-picks for this work," and he
pointed to a couple of rapiers, wrapped carefully in cloth, that Will
carried under his arm.

The Major looked from one to the other of us.

"Fight a duel!" he cried in astonishment. "Who in the name of six sons
of Hayman is going to fight a duel?" and he forthwith strapped on his
sword-belt.

Barron burst into a fit of laughter. "Never mind, come along with us.
But where on earth, Bull, did you think we were bound for at this hour
in the morning?"

"Think!" roared Bullbeggor, "I know I'm going to ride to Williamsburg
and report to Colonel Woodford. Think thunder."

Will looked a little disgusted, but said nothing, and I led the way
softly down the corridor and out the back way without awakening my
mother or sister.

The Major looked about him with blinking, sheeny eyes for his mare. Not
seeing her, he started for the stables, calling out lustily for Snake in
the Grass.

Barron seized him by the arm and stopped him. "Bull," he cried laughing,
"you've made an appointment to meet Harrison, and he is waiting to get a
clip from you down on the shore. Don't make any more racket, but come
along before you wake up the household."

I must say, I was somewhat disgusted with the Major's behavior, so I
spoke out, telling him he would have to meet his man.

"Meet him!" he bawled, turning on me fiercely. "Of course I'll meet
him." Then he turned toward the stable. "Snake!" he cried, as his nigger
appeared, "Get the mare ready, for I'll be through in a few minutes.
Lead the way, Mr. Judkins. Meet the devil!"

I then led the way down to the river bank, just as the rising sun tipped
the tree tops with golden light.

The shore in the bend was very flat and sandy, being overhung partly
with great, sweeping willows. As we neared the spot fixed upon we were
aware of the presence of Harrison and Phripps. They were standing under
a large tree and appeared to be much absorbed in conversation.

As we approached them they turned about, and Phripps advanced, holding a
pair of small swords in one hand and a case containing pistols in the
other.

Will and the Major stood aside and Phripps, Barron and myself proceeded
to arrange the details of the meeting.

It was decided to fight the affair with swords, until one or the other
of the combatants was completely disabled, and I must say that Phripps
was fair enough in the matter. He measured the weapons and gave Barron
the choice, after which he took the one left and started toward
Harrison, who had strolled down on the river shore to where the sand
was hard and firm.

I might say here, that I was not at all unfriendly toward Harrison, and
that I only took part in the affair after I had done everything in my
power to settle matters peaceably. It required nice discernment, in
those days, for a man to make up his mind whether he was a tory or not,
and it was more because I sympathized with the Major's political ideas,
than anything else, that I took any part in the matter at all. As it
was, I acted as I had acted several times before in such cases; that is,
as referee or judge, while Barron and Phripps were seconds to their
respective men. Will Byrd simply acted as a spectator. It was a perfect
spot for a meeting. The tall sweeping willows for a background on the
low bluff-like bank, and the water sparkling in the sunshine beyond the
shadow. The sand of the shore was firm and flat, and there was plenty of
room, as it was now nearly low water. I marked a spot and gave the
signal for the men to take their places.

I introduced the Major to Phripps and bade Barron hand him his weapon
quickly to avoid unnecessary delay, for I knew his habits of inquiry.

"Mr. Phripps, your mother was a Robinson, I believe, if I remember
correctly," said he, as Barron passed him the hilt and cast off his
sword belt.

"I never met her as a girl," snapped Phripps, impatiently.

"The more honor to her," replied the Major, quietly, as he flashed out
his heavy broadsword. "No fear," he continued, as Phripps reached
hastily for the pistol case, "I'll attend to you some other time. I have
to do with Dunmore's heel dog first."

I took up a pistol and cocked back the flint. "You know the penalty,
Major. Take your place and weapon," I said.

He looked steadily at me for a moment, his eyes gleaming with a strange
light. Then he answered:

"This is a weapon I've used for some years past, Mr. Judkins, and it is
the only one I will use in this quarrel. If no one cares to meet me my
mare is waiting to carry me to more important matters. Take the devil!"
he growled deeper, "I'll take the stiffening out of somebody."

"Don't disturb him on my account," spoke Harrison. "Let him use his
weapon and talk less. I make no objection to it at all. I am ready." And
he took his position.

I looked at Phripps, but he nodded approval; so I gave the word to
begin. I heard Barron laugh out some remark at the Major's expense, as
the men stood on guard for an instant. Then the fight began.

As I said before, I had already seen some sword play and indifferent
marksmanship on that beach, but this affair was most uncommon.

The men were at it fiercely as the weapons fell across. Harrison, with
gleaming eyes and a sneer of contempt on his lips, thrust and lunged
past the broad blade of the Major's with cat like quickness. But to no
purpose. The Major, holding his heavy broadsword as lightly as a rapier
before him, with its scabbard held high in his left hand behind his back
to keep it from his knees, turned each attack by a slight, strong turn
of the wrist. His face was grave and calm, but as I watched him, the
gradual tightening of the muscles in his lean, bronzed jaws showed that
either the strain was beginning to tell on his wind, or else his temper
was rising rapidly. However, he refrained from attempting the stroke I
knew must soon be made, unless Harrison jabbed him.

The morning was warm and soon the perspiration was pouring down the
faces of the men. Harrison eased up a moment to note his effect on the
Major, and seeing that he was keeping him in hand, pressed forward again
with vigor.

Backward went the Major, giving ground slowly in a circle, while that
look of surprise I have seen on more than one man's face, when suddenly
confronted by grave danger, spread slowly over his streaming features.

Harrison was getting white and waxy about the lips, and his breath came
in loud rasping gasps, but his eye was like the glint of steel as he
pressed fiercely on.

I have never seen a better swordsman. His wrist began to tire, but he
instantly passed his hilt to his left hand and then came on harder than
ever.

I looked at Barron and saw the smile go from his face as the Major
circled backward past him. The old soldier's left hand was holding his
scabbard lower and lower, until finally he dropped it entirely. Then
Harrison saw his time had come for the finish.

Quick as thought he passed his hilt to his right hand again, for the
final thrust through the Major's wavering guard.

Then happened the most uncommon thing about the whole affair. It was
done so quickly my eyes could hardly follow it, although I was standing
but a few paces away and looking directly at the men.

As Harrison passed his hilt to his right hand, the Major's weapon fell
to the right of him with his foot still advanced, and as Harrison lunged
strongly, the Major's broadsword rose and fell with a wicked "swish."

Harrison's sword passed neatly through the Major's shoulder and
protruded fully a foot behind him, while the old soldier's weapon struck
Harrison fairly on the head and stretched him limp on the sand. The
heavy blade had struck close to the hilt, as he had lunged forward,
otherwise it must have bitten in as deep as the eyes. As it was the blow
was bad enough, and we rushed in to see what could be done for him. It
was several minutes, however, before he opened his eyes and showed any
signs of life.

While we worked to stanch Harrison's wound and revive him, the Major
walked off a short distance and sat himself on the edge of the low,
bluff-like bank beneath a willow. He then carefully stripped off his new
uniform before Barron or Byrd thought of leaving Harrison to come to his
assistance, tied up the rapier thrust, and prepared to move along in the
direction of the Hall with his sword belt slung carelessly over his arm.

When Harrison's wandering gaze met him his strength came back suddenly,
and it was all Barron and I could do to hold him in check. He insisted
that he should continue the engagement and Byrd's outspoken objections
only inflamed him the more.

The Major suddenly glanced back and saw what had happened, so he halted
while Phripps ran toward him.

"The affair is not quite over, if you please, sir," said Phripps as he
approached.

"Isn't, eh!" grunted Bullbeggor, drawing his sword and throwing the
scabbard aside. "Then if you can prove that your gentility consists in
something more than a love for horses and dogs--and women, you can get
your hand to some weapon." And with that he came quickly forward.

"After Mr. Harrison has finished with you, we can go further into the
matter with some advantage," said the second, motioning with his hand
towards his principal.

But Harrison's strength was unequal to the occasion. He no sooner stood
alone than he wavered, staggered, and then pitched forward on his face
in a dead faint. Phripps quickly ran to him and raised his head while I
poured some brandy between his lips.

The Major stood silent and motionless before the group, his sword point
resting upon the toe of his boot and his hands crossed over the hilt. A
strangely grave and thoughtful expression shone on his rugged face, now
perfectly calm from the heat and excitement of the fray; and as I
watched him he appeared to me a poor duellist, and a man to whom self
was not the all important realization in life.

I went toward him and held out my hand. He took it in an absent minded
way and turned at the sound of approaching footsteps behind him. I
looked over his shoulder just as Snake broke through the fringe of
willows, leading the Major's mare by the bridle.

"I suppose he isn't hurt badly, Mr. Judkins," said Bullbeggor, looking
at his limp adversary. "But even if he is, I don't believe I can do much
for him. I thank you, sir, for your hospitality and fairness. I must go
along now, for I'm due at Williamsburg before night."

"You certainly will come back to the Hall and let us fix you up a
little, Major. You certainly must feel a little shaken from that
puncture. It may be more dangerous than you believe," I said.

"Not at all, sir. Not at all. I have had Dr. McGuire bleed me twice as
much in the last month. I do feel a slight twitching of the bones and a
sort of dead feeling in the nerves, but besides a few pains shooting in
and out, I'm all right. Then there is Pendleton's tavern at the
cross-roads a mile beyond the bend, and you remember the old rake keeps
good bottled stuff. No fear, I'll be all right. But I will take a small
drink with you, Barron and Byrd, just to show there's no hard feeling."

Harrison had begun to show signs of returning consciousness, so Barron
and Will left his side and came forward a pace or two. The flask was
passed around and then, in spite of Barron's protests to the contrary,
the Major insisted on carrying out his plans as he had already intended.
He buckled on his sword belt and mounted his powerful mare, while Snake
plunged into the bushes and reappeared a moment later mounted and ready
to follow his master. His black face was showing in marked contrast to
the white gleam of his huge mouthful of teeth, and it was evident that
he had viewed the fight from some unseen point on the river shore and
was well pleased with the result.

We raised Harrison and carried him in the direction of the Hall. In a
few minutes he revived and looked about him for the Major. Not seeing
him, he insisted on walking the remaining distance to the house on foot
and we finally allowed him to attempt it.

Just as we crossed the road, opposite the driveway, I saw Snake in the
distance turn sharply in his saddle as we came into view. Then, through
the dust cloud that almost instantly swallowed him up, I noticed his
head bend outwards and his white cap rise and fall in an ungraceful bow.



CHAPTER III


The second day after this meeting we were at breakfast, sitting somewhat
stiffly at the table, when my boy Sam, whom Mary had just sent over to
Harrison's to find out how he did, brought a note in answer, saying that
he had almost entirely recovered and hoped to have the pleasure of
meeting her that morning. Barron and Will were still staying at the Hall
and we had all been somewhat reserved in manner in spite of the old
Captain's jests. Although there had been no serious outcome to the
affair, a meeting of that kind, no matter how common the occurrence,
always makes women a little distant and cold in manner to the parties
concerned. This is possibly because a woman is somewhat more civilized
than man, and anything that savors of brutality or fierceness, always is
more revolting to her than to the less artificial being.

I have said the occurrence of such affairs was common enough in the old
days, before the practice of putting grooves in pistols and making them
as accurate as rifles to a steady hand, became general. After that men
became more careful about abusing the code and getting into scrapes, for
the pistol has always been recognized as a weapon for gentlemen in
Virginia. But I must confess, however, that meetings have always been
numerous enough, and for the most trivial causes, on the soil of the
grand old commonwealth.

After Mary had read the note from Harrison she became much more civil
to Barron, and even my mother's stern dignity thawed a little under the
prospect of a renewal of social intercourse with the master of the
Harrison plantation.

Mary was only nineteen, and although southern girls are women of that
age, she possessed a great deal of that childlike simplicity, which is,
or is not, so acceptable to the majority of men. For my part, however, I
have always been ungallant enough to believe that a woman affects much.

Will had been devotion itself for two years past at Judkins' Hall, for
he lived only a few miles away near his family's old country seat at
Westover, and consequently found it quite easy to see the inmates of
the Hall several times a week even when living at home. He was my
favorite cousin, and it was almost painful to see his spirits as much
affected by my sister's as a barometer is by the weather.

"Why don't you say something," she said to him, after reading the note
and watching the quiet, grave look on his face.

"What shall I say?" he answered, smiling with her, "I'm here to talk to
you." And in truth he did appear to be always around for that purpose,
but never able to raise his voice to the occasion.

"I don't know whether you are or not. I've been reading about a man who
carried on an affair simply by whistling. But even that would hardly
apply to you after taking part in that duel. You certainly would hardly
care even to whistle to me, or you would not have gone with them.
Perhaps you are here to eat and fight."

"You invited me to breakfast."

"Yes, but that does not presuppose you are too hungry to speak. Perhaps
you think I asked you here to see you fight, and then satisfy your
hunger. You don't know why I asked you here. If you are here to talk to
me, do say something. Why did I ask you here to breakfast?"

"Words are sometimes used to convey ideas," I suggested, trying to help
Will along, for I well knew how little women care for a man who can't
say something light and foolish at the right time.

"Or to conceal them," said Barron, breaking in with his old saw.

"But where the ideas are vague and not quite well defined, what then?"
asked Mary, with a knowing look at her mother.

"Then I don't see how they can be of any value, whatever, and I don't
see how I'll ever find out the true reason for my being here, though I'd
much like to know," said Will.

"Quite right, Will," said my mother smiling, "I don't care for vague
ideas either--or to hear a man and woman in worthless gibble-gabble,
gibble-gabble. If there is a dearth of ideas, one reason is as good as
another."

"I admire silence, also," laughed Barron, "for there is an old saying
in regard to its value. But at the same time, give me plenty of plans,
schemes and feasibilities."

"I like the latter well enough myself," said Will, so dolefully that we
all were forced to smile, and my charming sister laughed outright,
saying--

"Certainly Captain Barrow's conversation is not lacking of ideas, but
then he is a blunt man, and plain, so it is hardly to be expected that
he should conceal such scintillating wit"--

"Blunt man,--and soldier, if you please," interrupted Barron, with
intense gravity, seeing his chance to heal the rupture between himself
and Mary.

"I may add, 'and soldier,' when I see some evidence to justify it,"
retorted my sister with a little energy. But Barron only laughed and we
finally adjourned to the verandah in a more civil mood than when we sat
down to breakfast.

The air is delightful on the river at this time of year of which I
speak, and, as you probably well know, has a soothing effect on the
nerves, for it is not at all cool, nor is it hot enough to excite the
circulation.

We sat there in the delicious, fragrant breeze for some minutes before
we were aware of the approach of Berkley Harrison, Phripps and Miss Rose
Carter, a cousin of Harrison's.

Miss Carter had come over with her maid to nurse her cousin the moment
she had heard that he was hurt, and as Harrison lived alone, except
when some one like Phripps was with him, a woman would have been a good
person to have had at hand, had he been injured badly, or had my mother
and sister not spent most of their time attending to his wants.

I suppose I might as well say, before going further, that although I am
only a poor Virginia gentleman who has nothing but his--well, estate and
inheritance--I had some hope of raising myself to a position from which
I might allow my gentler passions to have some sway.

You will understand what I mean when I tell you that for beauty of face
and figure, coupled with a grace beyond description, Miss Carter
was--well, I will not tire you with details that are so well known. And
then, again, a woman's beauty depends entirely upon her attractiveness
to a man, and some men will see beauty in one way and some in another;
never all alike. Why, I have seen the niggers in the slave quarters let
Harrison's house servant, Angeline,--a yellow girl of remarkable
beauty,--pass by unnoticed and then, ten minutes later, be peeping and
spying at the blackest moke wench that ever left the Guinea coast.

Harrison's greeting, this morning, was a trifle cool to Barron and
myself, and his appearance was not improved by the sinister look of his
shining black eyes. These were somewhat sunken in his pale cheeks and
had dark crescents beneath them. His head was bandaged, but a skull cap
covered all signs of his wound. To Will Byrd and my sister he was most
gracious, and he even bent his wounded head to kiss the tips of my
mother's thin fingers.

"You see," he said, after Miss Carter and Phripps had made their
greeting, "I took the opportunity to come over to tell you that Lord
Dunmore has sent word that he fears great trouble in the tide-water
districts, and that all the gentlemen of the province were making ready
to embark on his vessels and leave with their families until the
insurrection is more in hand."

"And when will that be?" asked my mother in some alarm.

"Oh, only a few weeks, at the most," said Phripps, breaking into the
conversation.

"Yes, about that time," continued Harrison, "but you know how fanatical
such men as Bullet and Bullbeggor are. It's really absurd how much
influence that beggar, Patrick Henry, has over such ignorant men. The
man has about as much logic in his discourse as a nigger has in his, but
he sways his followers any way he wishes, and is gaining recruits every
day. I suppose you know how illiterate the fellow is?"

"And how rough and ill-bred," said Miss Carter.

"An ill-favored rogue and no mistake," said Phripps.

"Odious men--vulgar ruffians, all of them," said Miss Carter and Mary
together.

"So you say!" murmured Barron, pleasantly.

"And their followers are a pack of unhung thieves," added Harrison
fiercely. "No house is safe while they roam the outlying counties"----

"Mercy!" quietly interrupted my mother, who felt very kindly toward the
revolutionists, "One would actually suppose, Mr. Harrison, that you were
quite unfriendly with the whole party."

And when she finished speaking I could see Harrison's eyes fairly blaze
with anger. He was very quiet, however, for some moments, and then
adding that it would be well to be packed and ready to embark with Lord
Dunmore when he arrived, he turned to my sister and talked of other
matters.

Barron waxed flippant and jolly while talking to Phripps, so when
everybody was in good humor I took the opportunity to ask Miss Carter to
help me hunt thistles--for my mother.

We walked some distance through the fields, and found few thistles, but
among other matters discussed were certain characteristics of Mr.
Berkley Harrison.

"The most accomplished and perfect gentleman in the province," said
Rose.

"But, my dear Rose, he is so uncommon vain"--

"By which, I suppose, you mean simply that he has a decent opinion of
himself, owing to his birth and position," she interrupted. "A man who
hasn't a proper opinion of himself, seldom has one of any of his friends
or acquaintances."

"Quite true," I answered, "but"--

"Do you really object to him so much?" she broke in. And as she smiled
and blushed slightly I followed the direction of her look and saw Mary
and Harrison standing together at the corner of the box-hedge of the
driveway.

"You could hardly expect a gentleman of cousin Berk's antecedents to
agree with the absurd ideas of government you pretend to," she
continued.

"The matter is possibly open to discussion," I answered a little
stiffly.

"Oh, no offence, my dear Dick. You know the laws of human nature as
well as I do. Those who are governed and have little are always
antagonistic to those who govern and have much, no matter how perfect
that government is."

"Yes, I know," I answered, "there is no such thing as justice in this
world. Even the Bible, most holy of records, disclaims it, saying, that
those who have little shall have that little taken from them and given
to those who have much. At least that is what I make of it, but even if
there should be a small minority to govern and grind a large majority,
the majority should have its representatives to see that no unjust"--

"Nonsense!" she interrupted, "Those who represented it would soon
acquire the same habits and tendency as the minority, without even the
leavening of high birth and education the minority already have. There
are some people born with high ideas who are intended by Providence to
govern always. They are superior in feeling--but hush! What is cousin
Berk doing?"

We were now close to where Harrison and Mary were standing, and I
noticed that he peered cautiously over the hedge at some object that lay
on the other side in the sunshine. We turned the angle of the drive way
and as we did so I saw my boy, Sam, lying at full length upon the grass,
looking quietly up into Harrison's face with an expression of curious
interest showing upon his black features.

"Are you busy, Sam?" asked Harrison softly, not noticing my approach.

"Yessah," replied Sam without moving.

"Eh! What?" and I saw him grasp his cane firmly in his hand behind his
back.

"Yessah," continued Sam, "I'se been lying here fo' quite a spell, sah,
listenin' to my heart beatin'."

"So, so," said Harrison quietly, measuring his distance. Then he flashed
out--"You infernal, impudent nigger!" And he smote Sam a crack over the
head that brought him to his feet with a wicked look in his eyes.

"Superior feeling!" I muttered angrily, and I saw Miss Carter blush.
Then stepping further out into view I caught Sam's eye in time to avert
further trouble, for he had never been handled before by anyone--except,
perhaps, myself.

"Go to the quarters, Sam," I cried, and as I did so I saw Harrison start
at the sound of my voice and notice me.

I would have given something to have seen what Sam intended to do after
that look,--for he was a big, black, powerful, hog-nosed nigger, capable
of some little mischief--but the ladies being present, such intentions
were, of course, impossible. Sam obeyed me instantly and went quickly
toward the stables with his broad shoulders well squared and his head
up, and Harrison continued on his way with my charming sister upon his
arm.

"I suppose," I said, looking askance at Miss Carter, "this is the
superior feeling of the governing class which we have just witnessed?"

"What would that black boy have done?" she said, in alarm. "I saw the
look in his eyes that certainly meant more than disobedience."

"Oh, Sam is a true and trained Christian," I answered, somewhat nettled
at the scene. "I taught him the doctrine of forbearance myself and I
have seen him practice it to some advantage."

"And what was that?" asked Rose, sweetly, looking up at me with her
lovely violet eyes that still showed traces of her alarm.

"Well, the last overseer I had was a man of superior feeling who
belonged to the governing class--and he started to govern accordingly.
He smote Sam savagely upon the side of his bullet head, one day, and
knocked him down. Sam jumped up and rose to his full height, offering
the other side of his head without so much as a word. The fellow, John
Smith, struck him again, like a fool, and stretched Sam senseless for
half an hour."

"And then?"

"Oh, then Sam came to, and as soon as he could stand, he drew his corn
knife and it was all we could do to keep him from killing that overseer.
As it was, he got so badly cut that he would never come back again to
the Hall."

I saw Miss Carter pale slightly.

"Are many of your people so brutal and blood-thirsty?" she asked.

"Sam is neither one nor the other, but as good a boy as ever followed a
gentleman"--

"For revenge, do you mean? If that is so, I think the sooner I tell
Berk--Mr. Harrison, the better."

"Oh, Lord, no," I cried, "I mean as a servant. Even Major Bullbeggor
allows him the privilege of serving him, and you know how particular he
is. But why so anxious about Berk Harrison's welfare?"

"I am his cousin," answered Miss Carter, stiffly.

The tone of her voice was enough. But Heavens! A man must take his
strokes, mental or physical, without too much wincing. As for me, I
like the man who can meet them with a smile on his lips and talk in a
steady, natural voice while his heart stops beating and the iron grip of
sorrow holds his throat like a vice. The tone of Rose Carter's voice,
that day, told me something in regard to cousinly feeling. But no
matter. Our greatest sorrows are not nearly so heavy some years
afterwards and--

As I said, I felt a sensation, similar I now believe, to that which a
few others have felt before. But a man in love is never a
philosopher--and he is generally hasty and selfish.

"I congratulate you, my dear Rose, on your relationship," I said
coldly, and the blood rushed through her face and left it whiter than
before.

"Do you know, my dear Dick, you sometimes bore me most stupidly?" she
answered. And this commonplace incident ended.

Commonplace it was indeed, but what it meant to certain affairs which
happened afterward, you may judge, if you care to listen. It is the
little commonplace affairs that influence the lives of most people, as
anyone may remember who cares to look at the past.



CHAPTER IV


Dunmore failed to appear the next day, and Harrison came over to the
Hall and had the pleasure of the company of both Mary and his cousin to
beguile him.

Will and I, accompanied by Barron, whom we persuaded to join us as a
sort of spirit raiser, took our fowling pieces, a pair of good dogs and
Sam, and sought distraction in the covers below the bend. It is
astonishing how sympathetic young men of good antecedents will become
under certain circumstances. I always liked my cousin Will, and it
seemed to me now that my sister was cruel, and he a much abused friend,
since Miss Carter and I had had a sort of understanding between us. But
no matter, Will and I had always been drawn together, and our silent
companionship was very soothing and restful in spite of Barron's
incessant story telling and irrational humor.

The old soldier had followed around all day without so much as firing
his piece, which he insisted on having Sam carry with the flints at full
cock--much to my boy's disgust. I had always taught Sam to be careful
with weapons, but Barron insisted on readiness above all things, and
would not allow the flints down. We had bagged several brace of fine
birds while he was engaged in other matters, and after seeing that Will
and I were having all the sport he wished to have his weapon ready but
still refused to carry it. Twice there had been premature explosions,
the last of which tore off the rim of the old soldier's hat, but, after
each discharge, he made Sam reload and proceeded on his way, tranquilly
spinning story after story in high good humor, and avoiding anything
that might ruffle the feelings of young men in--well, say in an uneasy,
or perhaps diseased state of mind.

We tramped along all day, and late in the afternoon we were to the
eastward of the bend and making our way slowly through the heavy timber
towards the river in the lower reach. Will was slightly in advance of
the rest of us, and as he broke through the thick fringe of cover near
the river bank, he gave a sudden cry of astonishment and stopped. Sam
promptly caught the lock of Barron's gun in some undergrowth and
instantly exploded it, much to our annoyance, as it peppered my favorite
setter severely and sent him howling down the river shore with a dozen
or more small shot sunk deep in his hide.

In a moment we cleared the pines, and the first thing that met our gaze
was the _Fowey_, frigate, close to the beach and standing up the river
with all her working canvas set and her guns run out ready for action.
Behind her came several smaller craft, apparently crowded with men and
guns. One glance at the ship told plainly who she was, and upon her high
poop strode a man fore and aft whom we had no difficulty in recognizing
as Lord Dunmore, His Majesty's Governor of Virginia.

We were less than half a mile distant, but the shadow of the pines made
it much more difficult for those on board to see us, half concealed as
we were in the long grass and low bushes, than for us to see them. The
poor dog, however, howled dismally, and the report of the gun was
evidently mistaken for the discharge of a hostile rifle, for in a moment
a great cloud of white smoke burst from the frigate's broadside, and the
same instant the air seemed alive with grape-shot, while the jarring
report of a twenty pounder echoed along the shore. The balls tore with
a loud, ripping, rush through the pine tops and crashed through the
undergrowth. One of them striking the butt of Will's gun smashed it to
bits and knocked him endways into the woods.

To say we were a little surprised at this reception would hardly
describe our feelings. I made a spring for cover and hugged a large tree
trunk as though a storm were breaking over me, and as I did so I heard
Sam give a yell and disappear as if the earth had swallowed him up.

It was over in less time than it takes to tell of it, and I stepped out
to see Barron laughing heartily as he dragged Will to his feet.

"They do make a most valuable noise," he laughed, "but there's little
harm in them. The devil! You were lucky in not getting that into
you--mere chance though." And he picked up Will's shattered gun.

"If that's the reception Dunmore is going to give us, I think we might
as well keep on to Williamsburg and join Mr. Henry's men," said Will,
looking somewhat disturbed in mind. "I never had a high opinion of his
lordship's manners, but this is going it a little too far. I wish I had
my rifle, I would see if he would do a little jumping at the crack of
it. Here, Sam! Give me the Captain's gun and I will load with ball and
have a try at him."

"Is it over, Marse Dick?" asked Sam's voice coolly from somewhere in
the thick bushes.

"Come out, you black rascal!" cried Barron, and presently Sam emerged
from cover rapidly reloading Barron's weapon, at the same time keeping
an eye on the vessels as if expecting an attack.

"Don't do anything foolish, Will," I said, as I saw his temper rising,
"It is a serious matter to fire on His Majesty's Governor. Besides, here
comes a boat from the first schooner to inquire into our affairs."

While I spoke, the vessel close in the frigate's wake luffed sharply,
and as her headway slackened, a gig full of soldiers, pulled by four
stout niggers, shot away from her side and came rapidly towards us.

Then the vessel tacked ship and stood slowly in after the boat, her
head sheets slacked off to stop her headway and the black muzzle of a
long twelve pounder sticking half a fathom clear of her forecastle rail.

We stood in a group on the sand and awaited developments, supposing, of
course, that as soon as we were recognized the vessel would proceed on
her course in the wake of the frigate.

Dunmore we all knew quite well, for he had been several times to the
Hall and had often visited Will Byrd's cousin at the magnificent estate
at Westover.

As the boat load of soldiers neared the shore the schooner luffed again
within easy hailing distance, and a man standing by the forecastle gun
hailed us.

"Throw down your arms, you dogs, or I'll blow you off the ground!" he
roared.

"The devil!" exclaimed Barron, "I wonder if he means that for us? But
our dogs are not armed."

"Bang!" went the long twelve pounder in a cloud of smoke, without
another moment's warning, and a shot whistled over the small boat and
struck the beach a few feet in front and to the right of us. A storm of
sand and gravel drove into our midst, staggering and blinding me so that
I fell against Will, who in turn fell to the ground, swearing furiously.

A small particle had struck him with great violence in the eye, and in
his fury at this brutal onslaught he sprang to his feet, grabbed my gun
from my hands, before I had recovered sufficiently to stop him, and
fired a load of small shot slap into the boat full of men just as its
keel touched the sand. A perfect roar of curses followed, as the
soldiers received the scattering charge. Then Barron seized Will, and
just as several men leaped ashore with their guns raised to shoot, all
three of us were struggling on the ground. Sam, left alone to face the
loaded muskets, dropped Barron's gun and instantly disappeared with a
couple of musket balls snipping through the brushwood after him. The
next instant we were surrounded by men and dragged to our feet, while a
short, but big-limbed Irish sergeant stood near and gave orders to his
crew not to bayonet us.

"Who are you, and where's the rest of you?" snapped a grizzled,
lean-faced officer, running up with his sword drawn and looking full at
Barron.

"I am Jameson Barron, Esq., sir," said the Captain, smiling pleasantly,
"and as for the rest of me, I believe it is in Richmond. Dr. McGuire cut
it off the day after Braddock was killed and put it into a small flask
of alcohol." And he held up his left hand from which the last finger was
missing.

"None of your jokes, sir," snapped the officer. "Where's the rest of
your party?"

Barron looked about him.

"Sam!" he called loudly. "Sam!"

"I guess he's taken the track," he continued, quietly, "but must still
be within a mile of us. However, before we go too deeply into the case,
sir, you will oblige us greatly by stating your authority for firing
upon gentlemen who are in no way hostile to His Majesty."

"Yes," I said, "I am Richard Judkins, of Judkins' Hall, sir, and am well
known to Lord Dunmore. By what right do you fire upon us while we are
simply out shooting for sport." Here I looked around for our bag and
ammunition flasks to prove the statement, if necessary; but Sam, who had
been carrying almost everything, had run into the bushes before dropping
his burdens, and they were out of sight.

The ammunition left us was not of a character to corroborate my
statement to any degree of exactness. It consisted now of several musket
balls that Will had put in his pocket for use in case we had met larger
game.

"Sport, eh!" snarled the officer, rubbing his shoulder where a shot had
penetrated the skin. "You'll see sport enough before we get through with
you. You may start on them, sergeant."

He turned away abruptly on saying this, and, with half a dozen men
deployed as skirmishers, proceeded to examine the edges of the forest
for traces of a hidden foe.

"So 'tis sport ye're afther, hey?" said the sergeant. "Give yourself no
oneasiness, ye'll see it fast enough. Rooney, me sowl, lay yer hand
tinderly on yer trigger, while I investigate the handsome old un, an' if
he so much as winks his ears, blow his tripes out, d'ye see?"

Barron made no further comment, except to inquire of private Rooney what
particular part of his anatomy held the "tripes" alluded to by the
sergeant.

"Hold yer tongue, ye handsome old man," said that officer. "My sowl, but
ye have a dacent figure av a soldier, despite the years av yer cocoanut.
Fancy him, boys, squinting wan av thim oies av his at a leddy," and he
ended with a hoarse chuckle, while he carefully went through Barron's
pockets.

We were each examined in turn, but nothing of a hostile nature was
discovered, except Will's half dozen bullets. These, with our tobacco
and snuff boxes, were carefully tied up in a handkerchief and carried by
the sergeant to the boat. Our guns were also appropriated.

The officer in charge returned presently from his search along the
shore, and having found nothing in the shape of a foe, he ordered all
hands into the boat.

I protested with some energy against this high handed proceeding, but
was instantly seized by several soldiers while another stuck his bayonet
point half an inch into my back. Will was treated in the same manner,
and Barron, knowing resistance to be useless, set us the example by
walking quickly to the boat and climbing aboard. In a few minutes we
were on our way to the schooner.

As we drew near, I noticed the vessel's peculiar rig. She appeared light
in the water, with long overhang fore and aft, and her masts raked
backwards to the last degree. Her spars were long and tapering, and new,
while her bulwarks appeared to have been built up to the height of a
frigate's, showing that she was evidently some fast vessel altered and
fitted up for the work Dunmore had planned on the river. Four ports cut
in her broadsides held the black muzzles of her battery of light
twelves, while on the forecastle was the pivot gun of heavier metal,
which had been discharged at us a few minutes before. Men swarmed on
her main deck and about her battery, while small knots stood with the
sheets in hand ready for further orders.

The man who had hailed us from the forecastle, and had fired without
further warning, now stood at the starboard gangway, where a hanging
companionway trailed in the water. He wore a shabby uniform, such as I
had seen some of Dunmore's officers wear when doing their so-called
patrol duty on the river. He was short and stout, with a red face, his
shifty, fishy eyes looking like two little gray dots on either side of a
nose that much resembled a boil.

As we drew alongside he bawled out orders, the men hauled flat the head
sheets, and instantly the schooner began to forge ahead. Some one threw
a line and a man in the boat caught it, making her fast at the
companionway, up which the officer in charge of us scrambled to the main
deck. We were quickly sent aboard, followed by the boat's crew, and were
lined up in the gangway between a file of soldiers, while the small boat
was dropped astern to tow in the vessel's wake.



CHAPTER V


We were slightly bewildered at the rapidity and novelty of the events
which were happening, and for some moments I stood and gazed at the
hurrying men, who appeared to obey a man with a shrill whistle whose
notes rose and fell with long undulations. No misunderstanding seemed
possible, for each note appeared to mean an order, which sounded high
above the rattle of the vessel's gear. I was something of a yachtsman,
and took great interest until aware of the presence of the stout man
with the red nose. He was in command of the schooner, and he now stood
before us, gazing at us as if we were wild animals of an unknown kind.
Two or three younger men in the group that gathered about us appeared to
be officers, but I had never met any of them before, so they joined
their captain in his curious gaze. Finally the Captain spoke.

"Mr. Rose," he said, in a thick, raucous voice, "are these the men who
fired on us?"

"Yes, sir," replied our thin faced captor, holding the handkerchief
containing our valuables in one hand, while he saluted with the other.

"Then what d'ye mean by bringing them aboard this vessel, sir?" he
roared. "Haven't I told you, sir, to shoot every rebel caught with arms
on him? Hey! Answer me that, sir! Answer, or I'll break you sir!"

"They claim to be gentlemen, Captain Cahill," said our captor, meekly.

"Blast you! Do you mean to disobey me, sir? Answer my question, sir, or
by breechins and blackskin I'll break you sir!" roared the captain.

"Yes, sir; yes, sir, you did," answered the lieutenant, quickly. "You
gave me orders to shoot every rebel caught in arms, who refused to
surrender. But these men claim to be gentlemen and not rebels. This
one," and he pointed to me, "claims to be a friend of Lord Dunmore's."

"Claims!" roared the Captain, getting almost purple in the face, and it
really appeared as if he were going off in a fit. "Claims!" And then he
simply drew in breath for a moment to gather power to express himself.
Here was an opportunity, I thought, so I broke in--

"Yes, sir," I said, "I am well known to Lord Dunmore, and also to nearly
every gentleman on the river. I am Richard Judkins, of Judkins' Hall,
and I"--

"Shut up!" he roared. "Don't you speak to me sir. If you do I'll cut you
down where you stand." And he drew his sword. "You may be Richard
Perkins, of Perkins' Hell, or any other hell, but if Lord Dunmore knows
you he knows an unhung scoundrel. Don't glare at me, sir; don't glare at
me that way, or I'll cut you down where you stand," and he advanced a
step towards me.

"I am a Virginia gentleman, sir, and I demand to be treated as such," I
said.

"You are a liar and a villain," he roared, "and I will treat you as
such," and with that he made a pass at my head that would certainly have
finished me, had I not jumped suddenly backwards into the arms of a
soldier behind me. At the same instant Will Byrd sprang forward to ward
off the blow.

He caught the skipper's sword arm with his right hand and instantly
dealt him a powerful blow just under the ear with his left. It sent the
man to the deck as limp as a rag, with his sword clattering after him.
The next instant Will was seized and thrown down and a line quickly
passed around him, lashing his arms to his sides. Then Barron and I were
served likewise.

The Captain lay on the deck as if dead, so in a few moments he was
picked up and carried below to be nursed back to consciousness. In the
mean time the schooner had been standing up the river under all sail,
with the breeze abeam, and was rapidly nearing the frigate that was
sailing under easy canvas to allow her to catch up and report the news
of the affair on the shore.

"Carry the prisoners below in the fore-hold," ordered Mr. Rose, who was
now in command, and we were quickly carried down through the forehatch
into a dark, ill-smelling hole filled with bunks and all sorts of ship
junk, and there we were left with a couple of men to guard us.

I stretched myself comfortably on a coil of rope and awaited
developments, thinking, of course, that the instant Dunmore heard our
names we would be released.

"It's no use, we are in for it," said Barron, smiling, "I only hope we
will catch up with the frigate before Captain Cahill recovers from that
tap. Very neatly done, Will, most remarkable--if it had been a trifle
further forward though it would have made a pretty mess of
things--Hello! What's that?"

We were on the weather side of the schooner, and she was heeling over
and going through the water at a great rate. The rush of the waves was
quite loud and continuous against the vessel's side, but above the noise
I could hear a hail from somewhere in the distance to windward. Then
came an answer from the schooner's deck--

"Three men!" bawled Mr. Rose from somewhere above us. Then came another
hail.

"Don't know," bawled the Lieutenant in reply. "One named Perkins, of
Perkins' hole."

Then came another pause followed by another hail.

"Two young--one old, with a face like the breech of a brass
carronnade--all alive and well--no one hurt."

A pause.

"Didn't suppose you knew them"--

Another pause.

"Will not hurt them, sir"--

Then came a pause, followed by a hail I could just distinguish as the
vessels neared each other.

"Keep them until his lordship has time to look into the matter," said
the voice faintly in the distance.

"Aye, aye, sir," bawled Mr. Rose.

"Hold on," I cried desperately, "tell him who we are and let us go
ashore. This outrage has gone far enough"--

"Kape quiet, ye gentleman, or I'll be for jabbing yez with me baynit,"
growled private Rooney, and he held the point against my ribs.

"It's no use," said Barron, smiling pleasantly, "we are in for some
sport. It's a wonder, though, that his lordship didn't recognize me from
that lieutenant's description"--

"Ef yez opin that ugly mug agin, afore the lootinant comes below, I'll
cut off yer elephant years and jam them into it," said the soldier,
Rooney. And then we kept quiet while the schooner drove steadily along
up the river. Sometimes she tacked around the bends and sometimes she
flew along with the wind fair, but before dark we knew by the sound of
the rushing water, that could be distinctly heard through her sides,
she had traveled many miles, and we were a long way from Judkins' Hall.

Just before coming to an anchor for the night the forecastle pivot-gun
was fired at some hostile object, and there appeared to be some
excitement on deck, but this soon subsided. Then the anchor chain roared
through the hawse pipe and the sound of rushing water ceased. Men began
to swarm below, and it was evident that the schooner had made her run
for the day, and that unless Lord Dunmore interested himself quickly in
our behalf we would spend the night uncomfortably.

It was late in the evening when the sergeant who had captured us came
below. He made his way to where we lay through the crowd of sailors and
soldiers who were sitting about talking and eating their evening meal,
and looking at us.

"Th' Captin wishes to say a few whurds t' th' gentilman what stretched
him out this day on th' main deck," he observed to the men guarding us.
"'Twas a good stroke, sure, but the Captin av th' _Hound_ keel-hauled
two men, just lately, for trying to excite dishorder on th' beach, so it
must be a hanging th' owld man is afther to-night. Bring thim right
along wid ye, me sons."

Then he made his way on deck and we followed after him with a soldier at
each elbow.

We went quickly aft, and just as I turned to go down the cabin
companionway I looked astern and saw the dark loom of the frigate's hull
through the darkness. Then we filed below into the Captain's cabin. At
the head of the cabin table sat Captain Cahill, and in front of him
stood a flask of spirits. On either side, within easy reach, lay a
pistol with the flint cocked back over the priming, and behind the
Captain's chair stood Mr. Rose and two other officers. The Captain
looked little the worse for the blow Will had given him, but his eyes
shone fierce and green as a tiger's, as they met my cousin's look.

"Captain Cahill," said I, "for I believe that's your name, you will do
yourself a favor if you set us ashore instantly. This outrage, sir, has
gone far enough."

He turned his fierce little shifty eyes to me, but took no other notice
of my words. He sat there, silent and grim, and slowly filled his glass
from the bottle in front of him. Then he drank off the contents. As he
drained the last drops with his head held backward, his eyes met mine
squarely and his fury burned within him. He bit savagely through the
glass tumbler and ground the splintered fragments between his teeth, and
then spat them from his bleeding lips. Then he hurled the remainder of
the tumbler to the deck with a crash, and sat there silently glaring
like some fiend from hell. Finally he spoke.

"It is now nearly nine o'clock," he said slowly. "When three bells
strike I shall drop all three of you overboard, and you shall have
three twelve pound shot--one apiece--along with you. Lord Dunmore
requests that you shall not be hurt. You will see, Mr. Rose," he went
on, turning to his lieutenant, "that no violence is done these
gentlemen. Do you understand, sir? Simply lower them carefully over the
side with a shot fast to the right foot of each, and see that their
hands are tied to prevent them from hurting any one. You may take them
forward, sergeant."

We were on our way forward again and just on the point of entering the
forehatch, when the sound of oars, working in oarlocks with a
man-of-war's sweep, fell on our ears. The sergeant stopped and looked
over the vessel's side.

"It's the Guvnor's boat," said one of the soldiers. "'E's comin' to pay
his respects to the skipper, an 'e'll find 'im in a fine state for
argyment."

"'Pon me sowl, it is," said the sergeant.

"Pete, you an' Rooney, here, take the folks below while I see to his
ludship."

Before we reached the hatchway the boat was alongside and an officer
climbed quickly on deck, where he was met by the sergeant.

"The Governor sends his compliments to Captain Cahill, and wishes him to
send the prisoners he took to-day to the frigate for examination," said
the officer, and as he spoke I recognized him as Captain Foy's
under-lieutenant whom I had met several times before at Harrison's
house.

I called to him before anyone could stop me, and the next instant we
were shaking hands before the astonished soldiers.

"You have come in good time, Mr. Jones," I said, "and for Heaven's sake
get us clear of this vessel and its lunatic skipper."

He laughed heartily as the sergeant came up and saluted. "This way, if
ye plase," said that soldier, and he led him aft.

A few minutes later the sergeant came forward, accompanied by Mr. Jones
of the _Fowey_, frigate, and we were ushered over the side just as the
lookout, forward, struck off three bells.

"'Twas a narrer escape, me son," whispered the sergeant to Will as he
went over the side. The next minute we were on our way to the frigate.



CHAPTER VI


"It's all very well for your lordship to laugh," said Will, an hour
later, after we had been served with an excellent meal, washed down by
delicious wine, at the Governor's cabin table, "but had you been busy
with other matters to-night, we would have been comfortably buoyed in
the mud at the bottom of the river."

"He is an uncommon rascal, that Cahill," laughed Dunmore, "but, my dear
Byrd, you should not take arms against His Majesty's Governor, even in
fun. Ha! ha! It would have been droll, 'pon my word, ha! ha! May the
Lord roast me if it would not have been a joke to have seen you three
gentlemen buoyed in this most muddy stream. It is a revelation, Byrd, a
revelation, sir, from Providence. A sign of the times and an omen for
you to take advantage of without delay. It is an insight into the future
and should hurry you to take up arms in His Majesty's just cause. Think
of it, if it had not been for his Majesty, the King--as represented by
myself--you would have been at the bottom of the river to-night to
remain there, perhaps, through all eternity; for I take it that the
angel Gabriel would have to blow a mighty blast to lift you out of this
most sticky Virginia soil."

"But if it hadn't been for His Majesty, the King, as represented by
that truculent skipper on the schooner over there, we might now be
dining in the charming company of Miss Judkins and Miss Carter, to say
nothing of the mistress of Judkins Hall," said Barron, smiling at
Dunmore with a beaming face.

"And have lost the honor of dining with his excellency, the Governor," I
put in hurriedly, for I thought I perceived an uncomfortable look gather
on his lordship's countenance. The two officers present, Captains Foy
and Graham, also began to look a trifle annoyed.

"But where are we, anyhow, Lord Dunmore?" asked Will. "Your excellency
has rescued us, true enough, and made the matter all the better by
adding this splendid dinner, but whereabouts on the river are we?"

"As near as I can judge, we are about twenty miles above Westover. Hey!
Captain Foy? Isn't that about the reckoning?" replied Dunmore. "And if
we have good luck and little fighting, we shall be through our business
in this part of the river and on our way down stream before this time
to-morrow evening. There is very little to do after all. Graham, here,
and Fordyce of the _Hound_ had some little difficulty yesterday with a
small party of rebels, but they were all shot or dispersed except the
leaders, who were keel-hauled by Captain Fordyce. He and Cahill are very
able men in their line of work and their vessels are well adapted for
these inland waters. But it is a very malodorous business and the sooner
we get clear of these unhealthy swamp vapors, and get a sniff of salt
air, the better. I hope, Foy, you will see that plenty of sulphur is
burned aboard to-night."

"Can we be landed to-night?" I asked.

"Yes," said Will, "can we get ashore? They will expect us at the Hall
and will be much troubled if we don't get back before bedtime."

"I don't see how it can be done, do you Foy?" said Dunmore. "We had an
exchange of shots with the shore, as you may have noticed from the
schooner, just before coming to anchor, and I would hardly think it
wise to send a boat in there at this time of night. You wouldn't care to
land there this evening, would you, Graham?"

"No, your excellency, it would hardly be safe," replied that officer.

"Besides," continued Dunmore, "Fordyce stopped at Harrison's to take him
and his party aboard the _Hound_, and from Fordyce's description of your
affair on the beach with Cahill's men, they will probably be satisfied
that you are in safe keeping for the night. Harrison was in a hurry to
get to Norfolk, as he expected to sail for England soon,--so his note
said--and I gave Fordyce orders to end his patrol there and start back
immediately. He will go down on the morning tide and meet us below in a
day or two. Cahill, and some of those small craft astern of us can
finish up the work here and above us."

"Then we shall have to spend the night aboard?" I inquired.

"I am sorry to force my hospitality upon you, gentlemen," said Dunmore,
"but I see no other way out of it. Anyhow, I take it for granted you
would have joined us to-morrow, in the interest of the King, so the
hardships will not be so very great. However, if you would rather go
back aboard the _Black Eagle_ and spend the evening with Captain Cahill,
you may do so. Shall I call away the boat?" And as he said this his eyes
twinkled with some little amusement.

"Give yourself no more trouble on my account, your excellency," said
Barron, "I am, as you know, an old soldier and have no relatives to
speak of. I find myself just as much at home in a strange bed, be it
ever so comfortable, as in any other."

"Not a bad idea, Captain," answered Dunmore, "not a bad idea, sir; but
before we think of turning in, Captain Foy and Graham here would not be
adverse to opening a bottle or two more with you. Steward! You may clear
the table and bring some of that stuff captured yesterday. It may strike
you as strange, gentlemen," he continued, "but that beggar who lives
near Jamestown keeps most remarkable liquor. May the Lord pickle me, if
it isn't equal to any I have ever tasted at home."

"And a most remarkable man he was, too," put in Captain Foy.

"He did show more or less nerve of a peculiar order," said Graham.

"How was that?" asked Will.

"Well, you see," said Captain Graham, "we went ashore on the island to
reconnoitre, as we had heard of the large gathering at Williamsburg. The
first thing that greeted us on landing was a couple of rifle shots.
These appeared to come from the bushes near Jacquelin's house, and one
of them struck poor Billings in the pit of the stomach and passed
through him, poor fellow. We finally made a landing a little farther up
stream, where there was more cover, and the first thing we encountered
on getting ashore was a motely crowd of farmers, armed and ready to
fight us. There was one fellow, I believe they called him 'Bullet,' who
is a fierce rebel, and another mounted on a powerful bay mare, who rode
with his left arm in a sling and had a strangely attired negro servant
to carry a couple of rifles for him. These were the only dangerous men
in the crowd, for the rest had no organization and appeared to obey no
commander, so they quickly broke and fled at the first fire. Four of
them remained, however, and these two I have just described were the
ones who cut their way through our men with their swords and escaped.
The other two were captured, for they refused either to run or cease
fighting. One was Jacquelin, who owns the house, and the other a man
named Horn. Fordyce was coming up just then and I turned them over to
him. He tried to get some information about Mr. Henry's mob out of both
of them. Jacquelin had his fingers punched with a belt punch without so
much as saying a word, and the fellow, Horn, was seated on a hot stove
until the breeches and skin were burnt off his buttocks, but all he did
during that time was to curse His Majesty most heartily. Fordyce started
to keel-haul him, and had the line made fast to his hands passed under
the schooner's bottom, but somehow the line fouled just as he was drawn
under the bilge, and by the time they cleared it and pulled him aboard
again he was as dead as a mackerel. After Jacquelin had his turn, he
offered to lead us to Williamsburg, or anywhere else we wished to go,
and the beggar told a yarn about some good wine in his cellar the men
had failed to find. We stopped at his house again, and four of us went
with him to find the stuff. He did have a door we had overlooked and he
showed it to us. The cellar was full of this stuff you see before you,
and while we stood at the entrance admiring the flasks the rascal shoved
all four suddenly inside the door and banged it to and locked it. Then
he started across the island like a scared rabbit. That's the last
anyone saw of him, for, as usual in such cases, by the time the men
heard us and saw what had happened, he was too far off to hit and there
wasn't a man there who shot within a fathom of him."

"That must have been a very interesting affair," said Will, somewhat
coldly, "but if you are through I would like to go to bed. I am a little
fatigued from the day's excitement. No thanks! I do not care for any
more wine. I hope your excellency will excuse me." And he rose from his
chair.

Lord Dunmore looked sharply at Byrd, and appeared a trifle annoyed, but
he said nothing.

It was easy to see that Will's sentiments were not exactly in accord
with our hosts, and that a strained relationship would exist between
them if something were not done quickly. It was evident that Lord
Dunmore expected us to accompany him as loyal subjects on the morrow,
and I knew it would need some keen acting on our part to enable us to
avoid giving up our residence at the Hall and becoming refugees for an
indefinite period. My heart was anything but light when I thought of
Harrison,--with the ruffian Fordyce to back him,--having things his own
way down the river. But as I only thought of Berk as a misguided
gentleman, a little over-zealous in his duty to the King, the only
trouble I anticipated was some obstacle I felt he would place in our way
when he found we wished to remain at home. At all events, I knew I must
not antagonize Dunmore, or he would fail to put us ashore the next day
as we hoped he would. Therefore I reached for poor Jacquelin's wine and
drank his excellency's health, and Barron needed no urging to follow my
example.

Will remained standing until I explained that he was suffering from the
shock of the discharge from Cahill's pivot-gun, whereupon the Governor
was much amused and laughed immoderately as I described how the ball
covered us with sand and gravel. Then we finished the bottle, and after
bidding his excellency good night, the steward ushered us into the
officers' cabin where a state-room had been made ready for us.

As soon as we were left alone, Will burst forth into a perfect torrent
of abuse against Dunmore and his underlings. Barron and I tried to stop
him lest some one should hear the noise, but it was only after he had
called them every villainous name he could think of that he at last
consented to keep quiet. As for myself, I have said before that the
Judkins family were not of a nervous or excitable disposition, and are
not carried away by wild and insane thoughts of mistaken patriotism, but
I had decided that evening that the King would soon have another enemy
of my acquaintance. By the present state of the feelings of both Barron
and Byrd, I thought it highly probable that there would be several more.

Will finally turned in and I did likewise, for we were very tired.
Barron sat a long time apparently lost in thought, holding his
half-removed boot in his hands. Then he spoke.

"Poor Horn," he muttered, "I owed him for two gallons of gin." And then
he undressed and turned in without another word.



CHAPTER VII


The next morning the frigate was under way before we were up, but as the
water appeared shoal at the end of the reach, she was anchored to await
high tide, for the river is very narrow here and dangerous for a large
vessel to turn about in. When we arose and came on deck a little later,
we had the pleasure of seeing our friends, or rather enemies, of
yesterday, pass close under the frigate's stern; and as they did so
Barron leaned over the rail and saluted Captain Cahill very pleasantly
and wished him a safe and happy voyage.

We stood on the _Fowey's_ high poop and watched the swift little
schooner pass up the river and disappear around the bend above us. Soon
afterwards we heard the rattle of musket firing, followed by the heavy,
deep boom of her pivot-gun. After the reverberating echoes died away
along the wooded shores, all was silent. The sun broke through the river
mist and shone warmly on the muddy water, and the day promised to be
bright and quiet. The two small craft that followed the schooner now
took in their sails and put out their oars, and their niggers pulled to
a lusty chorus.

Dunmore was up early. He was evidently annoyed at having to spend so
much time on the river, for he came on deck in quite bad humor. He
greeted us rather stiffly, and then turned to Captain Graham who had
also just made his appearance.

"What is that firing about?" demanded the Governor in no uncertain tone.

"I don't know, your excellency," replied Graham.

"Captain Graham," said the Governor, "you will please tell me just what
you know, sir, quickly. It won't take a minute, sir, or else write it
down on a slip of paper. Send Mr. Johnson to me, sir!"

The Captain went forward on the poop, and a moment afterward a young
officer appeared coming aft. He saluted the Governor and stood
attention.

"Mr. Johnson, it is your watch on deck, sir. What was that going about
on board the _Black Eagle_?" inquired Dunmore.

"I d-d-do not k-k-know,--your"--

"Call the Corporal of the guard, sir. Don't stand there and stammer at
me, sir," cried the Governor, interrupting him and waxing furious.

The poor lieutenant retreated to the break of the poop, closely followed
by his master, but he was too excited to speak plainly.

"Corp'ral g-g-g'ard! Corp'ral g-g-g'ard!" he cried weakly, but there was
no response from the main deck.

"What are you doing, sir!" thundered Dunmore as he came up behind him.

"Trying t-t-to c-c-call the Corporal of the g-g-g'ard, your"--

"For God's sake, Mr. Johnson call somebody. Call somebody, sir, quick,"
cried his lordship, walking to and fro across the deck and wringing his
hands. Then, as he came to where the Lieutenant stood, he could stand it
no longer and waxed into a frenzy.

"Do something! Call somebody! Do something for God's sake! Do something
Mr. Johnson, or get off this ship," he cried. And the young officer,
showing him self to be a man more fitted for action than words, dashed
down the companion ladder and dragged the corporal he wished for up
again by the collar of his coat.

Then, after much swearing and questioning, the Governor heard that
Captain Cahill had fired upon a small hut, just visible beyond the bend
of the river. I tell these events that happened on board the _Fowey_,
frigate, to give an idea of the Governor's temper, and also because
every incident of that time stands out clearly before me. Mr. Jones, the
young officer who took us off the _Black Eagle_ was very pleasant to us,
and warned us against the tempers of Captain Foy and the Governor, after
which he kept out of our way, and we saw him no more to speak to while
we were aboard the ship. He was a promising young man and I hoped to
have him help us get ashore, but he evidently thought it best not to be
intimate with neutrals.

After breakfast his lordship was in better spirits, and these were more
improved later in the morning upon the arrival of a small boat which
carried Mr. Robinson, a noted tory, and several of his family to the
frigate. Mrs. Robinson was a woman of fine presence, and her daughter
might have been said to have been beautiful, judging from the standard
of those days, but she was no longer young and her lack of success in
the matrimonial field appeared to have soured her temper. These people
were made comfortable in the officer's cabin and were very outspoken in
their opinions regarding Mr. Patrick Henry.

When the tide turned in the afternoon and began to run a strong ebb, the
frigate was gotten under way, and, with her working canvas set, headed
down stream. The wind was so light that, in spite of the most careful
steering, she was run on a mud bank before going much over a mile.
Captain Foy, however, was equal to the occasion. He soon had a kedge out
and before the falling tide left her fast he warped the ship back again
into the channel. Bad luck did not desert us here, for the frigate had
hardly gathered way again before she piled heavily upon a sand bar and
all attempts to pull her off proved useless. It was then decided to
await the next high water.

The day passed stupidly enough in spite of the presence of Miss Robinson
on board. We were all anxious to get down river and Lord Dunmore was now
in such a bad humor that he refused flatly, and with some energy, our
request to have a small boat put us ashore, so we could walk the twenty
miles or more across country to Judkins' Hall.

But we were not the only ones to suffer from his lordship's temper. Mr.
Johnson, the young navigating lieutenant, came in for his share also.

He was standing on the edge, or break, of the poop, after the frigate
had run hard and fast aground, and was much upset in his mind, although
the accident was unavoidable.

A little imp of a powder-monkey boy thought to take advantage of a
moment when his back was turned, to imitate his defect in speech and
make faces at him for the benefit of the ship's company. The officer,
however, turned and caught him in the act.

"Damn you, sir! Come to the m-m-mast!" he bawled, and Lord Dunmore,
hearing the noise, came forward to see what was the matter, and take a
hand in the disturbance if occasion demanded it.

"What has he done?" asked the Governor, as the boy came aft crying with
fear.

"Nothin'," snuffled the little rascal, speaking before anyone could stop
him. "'E just sez, 'Dam you, sir, come to the mast,' an' I comes."

"Did you swear at this boy for nothing?" demanded the Governor.

"No, your excellency," said Mr. Johnson. "I said d-d-damn y-y-you, sir,
c-c-come here, because he"--

"That will do!" thundered the Governor. "Go to your quarters in arrest,
sir. I won't have you swearing at my men for nothing. Go, sir!" And
after this affair we gave his excellency a wide berth for the rest of
the day.

The next morning the tide floated us clear, and we got under way just as
the _Black Eagle_ came around the bend above us. She soon caught up with
the frigate and we learned that she had a dozen or more prominent tories
aboard who wished to take refuge with the royal Governor.

We stopped twice on the way down the river, once to take aboard a tory
named Thornton, who lived on a large plantation on the south side, and
once we stayed an hour or more on a mud flat.

It was nearly sundown before the white pillars of Judkins Hall showed
through the fringe of willows on the river bank. The red light of the
setting sun flooded the south portico and a pane of glass in a window,
catching a ray at an angle, burned like a bright eye for an instant as
we drifted past.

Dunmore reluctantly consented to send us ashore in a boat with Mr.
Johnson and a guard of soldiers to see if anyone remained at the Hall,
and if so, to help carry what luggage there was to be sent aboard the
frigate. My slaves could follow us in the small craft. As the boat drew
near the beach, where only a few days before Bullbeggor had won his
strange victory over Harrison, we looked for some signs of welcome from
our people. Not a leaf stirred in the calm of the bend, and not a sound
from the shore broke the ominous stillness of that warm, clear evening.
None of us spoke and even Barron's face appeared grave with some thought
of impending evil. The sun shone on the sweating faces of the rowers,
and the regular clank of their oars in the row-locks beat time to my
heart throbs as I waited to learn what was wrong.

When the boat's keel struck the sand, we sprang quickly ashore and
proceeded rapidly by the river path toward the Hall. On entering the
fringe of bushes and undergrowth on the river bank I thought I heard a
strange noise close by me to the right. We stopped a moment and
listened, but the four men and Mr. Johnson, who were following close
behind us, came up, and we started on again toward the Hall.

All of a sudden I heard a faint cry.

"Marse Dick!" it said feebly, and the voice came from the direction I
had first heard the noise. Barron, Byrd and myself heard the cry
simultaneously, and we instantly started toward the spot from whence it
came. The next minute we broke through a thicket of blackberry bushes,
and found a small cleared spot in the midst of the grass and briars.

There, lying upon his back, with his left hand held over a nasty cut in
his abdomen, was my boy, Sam. The poor fellow saw me and I caught his
glad look of recognition, but his glance wandered back of me to Mr.
Johnson and his men, and his look turned to one of savage fury. He
started to rise, but I quickly held him in my arms while the rest
crowded around us.

"What's happened?" I gasped. "Where is mother and Mary--and Miss
Carter?"

"Miss Mary, she gone wid Marse Berk--all alone--old missus and Miss Rose
gone away, too," said the poor fellow, with great difficulty.

I looked at Will and saw him turn ashy pale and his jaws set until the
bands of muscle in his lean face seemed about to break with the strain.

"What rascal do you suppose did this?" asked Mr. Johnson, coming up
closer and noticing the look on Will's face. But no one answered.

"Who gave you that cut, Sam?" I asked, bending over him and gently
removing his hand from the gash. "Get some water, quick!" I continued to
the men, but Barron had already started for the boat, where he found a
bailer, and returned in a moment with it full of water. In a few moments
Sam felt better, and I immediately set to work to dress his wound. "Who
cut you?" I asked again, for I saw he hesitated about telling me. I soon
had a bandage in place, and then I repeated the question.

"Marse Berk," he finally whispered, and as he did so Will leaned over
him to catch the words. "He an' that Captain were here--Marse Berk--he
wanted Miss Mary to go off alone with him on the schooner--an' he took
her--she wanted to wait for old missus an' she cried--I came--so he
killed me."

"But mother and Miss Carter, Sam, quick; where are they?" I asked,
frantically.

"Dunno, Marse Dick. I'se been here sence yesterday--I ain't seen no
one--they all must be gone somewheres, too."

"Carry him to the Hall," I said to the soldiers, and then Will and I
started on a run towards the house. On reaching the front door we found
it shut fast, but Will burst the fastening of a window on the verandah
and sprang into the dining room, and I followed at his heels. I bawled
out my mother's name, and Will cried out for my sister, but our voices
echoed through an empty house. There was not even a slave there.

We quickly went through the rooms upstairs, and then through the
pantries and kitchens in the rear, without finding a single house
servant. Then we started for the slave quarters to see if anyone had
remained there, but not even a single pickaninny was in sight.
Everywhere there were traces of hurried preparations for departure.
Clothes were scattered about the floors, and in the servants' dining
room the evening meal lay untouched upon the table. We went outside and
looked about the court, and then went to the stables. We had only been
through the empty stalls on the lower floor, when we saw two of my
niggers coming on a run through the field to the northward. They had
seen us and had come from hiding places, and in a few minutes they were
with us and seizing our hands, thanking us for coming back again. Then
Mr. Johnson came up with his men, carrying Sam on a litter made of their
crossed muskets, and Barron showed them the way to a couch in the slave
quarters.

My two field hands, who were telling me what had happened, were ready to
run at the sight of the soldiers, but I bade them be still and tell
their story.

They told how the schooner, _Hound_, had anchored just off Harrison's
plantation, the evening we were captured by Captain Cahill, and how
Berkley Harrison had come over to the Hall with Captain Fordyce and a
file of soldiers. Then all hands had gotten drunk, in spite of my
mothers' presence, and Harrison had insisted on my family and Miss
Carter accompanying him to Norfolk on the vessel. My mother had
remonstrated at this high handed business, but Harrison stormed and
threatened, and vowed he could not keep the soldiers from looting and
burning the Hall if they were not all on board and ready to sail within
an hour. My sister took him outside to try and get him into a more
reasonable mood, and that was the last anyone on the plantation, except
Sam, saw of her.

After waiting half an hour, my mother and Miss Carter became alarmed at
her absence, and also at the actions of the soldiers, who began to fire
their muskets at random. Upon looking for their Captain, they found him
sitting on the verandah with a bottle of spirits on a table before him
and much the worse for what he had already drank. He informed my mother
roughly that Harrison and my sister had embarked aboard the _Hound_,
which would sail within the hour. He then rose from the table and
insulted Miss Carter, after which he staggered down to the shore and was
carried aboard his vessel, leaving the Hall at the mercy of his men.
These rascals broke into the women's side of the slave quarters and such
a scene of riot followed that my poor mother and Miss Rose fled across
the fields for their lives. They reached Harrison's place and had the
frightened slaves, who were preparing to follow their master, harness a
horse for them. Then they drove with all speed for Pendleton's Inn at
the cross-roads several miles to the eastward. Here they were made
comfortable and were now awaiting news of our whereabouts. As the men
finished their story, Barron reappeared with the Lieutenant, and I
repeated some of the details. Then I turned to the officer.

"You may give the Governor my compliments," I said, in a dry, rasping
tone that seemed to stick in my throat, "and tell him that I am sorry
not to be able to accompany him to Norfolk this evening. I shall,
however, hope to meet him and his party quite soon, and will make all
haste after I see affairs attended to here. Mr. Byrd, and, perhaps, Mr.
Barron, will go with you," and I gave Will a look that made him nod
assent.

"I am v-very s-s-sorry, sir," stammered Mr. Johnson, "but the Governor's
orders were positive. They were that all of you should return with me to
the _Fowey_."

"Indeed?" asked Will, blandly.

"And of course you will carry out the Governor's orders?" asked Barron,
smiling pleasantly.

"At any cost, sir," replied Mr. Johnson.

"So you say," remarked Barron, still smiling.

"So I'll do," replied Mr. Johnson coloring a little at Barron's remark.
"If you doubt me, sir, try me," and he looked about him for his men who
now came straggling up.

"No offence, sir," put in Barron, quickly. "I merely repeated a remark
said to have been made quite often in the society at court--a remark
expressing doubt in the mind of the person making it, without reflecting
in any manner upon the sincerity of the person telling of the supposed
event."

"At any rate, you certainly will allow us time to collect my people and
attend to my scattered property. Also, you will allow us to make what
necessary changes in our personal attire we see fit?" I asked.

"Certainly, sir," replied the officer, "the frigate will anchor for the
night in the broad reach a few miles below the bend, and you shall have
plenty of time, not only to pack your effects, but to send for whatever
relatives you wish to accompany you. The men, meanwhile, can collect
your slaves and send them on ahead of us."

"We shall make our preparations," I answered shortly, and then I led the
way into the Hall.



CHAPTER VIII


My first care was for my boy Sam, and after he had been properly cared
for, he was carried aboard the small boat and made comfortable.

While we were changing our clothes, Will and I had a chance to discuss
matters privately and decide what had best be done.

Knowing my sister's fondness for Berkley Harrison, I conceived the idea
very readily that she had consented to go with him and marry him at the
first convenient opportunity. Will declared that he would soon hear this
consent expressed from her own lips, and that he would feel more
relieved after hearing it. God alone knows what the poor fellow's
thoughts were, and what hope still lingered within his breast. As for
myself, my duty appeared now to lay first with my poor mother--and Miss
Carter. My sister was off with the man she apparently loved, and nothing
worse could happen to her than what had already occurred. I believed
Harrison to be a gentleman and honorable in his dealings, although I did
not agree with him in his political ideas and views.

Barron decided, positively, to accompany me and openly hinted that
Williamsburg was the place he hoped to reach as soon as he helped me
straighten out matters at the Hall.

"I will join you there also, as soon as I find my services are not
needed at Norfolk," said Will.

"Then we will leave you here with Mr. Johnson," I said. "As soon as he
gets tired of waiting for Barron and myself, you can go with him and
join Dunmore, and meet us later with the forces under Colonel Henry."

While we were discussing our affairs, we were changing our shooting
clothes for more suitable garments, and we were quite alone.

I took two silver mounted, Paris made pistols from a case, and concealed
them carefully by sticking them in my belt under my outer coat. I may
say here that these weapons were remarkable for their fine finish, and
were the same I had used on one or two well known occasions before. They
were the ones from which I had fired six bullets in succession, one day,
upon the edge of a knife blade set twenty paces distant, and they could
be relied upon. They had the advantage over most, for they exploded
almost instantly from the flash of the flint.

After seeing to these, Barron and I then buckled on our swords; mine a
fragile rapier which had formerly been part of the dress of a man of
fashion, and his a more serviceable weapon, but still very light for
field use.

"You will certainly allow me the privilege of escorting my own mother,"
I said to the Lieutenant, when we had finished our preparations and had
come down stairs.

"Where is she?" he asked.

"At Pendleton's Inn, a few miles back in the country," I answered. "But,
as I understand we are not exactly prisoners, you will have no objection
to my going to her, and telling her of the arrival of his excellency,
the Governor."

"Not only that, but you may take two men with you. There may be some of
Mr. Henry's bush-fighters who might not be to your way of thinking, and
who might dispute the way with you. Carry your sword if you wish. Is
Captain Barron to accompany you? He may do so if you wish it, for, of
course, I have your word that you will not stay any longer than
necessary or go anywhere my men cannot go also without making trouble."
Saying this he beckoned two stout soldiers aside and gave them some
orders I did not quite hear.

I said nothing in reply to his remark about not staying, or leading his
men into hostilities, for I wished to gain time, and I led the way
quickly to the stables where saddles and bridles were procured.

The horses were at large, but in sight, grazing quietly in the pasture
to the eastward of the quarters. My two field hands soon had four of
them ready. Giving a nod to Barron, I leaped into the saddle, and he
instantly followed my example. The soldiers started to mount in a more
leisurely manner.

"Mr. Johnson," I said, turning quickly, "I have not given my word as to
not leaving you and your men. Mark that, sir. Therefore I bid you
farewell."

The next instant I was loping gracefully down the carriage drive with
that peculiar ease which you may have, perhaps, noticed as belonging to
a Virginia country gentleman.

Barron's knee was rubbing against mine with each rise and fall, and the
old soldier was smiling happily at the scenery lit up by the last rays
of the setting sun.

I half expected to hear a warning bullet, and turned my head with my
chin to my shoulder to see what was taking place behind.

Mr. Johnson waved his sword nervously and shouted out something I could
not understand, and then the two soldiers came galloping after us.

"We better avoid their company, for they are rough looking men," said
Barron. "A soldier is good enough when properly commanded, but most
unpleasant when in command. As for me, I intend to command some as soon
as I can join the Major and the rest at Williamsburg."

"We must shake clear of these men before we get to the Inn," I said. "It
would never do to have a dispute there before the ladies, although the
advantage would lie with us. Suppose we slack up at the turn a mile
above here and tell these fellows to go back. Perhaps Will will find
himself kept pretty close when Dunmore knows we are not exactly in
sympathy with the king."

"He will have tact enough to keep out of limbo, but I reckon Dunmore
will try to make him take up arms against us," said Barron. "You spoke
of a bend in the road; is that it ahead there?"

"Yes, but suppose these fools show fight?" I asked.

"That little side ornament of yours will do little good in that case,
but I reckon I can hold them both in play. There was a time, if I
remember rightly, when I knew something about the use of a sword--even a
light one like this I have with me. When Braddock was down in the swamps
I was a fair hand at pinning frogs. I reckon there isn't anything much
better to eat than the reptile's legs, but I tired of them after the
boys got me to eat the half raw legs of a skunk, by mistake, in the way
of a joke. Most uncommon joke it was, but I certainly am right when I
say I can taste those legs yet. Whoa! Steady, boys?" And we slowed our
horses down to a walk.

The soldiers came galloping up, and the one who appeared to be a
corporal, by the cheverons on the sleeves of his tunic, drew alongside
of me and saluted.

"Sorry, sir, but orders are to accompany you to your party at the Inn
and bring whatever luggage you wish to send back with me," said he.

"But I'm not coming back to the Hall for some time," I answered. "Do
you wish to go with me to the militia camp? It's doubtful if they would
receive you well, or allow you to return to the frigate after seeing
your uniform."

"We only go three miles," said the man, "and if your party is not with
us after traveling that distance, we will postpone meeting them this
evening and shall return together."

"Shall is a big word," said Barron, laughing. "Don't you know any better
than to use it to a gentleman? I reckon your discipline or early family
training has been neglected."

"Our discipline aboard the _Fowey_ is fair," answered the soldier,
coolly, "and as for my family training, I don't think such things count
for much. Family is nothing to me, for the only ones I ever knew of mine
were cowardly and bad."

"Does that apply to your mother and father?" asked Barron, much amused.

"Most certainly. My mother was a woman on the streets, and my father was
probably some chance acquaintance of a day or two, though I never heard
his name, or have I ever met him; but if you think my ancestry makes me
an inferior being to your self, I shall take pleasure in proving that a
man's worth depends entirely on the education or training he gives
himself, mentally or physically."

"You speak with great precision," laughed Barron, "and I am sorry not
to have time to discuss your theory to a better advantage. That tall
pine tree ahead, with the eagle's nest in its top, is a trifle over
three miles from Judkins' Hall, so I regret to have to bid you good
evening."

"If that really be so we shall all turn about here and go back to the
boat. We shall proceed no further in this direction. I suppose you know
I am master of arms on the frigate and quite capable of enforcing my
words with this." And he whipped out a long shining sword and his silent
mate did likewise.

"Of course you gentlemen will not resort to anything so vulgar and
absurd as resistance. Therefore turn your horses and we may discuss
other matters."

My temper had been steadily rising for some minutes past, and now it
burst beyond my control.

I snatched out my rapier and dug my heels into my horse's ribs. The
animal sprang forward twenty paces. Then I drew up and wheeled suddenly,
and then bore down on that Corporal with all speed, my sword point aimed
at his breast.

There was a crash as the animals and weapons met, and the next thing I
knew I was lying on my back by the roadside, grasping the hilt of my
puny, broken sword tightly in my right hand.

Barron sat quietly in his saddle and laughed immoderately at me, while
the soldier seized my horse by the bridle and bade me remount.

I sat up in the roadway a little dazed, but, collecting myself, I felt
under my coat to see if my pistols were all right. They were there, so I
arose, and, taking my horse from the Corporal, climbed painfully back
into the saddle again. Barron then drew his weapon and slowly placed
himself on guard.

"You may or may not be right in your theory, Mr. Soldier," said he, "but
we are not to accompany you back to Dunmore. Mr. Judkins is a very young
and inexperienced swordsman compared to yourself, but his mishap was due
more to the worthlessness of his weapon than lack of skill."

"Tut! tut! I shall be forced to secure both of you with cords, if this
nonsense proceeds any further," said the Corporal. "Put up your sword
and waste no more time. Jim!" he called to his mate, "pass a line about
Mr. Judkin's wrists, lest he continue this nonsense past supper time."

The soldier approached and bade me hold forth my hands that he might
secure them with a line he produced from under his belt. I saw there was
no use of putting off the crisis any longer, so I held out one of
them--my right--and in it was gripped the butt of the straightest
shooting pistol on the Virginia peninsula.

"Give me your sword hilt," I said, as I raised the barrel level with his
eyes. But the fool had seen me unhorsed so grossly, that he laughed in
my face, and made a pass at my weapon with his blade. I held fire while
his point cut my cheek open, and I ordered him back, hoping I could
spare his life. But he cursed me and pressed on, aiming a blow at my
head to knock me from my horse, so I could wait no longer. Then, to save
my life, I pulled down the flint. The next instant he lay dead in the
road with a bullet hole in the center of his forehead.

It was all done so quickly that the Corporal and Barron sat looking on,
hardly realizing what had happened. This gave me the moment I needed, so
I pulled out my left hand weapon.

"Surrender your sword, sir," I cried to the Corporal, for the
excitement of the fight was hot within me and my patience was at an end.

"Not to such a swordsman as you; it would disgrace me," replied the
Corporal contemptuously, and he began the fight by making a pass at
Barron, which the old Captain parried. Round and round and past each
other went the horses, guided by trained hands, and the sword blades
slipped with a ringing sound from lunge to parry. So fast did they fight
that I found myself sitting there quietly in my saddle looking on, never
thinking for an instant that one snap shot from my pistol would put an
end to the affair. It was rapidly growing dark, but at that distance I
could have broken the soldier's sword blade while it was in play, had I
so wished.

The man was certainly a master of fence and I soon saw that Barron had
no chance whatever with him. Still I never thought to fire upon a man
engaged with another in a fair fight. The cut in my cheek bled freely,
but I felt no pain or dizziness and was cool enough to think calmly.
Once the thought came to me to get the dead man's sword and take part in
the unequal affray, but I put it aside and made up my mind to shoot only
at the last minute to save Barron's life. Suddenly a new idea flashed
through my head and I instantly raised the pistol. The corporal's horse
turned his nose in my direction and I marked the white blaze between
his eyes.

"Crack!" And down both horse and rider went, just as Barron whirled a
wicked cut at the soldier's head. The old Captain's weapon went wide and
the Corporal jumped to his feet as lightly as a cat and was on guard
again before Barron fully realized what had happened.

"Come!" I cried. "Let him go!" And I galloped away down the road before
I finished speaking. Barron wheeled his horse to follow just as the
soldier started for him. In an instant the animals were together,
running neck and neck, with that Corporal within six feet of Barron's
saddle, running as I had never seen a man run before.

Away we went, and for a second or two I was afraid Barron would be run
through the back, but the pace proved a trifle too strong for our enemy.

Seeing this, the rascal made a vicious cut at Barron's mount and almost
hamstrung him, and then he dropped back while the poor animal hobbled
ahead desperately for several minutes, and finally brought up dead lame.

"That man will certainly prove he is equal to both of us," said Barron,
"and put at variance all laws of heredity, if we don't do something to
stop him."

"It's a pity I didn't shoot him, for that was my last shot," I said.
"Here he comes, and unless you can hold him in check until I get a
charge into this pistol, we will indeed see Dunmore or the devil
to-night."

As I spoke the figure of the Corporal showed through the gathering
darkness, coming along the edge of the road at a smart walk with his
long sword in front of him.

"You ride on ahead and let me settle with him," said Barron, quietly.

"It is uncommon shameful to have to run from this vermin," I said, "but
I had him at my mercy once and let him go."

"So had he you, my boy," laughed Barron.

It did seem hard to have to get away from this creature, the
acknowledged offspring of a prostitute, but it was apparently certain
death to face him. I strove to get a charge into one of my pistols, but
by the time I had the powder in the barrel he was up with us. He saw
what I was about and instantly started for me. And then, yes, I shall
have to confess it, then I put spurs to my mount and went down that dark
road as though thirty devils were at my heels. The corporal's long sword
could not reach me, so he soon gave up the chase and turned his
attention to Barron.

In another minute my pistol was loaded and I was riding back again as
fast as I could.

Barron had dismounted and they had just begun a passage as I rode up.

I was almost beside myself with rage and I rode close to the soldier to
be certain of my aim. I meant to end matters and would run no risk at
night, so I shot quick and sure for the centre of the man's body and had
the satisfaction of seeing him double up and drop in the roadway.

Barron stooped over him and picked up his long straight sword. He looked
at it for a moment and then passed it to me. It was a very heavy weapon
and as sharp as a razor.

"Come," said Barron, "let us carry him into the bushes and go ahead."

The form of the soldier moved slightly as he spoke.

"I thought you killed him," he continued, and he sprang forward with his
sword drawn back for a final thrust.

"Hold on!" I cried, "he's dead unless made of iron," and I jumped down
from my horse and bent over the fallen man just as he started to raise
himself.

"His belt! Quick!" I cried, and I grasped him around the body with all
my strength.

Before he fully realized what was taking place, we had his elbows lashed
fast behind him and I had a chance to find out why he not was dead.

My bullet had struck him just below the breast bone and over the heart,
but between him and it was the cross belt buckle-plate of his uniform.
The lead had flattened on this, but the stroke of the ball had sent him
to the ground unable to move for over a minute.

"You are a most disputatious man, Mr. Soldier," said Barron, good
humoredly, "and at one time you had nearly all the facts necessary to
establish the truthfulness of your side of the argument. I hope you are
now convinced of the value of good breeding, and will not, in the
future, thrust yourself into company uncongenial to your taste. However,
you shall now accompany us to the Inn, for I would hardly trust you to
return to Mr. Johnson alone to-night."

"Had I believed you were not too scared to return," said the soldier,
looking straight at me, "I would have followed you and killed you. Your
horse is a good runner."

"And for such an absurd mistake, I very nearly killed you," I answered.
"Had I known you were so bent upon mischief, I would have sent your
soul to the devil some twenty minutes ago. We will now go back and get
your mate's horse and you will walk between us the rest of the way."

In a few minutes we were back to where the dead soldier lay and Barron
was soon mounted upon his animal--which, by the way, was mine, as were
also the other three, and it caused me some little regret to lose two of
them on account of this hard headed soldier.

We carried the dead man to the roadside and laid him in bushes. Then we
proceeded quietly upon our way, and the moon rose like a huge ball of
silver to light up the dark road.



CHAPTER IX


Pendleton's Inn, as you may remember, was a famous place in its time.
Colonel George Washington often stopped there, and Mr. Patrick Henry
often held a group of listeners spellbound with his peculiar eloquence
on its wide verandah.

So proud was the proprietor of his distinguished guests, that the bed
Colonel Washington usually slept in, and even a certain chair at the
head of the dining room table, in which it was claimed he generally sat,
have been preserved and pointed out to new-comers as objects of peculiar
interest. As for me, I have been to hardly a single house between New
York and Richmond that has not boasted of possessing some of the
Washington furniture, and I have been somewhat sociable in my habits.

Pendleton himself was a sad rake. But his hospitality was known to the
young men for miles around, and his house was often used as a meeting
place on Sunday afternoons, when the gentlemen would indulge themselves
in such exciting sports as cock-fighting and rat killing. Sometimes
affrays of a more sanguinary nature occurred within the limits of its
broad orchard, but these happened seldom, and, on the whole, the Inn was
considered respectable enough for any lady in the commonwealth.

"I could not have stood it much longer, my dear Richard," said my
mother, the morning after our arrival. "I am too old for such scenes as
that which happened at the Hall. I have not slept since Mary was taken
away, and I have not had my bath for two days. All the servants ran away
from that odious Captain and his terrible men. The only ones I have with
me here are old Mammy Liza and Mary Jane Johnson. They were so old the
men took no notice of them, so they hobbled all the way over here to me.
But they cannot do anything, let alone fix my bath. And poor Rose, she
has been so quiet. Not a word has passed her lips and she walks to and
fro in her room with her head held tightly in her hands. The shock to
her young nerves at seeing such revelry has completely unstrung her.
Mammy Liza said she had delirium last night, for she heard Rose scream
'villain' and 'scoundrel' at the top of her voice, and when she looked
into her room she was sitting in bed with her hands clenched and her
eyes staring into vacancy."

"I suppose she will not breakfast with us, then," I said.

"I doubt it, but when I tell her you and Captain Barron are to take us
to Williamsburg, she may make her appearance in time. You will not leave
before we get some news of Will and Lord Dunmore, will you?"

"Possibly not," I answered, "but it is hardly worth while to stay here.
It is not likely the Governor will send a party this far inland after
us, and as for Will, he will have no message of importance, even if he
has a chance to send one. The Governor is in a hurry to get out of the
river, for the climate does not agree with him. He is probably now as
far down as Jamestown on his way out."

While I was speaking, Barron made his appearance, accompanied by old
Pendleton and half a score of armed men who had camped in the barn over
night. These militiamen were on their way to join the forces under
Colonel Henry, and they were armed and dressed in the most fantastic
manner. They had just visited our prisoner, the Corporal, who was
confined in a box-stall in the stable, and were in high good humor at
the soldier's fierce threats and wild vaporings. Barron left these men
on the far end of the verandah and came up and saluted my mother.

"I shall wait upon you, madam," he said, "just as soon as I ride over to
my lodgings at the Widow Brown's house and attend to some little private
matters there. It is not likely I will be back this way before next
year, and I reckon I had better tell my landlady so. I think, however,
that the Governor has made his last trip up the river, and, if that is
the case, you can soon go back and remain unmolested at the Hall. But
here comes our host, and he looks as if he had some matters of
importance to communicate."

"Matam ees sarved wid her bickfust," spoke up old Pendleton, giving my
mother a sweeping bow as he approached.

"In that case we will all go in together and fortify ourselves for the
coming ride," I said, and I led the way to the table with my mother on
my arm. We no sooner sat down than Miss Carter made her appearance. It
was so late the night before when we arrived that I had not had a chance
for more than a word of greeting with her, so she received Barron and
myself very graciously.

In spite of her pleasant manner, I noticed the large blue eyes--I had
seen only to admire so often before--were swollen and red, and the poor
girl appeared to have suffered much. A man must be very selfish when in
love, for it was quite plain to me that she was suffering more than I,
yet I would not have had Harrison back there at that moment, had I been
certain of his conventional behavior with my sister Mary. There is no
use of denying it, I felt almost glad that he had run off with my
sister. I was sure Mary loved him, and I reasoned that no harm could
happen to her. I was equally certain Byrd would soon reappear with the
news that she and Harrison were happily married. I was furious to see
this beautiful woman breaking her heart for another, but was glad that
his act was irrevocable and left the field clear for myself.

Barron waxed especially lively during the meal and ordered some of
Pendleton's new cider, suggesting that Miss Carter and my mother drink
some to refresh themselves for lack of sleep.

"It is weak enough, I reckon," said he, "for I call to mind the time
Bullbeggor and I stopped here last year. His nigger, Snake in the Grass,
had never seen this stuff, for the Major sticks pretty well to stronger
waters. One cold night I gave the rascal a bottle filled with the stuff
and told him to be careful with it, as it was very good. He sneaked off
after supper into the woods and the Major couldn't find him again that
evening. About midnight, while we sat smoking and talking, we heard a
knock at the door. I went into the entry and opened it, and there was
Snake, shivering and shaking with cold. 'What's the matter, Snake?' I
asked, when I got him inside. 'Oh, Marse Barron, yo' dun me mean,' he
said, 'I went outen the woods to drink dat stuff on de quiet, an' I dun
set thar fo' hours waitin fo' de drunk tu come--an' I'se nearly froze.
Yessah, yo' dun me mean, suh; sho' nuff mean, an' I'se nearly froze.'"

"Major Bull, he stopped here de oder day wid his nigger," added
Pendleton.

"How about his shoulder, was it paining him much?" I asked.

"His shoulder! Nien it was a leedle hole, de pain shooded all through
him. He has dem shooding pains always shooding through him. Dey was
only leedle pains. Mein Gott! I never see de Major, but wid a leedle
shooding pain."

"Then he went on and joined the militia at Williamsburg as he intended?"
asked Miss Rose.

"Not only that," I put in, "but it was he who did some little fighting
with that Captain Fordyce in the little skirmish below here the other
day."

"And perhaps that is why the Captain acted as he did at the Hall. People
are usually judged by the company they keep, and they all had heard of
the duel," said Miss Rose, with a little sting of resentment in her
voice.

"If that be really so, people's judgments are most unjust, for a man
certainly cannot always choose his own companions," I replied.

"I think he can," she answered.

"God grant that it be even so," I said, quietly, and I caught her eye
for an instant.

Barron was laughing and looking at my mother, but Miss Carter appeared
to take no notice of him and continued to eat her egg with more ill
tempter than appetite.

When we were through the meal, Barron rode over to his lodgings and then
returned within an hour. After that we had the horses brought up, and he
and I acted as outriders to my mother and Miss Carter, who rode in
Pendleton's chaise with old Mammy Liza and Mary Jane on the rear seat.
One of my field hands, who came over to the Inn, acted as driver.
Pendleton was to collect the rest of my people and take care of them
until my mother was ready to return to the Hall.

We started off with a contingent of the militia bringing up behind us as
a rear guard, and among them walked the Corporal with his belt strapped
about his elbows behind him.

It was something uncommon in the way of a procession, as we rode slowly
down the old Virginia turnpike. Barron, sitting his horse in an easy,
soldierly fashion, riding on one side of the carriage, and I riding on
the other, while the motley men with muskets and squirrel rifles, having
the English corporal in their midst, came straggling along through our
thick yellow dust-cloud in the rear. The sun shone brightly and the
birds sang merrily in the fields and woodlands, so our spirits rose, and
even Miss Carter began to smile at Barron's jests.

The long, heavy sword I captured from the Corporal jangled uncomfortably
from my belt, and it, together with my two silver mounted pistols, which
I now carried in full view, gave me a most warlike appearance. But my
clothing was of the latest fashion, and even my shoes showed the marks
of care my poor boy Sam had bestowed upon them. But if I attracted some
attention from the neighboring farmers, I hardly know what amount of
interest was excited by the looks of our strange followers.

Some of these had their hair long and matted, hanging down over blouses
or hunting shirts of deer skin, giving them an almost wild look. Their
long rifles had the old fashioned heavy flint and wide primer and were
of small calibre, best fitted for hunting squirrels and such game. But
their powder horns held enough ammunition for a campaign, and they were
all tolerable shots. Those who carried muskets appeared perfectly
contented that their weapons made a loud noise and asked for nothing
better than a range at which it would be almost impossible to miss an
enemy--or hit a friend. Some carried old swords of the most unusual
patterns,--looking as though they might have once done good duty as
scythes,--and all carried knives. A young clown, from one of the upper
counties, carried a musket with fixed bayonet and had the impudence to
try and force the Corporal to put him through the manual of arms, even
threatening to blow the soldier's head off if he gave an improper order.
All of them were entirely without discipline, and all gave orders and
offered suggestions at one and the same time. This, of course,
invariably ended in a dispute that had to be settled by long arguments,
in which all who wished to took part. Several times, during their
bickerings, they fell far behind us, only to catch up again later on,
and all day long their hilarious songs, accompanied by frequent
fusilades of rifle shots, kept us in excellent knowledge of their
whereabouts.

At noon we passed Doncastle's ordinary, where the affair of the
gunpowder brought about the first distinct rupture between Lord Dunmore
and the people. Everything appeared quiet and peaceful and the place
showed no signs of war.

We had little conversation on the ride, and I found myself thinking a
great deal of my poor boy Sam and Will Byrd. Will, I felt sure, would
take care of the wounded fellow and endeavor to prevent him from falling
into other hands, and I believed Sam would soon get over his hurt, for
he was a powerful nigger, broad-built and with good pluck. I tried to
imagine what would happen to Harrison if Sam ever met him before matters
were peacefully settled. But then I knew that Harrison would not return
to his plantation until the war was over, and I believed it would be a
long time before peace reigned again in the colonies.

At intervals during the ride I came close to the carriage and endeavored
to engage Miss Carter's attention, but she appeared so sad and listless
that, out of sheer pity, I forbore to worry her with my presence. Once I
thought I noticed her looking at me intently with a curious, searching
expression in her eyes for some moments, but when I turned my gaze in
her direction she immediately stared vacantly at the scenery ahead.

I told my mother of my intention of joining the forces under Mr. Henry,
and strange to say she did not appear to be either surprised or
disappointed. On the contrary, she began instantly to give me all manner
of advice about taking care of myself when camping in the field, and
above all implored me never to expose myself to the danger of getting
shot.

"It is absurd," said she, "that a gentleman should expose himself to the
hurts which belong to the common, vulgar soldier. A true general always
takes care of himself, for with him rests the care of the whole army.
Should anything happen to the officer in command, what, oh what would
become of those poor fellows dependent upon him for his high courage and
intelligence? They would certainly be lost, and it is for them, my dear
Richard, you should sacrifice all brute feelings of ferocious courage
and keep yourself in hand."

Barron agreed with her in her sentiments, and she made him promise
faithfully that he would never leave my side in the hour of danger, and
never allow me to be carried away by my youthful ardor; all of which he
did with a grave countenance, and some little ceremony, in spite of a
little frivolity on my part.

In the late afternoon we caught sight of the white tents of the militia,
and soon afterwards we were entering the quaint old town of
Williamsburg. We headed for my uncle's house, which stood near the
college, in the best part of the town, for my uncle's wife, Aunt Jane,
as I called her, was a person of some prominence, and was of the ancient
family of O'Brian, which, as you know, was once royal.

The streets were full of men from the surrounding country, who gathered
in groups as we passed, and pointed at us and stared as though we were
something remarkable. But they were all rough men, who had never seen
much, and belonged to the outlying settlements and farms where no
gentleman ever gets, except by hunting or some mishap. The men who
appeared to be soldiers wore no regular uniform, and might have passed
for a lot of armed yokels starting out on a coon hunt.

As we drew near our destination we heard the sound of galloping horses,
and presently several mounted men came riding around the corner ahead of
us.

I recognized Patrick Henry and Colonel Woodford at a glance. The former
had made himself a colonel of militia and rode a powerful grey horse at
the front of the groups, while on either hand rode Colonel Woodford and
Colonel Bullet. Behind them came several other gentlemen, well known
along the James river for their anti-British politics. Among them I
recognized Major Bullbeggor and also Mr. Jacquelin, who had been
captured by Fordyce, and who had escaped from his captors by running
while they were suddenly confined in his wine cellar. Still farther in
the rear rode some mounted servants, with Snake in the Grass in their
midst.

The Major saluted with a flourish as he rode past, as did the rest of
the officers, and Snake's hat continued to rise and fall while his
nodding, grinning face was turned towards us until the cavalcade
disappeared in the direction of the encampment behind the college.

On arriving at our destination, we received a warm welcome from my aunt
Jane and cousin Marion. Although my uncle, Thomas Burns, Esq., had died
some years before, my aunt and cousin were living in the most
comfortable circumstances. While they lived simply in their large
mansion, they had an abundance of home comforts and many house
servants, and cousin Marion, though only sixteen, was considered one of
the wealthiest as well as prettiest women in Virginia. Aunt Jane was
well known for her kind acts of charity and hospitality, so you may be
sure there was nothing lacking for our comfort on our arrival at her
house.

In spite of this Barron and I were all eagerness to go to the camp and
report to Colonel Henry--as we now heard him called--for duty. Even the
prospect of a few hours alone with Miss Carter and my pretty cousin
Marion, was not enough to curb my impatience to be among the men, who I
now felt certain would make some history to be handed down through all
time.

I know Marion laughed at my warlike appearance, but I changed that a
little by fixing my pistols under my coat and hitching up my heavy
broadsword until it cocked up as prettily behind as a rapier. In this
attire I bade my pretty cousin good-bye, with cousinly privilege, and
bowed low to Miss Carter. Then Barron and I mounted our horses and rode
off with Marion's laugh ringing after us. She was a very pretty girl and
as good as ever lived, but I thought very little about her as we rode
down the main street in the direction of Colonel Henry's headquarters.



CHAPTER X


The first person we met on arriving in front of Colonel Henry's house
was our old friend, Major Bullbeggor.

"I am feeling pretty peart, Mr. Judkins," he replied, in answer to my
greeting. "That little punch Harrison gave me is almost well, and
besides a slight twitching of the bones and some little stiffening of
the joints, with a little pain shooting through them, I am feeling fine,
sir. Yes, sir, feeling like a bird, sir. But where on earth did you get
that English sword, and what brought you and your mother here so soon?
Dunmore, for sure. No fear! The rascal passed down the river this
morning and I don't think he will try coming up again. But what can we
do without ships or guns? We gave them a dusting on the island, the
other day, and lost poor Jim Horn and three niggers before leaving.
Bullet and I had a hard time to get out, and Snake took a slight hurt."

"Yes, I heard all about it," I answered. And then Barron and I told how
we were captured and taken aboard the vessels, and how Harrison had
served my people at the Hall while we were absent.

The Major's eyes flashed as we told the story and his hand went
nervously to his sword hilt. "I didn't hit him hard enough," he said
fiercely, when we had told of the actions of the soldiers at the Hall.

While we continued speaking, we were interrupted by an uproar which
arose from the street beyond the college, and on looking in that
direction from which the sounds proceeded we suddenly saw the figure of
a man, covered completely from head to foot with feathers, come running
along the pavement towards us. Behind him came a howling mob, armed with
every conceivable sort of weapon, and they pressed closely upon the
runner's heels. The fugitive stopped suddenly in front of me and spoke
out--

"If you'll give me that sword of mine for a few minutes, I think I might
show these fools the absurdity of playing their infernal games upon one
of his Majesty's soldiers," he said coolly, and I instantly recognized
the voice of the corporal who had engaged us so hotly the day before. He
was almost completely hidden under his coat of tar and feathers, and the
only part of his face visible was his nose and eyes.

Barron and the Major burst into uncontrollable laughter, in which I
joined.

But the man's tormentors were upon him before I had even time to
consider his proposition. They surrounded him and began prodding him
with sticks and bayonets, shouting and jeering in derision.

Bullbeggor was the first of us to recover himself. He drew his sword and
struck his spurs into his powerful mare, making her spring forward
through the crowd. He knocked down several men in his path and reined up
alongside the prisoner.

"Disperse!" he roared. "Break away!" And he struck some of the men
nearest him with the flat side of his blade. Barron and I spurred
forward and joined him, for the natives were waxing furious at this
interruption and I noticed one man bringing his musket to his shoulder.
The Major saw the fellow in time to avert disaster, and he leaned
forward and smote the weapon so strongly that it fell from the
scoundrel's hands. Then we closed around the prisoner with our swords
sweeping at arm's length, and the Major thundered forth orders for the
men to disperse, threatening them with all sorts of military punishments
if they did not.

But these wild men had no idea of discipline, and feared nothing, so
they still crowded sulkily around us, brandishing their weapons and
cursing us heartily for interfering with their sport.

The uproar had been heard at headquarters, and Colonel Henry appeared on
the verandah accompanied by Colonel Bullet, Woodford, and some other
officers. Colonel Woodford roared out orders, and some of the men about
us turned to see who our new ally was. Then they suddenly recognized
Patrick Henry, as he stood there in his waistcoat on the verandah.

There was something in the calm dignity of Colonel Henry's manner that
arrested all the fierceness of these rough men's passions and drew
attention to him as the magnet draws soft iron. He stood there on the
verandah and held out his hand over that wild mob, and spoke, and in
less than half a minute every man was silent and listening.

I cannot recall the words that fell from the lips of that grand orator,
and when I think of him standing there speaking, it seems to me it was
not the words at all that affected me, but the deep power of the man's
nature.

I have heard men speak to men in my time, and have listened to some of
the eloquent words of those who have made history; but nothing I ever
heard compared to the power and force of those words that fell from the
lips of that plain and uncouth officer standing there on the verandah of
that house in Williamsburg.

He spoke to that mob of honor and manhood, and of the grand things of
war, and bade them remember that mercy to a fallen enemy showed the
difference between a coward and a man.

When he finished there was not one of that ruffian crowd who looked
squarely at his neighbor, and two minutes afterwards there were not six
of them in sight.

The only person there who appeared in no way affected by Patrick Henry's
remarkable eloquence, was the English corporal.

He looked carelessly about him for a moment and then at Major
Bullbeggor.

"I have to thank you," said he, "for interfering with those farmers, for
as you see, I am entirely unarmed and undressed--except for this growth
of feathers. But I am no chicken sir, in spite of them. No, sir, I'm
hardly classed as a chicken--as these two gentlemen with you might
testify.

"If the ugly old duck, there,"--and he pointed to Barron--"would like to
continue the argument we were engaged in last night, I think I might
persuade him of the fallacy of his ideas concerning his birth and self
importance."

"You have most remarkable powers of logic," laughed Barron, "and if
reason and sword-play were analogous I doubt not that you could sustain
your premise. But there are too many men like you in this world who wish
to maintain their point by reason of false analogy. Therefore, I warn
you that unless you mend your speech I shall turn you over again to
Colonel Gibson's lambs, and they will hardly let you off so easily the
next time."

"If they are his lambs," replied the soldier, turning and looking at
Colonel Henry, "I take it he is a preacher, and now I mark it, the
fellow has a most ecclesiastical mode of speech. One would think him an
itinerant minister, holding forth to his flock of"--

"Silence! you dog," growled the Major, "know your betters, or I'll
stretch you on the wheel." Then he beckoned to an orderly who stood nigh
the steps of the house and in a moment the Corporal was led away to be
scraped and scrubbed.

Barron and myself were then introduced to Colonel Henry, Woodford, and
other officers in the group, after which we were left to ourselves to
discuss more or less learnedly the probable outcome of affairs in the
colonies, while the older men went back to their duties. I knew little
or nothing about military organization, so when the talk drifted into
certain channels I withheld my speech. Before we left, however, Barron
and I had been assigned volunteer positions; he as captain of a company
of farmers, and I as a lieutenant in it, all under the command of Major
Bullbeggor, who, in turn, belonged to Colonel Bullet's regiment. Rank
was a pretty hard thing to determine in those days, for nearly everybody
was addressed as "Colonel" or "Major," no matter what they were in
reality. Besides this, there were several jealous men in the Richmond
assembly who pretended to doubt Colonel Henry's military ability, and
for a long time I believed Colonel Woodford in command.

The brave and gallant Bullet, however, took the place assigned him
without a word, as did Bullbeggor, Barron and myself, and we strove to
get some discipline into the hunters and farmers who made up our rank
and file.

Gibson's Lambs, as his command of wild men were called, were almost
beyond the reach of discipline, and were little better than Indians, so
at one time Colonel Woodford was strongly tempted to disband the whole
outfit, but later on they began to show signs of intelligence and were
kept in ranks.

We drilled and drilled, day after day, until finally we had the
satisfaction of heading a poorly armed, but fairly well organized, set
of men.

During this period we had several times had news of Berkley Harrison. He
and my sister were apparently married and living happily together at
Norfolk, but strange to say not a letter or word came direct from either
of them. Of Will Byrd and Sam there had been no trace since they went
aboard the frigate the evening I left the Hall. Barron sent several
messengers to Norfolk to find out their whereabouts, but to no purpose.

Whenever I had time to spare from the camp, I usually came over to see
my mother and cousin Marion. Miss Carter had seldom put in appearance
until the day Snake in the Grass brought the news of Harrison and my
sister living so happily together. Then her manner toward me instantly
changed, and instead of being out of sight she always put in appearance
whenever I called at my aunt's house. This amused me not a little, but I
was not ready to indulge her whims too quickly, so I put off matters
until I finally became so entangled with my pretty cousin that I was on
the point of doing something foolish. But sometimes unforseen incidents
happen that pull a man out of a drifting current.

One evening my cousin was not feeling well, so Miss Carter and I took a
long walk around the encampment and visited Lord Dunmore's deserted
palace. As we walked along the sound of a nigger singing arrested our
attention. It was Snake's voice, and his deep bass notes rang weirdly
through the gathering darkness. Snake had a strange habit of fitting all
his feelings into song, and now he sang in deep mournful notes


                 "Dere is trouble ober heah
                  An' dere's trouble ober dar-r
     An' I really do believe dere's trouble everywhar-r
                  Trouble, troub-ll
                  Trouble, troub-ll
         Oh dere's trouble on de ol' man's mine."


We tried to stop him as he rode past us, but he pretended not to see or
hear us, and rode away in the direction of the Major's quarters.

"Snake has a sorrowful mood upon him this evening," said Miss Carter,
after the singing had died away in the distance.

"And by the same token, I reckon, there's some bad news ahead," I
answered, "and we might as well go to the Major's and find it out."

When we reached there, we found that orders had just come for us to move
to Norfolk and take part in the operations against the British. I was
glad the news was no worse, and I must say I felt a great relief, in
spite of those I must leave behind me.

This was my last evening to spend with my people, and I determined to
know my fate in a certain direction, so I recalled a few things to Miss
Carter that had passed between us.

"My dear Dick," she said, "you have a most charming cousin. Why don't
you marry her?"

"In the first place, she would not marry me; and in the second, she is
hardly to my way of thinking," I replied.

"But you might alter your thoughts and ask her; she is pretty, wealthy,
and a lady born," said Miss Carter.

"So was your grandmother," I replied, "but that fact does not presuppose
any love for her on my part, charming as she still is. You also have the
qualities you have just mentioned, and you, you only, do I, or can I
ever love."

"If that is so, I shall be blessed with a most stupid husband," said
Rose--and that was all. I bade her good-night at my aunt's front door
and I think, or rather hope, it was quite dark. Then I went on my way
whistling, as happy as a boy.

The days that followed in the mud and rain near Norfolk, were
disheartening enough, but I never for an instant despaired. My whole
life seemed filled with a great coming joy, and even old soldiers like
Barron and Bullbeggor wondered at my never-failing spirits. There were
nearly a thousand of us, badly armed and half-frozen men, under the
command of Colonel Woodford, camped at the end of the causeway known as
Great Bridge. It was December, and the weaker men fell away rapidly,
until there were scarcely two hundred able riflemen left in the
trenches on the night of the eighth.

I was lying in my tent on this night, listening to the rain and thinking
happy thoughts of the joys in store for me when I should return to the
Hall and marry the beautiful girl I loved. Barron slept with me and was
snoring away at a great rate for it was long past midnight. I had just
made up my mind to cease building air-castles and follow his example,
and had fastened the tent flies and stretched myself out comfortably in
my wet blanket, when a noise outside startled me.

It sounded like the stealthy tread of someone bent on a secret purpose,
which, at this hour and place, would probably be anything but good.

I reached carefully for my pistol and noiselessly cocked back the
flint, and then stared through the inky darkness toward the tent fly. I
lay listening for a moment or two longer and then was aware of something
moving under the canvas at my side. In an instant I clapped the muzzle
of my pistol to it and called out, "Stop!"

"For God's sake, take your pistol away and let me in, quick!" said a
well known voice, and the next instant Will Byrd was inside the tent.
Another form followed his and for a moment I was almost smothered by
Sam's embrace.

"What time is it?" asked Will, quickly.

"Not quite three, I believe," I answered. "But for heaven's sake, how
did you get"--

"Hurry, then, we have just about time," interrupted Will, paying no
attention to my question. "They attack you at daylight. We have just
escaped, and came through the swamp to avoid being taken by these
farmers and held until too late"--

"Hello! What's the matter? Who's that?" cried Barron, starting up from
his blanket.

"Will and Sam," I said, "They've just come over. The grenadier company
from the fort will be on the causeway in an hour." And in less than a
minute all of us were on our way to Colonel Woodford's tent to tell him
the news.

Little noise was made as we gathered our men at the end of the causeway,
and as we hurried about Will told me, between breaths that my sister
Mary and Harrison were living in the town of Norfolk where Will had been
held close prisoner until an hour or two before. He had failed to gain
the good will of the governor on going back to the frigate after our
flight, and both he and Sam were closely confined. As soon as Sam was
able to work, he was taken out and sent, with a lot of other captured
slaves, to help strengthen the fortifications of the town.

Here he heard the news of the proposed attack and managed to liberate
Will and escape with him in time to warn us.

"When was Mary married, and at what church?" I asked breathlessly.

But Will suddenly turned away and did not answer and, taking an old
musket from a farmer, pretended to be busily engaged in fixing the
flint.

I was working hard with my men, trying to get an old twelve pounder into
position to sweep the bridge, but the wheels of its carriage were so
rotten and stuck so deeply in the mud, that they finally broke down
completely, leaving the gun useless.

As the gray dawn of the winter morning deepened, objects began to grow
more distinct. We shivered in our wet clothes and strained our eyes in
the direction of the fort that covered the farthest approach to Great
Bridge.

Something moved in the dim distance.

Slowly and surely it drew nearer, and then we saw the head of the
British column coming silently over the long causeway.

I shook from head to foot with cold and excitement, and was so ashamed
because I did so, I felt like doing something foolish to prove my
courage. It was very trying to stand there on that cold, wet morning and
not even speak above a whisper, or move more than a foot or two, while
that column, with a company of grenadiers in the van, made its way to
within speaking distance of us.

The enemy was so close that, even in that bad light, the features of the
men were easily distinguished, and their hard, bronzed faces looked
strangely fierce from under their tall grenadier hats. Then a nervous
rifleman on my left blazed off his priming, and the next instant a
hundred rifles rang out from the breastworks into a deep, rolling roar.

The head of the column seemed to melt away like an icicle in the
sunshine. Men pitched over each other in a tangled heap of guns, arms
and legs. But the rest behind them came steadily onward, firing together
in volleys that sounded like a single report.

Our line fairly flamed with rifle flashes, and the men yelled and
shouted at each discharge, until the blending of yells and musket firing
became almost deafening.

Suddenly the column wavered. Then backward it went and appeared almost
on the point of breaking. Officers waved their swords and shouted
furiously at the men, and like the gallant soldiers they were, they
closed up and came onward again with a scorching fire that seemed to
fairly fill the air with flying lead.

A bullet cut the coon-skin cap from the head of an old hunter at my
elbow, but he never even winced, and coolly bit the end off his
cartridge and rammed the lead home as if making ready to fire at a
target.

They were within twenty paces of us now, and I fired my pistols with the
certain knowledge that the bullets would strike within an inch of the
spot at which I aimed. The officer leading the grenadiers sprang forward
upon the breastwork, gave a shout to his men, and then, waving his
sword, he brought it down with a sweep at my head. He was a brave
fellow, and I did not know it was Fordyce until after my pistol bullet
had passed through his body and he had rolled back among his men.

It was now almost hand to hand fighting, and the hot blasts of the
muskets, firing in our faces, scorched the skin and blinded us so that
nothing could be seen a few feet distant, but we had the advantage of
only having to expose our faces, whereas the enemy had to stand to it in
full view.

I saw Colonel Woodford ride past the line within a foot of me, sitting
his horse easily in full view of the enemy, but he remained untouched.

The fight raged fiercely, but our men refused to be dislodged. The
grenadiers were forced backward on the causeway, where they rallied
upon the tory infantry coming to their support, and in a moment the
smoke cleared away enough to see them forming for another desperate
charge.

Again and again did they storm that line of riflemen, and each time they
were repulsed and forced onto the causeway. Then, with great precision,
they closed up and drew away, firing steadily as they went, the tory
infantry leading.

A great shout went up from our victorious soldiers, and Colonel Bullet
leaped, sword in hand, over the breastworks and called for the men to
follow him. Bullbeggor pushed forward on the right, and led half a score
of men onto the causeway, but the British fired so steadily, and kept
their formation so well, that Colonel Woodford would not risk any
mishap to mar so grand a victory. The men were recalled, in spite of the
gallant Bullet's protests, but the rifle fire was kept up from the
breastwork until the enemy was well across and out of range. All along
the line of that long causeway they dropped from the ranks before the
murderous fire of those Virginians, and when they at last gained the
protection of the guns of their fort on the other side, there was not
one grenadier left unhit. The rest of them broke and became a
disorganized mob, making for shelter where it could be found, while the
way now being clear the fort opened a heavy fire that soon kept our men
under cover.

When I had time to look about me I was astonished at the small number
of our wounded. In that hot fire it seemed to me that nearly everyone
must get hit. But the poor light and breastworks had saved us many
lives, and our victory was not robbed of its joy by the presence of many
dead and wounded comrades. Not over a score of our men were hit, and
only a few of these casualties resulted fatally. Barron had his coat cut
in three places by balls, for he had exposed himself unnecessarily, and
Bullbeggor had lost his hat and was bleeding from a scratch on his
forehead where a grenadier had made a pass at him with his bayonet and
then fired. The steel had cut the skin, but the bullet had missed and
the discharge had blackened the Major's face until it was the color of
his servant's. Snake wished to attend his master, but the Major waved
him back and insisted on taking no notice of his hurt. He stalked up and
down the line of men, with his drawn sword held before him, stopping now
and then to see that a rifle was properly primed, or that the men did
not flinch too much from the artillery fire and become disorganized in
case of a renewal of the attack.

Finally the fire of the fort slacked up, and then ceased altogether, and
we were able to go about unmolested. Twenty dead grenadiers lay piled up
at our end of the causeway, their red coats stained with blood and dirt.
Then, as the fever of the fight died away in our veins, we looked out
upon those silent corpses and began to realize the grim glory of war.
Will joined me then and we shook hands silently over our success, and
afterwards we started to do what we could for our wounded men.



CHAPTER XI


Shortly after the battle of Great Bridge the British evacuated Norfolk,
and we followed hard upon their heels. Will and I happened to be
together in the company that first entered the town, and we had some hot
skirmishing before we got well into the streets.

He had told me little in regard to Harrison and my sister, but his sad
face and silent manner spoke plainer than words the thoughts which were
uppermost in his mind. Since the morning he crawled into my tent I had
refrained from asking any more questions.

We had become separated from our men in a smart rally about a tory
house, whose inhabitants had fired upon us and then fled, but Will
continued to lead the way rapidly through the main streets toward that
portion of the city where resided the most prominent followers of Lord
Dunmore.

Even as we appeared in the streets people fled towards the water front,
where the boats of the men of war were plying back and forth, taking the
fugitives aboard in great numbers. Suddenly Will stopped at a corner and
looked sharply across the street at a house whose closed blinds gave it
a deserted appearance.

Almost instantly the front door opened and Berkley Harrison walked out.
He saw us and turned towards us for an instant; then bowing politely he
made his way down the street.

"Stop! Hold on!" I cried, and I ran across to intercept him. "Wait a
moment, you have something to tell me," I continued as I caught up with
him.

For answer he drew his sword and stood on guard. Will stood silently
watching us.

"Hold on!" I cried. "Where is Mary? What do you mean by that?" and I
pointed to his drawn weapon.

"Miss Judkins is upstairs," he said coldly, and he drew himself up to
his full height, while that scornful smile I knew so well curled his
lips. "If you wish to see her," he continued, "you will probably find
her at home."

"But, Berk," I cried, "tell me, are you married, and is she going with
you? It's but a step to the frigate's boat and our men will not come
much closer. Tell me all about it, and how you intend to care for my
sister?"

"You will have to excuse me, Mr. Judkins," said he. "I am not afraid of
your men, but every loyal man has left this town, and I must catch the
last boat to the frigate, where I have business of importance to attend
to."

Then I realized the horrible truth that had begun to gain upon me since
I noticed Will's suspicious lack of knowledge of Harrison's affairs. I
was satisfied that Will had heard the true rumor of the affair, while he
was confined in prison, and now my wrath swelled beyond my control and
burst forth.

"You damned villain," I said, almost in a whisper, and I had my sword
before me.

We went at it; I with my blood afire, he with the coolness of a born
villain, who neither feared nor cared for anything.

The rasping ring of sliding steel and the noise of our shuffling feet
were heard in the room above us, for in a moment a shutter clanged open
against the wall, and I heard my sister's voice shriek in dismay.

I turned my head partially to try and see her face and slipped on the
wet pavement. Then I felt something like a bar of hot iron passing
through me and Harrison's cold, villainous face was close to mine.
There was a sickening catching of the breath, but I sat my teeth hard
as the scoundrel withdrew his weapon. Then I reeled and fell to the
pavement.

But I would not go, quite. Everything seemed to whirl around me, but I
drew my right hand pistol and cocked back the flint with fast weakening
fingers. Harrison appeared in a fog, and to be going up a steep hill
close to me, and then suddenly to be descending a frightful declivity as
I raised my weapon slowly. The pavement seemed to heave upward again,
and I marked the look on his craven features--for he knew what he was
facing--and I pulled the trigger with the sight on his heart.

At that instant something struck the weapon from my hand, and I was
aware of Will Byrd standing over me with his sword outstretched.

I was going fast, but I drew my left pistol. Harrison was still standing
near me, but appeared to be double. I fired into him but an object
seemed to pass between us and something fell heavily to the pavement.

Then I thought I saw the villain sheath his sword and bow to me, with
that same sneering smile on his face, and pass away out of sight down
the long street. I tried to raise myself to follow him and got to my
knees, then I pitched forward--

It was late in the evening when I regained consciousness, and found
myself lying on a cot in a house which appeared to be an improvised
hospital, as there were many wounded men about me. A wet compress lay
upon my chest and each breath I took caused me sharp pain. I looked at
the cot next to mine and noticed a familiar figure reclining there, and
as I did so it sat up. Then I recognized Will Byrd, but could not tell
how either he or I came to be where we were.

He saw my eyes open, and gazed sadly and thoughtfully at me; then he
spoke.

"How is it Dick, do you feel better?" he asked.

"Yes," I whispered, "are you hurt too?"

"No, why?"

"What are you lying there for?" Then I suddenly remembered. "Where's
Harrison?" I asked faintly, as the affair came back to me.

Will looked thoughtfully at me without speaking, and the expression of
deep sadness came over his face again.

"Where is he?" I whispered.

"His body was thrown into a trench with some others outside the town,"
answered Will.

"Then you killed him? Or was it a dream, what?" I gasped.

"Don't try to talk, Dick. You remember you shot him, don't you? Hit him
through the body. I knocked your first pistol away, for your sister's
sake, but you fired again before I could stop you. Don't talk any more
and you will come out all right.

"There's not much dream about the whole business, I only wish there
was."



CHAPTER XII


The evacuation of Norfolk by the British practically ended the war for a
time in Virginia, and Dunmore soon sailed away never to return.

In a couple of weeks I was on my feet again, very little the worse for
the wound Harrison had given me.

Will had been with me all the time and Barron and the Major spent nearly
all their spare hours in the hospital.

The companies had now begun to disband, that is all except those who
volunteered to join Washington's army at the north.

Colonel Woodford gave over his command to Colonel Howe, of North
Carolina, and after that he did little else than receive the praise he
had so well earned. Everywhere he was feted and applauded, until even
the tories began to come over to his way of thinking.

My company broke up and the men either went home or joined other
commands, and I was given indefinite leave on account of my wound. Will,
who held no commission, made ready to go with me to Judkins' Hall.

Now that the fighting was over, Major Bullbeggor appeared to suffer
acutely, and I made up my mind that the only thing that would save the
old soldier's life would be for him to join the army in the north.

"It's no use, Dick, my boy," said he, the day before I left him. "I
have these pains a'shooting all through me and a vertigris in the skull.
Why, I wouldn't be able to stand anything in that cold climate. This
twitching of the nerves and numbing of the bones certainly means
disintegration, sir; yes, sir, it certainly does mean something. Go and
get married, Dick, and try to get Will to join the army in the north. He
will make a splendid soldier, for there's nothing so desperate and
dangerous in a fight as a man crossed in love."

"But, Major," I said, "you know the army needs just such men as you to
guide them in military affairs. It's your duty to go where your country
calls for you when you are a soldier."

"I have a wife and six young children, Dick, all of them mostly ailing.
I've tried Miranda Jones' spring medicine, and all of them have had Dr.
McGuire bleed them until they could stand it no longer, but it didn't do
any good. They are all dependent on me. Who would pay for their
medicines if I should happen to fall ill and die?"

"They would probably be much better off if such an accident did happen
to you," I answered, laughing. "It's about time you let them alone. I
certainly think you ought to volunteer, or better still, raise a company
with Will and myself in it. Then, with Sam and Snake to look out for us,
we might operate to some advantage."

"I'll think of it, Dick. I'll think of it, but I must go now to
headquarters. Good-bye!" And his lean hand closed upon mine with a
hearty grip. Then he took the bridle of his mare from Snake and vaulted
lightly into the saddle. In a moment he and his servant had disappeared
around the corner of the street.

I wended my way to the house where Will and I were stopping and made
ready for our journey.

The next day about dusk we landed at the Hall.

Of course it is needless for me to say much about our welcome, but my
poor mother's joy at seeing us again was nothing to her sorrow when Will
had told the painful details of my affair with Harrison. After Miss
Carter heard the details of the fight she appeared to regard me with
secret horror for a few days, but then I knew all women were much set
against violence.

"But where is Mary now?" my mother asked of Will, after she had regained
herself.

"Nothing could induce her to remain in sight of Dick," said Will, "so
she sailed for England on one of Dunmore's vessels the day we entered
Norfolk." And that was the last time I ever heard him mention my
sister's name for years.

Rose was not a very joyous bride a couple of weeks later, but her
tenderness and thoughtfulness made up for the lack of passionate love,
which I felt sure she would develop as the years went by, and the
memory of Harrison faded from her mind.

One day, about a month after we were married, I went to the stables to
see about my horses getting their salt properly. As I stood at the
stable window, looking out towards the slave quarters, I saw Will Byrd
standing at the curve of the carriage drive, gazing steadily at a slave
woman who held a shining black pickaninny in her arms. The slave woman
sat under a tree and dangled some plaything over the child's face and
crooned to it. The day was cold, and I thought it strange that the woman
should sit there with the child, even though the little thing was
carefully wrapped up in a shawl.

Will was evidently to my way of thinking, for he gazed steadily at the
child, and that strange look of deep sadness came over his face like I
had noticed before in the hospital at Norfolk. Then he turned and walked
slowly away, with his eyes cast upon the ground in front of him. Rose,
who always looks after the people, then came out of the house and went
straight toward the slave woman. She was evidently much upset at her
carelessness in exposing the child so long to the weather, for she bent
tenderly over it and kissed it, and then sent the woman away.

Ten minutes later, while I was walking through the grounds, attending to
some necessary repairs, I saw the woman again, sitting now on the low
stone fence that separated mine from the now deserted Harrison
plantation. I walked up to her and reproved her sharply for keeping a
year old child out so long in such cold weather.

"What is its name?" I asked.

"Marse Berk Harrison," she answered.

"Let me see him," I said, and I took hold of the child's arm to see if
he was good and fat. It was a common practice to name slave children
after the families to whom they belonged. Then I pinched the child's fat
cheeks and a lot of black stuff, like burnt cork, came off on my hand,
showing a white skin beneath it.

"Is he white?" I asked in astonishment.

"Oh, yes, Marse Judkins, he's white, but we keeps him black, 'cause I
has to take him so much with me to the quarters at the Hall."

"Who is his mother?"

"'Deed I don't know, Marse Judkins. Poor Miss Jude Berry over to the
forks, I believe, but she's daid now this year gone--no two, last
month--but her folks give him to me to raise, 'cause I lives at his
uncles, an' they tole me to keep him black till he able to shift for
hisself."

"Don't bring him to my quarters again," I said, and I handed her two
pieces of gold. That is all. Perhaps it is enough. The whole horrible
truth dawned upon me and I staggered away.

A week later Will insisted that he had stayed out his visit at the
Hall, and would join the army for the campaign against the British on
Long Island, near New York. The same day Major Bullbeggor sent me an
express that he would stop at the Hall and get Will and myself to help
organize a company for Washington's army. He and Barron rode in a little
later, accompanied by Snake in the Grass. The Major's face was most
peculiarity marked and tattooed by the explosion of the grenadier's
musket at the Great Bridge fight, and my mother hardly recognized him.

We made our preparations for departure within a few hours, and,
accompanied by Sam and Snake, rode away from the Hall.

All the field hands were grouped at the end of the carriage drive to
wish us good-bye, while my sweet wife Rose and poor mother stood on the
verandah and bade us a tearful farewell. God knows how my heart went out
to that dear wife, as I saw her standing there with the sunshine playing
on her hair and her eyes moist. But she smiled bravely and waved her
handkerchief to us, and Snake nodded furiously in return until we rode
slowly out of sight.



+-------------------------------------------------+
|Transcriber's note:                              |
|                                                 |
|Obvious typographic errors have been corrected.  |
|                                                 |
+-------------------------------------------------+





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