Tale of the Revolution
In Two Volumes.
Published by Cummings, Hilliard ; Co.
Printed by Hilliard and Metcalf.
Among the many brave and gallant men, who, in the memorable year 17591759, gathered unfading laurels on the Plains of Abraham, and shared the dangers and the glories of the immortal Wolfe, there were few, who more proudly distinguished themselves than Captain Courtland, then a young and inexperienced man, just entering on the busy stage of life. But, young and inexperienced as he was, there were older and abler officers who viewed with admiration his undaunted valour, and beheld with pleasure the enthusiasm with which he unsheathed his virgin sword to fight the battles of his king. Captain Courtland was the descendant of an ancient family which for centuries had given to its country brave defenders in time of war, and statesmen able to counsel in seasons of extremity, or in the hour of peace and national prosperity. Possessed of an ample fortune, and enjoying in the society of a beautiful and accomplished woman, to whom he was but just united, the pleasures of domestic life; yet with all the eager delight of a youthful soldier, he received an order to join his regiment, then destined to America, and, animated by the prospect of future glory, he quitted the endearments of home and the charms of polished society to embark on a tempestuous ocean in search of a foreign, almost a savage shore, stimulated by the enthusiasm of an enterprising spirit, and burning to follow to victory those great and brave men, who were about to 4 1(2)v 4 carry the terror of their arms into the French Provinces of the new world. The vessel in which Captain Courtland’s regiment was embarked sailed for Louisburg, and, joining the fleet under convoy of Admirals Saunders and Holmes, landed, towards the last of 1759-06June 1759, on the Isle of Orleans, a few leagues below the city of Quebec. The progress of their operations, history has faithfully recorded. Captain Courtland distinguished himself in such a manner as to gain the favour of his illustrious general, and on the memorable 1759-09-13thirteenth of September he led on his soldiers with a dauntless and intrepid valor, that hastened the issue of that victorious day, and drew from the lips of his beloved commander, the last expression of his kindness and approbation. But even in the hour of personal and national triumph, the manly cheek of Courtland was bathed in tears, and throughout the army of the victors the voice of joy and congratulation was lost in the deep and heart-breathed anguish of mourning and lametation;—for the beaming eye which cheered them in the hour of danger, which brightened at their triumphs, and softened with pity at their sufferings, was quenched in death; and that bold arm which pointed to victory, was nerveless and unstrung. Silent as the tomb which now shrouds the form of the hero, was all that remained of the brave, the gallant, the lamented Wolfe; and melancholy seemed the triumph, so dearly purchased. It was not till the autumn of the succeeding year that the soldiers of France were completely subdued by the arms of Britain, when the places within the government of Canada were surrendered to his Britannic Majesty, whose victorious troops took possession of the conquered country. The regiment of Captain Courtland with some others was then ordered home; and, flushed with conquest, the remnant of these gallant troops sailed, in the spring of 17611761, from the St. Lawrence, on their return to England.
Previously to his departure, Captain Courtland visited the English Provinces. Of an ardent temperament, a lover of freedom, and an admirer of nature in all her varied forms, he had marked with feelings of unmixed 5 1(3)r 5 pleasure the bold and sturdy spirit, which characterized the inhabitants of these provinces, and gazed with deep emotion upon the grand and sublime scenery peculiar to America. He passed some weeks with a friend in Philadelphia, and had daily opportunities, in the excursions which they made, of enjoying the less magnificent, but equally beautiful scenery which adorns the neighbourhood of this far-famed city. His letters to his wife were filled with praises of the country and the people; the one so diversified and grand; the other so lofty, bold, and independent; as if the majesty of their rivers and mountains, and the solemn grandeur of their forests, had infused a spirit of elevation and freedom into the inhabitants of this new and untamed world. The friends of Captain Courtland saw with pleasure his predilection for their adopted country, and exerted all their eloquence to induce him to make is his also. He was indeed strongly inclined to accede to their wishes; but before he could form any decision on the subject, his regiment was ordered home, and he left America uncertain if he should ever see it more. He reached England in safety, and, amid the sweets of domestic life, the visionary dreams which had amused him in America faded from his mind, or served occasionally for the basis of those airy castles, which he and Mrs. Courtland loved to raise. The active duties of his profession, however, soon called him again from the tranquil enjoyments of home, and continued almost unremittingly to engage him, during the two succeeding years, when the ratification of the definitive treaty of peace at Paris, in 17631763, terminated the long and sanguinary war, and permitted Captain, now Major Courtland to return again to the bosom of his family. But the continued absence of her husband, and the loss of two lovely children, had broken the health and spirits of Mrs. Courtland; and the Major held with alarm the gradual decay of her constitution, and the deep dejection of a mind, once all activity and life. The physicians recommended change of scene and climate; and the recollection of America, its pure and bracing air, its beautiful and varied landscapes, 1* 6 1(3)v 6 which had awakened such deep emotion in his heart, resolved him, if Mrs. Courtland would consent, instantly to commence the voyage, and try what effect this change of residence might produce upon her declining health. He found no difficulty in obtaining her assent, and his sanguine temper led him to hope every thing from the influence of scenes so new and interesting, on a susceptible and cultivated mind. Mrs. Courtland, with an only brother, was left an orphan in early infancy, and she had few ties to bind her to her native land. Love of country, of fortune, of society, were all lost in the absorbing passion which centered in her husband. His heart was her home, his wishes hers, and where he was happiest she would be so also; whether amid the splendours and refinements of British luxury, or in the solitudes of the American forests. The preparations necessary for her departure seemed to awaken her from the despondency, which sorrow and indisposition had occasioned, and she thought and spoke of it with a degree of interest and animation; which she had not discovered for several months before. Early in the spring of 17641764 Major Courtland, having obtained a year’s leave of absence, embarked for America with his wife and only surviving child, a beautiful little girl, of two years old. Their voyage was prosperous, and it produced the most beneficial effects upon the debilitated frame of Mrs. Courtland; while the cordial welcome with which she was greeted in a land of strangers, by those who knew and loved her husband, banished the slight sadness, which, on her first arrival, hung upon her spirits. They landed in New York, but shortly proceeded to Philadelphia, where Major Courtland had a larger circle of acquaintance. Not choosing a city residence, he took a house beautifully situated, on the banks of the Schuylkill, some miles distant from the city. It belonged to a friend of his, now in England, and with whom, in this spot, he had passed many delightful days during his former visit to America. It was built in the English style, and, though simple, with a degree of elegance seldom seen at that period in 7 1(4)r 7 America, except in the dwellings of the very wealthy, or of those who wished to enjoy the luxuries, and retain some appearance of the rank which they had possessed in their native land. It consisted but of one story; yet it was a spacious building; and the piazza, which surrounded it, and the large hall in the centre, which opened from a lawn in front, to a tastefully arranged garden behind, gave it an air of beauty and lightness, peculiarly pleasing and attractive. Extensive wings, on each side, included all the apartments which were necessary or convenient for family use or enjoyment; the lawn sloped gradually to the river, whose lucid waters were seen glancing, at intervals, through the foliage of the majestic trees that stood thickly around the dwelling, and gave to it a sequestered and solitary air, which in the eyes of Major Courtland constitued its greatest charm. Amidst the shades of this lovely retreat Mrs. Courtland’s health gradually improved, and the soothing tenderness of her husband, with the artless endearments of her child, restored to her wounded mind the cheerfulness and elasticity of which affliction had deprived it. The society also, which they gathered around them, though less numerous, was not less refined and intellectual than that which they had been accustomed to enjoy in England. Their present enjoyments were so rational and calm, their future prospects so cloudless and delightful, that they both looked forward with repugnance to the time, when they must quit their present quiet residence and share again in the pleasures, the pursuits, and the follies of the world.
But this period was never to arrive. Three short and happy months had scarcely passed away, when the somewhat renovated health of Mrs. Courtland seemed again declining. The excessive heat of the summer months powerfully affected her feeble frame, and she drooped like a delicate flower beneath its withering influence. Again the anxious fears of her husband were awakened, and he would instantly have borne her to a colder region, in search of that health, which she was never more to find. But rendered languid by disease, 8 1(4)v 8 she implored him not to remove her from her present residence; and on being assured by her physicians, that all experiments would prove unavailing, he relinquished his hopeless project, and with despair at his heart forced himself to wear a look of cheerfulness, that he might, if possible, sustain the spirits of his wife. With a fortitude, which Heaven alone could have imparted, he remained firm at the dreadful post of observation, which he was called to fill; soothing with unwearied tenderness the irritations and the sufferings of disease, and administering, with his own hand, to the wants of his beloved patient. Mrs. Courtland survived just six months after her arrival in America; she had suffered much, but the inflictions of Providence hade been sanctified to her; they had weaned her affections from earth, and with cheerful confidence committing her husband and infant child to the care and protection of Heaven, she awaited in humble faith and hope, the moment of her final release. Disappointed in his fondest hopes, by the death of the earliest and dearest object of his affections, Major Courtland, for a time, refused all sympathy and consolation. He shut himself in his apartment, and holding his little girl in his arms yielded to the utmost violence of sorrow; but, when the first paroxysm of grief had passed away, he acquired more self-command, and forcibly withdrew his thoughts from dwelling constantly on the dead, to recollect the duties which he owed the living. He thought, at first, of returning directly to England; but, attached to the manners and scenes of America, he felt a painful reluctance at the idea of quitting it. A new tie also bound him to the land; it contained the ashes of his lamented wife; and when his child should learn to speak and think of her mother, it would afford him a melancholy pleasure to lead her to the spot where reposed her mortal remains; to tell her of the virtues which adorned her character, and teach her to imitate them, and to love and venerate her memory. England, too, had lost, for him, its most attractive charm. He loved it, as his country; he honoured its laws, its institutions, and its government; 9 1(5)r 9 but she, who gave to every scene a charm, he could never more behold there; and the home of his fathers, the haunts of his youth, the friends he had loved, would unceasingly awaken painful remembrances of her, who slept in a distant land, and over whose forsaken grave he could not even enjoy the luxury of weeping. These thoughts long continued to occupy and agitate him; and he was still in a state of uncertainty and suspense, when he received a letter from the friend, who was the proprietor of the estate on which he now resided. He informed Major Courtland that, in consequence of an unexpected change in his prospects, he found himself under the necessity of remaining in England, and wishing, of course, to dispose of his estate in America, he made him the first offer of it, upon the most reasonable terms. The overture was too tempting to be rejected, and Major Courtland, delighted to possess a place, which his wife had loved, and which had been the scene of her last hours, without hesitation paid the stipulated price, and renounced, for the present at least, all intention of quitting America. He now viewed, with increased interest, the beautiful domains around him, and began to embellish and improve them. He became daily more averse to the idea of returning to England, and at last adopted the resolution of resigning his commission, and remaining in America till Catherine should reach the age, when it would be proper for her to enjoy the society and pleasures of the world. This design, once formed, was immediately executed: he sent home his resignation, and turned his whole attention to the pursuits and enjoyments of rural life, and to the engaging task of educating his child.
Mrs. Courtland had brought with her to America a female, whom she considered rather in the light of a humble friend, than in that of a mere domestic, and who, having lived with her for several years previous to her marriage, had imbibed for her a strong attachment. This woman belonged to a respectable family, and had received an education far superior to what, in her class 10 1(5)v 10 of life, is usually thought necessary; and to her especial care Mrs. Courtland affectionately consigned her little girl. Martha, touched by the confidence which this request evinced, solemnly promised never to forsake the child of her benefactress, while it was in her power to be in any way serviceable to her, and to devote herself entirely, during her helpless childhood, to her comfort and enjoyment. Martha’s love for the little Catherine rendered the performance of her promise an easy and a pleasurable task. It indeed bordered on idolatry; so that Major Courtland felt no concern lest she should be neglected, but feared rather, that her kind-hearted attendant would err on the side of indulgence. To prevent this danger, he kept a watchful eye over their young charge, who, already cconscious of her power, often maintained it with a degree of spirit and obstinacy that surprised her father, and warned him of many difficulties to be encountered in the formation of a mind, which, notwithstanding all its faults, gave early promise of uncommon loveliness. Yet he found it painful to reprove even the failings of an object so beloved: her innocent endearments soothed his widowed heart, and often, while, with melancholy fondness, he traced the features of her mother in her infant countenance, he breathed a silent prayer to heaven to spare this last sweet bud of hope, that remained upon his desolated tree.
As years passed on, time, with his obliterating hand, softened the painful regrets of Major Courtland, while the opening charms of Catherine filled his heart with paternal pleasure, and bound him again with a strong but gentle tie to earth. He did not indeed cease to mourn over the memory of her, who had been so early taken from him; but the poignancy of his regret had softened into a feeling of tender sadness, and there were no hours to him so sweet, as those passed with his daughter on her grave, which he watered with his tears. Catherine wept because he did; and listened with a heart full of emotion to his praises of the mother, whom it was her misfortune never to have known. 11 1(6)r 11 Major Courtland had caused the remains of his lady to be removed to a sequestered spot in his garden, beneath the drooping branches of some willows that stood grouped together beside a small stream of clear water. A simple obelisk of white marble marked the place of her repose, and around it in the hand of affection had planted the earliest and most fragrant flowers. It was here that Catherine received the first lessons of virtue, which impressed her youthful mind; and thus the associations, connected with this spot, were of the most pure and sacred nature. The soft murmur of the stream, the fragrance of the flowers, the gentle sighing of the wind through the graceful branches of the willows, all conspired to hallow the pleasing awe attached to it; and often the father and the daughter fancied that the spirit of her, whose remains moudlered beneath the flowery turf, hovered around them in this favorite resort. Interested in the cultivation of his estate, and in the education of his daughter, Major Courtland found time pass rapidly away; he wished for no higher pleasures than those which he derived from her affection, from the conctemplation of nature, from the charms of literature, and from the society of the few friends, with whom he occasionally associated. Yet he was an ardent lover of his king and country; and happy as he found himself in his present abode, he anticipated the day, when he should return to the land of his fathers, and present his lovely daughter, blooming with youth and beauty, to the gay and admiring circle, in which she was born to move. She was growing up, adorned with every personal charm, and gifted with a mind of uncommon strength and beauty; her doting father watched, with trembling solicitude, the rapid expansion of her intellectual powers, and saw, with inexpressible pleasure, the graces and loveliness of the mother revived in the youthful person of his daughter.
But from the contemplation and enjoyment of an object so dear, Major Courtland was aroused by the murmur of national discontent, which began now to 12 1(6)v 12 spread among all ranks, deepening and strengthening as it spread, till the voice of complaint was that of the people; and the country, at large, became ripe for a revolt. A stern and devoted loyalist, he could not listen to these murmurs without the strongest indignation. What the colonists termed arbitrary accts, impositions, and grievances, on the part of the mother country, he, influenced by the partiality of national feeling, deemed to be just and lawful requisitions; and the love of liberty, by which they professed to be actuated, he stigmatized as the stirrings of aspiring ambition, which prompted them to shake off the mild restraints of British law and justice. But he was too prudent to express opinions so repugnant to the spirit of the people, and he remained a silent, though not an indifferent, spectator of the progress of events. It was no matter of wonder, when so many preserved a strict neutrality, that he should do so too; and though suspicion was awake on all sides, and many individuals were pointed out and denounced as loyalists and tories, yet Major Courtland, seldom seen in the populous haunts of men, and occupied in the most simple and harmless pursuits, escaped all obloquy, and became alternately the unwilling confidant of both parties. Popular discontent continued to increase with an alarming rapidity: every day aggravated the evils, of which the colonists complained, and strengthened the determination of Great Britain to subdue the rebellious spirit, which manifested itself: but the resistance of America increased in proportion to the impositions of her government, till, at length, the provinces, ripe for revolt, with an unanimous impulse, flew to arms, and commenced that desperate conflict, which for seven long years deluged in blood the fairest portions of the land, and terminated in the triumph of freedom, and the establishment of all the rights and priveleges most dear to civilized man. Major Courtland was solicited by individuals of each party to engage in the contest, but his political and national attachments forbade his aiding the American cause; neither could he resolve to combat against a 13 2(1)r 13 land, which had afforded him a pleasant habitation, for so many years, and which was endeared to him by a thousand fond and tender recollections. Catherine felt and thought far differently from her father; but the deep attachment which he ever expressed for the land of his birth, prevented her from giving utterance to the secret sentiments of her heart. Though as yet scarcely past the age of childhood, her mind was mature beyond her years, and her ardent feelings led her early to imbibe a strong affection for the land of her adoption; it was the only one which she had ever known, and it was endeared to her by all the sweet recollections of infancy, and by all the enjoyments and hopes of youth. No country, she fondly thought, could be more lovely, no people more virtuous, or more nobly independent; and the very spirit which roused them to arms was one which met an answering impulse in her bosom. With the most anxious interest she watched the progress of the strife, till her passions and her hopes were enlisted in the cause of the colonists, in whose triumphs she exulted, and in whose sufferings and defeats she deeply but silently sympathized; for, as yet, she dared not risk her father’s displeasure by expressing, in his presence, her joy or her regret. How would he reprove her, who ever spoke of the colonists as factious and ambitious, and deprecated their proceedings as altogether unjustifiable and rebellious! Major Courtland, however, was frequently compelled to hear their praises from the lips of an old servant, to whom, in consideration of his age and long services, he allowed more liberty of speech than he would have been inclined to grant an ordinary domestic. During the campaign of 17591759 in Canada, Hugh had been his constant and faithful attendant, and had then, from the bravery and hospitality of the Americans, imbibed for them that partiality, which, during his long residence in the country since that period, had ripened into a deep and permanent attachment. His eulogiums on their valor heightened the enthusiasm with which Catherine regarded them, and his oft repeated accounts of their constancy 2 14 2(1)v 14 and sufferings were heard by her with emotion, and fanned the flame of patriotism which burned so brightly in her heart. Catherine often wished for a companion of her own sex and age, and her wishes were, at last, gratified by the arrival of a cousin, who, having accompanied her father from England, came to reside with her, during his continuance in America. Col. Dunbar was the only brother of Mrs. Courtland, and, at the commencement of the war, he had accompanied the army of General Howe to America. His lady and daughter sailed with him from England; but the former, then in delicate health, died during the voyage, and, after the evacuation of Boston by the British troops, the Colonel sent his motherless girl to remain under the protection of her uncle while he followed the uncertain fortunes of war.
Amelia Dunbar was two years older than her cousin; and, though gifted with far less beauty, she possessed a pleasing person and a sweet and interesting countenance. But their characters were more dissimilar than their persons; Amelia was timid and pensive, kind but not ardent in her feelings, and never by any event transported to enthusiasm. Catherine had a mixture of gaiety and tenderness of spirit, and of softness in her composition, which was truly captivating. She was governed by feeling, and the excitement of the moment often carried her beyond the verge of prudence. Warm in her attachments she thought no service too great to be performed for those she loved, and was ready, at any moment, to sacrifice her wishes to the inclination of her friends. Her lofty feelings rendered her a passionate admirer of brave and heroic actions, and her affection for her adopted country was strengthened and increased by the noble contempt of suffering and death, displayed by its daring soldiery; and, above all, by the great and magnanimous chief who led forth its armies, and who, animated by the purest patriotism, devoted himself to its cause, without one selfish aspiration after emolument or fame. She soon found, with regret, though not with surprise, that her feelings would meet 15 2(2)r 15 with no sympathy in the heart of her cousin, who was as firm a loyalist as Major Courtland was himself, or as he could have wished his daughter to be; and who viewed, with all the anger that her gentle nature was susceptible of cherishing, the persevering struggles of the rebels against the laws and authority of their rightful soveriegn. Catherine, of course, resolved not to alienate the affections of her cousin, or wound her national attachment, by an avowal of her obnoxious sentiments; but her ungaurded heart yielded to every impulse of enthusiasm, and she was too deeply interested in the public cevents of the day, always to remember, that there were those before whom the expression of her feelings would be considered both criminal and unnatural. Circumstances and conversations were perpetually occurring, which made her forget all caution, and unveiled both to her cousin and her father the opinions and attachments which she cherished. Pennsylvania, and particularly the neighbourhood of Philadelphia, had now become the principal seat of the war; and the Americans, pursued beyond the Delaware, remained shut up in the capital, while the troops of the king surrounded them, and maintained quiet possession of the adjacent country. Catherine’s bouyant hopes were saddened by the gloomy reports, which constantly reached them, of the reduced numbers of the American army, the desperate state of their affairs, and the sufferings to which they were in consequence exposed. The triumph of the royal cause was spoken of as certain, and the British officers, who were in the habit of visiting at Major Courtland’s, seemed confident of a speedy peace, and convinced of the inability of the colonists to maintain a longer resistance.
As the regiment of Colonel Dunbar was, at this period, stationed in the vicinity of Major Courtland’s residence, Amelia had frequent opportunities of seeing her father. He was often the guest of his brother-in- law, and though he seldom came alone, both himself and his companions in arms were ever cordially welcomed and hospitably entertained. Catherine would have highly enjoyed the society of these well-bred and intelligent men, had she not been compelled so often, to listen to the expression of sentiments repugnant to her feelings, and which she feared might increase the abhorrence with which her father already regarded the struggles of the colonists, and urge him again to unsheath his sword in the service of his king. Colonel Dunbar was a high spirited and brave soldier; he hated whatever savored of republicanism, and was a zealous defender of royalty and its prerogatives. Secretly suspecting Catherine’s attachment for what he termed the cause of rebellion, he took every opportunity indirectly to reprove her, and was unsparing in the harshness of his censures on the ungrateful colonists. Catherine, however, firm in her principles and attachments, chose rather to endure the severity which she incurred, than disavow the opinions which she had adopted from a conviction of their justness; though, from regard to her father’s feelings, as well as to avoid continual dispute, she remained silent, except when some very unjust assertion, or provoking ridicule, threw her off her guard, and led her, with all the fervor of unstudied eloquence, to vindicate the people whom she loved. But she soon grew weary of the Colonel’s unceasing17 2(3)r 17 ceasing sarcasms. His visits, though usually short, were dreaded by her; and when she heard him express his intention of passing the approaching Christmas with them, she looked forward to the day, which had hitherto been one of rational enjoyment, as to a season of trial and vexation.
Major Courtland, who loved to keep the festival with true old English hospitality, requested his brother to extend the invitation to as many as he pleased; and accordingly Colonel Dunbar arrived, in the morning, bringing with him several officers of his regiment. The day passed cheerfully on: all seemed disposed to forget the public events of the period, and Catherine, agreeably disappointed that political topics formed no part of the conversation, was all gaiety and animation; while Amelia, happy in the presence of her father, contributed, with more than her usual spirit, to the enjoyment of the circle. But, during the hour of dinner, Catherine observed that her uncle, a convivial man, and rather given to excesses, quaffed frequent libations, and circulated the bottle with a freedom that shortly excited the spirits of the gentlemen, and gradually introduced the subject which she had so much dreaded, and sought, by every means in her power, to avert. Amelia became silent; for she well knew her father’s irritability, and was aware of the offence, which the zealous expression of his sentiments would give to the feelings of her cousin. But Catherine seemed resolved not to hear what was passing at the lower end of the table; for she turned to Captain Talbot, who sat next her, and began earnestly to converse with him on the merit of some French plays which he had sent her a few days before. The young man more than half suspected her secret predilection for the land, against which he was in arms, and compreheneded the cause which induced her to engage him, at this moment, on a literary topic; but he was deeply touched by her charms, and he would almost as soon have forfeited his commission as have wounded the feelings which seemed to him so natural and so excusable. He therefore2* 18 2(3)v 18 fore entered with animation on the subject which she had proposed, and Catherine herself soon became so interested in the discussion, as to forget the motive which had prompted her to commence it, and even to remain unobservant of the warm language of her uncle, and of the pointed sarcasms which he intended for her ear; but, remarking her inattention, he resolved to arouse her from it, and pushing the decanter towards her he said, in an elevated voice,
Miss Cathaerine, you do not drink your cousin’s toast. Pardon me, sir, but I did not hear it, she replied, slightly colouring; and turning, as she spoke, from Captain Talbot, who, absorbed by her, had been likewise inattentive to it. The gallant General Howe! said Colonel Dunbar, raising his glass to his lips, and fixing on her a keen and searching glance; but she cordially drank to the welfare of a man, whom all parties reverenced and admired, though when her uncle requested from her a favor similar to that which Amelia had conferred, she blushed and was for a moment silent; but soon recovering herself, she gave, The land we love.
That, Miss Courtland, is rather an ambiguous sentiment, said the Colonel with severity; and were there a dozen rebels present, it would suit them just as well as if they had hearts as loyal as either yours or mine.
He smiled sarcastically, as he concluded; and Captain Talbot, highly displeased, was on the point of replying with as much asperity as he dared discover towards his superior officer, when Catherine, justly offended by the pointed rudeness of her uncle’s words and manner, prevented him by saying with an emphasis which heightened the glow upon her cheek,
And because a rebel drinks to the land he loves, may we not do so also, uncle? Does party feeling indeed run so high, that two nations, using the same language, can no longer express themselves in similar phrases, without being suspected of harbouring a sinister meaning?
Colonel Dunbar looked chagrined, but he replied 19 2(4)r 19 with a forced and rather ungracious smile, Excuse me, Catherine; you cannot suppose I suspect you of harboring any disloyal or sinister meaning, but in these treacherous and uncertain times, you will allow it is best to be explicit in word as well as deed.
Certainly, uncle; though suspicion may extend too far, and has sometimes converted tried friends into inveterate foes, she replied smiling.
But a celebrated writer has cautioned us, said Colonel Dunbar, to live always with a friend as if he were one day to become an enemy.
It is a detestable maxim, answered Catherine indignantly, and he who is capable of carrying it into practice, ought never to enjoy the pleasures of virtuous friendship.
Well, well, Catherine, said Colonel Dunbar, I confess I have sometimes thought you rather inclined to whigism, but in future I will believe your heart as loyal as my own, and that all your good wishes are enlisted on the right side.
At least, my dear uncle, she said with a smile, which Captain Talbot thought resistless, believe this, that I can never wish ill to the land of my birth, however tender may be my attachment to that which only I have known, and which has nurtured me with so much kindness from my infancy.
I have taught Catherine to love America, said Major Courtland, though I never wished her to prefer it to her mother country, nor can I yet believe that she is so perverted as to do so. But let us now reconcile all differences by a toast in which I am sure both loyalist and republican would cordially pledge us. He filled his glass, and gave, A speedy peace on honorable terms; which was drunk with great good humor; and soon after the ladies retired. Captain Talbot shortly followed them, and as Amelia quitted the apartment on some errand soon after he entered, he improved the opportunity, afforded by her absence, to renew the subject which had been discussed at the dinner table. Let us speak no more of it, said Catherine; I cannot20 2(4)v 20 not conceal, nor will I deny, the predilection which I feel for this country. I do not owe to it my birth, but it was here that I received my earliest impressions, and, amid this lovely scenery, they have deepened into sentiments which time cannot efface. Among this people, whom my uncle denounces, my father has chosen his abode, and to their kindness he is indebted for attentions which can never be repaid, and which I am sure his noble nature never will forget. All that I love is centered here; even the ashes of my mother, she continued with emotion, repose in the bosom of this soil and render sacred the land of my adoption. Is it then strange that I should cling to it with affection, and shudder at those denunciations, which I daily hear pronounced against it? No, I am a daughter of America, and I tremble for the moment which seems fast approaching, when her lofty spirit shall be made to bend beneath the iron yoke of tyranny and oppression. Forgive me, Captain Talbot, she added, suddenly checking herself, I forget that I am speaking to a loyalist, who may judge harshly of this frank avowal; I remember only that I address a brave soldier, and an honorable man, who, though his own sentiments may be at variance with those which I have unguardedly expressed, will be too generous to censure feelings, which have originated in the peculiar circumstances of my situation.
Captain Talbot gazed with admiration upon the glowing countenance of Catherine, varying with emotion, while she spoke with a rapidity and eloquence that forbade his interrupting her. Bowing profoundly at the gratifying compliment with which she concluded, he replied,
I am far from wishing to censure sentiments, Miss Courtland, which I cannot but honor as the virtuous emotions of a good and susceptible heart. They are such as must be peculiarly lively in all who, at this trying period, call themselves children of America; and though myself in arms against her, I do not the less admire her spirit, or respect the talents of her chiefs. But I am enlisted in the service of a monarch, whom I 21 2(5)r 21 love, and the profession, which I have embraced forbids my shrinking, in the hour of danger, from the duties it enjoins. The present situation of affairs induces us to think the contest is about to be decided; but whether America conquers or submits, we know she will do either nobly. At all events, the country which Miss Courtland loves, will always be to me an object of respect.
The entrance of Amelia terminated the conversation; and, the other gentlemen coming from the dining-room soon after, it was not resumed. The evening passed away in a variety of amusements peculiar to the season, and at a late hour Colonel Dunbar and his companions took leave of their friends and returned to the camp.
Early on the following morning Major Courtland was awakened by the sound of distant cannonading, which shortly became so loud and incessant, as to disturb the remainder of the family. Major Courtland apprehended an engagement must have taken place between the contending armies; though, considering the situation of the Americans, this seemed almost an incredible supposition, unless the British had crossed the Delaware and surprised them in their encampments. At all events, something of the kind must have occasioned the firing, and the idea of Colonel Dunbar’s danger filled them all with anxiety. Amelia in particular refused to be comforted, and, unable to control her grief, she shut herself up in her apartment to wait the return of Hugh who had been sent off to gather tidings of the cause of the alarm. Major Courtland also, uneasy at home, mounted his horse, and rode out to meet his messenger; but he did not return; and it was late in the afternoon, when Hugh was seen riding up the avenue alone. Amelia had returned to the parlour, and Catherine was seeking to sooth her apprehensions, when Hugh, wet by the mingled sleet and rain which had fallen during the day, and bespattered with mud, abruptly presented himself before them. All is well, ladies, he said panting for breath; and, Miss Amelia, the Colonel is safe, and has had no fighting to day.22 2(5)v 22
Thank God! exclaimed both the cousins at the same moment, while Amelia, suddenly relieved from her anxiety, which had become intolerably keen, sunk almost fainting on her seat. Catherine hastened to support her; and when she had revived, Hugh proceeded to give them farther intelligence. I found, ma’am, he said in answer to Catherine’s inquiries, that the country people knew nothing of what had happened; and so, thinking his Honor would be displeased if I came home without doing the errand on which he sent me, I rode towards his Honor the Colonel’s head quarters, and was thinking what if the sentinel forbid my passing, how I should act, when I met Peterson, riding post haste to bring the tidings here. Last night, ma’am, the Americans marched from their encampment, and this morning by daylight fell upon the Hessian outposts at Trenton; carried them, gained a complete victory, and captivated three whole German regiments!
A secret pleasure lighted up Hugh’s rough features as he delivered this intelligence, and sparkled with less disguise on the eager and surprised countenance of Catherine; though it seemed to her so strange,—so almost impossible, that she could not refrain from expressing a doubt of its correctness.
But, ma’am, returned Hugh with earnestness, the Colonel sent Peterson with the news; and he would not have done so, had it not been true; besides, he told me that the troops had been under arms all day; but that some runaways had just brought word that the Americans had gone back with their captives; so it was probable they would have no fighting to day. The German barbarians! he added with strong indignation, they will get more mercy than they deserve.
An ejaculation of pleasure involuntarily escaped from Catherine, as she ruminated upon this wonderful intelligence; when Amelia suddenly raised her head from her cousin’s shoulder, on which, till now, it had rested; and said, in a reproachful tone, and with a glance of displeasure.23 2(6)r 23
Do you then triumph in the misfortunes of your country, Catherine?
It is in its success that I know triumph, she replied. You forget, Amelia, that I call America my country; and, were it not so, as a friend to humanity, I rejoice in the capture of these mercenary Germans, who without any love for liberty and justice, without any knowledge even of the cause in which they are employed, come to outrage the inhabitants of a country, which has afforded an asylum to so many of their ancestors.
Ah, Miss Amelia, they are more bloodthirsty than wolves, said Hugh. Peterson told me, to day, of a German soldier who went into the house of a poor old woman, and――
Pray, do not tell me any of their cruelties, I entreat you, Hugh, interrupted Amelia; I do not doubt them; war is a bloody trade, and must harden the softest heart.
Ah, in truth, Miss Amelia, returned Hugh, zealous to defend the honor of the profession, many a warm heart, and many a tender one too, beats under a soldier’s doublet. They are brave who fight for their country; but they who fight only for money can have but few kindly feelings left.
You are right, Hugh, said Catherine; he who fights for his country, his home, and his religion, and he only, is the brave and noble soldier. But did you not see my father? and why has he not returned?
I met him, Miss Catherine, just as I was parting with Peterson, and he sent me on to bring you the tidings, while he stopped to ask a few more questions. But, ma’am, my master is coming up the avenue, at this moment.
He moved towards the door, as he spoke; and Catherine, after dismissing him, went out upon the piazza to meet her father. She, however, received only a confirmation of what Hugh had already told her, without the addition of any farther particulars, which, in fact, were as yet but imperfectly known to any but 24 2(6)v 24 the actors in this unexpected event. The Major seemed not disposed to converse upon it; he was evidently chagrined, and retired soon after dinner to his own apartment; which Catherine heard him traverse with agitated steps, till long past midnight.
The truth was, that he began to feel the inactive life which he led, becoming daily more irksome. Fond of his country and his profession, he could not see the prosperity of the one, or the honor of the other, threatened, without feeling himself called upon to lend what aid was in his power to their support. He detested, what he called the ingratitude of America; and he felt every tie which bound him to her, weakened by the resistance she was making to the authority of a superior and, as he thought, a just and righteous power. His national pride, also, was humbled by the triumph of her arms. Though she had conquered only the soldiers of Germany, they were in the service of England, and should have proved themselves invincible. At such a moment too, it was peculiarly aggravating, when the contest seemed about to terminate in favour of the English, who, assured of victory, despised the feeble army of America, and reposed in security within their encampments.
The victory of Trenton, however, was but the commencement of a succession of victories, which reversed the good fortune of the British arms, drove them from their strong encampments, and obliged them to give up an offensive war, and think only of defending themselves from the frequent attacks of their resolute foe. It was the more galling to their pride to receive their constant defeats from a shattered army reduced almost to extremity; while they were both powerful and well disciplined.
In the mean time the spring opened; and still Major Courtland remained undecided, whether or not to engage in active service. He was often solicited to do so, and by those, for whom he had the highest reverence and respect. General Burgoyne, whose friendship he had enjoyed in England, had several times written, urging 25 3(1)r 25 him to join in aiding the cause of his country; and since his appointment to the command of the Northern Army he had repeated his invitation, informing him, that he was authorized to bestow on him the same rank, as that which he had formerly held, or even a higher one if that would be any additional inducement to him. But it was not honor which Major Courtland coveted; the days of romantic enthusiasm were past with him, and a sincere wish to serve his country was the only motive that induced him again to engage in the arduous duties of his profession. His anxious affection for Catherine was all that now caused him to hesitate; but even that at length yielded to what he considered the obligations of duty, and, before he informed her of his intention, he wrote to accept the appointment in General Burgoyne’s army, which was soon to commence its operations. He felt an extreme reluctance to speak with Catherine upon the decisive step which he had taken; but time pressed; there was not a moment to be lost; his presence was even now required in the army; and anxious, before his departure to make some arrangements for the safety and comfort of his family, he one morning entered the apartment where Catherine was sitting alone at work, and communicated his projects with as much gentleness as possible.
But with all his precaution, he was shocked to observe the emotion which she betrayed, on receiving his intelligence. Her work fell from her hands, and with a countenance, on which grief and anxiety were strongly painted, she looked fixedly at him, without uttering a word. Major Courtland was sensible of his daughter’s attachment to America; but he knew not its extent; neither was he aware of the intense interest, with which she watched the progress of the strife; nor that she had espoused the cause of the republicans, alike from principle and affection. When, therefore, he proceeded to state the nature of his feelings, and the motives which, after long deliberation, had induced him to take up arms, he was surprised at the vehemence, with 3 26 3(1)v 26 which she answered him, and which seemed far greater than even the occasion warranted.
My father, my dear father, she exclaimed, with extreme emotion, I entreat you to pause a moment before you arm against a land which ought to be so dear; which has been so long our happy dwelling- place; whose inhabitants are not to us like strangers, but amongst whom we have lived and interchanged the courtesies and endearing acts of sympathy and kindness.
Catherine, I have reflected many moments, and hesitated long before making this my final decision, said the Major; but my country has a claim which cannot be denied, and I feel that I have too long delayed to grasp my sword at her defence.
Better, my dear father, far better, she exclaimed, to let the sword, once so bravely wielded, rust forever in its scabbard, than draw it forth in this unrighteous cause, and plunge it into the bleeding bosom of a country, which claims from us, who have so long lived upon her soil, the affection and the gratitude of children.
I love America, said Major Courtland, but I heartily detest her cause; and never shall my arm be raised to aid those daring rebels, who openly defy their king, and have dared to raise against him their standard of revolt.
I do not ask you to aid them, father, answered Catherine; only preserve the neutrality which you have so long maintained; continue to enjoy with me our quiet retreat, and let us, at distance, only view the progress of the strife. Enough that your youth was spent in the service of your country; let the evening of life, my dear father, be devoted to gentler duties. Remember that filial affection has a claim, which, if dissolved, will leave your daughter friendless and desolate indeed.
Major Courtland was touched by her pathetic pleading, but his honor was pledged, and he would not suffer his resolution to be shaken. Rallying his self-command, and assuming a cheerful air, he said, after a momentary pause,27 3(2)r 27
You are a soldier’s daughter, Catherine, and would you have your father shrink in the hour of peril from the performance of his duty. Rather seek to support and encourage him, than, by your repinings, render still more painful the trials incident to his profession. Such was your lamented mother’s conduct, who never, in the most agonizing moments of separation, betrayed a feeling unworthy a soldier’s wife, but cherished her husband’s honor as her own, and endured, with smiling patience, the anxieties to which she was continually subjected.
Catherine felt the full force of this reproof, gentle as it was, and rendered touching by the allusion to her mother. Her eyes filled with tears; but, brushing them hastily away, she said,
Danger and death are terrible, when connected in our minds with an object whom we love; but indeed, my dearest father, if I know my own heart, the apprehension of these evils agitate it less than the dread of that crime which I fear you will commit, if you resolve to espouse the cause of England, and assist her to triumph over this bleeding and struggling land. It is like stabbing the mother who nurtured us; like betraying the friend to whom we are indebted for benefits, which have prolonged, and given sweetness to existence.
My dear girl, returned Major Courtland, I am grieved, but not surprised, at the strength of your attachment to this country. You can remember no other, and I have myself taught you to regard it with affection. But we view things differently; so very differently, that I fear our sentiments on this subject can never be reconciled. Of this, however, rest assured, that I am not ungrateful to this land, nor heedless of her welfare. But she has brought upon herself the chastisements under which she now suffers, and I consider it the duty of every friend to good order, and particularly of every true loyalist, to lend his aid in quelling her rebellious and aspiring spirit.28 3(2)v 28
Let those, who have never shared her bounties, turn their weapons against her, said Catherine. It cannot be required of you, father, to repay evil for the kindness you have received.
I have indeed received many kindnesses, returned Major Courtland; but notwithstanding all that I owe to this country, there is another, Catherine, to which I am under still deeper obligations: one to which I am indebted for birth, fortune, character, all that I possess, all that I am. And would you have me remain deaf to her call, calmly enjoying the ease of domestic quiet, or traitorously aiding the cause of those who ungratefully spurn her authority, and absurdly claim an independence which they never can support?
My dear father, said Catherine, pardon what I know you will term my obstinacy; but, till convinced that I am wrong, I must persist in the opinion, that whatever obligations you may fancy yourself under to the land of your nativity, you are bound by no tie of honor or of duty to assist her in a war of tyranny and oppression.
You are incorrigible, Catherine, said the Major, smiling; but we cannot hope to agree in principle, till we differ less widely in terms. We will discuss the subject no longer, at present: I will leave you to reflect upon it, and I trust your good sense and native rectitude of mind will convince you that I am not so deeply in the wrong as you appear to imagine me.
He kissed her tenderly, as he concluded, and when he had quitted the room, Catherine, no longer able to restrain her feelings, burst into a flood of tears. All the happiness of her past life seemed at an end, and she looked forward into the gloomy and uncertain future, with a shuddering sensation of terror and dismay.
Major Courtland, however, had taken his resolution, and he remained inflexible. With all possible despatch he busied himself in preparations for his departure, and consulted with his daughter and niece (the latter of whom, by the removal of her father to a considerable distance, was not left entirely to his care) on the situation29 3(3)r 29 ation which, during his absence, it would be most eligible for them to occupy. To leave them in his own house, surrounded by an army flushed with victory, and swelled with numbers of undisciplined and lawless militia, was impossible; and, after long consideration, he adopted a plan, which struck him as the safest and best that could be devised.
The quakers of that period were, in general, strenuous supporters of the royal cause: though, living in the midst of the republicans, they affected a strict neutrality, and forbore openly to violate their principles by taking up arms, yet, by secret means, they aided the British, and counteracted the Americans as much as they could, consistently with their own safety. To one of this sect, whom Major Courtland had long known and frequently befriended, he resolved to commit the care of Catherine and her cousin, assured that they would find with him a safe and peaceable asylum, though it might be destitute of many of the pleasures and luxuries which they had been accustomed to enjoy. Another motive, which induced Major Courtland to make choice of the quaker’s protection, in preference to that of any one else, was, that he resided in Albany, at which place it was supposed the victorious armies of Howe and Burgoyne were destined to meet and rejoice together in the success of their arms
Unwilling to leave his house and lands exposed to desolation and pillage, and aware also of the danger of confiscation, to which, as the property of an avowed loyalist, they would certainly be liable, Major Courtland made a pretended sale of them to a friend, who, though he rather inclined towards the Americans, had ever preserved a strict neutrality, and who gladly exchanged his residence in the city for so quiet and sheltered a retreat.
Having made these necessary arrangements, and left all his domestics, excepting Hugh and Martha, to the direction and service of the temporary occupant, Major Courtland, with Catherine and his niece, bade adieu for the present to the banks of the Schuylkill; and, 3* 30 3(3)v 30 having obtained permission to repair to Albany, they proceeded with all possible expedition towards the place of their destination. They reached it without incident and in safety, and after seeing his charge comfortably situated beneath the hospitable roof of the quaker, Richard Hope, Major Courtland bade them farewell, and hastened to join the army of General Burgoyne, then encamped on the banks of the river Boquet.
I will not do’t;
Lest I surcease to honour mine own truth,
And, by my body’s action, teach my mind
A most inherent baseness.
The family of Mr., or as he was usually called, Richard Hope, consisted of himself, his wife, and two domestics; a stout Dutch girl, whose broad, thick-set form indicated uncommon strength, though it did not promise all that agility which she really possessed; and a boy, who served in the several capacities of butler, groom, and waiter.
Mr. Hope was a pacific, precise, good-hearted man, and, being under obligations of some weight to Major Courtland, thought he could never be sufficiently kind and assiduous towards those members of his family whom the Major had placed under his protection. Independent of any personal obligation, however, Richard Hope, to do him justice, would, from native benevolence of feeling, and the influence of religious principle, have exercised all the rites of kindness and hospitality towards his new inmates. He was an ardent loyalist, and he entered more warmly into the interests of the cause, and expressed his sentiments oftentimes with more asperity than became the mild and peaceful character of the tenets which he professed. Catherine 31 3(4)r 31 sedulously avoided any discussion of the subject. Since her father had openly espoused the royal cause, she felt unwilling to express opinions which might appear like censures upon his conduct, and she listened in silence to the Quaker’s eulogiums and denunciations, or answered only by playful ridicule directed against his zeal, which he bore with unmoved complacency. In truth his invincible good humor seemed proof against all attacks, and, let good or ill betide, his temper retained the same unruffled serenity, and his features the same placid smile, as if nothing unusual had occurred. Even his harshest invectives were uttered with a quiet look, and in a monotonous tone, which contrasted ludicrously with the tenor of his words, and, in fact, destroyed one half of their effect. But he deemed it unbecoming a follower of William Penn, as he said, to let every idle wind ruffle his serenity, and this opinion, strictly adhered to, had made him a complete machine.
Mrs. Hope’s equanimity was not quite so uniform, as he husband’s; for, though she made him her example, and believed him as near perfection, as it was possible for mortal to attain, yet she found it difficult, amidst the multiplicity of domestic cares and anxieties, always to preserve the placid and quiet look, peculiar to her sect. It was through Major Courtland’s influence with the father of Mrs. Hope, that he had been induced to consent to her marriage with a quaker, for whose love, she had forsaken the faith in which she had been educated, and embraced the tenets of her lover; and to these tenets she had ever since adhered, with the most scrupulous fidelity, as if fearful that the purity of her motives might be questioned, should she deviate in the slightest degree from the line of conduct, which her new profession enjoined.
The habitation of this inoffensive couple was situated about a mile from the city, on the bank of the Hudson. Though a gothic Dutch building, it was both pleasant and convenient. It was surrounded by shrubbery, and the small but tastefully arranged garden, gay with flowers and shaded with fruit trees, which 32 3(4)v 32 overarched the walks, was the frequent and favourite resort of Catherine and her cousin. On the terraced roof of a pretty summer-house, at the bottom of the garden, whence the prospect was seen spreading itself out in all the luxuriance and sublimity of nature, they passed many delightful hours. They had brought with them a selection of books, and Mr. Hope furnished them with such as he was able to procure. Indeed he exerted himself greatly to contribute to their happiness; frequently accompanying them in little excursions round the country, and in short sails upon the Hudson, which rolled its world of waters so near the garden wall, that the crews of the vessels and small boats which glided past, could easily be distinguished from the summer house. Catherine and Amelia loved to watch them in the bright and balmy evenings, which are so common in America during the summer months; their tall masts and white shrouds partially silvered by the moon beams, the water sparkling and rippling beneath their keels, while the deep-toned voices of the sailors, and the shrill whistle of the boatswain were the only sounds that broke upon the profound stillness of the night.
Amelia was solicitous about her father, from whom she seldom heard and never very directly or particularly; but she was naturally of an easy and contented disposition; and since her residence in America, she had been so accustomed to his absence, and had so often seen him return from the most desperate battles in safety, that she sought to stifle every anxious thought, and indulged the hope that she should soon welcome him again, safe and unhurt, from all the perils to which he had been exposed. Thus lulling her apprehensions, she appeared cheerful and even happy; often speaking of her father, and looking forward, with hope, to the period, when she should again see him.
Catherine observed with surprise her cousin’s freedom from all inquietude; but she was too considerate to insinuate a word which might awaken it. Her own anxiety was very great; but, unwilling to disturb the serenity which Amelia was enjoying, and which she 33 3(5)r 33 thought might be soon and fatally interrupted, she studiously repressed her feelings, and, supported by the native strength and bouyancy of her mind, she appeared always animated and cheerful, though in secret she had many fears and painful anticipations to distress her.
By means of the loyalists and their emisaries, she received through Mr. Hope frequent tidings from her father, who, animated by the cause in which he was engaged, and happy to be again actively employed in the duties of his profession, wrote to Catherine in the gayest manner possible, recounted the victories their arms were gaining in the north, and intimated that, before a long time had elapsed, the royal armies of Canada and New York would dine together in Albany. As Catherine finished reading the letter which so confidently announced the probability of this event, she could not suppress a deep sigh, which burst almost involuntarily from her bosom. Mr. Hope, who sat reading in the room, was startled by it, and raising his eyes from the book, he regarded her attentively some moments. She sat against an open window, her head resting on her hand, while the crimson twilight which had succeeded a glorious sunset threw its soft reflection upon her face and figure. Her eyes were fixed upon the western sky, but there was sadness in their expression, and the glowing animation of her countenance was softened into a deep and touching melancholy. Alas! that so much loveliness must fade so soon, thought the good quaker, as, yielding to the impulse of admiration, he earnestly regarded the beautiful girl before him. Another sigh from Catherine still heavier than the first disturbed his contemplation, and, hastily laying down his book, he rose from his chair and approached her. Art thou ill or unhappy, Catherine, he said, that thou givest vent to sighs so deep and frequent?
Catherine started at this unexpected address, but instantly replied, I am not ill, I thank you, my kind friend, but—and she glanced upon the still open pages of the letter. I fear for my father’s safety, and can I be at ease?34 3(5)v 34
Thy father has been in many battles, said the quaker, and He who giveth victory hath not yet suffered him to fall.
I know it well, said Catherine, and I do no distrust his goodness, but yet――
But yet, said Mr. Hope, interrupting her, thou dost wish that thou couldst take the guidance of affairs into thine own hands, and hasten the issue according to thy own desires, dost thou not?
I trust I am not so vain and impious as that,, said Catherine, but I do wish, Mr. Hope, that my father had never taken part in this unhappy quarrel.
Mr. Hope gazed at her a moment, as if doubting whether he had understood her right, then exclaimed with unwonted vehemence,
Catherine Courtland, dost thou know what thou art saying? Thou knowest that thy liberties are threatened, that thy country’s glory and thy sovereign’s honor are at stake, and dost thou wish that thy father had remained to behold the waves of the Schuylkill crimsoned with the blood of thy countrymen, and to see them driven from its banks by a host of rebels and of traitors?
I wish, said Catherine, calmly, that the peaceful sentiments of William Penn would influence mankind to throw aside the implements of death, and cease from desolating the fair inheritance which God has given them, by deeds of murder and ferocity.
Thou speakest with a wisdom far above thy years, said the quaker, conscience-struck by this allusion to the venerated Penn, and aware that, if it was a crime to take up arms, he had sinned most grievously in will, though he had not dared to do so in deed. God hasten that happy period, he added after a brief pause, and in a tone of solemnity, when wars and fightings shall cease in the earth, and every man shall sit under his own vine and fig tree, without any to molest and make him afraid. Yet thou must acknowledge, Catherine, that were it lawful ever to resist evil, it would be so now.
It would indeed, she answered, and may God prosper the just cause.35 3(6)r 35
Amen! ejaculated the quaker, and quietly resumed his book; while Catherine, smiling at his want of penetration, folded her letter, and rose to quit the room.
Wrapped in melancholy reflections, she walked slowly into the garden and resorted to her favourite station, upon the flat roof of the summer-house. The day had been unusually sultry, and the gorgeous hues, which at sunset had colored the western sky, were rapidly changing into dark, and threatening clouds, which were every instant rent by vivid flashes of lightning, followed by heavy peals of thunders. The wind swept, in fitful gusts, over the surface of the Hudson, whose dark waves, crested with foam, broke in quick succession against the shore; every billow rising higher than the last, and lashing the banks with accumulated fury. The ancient forests which for ages had battled with the elements bowed their tall heads to the earth and spread forth their broad arms as if bidding defiance to the tempest, and warding off the fire of heaven, which threatened every moment to sear the brightness of their verdure, and uproot them from the soil where they had so long flourished, drinking in the light and dew of heaven and stretching forth their branches with the vigor and majesty of beauty.
A scene of so much sublimity could not be viewed with indifference by the enthusiastic and high-minded Catherine. The subject of her bitter and anxious meditation was forgotten, and with a feeling of rapturous exaltation, which few have felt and none can describe, she watched the progress of the tempest. Reckless of all personal danger and inconvenience, she leaned, lost in admiration, over the terrace; the spray of the angry billows moistened her face, but she regarded nothing, save the grandeur of the spectacle, which nature, wrapped in clouds, and agitated by the stormy winds of heaven, presented her. As she looked upon the frightful agitation of the waters, illuminated by the lurid flashes which incessantly played upon their surface, she suddenly perceived a small canoe struggling with the waves, now lost between their dreadful gulfs, 36 3(6)v 36 and then riding triumphantly upon their foaming summits. What a situation for a human being! Death seemed inevitable, and Catherine shuddered, as with intense interest she watched the progress of the frail bark, amid the perils which surrounded it.
At length, it gained a point opposite the summer- house, and seemed nearing the shore. As it approached the land, she perceived, by the vivid light which streamed from the heavens, that it was occupied by a solitary individual, who, as he guided its course, chanted in a clear and steady voice, which betrayed no symptoms of fear, a song, of which Catherine was able only to distinguish an occasional word of line. The chants were short, after the Indian manner, with pauses between; but the distinct and sonorous tone, in which they were uttered, enabled her without much difficulty at length to catch the following words.
Bound swiftly over the waters! Speed on thy course, my light canoe! The waves are dark, and the winds arise in their futy! No longer I behold the blue heavens! Clouds darken the skies, and the stars are quenched in darkness!
These words, sung in a strain of wild, but not unpleasing melody, were several times repeated; others too were added, which the noise of the tempest rendered unintelligible, if indeed they were pronounced in English: to Catherine, they seemed to be in a different and unknown language. In the mean time, the canoe rapidly approached the shore dancing like a fairy skiff over the furious billows, till it touched the strand and was safely moored beneath a group of trees, which overhung the water. The song then ceased, and the voyager, leaping from his frail vessel, began to ascend the somewhat precipitous and wooded bank of the river. Catherine watched him intently, though he was frequently lost from her view in the intervals of darkness which succeeded the vivid glare of the lightning. At length he suddenly disappeared among the trees; but she still looked earnestly forth, hoping to catch another view of his person.37 4(1)r 37
The fury of the tempest was abating, and Catherine watched in the expectation of seeing the stranger unmoor his boat and proceed upon his voyage, when suddenly the same wild and plaintive chant, which she had heard upon the waters, arose from beneath the very wall of the summer-house. She bent eagerly over the terrace and beheld the object of her curiosity reclining at the foot of an oak which the lightnings of some preceding tempest had blasted. A bright flash played upon his person, as she gazed, and revealed to her astonished eyes the dusky complexion and savage attire of an Indian. He reclined upon the ground with his head resting against the massy trunk of the oak, apparently watching the lightnings as they played among the clouds. His bow and quiver of arrows were lying beside him, and a cloak formed of feathers was parted at the breast, so as to display a profusion of beads and silver ornaments, with which the Indian tribes are fond of decorating their persons. An instinctive horror froze the blood of Catherine, at sight of this savage being. She had heard so much of the atrocious cruelties, committed by these daring natives of the forest, that she could not behold one of them, without fear and aversion. Several of their tribes, she well knew, were in league with her countrymen; but what barbarous excesses had they not committed! Urged on by a love of plunder and a thirst for human blood, they had, in many instances, turned their weapons against their allies, and basely betrayed the cause, which they had sworn to serve. The recent murder of the lovely and unfortunate Miss McRea, by two of these savages, had filled every breast with pity and consternation. The frightful deed was now present to the mind of Catherine, with all its aggravated circumstances, and, while she looked upon the Indian, she shuddered, as if she actually beheld the perpretrator of the cruel act before her. Struck with the loneliness of her situation, and her temerity in remaining so long exposed to the danger of discovery, she turned with the intention of effecting an instant retreat, when she heard the voice of Mr. Hope 4 38 4(1)v 38 in conversation with a stranger advancing along the walk, and she sat down to wait till they passed. Aware that the garden gate was locked, she of course imagined the entrance of the Indian to be impracticable, and she felt no other uneasiness than that arising from her vicinity to so savage a being. But she was vexed when Mr. Hope and his companion, instead of passing into another walk, entererd the summer-house; and unwilling to interrupt what seemed to be an earnest conference, she submitted to the necessity of remaining where she was, till they had quitted the building.
The storm had passed away without rain, and the moon struggled at intervals through the broken clouds whose huge black masses seemed to impede her progress, and still shrouded the heavens in partial darkness. Catherine dared not to bend over the terrace to take another view of the Indian, whose song was hushed into silence, but she could easily perceive his canoe floating as far as the rope by which it was moored would permit, and then dashed upon the shore with violence by the returning wave.
From the contemplation of this object she was aroused by the import of some words which reached her from below. They related to a subject which had been previously discussed in her presence, and she of course felt herself guilty of no breach of honor, in choosing rather to remain an invisible auditor, than to intrude upon a conference which seemed so interesting to the speakers. She judged it improbable that the Indian would be able to comprehend what was said, even supposing it possible for him to hear through a wall of several feet in thickness, and while the agitated waters still roared with a tremendous noise; and therefore, deeming it unnecessary to apprize Mr. Hope of his vicinity, she remained stationary, while the following conversation passed in the apartment below.
But Jacob, said Mr. Hope in a persuasive tone, thou knowest how much depends on the safe delivery of this packet, and yet, for the sake of more of the mammon of this world, thou wilt desert the cause of thy 39 4(2)r 39 country, and refuse to bear to her brave defenders tidings of the evils which are threatening to fall upon them.
And who has informed thee, answered his companion, ” of the evils, of which thou speakest? Art thou entrusted with the secret designs of the rebels, that thou knowest so much of their affairs?
What avails it thee to know in what manner I have gained my intelligence? answered Mr. Hope; I have not time to tell thee, and if I had, it matters not, since I do affirm it to be true. I have learned from the most unquestionable authority, that Benjamin Lincoln, a commander in the service of the rebels, is meditating an attack upon the outposts, between the northern extremity of Lake George, and the fortress of Ticonderoga; and if he proves successful, he will not only gain the command of the lake, but also cut off all means of communication between the royal army and Canada. This, as thou well knowest, is a circumstance of so much importance, that I would go myself, were it possible, even without the hope of reward, rather than not have it known to those whom it so nearly concerns.
Then, Richard Hope, answered the other Quaker, for such his speech bespoke hom to be, thou must even go thyself, or find some other emissary to do thy errand. We are men of peace, and it becometh not us to meddle with these dealers in human blood. He that taketh the sword shall perish by the sword; and this may be our miserable end, if we depart from our profession, and hold communion with these sons of Belial.
But is it not to prevent the flowing forth of human blood, that I send thee with this despatch? asked Mr. Hope. If the rumour of this projected enterprise is known, the plans of the rebels will be of course defeated, and thus the lives of many will be saved, who would else fall victims to the surprise of an unexpected attack.
Thou sayest true in that, answered the other, after a pause of several minutes; but what, if I consent to do thy errand, is to be my recompense for time and 40 4(2)v 40 labour spent in traversing mountains, forests, and marshes, which no human foot, save that of the lurking spy, or wild Indian, has ever dared to tread? Thou knowest that my portion of worldly wealth is small, and Heaven has given me children and a wife to feed and clothe.
Five pounds sterling from my own purse; said Mr. Hope, in addition to the sum already offered thee, shall be thine, if thou will promise faithfully to execute the trust committed to thy care, and will hasten back with all the speed which thou canst make.
Give me then the packet, said the Quaker; tomorrow before day break I shall depart; and in four days, if God speed me on my way, thou wilt see me again before thee to claim the promised reward.
And thou shalt have it, if thou hast faithfully fulfiled thy commission, said Mr. Hope; but thou must go forth to-night, Jacob; time and tide wait for no man, as thou well knowest; and when affairs of life and death are depending, it is not fit that thou shouldst wait for them. But come first with me; I have those beneath my roof, who, it may be, will wish to charge thee with a token of affection to one who is dear to them, in the camp, whither thou art going; and Susannah Hope will furnish thee with such wholesome viands, as shall be necessary to sustain thee, during thy toilsome journey.
During this dialogue, the clouds had nearly all rolled away towards the east, and the moon was now shining bright in the clam blue heavens. The Indian’s canoe remained moored beneath the trees, and Catherine, surprised that he had not resumed his voyage, bent cautiously over the terrace to ascertain if he were still beneath the wall. But she started hastily back when she beheld him standing close to the garden wall, one hand resting upon it and his head bent forward, as if intently listening to the conversation of the Quakers. She quickly descended the stairs to inform them of their singular auditor; but before Mr. Hope, who with his companion was on the point of quitting the summer-house, could express his surprise at her unexpected appearance, the Indian, with the agility peculiar to his race, 41 4(3)r 41 had leaped over the garden wall, and now stood in savage majesty before the amazed Quakers.
His cloak formed of the plumage of the most beautiful birds, curiously sewed together, after the manner of the Indians, exhibited a gay variety of colours, as it glanced in the bright moonlight, and, falling gracefully from his shoulders, revealed a form of unrivalled symmetry, whose exquisite proportions might well have served a sculptor for the model of an Apollo. His countenance was noble and dignified, and as he fixed his piercing eyes upon the group who stood motionless before him, awe and admiration filled the mind of Catherine, and banished every vestige of that fear and abhorrence, with which she had regarded him, during the violence of the tempest.
Who art thou, friend? at length asked Mr. Hope, recovering from the surprise which had at first enchained his faculties. Who art thou, and why dost thou intrude upon the privacy of our retirement?
Who am I, dost thou ask? exclaimed the Indian in pure English, and breaking at once into the forcible and figurative language peculiar to his race. Who am I! Seest thou yon blasted oak, stripped of his honors, and seared by the lightnings of heaven? Such am I; seared and blasted; stripped of my verdure and my blossoms, and left a useless trunk in the midst of the green and thriving stocks around me. Why, dost thou ask, come I hither? I come to warn thee, Richard Hope, thee, a man of peace, to beware how thou treatest with those who love war, and trade in human blood. Thou hast nothing to do with these things; give me thy papers, and bid thy messenger depart to his home.
Friend, thou dost make a demand which I cannot grant, answered Mr. Hope; my papers are important, and what assurance have I that thou wilt deliver them in safety to him for whom they are designed?
Thou hast none, returned the Indian, but since I know the tidings thou wouldst send, thinkest thou thy messenger can travel in safety where my red brethren may lie in ambush to entrap him?4* 42 4(3)v 42
Jacob shrunk back with a look of horror at this menacing intimation, secretly resolving that no promise of reward, however great, should induce him to risk his life in the adventure. Mr. Hope, without observing the alarmed gesture of his intended emissary, said to the Indian,
Then thou dost not join thy brethren in aiding the English, but clingest to the cause of America?
I am an American, answered the Indian in a tone of proud and energetic feeling, which thrilled through the heart of Catherine; I love peace, he continued, and I wished to obey the fathers of this nation, who commanded our tribes to remain quiet and take no part in the quarrel of their white brothers. But my red brethren were angry, because I would not follow them to battle, and they came in wrath to my cabin. All perished, all that I loved! The mother and five brave sons! But the murderers did not escape. They were smitten by a strong arm; they fell to the earth like trees of the forest before the tempests of heaven! And he who avenged the wrongs of Ohmeina shall never be betrayed. Give me then thy papers, for thou canst not send them in safety to the English camp.
Thou canst not wrest them from me, answered Mr. Hope, resolved not to yield them to the savage; and since thou already knowest their contents, why dost thou request me to deliver them up?
I would take them to prevent thy messenger from going, answered the Indian; yet send him if thou wilt; I know every pass of the mountains, every resting place of the forests, the course of all the streams; and dost thou think he can escape the ambush which I shall spread for him? Yes, send him, Richard Hope, he repeated in a stern and menacing tone, but I bid thee beware of what shall follow; my eye shall watch thee, and the red man of the forest shall bear thee where thou canst not again betray thy countrymen.
Give him the papers, exclaimed the trembling Jacob; I will not be thy messenger, friend Richard, 43 4(4)r 43 and thou wilt bring the blood of the innocent upon thy head, if thou persistest in thy mad design. Again I tell thee, leave these men of strife to reap the fruits of their folly; we have no portion with them, and why should we depart from the precepts of our faith to do them service?
Verily, Jacob, thou speakest with power and with effect, said Mr. Hope, intimidated by the menaces of the Indian, and stung with a consciousness, that he was taking an active part in concerns which his religion taught him to abhor.
I cannot, he said, addressing the Indian, give thee these papers, because they are not mine, but entrusted to me by another; but I will return them to him, from whom they were received, and endeavor to prevent their being sent, by declaring the perils which await the messenger, on condition that thou wilt not attempt the violence which thou hast threatened against me.
See then that thou dost keep thy word, said the Indian, and no evil shall befall thee; but if thou breakest it, beware the vengeance of Ohmeina!
So saying, he gathered his cloak around him and bounded lightly over the garden wall. Catherine, who had been deeply interested in this singular interview; and, impressed by the bold and noble bearing, the forcible language, and authoritative manner of the Indian, ran to the top of the summer-house to observe his farther motions. He had already reached the brink of the river; the canoe was loosed from its moorings; the voyager sprang lightly into it, and pushing it from the shore, it bounded gaily over the moonlight waters. Catherine, absorbed by reflection, watched its course till the frail bark had diminished to a speck, that soon became imperceptible in the distance. She then returned to the house, whither the Quakers had gone immediately after the departure of the Indian. She found Mrs. Hope and Amelia listening to the recital of the evening’s adventure, and while they congratulated themselves, that they had not been witnesses of the singular 44 4(4)v 44 scene, she expressed the pleasure which it had afforded her, and dwelt with so much enthusiasm on the grace and dignity of the Indian’s manner and appearance, that Amelia inquired, with surprise and displeasure, how it was possible she could have felt one emotion of delight in the presence of so savage a being.
On the following morning Mr. Hope, agreeably to his promise, returned the papers to Mr. Forrester, the gentleman from whom he had received them, and with whom he had concerted the plan of forwarding them to the British commander. He wrote a statement of the occurrence which had induced him to aboandon the enterprise, and represented the danger which attended the undertaking to be so great, that it would of course deter any one from attempting it. He did not hesitate to declare that he could take no farther interest in it; for in truth he had been completely roused, by the mixture of menace and reproach conveyed in the words of the Indian, to reflect with remorse upon the part he was acting; a part so inconsistent with the principles of his faith, so adverse to the precepts, which from infancy, he had been taught to reverence and obey. We will not say that fear had no agency in the somewhat sudden but wise resolutions of Mr. Hope, though we will do him the justice to declare, that reflection and principle aided and confirmed the impressions which this passion was first instrumental in producing.
Mr. Forrester was one of those characters so common during the revolution, who, from the motives of convenience, policy, or cowardice, professed neutrality, but secretly lent all possible aid to the royalists. He was an Irishman by birth, but had been long enough in America to have imbibed strong prejudices against the people, and they became daily more bitter and implacable by finding himself an object of suspicion and dislike. Some reports, disadvantageous to his character, had followed him to the country, and increased the aversion, which his haughty and arrogant manners had already excited. Vindictive and unprincipled, he sought, like Haman of old, to revenge his private 45 4(5)r 45 hatred upon the nation at large, and though he had been heard to speak with asperity of his own countrymen, he exerted himself to gain for them all the important intelligence, which might aid their cause and hasten the downfall of the rebels.
Having easily penetrated the sentiments of the unsuspicious Mr. Hope, he had, by his plausible manners, obtained his confidence, and now sought to make him a useful instrument in designs, which his own cowardice prevented his adventuring in alone. He wished to keep behind the curtain, that, in case suspicion should awake, it might be attached to one more active than himself; and, though much chagrined by the return of the papers, and irritated by what he termed the childish fright, which had induced Mr. Hope to relinquish them, yet he had found him too useful an agent, to run the risk of openly expressing his displeasure, and he resolved to seek the Quaker and persuade him by gentle words to retract the declaration which he had made.
With this design he left the city, on the evening after the return of the papers, and walked towards the habitation of the Quaker. The outer door was open, and entering without ceremony, he found Mr. Hope alone in the parlour and so busily engaged in reading William Penn’s Maxims and Reflections relating to the Conduct of Human Life, that he seemed unconscious of the fast gathering darkness which was usurping the place of the brilliant twilight that had so long enabled him to read without difficulty. He laid aside the book when Mr. Forrester entered, who advanced and saluted him with an air of frankness and cordiality which he could assume at pleasure. As soon as the usual salutations were exchanged, and a few preliminary observations ended, Mr. Forrester, with apparent gentleness and real caution, introduced the subject of his visit. Drawing forth the packet, he said, Since I received these papers from you, Mr. Hope, I have lost no time in endeavoring to find some one who would be willing for a suitable reward to undertake the office of conveying them to the place of their destination; but there is not 46 4(5)v 46 a man that I can find, who has patriotism enough to run the smallest risk for the welfare of his country; and I again come to entreat, that you will advise and assist me in an affair of so much importance.
Thou knowest, friend Forrester, said Mr. Hope, that I have done all that I could, and more than I ought, to assist thee in this matter; and since I have told thee that I could take no farther part in it, of what avail is it again to apply to me?
Mr. Hope, returned Forrester, I do not wish to give you offence, and I thank you for your good intentions; but you must excuse me if I say, you have as yet afforded me no assistance at all. You received the papers with a promise to send them, but terrified by the savage threats of a powerless Indian, you returned them with a declaration that you could afford me no farther aid.
Because, answered Mr. Hope, I regarded the threats of the Indian, as the interposition of Heaven, to prevent me from sharing in transactions which are stained with blood, and which, according to the precepts of my faith, I ought to view only with pity and abhorrence, and to refrain from taking any part or lot therein.
Superstitious dotard! muttered Mr. Forrester in an under tone, and scarcely able to suppress his rising passion; but recollecting the impolicy of indulging it, he said in a soothing voice, The contents of the packet, it is true, were not exactly overtures of peace; but they were designed to warn an unsuspicious garrison of a meditated assault, and prevent a waste of human life, by giving them time to prepare for defence.
Thou art mistaken, friend, said Mr. Hope; if the attack is unsuspected, the fortress will be more likely to surrender, and this will be the means of sparaing many lives, which, in case of a vigorous defence, must certainly be lost.
And will you, asked Mr. Forrester, striving in vain to conceal his vexation, will you sit down contented with such cowardly and fallacious reasoning, and 47 4(6)r 47 not make a single effort to aid a cause, which you have declared to be so dear to you? Already these insolent rebels triumph over the soldiers of their sovereign, and predict the moment of their separation from the land which ought to be an object of their eternal love and veneration. They exult in the defeat of the gallant Baum and Breyman at Bennington, and in the retreat of St. Leger before the walls of Fort Stanwix. With arrogant presumption, they even venture to prophecy the total discomfiture of Burgoyne’s experienced army, and yet you calmly hear the insolent boasting of these upstart people, at your very doors, without breathing a wish for the triumph of the just and righteous cause.
Thou art mistaken, friend, repeated Mr. Hope in a quiet tone, which evinced that he was wholly unmoved by the rapid and emphatic gesticulation of his irritable companion; thou art mistaken; I have interested myself, but too actively, in the great struggle now passing before us. I have departed too far from the faith which I profess; I have forgotten that he who said, they that take the sword, shall perish by the sword, said also, blessed are the peace-makers, for they shall be called the children of God; and while I have been careful not literally to grasp this weapon of the evil one, neither have I been guided by the promise, so dear and encouraging to all, who in sincerity embrace the principles of our sect. I have deeply erred, and I confess with shame, that often, when I might have instilled the balm of peace and brotherly affection into the irritated minds of partizans and patriots, I have, contrary to the doctrines I venerate, and to the examples I revere, sought to increase the flame of dissension and triumphed in the success of my endeavors. May God forgive me! and bestow upon me a double portion of his grace and spirit, to enable me, henceforth, to withstand the temptations and devices of Satan!
Mr. Forrester smiled with contemptuous scorn at the fervent ejaculation of the conscience-struck Quaker, and unable any longer to repress his anger, it burst forth in a strain of passionate invective.48 4(6)v 48
Curse upon thy canting sect, he said, who ever make their pretended sanctity a veil for treachery and cowardice! But hear me, Richard Hope; you cannot impose upon my experience with a tale of your conviction and repentance, however plausible and well invented; I have known you too long, and seen you too often engaged in affairs which you now affect to regard with horror, to believe in the sincerity of your conscientious scruples. No, either you have received a bribe from the rebels, or this devil of an Indian has frightened you into a cloke of sanctimony, which I swear to strip off, though the ghost of William Penn himself were to come from the tomb and forbid me.
Mr. Hope shuddered with horror at this sacrilegious mention of the sainted Penn; but unawed by the furious demeanor of Mr. Forrester, he retained an unmoved countenance, and answered in the calm and slow tone, in which he was accustomed to speak, May God pardon thy intemperate wrath, and enable me to preserve unmoved, my resolution! Friend Forrester, thou must seek some other agent to assist thee; I cannot lend thee any farther aid. I have unveiled to thee my inmost heart, trusting thou wouldst respect the scruples of a tender conscience; but since thou dost only ridicule and insult them, thou mayest vainly hope, by thy angry looks and menacing gestures, to fright me from the course which I know and feel to be right. But even if thou couldst, I have it not in my power to forward the despatches. Jacob Weston has declined the task, and I know of none to whom I could apply. Friend Forrester, we must leave the direction and issue of affairs to Heaven. Feeble and impotent mortals, as we are, how can we aid the designs of the Almighty, or turn the course of events according to our own wishes?
Cease thy idle babbling, and give thy counsel when it is desired, thundered the incensed Forrester, I will hear no more of it. I tell thee I detest these vile Americans, and would give one half that I possess to see them humbled by the arms of Britain. With their 49 5(1)r 49 prying and suspicious eyes they scrutinize my actions, as if they thought me in very truth, an agent of the devil. They have dared to doubt my honor, and even whispered that I left my country in disgrace! And shall I not seek to revenge these insults so galling to my feelings, so degrading to my character? By Heaven, I will travel myself with these despatches, sooner than risk the success of an enterprise which may yield a fresh theme of exultation for their vain and boasting tongues.
It is personal pique, then, which has induced thee to wish for the triumph of thy country, said the Quaker; verily I did believe thee to be inspired by the purest patriotism, and while I listened to thee, I caught a portion of thy ardor. Thou hast deceived me in this; and how do I know but thou art the dishonest man, which the Americans declare thee, and hast fled from thy country, to avoid the justice of its laws?
Mr. Forrester in the heat of passion had unawares betrayed himself, but it was too late to recede, and resolving to brave the suspicions, which he had so incautiously awakened, he approached close to the open window against which Mr. Hope was seated, and said with a look and in an accent of defiance,
How dare you attempt to blacken, by such insinuations, a character, of which you know no evil? My wrath is implacable, when once awakened, and this affront shall not go unavenged, unless you will instantly engage to lend me your aid in forwarding these papers to General Burgoyne.
I tell thee, for the last time, that I cannot, and will not aid thee; said Mr. Hope, in a firm and decided tone, which evinced the strength of his resolution
And I, said a voice from without the windows, I tell thee, that he shall not aid thee.
At the same moment the packet which he held was snatched from Mr. Forrester, by a hand suddenly extended and as suddenly withdrawn. A slight motion of the foliage was perceived, and immediately after an indistinct figure sprang from the thick covert of bushes and darted rapidly past the window.5 50 5(1)v 50
Mr. Forrester, recovering from his surprise, leaped through the open casement and followed the sound of the flying footsteps down a dark alley, at the termination of which he again caught a glimpse of the figure, as it emerged from the deep shadows of the trees. He called aloud, but it passed forward without reply till it gained the garden wall, when with inconceivable quickness it sprung over and disappeared from view
Mr. Forrester stood for a moment lost in astonishment; but curiosity and a desire to recover his papers impelled him forward, and advancing hastily to the wall, with some difficulty he climbed high enough to observe what passed on the other side. The beams of the moon fell unobstructed upon the object of his pursuit, and enabled him at once to identify the person and attire of the Indian, whose menaces had so intimidated Mr. Hope, and whose appearance the Quaker had minutely described to him. He raised his voice and demanded the packet, when the Indian turned full towards him, and waved his hand in token that he should not follow him, at the same time unclosing his cloak and with a significant gesture pointing to the papers, which he had deposited in his bosom. He then moved rapidly towards his canoe, and though Mr. Forrester continued alternately to threaten and entreat, he passed on without regarding him, and leaping into his little bark paddled from the shore and shortly disappeared in the distance.
Vexed and mortified, Mr. Forrester quitted his uncomfortable station on the wall, and muttering curses on Mr. Hope, the rebels, and the Indian, he bent his steps towards the house. Mr. Hope met him near the bottom of the garden; his suspicions of the person, who had so unceremoniously possessed himself of the papers, already glanced upon the Indian, and they were confirmed by the intelligence of Mr. Forrester. But it was vain to think of recovering the despatches; they were irretrievably gone. Who could trace the steps of these sons of the forest, or detect the wiles which they spread, with so much art, for those, whom it was their design to entrap?51 5(2)r 51
Though Mr. Forrester had ridiculed the terrors of Mr. Hope, he was himself alarmed, and considered his personal safety endangered; as those, to whom the Indian would probably deliver the papers, would doubtless deem it of importance to secure an individual, whose active zeal in the cause of the enemy might be productive of the most fatal consequences to themselves. He therefore took the resolution of quitting Albany. He had long been ready for an instant removal, in case of exigency, and he now believed the moment had arrived, when it was necessary for him to depart.
Mr. Hope, to whom he communicated his intention, did not attempt to dissuade him from it. Indeed he judged it incompatible with his safety to remain any longer in the city, where he would be exposed to the constant scrutiny of this vigilant Indian, who walked in darkness, and whom they knew not how to avoid. He therefore, as a friend, and in sincere good will, advised him to go without delay; and Mr. Forrester, always eager to avoid danger, and reluctant, for reasons of his own, to be the subject of severe investigation, received the Quaker’ counsel as it was intended, and determined immediately to depart. He apologized for the harshness of his language, during the conversation of that evening, by pleading the excessive chagrin and perplexity, which the affair had occasioned him; and, having received the forgiveneness of his pacific friend, and an assurance of his continued good will, he bade him a kind adieu, and mounting a fleet horse, left the city, and before morning dawned was far from it; though whither he directed his course was known to no one beside himself.
While the events recorded in the last chapter were passing in the family of Richard Hope, the progress of the royal army under General Burgoyne was marked by a series of uninterrrupted victories. Composed of veteran troops, led by experienced and accomplished officers, and furnished with a formidable train of artillery, and all the necessary and dreadful accompaniments of war, it proceeded on its course conquering and to conquer; while, to increase the terrors of its frightful array, a host of ferocious Indians, in their savage attire, thirsting for blood, and uttering the tremendous war cries of their tribes, followed its progress.
The Americans retreated before a power which, with their inadequate means, it would have been temerity to oppose; and the fortress of Ticonderoga, which two years before, their valor had wrested from the British, again returned to the hands of the conquerers. But the bravery, with which the little flotilla of the Americans engaged the superior force of the enemy, and the vigorous resistance which they made, at Hubberton and at Fort Anne, are evidences sufficiently convincing, to the candid and unprejudiced mind, that imperious necessity, and not cowardice, compelled them to yield this strong hold of the North, and decline a contest which must inevitably have destroyed their comparatively feeble force.
The royal army, elated with the success of this first enterprise, began to think itself invincible. Both officers and soldiers regarded with contempt an enemy so 53 5(3)r 53 inferior in numbers and in discipline. They considered their toils as already ended, and imagined that they had only to march forward and take possession of the places which would doubtless be quickly evacuated at their approach. They considered themselves in possession of the grand keys of North America, in having obtained the command of Ticonderoga and the lakes, and, animated by the prospects which seemed opening before them, they retained, in the midst of toil and many difficulties, a spirit of undaunted cheerfulness and gaiety; apparently regarding as trifles the serious obstacles, which embarrassed their march through a country interseccted with mountains and broken by creeks and deep morasses. Besides these natural impediments, the Americans in their retreat had felled enormous trees across the path, demolished bridges, and thrown every possible obstruction in their way: but still the British troops persevered with confidence, and on their approach to Fort Edward, on the Hudson, the point to which their wishes had long tended, it was precipitately abandoned, and they entered in triumph the deserted fortress.
General Schuyler, with his army, and the remnant of the troops who had fled from Ticonderoga, and by a circuitous passage through the woods, joined him in extreme wretchedness at this place, retired to Saratoga, then to Stillwater, and even as far south as the mouth of the Mohawk, where, unshaken by the disasters which had befallen them, they prepared, with astonishing constancy and vigor, to form an encampment which should present a complete barrier to the farther progress of the enemy.
But the royal army had new and formidable difficulculties to encounter, which forbade its pressing forward in that splendid career, which had heretofore attracted the regard of every eye. They had precipitately penetrated into the heart of a strange country, ill provided with stores of any kind, which they were now obliged to transport from Fort George, a distance of sixteen miles, over an exceedingly difficult country. Many 5* 54 5(3)v 54 impediments attended the undertaking; they were in want of cattle to aid their endeavors, and repeated heavy rains had rendered the bad roads well nigh impassable. The excitement, which continued success had occasioned, subsided, and the sanguine spirits of the troops were saddened by the difficulties which awaited them, and the toil and danger which they were daily obliged to encounter. But when, after fifteen days of constant and unremitting exertion, there was found to be not more than four days provision in store, their prospects were gloomy indeed, and the situation of their affairs embarrassing in the extreme.
Other events more mortifying, and equally vexatious, occurred at this time. The defeat of the expedition to Bennington, which was a large deposit of stores, which they hoped to seize, and the failure of Colonel St. Leger’s attack upon Fort Stanwix, by which all General Burgoyne’s hopes of uniting his forces with those of St. Leger’s were destroyed, rendered the situation and prospects of the royal army truly deplorable.
To retreat, even were it practicable, was at once to abandon the object of the expedition, to incur the imputation of cowardice, and to provoke the sarcasms of a thousand evil tongues.
General Burgoyne had supplanted his valiant and virtuous predecessor in the command of this enterprise, and his pride was concerned in remaining firm at the post, which he had assumed with such confident hopes of victory. At his first outset, he had declared, this army must not retreat, and as his present position was no longer tenable, he considered his only alternative to be an immediate engagement with the American force, now under the command of General Gates.
Confident of success, he endeavoured to revive the drooping spirits of his troops, and in the prospect of a battle they were inspired with new life, and forgot the hardships and privations they were forced to endure. They felt a contempt for the enemy that had retreated so rapidly before them, and who, they believed, could fight 55 5(4)r 55 only beneath the covert of hedges and entrenchments, but would shrink from a fair combat in the open field.
General Burgoyne felt the importance of forcing his way to Albany, the central point, at which the victorious armies were to assemble, and from the reports which reached him, of the increasing strength of the enemy, he judged that no time was to be lost in hazarding an engagement. He therefore moved from Fort Edward, and, marching along the Hudson, encamped nearly opposite to Saratoga, where he still continued his exertions in bringing forward stores and provisions from Fort George.
Among the officers, there were frequent conversations on the present situation of affairs. Some censured the General, and boded the most fatal calamities which were to befall the army, while others, more sanguine, prophesied a brilliant termination to the campaign, and the consequent reduction of the rebels to obedience and good behaviour. Among the latter, there were none more confident than Major Courtland. From the period of his engaging in active service, he had felt as if transported back to the days of early manhood, and about to commence a new career of glory. With all the ardor and intrepidity which had distinguished his youth, he espoused the cause of his country, and confidently predicted the complete triumph of her arms. The victories, which had markred the commencement of the campaign, elated him to almost boyish rapture; nor did he at all despond at their difficulties and defeats, which had since attended their progress.
Even his affection for his daughter, who had been so long the sole object of his hopes and wishes, seemed lost in the overwhelming passion for military glory, which inflamed him. In the letters which he addressed her, there was less of the tenderness of a father, than the impatient spirit of a warrior, who longs for the moment of combat, and dwells with delighted accuracy, on the dreadful paraphernalia, of death which surround him.56 5(4)v 56
Catherine shuddered at the tenor of these letters, but she implored Heaven to preserve her father’s life, and drew comfort from the belief, that the excitement of his feelings was transient, and would subside with the occasion which had awakened it. With the most pathetic earnestness, she entreated him to guard his safety for her sake; and, touched by the ardor of her filial affection, he sometimes heaved a momentary sigh at the remembrance of those peaceful pleasures which he had voluntarily resigned, for the strife of battle and the noisy confusion of a camp.
But the present dangerous crisis allowed him no time for the indulgence of these softening thoughts.
General Burgoyne, having, by the most indefatigable exertions, obtained a supply of about thirty days’ provision and other necessary stores, resolved to cross the Hudson, and encamp on the plain and heights of Saratoga; a measure which was warmly opposed by many of his officers, and as strenuously supported by others, among whom was Major Courtland, who panted for an engagement with the republicans.
General Burgoyne, however, asked no counsel, and seemed indifferent to the disapprobation, which was visible among some of his officers. His only chance of safety depended on his being able to force a passage to Albany, and the season was already so far advanced, as to admit of no delay. He accordingly crossed the Hudson, on a bridge of boats, and, advancing along the river, halted within four miles of the enemy, who were returning northward, in the hope of encountering him, and were at this time encamped in considerable force, about three miles above Stillwater.
On the morning of the 1777-09-19nineteenth of September, the British resumed their line of march, and prepared for immediate action. Some accidental skirmishes between the advanced parties of the two armies, preceded a general engagement, which was sustained on both sides with unexampled valor, and continued with unabated fury, till night terminated the dreadful contest. The Americans then retired to their encampment, while the 57 5(5)r 57 British remained upon the field of battle, fortifying their camp, and preparing for another engagement.
Though victory had not declared for either army, she certainly inclined in favor of the Americans, since their loss scarcely amounted to half the number of the enemy’s, and might be easily supplied; while that of the British had weakened their force, and in their present situation could not be repaired. They, however, declared the combat to have terminated in their favor, since they retained possession of the battle ground, and persisted in affirming, that had not the approach of night occasioned a cessation of arms, a positive victory would doubtless have been won by them. Major Courtland strenuously supported this belief. He could not brook the idea that an army so equipped, so disciplined, and so brave, should encounter the shame of a defeat, and with that high sense of honor and national pride, which so strinkingly characterizes the English, he wished for death rather than disgrace. His enthusiastic loyalty, and the contempt with which he seemed to regard every species of danger, called forth the admiration of his brother officers, and attached to him many young and daring spirits, who burned to signalize themselves in arms, and loved to animate their zeal, by listening to the ardent expressions of so experienced and brave a soldier. He shunned no duty, however toilsome or hazardous, and the present state of affairs called for all the activity and vigilance of officers and men.
Increasing difficulties and perplexities continued to harass the British commander. The desertion of the Canadians and Indians, in large numbers, weakened his strength, and lessened his confidence in those that remained. The provisions of the men were reduced, from necessity, to half their usual allowance; the stock of forage was nearly exhausted, and the cattle were fast perishing for want of sustenance. To add to his distress, no intelligence had been received from Sir Henry Clinton, from whose co-operation he had expected much assistance; and while the army of General Gates was swelled by troops of deserters from his own, and thousands58 5(5)v 58 sands were flocking from all quarters to join its standard, he could do nothing to augment his strength, nor make a movement which would afford him relief, or in the least brighten the desperate situation in which he had incautiously involved himself. He could only keep a strict watch over his enemy’s motions, and use every means to fortify his own camp, and guard it from sudden attack. In the midst of his anxieties, he sought, by the firmness and fortitude of his conduct, to animate his soldiers with hope, while at the same time, by the cheerfulness with which he shared their toils and privations, he increased their attachment, and encouraged them to support with constancy the dangers and hardships which they were compelled to endure.
As they were encamped within cannon shot of the enemy, they were harassed by continual alarms. They were closely watched, and it not unfrequently happened, that their pickets were attacked by parties of the Americans. In this situation, constant vigilance was requisite. But, surrounded as they were by perils, General Burgoyne was induced to remain stationary for the present, in consequence of intelligence received from Sir Henry Clinton, urging him to hold out till the 1777-10-12twelfth of the following month, when, by making a diversion in his favour on the North river, he would oblige General Gates to divide his army, and render it easy for him to prevail over the reduced force of the enemy. The dread of famine presented the only obstacle to this design, and the difficulty of foraging rendered it almost madness in them to think of holding out for so long a time. Yet so much depended on their doing so, that the General strenuously exhorted his troops to patience and forbearance, in the hope of future victory. Sometimes he ventured to send out small foraging parties, though strong detachments were necessary to cover these expeditions, and even then they could not be made without encountering the most imminent risk; so watchful were the Americans to cut off all means of succour or support from their enemy.
Some soldiers one day brought a report of a small farmhouse,59 5(6)r 59 house, in the woods, a few miles distant, near which they had observed cattle feeding, and pigs and poultry clustered around the door. A prize of so much value was not to be despised, when every accidental supply, however small, was an object of importance to them. A detachment was accordingly ordered to issue forth that night, for the purpose of transporting the treasures of the farm-house to the camp.
Major Courtland learned with pleasure, that he was the officer destined to command this nocturnal expedition; and, always eager for active service, he busied himself in preparations for the adventure. All things being in complete readiness, he went with two other officers to examine the redoubts, which had been thrown up for the protection of the hospital, and on which the men were still laboring.
As they stood viewing the works, a rifle-shot from a concealed party of the enemy, struck a soldier and killed him on the spot.
The devil take these Americans! They pop us off like ninepins, exclaimed Captain O’Carroll, one of the officers who had accompanied Major Courtland to the redoubt.
And with more indifference than we should roll a bowl, returned Major Courtland, with something like indignation in his accent, as he moved toward the unfortunate man, whom his comrades were raising from the ground.
Is he dead? inquired Colonel Percy, the other officer, with concern.
There’s not a breath left in his body, sir, replied one of the soldiers, a tear glistening on his weatherbeaten cheek as he gazed on the lifeless face of his comrade; and a braver fellow, he added, never drew a trigger for his king.
Never, Donald! I will bear witness to that truth, said Colonel Percy; but let him have a soldier’s burial, and that is all that any of us can expect in a time like this.
Heaven bless your Honor! answered Donald; 60 5(6)v 60 but curse these rebels, who shoot better men than themselves, he muttered, as he assisted his comrades to bear off the body of the dead soldier.
A hearty malediction, and given with free good will; exclaimed Captain O’Carroll, laughing.
Yes, and if maledictions could defeat an army, we should have been victors before this, said Colonel Percy, gravely.
You intend that for me, colonel, said O’Carroll; but though I curse them occasionally, I am never quite so much in earnest as honest Donald was just now; for, in truth, they are such brave fellows that I cannot help honoring them from my very soul, rebels and traitors as they are. But there goes the fellow, he suddenly exclaimed,” who shot down Stedman just now, and there goes another, and another; by heaven there must be a party of them posted among those pines. Give me a rifle and let us have a shot at them.
They are some of Morgan’s riflemen, said Major Courtland, looking earnestly after them, as they appeared and disappeared among the thick trees which covered the little eminence, while the white frocks by which they were distinguished, rendered them at once conspicuous to the eye of the attentive observer. Twenty rifles were instantly discharged at the place, but apparantly without success, and the fire was immediately returned with as little effect; when the whole party filed off to the left, and hastily retreated from view.
Curse the dastards, exclaimed Captain O’Carroll, the blood rushing to his face, as he threw down the rifle which had served him so badly; would to Heaven I could exterminate them!
Major Courtland and Colonel Percy burst into a laugh.
I think, O’Carroll, said the former, you curse the rebels with as good a grace as honest Donald himself; you forget that you admire their bravery too much to wish them any worse harm than a defeat.
And so I did just now, answered O’Carroll, coloring and laughing; but it was so provoking to see 61 6(1)r 61 them file off to a man in the midst of such a volley; and the very fellows too, against whom I bear the most malice. During the last engagement, as you well know, they were posted behind every tree to single out and shoot the most distinguished officers, and Captain McIntosh shot a villain down who was in the very act of levelling his piece at General Burgoyne himself.
War is terrible enough without this dreadful aggravation of its horrors, said Colonel Percy, and a practice so cruel and unjustifiable must excite the indignation of every honorable and humane mind.
They probably act upon the principle, said Major Courtland, smiling, of destroying the leaders, in order to hasten the issue of the contest, and prevent a waste of human life.
Absurd! returned O’Carroll, the principle thus acted upon is worthy only of cowards. In fact, Major Courtland, the circumstance admits of no palliation.
I am far from wishing to palliate it, Captain O’Carroll, returned the major; for no one, I assure you, can regard it with greater abhorrence than myself.
It is nothing better than deliberate assassination, said Colonel Percy; but I am so charitable towards the Americans, as willingly to believe that the orders, if any were given, proceeded from some ferocious partizan, whose illiberal prejudices led him to consider the life of his foe, as of no more value than that of the wild deer which bounds through his forests. From some one like the fiery and implacable Arnold, perhaps, of whom we have heard so much, and whose passions, as we are told, continually transport him beyond the limits of honor and of justice. But if is half past four, he said, looking at his watch; and as we are to dine with General Reidesel, Major Courtland, it is time for us to be gone.
And it is time for me too, to think of dinner, said Captain O’Carroll, if I would be in season for the expedition to-night.
Why, we do not leave the camp till midnight, said 6 62 6(1)v 62 the major, so there is no need of haste in this important ceremony.
So much the better; returned the captain, we know not what perils we have to encounter, and it is well to fortify one’s self with an additional bottle or two.
Major Courtland smiled, and cautioning his young friend to partake sparingly of the exhilarating juice of the grape, as the adventures of the night might render it of importance, that they should both retain perfect possession of their faculties, he bade him good morning, and walked from the redoubt with Colonel Percy.
At the appointed hour, the party of foragers, with Major Courtland and Captain O’Carroll at their head, issued in silence from the camp. The night was cloudless, and myriads of stars were shining brightly in the clear blue sky. Guided by a provincial soldier, one of those who had givevn information of the house, they proceeded cautiously along the verge of the forest, occasionally halting to listen for sounds of danger, and then resuming their swift and noisely progress. After proceeding without accident for nearly a mile, their guide struck into a road on the right, which led through a narrow defile, bordered on each side by craggy rocks, and terminating in a dense forest, where the matted boughs shut out the sight of the star-light heavens, and rendered the advance of the party slower and more difficult than it had yet been.
Captain O’Carroll’s patience was sorely tried; he saw no termination to their march, and began to fear that the soldier had led them wrong. These American forests, he said, advancing to the side of Major Courtland, are worse than the hills of the Highlands where I have so often shot grouse with my uncle; even the bogs of my own dear Ireland cannot boast so charming a variety of bush and briar as are here at every step fastening to one’s person, or threatening with their sharp points to exterminate one’s eyes.
Hush! said Major Courtland, or we may be assailed by worse enemies than bushes and briars, and start more formidable game than Highland grouse.63 6(2)r 63
Captain O’Carroll laughed and fell back to his place. After proceeding a short distance farther, the party came to a open space in the forest where the trees had been felled, though their huge blackened stumps remained, giving the place the appearance of a vast cemetery, thickly covered with grave-stones. As they advanced, this melancholy resemblance was exchanged for marks of superior cultivation. Fields of Indian corn, ripe for the sickle and bristling with ears, promised to recompense the tedious march of the night. A flock of sheep were clustered together in the corner of a small enclosure, and, near a cottage built of logs, some cattle were browsing on the faded herbage. All around wore the aspect of plenty, and evinced that the owners, to use the homely phrase of the country, were well to do in the world.
As Major Courtland took a hasty view of the premises, he was surprised to observe at that unusual hour, a strong gleam of light issue from the window of the cottage, and, fearing that their expedition might by some means have become known to the vigilant enemy, he halted to consult with Captain O’Carroll, whether it were best to advance, or for fear of the worst, to secure a safe retreat. But the soldier who acted as their guide, having assured him that the light proceeded from a huge wood fire, which, in a country where fuel was so abundant, it was often the custom to keep burning through the night, as soon as the cool season commenced, he again advanced towards the house.
It was not the wish of the British commander to strip from the laborious farmer his little all, without ample remuneration. Commissioned to purchase, not to rob, Major Courtland rode to the door of the cottage and knocked loudly to awaken its inmates. A slight noise was heard within, but no one appeared; and reining his horse up before the narrow window, he observed by the red glare which illuminated the interior of the dwelling, the figure of an Indian, just vanishing through a small door opposite. No other living being was visible; and, surprised at the mysterious 64 6(2)v 64 silence which pervaded a habitation, where he had been told a large family resided, he turned to question the provincial soldier. But he was not to be found; yet no one had seen him depart, and if he had gone, he must have stolen off unperceived, at the moment when the attention of his comrades was fixed upon the farm-house.
Major Courtland and Captain O’Carroll looked fixedly upon each other; the same idea rushed upon the mind of both, but the impatient Captain was the first who spoke.
There is treason, you may rest assured, he said, and the sooner we retreat the better, if indeed it is not already too late.
And if it is, we will die like brave men, returned the Major, but let us at least attempt it.
He had scarcely ceased speaking, and was about to give the order for a rapid retreat, when the tremendous war-whoop of the Indian resounded through the forest, awaking the silent echoes and bringing with it associations of horror, which chilled the blood of the brave little band, who, uncertain from what direction they were to be assailed, drew up by command of their leader in order of battle, and nerved their hearts to meet the barbarous foe, whom the frightful yell of the savage had led them to expect.
But they were deceived. Major Courtland was in the act of issuing some necessary directions, when a body of republican troops emerged from a thicket in rear of the house, and, led on by a spirited officer, commenced a furious attack upon the British. Perceiving at once, that the enemy exceeded him in number, Major Courtland, to avoid the shame of a surrender, and prevent the sacrifice of his men in so unequal a contest, resolved to attempt an immediate retreat. Could he gain the narrow defile at the entrance of the forest and despatch a courier to the camp with intelligence of their situation, all might yet be well. He therefore began his retreat; and, fighting as he retired, had the satisfaction to enter the defile with the loss of only two men. 65 6(3)r 65 Here Major Courtland sent off his emissary for succours, and as the moon had arisen, so as to enable them to distinguish friend from foe, the combat raged with increased fury, and with more deadly effect. Major Courtland and Captain O’Carroll animated their men by their example, and cheered them by words of encouragement and approbation; but as many of their number already strewed the earth, and still the expected succours did not arrive, it seemed impossible that they could much longer sustain the unequal conflict. To complete their distress, a ball winged with unerring aim, at length penetrated the breast of Major Courtland and he fell bleeding from his horse.
The courage and efforts of the soldiers seemed at once paralyzed by this sight. In vain Captain O’Carroll sought to rally and lead them on to a fresh charge; grief and despair appeared to subdue them, and though they still offered resistance, it was slight and ineffectual.
No sooner had Major Courtland fallen, than an Indian who had followed the Americans, and the same who had raised the war-whoop, approached the spot where he was lying, and perceiving that life was not yet extinct, lifted his tomahawk to strike, when the leader of the party observing his design, called out in a commanding tone, Forbear, Ohmeina! spare the vanquished and respect the brave! The Major’s horse feeling his rein slacken, had carried his master to the verge of the enemy’s line before he fell; and the American officer, now approaching the spot where he lay, was directing the Indian to raise and bear him from the scene of strife, when a shout of joy burst from the despairing remnant of Major Courtland’s troops, and a reinforcement of British rushed through the narrow defile to succour their exhausted comrades
The Americans seemed undaunted by the arrival of fresh forces to the enemy. They formed their lines with coolness and precision, and prepared anew for the charge.
A soldier, who had beheld with grief the capture of his wounded Major, seized this moment of surprise and 6* 66 6(3)v 66 confusion to rush forward and drag him within the defile, where he placed him under the care of a disabled comrade, and without being missed or observed regained his station before the attack commenced.
A sanguinary conflict now ensued, sustained on both sides with such unparalleled vigor and obstinacy, that it is impossible to say which would have gained the victory. But happily for the preservation of life, the heavens became obscured by clouds, and the total darkness which ensued forced the combatants to terminate the bloody strife.
The Americans then drew off their forces, probably not judging it advisable to remain till morning so near the main body of the British army, and left the royal party unmolested to retire to their encampment.
Major Courtland recovered his senses shortly after his removal to the camp, and on opening his eyes, the first objects which they encountered, were Captain O’Carroll and his faithful Hugh watching beside him. The joy of the attached servant broke forth in rapturous exclamations, when he witnessed the arrival of his master from his long and deathlike swoon. Captain O’Carroll expressed his pleasure with equal warmth and sincerity; and, after thanking him for his kindness and attention, Major Courtland requested him to give him some information respecting the issue of the engagement.67 6(4)r 67
The men were struck with dismay when they saw you fall, said O’Carroll, instantly complying with the Major’s request; they fired at random and would in defiance of my exertions have forced me to surrender, had not a reinforcement arrived just in time to save me from disgrace. Warm work ensued; and, with all our valor and fresh forces besides, those fighting rebels would have beat us hollow, had not the complaisant heavens, sympathizing, no doubt, in our distress, seen fit to veil themselves in clouds, and so saved us the shame of skulking like hounds to our camp; or what would have been far worse, of following to the enemy’s, at the heels of that black looking fellow who led the rebels on, and stood fire and sword like a bomb-proof house. And do you know, Major, he continued, that you came near losing your scalp, by the means of that tawny representative of Satan, who set up such an infernal howl at the log castle yonder? But just as he was about to strike, this same leader, Grame, or Grahame, I think some one called him, reproved the savage in a tone, that caused him quickly to desist from his bloody design. I wish, he added, General Burgoyne would win over this rebel officer, and keep him to frighten our savage allies into submission; otherwise I fear we shall be starved out of our quarters here, and beaten out of our bravery in the next engagement to boot.
A truce to your ridiculous fears, O’Carroll; exclaimed the Major, impatient at this suggestion. And desirous to change the subject, he asked, Has the rascal who betrayed us been discovered yet, and if not, are any steps to be taken for the purpose?
The general, replied O’Carroll, has offered rewards for his apprehension; all condemn the traitorous villain, and wish him brought to punishment, but you are aware, that in the present crisis every mind is filled with concerns, which serve to render this affair a matter of secondary interest.
I do not consider it so, returned Major Courtland, and think the fellow ought to be made an example of, to the whole camp.68 6(4)v 68
And so does every one, said the Captain; but what can be done? Watched as we are by eyes more vigilant than were the hundred glaring orbs of old Argus himself, our most active efforts would be fruitless. I will vouch for it, that before this, he is safely lodged in snug quarters, where he finds better living and jollier hearts than he met with here.
But not stouter ones, exclaimed the Major; though your’s, O’Carroll, seems strongly inclining towards the milk and honey of the American camp.
The color mounted to O’Carroll’s face. None but a superior officer would have dared to suggest such a suspicion, he said; and Major Courtland, he added in a tone of wounded feeling, is the last man, from whom I should have expected an imputation, alike unjust to my sentiments, and degrading to my character as a British officer.
Pshaw, O’Carroll! said the Major, your Irish blood is too inflammable by half; you know me too well to take so seriously what was said and meant jocosely: and I, my dear fellow, he continued, affectionately grasping his hand, have seen too many instances of your bravery and self-denying loyalty, to harbor a single doubt of your constancy, even amidst severer trials than those which now beset us.
Captain O’Carroll warmly returned the pressure of the Major’s hand, while the indignant flush which had overspread his handsome and ingenuous features, was succeeded by one of shame for the earnestness, with which he had resented his playful raillery.
You are undeservedly kind, sir, he said; but it shall be my study to merit this flattering expression of your good opinion, and to your indulgence I will trust, to pardon the boyish impetuosity which prompted me so hastily to resent a harmless jest!
It would be absurd to take exceptions at the impetuosity of an Irishman, said Major Courtland, gaily; your countrymen, O’Carroll, are all made up of combustibles; touch the match, or drop even an accidental69 6(5)r 69 al spark, the train is lighted, and off you go with a terrible explosion.
You are not far from right, Major, said O’Carroll, laughing; and if ever we arrive at the end of this tiresome war, I intend to locate myself in the Scotch Highlands, and temper my Irish warmth with some of the icy particles, which float in the clear atmosphere of those frosty regions. But I see you are fatigued, Major; so I will leave you to the care of Hugh for the present, and go out to gather something that will amuse you, when I return.
A few days of rest and careful nursing served to restore Major Courtland nearly to his usual health. The wound which he had received was neither deep nor dangerous, though the violence of his fall and a considerable loss of blood had rendered him, for sometime, insensible, and occasioned a degree of weakness which closely confined him for an umber of days. Captain O’Carroll who had imbibed for Major Courtland an ardent attachment, and indeed his sanguine temperament rendered him incapable of feeling any other, shared with Hugh the pleasure of attending him; and, except when professional duty required his presence elsewhere, he was always beside the invalid, reading to amuse him, or cheering the languor of illness with the sportive sallies of his inexhaustible gaiety.
As the Major was one evening sitting and musing alone, on the occurrences of the past, and the probable events of the future, Captain O’Carroll entered with an air somewhat less gay than usual.
What tidings have you, O’Carroll? asked the Major, earnestly regarding him; has any thing disastrous occurred in the camp? or has another score of our savage allies deserted us? Something I am sure has disturbed you.
That would not disturb me, returned O’Carroll. The barbarous wretches! he continued with energy; would to Heaven the army were cleansed from every stain of them; for, on my honor, I believe a curse has lighted on us for employing such ferocious beings.70 6(5)v 70
But you are unusually warm on the subject, said Major Courtland; have they committed any outrages to call forth this sudden burst of indignation?
Nothing new, said O’Carroll; but I am excited by a conversation I have just had with Lieutenant Campbell, concerning the horrid murder of Miss McRea, who was shortly to have been married to young Jones.
What! soon after we left Fort Edward? I recollect it, said Major Courtland, shuddering as he recalled the horrid circumstances, and associated the image of his own beautiful and innocent child, with that of the unfortunate Jane McRea.
Yes; returned O’Carroll with feeling; amidst the solitude and desolation of a wilderness, this lovely girl was bound, by two ferocious savages, to a tree, and cruelly scalped and murdered. Without a hand to aid, or a voice to sooth her, she fell a victim to the wanton fury of monsters, human only in outward form.
Let us dwell no longer on this melancholy subject, said Major Courtland, as he remarked the flushed cheek and saddened countenance of his gay young friend. It has a depressing effect, he added, and I feel that I want excitement of a more cheerful nature; your absence to day has left me too much time for reflection, and I have dwelt more on the endearments of home, than a soldier, whose views cannot extend with certainty beyond the present hour, has any right to do. And now what have you to relate that can afford me entertainment!
It is rumored, replied O’Carroll, shaking off his unwonted melancholy and speaking with cheerfulness; It is rumoured in the camp that General Burgoyne has received a letter in cyphers from Sir Henry Clinton, informing him of his intention to attack some fortresses, which the rebels have in the Highlands, I think; is there not such a place?
Yes, on the North river, returned Major Courtland, between Albany and New York; and these fortresses are designed to guard the passage up to Albany.71 6(6)r 71
Aye, but Sir Henry will soon tumble them about the ears of the rebellious garrison, or I am greatly mistaken, said O’Carroll.
And what great good will result from their demolition? inquired the Major, somewhat impatiently. Our situation is becoming every day more desperate; our numbers are diminishing, our provisions shrinking, our cattle dying, while the enemy, directly in front of us, impede our progress, and threaten to cut us in pieces if we stir.
But this unexpected attack upon the important fortresses on the North river, said O’Carroll, may do us essential service, by inducing General Gates to weaken his army, in order to send them succours.
No, he is too cautious for that, said the Major; Gates is a consummate General, and will let these forts with all their garrisons be blown up, rather than permit us to recover the least advantage here. But has the General returned any answer to Clinton?
I am told by Colonel Percy, said O’Carroll, who in some way learns all the secrets of the cabinet, that two officers have volunteered to go in disguise to Sir Henry, with any despatch which the General may wish to send; and that in consequence of this offer, he has resolved to send them with an exact account of our situation to Sir Henry, and press him to prosecute his design.
And how long are we to remain cooped up in this encampment? asked Major Courtland.
Till Sir Henry has battered down all the forts, and quelled all the rebels between this and New York, I suppose, said O’Carroll; for I believe the General is in no haste to come to an engagement till he is succoured by the southern army.
And how are they to succour us? demanded the Major, in an impatient tone, hemmed in as we are by a powerful army, whose numbers and strength are constantly increasing!
Captain O’Carroll shook his head with a smile, and, Colonel Percy at that moment entering, he referred the 72 6(6)v 72 Major to him, again asserting that he was in all the secrets of the cabinet.
I only know, said Colonel Percy, that two officers have gone off in different directions with despatches for Sir Henry Clinton.
And may I ask what was the nature of those despatches? said Major Courtland.
To inform Sir Henry, as I have understood, said the colonel, of the present situation of the army, to urge him to attack the American forts, in the hope of diverting part of the force under General Gates, and to say that he would retain the position we now occupy till the 1777-10-12twelfth of October, in the anticipation of more favorable events.
The 1777-10-12twelfth of October, and it is now only 1777-10-01the first! exclaimed Major Courtland. Impossible, utterly impossible! Colonel Percy. The men cannot live without food, and we have not provisions to last a week.
And what is worse yet, said Colonel Percy, all means of communication with Canada are in danger of being destroyed, and our hope of retreat, should we at last be constrained to attempt one, entirely cut off.
How so? inquired the Major, hastily.
Intelligence has just reached the camp, replied Colonel Percy, of an attempt making by the Americans to recover the fortress of Ticonderoga. They have already surprised the outposts, taken mounts Hope and Defiance, besides a great number of batteaux and an armed sloop. They are now making vigorous attacks upon the works, and should they surrender, Heaven only knows what fatal influence the event may have upon the issue of this campaign.
Fatal indeed, responded Major Courtland, and at best our affairs are nearly desperate. If we are defeated in the next engagement, we are inevitably lost. Yet what does it signify, when all are active around us, that we continue idle in our encampment, vainly waiting for aid, which will probably never reach us? Our soldiers are not yet weakened by famine, though Heaven 73 7(1)r 73 knows it is fast approaching; they are impatient for action, and why are they not led forth to meet the enemy, before he has become so powerful as to crush us at a single blow?
It is indeed the only chance which can save us, said Captain O’Carroll, and the sooner we engage the rebels the better. As to waiting for the movements of General Clinton, it is a vain thing, unless, like the ancient Israelites, we expect to be fed with manna; for, if I may judge from the anatomies of fowls, which graced our table to-day, Colonel, there is not much of the fat of the land to be found in our camp.
You seem to have a gread dread of famine, O’Carroll, said the Colonel, laughing; but you know it is only to make a nocturnal sally upon some of the log houses in the neighbourhood, to get a supply at once.
With all my heart, answered the Captain so there are no Indians in the case.
But, O’Carroll, said Major Courtland, these savages that you dread so much, are less invincible than the brave fellow who led on the Americans, and fought so like a lion at their head that he seemed almost as terrible as Mars himself.
There is a pleasure in measuring swords with such a noble foe, said the Captain, far above what is felt in the conquest of hosts of meaner rivals. Amid all the fury of the fight, I could not but remark his lofty bearing, his intrepid bravery, the air of calm self-possession with which he directed the movements of his men, and the resolute courage with which he met and returned our most furious onsets. Even the graceful ease with which he reined in his noble war-horse did not escape my observation, in despite of the obscurity and confusion of the scene, nor the tone of proud and awful authority which checked the murderous design of the Indian, when in the very act of raising his tomahawk to strike the defenceless head of Major Courtland.
I wish I knew the name of this hero, whom you have exalted into a demi-god, said the major, smiling; 7 74 7(1)v 74 if he were a damsel in disguise, you would not have burst forth into a more passionate eulogium.
I only know that his name is Grahame, said O’Carroll, and that he is as gallant in the field as the bravest knight that ever won the prize at a tournament.
He possesses humanity and generosity at least, said Major Courtland; and, if the fortune of war should ever throw him in my power, I shall strive to convince him that national animosities cannot chill the warm and grateful feelings of an Englishman’s heart.
I believe, said Colonel Percy, I may claim the honor of an acquaintance with this brave man; if he bears a colonel’s commission in the rebel army it is the same; and I can truly say he is as much of the accomplished gentleman as of the gallant soldier. He is an honor to his profession, and I have only to regret that the sword, which he wields so bravely, is not employed in a more just and righteous cause.
And where did you chance to become personally acquainted with this valiant champion of liberty? inquired Major Courtland.
I had the honor, as you perhaps know, returned the Colonel, to serve under General Sir Guy Carlton, at the time of the attack upon Quebec by the Americans, two years ago. The failure of their daring enterprise threw many of the assailants into our hands, and Colonel, then Captain Grahame, who was severely wounded, among the rest. His name I found spread terror among our troops, and revived the drooping courage of his own. During the assault upon the works, he had performed prodigies of valor. He was one of the first who daringly leaped upon the barricade at the Saut des Matelots, and made prisoner the captain of the guard with most of his men. Darkness, and ignorance of the situation of the town, alone prevented the procedure of the Americans; but when daylight returned, they rallied their gallant little band, amounting to no more than two hundred men, and for three hours combatted the whole force of our garrison, when unable75 7(2)r 75 able any longer to sustain a conflict so unequal, they surrendered themselves prisoners of war; but not before Captain Grahame, bleeding and covered with wounds, had fallen lifeless to the ground.
What gallantry! exclaimed O’Carroll, excited by the relation of the Colonel. You compel me, Colonel Percy, to admire a people whom from my very soul I wish to detest; and had I lived among them, and known them as Major Courtland has done, I am not certain that I should have continued as loyal as he is.
If you are inclined to espouse their cause, O’Carroll, it is not too late now, said the Major, smiling; but first let us hear the Colonel’s account of this young officer, who has so bewitched your Irish fancy.
He remained with us, resumed Colonel Percy, till an exchange of prisoners took place, during which time I had frequent opportunities of enjoying his society. I found him manly, intelligent, liberal in sentiment, possessing a cultivated mind, and highly captivating and polished manners. He was the idol of the soldiery, and a favourite with all his brother officers, although there was a slight expression of sternness in his countenance, and a degree of hauteur in his manners, which oftener repels than conciliates affection. And yet I know not how, but so it was, that all hearts were attracted towards him, and all minds delighted in his society. A certain secret but resistless fascination seemed to surround him, which drew every one within its influence.
And have you never met him since that time, inquired O’Carroll. Never, answered Colonel Percy, till the engagement of the 1777-09-19nineteenth, brought us again within view of each other. But his corps occupying a station farther to the right than mine, saved us the pain of being directly opposed in this deadly encounter. I think I could not have deliberately aimed at the life of a man, whom I so much admire, and with whom I have lived on terms of the most famliliar intimacy.
But had you been with us, said O’Carroll, on the night when that howling Cerberus of an Indian 76 7(2)v 76 brought down a whole detachment of the rebels upon us, friendship, kindness, and good will, would have yielded to the desperation and excitement of the combat.
The darkness and confusion, said the Colonel, would probably have prevented my recognizing in my opponent the person of an old friend. But had it not been so, I should have remembered the claims of my country, and performed my duty, though the foe whom I encountered had been my dearest friend. But your account of the Indian, Captain O’Carroll, recalls to my recollection an incident, which was related to me, during our stay at Fort Edward, and which, as it tends still farther to develope the character of this interesting officer, it will afford me pleasure to relate.
A chief of the Mohawk nation had located himself on the banks of the Hudson, a few miles from Fort Edward, and collected around him a small settlement composed of six or eight families, whom he was attempting to teach some of the arts of civilization. You smile, Captain O’Carroll, but it was even so; and more incredible still, this Indian had received a good education at a school established by a missionary in one of the colonies, New Hampshire, I believe, for the express purpose of enlightening these savage hordes.
And of course, said O’Carroll, they were then returned to their native forests to teach knowledge to the panthers and jackalls. As a quicker and surer method I would advise to adopt these less ferocious animals for pupils, and when their education was complete, send them forth to civilize their savage neighbors. But a truce to trifling; though I confess, Colonel, the idea of a civilized Indian is an anomaly far beyond my comprehension.
Anomalous as it may appear to you, Captain O’Carroll, said the Major, the information which Colonel Percy has given you respecting the school is strictly true. And more than this, it has been attended with so much success, that about eight years since it received a charter of incorporation for a university, and is 77 7(3)r 77 now under the especial patronage and protection of the Earl of Dartmouth.
O’Carroll was mute with astonishment, and Colonel Percy, smiling at the mixture of surprise and incredulity which appeared upon his features, proceeded in his narration.This Mohawk chief, who was called Ohmeina, had imbibed a strong attachment for the Americans, during the period of his residence among them. Grateful for their kindness, and for the instructions which they had given him, he refused to join in the league which his tribe made with us, against his benefactors, and by entreaties and remonstrances induced his little colony to preserve the neutrality which had been recommended to them by the Americans. Shortly after his return from the populous abodes of men, he took a wife of his own nation, resumed his former savage costume, and with it many habits of his early life; partly from a wish to avoid the jealousy of his neighbours, and partly from that attachment to the impressions of youth, which is peculiarly strong in the savage tribes, and which all the advantages and comforts of civilization had not been able to eradicate from the heart of this Mohawk chief. But nothing could induce him to engage in hostilities; neither the threats and intreaties of his brethren, nor the alluring bribes of our people were of the least avail. True to his determination, he steadily resisted both, and daily instilled into the minds of his children and his colony, a reverence and love for that people, who had instructed him concerning the Great Being who formed them, and had taught him so many good and wonderful things from their books of knowledge. The officers of the American army, then occupying Fort Edward, often visited this little settlement, but of all who went none was more joyously welcomed then Colonel Grahame. He delighted to pass whole hours in conversing with the chief, whose forcible and highly figurative language had acquired elegance and propriety by cultivation, without having lost any of its native 7* 78 7(3)v 78 strength and originality. He contemplated with pleasure the happiness of Ohmeina’s domestic life, and almost envied the sweet tranquillity in which his days glided peacefully away. Five active boys, his pride and delight, were growing up around him, and their mother possessed a degree of beauty and feminine softness, not often found among the red daughters of the forest. One exceedingly dark evening, the gloom of which was rendered more awful by vivid flashes of lightning, which seemed to wrap the heavens in a flame, as Colonel Grahame was returning, from a short expedition, to the fort, at the head of a small detachment of soldiers, he observed a bright light flashing at intervals, above the tall forest trees which surrounded the infant settlement of the pacific Indians. At first he thought the lightning might have struck some tree and set it on fire, but soon apprehending some more serious evil, he ordered his men to halt, and riding a few paces in advance, he plainly distinguished the cries of children, the shrieks of women, and the terrific war-whoop of the savages, mingling with the sullen blast, which swept through the forests. Followed by his men, he plunged into the narrow foot-path which led to the Indian village. As he approached it, the sounds of terror and distress became more distinct, and Grahame, filled with apprehension for the fate of the unfortunate Indians, urged on his panting steed, till the whole frightful scene burst upon him and all his suspicions were at once confirmed. Every wigwam was in flames, and the dead and the dying lay bleeding on the ground around the burning walls of their late happy homes. A few half-naked females ran shrieking to the forest for safety, while in the midst of this scene of disolation, the chief, Ohmeina, with the wretched remnant of his people, were contending with a band of savages greatly exceeding them in number. Colonel Grahame was filled with horror at the frightful aspect of the assailants. Their faces stained with paint, their unearthly yells, their stern ferocity, as they brandished their tomahawks, bathed with the blood of the innocent, and glittering in the lurid glare 79 7(4)r 79 of the flames, which their demoniac rage had enkindled, produced a sight revolting to the feelings of humanity, and which roused to indignation every geerous impulse of his heart. The shrieks of the miserable victims, and the discordant cries of their fiendlike murderers, had prevented them from perceiving the approach of the American party, till a bright flash of lightning revealed them, just emerging from the dark precincts of the forest. The next moment they advanced into the area, where every object was visible in the light of the blazing wigwams, and were greeted by a shout of joy from the chief and his adherents. A volley of musketry instantly rattled among the enemy, and killed several of their number; but, contrary to their usual custom, instead of flying at the sight of fire-arms, they rushed with more determined fury to the combat. Having expended all their cartridges with effect, the soldiers of Colonel Grahame rushed, with the point of the bayonet, upon the obstinate savages. One, more malignant even than his fellows, who had been grappling with Ohmeina, seeing the Colonel approach, quitted his prey, but aimed, at the same moment, a successful blow at a boy of ten years old, who stood beside the chief, and felled him to the ground. The desolated Ohmeina cast a glance of anguish on his son, as he lay bleeding at his feet, and then, with an air of determined vengeance, turned upon his murderer. But Colonel Grahame had already avenged the wrongs of his Indian friend. The savage fell before his invincible assailant, and those of his followers who did not share his fate, precipitately quitted the scene of action, and fled, pursued by the Americans to the shelter of their forests. Of all this happy little colony, two only, beside the chief, remained; their dwellings were consumed, their fields laid waste, and their wives and children murdered in cold blood before their eyes. Ohmeina’s wife and sons had been the first victims of this inhuman massacre. The eldest only had escaped, and followed his father with all the intrepidity of manhood, to avenge the death of his mother and brothers. 80 7(4)v 80 The cause of this unprovoked attack Ohmeina supposed to originate in the anger of a neighbouring chief, who with his tribe had joined the British, and, having been urgent with Ohmeina to do the same, had, upon his refusal, sworn to punish his obstinacy, ascribing it to his superior knowledge, which raised him, in his own estimation, above his brethren, and made him wish to keep them in subjection, for which purpose doubtless, he had formed a league with the Americans. Two of Colonel Grahame’s soldiers only had been killed in the conflict, and some of the others now assisted the Indians to form a litter of the branches of trees, on which they placed the boy, who was still alive, and returned with him to the fort, followed by the Indians. Ohmeina walked, in stern and gloomy silence, by the side of his son; and during the melancholy march not a word was spoken by any of the party; so sad was the impression which the dreadful events of the night had made upon every mind. The grief of the chief was deep but silent; Colonel Grahame sought to alleviate it by the expression of his sympathy, and to press upon the heart of the unfortunate man, those mild and soothing precepts of christianity, in which he had been instructed, and which had so greatly tended to soften and humanize his savage nature. But nothing touched him so sensibly as the young officer’s kindness to his wounded boy. He placed him on his own couch and watched with tender solicitude by his side; but he did not long survive his wounds, and when he died, the grateful Indian devoted his life to his benefactor, and clings to him, it is said, with such enthusiastic attachment, that danger, and even death in their most frightful forms, have no terrors for him, when engaged in his service.
It was he then, said Major Courtland, who, as well as Captain O’Carroll, had listened with deep interest to this narration, who gave the alarm at the log hut in the forest?
Yes, undoubtedly, returned the Colonel; and I wonder the recollection of this affair did not occur to 81 7(5)r 81 me, when Captain O’Carroll first mentioned the Indian. Wherever Ohmeina is seen, one may be sure, as I am informed, that Colonel Grahame is not very remote.
Your narrative, said O’Carroll, certainly bears an honorable testimony to the bravery and humanity of Colonel Grahame; yet I assure you, Colonel, I feel no greater fondness for the society of these scalping savages than I did before, and am rather inclined to believe from the uncivilized howl, with which this same Ohmeina greeted us the other night, that he has relapsed into his original barbarity, since the descent of his savage brethren upon his colony.
You are incorrigible, O’Carroll, said the Colonel laughing; once adopt a belief, and it possesses you forever. But we must away, to see what movements the enemy are making, he said, starting up and looking at his watch. Captain O’Carroll obeyed the summons of his superior officer, and, bidding Major Courtland good night, they went out together.
The difficulties and distresses of the British army had been daily increasing, since the engagement of the 1777-09-19nineteenth, till the peril of its situation at last became alarmingly great. The expected intelligence, on which so much depended, did not arrive from Sir Henry Clinton; and though General Burgoyne had agreed to 82 7(5)v 82 wait till the 1777-10-12twelfth, and nearly a week of the appointed time was yet to elapse, he found his present position no longer tenable, and he came to the resolution of giving battle to the enemy in the desperate hope of forcing a passage to Albany, or, in case of the worst, of dislodging him, and securing a safe and convenient retreat.
On the morning of the 1777-10-07seventh of October, therefore, the whole army was ordered under arms. Every countenance was animated with the expectation of an immediate engagement, and every heart palpitated with the hope, and some with the assurance of victory. A few there were who felt too keenly the hopelessness of their condition to look for aught but honorable death, and, in the expectation of meeting it, they went forth with the firm and undaunted cheerfulness of loyal and brave men, conscious that their own honor, and that of the sovereign whom they loved and served, was deeply involved in the conduct of the day.
Major Courtland, though scarcely recovered from his recent wounds, was deaf to the solicitations of his friends, who entreated that he would spare himself the danger and fatigue, to which his reduced strength was not adequate; and when he absolutely refused their request, they urged him at least to remain with the guard of the camp, and not expose himself to the heat and confusion of a close and immediate action. But he was equally unyielding on this point, and prepared, with all the eagerness of a young soldier, for the expected attack.
And bravely in that desperate action, did he maintain the courage and the honor of a British officer. Animated by the example of their leaders, the men, with dauntless hearts, urged on the dreadful work of death; they stood unmoved the deadly fire of the enemy, nor shrunk from the encounter, when the conflict became more fierce and sanguinary.
Around Major Courtland, whose corps occupied the left wing of the army, it thickened with terrible rapidity. In the ardor of the fight, he pressed forward to pursue an advantage, which he imagined he was gaining over a corps of the enemy against which his own was particularly83 7(6)r 83 ticularly opposed; quite unconscious of the danger, to which he exposed himself, till he was suddenly reminded of it by a ball, which, though intended for him pierced the breast of his horse and killed him instantly. A soldier more daring than his comrades, immediately advanced with his bayonet fixed towards the Major, while he was striving to disentangle himself from his fallen steed; when, perceiving the peril of his situation, with admirable presence of mind, he snatched a pistol from the holster and shot his assailant through the heart. But before he could effect his retreat, for he had incautiously advanced several paces before his men, the rifle of a soldier took surer aim and he fell; rather stunned by the blow, than injured by the wound, however, for happily the ball was spent before it struck him. But the momentary insensibility came near proving fatal to him; for an Indian, to whom no particular place seemed assigned, but who was hovering around and dealing death wherever he could, no sooner perceived the Major’s situation, than he rushed forward, and dragging him nearer to the American lines, was on the point of letting his uplifted tomahawk descend upon the head of the defenceless officer, when a commanding voice in a tone of authority suspended his design.
Ohmeina! the person of a vanquished foe is sacred; we wage no savage warfare here, and, as you value my friendship, let my commands in the future be obeyed.
The Indian dropped his weapon, and crossing his hands upon his breast, stood motionless with a look of profound humility.
Secure your prisoner, but harm not one hair of his head, resumed the young officer, who had spoken, and perceiving, as he bent from his horse to look at Major Courtland, that he had recovered from his momentary insensibility, he said in a tone of politeness and humanity. The fortunes of war make you my prisoner, Sir, but I hope you have received no serious injury.
One far more galling, Sir, returned the Major, in a tone which expressed the depth of his chagrin and mortification, than the tomahawk of that savage, from 84 7(6)v 84 which you have twice saved me, could have inflicted. If I mistake not, I address the gallant Colonel Grahame, and it is not necessary to remind him that life without honor is not worth preserving.
The American officer was in the act of replying, when Captain O’Carroll, perceiving the situation of his Major, pressed resolutely forward, and before the sudden and impetuous charge of his corps that of Colonel Grahame instantly gave way. Major Courtland seized the moment of confusion to recover his place, and it was fortunate that he did so, for just at this crisis the Americans were strongly reinforced, and the action was renewed with increased fury.
Overpowered by numbers, the whole left wing of the British army at last gave way, and the spirited exertions of the officers were scarcely able to preserve it from utter ruin. They, however, effected the retreat in tolerable order, but not without great loss both of men and cannon. The horses were most of them destroyed, and many of the bravest officers of the army here met their death. Captain O’Carroll was severely wounded, and Major Courtland received the contents of a musket in his breast, while defending the works, which the enemy attacked after they had driven the British from the field.
When Major Courtland was conveyed to the hospital, it was already crowded with the wounded and the dying. The apartment in which he was placed, contained a number of officers, who, like himself, had been deposited there in haste of the moment. Several ladies also, the wives of officers, with their children and domestics, were forced to remain in this wretched shelter, surrounded by objects of distress and terror. But with the characteristic heroism of their soft and all-enduring sex, they seemed to have shaken off the shrinking delicacy and timidity peculiar to them; and with looks of pitying gentleness, they hung over the wounded officers that were filling the apartment, and administered to them what cordials and comforts their melancholy situation could command.85 8(1)r 85
In the centre of the room, on a camp bed, lay the gallant General Frazer, mortally wounded. Beside him stood the lady of General Reidesel, holding a cup to his parched lips, which he wanted the power to taste, though his dying eyes, raised to her face, eloquently expressed the grateful emotions of his heart. Once he feebly grasped her hand and said in a faint voice,
May Heaven bless you for your kindness, Madam, and restore your husband to you safe from the perils of battle. Then after a brief pause he added with a convulsive sigh, Oh, fatal ambition, these are thy bitter fruits! Alas! my poor wife! hundreds like thee will this day render desolate!
The lady’s tears flowed fast, and she sought to hide her overpowering emotion by carressing the children who were clinging around her. As she stooped forward, her eyes encountered the ghastly figure of Major Courtland, whom the soldiers had laid upon a mattress spread upon the floor. Alas! our sad number is fast increasing, she said, as she approached his side, and bent to look upon his features. His melancholy eyes met her’s, and a faint flush crossed his pale cheek, as he said, in a voice whose feeble tones expressed deep and bitter feelings,
Ah, madam, these wounds are nothing compared to those, this day inflicted upon my country. We are beaten, he added, vanquished, disgraced;—driven to our tents by the undisciplined militia of a rebel army.
He turned his face from her, as he finished speaking, and covered it with his hands, to conceal the sense of degradation which appeared on every feature, and which, as he truely said, was more painful to his lofty spirit, than all the bodily anguish caused by his wounds.
A deep groan from General Frazer drew the baroness again to his bedside, and when the Major next looked up, he saw the delicate figure and lovely countenance of Lady Harriet Ackland, bending over him with a look of sorrow and anxiety. The pity which appeared in her eyes was not more sincere than that, which the sight of her instantly awakened in Major Courtland’s 8 86 8(1)v 86 heart. He knew that her husband, who commanded the Grenadiers, was desperately wounded, though he was yet ignorant of his being a prisoner. But conscious of the evil tidings which awaited this charming woman, whose heroic tenderness had made her an object of respect and interest to the whole army, he felt for her the most lively compassion; and when her soft voice fell upon his ear, inquiring if she could do any thing to relieve his distress, he regarded her with a look so full of fatherly pity and affection, that she instantly became alarmed, and exclaimed in a voice of terror,
Oh, I am sure by that look you must know something of my husband. I entrreat you, Major Courtland, to tell me if he is yet alive, that I may go to him; if not――
She suddenly stopped as if overwhelmed by the anguish of so dreadful an idea, and covered her face with her hands, while the tears, which she sought to conceal, trickled fast through her slender fingers.
Comfort yourself, Lady Harriet, said Major Courtland, deeply touched by her distress; your husband is alive, but situated as we were in different parts of the army, I can give you no certain information respecting him. But is it not probable, if he were very badly wounded, that he would have been brought here, before this?
Yes, I think—I hope he would, she said in a doubting accent. The question, however, seemed in some degree to compose her, and she added in a tone of humble and sweet resignation,
I am ungrateful to distrust the goodness of God, who has preserved him through so many dangers, and so often returned him from the midst of perils, in safety to my arms.
The surgeon at this moment approached to dress the Major’s wounds, and Lady Harriet retired while he performed the duties of his office. She withdrew to the extremity of the small apartment, for there was no other spot more remote, where these delicate and high-bred females could retire, for privacy and refreshment. The 87 8(2)r 87 servants had arranged some temporary curtains to screen them a little from observation, and there Lady Harriet Ackland, the Baroness Reidesel, and several other ladies, wrapt in bitter meditations, which the scenes they had witnessed were too fruitful in suggesting, passed the long and melancholy hours of this dreadful night.
Major Courtland had received several wounds, but only one which bore an unfavourable appearance. This was in the breast, and from the strictness of the surgeon’s injunctions, an apprehension of considerable danger was inferred, not only by the attendants, but by the Major himself. When the ball was extracted, and the operation of dressing over, he was removed to another apartment of the small house, which formed the centre of the hospital, and was already filled with wounded officers.
Among the rest was Captain O’Carroll, whose excessive fatigue, together with a powerful anodyne, had conspired to throw him into a profound sleep, which he enjoyed undisturbed, through the whole night, in spite of his wounds, and of the noise which was necessarily produced in the house by the continual passing and repassing of the surgeons and attendants. Major Courtland was not so easily lulled to rest; the anguish of his wound, the mortification of defeat, and the desperate state of the army, produced a train of sad reflections, which kept him waking nearly all night. The next day was one of feverish agitation; his wound was exceedingly inflamed, and the worst fears of the faithful Hugh, who kept a vigilant station beside his master, were awakened. Towards evening, however, Major Courtland greatly revived, and made many inquiries respecting the movements in the camp, the death of General Frazer, and the situation of the ladies. Hugh, delighted to hear again the sound of his master’s voice, entered into a minute detail of all he knew, and was in the midst of his narration, when an attendant entered with a request from Lady Harriet Ackland, that she might be permitted to speak with Major Courtland.88 8(2)v 88
She was instantly admitted, and Major Courtland, as he answered her kind inquiries after his health, remarked with concern the paleness of her interesting countenance, and the agitation of her voice and manner. When these inquiries were ended, she said abruptly,
Major Courtland, as the friend of my absent husband, I come to consult you on a step which I design to take. Major Ackland is wounded and a prisoner, and I wish to go to him, if General Burgoyne will grant me permission.
Go to him! repeated Major Courtland, gazing with surprise on the soft and gentle creature, who had dared to adopt so bold a resolution. Lady Harriet, you know not what you propose; your husband, if a prisoner, is probably in the very heart of the enemy’s camp, and would you go to him there?
Would I? she replied with emotion; I would go to him in the very heart of the most savage wilderness, though I knew it to be inhabited by wild beasts, and Indians wilder and fiercer even than the monsters of the desert, so I could be with him and alleviate his distress.
Major Courtland gazed on her a moment in silent admiration, then, unable to suppress his feelings, exclaimed,
How does the heroic constancy and fortitude of weak, dependant woman put to shame the lordly boasting of our proud and self-confident sex!
Woman will dare and endure every thing for the husband she loves, returned lLady Harriet, with a faint smile. But I come to ask your opinion, Major Courtland, of this step. You have lived long among the Americans, and are familiar with their character and habits. To us they have been represented as savage, brutal, and unfeeling. Even if they are such, I must venture among them; but, for his sake and my own, I would gladly hear of them a different character.
I can assure your ladyship, returned Major Courtland, that you have nothing to fear from the incivility or inhumanity of the Americans. I know them well, 89 8(3)r 89 and greatly as I deprecate their unnatural rebellion, I cannot in justice withhold from them the character they deserve. They are brave, honorable, and generous; and I doubt not will do all in their power to render your situation one of ease and comfort.
God bless you for this comforting assurance, she replied; and with General Burgoyne’s permission, I will instantly depart. Farewell, Major Courtland; I should go with a lighter heart, were I not compelled to leave so many of the brave defenders of my country stretched on beds of pain. But may God restore you all, and grant that we may soon meet under happier auspices.
Major Courtland sighed, as he affectionately pressed her hand, and after a brief pause replied,
Farewell, madam, may the blessing of heaven rest upon you, and guide you in safety to your husband. Bear him my best wishes, and may your future union be as lasting, as it has been virtuous and happy.
She gently withdrew her hand, and, with a heart too full for utterance, glided silently away, while Major Courtland, with a feeling like parental tenderness, watched her retreating form till the closing door shut it from his view. Her beauty and heroic tenderness recalled to his mind the image of his own lovely girl, and the soothing remembrances which her idea awakened, shed a placid calmness, unfelt for many hours, over his harassed and agitated spirits. Dwelling with a father’s fondness on the endearments of the past, he sunk gradually into a gentle slumber, which continued unbroken for an hour or two, when he was awakened by voices from below and sounds of confusion from all parts of the house.
He looked around him with surprise; two officers who had occupied the same apartment though not dangerously wounded, were dressing themselves with the assistance of their servants, whose looks expressed haste and anxiety. Hugh with a surgeon was standing by the bedside of Captain O’Carroll, who, half raised upon his elbow, was listening with an air of impatience 8* 90 8(3)v 90 to the earnest words of the latter, which seemed by their emphasis to be those of entreaty and persuasion. Hearing his master move, the watchful Hugh went directly to his bedside.
Are the enemy upon us, asked Major Courtland, or what occasions the disturbance which I see and hear around me?
They are not upon us yet, please your Honor, answered Hugh, but we hear they are coming, and the General has ordered a retreat. But these Americans, sir, never do things by halves, and I think, go as far as we will, we shall hardly escape them.
A retreat! ejaculated Major Courtland. Good heaven! what torrents of blood must flow before the shame of this campaign can be washed away. And why, he added, glancing towards O’Carroll, who was still in earnest conversation with the surgeon, why is not Captain O’Carroll preparing to follow with the rest?
The surgeon is urging him to do so, returned Hugh, but he says, though his life were at stake, he would not leave your Honor to fall alone into the power of the enemy.
Generous young man! exclaimed the Major, touched by this affecting proof of the warm-hearted O’Carroll’s attachment. But go to him, Hugh; tell him from me, to fly; say to him, I am sure of kind treatment from the Americans, and that it matters little whether I draw my last breath among them, or in the midst of my vanquished countrymen.
Ah, sir, you will not die, exclaimed Hugh, alarmed by this suggestion; indeed, sir, I cannot speak to the young Captain of such a thing, and I entreat your Honor not to send me with the message.
Well, at least, tell Dr. Rennie I wish to speak with him, said Major Courtland. Hugh obeyed, and the surgeon immediately followed him to the bedside of the Major.
Cannot you prevail on O’Carroll, Doctor, to follow the retreat of the troops!91 8(4)r 91
No, he persists in remaining, though I have assured him he may be removed without danger, answered the surgeon. But he declares, if Major Courtland must be left, he will not desert him, and as I candidly tell him, the fatigue of a removal, in your present situation, would probably cost you your life, he resolutely resists every entreaty to quit the hospital.
I cannot but be deeply gratified by this proof of Captain O’Carroll’s attachment, said Major Courtland; but I value his friendship too highly to accept this sacrifice of his personal safety. I am attended by my faithful servant, and I have no doubt of meeting many friends in the American army. Oblige me then, Dr. Rennie, by informing him it is my earnest request that he will prepare, without longer delay, for his departure. The army will soon commence its march, and when too late, we shall both regret his unnecessary capture.
I will renew my entreaties, though I fear they will prove unavailing, replied the surgeon; and he again returned to the Captain, who occupied a mattress in the most remote corner of the apartment.
At that instant Colonel Percy entered, and said quickly to O’Carroll’s servant, Haste, haste, Ronald; assist your master to rise; you have not a moment to lose, if you would be off with the troops. He passed on, without waiting for an answer, to the bedside of Major Courtland.
We are under marching orders, Major, said the Colonel, as he returned the pressure of his friend’s hand. The enemy are bearing down upon our right, and the General has judged it expedient to order an immediate retreat. Our hospital must of course be abandoned; but many of the wounded officers have prepared to join us in such conveyences as could be procured. I come to hasten you, for you must not be left. A cart, in which some clean straw has been placed is already occupied by three wounded officers, but there is yet sufficient room for yourself and Captain O’Carroll. So let me beg of you to rise, for really there is no time to be lost.92 8(4)v 92
My surgeon tells me a removal would probably prove fatal to me, returned the Major, calmly; and though it would be only hastening a period which may, perhaps, soon arrive, I doubt, Colonel Percy, if I have a right to do any thing, which may, in the least, precipitate that event.
Indeed, Major Courtland, said the Colonel, looking at him with surprise, I think you yield too quickly to despondency; our unfortunate situation has depressed your spirits, and induced you to dwell on gloomy and improbable events. It is not two hours since your surgeon informed me he considered you in a way to do well.
My own feelings are a surer index to truth, than even the auguries of my surgeon, returned the Major. But, setting aside the danger which a removal might occasion, I am an old soldier, Colonel Percy, who never yet turned my back upon the enemy, and I care not now to have it said that I fled from an army of rebels, powerful and victorious though they are. Let them come, we are vanquished by Heaven, rather than by them.
You disapprove our retreat then, said the Colonel, and regard it as an act of cowardice and fear!
I am far from pronouncing so severe a judgment, said Major Courtland; your situation is peculiar and desperate; and though an individual may yield his life, rather than his honor, a General is bound to consult the safety of his troops, even at the expense of private happiness and public fame.
No censure, I think, can be attached to General Burgoyne, returned Colonel Percy; he has undoubtedly been shackled by the commands of the ministry, who laid down a plan of the campaign, without any knowledge of the country where it was to be executed. Consequently we are reduced to this sad and mortifying dilemma. But I must leave you, since you compel me to do so; time presses, and I can delay no longer.93 8(5)r 93
Go first to Captain O’Carroll, and impose upon him your commands, as a superior officer, to follow the retreat, said Major Courtland.
Colonel Percy did as he was desired, and the Captain seeing him approach, raised himself to receive him.
I entreat you to hasten, said the Colonel; the army will move in less than an hour, and you are aware that we can wait for no one.
Are there positive orders issued, asked O’Carroll, for all those officers to follow the army, who are able to do so?
Orders to that effect are deemed superfluous, said the Colonel, as it is presumed all who are able will voluntarily accompany us.
Does Major Courtland go? inquired O’Carroll.
He cannot be moved without endangering his life, said the Colonel; and though you appear reluctant to depart, Captain O’Carroll, I cannot consent to your remaining, provide you are well enough to endure the fatigue of the night march. So do not oblige me to exert the authority of a superior officer, but call your servant to assist you, and rise immediately.
Do not impose your commands upon me, sir, said O’Carroll, for I would not have disrespect to my Colonel, added to the long list of disgraces, which we shall all carry to England as trophies of our American campaign; and I really think in this instance the obligations of friendship and humanity are more powerful, even than those of military duty.
Then you will not go! asked Colonel Percy.
Why should I, sir! returned O’Carroll. Independently of the pain, which a removal would occasion me, my wounds must, for some time, render me a useless and troublesome appendage to the army. Here, perhaps, I may be able to alleviate the sufferings, and cheer the solitude of Major Courtland, who, since he must remain, it would be absolute barbarity to desert.
But you do not leave him alone, returned the Colonel; there are several officers, who will also be compelled to remain.94 8(5)v 94
But there are none, beside myself, with whom he is at all intimate. said O’Carroll.
You are aware, however, if you remain, said the Colonel, that you must be made a prisoner, and of course lose the privilege of again serving in America.
I may be exchanged, perhaps, when I am well enough for active service. returned O’Carroll.
True, replied the Colonel; and since you are absolutely incorrigible, I must even permit you to become the victim of your own generosity. Our situation is so precarious, that we cannot look forward a single hour with any certainty. But our prospects may yet brighten, and at all events a soldier should never despond, Captain O’Carroll. Let the worst come that will, we have still the consoling consciousness of having performed our duty to the utmost extent of our ability. And now farewell; keep up your spirits, my dear fellow, and hope for the best.
I hope at least, said O’Carroll, affecting an air of gaiety, the next time we fight these pale-face rebels, we shall teach them to kneel for pardon to the majesty they have insulted. And so God bless you, Colonel Percy, and send you many and brighter days.
He wrung the Colonel’s hand, as he spoke, who immediately left him, to take a hasty farewell of Major Courtland, and then without delay rejoined the troops.
Within an hour the whole army were on their march. Fires were kindled and many tents left standing to deceive the enemy; but, otherwise, the late noisy and tumultuous camp was desolate and deserted, except where the tents of the hospital, emitting feeble gleams of light, betrayed the residence of the sick and wouned, who were left by their retreating comrades, to the mercy of the conquerors. The night was dark and tempestuous; the wind howled in tremendous gusts around the walls of the dwelling, which sheltered Major Courtland and his companions; and the rain poured in torrents against the narrow windows; while the swollen waves of the Hudson joined their hoarse and sullen murmurs to the discord of the elements, deepening the 95 8(6)r 95 gloomy horror of the night, and adding more terrific images to the anticipations of the wounded soldiers.
When the noise of the retreat had at length died away, and the house became comparatively still, Captain O’Carroll was removed so near to Major Courtland that he could converse with him, without effort.
You have done wrong, O’Carroll, said the Major, aroused by the appearance of his friend beside him, from the torpor into which he was sinking. You should have followed the troops; they need brave and able officers, and you will be greatly missed in their extremity.
In my present condition, returned the Captain, I should be a burthen, a mere dead weight to incumber their march, and not half so much worth the trouble of transportation, as a haversack well filled with provisions. Besides, Major, did you ever know an Irishman safely stowed in warm quarters, who was willing to exchange them for foul skies and a frosty atmostphere?
You cannot hope to conceal your real motives from me by this badinage, returned the Major; I know them well, and while I admire your generosity, and feel deeply gratified by the attachment which they evince for my person, I cannot but regret that you have yielded to them, at the expense of your own safety, and because the service is, for a time at least, deprived of a valuable and useful officer.
There are subalterns enough, longing to jump into my place; said the Captain, and where so many brave are left, one disabled officer will scarcely be missed. I shall not complain, Major, he said gaily, to find my place well occupied; and shall not be disagreeably surprised, if my superior officer says to me, You will be pleased to accept the commission of a Colonel or a Major (I will not refuse either), as a mark of your sovereign’s favor.
Major Courtland could not avoid smiling at the characteristic gaiety of his friend, which no combination of events could long depress, but instantly resuming a grave air, he said,96 8(6)v 96
None of us need hope for promotion after this campaign, O’Carroll; censure and disgrace will doubtless follow us, and those who are even permitted to retain the commissions they now hold, may esteem themselves fortunate. For me it matters little; though my sun should set in clouds, it may not dawn less brightly on the morning of eternity.
Do not cherish thoughts so melancholy, Sir, said O’Carroll; they serve only to deepen the gloom which already involves us. Your wounds are not desperate, and Dr. Rennie’s care, I trust, will soon effect a complete cure.
Dr. Rennie, I doubt not, will do all in his power to restore me, said the Major, and though I would not unnecessarily alarm you, O’Carroll, neither would I have you unprepared for what may happen. I therefore candidly tell you, that I feel myself growing weaker, and I greatly fear my wound affects a vital part.
Let me send directly for the Surgeon, said O’Carroll, in alarm; in the haste of the moment he may have thought too lightly of it; indeed it is not a matter which ought to be delayed.
No, O’Carroll, returned the Major, he can do nothing more than he has done, and quiet and repose are all that I require. I have only one wish which gives me pain. You have heard me speak of my daughter, and, in the hour of sickness or misfortune, a father’s heart yearns for the endearments of his child, and looks forward with melancholy apprehension to the moment, which may deprive her of his paternal care and tenderness.
And why cannot she come to you? asked O’Carroll; you have told me she was at Albany, and General Gates will not surely have the inhumanity to refuse a child the melancholy satisfaction of administering to the comfort of a wounded parent.
This is no place, O’Carroll, for a young and inexperienced female, said the Major. In the midst of enemies; an object of curiosity to a thousand insolent eyes, and the subject of impertinent remark to the 97 9(1)r 97 whole camp. No, cruel as is the alternative, I will rather renounce the dear hope of again embracing my child, than expose her retiring delicacy to the wounds it might receive in a situation so new and embarrassing.
Pardon me, Sir, said O’Carroll; I feel the force of your objections, and can only apologize for my thoughtless proposal, by the wish which prompted it; that of gratifying a father’s affection, and contributing to his comfort.
I know it well, my dear O’Carroll, answered the Major; you are ever zealous in the cause of friendship and humanity; but you have never yet experienced the thousand cares and anxieties of parental love; though, were there none but spirits as manly and generous as your own around us, my girl should come to her father’s arms to-morrow.
Thank you, from my soul, sir! replied O’Carroll, a flush of grateful feeling brightening the glow of his ingenuous countenance; and perceiving that the Major was fatigued by the effort of conversing, he relapsed into silence, which was not broken during the remainder of the night.
But, with Captain O’Carroll, the hours passed slowly and tediously away. He was anxious and alarmed about Major Courtland, whose uneasy slumbers indicated increasing illness, and he was several times on the point of sending his servant for the surgeon, whom he wished extremely to consult concerning the real situation of the Major. But reluctant to disturb his repose, or, should he still be in attendance, to summon him from those who required his assistance, he relinquished his design; and, overpowered by weariness at length sunk into a sleep, which continued undisturbed till morning.
A gentle noise in the apartment chased away the dream which had transported Captain O’Carroll, in imagination, to the green fields of his native island, and awoke him to all the sad consciousness of his unfortunate situation. A low whisper caught his ear, and, raising his head to learn from whom it proceeded, he saw an American officer in conversation with the surgeon. His tall, athletic figure was strikingly graceful and dignified, and though he seemed to have passed the early period of manhood, the fire of youth was tempered, without being extinguished, by maturity of thought and intellect. His finely formed features were full of spirit and intelligence, though the flashing light of his dark and piercing eyes, and the somewhat haughty curve of his upper lip, denoted a soul possessed of those elevated and proudly virtuous feelings which, during the stormy period of our revolution, characterized those fearless defenders of liberty, who guided the national help, or went forth with our armies to combat for the rights and privileges of freemen.
Captain O’Carroll gazed with admiration on the noble figure of the officer, while an indefinite feeling of recognition filled his mind, and he continued to revolve, in silence, where and when he had met the individual, whose person seemed so familiar to him. He was watching, with interest, every gesture, and every variation of the countenance which could tend to dispel his uncertainty, when a light step was heard at the door, and immediately the dark face of an Indian was thrust 99 9(2)r 99 into the apartment, with a gaze of anxious curiosity. The officer hastily motioned to him to retire, but his appearance had brightened the memory of Captain O’Carroll, and, by reminding him of the forage, and the narrative of Colonel Percy, identified, at once, the person of the unknown, who, he now recollected, had been pointed out to him by the Colonel, during the engagement of the 1777-10-07seventh. In the moment of sudden conviction he involuntarily expressed himself in an audible tone, and by pronouncing the officer’s name, immediately attracted his attention.
He turned quickly round, and, without noticing the Captain’s confusion, advanced towards him.
I think I heard you pronounce my name, sir, he said, bowing low and gracefully, as he spoke; and, though ignorant of the manner in which it has become known to you, I esteem it a fortunate circumstance to be spared the embarrassment of a formal introduction.
There are many ways of identifying the person of a brave enemy, Colonel Grahame; replied O’Carroll, with all the gallantry of his national character.
There are, indeed, returned the officer, and it is long since that of Captain O’Carroll became known to me, and many others, among whom his intrepid gallantry is a theme of discourse and admiration.
Captain O’Carroll bent his head in token of reply, feeling for once, at least, he was outdone in the way of compliment. Entreating Colonel Grahame to be seated, he said with his characteristic frankness,
But even the united bravery and skill of more intrepid men than I can claim to be, have availed us little in this battle; here we lie at your mercy, while those who could, have thought best to retire from the raking fire which you so unmercifully pour down upon us; not even allowing us to dine without rolling your cannon balls across the table, and spicing our viands with abundance of your grape and rifle shot.
Colonel Grahame looked with surprise upon the man, who could trifle on such a subject, and in a situation so humiliating. But the fine manly countenance 100 9(2)v 100 of O’Carroll quickly banished this momentary contempt, and enabled him to penetrate, at once, through the air of reckless gaiety, which was thrown over a heart of exquisite sensibility.
You have indeed been unfortunate, he said, after a brief pause, but even your enemies speak with admiration of your intrepid valor, and feel their own claim to merit more honorable and elevated, in having successfully resisted troops, who fought with such undaunted bravery.
We owe you thanks, sir, for granting us even this qualified praise, returned O’Carroll; though it is rather humiliating, I confess, to be made the underpinning, as it were, of that column, which I perceive you are already rearing to your own fame upon the ruin of ours.
The column which we are rearing, sir, said Colonel Grahame, will require no foreign aid to support it. We pant not after the empty applause of the world, and we care for victory only as it brings us nearer to the end of our warfare, and puts us in possession of those rights, which are essential to our very existence, as a free and virtuous people. But I did not seek you, sir, to discuss political dissensions. I am deputed by General Gates, to inquire into the state of the hospital, and to make such arrangements as may tend to ameliorate the condition of those, whom the fortunes of war have thrown into his hands. Your accomodations here, he continued, glancing round the desolate walls of the apartment, are far from good, and if you will consent to a removal, I can promise you far better in our hospital at Albany.
We are greatly indebted to the American General, and also to you, sir, for your humane attention, returned O’Carroll. There are many, I doubt not, who will gladly accept your offer, but, for myself, I must beg your permission to remain here for the present. I cannot desert my friend, who occupies the bed on your left, and he is too ill to bear a removal, or we should both of us, I assure you, sir, have taken up our 101 9(3)r 101 line of march last night, and not have been left in this crazy trap, waiting for the sportsman to cut our meshes, and set us free when it pleased him.
Speak only for yourself, O’Carroll! exclaimed Major Courtland, who had listened in silence to this conversation, and who, unaccountably averse to the idea of running from the conquerors, could not hear this assertion of the Captain’s, without denying his own wish for escape. Colonel Grahame turned quickly round at the unexpected sound of the Major’s voice, and rising from his seat, remained gazing on his pale countenance, while Major Courtland, without noticing his gesture, continued speaking, with as much vehemence as his enfeebled state would permit.
Yes, sir, he said, that brave and generous young man became a voluntary prisoner for my sake; that he might soften the rigors of my confinement, and render it more endurable by the presence of a friend. I do not intend, sir, to censure the conduct of General Burgoyne, though he consulted the safety of his troops rather than their honor; but I should have said, The judgments of Heaven have placed us in this situation, and death or victory must set us free. I should, perhaps, have said and acted wrong; but in my youth, I never turned from the face of an enemy, and it ill becomes an old soldier, who has so long fought for his king, to flee from an army of rebels.
Colonel Grahame, crimsoned with indignation, and sternly bending his haughty eyes upon Major Courland, was about to reply and with some severity, when the Major, regretting the haste with which he had spoken, said quickly,
Pardon me, young man! I would not willingly wound the feelings of one, whom all regard, and to whom, if I mistake not, I am indebted for a life, twice preserved from the uplifted hatchet of a barbarous savage. Accept my thanks, and may Heaven reward you for your humanity to a fallen foe. Forgive also the warmth with which I just now expressed myself, and believe me, it was your cause, and not an individual,9* 102 9(3)v 102 vidual, or even a particular body of men, whom I ventured to stigmatize.
To speak contemptuously of our cause, returned Colonel Grahame, with an air of calm dignity, touches me as nearly as an insult offered to my own person. But, sir, I freely pardon the warmth of your manners, and the obnoxious epithet, which, in common with your countrymen, you have seen fit to apply to men, who were driven by injustice and oppression to open resistance; and I will believe, that, like them, you are influenced against us by the representations of a party, and consequently can be but imperfectly acquainted with the motives of our conduct, and the importance of our cause. Let us henceforth, sir, drop this subject; it is one upon which we must continue at variance, and it is sufficient that we contend for our opinions in the field, without carrying discord and contention into the scenes of private and domestic life.
I greatly admire your moderation, sir, said Major Courtland; and, though much your senior in years and in experience, I confess myself not at all ashamed to take from it a lesson of instruction. We are thrown into your power by circumstances, and though the event is wounding to our feelings, as soldiers, and faithful subjects of a king whom we revere, it becomes us to bear it like men, who can endure shame and despise suffering for a good cause.
And it shall be our study, sir, replied Colonel Grahame, to relieve the unpleasantness of your situation, by rendering the courtesies and attentions, which it is the wish of the American officers to pay to those brave enemies, whom the fortunes of war may have consigned to their care, and from whom, in similar circumstances, they would doubtless experience the same kindness and humanity.
Certainly, sir returned Major Courtland; I believe the British nation has never yet been found deficient in courtesy or humanity, to any who may have fallen within her power.103 9(4)r 103
If it had, sir, replied Colonel Grahame, we should not so freely, and though now at variance, I may add, with so much pride, boast of our descent from the land of our fathers. The unforeseen events of yesterday have thrown you, sir, and many of your countrymen, into close connexion with us, and I trust the contact will have the favourable effect of softening if not of obliterating your prejudices, and producing a more just and impartial estimate of our character and conduct. Let us at least forget, awhile, that we are enemies, and as we pledge each other from the same cup, remember only that we are branches from the same trunk, that we revere the same principles of justice and humanity, and worship the same God of mercy and benevolence.
That, sir, is all I wish to recollect, returned Major Courtland; though thoughts more bitter will oftentimes intrude. But I assure you, the sense of our misfortunes is alleviated by the knowledge we have obtained of our foes; who, though we still censure their cause, are, if we may be allowed to judge from the bearing of their deputy, brave without arrogance, and, in the midst of victory, incapable of a wish to triumph over the fallen, or to remind them by a single look of the degradation which they feel with so much bitterness.
Time, I trust, will convince you, that your judgment is not premature, said Colonel Grahame. The private virtues of General Gates add lustre to the valor and intrepidity of the hero, and it is the earnest wish of his officers, to imitate a character so worthy of their love and admiration. But I must bid you a reluctant good morning ,gentlemen, he said, looking at his watch, and hastily rising to depart; you have made me forget that I had other duties to perform; and I hope while you remain here, you will allow me frequently to renew the pleasure which I have now enjoyed in your society.
They both assured him of the happiness which they should always derive from his visits, and gratified by the favorable impression which he had apparently produced104 9(4)v 104 duced on the minds of the prisoners, he took his leave, and went with the surgeon to visit the other part of the hospital.
Hugh, who, through every mutation of forutne, retained his strong affection for the Americans, had listened with undisguised pleasure to the preceding conversation, and remarked, with secret triumph, the elegance and urbanity of Colonel Grahame’s manners. Captain O’Carroll had been amusing himself in watching the expression of his honest countenance, and he said, with a smiling nod when the American officer had left them,
A very good rebel that, Hugh; as the Hessian soldiers said of General Washington.
And they had good reason, your Honor, for saying so, replied Hugh, glad of an opportunity to testify in favour of the Americans. They little deserved such treatment, and the rebels cannot be so bad as some of us think them, or they would not have let those wooden-headed Germans go free, without even a touch of the cat-o’-nine-tails, to settle on the rich lands and green meadows of the west.
You are a rigid disciplinarian, I perceive, Hugh, said O’Carroll, laughing; but here comes Dr. Rennie, who I hope is not of your opinion, or we shall stand a chance to be kept with short commons and long bandages for a week to come.
The surgeon pronounced Captain O’Carroll convalescent, but spoke unfavorably of Major Courtland, though he said he perceived no symptonms that threatened immediate danger, and gave it as his opinion, that, by proper care and attention, his recovery would in time be complete.
Of the three hundred wounded, whom the British, in their retreat, had left to the mercy of the Americans, most of them were soon removed to the hospital at Albany, and every attention, which could contribute to their comfort, was paid them by their generous captors. Major Courtland, and Captain O’Carroll, who still refused to leave him, were almost, if not the only ones 105 9(5)r 105 who remained; and every luxury which the American camp afforded, was lavished upon them; and from the General to the lowest officer, all were assiduous in their attentions. But none were more so, than Colonel Grahame, and it was doubtful whether he gave or received more pleasure, in the frequent visits, which, whenever his professional duties would permit, he was in the habit of paying to the two capured officers.
Major Courtland however continued rapidly to grow worse; anxiety for his daughter, who, in case of his death, would be left desolate, and the corrosive influence of shame, regret, and disappointment, united to irritate his wound, and depress his spirits, to a degree, which defied alike the fascinating powers of Colonel Grahame’s highly gifted mind, and the animating gaiety, which marked the countenance and conversation of Captain O’Carroll, who wished often that the rebels could be made to swallow their own musket-balls, instead of forcing them into the stomachs of other people.
Colonel Grahame forbore to increase the irritation of Major Courtland’s mind, by speaking of the complete triumph which promised soon to crown the efforts of the American arms. The situation of the British army gave full assurance to this promise. In the position which they had chosen, or rather, which they had been compelled to take, at Saratoga, they were soon surrounded by the continental troops, who kept up a continual fire, and harassed them by every possible means. Their retreat was entirely cut off by the vigilance of the enemy; their provisions were exhausted; their troops worn down by hardship and toil; and many of their ablest officers had fallen, or were rendered useless by wounds and sickness. Thus weakened, and disadvantageously situated, it would have been madness to hazard an engagement; a defeat would inevitably complete their ruin; but to remain any longer in their present position, was at all events impossible. Some rumors had to be sure reached them of Sir Henry Clinton’s approach up the North river; but they were 106 9(5)v 106 not sufficiently authentic to claim any reliance, and accordingly, with the approbation of a council of war, a treaty of surrender was opened with the American General.
It was while this important negotation was still pending, that Major Courtland began slowly, and almost imperceptibly, to discover some slight symptoms of amendment. For several days before, he had appeared to be in a state of lethargy, from which no efforts of his surgeon could rouse him, and which, from its long continuance, was apprehended to be the prelude of approaching dissolution. Captain O’Carroll had frequently heard Major Courtland express the most decided disapprobation of sending for his daughter, and both he and Colonel Grahame were aware of the unpleasantness of the situation for a young female, and the painful embarassment to which she would be subjected, in case of her father’s death. But moved by the entreaties of Hugh, and influenced by his assertion that Miss Courtland had expressly commanded him to send for her, if her father should be wounded, they were almost resolved to send a messenger after her; and were one evening discussing the propriety of doing so, when Major Courtland appeared to revive, and to view, with an air of consciousness, those who were in the apartment. The name of his daughter, frequently pronounced by the two officers, caught his ear, and after listening with interest for a few moments, he said with effort,
No, no, O’Carroll, she must not be sent for; you know I would not even have her informed of my situation, lest it should distress her.
But she will probably see your name among the wounded, in the public papers, said Colonel Grahame, and uncertainty will increase her uneasiness and her apprehensions.
No, they will conceal it from her, said the Major, in a feeble voice;” I will write to her when I am stronger, but you must not bring her here.
Perceiving that he was exhausted by the effort of speaking, but encouraged by his unexpected revival 107 9(6)r 107 from almost deathlike lethargy, they assured him they would acquiesce in his wishes, and entreated him to give himself no farther uneasiness on the subject.
The following day confirmed the hope of Major Courtland’s amendment, and in the course of it, he recovered so much strength, as to be able to converse, at intervals, with his friends. Towards evening, as O’Carroll and Colonel Grahame sat beside him, seeking, by the assiduities of friendship, to beguile the languor of illness, the Colonel’s servant entered, and delivered a whispered message to his master, who instantly rose and quitted the room. A subaltern was waiting to speak with him at the door.
The daughter of the wounded officer, Colonel, whom you have been visiting, hearing of her father’s situation, has arrived here from Albany――
How unfortunate! interrupted Grahame; it was surely unwise in her father not to write, and prevent her taking such a step.
General Gates, continued the subaltern, desires her father may be prepared to receive her, lest her sudden appearance should produce fatal consequences.
Most assuredly; the General is ever thoughtful and humane, said Colonel Grahame; but where is the lady, and who accompanies her?
She has a female attendant, and is accompanied by an elderly Quaker; Richard Hope, I think General Schuyler called him.
Ha! Ohmeina, said the Colonel, turning to the Indian who had followed him to the house; is not that the name of him in whose hands you discovered the papers, and whom we have so long suspected of furnishing intelligence to the enemy?
Ohmeina has seen him, brother! replied the Indian, and he said to him, the Great God has sent thee here, and thou mayest learn to love thy American brethren, and seek not again to betray them.
Let him look to his safety if he does, answered Colonel Grahame; but where is the lady waiting, he said, again addressing the subaltern.108 9(6)v 108
In front of the house, sir; I did not like to ask her in till I had spoken to you.
Colonel Grahame directed his servant to inform Captain O’Carroll of Miss Courtland’s arrival, and request him to communicate it as gently as possible to Major Courtland; and to let him know when the Major was ready to receive his daughter. He then went to the door to conduct the lady in.
In front of it stood a clumsy Dutch vehicle, drawn by two horses, a man rather past the meridian of life, with a sedate and ruddy countenance, which indicated the gentle approach of a green and healthy old age, was walking with slow and measured steps beside it. A lovely figure rounded with the soft fullness of youth, hung upon his arm, and in silence shared his walk. They had just turned from the door as Colonel Grahame reached it, and he stood, for a moment, observing the persons of the strangers. The precise form of the Quaker, his broad-brimmed hat, and his formal attire of light drab-colored cloth, together with the look of inexpressible horror with which he regarded the vestiges of recent warfare, that were strewed around, contrasted singularly with the light and graceful figure of his companion, who, with head depressed, seemed lost in thought, and heedless of surrounding objects. As they turned to retrace their steps, a slight noise caused her to raise her head, and the sadness and anxiety, which had overspread her lovely and expressive features, gave place to a glow of expectancy, when she saw the American officer waiting, as she supposed, to conduct her to her father. It apparently cost her an effort to refrain from springing towards him. Instinctively her step became more rapid, and, with unconscious eagerness she drew her arm from the rigid hold of the Quaker. Colonel Grahame moved to meet her, and a sentiment of admiration and respect inspired him, as he remarked the impatience of her filial affection, and gazed upon the youth and beauty of the delicate female, who had ventured among enemies, to watch beside the couch of a wounded father.109 10(1)r 109
I regret, madam, he said, bending slightly to the Quaker, and with an air of profound respect to Miss Courtland, that you should have been detained a moment, in this unpleasant situation; but your unexpected arrival must plead our excuse.
No apology is necessary, sir, said Catherine; I did not look for ceremony here; only lead me to my father, sir, and all the embarrassments, which have attended my introduction into your camp, and all the anxieties of months that are passed, will be forgotten in the joy of again embracing him.
The illness of Major Courtland has been so serious, said Colonel Grahame, that we have judged it prudent to communicate the news of your arrival with caution, but in the course of a few minutes, I hope to have the pleasure of conducting you to his apartment. In the meantime, Miss Courtland, I beg you will permit me to lead you from this chilly atmosphere, to the shelter of the house.
Ah, I fear, said Catherine, from the caution you have thought it necessary to use, that my father is worse, much worse, than even my fears would suffer me to believe.
Do not alarm yourself, Miss Courtland, said the Colonel; your father for two days past has been decidedly better, though I will not conceal from you, that we have thought him dangerously ill; and, to save you from a sudden shock, I must warn you that owing to his confinement, you will find him somewhat changed in personal appearance.
As Colonel Grahame said this, he led Catherine into the house, and drawing forward a broken chair, the best that the apartment afforded, he begged her, humble as was the seat, to accept it, while waiting. But she declined, and stood looking through the narrow window, upon the field where the British army had been so recently encamped. The earth was torn up by the balls of the enemy, and melancholy traces of the late sanguinary conflict every where met the view. Catherine’s eyes filled with tears, as she gazed; and oppressed with 10 110 10(1)v 110 the gloomy associations which the scene naturally awakened, she spoke with feeling of the miseries of war, and the anguish, which, even when successful, it inflicted on a thousand hearts. Though a brave soldier in the hour when his country called for aid, Colonel Grahame was not a lover of war, for its own sake; and he replied to Catherine’s observation with as much sincerity as feeling.
You are right, Miss Courtland; even in the moment of victory, the field of battle presents a scene, calculated only to awaken horror and regret; and no feeling mind can reflect without a sensation of bitter anguish, upon the waste of human life, and the bereavement of human happiness, which are the necessary consequences of a single engagement. But, he added, and his eye kindled as he spoke, these are not themes on which a soldier ought to dwell; he must reject all thoughts but those which nerve his arm for battle, by reminding him of liberties invaded, and rights insulted; which tell him he has a country to defend, an altar to protect, and the sanctity of a domestic hearth to preserve inviolate.
Even in this moment of sorrow and anxiety, the patriotism of Catherine’s heart for an instant predominated over every other feeling, and she fixed her dark eyes, full of proud emotion and delight, upon the glowing countenance of Colonel Grahame; but quickly recollecting herself, she turned away with blushes, which deepened into crimson, when she caught his eye bent earnestly upon her. He had indeed remarked her thrilling glance, and, spell-bound by its fascinating influence, he was intently regarding her, when he was aroused by the deep-toned voice of the Quaker, who with Martha had followed him to the house, and who could not let so good an opportunity for urging his pacific sentiments pass unimproved.
These, young man, he said, addressing Colonel Grahame, are not the precepts of him whose altar thou sayest thou wouldst protect. He has enjoined on us to be merciful, peaceful, forbearing; to render good 111 10(2)r 111 for evil, and when we are smitten on the one cheek, to turn the other also. But thou, like the zealous Apostle of old, wouldst cut off the ears of those who insult thy master; thou wouldst close thy heart to the cry of the widow and orphan, lest they should melt thee to mercy, and deluge the land which thou lovest, with the blood of those, whom thy God has made in his own image, and after his own likeness.
And wast thou obeying his precepts, said the Indian Ohmeina, stepping forward from the passage where he had remained unobserved, was thou, Richard Hope, obeying his precepts, and treading in the path of the man of peace and wisdom, whom thou dost profess to honor, when thou didst purpose to betray thy brethren into the snares of the English, whose long knives were thirsting for their blood?
A transient smile flitted over the lovely features of Catherine at this unexpected retort of the Indian, whom at the first glance she recognized. Nor could Colonel Grahame forbear smiling at the ingenious home thrust of Ohmeina, which in truth the Quaker richly deserved; and he evinced his consciousness of that desert by a degree of agitation and embarrassment, which his placid countenance had seldom been seen to wear before. But without making any attempt to parry the assault of the Indian, he turned towards him with a gravity as invincible as his own, saying,
I did repent me of that deed, as thou well knowest, friend; and God, I trust, has pardoned the sin of his unworthy servant.
Captain O’Carroll at this moment entered with a smiling countenance, and Catherine, observing the British uniform, pressed eagerly towards him, and without waiting for an introduction, exclaimed,
You come to take me to my father, sir, I hope; indeed, indeed, I cannot be detained from him a moment longer.
You shall not, madam, said O’Carroll; it is not necessary; he has received the gratifying intelligence of your arrival with much more firmness than we expected,112 10(2)v 112 pected, and is as impatient for the meeting as yourself.
He took her hand, as he spoke; and beckoning to Martha to follow her, she was led by him to the door of her father’s apartment. He bowed low as he opened it for her to enter, and instantly closing it after her, retreated to the room where he had left the Colonel, unwilling to intrude upon the sanctity of the touching scene which must, of course, ensue between the father and daughter, meeting under circumstances so peculiar and affecting.
The Quaker had gone out, and Colonel Grahame was standing alone with his arms folded, and his head depressed, in an attitude of deep meditation.
Has the Circe transformed you to a statue, Colonel! asked O’Carroll, gaily, as he passed his arm through Grahame’s, and looked archly in his face. Come, he added, I am well enough to walk out to day, and we cannot have a better opportunity; though I would not be absent long either; this interview must not last too long, or our patient may have a relapse tomorrow. I never knew much good to come of a woman’s tears, Colonel.
But what say you of her smiles? asked Grahame, playfully.
Oh worse, far worse, said O’Carroll with unusual emphasis. Never trust them, Colonel, they are deadly snares to entrap unwary hearts, sharp arrows tipt with the poison of asps. Upon my faith, I would rather, unarmed, encounter Morgan’s whole corps of riflemen, than half the number of these fair enslavers, without some spell to preserve me from their enchantments.
You would doubtless have a better chance of escape. said Colonel Grahame, archly.
I should, at least, meet a less merciless death, returned O’Carroll; and that is all I should expect in either case. But why do we stand prating in this dark place: come, let us be going.113 10(3)r 113
I think it too damp for you to venture out this evening, Captain, said Grahame; besides, the Quaker has some claim upon my attention, and of course I cannot have the pleasure of accompanying you.
Oh, very well, said O’Carroll, tomorrow will be just as pleasant, so do not let me detain you. Bon soir; and, Colonel, do call early in the morning, since I know you are dying for another glance at this miracle and queen of gems, that has fallen with such unexpected lustre amongst us. You, who shrink neither from the heathenish tomahawks of those gutteral dogs of the forest, nor from the ponderous sabres of our German dragoons, can safely stand the fire of a lady’s eyes, though aided by the artillery of her smiles, and all the host of mining engines which, in the form of airs and graces, sap the fountain of our hearts, and light the train of explosion, before we have had the precaution to place a single sentinel at the gates.
Colonel Grahame smiled at the humorous comparison of the Captain, but was prevented from replying by the entrance of Richard Hope, who, wearied with waiting, had come in to see if he might now be admitted to Major Courtland’s apartment. But as the surgeon had prohibited any one else from seeing him before morning, Mr. Hope returned to pass the night with a Quaker, who resided a few miles below Stillwater, and Colonel Grahame took leave of O’Carroll, and, mounting his horse, rode slowly to his quarters.
On the following morning Colonel Grahame was prevented from paying his customary visit to Major Courtland, by a message from General Gates, signifying his wish to speak with him as soon as convenient.
The crisis of the northern campaign was rapidly approaching, and it promised to shed new lustre on the cause of America, while it filled with fresh hope and courage the hearts of her defenders. The consideration of the treaty proposed by General Burgoyne, had occasioned a cessation of hostilities, which, owing to its final ratification, were not again resumed; and although the truce allowed to the weary soldiers time for that bodily repose, which their late active and unremitted warfare had prohibited, it fully occupied the minds of their leaders, and consumed the hours designed for sleep in long consultations and deliberate reflection.
It was on some affairs connected with this subject, that General Gates now required the presence of Colonel Grahame, who instantly obeyed the summons, and repaired, without delay, to his quarters. General Gates wished to send a verbal messenger to General Lincoln, who had been wounded in the battle of the 1777-10-07seventh, and still remained in the hospital at Albany. Colonel Grahame received the commission as a mark of his General’s confidence, and felt too much honored by it, not to accept it with pleasure.
Without delay he set out for Albany, delivered his message, and after passing some time in conversation with the General on the circumstances of the army, he 115 10(4)r 115 left him to visit some other wounded officers, previous to his quitting the hospital. As he was hastily passing a half open door, he heard himself called by name, and stopping to ascertain by whom, he recognized the well known features of General Arnold, who was among the sufferers in the last engagement. Though not an admirer of this officer, courtesy compelled him to stop and inquire after his health; but when he beheld the irritated and flushed face of the General, owing to the pain he had just suffered from the examination of his wound, he secretly wished that he had escaped unobserved.
What brings you here, Grahame, asked the General, in a pettish tone; I thought you had been at Saratoga, receiving the dictation of those bull-dogs, whom we have beaten from the field, but who keep us at bay as if they, forsooth, and not we, were the conquerors.
I came, sir, charged with a commission from General Gates to General Lincoln, returned Grahame, without noticing the sarcastic remark of Arnold.
Something about the treaty, I suppose, said Arnold; and he doubtless approves all the humane condescension of the General.
He does so most fully, said Grahame, disregarding the sneer which accompanied these words.
Oh, of course, returned Arnold; you Massachusetts people always remember mercy before sacrifice, and had much rather be pointed at as good, honest citizens, than brave and warlike soldiers.
You forget, sir, said Colonel Grahame, that the men of Massachusetts were the first to draw the sword in this good cause; and though they may love and cultivate the arts of peace, they are not less prompt to obey the voice of their country, nor less efficient in her service, as the bravery of Lincoln, and the intrepid gallantry of Brooks, to mention no others, evince.
Though you might have added the name of Grahame, had your modesty permitted you to do so, said the General, wishing to soften the harshness of his 11610(4)v116 observation. I certainly intended no reflection on the people of Massachusetts, Colonel, though in the irritation of the moment, I might have said what sounded like it; but it would be folly in me to dispute the courage which is self-evident, though I do think, in this crisis, there is too much consideration shown for the feelings of an enemy who has had none for ours. General Gates, in particular, whether it is that his heart yearns towards his countrymen I know not, but he is disposed to be far too lenient in his conduct to these spoilers, who have come, with fire and sword, to ravage our fair inheritance and crush us beneath the yoke of their barbarous oppression.
You would not surely have us tarnish the glory of our victory, General, said Grahame, by an exercise of tyrannical power over those unfortunate soldiers, whom we have reduced to the cruel necessity of asking mercy at our hands.
I would have them receive their deserts, said the General, fiercely; I would have them feel, and deeply too, that we are not to be insulted with impunity; that after they are vanquished, besieged, destitute of provisions, and reduced almost to actual misery, they may not hope to hide their degradation under an affectation of humanity, and in the very moment when they are suing for terms, audaciously declare they are only induced to resort to that measure from the wish to avoid a scene of carnage which must destroy many valuable lives.
And why, asked Colonel Grahame, should we doubt this assertion? Is it incredible that men who have given us such convincing proofs of their courage, should choose rather to sacrifice a point of honor, than lavishly to waste the blood of their remaining troops?
Preposterous! exclaimed the General. It is only a feint, Colonel Grahame, to hide their shame, and it is rendered the more ridiculous by the absurd declaration, that their retreat is not cut off, while they have arms in their hands! Yet with all this insolence, so unbecoming in the vanquished, General Gates is strongly inclined to soften every thing galling to their pride, 117 10(5)r 117 in the articles of capitulation, and to accept their surrender, on terms as easy and as little humiliating as they choose to make them.
Pardon me, sir, if I venture to dissent from you in opinion, said Colonel Grahame; the humanity, which General Gates displays in this and every other instance, adds lustre to the splendor of his conquests, and throws a softening veil over the horrors of war. We would not for our own fame’s sake, were there no higher motive, wish to treat our vanquished enemies like criminals. The very act of surrender must be sufficiently wounding to their feelings and their pride, without the aggravation of arrogant and contemptuous treatment.
Surrender! ejaculated Arnold; call it a convention, Colonel; that is the dignified appellation the treaty is to receive, in order to save the fallen General all the mortification possible.
It matters little what appellation it receives, said Grahame; its nature will not be changed by the mere circumstance of a name; nor will the honor which it reflects on the victors be in the least degree sullied by the benevolence, which induces them to soften the disgraces of their humbled foes.
Humbled! repeated the irascible and fiery General; would to God they were humbled in spirit, as well as in condition. Does their answer to the sixth article of the treaty savor of humility, Colonel Grahame? And yet General Gates, notwithstanding their insolent threat, consents to grant their demands, and allows them to march out of their encampment with all the honors of war.
And even if he has, said the fearless Grahame, undaunted by the angry looks of the General, will this indulgence lessen the glory he has won; or will he be at all degraded in the eyes of the captives, by exercising towards them a lenity, which only the most uncivilized nations refuse to their unfortunate prisoners? For one moment, General Arnold, let us imagine ourselves in their situation. Is there one among us, who would submit to comply with the sixth article of the treaty? 118 10(5)v 118 You, I am sure, would sooner die; and Heaven is my witness that death in its most hideous form would be less terrible to me, than the fulfilment of a requisition so degrading. And from my soul, sir, I respect the foe, who, in the extremest hour of peril, has nobly resisted a demand, which would have fixed a lasting stigma on his country, and rendered him contemptible even in the eyes of his enemy.
All this parade might do, were their cause a worthy one, returned the General; but it is so incompatible with noble feelings, that I marvel, Colonel Grahame, a mind of so nice discernment as yours, can place any reliance in their affected scruples of delicacy and honor. I would treat a generous foe with all the consideration and forbearance consistent with military discipline, but I confess these lawless oppressors appear to me to merit little mercy.
They are the agents of a king, replied Grahame, who regards us as his lawful subjects, and, as rebellious ones, asserts his right to chastise us. And those whom he employs for the purpose, doubtless, believe themselves doing God and their prince service, in attempting to quell the turbulent and unnatural commotion, excited against the rightful authority of a virtuous sovereign.
But they will find it no easy task, said the General, to quell the spirit of a free and valiant people. They may league with the savages of our forests, more terrible in their fierce array than so many legions of devils; they may burn our cities, destroy our villages, and bring their German barbarians to plunder our citizens and violate our wives and daughters; yet they shall find us undismayed, and, in the end, we will compel them, like this proud General whom we have just now vanquished, to entreat us for terms of mercy.
And we shall, I trust, rejoice to grant it, when that moment of good fortune shall arrive, said Colonel Grahame.
We shall be in no haste to do it, I trust, said the General; at least if we would not give our enemies 119 10(6)r 119 the idea, that they may offend again with impunity, and that we are so very glad to be at peace with them, as to concede it on any conditions which they may choose to dictate.
We can concede it on none, returned the Colonel, which may endanger our future liberties, or lessen our national dignity; but as far as is consistent with these, we shall, I hope, be ever ready to exercise the virtues of forbearance and humanity; virtues which have a much happier influence on the character and prosperity of a nation than it is possible for the most splendid victories of warlike ambition to produce.
Do you claim any affinity to the disciples of George Fox and William Penn, Colonel? asked the General, with a sarcastic smile. That pacific speech half inclines me to believe that the fiery current of your blood is tempered by the milky stream which curdles in the veins of those peace-loving people.
Though I can claim no affinity to them, sir, returned the Colonel, I am not ashamed to acknowledge that even they cannot love peace, and enjoy the tranquillizing pleasures of benevolence, more than I should, did not the interests of my country demand the sacrifice of private feeling, in this hour of her danger and tribulation. The heart, General Arnold, round which the milk of human kindness never circles, must be dead to all the sweet sympathies of humanity, false to its own honor, and treacherous to the interests of others.
It is but a stagnant pool at best, said the General in a scornful tone. Give me the arts of war; the spirit-stirring scenes of the camp have more attractions than all the soft and enervating luxuries of peace. The pompous array of battle is enlivening; nay even the shrieks of the wounded and the dying, the roar of artillery, the hurry and the rush of men and steeds, as the dreadful combat thickens, fill the soul with a wild and fearful delight, which only the heart of the warrior can conceive. But in the last engagement, Colonel, these thrilling sensations were somewhat deranged by this 120 10(6)v 120 cursed wound, just as sword in hand we had forced our way into the works of the flying enemy. I thought it mortal; and in that moment of glory and victory I would have yielded, without reluctance, to the grasp of death, if, like the warlike Danes, I could have believed that henceforth I should quaff nectar in heaven from the skulls of our vanquished foes.
Colonel Grahame recoiled with involuntary horror, shocked by the profane levity, and savage fierceness expressed in these words. But in the animation of speaking, General Arnold had disarranged his wounded leg, and, agonized by the pain which it gave him, he did not observe the gesture of the Colonel. After a few moments spent in muttering curses, which seemed to alleviate his suffering, he turned to Grahame, and said, in a fretful and angry tone,
It maddens me that this gasconading General, who has made us all suffer, more or less, should be let off so easily. His insolence is insufferable. We have a report here, which I had forgotten to mention, that he has demanded more time for the settlement of preliminaries, and that he has said, he is willing, willing indeed, to appoint two officers who may meet with two of ours to discuss and settle the subordinate articles of the treaty.
The report is authentic, returned Grahame. And really, sir, he added, scarcely able to conceal his disgust at the ferocity of the General, really, sir, I can discern nothing either insolent or unreasonable in the proposition. General Burgoyne owes it to his king, to his soldiers, and to himself, to render as favourable as possible the terms of the surrender which he is compelled to make.
And the spot, which he has chosen for the proposed meeting, observed the General, is not one which can tend to soften the hearts of the American officers towards him. The ruined walls of General Schuyler’s house, will not awaken a train of associations the most favorable to the interests of the spoilers.121 11(1)r 121
I trust, returned Grahame, the minds of the American officers are too free from prejudice and party feeling, to yield to the influence of recollections, which the desolated scene may momentarily awaken. It has been said, and I know not that we have any right to doubt the truth of the report, that the house was destroyed from motives of policy. Sentiments of revenge had nothing to do with it; it was burned merely to prevent its affording shelter to our troops. If then it was not a deed of wanton outrage, we can and ought to pardon it. General Schuyler, who is certainly in a private point of view the only sufferer by the loss, has generously done so, and speaks of it not merely as a pardonable, but as a justifiable act, warranted by the laws of war, and if not absolutely necessary, at least prudent, considering the desperate situation of the British commander.
Well, if he is contented, said the General, to have his lands destroyed and his houses pillaged and burned by the hands of these Vandals, I have not the slightest objection. But if they had thus despoiled my property, I should not brook the injury with all the smiling patience, which the good General thinks proper to display upon the occasion.
Colonel Grahame was stung by the taunting manners of Arnold, and by the lurking sarcasm, which was directed against the upright and excellent man whom all loved and respected, and he replied with a haughty severity, which he intended should repel any farther ebullition of spleen.
General Schuyler’s heart glows with the purest patriotism, sir, and he thinks lightly of private losses or acquirements, in comparison with the momentous interests of his country, whose fate, notwithstanding our late successes, is still involved in clouds of doubt and obscurity. Would to God that every heart among us were as pure, as free from dissimulation, as zealous in the cause, for which we are contending, as that of the brave and virtuous General Schuyler!11 122 11(1)v 122
No one doubts his virtue or his patriotism, Colonel Grahame, returned Arnold, who felt the reproof intended, though he was master of an address too artful and consummate, to discover that he did so. A sincere and patriotic love of liberty is the motive, which actuates each one of us, I trust; and though on minor points our opinions may vary, the difference can never be so essential as to affect the public good. I have private wrongs as well as others, Colonel Grahame; but I endeavour to stifle the recollection of them, to forget that men from whom I expected other things, have proved themselves ungrateful and unjust. I feel that I am the servant of my country, and for her sake I endure all; I even see the laurels, which I have ventured life to pluck with my own sword from fields deluged in blood, encircling the brows of others, and I ask not a leaf from the garland I have won, to preserve as a memento of the past.
Colonel Grahame knew that Arnold alluded to the recent coolness between himself and General Gates, but anxious to avoid all discussion of the subject, he only said,
There are few men, General Arnold, who have not either real or imaginary injuries to complain of; and those whose consciences can bear testimony to the integrity of their motives, and the uprightness of their conduct, may rise superior to the petty grievances of life, and enjoy a serentiy, which neither injustice nor ingratitude can destroy. But I must leave you, sir; time wears away, and I must be at my quarters before night.
There is time enough, even if you remain another half hour, said the General; this cursed leg of mine keeps me tied in one position, and so shut out from the world, that it is really a deed of charity to indulge me with your society.
Colonel Grahame, however, excused himself, on the plea that he must immediately quit Albany, and, glad to be released from the society of a man whose feelings were so uncongenial with his own, he bade him farewell, 12311(2)r123 and left the room. At the door, he met a young officer who, having been slightly wounded, was now convalescent.
Ah Colonel, he exclaimed, as Grahame, wrapped in his own reflections, was passing him, without recognition, what brings you among us? though I need not ask, for I perceive you have been holding a council with the gallant General.
Gallant! repeated the Colonel, scornfully; call him any thing but gallant, Budworth; no man is gallant, unless he possesses generous and noble qualities.
Shall I call him brave then? asked the young officer with a smile.
If you please, said Grahame. He has a kind of animal ferocity, which may pass with some for bravery. He loves the battle, for its carnage, and conquest, that he may humble and degrade his unfortunate captives. You may think me swayed by personal prejudice, Captain Budworth, but I have just witnessed the display of a revengeful and polluted mind, from the recollection of which my very soul revolts. But go, I will not detain you; go and learn to hate vice, though disguised beneath the becoming garb of patriotism and courage.
The Colonel passed on, as he finished speaking, and Captain Budworth, after a moment’s hesitation turned to enter the apartment of the wounded General.
Colonel Grahame reached Saratoga that evening, and on the following morning, as soon as circumstances would permit, proceeded to inquire after the health of Major Courtland. Captain O’Carroll was lingering about the door, and his face brightened when he saw the Colonel approaching.
You are truly welcome, he said, as he advanced to meet him; we passed a tiresome day without you, yesterday, though in the hope of discerning you in the distance, I made a watch-tower of yonder blackened tree, and sat demurely perched among its leafless branches, straining my eyes, like sister Anne in the nursery tale, looking for the approach of Blue-beard.
And did you maintain that comfortable station all day? asked Colonel Grahame, smiling.
No, returned O’Carroll, gravely; that knave of a sentinel unfortunately mistook me for the scientific biped, vulgarly ycleped the owl, and levelled his musket at me; so to save the ruffling of my plumage, and confront the popular belief, that the bird of wisdom never flies by day, I vacated my perch, with all convenient speed. But come, let us go to the Major; he will not forgive me if I detain you a moment longer; to say nothing of the fair lady, who has turned her eyes, bright with expectation, towards the door, every time it has opened, and turned them away again, with a most flattering look of disappointment, when they encountered only the unusually awkward length of visage, which I have thought it decorous to wear in complaisance to the stranger, since her arrival.125 11(3)r 125
Colonel Grahame smiled at the irrepressible gaiety of the Captain; but as they reached the door of Major Courtland’s apartment at this instant, he did not attempt a reply. O’Carroll rapped gently, and the door was opened by Catherine herself, who was sitting alone with her father. She smiled and blushed as she welcomed them, and the Colonel, as he entered, stopped a moment to inquire how she found herself after the fatigue of her ride. He then followed her to the side of her father’s bed, who, supported by pillows, sat half upright, and his cheerful and animated countenance evinced the rapidity of his amendment, since the arrival of his daughter. He smiled with pleasure as the Colonel approached, and extended towards him his hand with an air of cordial welcome.
I am, indeed, most happy, sir, said Grahame, as he pressed it affectionately, to witness this change for the better. I scarcely thought, when I last saw you, that a whole month of careful nursing would renovate your feeble frame, as two short days have done.
Under the blessing of God, it is my sweet Kate, who has restored me, said the Major, turning his eyes, full of doting affection, upon the lovely countenance of his daughter. Though I did chide her for coming, he added her smiles have brought peace and healing with them.
Ah, dear father! said Catherine, your gentle chidings were mingled with words of such fond welcome, that I regarded them not; and you cannot regret my coming, since it has contributed so greatly to my happiness.
I trust I shall have no cause to regret it, said her father; should it please Heaven to restore me to health, we shall neither of us be detained here much longer, probably; for though a prisoner, and a slight shade for a moment saddened his countenance at the recollection, though a prisoner, I may presume to hope my parole will be allowed me.
Undoubtedly sir, said Colonel Grahame; and for your sake, as well as for Miss Courtland’s, I shall feel 11* 126 11(3)v 126 happy, when you can be with safety removed. These accommodations are miserable indeed, and I fear, Madam, you can scarcely make yourself comfortable in them.
I am a soldier’s daughter, sir; and though, she added with a smile, this is the first active service I have seen, I find no difficulty in accommodating myself to whatever circumstances the fortunes of war may render necessary.
Do not make yourself uneasy, Colonel Grahame, said the Major; we are very commodiously situated, and have not a wish ungratified, which the humane and courteous attentions of the American officers have been able to supply. To them I am deeply indebted, but more peculiarly so to you, who have endured my pettish infirmities with such manly and generous forbearance, and so kindly shared with my friend O’Carroll, the cares and attentions which are so soothing and grateful in the season of illness and misfortune. The hours of my captivity, which I dreaded as the most wearisome and humbling of my life, have been cheered by your society, and the feeling of degradation, which at first nearly overpowered me, has been softened by a more intimate acquaintance with the characters of our generous conquerors.
The American officers, sir, replied Colonel Grahame, are ever desirous to render as easy as possible the condition of their prisoners, and in doing so, they but obey the dictates of that benevolence which, I am proud to think, is characteristic of their nation. The trifling attentions which personally I have been so happy as to bestow, you estimate too highly, sir. You know not how much of self there is, in the motive which brings me daily to enjoy the society I find in this apartment.
Ah, sir, exclaimed Catherine, no longer able to repress her grateful feelings, you cannot hope to persuade us that self was the origin of all those benevolent actions which have imposed on us such deep and lasting obligations. I can never forget that I owe to 127 11(4)r 127 you my father’s life, that you have soothed his sufferings and softened the mortifications of my captured countrymen; and, in so doing, have acted like a true son of that virtuous band, which is valiantly struggling for liberty and life.
Catherine was hurried by excess of feeling into this partial avowal of her opinions, and it was not till she caught Captain O’Carroll’s glance of comic surprise, that she became conscious of having said any thing, which was not consonant with the feelings of all present. The deepest blushes instantly suffused her face; but she made an effort to appear unconcerned, and looked up with an intention of adding some qualifying observation, when she encountered the piercing glance of Colonel Grahame’s dark eyes, fixed full upon her, with an expression of astonishment, not unmingled with pleasure, and with increased confusion she turned towards her father. Embarrasment was visible upon his countenance, but a lurking smile betrayed his sympathy with Captain O’Carroll’s evident propensity to mirth.
You are rightly caught, Kate, he said, reading her appealing look, and, though half provoked, yet secretly compassionating her confusion; you are rightly caught, girl; I always told you, your whiggish principles would bring you into difficulty, and now my words are verified.
Father, I am not ashamed of them, said Catherine, resolved, since she had inadvertently betrayed them, not meanly to retract the avowal; I never yet disowned them, and you would have cause to blush for me, were I to deny them now, in presence of their brave defender, to whom we owe so much.
Colonel Grahame bowed low, and colored with excess of pleasure. It increases my confidence in the justice of my cause, he said, to find it espoused by the lovely and virtuous of your sex, Miss Courtland. The soldier’s arm is nerved with fresh valor by the smiles and encouragements of woman, whose gentle but unshaken constancy cheers him in dangers, and supports128 11(4)v 128 ports him in difficulties, from which his bolder but less enduring courage would otherwise shrink.
I espouse no cause, sir, said Catherine, blushing; and I regret that the feelings of the moment should have betrayed me into any expression indicative of the opinions I may entertain respecting the quarrel, which now agitates this unhappy country. But I will not disavow the sentiments I have incautiously uttered, nor deny that the land which has sheltered me from infancy, is the land of my affection, and a hundred times endeared to me by the free and noble spirit, with which she rises in her might, to shake off the thraldom of oppression.
Catherine, Catherine, say no more, if you love me, exclaimed Major Courtland, in an accent of displeasure. Methinks your prejudices have acquired new strength, instead of softening, towards the cause which your father honors.
Pardon me, dearest father, she replied; but do not degrade, by the name of prejudices, those gentle affections which you yourself implanted in my infant bosom. America has loved and cherished every thing which is dear to me. Even the simple wild flowers, which I have gathered in her forests, seemed to me fairer and more fragrant than the rarest exotics, which were brought from other climes; and how often have you smiled upon me when I said, I love these wild blossoms because they have expanded in the air of my country, and been nurtured in the soil of the brave. Dear father, she continued, forgetting, in the enthusiasm of the moment, the presence of those who were gazing in silent admiration on the impassioned eloquence of her glowing countenance; dear father, every event of my life links me, with fond associations, to this land; its rivers, its forests, its mountains, every feature of its lovely landscapes are like those of a dear familiar friend, whom death itself cannot shut from the affections and the memory. How then can I wish evil to her cause! How, when I speak of her afflictions, can I repress the feelings which overflow my heart!129 11(5)r 129
Go, go, you are an enthusiast, Kate, said her father, touched by her earnest appeal, but striving to resist its influence. Your fond, foolish sex have always some darling theme to rave about, and it is fortunate for us, that your fancies are only suffered to waste themselves in words, or the world would be kept forever in an uproar.
Alas! dear father, said Catherine, laughing, since it is the only way in which they are permitted to waste themselves, we may be pardoned for making a good use of our privelege; though, I think, were we less limited, we should soon disprove the assertions of those who predict misrule and anarchy, as a necessary consequence of suffering us to exercise power.
The prediction has stood the test of experience, Kate, said the Major; we have only to look into the history of the past, to see it verified in a hundred instances.
In a thousand, Major, you should have said, exclaimed O’Carroll; Who lost Mark Antony the world? a woman.Who was the cause of a long ten years’ war,And laid at last old Troy in ashes? a woman.
I thought you a more gallant man, Captain O’Carroll, interrupted the Colonel, than to second an attack upon that sex, who are the inspirers of the soldier’s courage, and the rewarders of his toil and danger.
I thought so too, Captain O’Carroll, said Catherine, and should not have expected my father to have found a supporter of his opinions, in a native of your island, whose sons, with such frank courage, are ever ready to draw the sword in our defence.
And none, madam, will be found more ready than myself, in a cause so honorable, said O’Carroll; but policy often dictates measures, at which the feelings revolt. An occasional skirmish between our pickets may possibly prevent the danger of my defection; but in case of a long armistice, I greatly fear my loyalty may be shaken by the eloquence, which none can hear 130 11(5)v 130 unmoved, and I would not, for the honor of my profession, prove a traitor at this crisis.
I use no efforts to make traitors, I assure you, Captain O’Carroll,, said Catherine; nor would I be thought a partisan, because I love my country, and speak warmly in its behalf.
Not a partisan, but a patriot, madam, said O’Carroll; and there is fascination even in the name.
Yes, said the Major, to Irishmen who love rebellion, and are always getting up some lawless riot, there is a charm in any thing which is a signal for fighting and revolt.
Though some of us even forego the pleasure of a riot, for the honor of fighting under the banners of loyalty, said O’Carroll, in a tone half playful and half reproachful.
Indeed you do, returned the Major, and there are none, my dear fellow, more brave and zealous than yourself in the good cause.
There are none more loyal, I can truly say, replied O’Carroll. But, if the principles, which have defied the frosty nights and foggy mornings of this climate, to mention nothing of hairbreadth escapes, and wounds, and disgraces, should now yield to the charm of woman’s eloquence, you will say,—you will only say, it was just like that hair-brained O’Carroll, who, wears his faith but as the fashion of his hat, it changes with the next block.
That is not half I would say, O’Carroll, returned the Major, and rather than such a thing should betide, I will send my mischievous Kate back to the peaceable dwelling of good Richard Hope, to be schooled into loyalty and obedience by his aphorisms and scriptural quotations.
Catherine had been conversing apart with Colonel Grahame, but her attention was caught by hearing her own name, and, turning with a playful air towards her father, she said,
And am I to be banished, father, lest Captain O’Carroll should break his faith? I will endure any 131 11(6)r 131 penance rather than incur so unwelcome a sentence; I will even immure myself, when he is present, in what Martha terms our cell, if my absence is necessary to avert the apprehended danger.
She retreated a few steps towards a small apartment, or rather large closet, where a bed for herself and one for her attendant had been placed, when Colonel Grahame catching a view of its interior, exclaimed with a look of mortification,
A cell indeed! Miss Courtland, and of dimensions so narrow that I greatly fear you could enjoy no repose in its stifled atmosphere.
It is but for a short time that she will have to occupy it, said the Major; as, unless she chooses to get a commission under General Gates, we shall soon, I trust, be at liberty to quit this place. But the foolish thing, he added, looking fondly at her, might have rested very well, had she not chosen rather to hover round my bed half the night, though I constantly urged her to retire. But I am not the worse for it; she strewed my pillow with flowers, and inspired me with happy dreams; though I fear she has not been benefited by her wakefulness.
I slept very well, my dear father, said Catherine, and was only once or twice by your bed side, to know if you wanted any thing. If all were as well accommodated as myself, they would have no cause for complaint; but I fear Captain O’Carroll has reason to wish me again beneath the Dutch-tiled roof of Richard Hope, since I have obliged him to vacate your apartment and seek a lodging elsewhere.
I found a very good one hard by, said O’Carroll, and slept without disturbance. A soldier’s life, Miss Courtland, is one of constant mutation, and he becomes so accustomed to changes, as scarcely to regard them, even when they happen for the worse.
And extremely amusing incidents often arise from these changes, said Colonel Grahame,” which sometimes compensate for their unpleasantness.132 11(6)v 132
Yes, returned O’Carroll I recollect when the army was at Skenesborough, we had many of us, for some reason, changed our quarters, and I was awakened the first morning after doing so, by a most unceremonious shake. On looking up to learn the meaning of this unprovoked attack, I saw that automaton of a surgeon, Major, who, you know, was attached to Harcourt’s corps, and who walked about, without knowing that he did so, and examined his patients, when he had any, without seeing them, standing by my bedside with his Cyclops eye, for he had but one, and that, if I recollect right, was in the centre—
Be less ridiculous, O’Carroll, interrupted Major Courtland, and give us the story, if there is one, with fewer embellishments.
This Polyphemus, Major, pursued the Captain, with a smile, held forth a pair of iron tongs, almost as uncouth as himself. I had been reading the story of Ulysses and his companions, till late, on the preceding evening, my dreams had been impressed with their adventures, and as between sleeping and waking I gazed on the horrible apparatus of the surgeon, I verily thought the monster of the cavern stood before me, and that my turn to be devoured had arrived.
But I never heard before, said Major Courtland, that this renowned Cyclops of old, made use of any apparatus to dissect his victims, before demolishing them.
Oh, he might not, returned O’Carroll, but you must recollect that this was a modern Polyphemus of whom I speak, and who, like us, had improved in the humane art of devouring people; at all events, he began with appalling solemnity to advance his twisted tongs towards my visage, which completely aroused me, and him too, I think; for in the flight, which I caused them to take in an opposite direction, they grazed the projecting angle of his proboscis, with a force which threatened to annihilate a portion of that conspicuous promontory, and, stretching open his huge eye in utter amazement, he begged to be informed if I did not wish to have a tooth extracted. I threatened to make him swallow all 133 12(1)r 133 his own, if he did not evacuate my tent with what speed he could make; and then first discovering that I was not the mannerly ensign, who had before occupied the place and requested his attendance, he jostled off, with all convenient haste, and, by the time he was out of sight, had forgotten, I dare say, but what he left me as toothless as old Peter the drummer.
A most edifying narration, O’Carroll, said the Major, and told with becoming gravity, though my saucy Kate looks rather sceptical, and even Colonel Grahame smiles somewhat incredulously.
If they wish for ocular demonstration of my veracity, said O’Carroll, I doubt not the proboscis of the surgeon will afford it to them; for the mark of the tooth-drawer, I think, has left an indelible impression upon that unwieldy organ.
Oh, your recital is too amusing to be doubted, Captain, said Catherine.
Or if it were not, said Grahame, its ingenuity would readily atone for its extravagance.” But time has passed so pleasantly here, Captain O’Carroll, that we have quite forgotten our intended walk, and the morning is so fine, I am desirous to have you improve it. If you are inclined to enjoy the exercise, I shall be happy to accompany you.
Captain O’Carroll assented, and bidding Major Courtland and his daughter good morning, they went out together.
That part of New York which in the year 17771777 was the scene of contest between the two experienced generals, Burgoyne and Gates, exhibited at that period few marks of cultivation or improvement, except such as might be occasionally observed around the log hut of some enterprising settler, who had ventured to invade the solitary wilderness. The remains of several forts also, on the borders of those mighty rivers and inland seas, which intersect our country with a magnificence and grandeur, unknown in any other region of the globe, gave evidence that restless and destroying man had early tracked the untilled soil with steps of blood, and awakened the startled echoes of this new world, with the discord of his mad ambition.
Villages and towns now rise on the site of those forests which, forty-five years since, witnessed the fierce encounter of two adverse armies; and churches, and seminaries for the instruction of future patriots and statesmen, occupy the spot, where the cruel savage immolated his unfortunate captive, or performed the superstitious rites of his untutored worship. The frowning wilderness has become a scene of gaiety and splendor, where the bloom and brightness of beauty, the enchanting vagaries of fashion, and the luxurious reginements of wealth, unite their witching influence; where the graceful dance, the ravishment of music, and every varying pleasure, which invention can devise, conspire to charm away the hours of the gay and idle throng, who annually resort to taste the far-famed waters of Saratoga.135 12(2)r 135
Nor can the foot of the American press this soil, mingled, as it is, with the dust of the great and the brave, without a thrill of national pride, as he recalls the events of the year so glorious in the annals of his country, and which have shed a tinge of romantic, we had almost said of classic interest over the wild scenery of the north.
At no great distance from the house at present occupied by Major Courtland, was a beautiful glen, which continued, for nearly half a mile, to wind through the intricacies of the forest. Its banks rose precipitously, and were thickly clothed with shrubbery, while their summits were crowned with stately trees, among which the pine, towering magnificently to the height of seventy and a hundred feet, was chiefly conspicuous, though others, less aspiring, were freely interspersed, which stretched their leafy arms across the narrow glen, and intervwove their branches so as to form an almost impervious canopy. A brawling rivulet, swollen by the recent rains, gave freshness to the spot, and soothed the ear with the music of its gushing waters, as it foamed impetuously over the little obstacles which marked its course, impatient to pour its tributary stream into the bosom of the lordly Hudson; while a thousand dancing leaves, the spoils of autumn, gay with the colors of the rainbow, floated on its surface, seeming to the eye of fancy, like fairy barks, speeding on their voyage to regions of brighter warmth and beauty.
It was on the evening succeeding the memorable 1777-10-17seventeenth of October, when the final surrender of General Burgoyne had crowned the victorious gallantry of his brave adversary with honor, that two personages of our narrative met in this lonely glen. The sun was declining with a mild splendor unusual to the season, and his rays, as they glanced through the gay autumnal foliage upon the still green turf of the sheltered little valley, and crimsoned the foam of the sparkling rivulet, seemed to promise, on the morrow, one of those soft and balmy days which, at this period of the 136 12(2)v 136 year, are not unfrequent in our climate, and come with all the sweet and healing influences of spring, to refresh and animate the spirits.
The persons, of whom we speak walked slowly up the glen, one of them, the taller of the two, often stopping and looking upward, and around, as if to inhale the fragrance which floated on the air, and enjoy the serenity which reigned throughout the scene. The dark blue dress and crimson facings announced an American officer; and the gestures, so full of ease and military grace, the proud decisive step, the quick glancing of the eagle eye, the lofy motion of the warrior’s crest, identified the admired and gallant Colonel Grahame.
Beside him walked his Indian friend, Ohmeina, decked out in savage pomp. Yet in his barbarous attire there was a mixture of tasteful elegance, that harmonized well with his finefigure and noble and expressive countenance. His moccasins of deer skin, were richly embroidered with the quills of the porcupine, and the sort of kilt, or short petticoat, which reached to his knees, was formed of the same materials, and ornamented in a similar manner. Several strings of wampum were suspended round his neck, intermixed with ornaments of silver, and beads of various colors. His long black hair was parted on his forehead, and decorated with a plume of eagle feathers. Over his right shoulder was thrown a cloak, or robe, formed of the plumage of birds, and glittering with a thousand vivid colors; and on his left was fastened a quiver, well filled with arrows which he would never consent to exchange for the musket or the rifle, though they were becoming in common use among his brethren of the forest, by whom they were eagerly and gladly received. He carried his bow in his hand, and walked with an air of grave dignity beside the Colonel, though with so light a step, that he scarcely depressed the slender blade, which bent but for an instant beneath his elastic tread.137 12(3)r 137
Suddenly breaking from the meditations which had, for some time, deeply absorbed him, Colonel Grahame turned abruptly towards the chief, and glancing his quick eye over his person said, after a moment’s observation,
Methinks, Ohmeina, you are adorned with more than usual care this evening; needlessly so, at least, considering the toils and, perhaps, the perils of the journey you are about to undertake.
The toils are nothing, brother, answered the Indian; the perils many, and it is therefore that I have thus adorned myself. I will die in the faith which I have learned from the people of thy nation; but I would meet death, in the dress which becomes a warrior of the Mohawks.
Then, Ohmeina, said the Colonel, you are adorned only like a victim for the sacrifice. I will not be the means of endangering your life, and, if you apprehend so much peril, this journey must not be performed.
I fear nothing, brother, returned the chief; there are no dangers, which I have not braved a thousand times. And shall the foot of Ohmeina fear to tread the mazes of the forest, to climb the steep precipice, or ford the swollen torrent, when it is the voice of his friend and his avenger, which bids him go?
Yes, answered Grahame, if there is danger in the path, your life must not be sacrificed. I cannot suffer you to tempt it.
Brother, said the Indian, proudly, the warriors of the Mohawks know not fear, and never shrink from the open or the secret foe. These arrows are dipped in deadly poison, and they seldom miss their aim. But if they should, what have I to care? Death is not terrible to me; for thy religion has taught me to hope, that, when it is past, I shall meet my Yurac and be happy with her, in the bright blue heaven which is above us.12* 138 12(3)v 138
And so I trust you will, Ohmeina, replied the Colonel; but still it would be wrong to throw away the life, which God has given you. But tell me, if you have heard any thing that threatens your safety.
My brethren of the forest may entrap me, said the Chief; they lie in wait for me, and are thirsting for my blood.
How know you this? inquired Grahame, earnestly.
The soldier whom we met at the log house in the forest, and bribed to betray his comrades, answered Ohmeina, bade me beware of the vengeance of Kamaset, for the torture was prepared, and my footsteps were watched.
Ohmeina, this warning must not be disregarded, said the Colonel. Neither your poisoned arrows, your courage, nor your strength, will avail you against the cunning ferocity of these bloodthirsty savages, who hate you for your friendship to us, and are resolved upon your death. No, I cannot permit you to endanger your life, for my sake; we will defer this journey, Ohmeina, till it can be performed with more safety.
Brother, suffer me to go, said the Indian; those to whom thou wouldst send me, may require my services, and thou knowest not how long before thou wilt be with them thyself. Thy friend is feeble with sickness, and his weak arm cannot bring the soaring bird to earth, nor pierce the swift beast of the forest, which falls only beneath the skillful arrow of the wary hunter. And the fair lily too, thinkest thou she will not droop, because our steps return no more to her? Detain me not, brother; I fear no snares, I have the sharp eye of the hawk, and thou knowest I am fleet and sure as the young deer of the wilderness. Bid me then haste on my way; the lily will not revive, till I bear her tidings of thee.
Colonel Grahame colored slightly, but said after a momentary pause,
Go then, Ohmeina; I know you may walk safely, where it would be death for another to venture. I can only commend you to the protection of Heaven, and 139 12(4)r 139 entreat you to be cautious and vigilant. I have many fears for those to whom I send you, and, as I know not how long before I may return to them, your service may be indispensable during my absence. Had you continued on your way, when I sent you before, the journey at this wet season might have been avoided.
And did I not do better service, brother, asked the chief, in bringing to thee the papers, which Richard Hope would have sent to the English?
You did, indeed, Ohmeina, replied the Colonel; and, by that act, gave me a proof of your zeal and fidelity, which I shall not soon forget. Those papers were invaluable, and you effectually frightened the Quaker out of his treasonable projects; I only regretted, on your account, that your journey was delayed till now.
Brother, said the Indian, the skies are bright, the winds soft; Ohmeina’s eye is keen, his step light and fleet, and before three nights have passed he will stand beside the grey rock, and refresh, with tidings of peace, the wan lily which blooms under its shelter.
Guard well the papers, with which I have charged you, said the Colonel, and destroy them if they are endangered. And now, God speed you on your way; I hear footsteps approaching, and you must be gone.
They had once measured the length of the glen, and returned again to where it opened upon a cleared space, from which the trees had been felled, for the use of fuel to the camp. The glowing tints of twilight were fading into the grey and sombre hue of darkness, yet sufficient light still remained, to render visible the surrounding objects, when, as they stopped beneath the jutting crag of a rock, which half hid the entrance to the narrow glen, and the Indian was about to reply to the injunction of his friend, his quick eye caught a glimpse of some one approaching; and, pressing the Colonel’s hand for a moment to his heart, in token that he would obey him, he sprang to the top of the bank and disappeared among the thick trees of the forest.140 12(4)v 140
Colonel Grahame turned, as the chief quitted him to examine the person of the intruder, who had now approached within a few paces of him, when the gay voice of Captain O’Carroll at once terminated the uncertainty with which he had, for a few moments, regarded him.
I hope I am not so unfortunate, Colonel, as to interrupt a gentle tete-a-tete, he said, archly. Nay, he continued, as Grahame was about to speak, never deny it, man; I heard the rustling of her robes, as I approached, and even now the branches wave, through which she so hastily forced her retreat.
I assure you, returned the Colonel with a smile, I have no idea of denying that you interrupted a tete- a-tete, though not exactly such an one as you seem to imagine.
Ah, ha, Colonel, said O’Carroll, this witching glen seems made on purpose for tender meetings. I might have caught a glimpse of the enchantress, had I not, in my haste, unluckily tripped over one of the devilish stumps, which are left on purpose, I think, to endanger the necks of honest fellows in the dark.
Your haste was peculiarly ill-judged to-night, Captain O’Carroll, said the Colonel, laughing, and will teach you to use more moderation the next time you sit at the table until it is too dark to see your way from it.
Ah, Colonel, said O’Carroll, I believe you are right, and that the stumps were less to blame than the bottle, after all. To confess the truth, I have been dining to-day with half a dozen merry fellows, whom this surrender has thrown in my way again, and who were resolved I should make amends for my unusual abstinence this ten days past; so just to oblige them, I drained a glass or two extra, till my head began to revolve like the wheel of a scissors-grinder, when I broke away from their toasts and chorusses, and came out to shake off the fumes of the wine, in the cool air. And I thought that cursed somerset over the pine stump yonder, had completely restored me to my sober senses 141 12(5)r 141 again; though it seems your penetrating eye, Colonel, has detected traces of the recent revel, which I fancied were quite dissipated. But I have honestly confessed; so now it is your turn; and will you please inform me who the damsel was, that fled so hastily at my approach? Perhaps some wood-nymph, or water naiad; or what is far more probable, a mere mortal mixture of earth’s mould, who has surrendered at discretion to the prowess of the conquering Grahame.
It was in truth, answered the Colonel, only a mortal mixture of earth’s mould, and not her finest mould either, mere potter’s clay, dark and unpolished.
Ah, a nut-brown nymph! The princess of one of those log castles, I will vouch for it, said O’Carroll. But I dare swear she had ―― a vermeil-tinctured lip――Love-darting eyes, and tresses like the morn, in despite of her sun-burnt complexion; or she might have hung herself upon the highest log of her castle, ere she would have won a single glance from the fastidious Colonel.
Grahame saw that the Captain was much excited, or he would not have brooked the most distant hint of a suspicion so inconsistent with his high feelings of honor, so averse from his principles and his practice. In his estimation, the virtue of the simplest maiden, whose humble lot was cast in the depths of poverty and obscurity, was as sacred, as that of the elegant and high- bred females, who graced the polished circles of wealth and fashion; and to have made himself master of the world, he would not have trifled a moment with the affections of the most lowly cottager, at the expense of her future peace and happiness. He was not, however, so foolish as to resent the light raillery of the Captain; and, answering him in his own manner, he said,
And what if I should tell you, Captain O’Carroll, that your eyes, as well as your feet, have betrayed you; and that this fair vision, whom you have dignified with so many poetic quotations, is a strapping fellow, of six 142 12(5)v 142 feet, some inches high, who fears the face of no man, and cares for that of no woman?
Absurd! exclaimed O’Carroll; tell me no such thing, for I will not believe that you have left the gay and bustling camp, and sought this lonely glen to hold sweet converse with a fellow of six feet and more, who flies at the sound of footsteps, with the fleetness of a Camilla, and whom you soliloquize, for half an hour after, with all the passion of an ancient knight of romance――
Colonel Grahame interrupted him with a loud laugh; Upon my honor, he said, your imagination is imbued with the very essence of the sparkling champaigne, which you have quaffed so freely, and has transformed the swarthy Indian Ohmeina, with his savage ornaments of beads and feathers, into a matchless damsel, rivalling the exquisite Dulcinea del Toboso herself, for whom another knight errant, were there one to be found in these degenerate and unchivalrous days, might be proud to fight all the windmills in the country.
The Indian Ohmeina indeed! ejaculated O’Carroll, incredulously; then, after a brief pause, passing his arm through the Colonel’s, he added, come, let us walk up this glen; it is scarcely dark yet, and the sound of this babbling rivulet cools my feverish brain. And now tell me, Colonel, if you are not deceiving me? Though to be sure it is no concern of mine; but if ever I saw a woman’s petticoat in my life, I could take my oath it was while I lay grappling with those devilish stumps yonder.
In very truth then, returned the Colonel, it was the Indian Ohmeina himself, and no one fairer or more feminine. And now tell me if you have seen Major Courtland to day?
Only for a few minutes in the morning, said O’Carroll;” I should have gone directly there this evening, but the Major has an eye as keen as your own, Colonel; and I had no mind to be reprimanded before the fair Catherine. Percy has been with him all day; in fact, I believe he dined there. He is a resistless fellow among the ladies, and may supersede you, Colonel,143 12(6)r 143 onel, in the good graces of Miss Courtland, if you pass your evenings in this dark glen, and suffer him to charm her solitude, with all his eloquence of eye and tongue.
And what then, asked Colonel Grahame, with apparent carelessness. I have made no pretensions to the lady’s favor, and, of course, cannot fear to be superseded.
You have as yet made none, said O’Carroll; but that is no evidence that you never design to do so; nor does it prove that you are not already high in the lady’s estimation. I wish only to place you on your guard, Colonel; for a gem so beautiful will not remain long unappropriated, and I know of none more worthy to wear it than yourself.
Thank you, Captain O’Carroll; indeed you are truly disinterested, exclaimed Grahame, his fine features crimsoning with pleasurable emotion. But how can I be assured, that, while, according to your directions, I am endeavouring to rival Colonel Percy, I may not, if successful, disappoint you also, in the affections of a lady, for whom I have repeatedly heard you profess the warmest admiration?
If I were so deeply interested, think you I should bestow this advice unasked? said O’Carroll. No; combustible as my Irish nature may appear to you, Colonel, my heart is not of such tinder as to be kindled by every stray glance from the bright eyes of a pretty maiden; they warm the surface but penetrate no deeper; the core is adamant, and, having twice or thrice cut Cupid’s bowstring, the little hangman dares not shoot at me again.
This is quite a new view of your character, said the Colonel; and you are certainly the first Hibernian, whom I had ever the honor of knowing, that pretended indifference for the charms of female beauty, but did not rather glory in the susceptibility, which is, pardon me, a trait of your national character.
They were more fond of wooing, wedding, and repenting, than I am, said O’Carroll; or they would not have made a boast of an infirmity. Colonel Grahame, 144 12(6)v 144 he continued in a tone of deep feeling, utterly inconsistent with the usual reckless gaiety of his manner, and therefore the more impressive; the heart which has been once betrayed cannot soon forget it. Its native warmth is chilled, and it becomes ossified, if I may so express it, by disappointment and suspicion, till it is no longer susceptible of gentle impressions, and learns to distrust the fairest and the loveliest promises.
You shock me by this picture, said Colonel Grahame; it must surely be imaginary; no heart, at least no heart like yours, my dear O’Carroll, could, for a moment, harbor feelings so misanthropic, and place an eternal bar before the avenues of those gentle and kindly affections, which are the sweetest solace of humanity,—and all, because one frail object proved herself treacherous and unworthy.
But if that object was the dearest and the loveliest, said O’Carroll, in a tone of vehement emotion, the very sun of your existence, the centre of every cherished hope, an idol consecrated by the purest homage of a doting heart,—if almost in the very moment of possession, you found yourself betrayed, deceived, deserted, for another,—and such an one—good Heaven! the shame and agony of that moment will never fade from my remembrance. Colonel Grahame, pride and resentment sustained me; but to you, firm, lofty, and aspiring as your spirit is, I do believe, life, from that hour, would have become a dark and gloomy scene, and every soft feeling have been forever excluded from your heart.
In the excessive agitation of the moment, O’Carroll had quitted his hold of the Colonel’s arm, and now, in emotion which seemed to defy control, he buried his face in his hands, and leaned against the broad trunk of a tree, which grew beside the path. Colonel Grhame forbore to intrude upon the sacredness of his sorrow by a single word of sympathy or advice, and he stood silently beside him, his arms folded, and his eyes bent upon the earth, touched by the impassioned grief of the seemingly gay and thoughtless young man, 145 13(1)r 145 whom he had believed free from the withering touch of early disappointment and misfortune.
But he was not suffered long to indulge his silent meditations; the passions of O’Carroll were strong and violent; but when the first burst of frenzied feeling had subsided, it was not unfrequently succeeded by those of a directly opposite nature. After a few moments of agonized regret, he turned towards Grahame, and taking his arm, said in a hurried voice,
I am a fool, a very fool, Colonel Grahame, to put myself in such a turmoil about a faithless woman; as if there were but one in the world, and they were not things to be met with every day; though may I forfeit my commission, if I am ever caught in their toils again. There is mirth and enjoyment enough without them; and so we find it among ourselves, what need we search beneath their gilded coils for the fatal sweets which we taste at the peril of our lives; the folds of the serpent involve us while in the act, and we find, too late, the bitter price, which we are doomed to pay for the fond indulgence of a moment.
The assumed gaiety of Captain O’Carroll’s air could not disguise the bitterness of feeling, which his words implied, and which had awakened Colonel Grahame’s sympathy and compassion. But he already knew O’Carroll sufficiently well, to feel assured that, by dwelling on this painful topic, he should only increase the poignancy of his regrets, and prolong the moment of painful retrospection. He of course sought rather to divert his thoughts, and draw him from the misanthropic gloom, so uncongenial to his nature, and he said cheerfully, in reply to his last observation,
A truly philosophic resolution, my dear fellow! We, the lords of the creation, sadly forget our dignity, when we sink into despondency, because a fickle woman frowns. She who can deliberately betray a fond and trusting heart, is not worthy a single sigh of remembrance or regret.
Then surely not worth the philippic I have pronounced against the whole of her faithless sex, interrupted13 146 13(1)v 146 rupted O’Carroll; but it has afforded me abundant relief, Colonel; and now again shall mirth admit me of her crew, and none shall even dream that the black ox has ever trod on the foot of the laughter-loving O’Carroll. And now for other subjects; and firstly, what thought you of the interview between the two Generals this morning?
Of course, it was a scene of pride and interest to every American heart, replied Colonel Grahame.
Ah, indeed it has been as proud a day for you, as it has been humiliating for us, returned O’Carroll. But we have nothing to complain of in your countrymen. On the contrary, we may truly declare, that the conquest, which valor has won, humanity and courtesy have secured. General Gates is an insinuating man, and it was thought by many, that he even surpassed our dignified commander, in the easy and unaffected grace of his demeanor, during the interview. Then, too, the generosity and delicacy of his conduct, in sparing us the mortification of piling our arms, before his whole army, demands our warmest gratitude and admiration. Every tongue is loud in praise of this act, and in spite of our misfortunes and humiliations, we shall be constrained to remember America with affection and respect.
Thank you, Captain O’Carroll, returned Grahame, touched by this voluntary tribute to the virtues and gallantry of his countrymen. The favorable impression, he added, which we have been so happy as to make on the minds of those, whom the fortunes of war have thrown into our power, is nearly as gratifying to our private feelings, as the success, which has crowned the effort of our arms, is to us, as soldiers and defenders of a country which we love. And may the friendly sentiments produced by this unexpected association, be the first step towards effecting a permanent union between the two great nations, now unfortunately at issue.
Heaven grant it may be so! replied O’Carroll. At all events our swords are not to be again unsheathed147 13(2)r 147 ed in the struggle. So says the treaty, and I confess I am not sorry for this stipulation. Your faces look so like those of friends and countrymen, that, when I first met you in the field, I really shrunk from the idea of disfiguring them. And when, now and then, a broad Irish phiz was seen grinning with true Hibernian expression, in your ranks, I was forced to recollect, that it was turned against the land which I love, before I could calmly see it become the mark for an Irish musket.
These feelings are perfectly natural, returned Colonel Grahame, and such as almost every heart has experienced, more or less frequently, since the commencement of this unhappy contest.
The Colonel forbore to make any farther remark, lest it should lead to an unpleasant discussion of rights and motives, in which it was impossible they should agree; and, hoping to change the conversation, he inquired if Colonel Percy designed to follow the troops.
Yes, he goes to-morrow, returned O’Carroll, though he was pressed by General Schuyler to accompany General Burgoyne, with several other officers and their ladies, to his residence in Albany.
Major Courtland and his daughter were included in the invitation, I understand, said the Colonel; but he declined under the plea that he was not sufficiently recovered to bear the fatigue of the ride.
And besides, said O’Carroll, he has a nice sojourning with our friend Richard Hope, whom Miss Courtland is impatient to rejoin, and they are both anxious to get quietly settled on the banks of the Schuylkill, before the cold weather sets in; where, through your instrumentality, for which I am greatly indebted, I have obtained permission to accompany them. And if the troops do not sail before spring, as it is not probable they will, I promise myself a winter of much enjoyment.
Colonel Grahame half suppressed a sigh, and inquired in an absent tone, if Major Courtland had friends in that part of the country.148 13(2)v 148
Not many now, I fancy, returned the Captain; but he has a house there, in which he has lived these sixteen years past, and where he hopes to find as comfortable quarters as he left.
It is somewhat doubtful if he does, said Grahame, thoughtfully; the house of a known royalist is in no safe hands when abandoned to the mercy of an exasperated enemy.
But he was aware of this danger, returned O’Carroll,” and has guarded against it, by transferring his property to a friend, who has ever preserved a strict neutrality, and of course it will remain unmolested by either party.
Yes, if the present occupant escapes suspicion, said the Colonel, and I sincerely hope he may. But can you tell me where the estate is situated?
Not exactly; some ten or fifteen miles from Philadelphia, I believe, said O’Carroll. But I am so imperfectly acquainted with the topography of your country, that I can give you no accurate information; if you will accompany me to Major Courtland’s lodgings, he will not only be gratified by the visit, but answer, with pelasure, any inquiries, which may enable you, when in that part of the country, to find his residence.
I fear it will not do to intrude upon him, at this hour, said Grahame; you are not aware, Captain, how long a time we have been pacing up and down this dark place.
Then we must renounce the hope of seeing those witching dark eyes of Miss Courtland’s to-night,, said O’Carroll. But I hope you will bear the deprivation, of which I am in part the cause, with all proper resignation, Colonel.
Do not make yourself uneasy; my sleep will not be at all the less sound for it, replied Grahame, smiling and slightly coloring.
No, I dare swear to the truth of that, said O’Carroll; for nothing sets a man’s eyes open so effectually, as the bright glances and smiles of a pretty woman, 149 13(3)r 149 from whom he has parted just at the hour of bed time. They haunt his pillow, disturb his slumbers, and he rises in the morning, with the worn-out feelings of a wretch, who has been dragged through a mill stream, and just escaped without drowning.
Then, indeed, the disappointment must be considered a fortunate one, returned the Colonel. Though for myself I apprehend no evil consequences from that, or from the indulgence which you are inclined to think so dangerous. We are both soldiers, and though we may jest upon affairs of gallantry, we have but little time, at present, to devote to its trifling observances.
I have none, said O’Carroll; at least, not till I see a beautiful cheek crimson with pleasure at my approach, and fade to the lily’s hue, when I speak of my removal.
You speak in enigmas, Captain said Grahame.
Which you, I suppose, have not ingenuity enough to solve; returned O’Carroll, gaily. But let it pass, he added, you will be able to puzzle them out ere long, And tire the hearer with a book of words by way of exposition. Come, let us away now; that hooting owl, yonder, is warning us from his dominions, and she has good reason to complain of our encroachment, who idly ―― wandering near her secret bower,Molest her ancient, solitary reign.
She mistakes your oracular wisdom probably, for the solemn note of a comrade, said the Colonel.
And is confirming it, by the sanction of her own prophetical hoot, returned O’Carroll, whom a jest seldom discomposed. But do let us retreat from her discordant screech, Colonel; she seems trying her utmost to disconcert us, and will be about our ears shortly; so we had better be off, unless you have a mind to endure the flapping of her unclean wings.
Wait an instant, said the Colonel, as O’Carroll was endeavouring to draw him forward, I miss one of my pistols, and must have left it on a flat rock, where 13* 150 13(3)v 150 I recollect to have laid it, while examining the other, before you joined me. I will just step for it and be back directly.
You had better leave it till morning, Colonel, said O’Carroll. It will be safe in this unfrequented place, and it is impossible that you should be able to find it now.
Oh, I think I know exactly where I laid it, said Grahame; on a broad flat rock, about twenty paces up the glen. I can put my hand directly upon it, and will rejoin you instantly; or if you grow weary with waiting, walk on and I will overtake you.
He quitted him abruptly, as he finished speaking, and Captain O’Carroll sat down on a projecting point of the rock, which overshadowed the entrance of the glen, to wait for his return. The minutes passed away unnoted, while he amused himself by watching the fires of the camp. The groups of soldiers passing to and fro, and gathered about them, seemed, in the distance, like shadowy forms, performing their unearthly orgies around the huge fires which shot their spiry flames high in the dark atmostphere, and partially illuminated, with their lurid glare, every indistinct object which caught the bright and unsteady reflection.
Wearying, at length, of this solitary pleasure, he became impatient of the Colonel’s absence, which had, indeed, been much longer than he imagined; and, surprised that he did not return, the Captain at last walked up the glen with the hope of meeting him. But all was silent, not a footstep rustled the withered leaves, and the discordant hooting of the owl alone disturbed the gloomy stillness of the forest. Alarm and anxiety, lest some accident had befallen his friend, now banished every other emotion from the mind of O’Carroll. He listened, he groped around with his hands, though he scarcely knew why or wherefore, and he called again and again upon the Colonel’s name. But the damp earth and the seared foliage of autumn only met his touch, and the deep echoes of the forest alone repeated, as if in mockery, the name of Grahame. For a moment151 13(4)r 151 ment doubt and despair oppressed him, but he was too sanguine to be long subdued by either, and the thought soon occurred that the Colonel must have passed him unobserved, while he sat absorbed in the occupation of watching the distant fires of the camp. Instantly admitting a belief which dispelled his anxiety, he retraced his steps down the glen, and walked hastily towards the quarters of Colonel Grahame to laugh with him about the fright, which his long absence had occasioned.
Captain O’Carroll was greatly surprised, on reaching the quarters of Colonel Grahame, to learn that he had not returned, nor had been seen, since early in the evening; and, utterly at a loss to account for the mystery of his sudden disappearance, he could not resolve to retire to his own lodgings, without first consulting some of the officers on the course which it was most advisable to pursue.
Captain Budworth, with whom his acquaintance was of the longest standing, was the first, to whom he communicated his intelligence, and from him it soon extended to others, till the whole camp was thrown into a state of excitement and alarm. The regularity and strict discipline, which Colonel Grahame uniformly observed, as well as enforced, convinced every one, that some fatal accident must have occurred to occasion his sudden and mysterious absence; and a party of officers, guided by Captain O’Carroll, immediately proceeded to explore the glen. They were accompanied by a band of soldiers, bearing flaming torches of pine knots, and 152 13(4)v 152 among them was Grahame’s servant with a flambeau larger and brighter, than any of the others. Distracted with grief and anxiety by the loss of a master most deservedly dear to him, he pressed eagerly forward, thrusting his torch behind every bush, and enlightening every dark nook of the glen, where it was possible a human form might lie concealed. But the Colonel was not to be found. The pistol was gone from the flat rock, on which he informed O’Carroll he had left it;—still, in the hope of tracing him, the party pursued their way through the whole length of the glen, holding their torches close to the ground, and often stopping to listen for some sound, which might guide them to the object of their search. They even penetrated into the depths of the forest, and were confirmed in the belief that some violence had been used, by finding an end of the crimson sash, which Grahame had worn, and which appeared to have been torn forcibly from the rest; the ground, too, in many places, was trampled and broken, as if by the struggles of men, and the moss and leaves were dragged into heaps, as though some one had been forced rudely along. But it was in vain that they endeavoured to follow these traces; they soon disappeared entirely, and, after a toilsome search, they were constrained to give it up, as fruitless, and return anxious and dispirited to the camp.
Captain O’Carroll’s ardent feelings were greatly excited, and though he retired to rest, he neither slept, nor attempted to sleep, during the whole of the wearisome night. As soon as the morning dawned, a detachment of troops was sent out to search the country, and Captain O’Carroll, after again exploring the glen without success, returned to inform Major Courtland, whom he had not yet seen, of the singular and melancholy occurrence.
Catherine was reading to her father, when he knocked gently at the door. She arose immediately to open it, and her bright face became yet brighter and more lovely, as, with frank and unaffected cordiality, she welcomed him to their humble abode.153 13(5)r 153
Come in, my dear O’Carroll, cried the Major; I am right glad to see you. But what in the name of wonder became of you and the Colonel yesterday? You both played me the truant, and, had it not been for Colonel Percy, who brought me all the news, Kate and I should have been as humdrum, as two owls in a cage. But how now, man! What mean these pale looks of thine? exclaimed the Major, suddenly struck and alarmed by the anxiety visible in the Captain’s usually gay countenance.
Can you tell me any thing of Colonel Grahame, sir? inquired O’Carroll in a voice of emotion, which he vainly sought to control.
What is the meaning of this agitated inquiry, O’Carroll? asked the Major, in surprise. I have not seen the Colonel, since the evening before the last, when he left me in company with yourself.
O’Carroll made no reply, but walked across the apartment with an air of so much disturbance, that Catherine, convinced he had evil tidings to communicate, laid her hand upon his arm, with a degree of emotion of which she seemed utterly unconscious, and turning towards him a countenance, from which the bloom had faded, and the glowing animation fled, she exclaimed, in a voice of tremulous earnestness,
What fatal intelligence have you to impart! Do not keep us longer in suspense, but tell us what misfortune has befallen Colonel Grahame.
Captain O’Carroll instantly related the events of the preceeding evening, the mysterious disappearance of Colonel Grahame, the fruitless search, which had already been made after him, and the attempts which they were still pursuing, in the hope of at last tracing him, or at least discovering the cause of his singular and prolonged absence.
Major Courtland listened with unfeigned astonishment to O’Carroll’s recital, and not without considerable agitation; for he had imbibed a sincere and strong attachment to the Colonel, and was truly concerned to learn that any disaster had befallen him. He poured 154 13(5)v 154 forth a thousand inquiries, devised as many expedients for tracing the person of Grahame, and hinted at every circumstance, which, to his awakened imagination, seemed at all probable, or even possible. But none were satisfactory to himself, or to Captain O’Carroll, who, to speak the truth, scarcely bestowed on them the slightest degree of attention. A low and half breathed ejaculation from the lips of Catherine, had reached his ears, as he finished his strange recital, and, for a few minutes, forgetting even the lost Grahame, he bent his eye earnestly upon her, to read, if possible, what was passing in her mind.
Her pale cheek and downcast eye evinced extreme emotion; but of what nature, O’Carroll felt himself unskilled to determine; at least, he could not decide whether any softer emotion mingled with the alarm, which was visibly depicted on her features.
We intended to have left here tomorrow, or by the day after, at farthest, said Major Courtland, still continuing to speak without observing the abstraction of his companions; but, indeed, I am reluctant to go, before I am assured of Colonel Grahame’s safety.
Father, we must not think of it! exclaimed Catherine, aroused by these words from her painful reverie, and starting up with an air of sudden animation, while the blood, which had forsaken her cheeks, rushed tumultuously back, dying them with the deepest tint of crimson, and her dark eyes glanced like those of a young Pythoness in the moment of inspiration, with a resolute and lofty expression,
Dear father, she said, you will not surely go, while the fate of him, to whom you owe your life, and I the happiness which your death would have wrested from me, remains involved in mystery! Heaven forbid that we should thus repay those beneifts. Rather will I myself explore these forests and the caves, where the brave and unfortunate Grahame may be lingering out the remnant of his gallant life, than have it said, they who owed him so much, with cold and selfish indifference, sought their own peaceful home, regardless155 13(6)r 155 less of the welfare of that generous friend, who had given them their lives, and kindly softened the pains and sorrows of their captivity.
My dear girl, replied the Major, your feelings are natural, though you will excuse me for saying I think them somewhat extravagant; but this is constitutional with you, and, therefore, I make all due allowance. I should be as unwilling as yourself, Catherine, to quit this place, while the fate of Colonel Grahame, to whom I deeply feel my obligations, remains uncertain, were there a probability that any efforts of ours could ensure his safety, or hasten his discovery. But, situated as we are, the hope of rendering any assistance is vain. I am still feeble from my long confinement, and, of course, incapable of exertion; and you a timid —no I will not say timid, Kate, but a powerless maiden, —what can you do to aid the search, which others are so active in making? Unless indeed you resolve to put your threat in execution, and beat the bushes and explore the forest caves, for our lost hero.
Catherine blushed deeply at her father’s raillery, and when she raised her eyes, they were suffused with tears. The Major perceived that he had unintentionally given her pain, and to atone for it he drew her gently towards him and kissing her, said,
Forgive me, my love; my levity was ill timed, I allow; you know I would not for the world say what should purposely wound your feelings, or breathe a word in ridicule against that exquisite and generous sensibility, which I am so happy to see you possess. And to prove to you, Kate, that I am equally interested with yourself in the welfare of Colonel Grahame, I will consent to remain here till he is found, or all hope of his recovery is given over.
Thank you, dearest father, she replied, tenderly returning his caress, while her beautiful countenance shone with renovated smiles. He must soon be found, I think, she added; for who can bear him any malice? or who, if they did, could be so dastardly as 156 13(6)v 156 to seek revenge in a mode which all, save the veriest coward, must despise.
There are those mean enough to do it , who call themselves brave men, said the Major. But where, Captain, is the Indian, Ohmeina, who is so strongly attached to the person of Colonel Grahame? Perhaps he may be able to afford us some clue to this mystery.
He parted from the Colonel, returned O’Carroll, just before I joined him in the glen last evening; and Grahame’s servant informed me, this morning, that he had gone to Pennsylvania, on some business for his master.
The circumstance of his absence just at this moment, however, has rather a suspicious appearance, said the Major. These treacherous Indians are not to be trusted, and I greatly fear that Grahame’s confidence has been fatally abused.
Ohmeina is as true as the polestar, exclaimed the Captain, and, cordially as I detest the whole of his copper-colored generation, I am constrained to respect the virtues and fidelity of this wonderful savage. His name must not be coupled with treachery, for I am persuaded some other hand has done this deed of darkness.
And whose can it possibly be? asked the Major;” do your suspicions, O’Carroll, or those of others, rest upon any one in particular?
Mine do not, said O’Carroll; for I assure you I know not the individual, so base as to be capable of injuring the generous and high-minded Grahame. I have in my perplexity, it is true, sometimes thought of those devils who sacked and burned Ohmeina’s colony, and murdered all the inhabitants, like so many helpless sheep; but then Colonel Percy told us that Grahame made crow’s meat of most of them, and the few who escaped, cannot be such incarnate fiends, even if they had the courage, as to venture in this manner upon him.
Major Courtland shook his head doubtingly, as he said157 14(1)r 157
They dare do almost any thing for the gratification of their malice. Revenge, in the estimation of an Indian, is a paramount virtue, and he is never known to forget an injury. I fear exceedingly, that Colonel Grahame has fallen into the power of these savages.
Then he is lost indeed! exclaimed Catherine, with emotion. She had learned from her father the story of Ohmeina, and, though the suggestion of Captain O’Carroll had occurred to her the moment she received the intelligence of Grahame’s sudden disappearance, she had not yet found resolution to mention a suspicion so horrible, and which if correct must destroy almost every hope of his rescue; since the cruelty of a savage is alike fierce and cunning; and it is seldom indeed, that the unhappy victim escapes from the dreadful fate which awaits him.
I cannot admit so dreadful a belief, said O’Carroll; no, I am sure they would have found opportunities before this, had they wished to revenge themselves. At all events, I will hope better things, till I have stronger grounds for this frightful supposition. But I will go out to learn what tidings I can gather.
And return, as soon as convenient, said the Major, to relieve our anxiety. We shall wish to know how matters are going on.
Captain O’Carroll promised to do as the Major desired; and, hastily quitting them, he bent his steps almost instinctively towards the glen, which had been the scene of his conference with Grahame, on the preceding evening. As he approached it, he perceived a small party advancing towards him, and, upon a nearer view, he recognized Captain Budworth, who, with a Lieutenant and ten or twelve men, was going to explore the forest in the hope of proving more successful, than in their former search. Captain O’Carroll instantly attached himself to this party, and they proceeded cautiously up the glen, looking with diligence around them, and often stopping, as they fancied the tones of a human voice were borne on the autumnal gale, which sighed through the seared and withered foliage of the forest.14 158 14(1)v 158
But no living object met their view, nor any vestige of a human being, till they reached the spot, where the bruised and trampled turf had, on the preceding evening, engaged their attention. After examining it with close attention, they pursued their course without discovering any other traces, which might afford a clue to the destiny of Grahame, till they reached a low, moist spot of ground, of about an acre in extent, which bore a growth of tall, straight pines; and seemed quite free from the tangling underwood, which had heretofore embarrassed their progress. On the boundary of this swampy ground, they stopped to hold a consultation, on the expediency of attempting to cross it.
It appears to me quite useless to venture over this wet place, cried O’Carroll; there are no lurking places for villains, among those straight trees, and we may be mired, if we adventure on it.
The straight trees will serve us to cling by, in case we find ourselves sinking, said Lieutenant Wilmot, gravely.
They might, Wilmot, if there were any branches on them, said Captain Budworth; but since there are none within arms length, and we are not gifted with the talons of wild-cats to cling by, their huge trunks will afford us little service. But here is certainly a man’s track, he said, stooping down to examine a print which bore a resemblance to the human foot; and here is another, he added, looking still around him; it may be worth our while, Captain O’Carroll, to go over this marshy spot; I apprehend no danger, and, at all events, there are enough of us to help each other in case of difficulty.
While he was speaking, one of the soldiers had discovered some drops of blood among the withered leaves, and they all now gathered round to view them, with looks of horror and dismay. They argued a fatal termination to the career of the unhappy Grahame; but those, who were engaged in the search after him, refused to receive this evidence as certain; and, by mutual consent, resolved to press forward and learn, if 159 14(2)r 159 possible, whether their labors and hopes were destined to prove futile. The tracks induced them to believe they were in the right course, and, with renewed courage, they boldly adventured on the marshy soil. Contrary to their expectations, however, they found it perfectly firm and safe;—moist, but not miry, and presenting an even surface, over which they walked with ease and convenience. In crossing it, they once or twice perceived the same tracks, though they were not able to trace them far; but on gaining the opposite side they discerned one, still more distinct, and which William, Colonel Grahame’s servant, who had accompanied the party, declared to be the very print of his master’s foot.
With unwearying patience, they climbed a steep, wooded bank, which rose abruptly from the low, wet soil they had been traversing, and, having attained the summit, they stopped to look around them, and determine, in what direction it was best to proceed. The bank, on which they stood, sloped gradually downward into a deep ravine, choked with shrubbery and tangling underwood; but Captain O’Carroll, as he gazed attentively into it, perceived something, which, he imagined, bore some resemblance to a human habitation. He pointed it out to Captain Budworth, and, followed by the rest of the party, they cautiously descended the slope and proceeded to reconnoitre the ravine. The object, which had attracted their attention, proved to be an Indian wigwam. It was constructed of stakes driven into the ground in a circular form, while smaller sticks crossed transversely; and the whole was covered with slender twigs firmly interwoven, and overlaid with dried moss and leaves. A mat of plaited grass was suspended before a small opening, which served for a door, but no appearance of any living being was to be seen; and, leaving Lieutenant Wilmot with the soldiers to watch against a sudden surprise, Captains Budworth and O’Carroll gently raised the mat and entered this singular habitation. It presented no novelty to Captain Budworth, who had seen more, as he said, of these dwellings of Satan, than he ever wished to see again; and, 160 14(2)v 160 of course, in assisting O’Carroll to examine the interior of this, he was only stimulated by the hope of finding something, which might lead to the discovery of Colonel Grahame.
The inside of the hut was hung round with mats, similar to that which served as a door, curiously plaited with coarse grass, or the slender twigs of the willow; and, like the hall of a feudal chieftain, was garnished with trophies of sylvan and warlike prowess. Several deer’s heads, still bearing their proud and branching antlers, were disposed about the walls, besides the tusk of a wild boar and the beak and claws of an enormous eagle, with various other spoils of a similar kind.
In the centre of the dwelling, some flat stones were so arranged as to form a not inconvenient fireplace, from which the smoke escaped, in no very direct manner, as may well be supposed, through a hole in the roof. A number of mats, and skins of wild beasts, were spread around the fireplace, though fire there was none; but the white ashes and half decayed brands showed that it had not long been extinct. There were also other tokens, which indicated that the place had been recently deserted. Captain O’Carroll discovered a wooden bowl full of freshly dug ground-nuts, and in an iron pot, suspended over the fire by a stick placed upon two upright stones, were some culinary preparations, which from the crudeness of their present state seemed to have been left suddenly, and in haste.
O’Carroll had the curiosity to remove the broad cabbage-leaf which covered it, and examine the ingredients, of which it was composed. They consisted of thin slices of venison, intermixed with strips of pumpkin, and probably designed to form a savory and favorite mess.
But that which chilled O’Carroll’s heart with horror, was a string of human scalps, suspended across the antler ’s of a deer, and which, among the multiplicity of other objects had, till now, escaped his observation. They were dried and hideously painted, but evidently those of white men; and, after pointing them out to 161 14(3)r 161 Captain Budworth, O’Carroll turned, with a revolting heart, from the shocking spectacle.
At this instant, a movement was heard on the outside of the wigwam, and, before the two officers had time to escape through the narrow aperture, which served for a door, the voice of Lieutenant Wilmot was heard exclaiming,
Seize him! seize the villain!
O’Carroll and his companion rushed through the small door, their swords already drawn, just in time to see an Indian disappear from the summit of the bank, which rose above the wigwam. They joined in the rapid pursuit of the soldiers, who, led by Wilmot, had nearly reached the spot where the savage appeared, for a moment; and at the sight of the military array around his dwelling, had turned suddenly round, and vanished like a flash of lightning.
On reaching the top of the eminence, he was no where visible. The cunning and agility of his savage nature, together with the familiar acquaintance, which he might be supposed to have with every lurking-place in the forest, and the ease with which habit enabled him swiftly to tread its intricate mazes, rendered it no difficult matter for him to avoid his pursuers, which it seemed that he had now effectually done.
The tormenting demon! muttered the incensed O’Carroll, as he looked vainly round to catch a glimpse of the fugitive. Would to Heaven we had clutched him, he added; but the devil shall not be cheated of his due; so now let’s start the game.
We will bring him to confession, before we deliver him over to his master, said Budworth, as they began, some with caution, and others with violence, to beat among the bushes, and explore the littel hollows and thickets, which were numerous in this part of the forest. They continued their search for a long time, although it still proved fruitless; and the lengthening shadows warned them that the day had begun to decline, before they thought of the necessity of hastening their departure from the forest. With all convenient speed they 14* 162 14(3)v 162 prepared for their return, and though they at first thought of stationing spies around the wigwam, the plan was upon reflection, rejected, as useless and dangerous. Grahame’s servant, however, impressed with the belief that his master was concealed somewhere in the vicinity of the wigwam, declared it his intention to secrete himself among the bushes, and remain all night near the place, in the hope of being able to discover him. Captains Budworth and O’Carroll strenuously protested against this rash resolution, till convinced by their arguments, of the great danger attending it, poor William consented to relinquish his design.
The party then recrossed the marshy ground, and finding sufficient time yet remained to enable them to clear the forest before night-fall they stopped to rest themselves in a sunny glade, which opened to the west; for the air had grown damp and chilly, and the wearied soldiers felt the cheering rays of the sun peculiarly grateful after the labors of the day.
We have performed hard duty, to-day, said O’Carroll, as he threw himself at full length upon the soft green moss, which carpeted the ground, in the spot, where himself and the two American officers had stopped a little apart from the soldiers; but I wish, he added, our search had not proved fruitless, and then the toil would have been nothing. Poor Grahame! I fear we have seen the last of him.
I do not yet give him up said Budworth. If those savage wretches have entrapped him, as seems but too probable, they dare not, for their lives, put him to death; they might as safely murder our bravest General, Arnold himself, for instance, and the cry for vengeance would not be louder.
Many a voice would be mute in that case, muttered Wilmot. Then, as if afraid of a reproof for having spoken with so much freedom before a British officer, he hastily added,
We shall have a late dinner to-day, if we stay here much longer, Captain163 14(4)r 163
Dinner! repeated Budworth; it would not be amiss, at this moment; and now I think of it, Ned, some of those fellows are well laden with provisions, which I wonder thou shouldst forget, who art ever ready to unlock thy jaws at the sound of the platter.
And right glad should I be to hear the merry clatter of knives and dishes in the wilderness, after fasting all day, said the Lieutenant.
Yes, yes, it will suit thy courage far better than more warlike din, said Budworth; so if it please thee, Ned, thou mayest order Rawson hither with our basket, and bid them keep their own to dispose of at pleasure, if indeed they have not already demolished its contents.
Wilmot did as he was desired, and a grateful repast was soon spread upon the turf, of which the three young men eagerly partook; though the intense interest, with which they had pursued their fruitless search, had rendered them absolutely forgetful of the refreshments, which they now found so palatable.
It is a banquet fit for the gods! said O’Carroll, who, indeed, did ample justice to the feast.
It would be vastly better though, provided we had a sip of their Olympian nectar instead of this villanous wine, said Budworth. Upon my faith, I believe we have nothing but the lees to drain, it is so devilish thick.
Wine upon the lees, and a feast of fat things, as St. Paul said, mumbled the wooden-headed Lieutenant, with the gravity of a profound divine.
St. Paul indeed! echoed Budworth with a look of contempt.—Thy brains, Ned, are not so thick as this wine, or thou wouldst not have made an epicure of the Apostle, when it was king Solomon who—
No, David, his father, interrupted O’Carroll.
Ah, right, exclaimed Budworth, not dreaming that O’Carroll was as far from the truth as himself. Art not ashamed, Ned, to be no better read in thy Bible, than to abuse the self-denying Apostle in this manner? But since thou art so fond of fat things and 164 14(4)v 164 wine upon the lees, that thou wouldst stuff them down the throats of other people, thou shalt even have the drainings of the bottle to cobweb thine own with.
So saying, he filled Wilmot’s glass with the remnant of the wine, which indeed resembled a thick mixture of brickdust and water, rather than the clear, rich juice of the grape.
But in good truth, added Budworth, gaily, as the Lieutenant, with a sullen look, turned from the uninviting draught, thy heavy eyes belie thee, if thou hast not already had enough, and so here goes a libation to the jolly god of the grape, and, as he spoke, he threw the contents of the glass over Wilmot’s head.
O’Carroll could not forbear laughing at the grimace, and endeavour of the Lieutenant to avoid the sudden shower, which, however, did not pass over without giving him a slight sprinkling, and seemed to excite something like indignation in his rather stupid countenance.
Upon my honor, Ned, it was an accident, exclaimed Budworth, parrying the protest which Wilmot was about to make. Thy round phiz could never be mistaken for that of the jolly old Bacchus; though it might serve to represent the redoubtable Sancho Panza, so it were decorated with the pewter helmet of his master. But a truce to trifling; and now tell me, for I hear you were with General Arnold when he received the tidings of Colonel Grahame’s disappearance, —what said he of the affair!
Why do you ask me? said Wilmot; you know he is not a friend to the Colonel.
That is the very reason why I do ask thee, Willo’-the-wisp, said Budworth; he is the friend of no one, whom he cannot make the dupe of his own baseness.
But you will only be angry, Captain Budworth, if I repeat what he said of Colonel Grahame, said Wilmot.
I shall be more angry if you do not, returned Budworth, and that with all speed; for our repast is 165 14(5)r 165 near an end, and farewell to speaking, when we begin to fight again with the underbrush of this dark forest. So speak out, man; I know the good General’s malice well, and will do him the justice to declare, he has a heart which would not disgrace Beelzebub himself. You may think us over free, Captain O’Carroll, in censuring a superior officer; but we are among the few, who have found out his metal, and none of those blind worshippers, who are ready to fall down and kiss the dust of the idol’s feet. So now, Wilmot, what said he of Grahame?
That this sudden decampment savored of the spice of treachery, answered the Lieutenant; that it would be an ill wind, if it did not blow the enemy good.
Curse him for a false loon, as he is, exclaimed Budworth; he speaks what he wishes may be true, for he would rejoice to hear that Grahame had fallen from the proud height, on which he stands, and to which he can no more raise his grovelling eyes, than the hooting bird of night can gaze undazzled at the noonday sun. But what reasons did he adduce for the infamous libel which he has dared to utter?
That Colonel Grahame’s intimacy with several British officers, who were our prisoners, returned Wilmot, justified the suspicion that treason had been hatching between them; and that his disappearance, immediately after a long interview with one of them, would add strength to the evidence of any, who might choose to accuse him.
Were he not beneath the notice of an honorable man, exclaimed O’Carroll, no longer able to suppress his rising indigantion, I would teach him to be more sparing of his hints and accusations. Even were the character of Colonel Grahame other than it is, the honor of British officers in our situation would have forbidden us to tamper with his faith.
Cool yourself, my dear sir, said Captain Budworth; you are on your parole, and we can have no fighting; it is for Grahame, when we find him, to chastise this insolence, and he would do it in good earnest, 166 14(5)v 166 if he did not despise it too much to honor it with a moment’s notice. But have you no more to tell us, Wilmot? It is warm spice, and lends these cold viands a relish!
I think then I have given you seasoning enough, said the Lieutenant.
No, let us have another dust, just to sprinkle the wing of this fowl. Had the General no other pithy reasons to assign for Colonel Grahame’s apostacy?
None, returned the Lieutenant, except that the Colonel’s boasted patriotism had always a hollow sound; with a sneer at the Massachusetts men.
Now may the foul fiend light on him! exclaimed the exasperated Budworth.
And bear him off in his talons! responded O’Carroll.
With all my heart, to the very centre of his hot dominions! cried Budworth. Thus to vilify the spotless character of Grahame, and sneer, with the malice of a demon, at the valiant men of Massachusetts! They who from the moment of their birth have been rocked in the arms of liberty, and were the first, who spurned the gilded chains of slavery held forth to fetter them! I could bring a hundred names from that one noble State, which will brighten the page of our national annals, and descend with glory to the most remote posterity. Who has forgotten that in the last fearful battle, one of the youngest of her sons performed such prodigies of valor as seem almost incredible. You well know, Wilmot, with what undaunted bravery the gallant Brooks led on his men, with what intrepidity he plunged into the thickest of the fight, and was the last, on that victorious day, to quit the field, from which he plucked unfading garlands of renown.
In the earnestness of defending Grahame’s native state and his own, Budworth had wrought himself into a fever of enthusiasm, from which he was suddenly recovered by the sound of an arrow, that, at this instant, whizzed over his head, and quivered in the tree against which he sat. The party were, in a moment, on their feet.167 14(6)r 167
One inch lower, and you were pinned fast enough to the tree, Captain, said O’Carroll; and as it is, the heathen dart has taken off the tip of your plume.
True, by Heaven! said Budworth, as he snatched off his hat, and, instantly replacing it, called aloud to the soldiers who were making merry over their repast,
Ho! my boys, up and away, he said; the arrows of Beelzebub are about our ears, and all his imps will be let loose upon us in a twinkling.
We have caroused here unconscionably long, said O’Carroll; and may thank Heaven, if it does not prove our last meal; though I wish it had been a less hearty one, for with so much ballast on board, we shall be a long time clearing the breakers of this wilderness.
If I knew the force of the foe, I would be at them, in spite of their cunning, said Budworth. But, as we may encounter a whole tribe of the howling devils, it will be hardly safe to venture upon them at hazard; though we will give them a touch of gunpowder; at least, they shall have the smell of it, before we bid them good night, provided, Wilmot, you can tell me from what direction the arrow came.
You mightas well expect me to tell you whether the moon is inhabited, said the Lieutenant. Why, Captain, the arrow buzzed past my ear like a humming bird, before I could tell what it was, or see whence it came.
And if it had taken a piece of thy ear with it, Ned, said Budworth, thou wouldst have lost no more than many a rogue has done before thee; and I could better have spared it than the gallant tip of my plume; but, by the sticking of the dart, and he plucked it from the tree as he spoke, it must have been sent from the south; so give them a parting salute, my brave fellows, and then march, with all the speed you can make.
The soldiers obeyed, and fired in the direction designated by their Captain; but the rocks and caverns of the forest alone answered, with a thousand echoes, 168 14(6)v 168 the loud volley of musketry which disturbed the silence of the wilderness. The men then reloaded their pieces and marched rapidly after their leaders. The near approach of night prevented their endeavors to discover the savage, or savages, who were certainly lurking near them. But unacquainted with the intricacies of the forest, and aware that the Indians could, if they chose, rally a formidable body, which must inevitably destroy their feeble force, it was the opinion of both Captains Budworth and O’Carroll, that they ought immediately to quit the forest; since their remaining might not only occasion their own destruction, but, if Colonel Grahame were indeed in the power of the savages, provoke them to treat him with aggravated cruelty, and perhaps to put him to instant death.
They reached the confines of the forest before night closed in, without any farther incident. The various parties, which had been employed in the same search, had most of them returned already. The others came in soon after, equally unsuccessful, and all of them persuaded that Colonel Grahame had been conveyed away by the wily Indians, and was probably murdered.
Captain O’Carroll, however, still refused to admit this belief, and in order to strengthen the fading hope which he cherished, as well as to fulfil his promise to Major Courtland, he repaired to his lodgings to relate the occurrences of the day, and converse upon the probable fate of Grahame. The recital which he gave, occasioned much surprise and apprehension, both to the Major and Catherine, and led to many wild and melancholy conjectures. But they were, of course, vague and unsatisfactory. O’Carroll was surprised to find how much Major Courtland appeared interested and affected by the affair; and he thought the eloquence of Catherine’s saddened countenance far more expressive, than all she could have uttered, and more flattering to Colonel Grahame, than the deepest lamentations of regret which could have fallen from her lips.
At a late hour, he quitted them, more desponding than when he first sought their society, though with 169 15(1)r 169 characteristic versatility, he rose, on the following morning, buoyant with hope, and, joining the same party which he had accompanied on the preceding day, set out for the wigwam, which they had discovered in the forest.
Judging it prudent to observe great caution in approaching the dwelling, they chose another route; and, while Captains Budworth and O’Carroll glided through matted bushes, and under spreading boughs, with their pistols cocked and their hands on their sword-hilts, the soldiers followed silently at a short distance, ready, at a given signal, to rush forward and seize any one who should appear to offer resistance or attempt to escape.
But great was their surprise when on reaching the place unmolested, they found the wigwam destroyed, and every vestige of it removed; even the holes where the stakes had been driven into the earth, were not discernible; the withered leaves of autumn strewed the ground, and all around was as silent, and as wild, as if the foot of man had never pressed the soil. The soldiers were ordered to commence a search, and after several hours, vainly spent in exploring the forest, the party again quitted it, almost convinced, that it would be folly ever more to enter it. But Colonel Grahame was too much beloved by every heart to be willingly resigned, and for a number of days the search was eagerly pursued. It however proved fruitless, and after every possible means had been used for his discovery, those most interested in it were constrained to renounce the cherished hope of finding him, and to give him up as inevitably lost. The army was about quitting Saratoga, and, though many a heart mourned for the gallant individual, who, in the moment of victory, was so mysteriously snatched from view; yet the new scenes which were about to open before them, and the pressing duties which devolved on every one, forbade the indulgence of private sorrow, and obliged them to sacrifice even the claims of consanguinity and friendship, to the interests of their suffering country.15 170 15(1)v 170
Major Courtland, also, and his daughter, had left Saratoga, the former firmly persuaded that Grahame was no longer in existence, though Catherine still cherished the hope of his being found, and looked forward with impatience to the return of the Indian Ohmeina, whose sagacity she thought would be able to trace his lost friend. The departure of Major Courtland had been somewhat hastened by intelligence received from Albany, of Colonel Dunbar’s death, who was killed in the battle of Germantown.
Catherine was extremely anxious to rejoin her cousin, to whom, in this season of affliction, the society and sympathy of a friend would be peculiarly grateful; and they accordingly bade adieu, for the present, to Captain O’Carroll, and set out on their return to Albany.
O’Carroll had received permission to remain and prosecute the search, which, fruitless as it had hitherto been, he was not yet inclined to abandon. Like Catherine, he had strong faith in the fidelity, as well as the sagacity, of the Indian Ohmeina; and, as the time of his expected return drew near, he resolved to await it in his present situation; and, if the Indian’s endeavors to discover the Colonel should likewise prove unavailing, to give up the search as hopeless, and hasten to rejoin Major Courtland and his daughter, on the banks of the Schuylkill.
The period appointed for Ohmeina’s return at length arrived, but without bringing him; though Captain O’Carroll, supposing it possible something unusual might have occurred to detain him, still continued to defer his departure from Saratoga, and lingered, day after day, in the glen and about the outskirts of the forest, as if he fancied the shade of his friend haunted these scenes of his favorite resort. The ravine in which the wigwam had stood, was also several times explored, with the same ill success as formerly; and, wearied at length by Ohmeina’s protracted absence, suspicion began to mingle with the impatience of his feelings, and he was strongly inclined to distrust the good faith and zealous attachment, which had seemed to bind the Indian so firmly to his master.
Colonel Grahame’s servant, however, who also remained at Saratoga, intent on the same object with himself, would by no means admit the possibility of Ohmeina’s treachery. The grateful and affectionate creature had so wound himself around the honest heart of William, that he was, upon all occasions, his warm defender, and he now persisted in declaring that some fatal accident must have happened to prevent the Indian’s return, since he had promised to be back sooner, and he was never known voluntarily to break his word.
In the meantime, November, with its wintry skies and driving storms, arrived. The forest became bare, the streams swollen, and the last trace of verdure disappeared, even from the warmest and most sheltered 172 15(2)v 172 spots. Captain O’Carroll began to feel the discomforts of his situation, and to long for the society of Major Courtland, who had written, urging him to renounce all farther search after Colonel Grahame, and hasten from the dreary place, where he had located himself, to enliven their family circle, over which an unusual gloom had been cast by the melancholy death of Colonel Dunbar. The invitation was resistless to O’Carroll, and he resolved only once again to examine the ravine, and, if without success, to quit Saratoga on the following morning.
While his own servant and Grahame’s went forward, in the track which they had so often trod before, he followed, silent and alone, recalling with melancholy pleasure those manly and endearing qualities of Grahame’s heart and mind, which had won his warmest admiration and regard, and revolving, not without a slight tincture of superstitious awe, the mysterious circumstance, which had snatched his brave and gallant friend so suddenly from the busy theatre, where he was performing a part of such vast interest and importance.
As they approached the precipitous bank which bounded the ravine, the servants fell back, and O’Carroll pressed forward, with as much caution, as his impetuous nature would permit him to observe. Several days had elapsed, since his last visit to the spot; but every thing remained the same, except that the trees and shrubs, which had then retained some portion of their seared and faded foliage, were now despoiled; and, as their leafless branches waved in the clear atmosphere of the morning, they gave an air of increased desolation to the scene, and deepened the unusual melancholy, which O’Carroll felt creeping over his spirits. He stood for some time upon the top of the bank, his arms folded, and his eyes glancing earnestly around, in the hope of detecting some wily savage crouching beneath the bushes, whom it might be in his power to secure. But no such object presented itself, and he was about to descend into the ravine, when suddenly his steps were arrested by a strain of wild, sweet melody, 173 15(3)r 173 which seemed, to arise from beneath his very feet, and which caused the pulses of his heart to throb in a tumult of surprise and hope.
Motioning the servants to keep still, he bent eagerly forward to ascertain, if possible, the point from whence the sounds had proceeded; when the strange chant, which had ceased for a moment, was renewed, and its soft melody was like the touching tone of a female voice. One moment it swelled into a full, rich cadence, then died away, like the last sound of an Eolian harp, and again rose with a wild and thrilling pathos, which made the listener shiver with undefinable sensations.
O’Carroll thought in this strange music he could distinguish an articulation of words, though they seemed to him disconnected and imperfect; and, unable to restrain his impatient curiosity, he was on the point of leaping into the ravine, in order to discover the being who awakened these mysterious strains; and had actually advanced several steps with that intention, when the voice rose almost to a scream, and the words, Forbear! forbear! distinctly pronounced, and in an accent of mingled entreaty and command, arrested his progress. It then murmured in a low and melancholy tone, words so intelligible, that it was impossible to mistake them.
Return! return! it said. Death lurks in the dark valley! And this warning, several times repeated, inspired Captain O’Carroll with feelings of awe and astonishment. By no means free from the superstitious feelings which characterize his nation, he felt himself yielding to the belief that he was addressed by an unearthly being, and, impressed with momentary solemnity, he remained silent and motionless as a statue.
Ronald, his servant, pale with terror, was already on his knees, crossing himself, and muttering prayers and spells against the power of evil spirits, while William, a native of sturdy New-England, looked at him, with inexpressible contempt, and was only restrained by the fear of Captain O’Carroll’s displeasure, from rushing boldly into the ravine, and attempting to discover the invisible musician.15* 174 15(3)v 174
The reverential feeling, which threatened to subdue O’Carroll’s daring, was of transient continuance, and, rousing himself to encounter whatever it was that addressed him, he resolutely exclaimed, in answer to the exhortation of the invisible being,
And why should I return? I fear not death, and am resolved to search the valley.
Return! return, friend of the dark-eyed warrior, again chanted the voice. Return, before thou art taken in the toils which are spread for thee!
Answer me, whoever thou art, exclaimed O’Carroll, again yielding to the influence of superstitious emotions, as he listened to the mysterious warning, which issued from among the pointed rocks and thick underbrush of the ravine. Speak! he continued, in a tone of eager yet fearful inquiry, and inform me if you know aught of Colonel Grahame, and where I may hope to find him?
Depart! depart! chanted the low, sweet voice. Death lurks in the dark valley! Seek it not again, if thou dost love his life or thine own!
He lives then! cried O’Carroll; tell me but where, and I will encounter danger and death itself to rescue him.
The voice did not, as before respond to this entreaty; and, after waiting a few moments, O’Carroll repeated the question. But still it remained mute, nor uttered any reply either to this, or any other of the numerous demands which the Captain put, in rapid succession, to the unseen spirit. Irritated by this unexpected silence, which gave so sad a check to his suddenly excited hopes, the awe, which had transiently subdued his native impetuosity fled, and no longer master of himself, he drew his sword from its scabbard, and rushed into the ravine, exclaiming, now, be thou man, woman, or fiend, I will know why it is that thou mockest me thus!
William boldly followed him, and Ronald, though pale with fear, grasped the rifle which he carried, and kept within view of his master.175 15(4)r 175
O’Carroll sprang upon the broad point of a jutting crag, which was partially concealed by a clump of alders that grew thickly before it, and from among which, as well as he could judge, the voice had seemed to proceed. With his sword he cut away the matted boughs of the alders, and plunged into the centre of the tangled copse; but not a vestige of any human being was discoverable, and though he investigated every spot in the ravine, which he imagined might serve for a lurking- place, all were as tranquil and as still, as if now for the first time invaded by the daring steps of man. In the most impassioned accents he alternately threatened and implored the invisible being, who had addressed him, again to utter some word which might reveal to him its own nature, or direct him in his search after the lost Grahame. But all was vain; the voice remained obstinately mute; and dispirited and agitated by contending emotions, he at length quitted the ravine, resolved never again to return to it. The longer, however, he dwelt upon the singular occurrence which had befallen him, the stronger became his desire once more to revisit the scene of his adventure; and accordingly on the following morning he repaired thither, attended by William, whose firm heart and stout limbs rendered him a stranger to fear, and made him ever ready and willing to encounter man or ghost in open combat. Ronald, notwithstanding his strong attachment to his master, could not be prevailed on to accompany him. He was firm in the belief that an unearthly being had addressed them from the ravine, whose wrath it was presumptuous, in mortal man, to provoke by despising its warnings, and adventuring there again in violation of its injunction.
Captain O’Carroll, however, received no reproof from the unknown being for his temerity; and, though his visit was unavailing, for the voice was not again heard, he returned unharmed from the forest. His mind was deeply occupied with the affair, and, full as it was of mystery, he found all his endeavors to explain it ineffectual. It might, perhaps, be only a foolish trick, which some 17615(4)v176 one had played off upon him: or it might be,—and he laughed at himself for yielding to an impression so improbable,—and yet it was possible it might be a supernatural warning, to preserve him from some threatened danger. Such things had been; and, prone as his nation were to a belief in the superstitious relative to beings of another world, it is no matter of wonder, that the fervid imagination of O’Carroll should attach ideas of such a nature, to the wild and thrilling voice, which had so impressively commanded him to forbear his visits to the valley, where danger and death awaited him. But he communicated these feelings of awe to no one; and, though they deepened with every new retrospect of the occurrence, he affected to ridicule the superstitious fears of Ronald, and hinted, that, in all probability, it was the contrivance of some mischievous person, who wished to amuse himself at their expence.
Wearied with his residence at Saratoga, and hopeless of discovering Colonel Grahame, though secretly persuaded that he was still in existence, Captain O’Carroll at length took his departure for Albany; and, having passed a couple of days under the hospitable roof of Richard Hope, embarked on board an armed sloop, which was to convey some other officers, who by the late surrender had become prisoners of war, to New York, whither they were permitted to go on their parole. He remaimned in that city but a few hours, when he quitted it for Philadelphia, then in possession of the British, from whence, on the day succeeding his arrival, he proceeded to the residence of Major Courtland.
It was a bright day near the middle of 1777-11November, mild and pleasant for the season, that Captain O’Carroll approached the dwelling of his friend. As he rode up the long avenue of stately trees, which led to the house, he perceived two ladies on the piazza, one of whom he soon recognized as Miss Courtland, while the other, by her deep mourning dress, he imagined to be Miss Dunbar. The moment she observed the horseman, she retired precipitately into the house, but Catherine did not accompany her; she advanced to the edge of 177 15(5)r 177 the piazza and stood watching, with interest and anxiety, his progress up the avenue, which by its frequent winding concealed him one moment from her view, and the next presented him full before her. O’Carroll urged forward his horse, and soon reached the termination of his ride; when, leaping from the saddle, he threw the reins to his servant, and advanced hastily towards Miss Courtland.
Captain O’Carroll, is it indeed you? she exclaimed, while a glow of pleasure crimsoned her cheek, and she extended her hand towards him, with a smile of affectionate welcome.
Yes, I am, at last, so happy as to see you again, he replied, accepting her offered hand, and pressing it, with the fervor of sincere pleasure, between his own.
I thought, I hoped, it must be you, said Catherine; indeed, we have long impatiently expected you, and wondered at your continued absence; and now you have at last arrived, I hope you will not weary of our quiet life, and wish to quit us for more bustling scenes.
Trust me for that, Miss Courtland; returned O’Carroll. Dearly as I love bustle and variety, I have had enough of them in the course of my last campaign, to make me willing now to endure a winter of warmth and quiet. There is danger of my learning to love it better than a soldier has a right to do. But how is the Major, Miss Courtland? well, I hope, after his hard service.
Not quite so well as I could wish, Captain O’Carroll, answered Catherine; but all I trust will be right now you have come to cheer him with your presence. He has ridden out this morning, though he went rather reluctantly; for he seemed to cherish a presentiment of your arrival; but he will return soon, I think.
I have much to say to him, returned O’Carroll; much that will deeply interest him.
He stopped abruptly and looked at Catherine; her eyes were bent upon the ground, and the glow had faded from her cheek. He was thinking of Grahame, and he saw that her mind was filled with the same object;178 15(5)v 178 ject; yet she did not inquire concerning him, and O’Carroll was reluctant to inform her, that the fate of their gallant friend was still shrouded in mystery. But while he hesitated in what manner to communicate his unwelcome intelligence, Catherine raised her eyes to his face, as if to read there the tidings, which she dared not ask to hear. But when she encountered his troubled glance, her color rapidly varied, and making a sudden effort she said in a hurried and anxious voice,
I fear I read in your countenance, Captain O’Carroll the fruitlessness of your continued residence at Saratoga. He—Colonel Grahame—she stopped, and blushing deeply at her embarrassment, resumed in a calmer tone,—Have you, sir, during this long interval, been able to discover Colonel Grahame, or to gain any intelligence, which may throw light on the mystery of his singular disappearance!
None, not the least, my dear Miss Courtland; and it makes me miserable to say so; replied O’Carroll, and turning from her he walked hastily to the opposite end of the piazza. The trampling of horses, and the appearance of Major Courtland riding up the avenue, followed by his faithful Hugh, recalled O’Carroll to the side of Catherine. The Major no sooner recognized his young friend, than he put spurs to his horse, and, in a minute more, reached the bottom of the steps, on which the Captain was standing to receive him.
My dear fellow, I am heartily rejoiced to see you, he exclaimed, as he threw himself almost with youthful agility from his horse, and embraced O’Carroll with the joy and tenderness of a father.
Upon my word, my dear boy, he continued, the sight of you has already taken ten years from my age; for I could not yesterday, as Kate well knows, have leaped from my gay steed with so much youthful grace and vigor, as I have now done, to testify my joy at your long wished for arrival.
Thank you, sir, said O’Carroll; but you forget, he added, smiling, the fox hunt at Skenesborough179 15(6)r 179 rough, Major; when the most noted sportsman in the three kingdoms would have made a stand at the formidable root fences, which you cleared at a single leap, in despite of the hundred heads and arms, which, like the famed Briareus of old, they reared to oppose your passage.
I have borne the brunt of battle since that time, said the Major, and reaped none of its laurels to shade the locks, which time has whitened. But a truce to this grating theme, and tell us where you have been this age, and what tidings you bring us of Grahame.
None, sir;”said O’Carroll; all my endeavors to trace him have been ineffectual. What involves the affair in still greater darkness, is that the Indian Ohmeina has also disappeared, and we can only conjecture that he has proved treacherous, or that they have both fallen into the power of malignant enemies.
It is all an exceedingly strange affair, said Major Courtland; then after a few moments of silent musing he added. But come in, O’Carroll, and we will hear your adventures. I know not why we stand here so long; the air is growing chilly, and your eyes, Kate, are red with the cold; or it may be, girl, he added, looking earnestly at her,” you have been shedding tears of joy for Captain O’Carroll’s arrival.
Catherine blushed, but replied with gaiety,
And since you came so near it yourself, father, you cannot wonder at my sensibility. But let us go in, before this cold wind forces me to a farther display of it.
It is indeed quite time to perform the rites of hospitality, said the Major; for I see by O’Carroll’s riding dress, that he has not crossed our threshold yet. So lead the way, Kate, and order refreshments; my ride has given a sharp edge to my appetite, and I well remember the Captain’s dread of famine, while at Saratoga.
O’Carroll smiled, and followed the Major into a large parlor, where a bright fire was blazing high to receive180 15(6)v 180 ceive them. The books, the work table, and the musical instruments, proclaimed it the usual sittingroom of the family. The beautiful plants which lined the windows, and were disposed about the apartment, filled it with fragrance, and gave to it an air of cheerful elegance, which the finest decorations of art could not so gracefully have bestowed. These sweet and simple children of Flora bring the odours of spring into our houses, and by every silken petal which unfolds beneath our fostering care, Prompt with remembrance of a present God.
While partaking of the refreshments, which Catherine had ordered, Major Courtland resumed the subject of Colonel Grahame’s disappearance.
I thought, he said, after writing us word that you should be with us soon, to have seen you before we left Albany; and, induced by that hope, we protracted the period of our departure, till the increasing cold reminded me of our long journey; when I was compelled, from prudential motives, to come off with my two girls, and leave you to follow at leisure.
The hope of discovering the fate of Colonel Grahame, said O’Carroll, beguiled me from day to day, and induced me frequently to explore the ravine, where, as you may recollect, we discovered the Indian wigwam, and also to penetrate into other parts of the forest, where it was possible we might find some clue to the fate of the unfortunate Grahame.
But you met with no success? asked the Major.
With no positive success, returned O’Carroll, but, in one of my last visits to the ravine, with an adventure so singular, that I wish to ask your opinion of what has caused me no little perplexity.
Let us hear it, without farther preface, O’Carroll, said the Major. By that look of solemnity, so unusual with you, and which sits but ill on your merry countenance, I am already prepared to expect some wonderful relation.181 16(1)r 181
Wonderful as it may appear to you, returned O’Carroll, I promise to relate only what I heard, and that without exaggeration. If my ears deceived me, those too of Ronald and William were equally false; for they listened with surprise to the same mysterious sounds.
He then proceeded to give an account of his visit to the ravine, of the music, and the warning words of the invisible being, though in relating the facts, he threw over them all that height of coloring, with which his excited imagination was inclined to invest the occurrence.
Major Courtland heard him through in silence, and though a lurking smile betrayed his desire to burst forth into ridicule, he restrained himself till O’Carroll ceased speaking: and then, unable any longer to subdue his risable propensity, indulged himself, to the extreme chagrin and mortification of the Captain, in a violent fit of laughter.
Upon my honor, he exclaimed, so soon as he had recovered sufficient composure to speak intelligibly— Upon my honor, O’Carroll, this is a tale worthy to grace the legends of the nursery! Why, man, the wonderful history of Aladdin’s Lamp, or the still more edifying and instructive relation of the White Cat, who was transformed into the most beautiful princess of the age, cannot be compared to it. The Invisible Lady of the Glen, a true relation of a marvellous occurrence in North America, witnessed and attested by Philip O’Carroll, Captain in his Majesty’s――regiment of foot, and dedicated, by special permission, to ――whomsoever you may choose. What say you to this, O’Carroll. It will tell well of the American forests, and make you as renowned as――
Dear father! interrupted Catherine, looking, first at O’Carroll’s crimsoned face, with concern, and then at her father, with amazement; you do not right to treat with so much ridicule what Captain O’Carroll has related. Indeed, sir, I see nothing improbable in it; nothing but what may readily be believed, after the 16 182 16(1)v 182 still more surprising mystery of Colonel Grahame’s disappearance.
Improbable and extravagant as it may appear, Miss Courtland, I assure you it is strictly true, said O’Carroll; and even the Major, when he has amused himself long enough at my expense, will not refuse to yield it the credit it certainly deserves.
And have I yet attempted to deny its truth or probability? asked the Major, smoothing his features into composure. Have I not rather placed it at the head of all the marvels of this or preceding ages, and declared it worthy to be bound in gilt and morocco, for the edification of future generations?
You have thought proper to turn it into perfect ridicule, sir, said the Captain, with an air of pique; but you cannot alter the facts which I have related, or induce me to believe that I was imposed upon by the delusion of an over-wrought imagination.
Nor do I believe so myself, returned the Major, with a countenance which had recovered its natural seriousness of expression. But I do think it the trick of some blockhead, who had a mind, either to end your search, or else to amuse himself at your expense. Depend upon it, my dear fellow, this is the true secret of the mystery. The sprites who dwell in our American forests are not so civil, as those which haunt the dells and thickets of the mother country. They warn and prophesy, from their murky recesses, till they are hoarse, while ours like ill-bred goblins, as they are, flee from the face of mortal man, and preserve a silence so invincible, that, till now, I never saw the ears, which had drunk in the sound of their voices.
O’Carroll looked displeased, and the Major, observing it, checked the vein of satire, in which he was again involuntarily indulging, and said in a serious tone,
Really, Captain O’Carroll, I see no reason why you should reflect, with any mixture of awe, upon this occurrence. Strange as it may appear to you, still I cannot, for a moment, believe that any unearthly 183 16(2)r 183 agency has been employed in it. Take my word for it, the whole will prove a mere farce.
Perhaps so, sir, said O’Carroll, coloring at the consciousness of having betrayed his superstitious feelings to the observance of the Major. And yet I do and must believe, that this warning, from whomsoever it might come, had some intimate connexion with the fate of Colonel Grahame, since the voice distinctly replied in answer to my interrogations, If you regard his life or your own, come not here again.
And yet you went the next day, said the Major, and here you are alive and merry; or, at least, you ought to be merry; for you have made me so. And now fill your glass, and drink confusion to the enemies of the gallant Grahame, and then come with me to my library; I have something there to show you.
O’Carroll smiled, and glad to drop a subject, which had afforded the Major so much food for satire, said, as he filled his glass,
The toast has rather a treasonable import, Major; or perhaps you liked the confusion made among us by the rebels at Saratoga so well, that you are willing they should be as successful elsewhere.
Confusion to yourself, O’Carroll, for such a suspicion, said the Major; you know well, I mean only his personal enemies; and, were they Howe, Burgoyne, or Clinton, I would as soon wish their plans of evil against this brave fellow might be foiled, as if he were the sternest loyalist among us; and Gates or Washington himself, were striving to injure and degrade him.
Catherine had risen, when her father began to speak, and stood at a window apparently engaged in training the slender shoots of a geranium upon a small trellis frame. But O’Carroll observed her deeply attentive to her father’s words; he saw a richer glow mantle on her cheek, and remarked the expression of pleasure with which she fixed her eloquent eyes upon his face, as he concluded. The Major caught the look, and said with a smile,184 16(2)v 184
My Kate approves that declaration, I know; or does she think it too liberal for a man, who has been beaten by these rebels, and is even now their prisoner?
Not too liberal for my dear father, replied Catherine. He can admire, and do justice to the virtues of an enemy, and is too candid, and too generous to be swayed by the narrow prejudices of party, or the petty dislikes and jealousies of personal animosity.
Thank you, Kate; and you will drink my toast, without cavilling about it as O’Carroll did, said the Major.
We will both drink confusion to the enemies of Colonel Grahame, said O’Carroll, and confusion worse confounded to them, provided they are rebels.
That is a superfluous addition, Captain O’Carroll, said Catherine, as she raised her glass and repeated her father’s toast.
O’Carroll slightly colored, but said with a smile,
It is so, I confess, Miss Courtland. I stand reproved, and I would rather face the fire of a garrison, than merit the reproof of a lady.
A harmless thing! said the Major. Mere words, at worst. At all events, never make so serious a matter of it, unless you mean my saucy Kate shall frown every time you chance to hum, God save the King, or huzza at the defeat of the rebels. See, the girl is laughing now at your humility; so come with me, or the staunch little rebel will do her best to make you ashamed of your loyalty.
The Major hurried him from the room, without giving him time for any reply, and conducted him to the library, where they passed the remainder of the morning till dinner time. Captain O’Carroll had formerly some slight acquaintance with Colonel Dunbar, and he felt a desire to see his daughter, of whom he had often heard his friend, Captain Talbot, speak. He was, therefore, disappointed, when, on being summoned to dinner, he found Miss Courtland alone at the table. The Major inquired why his niece was not present, and Catherine, 185 16(3)r 185 in reply, said she was not quite well, and begged that her absence might be excused.
Certainly, said the Major,” if she prefers her own solitary room, she must be indulged in the whim, though I really think she would feel vastly better, if she would not so sedulously seclude herself from society, and every rational enjoyment.
I hope, said O’Carroll it is not my presence, which banishes Miss Dunbar from the family circle.
She will soon learn to consider you, as an inmate, said the Major; but indeed, the poor girl has been so deeply depressed, since the death of her father, that we have scarcely been able to draw her from her apartment. She is just beginning to revive from the first violence of grief, and I hope soon to see her restored to her accustomed serenity, though her loss was, indeed, a heavy one, and to her it must be irreparable.
Was not Colonel Dunbar killed in the battle of Germantown? asked O’Carroll.
He was, returned the Major, and he died like a brave and gallant soldier. By the way, O’Carroll, that attack upon Germantown was a daring thing, so soon after the beating our troops gave the rebels on the Brandywine.
But they were beaten, were they not? asked the Captain.
Yes, at last, said the Major; but not till they had given us a sound drubbing, and killed some of our best officers.
And did they lose none themselves? inquired O’Carroll.
They say their loss was inconsiderable, replied the Major, but it is known that several names of note were among the slain; and of this number was General Nash of Carolina, one of their ablest and most valuable officers.
But you are aware father, interrupted Catherine, that the royalists had every advantage over the continental troops; for besides being perfectly familiar with the ground, they made a garrison of every house in the 16* 186 16(3)v 186 town, from whence they took good aim at the enemy, and remained in comparative security themselves.
That statement may be correct, Kate, said her father, but I have some doubts concerning its authenticity. The brave Colonel Musgrave, I know, threw himself into a large stone house, and battered the enemy manfully through the windows; and maintained his post too, in despite of the cannon which was brought to the assault, till Generals Grey and Agnew came up to his relief; the latter of whom was unhappily slain in the contest. But, that they made a garrison of every house in the town, remains to be proved.
Well, sir, said Catherine laughing, since you have bestowed such high encomiums on the conduct of Colonel Musgrave, you ought, in order to support your character for impartiality, to bestow a share of praise on the bravery of the Americans, who, if report says true, earned many laurels in that bloody conflict.
I know little about that, Kate, said the Major; let those who will, give credence to every flying rumor; I am slow of belief. But I know this, that the Americans were completely routed, and driven many miles by our victorious troops.
But they were not so much terrified, as to desert their cannon, said Catherine, which they took good care to bring off with them. And you know, father, it is said that, had it not been for the thick fog, and the smoke occasioned by the burning of some stubble fields, which our troops had set on fire, the republicans would have gained a complete victory.
No I do not know any such thing, said the Major, provoked at her defence of the Americans, and since you seem so familiar with all the minutiæ of the affair, I will thank you to inform me what the smoke and fog had to do with the defeat of the Americans.
It enabled the British troops to recover from the surprise of an attack so unexpected, returned the undaunted girl, and prevented the Americans from discovering their true situation. And what was worse it rendered it almost impossible for the Americans to distinguish187 16(4)r 187 tinguish their own troops from those of the enemy, and thus prevented the possibility of their different parties acting in concert; and in other ways also greatly embarrassed them.
Upon my word, Miss Courtland, exclaimed O’Carroll, this defeat of the rebels, as you discribe it, is as glorious as a victory. Would you be equally favorable to us, in an account of the 1777-10-07seventh of October at Saratoga, we might yet deserve a few leaves of the laurel to bind on our dishonored brows.
If the girl denies our right to them, when really victorious, said the Major, not even a stalk will she grant us, when defeated and prisoners too. But how know you, Kate, he added, addressing her, that there was the least chance for the rebels to gain a victory in this affair of Germantown, had the fog and smoke not given them so good an excuse for running away.
Why sir, said Catherine, the advanced party of the Americans, commanded by General Sullivan, I think, attacked the pickets of the British, with such determined bravery and spirit, that they were soon forced, and the troops stationed near them were obliged to retreat. This first and great advantage gained, would probably have decided the contest in their favor, had the morning been clear, so as to have given them a distinct view of the number and situation of the enemy.
And who was so kind as to give you all this information? asked the Major. One would almost suspect you of holding secret correspondence with the enemy; you seem so well acquainted with particulars, which, I am sure, are quite new to me.
But had you as much curiosity as I have, father, she replied, you might have known all, and more than I do, a week ago. I am indebted to the American officer who was here, one morning, when you were out, for the particulars which I have detailed.
And an insolent booby for his pains! exclaimed the Major. To come boasting, forsooth, to the daughter of a British officer, of his valiant deeds in arms, and 188 16(4)v 188 insulting her by the declaration, that he would have beat her countrymen, had they not hidden themselves in a fog!
Father, you do the young man great injustice, said Catherine warmly. He did not even speak of the affair, till I questioned him concerning it. For, as my uncle Dunbar lost his life at Germantown, I felt more than usual interest in the action which took place there; but it was only from the short and general account which the officer gave me, that I drew the inference, which I have named.
A most natural inference truly! said the Major; at least, natural enough for any little whig, like you, Kate, who think you can never sufficiently admire the valor of these fighting rebels. But I am rather inclined to believe they are much indebted to this friendly fog, which gave them so good an excuse for quitting the field alive; which, I much doubt, if they could have done in clear day-light; not that they cannot fight, he hastily added, conscious of the illiberality of his remark, but the attack, in this instance, was, as I think, impolitic, and the odds against them so great, that their chance of success, even had they fought like lions, could have been but small.
And is this all the fighting, which has happened of late? asked the Captain. And what is doing, or about to be done now?
We have not been at home, long enough to have gathered much information, returned the Major. Indeed, nothing worthy of note has occurred, that I know of, except it be a movement of part of the royal army, across the Delaware, to a place called Billingsport, where their cooperation with other forces indicating some offensive measure, the republicans sent General Greene, with a strong detachment, to bring them back. And he unfortunately succeeded in his attempt. They returned immediately to Philadelphia, when the rebels also came back to their camps and are now preparing to go into winter quarters. At least so I have heard; but I will not vouch for the correctness of my information,189 16(5)r 189 ation, as I am so conscientious a prisoner, that I make few inquiries, even when I have an opportunity, which is, indeed, not often. You must go to Kate, if you want to know these things; she gets all the news, in some way or other, and will make you believe that the cause of rebellion is the one, which will at last win the palm of victory.
Triumph, while you may, Miss Courtland, said O’Carroll; for, notwithstanding the honorable retirement, which we veterans of Saratoga are permitted to enjoy, it will surely be our turn at last. The forces of his Britannic Majesty are not always to be repulsed, and they have yet the shame of our defeat to wash away with the blood of these rebels, before they quit the continent. Indeed, their present situation, seems to me an earnest of complete success;—lodged in the very capital of the confederation, from whence they have driven the rebels to seek for quarters where they can find them, while the dignified Congress itself has been forced to flee for safety to the northern extremity of the state!
Yes, and a glorious entry our loyal troops made into the city, said Major Courtland. Captain Talbot told me, the British and Hessian grenadiers, with a detachment of royal artillery and a party of light dragoons, accompanied by Lord Cornwallis and many other officers of distinction, entered it in triumph, and took formal possession, with great pomp; while the music played God save the king, and the ladies showered flowers, and waved white handkerchiefs from the windows, to welcome the approach of the conquerors.
And yet, said Catherine, I doubt if there was half the real glory in this triumphal entrance of the royal army into a conquered, or rather a deserted city, that there was in that one simple act of the American General, Gates, who with a noble delicacy of feeling, which did him more honor than the victory he had won, withdrew his troops into their lines, that they might not even seem to triumph, in the humiliation of their conquered foes, by gazing on them while they 190 16(5)v 190 performed the mortifying ceremony of piling the arms, which by the laws of war they had justly forfeited.
It was a noble act, Kate, and it received a tribute of gratitude from every heart, said the Major; but I did not expect you would have it ready for a retort now; though I might have known your invention, if not your memory, would have furnished you with one. But without comparing the merits of the two parties, which we never can agree in doing, what say you to Captain O’Carroll’s suggestion, that it will shortly be our turn to triumph?
That I hope and trust you will do so with moderation, when the moment arrives, returned Catherine, smiling. But really, father, I see no prospect of it very near. I confess myself an incompetent judge of these things, though I have interested myself enough in public events to know, that all the victories gained by the royal arms, during the past season, have been productive of no important results, and that even the possession of Philadelphia, though it furnishes comfortable winter quarters for the army, is otherwise a matter of very small moment.
Well, girl, enjoy your own opinion, said the Major, so you will not argue us out of ours, which strikes me as the more reasonable of the two.
But not quite so strenuously defended, father, said, Catherine, archly, as it was wont to be, before these gallant rebels of the north softened your prejudices, and――
Not an iota! not a particle, Kate! interrupted the Major. So never seek to persuade O’Carroll, that my loyalty has gone after my honor, or that these rebels have won my good wishes, because they suffered me to keep my sword, and come quietly home, under promise of peaceable behaviour for the future.
Well, father, said Catherine still smiling, I will not displease you by attempting to discover the reason, why you listen with so much more complacency, than you were wont to, when I bestow praises on the Americans; and do not even contradict me when I say they 191 16(6)r 191 are both brave and virtuous; I will content myself with the humiliating supposition, that it is because you think me not worth the trouble of contradiction.
True, Kate, said her father, you have hit upon the right reason. Your prattle is as harmless, as the silver bells with which you used to beat your nurse.
But not as empty, father, interrupted Catherine. Do not mortify me by saying so, and before Captain O’Carroll too.
He can judge for himself, by this time, Kate, said her father; and I am greatly mistaken, if he is not already wearied by your whiggism.
Pardon me, sir, said the Captain, I only fear, that my loyalty may be shaken by the arguments of so fair and eloquent a champion. No wonder the standard of rebellion gathers its thousands around it, when the lips of beauty plead its cause, and repeat the praises of its brave and warlike leaders. Indeed, Major Courtland, you must lend me your aid to resist the temptations which beset me, or I had better follow the troops to Massachusetts, or even return to the deserted plain of Saratoga, and preserve my fidelity to my sovereign by dwelling on the remembrance of those disgraces, which the victorious rebels there brought upon his soldiers.
I will not force you to adopt either of these alternatives, Captain O’Carroll, said Catherine, laughing. I assure you, had I the power, I have not the wish to seduce you from your allegiance. Your sword is sheathed; and I should shudder as much to see it turned against the hearts of your countrymen, as I have to know that my father’s was red with the blood of those I call mine. Both must now remain inactive, and I only ask you to think without harshness, of the Americans and their cause.
Of the Americans I think with admiration and respect, returned O’Carroll; and there are individuals among them, for whom I entertain the most affectionate regard. But you must pardon me, Miss Courtland, if I venture to deprecate their rebellion, and express 192 16(6)v 192 my wish that it may speedily be quelled by the power, to which they have been, and still ought to be in subjection.
We will not discuss the merits of this question now, said Catherine, but reserve it till a period of more leisure; for I see my father is about to broach a choice bottle, if I may judge from its coat of dust; and, leaving you to enjoy it in uninterrupted tranquillity, I will go for a short time, and enliven my cousin’s solitude. But remember, while you sip, Captain, that you have challenged me to a game of chess this evening.
Then we must brush the cobwebs from another bottle, he said, as he rose and held open the door for her to pass through. A true son of Erin, Miss Courtland, always fights and plays best, when warmed by the ruddy nectar of the grape. However, I will strive to meet you on equal ground, though another treaty of surrender should be the consequence. He bowed low as she glided from the room, and closing the door after her, returned to the table, to enjoy the rich contents of the bottle, from which the Major had just extracted the cork, and which had been mellowing for twenty long years, in his well stored wine cellar.
The gay and winning manners of Captain O’Carroll, imparted their cheerful influence to those with whom he was associated; and the family circle of Major Courtland, which had been saddened by the melancholy circumstances of Colonel Dunbar’s death, could not long 193 17(1)r 193 resist the contagion of gaiety so innocent, and exhilarating. Even Amelia Dunbar was beguiled from the indulgence of that deep sorrow which had depressed her, and she began to share, with interest, the walks and amusements of her cousin, which were enlivened by the participation of O’Carroll, and diversified by the numerous plans, which he devised to vary and give new zest to their pleasures.
Within doors, books, music, conversation, and games of various sorts, beguiled the stormy days of winter; and the genial warmth of the apartments, and the fragrant breath of Catherine’s roses and geranium’s, which Bloomed in exotic beauty, warm and snug, and with a brilliancy rivalled only by the soft tints which glowed on the cheeks of their lovely mistress, permitted them to enjoy the mild temperature and delicious odors of spring. When abroad, all nature was despoiled of verdure, and a brown and leafless waste stretched in melancholy dreariness where lately the brightness and luxuriance of summer gave interest and beauty to the landscape.
But the rigors of the season did not prevent the ladies from enjoying frequent exercise in the open air. The unsettled state of the country, however, forbade their making long excursions from home. Two large armies were encamped within twenty miles of each other, and their foraging parties and scouts were so often traversing in various directions, as to render it not only unpleasant, but unsafe, to run the risk of encountering them. The gentlemen allowed themselves more license, and, attended by their servants, rode as often, and as far, as it pleased them. Catherine sometimes accompanied them, but not so often as she wished, since she found it impossible to prevail on Amelia to join the party. From the period of her father’s death she had studiously avoided every individual and every scene, that could remind her of his fate; and she not unfrequently quitted the room in tears, when the military events of the day chanced to be the subject of discussion, and these, of course, were not unfrequent 17 194 17(1)v 194 topics, at a time, when, as might be supposed, they were of all others the most interesting.
In the meantime, nothing was heard of Colonel Grahame. The days passed on, and 1777-12December drew towards a close; but still no tidings came. It was understood, that in the American camp there were none who any longer indulged the expectation of his return, and the opinion generally entertained was, that he had fallen a sacrifice to the treachery of the Indian Ohmeina.
Major Courtland gave implicit faith to this suspicion. O’Carroll, too, was almost ready to admit it, and by degrees they ceased to speak of him as any longer in existence. When they mentioned his name, it was to lament his early fate, and extol, with feelings of melancholy regret, the noble and attaching qualities of his uncommon mind.
Catherine usually heard these remarks in silence, but O’Carroll thought, not without emotion. He fancied he could, at such moments, detect a shade of sadness stealing over her animated features; and once he caught the echo of a low-breathed sigh, as, with apparent inattention to what was said, she carelessly turned over the leaves of a music book. He had himself been too deeply wounded, not to sympathize in the affliction of others, and when he believed Miss Courtland yielding involuntarily to the softened feelings which Grahame’s image awoke, he longed to pour into her heart all the kind and warm feelings of his own, and whisper the hope, unfounded as it was, that he she mourned might not be utterly lost. But the transient gloom of her countenance, if such there was, fled, even while these thoughts passed through the mind of the enthusiastic O’Carroll; and the instant gaiety, which succeeded perhaps, the lively sally, which broke from her lips, not only surprised and perplexed him, but banished his suspicions and destroyed the feeling, which had induced him secretly to lavish on her his tenderest pity and concern.195 17(2)r 195
In truth, though Catherine imparted her thoughts to no one, she had ever cherished the belief that Colonel Grahame lived, and would return. She scarcely knew on what she had founded this belief; and indeed she did not seek to know. It was one of those mysterious presentiments, which sometimes haunt the mind, and for which we vainly endeavour to account, and which we as vainly strive to dispel. It impressed her with the reality of truth; and, though not inclined to superstition, she almost fancied, in this instance, that some superior power had inspired her with a confident hope, which she nurtured like a promise, whose fulfilment she might anticipate with perfect certainty.
Thus, although the subject was seldom mentioned, it was often the theme of secret meditation, and particularly so with Catherine. But whatever she might feel, no cloud was suffered to gather on her brow, or to cast a shade over the enjoyments of the domestic circle. All was bright and animating in her countenance, and none seemed to enjoy more highly a ride, a walk, or any other amusement, of which they were accustomed to partake.
One uncommonly fine afternoon for the season, the two cousins, with Captain O’Carroll, had been indulging in a walk of unusual length, from which they were obliged to hasten their return home, in consequence of a sudden change in the weather, so common in the variable climate of the middle and northern states.
The sun was setting in stormy clouds, and the rising wind swept, in fitful and tremendous gusts, through the leafless trees. The whole aspect of nature betokened an approaching tempest, and, with the utmost speed they could make, the little party were scarcely able to reach home, before the last ray of light had faded from the blackening horizon.
When they entered the sitting room, Major Courtland was reclining on the sofa, enjoying that soothing hour of parlor twilight, so inimitably described by the sweet moralist, Cowper. Nor did he appear to notice their entrance, but remained wrapped in musing 196 17(2)v 196 melancholy, till disturbed by the glare of lights, with which Hugh shortly illuminated the apartment.
You light us up early to-night, Hugh, he said, raising his hand to shade his eyes; place that screen before me; this sudden blaze is enough to blind one, and has chased away all the dreams I was so quietly indulging.
Perhaps it was the noise of our entrance that disturbed them, father, said Catherine; but we were driven home by the appearance of a storm, much sooner than we wished.
No matter, child, said the Major with a sigh; it was time for them to be disturbed. Leave that shutter half open, Hugh, that we may watch the weather now and then. O’Carroll, what are you gazing at from that window, which Hugh has been waiting to fasten up this half hour!
At the sky, Major, replied the Captain, retreating as he spoke, to make room for the servant. There will be wild work in the Heaven’s to-night, if I mistake not. It is all confusion there now, the clouds are scudding before the wind, like the van of a routed army. Yea, as our friend Richard Hope would say, much like unto the beaten remnant of the British, who did flee into their entrenchments before the might of the rebels.
An unseemly comparison, said the Major; and fitter for Richard Hope’s mouth than for your’s, who, I believe, were not the very last to seek for safety in the entrenchments.
I was kindly dragged in, said O’Carroll, with affected gravity, by a fellow, who well nigh broke his neck over me first, and stuck his sharp-toed shoe so far into my ear, that he could not well get it out, without taking me with him.
I fear, said the Major, the sharp point touched the brain, O’Carroll, for it often seems disordered, and this is the most rational way of accounting for it. But come, I am ready to beat you at a game of chess, provided you have no objection.197 17(3)r 197
Well added, sir, said O’Carroll, as he arranged the men upon the board, and I will endeavour to convince you that my brain is in too good order to consent to such a proposition.
They placed themselves at the table, where Amelia was already engaged with a book, and Catherine with her needle; though her attention often wandered from her employment, to watch the progress of the game, which, for a time, inclined in favor of her father. It, however, continued doubtful so long, that, wearied with the slow movements of the combatants, she took up a book and was becoming interested in its pages, when O’Carroll broke the silence, which had prevailed for many minutes, by exclaiming in a tone of triumph, which drew the attention of Catherine again to the game,
Check, to your king, sir!
But not check-mate, sir, said the Major, deliberately placing a knight before the threatened monarch.
Check-mate now, Major, provided you have no objection, said O’Carroll, pushing forward his queen, and displacing the knight. No retreat, sir, he pursued, as the Major cast his eye in silence over the board; cut off as fairly, and as completely too, as ever Burgoyne was at Saratoga.
But your triumph more than beseems a brave conqueror, Captain O’Carroll, said Catherine, sorry for her father’s defeat; you forget how much you admired the forbearance of the brave General Gates.
We cannot always imitate what we admire, Miss Courtland, said O’Carroll; but if you will consent to become my antagonist, I will strive to be as magnanimous, as the brave Gates, and say, with as courtly an air as he did, when addressing the vanquished Burgoyne――
Do have done with that nonsense, O’Carroll, exclaimed the Major, sweeping the men from the board with an air of chagrin, and retreating to his former station on the sofa. You are eternally prating about 17* 198 17(3)v 198 Gates and Burgoyne, and Saratoga, as if there were no other topics half so pleasing in the world. One would think our shameful defeat enough to silence you forever on the subject; instead of which, you sing it in our ears, on every possible occasion.
I wish to lessen its horror by familiarity, sir, said the Captain, while he deliberately replaced the fallen men, and challenged the Major to another game.
No, Catherine may revenge me, said the Major; and I know she can if she chooses, so prenez garde, Captain, or your towering crest will be lowered before you are aware.
And I am quite ready to encounter you, Miss Courtland; so let us begin the attack, said O’Carroll.
With your leave, Captain, we will defer the game till another evening; said Catherine. It is too quiet an amusement for such a night as this.
It is indeed a frightful night, said Amelia, who was at that moment looking from the window. How the wind rages, she added, and the heavens are black with stormy clouds.
And suppose that to drown the discored of the elements, said Catherine, you read us one of these delightful plays. It will be vastly more amusing to my father and Amelia, than our slow movements on the chess board. Here is Measure for Measure, As you like it, or Twelfth Night; what say you to that. It is one of my favorites.
And, of course, one of mine, said O’Carroll with an air of gallantry. They again drew around the table, and the Captain began to read aloud, though Amelia could not instantly fix her attention, so much was she agitated by the increasing violence of the tempest, which raged without. As yet it was unaccompanied by rain, and the tremendous gusts of wind came only at intervals; but with a fury, which threatened to uproot the ancient trees, that had braved the tempests of a century. Then succeeded a perfect calm, and then again all nature seemed in commotion.199 17(4)r 199
O’Carroll, however, began to read; but had scarcely pronounced those beautiful words, That strain again; it had a dying fall, when, suddenly, a few notes of wild and thrilling melody rose on the sullen murmurs of the blast, which, after a short interval of profound silence, seemed striving again to collect itself, with redoubled violence. O’Carroll started from his chair; the Major half rose from his recumbent posture, and leaning on his elbow listened for a renewal of the sounds; while Catherine sprang eagerly towards the window, and Amelia, dropping her work, looked from one to another, with a glance of amazement and surprise.
Who is so kind as to serenade us on such a night as this, and what is the meaning of it? at length exclaimed the Major. Catherine, my dear, do you see any thing from the window?
Nothing, father, she replied. It is too dark to distinguish any object; but hush, there is the voice again.
O’Carroll threw open another shutter, while the voice, for such it seemed to be, swelled into a clear, soft, and melodious strain, which continued, for a minute or two, and then died into profound silence.
By Heaven! the very tones I heard at Saratoga, and I will solve the mystery, exclaimed O’Carroll, rushing towards the door.
Not yet, I entreat you, said Catherine, laying her hand on his arm to detain him. The voice is again commencing, and I think I can distinguish words. Let us listen a moment; I have raised the sash a little, so that we may hear without difficulty; and by violence we shall defeat our own wishes.
“Captain O’Carroll complied, though not without secret reluctance, and stationed himself beside her at the window, which she had opened an inch, in order to admit the sounds.
The voice, which seemed to be at no great distance, was clear and sweet, exactly resembling that, which 200 17(4)v 200 O’Carroll had heard in the ravine at Saratoga, and the song too, like that, was continually broken by pauses of unequal length. As they listened in breathless silence, they plainly distinguished these words, chanted with an emphasis, which was full of meaning and expression;
Rejoice! rejoice, friend of the dark-eyed warrior! Rejoice! for his people have embraced him! The fire of the sacrifice was preparing, but the victim had fled, before it was lighted! Rejoice! rejoice, friend of the dark-eyed warrior!
The wind, which had been gradually rising into fury, at this moment blew with a violence that drowned the mysterious voice, though ever and anon a wild and thrilling note, mingled distinctly with the tumult of the elements. O’Carroll was no longer to be restrained; and both he and Major Courtland rushed in silence from the house. Catherine followed them to the piazza, where she continued standing, though Amelia earnestly entreated her not to expose herself on such a night, for the sake of discovering a mad creature; for it could be no other, who chose to sing in the tempest.
The gentlemen’s familiarity with the grounds enabled them, notwithstanding the darkness of the night, to explore every corner, but without success. The servants were ordered out with lanterns, and while the search was diligently proceeding Catherine observed a dark figure glide from a thicket of firs, and swiftly darting forward, it disappeared in an instant, in a copse of locusts which skirted the southern boundary of the lawn. She called to O’Carroll and pointed after the figure, which was, at that moment, visible by the glare of the domestics’ lanterns; but, although he followed to a considerable distance, his pursuit was in vain. Not a footstep was to be heard, and the perfect darkness which surrounded him, made him sensible of the folly of adventuring farther. He therefore retraced his way home, and it may be imagined with what feelings of perplexity, the whole party reentered the house.201 17(5)r 201
Major Courtland, however, seemed inclined to treat the affair with ridicule, and rallied Catherine on the seriousness of her countenance and manner.
You look, Kate, he said, as if you were really inclined to make an important affair of this nonsense.
And why should I not, father? she replied. It seems to have meaning in it, though not as yet an intelligible one to us.
Nor ever will be, girl, said her father. All that I can make of it is, that some squaw or wild woman of the woods, has fallen in love with O’Carroll, and chooses to follow him up, till with true womanly intrigue, she has him safe in her snares.
Pshaw, ejaculated the Captain, pettishly, while he continued hastily to traverse the apartment, evidently much agitated by the occurrence of the evening.
It is rather provoking, I allow, resumed the teazing Major, to be dogged from north to south by you know not whom, and, what is worse, are never like to know.
It is a mysterious circumstance, ridicule it as much as you will, Major, said O’Carroll, suddenly stopping in his walk, that the same voice, for I am positive it is the same, should be heard by me in two distinct places, so remote from each other, singing words of the same import, and which evidently have a reference to the fate of Colonel Grahame.
I confess, O’Carroll, it is rather singular, said the Major. If you wish it, I will write a note to-morrow, to some of the American officers, with whom I have a slight acquaintance, and inquire if any tidings have been received of Colonel Grahame. If not, I shall be inclined to view this affair as a foolish trick upon us, and advise you to do so too.
I shall know better how to view it, when I have discovered the actor, said O’Carroll; and if it is any thing which wears a human shape, it shall not long remain concealed.
The remainder of the evening was passed in alternate raillery and conjecture, on the part of Major Courtland202 17(5)v 202 land, who, though a little surprised and perplexed by the occurrence, had no mind to deepen the serious impression it had evidently made on the superstitious feelings of the Captain. O’Carroll was unusually irritable; but, though continually provoked by the badinage of the Major, he could not forbear laughing at the whimsical conceits by which he affected to solve the mystery of the evening. He went continually to the windows and the door, in expectation of again hearing the invisible musician; but he listened in vain.
The violence of the tempest had gradually abated; but the clouds were pouring out a mixture of rain and sleet, which rendered it improbable that any human being would continue exposed to so uncomfortable a shower; and, at length, relinquishing the hope of again hearing the voice, the Captain was persuaded, at a late hour, to retire to his apartment. His imagination, however, was too much excited to permit the approach of sleep, and the morning sun darted into his room before his harassed thoughts would suffer him to enjoy repose.
It was so late when he awoke, after the refreshing slumbers of the morning, that the family had all dispersed before he entered the parlor. Major Courtland was in his library, and the young ladies had gone out to walk. O’Carroll made a hasty breakfast, and ordering his horse directly after, rode out to enjoy the pure and bracing air of the morning, and to shake from his mind, the burden of thought, which agitated and perplexed it. In this he was fortunately successful; for, notwithstanding the mysterious recollections of the past, and the uncertain anticipations of the future, he was imperceptibly drawn from painful contemplations, to the beautiful appearance of nature, which he could not observe, without feelings of admiration and delight. Every object was arrayed in a covering of ice, which sparkled in the bright beams of the morning sun with indescribable splendor. The trees and shrubs were completely encased in crystal, and every slender twig, even the minutest bud, was visible through the transparent coating; while the weight of ice declined the branches with 203 17(6)r 203 more than their natural grace, towards the earth; reflecting all the prismatic colors of the rainbow.
Catherine and her cousin, having risen much earlier than the Captian, had for some time admired the beautiful appearance of nature from the piazza; but, wishing to enjoy it abroad before the ice began to fall from the trees, they had taken their morning repast, and gone out just before O’Carroll quitted his apartment.
Crossing the garden, they passed through a small gate at the lower extremity of the principal walk, which opened on a foot-path that traversed the borders of a forest, occupying many acres of Major Courtland’s estate, and which, as yet, he had preserved with care, from the sacrilegious axe of the woodman. It was the scene of many a delightful ramble, and now, from its retirement and security, the frequent resort of the fair cousins; though they never adventured into its mazes, but contented themselves with treading the circuitous path which wound along its borders, unless, when occasionally attracted by a bright moss or a curious lichen, or, in warmer seasons, by the gay flowers which, but for this timely notice, had been doomed ―― to blush unseen,And waste their sweetness on the desert air. Arm in arm, Catherine and Amelia now trod this sequestered spot; sometimes speaking of the occurrence of the past evening, and again, as accident or occasion suggested, reverting to other topics of discourse; now stopping to admire some fantastic conformation of the ice, and then to view through a sudden opening, the windings of the river, and the beautiful appearance of the landscape on its opposite shore.
How prettily the grey moss, which clothes that long branch, is fringed with icicles! said Catherine, as they stopped beneath a venerable oak, which seemed laden with a double portion of the glittering burden.
Yes, and how delicate they are, said Amelia. They are not larger than a cambric needle, and so bright and exquisitely pointed, that they resemble small diamond darts――204 17(6)v 204
Such as Cupid is wont to use, I suppose, interrupted Catherine.
Or rather Plutus, when he shoots for him, returned Amelia.
Which is too frequently the case, said Catherine; but I would rather, she added, laughing, that our hearts should be pierced by the sharpest of Cupid’s dove-fledged arrows, than that they should be vulnerable to the darts of gold or diamonds used by that low and sordid deity, who has, alas! and I blush to acknowledge it, but too many votaries, even among the soft and lovely of our sex. But that moss, cousin, is just such as I was wishing for a few days since, to arrange with my shells, and now it is beyond my reach!
I see a rock, however, just through those trees, said Amelia, which is covered with a species of moss very much resembling this. Supposing we go and examine it, perhaps it may answer your purpose as well.
With all my heart, provided you do not fear to enter the forest, returned Catherine. I have often explored its recesses alone, without meeting any one, and it contains many delightful spots, which I have loved from childhood, and which are known only to myself.
I should not like to venture far within its limits, said Amelia;” but I am quite willing to go to that rock, or even beyond it, so we do not lose sight of the path.
The cousins, accordingly advanced to the rock, which, though of considerable extent, was low and flat. Catherine gathered a handful of moss which clothed its sides, and, as she stepped upon its craggy ledges, she observed the top to be covered with a beautiful variety of the most vivid hues.
I have a strong inclination to climb to the summit, Amelia, said Catherine, as she stood looking , with a wishful eye, upon the richly variegated surface of the rock. It is but two or three steps, and here is good footing; will you wait for me?
Yes, if you will hasten, returned her cousin. I see the path, and can regain it in a moment in case of 205 18(1)r 205 alarm, though you could not so quickly descend from your elevated station.
Oh, there can be no cause for alarm, said Catherine; and with the lightness of a fawn, she ascended the craggy side of the rock, and began to gather with eagerness the gay mosses which the shade and humidity of the forest preserved in continued brightness. The ardor of her character led her to engage in every pursuit and occupation with enthusiasm; and while, with the eye of a connoisseur, and the taste of a lover of natural beauties, she selected the finest specimens of the vegetable she was collecting, she became so interested in her employment, as quite to forget that Amelia was waiting for her, and that she had promised not to detain her long. The voice of her cousin calling her softly by name, restored her recollection, and she approached the brow of the rock, to say, she would rejoin her directly.
Come now I entreat you, said Amelia, with a vehemence altogether unusual; I hear a rustling in the forest and we ought not to remain here.
My dear girl, you may hear a rustling at any time where there are half a dozen trees together, said Catherine. I suppose it is some poor squirrel, that has exhausted his store of nuts, and come abroad for a fresh supply; or perhaps, a harmless racoon that has popped out his nose, to smell the fresh air of this fine morning. It can be nothing else, you may rest assured, Amelia; so wait, one moment longer, till I get a superb specimen, which I left, when you called me.
Dear Catherine, you are rash to trifle thus, when I tell you there is danger! exclaimed Amelia, in the same tone of earnest entreaty. I certainly heard footsteps in the forest, and we do wrong to linger here.
Just wait for me in the path then, said the fearless Catherine, and I will come in half a minute. You know there is not a creature in the country, who can bound over the ground so swiftly as I can, so go and I will follow you directly.18 206 18(1)v 206
She began to gather the moss, as she spoke, while Amelia hesitating to remain, and yet unwilling to quit her cousin, lingered at the foot of the rock, scarcely able to restrain the tears of fear and vexation, which were ready to flow.
Catherine! dear Catherine! I beg of you to come! she exclaimed, after an instant’s silence. Do not delay, I hear the steps――
She finished with a loud scream; for a large black dog, at that moment, sprang barking towards her, and she directed her flight towards the path. The animal followed, and was on the point of seizing the affrighted girl, when a loud voice called, Victor! here, sir, here, and he obeyed, instantly quitting his prey, and springing into the forest. Catherine, reproaching herself for remaining so long, and exposing Amelia to this alarm, had already descended from the rock, and was by her cousin’s side, at the moment the dog left her. The tones of the voice, which summoned him away, were familiar to her ear, and anxious to see the person, from whom they proceeded, she pressed forward in the hope of obtaining a glimpse, which might satisfy her curiosity. The sound of his footsteps was still audible, but they seemed to be rapidly retreating; and Catherine almost despaired of obtaining her wish, when, through a narrow vista in the forest, the tall figure and savage attire of an Indian were for a moment visible; but long enough for Catherine to recognize the person and features of the lost Ohmeina!
Astonishment for a minute, overpowered every faculty of her mind; but other emotions were instantly blended with it, and, recollecting what important intelligence might probably be gathered from the Indian, relative to the fate of his master, she darted swiftly forward, and called him loudly by name. But he had already disappeared amidst the intricacies of the forest, while the falling ice, which in his rapid progress he had shaken from the trees, rattled upon the frozen earth, and prevented the voice of Catherine, though raised to its utmost height, from being heard.207 18(2)r 207
Amelia, notwithstanding the timidity which had caused her to hasten from the forest, was so much surprised at the gestures of her cousin, that she eagerly followed her, exclaiming,
You are mad, Catherine, to run into the very danger, from which we have just escaped. Who is that frightful Indian, and why do you pursue him, and call after him with such earnestness? Speak to me quickly; your wild looks terrify me.
Do not hold me, said Catherine, striving to break from her cousin’s grasp. I must speak with that Indian; let me go, Amelia, that I may yet overtake him.
You cannot! said Amelia, still firmly retaining the struggling hand of Catherine. Overtake an Indian, who is swifter of foot than the fleetest rein-deer of Lapland! Impossible! And if you should, what have you to say to him, and how dare you trust yourself in his power?
I fear nothing; said Catherine, I know this Indian, and I must speak with him.
You must not, Catherine, said Amelia. Look around; here is nothing but trees and rocks; no human being to aid us, and the fate of the murdered Jane McRea may be ours, if you persist in following the steps of this savage.
Amelia, replied Catherine, somewhat impatiently, the Indian, whom you have just seen, is not a savage. He is humanized by the influence of that same religion, which we have been taught to reverence, and I would rather trust myself with him, than with many a boasting hero, who has less cause for triumph, and fewer virtues to ennoble him, than fall to the lot of this poor Indian. In a word Amelia, and Catherine blushed slightly, as she said it, he is the protégé of Colonel Grahame, and I would have inquired concerning the fate of that unfortunate officer; but you have detained me so long, that at my utmost speed, I could not now overtake him. The only opportunity, which will ever occur, of satisfying our doubts on this mysterious subject, is probably lost to us forever.208 18(2)v 208
I shall indeed be sorry, said Amelia thoughtfully, if my ungrounded fears have prevented your obtaining this so much desired information. But if you reflect a moment upon the cunning and deceit of the Indian character, I think you cannot regret the disappointment, which may possibly have been the means of saving you from danger. Besides, highly as you think of this Ohmeina, you are aware, Catherine, that both my uncle and Captain O’Carroll are suspicious that he has played a treacherous part, and should it prove so, I shall have no reason to regret my caution in the present instance.
Perhaps you may be right, Amelia, said her cousin. At all events, it would be useless now for me to force my way through the forest in search of the Indian, whom it would be impossible to trace. Notwithstanding your suggestions, however, I cannot but regret that I did not succeed in gaining his attention. But it is too late now, so let us hasten home, and relate our adventure. I am sure my father will cause this forest to be searched, and keep a watch here, till the Indian can be found.
They regained the path as she finished speaking, and proceeded towards home, with as much rapidity as Amelia’s fear of falling upon the slippery ground, would permit. Catherine, accustomed to frequent exercise upon the snow and ice, walked as steadily upon the glassy surface of the earth, as if it had been spread with a carpet of the softest verdure, and could with difficulty conform her impatient steps to the slow and careful pace of her timid companion. Anxious to communicate the reappearance of Ohmeina to her father, she often left her cousin far behind, and then again returned to assist and urge her to more speed. In this manner they approached the house, but were surprised to observe an appearance of great confusion around it. The servants were running in various directions; Major Courtland was walking hastily across the lawn; and as they gained the piazza, Captain O’Carroll rushed quickly past them, without even stopping to speak. 209 18(3)r 209 At the same moment a loud report of musketry seemingly, at no great distance, filled them with new wonder and alarm; and they eagerly entered the house, to seek a solution of the mystery.
Hugh was the first person Catherine encountered on entering the hall, and he was hasting after his master, with all the speed he could make. But he stopped to answer the inquiries which she put to him, informing her that the firing was occasioned by an accidental encounter between a foraging party of Americans and a detachment of British troops; and that the Major, with Captain O’Carroll, had gone to the hill, beyond the mulberry grove, to witness the skirmish. After a few more particular inquiries, Catherine dismissed Hugh, and followed Amelia to the parlor, whither she had withdrawn immediately upon hearing the statement of the old servant.
When Catherine entered the apartment, she was traversing it, in excessive agitation. The image of her father, whom she had most tenderly loved, was present to her, and pale, trembling, and in tears, she shuddered at the battle sounds which reached her, as if he were still living, and among the combatants. Catherine strove to soothe her, but all her efforts were vain; they seemed rather to increase her agitation. Yet she remained with her, till Amelia entreated to be left alone; and then, anxious to gain the earliest intelligence concerning the issue of the action, she walked from the house, with the hope of meeting her father, 18* 210 18(3)v 210 or some other person, who could give her the information she desired.
She continued her walk, however, without encountering an individual, till she reached the summit of a small, wooded eminence, from whence, on a hill beyond, she discerned her father, with Captain O’Carroll, and several of the servants, who, she imagined, had a full view of the engagement, as they appeared to be looking in a direction, from whence thick volumes of smoke ascended, and the noise of the firing proceeded. For some minutes, she continued to watch the gestures of her father and the Captain. They were exceedingly animated, and it seemed to her as if they could scarcely restrain themselves from rushing to the combat. Once, indeed, she saw O’Carroll put his hand to his side, and step suddenly forward, when the Major caught his arm, and he turned from the scene, as though he feared to trust himself any longer with a sight, which filled him with irrepressible ardor. Catherine felt herself tinctured with the same enthusiasm, and before she was aware of doing so, she had descended from the eminence, and was moving towards the spot on which her father stood. Suddenly aroused to recollection, she stopped—hesitated—and again walked slowly forward.
Why, she asked herself, should I not go! True, it is a fearful spectacle, but I am a soldier’s daughter, and I should not shrink from beholding it.
While these and similar thoughts passed through her mind, she still proceeded, though with slow and undecided steps; when she perceived that her father was beckoning her to advance; and, the next moment, O’Carroll descended the hill and ran forward to meet her. He was breathless with haste, when he reached her, but he said gaily,
Come, Miss Courtland, and take your first lesson in arms; we have marked, with some interest, your hesitation, and seen without surprise, the rare courage and independence, which you so eminently possess, triumph over the native timidity of your sex. Upon 211 18(4)r 211 my faith, there is not more than one woman, among ten thousand, who would not have run and buried her head in pillows to shut out the sound of this fighting. But hasten, and see how we beat the rebels; they will all take flight before we reach the hill, if we do not mend our speed; for they were on the point of it, when I came to you.
Nay then, said Catherine, drawing back, my labor is lost, and I would not add to it, merely to see a party of cowardly soldiers beaten from the field by the enemy. So good morning Captain O’Carroll, and thanks for saving me the trouble of climbing the hill.
Oh, but it is worth climbing the highest peak of Skiddaw, to see how the gallant red coats fight, exclaimed O’Carroll. My sword leaped from the scabbard, and I had been in the thickest of the action, in spite of my parole, had not the Major taken the precaution to whisper the word honor in my ear; and it never came with such a grating and unwelcome sound before, thanks to the pacific treaty of Saratoga.
And the rebels do not fight as well this morning, as they did on that memorable occasion? asked Catherine, with arch simplicity.
You shall judge for yourself, Miss Courtland, returned O’Carroll. And I trust, you will shortly have the pleasure to see them run faster, than they were ever known to do before.
But I am willing to relinquish that pleasure, said Catherine. You will enjoy it sufficiently, without my participation; only return, as soon as possible, to the house, and let us know if the rebels bear their defeat with as good a grace, as――
As we did at Saratoga, you were about to say, Miss Courtland, interrupted O’Carroll. But, indeed, you must excuse me, if I refuse, in case you turn back now, to tell you any thing about it. Here we are, just at the foot of the hill, and on the top of it, we can see the whole engagement. Really, Miss Courtland, I do not think I could have prevailed on you to 212 18(4)v 212 return home, without ascending it, if I had told you it was the British, who were flying.
That would have been such a rare thing, said Catherine, and you know ladies are famed for their love of novelty, Captain.
Yes, and justly so, as I know but too well, answered O’Carroll, in an accent of bitterness. And they love rebellion too, he added, or the cause would not find so many wellwishers. But, if I mistake not, the Major is calling to us.
Catherine looked up, and saw her father, standing on the brow of the hill, and as they approached nearer, he cried out in an impatient accent,
O’Carroll, why do you loiter there so long! the rogues will be off in an instant; they are just on the wing; and if Kate has ever a mind to see a spice of fighting, now is her time.
But I have no mind for it at all, said Catherine to the Captain. Go on without me, I will return. I was foolish to approach a scene, which I now find I have not courage to look upon.
It is nothing, nothing at all, my dear Miss Courtland, said O’Carroll, urging her gently forward. They are not very near, and of course you can see nothing to shock you; only the flashing of the bayonets, and the rapid motions of the men. Were I a lady, I would rather see twenty such genteel skirmishes, as this, than read one detailed account of a battle, in which all the wounds and danger are described with a minuteness that aggravates its real horrors.
Catherine, Catherine, my dear girl, why do you delay? exclaimed Major Courtland, from the hill; I entreat you to come up here, with O’Carroll, this instant.
Catherine heartily repented having yielded to the momentary impulse, which had led to her present situation; but it was too late to recede, and unwilling to incur her father’s displeasure, she again took the Captain’s offered arm, and ascended the hill in silence. The Major advanced to meet her, and his countenance 213 18(5)r 213 glowed with paternal pride, as he hastily saluted her, exclaiming, at the same moment,
Bravo! my Kate! this is like yourself, and I desire to thank God, who has made you superior to the silly weakness of your sex, and gifted you with as brave a soul, as ever animated a hero. But how now! have I been too hasty in my praises? Or whence that pale cheek, he added, gazing earnestly upon her. I will not ask if it is the battle sound, which has faded the roses that are wont to bloom there.
Father, I have done wrong in coming here, said Catherine, resting her forhead, a moment, on his shoulder. I thought myself heroic, but I fear I am a very coward.
No, that you are not, my girl, said her father, leading her, as he spoke, to the opposite edge of the hill. So now, look up, and tell me which fight best, the loyal soldiers of our good king George, or the bluecoated rebels, who would fain rule themselves.
Catherine raised her eyes from the ground, on which they had been rivetted; but when she saw the tumult of the fight, which seemed directly below her, a more deadly paleness overspread her beautiful features, and she covered her face with both hands, to shut the fearful spectacle from her view. But almost instantly she raised her eyes, and strove to look steadily upon the combatants, ats if shamed of her emotion; or perhaps, apprehensive that it might appear like weakness, in the eyes of her father and Captain O’Carroll to whom the present skirmish seemed like mere child’s play, compared to the mighty battles, in which they had both been engaged.
The scene of action, lay in a stubble field, some distance beyond the hill; so that the smoke from the fire arms, concealed the horrors of the fight. But the quick and animated movements of the parties, and the rapid glancing of their arms, were visible; and though the frequent vollies of musketry involved them in obscurity, yet the clouds of smoke rose so swiftly in the pure atmosphere of the morning, that the bustling and 214 18(5)v 214 active scene was at one instant disclosed, and the next shrouded again in darkness. The parties engaged, were small, and apparently equal, in point of numbers. But the British had evidently gained the advantage, which they were vigorously pursuing; for the Americans, though obstinately defending themselves, were gradually retreating towards the forest, in their rear.
Major Courtland watched his daughter’s countenance, with interest, as, after the first undecided moment, she continued earnestly to gaze upon this scene. Her kindling eye, her flushed cheek, her profound silence, and motionless attitude, evinced the intense and fervent feeling, with which the spectacle inspired her.
O’Carroll’s frequent exclamations of Bravo! Huzza for king George and, The royalists have won the day! were seemingly unheard by her; and it was not till the ranks of the Americans, which had hitherto remained firm and unbroken, suddenly gave way, and they began to retreat in confusion, that she moved, or uttered a word. But then, her color heightened to crimson, and, clasping her hands, she exclaimed with emotion,
Shame! Shame! They fly, and from a force no larger than their own!
And they seem to understand it too, said O’Carroll. I rather suspect from their gestures, that this is not the first time the foe has seen their backs. The officer who is endeavouring to rally them, however, is a brave fellow. But I fear, he has fought his last field; for the devil himself could not get clear of Talbot’s manœuvring, in such a predicament.
Does Captain Talbot command the royalists? asked Catherine, aroused by O’Carroll’s observation.
Yes, I met him as I was riding this morning, returned the Captain. It seems they were informed by a deserter, who had grown weary of the hard fare and cold quarters of Valley Forge, that this foraging party was to leave the camp this morning; and Talbot and his men were lying in wait for them, behind the group of maples yonder, when I encountered him. 215 18(6)r 215 The Americans were coming up, when I left him, and I had just time to ride home, and leave my horse, before the first musket shot gave the signal, that the engagement had commenced. But upon my faith, the rebels have nearly gained the forest; all except that foolish officer, who will lose his life by seeking to rally the cowards.
“While O’Carroll spoke, scarcely heeded either by Catherine or her father, the Americans continued to retrreat in great disorder, unmindful of the threatenings or persuasions of their commanding officer, who used every exertion in his power to induce them to renew the contest. But it was all in vain; they seemed completely panic-struck, and eager only to escape the pursuit of their conquerors, when suddenly their flight was arrested.
A single horseman, wearing the uniform of the continental army, sprang from behind a small copse of trees, and leaping the slight barrier of rails which enclosed the field of action, waved his sword, with an air of defiance, and called aloud upon the flying troops to rally, and act like men. The tones of his commanding voice were heard distinctly on the hill, where the party of observation were stationed, and they seemed like magic to arrest the course of the defeated soldiers; for they instantly stood still, and the officer, placing himself at their head, they collected, and with inconceivable rapidity formed a compact body, presenting a firm and dauntless front.
The sudden movement produced a visible sensation in the enemy. They slackened their fire, and retreating a few steps, drew up again in order of battle. The attack recommenced with new fury; the British fighting as if resolved to win a second victory, and the Americans, as if determined to atone for the shame of their premature flight.
Confound those rebels! exclaimed O’Carroll, who, with his companions, had anxiously watched the progress of this unexpected revolution; they have always some corps de reserve, some slashing hero, or 216 18(6)v 216 cunning stratagem, to turn the fortune of fight. We had fairly won the field, when that tall fellow came, Heaven knows from whence, to pluck back our laurels, and bind them on his own rebel brows.
Do not begin your lamentation too soon, O’Carroll, said the Major. Our laurels, perhaps, may bloom the brighter for this fresh attack; if we beat them from the field again, it is a double victory, you know.
If—repeated O’Carroll. There is a great deal depending on the little word If, Major. if this knight errant had not leaped into the field, his rebel followers would before now have leaped out of it; and if the next musket ball knocks him from his horse, the victory may be ours; but if not, Major,――
Have done with your ifs, O’Carroll, interrupted the Major hastily. By Heaven, this champion has put the very devil into his soldiers, and in spite of Talbot, and all his men, they will beat us hollow.
Our fellows are giving way, exclaimed O’Carroll. By St. Patrick, they might have held out longer. Were it not for the cursed treaty, that so fetters our valor, Major, we might leap to the rescue, with as valiant an air as this same doughty hero, who has so steeled the courage of his own villains, and melted that of ours. How the fellow bears himself! As haughtily as if he had conquered a host, and were about to dictate another treaty of surrender!
The treaty of surrender again! exclaimed the Major, impatiently. You round off every sentence, O’Carroll, with this detestable treaty; and begin with what you will, the Great Mogul, the Pope of Rome, the usurpation of the round-headed Cromwell, or any thing else equally foreign to the subject, you are sure to rack your ingenuity, in order to name this treaty of Saratoga, the remembrance of which seems to afford you the most exquisite pleasure.
Have patience, Major, said O’Carroll, his whole attention direccted to the movements of the combatants; 217 19(1)r 217 and look, look quick, by St. George, Talbot is down, and his soldiers are flying!
Major Courtland’s attention was instantly directed to the scene of action, and he saw at once, that the issue of the contest was decided. The second assault of the Americans had been far more furious and determined than the first. Animated by the presence of a leader, whom they idolized, and solicitous to retrieve their tarnished honor, they fought with intrepid boldness, till the enemy, discouraged by this fierce attack, began to falter, and at length gave way. It is possible they might have recovered themselves, had not the fall of Captain Talbot, served to complete their confusion; when they instantly took to flight, leaving a number dead on the field, and several, beside their Captain, desperately wounded.
Major Courtland seeing the engagement at an end, and the Americans masters of the field, proposed that they should descend the hill, and offer what assistance was in their power to the wounded; and also, if Captain Talbot yet lived, obtain permission from his conquerors, to convey him to the house. O’Carroll readily acceded to the Major’s poposition. Though deeply chagrined by the issue of the contest, he was desirous, he said, to return some of the civilities he had received at Saratoga. Major Courtland frowned at this ill timed allusion, which did not at all tend to soften his vexation, and bidding Catherine return to the house, and have a room prepared for Captain Talbot, he walked sullenly down the hill, preceded by O’Carroll, whose eager curiosity subdued, for a time at least, the mortification, which the sudden turn of fortune in favor of the Americans had given him.
Catherine walked slowly homeward, dwelling on the singular appearance of the brave champion, who had so suddenly changed the fortunes of the fight. There was something in the proud tossing of his crest, in the bold waving of his sword, in the grace, with which he reined the motions of his impatient war-horse, that inspired her with the deepest admiration; and she could 19 218 19(1)v 218 not reflect upon the gallantry and spirit, with which he rallied the panic-struck soldiers, without a glow of enthusiasm, and a feeling of strongly excited interest.
Her cheek was flushed with the richest bloom, and her eye kindled into unusual brilliancy by the scene, which she had just witnessed, and the meditations which had arisen from it, when she entered the parlor, where Amelia, pale and sad, reclined upon the sofa, in an attitude of deep and melancholy abstraction.
Are you alone, cousin! asked Catherine, as she entered; I thought Martha had been with you, or I should not have left you so long.
She was, till I sent her away, replied Amelia. Solitude is never disagreeable to me, Catherine.
Ah, you love it but too well, returned her cousin, though I should not now have indulged you in it so long, had I not gone――
Do not tell me where you have been, hastily interrupted Amelia. The dreadful sounds which I have heard this morning are enough to inform me of the scene, which you have witnessed.
And do you feel no interest in it, Amelia, not even so much as to ask how it has terminated! said her cousin.
I wish to hear nothing concerning it, she replied. I have been too severe a sufferer by a similar event, not to shudder at the very mention of this.
My dear girl, said Catherine, you are surely wrong in indulging this excess of feeling, which must cause you so much pain. Situated as we are, we may be often exposed to sounds and sights of war, and we should prepare ourselves to meet with fortitude the events which may befall us, and not shrink, in an hour or trial, from any duty, however painful, which may serve our friends, our country, or ourselves.
You, who have not a father’s loss to mourn, replied Amelia, with emotion, may act, in any exigence, with firmness and self possession. But I, who, by this cruel war, am robbed of my dearest earthly friend, can only deprecate the sanguinary conflict, which blasts the 219 19(2)r 219 fairest blossoms of affection, and desolates so many happy homes.
The tears gushed from her eyes, as she spoke, and Catherine, affected by her sorrow, threw her arm tenderly around her, and said, in a soothing tone,
My dearest Amelia, do not thus afflict yourself. You have many things to console you under this bereavement. Your father died, as he often wished he might, and as mine would a thousand times rather have done, than have become a prisoner, under circumstances so galling and disgraceful.
But though a prisoner, he is still with you, said Amelia; and you are permitted to enjoy his love and his society. You gladly resign an empty honor, for the sake of substantial happiness.
Affection is but too selfish, said Catherine, and I cannot but rejoice that my father is yet spared to me, thought conquered and a prisoner, and regret that it had not pleased Heaven to prolong the life of yours, though he died in the arms of victory. But let us change this painful theme; we shall soon be called upon to exert our fortitude, and I would not have you sunk in sadness and grief, at a moment, when the utmost self-command may be necessary.
What has happened? asked Amelia, wiping her eyes, and looking up, with a countenance of anxious inquiry. Has any accident befallen my uncle or Captain O’Carroll? Speak, Catherine; why have you kept me so long in ignorance?
There is nothing to alarm you, said her cousin, but an occurrence which may deeply try your feelings, and for which I wished to prepare you, when I spoke of the events of the morning.
Do not fear to speak of them again, said Amelia; I will hear you with firmness, and strive to perform whatever duty the occasion shall impose upon me.
I know you will do all you can and ought to do, my dearest cousin, said Catherine, affectionately kissing the still wet cheek of Amelia; I much regret that this unlucky skirmish has occurred so near as to involve 220 19(2)v 220 us in its consequences; but it was unforseen, and if it had been otherwise, it would have been unavoidable by us. The Americans, Amelia, are victorious, and the retreating party, having left their wounded, and among them Captain Talbot, on the field, my father is giving directions to have him brought here, where he can be properly attended to.
Captain Talbot! ejaculated Amelia, in a voice of strong emotion; and, turning paler than marble, she sunk back upon the sofa, and covered her face with her handkerchief. Catherine gazed anxiously upon her, surprised by her excessive agitation, but before she could address her, Amelia, by a powerful effort, recovered herself, and said, though not without embarrasment,
He is the son of my dear father’s most favorite friend, Catherine. Alas! that one so young, so brave, so amiable, should be thus early snatched from life!
We hope he is not badly wounded, said Catherine; at all events, my love, preserve your self-possession. And now that I have told you all, I will go and order a room to be made ready for his reception.
But will no one else come? inquired Amelia, roused by the dread of meeting strangers, from the sad abstraction into which Catherine’s intelligence had plunged her.
I cannot tell, replied Catherine. Possibly my father may invite the American officers home with him; and if so, you must be mistress of ceremonies, Amelia, as I expect to be fully occupied with my wounded hero.
No, I cannot! exclaimed Amelia, shuddering at the idea of meeting, perhaps, those very men who had robbed her father of life. Indeed, I cannot see them, she repeated; let me go with you, dear Catherine, or any where, rather than remain here.
Catherine was half vexed by her cousin’s want of self-command, but sincerely compassionating that excessive sensibility, which, from the errors of her education, often degenerated into weakness, she said to her, with gentleness,221 19(3)r 221
Retire, if you choose, my dear girl; I would not, for the world, by any wish of mine, impose restraint upon your inclinations. It is not very probable that the American officers will call here; but they may, and if they do, I will be at liberty to receive them; so go to your own room, my sweet coz, and I will come to you, when they are gone.
Catherine quitted the parlor, as she finished speaking, and went to direct the preparations for Captain Talbot’s reception. Amelia remained for several minutes, standing in the same position, anxious to retire, and yet ashamed to yield to the weakness which prompted her to do so. The contrast between her own character, and that of her cousin struck her more forcibly than it had ever done before; and while she felt and lamented her own imperfections, she did full justice to the loveliness and superiority of Catherine, who, though gifted with the most exquisite tenderness and sensibility, rose above the weakness and timidity of her sex, ever sacrificing her selfish feelings to the happiness of others, and possessing, on every occasion, that cool and perfect self-command, which enabled her to decide and act with promptitude and judgment.
Occupied with these reflections, Amelia forgot her design of retiring, till reminded of it by the appearance of Captain O’Carroll, who was advancing towards the house, followed by a rude litter, on which Captain Talbot, apparently insensible, was borne by a number of American soldiers. Amelia became extremely pale, and sunk, almost fainting, upon a chair; but her solicitude to retire before the entrance of the party had revived with new earnestness, and by a strong exertion she rose and escaped through a side door into the library, from whence she passed to her own apartment.
In the mean time, Captain O’Carroll entered the hall, followed by the litter of the wounded officer, who, though deprived of sense for a time by a deep cut upon his temple, was not thought to be severely wounded. But his inanimate form, and his pallid countenance disfigured with blood, rendered him a spectacle so shocking 19* 222 19(3)v 222 to female sensibility, that few would have gazed upon it without fainting. O’Carroll feared it might produce that consequence on Catherine, and when he saw her enter the hall, he exclaimed in a hurried tone,
For heaven’s sake, my dear Miss Courtland, retire; you will be shocked beyond measure, by poor Talbot’s ghastly appearance.
I am prepared for it, Captain, said Catherine, still moving towards the litter. Shall I, she continued, who have witnessed a battle, turn pale at the sight of blood, or shrink from those duties which woman was formed to fulfil? You do not yet known me, Captain O’Carroll, if you imagine a wounded soldier can inspire me with any other sensations than those of pity and regret. But order your charge into this apartment, if you please; and she threw open a side door as she spoke. You see I have assumed the office of nurse, and come with all my credentials to the scene of action; here are bandages, and lint, and cordials, and balsams of various kinds, as the nature of the case may require.
And where, may I ask, said O’Carroll, smiling, as she held up her little basket furnished with the articles she had named, where did you obtain the skill, which has taught you to dress the wounds of the soldier?
At Saratoga, you know, I had some experience, she said, as she led the way into the apartment prepared for Captain Talbot. The soldiers followed with the litter, and when they had placed him gently on the bed, she approached and gazed with a steady eye upon him. Poor Talbot, she said, after a brief pause, how changed from the bright and animated face which I beheld, when we last met!
In raising him from the litter, the motion had caused his wound to bleed afresh, and alarmed at the consequences which the effusion of so much blood might produce, Catherine eagerly sought to staunch it, and by various applications, she at length succeeded. She then carefully wiped the clotted blood from his face, and with a courage far superior to her sex and years, she bathed the wound upon his forehead, and placed upon 223 19(4)r 223 it some lint wet with a balsam, the efficacy of which she had experienced during the illness of her father.
With the assistance of Martha, she bandaged his head, and having smoothed his pillow, sat down beside him to watch for the moment of his revival.
O’Carroll observed her motions with interest and surprise; and at length, overpowered by feelings of admiration, he exclaimed with unchecked enthusiasm,
Miss Courtland, you deserve to be the wife of a hero! No inferior mortal can be worthy of you. Talbot is a happy fellow to be the object of such gentle assiduities; though, he is so slightly wounded, I wonder your cares have not revived him.
I wish, indeed, they might restore him to consciousness, said Catherine, scarcely regarding the words of the ever gay O’Carroll.
The surgeon will be here soon, I think, said O’Carroll; the fellow went off for him before we left the field. But I wonder where the Major and――
He quitted the room abruptly without concluding what he had begun to say, and when a few minutes afterward Catherine went out on some errand, he was hastily traversing the hall, humming in a low tone, but so that the words were distinctly intelligible, None but the braveNone but the brave,None but the brave deserve the fair.
Catherine looked earnestly upon him, and remarked with surprise his flushed cheek and sparkling eye.
You are unusually gay, she said, after observing him a moment in silence; mysteriously so, considering the events of the day. May I ask if any thing has occurred to afford you pleasure?
Has not Talbot revived yet? said O’Carroll, evading a reply; and suddenly reentering his apartment, Catherine’s attention was at once diverted from him, and she followed to look upon her patient, but he still remained insensible, and she said with anxiety,
I see no symptoms of returning consciousness; have you observed any, Martha?224 19(4)v 224
No Ma’am, and I have not once lifted my eyes from his face, she replied.
The poor fellow seems still almost lifeless; said Catherine. Can we do nothing for him till the surgeon arrives? At least reach me that bottle of lavender, Martha, the scent may possibly revive him.
While bending over her inanimate patient with a tender assiduity, which heightened her natural loveliness, O’Carroll continued for some minutes to regard her with deep and admiring attention; he then walked towards the door; opened and closed it, apparently without design; stopped to examine the pictures which hung upon the walls; and in short, exhibited so many symptoms of restlessness and unusual excitement, that, notwithstanding her anxiety respecting Captain Talbot, Catherine could not fail to observe it. She looked up with a smile of much meaning, as, after one of these hasty walks through the apartment, he stopped at the foot of the bed, and began twisting the curtain with unconscious earnestness around the post. He caught her smile, and read its expression; but he only said with an air of affected impatience,
Miss Courtland, you are wearing yourself by exertions so new and painful, and wasting both your trouble and your lavender. Permit me to take your place, I am more used to wounds and fatigues than you can be.
Thank you, Captain, I do not doubt your skill, she said; but I have the vanity to think a female hand is skilled above all others, and that mine acquired uncommon experience, during my campaign at Saratoga. Besides, she added, smiling, you know that many an illustrious dame of ancient days has contended for the honor of nursing a wounded hero, and I would not have it said, that those who suffered in America were neglected by its daughters. They boast of spirits as fearless and as lofty, as those which characterized the virtuous matrons of Rome, in the days of her pride and power.
That speech, Miss Courtland, said O’Carroll, laughing, has produced the effect upon your patient, which 225 19(5)r 225 all the balsams and perfumes in your basket failed to do; for see, he actually open his eyes!
Catherine turned quickly to assure herself, that an event so much desired had really taken place, and was filled with pleasure, when she observed a faint color brighten Talbot’s pale lips, and saw his eyes fixed upon her countenance, though with a dim vacancy of expression, which denoted a continued absence of consciousness. Wholly engrossed, however, by her endeavors to aid the efforts of reviving nature, Catherine neither noticed a considerable bustle in the hall; nor the abrupt departure of Captain O’Carroll from the room; and was holding a glass to the lips of Talbot, from which he eagerly drank, when she heard her father, who had entered unperceived, exclaim,
Upon my word, Kate, you have grown a very heroine to-day. First marching off to see a battle, and now binding up the wounds, and administering cordials, with as much sang froid, as if you had been born in a camp.
You mistake, father, the delicate nerves of a true heroine could not have endured the sights which I have looked upon to-day, she said, as she withdrew the glass from the lips of her patient, and shaking back the clustered hair which, while she bent forward had fallen over her face, looked up with a smile at her father. Beside him stood O’Carroll, his eyes sparkling with pleasure and his face all smiling eagerness; and she was no longer at a loss to account for his extreme gaiety, when standing at her father’s right hand, she beheld, with inexpressible surprise, the majestic figure of the long lost and deeply regretted Grahame. His fine countenance was glowing with delight, and his eyes, full of ardent admiration, and ill restrained impatience, were fixed earnestly upon her.
Vivid blushes overspread her features, at this unexpected sight, and as if rivetted to the floor, she remained for a moment immoveable and silent. Grahame involuntarily stepped forward, and at this gesture, Catherine’s suspended faculties awoke; the glass fell from her hand, and she sprang eagerly to meet him. He 226 19(5)v 226 clasped her passive hands fervently between his own, and for a few moments, emotion seemed to deprive them both of the power of utterance. Colonel Grahame was the first to break the embarrassing silence, and he said, though in no very passionless tone,
I find you, as I left you, Miss Courtland, hovering like some kind angel around the couch of the suffering soldier, and soothing his anguish with the healing balm of sympathy and kindness, which woman administers so sweetly.
And I find you, said Catherine, subduing her emotion, and striving to speak with gaiety, I find you Colonel Grahame, still conquering my countrymen, and supplying me with patients, on whom to exercise my skill.
And you take it for granted, Kate, exclaimed her father,” that you need look no farther to find the gallant champion, who turned the fortune of the fight!
I think, father, I cannot be mistaken, she replied.
Colonel Grahame smiled, but, before he could speak, the Major interrupted him.
You are not, Kate, he said. We are indebted to the Colonel for having snatched away our victory, to-day, though we almost forrget the chagrin which it occasioned us, in the pleasure of seeing him again restored to life. But we have a long story to hear, and many mysteries to be explained, before O’Carroll, after so many warnings and intimations, will be convinced that this is really bonâ fide Colonel Grahame, and not some visionary spirit, who has assumed his form, and come among us on his own errand.
I shall be happy to prove my identity, as soon as possible, said Grahame; but first, I should wish to have my gallant adversary’s wounds inspected, and receive the assurance of his safety.
You have no cause for uneasiness, Colonel, said O’Carroll; for you perceive the wounded man has not suffered for want of surgical attendance.
And pray who has bound up this bloody head in such a surgeon-like style, asked the Major. Is it 227 19(6)r 227 you, my brave Kate, who have ventured to dabble your pretty fingers in this poor fellow’s blood?
With Martha’s assistance, father, I attempted to bandage the wound, she replied; though rather awkwardly I fear, as I was apprehensive of causing pain. But the blood flowed freely, and uncertain how long it might be before the arrival of the surgeon, I thought it necessary to check the effusion, and therefore applied lint and balsam, as I had seen your wound treated at Saratoga.
You are a dear girl for your pains, said her father, pressing her fondly against his heart; and have discovered more fortitude to-day, than I, at your age and with your inexperience, should have been capable of exerting.
But had you seen her courage, her self-command, her―― O’Carroll began with his accustomed fervor of feeling and expression, when Catherine hastily interrupted him.
Nay, Captain, she said, smiling, I have seen you laugh more than once this morning, at my awkward inexperience, and now I cannot be appeased, by this vain sacrifice of flattery, offered to my wounded vanity.
Flattery! exclaimed O’Carroll; I should be unworthy of your friendship, were I capable of thus insulting you; you, Miss Courtland, who are superior to ever weakness, exalted in every virtue, far above your sex.
Catherine’s face was instantly suffused with a bright blush, but whether it was occasioned by the sincere and undisguised warmth of O’Carroll’s praise, or by the admiring glance of Colonel Grahame’s eloquent eye, which expressed even more than the Captain had unhesitatingly uttered, it might be rather difficult to determine. The Major, however, who delighted in teazing O’Carroll, laughed heartily, and said, as soon as he could speak composedly,
We shall not call this flattery, Captain, but sober, plain truth, without a single particle of Hibernian hyperbole228 19(6)v 2828 perbole to season it. Kate, I hope you will not grow vain, when you find out what a rare paragon you are.
I think I hear the surgeon in the hall, said O’Carroll, glad of an opportunity to escape from the Major’s ridicule; shall I bring him in here, sir?
Yes, if you please, said Major Courtland; but no, he added quickly, I will go to him myself; and Catherine, my dear, will you order dinner somewhat earlier than usual, as Colonel Grahame is anxious to return to camp, and we will detain him the shortest time possible.
But you will not leave us, Colonel, said O’Carroll, without informing us of your adventures, and in what corner of the earth you have been hid this age past.
The recital will occupy more time than I can possibly command to-day, said Colonel Grahame; but I have promised the Major to pass tomorrow with him, and will then recount all that has befallen me, since the evening on which we parted in the glen at Saratoga. I reached the camp only yesterday, and was, this morning, riding hither, when the noise of the skirmish reached my ear, and on arriving at the scene of action, I immediately perceived, from the state of the engagement, that my interference was necessary.
It was ill-timed enough, however, said O’Carroll, and the consequences incline me to wish you had kept peaceably on your way, instead of turning aside, to snatch away poor Talbot’s victory.
I wish, at least, it had been done with less personal injury to him, said Grahame; but here is the surgeon, who, I hope, will be able to give us assurance of his speedy restoration.
Major Courtland, at this moment, entered, followed by the surgeon, and Catherine withdrew.
The surgeon pronounced favorably of Captain Talbot’s wounds, and after remaining with Colonel Grahame to dinner, they returned together to the American camp. Towards evening the wounded officer fulfilled the surgeon’s prediction, by reviving to perfect consciousness, and though weak, from loss of blood, he 229 20(1)r 229 appeared easy and free from pain. He was delighted to find himself under the hospitable roof of Major Courtland, though a slight degree of agitation crossed his features, when the soft voice of Catherine first greeted his ear, in kind inquiries after his welfare. But it quickly subsided into a tranquil and happy expression, and his eye brightened, whenever her light step sounded in the apartment, or her hand offered any thing to his lips.
Captain O’Carroll watched beside him, during the night, and the morning found him so much better, that the general attention and interest, which an apprehension of his danger had drawn towards him, became fixed upon his brave captor.
The reappearance of Colonel Grahame had caused both the Major and O’Carroll extreme surprise and joy; while Catherine, though less astonished, experienced a variety of sensations, which she sought not to define.
On the following morning, the Colonel arrived early with the surgeon; and when the visit to Captain Talbot was paid, and the doctor had taken his departure, after confirming his favourable opinion of his patient, the wounded man was left for a time to the care of Martha, while the rest of the party assembled in the parlor, to hear the promised recital of Colonel Grahame.
Catherine and Amelia seated themselves at a small work table, the Major occupied a corner of the sofa, while O’Carroll took possession of Miss Courtland’s music stool, and with his back supported against the instrument, remained stationary, during the recital; except, when particularly excited, he swung his seat half round, or rose and walking hastily through the apartment, as hastily returned, and resumed his former station. Colonel Grahame drew his chair towards Catherine, and while recounting his adventures, his eyes strayed, not unfrequently, to her face, which eloquently expressed her feelings, and yielded him a flattering20 230 20(1)v 230 tering testimony of the interest which she took in his recital.
But to spare our readers the frequent interruptions, caused by the remarks and exclamations of the party, we beg leave to relate the tale in our own words; reserving it, however, on account of its length, to form the subject of another chapter.
We will now request permission of our readers to recur to the evening of Colonel Grahame’s singular disappearance, after the conversation, which passed between him and Captain O’Carroll, in the glen at Saratoga. It may be recollected that he left his companion to recover a pistol, which he had forgotten, and was subsequently seen no more, till the period which has again introduced him to our notice.
The Colonel walked hastily to the low, flat rock, on which he thought he had left the weapon; but, after groping over its surface for some minutes, without finding it, he proceeded farther up the glen, to a similar rock, on which he imagined it possible he might have laid it. But here also he was unsuccessful, and feeling it vain to attempt any farther search, involved as every object now was in the obscurity of night, he resolved to defer it till morning, and was on the point of turning back to rejoin O’Carroll, when he heard a low, deep groan, as of some one in distress, and apparently at no great distance; and impelled by humane feelings, he advanced a few paces, and stopped to listen.231 20(2)r 231
The sounds were shortly repeated, with even more distinctness, and they seemed like the moanings of a sick child. Grahame’s compassionate feelings were deeply excited; he imagined that some hapless innocent had strayed from its parents, and was perishing with famine in this wilderness. The thought was agony to him; and forgetful of the situation in which he had left O’Carroll, unmindful even of personal danger, he continued to follow the sounds, which were repeated at regular intervals, intent only on the hope of rescuing the object of his compassion from the miserable fate which awaited it. He was somewhat perplexed, however, to find that the moans seemed to recede, as rapidly, as he advanced; and though he had left the glen, and penetrated into the wilderness, they seemed still at the same distance, as when he first heard them. He could only suppose, that the unfortunate child, bewildered by the darkness, continued to stray, wherever chance might lead, and he walked more quickly forward; and fearful of alarming it, gently and in a soothing tone, called on it to stop.
The sounds instantly ceased, and quite unsuspicious of stratagem, he walked eagerly towards the spot, from whence they had last proceeded, and where he fancied he could perceive a figure move beneath the clear light of the stars, which now thickly studded the heavens, and partially disclosed the gloomy recesses of the forest. But it was only a bush waving in the night breeze; and at a loss how to proceed, he stopped to listen for some sound, which might direct him, when suddenly he felt himself seized from behind by a rude and strong grasp, which confined both his arms with a rigor, from which he in vain endeavoured to free himself.
By a few low words, which passed between the two persons who held him, he perceived that he was in the hands of Indians, and he instantly conceived that they had imitated the voice of a child, to decoy him into their power; for he knew it was the custom of these savages to mimic the cries of different animals, when they wished to ensnare their prey.232 20(2)v 232
The moment this suspicion flashed upon the Colonel’s mind, he renewed his struggles for freedom with a violence, which at length enabled him to seize his remaining pistol; for his sword had been snatched from his side in the first moment of attack, by a third assailant, who now joined his efforts to those of his companions, in an attempt to bind their prisoner.
In the contest which ensued, the pistol went off in the hand of Grahame, and its contents passed through his shoulder. Immediately convinced that all further efforts would now be ineffectual to obtain his freedom, he called loudly upon O’Carroll, unconscious of the distance which separated them, and vainly hoping his voice might reach the ear of his friend, and intimate to him his need of assistance. The wary savages, however, had taken the precaution to lure him beyond the reach of help, before they commenced their attack; and, though assured that they had him now completely in their power, yet, with a fierce cruelty, which they delight to exercise, they tore the military sash from him, and bound it so rigidly over his mouth, that he was inable to utter an audible sound. They then raised him forcibly from the ground, and bore him rapidly onward. For some time, the resistance which he continued to make, caused them much trouble, and greatly retarded their progress; but the effusion of blood from his wound, soon rendered him incapable of exertion, and obliged him to remain passive in their hands.
When they reached the low, wet ground in the forest where Captain Budworth and his party had discovered the human tracks, they placed him upon his feet, still, however, retaining strict hold of him; and stopped a moment to consult on the expediency of crossing the spot, or of going round it, in order to reach their place of destination.
Savages, when apprehensive of pursuit, will seldom venture on ground which easily receives the impression of the foot; choosing rather to travel miles out of the direct course, over a rocky or hard surface, where no trace can be left behind them. In this instance, 233 20(3)r 233 however, they agreed to depart from their usual custom, urged by the situation of their prisoner, whose profuse bleeding had reduced him nearly to a state of insensibility, and by the fear of the immediate pursuit, which the disappearance of so valuable an officer as Colonel Grahame, might occasion. Wrapping a large bear skin about him, to prevent the blood from staining the ground, which would, at once, betray their course, they again raised the Colonel, and proceeded with expedition across the marshy soil, and ascending the precipitous bank, on the opposite side again descended into the ravine, and entered the wigwam, which O’Carroll had explored with Captain Budworth.
A large fire was blazing in the cntre of the hut, before which sat, or rather squatted, in the Indian manner, a young squaw, who rose quickly, as the party entered, and, at the command of him who seemed to be the Chief, spread a large mat upon the floor, on which they placed the Colonel. Two of the savages sat down, one on each side of him, to prevent any chance of escape, should he attempt it; and, perceiving that he looked exceedingly pale, and seemed near fainting from the loss of so much blood, they offered him rum to drink from the shell of a gourd. But he rejected it with disgust; and, making a signal that he preferred water, the Chief ordered the woman to procure it. Grahame understood the Mohawk language, and knew, from their speech, that his captors were of that nation; but he was careful not to betray to them his knowledge, lest it should prevent their speaking with freedom, in his presence, and thus deprive him of an opportunity to learn their designs. He was attentive, though not obviously so, to all their gestures, and to every word which they uttered; and he heard the woman say, as she rose to bring the water, which the Chief had desired her to procure,
He has slaked his thirst with your blood, yet now you pity his sufferings.
The answer of the Chief was made in so low a tone, that he could not understand it, and when the squaw 20* 234 20(3)v 234 approached him with the water, he felt so great a repugnance to her, that he did not raise his eyes to her face, till she said in a whisper, and in very good English, as she bent over him,
Fear nothing; Ohmeina is here, and you shall both be saved.
Grahame started, and looked up with extreme surprise; but she motioned him to remain silent, and the presence of the Indians compelled him to obey her. But where was Ohmeina? and why should this woman give him a promise, which her situation seemed to forbid her performing, and which, besides, was so at variance with the language which she had addressed to the Chief? A promise, too, that implied a knowledge of him, and a degree of interest in his welfare, which seemed to him exceedingly myserious.
As these thoughts passed through his mind, he continued to observe, through his half closed eyelids, the motions of the female; and he could not but admire the singular beauty of her countenance and figure, as they were now clearly revealed to his view by the light of the fire, before which she stood singing, in a sweet, but subdued tone, one of the wild melodies of her nation.
As she caught the fixed glance of Grahame’s eye, she raised her finger to her lips, and, without ceasing her song, changed it into English.
The deer lies close when the hunter is near; the snare may be around him, but he seeks not to set himself free!
Woman, thy song is in the language of the foe, said one of the Indians, with a frown of suspicion. It seemed, however, not in the least to intimidate the female, who with a slow motion of her head continued her song, mingling the English and Mohawk confusedly together.
Frown not upon her, brother, said the Chief. The Great Spirit loves Minoya, and has told her many things, of which ye are ignorant. Her songs are to fright the captive, and she rejoices that we have taken the slayer of our people.235 20(4)r 235
While they continued talking, Minoya, seeing Grahame still observing her, moved towards a corner of the wigwam, where, sitting upright upon a mat, the Colonel perceived his faithful Ohmeina, regarding him with a mournful and tender expression, and who, the moment he caught the eye of his benefactor, bowed his head, and laid his fettered hands upon his breast, with a gesture of affection and respect.
Minoya bent down, and seemed to speak, but in so low a tone, that Grahame could not even hear the sound of her voice, nor could he attend any longer to her motions; for the pain of his wound, which had received no attention, was excruciating; and, united to the intense heat of the fire, against which he lay, reduced him nearly to fainting.
Kamaset, the Chief, perceiving his sufferings, spoke to Minoya, who immediately approached the Colonel, and intimated her wish to examine his wound. Aware of the skill frequently possessed by these people, he submitted his shoulder without reluctance to her inspection, and shortly experienced the beneficial effect of her attention. The contents of the pistol had passed through the fleshy part of the shoulder, and though the wound was, for the present, painful, there was reason to believe, that, with judicious management, it might shortly be quite healed.
Minoya dressed it with a balsam distilled from herbs, of which she had often experienced the virtue, and it so soothed and quieted the pain, that Grahame soon felt almost entirely at ease. She performed her office in silence, broken, at intervals, by a few notes of the songs, which she seemed to have ever on her lips; but she made no attempt to renew her former communications with the Colonel, probably restrained by the presence of one of the Indians, who stood by to observe the mode of her operation, while she dressed the wound. When she had finished, he turned away, and, unobserved, she placed a pillow of deer skins beneath her patient’s head, chanting, while she did it, words to the following effect:Sleep, warrior! sleep in peace! Minoya watches thee! Sleep, son of the lightning! no harm shall befall thee! 236 20(4)v 236
This epithet convinced him that he was in the hands of those savages, on whom he had avenged the destruction of Ohmeina’s settlement; for he knew that in consequence of his having appeared in the midst of a violent thunder storm, and fallen upon them by the glare of the vivid lightning which illuminated the horrible scene, they had bestowed on him the significant appellation by which Minoya had just now addressed him.
This conviction, by no means a consoling one, for some time prevented his enjoying the repose which he required. The uncertainty of his fate filled his mind with gloomy reflections, which were not at all enlivened by the appearance of the fierce looking group who were gathered around the decaying fire. Among them, Minoya mingled; her finely formed figure, and delicate features, full of animation and intelligence, contrasting strongly with the muscular and half naked persons, and hideously painted faces of the Indians. They conversed earnestly, but in a low tone; often looking towards Grahame, who affected to sleep, and using many gestures and signs, which he could not interpret. Minoya bore no inconsiderable part in the conference; her words flowed rapidly, and her motions were graceful and animated, but equally unintelligible to the Colonel, as were those of her companions.
The novelty of this scene, and the interest with which he, for some time, continued to observe it, could not long, however, overcome the influence of a powerful anodyne, which Minoya had administered to him; extreme weariness increased its effect, and gradually the dusky group faded from his view, and he sunk into a profound sleep. He yielded to it the more readily, as he remarked that his faithful Ohmeina was on the watch, though artfully pretending sleep whenever he thought himself observed.
Colonel Grahame was rudely awakened long before day break, by two of the Indians, who were attempting to lift him from the mat. Bewildered by being so suddenly aroused from sleep, he looked around him, unable, for the moment, to account for his present situation, and 237 20(5)r 237 suffered himself, without resistance, to be placed upon a litter of woven branches, which, after the precaution of securing him with thongs of deer skin, two of the Indians raised, and proceeded with him out of the wigwam. The other two led the fettered Ohmeina between them, and Minoya walked by the side of Grahame, without speaking, but uninterruptedly humming her sweet, but monotonous song.
The freshness of the morning air revived the recollection of the Colonel, and by signs he endeavoured to inquire whither they were carrying him, and what was to be his fate. But he received no answer, except a fiend-like laugh, which, heroic as Grahame was, curdled his blood with horror, and suppressed all farther attempt at inquiry.
They continued to march forward in perfect silence, for more than an hour, and with such extreme rapidity, that Grahame thought they must have travelled many miles, when they stopped in the admidst of a wet and tangled thicket, and, setting down the litter, gathered in a group, and spoke to each other in low whispers. Grahame imagined they had nearly reached the termination of their march, and he was not mistaken. They advanced a few paces, and, forcing aside the brushwood and matted boughs, disclosed the narrow mouth of a cave, into which the whole party made their way, by creeping on their hands and knees. A light was instantly struck, and a fire kindled, which revealed to view the interior of the rude cavern. The red and glaring flame glanced wildly on the craggy walls, dripping with moisture, and clothed with a short green moss, which, in this humid atmosphere, flourished in perpetual verdure; while the smoke, after circling in fantastic eddies round the roof, found its way out at the numerous crevices which nature had made.
The place was high enough for a man to stand upright, and ten or twelve feet in circumference. It appeared to have been frequently occupied before, for it was furnished with skins and mats; and many rude utensils, such as are used by the Indian tribes, were 238 20(5)v 238 scattered about it. Grahame was furnished with a mat, on which, wearied and ill as he found himself, he was glad to seek repose; they offered him also some of the food which he had prepared for themselves, but he felt no inclination to eat, though he gladly accepted a draught of cold water from Minoya; and, throwing himself upon his mat, fell into a confused and unrefreshing slumber.
When he awoke, the sun was darting through the narrow crevices of the cavern, and he looked around upon its rough walls, and upon the figures which occupied it, to assure himself that he was not under the influence of a bewildering dream. But, as he identified the person of Ohmeina, and the female Indian, the reality of his unfortunate situation pressed forcibly on his mind.
They were the only ones who remained in the cave; and, for a minute, he lay silently observing them. The hands and feet of Ohmeina were bound, and he sat leaning against the side of the rock; before him stood Minoya, speaking in a low and earnest tone, and with a rapid utterance, as if fearful of sudden interruption. Ohmeina, at length, caught the Colonel’s eye, and unable to control his affectionate feelings, he uttered an exclamation of delight at being able to address him, without restraint; and was making an effort to spring towards him, when Minoya, with a look of alarm, placed her hand upon his shoulder, and said a few words so hastily, that Grahame could not understand them. Ohmeina instantly sunk back, and drooping his head upon his breast, remained silent and motionless. The woman then hasted to the mouth of the cave, and, after listening and looking cautiously around, for several minutes, she returned and approached the mat, on which Grahame was lying.
Without any ceremony, she addressed him in the same hurried manner, in which she had conversed with Ohmeina, informing him, that the Chief would soon return and she must improve this opportunity to 239 20(6)r 239 communicate, what it was of the utmost importance for him to know.
She proceeded to say, that he was a prisoner in the hands of Kamaset, the Chief, who had burned the flourishing settlement of Ohmeina, and who enraged at the vengeance which Colonel Grahame had taken for the deed, swore, with tremendous oaths, to make both him and Ohmeina feel the bitterness of his wrath. Minoya’s husband and infant child were among the victims of that dreadful night, and terrified by the frightful scene of bloodshed and destruction, she, with several other females, fled to the woods for safety. But they were overtaken in the subsequent flight of the Indians, and all excepting herself sacrificed to their fury. Pleased with her beauty, the Chief permitted her to live, and forced her to become his wife. Detesting him in her heart, yet informed of his hostile intentions with regard to Ohmeina and the gallant Grahame, whose lives she hoped to be the instrument of preserving, she studiously concealed her real feelings, and even pretended an affection for Kamaset, and an aversion for the objects of his hatred. In short she completely deceived him, and acquired over him the most entire ascendancy. She also, by assuming a certain air of mystery, inspired him with a belief in her superior wisdom, and rendered herself an object of awe and reverence to his superstitious followers. Never doubting the sincerity of her words, he believed that she was as hostile as himself, to the Colonel and his Indian follower; and persuaded that she held communion with a superior being, he entrusted her with all his projects to ensnare them, and consulted her in every case of importance. In continuing to live with, and affecting to love this monster, whom from her very soul she hated and despised, Minoya did constant violence to her feelings. She sometimes resolved to kill him, and then make her escape; but she was not savage enough to execute the deed of horror. Endowed, in an eminent degree, with that constancy and firm endurance, which are peculiar attributes of the 240 20(6)v 240 Indian character, she suffered every species of mental anguish, and resolved to sacrifice even her life, if that were necessary, to ensure the safety of the Chief Ohmeina, and the gallant Grahame, who had so bravely avenged the cruel slaughter of those who were most dear to her heart.
In the mean time, Kamaset, intent only on accomplishing his revenge, deserted from the English army, with whom his tribe were in alliance, and retired to the deep ravine in the forest, near Saratoga, where he constructed a wigwam, and continued to dwell, till the period which threw the Colonel into his power. Minoya had made several attempts to discover the Colonel, or Ohmeina, and inform them of the mischief, which was threatened against them; but the jealousy with which she was watched by Samokin, an Indian who was in league with the Chief, had defeated her intentions; though she was revolving a plan, which she hoped might prove successful, at the very moment when the art of her savage lord had unhappily entrapped his unsuspicious victim.
On that evening, Samokin, by the order of his chief, was lurking round the outskirts of the forest, where Grahame, with other officers, was often known to walk, when he discovered him, with his follower Ohmeina, slowly pacing up the narrow glen together. Samokin was alone, and perceiving that both his victims were armed, he feared to attack them, without calling in the aid of Kamaset. He accordingly, returned hastily to the wigwam; the chief joined him with two others, and they were on their way back to the glen when they encountered Ohmeina, who had just separated from Grahame, and was proceeding on his destined journey.
He was immediately seized, bound, and, under the escort of the two Indians, sent back to the wigwam. One of them remained to guard him, and the other rejoined the Chief and his companion. When they reached the glen they were disappointed to observe an officer in the British uniform, walking with Grahame. The English had been their allies, their very good 241 21(1)r 241 friends; they feared to offend them, and were apprehensive of being recognised. They waited a long time, in perfect silence, hoping that Grahame might again be left alone; but when they saw the two officers departing together, they began to think their scheme frustrated, for the present. The Colonel however, while talking with O’Carroll, had laid one of his pistols upon a rock, with the intention of taking it up when he had examined the lock of the other; but in the interest of the conversation had forgotten it. Kamaset fixed his eye upon the weapon, of which he possessed himself, the moment he was assured that Grahame and his friend had quitted the glen. But he had scarcely snatched it from the rock, when he heard steps again approaching. He flew to his covert, and though the fast increasing darkness had involved every object in obscurity, their outlines were still visible, and it was easy to distinguish the tall figure of Grahame, from the more diminutive one of O’Carroll. The Colonel was alone, and Kamaset rightly imagined him to have come in search of his weapon. He heard him grope about the rock, and then saw him walk farther on, and stop at a similar one. So golden an opportunity was not to be neglected, and the Chief, gliding swiftly to the upper end of the glen, whispered his companions to precede him, at a cautious distance, while he endeavoured to lure his prey beyond the reach of his assistance.
Artfully imitating the cries of a child, which, with instinctive sagacity, he judged would readily excite the interest and compassion of Grahame, he led him on, till convinced his loudest calls for succour would be made in vain, and then, joining his savage companions, they seized the unfortunate Colonel, and led him captive to their wigwam.
Having related these particulars, which she had learned from theChief, Minoya proceeded to inform the Colonel, that both he and Ohmeina were destined to death; but were first to be carried to an Indian village on the Mohawk, where they were to be publicly sacrificed. Her interposition alone had prevented their 21 242 21(1)v 242 being sent directly thither; but alarmed for the consequences of such a proceeding, she had represented to the Chief the disgrace which would be reflected upon his valor, should he sacrifice a prisoner, who was suffering by a wound from his own weapon; that moreover, should he persevere in his design, his revenge would, in all probability, be disappointed, as it was scarcely possible that the pirsoner, in his present situation, should live till the end of the march.
Fearful of losing his revenge, Kamaset yielded to the persuasions of Minoya, and consigned the Colonel to her charge, with an injunction to heal his wound, within a week. Uncertain, however, whether she should be able to effect his release during that time, she informed the Chief, that the wound was deep, and that it might perhaps be two weeks, before the prisoner would be able to commence the journey. Kamaset heard her with a frown, and said, that if in ten days he could not walk, the fire of sacrifice should be lighted in the cave, or they would convey him on a litter to the Mohawk village. Two of the Indians had that morning set out for the Mohawk village to prepare for the sacrifice of the prisoners; and at the appointed time they were to return, and assist to conveying them thither.
The Chief and his companion resolved, in the mean time to confine themselves chiefly to the cave; and they had now gone to the wigwam, in order to convey from thence what things they valued, and afterwards todestroy the hut, lest it should lead to their discovery.
Minoya charged the Colonel to affect extreme illness, and appear to notice nothing that was passing. She assured him, she would contrive means for their escape, and become herself the companion of their flight; that in order to effect this object, she must pretend to treat them with harshness, and feign to espouse warmly the feelings and sentiments of the Chief; though she had hitherto, and would still, prevent any exercise of cruelty.243 21(2)r 243
Grahame inquired, if it was impossible for her to convey any intelligence of his situation to his friends. She replied that it was utterly so, as Samokin was already so jealous of her, that he had prevailed on Kamaset to forbid her quitting the cave, and should she attempt it, she must inevitably be detected, in which case, not only her death, but that of the prisoners would be the immediate consequence.
Grahame would not, even to save his own life, endanger that of the generous Minoya, and while he thanked her for all she had done, and still wished to do for him, he entreated her to avoid every thing, which might excite suspicion, and expose her to the malice of the bloodthirsty savages. Relying on her sincerity, and trusting much to her address and ingenuity, he resolved to give himself no uneasiness; but if he still remained a prisoner, when his arm had recovered strength, to attempt, by force, what could not be effected by stratagem.
Minoya had scarcely finished her communications, when a rustling noise, at the mouth of the cavern, announced the return of the Indians. It was Kamaset, however, who entered alone, and Minoya no sooner heard him, than she resumed her habitual song, and pretended to busy herself about the shoulder of her patient. Kamaset approached the corner where Ohmeina sat, and addressed him with angry gestures and words of insulting scorn. But the noble Indian disdained to cast down his eyes before a foe, and he fixed them proudly upon the dark countenance of Kamaset, and endured, in perfect silence, the taunts of his cruel enemy. Irritated by the calcmness of Ohmeina, the Chief approached the mat, on which Grahame reclined, and said, with a laugh of horrid triumph,
The white men seek thee, son of the lightning! Arise and join thy brothers, and help them to smite the red men, as thou didst, when Kamaset, the mighty warrior, fled from the strength of thy arm!
By an effort of self-command, which few in his situation could have made, Colonel Grahame subdued 244 21(2)v 244 his feelings, so that not a single feature of his countenance betrayed the slightest emotion. According to the directions of Minoya, he had forced them to appear inanimate, and had assumed an appearance of languor and weakness, which gave an idea of serious indisposition.
The squaw suspended her song, and turning with a severe air to the savage, said, in a haughty tone, which evinced the extent of her power over him,
Foolish Chief, he hears not thy words; he knows not the language of our tribes; speak, and tell me what thou hast seen; and if the paths of the forest are filled with the long knives of the foe.
Kamaset immediately related, that when he had gained the summit of the bank which bounded the ravine, he beheld the wigwam surrounded by soldiers, who pursued, and would have caught him, had he not taken refuge in the hollow trunk of a large tree, near which they had several times passed, so close, that he could with ease have grasped them. When they were weary of searching after him they returned to the ravine; when he quitted his place of concealment, and hastened to the cave. Samokin, who had accompanied the Chief, also concealed himself, on the first alarm of the soldiers, and before he was perceived by them. After their departure, he ventured from his hiding place, and entered the cave while Kamaset was speaking.
He informed them that the soldiers had quitted the ravine, and crossed the marshy ground; and proposed to the Chief to follow, at a distance, and endeavour to wound some of them with their arrows. Kamaset readily assented, and selecting several of his sharpest arrows, the two Indians left the cave, and by a circuitous rout approached the spot, where Captain Budworth and his party were stopping to refresh themselves. The arrow, which alarmed them, and which Captain Budworth plucked from the tree beside him, was from the bow of Kamaset, who with his companion,245 21(3)r 245 ion, took suddenly to flight, after the volley of muskettry, which Budworth caused to be discharged at them.
The wigwam was destroyed that night; and in consequence of the parties, which daily scoured the forest in search of Grahame, the Indians confined themselves closely to the cave, to the great trouble and annoyance of the prisoners. Minoya was not less displeased by it; for her plans were of course delayed, and she feared, should they persevere in this system of seclusion, they might be entirely frustrated. But though constantly revolving new projects, in the hope of finding one, which, under prersent circumstances, might be rendered practicable, she was compelled, in order to lull the suspicions of the jealous Samokin, to appear to treat the unfortunate captives with harshness, and join in the contemptuous language, which was uniformly addressed to them. So well did she act her part, that Grahame began almost to fear it was not feigned.
His wound, in the mean time, instead of healing, grew worse; while the anxiety of the mind, the close confinement which he endured, and the coarse diet on which he subsisted, contributed to reduce him actually to the state of weakness, which Minoya had desired him to affect. In brief, he became exceedingly ill, and when at the appointed time the other Indians returned, to assist in guarding him on the march, his condition rendered it impossible for him to walk, and the labor of carrying him was so great, that the Chief consented to wait another week, when Minoya promised he should be healed.
The general search after Grahame seemed now quite at an end; but a few individuals were almost daily seen by the Indians, lurking about the ravine, and exploring the recesses of the forest. They were in fact, Captain O’Carroll, and the two servants; and the circumstance of their being always well armed, alone deterred the Chief and Samokin from attacking them, as they had but one musket between them, and that was but an awkward weapon in their hands, compared to the bows and arrows, which they were in the habit 21* 246 21(3)v 246 of using. Irritated however by the continued intrusion of the explorers, and fearful of their discovering the cave, the Chief resolved, when reinforced by the two absent Indians, to lie in wait, and cut them off by surprise.
Minoya was informed of this design, and she determined to prevent its execution. Fond of mystery, and jealous of the honor of freeing her Chief and his friend from captivity, she wished at the same time to put an end to the interference of their friends, and save their lives by warning them of the danger which menaced them. This she desired to do without discovering herself, in order to render her communications the more impressive, and to avoid an explanation, which must ensue, should she make herself known. Without revealing her project to Colonel Grahame, she obtained permission of Kamaset to quit the cave for an hour, in search of some roots, which she wished to prepare for the wounded captive. Samokin ventured to oppose her request; but the Chief silenced him with a stern look, and, bidding Minoya hasten back, ordered Samokin to watch the prisoners during her absence.
The squaw left the cave immediately, and hastened to the ravine. It was about the time when O’Carroll usually made his appearance; and she stood for a few minutes on the top of the bank, in expectation of seeing him approach. At last she discerned him and his two followers crossing the wet soil, and, preciptately descending the bank, she concealed herself in a small sunken cavity between two rocks, which rose behind the site of Kamaset’s wigwam. It was scarcely large enough to admit even her slender form; but she resolutely pressed into it, and carefully covered herself with a profusion of moss and dried leaves, over which she drew some pine branches, which the tempests had severed from the trees, and which so effectually concealed the fissure that only a very minute observer would have been likely to discern it. A thick group of dwarf cedars screened the front of the opening, through which Minoya watched the motions of the 247 21(4)r 247 party; and, like the Delphic oracle, from behind its cloudy tabernacle, sent forth her solemn and mysterious warnings. When, however, in spite of her injunction, the imputuous O’Carroll descended into the ravine, she remained motionless and silent; and, though he passed close to the cedars, and even stopped before them, they appeared to grow so immediately out of the rock, that the most distant idea of any person’s being concealed behind them never even occurred to him. Had he stopped to examine he could not have failed to see the piercing black eyes of the Indian peeping from the narrow fissure in which she lay.
The moment the Captain had left the ravine, she stole from her hiding-place, and gathering the few roots she pretended to want, hastened to the cave within the time prescribed by Kamaset.
The return of O’Carroll on the following morning, was not discovered by any of the Indians; and, after watching for several days, and finding he did not again appear, the two Indians, who had recently rejoined the Chief, set off on a hunting excursion, from which they were to return at the end of three or four days.
Delighted with the success of her adventure, Minoya took the first opportunity to relate it to the Colonel; he was amused by her ingenious stratagem; but vexed, that she did not inform O’Carroll of his situation, and direct him to come with a sufficient force to his rescue. She replied, that it would not have been in her power to direct them to the cave, without incurring the danger of detection, in which case they must all have lost their lives; that his friend would not probably have placed any confidence in what she said to him; but would have feared some wicked stratagem; that, besides, she dared not speak openly with him, because she knew some of the Indians were lurking in the forest, and might, perhaps, observe her. She further added, that the two savages who had lately arrived, were just gone off again; and that before they returned she would contrive means for their escape.248 21(4)v 248
Grahame did not express his dissatisfaction, though he felt exceedingly chagrined, that she should neglect so good an opportunity of informing O’Carroll (for, from the description, he had no doubt that it was he,) of his situation. But he saw her spirit of intrigue, and that she coveted the pleasure of being herself the sole instrument of his release; and he became the sooner reconciled to her manœuvre, since two of the Indians had again left them, and his strength was returning so fast, that he imagined he should find it no difficult matter to subdue those who remained.
On the evening succeeding the departure of the Indians, the Chief informed Minoya, that he and Samokin should go out to hunt the next morning, and she must keep a strict watch over the prisoners. She could scarcely conceal the joy, which she felt, on hearing of this design, and she whispered to the Colonel, that, before the next night, he should sit at the board of his white brothers. Great was their disappointment, however, when, on the following morning, Kamaset declared he should not hunt that day; and, seating himself upon a mat, began to shape some arrows, from the tough wood of the ash. Samokin also employed himself in repairing his moccasins; and Colonel Grahame could not subdue his vexation, when he found that their escape was likely to be prevented, for this day at least. He looked wishfully at the place where his sword was deposited, with the tomahawks of the Indians, and would have sprung from the mat to seize it, and fight his way from the dismal cavern, where so many days of his existence had lingered miserably away, had not his fetters convinced him of the hopelessness of the design, and compelled him to exert that fortitude which had so long sustained him.
During the severity of his illness, Kamaset, at the instance of Minoya, had permitted him to remain without fetters; but the moment he began to recover, the jealous Samokin insisted upon the danger of leaving him unbound, and persuaded the Chief to fasten him by the ancle to a strong stake, which was driven into the ground. 249 21(5)r 249 Ohmeina was even more securely fettered; but, as he marked the direction of the Colonel’s eye, he forgot the restraints which confined him, and made an effort to spring from the mat, and seize the weapon, which, had they been unfettered, would have procured them instant freedom.
Minoya only marked their impatient gestures, and, with warning looks and signs, she endeavoured to impress upon them both the importance of perfect quiet and submission. Minutes seemed like hours to Grahame, and the fear that the other Indians might return before they could effect their escape, tortured him with doubt and anxiety. At length, however, to his inexpressible delight, Kamaset finished his arrows; and, taking down his bow, told Minoya he would go hunt awhile in the forest. She followed him to the mouth of the cave, and looked after him to observe in what direction he went; then returning, she glanced significantly at Grahame, and pointed towards Samokin, who was still busied in repairing the breaches of his moccasins.
The Colonel endeavoured to make her understand that he cared nothing for the presence of the savage, who would not dare to make any resistance, if they were armed; and signed to her, to reach him his sword. Samokin sat with his back to them, and was so intently occupied, that he took no observance of what was passing in the cave. Minoya hastily snatched the sword, and, after cutting Grahame’s fetters, and those of Ohmeina, which were formed of the sinews of the deer, twisted firmly in the resemblance of rope, she placed the long absent weapon in the Colonel’s hand, who grasped the trusty steel with as much delight as he would have done the hand of a dear and valued friend. She then armed herself with a tomahawk, and gave another to Ohmeina. All this was done so silently, and so speedily, that it was not till Ohmeina sprang, with a shout, upon his feet, that the startled savage was made aware of the liberation of his prisoners.
It was too late to prevent their escape, and he saw it was so; but with all the fury of that deadly passion 250 21(5)v 250 which is ever most powerful in the breast of the savage, he rushed towards Minoya, and drawing a short knife from his girdle, would have plunged it into her heart, had not Grahame stepped hastily between them, and turned aside the point of his instrument. The wrath of the Indian was then directed towards him; but the Colonel wrested the knife from his hand, and, with a degree of strength which he scarcely believed himself capable of exerting, threw him on the earth. Minoya hovered round with her uplifted tomahawk, ready to let it fall upon the head of a monster whom she abhorred. Her lips were compressed, and her eye flashed with ungovernable passion. She seemed suddenly transformed from a soft and gentle woman, into a perfect fury; and Grahame, as he looked at her, recoiled with a feeling of abhorrence from the features, upon which he had so often gazed in silent admiration. With a sternness, for which he reproached himself a moment after, he bade her retire; and, unwilling to shed the blood of any human being unless self-defence rendered it an absolute duty, he called Ohmeina to assist him in binding the Indian. Finding resistance vain, he submitted in sullen silence; and, having securely bound him, they left him to be released by his companions, and hastily quitted the cave.
Colonel Grahame wished to take the course which would lead them to Saratoga; but Minoya assured him Kamaset had gone to hunt in that direction; and, though she would lead them to Saratoga, she must do it by a circuitous path, in order to avoid the danger of meeting the Chief. Grahame knew nothing of the forest, and he had been conveyed to the cave under such circumstances, that he was unable to judge of its situation; he, therefore, consented to follow the steps of Minoya, and desired her to choose that course which would be safest, and conduct them soonest to the abodes of civilized men.
Minoya instantly set forward, guiding them with caution through the intricacies of the forest, and observing a profound silence, which neither Grahame nor Ohmeina felt disposed to interrupt. For some time, they proceeded251 21(6)r 251 ceeded with extreme rapidity; but Colonel Grahame, weakened by long confinement, and scarcely yet recovered from severe illness, felt himself wholly unable to continue it; and the Indians, therefore, conformed to his more moderate pace. He looked around him, with the feelings of one who has long been immured from the light and brilliancy of nature, and drank in the air, which, though moist and loaded with vapor, seemed to inspire him with new life, and braced his languid frame with a vigor unfelt for weeks before.
They had continued in this way for more than an hour, and made no inconsiderable progress, when suddenly Minoya stopped, and placed her finger on her lip; at the same time making a signal that persons were near them, and they must remain still.
They had scarcely time to withdraw a little from their path, when three Indians started directly in front of them, whom they immediately recognised as Kamaset, and the two, who, the preceding day, had left the cave, on a hunting expedition.
With the most horrible yells, they rushed towards the party; Kamaset, with the aspect of a demon, aimed directly at Minoya, who, not in the least daunted, kept him at lay with the tomahawk which she had brought away with her, till Colonel Grahame interfered, and laid him weltering in blood at her feet. One of the others in the mean time was approaching to strike the Colonel a deadly blow behind, when, Grahame turning suddenly round, he darted back, and took instantly to flight. The Indian who was struggling with Ohmeina, seeing his Chief fall, and his companion flee, quitted his adversary, and followed after him, no longer daring to sustain a conflict which had become so unequal.
The moment they were left alone, Minoya bent over the body of Kamaset, and broke forth into a wild chant:
He has fallen! Kamaset, the mighty, has fallen! Who is there to weep for him? The hand red with the blood of our beloved ones, is left unburied! The wild beast shall devour it! No wife, no child, shall mourn for 252 21(6)v 252 Kamaset! The mighty warrior has fallen, and our wrongs are avenged!
Colonel Grahame was shocked by the cruel triumph which she expressed, indicative of a thirst for vengeance, so incompatible with the gentleness of a female character; with one, too, which had, in many points, been ameliorated by the mild precepts of Christianity. The reader is already aware that Minoya had been a member of Ohmeina’s little community, and by the cruel outrage which destroyed the settlement, was deprived of the objects of her affection, and driven from a home, which a partial civilization had taught her to prize more highly than a perfect savage is wont. From that period she had cherished bitter thoughts of vengeance; and with a constancy which only a mind of uncommon power and strength could have possessed, she had sustained the artificial character which her situation induced her to adopt, till the moment, so ardently anticipated, arrived, for the destruction of her savage masters, and the release of their unhappy victims.
Grahame knew all these circumstances, yet he could not hear her song of exultation over the bleeding body of him, whom, cruel as he was, she had betrayed to death, without being greatly shocked. He gazed upon her, in stern silence; but, with native readiness, she interpreted the expression of his countenance, and said with tears, which cancelled her offence:
Brother! they were our husbands, and our children; and shall we not weep for them! But the blood which stained their graves is washed away, and flowers are springing on the yellow earth which covers them!
She wiped her eyes with her long black hair, and moved hastily away as she finished speaking; and Grahame, who understood by this figurative mode of expression, so common among the Indians, that she had forgiven the crimes of Kamaset, now that his death had expiated them, followed her without reply.
They continued their march till past the hour of noon, when Minoya produced some roasted groundnuts and coarse Indian bread, which she had taken the 253 22(1)r 253 precaution to bring with her, and of which she and Ohmeina made a savory repast; Grahame, excessively fatigued, declined sharing it with them; and, after quenching his thirst from a stream beside which they had stopped, he threw himself upon the ground, cold and damp as it was; and, notwithstanding the anxiety of his mind and the peril of their situation, he slept till Ohmeina awakened him, and urged him to rise, that they might, if possible, clear the forest before nightfall.
Grahame sprang upon his feet, and, refreshed by the short slumber he had enjoyed, was able to resume his march with more rapidity than before. Without interruption they continued it till the sun had set, and night was beginning to veil every object in obscurity, when, to their extreme pleasure, they reached the verge of the forest, and, directed by a bright ray of light, which streamed from the window of a log hut, they bent their course towards it, in the hope of obtaining a shelter for the night.
The rain, which during the day had seemed ready to fall, was now fast descending, and the wet and wearied travellers longed to enjoy the comforts of the blazing fire which cheerfully illuminated the humble dwelling. Leaving his companions beneath a rude shed, where two cows and some sheep had already located themselves for the night, Grahame walked forward, and knocked gently at the door. It was immediately opened by a sturdy, good-humored looking man, who, after glancing over the person of the stranger, and perceiving by his dress that he was an American officer, held forth his hand and bade him welcome, with an honest warmth which evinced his affection for the brave defenders of his country. His wife, a neat and buxom little woman, sat carding wool beside the fire, and at the same time gently rocking a cradle, in which a rosy cheeked infant was quietly sleeping. She rose as the Colonel entered, and offered a seat with smiling, though homely courtesy. Grahame accepted it with the peculiar grace which accompanied all his actions; and, anxious to bring his companions into this comfortable shelter, he proceeded 22 254 22(1)v 254 to relate, as concisely as possible, the cause of his present singular situation, and the leading events which had preceded and followed his release.
The kind farmer listened with interest to his narrative, and with that cordial hospitality and unaffected benevolence which distinguish the honest yeomanry of the United States, hastened to offer the shelter of his humble roof to the poor Indians who had so faithfully served the unfortunate officer. As he left the house Grahame observed that he used a crutch, and seemed to walk with difficulty; and, on inquiring the cause from his wife, he learned that her husband had been so grievously wounded in the battle of Bennington, that he had not been able to serve since, and was but just beginning to go out, after his long confinement. He soon returned, followed by the Indians, who, hardy and patient as they were, yet seemed to enjoy the comfort of the blazing fire and plentiful supper which the good dame prepared for them. Minoya was lodged in an out house, and Ohmeina slept upon the kitchen floor; they wished for no better accommodations, since, unaccustomed to luxury, they could enjoy repose in any situation, when wearied nature required it.
Not so Colonel Grahame; his couch was as good as he desired, far better than that whereon he had slept for for a fortnight past; but his long confinement and the harassed state of his spirits, together with the recent illness which had reduced his strength and depressed the vigor of his mind, forbade his enjoying repose in the first moment of recovered freedom. Exhausted as he was, by the fatigue and excitement of the day, he courted sleep in vain; it fled from his pillow; and, when the morning dawned, he felt himself too ill to rise.
The farmer, with kind sympathy, expressed regret for the indisposition of his guest; and his wife, with the utmost solicitude administered every little specific which she had learned from the experienced dames of her acquaintance. There was no physician within many miles; and, as the Colonel’s indisposition continued to increase, the skill of the Indians was put in requisition. 255 22(2)r 255 Accustomed to heal themselves, they acquire a surprising knowledge of diseases, and the manner of treating them; and their remedies, though extremely simple, are not unfrequently successful, even in the most severe cases.
For a week Grahame remained very ill; but heaven blessed the means which the untutored Indians used for his recovery, and their unwearied attention, united to the kindness of his host and hostess, soon contributed to render his recovery complete.
The moment he was able, he began to make arrangements for his departure, and to reflect how and in what manner he should dispose of Minoya. She was without home, friends, or tribe; she had risked her own life to preserve his, and with unsuspecting confidence thrown herself under his protection. Grahame was incapable of sacrificing her to any motive of personal convenience; and, after some deliberation, he resolved to send her to a friend in Pennsylvania, where her services might, perhaps, be useful, and whither Ohmeina was directly to proceed,. Indeed, such was his destination when entrapped by the Indians; and it was determined that he and Minoya should join a party of friendly Oneida Indians, who, as the farmer informed them, were going to the American camp, to hold a talk with the commander in chief.
Having seen his humble friends with six Oneida Chiefs depart on their journey, which, notwithstanding the coldness of the season, and the distance which they had to travel, they seemed to view as a slight undertaking, he began to think of his own departure.
Neither the farmer nor his wife would listen to any mention of reward. But the Colonel, though he had it not in his power when he left them, for he had been robbed of his purse and every thing else that was valuable about his person, sent them, on his arrival at Albany, a valuable token of his gratitude for their benevolent hospitality to an unfortunate stranger.
The farmer had procured for him a horse, on which he rode to Albany, where he found his faithful servant, 256 22(2)v 256 who, when he left Saratoga, had repaired to that city, where he still continued, in the hope of gaining some intelligence of a master for whom he had never ceased to mourn. After passing one day with a friend in Albany, Colonel Grahame pushed forward with all possible expedition to join his regiment, then quartered with the main army at Valley Forge.
The arrival of Ohmeina at the camp was quickly followed by his own, and the tidings of his welfare had scarcely reached his friends before he presented himself to receive the joyful congratulations of all who knew his worth, and had mourned his loss. And these were not a few; for the manly virtues of Colonel Grahame endeared him to all who were honored by his acquaintance, and procured him the respect and enthusiastic attachment of the soldiery.
The day of his return was fully occupied; but, on the succeeding morning, having obstained a direction to the residence of Major Courtland, he rode thither to renew the intercourse which had been so unpropitiously interrupted at Saratoga. On his way, however, he called upon Minoya, and was pleased to find her quite happy, and zealously endeavouring to conform to the habits of civilized life.
She told him that, on the preceding day, she saw his friend, who had come to the ravine at Saratoga, in search of him, and whom she had warned away with her song; and that she had followed him and informed him by another song, that Colonel Grahame was in safety.
She had, indeed, seen O’Carroll, walking with the ladies, and instantly recognised him. Her love of mystery and adventure prevailed, and instead of accosting him with tidings of the Colonel’s return, she watched him, at a distance, till she saw him enter the house. She then stole after him, and assuring herself by a glance through the window, that the object of her interest was within, concealed herself in the shrubbery, till the darkness became so intense, as to prevent all fear of discovery. She then raised her song, and while she 257 22(3)r 257 gratified her own spirit of own intrigue, so framed her words, as to give the information she wished to convey. When assured that she had attracted observation and excited surprise, she glided rapidly from her place of concealment, and under cover of the night, escaped without detection.
Colonel Grahame could not forbear laughing at this characteristic incident, and at the perplexity, into which he imagined it must have thrown O’Carroll; but at the same time, he gently reproved the Indian for having done so, and warned her not to indulge a propensity, which might be the occasion of much mischief. He then remounted his horse, and was proceeding to pay his respects to his English friends, when the affair of the skirmish interrupted his progress, and introduced him to their notice, in a manner more abrupt than he had intended.
The narrative of Colonel Grahame’s adventures excited the deepest interest, in his attentive auditors, and drew forth many congratulations, for his fortunate escape from the power of the savages, as fervent as they were sincere. Catherine alone remained silent, but it was a silence more flattering to the feelings of Grahame, than would have been the utmost eloquence of words.
He had not failed to observe how entirely she had been absorbed during his recital; he had remarked, with emotion, the rapid mutations of her countenance, and read in them a sanction to the fondest wishes of 22* 258 22(3)v 258 his heart. O’Carroll also had bestowed on her a part of his attention; he saw her cheek alternately glowing and pale, and her eye brighten with hope or sadden with anxiety, as Grahame recounted his adventures, and he felt persuaded that he had read aright the secret of her heart.
But when the Colonel began to explain the manner, in which Minoya had practised on them, the night preceeding his appearance, O’Carroll’s exclusive attention was devoted to the subject, and he had no sooner heard the mystery unravelled than he started from his seat and half laughing, half vexed, exclaimed,
And so this dusky heroine of your’s Colonel, has been all this time leading our wits a wild goose chase for her own amusement, forsooth!
Your wits Captain, if you please, said Major Courtland, highly enjoying this denouement of the mystery. Ours were not in the least disturbed by the song of the syren, for, you may recollect, I told you at the time, it was only some gentle squaw, as susceptible, as fairer ladies, of whom doubtles you can reckon a score, that has followed you from Saratoga, to seduce you with her bewitching melodies.
O’Carroll, mortified that he had made so serious an affair of an occurrence, which in the end had proved so trifling, felt chagrined by the Major’s ridicule, and desirous to elude it, pretended to be so much engaged in rescuing a ball of silk from a small terrier dog, that was lying at Catherine’s feet, as not to notice his words.
Bless me, Miss Courtland, he said, as he snatched it from the playful animal,” Juba has ruined your silk; I fear it will be of no use to you, and my purse must remain unfinished.
Never vex yourself about it, Captain, exclaimed the provoking Major, your wood nymph will make you a much better one of birch bark, or deer skin; her jealousy might take the alarm, if she found you bearing about any gewgaws of Kate’s making, and we have none of us a mind to incur the displeasure of so powerful an enchantress.259 22(4)r 259
She is not vindictive, said Grahame; at least, I have not found her so, among friends; so you need not fear to accept Miss Courtland’s purse, Captain.
O’Carroll fancied he could detect a lurking jealousy in the Colonel’s words, and instantly forgetting his chagrin, he said with a view to develope his secret sentiments,
It will not be safe for me, whom as the Major asserts she regards with feelings of such a peculiar nature, to tempt her wrath; but you, Colonel, may without apprehension wear the gift, which Miss Courtland designed for me; and I am convinced that you will value it above all it ever will contain.
Far, far above all it ever can contain, said Grahame, with an animation which covered Catherine’s cheek with blushes; but she said, with an air of gaiety, as unconcerned as she could assume,
I might have spared the reproof I bestowed on Juba, for spoiling the silk, Captain, since you set so slight a value on the work for which it was designed, as voluntarily to transfer it to another. She then added, with a quickness which evinced her anxiety to change the subject. But when are we to see this heroic Indian, Colonel Grahame, who has made so conspicuous a figure in your narrative, and whose love of mystery, I doubt not, Captain O’Carroll will forgive in consideration of the good service she has done in restoring to him a friend, whose loss he never ceased to regret?
Forgive! repeated O’Carroll, I admire her the more for it, and owe her many thanks for supplying me with such abundance of food for conjeccture. Besides, it furnished me with a theme for some dozens of letters to my friends, which will inspire them with the most romantic ideas of this western world. But apropos to Miss Courtland’s question, of when and where we are to see the handsome savage, Colonel!
And Ohmeina too, said Catherine; of whom I had a transient glimpse yesterday, but before I could address him he disappeared in the forest.260 22(4)v 260
Ohmeina! and in the forest! said Grahame, with a startled look; and pray may I inquire, Miss Courtland, in what part of the forest you saw the Indian?
At no great distance from the path which borders it, she replied, rather surprised by the earnestness, with which he asked so apparently trifling a question. I have not ventured far within its limits, she continued, since our immediate neighbourhood has become the scene of contest; and the Indian would have passed me unobserved, had not a large dog, which followed him, sprung fiercely towards Amelia, and obliged me to descend from a rock, where I was gathering moss, to her rescue.
But I was less alarmed by the assault of the dog, said Amelia, than at the eagerness, with which Catherine pursued this fierce looking Indian, whose person was unknown to me. I forcibly detained her till she explained to me her knowledge of him, and her desire to learn of him some tidings of your fate.
Catherine blushed deeply, as her cousin innocently related a circumstance which, from a feeling of intuitive delicacy she had omitted to mention. She dared not raise her eyes from her work, or she would have seen the look of doubt and perplexity, which had a moment before, embarrassed the fine features of Grahame, exchanged for one of unclouded delight; while with eyes beaming gratitude and pleasure, he gazed upon her glowing countenance.
Major Courtland, who had been for some minutes ruminating on the singular incidents which Grahame had related, observing a pause in the conversation, rose and approached the little group, who were gathered around his daughters work table. Catherine, glad of an opportunity to dispel the embarrassment which prevailed, looked up as he approached, and said,
We are requesting of Colonel Grahame, an introduction to the heroine of his tale, sir; but as yet he has not promised to grant our petition.
He will not be so selfish, as to monopolize her, said the Major; O’Carroll, at least may be permitted 26122(5)r261 to enjoy an interview with this tutelar divinity of his, whom I dare say, he invokes with as much solemnity, as he would any Saint in the calendar.
Now since she has proved a mere mortal, Major, and a swarthy one besides, said O’Carroll. My interest, of course, is not so great, as when I fancied her, some gay creature of the element; a being, who might float upon a moon-beam, or a cloud; fathom the depths of the ocean, and penetrate to the hidden centre of the earth. But as she has saved a life valued by us all, and as the Colonel asserts her to be handsome, I should like to see her; though I confess, I cannot imagine any beauty in a face where the splendor of the rose and lilly are usurped by the dusky and lifeless hue of the olive.
But it is the softest olive in the world, Captain, said Grahame; enlivened by teeth of the finest ivory, and a pair of jet black eyes, whose brilliancy makes ample compensation for the darkness of the countenance which they illumine. And then, her figure is perfect. It has all the native grace and symmetry, which distinguish these denizens of the forest, who from infancy are accustomed to athletic exercises, which require the play of every limb, and unused to any of those restraints, which fetter the motions of civilized children. Thus left free to the forming hand of nature, they expand into a perfection of beauty, which artificial efforts may in vain attempt to equal.
And were you bred among these people, who are such lovers and promoters of grace? asked O’Carroll archly glancing his eye over the symmetrical proportions of Grahame’s fine figure.
Do you inquire, because you find me so familiar with their customs, said Grahame, quite unsuspicious of O’Carroll’s meaning; or because I am inclined to judge them more favourably then many, who without knowing a single individual, stigmatize the whole race as bloodthirsty and barbarous wretches, who should be exterminated without mercy from the earth?262 22(5)v 262
And are they not bloodthirsty and barbarous? inquired Amelia, with surprise.
I cannot deny that they are, Miss Dunbar, replied the Colonel. But how can it be otherwise, when they are early taught to glory in revenge, and to delight in the fierce and hardy exploits, which characterize uncivilized nations? The sweet sympathies of social life are unknown to them; the mild light of christianity has not shed on them its softening influence, nor exalted their females to that station, where they may be permitted to soften with their gentleness, the sterner virtues of their savage lords. But they have redeeming qualities, which inform us what they might become, if brought within the pale of civilized life, and which ought to fill us with the deepest regret, that the remnant of a people, whom we have hunted from their forests, and well nigh exterminated from the soil, should at last perish in the dark ignorance of unenlightened nature.
Those few who have been civilized, may have imbibed virtues, perhaps, said O’Carroll; but I much doubt if they have any inherent in their barbarous state.
You misjudge them, Captain O’Carroll, returned Grahame. Even in their savage state, they possess many virtues, and those the noblest that can dignify humanity.
Did you discover them, Colonel, during the agreeable days you passed with them in the cavern, asked O’Carroll. At least you do not reckon their tying you by the leg with those twisted sinews, among their good deeds.
It was certainly a proof of their ingenuity, said Grahame. But I am sure you will no longer dispute the justice of the praise, which I have bestowed on them, when I name a few of the virtues which, like spots of verdure that occasionally refresh the eye in a land of sterility, appear amidst the harsh and stern features of their character, with a brightness that more than half redeems their failings. A firm reliance on the 263 22(6)r 263 care and protection of a superior being, never in any emergency forsakes them. Reverence and respect for age, fidelity in friendship, and fortitude in suffering, besides many minor virtues, are peculiarly their own. And now will you not confess Captain O’Carroll, that there are few comparatively speaking, even among those who boast of the highest refinement, that can with justice lay claim to all the rare and noble qualities, which I have named, and which, almost without exception, distinguish the tawny savages of our forests?
You have forgotten to mention humanity to captives, said O’Carroll, gravely, of which you can doubtless speak from experience.
I might have said, returned Grahame, that towards captives who are not personally obnoxious to them, they usually exercise much kindness and humanity, either adopting them as their own children, or presenting them to their friends. But if they are rejected by those to whom they are offered, death is not unfrequently their fate.
I have heard, said Catherine, that the brave General Stark, who, like Cincinnatus, quitted his plough, at the call of his country, was once a captive, among some of the Indian tribes.
You are correct, Miss Courtland, said the Colonel. He was taken when a young man, and passed a number of months with them; and the discipline which he there endured, doubtless contributed to form that character of intrepidity, decision, and independence, which renders him one of our bravest as well as ablest Generals.
Yes, he peppered Baum’s fellows unmercifully at Bennington, said O’Carroll.” It was the precursor of that fatal convention which dished up our valor so finely; for, by St. George, I believe he roused up the whole country to fight us at Saratoga.
I thought you would not finish the day, O’Carroll, without ringing a chime upon the worn out subject of the convention, said the Major, petulantly. Indeed, I wonder you have contrived to talk so long, without 264 22(6)v 264 reaching this grand climax of all your eloquence. But, Colonel, in this discussion upon the merits of the savage tribes, we have strayed far from the original topic, and quite forgotten the wished for interview with your friend Minoya. When shall we see her, and where is she? Most of the families in this vicinity are known to me, and I may not be ignorant of that in which she resides.
They are known to very few, sir, returned Grahame, after a brief pause, and with an air of embarrassment; but if you are really desirous to see this squaw, I will send her here with Ohmeina.
By all means, we wish exceedingly to see her, said the Major, earnestly regarding Grahame, whose confusion greatly surprised him, as well as his declining to mention the name of the family with whom Minoya resided. But there is no haste, he added; consult your own convenience, Colonel; we are ready at all times to receive her.
There is no occasion for delay, said Grahame, I will instruct Ohmeina to conduct her highter tomorrow or the day following.
When you please, Colonel; we all feel interested in one who has so much agency in preserving your life; and, should the fate of war call you from us, I make it my request, that you will resign this amiable savage to our protection.
I sincerely thank you, sir; returned the Colonel; and, should circumstances compel me to remove her from her present situation, I shall accept with gratitude your kind proposal.
Do so, Colonel, said the Major; and now, with your leave, I will just step and see how Talbot is. I fear the poor fellow has passed a tedious morning alone.
I hope, sir, I have not been the means of detaining you from him, said the Colonel. I beg my presence may be no restraint upon you; if you consider it so, I shall be compelled to make my visits less frequent than I am inclined.265 23(1)r 265
That shall not be, said the Major; and, to prove that I mind you no more than I should O’Carroll, I will not even ask you to excuse me, and perhaps may not again make my appearance till dinner time.
He quitted the room as he finished speaking; and the Captain laughing, said,
You have, indeed, caused us to forget our wounded hero, Colonel Grahame; I doubt if even Miss Courtland has once thought of him since the surgeon left us.
Yes, I have, several times, said Catherine; and was on the point of rising to visit him, when my father anticipated me. But I believe Captain Talbot has not been entirely neglected; for I observed Amelia steal away once since Colonel Grahame finished his recital; and, from her long absence, I fancy she had been on an errand of consolation to our disabled knight.
I wished to speak with Martha, said Amelia, blushing. But Captain Talbot had so many questions to ask concerning your visit to Saratoga, Catherine, that I was detained much longer than I wished.
Than you wished, cousin! said Catherine, in a low tone.
Amelia’s blushes deepened, but she made no reply, and kept her eyes fixed steadfastly upon her work. Grahame was earnestly regarding them; and the nature of his meditations was not rendered more pleasant by O’Carroll’s observing:
Talbot is a noble fellow, and a brave one too; we served together in Ireland, and there was not an officer in the regiment more generally beloved.
And he is highly connected, I believe, said Catherine.
Yes, returned O’Carroll; he is the son of an English baronet, and the nephew of an Irish peer, whose title he will probably inherit; for the present heir is as sickly a scion as ever sprouted from a noble tree.
He will probably rise fast in his profession, observed Catherine, since he has powerful friends to interest themselves in his promotion23 266 23(1)v 266
That he has done already, said O’Carroll; but it has been by merit only. He disdains to rise by any other means, and refuses all the offers of his friends to assist his promotion.
It is such conduct as I should have expected from him, said Catherine. Before we went to Albany he was often here, and he became a great favorite with us. He was so candid, so free from the spirit of party; and, though zealous in the cause of his country, he expressed his opinions with perfect modesty, and spoke of his opponents with a manly generosity that won our esteem. Colonel Grahame, I think you will find much to admire in this gallant adversary.
Grahame started when Catherine addressed him; for both he and Amelia had remained silent during this short conversation, alike attentive to all that was said, but agitated by far different feelings. Putting down the dog, that uninvited, and almost unnoticed, was fawning upon him, he replied.
It can be no subject of surprise to me, Miss Courtland, to find talents and virtue united to gallantry and courage. I only regret for him and those friends to whom he is deservedly dear, the consequences of that fearless intrepidity which has caused his present sufferings.
And you really regret, said O’Carroll, that you have captured Talbot, since you find him a brave fellow, and a huge favorite here.
You misunderstand me, Captain, returned the Colonel. I pride myself still more upon my conquest, since I find it one so highly worth the making. I only regret the effusion of so much blood, and the personal injury which Captain Talbot has received.
We all regret that, said Catherine; but hope our united skill will soon effect a complete cure. In the mean time, national feelings out of the question, we can none of us, in sincerity say, we are sorry for this pleasant addition to our family circle, though we will not be so disloyal as to thank you for it, Colonel. I fear, however, the Captain himself will not rejoice at it. 267 23(2)r 267 The change will be rather dull from a gay city, crowded with military and enlivened by the society of ladies, to a retired countryhouse, occupied by a few quiet individuals, whose days glide on without any distinguishing occurrence, except an occasional encounter of wits between my father and Captain O’Carroll, which pleasantly disturbs the waveless calm of our retirement.
Or an occasional argument, said the Captain, between the Major and yourself, Miss Courtland, on the merits of the republican cause, which you display so much ingenuity and address in defending.
It requires no great effort of ingenuity to defend the right, replied Catherine, smiling, and slightly blushing. And you know I have induced you both to concede many points which formerly it was treason to mention in your presence.
You need not look so delighted, Colonel, said O’Carroll, as Grahame raised his fine eyes, full of pleasure, to the face of Catherine. She will not make traitors of us, he continued; though these Circes of womankind can effect almost any metamorphosis, yet I believe our loyalty will resist all the magic of the sex.
It is not your loyalty, Captain, that I seek to weaken, said Catherine; but some few prejudices only, which, I am happy to say, have almost disappeared since the convention of Saratoga.
How now, Kate, exclaimed the Major, suddenly entering the apartment; you have not taken up the burden of O’Carroll’s song, I hope. I did not know you were within hearing, father, or I should not have ventured to speak of the convention, said Catherine.
Tush, girl; why name it again? exclaimed the Major. Excuse me, Colonel Grahame, but I cannot for my life hear this shameful surrender mentioned without chagrin and mortification. It is my humor, and you must pardon it.
Willingly, sir, replied Grahame; but you must allow me to repeat what the American officers are 268 23(2)v 268 unanimous in declaring, that no self accusation ought to imbitter the reflections of the men, who fought with such intrepid gallantry.
Thank you, Colonel replied the Major; humiliated as we are, we are still compelled to feel, and to acknowledge the generosity which has sought to alleviate the misfortunes of a vanquished foe, and soften the regrets and mortifications of his forlorn situation.
If such has been the conduct of the Americans, sir, returned the Colonel, it will perhaps convince you, that there is less of party feeling than of the pure amor patriæ in the motives which have driven them to arms; that they cannot forget the ties which once united them to the land of their fathers, nor cease to regard as brothers, those with whom they would gladly be reconciled, whenever circumstances shall render it practicable and expedient.
I know, Colonel, you believe your cause righteous, and so do we ours, said the Major. I doubt not there is party spirit on both sides; and on both sides, I am sure, there are men of pure, upright, and candid minds. But, at all hazards, it is an unhappy contest; and since I am no longer permitted either to aid my own party or to injure yours, I am sometimes half resolved to quit this scene of strife, and return with my daughter to the peaceful shores of my own long forsaken, but still fondly remembered country.
Grahame looked disturbed, while Catherine, suddenly changing color, said quickly:
To England, father! Who will welcome us there? You are forgotten, and I was never known. It will, indeed, be like seeking a strange land, where there is no friend to embrace us, and no eye to beam with pleasure at our approach.
And what, child, have we to bind us to this soil? asked her father. It is drenched with the blood of our countrymen, and trodden by a people who view us with hatred and suspicion.
You wrong them, father, replied Catherine; we have received only kindness at their hands; kindness 269 23(3)r 269 which has bound me to them by a thousand tender ties. And there are some sweet and sacred links, dear father, which unite you to this lovely land.
Yes, there is one, there is your mother’s grave, returned the Major. But there are dearer memorials of her in the green vallies of Devonshire, where I first called her my own, and where you, my love, were born.
He walked towards a window as he spoke, subdued by the recollection of earlier days, and of the wife who had rendered them so happy. Catherine, hurt that she had awakened painful emotions in her father’s breast, remained silent and downcast; but he quickly recovered himself and returned to the circle with his usual air of cheerfulness.
You have not informed us how you found Captain Talbot, Major, said O’Carroll, anxious to change the subject of discussion, and dispel the slight shade which still hovered upon Cathaerine’s open brow.
Looking as wo-begone as the knight of the rueful countenance, returned the Major. I stopped with him sometime, but found him so incorrigibly stupid, that I was glad to return to more agreeable company. I left him, however, with a promise, which I had well nigh forgotten, of sending you, Kate, to chase away the blue vapors which seemed to be settling around him.
It is no enviable task, sir, I acknowledge, said Catherine; though as hostess and superintendant of the hospital, I feel it my duty to attempt it. But really I think Captain O’Carroll would have been a fitter ambassador to send on this mission; for you know from experience, father, that neither gloom nor sadness can long resist the glance of his mirthful eye.
You are wrong, Kate, said the Major; he would have regaled the poor fellow with a dissertation on the treaty of Saratoga; and he feels his own surrender heavily enough, without being obliged to hear of other people’s mishaps.
You have become quite fond of the treaty, Major, said O’Carroll, and garnish your speech with it almost as often as I am wont to do.23* 270 23(3)v 270
I will begin and end every sentence with it for a month to come, said the Major, if that will cause you to be weary of it, O’Carroll. But away, Kate; if you linger here any longer, the Captain will think I deceived him just to get off myself.
I am gone, sir, said Catherine, though without a hope of success. Come, Juba, and help me to entertain your master.
Poor fellow, he is a dog of taste, and chooses to remain with more cheerful people, said O’Carroll, as he laid his hand upon the dog, who stood wagging his tail, and looking, first at Catherine, and then at the Captain, as if uncertain which invitation to accept.
But I cannot execute my mission without a coadjutor, said Catherine; so if you will not part with the dog, Captain, you must go in my stead.
Oh, as for a coadjutor, returned O’Carroll, if you do not insist upon his being a quadruped, Colonel Grahame, I doubt not, will gladly accept the office; if I may judge from his looks, he was on the very point of offering his services.
I would not bestow on him a task so unwelcome as that of soothing the wounded pride of a vanquished soldier, said Catherine, deeply blushing. Without giving the Colonel time to reply, she opened the door, on the lock of which her hand had rested, for several minutes, and went hastily out, followed by Juba, who sprung from O’Carroll, and, bounding on before her, led the way to his master’s apartment.
Catherine knocked gently at the door, which was opened by Martha, who, although Talbot’s servant had that morning arrived from Philadelphia, maintained her station beside the sick man’s bed, assured that her skill and experience were necessary to perfect his restoration.
Juba sprung upon the bed, the moment he had forced his way into the room, and by a thousand mute demonstrations, expressed his joy at again beholding his master. But they did not meet with that attention, which another, and a more interesting object completely engrossed. Talbot heard the soft voice of Catherine271 23(4)r 271 rine, inquiring of Martha, if he was asleep, and through the folds of his bed curtains, he caught a glimpse of her lovely figure, approaching on tip-toe towards him. The next moment she stood beside him, and the pleasure which he felt in seeing her, was eloquently expressed by the sudden brightening of his eye, and the vivid glow, which overspread his before pale cheek.
This is very kind, Miss Courtland, he said; to quit the gay circle of your friends, for the unsocial gloom of an invalid’s apartment.
Even pleasure sometimes wearies, replied Catherine; and though I cannot, in this instance, allege that as the cause of my present visit to you, yet I assure you, I left my guests, without the least reluctance, and came, at my father’s desire, to beguile if possible your solitude.
Then I am indebted to the Major for this visit, said Talbot, with a look of disappointment.
Not entirely, returned Catherine. I have been twice on the point of coming hither, but was once anticipated by Amelia, and once by my father, both of whom I thought abler comforters than myself. But I hope you continue as well, as when the surgeon left us this morning? your color varies so frequently, that I fear you are more indisposed.
Indeed I have not felt so well before, to-day, Miss Courtland, as I do at this moment, said Talbot, while a still deeper glow suffused his feature, and increased the apprehensions of Catherine.
He has certainly much fever, she whispered aside to Martha, who shook her head with a grave look, saying,
And I fear, Miss Catherine, we can never cure it.
Do you then think him so very ill? asked Catherine in the same low tone, and with a countenance of extreme concern.
Martha smiled at the simplicity of her young lady, in not detecting the cause of Captain Talbot’s frequent change of complexion, which her discernment had long 272 23(4)v 272 since enabled her to discover, and she replied in a whisper,
Do not alarm yourself, Miss Catherine; the Captain has no more fever than most other young men of like courage, and I dare say his sickness will end well enough.
Ah, if that is all, we have indeed no cause for apprehension, replied Catherine; and she returned to the side of Talbot’s bed, who had begun to grow impatient of her conference with Martha.
Finding the Captain inclined to converse, Catherine remained with him some time. He seemed to forget his indisposition, and to derive new life and animation from the presence of Catherine. A variety of topics occupied them in succession, and the Captain fearing lest a pause in the conversation, should give her an opportunity to quit him, did not suffer it to occur, but continued to engage her without interruption on subjects, which he thought would interest her.
Catherine knew that Talbot and O’Carroll, had long been intimate, and she wished to ask of him some particulars respecting an unfortunate attachment, to which she had once heard O’Carroll allude.
He was, indeed, deeply wounded, said Talbot, in reply to her inquiry. But the native haughtiness of his spirit forbade his sinking into despondency. It was somewhat of a singular affair, though I could never prevail on myself to believe the lady meant him ill.
It was ill, said Catherine, to deceive him, with a promise of affection, which she did not feel.
True, if the deception was intentional, returned Talbot; but I am inclined to think there was a good deal of treachery practised on her, as well as upon O’Carroll.
And what reason have you to think so? asked Catherine.
Perhaps, I judged hastily, said Talbot; but appearances certainly justified my suspicions. O’Carroll and myself, at that time, served in the same regiment, and were quartered near ―― in the county of Ulster273 23(5)r 273 ster, where his acquaintance with the lady of his affections commenced. Her father, Mr. Spencer, was one of those reduced gentlemen so common in Ireland, and she resided with him, on a small patrimonial estate, which was all that remained to them of a considerable inheritance. We obtained an introduction, and made them long and frequent visits: for our society was rather limited, and we found Mr. Spencer gentlemanly and intelligent, and his daughter lovely and accomplished. O’Carroll shortly became her declared lover, and was accepted both by herself and her father, with undisguised pleasure. Indeed she gave so many unequivocal proofs of her affection for my friend, that it was impossible to doubt her sincerity. From after events I might have suspected her of deliberately acting a part to deceive, had not her character seemed to me so perfectly artless, tender, and confiding, as to render such a suspicion absurd.
How then, inquired Catherine, do you account for her change of conduct.
A Mr. Dalkeith came to reside at his seat in the neighbourhood, returned Talbot, who, I suspect, had a powerful agency in the affair. He was rich, and rather handsome, and he became a frequent guest at the house of Mr. Spencer, by whom he was evidently courted and admired. He often praised Miss Spencer’s charms, and though, in presence of her lover, he forbore to make her the principal object of his attention, it was evident to all that she only occupied his thoughts. O’Carroll’s jealousy was excited, he became petulant and reserved; and I am positive, that the change in Miss Spencer’s manners may be partly attributable to this cause. He would often absent himself, for several days together, from her society, and when again he saw her, the interview only furnished him fresh cause for suspicion, and he would leave her, far more wretched than before. Her father certainly treated him with less cordiality and her dejection, which to me wore the air of deep-rooted sorrow, seemed to the tortured lover, the effect of unconquerable274 23(5)v 274 ble aversion. Her silence, her tears, her reserve, convinced him of her attachment to Dalkeith, and he estranged himself more and more from her society.
At last he received a few lines one morning, from Mr. Spencer informing him, that he was on the point of setting off for Dublin with his daughter, and should not return for several weeks. O’Carroll knew that the journey had been long in contemplation, but angry that Miss Spencer should not even write a line to say farewell, he suffered her to depart, without even an attempt to see her. Before the period fixed for their return however, O’Carroll had forgotten his chagrin, and found a thousand excuses for Miss Spencer’s conduct. With the impatience of devoted love he counted the days and hours of her absence, and as the term fixed for their return drew towards a close, he rode every day to the house, in the hope of finding them there. But four, five, and even six week wore away, and still they did not return. Distracted with anxiety, he wrote repeatedly to both father and daughter; but without receiving any answer. Unable any longer, to endure the agony of suspense, he at last obtained leave of absence from his regiment, and was on the point of setting out for Dublin, when a letter was handed him from Mr. Spencer. Its contents at once terminated his doubts and hopes. They informed him that circumstances had occurred, which would render it impossible for any connexion to take place between him and Miss Spencer; that she herself desired him to renounce the hope; and in order to avoid any future intercourse, they should not return to ―― so long as his regiment remained in its vicinity. The letter ended with advice to him to forget them, and with many wishes for his happiness. A few lines from Miss Spencer, written with a trembling hand, at the bottom of the page, confirmed all that her father had said, and concluded with a repetition of the same wishes, though less copiously expressed. The Captain was frenzied with rage and disappointment, which were not at all softened, when, on riding to the house of Mr. Dalkeith, 275 23(6)r 275 he learned that he had left the place, several weeks before. Without delay, he pursued his way to Dublin; but neither Mr. Spencer nor Dalkeith were to be found: every search after them was vain, they were no where to be traced. Still he continued his inquiries, and before he was resolved to give them up, he was transferred to another regiment, and that to which I was still attached, was ordered to embark for America. I saw him before we sailed, but so altered, that I should scarcely have known him; pale, dejected, the very shadow, in fact, of what he was. A year after, he followed me to America, and now the fortunes of war have thrown us unexpectedly, indeed, beneath the same hospitable roof.
And has he never seen Miss Spencer, since that time, nor even heard of her? asked Catherine, deeply interested by the circumstances, which Talbot had related.
He has neither seen nor heard of her, returned the Captain. We were informed that Mr. Spencer did not again return to his estate, and that Dalkeith proved an impostor, and fled the country; but whither they went, and what has been their fate, we have been unable to discover. I believe, however, that O’Carroll was too deeply wounded by the conduct of Miss Spencer, ever to love again.
And does he still cherish the hope of finding her, asked Catherine.
He continues tenderly to love her, and often reproaches himself for his harshness towards her, said Talbot; but he dares not indulge the hope of finding her free; and he could not endure the shock of seeing her the wife of Dalkeith, and living perhaps in wretchedness and obscurity. He therefore seldom mentions her, and has long since given up all efforts to discover her. I am persuaded however, if she has married Dalkeith, it was only by the express command of her father.
Oh yes, I am sure she loved O’Carroll, said Catherine; and amidst all his gaiety I can often see 276 23(6)v 276 that the remembrance of the past comes like a cloud over his spirits. But you are weary, Captain Talbot, I have done wrong in suffering you to talk so much, and upon a subject not at all calculated to enliven you.
I feel perfectly well, said Talbot, and were it not for these troublesome bandages, I should have a mind to make my debut at dinner; instead of remaining here to eat my soup alone.
Not to day., said Catherine; but within a week, perhaps, we may allow you a seat at the table, provided you will endure silence and solitude, and consent to fast till then.
I will endure abstinence willingly, if you prescribe it, said Talbot; but I did not expect you to enjoin solitude and silence, after witnessing the beneficial influence of the last delightful hour.
Well, then, I will permit occasional society, said Catherine; I would not have you weary of your captivity, when it has but just commenced, and I already fear, you will sigh for the gaiety of the city, before you have passed a week in our quiet and retired abode. Our circle is seldom larger than it is to-day, and we are of course obliged to depend upon ourselves and each other for amusement.
I have ever loved the life removed, said Talbot, in the words of O’Carroll’s favorite bard; and the calm pleasures of domestic life, the rational enjoyments of friendly intercourse and society, will be peculiarly delightful to me after the noisy tumult of scenes, in which I have been compelled to live, for the year past.
But you know, Colonel Grahame is a frequent guest here, said Catherine; will it not be disagreeable to you to meet an American officer?
Not at all, said Talbot, I am glad of an opportunity to become acquainted with some of those men, who are stigmatized with every opprobrious epithet by many of my brother officers, and praised and admired as much, by many more.277 24(1)r 277
And those the bravest, and most impartial, I doubt not, said Catherine.
The most impartial certainly, replied Talbot; but brave men, Miss Courtland, will have prejudices, and sometimes express them too, in most intemperate language.
A summons to dinner interrupted the conversation.
It is quite time for me to leave you, Captain Talbot, said Catherine, as she rose to go; and if you are not as well tomorrow, I shall be compelled to reproach myself for it.
Your presence brings only healing with it, said Talbot, in a tone so marked, and with a look so expressive of tenderness and admiration, that Catherine blushed and quitted him, without reply; though as she crossed the hall, she chid herself for having betrayed any emotion at a mere effusion of gallantry, and which even if seriously intended, she was far from designing to receive in earnest.
When she entered the parlor, O’Carroll rallied her on the length of her visit to the invalid, and though she parried his attack, with the most perfect non chalance, he was induced to continue it, because he observed Colonel Grahame to be disturbed by it. The conversation, however, gradually became general, and the dinner hour passed pleasantly away. Even Amelia, though naturally taciturn and reserved, was drawn by the address of Grahame, to take part in the various subjects, which in succession employed the wit, the eloquence, or the grave morality of the party.
When they rose from table, the Colonel went to take leave of Captain Talbot, and after promising the Major to pass the next evening with them, he remounted his horse, and returned to the American camp, ruminating as he rode along, upon the occurrences of the day, and the different characters, with whom he had associated.
End of Vol. I.24 278 24(1)v