"It seems to me, Mr. Sartliff, that in your effort to get back individually, you have encountered more difficulties, collisions, and ills, than the most of us do, who keep on the old orthodox civilized way to the devil."
"That may be; I am one, looking alone; nobody helps me."
"And like the younger Mr. Weller, you find it a pursuit of knowledge under difficulties."
"Precisely; I inherited an artificial constitution, and tastes, and needs. I began perverted and corrupted, and when I go back to Nature, she teaches me less than she does the beasts and birds. Before I can understand, or even hear her voice, I must recover the original purity and strength of organs and faculties which I might have had. I may perish in the attempt to reach a point at which I can learn. The earth chills and hurts my feet, the sun burns my skin, the winds shrivel me, and the snows and frosts would kill me, while many of the fruits good for food are indigestible to me. See to what the perversions of civilization have reduced me."
"Do you propose in thus getting back to nature, to go back to what we call savagery?" asked Bart.
"Not a bit of it. It was the wants and needs of the race that whipped it into what we call civilization. When once men got a start they went, and went in one direction alone, and completely away from Nature, instead of keeping with her and with an unvarying result; an endless series of common catastrophes has overtaken all civilized nations alike, while the savage tribes have alone been perpetual. I don't say that savage life is at all preferable, only that it alone has been capable of perpetuating races. In going back to Nature, I propose to take what of good we have derived from civilization."
"As historic verity," said Bart, "I am not quite prepared to admit that savage races are perpetual. We know little of them, and what little we do know is that tribes appear and disappear. General savagery may reign, like perpetual night, over a given region, but who can say how many races of savages have destroyed and devoured each other in its darkness?"
They had reached the forest, and Sartliff placed himself in an easy position at the foot of an old beech, extending his limbs and bare feet over the dry leaves, in such a way as not to injure any springing herb. "Mr. Ridgeley," said he, "I would like to know more of you. You young men are fresher, see, and what is better, feel quicker and clearer than the older and more hackneyed. Are you already shelled over with accepted dogmas, and without the power of receiving new ideas?"
"I hardly know; I fear I am not very reverent. I was born of a question-asking time, like that Galilean boy, whose, mother, after long search, found him in the Temple, disputing with the doctors, and asking them questions."
"Good! good! that is it; my great mother will find me in her Temple, asking questions of her doctors and ministers!" exclaimed Sartliff.
"And what do you ask, and what response do you get?" asked Bart.
"I lay myself on the earth's bosom in holy solitudes, with fasting and great prayer, and send my soul forth in one great mute, hungry demand for light. I, a man, with some of the Father God stirring the awful mysteries of my nature, go yearningly naked, empty, and alone, and clamor to know the way. And sometimes deep, sweet, hollow voices answer in murmurs, which I feel rather than hear; but I cannot interpret them, I cannot compass their sounds. And sometimes gigantic formless shadows overcloud me. I know they have forms of wondrous symmetry and beauty, but they are so grand that my vision does not reach their outline, and I cannot comprehend them. I know that I am dominant of the physical creation on this earth, but at those times I feel that these great and mighty essences, whose world in which they live and move, envelopes ours and us, and to whom our matter is as impalpable air—I know that they and we, theirs and ours, are involved in higher and yet higher conditions and elements, that in some mysterious way we mutually and blindly contribute and minister to each other."
"And what profit do you find in such communication?" asked Bart.
"It is but preparatory to try the powers, clear the vision and senses, train and discipline the essential faculties for a communion with this essence that may be fully revealed, and aid in the workings and immediate government of our gross material world, and the spirits that pertain to it more immediately, if such there are."
"And you are in doubt about that?"
"Somewhat; and yet through some such agencies came the givings forth of the Prophets."
"You believe in the Prophets?" asked Case.
"Assuredly. The many generations which inherited from each other the seer faculty, developed and improved, living the secluded, severe, and simple lives of the anchorite, amid the grand and solemn silence of mountain and desert, were enabled, by wondrous and protracted effort, to wear through the filament—impenetrable as adamant to common men—that screened from them the invisible future, and they told What they saw."
"Yet they never told it so that any mortal ever understood what they said, or could apply their visions to any passing events, and the same givings out of these half-crazed old bards, for such they were, have been applied to fifty different things by as many different generations of men," said Case.
"That may have arisen, in part," said Bart, "from the dim sight of the seer, and the difficulty of clothing extraordinary visions in the garb of ordinary things. It is not easy, however, for the common mind to see why, if God had a special message for His children of such importance that He would provide a special messenger to communicate it, and had a choice of messengers, it should reach them finally, in a form that nobody could interpret. With God every thing is in the present, all that has happened, and all that will, is as the now is to us. If a man can reach the power or faculty of getting a glimpse of things as God sees them, he would make some utterance, if he survived, and it would be very incoherent. Besides, human events repeat themselves, and a good general description of great human calamities would truthfully apply to several, and so might be fulfilled your half hundred times, Mr. Case."
"That isn't a bad theory of prophecy," said Case approvingly; "but all these marvels were in the old time; how came the faculty to be lost?"
"Is it?" asked Bart. "Don't you hear of it in barbarous and savage conditions of men, now? Our friend Sartliff would say that the faculty was lost, through the corruptions and clogs of civilization; and he proposes to restore it."
"No, I don't propose to restore that exactly. I want to find a way back to Nature for myself, and then teach it to others, when the power of prophecy will be restored. I want to see man restored to his rightful position, as the head of this lower universe. There are ills and powers of mischief now at large, and operative, that would find their master in a perfect man. One such, under favorable auspices, was once born into this world; and we know that it is possible. He took His natural place at the head; and all minor powers and agencies acknowledged Him at once. I have never been quite able to understand why He, with His power of clear discernment, should have precipitated Himself upon the Jewish and Roman power, and so perished, and at so early a day in His life."
"So that the prophets might be fulfilled," said Case.
"It may have been," resumed Sartliff.
"Upon the merely human theory of the thing," said Bart, "He could foresee that this was the only logical conclusion of his teachings, and best, perhaps only means of fixing his messages and doctrines in the hearts of men. I may not venture a suggestion, Mr. Sartliff," Bart continued; "but it seems to me, that your search back will necessarily fail. In searching back, as you call it, for the happy point when the strength and purity and the inspiration of nature can be united with all that is good in Christian civilization, if your theory is correct, your civilized eyes will never discern the place. You will have passed it before you have re-acquired the power to find it, and your life will be spent in a vain running to and fro, in search of it. Miracles have ceased to be wonders, for we work them by ordinary means now-a-days, and we don't know them when we meet them."
Sartliff arose; he had been for sometime silent. His face was sad.
"It may be. I like you, Barton; you have a good deal of your brother's common sense, uncommon as that is, and I shall come and see you often."
And without another word he strode off deeper into the woods, and was lost to the eyes of the young men.
"Is it possible," said Bart, "that this was an educated, strong, and brilliant mind, capable of dealing with difficult questions of law? I fear that he has worn or torn through the filament that divides the workings of the healthy mind from the visions of the dreamer—wrecked on the everlasting old rocks that jut out all about our shores, and always challenging us to dash upon them. Shall we know when we die? Shall we die when we know? After all, are not these things to be known? Why place them under our eyes so that a child of five years will ask questions that no mortal, or immortal, has yet solved? Have we lost the clue to this knowledge? Do we overlook it? Do we stumble over it, perish, wanting it, with it in our hands without the power to see or feel it? Has some rift opened to a hidden store of truth, and has a gleam of it come to the eyes of this man, filling him with a hunger of which he is to die? When the man arises to whom these mysteries shall reveal themselves, as he assuredly will, the old gospels will be supplemented."
"Or superseded," said Case. "And is it not about time? Have not the old done for us about all they can? Do we not need, as well as wish for, a new?"
"A man may doubtless so abuse and deprave his powers, that old healthy food ceases to be endurable, and yields to him no nutrition; of course he must perish," answered Bart. "He will demand new food."
Towards the close of the term, there came into the court-room, one day, a man of giant mould: standing head and shoulders above his fellows, broad shouldered, deep chested, with a short neck and large flat face, a regal brow, and large, roomy head in which to work out great problems. He had light grayish blue, or blueish gray eyes, and a scarlet mark disfiguring one side of his face. The proceedings paused, and men gathered about him. His manner was bland, his smile, that took up his whole face, very pleasant. Bart knew that this was J.R. Giddings, just home from Washington, where he had already overhauled the Seminole war, and begun that mining into the foundation of things that finally overthrew slavery.
During the term Bart heard him before the court and jury, and found him a dullish, heavy speaker, a little as he thought the indifferently good English parliamentary speaker might be. He often hesitated for a word, and usually waited for it; sometimes he would persist in having it at once, when he would close his eyes very tight, and compel it. His manner and gesture could not be called good, and yet Bart felt that he was in the presence of a formidable man.
His mind was one of a high order, without a scintilla of genius or any of its elements. He had a powerful grasp, and elude, as it might, he finally clutched the idea or principle sought it never escaped him: and he never rested until its soul and blood were his, or rejected as useless, after the application of every test. It was a bad day for slavery when Giddings determined to enter Congress. Cool, shrewd, adroit, wary and wily, never baffled, never off his guard and never bluffed; with a reserve of power and expedients always sufficient, with a courage that knew no blenching, he moved forward. He had more industry and patience, and was a better lawyer than Wade, but was his inferior as an advocate. They were opposed in the case in which Giddings appeared, and Bart already felt that in the atmosphere of the contest was the element of dislike on the part of Wade, and of cool, watchful care on the part of Giddings. Wade made two or three headlong onsets, which were received and parried with bland, smiling coolness. From his manner no one could tell what Giddings thought of his case or opponent.
Two or three evenings after, an informal "reception," as it would now be called, was held at the Giddings residence, to which the students and nearly everybody else went. It was a pleasant greeting between friends and neighbors, and a valued citizen, just home after a half year's absence. Nothing could be more kind and natural than the manner of Mr. Giddings, supported by motherly Mrs. Giddings, and the accomplished Miss Giddings, who had spent the winter with her father at Washington. She was like her father, in mind and person, softened and sweetened and much more gracious by sex; tall, graceful, and with the easy presence and manner of society and cultivation.
Bart was taken to her, and taken by her at once. She seemed like an old acquaintance, and spoke in the kindest terms of his brother, told him of Washington, its society and customs, and called him Barton at once, as if they were to be on the best of terms. Bart could see that she was plain, but he forgot that in a moment, and it never occurred to him again.
In the course of the evening she returned to him, and said she wished to introduce him to a young lady friend, whom she was sure he would like on her own account, and on that of his brother, to whom she was to have been all that woman might be. It took Bart's breath away. He was unaware that his brother had ever been engaged, or wished to be, to any lady.
"She knows you are in Jefferson," said Miss Giddings, "and has wanted very much to see you."
She conducted him into a small sitting-room, and leading: him up to a young lady in black, introduced him to Miss Aikens—Ida Aikens. The young lady came forward, gave him her little hand, and looked him full and sadly in the face. "You are like him," she said, "and I have much wanted to see you."
"I received a letter from you," said Bart, "and fear my answer was a poor one. Had I known you better, I could have written differently. My brother was more to me than most brothers can be, and all who were dear to him come at once into my tenderest regard."
"You could not answer my letter better than you did. I never had a brother, and nothing can be more grateful to me than to meet you as we now meet."
They sat, and he held the hand that belonged to his dead brother, and that the hand of lover was never again to clasp. Gentle in deeds of charity and tenderness, it would linger in its widowed whiteness until it signalled back to the hand that already beckoned over the dark waters.
Strangers who saw them would have taken them for lovers. They were of nearly the same age. She, with dark, luminous eyes, and hair colored like Haidee's, matched well with the dark gray and light brown. What a world of tender and mournful sweetness this interview opened up to the hungry heart of Bart—the love of a sweet, thoughtful, considerate, intellectual and cultivated sister, unselfish and pure, to which no touch or color of earth or passion could come. How fully and tenderly he wrote of her to his mother, and how the unbidden wish came to his heart to tell another of her, and as if he had the right to do so.
Miss Aikens was a young lady of high mental endowments, and great force of character, cultivated in the true sense of culture, and very accomplished. How sad and bitter seemed the untimely fate of his brother; and the meeting of this sweet and mourning girl lent another anguish to his heart, that was so slow in its recovery from that blow.
The court ran on, grew irksome, and passed. Bart saw something more of Sartliff, and felt a melancholy interest in him. He also saw much of Ida, whom he could not help liking, and something of Miss Giddings, whom he admired.
THE OLD STORY.
On the morning after Wade's return from the Geauga Court, upon entering the office, where Bart found him and Ranney and Case, and one or two others, there was the sudden hush that advises a new arrival that he has been a subject of remark.
"Good morning, Mr. Wade."
"Good morning, Ridgeley."
"You returned earlier than you anticipated?"
"Yes. How do you come on?"
"About the old way. Did you see my old client, Cole," the King?"
"Old King Cole? Yes, I saw that worthy, and they say on the other side that they can't try the case under a year, perhaps."
"Well, we defend, and our defence will be as good then as ever," said Bart.
"The suit was commenced to save the statute of limitations," said Wade; "and if any defence exists I fear it will be in chancery."
"My dear sir, we will make a defence at law," was the decided answer.
"I saw some of your friends over there," said Wade, "who made many enquiries about you."
"They are kind." said Bart.
"Of course you know Judge Markham?" said Wade.
Bart bowed. "He is a very honorable and high minded man!" Bart bowed again. "He spoke of you in the very highest terms, and I was very glad to hear him."
"You are very kind," said Bart.
"And by the way." pursued Mr. Wade, "I heard a little story: the Judge has a very beautiful daughter," looking directly at Bart, who bowed to this also. "It seems that the girl in going home from somewhere, got lost in the woods, and wandered off into a devil of a big forest there is down there, covering two or three townships. It was in the night of that awful storm in April, and she went miles away, and finally overcome, lay down to die, and was covered with the snow, when a young chap found her—God knows how—took her up, carried her across the Chagrin River, or one of its branches, in under some rocks, built a fire, and brought her to, and finally got her to a man's house in the woods, sent word to her father, and went off. Do you know anything about it? The story is, that you are the chap who did it."
All eyes were on Bart.
"I heard something of it," said he, smiling. "I came off the evening after this marvel; and in the stage two ladies were full of it. They made it a little stronger than your version. I think there were several wild animals in theirs. We stopped at a tavern two or three miles on, when somebody told the old lady that I was 'the chap that did it;' but as I had told her that this Bart wasn't much of a fellow, she was inclined to doubt her informant. The old lady stopped in Chardon, and you must have heard her story."
"The young lady herself said that you saved her," said Wade, with his usual directness. "What do you say to that?"
"If the young lady was in a condition to know," replied Bart, "I should take her word for it." And passing into the back room he closed the door.
"What the devil is there in it?" said Wade. "It is just as I say. Has he ever said a word about it?"
"Not a word," said the young men.
"I met Miss Markham a year ago, when I was in Newbury, at a sugar party," said Ranney. "She is one of the most beautiful girls I ever saw, and superior in every way. Bart was not there—he wouldn't go; and I remember her talking about him, with Henry. When we got back we undertook to tell him what she said, and he wouldn't hear a word."
"The fact is," said Case, decidedly, "her father is rich, and she is proud and ambitious. Bart wasn't good enough for her, and he has taken his revenge by saving her life, and now he won't yield an inch."
"They say he came off and won't have anything to do with them," said Wade.
"That's it," said Case, "and I glory in his spunk. They have just found out their mistake."
During the day Bart was asked by Wade if he had yet seen Mr. Windsor; and replied that he had not, but that he was anxious to do so, as his brother always spoke of him with gratitude, as one who had been very kind to him. Mr. Wade said that the day before he had seen Windsor, who expressed a wish to meet Henry's brother, and thought he would come to Jefferson in a day or two, when he would call on him. Bart was much gratified, and remarked that he was doing quite a business on his brother's popularity.
THE OLD STORY OVER AGAIN.
"Mr. Ridgeley," asked Miss Giddings, "what is this delightful little romance about the rich Judge's beautiful daughter, and the chivalrous young law student? I declare, if it does not bring back the days of knight-errantry, and makes me believe in love and heroism." It was one evening at her father's where Bart had called with his newly found sister Ida, to whom he was quite attentive.
The young man looked annoyed in spite of his good breeding. "Has he told you the story?"—to Miss Aikens.
"Not a word of it," said the latter. "You know," she then said to Miss Giddings, "that some things so pleasant to hear may not be pleasant for a party concerned to tell about."
"Forgive me, Mr. Ridgeley. It never occurred to me that this could be of that sort, but as it was so delightful as told to me, I wanted to know if it was an actual occurrence, in this humdrum world."
"I suppose," said Ida, "that a great many beautiful and heroic events are very prosy and painful to the actors therein, and they never dream the world will give them the gloss of romance."
"Ladies," said the young man, with a gay and mocking air, "hear the romance of the Judge's daughter, and the poor student—certainly a very poor student. There was a rich, powerful and proud Judge; he had an only daughter, more beautiful than a painter's dream, and proud as a princess born. In the neighborhood was a poor and idle youth, who had been the Judge's secretary, and had been dismissed, and who loved the proud and beautiful maiden, as idle and foolish youths sometimes do. The beautiful maiden scorned him with a scorn that banished him from her sight, for he was prouder than Judge and daughter, both. While disporting with her damsels among the spring flowers in the forest, one day, the beautiful maiden wandered away and became lost in the heart of an interminable wood, more wild and lonely than that which swallowed up the babes of the old ballad. Day passed and night came, and in its bosom was hidden a fierce tempest of wind and hail and snow. The poor maiden wandered on, and on, and on, until she came upon the banks of a dart, cold river; wild and lost amid tempest and storm, she wandered down its banks, until, in despair, chilled and benumbed without heart or hope, she laid her down to die, and the pure snow covered her. Her father, the proud Judge, and his friends, were searching for her miles away.
"A little boy told the story to the poor student, who hurried into the forest, and under the inspiration of his scorned love, ran and ran until he found the swooning maiden under the snow, took her up in his arms, placed his garments upon her, and bore her through the cold and rapid stream, found a shelter under the rocks on the other side, kindled a fire, gave the maiden, proud no longer, a cordial, warmed and restored her, made her a couch of moss and dried leaves, and while she slept he watched over her until the day dawned. Then he conducted her to a wood-chopper's cabin in the forest, where she was tenderly cared for. The poor, proud youth would hear no thanks from the maiden. He sent a note, without his name, to the proud Judge, telling him where his daughter could be found; and never saw the beautiful maiden, or proud rich Judge afterwards. This, ladies," with the same gay banter, "is the romance of the Judge's daughter and the poor student."
"And I suspect," said Miss Giddings, seriously, "that it is about the literal truth of the affair, and it is more romantic than I had thought."
* * * * *
"Barton has made the acquaintance of poor Sartliff," said Ida, willing to introduce a new subject, "and was much struck by him."
"Do you think he is actually shattered?" asked Miss Giddings.
"I really have no opinion. His mind moves in such unaccustomed channels: we find it in such unusual haunts, that nobody can tell whether it remains healthy or not. It works logically enough, granting his premises. Of course he is under delusions—we should call them mistakes merely, if they occurred in ordinary speculations; but with him, in his abnormal pursuits, they are to be expressed under the vapory forms of delusions."
"Oh, it is the saddest sight to see this young man, with a nature so richly endowed, asking only for light, and the right way; to see him turning so blindly from the true given light, and searching with simple earnestness along sterile, rocky byways and thorny hedges, to find the path or opening that conducts back to a true starting place. He opens his bosom to sun and air, and bares his feet to the earth, thinking that inspiration will, through some avenue, reach his senses, and so inform him. It is the most pitiful spectacle that the eye can see," said Ida, pathetically.
"Like a kind spirit sent from heaven to earth," said Bart, "who, having forgotten his message, can never find his way back; but is doomed to wander up and down the uncongenial region, searching in vain for the star-beam by which he descended."
"My father has quite given him up," said Miss Giddings; "he says he passed long since the verge of healthy thought and speculation. I used to think that possibly some new and powerful stimulus, such as might spring from some new cause—"
"Love, for instance," suggested Bart.
"Yes, love, for instance. I declare, Mr. Ridgeley, you think as a woman."
"Do women really think? I thought their minds were so clear and strong that thought was unnecessary, and they were always blest with intuitions."
"Well, sir, some of them are obliged to think—when they want to be understood by men, who don't have intuitions, and can't go at all without something to hold up by—and a woman would think, perhaps, that if Sartliff could fall in love—"
"And if he can't he isn't worth the saving," interjected Bart.
"Exactly; and if he could, that through its medium he might be brought back to a healthy frame of mind, or a healthy walk of mind. There, Mr. Ridgeley, I have got out with that, though rather limpingly, after all."
"And a forcible case you have made. Here is a man crazy about Nature; you propose as a cure for that, to make him mad about a woman. And what next?"
"Well, love is human—or inhuman," said Miss Giddings; "if the former, marriage is the specific; if the latter, his lady-love might get lost in a wood, you know."
"Yes, I see. Poor Sartliff had better remain where he is, winking and blinking for the lights of Nature," said Bart.
"I remember," interposed Ida, "that he and your brother, among the matters they used to discuss, disagreed in their estimate of authors. Sartliff could never endure N.P. Willis, for instance."
"A sign," said Miss Giddings, "that he was sane then, at least. Willis, in Europe, is called the poet's lap-dog, with his ringlets and Lady Blessingtons."
"I believe he had the pluck to meet Captain Marryatt," said Bart.
"Was that particularly creditable?" asked Miss Giddings.
"Well, poets' lap-dogs don't fight duels, much; and Miss Giddings, do you think a lap-dog could have written this?" And taking up a volume of Willis, he turned from them and read "Hagar." As he read, he seemed possessed with the power and pathos of the piece, and his deep voice trembled under its burthen. At the end, he laid the book down, and walked to a window while his emotion subsided. His voice always had a strange power of exciting him. After a moment's silence, Miss Giddings said, with feeling:
"I never knew before that there was half that force and strength in Willis. As you render it, it is almost sublime. Will you read another?"
Taking up the book, he read "Jepthah's Daughter:" reading it with less feeling, perhaps, but in a better manner.
"I give it up," said Miss Giddings, "though I am not certain whether it is not in you, rather than in Willis, after all."
"Six or seven years ago, when my brother Henry came home and gathered us up, and rekindled the home fires on the old hearth," said Bart, "he commenced taking the New York Mirror, just established by George P. Morris, assisted by Fay and Willis. Fay, you know, has recently published his novel, 'Norman Leslie,' the second volume of which flats out so awfully. At that time these younger men were in Europe; and we took wonderfully to them, and particularly to Willis's 'First Impressions,' and 'Pencillings by the Way.' To me they were authentic, and opened the inside of English literary society and life, and I came to like him. The language has a wonderful flexile power and grace in his hands; and I think he has real poetry in his veins, much more than John Neal, or Dr. Drake, though certainly less than Bryant. Yet there is a kind of puppyism about the man that will probably prevent his ever achieving the highest place in our literature."
"You are a poet yourself, Mr. Ridgeley, I understand," said Miss Giddings.
"I like poetry, which is a totally different thing from the power to produce it; this I am sure I have not," was the candid answer.
"You have tried?"
"Most young men with a lively fancy and fervid feelings, write verses, I believe. Here is Mr. Case, quite a verse writer, and some of his lines have a tone or tinge of poetry."
"Would you like literature for a pursuit?"
"I like books, as I like art and music, but I somehow feel that our state of society at the West, and indeed our civilization, is not ripe enough to reach a first excellence in any of these high branches of achievement. Our hands are thick and hard from grappling with the rough savagery of our new rude continent. We can construct the strong works of utility, and shall meet the demands for the higher and better work when that demand actually exists."
"But does not that demand exist? Hasn't there been a clamor for the American novel? A standing advertisement—'Wanted, the American Novel'—has been placarded ever since I can remember; and I must forget how long that is," said Miss Giddings.
"Yes, I've heard of that; but that is not the demand that will compel what it asks for. It will be the craving of millions, stimulating millions of brains, and some man will arise superior to the herd, and his achievement will challenge every other man of conscious powers, and they will educate and ripen each other till the best, who is never the first, will appear and supply the need. No great man ever appeared alone. He is the greatest of a group of great men, many of whom preceded him, and without whom he would have been impossible. Homer, alone of his group, has reached us; Shakespeare will live alone of his age, four thousand years hence."
"But, Mr. Ridgeley, our continent and our life, with our fresh, young, intense natures, seem to me to contain all the elements of poetry, and the highest drama," said Miss Giddings.
"So they seem to us, and yet how much of that is due to our egotism—because it is ours—who can tell? Of course there is any amount of poetry in the raw, and so it will remain until somebody comes to work it up. There are plenty of things to inspire, but the man to be inspired is the thing most needed."
"So that, Mr. Ridgeley," said Ida, "we may not in our time hope for the American novel, the great American epic, or the great American drama?"
"Well, I don't know that these will ever be. That will depend upon our luck in acquiring a mode and style, and habit of thought, and power of expression of our own, which for many reasons we may never have. An American new writes as much like an Englishman as he can—and the more servile the imitation, the better we like him—as a woman writes like a man as nearly as she possibly can, for he is the standard. What is there in Irving, that is not wholly and purely English? And so of Cooper; his sturdiness and vigor are those of a genuine Englishman, and when they write of American subjects, they write as an Englishman would; and if better, it is because they are better informed."
"Mr. Ridgeley," said Miss Giddings, "can't you give us an American book?"
"'When the little fishes fly Like swallows in the sky,'
An American will write an American book," said Bart, laughing. "But your question is a good answer to my solemn twaddle on literature."
"No, I don't quite rate it as twaddle," said Ida.
"Don't you though?" asked Bart.
"No," seriously. "Now what is the effect of our American literature upon the general character of English literature? We certainly add to its bulk."
"And much to its value, I've no doubt," said Bart. "Well, with increased strength and vigor, we shall begin by imperceptible degrees, to modify and change the whole, and the whole will ultimately become Americanized, till the English of this continent, partaking of its color and character, imparts its tone and flavor finally to the whole everywhere. I have not much faith in a purely American literature, notwithstanding Miss Giddings' advertisement."
"Mr. Ridgeley," said Miss Giddings, "your notions are depressing. I don't believe in them, and will oppose my woman's intuitions to your man's argument."
"My dear Miss Giddings," said Bart, laughing, "you value my notions quite as highly as I do; and I wouldn't take the criticisms of a young man who ran away from the only college he ever saw, and who has only heard the names of a few authors."
"I wont. They are not American; and yet there seems to be force in them."
ABOUT LAWYERS, AND DULL.
Mr. Giddings was always much interested in all young men, and put himself in their way and society, and while he affected nothing juvenile, no man could make himself more winning and attractive to them. It was said by his enemies, who were of his political household, that in this, as in all else, he was politic; that he sought out and cultivated every young man in the circle of his acquaintance; made himself familiar with his make-up; flattered and encouraged him with little attentions; sent him speeches and books, and occasional letters, and thus attached nearly all the rising young men of Northeastern Ohio to himself personally. This may have been one source of his great and long continued popularity and strength; he thoroughly educated at least one generation of voters.
However that may be, he was much in the old office where he had done so much effective work, and laid the foundations of his position at the bar, which was with those of the first in the State.
He associated on terms of the pleasantest intimacy with the young men, and early evinced a liking for Bart, who, poor fellow, was ready to like anybody who would permit him.
Mr. Giddings was at pains to impress them with the absolute impossibility of even moderate success at the bar, without industry, while with it, mediocrity of talents would insure that. "Of the whole number who were admitted," he said, "about ten or fifteen per cent. succeeded; and one in a hundred became eminent. Undoubtedly the greatest lawyer in the world did not possess the greatest intellect; but he must have been among the most industrious. Brilliant parts may be useful; they are always dangerous. The man who trusts to the inspiration of genius, or his capacity to get advantage by ingenious management in court, will find himself passed by a patient dullard. The admiring world who witness some of the really fine intellectual performances that sometimes occur in court, haven't the faintest conception as to when the real work was done, nor at all what it consisted in; nor when and how the raw material was gathered and worked up. The soldier in war is enlisted to fight, but really a small part of his time is spent in battle; almost the whole of it is in preparation, training, gathering material, manoeuvring, gaining strategic advantages, and once in a while producing a field day, which tests the thoroughness of the preparation. This illustrates the value of absolute thoroughness in the preparation of cases. A good case is often lost, and a bad one gained, wholly by the care or negligence in their preparation. You really try your cases out of court."
Barton asked why it was that, while the world generally admired and respected the bar, there was a distrust of its honesty?—at which there was a general smile.
"Because," said Mr. Giddings, "there really are unworthy members of it; and the bar, like the ministry and the medical faculty, being comparatively a small body, is tried by its failures. The whole is condemned in the person of a few; while a majority—the bulk of men—estimate themselves by their successes. One great man sheds glory on his race, while one villain is condemned alone. The popular judgment, that lawyers are insincere and dishonest, because they appear on both sides of a case, with equal zeal, when there can be but one right side, is not peculiar to the bar. It should be remembered that learned and pious divines take opposite sides of all doctrinal points of Scripture, and yet nobody thinks of questioning their honesty."
"When both are wrong," put in Wade.
"Now there are, nominally at least, two sides in a law suit—certainly two parties. One party goes to Frank, here, and tells his side, most favorably to himself, and gets an opinion in his favor, and a suit is commenced. The other tells his side to me, for instance, and on his statement I think he has a good defence. From that moment each looks for evidence and law to sustain his side, and to meet the case made by the other; and invariably we come to the final trial, each honestly thinking he is right. We try the case zealously and sincerely, and the one who is finally beaten, feels that injustice has been done. It is the first task of an advocate to convince himself, and unless he has already done that, he may not expect to convince court and jury; and a man must be a poor advocate, or have a very bad case, who fails to convince himself, however he may fare with a jury. You need never expect to convince your opponent; he is under a retainer not to agree with you."
"There is another thing about it," said Wade. "The bar and writers talk about the ethics of the bar, and legal morality, and all that nonsense, until there is an impression, both among lawyers and the public, that there is one rule for lawyers and another for the rest of mankind—that we are remitted to a lower standard of honesty. This is all bosh; there can be but one standard of right and wrong; and that which is wrong out of court, cannot be right in it. I'll have but one rule. A man who will lie to a court or a jury, will lie anywhere—he is a liar."
"Will you submit to that rule?" asked Giddings, laughing.
"I always have," said Wade, "and I wont have any other. Now of all men, a lawyer can the least afford to be dishonest; for a taint, a doubt of his honor, ruins him; and there cannot be a more honorable body of men in the world, and never was, than the fair majority of the bar. The habit of contesting in open court, in the face of the world, engenders an honorable, manly highmindedness, free from the underhanded jealousy and petty wars of the doctors. If a man lies, or is mean, he is pretty certain to be detected and exposed at once. A lawyer cannot afford to lie and be mean. And besides, I have observed that there is really no healthy, manly development of intellect, without a healthy, manly development of the moral nature."
"Now, Frank," said Mr. Giddings, "why not go a step further, and perfect the man, and say that religion should add its strength and grace, as a crown?"
"Well, Gid, I've no objection to your religion—that is, I have no objection to religion—I don't know about yours—but I have known a good many religious men who were very bad men, and I have known a good many bad men to get religion, who did not mend their morals. If a man is a good man, it don't hurt him to join a church, as far as I know; and a bad man usually remains bad."
"Well, Frank, leave these young men to form their own opinions."
"Certainly; I did not broach the subject."
"They ought to become better lawyers than we are," said Mr. Giddings. "Their means of education are far in advance; the increase of new and valuable text-books, the great progress in the learning and competency of the courts, as well as the general rapid improvement of the people in intelligence, are all in their favor; they ought to be better lawyers and better Christians."
"They couldn't well be worse," was the bluff response of Wade.
The young men remained pondering the remarks of their seniors.
"Well, boys," said Ranney, "you've heard the ideas of two observing men. They give you the result of their experience on two or three very important practical points; what do you think of it?"
"Ransom," said the ready Case, "is thinking who and what must be the one hundred, of whom he is to be the one. They would be a sad sight."
"And Case," rejoined the ever irate Ransom, "that if John Doe and Richard Roe, with a declaration in ejectment, could only be turned into doggerel, he would be an eminent land lawyer."
"What has happened to Ransom?" asked Kennedy.
"I don't know," replied Case; "he has sparkled up in this same way, two or three times. Can it be that an idea has been committed to his skull, lately? If one has, a habeas corpus must be sued out for its delivery. Solitary confinement is forbidden by the statutes of Ohio."
"Never you mind the idea," said Ransom. "I mean to find a lawyer in good practice, and go into partnership with him at once."
"Now, Ransom," said Case, still gravely, "you are a very clever fellow, and devilish near half witted; and you would allow such a man, whom you thus permitted to take himself in with you, one third or one fourth of the proceeds of the first year."
"I would have no trouble about that," said Ransom, not quite feeling the force of Case's compliment.
"Well," said Ranney, "I suspect that generally lawyers, desirable as partners, if they wish them, will be already supplied, and then, when one could secure an eligible connection of this kind, the danger is, that he would be overshadowed and dwarfed, and always relying on his senior, would never come to a robust maturity. Well, Kennedy, what do you say?"
"Not much; I hope to be able to work when admitted. I mean to find some good point further West, where there is an opening, and stop and wait. I don't mean to be a failure."
"Ridgeley, what are your views?"
"Modest, as becomes me; I don't think I am to be counted in any hundred, and so I avoid unpleasant comparisons. I don't mean to look long for an opening, or an opportunity; I would prefer to make both. I would begin with the first thing, however small, and do my best with it, and so of every other thing that came, leaving the eminence and places to adjust themselves. I intend to practice law, and, like Kennedy, I don't mean to fail."
"Mr. Ranney," continued Bart, "what is the reason of this universal failure of law students?"
"I think the estimate of Giddings is large," said Ranney. "but of all the young men who study law, about one half do it with no settled purpose of ever practising, and, of course, don't. Of those who do intend to practice, one half never really establish themselves in it. That leaves one fourth of the whole number, who make a serious and determined effort at the bar, and one half of these—one eighth of the whole—succeed; and that brings out about as Giddings estimated."
"Well, on the whole, that is not a discouraging view," said Bart, "and for one, I am obliged to you."
Nevertheless, he pondered the whole matter, and turned to face calmly as he had before, the time when his novitiate should end, and he should actually enter upon his experiment.
"Now, Case, this is a serious matter. A young and utterly unknown man, without money, friends, acquaintances or books, and doubtful whether he has brains, learning and capacity, in some small or large town, attacks the world, throws down his gage—or rather nails it up, in the shape of a tin card, four by twelve inches, with his perfectly obscure name on it. Think of it! Just suppose you have a little back room, up stairs, with a table, two chairs, half a quire of paper, an inkstand, two steel pens, Swan's Treatise, and the twenty-ninth volume of Ohio Statutes. You would be very busy arranging all this array of things, and would whistle cheerfully till that was accomplished, and then you would grow sad, and sit down to wait and think—"
"Of the rich Judge's beautiful daughter," broke in Case.
"And wait," continued Bart.
"Oh, Bart! I glory in your pluck and spunk," said Case, "and I think of your performance as Major Noah said of Adam and Eve: 'As touching that first kiss,' said he, 'I have often thought I would like to have been the man who did it; but the chance was Adam's.'"
"Ridgeley seems to be taken in hand by Miss Giddings," said Kennedy; "that would not be a bad opening for an ambitious man."
"Of the ripe years of twenty-three," put in Case. "The average age would be about right. She has led out one or two of each crop of law students since she was sixteen."
"What has been the trouble?" asked Kennedy.
"I don't know. They came, and went—
'Their hold was frail, their stay was brief, Restless, and quick to pass away'—
while she remains," replied Case. "Bart seems to be a new inspiration, and she is as gay and lively as a spring butterfly."
"And worth forty young flirts," observed Ransom.
"Oh, come, boys!" cried Bart, "hold up. Miss Giddings is an attractive woman, full of accomplishment and goodness—"
"And experience," put in Case.
"Who permits me to enjoy her society sometimes," continued Bart. "The benefit and pleasure are wholly mine, and I can't consent to hear her spoken of so lightly."
"Bart is right, as usual," said Case, gravely; "and I don't know of anything more unmanly than the way we young men habitually talk of women."
"Except the way they talk of us," said Kennedy.
"You would expect a lady to speak in an unmanly way," remarked Bart. "Of course, if we are ever spoken of by them, it is in our absence; but I'll venture that they seldom speak of us at all, and then in ignorance of our worst faults. We are not likely to receive injustice at their hands."
"Bart, you must always have been lucky," said Ransom.
"I am doing my best not to be conceited and vain, and find it confounded hard work," was the frank, good-natured reply.
Mrs. Ridgeley received the following:
"JEFFERSON, June 8, 1838.
"Dear Mother:—A strange thing has happened to me, for which I am indebted to Henry; indeed, I am destined to trade upon his capital. You remember how kind he said a Mr. Windsor was to him, employing him to transact small business matters for him, and paying him largely, besides making him useful and valuable presents? He seems to have been dissatisfied with himself for not doing more, and I am to be the recipient of his bounty in full.
"He called to see me about a week ago; and then two or three days after, he sent a carriage for me, and I have just returned. He is very wealthy, an old bachelor, lives elegantly, is a thoroughly educated man, and not eccentric, except in his liking to Henry, which he transfers to me. He is without near relations, and has had a history. Now he insists on advancing to me enough to carry me through, clothing me, and starting me with a fine library. He says I must go East to a law school at least a year, and so start from a most favorable and advanced position.
"It took my breath away. It seems fairly wrong that I should permit myself to take this man's money, for whom I have done nothing, and to whom I can make no return, and whose money I might never repay. He laughed, and said I was very simple and romantic. Wasn't the money his? and couldn't he do what he pleased with it? and if he invested it in me, nobody was harmed by it. I told him I might be; I am not sure that I should be safe with the pressure and stimulus of poverty removed from me.
"Moreover he had purchased an elegant watch, to be given to Henry, on his marriage with poor Miss Aikens, of whom I told you; and this he insists on my taking and wearing, with a chain big and long enough to hang me in. I told him if he wanted to give it away, that it should, I thought, properly go to Miss A.—to whom, by the way, I gave that beautiful pin. I cannot wear anything that was Henry's, and this would be one objection to wearing this watch. Mr. Windsor said it certainly was never intended for Ida; that it had never been Henry's, that it was mine, and I had to bring it away. I feel guilty, and as if I had swindled or stolen, or committed some mean act; and as I hold it to my ear, its strong beat reproaches me like the throb of a guilty heart.
"What can I do? Your feelings are right, and your judgment is good. I can't afford to be killed with a weight of obligation, nor must I remit or relax a single effort. This may stimulate me more. If I were to relax and lie down now, and let another carry me, I should deserve the scorn and contempt I have received.
"Write me upon this, and don't mention it to the Colonel.
"I have made the acquaintance of Miss Giddings, who is very kind to me; and she and Ida furnish that essential element of ladies' society which you desired I should have. I confess I don't care much for men; but I have so little to give in return for the kindness of these noble, refined and intellectual ladies, that here again I am a receiver of alms. No matter; women never receive any proper return from men, any way.
"Ask Ed and George to write, and tell me all the little pleasant details of the farm life and home. How tender and sweet and dear it all is to me; and what a gulf seems to have opened between me and all the past!
"Ever with love, dear mother,
Mrs. Ridgeley received and read the letter in the store. While she was absorbed in it. Mrs. Markham came in, and was struck by the expression of her face. As she finished the perusal, she discovered Mrs. Markham, and her look of recognition induced the latter to approach her. The incidents of the last few weeks had silently ripened the liking of the two women into a very warm and cordial feeling. As Mrs. Markham approached, the other gave her her hand, and held out Bart's letter. Mrs. Markham received it, and as her eye ran over it, Mrs. Ridgeley could easily see the look of pleasure and warmth that lit up her face.
"Oh, by all means," she said, "tell him not hesitate a moment. Providence has sent him a friend, and means, and his pride should not be in the way of this offer."
"He is proud," said Mrs. Ridgeley, gravely; "but it is not wholly pride that makes him hesitate."
"Pardon me," said Mrs. Markham, "I don't mean to blame him; I sympathize with even his pride, and admire him for the very qualities that prevented his allowing us to aid him, and I hope those high qualities will never lose a proper influence over him."
The mother was a little more than appeased.
"Am I to read the rest?"
And she resumed. A little graver she looked at one or two lines, and then the sweet smile and light came back to her face; and she handed back the letter.
"What a treasure to you this son must be," she said; and she again urged her to write to Bart at once, and induce him to accept the kind offer made to him.
Mrs. Ridgeley explained who Miss Aikens was, and her relations to Henry; that Miss Giddings was the daughter of the member of Congress, &c. Mrs. Markham had noticed that Bart spoke of them as "ladies," and not as young ladies, though what mental comment she made upon it was never known.
People in the country go by the almanac, instead of by events, as in cities; and May quickened into June, June warmed into July, and ran on to fervid August. Quiet ruled in the Ridgeley cottage, rarely broken, save when Julia galloped up and made a pleasant little call, had a game of romps with George, a few quick words with Edward; an enquiry, or adroit circumlocution, would bring out Bart's name, which the young lady would hear with the most innocent air in the world. She always had some excuse; she was going, returning to, or from some sick person, or on some kind errand. Once or twice later, young King, of Ravenna, accompanied her; and still later, Mr. Thorndyke was riding with her frequently.
It was observed that while her beauty had perfected, if possible, the character of her face had deepened, and a tenderer light was in her eyes. As the time came for Bart's examination, she carelessly remarked that he would be home soon, and was told that he had decided to take a short course in the Albany law-school, and would go directly from Jefferson; that when he left in the spring, he had determined not to return to Newbury until the end of a year; but that his mother might expect him certainly at that time. Julia was turning over a bound volume of the New York Mirror, and came upon a Bristol board, on which was a fine pen-and-ink outline head of Bart. She took it up and asked Mrs. Ridgeley if she might have it. "Certainly," was the answer, "if you wish it," and she carried it away. After leaving the house she discovered on the other side, a better finished and more artistic likeness of herself in crayon, with her hair falling about her neck and shoulders; and surrounding it, two or three outlines of her features in profile, which she recognized by the hair—one of poor Bart's "ships" that had escaped the general burning.
* * * * *
Barton decided to avail himself of the kindness of Mr. Windsor, and quietly made his arrangements accordingly. The summer was very pleasant to him. He devoted himself with his usual ardor to his books, but gave much of his leisure to Ida, who began to feel the approach of a calamity that gradually extinguished the light in her eyes. She was already suffering—although not anticipating a serious result—a pressure in the forehead, and a gradual impairing of vision, without pain. Under its shadow, that no medical art could dissipate, she found a wonderful solace in the tender devotion of her newly found brother, who read to her, walked with her, and occasionally rode with her, in all tender, manly ways surrounding her with an atmosphere of kind and loving observances, which she more than repaid, with the strong, healthy and pure womanly influence, which she exercised over him.
Late one wondrously beautiful August night, as Bart was returning from a solitary stroll, he was suddenly joined by Sartliff, bare-headed and bare-footed, who placed his hand within his arm, and turning him about, walked him back towards the wood. Bart had not seen him for weeks, and he thought his face was thinner and more haggard, and his eyes more cavernous than he had ever seen them.
"What progress are you making?" asked Bart, quietly.
"I am getting increase of power. I don't know that I need light; I think I want strength. I hear the voices oftener, and they are wonderfully sweeter; I find that they consist of marvelous musical sounds, and I can distinguish some notes; meanings are conveyed by them. If I could only comprehend and interpret them. I shall in time if I can hold out. I find as the flesh becomes more spirit-like, that this power increases. If I only had some fine-fibred soul who could take this up where I must leave it! Barton, you believe God communicates with men through other than his ordinary works?"
"I don't know; I see and hear God in the wondrous symbols of nature; when they say that he speaks directly, I don't feel so certain. I am so made up, that the very nature, the character and quality of the evidence, is unequal to the facts to be proven, and so to produce conviction. If a score of you were to say to me, that in the forest to-day, you saw a fallen and decayed tree arise and strike down new roots, and shoot out new branches, and unfold new foliage and flowers, I would not believe it: Nor, though five hundred men should swear that they saw a grave heave up, and its tenant come forth to life and beauty, would I believe. The quality of the evidence is not equal to sustain the burthen of the fact to be established, and it does not help the matter, that alleged proofs come to me through uncertain historical media. Yet I can't say that I disbelieve. Who can say that there is not within us a religious spiritual faculty, or a set of faculties, that take impressions, and receive communications, not through the ordinary perceptions and convictions of the mere mind—that sees and hears, retains and transmits, loves, hopes and worships, in a spiritual or religious atmosphere of its own; whose memories are superstitions, whose realizations are extatic visions, and whose hopes are the future of blessedness; and that it is through these faculties that religious sentiments are received, transmitted and propagated, and to which God speaks and acts, spirit to spirit, as matter to matter? Who can tell how many sets of faculties are possible to us? We may have developed only a few of the lowest. I sometimes fancy that I feel the rudiments of a higher and finer set within me. Who shall say that I have them not?"
"Go on, Barton; I like to hear you unfold yourself," said Sartliff.
"I can't," said Bart, "I can only vaguely talk about what I so vaguely feel."
"Barton," said Sartliff, "go with me; let me impart to you what I know; perhaps you have a finer and subtler sense than I had. At any rate I can help you. You can be warned by my failures and blunders, and possess yourself of my small gains. I know I have taken some steps. I shall last long enough to place you well on the road. You are silent. Do you think me crazy—mad?"
"No, not that, nor do I think that we have occupied all the fields of human knowledge. We are constantly acquiring a faculty to see new things and to take new meanings from the common and old. Nature has not yet delivered her full speech to man. She can communicate only as he acquires the power to receive. This idea of finding new pathways, and new regions and realms, with new powers, of finding an opening from our day into the more effulgent, with new strange and glorious creatures, with new voices and forms, with whom we may communicate, is alluring, and may all lay within the realm of possibility. I don't say that to dream of it, is to be mad."
"It is possible," said Sartliff with fervor. "I have seen the forms and heard the voices."
"And to what purpose do you pursue these mystical studies and researches."
"Partly for the extacy and glory of the present, mainly for the ultimate good to the races of men, when the new and powerful agencies that come of the wisdom and strength which will be thus acquired, the powers within and about us, are developed and employed for the common good; and man is emancipated from his sordid slavery to the gross and physical of his worst and lowest nature, and when woman through this emancipation takes her real position, glorified, by the side of her glorified companion; when she seeks to be wife and mother, with free choice to be other—what a race will spring from them! Strong, brave, beautiful men, great, radiant, beautiful women, like the first mothers of the race, bringing forth their young, with the same joy and gladness, as that with which they receive their young bridegrooms."
"Go and help me find the way for our common race."
He had turned, and stood with intent eyes burning into the soul of the young man. "I have faith in you. Of all the young men I have met, you have exhibited more capacity to comprehend me than any other, and I am beginning to feel the need of help," said Sartliff, plaintively.
"God alone can help you," said Bart, "I cannot. You believe in this; to me it is a dream, with which my fancy, when idle, willingly toys. I like to talk with you. I sympathise with you; I cannot go with you. I will not enter upon your speculations. Don't think me unkind."
"I don't," said Sartliff, "nor do I blame you. You are young and gifted, and opportunities will come to you; and distinction and fame, and some beautiful woman's love await you, and God bless you." And he walked away.
There was always something about Sartliff that stimulated, but at the same time excited an apprehension in Bart, who regarded him as past recall to healthy life, and he felt a sense of relief when he was alone; but the old, melancholy chords continued to vibrate, and Bart returned to the village under a depression that lingered about him for days.
At the September term of the Supreme Court, Mr. Ranney presented the certificates and applications for the admission of Case, Ransom, and Bart on the first day, and they were, as usual, referred to a Committee of the whole bar, for examination and report.
The Committee met that evening in the Court room, the Supreme Judges, Wood and Lane, being present.
Old Webb, of Warren, whom Case ought to have sketched in his rough outlines as the senior of the bar, turned suddenly to Bart, the youngest of the applicants, and asked him if a certain "estate could exist in Ohio?"
After a moment's reflection, Bart answered that it could not.
Bart explained the nature and conditions of the estate, and said that one of them was rendered impossible by a statute; and explained how. A good deal of surprise was expressed at this; the statute was called for, and on its being placed in his hands, Bart turned to it, read the law, and showed its application.
Wood said, "Judge Lane, I think this young man has decided your Hamilton Co. case for you."
Some general conversation ensued, and when it subsided, old Webb said, "Well! well! young man, we may as well go home, when we get such things from a law student." And they did not ask him another question.
The examination was over at last. Case had acquitted himself well, and Ransom tolerably. Bart was mortified and disgusted. This was the extent then of the ordeal; all his labor, hard study, and anxiety, ended in this!
The next morning, on the assembling of the Court, the three young men were admitted, sworn in, and became attorneys and counsellors at law, and solicitors in chancery, authorized to practise in all the courts of Ohio. All this was made to appear by the clerk's certificate, under the great seal of the Supreme Court of the State, tied with a blue ribbon, and presented to each of them.
It tended not much to relieve Bart, to know that the question he had so summarily disposed of had much excited and disturbed the legal world of Middle and Southern Ohio; that the best legal minds had been divided on it; and that a case had just been reserved for the court in bane, which turned on this very point.
It was over; he had his diploma, but he felt that in some way it was a swindle.
What a longing came to him to go to Newbury; and he was half mad and wholly sad to think that one face would come to him with the sweet, submissive, reproachful, arch expression, it wore when he forbid its owner to speak, one memorable morning, in the woods and snow; and he found himself wondering if what Ida told him might by any possibility be true; he knew it could not be, and so put it all away.
He took Ida over to Mr. Windsor's for a long day's visit, made a few calls, packed his trunk, bade Miss Giddings, who did not hesitate to express her sorrow at his departure, a regretful good-bye, and the next morning rode to Ashtabula, and there took a steamer down the lake.
I am glad to have him off my hands for six months; and when he falls under them next time, seriously, I will dispose of him.
It will be remembered that Greer was a somewhat ambiguous character, about whom and whose movements some suspicions were at times afloat; but these did not much disturb him or interrupt his pleasant relations with the pleasant part of the world.
He was at Jefferson during the first term of the Court while Bart was there, and it so happened that there was a prosecution pending against a party for passing counterfeit money; who finally gave bail and never returned to take his trial; but nobody connected Greer with that matter. He was also there after Bart was admitted, and had an interview with the young lawyer, professionally, which was followed by some consequences to both, hereafter to be mentioned.
Just before this last visit, a man by the name of Myers—Dr. Myers—a young man of fine address and of fair position, was arrested in Geauga for stealing a pair of valuable horses. The arrest created great astonishment, which was increased when it was known that in default of the heavy bail demanded he had been committed to the jail at Chardon. This was followed by the rumor of his confession, in which it was said that he implicated Jim Brown, of Akron, and various parties in other places, and also Greer, and, as some said, Bart Ridgeley, all of whom belonged to an association, many members of which had been arrested. The rumors produced much excitement everywhere, and especially in the south part of Geauga; and the impression was deepened and confirmed by an article in the Geauga Gazette, issued soon after Myers was committed. With staring head-lines and exclamation points, it stated that Dr. Myers, since his imprisonment, had made a full confession, which it gave in substance, as above. Bart was referred to as a young law student at Jefferson, and a resident of the south part of the county, who, as was said, had escaped, and it was supposed that he had gone East, where the officers had gone in pursuit. Most of the others had been arrested.
Mrs. Ridgeley had caught something of the first rumor in her far off quiet home; but nobody had told her of Barton's connection with it, nor did her neighbors seem inclined to talk with her about the general subject. As usual, one of the boys went to the Post Office on the day of the arrival of the Chardon paper; and brought in not only that journal, but the rumor in reference to Barton. His mother read and took it all in, and was standing in blank amazement and indignation, when Julia came flashing in, and found her still mutely staring at the article.
"Oh, Mrs. Ridgeley! Mrs. Ridgeley!" exclaimed the aroused girl, seizing her hands; "it is all false—every word of it—about Barton! Every single word is a lie!"
"I know it is; but how can that be made to appear? Men will believe it, if it is false!"
"Never! No one will ever believe evil of him. He is now surrounded by the best and truest of men; and when this wretched Myers is tried, everything will be made clear. I knew you would see this paper, and I came at once to tell you what I know of Barton's connection with Greer. Please listen;" and she told her of the old rumor about them, and of her journey to Ravenna, to see the latter, and showed her his note, addressed to her father.
The quick mind of the elder lady appreciated it as it was stated to her; and another thing, new and sudden as a revelation, came to her; and with tears in her eyes, and a softened and illuminated face, she turned to Julia, a moment since so proud and defiant, and now so humble and subdued, with averted eyes and crimsoned face: "Oh, Julia!" and passed one arm around the slender girl.
"Please! please!" cried her pleading voice, with her face still away. "This is my secret—you will not tell—let him find it out for himself—please!"
"Certainly; I will leave to him the joy of hearing it from you," said the elder, in her inmost soul sympathizing with the younger.
What a deep and tranquil joy possessed the heart of the mother, and with what wonder she contemplated the now conscious maiden! and how she wondered at her own blindness! And so the threatening cloud broke for her: broke into not only a serene peace, but a heartfelt joy and gratitude; and she parted with Julia with the first kiss she had ever bestowed upon her.
At the ensuing fall term of the Geauga Common Pleas, Myers was indicted for horse-stealing. The prosecuting officer refused to make terms with him, and permit him to escape, on condition of furnishing evidence against others, as he had hoped when he made his confession; and when arraigned, he plead not guilty, and upon proper showing, his case was continued to the next term, in January.
A great crowd from all parts of the adjacent country, and many from a distance, had assembled to witness the trial of Myers. The region of Eastern Ohio had, like many new and exposed communities, suffered for years from the occasional depredations of horse thieves. It was supposed that an organization existed, extending into Pennsylvania. The horses taken were traced to the mountain region in that State, where they disappeared; and although Greer and Brown were never before connected with this branch of industry, it was thought that the horses in question, which had been intercepted, were in the regular channels of the trade, which it was hoped, would now be broken up. One noticeable thing at the court was the presence of Greer, who apparently came and went at pleasure. He was cool and elegant as usual, and seemingly unconcerned and a little more exclusive. His being at large was much at variance with the understood programme, and necessitated its reconstruction. Little was said about Bart, and it was apparent that the public mind had returned to a more favorable tone towards him.
FINDING THE WAY.
On an early December evening, in a bright, quiet room, at the Delavan House, in Albany, sat Bart Ridgeley alone, thoughtfully and sadly contemplating a manuscript, that lay before him, which ran as follows:
"UNIONVILLE, Nov. 27, 1838.
"My Dear Bart:—Poor Sartliff has, it seems, finally found the way. It was that short, direct, everlasting old way, so crowded, which everybody finds, and nobody loses or mistakes. You told me of your last interview with him, as did he, not long after you left. It seemed to have depressed him. He spoke of you as one who could have greatly aided him, but did not blame you.
"The next time I saw him, I found him much changed for the worse. He was thin and haggard—more so than I had ever seen him. His old hopefulness and buoyancy were gone, and he was given to very gloomy and depressing views of things. He thought he had made great progress, in fact had reached a new discovery, and it was not in the least encouraging.
"He finally concluded that the grand and wondrously beautiful spirits that he seemed to get glimpses of, and whose voices he used to hear, were really convict spirits, or angels, imprisoned on or banished to this earth, for a period of years, or for eternity, for crimes committed in the sun, or some less luminous abode; and I presume are cutting up here, much after their old way. Though it must be conceded that this world is a place of severe punishment.
"He went on to a more depressing view of us mortals, and said he had concluded that our souls were also the souls of beings who had inhabited some more favored region of the universe, also sent here for punishment; and that each was compelled to enter and inhabit a human body, for the lifetime of that body; and to suffer by partaking of all of its wretched, sensual, and degrading vicissitudes; and that whenever the soul is sufficiently punished, the body dies and permits it to escape.
"I suggested that it made no difference where the soul came from, if there was one, nor how many bodies it had inhabited; and that it made against his idea, that the soul was older than the body; for if it was, it would be conscious of that pre-existence. He said that every soul did at times have a consciousness of existence in another and older form, which was very dark from its transgressions. But he took the part of the native body against this alien soul, and felt hurt and grieved that our world was a mere penal colony—a penitentiary for all the scabbed and leprous souls and spirits of the rest of God's creation. It was bad economy; and he grieved over it as a deep and irreparable personal injury.
"This was a month ago; and I never saw him again. He wandered off down into the neighborhood of Erie, where he had many acquaintances, took less care of himself, went more scantily clad, was more abstemious in diet, and more and more disregarded the conditions of human existence. Finally, his mind became as wandering as his body.
"He wanted nothing, asked for nothing, rejected food, and refused shelter, and as often as taken in and cared for, he managed to escape, and wander away, feebly and helplessly, from human association and ministration. He complained to himself that his great mother, Nature, had deserted him, a helpless child, to wander and perish in the wilderness. He said he had gone after her, until weary, starving, and worn, he must lie down and die. He had called after her until his voice had sunk to a wail; and he finally died of a child's heart-broken sense of abandonment and desertion.
"He was found one day, nearly unconscious, with the tears frozen in his eyes, and on being cared for, wailed his life out in broken sobs.
"Let us not grieve that he has found rest.
"I am too sad to write of other things, and you will be melancholy over this for a month.
SOME THINGS PUT AT REST.
At the January term of the Court, the case of Ohio vs. Myers, came up; and the defendant failing on his motion to continue, the case was brought on for trial, and a jury was sworn. His principal counsel was Bissell, of Painesville, a man of great native force and talent, and who in a desperate stand-up fight, had no superior at that time in Northern Ohio. He expected to exclude the confession, on the ground that Myers had been induced to make it upon representations that it would be for his advantage to do so; and if this could be got out of the way, he was not without the hope of finding the other evidence of the State too weak to work a conviction.
The interest in the case had not abated, and a great throng of people were in attendance.
Hitchcock, with whom Henry Ridgeley was in company at the time of his death, then an able lawyer, was the prosecuting officer, aided by the younger Wilder, who had succeeded Henry as his partner.
Wilder was a young lawyer of great promise, and was the active man in the criminal cases.
He stated the case to the court and jury, saying among other things, that he would not only prove the larceny by ordinary evidence, but by the confession of the prisoner himself. Bissell dropped his heavy brows, and remarked in his seat, "that he would have a good time doing that."
Wilder called one of the officers who made the arrest, proved that fact, and then asked him the plump question, in a way to avoid a leading form, whether the prisoner made a confession? Bissell objected, on the ground that before he could answer, the defendant had a right to know whether he was induced to make it, by any representations from the witness or others.
Wilder answered, that it did not yet appear that a confession had been made. If it should be shown that one had, it would be then time to discuss its admissibility; and so the court ruled; and the witness answered that Myers did make a full confession. Wilder directed him to state it, Bissell again objected, and although Wilder urged that he had a right to go through with his witness, and leave the other side to call out the inducement, if any, on cross-examination, the court ruled that the circumstances under which the confession was made was a preliminary matter that the defendant had a right to show. When the witness answered to Bissell, that he told Myers after his arrest that they knew all about the larceny, but did not know who his accomplices were, and that if he would tell all about them he would undoubtedly be favored; and that then the defendant told his story. Upon this statement, Wilder cross-examined the witness, and managed to extract several items of the confession, when the court held that the confession was inadmissible.
Myers drew a breath of relief, but Bissell's brow did not clear. He knew that the State had gained all it expected to; it had proved that a confession was made, which was about as bad as the confession itself. Under this cloud, Wilder called his other evidence, which of itself, was very inconclusive, and which, with the added weight that a confession had been made, left much uncertainty as to the result, and Bissell was girding himself for the final struggle. Wilder then called the name of John T. Greer—when the head of Myers dropped, and midnight fell upon the brow of Bissell.
Placidly and serenely, that gentleman answered the call, and took the stand—seemingly the only unconcerned gentleman present. He said that he knew Myers well—had known him for years; that on the morning after the larceny, he saw him and another man, at McMillan's, near Youngstown; that they brought with them a pair of horses, which he described exactly as the stolen horses, and that Myers told him they got them the night before, at Conant's barn in Troy; that he denounced Myers to his face as a horse thief, and threatened to expose him.
This evidence produced a prodigious sensation. Bissell put the witness through a savage cross-examination. In answer to the questions, he said that Myers and himself, and others, belonged to an association, of which Jim Brown was the head, for manufacturing paper currency and coin, and supplying it at various points; had never passed a dollar himself; that he broke with Myers because he was a thief, and no gentleman; that the association had never had any connection with running off horses, &c.
"To whom did you first disclose this act of Myers?"
"To a young lawyer at Jefferson, in his private room."
"Who was he?"
"Barton Ridgeley." Great sensation, and men looked at one another.
"Did he belong to your financial association?"
"Why did you go to him?"
"I had a little acquaintance with him, and had great confidence in him. I wanted to consult somebody, and I went to him." He went on to say that he consulted him as a lawyer and not as a friend; that when he told Ridgeley of the association, which was drawn out of him by a cross-examination, Ridgeley told him at once, that while he would not use this against the witness, he certainly would against his associates. That soon after Mr. Wade came in, and he found out that Ridgeley had managed to send for him. That Ridgeley then insisted that he should tell the whole story to Mr. Wade, and he did. That Wade called in a United States Deputy Marshal, and induced the witness to make an affidavit, when the Marshal went to Columbus, got warrants, and arrested Brown and others.
He was asked what fee he paid young Ridgeley, and he answered, nothing. He offered him a liberal fee, and he refused it. He understood Ridgeley had gone East, but did not know; nor who furnished him with money.
The prosecution rested.
Wade was present, and Bissell called him; and in answer to Wilder, said he proposed to contradict Greer. Wilder replied, that although he was not entitled to such a privilege, yet he had no objection; and Wade, in the most emphatic way, corroborated Greer throughout. He said that Ridgeley was at that time at the Albany law-school, and would soon be back to answer for himself; and when asked if he was not poor, answered, that friends always came to such young men, with a glance at the bench, where Markham sat with Humphrey. The perfect desperation of his case alone warranted Bissell in calling Wade, with whose testimony the trial closed; and on the verdict of guilty, Myers was sentenced to the Penitentiary for ten years. And for the third or fourth time Barton's acquaintances were disposed to regard him as a hero.
It was not in nature, particularly in young man-nature, that such a creature as Julia should ripen into womanhood without lovers. In her little circle of Newbury, boys and girls loved her much alike, and with few shades of difference on account of sex. No youth of them dreamed of becoming her suitor; not even Barton, whom I have sketched in vain, if it is not apparent that it would not have been over presumption in him, to dream of anything.
Of the numerous, and more or less accomplished young men from other places, who had met and admired her, two had somewhat singled themselves out, as her admirers, both of whom, I fear, had a good way passed the pleasant, though dangerous, line of admiration.
Young King, of Ravenna, a frank, handsome, high-spirited youth, had for a long time been at no pains to conceal his partiality; so far from that, he had sought many occasions to evince in a modest, manly way, his devotion. His observing sister, Julia's warm and admiring friend, had in vain looked wise, lifted her finger, and shaken her warning head at him. He would inevitably have committed himself, had not the high-souled and generous Julia, by her frank, ingenuous woman's way with him, made him see and feel in time the uselessness of a more ardent pursuit; and so content himself with the real luxury of her friendship. The peril to him was great, and if for a time he was not unhappy, he had a grave and serious mood, that lasted many months. She had a real woman's warm, unselfish friendship for him, which has much of the sweetness and all the purity and unselfishness of a sister's love; and all unconscious as she seemed, that he could wish for more or other, she succeeded in placing him in the position of a devoted and trusted friend.
Thorndyke, the fourth or fifth of aristocratic generations, of a good old colonial strain, elegant to a fault, and refined to uselessness, of tastes and pursuits that took him out of the ordinary atmosphere; languid more for the want of a spur, than from lack of nerve and ability; and unambitious for want of an object, rather than from want of power to climb, was really smothered by the softness and luxury of his surroundings, rather than reduced by the poverty and feebleness of his nature; had really the elements of manly strength and elevation, and had misfortune or poverty fallen upon him, early, he would undoubtedly have developed into a man of the higher type, like the first generations of his family.
Like every man he was struck as much as he could be, with Julia, and when he saw her in the rudeness of pioneer surroundings, he began by pitying her, and finally ended by pitying himself. When it first occurred to him to carry her out of the woods, to the actual world, and real human life, he was not a little surprised. She was not born in Boston, nor did her father's family date back to the flood, but her mother's did. Indeed, that came over with it.
In revolving this grave matter, the only factors to be considered, were Mr. Thorndyke's own judgment, taste and inclinations, and Julia has matured in these pages, to a small purpose, or Mr. T. was much less a man than I have supposed, if these parties should not finally unite in consenting to the alliance. Of course, Miss Julia could be had, both of herself and parents, for the asking. But his fastidious notions could alone be satisfied with a gentlemanly course of gradually warming and more devoted attentions, with all the forms and observances, so far as the disadvantages of her surroundings would permit. It was some time in the last summer, that he had made up a definite judgment in the premises under which he commenced his lambent action. During the autumn he often met King at her father's, and the young men occasionally made up small parties with Julia and Nell or some other young ladies for rides and excursions. Towards winter, King was less at Newbury; and as winter approached, Mr. Thorndyke seemed left to monopolize the time and society of Julia. So gracious, frank and open was her invariable manner to him, that he could not for a moment doubt that after a gentlemanly lapse of time, and a course of rides, calls, walks and teas, he might in his own way dispose of the matter.
His splendid gray, "West Wind," was no mean companion for Prince, and many a gallop they had together, and Thorndyke was a gentlemanly rider and drove well, and during the winter he often drove Julia out in a single sleigh.
In a moment of weakness it occurred to him that West Wind and Prince would go well in double harness, and he proposed to Julia to match them for a drive.
"What!" exclaimed that young lady, "put Prince in harness? make a draught horse of him?"
"With West Wind—certainly. Why not?"
"Because I don't choose it. There is but one man in the world who shall drive Prince, and I am sure he will not want to."
"I presume Judge Markham don't care to drive him?"
"I presume he don't;" laughing and blushing.
That was the end of that, and not overly pleasing to the gentleman. It was apparent, that she was disinclined to match the horses.
And March was coming, and Julia was sweet and arch and gracious, and at times as he came to know her better, he thought a little grave and pensive. This was certainly a good sign; and somehow, he found himself now often watching and calculating the signs, and somehow again they did not seem to deepen or change, or indicate much. He could not on the whole convince himself that he had made much progress, except that he should ask her at some time and she would accept him, and he was certainly approaching that time. The matter in hand had become absorbing—very: and he knew he was very much interested in it; and the laugh of the beautiful girl was as rich, musical and gay as ever, though he some how fancied, that it was a little less frequent; and once or twice something had been dropped about some day early in April, at which there was a little flutter in Julia. What could it be? did she think he was slow? He would speak, and put an end to it. But he didn't, and somehow he could not. He might do it any day; but did not. At any event, before that April, something should be asked and answered—but how answered?
The sleigh was left under cover, the roads hardened in the March sun and wind, and several horseback excursions had been made. Toward the close of the month, on their return one day, Thorndyke, who had been unusually silent, suddenly asked Julia if she would be at leisure that evening, at about eight; and might he call? She answered that she would be at home, and as he knew, he was quite at liberty to call. He said that he had something quite particular which he wished to say to her, and that of course she must know what it was.
"Indeed! If I must know what it is, you must, by the same rule, know what I will say in reply. Let us consider the thing said and answered, and then your business call can be one of pleasure."
"I had hoped that it might possibly be one of pleasure."
The girl, looked grave for a moment, and then turning in her best manner to her escort—
"Mr. Thorndyke, I think I had better tell you the little story of my horse. If we ride slow, I will have time before we reach the gate." With a little increase of color, "It is not much of a story, but you may see a little moral in it."
"Certainly, I shall be glad to hear it. No doubt it will interest me."
"You see his name is Prince."
"I hear that is his name."
"You will see presently that is not his whole name."
"Silver-sticks! Please attend, sir. His name is Prince Arthur."
"Named after a gentleman who lived a few years ago; who dined off 'a table round,' and who was thought to be unfortunate in his lady."
"No, sir. He was named for a man who may have been called after that personage; and whose life shows that the old legend may have been true, and this Arthur is not unfortunate in his lady," with a softening voice, and deepening blush on her averted face.
"Have you never heard the story of the lost girl? who less than a year ago, bewildered and distracted, wandered away into the endless woods, in the night, mid darkness and storm; and who, o'ercome with fright and weariness and cold, lay down to die, and was covered over with snow; and that a young man with strength and courage, was conducted by God to her rescue, and carried her over an icy stream, and revived and restored her to her father and mother. Did you ever hear of that?" Her voice was low, deep, and earnest. He bowed.
"My father gave him this horse, and he gave him to me, and I gave him that young man's name. Prince is a prince among horses, and that youth is a prince among men," proudly, and with increasing color.
"I thought that young man's name was Bart Ridgeley," very much disgusted.
"Arthur Barton Ridgeley. Prince bears his first name, and he bears me;" lowering her voice and turning away.
"A very pleasant arrangement, no doubt," querulously.
"Very pleasant to me," very sweetly.
"It seems to me I have heard something else about this Arthur Barton Ridgeley, Esq.; and not quite so much to his credit." Oh dear! But then he was hardly responsible.
"I presume you have. And you heard it with the same ears with which you hear everything disconnected with your precious self. Were their acuteness equal to their length, you would also have heard, that in this, as in everything else, he was true and noble." The voice was shaken a little by two or three emotions, and tears sprang to her eyes and dried there.
When Thorndyke recovered, they had reached Judge Markham's gate; and springing unaided from her saddle, Julia turned to him with all her grace and graciousness fully restored.
"Many thanks for your escort, Mr. Thorndyke. I shall expect you at eight."
At about that hour, a boy from Parker's brought her the following note:
"Miss Markham:—Pardon, if you can, my rudeness of this afternoon. Kindly remember the severity of my punishment. Believe me capable of appreciating a heroic act; and the womanly devotion that can alone reward it. From my heart, I congratulate you.
"With the profoundest respect.
As she read, a softer light, almost a mist, came into the eyes of the young girl.
"I fear I have done this man a real injustice."
The March term of the Court at Chardon was at the beginning of its third and last week. The important case in ejectment of Fisk vs. Cole, was reached at the commencement of the second, and laid over for the absence of defendant's counsel. This directly involved the title of Cole to his land; a title that had been loosely talked about, and generally supposed to be bad.
In the fall of 1837, a stranger by the name of Fisk appeared in the country, placed a deed of the land in question on record; gave Cole notice to quit, commenced his suit, and leisurely proceeded to take his evidence in Conn, and Mass., and get ready for the trial. Bart's trial of Coles's first case had rendered the latter an object of interest; and it was generally felt that the new case was one of great oppression and hardship; and popular opinion and sympathy were wholly with Cole, and all the more so, as the impression was that he would lose his land.
The people of Newbury, however, really believed that if Bart would return and take the case in hand, in some way, he would win it; but the Court had commenced, the case was called, and he still lingered in the East. In the spring before he left Newbury, he had spent much time in examining the case, looking up the witnesses, and with such aid as his brother, the Colonel, could give, their names had been obtained and they were all subpoenaed to attend. Among them were two or three old hunters and soldiers, on the Western frontier.
Ford was in the case, and had made up the issue, and at the trial, Bart had intended to secure the aid of Wade or Hitchcock. Except himself, no one knew much of the case, and none had confidence that Cole would prevail in the trial, and a general feeling of despondency prevailed as to his prospect. On the afternoon of the third Monday, Bart reached Chardon, from Albany, secured a room, assembled his witnesses, talked up the matter with the old hunters, and by his quiet, modest confidence, and quick, ready knowledge of all the details, he at once put a new aspect upon the defence. Wade was also in Chardon, and on that evening, Bart laid his programme before him and Ford, who were not more than half convinced, and it was arranged that Bart should go forward with the case, to be backed and sustained by his seniors.
On the next morning he made his first appearance in Court, and in person, air and manner, he had become one to arrest attention, in a crowd, such as thronged the court room; and when his name transpired, he was at once identified as a prominent person in the detection and arrest of Brown & Co., whose name had become widely known; and men scanned him with unusual interest. Some noticed and commented upon the brown moustache, that shaded the rather too soft and bland mouth; and observed the elegant tone of his dress, which, when it was examined, resolved itself rather into the way his clothes were worn. Ford introduced him to the lawyers present, with whom his quiet, modest manner deepened the impression made by his person. As he took his seat, his eye fully met the eager gaze of Judge Markham, from the bench. Bart felt the earnest, anxious look of the Judge, and the Judge thought he saw a shadow of sadness in the frank eyes of Bart.
A case on trial ran until late in the afternoon, when Fisk vs. Cole was called, was ready, and a jury sworn. Mr. Kelly, of Cleveland, appeared for the plaintiff, a very accomplished lawyer and a courteous gentleman. He produced the record of the old Conn. Land Co., an allotment and map of the lands showing that the tract in dispute was originally the property of one John Williams. He then made proof of the death of Williams, and that certain parties were his heirs-at-law; and produced and proved a deed from these to the plaintiff. This made what lawyers call a paper title, when the plaintiff rested his case.
For the defendant, Barton said he would produce and prove a deed from John Williams, junior, only child of Williams, mentioned by the plaintiff, to the defendant, directly, dated January, 1816, under which he took possession of the land in January, 1817; and that he also found a man in possession of the premises, who had possessed and claimed the land for years, and whose right he purchased. It would thus appear, whatever might be said of his written title, that he had complete right by possession, adverse to the plaintiff, for twenty years.
"You will do well if you sustain that claim," said Kelly, incredulously.
"I shall labor for your commendation," was Bart's pleasant reply.
The deed was proven, as well as the relationship of John and John, Jr. Bart also produced a book of the Probate records of Geauga County, which he said contained a record of the administration of one Hiram Fowler, which he might want to refer to, for a date, thereafter, and if the Court would permit, he would refer to, if it became necessary. He wished the record to be considered in evidence, for what it was competent to prove.
"Certainly," from the Court, who made a note of it.
He then proved that Cole left Massachusetts early in the spring of 1817, but failed to show when he reached Ohio, whether in 1817, or 1818. One man remembered to have seen Hiram Fowler at work for him on a tree fence, along the back line of it, during the summer of his arrival on the land. He also made proof, that at a very early day, tree fences were about at least three sides of the land, thus forming a cattle range, and evidencing possession and occupancy. He then called McConough, of Bainbridge, and men bent eagerly forward to gaze at the old Indian hunter, who had been a sharp-shooter on the ill-fated "Lawrence," in Perry's sea fight, off Put-in-Bay, and who was also with Gen. Harrison at the Thames; a quiet, compact, athletic, swarthy man, a little dull and taciturn. He said he was first on the ground in 1810 or 1811, and found a man by the name of Basil Windsor, who lived in a small cabin by the spring, near which he had then two small apple trees. He was there again, with John Harrington, in 1816. They drove a herd of elk through an opening, into and through Basil's yard, at the south side, and back into the woods north, until they came to a tree fence, when they turned east, and were headed off by another hedge, and the elk were too tired to get over; and there in the angle they killed two or three, when it came on dark. That Harrington lit a fire, staid by the slaughtered elk through the night, to keep the wolves from devouring them, and that he, McConough, went and staid with Basil. That Basil was a sort of hermit, who lived in the woods and kept two or three cows. That on their way to Court a few days ago, he and Harrington went to the premises of Cole, and found his house near the old Basil spring, and that one of the apple trees was still standing there. The other had been recently cut down.
Harrington, a still more celebrated hunter and pioneer, and who furnished a good idea of old Leatherstocking, and who was with Winchester at the battle of River Raisin, from which he escaped, and was one of Harrison's scouts, had been often at Basil Windsor's. Hunters often found shelter there. He was there both before and after the war; and he fully corroborated McConough.
Old Bullock was then called, a heavy-framed, sluggish giant, of that strong, old-fashioned type of head and face, now nearly out of date. He, too, had served in the army, and was a famous hunter and trapper.
He knew Basil, a man who avoided others, and who had met with misfortunes "down country." "He had hunted and trapped all through the woods about him, and knew of his having had fences to confine his cows. Knew Cole; he came in in 1817, 18 or 19, couldn't tell which. Cole showed him his deed; went with him to find his land, and found it was the same on which Basil was living. Went with him to see Basil, who thought it was hard. He said that the land was his'n. He had a hundred and sixty acres; showed no deed or writin's. Cole finally bought him out—his right, and 'betterments;' and gave him a horse and harness, and we went down to Square Punderson's, to git writin's made, and he wa'n't to home, and none was made. Basil took the horse and left, and Cole moved into the old cabin. I knew about the slash fences, and ketched a spotted fawn once, hid in one on 'em. I used to cross over by the big maples, by the spring run, where Coles's two children were buried, to go to my traps."