Lewis was coming; he had passed through the gate—and she started up. He rode on to the back of the house, left his horse there, and, striding through the hall and down the three stone steps, joined her where she stood upon the greensward, among the fallen leaves. "Good-evening to you!" she said, touched his shoulder with her hand, and raised her face to his. He drew her to him, kissed her with fierce passion, and let her go, then walked to the beech tree and stood with his back to the house, staring at the long wall of the mountains, dark now against a pale gold sky. She followed him. "Lewis! what is the matter?"
He answered without turning, "We are not going, quite yet awhile, over the mountains. Man proposes, and Ludwell Cary disposes. Well! we will stay merrily at home. But he shall pay the score!"
"What do you mean?"
"Two weeks! What may not happen over there in two weeks? And I bound here, hard and fast, hand and foot! By what?—by the plaything code of a plaything honour! Now, if he were any other man under the canopy, I would not stay! The question is, is it imaginable that all this was of set purpose?"
"Lewis, what is the matter?"
Rand turned. "The matter, child? The matter is that you may unpack, and that we will give a dinner party! We do not travel to-morrow; no, nor the next day, nor the next! I have to await a gentleman's leisure."
She hung upon his arm. "Lewis, Lewis, what is it? You are trembling—"
He laughed. "Do you think it is with fear?"
"Don't, don't!" she cried. "Don't be so angry—don't look so black! I am afraid of you. What is it, dearest, dearest?"
"Wait," he said harshly. "Wait, Jacqueline, a moment."
He put her abruptly from him, walked to the doorstone, and, sitting down, bowed his face upon his hands. For some moments he remained thus, while she stood under the beech tree, her hand upon her heart, watching him. At last he lifted his head, rose, and came back to her. "To-day, in the court room, I challenged Ludwell Cary. He has named, as is his right, time and place of our meeting. The time, something more than two weeks from to-day; the place, five miles from Richmond. I confess that I was taken by surprise. I had expected to-morrow morning and the wood beyond the race-course. If I thought—what, by all the gods, I do think!—that he had dared—that he had done this deliberately, with intent to keep me here, I—Jacqueline! why, Jacqueline!"
"I'm—I'm not going to swoon," said Jacqueline, with difficulty. "Air, that is all—let me sit down a moment on the grass. A duel—you and Ludwell Cary."
"I and Ludwell Cary." Rand uttered his short laugh. "How steadily have we been coming just to this! I think I knew it long ago. I have in me so much of the ancient Roman that I prize him, now that we are at grips, and think him a fair enemy. If I did not hate him, I would love him. But it is the first, and I'll not forgive this pretty trap he's laid! What does he think will come after these two weeks he has me shackled? Does he think that he can always keep me here?—or only until—until it is too late to go?" He struck his hand against the beech tree. "Well, well, mine enemy, we will try conclusions."
Jacqueline rose from the grass, came to him, and laid her head upon his breast. "Lewis, is there no way out with honour? Must it be? He is my friend and you my husband whom I love. Will you face each other there like—like General Hamilton and Aaron Burr? Oh, break, my heart!"
Rand kissed her. "There is no way out. He means me to stay, and I will do it—for this while, Cary, for this while! Look, Jacqueline; the sun is setting over the road we should have gone! I have been a fool. Six weeks ago should have seen us far, far upon that shining track! Now the world is spinning from me, the glory rolling under, and I feel the dark. Adam is right; once started on this trail, I should have gone like the strong arrow's flight. I knew the warriors were behind me, and yet I idled,—waited first to break with my old chief,—as if my going would not have done that work, as short, as clean!—and waited last because of a sick woman's whim! If I had not let you go to Fontenoy, we might to-day have heard the rushing of a mightier river than the Rivanna yonder! Delay, delay, where haste itself should have felt the spur!"
"If I had not gone to Fontenoy," cried Jacqueline, "my aunt might have died with her last wish ungratified! If I had not gone, oh, what would they not have thought of me, most rightly, most justly! Now we are almost friends again,—the thing I've prayed for, longed for, wept for, since that June! Was this not worth the waiting? There is something here that I do not understand. Why should you so greatly care to see these lands? Say that there is some money lost and some vexation—what does that count against this nearing home—this making friends?" She struck her hands together. "And yet—and yet if we had gone, there would not have been this day, this quarrel, and this challenge! There would not be this day to come, when I shall hear what, from now till then I'll dream I hear! O Christ, I heard them then, the pistol shots! Why did we not go, Lewis, days ago?"
"Now you are weeping," said Rand, "and that will ease your heart. Could I have helped it, I would not have told you of this quarrel. You could not, however, have failed to hear; it was a public thing, and the town is buzzing with it. See, Jacqueline, I am no longer passionate. The dog is down. The mistake, if mistake it was, is made; we are not over the mountains; we are here in Albemarle, at Roselands, underneath the beech tree. I was never one to weep for spilt milk. This way is stopped, and this moment foreclosed. Well, there are other moments and other ways! The sun is down and the night falls dark and cold. Come, dry your eyes!"
"That is soon done. The thorn is in my heart."
"I will draw it out," he answered. "I'll draw it out with love. Don't think that Ludwell Cary can hurt me; it's not within his kingdom. Do not grieve that men are enemies; smile and say, 'It will be so a few years longer!' I am glad with all my heart that you are friends again with all at Fontenoy. As for this journey, I stayed for you, Jacqueline. It was needful for me to go, but I stayed that you might part friends with your kindred. Remember it one day."
"Why," she cried,—"why did you not go without me? You would not have been long gone, and I should have waited your return there at Fontenoy! Then this day and this quarrel would not have come! Ludwell Cary and you to meet—O God!"
"I did not wish to go without you. You do not understand—but trust me, Jacqueline; trust me, trust me!" He took her in his arms. "Come, now! It is twilight, and there's a dreariness in these fallen leaves. Come indoors to the fire and the light, and the books and the harp. Deb arrived to-day, did she not?"
"Yes; she is somewhere with Miranda. They have been playing dolls with the last flowers."
He stopped a moment as they were moving over the grassy ring. "Flower dolls! They were playing flower dolls that morning in June when I came down from the blue room and out into the garden. There they sat, on the red earth in the little cedar wood, with their bright ladies. Deb told me all their names. She told me more than that—she told me you were reading in the arbour. Jacqueline, are you sorry that I found you there?"
"No, I am not sorry; I am glad. You could make me wretched, but you could not make me repentant. Oh, Lewis! I shall hear those shots to-night—"
"No, you will not—I shall read you to sleep. Why, if you were a soldier's wife, would you hear all the bullets flying? There, the last red has faded, and I hear the children's voices! Come in; come in out of the dark."
It was nine o'clock of a November morning when a coach, driven out from Richmond, passed a country tavern and a blacksmith's shop, and, turning from the main road, went jolting through a stubble-field down to the steep and grassy bank of the James. It was a morning fine and clear, with the hoar frost yet upon the ground. The trees, of which there were many, were bare, saving the oaks, which yet held a rusty crimson. In the fields the crows were cawing, and beyond the network of branch and bough the river flashed and murmured among its multitude of islets. The place was solitary, screened from the highroad by a rise of land, and fitted for a lovers' meeting or for other concerns of secrecy.
The coach drew up beneath a spreading oak with the mistletoe clustering in the dull red upper branches. Three men stepped out,—Lewis Rand, the gentleman acting as his second, and a good physician. "We are first on the field," said Rand, looking at his watch. "It is early yet. Pompey, drive a hundred yards down the bank—as far as those bushes yonder—and wait until you are called. Ha! there could be no better spot, Mr. Jones!"
"I've seen no better in my experience, sir," answered Skelton Jones. "When I was last out, we had the worst of fare!—starveling locust wood—damned poor makeshift at gentlemanly privacy—stuck between a schoolhouse and a church! But this is good; this is nonpareil! Fine, brisk, frosty weather, too! I hate to fight on a muggy, leaden, dispirited day, weeping like a widow! It's as crisp as mint, this morning—hey, Doctor?"
"I find," said the doctor, in a preoccupied tone, "that I've left my best probe at home. However, no matter—I've one I can use.
"I hear wheels," remarked Rand. "He is on the hour."
A chaise mounted the knoll of furrowed land and came down to the grassy level and the waiting figures. It stopped, and Ludwell Cary and his brother got out. "Drive over there where the coach is standing," directed the latter, and chaise and negro driver rolled away. The elder Cary walked forward, paused within a few feet of his antagonist, and the two bowed ceremoniously.
"I trust that I have not kept you waiting, Mr. Rand."
"Not in the least, Mr. Cary. The hour has but struck."
Fairfax Cary strode up, and the salutations became general. Skelton Jones looked briskly at his watch. "With your leave, gentlemen, we'll to formalities. The Washington stage has just gone by, and we will all wish to get back for the mail. Mr. Fairfax Cary, shall we walk a little to one side? You have, I see, the case of pistols. Dr. McClurg, if you will kindly station yourself beneath yonder oak—"
The seconds stepped aside for their conference, and the doctor retreated to the indicated oak. Lewis Rand and Ludwell Cary exchanged a comment or two upon the weather, then fell silent. The one presently sat down upon the root of a tree, and, drawing out a pocket-book, began to look over certain memoranda; the other walked near the river and stood gazing across its falls and eddies and innumerable fairy islands to the misty blue of the farther woods. The seconds returned and proceeded to measure the distance—ten paces, after which they loaded the pistols. Skelton Jones advanced, the ends of two strips of paper showing from his closed hand. "Gentlemen, you will draw for choice of position. The longest strip carries the advantage. Thank you. Mr. Cary, Fortune favours you! We are ready now, I think."
The two laid aside their riding-coats. Cary walked across the leaf-strewn lists and, turning, stood with his back to the sun. Rand took the opposite place. The seconds presented the loaded pistols. As Cary took his from his brother, their hands touched—that of the younger was marble cold. Skelton Jones crossed to his principal's right, and Fairfax Cary moved also to his proper place. There was a minute's pause while the sun shone and the leaves drifted down, then, "Are you ready, gentlemen?" cried Rand's second.
The principals answered in the affirmative. Fairfax Cary gave the word, "Present!" The two raised their weapons, and Skelton Jones began to count "One—two—three! Fire!" Rand fired. Cary swayed slightly, recovered himself, and stood firm. Fairfax Cary took the count. "One—two—three! Fire!" The elder Cary slowly turned the muzzle of his pistol from his waiting antagonist, and fired into the air.
The report echoed from the winding river-banks. For an appreciable moment, until it died away, the participants in the meeting stood motionless, then the seconds bestirred themselves and ran forward.
"But a single shot, each, gentlemen—that was agreed upon!" cried the one, and the other, "Ludwell, you are wounded! Where is it? Dr. McClurg! Dr. McClurg!"
"It is nothing, Fair,—through the shoulder." Cary waved him aside and turned a face, pale but composed, upon Lewis Rand, who now stood before him. Rand's hue was dark red, his features working. "Why," he demanded hoarsely,—"why did you not fire upon me?" The agitation, marked as it was, ceased or was controlled even as he spoke. The colour faded, the brow lost its corrugations, and the voice its thickness. Before his antagonist could reply, he spoke again. "It was yours, of course, to do what you pleased with. I sincerely trust that your wound is not deep. I have regretted the necessity—I profess myself entirely satisfied."
"That is well," answered Cary, "and I thank you, Mr. Rand. The wound is utterly of no consequence."
"Here is Dr. McClurg," said Rand. "I will wait yonder to hear that confirmed."
He walked to the river-bank and stood, as Cary had stood a little earlier, gazing over the falls and eddies and fairy islands to the blue woods on the farther shore. Under the oak which he had left, the doctor looked and handled, with a pursed lip, a keen eye, and a final "Humph!" of relief. "High and clean through and just a little splintered. You'll wear your arm in a sling for a while, Mr. Cary! Mr. Fairfax Cary, you're too white by half! There's a brandy flask in yonder case. Mr. Jones, the wound is slight."
"Why, that's good hearing!" cried Skelton Jones. "Mr. Cary must return to town in the coach, with Mr. Fairfax Cary and with you, Doctor. Mr. Rand and I will take the chaise. My profound regard, and my compliments, Mr. Cary! Mr. Fairfax Cary, may I have the pleasure of acting with you again! Doctor, good-morning. Now, Mr. Rand."
Rand turned from his contemplation of the river, advanced toward the group beneath the oak, and bowed with formality to Cary, who, arresting the doctor's ministrations, returned the salute in kind. The chaise, beckoned to by Mr. Jones, came up; there was a slight and final exchange of courtesies, and the two Republicans entered the vehicle and were driven away.
"Give them five minutes' start, Fair," ordered Cary. "Then call the coach; I want to get back to town for the Washington mail."
"You'll get back to town and get to bed!" stormed the other. "'Fire in the air,' quotha! I could have brought down a kite from the blue! You might, at least, have broken a wing for him!"
"Oh, I might, I might," said the other wearily. "But I didn't. I never liked this work of breaking wings. Now, Doctor, that is a bandage fit for a king! Call the coach, Fair. This much of the business is over."
The chaise carrying Lewis Rand and his companion traversed with rapidity the miles to Richmond. The road was fair, and the day bright and cool. The meeting by the river had occupied hardly an hour; the world of the country was yet at its morning stirring, and filled with cheerful sound. Above the fields the sky showed steel blue; the creepers upon the rail-fencing still displayed, here and there, five crimson fingers, and wayside cedars patched with shadow the pale ribbon of the road. Rand kept silence, and his late second, at first inclined to talkativeness, soon fell under the infection and stared blankly at the fence corners. A notorious duellist, he may have been busy with dramas of the past. Rand's thought was for the future.
They came into Main Street and drove to Rand's office. "We'll dismiss the chaise here," said the latter. "I have a few directions to give, and then I'm for the post-office and the Eagle."
"I will precede you there," answered the other. "Allow me, sir, before we part, to express the gratification I have felt in serving, to the best of my poor abilities, a gentleman of whom the party expects so much—"
"Rather allow me, sir, to express my gratitude—" and so on through the stilted compliment of the day. Assurances from both sides over at last, and the chaise discharged, the one walked briskly down the unpaved street toward the Eagle, and the other entered quietly the bare and business-like room from whose window, last February, he had fed the snowbirds. The room was not vacant. Before the table, with his arms upon it, and his head upon his arms, sat Mocket. At the sound of the closing door he started up, stared at Rand, then fell back with a gasp of relief, and the water in his eyes.
"Lewis? Thank the Lord!"
"It's Lewis," said the other. "My good old fellow, did you think only to see my ghost? Well, the comedy is over."
"Lord! it's been a long hour!" breathed his associate. "What did you do to him, Lewis?"
"He has a ball through his shoulder. It is not serious. I don't want to talk about it, Tom." Rand spoke abruptly, and, walking to his desk, sat down, drew a piece of paper toward him, and dipped a quill into the ink-well. "Is Young Isham there? He is to take this note to the house, to Mrs. Rand."
Mocket went to find Young Isham. Rand, alone in the room, wrote in his strong, plain hand:——
JACQUELINE:—We met an hour ago. He is slightly wounded—through the shoulder. I tell you truth, it is in no wise dangerous. I am unhurt.
The hand travelling across the sheet of paper paused, and Rand sat for a moment motionless, looking straight before him; then, with an indrawn breath, he dipped the quill again into the ink and wrote on,——
He fired into the air.
He sanded the paper, folded and sealed it, sat for a moment longer, leaning back in his heavy chair, then rose and himself gave the missive to Young Isham, with orders to make no tarrying between the office and the house on Shockoe Hill. Rand's slaves had for him a dog-like affection combined with a dog-like fear of his eye in anger. The boy went at once, and the master returned to the waiting Tom. "The Washington stage is in," he said. "I am going now to the Eagle, and you had best come with me. Then back here, and to work! Where is that man from the Bienville at Norfolk?"
"He's waiting at the Indian Queen. I can get him here in ten minutes. This morning's Argus says that the Bienville of New Orleans sails on Saturday—valuable cargo and no passengers."
"Ah," said Rand; "the Argus's eyes are heavy."
"A half-breed hunter was here this morning. He says that, ten days ago, crossing the Endless Mountains with his face to the east, he met the great hunter they call Golden-Tongue walking very fast, with his face to the west. Learning that he was on his way to Richmond, Golden-Tongue gave him this to be delivered in silence to you." Mocket took from the table a feather and held it out to the other.
"A blackbird feather," exclaimed Rand, turning it over in his hand. "That would mean—that would mean—'It is the fall of the leaf. The bird has flown south. Follow all the migratory tribe! follow while the air is yet open to you, or stay behind with the sick and the old and the faint of heart and the fighters against instinct! Winter comes. It is time to make haste.'" He laid the feather down with a smile. "That's Adam. Well, Adam, we will see how swift the Bienville can fly! I may yet be first at New Orleans. Wilkinson and I to welcome Burr and all the motley in his river-boats with a salvo from the city already ours. Ha! that's a silvery dream, Tom, and an eagle's pinion for Adam's blackbird quill!" He laughed and took up his hat. "Let's down the street first, and then you may find the man from the Bienville. There's a long day's work before us, and to-night"—He drew a quick breath. "To-night I have a task that is not slight. Come away! It's striking twelve."
The two closed the office and went out into the sunny street. "Where are all the people?" exclaimed Mocket. "It's as still as Sunday."
A boy at a shop door, hearing the remark, raised a piping voice. "Everybody's down at the Eagle and the post-office, sir. I heard them say there's big news. Maybe the President's dead!"
The distance to the Eagle was but short. Rand walked so rapidly that his companion had difficulty to keep beside him, and walked in silence, cutting short every attempt of Tom's to speak. They came within sight of the tavern. The long lower porch seemed crowded, the street in front filled with people. There were horsemen, a coach and a chaise or two, a rapid shifting of brown, green, blue, and plum-coloured coats, a gleam here and there of a woman's dress. A bugle sounded, and there issued from Governor Street first a roll of drums and a shouted order, and then a company in blue and white with tall, nodding plumes.
"There are the Blues!" cried Tom. "My land! What is the fuss about?"
They were now upon the edge of the throng, which suddenly fell from excited talking to a breathless attention. A tall man of commanding presence and ringing voice had mounted a chair, set at the top of the steps to the Eagle porch, and unfolded a paper. Rand touched upon the shoulder the man before him. "Mr. Ritchie, I have just come in from the country, and have heard nothing. What, sir, is the matter?"
"Treason, sir!" answered the editor of the Enquirer. "Treason. An attempt to disrupt the Republic! A blow in the face of Washington and Henry and Franklin, of the sacred dead and the patriot living! The lie direct to the Constitution! Apollyon stretching himself, sir; but, by gad! Apollyon foiled! Listen, and you will hear. Foushee's reading the Proclamation for the second time."
"Ah," said Rand, in a curious voice. "A Proclamation. From—"
"From the President. Evil hasn't prospered, and though we can't hang Apollyon, we can hang Aaron Burr. Listen now."
The reader's voice was sonorous, and his text came fully to all the crowd in the Richmond street.
"Whereas information has been received that sundry persons, citizens of the United States or resident within the same, are conspiring and confederating together to begin and set on foot, provide and prepare, the means of a military expedition or enterprise against the Dominions of Spain, against which nation war has not been declared by the constitutional authorities of the United States; that for this purpose they are fitting out and arming vessels in the western waters of the United States, collecting provisions, arms, military stores, and other means; are deceiving and seducing honest men and well-meaning citizens under various pretences to engage in their criminal enterprises; are organising, officering, and arming themselves for the same, contrary to the laws in such cases made and provided,—I have therefore thought it fit to issue this my proclamation, warning and enjoining all faithful citizens who have been led to participate in the said unlawful enterprise without due knowledge or consideration to withdraw from the same without delay, and commanding all persons whatsoever engaged or concerned in the same to cease all farther proceedings therein as they will answer the contrary at their peril, and will incur prosecution with all the rigours of the law. And I hereby enjoin and require all officers, civil or military, of the United States, or of any of the States or Territories, and especially all Governors, and other executive authorities, all judges, justices, and other officers of the peace, all military officers of the militia, to be vigilant, each within his respective department and according to his functions, in searching out and bringing to condign punishment all persons engaged or concerned in such enterprise, and in seizing and detaining, subject to the disposition of the law, all vessels, arms, military stores, or other means provided or providing for the same, and in general preventing the carrying on such expedition or enterprise by all the lawful means within their power. And I require all good and faithful citizens and others within the United States to be aiding and assisting herein, and especially in the discovery, apprehension, and bringing to justice of all such offenders, and the giving information against them to the proper authorities.
"In testimony whereof I have caused the seal of the United States to be affixed to these presents, and have signed the same with my hand. Given at the City of Washington on the twenty-seventh day of November, 1806, and of the sovereignty and Independence of the United States the thirty-first.
"That isn't all," said Mr. Ritchie in Rand's ear. "The plot was not only against Spain—it looked to the separation of the West from the East, with the Alleghanies for the wall between. General Wilkinson is the hero. It seems that Burr thought to implicate him and secure the army. Wilkinson sent Burr's letters in cipher to the President. The Government has had knowledge from various sources, and while he was thought to be dozing last summer, Mr. Jefferson was as wide awake as you or I. The militia are out in Wood County, and Burr will be taken somewhere upon the Ohio. Wilkinson has put New Orleans under martial law. Informer or no, he's now more loyal than loyalty itself. The Bienville is to be searched at Norfolk for a consignment of arms. They say Eaton's implicated, and Alston, Bollman, Swartwout, and this man Blennerhassett. Truxtun's name is mentioned, and it's said that Decatur was applied to. Andrew Jackson, too, has been friendly with Burr. Well, we'll see what we will see! Treason and traitor are ugly words, Mr. Rand."
"They are so considered, Mr. Ritchie," said Rand, with calmness. "Thanks for your courtesy, and good-morning!"
He bowed and made his way, not unaccosted, through the crowd to the Eagle porch. There was much excitement. The Governor was speaking from the head of the steps. Below him planters, merchants, lawyers, and politicians were now listening eagerly, now commenting sotto voce, while beyond them the nondescript population swayed and exclaimed. To one side were massed the tall plumes of the Blues. Rand saw, near these, Fairfax Cary's handsome face, not pale as it had been between nine and ten o'clock, but alert, flushed, and—or so Rand interpreted its light and energy—triumphant. He went on into the house, ordered and drank a small quantity of brandy, and when he came back upon the porch was met by those near him with a cry of "Speech! Speech!" The Governor's periods were at an end, and John Randolph of Roanoke held the impromptu tribune. Rand's eloquence, if not as impassioned and mordant, was as overwhelming, and his reasoning of a closer texture. Those around him loudly claimed him for the next to address the crowd, which now numbered a great part of the free men of Richmond. He shook off the detaining hands and, with a gesture of refusal to one and all, made his escape by a side step into the miscellany of the street, and finally out of the throng, and, by a detour, back to the deserted square where stood his office. He had lost sight of Mocket, but as he put his key into the door, the other came panting up, and the two entered the bare, sunshine-flooded room together. Rand locked the door and, without a look at his trembling subaltern, proceeded to take from his desk paper after paper, some in neatly tied packets, some in single sheets, until a crisp white heap lay on the wood beneath his hand. "Light a fire," he said over his shoulder. "There's absolutely nothing, is there, in that desk of yours?"
"Nothing. For the Lord's sake, Lewis, is this the end of everything?"
"Everything is a large word. It is the end of this." He pushed a table closer to the fireplace and transferred to it his armful of papers. "Strike a light, will you? Here goes every line that can incriminate. If Burr did as he was told, and burned two letters of mine, there'll not be a word when I finish here." He tore a paper across and tossed it into the flame. "Tom, Tom, don't look so woe-begone! Life is long, and now and then a battle will be lost. A battle—a campaign, a war! But given the fighter, all wars will not be lost. Somewhere, there awaits Victory, hard-won, but laurel-crowned!" He tore and burned another paper. "This fat's in the fire, this chance has gone by, this road's barricaded, and we must across country to another! Well, I shall make it serve, the smooth, green, country road that jog-trots to market! What is man but a Mercenary, a Swiss, to die before whatever door will give him moderate pay? I would have had a kingdom an I could. I would have ruled, ay, by God, and ruled well! The great wheel will not have it so. Down, then, that action! and up this. The King is dead: long live the King!—alias the Law, Respectability, Virginia, and the Union!" He tossed in a double handful.
"All those!" said Tom dully. "I hate to see them burn."
"They might have burned this morning," answered the other. "I gave you orders to burn them if I fell, the moment you heard it."
"But you did not fall."
"No. He fired into the air." Rand tore the paper in his hand across and across. "He had me in his trap. That was why—that was why he spared to fire! Oh, I could take this check from the hand of Fortune, or the hand of Malice, or the hand of Treachery, or the hand of Policy, but, but"—he crushed the torn paper in his hands, then flung it from him with a violent and sinister gesture—"to take it from the hand of Ludwell Cary—that requires more than my philosophy is prepared to give! Let him look to himself!" He thrust in another bundle, and held down with an ashen stick the mass of curling leaves.
OLD SAINT JOHN'S
The distance was so great from the more populous part of the town to Saint John's on Church Hill, and the road thereto so steep, in hot weather dusty, in wet deep in mud, that it had become the Richmond custom to worship within the Capitol, in the Hall of the House of Delegates. But during this August of the year 1807 the habit was foregone. It was the month in which Aaron Burr, arrested in Alabama in January, brought to Richmond in the early spring, and, since the finding of a true bill, confined in the penitentiary without the town, was to be tried for his life on the charge of high treason. Early and late, during the week, every apartment of the Capitol was in requisition, and though the building itself was closed on Sunday, the Capitol Square remained, a place of rendezvous, noise, heat, confusion, and dispute. There was in the town a multitude of strangers, with a range from legal, political, military, and naval heights, through a rolling country of frontiersmen, to a level of Ohio boatmen, servants, and nondescript. Many were witnesses subpoenaed by the Government, others had been called by Burr, and yet others brought upon the scene by varied interests, or by the sheer, compelling curiosity which the trial evoked. One and all were loudly and fiercely partisan. The lesser sort and ruder fry congregated in numbers beneath the trees about the Capitol, and it was thought with propriety that during this month church-going ladies would prefer to attend Saint John's. Here, therefore, on a Sunday in mid-August, the Reverend John Buchanan preached to a large and noteworthy assemblage.
The day was hot, but the chestnut trees and sycamores gave a grateful shade, and large white clouds in a brilliant blue threw now and then a transient screen between sun and earth. The broad and murmuring river and the far stretch of woodland upon the Chesterfield side gave, too, a sensation of space and coolness. Faint airs carried the smell of midsummer flowers, and bees droned around the flat tombstones sunk in honeysuckle. The congregation gathered slowly, the masculine portion of it lingering, as was the custom, in the wide old churchyard until the second tinkling of the bell should call them indoors. They had thus the double advantage of talk and observation of the Progress of Women. These traversed the path to the church door like a drift of blossoms in the summer air, saluted on either hand by the lowest of bows, the most gallant lifting of bell-shaped hats. Whatever might be said of the men's dress, from the fair top-boot to the yards of lawn that swathed the throat, that of the weaker sex, in the days of the Empire, was admirably fitted for August weather. Above pale, thin stuffs, girdled beneath the breast and falling straight and narrow to the instep, rose bare white neck and arms, while each charming face looked forth from an umbrageous bonnet of fine straw. Bonnet and large fan appeared the only ample articles of attire; even the gloves were but mitts. By ones and twos, or in larger knots, the wearers of this slender finery entered Saint John's with sedateness, took their seats in the dim old pews, and waited in the warm, fragrant, whisper-filled air for the ringing of the second bell and the entrance of the men. After church, custom would still reign, and all alike would linger, laugh, and talk beneath the trees, while the coaches drew up slowly and the grooms brought the saddle-horses from the rack, and those who meant to walk gathered courage for the dusty venture.
Jacqueline Rand and Unity Dandridge, the one in her customary white, the other in a blue that marvellously set off dark hair, dark eyes, and brilliant bloom, entered Saint John's together and passed up the aisle to a seat halfway between door and pulpit. By some miscalculation of Unity's they were very early, a fact which presently brought a whispered ejaculation of annoyance from Miss Dandridge. "I love a flutter when I come in and the knowledge that I've turned every head—and here we've entered an empty church! Heigho! Nothing to do for half an hour."
"Read your prayer book," suggested Jacqueline. "Oh! does it open just there as easily as all that?"
"It always did open just there," answered Miss Dandridge. "It's something in the binding. Heigho! 'Love, honour, and obey.' Obey!"
"Your entrance," said her cousin, "was not entirely unseen, and here comes one whose head is certainly turned."
"Is it?" asked Unity, and hastily closed the prayer book as Fairfax Cary entered the pew behind them.
Jacqueline turned and greeted the young man with a smile. There was now between Greenwood and Roselands, between the house on Shockoe Hill and the quarters of the Carys at the Swan, a profound breach, an almost utter division. Lewis Rand and Ludwell Cary were private as well as political enemies, and all men knew as much. There had been no attempt on the part of either to conceal the fact of the duel in November. Their world of town and country surmised and conjectured, volubly or silently, according to company, drew its conclusions, and chose its colours. The conclusions were largely false, for it occurred to no one—at least outside of Fontenoy—to connect the quarrel and the duel with the President's proclamation and the Burr conspiracy. During the past winter Cary had been much in Albemarle, little in Richmond, and the encounters of the two had not been frequent. In the spring, however, matters had brought him to the city, and in the fever and excitement of the ensuing summer he and Rand were often thrown into company. When this was the case, they spoke with a bare and cold civility, and left each other's neighbourhood as soon as circumstances permitted. Cary came, of course, no more to the house on Shockoe Hill. Jacqueline, remaining in town through the summer because her husband remained, saw him now and again in some public place or gathering. He bowed low and she inclined her head, but they did not speak. Her heart was hot and pained. She had pleaded that afternoon in the cedar wood for his better understanding of Lewis, and to what purpose?—an open quarrel and a duel! She did not want to speak; she wanted to forget him.
But for Fairfax Cary, friend and shadow though he was of the elder brother, her feeling was different. He was a man to be liked for himself, and he loved and was to marry Unity. He adopted his brother's quarrel: he and Lewis barely spoke, and that despite the fact that Lewis had for him a strange half-grim, half-vexed admiration; he came no more than the elder Cary to the house on Shockoe; but when they met abroad, Jacqueline was sure of some greeting, half gay, half stiff, some talk of Fontenoy, some exchange of sentiment upon one topic dear to each, some chivalrous compliment to herself. He made a gallant and devoted lover, and Jacqueline could not but applaud Unity's choice and feel for him an almost unmixed kindness.
Because of the trial, which drew friends, kindred, and acquaintances to Richmond, the marriage, which was to have been celebrated in August, had been postponed to September. Unity came to town for a month and stayed with her cousin. Her lover would not enter Lewis Rand's house, nor did she ask him to do so. Her kindred in Richmond were numerous, and they might and did meet in a score of Federalist mansions, at various places of entertainment, and, as now, at church.
He answered Jacqueline's welcome and Miss Dandridge's bright blush and brief "How d'ye do?" with the not-too-profound bow, the subdued and deprecatory smile, and the comparative absence of compliment that church demanded, then, seating himself, leaned forward with his arm upon the back of their pew and entered into low-toned conversation.
"They were early."—"Yes: too early!"—"So much the better, for now they could see all the famous folk enter. Army, Navy, Law, and Letters are all coming to church. To-morrow is the indictment."
"Ah!" murmured Jacqueline; and Unity, "They say he held a levee at the Penitentiary yesterday. Personally, I prefer a surly traitor to one who is so affable, smiling, and witty."
"I also," agreed her lover. "But Colonel Burr is no Grand Seigneur of a traitor out of the dismal romances that you read! He meant no harm—not he! His ideas of meum and tuum may be vague, but when all's said, he's the most courteous gentleman and a boon companion! I think that we are well-nigh the only Federalists in town who have not forgotten that this man slew Hamilton, and who keep the fact in mind that, defend him as they please, his counsel cannot say, He loved his country and wished no other empire!' After the indictment to-morrow, Hay will speak and the Government begin to call its witnesses. Who is this coming in—the lady with Mrs. Carrington? Look! It's Burr's daughter—it's Mrs. Alston!"
"She's a brave woman," said Unity. "One can't but honour such spirit, courage, and loyalty. She's dressed as if it were a gala day!"
"If you'll let me pass," whispered Jacqueline, "I will speak to her. We met at the Amblers' the other night. There's an anxious heart behind that fine fire!"
She rose and, slipping past Unity, moved up the aisle to the Carrington pew. The two left behind looked after the gliding white figure in silence. Unity sighed. "To me Lewis Rand's like a giant, and she's like his captive. And yet—and yet there's much that's likeable in the giant, and I can perfectly well see how the captive might adore him!"
"I can't," retorted the other. "I'll grant his ability, but there's a little worm at the heart! Even his genius will one day turn against him; it is the tree too tall that falls the soonest. He's not coming here to-day?"
"No. He's out of town. All the Republican papers are wondering why the President did not include him among the counsel for the Government."
"I dare say," said the younger Cary grimly. "Well, that would have been an entertainment worth hearing, that speech for the prosecution!"
"Don't let's talk of him any more. I feel a traitor to Jacqueline when I do. How slow the people are in coming!"
"They may stay away as long as they please," murmured her lover. "I like a quiet time for worship before all the fuss and flutter. You should always wear blue, Unity."
"You told me yesterday that I should always wear pink. At last, here enters a man!"
"It is Winfield Scott, just up from Williamsburgh. He doesn't like the law and will go into the army. Here are all the Randolphs and the beautiful Mrs. Peyton!"
Unity moved to let Jacqueline reenter the pew. The church was beginning to fill, and the whispering and noise of fluttering fans increased. All the windows were open to the breeze, and the soft scents and sounds and colours, the dimness within the church, and the August skies and waving trees without, combined to give a drowsy, mellow, and enchanted air to old Saint John's and to the gathering people.
"The choir have come into the gallery," said Fairfax Cary. "I hear the scrape of Fitzwhyllson's viol."
"The quiet is over and here comes the world," answered Jacqueline. "Who is that with Mr. Wickham—the tall, lean man?"
"It is the Governor of Tennessee and a fire-eater for Burr—Andrew Jackson by name. The third man is Luther Martin."
"He may be learned in the law," murmured Unity, "but I would like to know the University that taught him dress. See, Jacqueline, Charlotte Foushee has the newest bonnet yet!"
"That is Commodore Truxtun coming in with Edmund Randolph. He looks a seaman, every inch of him! Who is the young gentleman in blue?"
"Oh, that," replied Unity, "is Mr. Washington Irving of New York. He has just returned from the Grand Tour, and he writes most beautifully. He has sent me an acrostic for my keepsake that—that—"
"That I could not have written had I tried till doomsday," finished Fairfax Cary. "Do you like acrostics, Mrs. Rand?"
Jacqueline smiled. "No, nor keepsakes either. Unity and I both like strong prose and books with meanings. Her facons de parler are many."
"Well, anyhow," said Miss Dandridge, "I like Mr. Washington Irving. He doesn't only write acrostics; he writes prose as well. Here is the Chief Justice."
"The second bell is ringing. We'll have all the churchyard now. Here comes the Tenth Legion—Hay, Wirt, and McRae! Mark Wirt bow to Martin!"
"Will General Wilkinson be here?"
"Speak of—one that's often named in church—and see the waving of his red cockfeather! This is the General now. Ahem! he looks what he is."
"And the other with the sash?"
"Eaton. They are both tarred with the same brush! Here, coming toward us, is one of very different make! You met him yesterday, did you not? Ha! Captain Decatur, allow me to give you anchorage!"
As he spoke, he held open the pew door. Captain Stephen Decatur smiled, bowed, and entered, and was presently greeting with a manly, frank, and engaging manner the beautiful Mrs. Rand and the equally lovely Miss Dandridge, to both of whom he had been presented at an evening entertainment. The church was now filled and the bell ceased ringing. From the gallery came the deeper growl of the bass viol and the preliminary breath of a flute. A moment more and the minister walked up the aisle and, mounting the tall old pulpit, invoked a blessing, then gave out in a fine mellow voice with a strong Scotch accent:—
"The spacious firmament on high, With all the blue, ethereal sky And spangled heavens, a shining frame, Their great Original proclaim."
The choir in the gallery, viol, flute, and voices, took up the strain, and the congregation beneath following in their turn, there arose and floated through the windows a veritable paean, so sweet and loud that the boatmen on the river heard.
On went the service until the sermon was reached, and on went the sermon from "firstly" to "eighteenthly and last, my brethren." The sermon was upon Charity, and included no allusion to the topic of the day uppermost in men's minds, for this minister never evinced any party spirit, and thought politics not his province. The discourse ended, the plate was carried and the benediction given, whereupon, after a decorous pause, the congregation streamed forth to the green and warm churchyard.
Here it broke into groups, flowery bright on the part of the women, gallant and gay enough on the side of the attending gentlemen. The broad path was like the unfolding of a figured ribbon, and the sward on either hand like sprinkled taffeta. The sky between the large white clouds showed bluer than blue, and the leaves of the sycamores trembled in a small, refreshing breeze. The birds were silent, but the insect world filled with its light voice the space between all other sounds. Outside the gate coaches and horses waited. There was no hurry; the ribbon unrolled but slowly, and the blossomy knots upon the taffeta as leisurely shifted position.
Theodosia Alston and Jacqueline came out of church together, in a cluster of Carringtons and Amblers. Besides her affianced, Unity had for company Captain Decatur, Mr. Irving, and Mr. Scott. The throng, pressing between, separated the cousins. Aaron Burr's daughter, though she talked and laughed with spirit and vivacity, was so evidently anxious to be away that the friend with whom she had come made haste down the path to their waiting coach. Jacqueline, meaning to tarry but a moment beside the woman for whom all, of whatever party, had only admiration and sympathy, found herself drawn along the path to the gate. The Carrington coach rolled away, and she was left almost alone in the sunny lower end of the churchyard.
The ribbon was unrolling toward her, and she waited, glad of the moment's quiet. She saw Unity's forget-me-not blue, and Charlotte Foushee's bonnet, piquant and immense, and Mrs. Randolph's lilac lutestring, and all the blue and green and wine-coloured coats of the men moving toward her as in a summer dream, gay midges in a giant shaft of sunlight. A great bee droned past her to the honeysuckle upon the wall against which she leaned. She watched the furred creature, barred and golden, and thought suddenly of the bees about the mimosa on the Three-Notched Road.
A middle-aged gentleman, of a responsible and benevolent cast of countenance, came up to her. "A very good day to you, my dear Mrs. Rand!"
"And to you, Colonel Nicholas."
"You are of my mind. You do not care to dilly-dally after church. 'Tis as bad as a London rout, where you move an inch an hour. Well, there are men here to-day who have made some stir in the world! Do you go to-morrow to the Capitol?"
"Yes. My cousin and I have seats with Mrs. Wickham."
"It will not be such a trial as was Warren Hastings's. Yet it will have its value both to the eye and the ear. If it were possible, I would have there every young boy in town. Is Mr. Rand at home?"
"No. He is in Williamsburgh for several days."
The gentleman hesitated. "Vexatious! I have something for his own hand, and I myself go out of town after to-morrow. It may be important—"
"Cannot I give it to him?"
"It is a small packet, or letter, from the President. He sent it to me by a private messenger, with a note asking me to do him the friendly service to place it directly in Mr. Rand's hand. I have it with me, as I thought I might meet Mr. Rand here."
"He will hardly return before Wednesday. When he comes, I will give him the letter with pleasure."
The other took from his pocket a thick letter, strongly sealed, and addressed in Jefferson's fine, precise hand. "I must be away from Richmond for a week or more, and the matter may be important. I can conceive no reason why, so that it be put directly into Mr. Rand's hand, one agent should be better than another. I'll confide it to you, Mrs. Rand."
"I will do as the President directs, Colonel Nicholas, and will give it to my husband the moment he returns."
She put out her hand, and he laid the packet in it. Hanging from her arm by a rose-coloured ribbon was a small bag of old brocade. This she opened, and slipped into the silken depths the President's somewhat heavy missive. "He shall have it on Wednesday," she said.
The dispersing congregation touched and claimed them. Mr. Wirt and Commodore Truxtun bore off her companion, and she herself, after a moment of gay talk with all the Randolphs, rejoined Unity and her court. Fairfax Cary called their coach, and Captain Decatur and Mr. Irving and Mr. Scott saw them in, and still talked at the lowered windows until Big Isham on the box, with a loud crack of his whip, put the greys in motion.
The coach went slowly down the hill. Unity yawned and waved her fan. "I like Captain Decatur. Think of sailing into a tropic harbour and destroying the Philadelphia on a day like this! Lend me your fan; it is larger than mine. What have you in your bag?"
"My prayer book, and something that Colonel Nicholas gave me for Lewis. I could think only of Theodosia Alston, and of how long to-night will be to her!"
"She believes that he will be acquitted."
"She does not know, and pictures of what we fear are dreadful! Knowledge is like death sometimes, but not to know is like frightened dying! Oh, warm, warm! I shall be glad when it is all over and we leave Richmond for the mountains and the streams again, and for your wedding, dearest heart!"
"Oh, my wedding!" said Unity. "My wedding's like a dream. I don't believe I'm going to have any wedding!"
THE TRIAL OF AARON BURR
At an early hour the crowd in the Hall of the House of Delegates was very great, and as it drew toward the time when the principals in the drama would appear, the press of the people and the heat of the August day grew well-nigh intolerable. In the gallery were many women, and their diaphanous gowns and the incessant flutter of their fans imparted to this portion of the Hall a pale illusion of comfort. In the hall below, men stood upon the window-sills, choked the entrances, crowded the corridors without. Not only was there a throng where something might be heard and seen, but the portico of the Capitol had its numbers, and the green surrounding slopes a concourse avid of what news the birds might bring. Within and without, the heat was extreme, even for August in Tidewater Virginia; an atmosphere sultry and boding, tense with the feeling of an approaching storm.
In the gallery, beside Unity and Mrs. Wickham, around her women of Federalist families who were loath to believe any one guilty who was prosecuted, or persecuted, by the present Government, and women of Republican houses who asserted, while they waved their fans, that, being guilty, Aaron Burr must be, should be, would be hanged! sat Jacqueline Rand, and wondered somewhat at her weakness in coming there that day. It had been, perhaps, in the last analysis, a painful curiosity, a vague desire to see the place, the men, all the circumstance and environment, with which her husband—she thanked God with every breath—had no connection! He might have had here his part, she knew tremulously; it might have been his role to stand here beside Aaron Burr, and, with a passionately humble and grateful heart, she nursed the memory of that winter night when he had sworn to her that from that hour he and this enterprise should be strangers.
There had been days and weeks of preliminaries to the actual trial for high treason, but she had not before been in this hall. All her delicacy shrank from the thought of sitting here beside her husband, conscious of his consciousness that she knew all that might have been, and saw in fancy more prisoners at the bar than one. No man would like that. He had come often to the Capitol during the days of skirmishing prior to the general engagement; had he not done so, it would have been at once remarked. She expressed no desire to accompany him, nor did he ever ask her to do so. She was aware of the general surprise that he had no place among the Government counsel. Whether or not such place had been offered to him, pressed upon him, she did not know, but she thought it possible that this was the case. If so, he had refused as was right. Acceptance, she knew, would have been impossible.
All through these months there had been between them a silent pact, a covenant to avoid all superfluous mention of the topic which met them on every hand, from every mouth, in every letter or printed sheet. Rand was much occupied with important cases, much in demand in various portions of the state, much away from home. She was not a woman to demand as her right entrance into every chamber of another's soul. Her own had its hushed rooms, its reticences, its altars built to solitude; she was aware that beyond, below, above the fair chamber where he entertained her were other spaces in her husband's nature. Into some she looked as through open door and clear windows, but others were closed to her, and she was both too proud and too pure of thought to search for keys that had not been offered her.
She knew that her husband had not meant to be absent from Richmond that day. An unexpected turn in the case he was conducting had compelled his presence in Williamsburgh, and on the other hand, in Richmond, the labour of finding an impartial jury had been brought to a sudden end by Burr's coup de main in refusing to challenge and calmly accepting as prejudiced a twelve as perhaps, in the United States of America, ever decided whether a man should live or die. The move had hastened the day when the Government was to begin its cannonade.
Lewis was yet in Williamsburgh. Had he been present in this hail, watching events with his fellow lawyers, fellow politicians, fellow countrymen, who knew nothing of one snowy night a year ago last February, his wife, for both their sakes, would have remained away. As it was, she had been persuaded. Unity would not for much have missed the spectacle, friends had been pressing, and at last her own painful interest prevailed. She was here now, and she sat as in a waking dream, her hands idle, her eyes, wide and dark, steadily fixed upon the scene below. She saw, leaning against a window, Ludwell Cary, and, the centre of a cluster of men in hunting-shirts, Adam Gaudylock.
The Capitol clock struck twelve. As the last stroke died upon the feverish air, the Chief Justice entered the Hall and took the Speaker's chair. Beside him was Cyrus Griffin, the District Judge. Hay, the District Attorney, with his associates William Wirt and Alexander McRae, now appeared, and immediately afterward the imposing array of the prisoner's counsel, a phalanx which included no less than four sometime Attorneys-General and two subalterns of note. These took the seats reserved for them; the marshal and his deputies pressed the people back, and the jury entered and filled the jury box. Below and near them sat a medley of witnesses—important folk, and folk whom only this trial made important.
A loud murmur was now heard from without; the marshal's men, red and perspiring, cleared a thread-like path, and the prisoner, accompanied by his son-in-law, entered the Hall. He was dressed in black, with carefully powdered hair. Quiet, cool, smiling, and collected, he was brought to the bar, when, having taken his place, bowed to the judges, and greeted his counsel, he turned slightly and surveyed with his composed face and his extremely keen black eyes the throng that with intentness looked on him in turn. It was by no means their first encounter of eyes. The preliminaries of that famous trial had been many and prolonged. From the prisoner's arrival in April under military escort to the present moment, through the first arraignment at that bar, the assembling of the Grand Jury, the tedious waiting for Wilkinson's long-deferred arrival from New Orleans, the matter of the subpoena to the President with which the country rang, the adjournment from June to August, the victory gained by the defence in the exclusion of Wilkinson's evidence, and the clamour of the two camps into which the city was divided,—through all this had been manifest the prisoner's deliberate purpose and attempt to make every fibre of a personality ingratiating beyond that of most, tell in its own behalf. He had able advocates, but none more able than Aaron Burr. His day and time was, on the whole, a time astonishingly fluid and naive, and he impressed it.
There was in this moment, therefore, no novelty of encounter between him and the stare of the opposing throng. He was not seeing them, nor they him, for the first time. Yet the situation had its high intensity. This day was the beginning of the actual trial, and only the day which brought the verdict could outweigh it in importance. This was the lighting of the lamp that was to search out mysteries; this was the bending of the bow; this was the first rung of the ladder which might lead—where? As John Marshall's voice was heard from the bench and the prisoner turned from his steadfast contemplation of the throng, a psychic wave overflowed and lifted all the great assembly. This was spectacle, this was drama! The oldest of all the first principles stirred under the stimulus, and with savage naturalness sucked in the sense of pageant.
The court was opened. Counsel on both sides brought forward and disposed of a minor point or two, then, amid a silence so great that the twittering of the martins outside the windows seemed importunate and shrill, proclamation was made, the prisoner stood up, and the indictment was read.
"The grand inquest of the United States of America for the Virginia District upon their oath do present that Aaron Burr, late of the city of New York, and State of New York, attorney-at-law, being an inhabitant of and residing within the United States, and under the protection of the laws of the United States, and owing allegiance and fidelity to the same United States, not having the fear of God before his eyes, nor weighing the duty of his said allegiance, but being moved and seduced by the instigation of the Devil, wickedly devising and intending the peace and tranquillity of the said United States to disturb, and to stir, move, and excite insurrection, rebellion, and war against the said United States, on the tenth day of December, in the year of Christ one thousand, eight hundred and six, at a certain place called and known by the name of Blennerhassett's Island, in the county of Wood and District of Virginia aforesaid, and within the jurisdiction of this court, with force and arms, unlawfully, falsely, maliciously, and traitorously did compass, imagine, and intend to raise and levy war, insurrection, and rebellion against the said United States—"
And so on through much thunderous repetition to the final,—
"And the said Aaron Burr with the said persons as aforesaid traitorously assembled and armed and arranged in manner aforesaid, most wickedly, maliciously, and traitorously did ordain, prepare, and levy war against the said United States, and further to fulfil and carry into effect the said traitorous compassings, imaginings, and intentions of him the said Aaron Burr, and to carry on the war thus levied as aforesaid against the United States, the said Aaron Burr with the multitude last mentioned, at the island aforesaid, in the said county of Wood within the Virginia District aforesaid, and within the jurisdiction of this court, did array themselves in a warlike manner, with guns and other weapons, offensive and defensive, and did proceed from the said island down the river Ohio in the county aforesaid, within the Virginia District, and within the jurisdiction of this court, on the said eleventh day of December, in the year one thousand, eight hundred and six aforesaid, with the wicked and traitorous intention to descend the said river and the river Mississippi, and by force and arms traitorously to take possession of the city commonly called New Orleans, in the territory of Orleans, belonging to the United States, contrary to the duty of their said allegiance and fidelity, against the Constitution, peace, and dignity of the United States and against the form of the Act of Congress of the United States in such case made and provided."
The clerk ceased to read. When the last sonorous word had died upon the air, the audience yet sat or stood in silence, bent a little forward, in the attitude of listeners. This lasted an appreciable moment, then the tension snapped. Marshall moved slightly in his great chair, Judge Griffin coughed, a rustling sound and a deep breath ran through the Hall. The prisoner, who had faced with the most perfect composure the indictment's long thunder, now slightly inclined his head to the Judges and took his seat. His counsel, ostentatiously easy and smiling, gathered about him, and the District Attorney rose to open for the Government in a lengthy and able speech.
In the gallery, among the fluttering fans, Jacqueline asked herself if her rising and quitting the place would disturb those about her. She was in the very front, beside the gallery rail, there was a great crowd behind, she must stay it out. She bit her lip, forced back emotion, strove with resolution to conquer the too visionary aspect of all things before her. It had been foolish, she knew now, to come. She had not dreamed with what strong and feverish grasp such a scene could take prisoner the imagination. She saw too plainly much that was not there; she brought other figures into the Hall; abstractions and realities, they thronged the place. The place itself widened until to her inner sense it was as wide as her world and her life. Fontenoy was there and the house on the Three-Notched Road; Roselands, and much besides. For all the heat, and the fluttering of the fans, and the roll of declamation from the District Attorney, who was now upon the definition of treason, one night in February was there as well, the night that had seen so much imperilled, the night that had seen, thank God! the cloud go by. Of all the images that thronged upon her, creating a strange tumult of the soul, darkening her eyes and driving the faint colour from her cheek, the image of that evening was the most insistent. It was, perhaps, aided by her fancy that in that cool survey of the Hall in which the prisoner indulged himself, his eyes, keen and darting as a snake's, had rested for a moment upon her face. She could have said that there was in them a curious light of recognition, even a cool amusement, a sarcasm,—the very memory of the look made for her a trouble vague, but deep! Had he, too, given a thought to that evening, to the man whom he did not secure, and to the woman with whom he had talked of black lace and Spanish songs? She wondered. But why should Colonel Burr be amused, and why sarcastic? She abandoned the enquiry and listened to the heavy lumbering up of Government cannon. "Courts of Great Britain—Foster's Crown Laws—Demaree and Purchase—Vaughan—Lord George Gordon—Throgmorton—United States vs. Fries—Opinion of Judge Chase—Of Judge Iredell—Overt Act—Overt Act proven—Arms, array and treasonable purpose; here is bellum levatum if not bellum percussum-Treason and traitors, not potential but actual—their discovery and their punishment—"
On boomed the guns of the prosecution. Jacqueline listened, fascinated for a time, but the words at last grew to hurt her so that, could she have done so unobserved, she would have stopped her ears with her hands. The feverish interest of the scene still held her in its grasp, but the words were cruel and struck upon her heart. She could not free herself from the brooding thought of how poignant, how burning, how deadly poisonous they had been to her, had all things been different and she forced to sit in this place hearing them launched against another than Aaron Burr, there, there at that bar! She unlocked her hands, drew a long and tremulous breath, and, leaning a little forward, tried not to listen, and to lose herself in watching the throng below. Her eyes fell, at once, upon Ludwell Cary.
He was standing where she had before marked him, beside a window almost opposite, his arm upon the sill, his attention closely given to the District Attorney, who was now eulogising that great patriot, General James Wilkinson. Now, while Jacqueline looked, he turned his head. It was as though she had called and he had been ready with his answer.
Painfully raised in feeling and driven out of habitual citadels, tense and fevered, subtly touched by the storm in the air, she found in the moment no sense of self-consciousness, no question and no movement of aversion. She and Cary looked at each other long and fully, and with something of an old understanding; on her part a softening of pardon for the quarrel and the duel, on his a light and compassion that she could not clearly understand. She knew that he read her thoughts, but if he, too, was remembering that evening long ago in February, he must also remember that Lewis Rand gave up, that snowy night, definitely and forever, the fevered ambitions, the too-high imaginings, the conqueror's thirst for power; gave them up, and turned from the charmer into the path of right! There came into her heart a longing that Ludwell Cary should see the matter truly. He should have done so that afternoon in the cedar wood; where was the black mote that kept the vision out? She was suddenly aware—and it came to her with a dizzying strangeness—that there was in her own soul that reference of matters to the bar of Cary's idea, thought, and judgment which, that day in the cedar wood, she had told him existed in that of her husband. Were she and Lewis grown so much alike? or had her own soul always recognised, deferred to, rested upon, something in the inmost nature of the man into whose eyes she looked across this thronged and fevered space—something of rare equanimity, dispassionate yet tender, calm, high, impartial, and ideal? She did not know; she had not thought of it before. Her eyes dilated. Suddenly she saw the drawing-room at Fontenoy, green and gold and cool, with the portraits on the wall,—Edmund Churchill, who fought with King Charles; Henry his son, who fled to Virginia and founded the family there; a second Edmund, aide-de-camp to Marlborough; two Governors of Virginia and a President of the Council; the Lely and the Kneller—both Churchill women; and the fair face and form of Grandaunt Jacqueline for whom she was named. She smelled the roses in the bowls, and she saw herself singing at her harp. It was a night in June, the night of the great thunderstorm. Lewis Rand had come down from the blue room, and Ludwell Cary entered from the darkness of the storm.
"Stone walls do not a prison make, Nor iron bars a cage Minds innocent and quiet take That for a hermitage."
Unity's hand touched her. "Jacqueline, are you tired? Would you like to go away?"
The spell broke. Jacqueline was most tired, and she would very much have liked to go away, but a glance at her cousin and at the lady with whom they had come determined the question. That to both it was as good as a play, colour and animation proclaimed, and Jacqueline had not the heart to ring the curtain down. She shook her head and smiled. "We'll stay it out."
Her companion leaned back, relieved, and she was left to herself again. She knew that Cary's eyes were still upon her, but she would not turn her own that way. She made herself look at the judges upon the bench, the District Attorney, the opposing lawyers, even the prisoner. It was the heat and the thunder in the air that made her so tense and yet so tremulous. Every nerve to-day was like a harpstring tightly drawn where every wandering air must touch it. All this would soon be over—then home and quiet! The day was growing old; even now Mr. Hay was addressing the jury with an impressiveness that announced the closing periods of a speech. When he was done, would not the court adjourn until to-morrow? It was said the trial might last two weeks. Mr. Hay sat down, but alas! before the applause and stir had ceased, Mr. Wickham was upon his feet.
Mr. Wirt followed Mr. Wickham, and was followed in turn by Luther Martin. The firing was heavy. Boom, boom! went the guns of the Government, quick and withering came the fire from the defence. If advantage of position was with the first, the last showed the higher generalship. The duel was sharp, and it was followed by the spectators with strained interest. The Chief Justice on the bench and the prisoner at the bar, attentive though they both were, alone of almost all concerned seemed to watch the struggle calmly. It drew toward late afternoon. Luther Martin, still upon the Overt Act, after an ironic compliment or two to the Government counsel, and a statement that George Washington, the great and the good, might with a like innocency of intents have found himself in a like position with Colonel Burr, withdrew his guns for the night. The prosecution, after a glare of indignation, announced that on the morrow it would begin examination of witnesses; the Chief Justice said a few weighty words, and the court was adjourned.
Out to the air, the grass and the trees, the gleam of the distant James, and a tremendous and fantastic show of clouds, piled along the horizon and flushed by the declining sun, streamed the crowd. Excited and voluble, lavish of opinions that had been pent up for hours, and drinking in greedily the fresher air, it made no haste to quit the Capitol portico or the Capitol Square. There were friends and acquaintances to greet, noted people to speak to, or to hear and see others speak to, the lawyers to congratulate and the judges to bow to—and last but not least, there was the prisoner to mark enter, with the marshal, a plain coach and drive away to the house opposite the Swan, to which he had been removed from his rooms in the Penitentiary.
The women who had observed the first day of the great trial from the gallery made, of course, no such tarrying. They left the building and the square at once, and the men of their families present saw them into their carriages, or, if the distance home was not great, watched them walk away in little groups with a servant or two behind them.
At the head of the Capitol steps Jacqueline and Unity found Fairfax Cary awaiting them, and upon the grass below they were joined by Mr. Washington Irving. Mrs. Wickham was with them, Mrs. Carrington, Mrs. Ambler, and Miss Mayo. All the women lived within a short distance of one another, and all, escorted by the two gentlemen, would walk the little way across Capitol and Broad to Marshall Street. Unity was to take supper with Mrs. Carrington and to spend the night with Mrs. Ambler, and she would not go home first, unless—She looked at Jacqueline. "Did the fireworks frighten you, honey? Would you rather that I stayed with you?"
Jacqueline laughed. "The fireworks were alarming, weren't they, Mrs. Wickham? No, no; go with Mrs. Carrington, Unity. To-night I'm going to write to Deb and read a novel." They were now opposite the Chief Justice's house, and as she spoke, she paused and made a slight curtsy to the elder ladies. "Our ways part here."
"I will walk with you to your door," said Fairfax Cary.
She shook her head. "No, do not. I am almost there." Then, as his intention still held, she continued in a lower voice, "I had rather be alone. Obey me, please."
The small discussion ended in the group of ladies and their two escorts giving Jacqueline Rand her way, and with laughing good-byes keeping to their course down the street that was now bathed in the glow of sunset. She watched them for a moment, then turned her face toward her own house. The distance was short, and she traversed it lightly and rapidly, glad to be alone, glad to feel upon her brow the sunset wind, and glad at the prospect of her solitary evening. She was conscious of a strong revulsion of feeling. The sights and the sounds of the past hours were still in mind, but all the air had changed, and was no longer fevered and boding. She had thought too much and made too much, she told herself, of that vague and dark "It might have been." It was not; thank God, it was not! And Lewis, there in Williamsburgh, walking now, perhaps, down Duke of Gloucester Street, or sitting in the Apollo room at the Raleigh,—would she have had Lewis read her mind that day? Generous! had she been generous—or just? The colour flowed over her face and throat. "Neither just nor generous!" she cried to herself, in a passion of relief. "I'll go no more to that place!"
She reached her own gate, entered between the two box bushes, and mounted the steps to the honeysuckle-covered porch. The door before her was open, and the hall, wide and cool, with the tall clock and the long sofa, the portraits on the wall and a great bowl of stock and gillyflower, brought to her senses a blissful feeling of home, of fixedness and peace.
Mammy Chloe came from the back of the house, and in her mistress's chamber took from her her straw bonnet, gauze scarf, and filmy gloves, then brought her slippers of morocco and a thin, flowered house-dress, narrow and fine as an infant's robe.
"Has Joab gone to the post-office?" asked Jacqueline.
"Yaas'm. De Williamsbu'gh stage done come, fer I heah de horn more'n an hour ago. Dar Joab now!"
Mammy Chloe put down the blue china ewer, left the room, and returned with a letter in her hand. "Dar, now! Marse Lewis ain' neber gwine fergit you! Ef de sun shine, or ef hit don' shine, heah come de letter jes' de same!"
Jacqueline took the letter from her. "Yes, Mammy, yes," she said, with a sweet and tremulous laugh. "He's a good master, isn't he?"
"Lawd knows I ain' neber had a better," assented Mammy Chloe. "He powerful stric' to mek you min', is Marse Lewis, but he am' de kin' what licks he lips ober de fac' dat you is a-mindin'! I ain' gwine say, honey, an' I neber is gwine say, dat he's wuth what de Churchills is wuth, but I's ready to survigerate dat he's got he own wuth. An' ef hit's enough fer you, chile, hit's enough fer yo' ole mammy. Read yo' letter while I puts on yo' slippers."
Jacqueline broke the seal and read:—
JACQUELINE:—I am kept here for an uncertain time—worse luck, dear heart! Do not send what letters may have come for me, as I may leave sooner than I think for, and so would pass them on the road. Open any from the court in Winchester, where I have a case pending—if the matter seems pressing, take a copy, and send copy or original to me by to-morrow's stage. I am expecting a letter from Washington—an important one, outlining the Embargo measures. I looked for it before I left Richmond. If it has arrived, open it, dear heart, and glance through it to see if there be any message or enquiry which I should have at once. It is very hot, very dusty, very tiresome in the court room. I will leave Tom Mocket here to wind things up, and will get home as soon as I can. Then, as soon as the hurly-burly's over, we'll go to Roselands for a little while—to the calm, the peace, bright days and white nights! While I write here in the Apollo, you are at church in Saint John's. Shall I say, "Pray for me, sweet saint?" You'll do that without my asking. So I'll say instead, "Think of me, dear wife, and love me still."
Jacqueline stood up in her faintly coloured gown, all rich light and rose bloom. From her dressing-table she took her keys, and, opening her mother's desk of rosewood and mother-of-pearl, lifted from it several letters and the packet which Colonel Nicholas had given her the day before. With these in her hands she left her chamber and went into the drawing-room. "Bring the candles," she said over her shoulder to Mammy Chloe. "It is growing too dark to see to read."
The windows were open to the dusky rose of the west, and their long curtains stirred in the hot and fitful breeze. Jacqueline, waiting for the lights, pushed the heavy hair from her forehead and panted a little with the oppression of the night. Young Isham entered with the candles, and Mammy Chloe brought her upon a salver a cup of coffee and a roll. She ate and drank, then sent her old nurse away. The candles, under their tall glass shades, were upon the centre table, and beside them lay the letters she was to read. Her husband's own letter was slipped beneath the ribbon that confined her dress, and lay against her heart.
It was so hot and dull a night that she stood for a while at a window, leaning a little out, trying to fancy that there was rain in the fantastic mass of clouds that rose on either side of the evening star. The smell of the box at the gate was strong. She thought of Fontenoy, of Major Edward, and of Deb. A grey moth touched her; she looked once again at the bright star between the clouds, then, turning back into the room, drew a chair to the table and, sitting down, took into her lap the papers that lay beside the candles.
There had come a letter in the stage from Winchester. She opened it. "Could Mr. Rand arrive by such a day? The case was important—the interests large—the fee large, too. Could he come just as soon as the jury, the press, and Mr. Jefferson hanged Aaron Burr? An early reply—"
Jacqueline rose, brought writing-materials from the escritoire to the table, and copied rapidly, in her clear, Italian hand, the Winchester letter, then laid it to one side to be folded with her own to Lewis for to-morrow's stage to Williamsburgh. The next letter was, she knew, from Albemarle, and not important. She laid it aside. The third she opened; it was from a gentleman in Westmoreland who wished in a certain litigation "the services, sir, of the foremost lawyer in the state." Jacqueline smiled and laid it with the Albemarle letter. The matter might wait until the foremost lawyer's return. There were now two letters, and neither was from Washington. One was indeed about matters political, a tirade from a party leader on Rand's folly in declining, last year, the nomination for Governor, but it contained nothing to demand his instant attention. The other, which had come by boat from Norfolk, seemed of no consequence.
Jacqueline put both aside, and took into her hand the packet given her by Colonel Nicholas. She sat for a moment, looking at the superscription. "A letter from Washington," Lewis said, "outlining the Embargo measures. Open and glance through it to see if there be any message I should have at once." She thought no otherwise than that this was the letter in question. Mr. Jefferson was, she knew, upon the defensive in regard to these measures, and she was glad to believe that he had fallen into an ancient habit and was willing, as of old, to expatiate upon his policy to Lewis Rand.
She broke the red seals and unfolded the paper. It proved to be a letter covering a letter. She let fall the folded, inner missive, drew a candle nearer, and read in Jefferson's small, formal, and very clear hand:—
I have the honour to restore to you the letter which you will find enclosed. If you ask how it came into my hands, I have but to say that, in times of crisis and peril, rules of conduct, on the part of a government as of an individual, have somewhat to bow to necessity. Enough that it did come into my hands—last autumn. Judge if I have used it against you! It is now returned to you because I no longer conceive it necessary to hold it. I might have burned it; I prefer that you shall do so.
I have but a word to add to our conversation of last August at Monticello. I am a man of strong affections. Your youth and all the eager service you did me in those years, and the great hopes I had for you, endeared you to me. These things are present in my mind. Were they not so, you would have heard from me in other wise! Were they not so, that which I now enclose should not travel back to the writer's hand; it should remain, distinct and black, upon your Country's records, for your children's children to read with burning cheeks! I spare you, but you are of course aware that the affection of which I spoke is dead, dead as the trust with which I regarded you, or as the pride with which I dwelt upon your future! Reread and destroy that which I place in your hand.
Jacqueline laid down the large, blue, crackling sheet, and took from the floor beside her, where it had fallen, the President's enclosure. Hand and eye moved mechanically; she neither thought nor feared. Her judgment was in suspension, and she was unconscious of herself or of her act. The seals upon this second letter were broken. She unfolded it. On the outside it was addressed in a hand that, had she thought, she would have recognised for Tom Mocket's, to an undistinguished person at Marietta upon the Ohio; within, the writing was her husband's and the address was to Aaron Burr. The date was last August, the subject-matter the disruption of the Republic and the conquest of Mexico, and the detail of plans included the arrangement by which Rand was to leave Albemarle, ostensibly to examine a purchase of land beyond the mountains He would leave, however, not to return. Once out of the country, he with his wife would press on rapidly to the Ohio, to Blennerhassett's island.
The summer night deepened, hot and languorous, with a sweep of moths to the candle flames, with vagrant odours of flowering vines and vagrant sounds of distant laughter, voices, footsteps down the long street. Jacqueline sat very still, the letter in her lap. The curtains at the window moved in the fitful air. Through the open doors from the kitchen in the yard behind the house came the strumming of a banjo, then Joab's deep bass:—
"Go down, go down, Moses, Tell Pharaoh let us go! Go down, go down, Moses, King Pharaoh, let us go!"
There was a wave of honeysuckle, too faint and deadly sweet. A party of men, boatmen or waggoners, went by, and as they passed, broke into rough laughter.
Jacqueline rose, letting fall the letter. With her hand to her forehead she stood for a minute, then moved haltingly to the window. Her eyes were blank; she wanted air, she knew, and for the moment she knew little else. She was whelmed in deep waters, and all horizons were one. When she reached the casement, she could only cling to the sill, raise her eyes to the stars, and find nothing there to help her understand. There was in them neither calm nor sublimity; they swung and danced like insensate fireflies. The honeysuckle was too strong—and she must tell Joab she did not wish to hear his banjo to-night. The men who had passed were still laughing.
She put her hand again to her forehead, then presently withdrew it and looked over her shoulder at the paper lying upon the floor beside the table. By degrees the vagueness and the absence of sensation vanished. She had had her moments of merciful deadening, of indifference to pain; they were past, and torment now began.
Perhaps half an hour went by. She rose from the sofa upon which she had thrown herself, face down, pressed her hands to her temples, then, moving to the table, wrote there a word or two, folded and addressed the paper, and rang the bell. Young Isham appeared and she gave him the note, bidding him, in a voice that by an effort she made natural, to hasten upon his errand. When he was gone, she stooped and gathered from the floor the fallen letters—the President's and Lewis Rand's—and laid them in a drawer. The touch seemed to burn her, for she moaned a little. She wandered for a moment uncertainly, here and there in the room, then, returning to the sofa, fell upon her knees beside it, stretched out her arms along the silk, and laid her head upon them. "O God! O God!" she said, but made no other prayer.
The minutes passed. There was a step, the sound of the gate-latch, and a hand upon the knocker. She rose from her knees, and was standing by the table when, in another moment, the drawing-room door opened to admit Ludwell Cary. He came forward.
"You sent for me"—He paused, stepped back, and looked at her fully and gravely. "Something has happened. Tell me what it is."
"You know. You have known all the time. You knew last summer in the cedar wood!" Her voice broke; she raised her arms above her head, then let them fall with a cry. "You knew—you knew!"
"How have you come to know? No, don't tell me!"
"I am mad, I think. A letter came that told me. I see now how the world must look to madmen. It is a curious place where we are all strangers—and yet we think it is our safe home."
As she turned from him, she reeled. There was a great chair near, beside the window. Cary caught her by both hands, forced her to sit down, and drew the curtains apart so that the air of night came fully in. The quiet street was now deserted; the maple boughs, too, screened the place. "Look!" he said. "Look how brightly Venus shines! All the immense rack of clouds that we had at sunset has vanished. The box smells like the garden at Fontenoy, where, I make no doubt, Deb and Major Edward are walking up and down, counting the stars. Yes, I knew, that afternoon in the cedar wood—but not for happiness itself would I have robbed you of that faith, that confidence—"
She leaned forward in the great chair, her hands clasped upon its arms, her dark eyes wide upon the night without the window. "I sent for you because I wished you to tell me all. I wanted truth as I wanted air! I want it now. That day we met in the cedar wood—you and Uncle Edward talked together." She drew a difficult breath. "It was then that they—Uncle Dick and Uncle Edward—began to treat me as though—as though I had never left home! It was then—"
"They feared," said Cary gently, "for your happiness."
"I returned to Roselands, and in three days we were to travel across the mountains. Then at sunset, underneath the beech tree"—She sat for a moment perfectly still, then turned in her chair and spoke in a clear voice. "That was why you forced him to challenge you, and that was why you named a distant time and place? The truth, please."
"That was why."
She rose from the chair and leaned, panting, against the window-frame. "Was there no other way—"
"It seemed the simplest way," he answered quietly. "There was no harm done, and it answered my purpose." He paused, then went on. "My purpose was to detain Mr. Rand from so rash and so fatal a step until it was too late for him to take it."
She turned from the window. "You are generous," she said, in a stifled voice. "I ask your pardon for my hard thoughts of you. Oh, for a storm and a wind to blow! It is too hot, too heavy a night. I never wish to smell the honeysuckle again."
He followed her back to the light of the candles. "Listen to me for a moment. I do not think that you know—I am not sure that I know—the iron strength of the laws that rule an ambitious nature. Ambition becomes an atmosphere; the man whose temperament and self-training enure him to it breathes it at last as though it were his native air. It becomes that—an inner and personal clime, the source and spring of countless actions, great and small. The light, too, is refracted, and the great background of life is not seen quite truly. It is, I think, an enchanted air, into which a man drifts upon a river of dreams and imaginations—and how hard to reascend, against the current!" He paused, stood a moment with downcast eyes, measuring the table with his hand, then drew a quick breath and spoke on. "Given his parentage and descent, his unhappy and hardly-treated boyhood, the visions, the rebellions, the longings with which he must have walked the hot and rank tobacco-fields; given the upward struggle of his youth, so determined and so successful; given the courage, the hardihood, the wide outlook of a man who has neither inherited nor been granted, but has himself hewn out and built up his holding in life; given genius and sense of power, will, perseverance, and the fatal knowledge that all events and all currents habitually bend to his hand,—given all this and opportunity"—He raised his head and met her eyes. "It is not strange and it is not monstrous that Mr. Rand should have involved himself, to a greater or less degree, in this attempt upon the West. God is my witness, I would not have you think it strange and monstrous! Ambition is, perhaps, the most human of all qualities. Many and many an ambitious man has been loved, loved passionately, loved deservedly!—many a conqueror, many a one of those who failed to conquer and who were called by an ugly name! Love does not love the ambition, it loves that which is love-worthy below the iron grating and the tracery of false gold! As the world goes, Lewis Rand and I are enemies; but I could swear to you to-night that I see, that I have always seen, a greatness in him! I believe it to be distorted and darkened, but the quality of it is greatness. Were I he"—He paused for a moment, then continued, with dignity. "Were I he, I would say to the lady who, for love, had given me her hand in wedlock,—'Love me still. My land is one of storm and darkness, of rude wastes and frowning strongholds whence sometimes issue robber bands. But it is not a petty land, and side by side with all that is wrong runs not a little that is heroic and right! Love me still and help me there, even though—even though I am forsworn to you!"
"I would not have you think," she said clearly,—"I would not have you even lightly dream, that his country is not my country! I love him!"
"I know that you do."
"There is no place so dark that I would not wait for him there as for the dawn. There is no flood I would not cross to him; there is no deep pit in which I would not seek him, were he fallen there! He has done wrong, and I am unhappy for it. But never think, never dream, that, though I see the dark and broken ground, I would leave that country, or am less than wholly loyal to its King!"
"I have neither thought nor dreamed it."
"When I—when I learned this thing, it shook me so! My brain whirled, and then I thought of you and called to you."
"There is no service to which you could call me that I would not thankfully render. I am your friend and your people's friend. There is one thing more I should like to say to you. Do not fear for him. There is no reason to believe that this will ever be discovered. The lips of those who know are sealed."
"On our side your uncles, my brother and I,—and your cousin, I think, guesses. The President, also, is aware—"
She reddened deeply. "I know," she said, in a stifled voice. "The President, too, is generous—"
"On his—on Mr. Rand's side, certain men whom we need not name. That he has secured their silence, events have proved, and I take it for granted that he has been careful to recall and to destroy any writing that might incriminate. He is, I think, quite safe."
She turned from him and, sitting down by the table, laid her head upon her arms. He regarded her for a moment with compassion and understanding, chivalrous and deep, then, moving to the window, stood there with his face to the evening star. At last she spoke in a broken and tremulous voice "Mr. Cary—"
He came to her side. "It is a peaceful night, still and bright. You will sleep, will you not? Leave all this to Time and to the power of steadfast love! You may yet see in this land the grandeur of the dawn."
"I know that I shall," she answered. "And when I see it, I shall think reverently of you. It was like you to come, like you to help me so. Now, good-night!"
She took his hand, and before he could prevent her, raised it to her lips. "No,—let me! You are generous and you are noble. I acknowledge it from my heart. Good-night—good-bye!"
He showed for a moment his pent emotion, then strove with and conquered it. "I will go. Your cousin is from home, and you are alone to-night. Would you prefer that she should return?"
"No. I had rather be alone."
He took the hand that she gave him, kissed it, and said good-night. When he was gone and his step had died from the street, she stood for some moments as he had left her, then, with a sobbing breath, turned to the table and took the letters from the drawer.
RAND AND MOCKET
Tom Mocket, returning to Richmond twenty-four hours after his friend and patron, found it too late that evening to see Lewis and to report the happy winding up of all matters in Williamsburgh. The next morning he was at the office betimes, but though he waited long, no Lewis appeared. At last Tom sent a boy to the house on Shockoe, who returned with the statement that Mr. Rand was gone to the Capitol. "Then I'll go too," thought Tom. "I've got nerve as well as he!"
It was the fourth day of the actual trial, and interest was at white heat. Tom whistled to himself as he crossed the Capitol Square where men blocked the paths or, on the grass beneath the trees, recounted, disputed, and prophesied. When he reached the building, it was with much difficulty that he effected an entrance, and with more that he at last edged himself into the Hall of the House of Delegates. Sturdy perseverance and an acquaintance with a doorkeeper, however, can accomplish much, and these finally placed Mocket where, by dint of balancing himself upon an advantageous ledge of masonry, he had a fair view of both participants and spectators.
General William Eaton was being examined. The throng sat or stood silently attentive, swayed forward as by a wind. Marshall upon the bench, long and loose-jointed, with a quiet, plain face, was listening with intentness; the opposing counsel sat alert, gathered for the pounce; the prisoner, with a contemptuous smile, regarded the witness, who indeed cut but a poor figure. The District Attorney's voice, deliberate and full, asked a question, and General Eaton proceeded to give in detail Colonel Burr's expression of treasonable intentions.
Mocket, who had at first looked and listened with a thumping heart and a strong feeling that, visible to all, the letter T might be somewhere sewn or branded upon his own person, by degrees grew bolder. There wasn't any letter there, that was certain, and a slight sense of personal danger might even become a welcome sauce to such a great affair as this! His fright vanished, and his ferret eyes began to rove.
There was Adam Gaudylock, still with his musket. It was a day when men habitually journeyed with pistols in their holsters or a dirk somewhere about them, but Adam carried that musket merely because he loved it—like a dog or a woman! Tawny and blue-eyed, light and lithe, indifferent and pleased to see the show, the hunter listened to General Eaton and laughed behind his hand to a fellow woodsman. "My certie, he's trained!" thought Tom. "It's not much they'll get from him!"
His eyes left Adam and travelled in search of Lewis Rand, finding him at last where he sat at no great distance from the group of central importance. His face was turned in Mocket's direction, and the light from a high window fell upon it. "He doesn't see me," thought Tom to himself. "Who's he looking at like that?"
The witness's voice, raised by suggestion of counsel to a higher note, came athwart Mocket's speculations. "I listened to Colonel Burr's mode of indemnity; and as I had by this time begun to suspect that the military expedition he had on foot was unlawful, I permitted him to believe myself resigned to his influence, that I might understand the extent and motive of his arrangements. Colonel Burr now laid open his project of revolutionizing the territory west of the Alleghany; establishing an independent empire there; New Orleans to be the capital, and he himself to be the chief; organizing a military force on the waters of the Mississippi, and carrying conquest to Mexico—"