2nd Sol. Some of that young jackanape's work! Aid-de-camp! I'd aid him. He must be ordering and fidgetting, and fuming.—Could not wait till we were over.
1st Sol. All of a piece, boys!
3d Sol. Humph. I wish it had been,—the bridge, I mean.
1st Sol. But, I say, don't you see how every thing, little and great, goes one way, and that, against us? Chance has no currents like this! It's a bad side that Providence frowns on. I think when Heaven deserts a cause, it's time for us poor mortals to begin to think about it.
3d Sol. Now, if you are going to do so mean a thing as that, don't talk about Heaven—prythee don't.
[They pass on.
(Two other soldiers enter.)
4th Sol. (singing.)
Yankee doodle is the tune Americans delight in, 'Twill do to whistle, sing, or play, And just the thing for fighting. Yankee doodle, boys, huzza——
(Breaking off abruptly.) I do not like the looks of it, Will.
5th Sol. Of what?
4th Sol. Of the morning that begins to glimmer in the east there.
5th Sol. No? Why, I was thinking just now I never saw a handsomer summer's dawning. That first faint light on the woods and meadows, there is nothing I like better. See, it has reached the river now.
4th Sol. But the mornings we saw two years ago looked on us with another sort of eye than this,—it is not the glimmer of the long, pleasant harvest day that we see there.
5th Sol. We have looked on mornings that promised better, I'll own. I would rather be letting down the bars in the old meadow just now, or hawing with my team down the brake; with the children by my side to pick the ripe blackberries for our morning meal, than standing here in these rags with a gun on my shoulder. Let well alone.—We could not though.
4th Sol. (Handing him a glass.) See, they are beginning to form again. It looks for all the world like a funeral train.
5th Sol. What was the Stamp Act to us, or all the acts beyond the sea that ever were acted, so long as they left us our golden fields, our Sabbath days, the quiet of the summer evening door, and the merry winter hearth. The Stamp Act? It would have been cheaper for us to have written our bills on gold-leaf, and for tea, to have drunk melted jewels, like the queen I read of once; cheaper and better, a thousand times, than the bloody cost we are paying now.
4th Sol. It was not the money, Will,—it was not the money, you know. The wrong it was. We could not be trampled on in that way,—it was not in us—we could not.
5th Sol. Ay, ay. A fine thing to get mad about was that when we sat in the door of a moonlight evening and the day's toils were done. It was easy talking then. Trampled on! I will tell you when I was nearest being trampled on, Andros,—when I lay on the ground below there last winter,—on the frozen ground, with the blood running out of my side like a river, and a great high-heeled German walking over my shoulder as if I had been a hickory log. I can tell you, Sir, that other was a moon-shiny sort of a trampling to that. I shall bear to be trampled on in figures the better for it, as long as I live. Between ourselves now——
4th Sol. There's no one here.
5th Sol. There are voices around that corner, though. Come this way.
[They pass on.
(Another group of Soldiers.)
1st Sol. Then if nothing else happens, we are off now. Hillo, Martin! Here we go again—skulking away. Hey? What do you say now? Hey, Mr. Martin, what do you say now?
2nd Sol. (Advancing.) What I said before.
1st Sol. But where is all this to end, Sir? Tell us that—tell us that.
3d Sol. Yes, yes,—tell us that. If you don't see Burgoyne safe in Albany by Friday night, never trust me, Sirs.
1st Sol. A bad business we've made of it.
4th Sol. Suppose he gets to Albany;—do you think that would finish the war?
3d Sol. Well, indeed, I thought that was settled on all hands, Sir. I believe the General himself makes no secret of that.
4th Sol. And what becomes of us all then? We shall go back to the old times again, I suppose;—weren't so very bad though, Sam, were they?
1st Sol. We have seen worse, I'll own.
3d Sol. And what becomes of our young nation here, with its congress and its army, and all these presidents, and generals, and colonels, and aide-de-camps?—wont it look like a great baby-house when the hubbub is over, and the colonies settle quietly down again?
2nd Sol. Faith, you take it very coolly. Before that can happen, do you know what must happen to you?
1st Sol. Nothing worse than this, I reckon.
2nd Sol. (makes a gesture to denote hanging.)
4th Sol. What would they hang us though? Do you think they would really hang us, John?
2nd Sol. Wait and see.
1st Sol. Nonsense! nonsense! A few of the ringleaders, Schuyler, and Hancock, and Washington, and a few such, they will hang of course,—but for the rest,—we shall have to take the oath anew, and swallow a few duties with our sugar and tea, and——
2nd Sol. You talk as if the matter were all settled already.
1st Sol. There is no more doubt of it, than that you and I stand here this moment. Why, they are flocking to Skeensborough from all quarters now, and this poor fragment,—this miserable skeleton of an army, which is the only earthly obstacle between Burgoyne and Albany, why, even this is crumbling to pieces as fast as one can reckon. Two hundred less than we were yesterday at this hour, and to-morrow—how many are off to-morrow? Ay, and what are we doing the while? Bowing and retreating, cap in hand, from post to post, from Crown Point to Ticonderoga, from Ticonderoga to Fort Edward, from Fort Edward onward; just showing them down, as it were, into the heart of the land. Let them get to Albany—Ah, let them once get to Albany, they'll need no more of our help then, they'll take care of themselves then and us too.
2nd Sol. They'll never get to Albany.
1st Sol. Hey?
2nd Sol. They'll never get to Albany.
1st Sol. What's to hinder them?
2nd Sol. We,—yes we,—and such as we, craven-hearted as we are. They'll never get to Albany until we take them there captives.
3d Sol. Then they'll wait till next week, I reckon.
1st Sol. Ha ha ha! Ha ha ha! How many prisoners shall we have a-piece, John? How many regiments, I mean? They'll open the windows when we get there, won't they? I hope the sun will shine that day. How grandly we shall march down the old hill there, with our train behind us. I shall have to borrow a coat of one of them though, they might be ashamed of their captor else.
3d Sol. When is this great battle to be, John? This don't look much like it.
4th Sol. I think myself, if the General would only give us a chance to fight——
2nd Sol. A chance to throw your life away,—he will never give you. A chance to fight, you will have ere long,—doubt it not. Our General might clear his blackened fame, by opposing this force to that,—this day he might;—he will not do it. The time has not yet come. But he will spare no pains to strengthen the army, and prepare it for victory, and the glory he will leave to his rival. Recruits will be pouring in ere long. General Burgoyne's proclamation has weakened us,—General Schuyler will issue one himself to-day.
1st Sol. Will he? will he? What will he proclaim?—As to the recruits he gets, I'll eat them all, skin and bone. What will he proclaim? You see what Burgoyne offers us. On the one hand, money and clothing, and protection for ourselves and our families; and on the other, the cord, and the tomahawk, and the scalping-knife. Now, what will General Schuyler set down over against these two columns?—What will he offer us?—To lend us a gun, maybe,—leave to follow him from one post to another, barefooted and starving, and for our pains to be cursed and reviled for cowards from one end of the land to the other. And what will he threaten? Ha, we were cowards indeed, if we feared what he could threaten. What thing in human nature will he speak to?—say.
2nd Sol. I will tell you. To that spirit in human nature which resists the wrong, the fiendish wrong threatened there. Ay, in the basest nature that power sleeps, and out of the bosom of Omnipotence there is nothing stronger. It has wakened here once, and this war is its fruit. It slumbers now. Let Burgoyne look to it that he rouse it not himself for us. Let him look to it. For every outrage of those fiendish legions, thank God.—It lays a finger on the spring of our only strength. What will he offer us? I will tell you.—A chance to live, or to die,—men,—ay, to leave a sample of manhood on the earth, that shall wring tears from the selfish of unborn ages, as they feel for once the depths of the slumbering and godlike nature within them. And Burgoyne,—oh! a coat and a pair of shoes, he offers, and—how many pounds?—Are you men?
4th Sol. What do you say, Sam?—Talks like a minister, don't he?
1st Sol. Come, come,—there's the drum, boys. You don't bamboozle me again! I've heard all that before.
3d Sol. Nor me.—I don't intend to have my wife and children tomahawked,—don't think I can stand that, refugee or not.
2nd Sol. Here they come.
(Other Soldiers enter.)
5th Sol. All's ready, all's ready.
6th Sol. (singing.)
"Come blow the shrill bugle, the war dogs are howling,"—
* * * * *
SCENE. Before the door of the Parsonage. Trunks, boxes, and various articles of furniture, scattered about the yard. Two men coming down the path.
(George Grey enters.)
George. Those trunks in the forward team. Make haste. We've no time to lose. This box in the wagon where the children are.—Carefully—carefully, though.
(A Soldier enters.)
Sol. Hurra, hurra, the house there! Are you ready? Ten minutes more.
George. Get out. What do you stand yelling there for? We know all about it.
Sol. But your brother, the Captain, says, I must hurry you, or you'll be left behind.
George. Tell my brother, the Captain, I'll see to that. We want no more hurrying. We have had enough of that already, and much good it has done us too. Stop, stop,—not that. We must leave those for the Indians to take their tea in.
Workman. But the lady said——
George. Never mind the lady. Well, Annie, are you ready? Don't stand there crying; there's no use. We may come back here again yet, you know. Many a pleasant sunrise we may see from these windows yet. Heaven defend us, here is this aunt of ours.—What on earth are they bringing now?
(A Lady in the door with a couple of portraits, followed by others bringing baskets and boxes, etc.)
Lady. That will do, set them down; now, the Colonel and his lady, on the back room wall, just over against the beaufet. Stop a moment. I'll go with you myself.
Betty. (In, the door.) Lord 'a mercy! Here it is broad day-light. What are we waiting for? I am all ready. Why don't we go?
George. I tell you, Aunt Rachael, the thing is impossible. This trumpery can't go, and there's the end of it. St. George and the Dragon——
Miss Rachael. Never mind this young malapert—do as I bid you.
Betty. Lord 'a mercy, we shall all be murdered and scalped, every soul of us. Bless you—there it is in the garret now!—just hold this umberell a minute, Mr. George,—think of those murderous Indians wearing my straw bonnet. Lord bless you! What are you doing? a heaving my umberell over the fence, in that fashion!
George. These women will drive me mad I believe. Let that box alone, you rascal. Lay a finger on that trumpery there I say, and you'll find whose orders you are under; as for the Colonel and his lady, they'll get a little drink out of the first puddle we come to, I reckon.
Miss R. (Coming from the house.) That will do. That is all,—in the green wagon, John——
Ser't. But the children——
Miss R. Don't stand there, prating to me at a time like this. Make haste, make haste!
How perfectly calm I am! I would never have believed it;—just tie this string for me, child, my hands twitch so strangely,—they say the British are just down in the lane here, with five thousand Indians, Annie.
Annie. It is no such thing. Aunt Rachael. The British are quietly encamped on the other side of the river; three miles off at least.
Miss R. I thought as much. A pretty hour for us to be turned out of house and home to be sure. Not a wink have I slept this blessed night. Hark! What o'clock is that? George, George! where is that boy? Just run and tell your mother, Annie, just tell her, my dear, will you, that we shall all be murdered. Maybe she will make haste a little. Well, are they in?
Ser't. The pictures? They are in,—yes'm. But Miss Kitty's a crying, and says as how she won't go, and there's the other one too; because, Ma'am, their toes—you see there's the trunk in front gives 'em a leetle slope inward, and then that chest under the seat—If you would just step down and see yourself, Ma'am.
Miss R. I desire to be patient.
[They go out.
(Annie sits on the bench of the little Porch, weeping. Mrs. Gray enters from within.)
Annie. Shall I never walk down that shady path again? Shall I enter those dear rooms no more? There are voices there they cannot hear. From the life of buried years, ten thousand scenes, all vacancy toother eyes, enrich those walls for us; the furniture that money cannot buy, that only the joy and grief of years can purchase. They will spoil our pleasant home,—will they not, mother?
Mrs. G. Pleasant, ay, pleasant indeed, has it been to us. God's will be done. Do not weep, Annie. We have counted the cost;—many a safe and happy home there will be in the days to come, whose light shall spring from this forgotten sorrow. God's will be done.
Annie. Mother, they are all ready now; is Helen in her room still?
Mrs. G. Go call her, Annie. Hours ago it was I sent her there. I thought she might get some little sleep ere the summons came. Call her, my child. How deadly pale she was!
[Annie goes in.
* * * * *
SCENE. A Chamber partly darkened, the morning air steals faintly through the half-open shutters. Helen before the mirror, leaning upon the toilette, her face buried in her hands, her long hair unbound, and flowing on her shoulders.
Annie. Helen! Why, Helen, are you asleep there? Come, we are going now. After keeping us on tiptoe for hours, the summons has come at last. Indeed, there is hardly time for you to dress. Shall I help you?
Helen. (Rising slowly.) God help me. Bid my mother come here, Annie.
Annie. What ails you, Helen?—there is no time,—you do not understand me,—there is not one moment to be lost. Let me wind up this hair for you.
Helen. Let go!—Oh God——
Annie. Helen Grey!
Helen. It was a dream,—it was but a foolish dream. It must not be thought of now,—it will never do. Bid my mother come here, I am ready now.
Annie. Ready, Helen!—ready?—in that dressing-gown, and your hair—see here,—are you ready, Helen?
Helen. Yes,—bid her come.
Annie. Heaven only knows what you mean with this wild talk of yours, but if you are not mad indeed, I intreat you, sister, waste no more of this precious time.
Helen. No, no,—we must not indeed. It was wrong, but I could not—go,—make haste, bid her come.
Annie. She is crazed, certainly!
(Helen stands with her arms folded, and her eye fixed on the door.)
(Mrs. Grey enters.)
Mrs. G. My child! Helen, Helen! Why do you stand there thus?
Mrs. G. Nay, do not stay to speak. There—throw this mantle around you. Where is your hat?—not here!—Bridal gear!
George. On my word! Well, well, stand there a little longer, to dress those pretty curls of yours, and—humph—there's a style in vogue in yonder camp for rebels just now; we'll all stand a chance to try, I think.
Helen. George!—George Grey!—Be still,—be still.—We must not think of that. It was a dream.
George. Is my sister mad?
Mrs. G. Speak, my child.
Helen. Mother—my blessed mother,—(aside.) 'Tis but a brief word,—it will be over soon.
Mrs. G. Speak, Helen.
Helen. I cannot go with you, mother.
Mrs. G. Helen?
George. Not go with us?
Mrs. G. Helen, do you know what you are saying?
George. You are in jest, Helen; or else you are mad,—before another sunset the British army will be encamping here.
Helen. Hear me, mother. A message from the British camp came to me last night,—
Mrs. G. The British camp?—Ha!—ha! Everard Maitland! God forgive him.
Helen. Do not speak thus. It was but a few cold and careless lines he sent me,—my purpose is my own.
Mrs. G. And—what, and he does not know?—Helen Grey, this passes patience.
Helen. He does, Here is the answer that has just now come; for I have promised to meet him to-day at the hut of the missionary in yonder woods.—I can hardly spell these hasty words; but this I know, he will surely come for me,—though he bids me wait until I hear his signal,—so I cannot go with you, mother.
Mrs. G. Where will you go, Helen?
Helen. Everard is in yonder camp;—where should the wife's home be?
Mrs. G. The wife's?
Helen. These two years I have been his bride;—his wedded wife I shall be to-day. Yonder dawns my bridal day.
George. What does she say? What does Helen say? I do not understand one word of it.
Mrs. G. She says she will go to the British camp. Desertions thicken upon us. Hark!—they are calling us.
George. To the British camp?
Mrs. G. Go down, George, go down. Your sister talks wildly and foolishly, what you should not have heard, what she will be sorry for anon; go down, and tell them they must wait for us a little,—we will be there presently.
George. Hark! (going to the door.)—another message. Do you hear?—Helen may be ready yet, if she will.
Mrs. G. Blessed delay! Go down, George; say nothing of this. There is time yet. Tell them we will be there presently.
(George goes out.)
Mrs. G. Did you think I should leave you here to accomplish this frantic scheme?—Did you dream of it, and you call me mother?—but what do you know of that name's meaning? Do not turn away from me thus, my child; do not stand with that fixed eye as though some phantom divinity were there. I shall not leave you here, Helen, never.
Come, come; sit down with me in this pleasant window, there is time yet,—let us look at this moonlight scheme of yours a little. Would you stay here in this deserted citadel, alone? My child, our army are already on their march. In an hour more you would be the only living thing in all this solitude. Would you stay here alone, to meet your lover too?—Bethink yourself, Helen.
Helen. This Canadian girl will stay with me, and——
Mrs. G. A girl!—Helen, yesterday an army's strength, the armies of the nation, the love of mother, and brothers, and sisters, all seemed nothing for protection to your timid and foreboding thought; and now, when the enemy are all around us,—do you talk of a single girl? Why, the spirit of some strange destiny is struggling with your nature, and speaks within you, but we will not yield to it.
Helen. You have spoken truly, mother. There is one tie in these hearts of ours, whose strength makes destiny, and where that leads, there lie those iron ways that are of old from everlasting. This is Heaven's decree, not mine.
Mrs. G. Do not charge the madness of this frantic scheme on Heaven, my child.
Helen. Everard!—no, no, I cannot show to another the lightning flash, that with that name reveals my destiny,—yet the falling stone might as soon—question of its way. Renounce him?—you know not what you ask! all there is of life within me laughs at the wild impossibility.
Mother, hear me. There is no danger in my staying here,—none real. The guard still keep their station on yonder hill, and the fort itself will not be wholly abandoned to-day. Everard will come for me at noon.—It is impossible that the enemy should be here ere then; nay, the news of this unlooked-for movement will scarce have reached their camp.—Real danger there is none, and—Do not urge me. I know what you would say; the bitter cost I have counted all, already, all—all. That Maitland is in yonder camp, that—is it not a strange blessedness which can sweeten anguish such as this?—that he loves me still, that he will come here to-day to make me his forever,—this is all that I can say, my mother.
Mrs. G. Will you go over to the British side, Helen? Will you go over to the side of wrong and oppression? Would you link yourself with our cruel and pursuing enemy? Oh no, no no,—that could not be—never, Amid the world of fearful thoughts that name brings, how could we place your image? Oh God, I did not count on this. I knew that this war was to bring us toil, and want, and fear, and haply bloody death; and I could have borne it unmurmuringly; but—God forgive me,—that the child I nursed in these arms should forsake me, and join with our deadly foes against us—I did not count on this.
Helen. Yes—that's the look,—the very look—all night I saw it;—it does not move me now, as it did then. It is shadows of these things that are so fearful, for with the real comes the unreckoned power of suffering. Mother, this dark coil hath Heaven wound, not we. The tie which makes his path the way of God to me, was linked ere this war was,—and war cannot undo it now. It is a bitter fate, I know,—a bitter and a fearful one.
Mrs. G. Ay, ay,—thank God! You had forgotten, Helen, that in that army's pay, nay, all around us even now are hordes and legions.
Helen. I know it,—I know it all. I do indeed.
Mrs. G. Helen, will you place yourself defenceless amidst that savage race, whose very name from your childhood upwards, has filled you with such strange fear? Yesterday I chid you for those fancies,—I was wrong,—they were warnings, heaven-sent, to save you from this doom. What was that dream you talked of then?
Helen. Dreams are nothing. Will you unsay a life's lessons now when most I need them?
Mrs. G. Yesterday, all day, a shadow as of coming evil lay upon me, but now I remember the forgotten vision whence it fell. Yesternight I had a dream, Helen, such as yours might be; for in my broken and fevered slumbers, wherever I turned, one vision awaited me. There was a savage arm, and over it fell a shower of golden hair, and ever and anon, in the shadowy light of my dream, a knife glittered and waved before me. We were safe, but over one,—some young and innocent and tender one it was—there hung a hopeless and inexorable fate. Once methought it seemed the young English girl that was wedded here last winter, and once she turned her eye upon me—Ha!—I had forgotten that glance of agony—surely, Helen, it was yours.
Mrs. G. Helen! my child—(Aside.) There it is, that same curdling glance,—'twas but a dream, Helen. Why do you stand there so white and motionless—why do you look on me with that fixed and darkening eye?—'twas but a dream!
Helen. And where were you?—tell me truly. Was it not by a gurgling fountain among the pine trees there? and was it not noon-day in your dream, a hot, bright, sultry noon, and a few clouds swelling in the western sky, and nothing but the trilling locusts astir?
Mrs. G. How wildly you talk; how should I remember any thing like this?
Helen. I will not yield to it; tempt me not. 'Tis folly all, I know it is. Danger there is none. Long ere yonder hill is abandoned, Everard will be here; and who knows that I am left here alone, and who would come here to seek me out but he? Oh no, I cannot break this solemn faith for a dream. What would he give to know I held my promise and his love lighter than a dream? I must stay here, mother.
Mrs. G. No, my child. Hear me. If this must be indeed, if all my holy right in you is nothing, if you will indeed go over to our cruel enemy, and rejoice in our sorrows and triumph in our overthrow——
Helen. Hear her——
Mrs. G. Be it so, Helen,—be it so; but for all that, do not stay here to-day. Bear but a little longer with our wearisome tenderness, and wait for some safer chance of forsaking us. Come.
Helen. If I could—Ah, if I could——
Mrs. G. You can—you will. Here, let me help you, we shall be ready yet. No one knows of this wild scheme but your brother and myself, no one else shall ever know it. Come.
Helen. If I could. 'Tis true, I did not know when I sent him this promise you would leave me alone ere the hour should come. Perhaps—no, it would never do. When he comes and finds that, after all, I have deserted him, once with a word I angered him, and for years it was the last between us;—and what safer chance will there be in these fearful times of meeting him? No, no. If we do not meet now, we are parted for ever;—if I do not keep my promise now, I shall see him no more.
Mrs. G. See him no more then. What is he to us—this stranger, this haughty, all-requiring one? Think of the blessed days ere he had crossed our threshold. You have counted all, Helen? The anguish that will bring tears into your proud brother's eyes, your sister's comfortless sorrow?—did you think of her lonely and saddened youth? You counted the wild suffering of this bitter moment,—did you think of the weary years, the long sleepless nights of grief, the days of tears; did you count the anguish of a mother's broken heart, Helen? God only can count that.
You did not—there come the blessed tears at last. Here's my own gentle daughter, once again. Come, Helen, see, they are waiting for us. There stands the old chaise under the locust tree. You and I will ride together. Come, 'tis but a few steps down that shady path, and we are safe—a few steps and quickly trod. Hark! the respite is past even now. Do you stand there marble still? Helen, if you stay here, we shall see you no more. This lover of yours hates us all. He will take you to England when the war is over if you outlive its bloody hazards, and we are parted for ever. I shall see you no more, Helen, my child; my child, I shall see you no more. (She sinks upon the chair, and weeps aloud.)
Helen. Has it come to this? Will you break my heart? If it were continents and oceans that you bade me cross, but those few steps—Ah, they would sever me from him for ever, and I cannot, I cannot, I can not take them,—there is no motion so impossible. Yes, they are calling us. Do not stay.
Annie. Mother, will you tell me what this means?
Mrs. G. Yes, come in. We will waste no more time about it. She will stay here to meet her lover, she will forsake us for a traitor. We have nursed an enemy among us. The babe I cherished in this bosom, whose sleeping face I watched with a young mother's love, hath become my enemy. Oh my God—is it from thee?
Annie. Helen! my sister! Helen!
Mrs. G. Ay, look at her. Would you think that the spirit which heaves in that light frame, and glances in those soft eyes, held such cruel power? Yesterday I would have counted it a breath in the way of my lightest purpose, and now—come away, Annie—it is vain, you cannot move her.
George. Mother, if Helen will not go now, we must leave her to her fate or share it with her. Every wagon is on the road but ours. A little more, and we shall be too late for the protection of the army. Shall I stay with her?
Mrs. G. No, never. That were a sure and idle waste of life. Helen, perhaps, may be safe with them. Oh. yes, the refugees are safe, else desertion would grow out of fashion soon.
Annie. Refugees! Refugee! Helen!
Mrs. G. It sounds strange for one of us I know. You will grow used to it soon. Helen belongs to the British side, she will go over to them to-day, but she must go alone, for none of us would be safe in British hands, at least I trust so—this morning's experience might make me doubtful, but I trust we are all true here yet beside.
Annie. Have I heard aright, Helen?—or is this all some fearful dream? You and I, who have lived together all the years of our lives, to be parted this moment, and for ever,—no, no!
(A young American Officer enters hastily.)
Capt. Grey. Softly, softly! What is this? Are you in this conspiracy to disgrace me, mother? Oh, very well; if you have all decided to stay here, I'll take my leave.
Annie. Oh, Henry, stay. You can persuade her it may be.
Capt. G. Persuade! What's all this! A goodly time for rhetoric forsooth! Who's this that's risking all our lives, waiting to be persuaded now?
Mrs. G. That Tory, Henry! We should have thought of this. Ah, if we had gone yesterday,—that haughty Maitland,—she will stay here to meet him! She will marry him, my son.
Capt. G. Maitland!—and stay here!
Helen. Dear Henry, let us part in kindness. Do not look on me with that angry eye. It was I that played with you in the woods and meadows, it was I that roamed with you in those autumn twilights,—you loved me then, and we are parting for ever it may be..
Capt. G. (To the children at the door.) Get you down, young ones, get you down. Pray, mother, lead the way, will you?—break up this ring. Come, Helen, you and I will talk of this as we go on, only in passing give me leave to say, of all the mad pranks of your novel ladies, this caps the chief. You have outdone them, Helen; I'll give you credit for it, you have outdone them all.
Why you'll be chronicled,—there's nothing on record like it, that ever I heard of; I am well-read in romances too. We'll have a new love-ballad made and set to tune, under the head of "Love and Murder," it will come though, if you don't make haste a little. Come, come.
Capt. G. Are you in earnest, Helen? Did you suppose that we were mad enough to leave you here? You'll not go with us? But you will, by Heaven!
Helen. Henry! Mother!—Nay, Henry, this is vain. I shall stay here, I shall—I shall stay here,—so help me Heaven.
Capt. G. Helen Grey! Is that young lioness there my sometime sister?—my delicate sister?—with her foot planted like iron, and the strength of twenty men nerving her arm?
Helen. Let go.—I shall stay here.
Capt. G. Well, have your way, young lady, have your way; but—Mother, if you choose to leave that mad girl here, you can,—but as for this same Everard Maitland, look you, my lady, if I don't stab him to his heart's core, never trust me.
(He goes out—Mrs. Grey follows him to the door.)
Mrs. G. Stay, Henry,—stay. What shall we do?
Capt. G. Do!—Indeed, a straight waistcoat is the only remedy I know of, Madam, for such freaks as these. If you say so, she shall go with us yet.
Mrs. G. Hear me. This is no time for passion now Hear me, Henry. This Maitland, Tory as he is, is her betrothed husband, and she has chosen her fate with him; we cannot keep her with us; nay, with what we have now seen, it would be vain to think of it, to wish it even. She must go to him,—it but remains to see that she meets him safely. Noon is the hour appointed for his coming. Could we not stay till then?
Capt. G. Impossible. Noon?—well.—Oh, if its all fixed upon;—if you have settled it between yourselves that Helen is to abandon us and our protection, for Everard Maitland's and the British, the sooner done, the better. She's quite right,—she's like to find no safer chance for it than this. Noon,—there is a picket left on yonder hill till after that time, certainly, and a hundred men or so in the fort. I might give Van Vechten a hint of it—nay, I can return myself this afternoon, and if she is not gone then, I will take it upon me she is not left a second time. Of course Maitland would be likely to care for her safety. At all events there's nothing else for us to do, at least there's but one alternative, and that I have named to you.
[They go out together.
Helen. (She has stood silently watching them.) He has gone, without one parting look—he has gone! So break the myriad-tied loves, it hath taken a life to weave. This is a weary world.
(She turns to her sister, who leans weeping on the window-seat.)
Come, Annie, you and I will part in kindness, will we not? No cruel words shall there be here. Pleasant hath your love been unto me, my precious sister. Farewell, Annie.
Annie. Shall I never hear your voice again, that hath been the music of my whole life? Is your face henceforth to be to me only a remembered thing? Helen, you must not stay here. The Indians,—it was no idle fear, the half of their bloody outrages you have not heard; they will murder you, yes, you. The innocence and loveliness that is holy to us, is nothing in their eyes, they would as soon sever that beautiful hair from your brow——
Helen. Hush, hush. There is no danger, Annie. The dark things of destiny are God's; the heart, the heart only, is ours.
(Mrs. Grey re-enters.)
Mrs. G. (to Annie.) Come, come, my child. This is foolish now. All is ready. Janette will stay with you, Helen.
(Laughing voices are heard without, and the children's faces are seen peeping in the door.)
Willy. Dear mother, are you not ready yet? We have been in the wagon and out a hundred times. Oh, Helen, make haste. The sun is above the trees, and the grass on the roadside is all full of diamonds. The last soldiers are winding down the hollow now. Is not Helen going, Mother?
Mrs. G. Your sister Helen is going from us forever. Come in and kiss her once, and then make haste—you must not all be lost.
Willy. Ah, why don't you go with us, sister?—Such a beautiful ride we shall have. You never heard such a bird-singing in all your life.
Frank. We shall go by the Chesnut Hollow, George says we shall. Smell of these roses, Helen. Must she stay here? Hark, Willy, there's the drum. Good-bye, How sorry I am you will not go with us.
Willy. So am I. What makes you stand so still and look at us so? Why don't you kiss me? Good-bye, Helen.
Helen. (Embracing them silently.)
Annie. Will you leave her here alone, mother? Will you?
Mrs. G. No. There is a guard left on yonder hill, and the fort is not yet abandoned wholly. Besides, the army encamp at the creek, and Henry himself will return this afternoon. She will be gone ere then, though.
Helen. Those merry steps and voices, those little, soft clinging hands and rosy lips, have vanished forever. For all my love I shall be to them but as the faint trace of some faded dream. This is a weary world.
Come, George, farewell. How I have loved to look on that young brow. Be what my dreams have made you. Fare you well.
George. Farewell, Helen.
[He goes out hastily.
Helen. Will he forget me?
Mrs. G. And farewell, Helen. Fare ye well.
Helen. Will she leave me thus?
Mrs. G. Do not go to the hut—do not leave this door until you are sure of the signal you spoke of, Helen.
Helen. She will not look at me,—Mother!
Mrs. G. Farewell, Helen; may the hour never come when you need the love you have cast from you now so freely.
Helen. Will you leave me thus? Is not our life together ending here? In that great and solemn Hereafter our ways may meet again; but by the light of sun, or moon, or candle, or underneath these Heavens, no more. Oh! lovely, lovely have you been unto me, a spirit of holiness and beauty, building all my way.—Part we thus?
Mrs. G. Farewell, Helen.
Helen. Part we thus?
Mrs. G. Fare ye well, Helen Grey, my own sweet and precious child, my own lovely, lovely daughter, fare ye well, and the Lord be with you. The Lord keep you, for I can keep you now no more. The Lord watch over you, my helpless one, mine, mine, mine, all mine, though I leave you thus; my world of untold wealth, unto another. Nay, do not sorrow, my blessed child,—you will be happy yet. Fear nothing,—if this must be, I say, fear nothing. You think that you are doing right in forsaking us thus;—it may be that you are. If in the strength of a pure conscience you stay here to-day,—be not afraid. When you lay here of old, a lisping babe, I told you of One whose love was better than a mother's. Now farewell, and trust in Him. Farewell, mine eye shall see thee yet again. Farewell.
Helen. No, no; leave me not.
Mrs. G. Unclasp these hands, I cannot stay.
Mrs. G. Untwine this wild embrace, or, even now,—even now——
Helen. Farewell, mother. Annie Grey, farewell.
Helen. This is a weary world. Take me home. To the land where there is no crying or bitterness, take me home.
(The noise of retreating steps is heard, and the sound of the outer door closing heavily.)
Helen. They are gone,—not to church,—not for the summer's ride. I shall see them no more.—In heaven it may be; but by the twilight hearth, or merry table, at morn, or noon, or evening, in mirth or earthly tenderness, no more.
Hark! There it is!—that voice,—I hear it now, I do. A dark eternity had rolled between us, and I hear it yet again. They are going now. Those rolling wheels, oh that that sound would last. There is no music half so sweet. Fainter—fainter—it is gone—no—that was but the hollow.—Hark——
Now they are gone, indeed. So breaks the sense's last link between me and that world.
* * * * *
* * * * *
* * * * *
SCENE. The hill. A young Soldier enters.
How gloriously, with what a lonely majesty the morning wastes in that silent valley there; with its moving shadows, and breeze and sunshine, and its thousand delicious sounds mocking those desolate homes——
(He stops suddenly, and looks earnestly into the thicket.)
This is strange, indeed. This feeling that I cannot analyze, still grows upon me. Presentiment? Some dark, swift-flying thought, leaves its trace, and the cause-seeking mind, in the range of its own vision finding none, looks to the shadowy future for it.
[He passes on.
(Two Indian Chiefs, in their war-dress, emerge from the thicket, talking in suppressed tones.)
1st Chief. Hoogh! Hoogh! Alaska fights to revenge his son,—we spill our blood to revenge his son, and he thinks to win gifts besides. Hugh! A brave chief he is!
2nd Chief. Your talk is not good, Manida. They are our enemies,—we shall conquer them, we shall see their chestnut locks waving aloft, we shall dance and shout all night around them, and the eyes of the maidens shall meet ours in the merry ring, sparkling with joy, as we shout "Victory! victory! our enemies are slain,—our foot is on their necks, we have slain our enemies!" What more, Manida? Is it not enough?
1st Chief. No. I went last night with Alaska to the camp above, to the tent of the young sachem of the lake, and he promised him presents, rich and many, for an errand that a boy might do. I asked Alaska to send me for him, and he would not.
2nd Chief. The young white sachem was Alaska's friend, many moons ago, when Alaska was wounded and sick.—He must revenge young Siganaw, but he must keep his faith to his white friend, too.
1st Chief. Ah, but I know where the horse is hidden and the paper. When the tomahawks flash here, and the war-cry is loudest, we will steal away. Come, and I will share the prize with you.
2nd Chief. No, I will tell my brother chief that Manida is a treacherous friend.
1st Chief. You cannot. It is too late. Hist! Quick, lower—lower—
[They crouch among the trees.
(Another Soldier emerges from the wood-path, singing.)
"Then march to the roll of the drum, It summons the brave to the plain, Where heroes contend for the home Which perchance they may ne'er see again."
(Pausing abruptly.) Well, we are finely manned here!
(1st Soldier re-enters.)
2nd Sol. How many men do you think we have in all, upon this hill, Edward?
1st Sol. Hist!—more than you count on, perhaps.
2nd Sol. Why? What is the matter? Why do you look among those bushes so earnestly?
1st Student. It is singular, indeed. I can hardly tell you what it is, but twice before in my round, precisely in this same spot, the same impression has flashed upon me, though the sense that gives it, if sense it is, will not bide an instant's questioning. There! Hist! Did nothing move there then?
2nd Sol. I see nothing. This comes of star-gazing, when you should have slept. Though as to that, I have nothing to complain of, certainly. I had to thank your taste that way, last night, for an hour of the most delicious slumber. It was like that we used to snatch of old, between the first stroke of the prayer-bell and its dying peal.
1st Sol. I am glad you could sleep. For myself, such a world of troubled thoughts haunted me, I found more repose in waking.
2nd Sol. Then I wish you could have shared my dream with me, as indeed you seemed to, for you were with me through it all. A blessed dream it was, and yet—
1st Sol. Well, let me share it with you now.
2nd Sol. I cannot tell you how it was, that in honor and good conscience we had effected it, but somehow, methought our part in this sickening warfare was accomplished, and we were home again. Oh the joy of it! oh the joy of it! Even amid my dream, methought we questioned its reality, so unearthly in its perfectness, it seemed. We stood upon the college-green, and the sun was going down with a strange, darkling splendor; and from afar, ever and anon came the thunder roll of battle; but we had nought to do with it; our part was done; our time was out; we were to fight no more. And there we stood, watching the students' games; and there too was poor Hale, merry and full of life as e'er he was, for never a thought of his cruel fate crossed my dream. Suddenly we saw two ladies, arm in arm, come swiftly down the shady street, most strangely beautiful and strangely clad, with long white robes, and garlands in their hair, and such a clear and silvery laugh, and something fearful in their loveliness withal; and one of them, as she came smiling toward us—do you remember that bright, fair-haired girl we met in yonder lane one noon?—Just such a smile as hers wore the lady in my dream. Then, into the old chapel we were crowding all; that long-deferred commencement had come on at last; we stood upon a stage, and a strange light filled all the house, and suddenly the ceiling swelled unto the skiey dome, and nations filled the galleries; and I woke, to find myself upon a soldier's couch, and the reveille beating.
1st Sol. Well, if it cheered you, 'twas a good dream most certainly, though, yet—the dream-books might not tell you so. Will you take this glass a moment?
2nd Sol. What is it?
1st Sol. That white house by the orchard, in the door—do you see nothing?
2nd Sol. Yes, a figure, certainly;—yes, now it moves. I had thought those houses were deserted,—it is time they were I think, for all the protection we can give them. How long shall we maintain this post, think you, with such a handful?
1st Sol. Till the preparations below are complete, I trust so at least, for we have watchers in these woods, no doubt, who would speedily report our absence.
2nd Sol. Well, if we all see yonder sun go down, 'tis more than I count on.
1st Sol. A chance if we do—a chance if we do. Will the hour come when this infant nation shall forget her bloody baptism?—the holy name of truth and freedom, that with our hearts' blood we seal upon her in these days of fear?
2nd Sol. Ay, that hour may come.
1st Sol. Then, with tears, and blood if need be, shall she learn it anew; and not in vain shall the bones of the martyrs moulder in her peopled vales. For human nature, in her loftiest mood, was this beautiful land of old built, and for ages hid. Here—her cradle-dreams behind her flung; here, on the height of ages past, her solemn eye down their long vistas turned, in a new and nobler life she shall arise here. Ah, who knows but that the book of History may show us at last on its long-marred page—Man himself,—no longer the partial and deformed developments of his nature, which each successive age hath left as if in mockery of its ideal,—but, man himself, the creature of thought,—the high, calm, majestic being, that of old stood unshrinking beneath his Maker's gaze. Even, as first he woke amid the gardens of the East, in this far western clime at last he shall smile again,—a perfect thing.
2nd Sol. In your earnestness, you do not mark these strange sounds, Edward. Listen. (He grasps his sword.)
(A Soldier rushes down the path.)
3d Sol. We are surrounded! Fly. The Indians are upon us. Fly.
(Another Soldier bursts from the woods.)
4th Sol. God! They are butchering them above there, do not stand here!
[Rushes down the hill.
2nd Sol. Resistance is vain. Hear those shrieks! There is death in them. Resistance is vain.
1st Sol. Flight is vain. Look yonder! Francis,—the dark hour hath come!
2nd Sol. Is it so? Mother and sister I shall see no more.
(A number of Indians, disfigured with paint and blood, and brandishing their knives, come rushing down the road, uttering short, fierce yells. Others from below, bringing back the fugitives.)
1st Sol. We shall die together. God of Truth and Freedom, unto thee our youthful spirits trust we.
(The Indians surround them. Fighting to the last, they fall.)
* * * * *
SCENE. The deserted house—the chamber—Helen by the table—her head bowed and motionless. She rises slowly from her drooping posture.
Helen. It is my bridal day. I had forgotten that. (Looking from the window.) Is this real? Am I here alone? My mother gone? The army gone? brothers and sisters gone, and those woods full of armed Indians? I am awake. This is not the light of dreams,—'tis the sun that's shining there. Not the fresh arid tender morning sun, that looked in on that parting. Hours he has climbed since then, to turn those shadows thus,—hours that to me were nothing.—Alone?—deserted—defenceless? Of my own will too? There was a law in that will, though, was there not? (Turning suddenly from the window.) Shall I see him again? The living real of my thousand dreams, in the light of life, will he stand here to-day?—to-day? No, no. Is this swift flow of being leading on to that? Oh day of anguish, if in thine awful bosom, still, that dazzling instant sleeps, I can forgive the rest.
(She stands by the toilette, and begins to gather once more the long hair from her shoulders. Suddenly a low voice at the door breaks the stillness. The Canadian servant looks in.)
Jan. I ask your pardon—Shall I come in, Ma'amselle?
Helen. Ay, ay, come in. How strangely any voice sounds amid this loneliness. I am glad you are here.
Jan. (Entering.) Beautiful! Santa Maria! How beautiful! May I look at these things, Ma'amselle? (Stopping by the couch strewn with bridal gear.) Real Brussels! And the plume in this bonnet, was there ever such a lovely droop?
Helen. Come, fasten this clasp for me, Netty. I thought to have had another bridesmaid once, but—that is past—Yes, I am a bride to-day, and I must not wait here unadorned. (Aside.) He shall have no hint from me this day of "altered fortunes." As though these weary years had been but last night's dream, and my wedding-day had come as it was fixed, so will I meet him.—Yet I thought to have worn my shroud sooner than this robe.
Jan. This silk would stand alone, Ma'amselle,—and what a lovely white it is! Just such a bodice as this I saw my Lady Mary wear, two years ago this summer, in Quebec; only, this is a thought deeper. But, Santa Maria! how it becomes a shape like yours!
Helen. What a world of buried feeling lives again as I feel the clasp of this robe once more! Will he say these years have changed me?
Jan. (Aside) I do not like that altered mien. How the beauty flashes from her? Is it silk and lace that can change one so? Here are bracelets too, Ma'amselle; will you wear them?
Helen. Yes. Go, look from the window, Janette, down the lane to the woods. I am well-high ready now. He will come,—yes, he will come.
(Janette retreats to the window,—her eye still following the lady.)
Jan. I have seen brides before, but never so gay a one as this. It is strange and fearful to see her stand here alone, in this lonesome house, all in glistening white, smiling, and the light flashing from her eyes thus. She looks too much like some radiant creature from another world, to be long for this.
Helen. He will come, why should he not? Netty, fix your eye on that opening in the woods, and if you see but a shadow crossing it, tell me quickly.
Jan. I can see nothing—nothing at all. Marie sanctissima!—how quiet it is! The shadows are straight here now, Miss Helen.
Helen. Noon—the very hour has come! Another minute it may be.—Noon, you said, Netty?
(Joining Janette at the window.)
Jan. Yes, quite—you can see; and hark, there's the clock. Oh, isn't it lonesome though? See how like the Sunday those houses look, with the doors all closed and the yards and gardens still as midnight. If we could but hear a human voice!—whose, I would not care.
Helen. How like any other noon-day it comes! The faint breeze plays in those graceful boughs as it did yesterday; that little, yellow butterfly glides on its noiseless way above the grass, as then it did;—just so, the shadows sleep on the grassy road-side there;—yes, Netty, yes, 'tis very lonely.—Hear those merry birds!
Jan. But I would rather hear that signal, Miss Helen, a thousand times, than the best music that ever was played.
Helen. I shall see him again. That wild hope is wild no longer. To doubt were wilder now. Ay, Fate must cross my way with a bold hand, to snatch that good from me now. And yet,—alas, in the shadowy future it lieth still, and a dark and treacherous realm is that! The joys that blossom on its threshold are not ours—It may be, even now, darkness and silence everlasting lie between us.
Helen. What is it?
Jan. Hark!—There!—Do you hear nothing?
Helen. Distant voices?
Helen. I do—
Jan. Once before,—'twas when I stood in the door below, I heard something like this; but the breeze just then brought the sound of the fall nearer, and drowned it. There it is!—Nearer. The other window, Miss Helen.
Helen. From that hill it comes, does it not?
Jan. Yes—yes, I should think it did. Oh yes. There is a guard left there—I had forgotten that. Mon Dieu! How white your lips are! Are you afraid, Ma'amselle?
(Helen stands gazing silently from the window.)
Jan. There is no danger. It must have been those soldiers that we heard,—or the cry of some wild animal roaming through yonder woods—it might have been,—how many strange sounds we hear from them. At another time we should never have thought of it. I think we should have heard that signal though, ere this,—I do, indeed.
Helen. What is it to die? Nor wood nor meadow, nor winding stream, nor the blue sky, do they see; nor the voice of bird or insect do they hear; nor breeze, nor sunshine, nor fragrance visits them. Will there be nothing left that makes this being then? The high, Godlike purpose—the life whose breath it is,—can that die?—the meek trust in Goodness Infinite,—can that perish? No.—This is that building of the soul which nothing can dissolve, that house eternal, that eternity's wide tempests cannot move. No—no—I am not afraid. No—Netty, I am not afraid.
Jan. Will you come here, Miss Helen?
Jan. Look among those trees by the road-side—those pine trees, on the side of the hill, where my finger points.—
Helen. Well—what is it?
Jan. Do you see—what a blinding sunshine this is—do you see something moving there?—wait a moment—they are hid among the trees now—you will see them again presently—There!—there they come, a troop of them, see.
Helen. Yes—Indians—are they not?
Jan. Ay—it must have been their yelling that we heard.—We need not be alarmed.—They are from the camp—they have come to that spring for water. The wonder is, your soldiers should have let them pass.—You will see them turning back directly now.
Helen. (Turning from the window.) Shelter us—all power is thine.
Jan. Holy Virgin!—they are coming this way. Those creatures are coming down that hill, as I live. Yes, there they come.
This strip of wood hides them now. What keeps them there so long? Ay, ay,—I see now—I am sorry I should have alarmed you so, Ma'amselle, for nothing too—They have struck into those woods again, no doubt; they are going back to their camp by the lower route.
Jan. It must be so. There is no doubt of it. Indeed, we might be sure they would never dare come here.—They cannot know yet that your army are gone. Besides, we should have heard from them ere this. They could never have kept their horrid tongues to themselves so long, I know.—Well, if it were to save me, I cannot screw myself into this shape any longer. (Rising from the window.)
Jan. 'Tis nothing but the sound of the river. You can make nothing else of it, Ma'amselle,—unless it is these locusts that you hear. I wish they would cease their everlasting din a moment.
How that breeze has died away! Every leaf is still now! There's not a cloud or a speck in all the sky.
Helen. Look in the west—have you looked there?
Jan. Yes, there are a few little clouds beginning to gather there indeed. We shall have a shower yet ere night.
(The war-whoop is heard, loud and near.)
Jan. Mon Dieu! Here they are! It is all over with us! We shall be murdered!
(She clasps her hands, and shrieks wildly.)
Helen. Hush! hush! Put down that window, and come away. We must be calm now.
Jan. It is all over with us,—what use is there? Do you hear that trampling?—in the street!—they are coming!
Helen. Janette—Hear me. Will you throw away your life and mine? For shame! Be calm. These Indians cannot know that we are here. They will see these houses all deserted. Why should they stop to search this? Hush! hush! they are passing now.
Jan. They have stopped!—the trampling has stopped!—I hear the gate,—they have come into the yard.
(A long wild yell is heard under the window. They stand, looking silently at each other. Again it trembles through the room, louder than before.)
Helen. I am sorry you stayed here with me. Perhaps—Hark! What was that? What was that? Was it not Maitland they said then? It was—it is—Don't grasp me so.
Jan. Nay—what would you do?
Helen. I must speak with them. Let go my arm! Do you not hear? 'Tis Maitland they are talking of. How strangely that blessed name sounds in those tones!
Jan. You must not—we have tempted Heaven already—this is madness.
Helen. Let go, Janette. It is not you they seek. You can conceal yourself. You shall be safe.
Jan. She is wild! Nay, I was mad myself, or I should never have stayed here. It were better to have lived always with them, than to be murdered thus.
(Helen opens the window, and stands for a moment, looking silently down into the court. She turns away, shuddering.)
Helen. Can I meet those eyes again?
(Again the name of Maitland mingles with the wild and unintelligible sounds that rise from without.)
Helen. Can I? (She turns to the window.) What can it mean? His own beautiful steed! How fiercely he prances beneath that unskilful rein. Where's your master, Selma, that he leaves me to be murdered here? A letter! He bids me unfasten the door, Janette.
Jan. And will you?
Helen. They are treacherous I know. This will do.—(Taking a basket from the toilette.) Give me that cord. (She lets down the basket from the window, and draws it up, with a letter in it.)
Helen. (Looking at the superscription.) 'Tis his! I thought so. Is it ink and paper that I want now? (Breaking it open.) Ah, there's no forgery in this, 'Tis his! 'tis his!
Jan. How can she stand to look at that little lock of hair now?—smiling as if she had found a bag of diamonds. But there's bad news there. How the color fades out, and the light in her eye dies away. What can it be?
Helen. (Throwing the letter down, and walking the floor hastily.) This is too much! I cannot, I cannot, I cannot go with them! How could he ask it of me? This is cruel.
He knew, perfectly well, how I have always feared them—I cannot go with them.
(She takes up the letter.)
(Reading.) "Possible"—"If it were possible"—he does not read that word as I did when I kept this promise—Possible? He does not know the meaning that love gives that word—"If I had known an hour sooner," —Ay, ay, an hour sooner!—"Trust me, dear Helen, they will not harm you." Trust me, trust me. Won't I?
Jan. She is beckoning them, as I live!
Helen. Bring me that hat and mantle, Netty. I must go with these savages.
Jan. Go with them!
Helen. There is no help for it.
Jan. With these wild creatures,—with these painted devils?—No—Like nothing human they look, I am sure. Ah see, see them in their feathers and blankets, and that long wild hair. See the knives and the tomahawks in their girdles! Holy Mary! Here's one within the court!
Helen. Yes, there he stands—there's life in it now.—There they stand—the chesnut boughs wave over them—this is the filling up of life. They are waiting for me. 'Tis no dream.
Jan. Dare you go with them? They will murder you.
Helen. If they were but human, I could move them—and yet it is the human in them that is so dreadful. To die were sad enough—to die by violence, by the power of the innocent elements, were dreadful, or to be torn of beasts; to meet the wild, fierce eye, with its fixed and deadly purpose, more dreadful; but ah, to see the human soul, from the murderers eye glaring on you, to encounter the human will in its wickedness, amid that wild struggle—Oh God! spare me.
Jan. If you fear them so, surely you will not go with them.
Helen. This letter says they are kind and innocent. One I should believe tells me there is no cause for fear. In his haste he could not find no other way to send for me.—The army will be here soon,—I must go with them.
Jan. But Captain Grey will come back here again this afternoon. Stay,—stay, and we will go with him.
Helen. You can—yes, you will be safe. For myself, I will abide my choice. Surely I need not dread to go where my betrothed husband trusts me so fearlessly. I count my life worth little more than the price at which he values it. Clasp this mantle, Netty.—And is it thus I go forth from these blessed walls at last?—Through all those safe and quiet hours of peace and trust, did this dark end to them lie waiting here?—Are they calling me?
Helen. Well,—I am ready. (Lingering in the door.) I shall sit by that window no more. Never again shall I turn those blinds to catch the breeze or the sunshine. Yes—(returning), let me look down on that orchard once again. Never more—never more.
(She walks to the door, again pausing on the threshold.)
Helen. (solemnly.) Oh God, here, from childhood to this hour, morning and evening I have called on thee—forget me not. Farewell, Netty, you will see my mother—you will see them all—that is past.—Tell her I had seen the Indians, and was not afraid.
[She goes out.
Jan. It won't take much to make an angel of her, there's that in it.
(Looking cautiously through the shutters.)
There she comes! How every eye in that wild group flashes on her! And yet with what a calm and stately bearing she meets them. Holy Mary! she suffers that savage creature to lift her to her horse, as though he were her brother, and the long knife by his side too, glancing in the sunshine! The horse, one would think, he knew the touch of that white hand on his neck. How gently he rears his beautiful head. There they go. Adieu! Was there ever so sad a smile?
Another glimpse I shall have of them yet beyond those trees.—Yes, there they go—there they go. I can see that lovely plume waving among the trees still.—Was there ever so wild a bridal train?
* * * * *
SCENE. British Camp. The interior of a Tent richly furnished. An Officer seated at a table covered with papers and maps. A Servant in waiting.
The Officer. (Sipping his wine, and carefully examining a plan of the adjacent country.) About here, we must be—let me see.—I heard the drum from their fort this morning, distinctly. Turn that curtain; we might get a faint breeze there now.
Ser't. But the sun will be coming that side, Sir. It's past two o'clock.
Off. Past two—a good position—very. Well, well,—we'll take our breakfast in Albany on Friday morning, and if our soldiers fast a day or two ere then, why they'll relish it the better;—once in the rich country beyond—Ay, it will take more troops than this General will have at his bidding by that time, to drain the Hudson's borders for us.
(A Servant enters with a note.)
Off. (Reading.) "The Baroness Reidesel's compliments—do her the honor—-Voisin has succeeded."—Ay, ay,—Voisin has succeeded,—I'll warrant that. That caterer of hers must be in league with the powers of the air, I am certain. General Burgoyne will be but too happy, my Lady—(writing the answer.)
[The Servant goes out.
Off. Past two! The cannon should be in sight ere this. This to Sir George Ackland.
[Exit the Attendant.
Off. Tuesday—Wednesday.—If the batteaux should get here to-morrow. One hundred teams——
(Another Officer enters the tent.)
1st Off. How goes it abroad, Colonel St. Leger?
2nd Off. Indeed, Sir, the camp is as quiet as midnight. It's a breathless heat. But there are a few dark heads swelling in the west. We may have a shower yet ere night.
Bur. Good news that. But here is better, (giving the other an open letter.)
St. Leger. Ay, ay, that reads well, Sir.
Bur. And here is another as good. Yes Sir, yes Sir,—they are flocking in from all quarters—the insurgents are laying down their arms by hundreds. It must be a miserable fragment that Schuyler has with him by this.
St. L. General Burgoyne, is not it a singular circumstance, that the enemy should allow us to take possession of a point like that without opposition,—so trifling a detachment, too? Why, that hill commands the fort,—certainly it does.
Bur. Well—well. They are pretty much reduced, I fancy, Sir. We shall hardly hear much more from them. Let me see,—this is the hill.
St. L. A pity we could not provoke them into an engagement, though! They depend so entirely upon the popular feeling for supplies and troops, and the whole machinery of their warfare, that it is rather hazardous reckoning upon them, after all. If we could draw them into an engagement now, the result would be certain.
Bur. Yes, yes; we must contrive to do that ere long. Rather troublesome travelling companions they make, that's certain. Like those insects that swarm about us here,—no great honor in fighting them, but a good deal of discomfort in letting them alone. We must sweep them out of our way, I think, or at all events give them a brush, that will quiet them a little.
St. L. Or they might prove, after all, like the gadfly in the fable. I do not think this outbreak will be any disadvantage in the end, General.
Bur. Not a whit—not a whit—they have needed this. It will do them good, Sir.
St. L. The fact is, these colonies were founded in the spirit of insubordination, and all the circumstances of their position have hitherto tended to develope only these disorganizing elements.
Bur. It will do them good, Sir. Depend upon it, they'll remember this lesson. Pretty well sickened of war are they all. They'll count the cost ere they try it again.
St. L. We can hardly expect the news from General Reidesel before sunset, I suppose.
Bur. If my messenger returns by to-morrow's sunrise, it is better fortune than I look for.
(Col. St. Leger goes out.)
(Burgoyne resumes his plan.)
A Ser't. (At the door.) Capt. Maitland, Sir.
Bur. Capt. Maitland!
Ser't. From Fort Ann, Sir.
Bur. Captain Maitland! Good heavens, I thought you were at Skeensborough by this,—what has happened? or am I to congratulate myself that the necessity of your embassy is obviated. You met them, perhaps?—
Maitland. There's but little cause of congratulation, Sir, as these dispatches will prove to you. I returned only because my embassy was accomplished.
Bur. Do you mean to say, Captain Maitland, that you have seen the waters of Lake Champlain, since you left here this morning?
Mait. I do, Sir.
Bur. On my word, these roads must have improved since we travelled them some two days agone. I am sorry for your horses, Sir. You saw General Reidesel?
Mait. I left him only at nine o'clock this morning.
(Burgoyne examines the dispatches.)
Bur. "Twelve oxen to one batteaux!"—"and but fifty teams!" This news was scarcely worth so much haste, I think,—but fifty teams?—Captain Maitland, had those draught horses from Canada not arrived yet?
Mait. They were just landing this morning as I left, but only one-fourth of the number contracted for.
Bur. Humph! I would like to know what time, at this rate——sit down, Captain Maitland, sit down—we are like to spend the summer here, for aught I see, after all. (A long pause, in which Burgoyne resumes his reading.)
Mait. General Burgoyne, I am entrusted with a message from General Reidsel to the Baroness. If this is all——
Bur. What were you saying?—The Baroness—ay, ay—that's all well enough,—but Captain Maitland is aware, no doubt, there are more important subjects on the tapis just now than a lady's behests.
Bur. (Pushing the papers impatiently from him.) This will never do. St. George! We'll give these rebels other work ere many days, than driving away cattle and breaking down bridges for our convenience. Meanwhile we must open some new source of supplies, or we may starve to death among these hills yet. Captain Maitland, I have a proposal to make to you. You are impatient, Sir.
Mait. General Burgoyne!——
Bur. Nay, nay,—there's no haste about it. It were cruel to detain you now, after the toil of this wild journey. You'll find your quarters changed, Captain Maitland. We sent a small detachment across the river just now. Some of our copper-colored allies had got into a fray with the enemy there.
Mait. Ha! (returning.)
Bur. Nothing of consequence, as it turns out. We hoped it would have ended in something. A few of the enemy, who were stationed as a guard on a hill not far from Fort Edward, were surprised by a party of Indians, and killed, to a man, I believe. Afterwards, the victors got into a deadly fray among themselves as usual. A quarrel between a couple of these chiefs, at some famous watering place of theirs, and in the midst of it, a party from the fort drove them from the ground;—this is Alaska's own story at least.
Bur. Alaska?—Alaska?—yes, I think it was,—one of these new allies we have picked up here.
Mait. (In a whisper.) Good God!
Bur. By the time our detachment arrived there, however, the ground was cleared, and they took quiet possession. Are you ill, Captain Maitland?
Mait. A little,—it is nothing. I am to cross the river.
Bur, Yes. You will take these papers to Captain Andre. You have over-fatigued yourself. You should have taken more time for this wild journey.
(Maitland goes out.)
Bur. I do not like the idea of division, but it cannot be helped now. This gallant young soldier were a fitting leader for such an enterprize.
* * * * *
SCENE. The ground before Maitland's Tent.
(Maitland and the Indian Chief, Manida, enter.)
Mait. This is well. (He writes on a slip of paper, and gives it to the Indian.) Take that, they will give you the reward you ask for it. Let me see your face no more, that is all.
Manida. Ha, Monsieur?
Mait. Let me see your face no more, I say. Do you understand me?
Manida. (Smiling.) Oui.
(Maitland turns from him. The Indian goes off in the opposite direction. He stops a moment, and steals a look at Maitland,—throws his head back with a long silent laugh, and then goes on toward the woods.)
Mait. (Musing.) I like this. This is womanly! Nay, perhaps there is no caprice about it. I may have misinterpreted that letter in my haste last night. Very likely. Well,—better this, than that Helen Grey should come to evil through fault of mine,—better this, than the anguish of the horrible misgivings that haunted me amid my journey.
And so pass these faery visions! Nay, not thus. It will take longer than this to unlink this one day's hope from its thousand fastnesses. I thought, ere this, to have met the spirit of those beaming eyes, to have taken to my heart for ever this soft, pure being of another life. And yet, even as I rode through those lonely hills this morning, with every picture my hope painted, there came a strange misgiving;—like some scene of laughing noonday loveliness, darkening in the shadow of a summer's cloud.
Strange that Alaska should abandon my trust! I cannot understand it. Why, I should never have trusted her with this rascal Indian. There was something in his eye, hateful beyond all thought,—and once or twice I caught a strange expression in it, like malignant triumph it seemed. It may be—no, he must have seen her—that glove he showed me was hers, I know. Good God!—what if——I think my old experience should have taught me there was little danger of her risking much in my behalf. Well—even this is better, than that Helen Grey should have come to evil through fault of mine.
* * * * *
* * * * *
* * * * *
SCENE. The slope of the Hill near Fort Edward. The road-side, shaded with stately pines and hemlocks.
(Two British Officers, coming slowly down the road.)
1st Off. Yes, here has been wild work upon this hill to-day. They were slaughtered to a man.
2nd Off. I saw a sight above there, just now, that sickened me of warfare.
1st Off. And what was that, pry'thee?
2nd Off. Oh nothing,—'twas nothing but a dead soldier; a common sight enough, indeed; but this was a mere youth;—he was lying in a little hollow on the roadside, and as I crossed in haste, I had well-nigh set my foot on his brow. Such a brow it was, so young, so noble, and the dark chesnut curls clustering about it. I think I never saw a more classic set of features, or a look of loftier courage than that which death seemed to have found and marbled in them. Hark—that's a water-fall we hear.
1st Off. I saw him, there was another though, lying not far thence, the sight of whom moved me more. He was younger yet, or seemed so, and of a softer mould; and, torn and bloody as they were, I fancied I could see in his garb and appointments, and in every line of his features, the traces of some mother's tenderness.
2nd Off. Listen, Andre! This is beautiful! There's some cascade not far hence, worth searching for.
Andre. Yes, just in among those trees you'll find a perfect drawing-room, carpeted, canopied, and dark as twilight; its verdant seats broidered with violets and forget-me-nots; and all untenanted it seems, nay, deserted rather, for the music wastes on the lonely air, as if the fairy that kept state there, in gossip mood had stolen down some neighboring aisle, and would be home anon. I would have bartered all the glory of this campaign for leave to stretch myself on its mossy bank, for a soft hour or so.
Mor. Ay, with Chaucer or the "Faery Queen." If one could people these lovely shades with the fresh creations of the olden time, knight and lady, and dark enchantress and Paynim fierce, instead of Yankee rebels—
Andre. 'Twere well your faery-work were of no lasting mould, or these same Yankee rebels would scarce thank you for your pains,—they hold that race in little reverence. Alas,—
No grot divine, or wood-nymph haunted glen, Or stream, or fount, shall these young shades e'er know. No beautiful divinity, stealing afar Through darkling nooks, to poet's eye thence gleam; With mocking mystery the dim ways wind, They reach not to the blessed fairy-land That once all lovely in heaven's stolen light, To yearning thoughts, in the deep green-wood grew. Ah! had they come to light when nature Was a wonder-loving, story-telling child!— The misty morn of ages had gone by, The dreamy childhood of the race was past, And in its tame and reasoning manhood, In the daylight broad, and noon-day of all time, This world hath sprung. The poetry of truth, None other, shall her shining lakes, and woods, And ocean-streams, and hoary mountains wear. Perchance that other day of poesy, Unsung of prophets, that upon the lands Shall dawn yet, thence shall spring. The self-same mind That on the night of ages once, for us Those deathless clusters flung, the self-same mind, With all its ancient elements of might, Among us now its ancient glory hides; But, from its smothered power, and buried wealth, A golden future sparkles, decked from deeper founts, A new and lovelier firmament, A thousand realms of song undreamed of now, That shall make Romance a forgotten world, And the young heaven of Antiquity, With all its starry groups, a gathered scroll.
Mor. Ay, Andre, you were born a poet, and have mistaken your art. Prythee excuse me, who am but a poor soldier, for marring so fine a rhapsody with any thing so sublunary; but, methinks, for an enemy's quarters, yonder fort shows as peaceable a front of stone and mortar as one could ask for. What can it mean that they are so quiet there?
Andre. That spy did not return a second time.
Mor. The rogues have made sure of him ere this, I fancy. They may have given us the slip,—who knows?
Andre. I would like to venture a stroll through that shady street if I thought so. A dim impression that I have somewhere seen this view before, haunts me unaccountably.
Mor. How I hate that sober, afternoon air, that hangs like an invisible presence over it all. You can see it in the sunshine on those white walls, you can hear it in the hum of the bee from the bending thistle here.
Andre. Of the mind it is. This were lovely as the morning light, but for the shade it gathers thence, from the thought of decline and the vanishing day. 'Tis a pretty spot.
Mor. Yes, but the quiet goings-on of life are all hushed there now.
Andre. Ay, this is the hour, when the home-bound children swing the gate with a merry spring, and the mother sits at her work by the open window, with her quiet eye, and the daughter, with the beauty of an untamed soul in her's, looks forth on the woods and meadows, and thinks of her walk at even-tide. I thought it was something like a memory that haunted me thus,—'tis the spot that Maitland talked of yesterday.
Mor. Captain Maitland? I saw him just now at the works above.
Andre. Here? On this hill?
Mor. Yes,—something struck me in his mien,—and there he stands with Colonel Hill, above, on the other side.—Mark him now. Your friend is handsome, Andre; he is handsome, I'll own,—but I never liked that smile of his, and I think I like it less than ever now.
Andre. Why, that's the genuine Apollo-curl,—a line's breadth deeper were too much, I'll own.
(Maitland and another Officer enter.)
Off. That is all,—that is all, I believe, Captain Maitland. Yonder pretty dwelling among the trees seems an old acquaintance of yours. It has had the ill manners to rob me of your eye ever since we stood here, and I have had little token that the other senses were not in its company. Andre, has your friend never a ladye-love in these wilds, you could tell us of?
Mor. He is sworn to secresy. Did you mark that glance?
Mait. Love! I hold it a pretty theme for the ballad-makers, Colonel Hill; but for myself, I have scarce time for rhyming just now. Captain Andre, here are papers for you.
[He walks away, descending the road.
Col. Hill. So! So! What ails the boy?
(Looking after him for a moment, and then ascending the hill.)
Andre. (Reading.) Humph! Here's prose enough! Will you walk up the hill with me, Mortimer? I must cross the river again.
Mait. First let me seek this horse of mine,—the rogue must have strayed down this path, I think.
(He enters the wood.)
(Andre walks to and fro with an impatient air, then pauses.)
Andre. Well, I can wait no longer for this loiterer.
(Mortimer re-enters, calling from the woods.)
Mor. Andre! Maitland! Colonel Hill! Good Heavens! Where the devil are they all? Maitland!
(Maitland appears, slowly ascending the road.)
Mor. For the love of Heaven,—come here.
Mail. Nay.—but what is it?
Mor. For God's sake, come,
* * * * *
SCENE. A little glen, darkly shaded with pines. A fountain issuing from one side, and falling with a curious murmur into the basin below.
(Mortimer and Maitland enter.)
Mor. This is the place!—Well, if hallucinations like this can visit mortal eyes, I'll ne'er trust mine again. 'Tis the spot, I'm sure of it,—the place, too, that Andre was raving about just now.—The fairies' drawing-room,—palace rather,—look at these graceful shafts, Maitland,—and fairies' work, it must have been in good earnest.
Mait. If it's to admire this clump of pine trees you have brought me hither, allow me to say you might have spared yourself that trouble. I have seen the place already, as often as I care to.
Mor. Come this way a little,—yes, it was just above there that I stood,—it must have been.
Mait. If you would give me some little inkling of what you are talking about, Lieutenant Mortimer, I should be more likely to help you, if it's help you need.
Mor. I do not ask you to believe me, but,—as I was springing on my horse just now above there, the gurgling of this spring caught my ear, and looking down suddenly—upon my word, Captain Maitland, I am ashamed to describe what cannot but seem to you such an improbable piece of fancy-work; and yet, true it seemed, as that I see you now. I was looking down, as I said, when suddenly, among those low evergreens, the brilliant hue of a silken mantle caught my eye, and then a woman's brow gleamed up upon me. Yes, there in that dark cradle, calmly sleeping, all flashing with gold and jewels, like some bright vision of olden time, methought there lay—a lady,—a girl, young and lovely as a dream;—the white plume in her bonnet soiled and broken, and the long bright hair streaming heavily on her mantle,—and yet with all its loveliness, such a face of utter sorrow saw I never. I saw her, I saw her, as I see you now,—the proud young form with such a depth of grace, in its strange repose, and—where are you going?—what are you doing, Maitland?
Mait. Helen Grey!—
Mor. You are right. I did not mark that break—yes—there she lies. Said I right, Maitland?
Mait. Helen Grey!—
Mor. Maitland! Heavens!—what a world of anguish that tone reveals!—Why do you stand gazing on that lovely sleeper thus?
Mait. Bring water. There's a cup at yonder spring. Here has been treachery! Devils and fiends have been working here against me. We must unclasp this mantle. The treasure of the earth lies here.—Now doth mine arm enfold it once, at last. 'Tis sweet, Helen, mine own true love; 'tis sweet, even thus.
Mor. This letter,—see—from those loosened folds it just now dropped. This might throw some light, perchance—
Mait. Let it be. There's light enough. I want no more. Water,—more water,—do you see?
Mor. Maitland,—this is vain. Mark this dark spot upon her girdle—
Mait. Hush, hush,—there, cover it thus—'tis nothing, Loosen this bonnet—so—'twas a firm hand that tied that knot; so—she can breathe now.
Mor. How like life, those soft curls burst from their loosened pressure! But mark you—there is no other motion, I am sorry to distress you,—but—Maitland—this lady is dead.
Mait. Dead! Lying hell-hound! Dead! Say that again.
Mor. God help you!
Mait. Dead! Helen Grey, open these eyes. Here's one that, never having seen them, talks of death. Oh God! is it thus we meet at last? At last these arms are round her, and she knows it not. I look upon her, but her eye answers me not. Dead!—for me? Murdered!—mine own hand hath done it.
Mor. Why do you start thus?
Mait. Hush!—hush! There!—again—that slow heavy throb—again! again!
Mor. Good God! she breathes! This is life indeed.
Mait. (Solemnly.) Ay, thank God. This moment's sweetness is enough.
Mor. How like one in troubled sleep she murmurs! Mark those tones of sweet and wild entreaty. Listen!
Mait. I have heard it again!—from the buried years of love and hope that music came. She is here. 'Tis she. This is no marble mockery. She is here! Her head is on my bosom. Death cannot rob me of this sweetness now.
A Lady. This way—I hear their voices. Down this pathway—here they are.
(Lady Ackland and Andre enter the Glen.)
Lady A. I knew it could not be. They told us she was murdered, Maitland. (Starting back.) Ah—ah—God help thee, Maitland!
Mait. Listen, listen. She was speaking but now. There—again!
Lady A. And this is she! Can the wilderness blossom thus? And did God unfold such loveliness—for a waste so cruel?
Helen. (In a low murmur.) We are almost there. If we could but pass this glen. Oh God! will they stop here? Go on,—go on. Was not that a white tent I saw? Go on. They will not. 'Tis nothing,—do not weep.
Mait. Look at me, Helen.—Open these eyes. One more look—one more.
Andre. She hears your bidding.
Mait. Oh God! Do you see those eyes—those dim, bewildered eyes?—it is quenched—quenched. Let her lean on you.
Lady A. Gently—gently, she does not see us yet.
Helen. Oh Mother, I am ill and weary. Here's this dream again! Blue sky? and pine-tree boughs? Am I here indeed? Yes, I remember now,—we stood upon that cliff—I am dying. Is there no one here? Whose tears are these?
Lady A. Dear child, sweet one, nay, lean on me.
Helen. My mother, oh my mother, come to me. Come, Annie, come, come! Strangers all!
Mor. Her eye is on him. Hush!
Andre. See in an instant how the light comes flashing up from those dim depths again. That is the eye that I saw yesterday.
Lady A. That slowly settling smile,—deeper and deeper—saw you ever any thing so gay, so passing lovely?
Helen. Is it—is it—Everard Maitland—is it thee? The living real of my thousand dreams, in the light of life doth he stand there now? Doth he? 'Tis he!
Helen. 'Tis he! That tone's spell builds around me its all-sheltering music-walls, and death is nothing. Oh God, when at thy dark will dimly revealed, I trembled yesterday, I did not think in this most rosy bower to meet its fearfulness.
Mait. Helen,—dost thou love me yet?
Helen. Doubter, am I dying here?
Mait. 'Tis her own most rich and blessed smile, even as of old in mirth it shone upon me. Your murderer, you count me then?
Helen. Come hither,—let me lean on you. Star of the wilderness!—of this life that is fading now, the sun!—doth mine eye see thee, then, at last? Oh! this is sweet! On its own holy home my head rests now. Everard, in this dark world Love leans on Faith. How else, even in God's love and loveliness, could I trust now for that strange future on whose bloody threshold I am lying here; yes, and in spite of prayers and trust, and struggling hopes. And yet—how beautiful it is—that love invisible, invisible no more. Like glorious sunshine it is streaming round me,—lighting all. The infinite of that thy smile hath imaged, as real,—it beams on me now. Have faith, in him I mean; for—if we meet again—we'll need it then no more; and—how dim it grows—nay, let me lean on you,—and—through this life's darkening glass I shall see you no more. Nay, hold me!—quick!—where art thou?—Everard!—He is gone—gone!
Lady A. Dead!—
Mor. She is dead!
Andre. This was Love.
Lady A. See how her eyes are fixed on you. The light and love of the vanished soul looks through them still. Cruelly hath it been sent thence; and no other gleam of its changeful beauty will e'er dawn in them. Sadly, oh lovely stranger, I close for ever now these dark-fringed lids upon their love and beauty. Yes—this was love!
Andre. And so there was a need-be in its doom. I'll ne'er believe that genuine, that is blessed. The fate of this life would not suffer it. Ah! if it would, if Heaven should leave a gem like that outside her walls, we should none of us go thither.
Mait. Dead? How beautiful! Yes—let her lie there—under that lovely canopy. Dead!—it's a curious word—How comes it that we all stand here? Ha, Andre?—is it you?
Andre. I heard the tale as I crossed just now, from an Indian, who was one in the ambuscade this noon—and in the woods on the other side, I found this lady, with her attendants, abiding the promise she made you last night, to welcome this lovely stranger with her savage guides.
Mait. Hush, hush. Let it pass. See,—a bride!
Mor. (Aside.) Did he trust her with these murderers?
Mait. Ay—say yes.
Andre. Indeed, Maitland, you wrong yourself. It was the treachery of this savage Manida that crossed your plans, working the mission of some Higher power,—as for Alaska, you might as soon have doubted me.
The Chief he sent for her was one he had known years—but, unfortunately, he was one in the ambuscade this morning—nay, the leader of it; for the murdered Indian was his son; and meanwhile amid the fight the treacherous Manida, who accompanied him to Maitland's tent last night, and heard the promised reward, found means to steal from its concealment the letter, with which he easily won this trusting lady to accompany him.
Mor. Ah!—there it lies.
Andre. It was here in this glen that Alaska, discovering the treachery, lay in wait for them with a band of chosen warriors, and on that cliff above they fought.
Lady A. (Aside.) And she stood there, amid those yelling demons alone! Methinks the angels should have come from their unseen dwellings at her prayer. Can our humanity's darkest extremity wring no love from the invisible?—
Andre. Alaska had regained his charge; but the malignant eye, and the deadly arrow of the vanquished Indian followed her. She fell, even in the place where you found her; for at that same instant a party from the fort drove them hence, victor and vanquished. Alaska fled; but the murderer, with a tale cunning enough to deceive the lover, boldly demanded and obtained the prize.
Mor. Mark his changed mien. I would rather see tears for a grief like this, than that calm smile with which he gazes on her now.
(Burgoyne and St. Leger are seen talking in the road above,—they enter the glen.)
Bur. At a crisis like this we might better have lost a thousand men in battle! Ah! ah!—a sight for our enemies, Lady Ackland! Where is this Indian?
St. L. We have sent out for him. No one has seen him as yet.
Bur. Let him be found. Look to it. We will give them an example for once. I say, at a crisis like this we might better have lost a thousand men in battle, for it will turn thousands against us, and rouse the slumbering spirit of resistance here, at the very crisis when, had it slumbered on a little longer, all was ours.
St. L. But this was a quarrel among the Indians, and no fault of ours.
Bur. No matter. You will see what Schuyler will make of it. His wordy proclamation will have its living sequel now. A young and innocent girl, seeking the protection of our camp, is inhumanly murdered by Indians in our pay. A single tale like this is enough to undo at a blow all that we have accomplished here. With ten thousand wild aggravations, it will be told in every cottage of these borders before to-morrow's sunset.
(Another Officer enters hastily.)
Off. Here is Arnold, with a thousand men, on the brow of the next hill. One of the rebel guard escaped, and the news of the massacre here has reached their camp below.
Bur. Said I right?
(The three Officers go out together.)
Andre. This story is spreading fast, there will be throngs here presently. Maitland,—nay, do not let me startle you thus, but—
Mait. Is it you? What was it we were saying yesterday?—we should have noted it. This were a picture worth your pencilling now. Those silken vestments,—that long, golden hair,—this youthful shape,—there's that same haughty grace about it, that the smile of these thought-lit eyes would disown with every glance. Then that letter,—and the Lady Ackland here,—Weeping?—This is most strange. I know you all,—but,—as I live I can't remember how this chanced. How comes it that we all stand here? Pearls?—and white silk?—a bridal?—Ha ha ha! (Laughing wildly.)
Lady A. Take me away. This is too terrible! lean stay here no longer. Take me away, Andre.
[Exeunt Andre and Lady A.
(An Officer enters.)
The Officer. We are ordered to withdraw our detachment, Captain Maitland. The rebels are just below, some two thousand strong, and in no mood to be encountered.
Mor. He does not hear you. We must leave that murdered lady here, and 'tis vain to think of parting them. Come.
[Exeunt Mortimer and Officer.
Mait. They are gone at last. They are all gone. I am alone with my dead bride. I must needs smile—I could not weep when those haughty and prying eyes were upon me, but now—I am alone with my dead bride.—Helen, they are all gone,—we are alone. How still she lies,—smiling too,—on that same bank. She will speak, surely she will. How lightly those soft lashes lie, as if a word would lift them.—Helen!—I will be calm and patient as a child. This lovely smile is deepening, it will melt to words again.—Hark! that spring,—that same curious murmur! We have checked our sweetest words to hear it, we have stood here listening to it, till we fancied, in its talk-like tones, wild histories, beautiful and sad, the secrets of the woods.—Oh God!—and have such memories no power here now? In mine ear alone doth the spring murmur now. Death! what is't?—Awake! awake,—by the love that is stronger than death,—awake!—