THE BRIDE OF FORT EDWARD.
FOUNDED ON AN INCIDENT OF THE REVOLUTION
BY DELIA BACON
I am extremely anxious to guard against any misconception of the design of this little work. I therefore take the liberty of apprising the reader beforehand, that it is not a Play. It was not intended for the stage, and properly is not capable of representation. I have chosen the form of the DIALOGUE as best suited to my purpose in presenting anew the passions and events of a day long buried in the past, but it is the dialogue in scenes arranged simply with reference to the impressions of the Reader, and wholly unadapted to the requirements of the actual stage. The plan here chosen, involves throughout the repose, the thought, and sentiment of Actual life, instead of the hurried action, the crowded plot, the theatrical elevation which the Stage necessarily demands of the pure Drama. I have only to ask that I may not be condemned for failing to fulfil the conditions of a species of writing which I have not attempted.
The story involved in these Dialogues is essentially connected with a well-known crisis in our National History; nay, it is itself a portion of the historic record, and as such, even with many of its most trifling minutiae, is imbedded in our earliest recollections; but it is rather in its relation to the abstract truth it embodies,—as exhibiting a law in the relation of the human mind to its Invisible protector—the apparent sacrifice of the individual in the grand movements for the race,—it is in this light, rather than as an historical exhibition, that I venture to claim for it, as here presented, the indulgent attention of my readers.
THE AUTHOR. New-York, July 7th, 1839.
BRIDE OF FORT EDWARD,
A DRAMATIC STORY.
SCENE. Fort Edward and its vicinity, on the Hudson, near Lake George.
British and American officers and soldiers.
Indians employed in the British service.
ELLISTON—A religious missionary residing in the adjacent woods.
GEORGE GREY—A young American.
LADY ACKLAND—Wife of an English Officer.
MRS. GREY—The widow of a Clergyman residing near Fort Edward.
HELEN, and ANNIE,—Her daughters.
JANETTE—A Canadian servant.
Time included—from the afternoon of one day to the close of the following.
I. THE CRISIS AND ITS VICTIM
THE BRIDE OF FORT EDWARD.
* * * * *
* * * * *
SCENE. The road-side on the slope of a wooded hill near Fort Edward. The speakers, two young soldiers,—Students in arms.
1st Student. These were the evenings last year, when the bell From the old college tower, would find us still Under the shady elms, with sauntering step And book in hand, or on the dark grass stretched, Or lounging on the fence, with skyward gaze Amid the sunset warble. Ah! that world,— That world we lived in then—where is it now? Like earth to the departed dead, methinks.
2nd Stud. Yet oftenest, of that homeward path I think, Amid the deepening twilight slowly trod, And I can hear the click of that old gate, As once again, amid the chirping yard, I see the summer rooms, open and dark, And on the shady step the sister stands, Her merry welcome, in a mock reproach, Of Love's long childhood breathing. Oh this year, This year of blood hath made me old, and yet, Spite of my manhood now, with all my heart, I could lie down upon this grass and weep For those old blessed times, the times of peace again.
1st Stud. There will be weeping, Frank, from older eyes, Or e'er again that blessed time shall come. Hearts strong and glad now, must be broke ere then: Wild tragedies, that for the days to come Shall faery pastime make, must yet ere then Be acted here; ay, with the genuine clasp Of anguish, and fierce stabs, not buried in silk robes, But in hot hearts, and sighs from wrung souls' depths. And they shall walk in light that we have made, They of the days to come, and sit in shadow Of our blood-reared vines, not counting the wild cost. Thus 'tis: among glad ages many,—one— In garlands lies, bleeding and bound. Times past, And times to come, on ours, as on an altar— Have laid down their griefs, and unto us Is given the burthen of them all.
2nd Stud. And yet, See now, how pleasantly the sun shines there Over the yellow fields, to the brown fence Its hour of golden beauty—giving still. And but for that faint ringing from the fort, That comes just now across the vale to us, And this small band of soldiers planted here, I could think this was peace, so calmly there, The afternoon amid the valley sleeps.
1st Stud. Yet in the bosom of this gentle time, The crisis of an age-long struggle heaves.
2nd Stud. Age-long?—Why, this land's history can scarce Be told in ages, yet.
1st Stud. But this war's can. In that small isle beyond the sea, Francis, Ages, ages ago, its light first blazed. This is the war. Old, foolish, blind prerogative, In ermines wrapped, and sitting on king's thrones; Against young reason, in a peasant's robe His king's brow hiding. For the infant race Weaves for itself the chains its manhood scorns, (When time hath made them adamant, alas!—) The reverence of humanity, that gold Which makes power's glittering round, ordained of God But for the lovely majesty of right, Unto a mad usurper, yielding, all, Making the low and lawless will of man Vicegerent of that law and will divine, Whose image only, reason hath, on earth. This is the struggle:—here, we'll fight it out. 'Twas all too narrow and too courtly there; In sight of that old pageantry of power We were, in truth, the children of the past, Scarce knowing our own time: but here, we stand In nature's palaces, and we are men;— Here, grandeur hath no younger dome than this; And now, the strength which brought us o'er the deep, Hath grown to manhood with its nurture here,— Now that they heap on us abuses, that Had crimsoned the first William's cheek, to name,— We're ready now—for our last grapple with blind power.
* * * * *
SCENE. The same. A group of ragged soldiers in conference.
1st Soldier. I am flesh and blood myself, as well as the rest of you, but there is no use in talking. What the devil would you do?—You may talk till dooms-day, but what's to hinder us from serving our time out?—and that's three months yet. Ay, there's the point. Show me that.
2nd Sol. Three months! Ha, thank Heaven mine is up to-morrow; and, I'll tell you what, boys, before the sun goes down to-morrow night, you will see one Jack Richards trudging home,—trudging home, Sirs! None of your bamboozling, your logic, and your figures. A good piece of bread and butter is the figure for me. But you should hear the Colonel, though, as the time draws nigh. Lord! you'd think I was the General at least. Humph, says I.
3d Sol. Ay, ay,—feed you on sugar-candy till they get you to sign, and then comes the old shoes and moccasins.——
2nd Sol. And that's true enough, Ned. I've eaten myself, no less than two very decent pair in the service. I'll have it out of Congress yet though, I'll be hanged if I don't. None of your figures for me! I say, boys, I am going home.
1st Sol. Well, go home, and—can't any body else breathe? Why don't you answer me, John?—What would you have us do?—
4th Sol. Ask Will Wilson there.
1st Sol. Will?—Where is he?
4th Sol. There he stands, alongside of the picket there, his hands in his pockets, whistling, and looking as wise as the dragon. Mind you, there's always something pinching at the bottom of that same whistle, though its such a don't-care sort of a whistle too. Ask Will, he'll tell you.
3d Sol. Ay, Will has been to the new quarters to-day. See, he's coming this way.
5th Sol. And he saw Striker there, fresh from the Jerseys, come up along with that new General there, yesterday.
3d Sol. General Arnold?
5th Sol. Ay, ay, General Arnold it is.
6th Sol. [Advancing.] I say, boys——
4th Sol. What's the matter, Will?
6th Sol. Do you want to know what they say below?
All. Ay, ay, what's the news?
6th Sol. All up there, Sirs. A gone horse!—and he that turns his coat first, is the best fellow.
4th Sol. No?
6th Sol. And shall I tell you what else they say?
4th Sol. Ay.
6th Sol. Shall I?
All. Ay, ay. What is it?
6th Sol. That we are a cowardly, sneaking, good-for-nothing pack of poltroons, here in the north. There's for you! There's what you get for your pains, Sirs. And for the rest, General Schuyler is to be disgraced, and old Gates is to be set over us again, and——no matter for the rest. See here, boys. Any body coming? See here.
3d Sol. What has he got there?
2nd Sol. The Proclamation! The Proclamation! Will you be good enough to let me see if there is not a picture there somewhere, with an Indian and a tomahawk?
6th Sol. Now, Sirs, he that wants a new coat, and a pocket full of money—
3d Sol. That's me fast enough.
2nd Sol. If he had mentioned a shirt-sleeve now, or a rim to an old hat—
4th Sol. Or a bit of a crown, or so.
6th Sol. He that wants a new coat—get off from my toes, you scoundrel.
All. Let's see. Let's see. Read—read.
7th Sol. (Spouting.) "And he that don't want his house burned over his head, and his wife and children, or his mother and sisters, as the case may be, butchered or eaten alive before his eyes—"
3d Sol. Heavens and earth! It 'ant so though, Wilson, is it?
7th Sol. "Is required to present himself at the said village of Skeensborough, on or before the 20th day of August next. Boo—boo—boo—Who but I. Given under my hand."—If it is not it—it is something very like it, I can tell you, Sirs. I say, boys, the old rogue wants his neck wrung for insulting honest soldiers in that fashion; and I say that you—for shame, Will Willson.
4th Sol. Hush!—the Colonel!—Hush!
2nd Sol. And who is that proud-looking fellow, by his side?
4th Sol. Hush! General Arnold. He's a sharp one—roll it up—roll it up.
6th Sol. Get out,—you are rumpling it to death.
(Two American officers are seen close at hand, in a bend of the ascending road; the soldiers enter the woods.)
* * * * *
SCENE. The same.
1st Officer. I cannot conceal it from you, Sir; there is but one feeling about it, as far as I can judge, and I had some chances in my brief journey—
2nd Off. Were you at head-quarters?
1st Off. Yes,—and every step of this retreating army only makes it more desperate. I never knew any thing like the mad, unreasonable terror this army inspires. Burgoyne and his Indians!—"Burgoyne and the Indians"—there is not a girl on the banks of the Connecticut that does not expect to see them by her father's door ere day-break. Colonel Leslie, what were those men concealing so carefully as we approached just now?—Did you mark them?
2nd Off. Yes. If I am not mistaken, it was the paper we were speaking of.
1st Off. Ay, ay,—I thought as much.
2nd Off. General Arnold, I am surprised you should do these honest men the injustice to suppose that such an impudent, flimsy, bombastic tirade as that same proclamation of Burgoyne's, should have a feather's weight with any mother's son of them.
Arnold. A feather's, ay a feather's, just so; but when the scales are turning, a feather counts too, and that is the predicament just now of more minds than you think for, Colonel Leslie. A pretty dark horizon around us just now, Sir,—another regiment goes off to-morrow, I hear. Hey?
Leslie. Why, no. At least we hope not. We think we shall be able to keep them yet, unless—that paper might work some mischief with them perhaps, and it would be rather a fatal affair too, I mean in the way of example.—These Green Mountain Boys——
Arnold. Colonel Leslie, Colonel Leslie, this army is melting away like a snow-wreath. There's no denying it. Your General misses it. The news of one brave battle would send the good blood to the fingers' ends from ten thousand chilled hearts; no matter how fearful the odds; the better, the better,—no matter how large the loss;—for every slain soldier, a hundred better would stand on the field;——
Leslie. But then——
Arnold. By all that's holy, Sir, if I were head here, the red blood should smoke on this grass ere to-morrow's sunset. I would have battle here, though none but the birds of the air were left to carry the tale to the nation. I tell you, Colonel Leslie, a war, whose resources are only in the popular feeling, as now, and for months to come, this war's must be; a war, at least, which depends wholly upon the unselfishness of a people, as this war does, can be kept alive by excitement only. It was wonderful enough indeed, to behold a whole people, the low and comfort-loving too, in whose narrow lives that little world which the sense builds round us, takes such space, forsaking the tangible good of their merry firesides, for rags and wretchedness,—poverty that the thought of the citizen beggar cannot reach,—the supperless night on the frozen field; with the news perchance of a home in ashes, or a murdered household, and, last of all, on some dismal day, the edge of the sword or the sharp bullet ending all;—and all in defence of—what?—an idea—an abstraction,—a thought:—I say this was wonderful enough, even in the glow of the first excitement. But now that the Jersey winter is fresh in men's memories, and Lexington and Bunker Hill are forgotten, and all have found leisure and learning to count the cost; it were expecting miracles indeed, to believe that this army could hold together with a policy like this. Every step of this retreat, I say again, treads out some lingering spark of enthusiasm. Own it yourself. Is not this army dropping off by hundreds, and desertion too, increasing every hour, thinning your own ranks and swelling your foes?—and that, too, at a crisis—Colonel Leslie, retreat a little further, some fifty miles further; let Burgoyne once set foot in Albany, and the business is done,—we may roll up our pretty declaration as fast as we please, and go home in peace.
Leslie. General Arnold, I have heard you to the end, though you have spoken insultingly of councils in which I have had my share. Will you look at this little clause in this paper, Sir. The excitement you speak of will come ere long, and that at a rate less ruinous than this whole army's loss. There's a line—there's a line, Sir, that will make null and void, very soon, if not on the instant, all the evil of these golden promises. There'll be excitement enough ere long; but better blood than that shed in battle fields must flow to waken it.
Arnold. I hardly understand you, Sir. Is it this threat you point at?
Leslie. Can't you see?—They have let loose these hell-hounds upon us, and butchery must be sent into our soft and innocent homes;—beings that we have sheltered from the air of heaven, brows that have grown pale at the breath of an ungentle word, must meet the red knife of the Indian now. Oh God, this is war!
Arnold. I understand you, Colonel Leslie. There was a crisis like this in New Jersey last winter, I know, when our people were flocking to the royal standard, as they are now, and a few fiendish outrages on the part of the foe changed the whole current in our favor. It may be so now, but meanwhile—
Leslie. Meanwhile, this army is the hope of the nation, and must be preserved. We are wronged, Sir. Have we not done all that men could do? What were twenty pitched battles to such an enemy, with a force like ours, compared with the harm we have done them? Have we not kept them loitering here among these hills, wasting the strength that was meant to tell in the quivering fibres of men, on senseless trees and stones, paralyzing them with famine, wearying them with unexciting, inglorious toil, until, divided and dispirited, at last we can measure our power with theirs, and fight, not in vain? Why, even now the division is planning there, which will bring them to our feet. And what to us, Sir, were the hazards of one bloody encounter, to the pitiful details of this unhonored warfare?—We are wronged—we are wronged, Sir.
Arnold. There is some policy in the plan you speak of,—certainly, there is excellent policy in it if one had the patience to follow it out; but then you can't make Congress see it, or the people either; and so, after all, your General is superseded. Well, well, at all events he must abandon this policy now,—it's the only chance left for him.
Leslie. Why; howso?
Arnold. Or else, don't you see?—just at the point where the glory appears, this eastern hero steps in, and receives it all; and the laurels which he has been rearing so long, blow just in time to drop on the brow of his rival.
Leslie. General Arnold,—excuse me, Sir—you do not understand the man of whom you speak. There is a substance in the glory he aims at, to which, all that you call by the name is as the mere shell and outermost rind. Good Heavens! Do you think that, for the sake of his own individual fame, the man would risk the fate of this great enterprize?—What a mere fool's bauble, what an empty shell of honor, would that be. If I thought he would—
Arnold. It might be well for you to lower your voice a little, Sir; the gentleman of whom you are speaking is just at hand.
[Other officers are seen emerging from the woods.]
3d Off. Yes, if this rumor holds, Lieutenant Van Vechten, your post is likely to become one of more honor than safety. Gentlemen—Ha!—General Arnold! You are heartily welcome;—I have been seeking you, Sir. If this news is any thing, the movement that was planned for Wednesday, we must anticipate somewhat.
Leslie. News from the enemy, General?
Gen. Schuyler. Stay—those scouts must be coming in, Van Vechten. Why, we can scarce call it news yet, I suppose; but if this countryman's tale is true, Burgoyne himself, with his main corps, is encamping at this moment at the Mills, scarce three miles above us.
Arnold. Ay, and good news too.
Leslie. But that cannot be, Sir—Alaska—
Gen. Schuyler. Alaska has broken faith with us if it is, and the army have avoided the delay we had planned for them.—That may be.—This man overheard their scouts in the woods just below us here.
Arnold. And if it is,—do you talk of retreat, General Schuyler? In your power now it lies, with one hour's work perchance, to make those lying enemies of yours in Congress eat the dust, to clear for ever your blackened fame. Why, Heaven itself is interfering to do you right, and throwing honor in your way as it were! Do you talk of retreat, Sir, now?
Gen. Schuyler. Heaven has other work on hand just now, than righting the wrongs of such heroes as you and I, Sir. Colonel Arnold—I beg your pardon, Sir, Congress has done you justice at last I see,—General Arnold, you are right as to the consequence, yet, for all that, if this news is true, I must order the retreat. My reputation I'll trust in God's hands. My honor is in my own keeping.
[Exeunt Schuyler, Leslie, and Van Vechten.
Arnold. There's a smoke from that chimney; are those houses inhabited, my boy?
Boy. Part of them, Sir. Some of our people went oft to-day. That white house by the orchard—the old parsonage there? Ay, there are ladies there Sir, but I heard Colonel Leslie saying this morning 'twas a sin and a shame for them to stay another hour.
Arnold. Ay, Ay. I fancied the Colonel was not dealing in abstractions just now.
* * * * *
SCENE. A room in the Parsonage,—an old-fashioned summer parlor.—-On the side a door and windows opening into an orchard, in front, a yard filled with shade trees. The view beyond bounded by a hill partly wooded. A young girl, in the picturesque costume of the time, lies sleeping on the antique sofa. Annie sits by a table, covered with coarse needlework, humming snatches of songs as she works.
Soft peace spreads her wings and flies weeping away. Soft peace spreads her wings and flies weeping away. And flies weeping away. The red cloud of war o'er our forest is scowling, Soft peace spreads her wings and flies weeping away. Come blow the shrill bugle, the war dogs are howling, Already they eagerly snuff out their prey— The red cloud of war—the red cloud of war—
Yes, let me see now,—with a little plotting this might make two—two, at least,—and then—
The red cloud of war o'er our forest is scowling, Soft peace spreads her wings and flies weeping away, The infants affrighted cling close to their mothers, The youths grasp their swords, and for combat prepare; While beauty weeps fathers, and lovers, and brothers, Who are gone to defend—
—Alas! what a golden, delicious afternoon is blowing without there, wasting for ever; and never a glimpse of it. Delicate work this! Here's a needle might serve for a genuine stiletto! No matter,—it is the cause,—it is the cause that makes, as my mother says, each stitch in this clumsy fabric a grander thing than the flashing of the bravest lance that brave knight ever won.
(Singing) The brooks are talking in the dell, Tul la lul, tul la lul, The brooks are talking low, and sweet, Under the boughs where th' arches meet; Come to the dell, come to the dell, Oh come, come.
The birds are singing in the dell, Wee wee whoo, wee wee whoo; The birds are singing wild and free, In every bough of the forest tree, Come to the dell, come to the dell, Oh come, come.
And there the idle breezes lie, Whispering, whispering, Whispering with the laughing leaves. And nothing says each idle breeze, But come, come, come, O lady come, Come to th' dell.
[Mrs. Grey enters from without.]
Mrs. G. Do not sing, Annie.
Annie. Crying would better befit the times, I know,—Dear mother, what is this?
Mrs. G. Hush,—asleep—is she?
Annie. This hour, and quiet as an infant. Need enough there was of it too. See, what a perfect damask mother!
Mrs. G. Draw the curtain on that sunshine there. This sleep has flushed her. Ay, a painter might have dropped that golden hair,—yet this delicate beauty is but the martyr's wreath now, with its fine nerve and shrinking helplessness. No, Annie; put away your hat, my love,—you cannot go to the lodge to-night.
Mrs. G. You cannot go to the glen to-night. This is no time for idle pleasure, God knows.
Annie. Why, you have been weeping in earnest, and your cheek is pale.—And now I know where that sad appointment led you. Is it over? That it should be in our humanity to bear, what in our ease we cannot, cannot think of!
Mrs. G. Harder things for humanity are there than bodily anguish, sharp though it be. It was not the boy,—the mother's anguish, I wept for, Annie.
Annie. Poor Endross! And he will go, to his dying day, a crippled thing. But yesterday I saw him springing by so proudly! And the mother——
Mrs. G. "Words, words," she answered sternly when I tried to comfort her; "ay, words are easy. Wait till you see your own child's blood. Wait till you stand by and see his young limbs hewn away, and the groans come thicker and thicker that you cannot soothe; and then let them prate to you of the good cause." Bitter words! God knows what is in store for us;—all day this strange dread has clung to me.
Annie. Dear mother, is not this the superstition you were wont to chide?
Mrs. G. Ay, ay, we should have been in Albany ere this. In these wild times, Annie, every chance-blown straw that points at evil, is likely to prove a faithful index; and if it serve to nerve the heart for it, we may call it heaven-sent indeed. Annie,—hear me calmly, my child,—the enemy, so at least goes the rumor, are nearer than we counted on this morning, and—hush, not a word.
Annie. She is but dreaming. Just so she murmured in her sleep last night; twice she waked me with the saddest cry, and after that she sat all night by the window in her dressing-gown, I could not persuade her to sleep again. Tell me, mother, you say and—and what?
Mrs. G. I cannot think it true, 'tis rumored though, that these savage neighbors of ours have joined the enemy.
Annie. No! no! Has Alaska turned against us? Why, it was but yesterday I saw him with Leslie in yonder field. 'Tis false; it must be. Surely he could not harm us.
Mrs. G. And false, I trust it is. At least till it is proved otherwise, Helen must not hear of it.
Annie. And why?
Mrs. Grey. She needs no caution, and it were useless to add to the idle fear with which she regards them all, already. Some dark fancy possesses her to-day; I have marked it myself.
Annie. It is just two years to-morrow, mother, since Helen's wedding day, or rather, that sad day that should have seen her bridal; and it cannot be that she has quite forgotten Everard Maitland. Alas, he seemed so noble!
Mrs. G. Hush! Never name him. Your sister is too high-hearted to waste a thought on him. Tory! Helen is no love-lorn damsel, child, to pine for an unworthy love. See the rose on that round cheek,—it might teach that same haughty loyalist, could he see her now, what kind of hearts 'tis that we patriots wear, whose strength they think to trample. Where are you going, Annie?
Annie. Not beyond the orchard-wall. I will only stroll down the path here, just to breathe this lovely air a little; indeed, there's no fear of my going further now.
Mrs. G. Did I say right, Helen? It cannot be feigned. Those quick smiles, with their thousand lovely meanings; those eyes, whose beams lead straight to the smiling soul. Principle is it? There is no principle in this, but joy, or else it strikes so deep, that the joy grows up from it, genuine, not feigned; and yet I have found her weeping once or twice of late, in unexplained agony. Helen!
Helen. Oh mother! is it you? Thank God. I thought——
Mrs. G. What did you think? What moves you thus?
Helen. I thought—'tis nothing. This is very strange.
Mrs. G. Why do you look through that window thus? There's no one there! What is it that's so strange?
Helen. Is it to-morrow that we go?
Mrs. G. To Albany? Why, no; on Thursday. You are bewildered, Helen! surely you could not have forgotten that.
Helen. I wish it was to-day. I do.
Mrs. G. My child, yesterday, when the question was debated here, and wishing might have been of some avail, 'tis true you did not say much, but I thought, and so we all did, that you chose to stay.
Helen. Did you? Mother, does the road to Albany wind over a hill like that?
Mrs. G. Like what, Helen?
Helen. Like yonder wooded hill, where the soldiers are stationed now?
Mrs. G. Not that I know of? Why?
Helen. Perhaps we may cross that very hill,—no—could we?
Mrs. G. Not unless we should turn refugees, my love; an event of which there is little danger just now, I think. That road, as indeed you know yourself, leads out directly to the British camp.
Helen. Yes—yes—it does. I know it does. I will not yield to it. 'Tis folly, all.
Mrs. G. You talk as though you were dreaming still; my child. Put on your hat, and go into the garden for a little, the air is fresh and pleasant now; or take a ramble through the orchard if you will, you might meet Annie there,—no, yon she comes, and well too. It's quite time that I were gone again. I wish that we had nothing worse than dreams on hand. Helen, I must talk with you about these fancies; you must not thus unnerve yourself for real evil.
Helen. It were impossible,—it could not be!—how could it be?—Oh! these are wild times. Unseen powers are crossing their meshes here around us,—and, what am I—Powers?—there's but one Power, and that—
——"He careth for the little bird, Far in the lone wood's depths, and though dark weapons And keen eyes are out, it falleth not But at his will."
* * * * *
* * * * *
SCENE. A little glen in the woods near Fort Edward. A young British Officer appears, attended by a soldier in the American uniform; the latter with a small sealed pacquet in his hand.
Sol. Well, so I did; but——
Off. Hist, I say!
Sol. A squirrel it is, Sir; there he sits.
Off. By keeping this path you avoid the picket on the hill. It will bring you out where these woods skirt the vale, and scarcely a hundred rods from the house itself.
Sol. Captain Andre—Sir.
Off. It were well that the pacquet should fall into no other hands. With a little caution there is no danger. It will be twilight ere you get out of these woods—
Sol. I beg your pardon, Sir; but here is that young Indian guide of mine, after all, above there, beckoning me.
Off. Stay—you will come back to the camp ere midnight?
Sol. Unless some of these quick-eyed rebels see through my disguise.
Off. Do not forget the lodge as you return. A little hut of logs just in the edge of the woods, but Siganaw knows it well.
[Exit the Soldier.
(The call in the thicket above is repeated, and another young officer enters the glen.)
2nd Off. Hillo, Maitland! These woods yield fairies,—come this way.
1st Off. For God's sake, Andre! (motioning silence.) Are you mad?
Andre. Well, who are they?
Mait. Who? Have you forgotten that we are on the enemy's ground? Soldiers from the fort, no doubt. They have crossed that opening twice since we stood here.
Andre. Well, let them cross twice more. I would run the risk of a year's captivity, at least, for one such glimpse. Nay, come, she will be gone.
Mait. Stay,—not yet. There, again!
Andre. Such a villainous scratching as I got in that pass just now. It must have cost the rogues an infinite deal of pains though. A regular, handsome sword-cut is nothing to a dozen of these same ragged scratches, that a man can't swear about. After all, Captain Maitland, these cunning Yankees understand the game. They will keep out of our way, slyly enough, until we are starved, and scratched, and fretted down to their proportions, meanwhile they league the very trees against us.
Mait. As to that, we have made some leagues ourselves, I think, quite as hard to be defended, Sir.
Andre. It may be so. Should we not be at the river by this?
Mait. Sunset was the time appointed. We are as safe here, till then.
Andre. 'Tis a little temple of beauty you have lighted on, in truth. These pretty singers overhead, seem to have no guess at our hostile errand. Methinks their peaceful warble makes too soft a welcome for such warlike comers. Hark! [Whistling.] That's American. One might win bloodless laurels here. Will you stand a moment just as you are, Maitland;—'tis the very thing. There's a little space in my unfinished picture, and with that a la Kemble mien, you were a fitting mate for this young Dian here, (taking a pencil sketch from his portfolio,)—the beauty-breathing, ay, beauty-breathing, it's no poetry;—for the lonesome little glen smiled to its darkest nook with her presence.
Mait. What are you talking of, Andre? Fairies and goddesses!—What next?
Andre. I am glad you grow a little curious at last. Why I say, and your own eyes may make it good if you will, that just down in this glen below here, not a hundred rods hence, there sits, or stands, or did some fifteen minutes since, some creature of these woods, I suppose it is; what else could it be? Well, well, I'll call no names, since they offend you, Sir; but this I'll say, a young cheek and smiling lip it had, whate'er it was, and round and snowy arm, and dimpled hand, that lay ungloved on her sylvan robe, and eyes—I tell you plainly, they lighted all the glen.
Mait. Ha? A lady?—there? Are you in earnest?
Andre. A lady, well you would call her so perchance. Such ladies used to spring from the fairy nut-shells, in the old time, when the kings' son lacked a bride; and if this were Windsor forest that stretches about us here, I might fancy, perchance, some royal one had wandered out, to cool the day's glow in her cheek, and nurse her love-dream; but here, in this untrodden wilderness, unless your ladies here spring up like flowers, or drop down on invisible pinions from above, how, in the name of reason, came she here?
Mait. On the invisible pinions of thine own lady-loving fancy; none otherwise, trust me.
Andre. Come, come,—see for yourself. On my word I was a little startled though, as my eye first lighted on her, suddenly, in that lonesome spot. There she sat, so bright and still, like some creature of the leaves and waters, such as the old Greeks fabled, that my first thought was to worship her; my next—of you, but I could not leave the spot until I had sketched this; I stood unseen, within a yard of her; for I could see her soft breath stirring the while. See, the scene itself was a picture,—the dark glen, the lonesome little lodge, on the very margin of the fairy lake—here she sat, motionless as marble; this bunch of roses had dropped from her listless hand, and you would have thought some tragedy of ancient sorrow, were passing before her, in the invisible element, with such a fixed and lofty sadness she gazed into it. But of course, of course, it is nothing to your eye; for me, it will serve to bring the whole out at my leisure. Indeed, the air, I think, I have caught a little as it is.
Mait. A little—you may say it. She is there, is she?—sorrowful; well, what is't to me?
Andre. What do you say?—There?—Yes, I left her there at least. Come, come. I'll show you one will teach you to unlearn this fixed contempt of gentle woman. Come.
Mait. Let go, if you please, Sir. She who gave me my first lesson in that art, is scarcely the one to bid me now unlearn it, and I want no new teaching as yet, thank Heaven. Will you come? We have loitered here long enough, I think.
Andre. What, under the blue scope—what the devil ails you, Maitland?
Mait. Nothing, nothing. This much I'll say to you,—that lady is my wife.
Mait. There lacked—three days, I think it was, three whole days, to the time when the law would have given her that name; but for all that, was she mine, and is; Heaven and earth cannot undo it.
Andre. Are you in earnest? Why, are we not here in the very heart of a most savage wilderness, where never foot of man trod before,—unless you call these wild red creatures men?
Mait. You talk wildly; that path, followed a few rods further, would have brought you out within sight of her mother's door.
Andre. Ha! you have been in this wilderness then, ere now?
Mait. Have you forgotten the fortune I wasted once on a summer's seat, some few miles up, on the lake above? These Yankees did me the grace to burn it, just as the war broke out.
Andre. Ay, ay, that was here. I had forgotten the whereabouts. Those blackened ruins we passed last evening, perchance;—and the lady—my wood-nymph, what of her?
Mait. Captain Andre, I beg your pardon, Sir. That sketch of yours reminded me, by chance perhaps, of one with whom some painful passages of my life are linked; and I said, in my haste, what were better left unsaid. Do me the favor not to remind me that I have done so.
Andre. So—so! And I am to know nothing more of this smiling apparition; nay, not so much as to speak her name? Consider, Maitland, I am your friend it is true; but, prithee, consider the human in me. Give her a local habitation, or at least a name.
Mait. I have told you already that the lady you speak of resides not far hence. On the border of these woods you may see her home. I may point it out to you securely, some few days hence;—to-night, unless you would find yourself in the midst of the American army, this must content you.
Andre. A wild risk for a creature like that! Have these Americans no safer place to bestow their daughters than the fastnesses of this wilderness?
Mait. It would seem so. Yet it is her home. Wild as it looks here, from the top of that hill, where our men came out on the picket just now so suddenly, you will see as fair a picture of cultured life as e'er your eyes looked on. No English horizon frames a lovelier one.
Andre. Here? No!
Mait. Between that hill and the fort, there stretches a wide and beautiful plain, covered with orchards and meadows to the wood's edge; and here and there a gentle swell, crowned with trees, some patch of the old wilderness. The infant Hudson winds through it, circling in its deepest bend one little fairy isle, with woods enough for a single bower, and a beauty that fills and characterizes, to its remotest line, the varied landscape it centres; and far away in the east, this same azure mountain-chain we have traced so long, with its changeful light and shade, finishes the scene.
Andre. You should have been a painter, Maitland.
Mait. The first time I beheld it—one summer evening it was, from the woods on the hill's brow;—we were a hunting party, I had lost my way, and ere I knew it there I stood;—its waters lay glittering in the sunset light, and the window-panes of its quiet dwellings were flashing like gold,—the old brown houses looked out through the trees like so many lighted palaces; and even the little hut of logs, nestling on the wood's edge, borrowed beauty from the hour. I was miles from home; but the setting sun could not warn me away from such a paradise, for so it seemed, set in that howling wilderness, and——
Andre. Prithee, go on. I listen.
Mait. I know not how it was, but as I wandered slowly down the shady road, for the first time in years of worldliness, the dream that had haunted my boyhood revived again. Do you know what I mean, Andre?—that dim yearning for lovelier beings and fairer places, whose ideals lie in the heaven-fitted mind, but not in the wilderness it wakes in; that mystery of our nature, that overlooked as it is, and trampled with unmeaning things so soon, hides, after all, the whole secret of this life's dark enigma.
Andre. But see,—our time is well-nigh gone,—this is philosophy—I would have heard a love tale.
Mait. It was then, that near me, suddenly I heard the voice that made this dull, real world, thenceforth a richer place for me than the gorgeous dream-land of childhood was of old.
Andre. Ay, ay—go on.
Mait. Andre, did you ever meet an eye, in which the intelligence of our nature idealized, as it were, the very poetry of human thought seemed to look forth?
Andre. One such.
Mait.—That reflected your whole being; nay, revealed from its mysterious depths, new consciousness, that yet seemed like a faint memory, the traces of some old and pleasant dream?
Andre. Methinks the heavenly revelation itself doth that.
Mait. Such an eye I saw then shining on me. A clump of stately pines grew on the sloping road-side, and, looking into its dark embrasure, I beheld a group of merry children around a spring that gurgled out of the hillside there, and among them, there sat a young girl clad in white, her hat on the bank beside her, tying a wreath of wild flowers. That was all—that was all, Andre.
Andre. Well, she was beautiful, I suppose? Nay, if it was the damsel I met just now I need not ask.
Mait. Beautiful? Ay, they called her so. Beauty I had seen before; but from that hour the sun shone with another light, and the very dust and stones of this dull earth were precious to me. Beautiful? Nay, it was she. I knew her in an instant, the spirit of my being; she whose existence made the lovely whole, of which mine alone had been the worthless and despised fragment. There are a thousand women on the earth the artist might call as lovely,—show me another that I can worship.
Andre. Worship! This is Captain Everard Maitland. If I should shut my eyes now——
Mait. Well, go on; but I tell you, ne'ertheless, there have been times, even in this very spot,—we often wandered here when the day was dying as it is now,—here in her soft, breathing loveliness, she has stood beside me, when I have,—worshipped?—nay, feared her, in her holy beauty, as we two should an angel who should come through that glade to us now.
Andre. True it is, something of the Divinity there is in beauty, that, in its intenser forms, repels with all its winningness, until the lowliness of love looks through it. Well—you worshipped her.
Mait. Nay, you have told the rest. I would have worshipped; but one day there came a look from those beautiful eyes, when I met them suddenly, with a gaze that sought the mystery of their beauty,—a single look, and in an instant the drooping lash had buried it forever; but I knew, ere it fell, that the world of her young being was all mine already. Another life had been forever added unto mine; a whole creation; yet, like Eden's fairest, it but made another perfect; a new and purer self; and in it grew the heaven, and the fairy-land of my old dreams, lovelier than ever. You have loved yourself, Andre, else I should weary you.
Andre. Not a bit the more do I understand you though. You talk most lover-like; that's very clear, yet I must say I never saw the part worse played. Why, here's your ladye-love, this self-same idol of whom you rave, at this moment perchance, breathing within these woods,—years too—two mortal years it must be, since you have seen her face; and yet—you stand here yet, with folded arms;—a goodly lover, on my word!
Mait. Softly, Sir! you grace me with a title to which I can lay no claim. Lover I was, may be. I am no lover now, not I—not I; you are right; I would not walk to that knoll's edge to see the lady, Sir.
Andre. Well, I must wait your leisure, I see.
Mait. And yet, the last time that we stood together here, her arm lay on mine, my promised wife. A few days more, and by my name, all that loveliness had gone. There needed only that to make that tie holy in all eyes, the holiest which the universe held for us; but needed there that, or any thing to make it such in ours. Why, love lay in her eye, that evening, like religion, solemn and calm.—We should have smiled then at the thought of any thing in height or depth, ending, what through each instant seemed to breathe eternity from its own essence;—we were one, one,—that trite word makes no meaning in your ear.—to me, life's roses burst from it; music, sunshine, Araby, should image what it means; what it meant rather, for it is over.
Andre. What was it, Maitland?
Mail. Oh,—well,—she did not love me; that was all. So far my story has told the seeming only, but ere long the trial came, and then I found it was seeming, in good sooth. The Rebellion had then long been maturing, as you know; but just then came the crisis. It was the one theme everywhere. Of course I took my king's part against these rebels, and at once I was outraged, wronged beyond all human bearing. Her mad brother, her's, her's what a world of preciousness, Andre, that little word once enshrined for me; and still it seems like some broken vase, fragrant with what it held.
Andre. And ever with that name, a rosy flash Paints, for an instant, all my world. Nay, 'tis a little love-poem of my own; go on, Maitland.
Mait. This brother I say, quarrelled with me, though I had borne from him unresentingly, what from another would have seemed insult. We quarrelled at last, and the house was closed against me, or would have been had I sought access; for I walked sternly by its pleasant door that afternoon, though I remember now how the very roses that o'erhung the porch, the benched and shaded porch, that lovely lingering place, seemed to beckon me in. It was a breathless summer day, and the vine curled in the open window,—even now those lowly rooms make a brighter image of heaven to me than the jewelled walls that of old grew in the pageant of our sabbath dreams.
Andre. And thus you abandoned your love? A quarrel with her brother?
Mait. I never wronged her with the shadow of a doubt. Directly, that same day, I wrote to her to fix our meeting elsewhere, that we might renew our broken plans in some fitter shape for the altered times. She sent me a few lines of grave refusal, Sir; and the next letter was returned unopened.
Andre. 'Twas that brother! Pshaw! 'twas that brother, Maitland. I'll lay my life the lady saw no word of it.
Mait. I might have thought so too, perchance; but that same day,—the morning had brought the news from Boston,—I met her by chance, by the spring in the little grove where we first met; and—Good Heavens! she talked of brothers! Brothers, mother, sisters!—What was their right to mine? All that the round world holds, or the universe, what could it be to her?—that is, if she had loved me ever; which, past all doubt, she never did.
Andre. Maitland! Heavens, how this passion blinds you! And you expected a gentle, timid girl like that to abandon all she loved. Nay, to make her home in the very camp, where death and ruin unto all she loved, was the watchword?
Mait. I beg your pardon, Sir. I looked for no such thing. I offered to renounce my hopes of honor here for her; a whole life's plans, for her sake I counted nothing. I offered her a home in England too, the very real of her girlhood's wish; my blighted fortunes since, or a home in yonder camp,—never, never. But if I had, ay, if I had,—that is not love, call it what you will, it is not love, to which such barriers were any thing.
Andre. Oh well, a word's a word. That's as one likes. Only with your definition, give me leave to say, marvellous little love, Captain Maitland, marvellous little you will find in this poor world of ours.
Mait. I'll grant ye.
Andre. If there is any thing like it outside of a poet's skull, ne'er credit me.
Mait. Strange it should take such shape in the creating thought and in the yearning heart, when all reality hath not its archetype.
Mait. A careful step,—one of our party I fancy.
Andre. 'Tis time we were at the rendezvous. If we have to recross the river as we came, on the stumps of that old bridge, we had best keep a little day-light with us, I think.
SCENE. A chamber in the Parsonage. Helen leaning from the open window.
Annie. Helen Grey, where on earth have you been? Wood flowers!
Helen. Come and look at this sunset.
Annie. Surely you have not, you cannot have been in those woods, Helen: and yet, where else could this periwinkle grow, and these wild roses?—Delicious!
Helen. Hear that flute. It comes from among those trees by the river side.
Annie. It is the shower that has freshened every thing, and made the birds so musical. You should stand in the door below, as I did just now, to see the fort and the moistened woods stands out from that black sky, with all this brightness blazing on them.
Helen. 'Tis lovely—all.
Annie. There goes the last golden rim over the blackening woods; already even a shade of tender mourning steals over all things, the very children's voices under this tree,—how soft they grow.
Helen. Will the day come when we shall see him sink, for the last time, behind those hills?
Annie. Nay, Helen, why do you mar this lovely hour with a thought like that?
Helen. And in another life, shall we see light, when his, for us, shines no more?—What sound is that?
Annie. That faint cry from the woods?
Helen. No,—more distant,—far off as the horizon, like some mighty murmur, faintly borne, it came.
Annie. I wish that we had gone to-day. I do not like this waiting until Thursday;—just one of that elder brother's foolish whims it was. I cannot think how your consent was won to it. Did you meet any one in your walk just now?
Helen. No—Yes, yes, I did. The little people where I went, I met by hundreds, Annie. Through the dark aisles, and the high arches, all decked in blue, and gold, and crimson, they sung me a most merry welcome. And such as these—see—You cannot think how like long-forgotten friends they looked, smiling up from their dark homes, upon me.
Annie. You have had chance enough to forget them, indeed,—it is two years, Helen, since you have been in those woods before. What could have tempted you there to-day?
Helen. Was there danger then?—was there danger indeed?—I was by the wood-side ere I knew it, and then,—it was but one last look I thought to take—nay, what is it, Annie? George met me as I was coming home, and I remember something in his eye startled me at first; but if there was danger, I should have known of it before.
Annie. How could we dream of your going there this evening, when we knew you had never set your foot in those woods since the day Everard Maitland left Fort Edward?
Annie. For me, I would as soon have looked to see Maitland himself coming from those woods, as you.
Helen. Annie! Annie Grey! You must not, my sister—do not speak that name to me, never again, never.
Annie. Why, Helen, I am sorry to have grieved you thus; but I thought—Look! look! There go those officers again,—there, in the lane between the orchards, Scarcely half an hour ago they went by to the fort in just such haste. There is something going on there, I am sure.
(Helen rises from the window, and walks the room.)
Annie. In truth there was a rumor this afternoon,—you are so timid and fanciful, our mother chose you should not hear it while it was rumor only; but 'tis said that a party of the enemy have been seen in those woods to-day, and, among them, the Indians we have counted so friendly. Do you hear me, Helen?
Helen. That he should live still! Yes, it is all real still! That heaven of my thought, that grows so like a pageant to me, is still real somewhere. Those eyes—they are darkly shining now; this very moment that passes me, drinks their beauty;—that voice,—that tone,—that very tone—on some careless ear, even now it wastes its luxury of blessing. Continents of hail and darkness, the polar seas—all earth's distance, could never have parted me from him; but now I live in the same world with him, and the everlasting walls blacken between us. Those looks may shine on the dull earth and senseless stones, but not on me; on uncaring eyes, but not on mine; though for one moment of their lavished wealth, I could cheaply give a life without them; never again, never, never, never shall their love come to me.
Annie. Who would have thought she could cherish in secret a grief like this? Dear sister, we all believed you had forgotten that sad affair long ago,—we thought that you were happy now.
Helen. Happy?—I am, you were right; but I have been to-day down to the very glen where we took that last lovely walk together, and all the beautiful past came back to me like life.—I am happy; you must count me so still.
Annie. With what I have just now heard, how can I?
Helen. It is this war that has parted us; and so, this is but my part in these noble and suffering times, and that great thought reaches overall my anguish. But for this war I might have been—hath this world such flowers, and do they call it a wilderness?—I might have been, even now, you know it, Annie, his wife, his wife, his. But our hearts are cunningly made, many-stringed; and often much good music is left in them when we count them broken. That which makes the bitterness of this lot, the inconceivable, unutterable bitterness of it, even that I can bear now, calmly, and count it God's kindness too.
Annie. I do not understand you, sister.
Helen. What if this young royalist, Annie, when he quarrelled with my brother, and took arms against my country, what if he had kept faith to me?
Helen. Well? Oh no, it would not have been well. Why, my home would have been with that pursuing army now, my fate bound up with that hollow cause,—these very hands might have fastened the sword of oppression; nay, the sword whose edge was turned against you, against you all, and against the cause, that with tears, night and morning, you were praying for, and with your heart's best blood stood ready to seal every hour. No, it is best as it is; or if my wish grows deeper still, if in my heart I envy, with murmuring thought, the blessed brides, on whose wedding dawns the laughing sun of peace, then with a wish I cast away the glory of these suffering times.—It is best as it is. I am content.
Annie. I wish I could understand you, Helen. You say, "if he had kept faith to you;"—carried you off, you mean! Do you mean, sister Helen, that of your own will you would ever have gone with him, with Everard Maitland,—that traitor?
Helen. Gone with him? Would I not? Would I not? Dear child, we talk of what, as yet, you know nothing of. Gone with him? Some things are holy, Annie, only until the holier come.
Annie. (looking toward the door.) Stay, stay. What is it, George?
(George Grey comes in.)
George. I was seeking our mother. What should it be, but ill news? This tide is against us, and if it be not well-nigh full, we may e'en fold our arms for the rest. There, read that. (Throwing her a letter.)
Every face you see looks as if a thunder-cloud were passing it. I heard one man say, just now, as I came in, that the war would be over in a fortnight's time. There'll be some blood spilt ere then, I reckon though.
Helen. What paper is that that reddens her cheek so suddenly?
Annie. The McGregor's!—think of it, Helen,—gone over to the British side, and St. John of the Glens, and—who brought you this letter, George? 'Tis false! I do not believe it, not a word of it. Why, here are twenty names, people that we know, the most honorable, too,—forsaking us now, at such a crisis!
George. Self-defence, self-defence, sister; their lands and their houses must be saved from devastation. What sort of barracks think you, would that fine country-seat of McGregor's make?—and St. John's—he is a farmer you know, and his fields are covered with beautiful grain, that a week will ripen, and so, he is for turning his sword into a sickle;—besides, there are worse things than pillage threatened here. Look, (unfolding a hand-bill.) Just at this time comes this villainous proclamation from Skeensborough, scattered about among our soldiers nobody knows how, half of them on the eve of desertion before, and the other half—what ails you, Helen?
Helen. There he stands!
Annie. Is she crazed? Why do you clasp your hands so wildly? for Heaven's sake, Helen!—her cheek is white as death.—Helen!
Helen. Is he gone, Annie?
Annie. As I live, I do not know what you are talking of. Nay, look; there is no one here, none that you need fear, most certainly.
Helen. I saw him, his eye was on me; there he stood, looking through that window, smiling and beckoning me.
George. Saw him? Who, in Heaven's name? This is fancy-work.
Helen. I saw him as I see you now. He stood on that roof,—an Indian,—I saw the crimson bars on his face, and the blanket, and the long wild hair on his shoulders; and—and, I saw the gleaming knife in his girdle,—Oh God! I did.
George. Ay, ay, 'twas that scoundrel that dogged us in our way home, I'll lay my life it was.
Helen. In our way home? An Indian, I said.
George. Well, well, and I say an Indian, a rascal Indian, was watching and following us all the way home just now.
George. Then you did not see him after all. In truth, I did not mean you should, for we could not have hurried more, but all the time we sat in that shanty, while it rained, about as far off as that chair from me, stood this same fellow among the bushes, watching us, or rather you. And you saw him here t He might have crept along by that orchard wall. What are you laughing at, Annie?—I will go and see what sort of a guard we have.
Annie. If you knew as much of Helen's Indians as I do, you would hardly be in such a hurry, George, I mean about this one that was here just now, for there are Indians in yonder forest I suppose; but since we were so high, I never walked in the woods with her once, but that we encountered one, or heard his steps among the bushes at least; and if it chanced to be as late as this, there would be half a dozen of them way laying us in the road,—but sometimes they turned out squirrels, and sometimes logs of wood, and sometimes mere air, air of about this color. We want a little light, that is all. There is no weapon like that for these fancy-people. I can slay a dozen of them with a candle's beams.
(George goes out.)
Helen. Do not laugh at me to-night, Annie.
Annie. But what should the Indians want of you, pry'thee; tell me that, Helen?
Helen. God knows. Wait till the sun sets to-morrow, and I will laugh with you if you are merry then.
Annie. Why to-morrow?—because it is our last day here? Tuesday—Wednesday—yes; the next day we shall be on the road to Albany.
Helen. I am awake now. Watched me in the glen?—followed me home? Those woods are full of them.—But what has turned their wild eyes on me?
It is but one day longer;—we have counted many, in peril and fear, and this, is the last;—even now how softly the fearful time wastes. One day!—Oh God, thou only knowest what its shining walls encircle. (She leans on the window, musing silently.) Two years ago I stood here, and prayed to die.-On that same tree my eye rested then. With what visions of hope I played under it once, building bowers for fairies I verily thought would come, and dreaming, with yearning heart, of glorious and beautiful things this world hath not. But, that wretched day, through blinding tears, I saw the sunlight on its glossy leaves, and I said, 'let me see that light no more.' Surely the bitterness is deep when that which hath colored all our unfolded being, is a weariness. For what more hath life for me I thought, its lesson is learned and its power is spent,—it can please, and it can trouble me no more; and why should I stay here in vain and wearily?
It was sad enough, indeed, to see the laughing spring returning again, when the everlasting winter had set in within, to link with each change of the varied year, sweet with a life's memories, such mournfulness; laying by, one by one, all hope's blessed spells, withered and broken forever,—the moonlight, the songs of birds, the blossom showers of April, the green and gold of autumn's sunset,—it was sad, but it was not in vain.—Not in vain, Oh God, didst thou deny that weeping prayer.
(A merry voice is heard without, and a child's face peeps through the window that overlooks the orchard.)
Child. Look! look! sister Helen! see what I have found on the roof of the piazza here,—all covered with wampum and scarlet, and here are feathers too—two feathers in it, blue and yellow—eagle's feathers they are, I guess.
Helen (approaching the window.) Let me see, Willy. What, did you find it here?
Willy. Just under the window here. Frank and I were swinging on the gate; and—there is something hard in it, Helen,—feel.
Helen. Yes, it is very curious; but—
Willy. There comes Netty with the candle; now we can see to untie this knot.
Helen. Willy, dear Willy, you must give it to me, you must indeed, and—I will paint you a bird to-morrow.
Willy. A blue-bird, will you? A real one?
Helen. Yes, yes;—run down little climber; see how dark it grows, and Frank is waiting, see.
Willy. Well. But mind you, it must be a blue bird then. A real one. With the red on his breast, and all.
(She walks to the table, unfastening the envelope.)
Helen. What sent that thrill of forgotten life through me then?—that wild, delicious thrill? This is strange, indeed. A sealed pacquet within! and here—
(She glances at the superscription, and the pacquet drops from her hand.)
No—no. I have seen that hand-writing in my dreams before, but it dissolved always. What's joy better than grief, if it pierce thus? Can never a one of all the soul's deep melodies on this poor instrument be played out, then—trembling and jarring thus, even at the breath of its most lovely passion.—And yet, it is some cruel thing, I know.
(The pacquet opened, discovers Helen's miniature, a book, a ring, and other tokens.)
Cruel indeed! That little rose!—He might have spared me this. A dull reader I were, in truth, if this needed comment,—but I knew it before. He might have spared me this.
(She leans over the recovered relics with a burst of passionate weeping.)
Yet, who knows—(lifting her head with a sudden smile,) some trace, some little curl of his pencil I may find among these leaves yet, to tell me, as of old,—
(A letter drops from the book, she tears it eagerly open.)
(Reading.) These cold words I understand, but—letters!—He wrote me none! Was there ever a word between us, from the hour when he left me, his fancied bride, to that last meeting, when, at a word, and ere I knew what I had said, he turned on me that cold and careless eye, and left me, haughtily and forever? And now—(reading)—misapprehension, has it been! Is the sun on high again?—in this black and starless night—the noonday sun? He loves me still.—Oh! this joy weighs like grief.
Shall I see him again? Joy! joy! Beautiful sunshine joy! Who knows the soul's rich depths till joy hath lighted them?—from the dim and sorrowful haunts of memory will he come again into the living present! Shall I see those eyes, looking on me? Shall I hear my name in that lost music sound once more?—His?—Am I his again? New mantled with that shining love, like some glorious and beautiful stranger I seem to myself, Helen—the bright and joy-wreathed thing his voice makes that name mean—My life will be all full of that blest music. I shall be Helen, evermore his—his.
No,—it would make liars of old sages,—and all books would read wrong. A life of such wild blessedness? It would be fearful like living in some magic land, where the honest laws of nature were not. A life?—a moment were enough. Ages of common life would shine in it. (Reading again.) "Elliston's hut?"—"If I choose that the return should be mutual,—and the memorials of a despised regard can at best be but an indifferent possession;—a pacquet reinclosed directly in this same envelope, and left at the hut of the missionary, cannot fail to reach him safely."
"Safely."—Might he not come there safely then? And might I not go thither safely too, in to-morrow's light? O God, let not Passion lead me now. The centre beaming truth, not passion's narrow ray, must light me here!—But am I not his?
Once more, one horizon circles, for a day, our long-parted destinies; another, and another wave of these wild times will drift them asunder again, forever; and I count myself his wife. His wife?—nay, his bride, his two years' bride, to-night, his wife, to-morrow. He must meet me there, (writing) at noon, I will say.—I did not think that little hut of logs should have been my marriage-hall;—he must meet me there, and to-morrow is my bridal day.
* * * * *
* * * * *
SCENE. The hill—Night—Large fires burning—Sentinels dimly seen in the back-ground. A young Indian steals carefully from the thicket. He examines the ground and the newly-felled trees.
Indian. One, two, three. And this is ringed. The dogs have spoiled the council-house.
(Soldiers rush forward.)
1st Sol. So, Mr. Red-skin! would not you like a scalp or two now, to string on your leggings? Maybe we can help you to one or so. Hold fast. Take care of that arm, I know him of old.
(The Indian, with a violent struggle, disengages himself, and darts into the thicket.)
No? well,—dead or alive, we must have you on our side again. (Firing.)
2nd Sol. He's fixed, Sir.
1st Sol. Hark. Hark,—off again! Let me go. What do you hold me for, you scoundrel?
2nd Sol. Don't make a fool of yourself, Will Wilson. There will be a dozen of them yelling around you there. Besides, he is half way to the swamp by this. Look here; what's this, in the grass here?
1st Sol. There was something in his hand, but he clenched it through it all,—this is a letter. Bring it to the fire.
2nd Sol. (reading.) "This by the Indian, as in case I am taken, he may reach the camp in safety. Not over three thousand men in all, I should think,—very little ammunition, soldiers mostly discouraged.—In Albany, they are tearing the lead off the windows of the houses, and taking the weights from the shops for ball. Talk of retreating on Thursday to the new encampment, five miles below. More when I get to you."
More! Humph! A pretty string of lies he has got here already. This must go to the General, Dick.
* * * * *
SCENE. Chamber in the Parsonage. Moonlight. Annie sitting by the window, the door open into an adjoining room.
Annie. (Calling.) Come, come,—why do you sit there scribbling so late, Helen? Come, and enjoy this beautiful night with me. Ay, what a world of invisible life amid the dew and darkness utters its glad voices; even the little insect we never saw by day, makes us feel for once the great brotherhood of being. This day week we shall be in Albany,—no more such scenes as this then.
(Helen approaches the window, and puts her arm gently around her sister.)
Helen. No more!—It was a sad word you were saying, Annie.
Annie. How you startled me. Your hands are cold,—cold as icicles, and trembling too. What ails you, Helen?
Helen. 'Tis nothing.—How often you and I have stood together thus, looking down on that old bridge.—Summer and winter.—Do you remember the cold snowy moonlights of old, when the sound of the distant bell had hope in it? We shall stand together thus, no more.
Annie. Do not speak so sadly, Helen. I cannot think they will destroy our home in mere wantonness. Was there not some one coming up the path just now? Hark! there is news with that tone.
Helen. A little more, an hour perchance, and he will read my letter. Why do I tremble thus? Is it because I have done wrong, that these dark misgivings haunt me? No,—it is not remorse—'tis very like—yet remorse it is not. Danger, there is none. I shall but walk to the wood-side as to-day, that little path to the hut is quickly trod, and he will be waiting there. I shall be safe then, safe as I care to be.—Why do I stand here reasoning thus? Safe? And if I were not, what is it to me now? The dark plan is laid. The fearful acting now is all that's left for me.
This must go to the lodge to-night, and ere my mother returns;—to tell them now, would be to make my scheme impossible.
(She begins, with a reluctant air, to fold the dresses, which are lying loosely by her.)
Oh God! whence do these dark and horrible thoughts grow?—Nay, feeling not born of thought. That wedding robe looks like a shroud to me! I cannot. Shadows from things unseen are upon me. The future is a night of tempest, where I hear nothing but the breaking boughs, and the whirl and crash of the mourning blast. Oh God! there is no refuge for the fearful, but in thee.—To thee—no. If there is power in prayer of mine, hath it not already doomed that wicked cause, my fate is linked with now. I cannot pray.—Can I not?—How the pure strength comes welling up from its infinite depths.
Hear me—not with lip service, I beseech thee now, but with the earnestness that stays the rushing heart's blood in its way.—Hear me. Let the high cause of right and freedom, whose sad banner, now, on yonder hill, floats in this summer air; whose music on this soft night-breeze is borne—let it prevail—though I, with all this sensitive, warm, shrinking life; with all this new-found wealth of love and hope, lie on its iron way.
I am safe now.—This life that I feel now, steel cannot reach.
Annie. Dear Helen, dress yourself. It is all true! We must go to-night, we must indeed. They are dismantling the fort now.—Come to the door, and you can hear them if you will; and here is word from Henry, we must be ready before morning—the British are within sight. Do you hear me, Helen? Do not stand looking at me in that strange way.
Annie. I was frightened myself at first, sadly; but there is no danger, not the least. We shall be in Albany to-morrow, Henry says. Come, Helen, there is no one to see to any thing but ourselves. They are running about like mad creatures there below, and the children, are crying, and such a time you never saw.
Helen. To-night! That those beautiful lips should speak it! Take it back. It cannot be. It must not be.
Annie. Why do you look so reproachfully at me? Helen, you astonish and frighten me!
Helen. Yes—yes—I see it all. And why could I not have known this one hour sooner?—Even now it may not be too late. Annie—
Annie. Thank Heaven,—there is my mother's voice at last.
Helen. Annie, stay. Do not mark what I have said in the bewilderment of this sudden fear. Is George below?—Who brought this news?
Annie. One of the men from the fort.—George has not been home since you sent him to Elliston's. She is calling me. Make haste and come down, Helen.
Helen. They will leave me alone. They will leave me here alone. And why could I not have known this one hour sooner?—I could have bid him come to-night—If the invisible powers are plotting against me, it is well. Could I have thought of this?—and yet, how like something I had known before, it all comes upon me.—Can I stay here alone?—Could I?—No never, never! He must come for me to-night. Perchance that pacquet still lies at yonder hut, and it is not yet too late to recal my letter;—if it is—if it is, I must find some other messenger. Thank God!—there is one way. Elliston can send to that camp to-night. He can—even now,—He can—he will.—
* * * * *
SCENE. The porch. Helen waiting the return of her messenger from the hut.
Helen. How quiet and soft it all lies in this solemn light. Is it illusion?—can it be?—that old, familiar look, that from these woods and hills, and from this moon-lit meadow, seems to smile on me now with such a holy promise of protection and love?—The merry trill in this apple-tree is the very sound that, waking from my infant sleep in the hush of the summer midnight, of old lulled, nay, wakened my first inward thought. Oh that my heart's youngest religion could come again, the feeling with which a little child looks up to these mighty stars, as the spangles on his home-roof, while he stands smiling beneath the awful shelter of the skies, as under a father's dome. But these years show us the evil that mocks that trust.
'Tis he,—What a mere thread of time separates me from my fate, and yet the darkness of ages could not hide it more surely. Already he has reached the lane. Another minute will show me all. Will the pacquet be in his hand, or will it not? I will be calm—it shall be like a picture to me.
Ah! there is an immeasurable power about us, a foreign and strange thing, that answers not to the soul, that seems to know or to heed nothing of the living suffering, rejoicing being of the spirit. Why should I struggle with it any longer? From my weeping childhood to this hour, it hath set its iron bars about me; no—softly yielding, hath it not sometimes, the long, undreamed-of vistas opened, bright as heaven,—and now, maybe—how slow he moves—even now perchance.—This is wrong. The Infinite is One. The Goodness Infinite, whose everlasting smile lighteth the inner soul, and the Power Infinite, whose alien touch without, in darkness comes, they are of One, and the good know it.
The Messenger. (Coming up the path.)
Bless you, Miss! The pacquet had been gone this hour!
Helen. Gone! Well.—And Elliston—what said he?
Mess. I brought this note of yours back, Miss Helen. Father Elliston was gone. Here has been an Indian killed on Sandy Hill this evening, Alaska's own son as it turns out, and such a hubbub as they are making about it you never heard. I met a couple of squaws myself, yelling like mad creatures, and the woods are all alive with them. The priest has gone down to their village to pacify them if it may be,—so I brought the note back, Miss Helen, for there was no one there but a little rascal of an Indian, and I would not trust the worth of a feather with one of them. Was I right?
Helen. Yes. Give it to me. How far is it to the British camp?
Mess. Why, they are just above here at Brandon's Mills they say, that is, the main body. It can't be over three miles, or so.
Helen. Three miles! only three miles of this lovely moonlight road between us.—William McReady, go to that camp for me to-night.
Mess. To the British camp?
Mess. To the British camp! Lord bless you, Miss. I should be shot—I should be shot as true as you are a living woman. I should be shot for a deserter, or, what's worse, I should be hanged for a spy.
Helen. What shall I do!
Mess. And besides, there's Madame Grey will be wanting me by this time. See how the candles dance about the rooms there.
Helen. Yes, you are right. We must go in and help them. Come.
(They enter the house.)
SCENE. The British camp. Moonlight. A lady in a rich travelling dress, standing in the door of a log-hut.
Lady Ackland. (Talking to her maid within.) What is the matter, Margaret? What do you go stealing about the walls so like a mad woman for, with that shoe in your hand?
Maid. (Within.) There, Sir!—your song is done!—there's one less, I am certain of that. Coming to the door.) If ever I get home alive, my lady—Ha!—(striking the door with her slipper.) If ever—you are there, are you? I believe I have broken my ear in two. The matter? Will your ladyship look here?
Lady A. Well.
Maid. And if ever I get back to London, I'll say well too. If ever I get back to London alive, my lady,—I'll see——
Lady A. What will you see, Margaret? Nothing lovelier than this, I am sure. Are you not ashamed to stand muttering there? Come here, and look at this beautiful night.
Maid. La, Lady Harriet!
Lady A. Listen! How still the camp is now! You can hear the rush of those falls we passed, distinctly. How pretty the tents look there, in that deep shade. These tuneful frogs and katy-dids must be our nightingales to-night. Indeed, as I stand now, I could almost fancy that fine wood there was my father's park; nay, methinks I see the top of the old gray turrets peeping out among the shadows there. Look, Margaret, do you see?
Maid. La! I can see woods enough, my lady, if that is what you mean,—nothing else, and I have seen enough of them already to last me one life through. Yes, here's a pretty tear I have got amongst them!—Two guineas and a half it cost me in London,—I pray I may never set my eyes on a wood again,
Lady A. This was some happy home once, I know. See that rose-bush, and this little bed of flowers.—Here was a pretty yard—there went the fence,—and there, where that waggon stands, by that broken pear-tree, swung the gate. And pleasant meetings there have been at this door, no doubt, and sorrowful partings too,—and hearts within have leaped at the sound of that gate, and merry tales have been told by that desolate hearth. In this little lonely unthought-of place, the mysterious world of the human soul has unfolded,—the drama of life been played, as grandly in the eyes of angels as in the proud halls where my life dawned. And there are hearts that cling to this desolate spot as mine does to that far-off home. We have driven them away in sorrow and fear. This is war!
Maid. I wonder who is fluting under that tree there, so late. They are serenading that Dutch woman, as I live.
Lady A. The Baroness, are you talking of, Margaret?
Maid. A baroness! Good sooth!—she looks like it, in that yellow silk, and those odious beads, fussing about. If your ladyship will believe me, I saw her sitting in her tent to-night, ay, in the door, feeding that wretched child with her own hands. We can't be thankful enough they did not put her in here with us, I'll own.
Lady A. Hush, hush, for shame! We might well have spared that empty room. Come, we'll go in—It's very late. Strange that Sir George should not be here ere this.
Maid. Look, my lady! Here's some one at the gate.
(An officer enters the little court, with a hasty step.)
Officer. Good evening to your ladyship.—Is Captain Maitland here?—Sir George told me that he left him here.
Lady A. Ay, but he has been gone this hour. Stay, it is Andre's flute you hear below there, and some one has joined him just now—yes, it is he.
Off. Under that tree;—thank you, my lady.
Lady A. Stay, Colonel Hill,—I beg your pardon, but you spoke so hastily.—This young Maitland is a friend of ours, I trust there is nothing that concerns him painfully.—
Off. Oh nothing, nothing, except that he is ordered off to Fort Ann to-night. There are none of us that know these wild routes as well as he.
Lady A. Good Heavens! What noise is that?
Maid. Lord 'a mercy! The battle is coming?
Lady A. Hush! (To a sentinel who goes whistling by.) Sirrah, what noise is that?
Sentinel. It's these Indians, my lady; they have found the son of some chief of theirs murdered in these woods, and they are bringing him to the camp now. That's the mourning they make.
Lady A. The Lord protect us!
(They enter the house.)
* * * * *
SCENE. The interior of a tent. Maitland, in travelling equipments, pacing the floor.
Maitland. William! Ho there!
Servant. (Looking in.) Your honor?
Mait. Is not that horse ready yet?
Ser't. Presently, your honor.
Mait. So the fellow has been here, it seems, and returned again to Fort Edward without seeing me. Of course, my lady deigns no answer.—An answer! Well, I thought I expected none. Ten minutes ago I should have sworn I expected none. Why, by this time that letter of mine has gone the rounds of the garrison, no doubt. William!
(The servant enters.)
Bring that horse round, you rascal,—must I be under your orders too, forsooth?
Ser't. Certainly, your honor,—but if he could but just,—I am a-going, Sir,—but if he could but just take a mouthful or two more. There's never a baiting-place till—
Mait. Do you hear?
(The Servant retreats hastily.)
Mait. The curse of having lived in these wilds cleaves to me in all things. Here are Andre and Mortimer, and a hundred more, and none but I for this midnight service.
Ser't. (Re-entering.) The horse is waiting, Sir,—but here's two of these painted creturs hanging about the door, waiting to see you. (Handing him a packet.)
There's no use in swearing at them, Sir, they don't understand it.
Mait. (Breaking the seals hastily, he discovers the miniature.) Back again! Well, we'll try drowning next,—nay, this is as I sent it! That rascal dropped it in the woods perhaps! Softly,—what have we here!
(He discovers, and reads the letter.)
Who brought this?
Ser't. The Indian that was here yesterday.
Mait. Alaska! Here's blood on the envelope, on the letter too, and here—This packet has been soaked in blood. (Re-reading the letter.)
"To-morrow"—"twelve o'clock" to-morrow—Look if the light be burning in the Lady Ackland's window,—she was up as I passed. "Twelve o'clock"—There are more horses on this route than these cunning settlers choose to reckon. Why, there are ten hours yet—I shall be back ere then. Helen—do I dream?—This is love!—How I have wronged her.—This is love!
Ser't. (At the door.) The horse is waiting, Sir,—and this Indian here wont stir till he sees you.
Mait. Alaska—I must think of it,—risk?—I would pledge my life on his truth. He has seen her too,—I remember now, he saw her—with me at the lake. Let him come in.—No, stop, I will speak with him as I go.
SCENE. Lady Ackland's door.
Lady Ackland. Married!—His wife?—Well, I think I'll not try to sleep again. There goes Orion with his starry girdle.—Married—is he?
Maid. Was not that Captain Maitland that was talking here just now, Lady Harriet?
Lady A. Go to bed, Margaret,—go to bed,—but look you though. To-morrow with the dawn that furnishing gear we left in the tent must be unpacked, and this empty room—whose wife, think you, is my guest tomorrow, Margaret?
Maid. Bless me! If I were to guess till daylight, my lady——
Lady A. This young Maitland, you think so handsome, Margaret——
Maid. I?—la, it was not I, my lady, I am sure.
Lady A.—He will bring us his wife home here tomorrow, a young and beautiful wife.
Lady A. Poor child,—we must give her a gentle welcome. Do you remember those flowers we saw in the glen as we passed?—I will send for them in the morning, and we will fill the vacant hearth with these blossoming boughs.——
Maid. But, here—in these woods, a wife!—where on earth will he bring her from, my lady?
Lady A. Ay, we shall see, to-morrow we shall see,—go dream the rest.
[Exit the maid.
Lady A. Who would have thought it?—so cold and proud he seemed, so scornful of our sex.—And yet I knew something there lay beneath it all.—Even in that wild, gay mood, when the light of mirth filled and o'er-flowed those splendid eyes,—deeper still, I saw always the calm sorrow-beam shining within.
That picture he showed me—how pretty it was!—The face haunts me with its look of beseeching loveliness.—Was there anything so sorrowful about it though?—Nay, the look was a smile, and yet a strange mourn-fulness clings to my thought of it now. Well, if the painter hath not dissembled in it—the painter?—no. The spirit of those eyes was of no painter's making. From the Eidos of the Heavenly Mind sprung that.
I shall see her to-morrow.—Nay, I must meet her in the outskirts of the camp,—so went my promise,—if Maitland be not here ere then.
SCENE. The Hill. The Student's Night-watch.
How beautiful the night, through all these hours Of nothingness, with ceaseless music wakes Among the hills, trying the melodies Of myriad chords on the lone, darkened air, With lavish power, self-gladdened, caring nought That there is none to hear. How beautiful! That men should live upon a world like this, Uncovered all, left open every night To the broad universe, with vision free To roam the long bright galleries of creation, Yet, to their strange destiny ne'er wake. Yon mighty hunter in his silver vest, That o'er those azure fields walks nightly now, In his bright girdle wears the self-same gems That on the watchers of old Babylon Shone once, and to the soldier on her walls Marked the swift hour, as they do now to me. Prose is the dream, and poetry the truth. That which we call reality, is but Reality's worn surface, that one thought Into the bright and boundless all might pierce, There's not a fragment of this weary real That hath not in its lines a story hid Stranger than aught wild chivalry could tell. There's not a scene of this dim, daily life, But, in the splendor of one truthful thought As from creation's palette freshly wet, Might make young romance's loveliest picture dim, And e'en the wonder-land of ancient song,—— Old Fable's fairest dream, a nursery rhyme. How calm the night moves on, and yet In the dark morrow, that behind those hills Lies sleeping now, who knows what waits?—'Tis well. He that made this life, I'll trust with another. To be,—there was the risk. We might have waked Amid a wrathful scene, but this,—with all Its lovely ordinances of calm days, The golden morns, the rosy evenings, Its sweet sabbath hours and holy homes,—— If the same hidden hand from whence these sprung, That dark gate opens, what need we fear there?—— Here's wrath, but none that hath not its sure pathway Upward leading,—there are tears, but 'tis A school-time weariness; and many a breeze And lovely warble from our native hills, Through the dim casement comes, over the worn And tear-wet page, unto the listening ear Of our home sighing—to the listening ear. Ah, what know we of life?—of that strange life That this, in many a folded rudiment, With nature's low, unlying voice, doth point to. Is it not very like what the poor grub Knows of the butterfly's gay being?—— With its colors strange, fragrance, and song, And robes of floating gold with gorgeous dyes, And loveliest motion o'er wide, blooming worlds. That dark dream had ne'er imaged!—— Ay, sing on, Sing on, thou bright one, with the news of life, The everlasting, winging o'er our vale. Oh warble on, thy high, strange song. What sayest thou?—a land o'er these dark cliffs, A land all glory, where the day ne'er setteth—— Where bright creatures, mid the deathless shades, Go singing, shouting evermore? And yet 'Twere vain. That wild tale hath no meaning here, Thou warbler from afar. Like music Of a foreign tongue, on our dull sense, The rich thought wastes.—We have been nursed in tears, Thro' all we've known of life, we have known grief, And is there none in life's deep essence mixed? Is sorrow but the young soul's garment then?—— A baby mantle, doffed forever here, Within these lowly walls. And we were born Amid a glad creation!—-then why hear we ne'er The silver shout, filling the unmeasured heaven?—— Why catch we e'er the rich plume's rustle soft, Or sweep of passing lyre! Our tearful home Hung 'mid a gay, rejoicing universe, And ne'er a glimpse adown its golden paths?—— Oh are there eyes, soft eyes upon us, In the dark and in the day, shining unseen, And everlasting smiles, brightening unfelt On all our tears: News sweet and strange ye bring. Hither we came from our Creator's hands, Bright earnest ones, looking for joy, and lo, A stranger met us at the gate of life, A stranger dark, and wrapped us in her robe, And bore us on through a dim vale.—Ah, not The world we looked for,—for an image in. Our souls was born, of a high home, that yet We have not seen. And were our childhood's yearnings, Its strange hopes, no dreams then,—dim revealings Of a land that yet we travel to?—— But thou, oh foster-mother, mournful nurse, So long upon thy sable vest we're leaned, Thou art grown dear to us, and when at last At yonder blue and burning gate Thou yieldest up thy trust, and joy at last In her own wild embrace enfolds us once, e'en From the jewelled bosom of that dazzling one, From the young roses of that smiling face, Shall we not turn to thee, for one last glimpse Of that wan cheek, and solemn eye of love, And watch thy stately step, far down This dim world's fading paths? Take us, kind sorrow! We will lean our young head meekly on thee; Good and holy is thy ministry, Oh handmaid of the Halls thou ne'er mayst tread. And let the darkness gather round that world, Not for the vision of thy glittering walls We ask, nor glimpse of brilliant troops that roam Thine ancient streets, thou sunless city,— Wrap thy strange pavillions still in clouds, Let the shades slumber round thy many homes, By faith, and not by sight, through lowly paths Of goodness, sorrow-led, to thee we come.
* * * * *
* * * * *
* * * * *
SCENE. The ground before the fort. Baggage wagons. Cannon dismounted. Confused sounds within. A soldier is seen leaning on his rifle.
(Another soldier enters.)
2nd Sol. It's morning! Look in the east there. What are we waiting for?
1st Sol. Eh! The devil knows best, I reckon, Sir.
2nd Sol. Hillo, John! What's the matter there? Here's day-break upon us! What are we waiting for?
(Another soldier enters.)
3d Sol. To build a bridge—that is all.
2nd Sol. A bridge?
3d Sol. We shall be off by to-morrow night, no doubt of it,—if we don't chance to get cooked and eaten before that time,—some little risk of that.
2nd Sol. But what's the matter below there, I say? The bridge? what ails it?
3d Sol. Just as that last wagon was going over, down comes the bridge, Sirs, or a good piece of it at least.—What else could it do?—timbers half sawn away!