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The Rangers - [Subtitle: The Tory's Daughter]
by D. P. Thompson
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Among the many excellent traits of Miss Haviland's character, a lively sense of right and wrong, together with a deep and abiding love of truth and justice, unquestionably predominated. So strong and controlling, indeed, was this principle in her bosom, that it exhibited itself in all her conversation, and seemed to be the governing motive of all her actions. And when she had once discovered the truth and the right, at which she appeared to arrive with intuitive quickness, no wheedling or sophistry could blind her to their force; and no inducements could be offered sufficient to cause her to waver in their support. And yet this peculiar trait, as deeply seated as it was, and as firmly as it was ever exercised, was so beautifully tempered by the benevolence of her heart, the equanimity of her mind, and the engaging sweetness of her demeanor, that it never seemed to impart the least tinge of arrogance to her character, or harshness to her manners. On the contrary, she was all gentleness and devotion, and ever ready to comply with the wishes of others, when a compliance did not contravene, in her opinion, any of the principles of even-handed justice; and, in case she felt bound to refuse to yield to their requests, her refusal was made and maintained with such mild firmness, that none could be offended, none feel inclined to charge her with obstinacy or perverseness. She was at this time the mistress of her father's household, her exemplary and intellectual mother having several years before deceased, and her elder and only sister, the year previous, married one of the leading loyalists of Guilford. And it had been mainly through the influence of this sister and her husband, that she had been induced, the preceding fall, to take the step which was destined to cause her years of sorrow and perplexity—that of engaging herself in marriage to Peters. She had found few or no opportunities of studying this man's character, having known him only as a parlor acquaintance, of easy manners and considerable intelligence. And although she saw nothing particularly objectionable in him, and although she knew that, in point of wealth and family distinction, he was considered what is termed a desirable match, yet she had entered into the engagement with many misgivings, and in compliance rather with the wishes of her friends above named, seconded by the urgent request of her father, than in accordance with the dictates of her own judgment and inclination. But whatever her doubts at that time, or during the months immediately following, they had not been sufficient to disturb the usual even tenor of her feelings, till she left home on her present excursion, during which, as already intimated, she had seen the character of her affianced in a new light—a light which showed him to be possessed of traits as abhorrent to her feelings, as, to her mind, they were base and reprehensible in themselves. And now, to crown all, he had, by an act of deliberate, private malice, even according to his own account, inflicted a mortal wound on the victim of his former injuries—the man who, but the day before, had snatched her, whom the other professed to hold as the highest object of his earthly solicitude, from a watery grave. It was these painful reflections that were now agitating her bosom; for the more she pondered upon the conduct of Peters, the more did her heart reject and despise him; and in proportion as her feelings rose up against him were her sympathies drawn towards his victim, Woodburn, whose noble act had created so strong a claim upon her gratitude, and whose character and appearance had alike awakened her interest and admiration.

"Is it indeed thus," she at length uttered, as if summing up the thoughts that had been passing through her mind, "that he who saved my life, at the risk of his own, must die by the hand of one who should have been the first to thank and reward him? Ay, and die, too, without receiving from me, or mine, one word of acknowledgement, even, of the service he so nobly rendered? perhaps the thought of our ingratitude is now embittering his dying moments! Can I, should I suffer this so to remain?"

Here she relapsed into silence, and, slowly resuming her walk round the room, seemed for a while immersed in anxious thought; when she suddenly paused, and, after a moment of apparent irresolution, stepped to the wall, and gave two or three pulls at the wire connected with the servants' bell in the kitchen. In a few minutes the summons was answered by the appearance of the chamber-maid.

"Will you go down to the gentlemen's sitting-room," said Miss Haviland, "ask out my father, and tell him I would see him a moment in my own room?"

The girl disappeared, and, in a short time, Esquire Haviland, with a slightly disturbed and anxious air, entered the room, and said,—

"What's the matter, Sabrey? Are you sick to-night, that you are yet up and send for me?"

"O, no," replied the other; "nothing of that kind led me to send for you, but my wish to make a request which I was unwilling to delay."

The squire cast a somewhat surprised and inquiring look at his daughter, but remained silent, while the latter resumed:—

"You recollect that this morning, after apprising you of the extent of our obligations to Mr. Woodburn, about which you seem to have been so misinformed, I suggested that a personal acknowledgment, with offers of some more substantial token of our gratitude, should be immediately made to him. Has this been done?"

"No," replied he, with a gathering frown: "having understood the fellow was assorting with the rebels in their treasonable plots, I did not feel myself bound to seek him in such company Is that all you wish of me?"

"It is not, sir," she answered seriously, and with the air of one determined not to be repulsed. "I have accidentally become apprised that Mr. Woodburn, in the affray of to-night, has been dangerously wounded, and, in this condition, thrust into prison. And, as we have now an opportunity of testifying our sense of his services, it is my earnest request that you procure his release from prison, for which your influence here, I know, is sufficient; that he may be brought out to-night and properly attended,"

"Insane girl!" muttered the father, angrily, "what can have put that absurd project into your head? Had you been abed hours ago, as you ought, instead of being up and prying into the doings of our authorities, with which a woman has no concern, I should have been spared this exhibition of folly. Why, the wretched fellow is but receiving the just deserts of his crimes. He is in prison for high treason; and had I the will, which I have not, I could not procure his release."

"I cannot believe these opposers of the court will be held to answer for such a crime. Indeed, it has occurred to me that the authorities themselves may be called to account for firing upon these unarmed men; and therefore I still hope you will use your exertions for Woodburn's release," urged the fair pleader.

"You are to be the judge what is treason, then, hey? And you are ready to side with these daring and desperate fellows and condemn our authorities, are you? What assurance! You will hardly persuade me to favor your mad projects, I think," harshly retorted the bigoted old gentleman.

"You can, at least, go to the prison and return him the acknowledgments which our character and credit require of us," still persisted the former.

"Well, I shall do no such thing," replied the other, with angry impatience; "for I consider the fellow's conduct tonight has wholly absolved me from my obligations to him, if I was ever under any," he added, rising to depart.

"I do not view it so, father," returned the unmoved girl, in a mild, expostulating tone, "and I am sorry for your decision; for, if those whose place it more properly is to do this, refuse to perform it, I know not why I should not myself undertake the duty."

"You!"

"Yes, father."

"What, to-night?"

"Certainly; another day may be too late."

"Madness and folly! Why, who is to attend you, silly girl?"

"If no gentleman is to be found with courtesy enough to attend me, I shall not hesitate to go alone, sir."

"We will see if you do!" exclaimed the old gentleman, looking back from the entrance at the other, with an expression of scornful defiance—"we will see if you do, madam!" he repeated, closing the door after him, and turning the key on his daughter, whom he thus left a prisoner in her own room.

As Miss Haviland listened to the springing bolt and her father's departing steps, a slight flush overspread her face at the thought of the indignity thus put upon her, and she rose, and, after putting her hand to the door to assure herself that she was not mistaken, proceeded, with a calm, determined air, to a table on one side of the room, on which stood the materials for writing; and here, taking pen and paper, she seated herself, and addressed a brief note to Woodburn, delicately expressing her sense of obligation to him, and concluding with the hope that she might soon have it in her power to do something towards alleviating his present situation. Having signed, sealed, and superscribed the billet, she rose and stood some time hesitating and irresolute.

By what means could this note, now it was written, be made to reach its destination? Should she again summon the chamber-maid, she presumed her father had so managed that the call would not be answered; besides, she felt a repugnance to the thought of resorting to such means. What other method could then be devised?

While thus casting about her for some expedient for effecting her purpose, she thought she heard some one placing a ladder against the side of the house, beneath a window, opening from the rear end of the passage adjoining her room; and, after listening a moment, she distinctly heard the person cautiously ascending. Not being of a timid cast, she quickly removed the thick, heavy curtains of the window in her room next and very near the one under which the unknown intruder was mounting the ladder, and, throwing up the sash, peered out; when, to her surprise, she beheld, and at once recognized, the queer-looking figure of Barty Burt, standing on the top round of the ladder, scratching his head, and giving other tokens of embarrassment at being thus unexpectedly caught in this situation.

"Master Bart," said Miss Haviland, who had become somewhat acquainted with the other, while supplying her room with fuel, previous to his ejection from the house, to which she was knowing, "your appearance, at this time, to say the least of it, causes me much surprise."

"I returns the compliment, miss," replied Bart; "so that makes us even, and no questions on ither side, don't it?"

"Perhaps not, sir," returned the former, with seriousness: "at all events, you should be able to give a good reason for your appearance here, under such circumstances: please explain your object."

"And if I don't, you will sing out for the squire, you said? Well, I can get down, and off, before he can get here, I reckon," responded Bart, in a tone of roguish defiance.

"I did not say I would call Esquire Brush; but, unless you explain——"

"Yes, yes, jest as lieves as not, and will, if you'll keep shut til I can run up garret and back."

"Your purpose there, sir?"

"An honest one—only to get my gun up there, which the squire didn't have put out for me, when he dismissed me with his high-heeled shoes, to-day, and which I darsent name then, fear he'd have that thrown down, like my 'tother duds, and break it—only that—and if you'll say nothing, and let me whip in, and up to get it, I'll lay it up against you, as a great oblige, to be paid for, by a good turn to you some time, miss."

"If that is all, go—and I may wish to speak with you when you come back."

So saying, she gently let down the sash, and, withdrawing a little from her window, stood awaiting the result; when she soon heard the other, with the light and stealthy movements of a cat, enter the house, and ascend into the garret, through a small side-door, opening from the passage we have named. Scarcely a minute had elapsed before she again heard his footsteps stealing back by her door to the window, through which he had so noiselessly entered; when, once more raising the sash of her own, she found him already standing on the top of the ladder where she last saw him, he having effected his ingress and egress with such celerity, that but for the light fusil he now held in his hand, she would have believed herself mistaken in supposing he had entered at all.

"Well, miss, I am waiting for your say so," he said, in a low tone, peering warily around him.

"Have you been to the Court House to-night?" hesitatingly asked the other.

"Well, now," replied Bart, hesitating in his turn, "without more token for knowing what you're up to, I'll say, may be so and may be no so."

"You need not fear me, Bart," replied Sabrey, conjecturing the cause of his hesitation; "I am no enemy of those who have suffered there to-night. But do you know Mr. Woodburn?

"Harry, who got you out of that river scrape? Yes, lived in his town last summer."

"He is among the wounded and prisoners in jail, it is said?"

"Dreadful true, miss."

"Could you get this small letter to him to-night?" she timidly asked.

"Yes, through the grate; glad to do it, glad of it, twice over," replied Bart, reaching out, and grasping the proffered billet.

"Why, why do you say that?" asked Sabrey, with an air of mingled doubt and curiosity.

"Cause, in the first place, you'll now keep my secret of being here; and nextly, glad to find there's one among the court folks that feels decent about this bloody business. But I must be off. Yes, I'll get it to him," said Bart, beginning to descend.

"Say, Barty. Is there any hope that Mr. Woodburn will survive his wounds?"

"Survive? Live, do you mean? O, yes; though the lunge which that—But no matter. It was well meant for the heart, and the fellow wan't at all to blame that it didn't reach it, instead of the inner part of the arm."

"Indeed!" exclaimed Miss Haviland, in a tone of joyful surprise; which the next instant, however, gave way to one of embarrassment. "Why, I heard—have written, indeed, under the belief that—and perhaps——Barty, I think, on the whole, I will not send that billet now."

As Bart heard these last words of the fair speaker, so inconsistent with all which both her words and manner had just expressed, he looked up with a stare of surprise to her face, now sufficiently revealed, by the glancing light standing near her in the room, to betray its varying expressions. But, as he ran his keen gray eyes over her hesitating and slightly confused countenance, he soon seemed to read the secret cause of her sudden change of purpose, arising from that curious and beautiful trait in woman's heart, which, by some gush of awakened sympathy, often unfolds all the lurking secrets of the breast, but which, when the cause of that sympathy is removed, closes up the avenue, and conceals them from view, in the cold reserve of shrinking delicacy—the colder and more impenetrable in proportion as the disclosure has been complete.

"O, yes, I will carry it," said Bart, pretending to misunderstand the other, while he pocketed the billet and began to glide down the ladder.

"No," commenced Miss Haviland; "no, Bart, I said——"

"Yes, yes, I will have it there in a jiffy," interrupted Bart, hastening his descent, and the next instant dodging away in the dark beneath the foot of the ladder.

"Well, let it go," said the foiled and somewhat mortified maiden to herself, after the disappearance of her strange visitor. "If what I expressed, when I thought him dying, was right and proper, it cannot be very wrong now."

As soon as she had thus reconciled herself to the unexpected turn which this matter had taken, Miss Haviland now began to reflect more on Bart's motives in coming, at such an hour of the night, for his gun; when it, for the first time, occurred to her mind, that he had been induced to take this step in consequence of some particular call for arms having reference to the events of the evening. Fearing she might have done wrong in suffering him to take away the gun, if it was to be used for hostile purposes, and anxious to know whether her conjectures relative to a rising of the people were well founded, she proceeded to an end window of her room, which overlooked a range of buildings known to her to be mostly occupied by the opposers of royal authority; and removing the curtains and raising the sash, she leaned out and listened for any unusual sounds which might reach her from without. And it was not long before she became well convinced that her apprehensions were not groundless. Some extraordinary movement was evidently going on in the village. The low hum of suppressed voices, mingled with various sounds of busy preparation, came up, on the dense night air, from almost every direction around her. Here, was heard the small hammer, the grating file, with the occasional clicking of the firelock, undergoing repairs by the use of the instruments just named. There, could be distinguished the pecking of flints, the rattling of ramrods, and the regularly repeated rapping of bullet-moulds to disengage the freshly-cast balls. In other places could be perceived the nasty movements of men about the stables, evidently engaged in leading out and saddling horses, and making other preparations for mounting; and then followed the sounds of the quick, short gallop of their steeds, starting off, on express, in various directions, under the sharply applied lashes of excited riders, and distinctly revealing their different routes out of the village, by the streams of fire that flew from their rapidly striking hoofs on the gravelly and frozen ground. All, indeed, seemed to be in silent commotion through the town. Bart's object in coming for his gun, at such an hour of the night, was now sufficiently explained; for the quick and discerning mind of Miss Haviland at once told her that the country was indeed rising in arms to avenge the atrocities just committed by the party among whom were all her relatives and friends; and she shuddered at the thought of tomorrow, feeling, as she did, a secret and boding consciousness that their downfall, brought about by their arrogance and crimes, was now at hand.



CHAPTER VII.

"A shout as of waters—a long-uttered cry: Hark! hark! how it leaps from the earth to the sky! From the sky to the earth, from the earth to the sea It is grandly reechoed, We are free, we are free!"

Every thing, the next morning, seemed as quiet and peaceful in the village, as if nothing unusual had occurred there. The commotion of the preceding night appeared to have wholly subsided. With such secrecy and caution, indeed, had the revolutionists managed, that no knowledge of their movements had yet reached the ears of any of their opponents. And so guarded was their conduct, through the whole morning, that the court party leaders, although their spies had early been out, prowling round the whole village, were yet kept in entire ignorance of all that had transpired among the former during the night. Being consequently deceived by the false appearance which every thing within the reach of their observation had been made to wear, and feeling thus relieved of their last night's guilty fears of a popular outbreak, these cruel and dastardly minions of royalty now counted on their triumph as complete, and, soon giving way to noisy exultation, they began openly to boast of the sanguinary measure by which their supposed victory had been achieved. And, about nine o'clock in the forenoon, the judges and officers of court, with a select number of their most devoted adherents, all in high spirits, and wholly unsuspicious of the storm that was silently gathering around them, formed a procession at the house of Brush, and, attended by a strong armed escort, marched ostentatiously through the street to the Court House, and entered the courtroom to commence the session.

After the judges had been ushered to their seats, and while they were waiting for the crowd to enter and settle in their places, Chandler, who had kept aloof till the procession had begun to form, was seen to run his wary and watchful eye several times over the assembly, to ascertain whether there were any discoverable indications there pointing to any different state of things from the one so confidently assumed by his confederates, when he soon appeared to have noted some circumstance which caused him suddenly to exchange the bland smile he had been wearing for a look of thoughtfulness and concern.

"Do you notice anything unusual in the crowd this morning, Judge Sabin?" he said to his colleague, in an anxious whisper as he closed his scrutiny.

"No, your honor," replied the other, "unless it be the cheering sight of encountering none but friendly faces, instead of the hostile ones, which a man would have been led to expect to meet here, after so much clamor about popular disaffection.

"Ay," responded the former, with a dubious shake of the head—"ay, but that is the very circumstance that puzzles me. Had a portion of the assembly been made up of our opponents, quietly mingling with the rest, as I had rather hoped, I should have construed it into a token of submission; or, had a committee been here to present a petition, or a remonstrance or two, I should have been prepared for that, and could have managed, by a little encouragement, and a good deal of delay, to give every troublesome thing the go-by, till the storm had blown over. But this entire absence of the disaffected looks a little suspicious, don't it?"

"Why, no," answered the stiff and stolid Sabin; "I can see nothing suspicious about it. Indeed, it goes to show me that the rebellion is crushed; for, as I presume, the honest but well-meaning part of the rebels are ashamed, and their leaders afraid to show their faces here to-day, after last night's lesson."

"I hope it may be as you suppose; but I have my doubts in the matter," returned Chandler, with another dissenting shake of the head, as he turned away to renew his observations on the company before him.

On resuming his scrutiny, the uneasy judge soon perceived that the assembly, during his conversation with his colleague, had received an accession of several individuals, whom he recognized as belonging to the party whose absence had awakened his suspicions. But the presence of these persons, after he had carefully noted their appearance, instead of tending to allay only went to confirm, his apprehensions; for, as he closely scanned the bearing and countenance of each, and marked the assured and determined look and covert smile which spoke of anticipated triumph, attended with an occasional expectant glance through the windows, he there read, with the instinctive sagacity sometimes seen in men of his cast of character, enough to convince him, with what he had previously observed, that a movement of a dangerous magnitude was somewhere in progress, and soon to be developed against the court party. And he instantly resolved to lose no time before trimming his sails and preparing to meet the coming storm. And the next moment, to the surprise of his colleague and the officers of the court, he was on his feet, requesting silence that he might address the assembly. He then proceeded to remark on the unfortunate occurrences of the previous night, with a show of much feeling and regret, and concluded by expressing his disapprobation of the course taken in the affair by the sheriff and his abettors, in a manner that would have given the highest offence to all implicated, had they not believed that the speech was secretly designed only as a game on their opponents, whom he might think it expedient to quiet and delude a little longer. They, therefore, winked knowingly to each other, and remained silent; while the speaker sat down with the mental exclamation,—

"There, let it come now! That speech will do to be quoted. I can refer them to it as the public expression of my views before I knew what was coming."

Having thus placed himself in a position, as he believed, where he could easily turn himself to meet any contingency,—where, in case the apprehended overthrow of the court party took place, he could easily and safely leap the next hour to a favorable, if not a high stand among the new dispensers of place and power, or where, should the present authorities be able to sustain themselves, he could as easily explain away his objectionable doings, and retain his standing among them. Having done this, he then turned his attention to the official duties of his place, and ordered the crier to give the usual notice, that the court was now open for business. This being formally done, the court docket was called over, and the causes there entered variously disposed of for the time being, by the judges, till they came to that of Woodburn versus Peters; which was a petition for a new trial for the recovery of the petitioner's alleged farm, that had been decided, at the preceding term, to be the property of Peters, on the ground and in the manner mentioned in a former chapter.

"Who answers for this Woodburn?" said Sabin, with a contemptuous air. Significant glances were exchanged among the tory lawyers and officers about the bar at the question, and a malicious smile stole over the features of Peters, who had found a seat among them.

"I move the court," said Stearns, the attorney of Peters, "for a judgment in favor of my client for his costs, and also for a writ of possession of his land, of which he has been so unjustly kept out by this vexatious proceeding. And, as the petitioner has not entered his appearance according to rule, whereby he tacitly admits that his cause cannot be sustained, I will not permit myself to doubt that the court will so order, even at this early hour—they certainly have the power to do so."

"They have also the power to postpone the hearing, even to the last day of the term, before rendering judgment," bluntly interposed Knights, a large, plain-looking practitioner at the bar, who had taken no active part either for or against the court party.

"We all know how this young man is debarred from appearing here to-day; and it seems to me manifestly unjust that any power which deprives a man of the opportunity of appearing at court, should render judgment against him in consequence of his non-appearance. I would, therefore, suggest a delay in this cause. Perhaps, within a short time, he will employ counsel, or be liberated."

"And perhaps be hung for treason," said Stearns, in a sneering under-tone.

"Do you answer for him or not, Mr. Knights?" demanded Sabin, impatiently.

"No, your honor; he has not authorized me. I only made a suggestion," answered the former.

"Then judgment must go for Peters," rejoined Sabin, with ill suppressed warmth. "Traitors and rebels must look somewhere else for favor, beside this court, while I hold a seat here."

"Nobody has yet been convicted of treason, I believe," promptly responded Knights, while an expression of indignant scorn flashed over his manly and intelligent countenance; "and till such is the case, I take it the rights of all have an equal claim on the court. I should be pleased to hear the opinion of the chief justice in this matter."

"Although I may have my doubts on this subject, Mr. Knights," graciously replied Chandler, "you could hardly expect me to be guilty of so great a discourtesy to my colleague here, as to interfere, after the intimation he has just given."

"Make the entry, Mr. Clerk," said Sabin, hastily; "judgment for costs, and a writ of possession. I am not troubled with any doubts in the matter, and will take the responsibility of the decision."

Scarcely was the cause thus decided before Peters glided up to the clerk, and whispered in his ear; when the latter, nodding assentingly, opened his desk, and taking out two nicely-folded papers, handed them slyly to the other, who, receiving them in the same manner, immediately left the court-room and proceeded down stairs. As the exulting suitor passed through the crowd gathered round the main entrance, he beckoned to a short, thick set, harsh-featured fellow, who immediately followed him around a corner of the building.

"Well, Fitch," said Peters, pausing as soon as they were out of the reach of observation, "have you done up your business in town, so as to be ready for a start for Guilford?"

"Yes; don't know but I have. But you can't have got your decision, papers made out, and all, so soon as this?" replied the other.

"All complete!" returned Peters, triumphantly.

"Why, the court has not been in session an hour!"

"True, but I had spoken to Judge Sabin to have my case taken up this morning; and, as nobody was authorized to answer for Woodburn, the case was disposed of in a hurry. And the clerk, with whom I had also arranged matters, had made out the papers before going into court, and got them all signed off and ready, in anticipation; and here they are, ready for your hands, Mr. Constable."

"Ay, I see; but what is the necessity of serving them so immediately?"

"Why, there's no knowing what may happen, Fitch. If the rebels, in revenge for last night's peppering, should send over the mountain for old Ethan Allen and his gang to come here to stir up and lead on the disaffected, all legal proceedings might be stopped. I know most of our folks think, this morning, that the enemy are fairly under foot. But Chandler, who is as keen as a fox for smelling out trouble, acts to me as if he was frightened; and I think he must have scented mischief brewing, somewhere."

"Some say he is a very timorsome man."

"Yes; but watchful and sagacious, and therefore an index not to be disregarded."

"May be so. But what are your orders about these papers?"

"With this, the writ of possession, go, in the first place, and turn the old woman, his mother, neck and heels, from the house; and then get some stiff fellow in for a tenant, rent free the first year, if you can do no better, provided he will defend the premises against Woodburn, if he escapes unhung. And with this paper, an execution for costs, as you will see, seize the fellow's cow and oxen, and all else you can find, and sell them as soon as the law will let you.

"Why, you won't leave enough of the fellow for a grease spot."

"Blast him; I don't intend to. But now is the time to do it, before he can get out of jail and back there to give fight and trouble us. So you fix all these matters about right for me, Fitch and I'll do the handsome thing by you when I come over, after the roads get settled, in the spring."

"Never fear me, as long as I know what a friend's wishes are," replied the constable, with a significant wink, as he stuffed the documents into his hat, and bustled off on the detestable mission of his more detestable employer.

While Peters and his official minion was thus engaged, Tom Dunning was seen coming, with hasty strides, along the road, from the direction of his cabin, which was situated without the village, about a half mile north of the Court House, from which it would have been visible but for the pine thicket by which it was partially enclosed. As the hunter was entering the village, he met Morris, hastening up the street, from the opposite part of the town.

"Well met," said Morris; "for I was bound to your quarters with a message, which——"

"Which I am ditter ready to receive, and give you one, which I started to carry to your folks, in return. So, first for yours."

"Mine is, that we are now drawn up, two hundred strong, in the first woods south of the village, and are ready to march."

"And mine, that we are der ditto; besides being a hundred better than you, all chafing, like ditter tied-up dogs, to be let on."

"I will back, then, to my post with the news; and in less than a half hour, tell them, they shall hear our signal of entering the village, as agreed, which we will expect you to answer, and then rush on, as fast as you please, to effect a junction, as we wheel into the court-yard. But stay: have the prisoners been apprized that their deliverance is at hand?"

"Yes; I ran up at the time the court ditter went in, and, in the bustle, got a chance to tell them through the grate."

"All right; but how are the wounded doing?"

"Ditter well, except French, who is fast going."

"Indeed! Poor fellow! But his blood will now soon be avenged," said Morris, as the two now separated and hastened back to their respective posts.

After Peters had despatched the constable on his work of legal plunder and revenge, he returned to the court-room for the purpose of pressing to a hearing some other cases which he had pending against political opponents, and which he hoped, through the favor of a biased and corrupt court, to curry as easily as the one wherein he had just so wickedly triumphed. But he was not permitted to reap any more of his despicable advantages; for he found that another, actuated by motives no less unworthy than his own, had already gained the attention of the court to a case of which he had been the prime mover and complainant. This was Secretary Brush; and the trial he had been urging on, through Stearns, the acting state's attorney, was that of the alleged murderer, to whose somewhat mysterious, as well as suspicious, arrest and imprisonment allusion has already been made.

"As you say the witnesses are in court, Mr. Stearns," observed Chandler, after a moment's consultation with his colleague, "as all the witnesses are here, we have concluded to take up the criminal case in question. You may therefore direct the sheriff to bring the prisoner into court without delay."

The sheriff, accordingly, left the court-room, and, in a short time, reappeared with the prisoner, followed by two armed men, who closely guarded and conducted him forward to the criminal's box.

The prisoner was a man of the apparent age of sixty, of rather slight proportions of body, but with a large head, and coarse features, that seemed to be kept almost constantly in play by a lively, flashing countenance, in which meekness and fire, kindness and austerity, were curiously blended. As he seated himself, he turned round and faced the court with a fearless and even scornful air, but promptly rose, at the bidding of the chief judge, to listen to the information, which the clerk proceeded to read against him at length, closing by addressing to the respondent the usual question as to his guilt or innocence of the charge.

"I once," calmly responded the prisoner—"I once knocked up a pistol, pointed at my breast by a robber. It went off and killed one of his fellows, and——"

"Say, guilty or not guilty?" sternly interrupted the clerk.

"Not guilty, then," answered the other, determined, while going through these preliminary forms, that his accusers, the court, and audience, should hear what, under other circumstances, he would have reserved for the more appropriate time of making his defence, or left to his counsel. "Ay, not guilty; and that gentleman," he rapidly continued, pointing to Brush, "that gentleman, who has offered to free me if I would submit to be robbed, well knows the truth of what I say. The witnesses, whom he has suborned, also know it, if they know any thing about that luckless affray."

"Liar!" shouted Brush, springing up, in high excitement, as soon as he could recover from the surprise and confusion into which this bold and unexpected charge had thrown him.

"The man's insane—evidently insane, your honors!" cried Stearns, who, in his anxiety to shield his friend Brush, thought not of the effect of such a remark.

"I thank the attorney for the government for that admission, may it please the court," said Knights, rising, with a sarcastic glance at Stearns. "I may wish to make use of it."

"Are you counsel for the prisoner, sir?" sharply demanded the other.

"I am, sir," coolly replied Knights; "and you may find, before we get through the trial, that what the prisoner has said, as much out of place as it was, is not the only truth to be developed. But before the case proceeds any further, I offer a plea to the jurisdiction of this court, and at once submit, whether a man can be tried here for an offence alleged to have been committed in another county, without a special order from the governor for that purpose,"

"That order is obtained and on file, sir. So that learned bubble is burst, as will all the rest you can raise in favor of the miserable wretch you have stooped to defend," said Stevens, exultingly. "Mr. Clerk, pass up that order to the court."

"Are you satisfied now, Mr. Knights?" asked Sabin, with undignified feeling, after glancing at the order which had been laid before the judges. "Mr. Stearns, proceed with the cause."

But that court, on whom the subservient attorney and his corrupt and arrogant friend depended to convict an innocent man of an infamous crime, that a private and nefarious object might thereby be enforced—that court were now destined to be arrested in their career of judicial oppression before they had time to add another stain to their already blackened characters: for, at this moment, a deep and piercing groan, issuing from one of the prison-rooms beneath, resounded through the building so fearfully distinct, as to cause every individual of the assembly to start, and even to bring the judges and officers of the court to a dead pause in their proceedings. A moment of death-like silence ensued; when another and a sharper groan of anguish, bursting evidently from the same lips, and swelling up to the highest compass of the human voice, and ending in a prolonged screech of mortal agony, rang through the apartment, sending a thrill of horror to the very hearts of the appalled multitude!

"Who? What? For God's sake, what is that?" exclaimed a dozen eager and trembling voices at once, as nearly the whole assembly started to their feet, and stood with amazed and perplexed countenances, inquiringly gazing at each other.

"Don't your consciences tell you that?" exclaimed the prisoner, Herriot, in a loud, fearless voice, running his stern, indignant eye over the court, its officers, and leading partisans around the bar. "Don't your consciences tell you what it was? Then I will! It was the death-screech of the poor murdered French, whose tortured spirit, now beyond the reach of your power, went out with that fearful cry which has just assailed your guilty ears!"

"Mr. Sheriff! Mr. Sheriff!" sputtered Sabin, boiling with wrath, and pointing menacingly to the prisoner.

"Silence, there, blabbing miscreant!" thundered Patterson.

"Ah! No wonder ye want silence, when that name is mentioned," returned Herriot, unflinchingly.

Struck dumb with astonishment at the unexpected audacity of the prisoner in thus throwing out, in open court, such bold and cutting intimations of their guilty conduct, the judges and officers seemed perfectly at a loss how to act, or give vent to their maddened feelings, for some moments. Soon, however, the most prompt and reckless among them found the use of their tongues.

"Shoot him down, Patterson!" exclaimed Brush, with an oath.

"Treason! I charge him with treason, and demand that he be ironed and gagged on the spot!" shouted Gale, bringing down his clinched fist heavily on the desk before him!

"Yes, high treason; let us re-arrest him, and see if we can hang him on that, should he escape on the other charge," chimed in Stearns.

"I have my doubts," began Chandler, who was growing every moment more wavering and uneasy.

"No doubts about it," interrupted Sabin, almost choking with rage. "I'll not sit here and see the king's authority insulted, and his court treated with such contempt and treasonable defiance; and I order him instantly in irons—chains—yes, chains, Mr. Sheriff!"

"You can chain the body, but shall not fetter the tongue," responded Herriot, in no way dismayed by the threats of his enraged persecutors, or their preparations to confine and torture his person; "for I will speak, and you shall hear, ye tyrants! Listen then, ye red-handed assassins! The blood of your murdered victim has cried up to God for vengeance. The cry has been heard! the unseen hand has already traced your doom on the wall! and this day, ay, within this hour," he continued, glancing through the window to a dark mass of men, who might now be partially discerned drawn up behind the point of woods at the north—"ay, within this very hour, that doom shall be fulfilled! Hark!" he added, in startling tones, after a momentary pause—"hark! do ye hear those signal guns, echoing from post to post, round your beleaguered Babylon? Do you hear those shouts? The avengers of blood are even now at your doors. Hear, and tremble!"

As the speaker closed his bold denunciations, he descended from the bench which he had mounted for the purpose, and, advancing to the sheriff and his assistants, now standing mute and doubtful with their hastily procured fetters in their hands, he paused, and stood confronting them with an ironical smile, and with folded arms, in token of his readiness now to submit himself to their hands. But a wonderful change had suddenly come over the whole band of these tory dignitaries. The dark and angry scowls of mediated revenge, and the more fiery expressions of undisguised wrath, which were bent on the dauntless old man during the first part of his denunciations, had, by the time he made his closing announcement, all given way to looks of surprise and apprehension. No one offered to lay hands on him; for, as the truth of what he said was every moment more strongly confirmed by the increasing tumult without, no one had any thoughts to spare for any but himself. And soon the whole assembly broke from their places, and, in spite of the loud calls of the officers for silence and order, began to cry out in eager inquiries, and run about the room in the utmost confusion and alarm. At this juncture, David Redding, who had been thus far the most reckless and bloodthirsty tory of all, burst into the room, hurriedly exclaiming,—

"The people have risen in arms, and are pouring in upon us, by hundreds, from every direction! In five minutes this house will be surrounded, and we in their power. Let every man look to his own safety! I shall to mine," he added, rushing back down to the front door, where, instead of attempting to escape through the back way, as he might then have done, he began to shout, "Hurra for Congress!" and, "Down with the British court!" at the very top of his voice.

"I resign my commission," cried Chandler, jumping up in great trepidation. "Let it be distinctly understood," he repeated, raising his voice in his anxiety to be heard—"yes, let it be distinctly understood, that I have resigned my commission as judge of this court."

"D——n him! what does he mean by that?" muttered Gale, turning to Patterson.

"It means he is going to turn tail, as I always thought he would,—the cursed cowardly traitor!" replied the latter, gnashing his teeth. "But let him, and that pitiful poltroon of a Redding, go where they please. We will see to matters ourselves. I don't believe it is any thing more than a mere mob, who will scatter at the first fire. So follow me, Gale; and all the rest of ye, that aint afraid of your own shadows, follow me, and I'll soon know what can be done."

And, while lawyers and suitors were hastily snatching up their papers, and all were making a general rush for the door, in the universal panic which had seized them, the boastful sheriff, attended by his assistants and the tiger-tempered Gale, pushed his way down stairs, shaking his sword over his head, and shouting with all his might,—

"To arms! Every friend to the court and king, to arms! Stand to your guns there below, guards, and shoot down every rebel that attempts to enter!"

But, when he reached the front entrance, the spectacle which there greeted his eyes seemed to have an instant effect in cooling his military ardor. There, to his dismay, he beheld drawn up, within thirty paces of the door, an organized and well-armed body of more than three hundred men; while small detachments, constantly arriving, were falling in on the right and left, and extending the wings round the whole building. And as the discomfited loyalist ran his eye along the line of the broad-breasted and fierce-looking fellows before him, and recognized among them the Huntingtons, the Knights, the Stevenses, the Baileys, the Brighams, the Curtises, and other stanch and leading patriots, from nearly every town bordering on the Connecticut, and saw the determined look and the indignant flashing of their countenances, he at once read not only the entire overthrow of his party in this section of the country, but the individual peril in which he, and his abettors in the massacre, now stood before an outraged and excited populace.

"What ails your men, Squire Sheriff?" cried Barty Burt, now grown to a soldier in the ranks of the assailants, as he pointed tauntingly to the company of tory guards who had been stationed in the yard, but who now, sharing in the general panic, had thrown down their arms, and stood huddled together near the door; "why don't they pick up their shooting-irons, and blaze away at the 'd——d rebels,' as I think I heard you order, just now?"

"And if that won't ditter do," exclaimed the well-known voice of Tom Dunning from another part of the ranks, "suppose you ditter read another king's proclamation at us: no knowing but we might be ditter done for, entirely."

The sheriff waited to hear no more, but hastily retreated into the house, followed by a shout of derisive laughter; and his place was the next moment occupied by Chandler, who bustled forward to the steps, and, in a flustered, supplicatory manner, asked leave to address his "respected fellow-citizens."

"Short speeches, judge!" impatiently cried Colonel Carpenter, who seemed, from his position on horseback among the troops and other appearances, to be chief in command—"short speeches, if any. We have come here on a business which neither long speeches nor smooth ones will prevent us from executing."

The judge, however, could not afford to take this as a repulse; and, with this doubtful license, he went on to say, that on hearing, in the morning, as he did with astonishment and horror, of the unauthorized proceedings of last night, he had denounced the outrage, in an address at the opening of the court; and not finding himself supported, he had resigned, and left his seat on the bench.

"And now," he added in conclusion, "being freed from the trammels of my oath of office, which have lately become so painful to me, I feel myself again one of the people, and stand ready to cooperate with them in any measure required by the public welfare."

A very faint and scattering shout of applause, in two or three places, mingled with hisses and murmurs in others, was the only response with which this address was received. But even with this equivocal testimony of public feeling towards him, this despicable functionary felt gratified. "I am safe," said he to himself, with a long-drawn breath, as he descended the steps, to watch an opportunity to mingle with the party with whom he was now especially anxious to be seen, and to whom he was ready to say, in the words of the satirist,—

"I'm all submission, what you'd have me, make me; The only question is, sirs, will you take me?"

At this moment a sash was thrown up, and the prisoner, Herriot, appeared at a window of the court-room above.

"I have been brought up here this morning," he said, shaking back his gray locks, and raising his stern, solemn voice to a pitch clearly audible to all in the grounds below—"I have been brought here from my dungeon to answer to the charge of a foul crime; and both my accusers and triers, fleeing even before any one appeared to pursue, have left their places, having neither tried nor condemned me. But scorning to follow their example, I now appear, to submit myself for a verdict, to the rightful source of all power—the people."

"Neither will we condemn thee," cried Knowlton, pursuing the scriptural thought of the other; "if thy accusers and judges have left thee uncondemned, thou shalt not be condemned by us; at least not by me, who have long had my opinions of the character of this prosecution."

"As also have I," responded Captain Wright. "I know something of the witnesses, on whom, it is said, they depended to convict father Herriot; and I would not hang a dog on their testimony. I move, therefore, that we here pronounce a verdict of acquittal. Who says, ay?"

"Ay!" promptly responded a dozen voices; and "Ay!" the next instant rose in one loud, unanimous shout from the whole multitude.

"A thousand thanks to you, my friends, for your generous confidence in my innocence," returned the old man with emotion; "and, thank God, your confidence is not misplaced. I was formerly guilty of much, which has cost me many bitter tears of repentance; but there is no blood on my hands, and I will now return to my hermit hut, from which they dragged me, there to pray for the success of the good cause in which you are engaged, leaving to you what lesson shall be taught those Hamans who have filled these dungeons with the dying and wounded, now demanding your care."

The effect of the old man's closing hint was instantly visible on the multitude, who decided by acclamation to act upon it without delay; and accordingly a score of resolute fellows were detached to proceed to the prisons, release their friends, and fill their places, for the present, with their murderous oppressors.



CHAPTER VIII.

"——right represt, Will heave with the deep earthquake's fierce unrest, Then fling, with fiery strength, the mountain from its breast"

When the besieged tories, who were now mostly crowded together in the broad space on the lower floor, saw a column of their assailants entering the front door, and advancing upon them with levelled muskets to sacrifice them, as they supposed, on the spot, they were seized with a fresh and uncontrollable panic, and made such a tremendous rush for the back entrance, that the only sentry who happened at that moment to be there, was, in spite of all his threats to fire upon them, instantly borne down, or thrust aside, by the living torrent that now burst through the door; and before a force sufficient to stop them could reach the spot, numbers had escaped into the adjoining fields, where, scattering in different directions, they commenced their disorderly flight, with all the speed which their guilty terrors could lend them. The next moment, however, as the cry that the tories were escaping was raised, a hundred of their most fleet-footed opponents were seen leaping the fences into the fields, and giving chase to the frightened fugitives. A scene, in which the ludicrous, the novel, the wild, and the fearful, were strangely mingled, now ensued; for, although a strong guard still retained their places round the Court House, who, with the detachment that had entered as we have described, proceeded to take into custody the remaining tories and liberate the imprisoned, yet the main body of the revolutionists joined in the work of hunting down the flying enemy; those not only who had escaped from the Court House in the manner we have named, but all concerned in the massacre that could be found secreted or lurking about the village; while the exulting shouts of the victors as they overtook, seized, and brought to the ground the vanquished; the abject cries of the latter for quarter; the reports of muskets fired by pursuers over the heads of the pursued, to frighten them to surrender; the beating on drums, and the loud clamor of mingling voices,—all combined to swell the uproar and confusion of the exciting scene.

"How like the ditter deuse these lawyers do scratch gravel!" exclaimed Tom Dunning, as he singled out and gave chase to Stearns and Knights, who together were making their way across the fields, in the direction of the river, as if life and death hung on their speed. "Ha! ha!" continued the tickled hunter, laughing so immoderately at the novel spectacle, as greatly to impede his own progress—"ha! ha! ha! ha! Why, I der don't believe but what they've got consciences, after all! for what else could make their ditter drumsticks fly so?"

But although the hunter, in thus indulging his merriment, suffered himself actually to lose ground in the race, yet he had no notion of relinquishing the chase, or losing the game; for, conscious of his own powers, and thinking lightly of those of the fugitives, he supposed, that, as soon as he chose to exert himself, he could easily make the race a short one, and as easily capture and lead them back in triumph; and he began to think over the jokes he would crack at their expense on the way. But the unseen event of the next moment showed him, to his vexation, that his inaction, and confidence in his own powers to remedy the consequences of it, had cost him all the anticipated pleasures of his expected victory. For scarcely had he commenced the pursuit in earnest, when the fugitive lawyers reached the bank of the river, and at the very place too, as it provokingly happened, where his own log-canoe chanced to be moored, and hastily leaping into it, they managed with such dexterity and quickness, in handling the oars and cutting the fastenings, as to push off, and get fairly out of the reach of their pursuer, before he could gain the spot; and his threat to fire at them, if they did not return, and the execution of that threat the next moment, which sent a bullet skipping over the water within a foot of the receding canoe, as he only intended, were all without effect in compelling the return of the panic-struck attorneys. And the balked pursuer had soon the mortification to see his crafty brace of intended captives land in safety on the opposite shore, which he had now no means of gaining, and disappear in the dark pine forest then lining the eastern bank of the Connecticut at this place.

"Outwitted, by ditter Judas!" exclaimed the hunter, in his vexation. "These lawyers, dog 'em! they have so much of the Old Scratcher in 'em, that they will outdo a fellow at his own trade. However, I've done the new state some ditter service, I reckon, seeing I've fairly driven such a precious pair of 'em out of it." [Footnote: Knights, who, unlike his companion, was no loyalist, appears to have become infected with the panic that had seized his loyal associates, in common with the whole court party; and, though he had no cause for alarm, fled with those who escaped from the Court House, on this memorable occasion. It is probable, that owing to his supposed interest in the continuance of the court, and consequent unwillingness to co-operate in the measures on foot to overthrow it, he was purposely kept in ignorance of the movements of the revolutionists, and therefore taken wholly by surprise when the storm burst. At all events, his speedy return, immediate resumption of his professional duties at Brattleborough, and subsequent promotion to the bench, abundantly shows that he no less enjoyed the confidence of the American party than his two namesakes, and, we believe, relatives, whom we have named as present among the assailants, and who were afterwards officers in our revolutionary forces. An aged and distinguished early settler, to whom the author is indebted for many of the incidents he has here delineated, thus writes in relation to the particular one in question:—

"I have heard Judge Samuel Knights, who, as chief justice, presided in the Supreme Court from 1791 to 1793, describe the trepidation that seized them, when, after the massacre, and on the rising of the surrounding country, they came to learn the excited state of the populace. He related how he and another member of the bar (Stearns, I think, who was afterwards attorney secretary of Nova Scotia) hurried down to the river, and finding there a boat, (such as was used in those times for carrying seines or nets at the shad and salmon fishing grounds, which were frequent on both sides the river, below the Great Falls,) they paddled themselves across, and lay all day under a log in the pine forest opposite the town; and, when night came, went to Parson Fessenden's, at Walpole, and obtained a horse, so that, by riding and tying, they got out of the country till the storm blew over, when Knights returned to Brattleborough."]

With this consolatory reflection, he now turned and retraced his steps towards the scene of action. While on his way thither, and soon after passing the rear of the building before described as the head-quarters of the tory leaders, his attention was arrested by the lamentable outcries of some one alternately bawling for help, and begging for mercy; when, turning to the spot, he there beheld his associate, Barty Burt, astride the haughty owner of the mansion just named, who, with dress sadly soiled and disordered, was creeping on his hands and knees on the ground, towards his house, which, it appeared, he had nearly gained, when he was overtaken, thrown to the ground, and mounted by his agile and tormenting captor, who was now taking his whimsical revenge for former indignities, by compelling the fallen secretary, through the efficacy of a loaded pistol just wrenched from the latter's hand, to carry him on his back, in the manner above described.

"What the dogs are you ditter doing there, Bart?" said Dunning, with a broad grin, as he came up and recognized the secretary in such a strange plight and attitude.

"O, nothin very desput; only showing Squire Brush, here the differ between to-day and yesterday, that's all," replied Bart kicking and spurring, like a boy on some broken-down horse "Get up, here! Gee! whoa, Dobbin! Kinder seems to me," he continued to his groaning prisoner—"kinder seems to me I heard somebody say,'tother night, that Bart Burt wasn't above a jackass. Wonder if I aint above a jackass now? only his ears may need pulling and stretching a little," he added, suiting the action to the word.

"For God's sake, my good man," said Brush, turning imploringly to Dunning, "do relieve me from the clutches of this insatiate imp of hell. Let him shoot me, if he will; but don't leave me to be worried, and trod into the mud and splosh, like a dog, by the revengeful young savage. It is more than flesh and blood can bear."

"Well, now, squire, I wouldn't make such a tearing fuss about this little bit of a walloping, after what's happened, if I was you," said Bart. "There was our differ about who was the jackass, and sich like, that night, you know, which I kinder thought I might as well settle; and then, again, there was your good-by, yesterday; but may be I've done enough to make that square, too. So I don't care if I let you up, now, seeing as how Mr. Dunning has come to take care of your worship," added the speaker, springing nimbly a few paces aside, and facing about with presented pistol, as if to keep the other on good behavior.

"What can you want with me, sir?" said the disencumbered secretary to the hunter, after gaining his feet and shaking off the mud from his bedraggled garments.

"Ditter considerable," replied the other. "In the first place, the people want to see you back to the Court House, where you may ditter consider yourself invited to go, under my care. They there may have the first claim on you."

"Well, if I am a prisoner, let us go there, then," said the crestfallen loyalist, relinquishing, with bad grace, his hope of being allowed to escape. "But what do you mean by first claim on me?"

"Well, I ditter mean that I have another, when they get through with you."

"Explain yourself, sir."

"I will. You ditter know that your governor has offered a reward of fifty pounds for the ditter delivery of Ethan Allen for the gallows, under a law got through the York Assembly, principally by one Squire Brush. Well I aint a going to ditter fight old Ethan's battles; for he can der do that himself. But you may ditter know, also, that Ethan has offered the same reward for the governor and you. Now, as we are ditter expecting Allen over here, in a few days, I was der thinking, I and Bart, here, might as well ditter deliver you up, and claim the money." [Footnote: Crean Brush, who procured himself to be elected from this county to the New York legislature, for several years, was believed to be the main mover of the act of outlawry against Ethan Allen and others. He certainly, as chairman of the committee on the subject, reported, and recommended the passage of, that notorious measure. (See Slade's State Papers.)]

So saying, the hunter, bidding the prisoner to follow, and Bart to bring up the rear, marched off in triumph to the Court House; and, having delivered over his charge to the guard at the prison doors, sallied out into the village in quest of further adventures. Nor was he long in meeting with them. After gaining the street, he soon perceived a gathering and commotion nearly in front of the mansion whose owner he had just taken from the rear; and, on reaching the spot, he found a crowd collected round a sleigh, filled with gentlemen and ladies, which proved to be that of Peters and his company. It appeared that Haviland, who had remained at his quarters that forenoon, and had thus become apprised of the rising of the people sooner than the mass of his party, had instantly ordered the team to be harnessed, and every thing prepared for an immediate departure, as soon as Peters should arrive. And the latter, who was among those who broke away from the Court House after it was invested, having at length reached the house undiscovered, and adopted such disguise in dress as the time would permit, they had all jumped into the sleigh, (which could still be used better than any other vehicle,) and were rapidly driving from the yard, in an attempt to escape from the town, when they were recognized and detained by a party of the revolutionists. Haviland and Peters had already been seized and taken from the sleigh, and would have instantly been forced off to prison, but for the entreaties and distress of the females who refused to be conducted back to the house, or even to be separated from their protectors; Miss Haviland, especially, declaring that if her father must go to prison, she would go with him. This had produced a momentary delay, during which a sharp altercation had arisen, some being for taking the prisoners back to the house, there to be guarded, and others strongly insisting on dragging them off, at once, to jail. The latter, at length, appeared to prevail, and were on the point of forcing the ladies, in spite of all their entreaties, from the sides of their protectors, when a man came pushing his way through the crowd:—

"For shame! shame! my friends," he cried; "you surely would not molest innocent and defenceless females."

"I will tell you what it is, Harry Woodburn," responded one of those who were for proceeding to active measures, "when ladies attempt to stand between murderers and their deserts, they must expect to be molested."

The circumstances of the case were then explained to Woodburn; when the crowd, who had been irritated by the threats and arrogant behavior of the prisoners, at the outset, again began to cry, "Away with them, women and all, if they will have it so—away with them to prison!"

"Men, hear me!" exclaimed Woodburn, planting himself between the ladies and the angry crowd. "You see this!" he continued, holding up his bandaged and blood-stained arm: "the wound was received in defending your cause; and I have but this moment come from the felon's hold where I passed the night, for the part I took in the affray. Now, have I not earned the right to be heard?"

"Ay, ay, certainly, Harry; go on!" responded several, while the silence of the rest denoted a ready acquiescence in the request.

"This, then, is what I would say," resumed the former. "These ladies, who are doubtless anxious to escape from a scene of strife which may not yet be ended, came from a distance, under the care of this old gentleman, whose imprisonment would not only take from them their protector, but deprive them, probably, of all present means of returning to their home. I propose, therefore, to let him and them depart unmolested."

"If the ladies were all—but I don't know about letting this old fellow off so easily," said one, exchanging doubtful glances with those around him. "He is both tory and Yorker to the eyes."

"Yes," urged another, "and who knows but he was among the murderers last night?"

"I have ascertained that he was not among the actors of last night's outrage," replied Woodburn.

"Well," rejoined the former, "I know the other was—that upper-crust tory by his side there, who was always too proud to wear an old coat and hat, till he thought they might help him in skulking away out of the reach of punishment."

"I know Peters was there, to my cost; and I had no notion of asking any exemption for him," returned Woodburn, with bitterness. "But this old gentleman, whatever may be his feelings, has committed none of those acts of violence, for which, only, I understand, our leaders intend to institute trials. Shall we not, then, let him and his ladies proceed, as I proposed?"

Receiving no direct answer to his appeal, the speaker now took two or three of the leading opposers aside, and, after conversing with them a few moments, returned, and announced to Haviland that he was at liberty to depart.

How well and wisely had he read the human heart, who penned the scriptural apothegm, "If thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink; for, in so doing, thou shall heap coals of fire on his head"! Haviland, though by nature an honorable man, had yet suffered himself to enter deeply into the personal animosities of Peters towards Woodburn, which, with his political and aristocratic prejudices, had caused him to think of the young man only with feelings of contempt and bitterness. And when he witnessed the noble conduct of the latter, first in rescuing his daughter from the flood, and now so generously interposing in his behalf, it produced that struggle between pride and conscience, whose operation is so forcibly expressed by the sacred writer just quoted. And, although he could bring himself to acknowledge his obligations only by a formal and constrained bow, yet the conflicting and painful expressions that were seen flitting over his disturbed countenance, as he now returned to the sleigh, plainly told how effectually, and with what punished feelings, his enmity had been silenced. But not so with his single-minded and quickly and justly appreciating daughter. She had no prejudices to combat, no pride to conquer; and she, therefore, witnessed each new act of her deliverer with as much pleasure as gratitude—feelings which sought expression in no parade of words, it is true, but in the more meaning and eloquent language of the kindly tone and sweetly-beaming countenance. And, in her low-murmured, "Thank you—thank you for all," as Woodburn handed her to her seat in the vehicle, he felt a thousand fold repaid for all he had ventured for her sake; while the speaking smile, with which she the next moment turned to him, and nodded her adieu, left an impress on his heart destined never to be effaced.

While this was transpiring, Peters, who had been standing apart from the rest of his company, sullenly looking on, without uttering a word, except to bid Haviland go on without him, contrived, without exciting any suspicion of his design, to work himself by degrees to the outer edge of the crowd, in the direction in which the team was about to pass. And, as the sleigh, which was now put in motion, approached him, he made a sudden feint of running the opposite way; when, as the crowd were confusedly springing forward to head him, he quickly tacked about, leaped into the sleigh, and, snatching the reins and whip from Haviland's hands, applied the lash so furiously, that the frantic horses bounded forward with a speed which carried the receding vehicle more than fifty yards on its course, before the balked and confused throng could recover themselves, and fairly comprehend what had happened. But the sharp, bitter shout of execrations, mingled with cries for immediate pursuit, which now rose from the agitated multitude, proclaimed at once their hatred of the haughty loyalist, and their determination not to suffer him to escape from justice And the next instant, a half dozen swift runners, led on by Dunning, shot out from the crowd, in the eager chase, like so many arrows speeding to the mark. And, notwithstanding the supposed advantages of horses over men in a race, and notwithstanding the increased speed with which the fugitive team thundered along over the half-bare and uneven ground, the pursued had scarcely reached the end of a furlong, before the fleet and determined hunter, still in advance of his companions, gained the side of the sleigh, leaped up, pounced upon his cringing victim, and brought him headlong to the ground, leaving Haviland to seize the relinquished reins, check the horses as he best could, and proceed on his way unmolested.

"There! you ditter sneak of a runaway tory. You will now go, I der rather calculate, where there's no ditter petticoats to shelter you," said Dunning, raising the chapfallen Peters by the collar, and drawing him along back, amidst the exulting shouts of the revolutionists, by whom he and his friend Brush were then forced away, in no very gentle manner, to join their fellow-prisoners, in the same dungeon where the victims of their last night's outrage were so unfeelingly and so unwisely immured.

A detailed description of the various scenes which here succeeded, in the winding up of this local revolution, as it may justly be denominated, would occupy too much space for the limits of our tale, without evolving any further incident, having much bearing on the destinies of those of its personages whose fortunes we design to follow. We will now, therefore, sum up, in a few words, the doings of the triumphant party, and, with a comment or two of our own, dismiss the subject.

In the first place, all the supposed actors and abettors of the massacre within reach were seized and secured, excepting Redding and one or two others of a like character, who, by their activity in assisting to apprehend the fugitive comrades whom they had so meanly deserted, and their offers to give evidence against them, had purchased an exemption from punishment, and excepting also the Janus-faced Chandler, who, by his duplicity, had contributed more than any other man, perhaps, towards this catastrophe, but who now contrived to make even his iniquities count in his favor. [Footnote: As the acts of this notorious personage, whose character we have been at considerable pains to ascertain, and accordingly portray, will have no further connection with our story, we cannot forbear, before dismissing him entirely, giving the reader a short account of his subsequent career, and singular end. Although, by his facility of accommodating his political principles to those of the majority, and his alacrity of tacking about, and mounting, like a squirrel on a wheel, so as to be found rising to the top in every revolution or counter-revolution of public sentiment, he thus adroitly managed to get appointed to some offices of minor importance, under the new state government, yet, becoming every year better and better understood, and consequently more and more distrusted, he finally sunk into utter insignificance and contempt; and, falling into pecuniary embarrassments, brought about by a long course of secret fraud in selling wild lands, of which he had no titles, he was confined for debt in the very building in which the massacre occurred; where, as if by the retribution of Heaven for the part he once there acted, he soon died, unhonored and unlamented. And, what is still more remarkable, his remains were strangely destined to be denied even the respect of a common burial. For some exasperated creditor having attached the body, and the neighbors, from a notion that prevailed at that time, supposing, that by removing the body for a public burial they would make themselves liable for his debts, suffered it to remain till it became too offensive to be endured, when, at the dark hour of midnight, a few individuals went silently to the prison, got the putrid mass into some rough box, and drew it on the ground to the fence of the neighboring burial-ground; and, having dug a horizontal trench under the fence, and a deep pit on the other side, pushed through and buried up all that remained of the once noted Chief Justice Chandler. An old, decayed oak stump, still standing, is the only object that marks the site of his grave.] After this was effected, the victors, all but enough to constitute a safe guard, laid aside their arms, and resolved themselves into a sort of civil convention, to take measures for the trial of the prisoners by some mode, which, in the absence of all proper authorities, should answer for a legal process. And, as the first step in the matter, a jury of inquest, to sit on the dead body of French, was ordered, and a committee appointed to see to the empanelling of impartial men, and collect evidence and conduct the investigations to be had before them. All this being duly accomplished, and the jury bringing in a verdict that the deceased came to his death by the discharges of muskets, in the hands of Patterson, Gale, and others therein enumerated, all the latter, thus designated as the murderers of the unfortunate young man, were taken, and, under the authority of another order or decree of the convention, marched off, under a strong guard, to the jail in Northampton, some forty or fifty miles into the interior of Massachusetts, and there confined, to be tried for their lives at the next court that should be holden in the county where the offence was committed; while a less deeply implicated portion of the prisoners were put under bonds to appear at the court to answer to the charges of manslaughter and assault, or made to undergo other punishments and restrictions immediately imposed by the convention. [Footnote: Among the different kinds of sentences imposed on the class of offenders here last named, was one dooming Judge Sabin to the limits of his own farm, and making it lawful for any one catching him off of it to kill him. And so deep was the public indignation against this inveterate loyalist and supposed secret abettor of the massacre, that he was narrowly watched for the chance of executing the penalty. An aged revolutionist, from whom this fact was derived, stated that he had lain many a Sunday, with a loaded rifle, in the woods near the judge's farm lines, to see if he would not, when coming out to salt his sheep, stray over his limits. But the old fellow, he said, was always too wary for him.] The actors in the outrage, who comprised nearly all the leading members of the British party in that part of the Grants lying east of the mountains, having been thus summarily disposed of, the people, now taking the government into their own hands, and acting in primitive assembly, proceeded to reorganize the county, by the appointment of new judges, and all the usual subordinate officers, of their own principles, to adopt measures to reduce to submission or drive away the remaining loyalists of the county, and, finally, to declare themselves alike independent of the government of Great Britain and of New York.

Thus terminated this memorable outbreak, which acquired additional importance from the fact, that it resulted in the entire subversion of British authority in this, the only section among the Green Mountains where it ever gained a foothold. And not small the praise, which, in view of the circumstances, should be awarded to the hardy spirits by whom this miniature revolution was achieved; for, so great was the power of patronage exercised by this court, and the influence of those enjoying office or immunities under it,—a great majority of whom were stanch, and the rest tacit, supporters of the royal cause,—that, till the occurrence of this sanguinary affair, it is evident the former had but little hope of being able to overthrow this petty local dynasty without assistance from abroad. The aged survivors of that stormy period inform us, indeed, that but for the massacre of Westminster, it would have been difficult to predict whether the opening of the revolution, a few months afterwards, would have found, in the section in question, a whig or tory majority predominating. But that act of murder and madness, which the loyalists here, with the strange infatuation attending their doings almost every where else at the time, seemed destined to commit, as if to hasten their own overthrow, settled their doom.

"It was the electric flame to fire the hearts Of a true people."

And while it opened the eyes of hundreds of the hitherto acquiescent, it armed the opposing with an energy and determination in their cause, which at once became irresistible; and when the war-note was subsequently sounded by such patriots as Benjamin Carpenter and his associates, it found a ready response in every glen and corner of the surrounding country, and the hardy settlers seized their arms, and, with the cry of French and vengeance! hastened away to the scenes of action at Lexington, Ticonderoga, and Bunker Hill.

We are aware that some historians have classed this affair among the difficulties and skirmishes growing out of what has usually been termed the New York controversy, while others have treated the subject in a manner which shows them to be doubtful in what light to place the transaction; and, for that reason apparently, they have slid over the matter in those general and ambiguous terms so often and reprehensibly indulged in by writers at a loss about facts, to conceal their own ignorance, or to avoid the responsibility of deciding the point at issue. But a careful examination of the subject has led us to the conclusion, that the affair in question had little or no connection, in reality, with the New York controversy, but that it was wholly of a revolutionary character. No resistance to the authority of New York had ever been previously made in this section of the Grants; nor did the opposers of this court, in any of their remonstrances, or other proceedings, either before or after the massacre, assign any reason for their doings which can be fairly construed into an objection to the jurisdiction of that province, as such; or any otherwise than that it had, up to that time, refused to adopt the resolves and recommendations of the Continental Congress. On the contrary, all their arguments are based on their duty and determination of joining their revolting brethren in the other colonies, and, consequently, of resisting the longer continuance of British authority among them. Such, indeed, is the ground taken by Dr. Jones, in his minute and authentic account of the occurrence, in which he was, as we have made him in our illustrations, an actor. And even the inscription on the tombstone of the ill-fated French, written when the transaction, and all its attendant circumstances, were fresh in the minds of all, sufficiently proves, if further proof were necessary, that the version we have given of the affair is identical with the one generally understood and received at the time." [Footnote: The inscription here alluded to, which we insert as supporting our position rather than as affording any new antiquarian curiosity to many readers, is verbatim as follows:—

"In memory of William French, son of Mr. Nathaniel French, Who was shot at Westminster March y'e 13th 1775 by the hands of Cruel Ministerial tools of George y'e 3d, in the Court House, at 11 o'clock at night, in the 22d year of his age.

"Here William French his Body lies For murder his blood for vengeance cries King George the third, his tory crew Tha with a bawl his head shot threw For liberty and his country's good He lost his life and dearest blood."]

It was this view of the occurrence which led us to occupy the space we have devoted in attempting to illustrate it; for it becomes invested with a new interest and new importance, when it is considered, as we think it must be, that here was enacted the first scene of the great drama that followed; here was shed the first blood, and here fell the first martyr, of the American revolution.



CHAPTER IX.

"They sank till their fair land became a sty Stygian with moral darkness. Heart and mind Debased—dark passions rose, and with red eye, Rushed to their revel; until Freedom, blind And maniac, sought the rest the suicide would find."

The traveller of the present day, as he enters the town of Guilford, on the southern confines of Vermont, will soon be struck with the peculiar appearance of many things around him. Few or no traces of a primitive forest are to be seen, while its place is supplied by a heavy second growth of woods, sixty or seventy years old, in the midst of which the remains of old enclosures and other indications of former habitations are not unfrequently observable. On the cleared farms, also, may often be seen three or four different clumps of aged fruit-trees, scattered about in the nooks and corners of the lot, and sometimes extending into the woods, in such a manner as to preclude the idea that they could have been planted under any thing like the present arrangements of the farm and its buildings. Near these old relics of former orchards may likewise generally be perceived some levelled spot, remains of old chimneys, traces of cellars, or other marks of dwellings long since removed, or fallen to decay. These, with many other peculiarities, give to the whole town an aspect nowhere else to be seen in Vermont, nor even, perhaps, in any part of New England. And if the traveller be of a fanciful turn, he will associate the place with the idea of some deserted country, resettled by a new race of men; and even if he be a mere matter-of-fact man, he cannot fail to perceive that the town must have been originally tenanted under a division of lands and an order of things quite different from those now existing. And either of these suppositions would be far better justified by the facts than most of the speculations of modern tourists made in their flying visits through the land, as will be seen by a recurrence to the early annals of this town, of which, for the purpose of insuring a full understanding of some scenes here about to be described, we must be permitted to give a brief outline.

The events connected with the first settlement of the town of Guilford, which afterwards became so noted as the stronghold of toryism and adherence to the New York supremacy, form a curious anomaly even in the anomalous history of Vermont. The territory comprising this township appears to have been granted, as early as 1754, to a company of about fifty persons, by a charter, which, unlike that of any other town, empowered the proprietors, in express terms, to govern themselves and regulate the concerns of their little community, by such laws as the majority should be pleased to enact, without being made amenable to any power under heaven, save that which might be exercised by the British Parliament. Being thus constituted a band of freemen and legislators, at the outset, they soon took possession of their chartered piece of wilderness, organized by the election of the proper officers of state, and assumed the title of an independent republic, which their charter, in fact, created, any control of the Parliament of England being as little to be apprehended, in their secluded retreat among the wilds of the Green Mountains, as that of the Great Mogul of Tartary. And as novel as was the idea of a republic at that early period, when "the divine right of kings" to govern all men was as little questioned as the divine right of Satan to afflict the pious Job of old, this enterprising little band of settlers, for many years, appear to have well sustained the character they had assumed, not only by carrying out, in all their public doings, that essential principle of a republic which makes the will of the majority supreme, but by the simplicity of their tastes and habits in private life, and their beautiful exemplification of the great law of love, that can only be fulfilled towards our neighbors by according to them equal rights and privileges with ourselves. At length, however, new doctrines began to prevail, and the independent character of our little republic was soon, in a good degree, forfeited; and that, too, by the very means, it would seem, which had been taken to make it flourish and increase. It had been one of the conditions of the charter that every grantee should become an actual settler, and, within five years, clear and cultivate five acres of land, for every fifty purchased. And in accordance with this cunning policy for insuring the actual and rapid settlement of the place, the township had been laid out in fifty and one hundred acre lots, except the governor's right of five hundred acres, which his excellency of New Hampshire, in granting Vermont lands, never forgot to reserve for his own use, in every township, but which the proprietors generally contrived, as in this instance, to have set off on the highest mountain in town, considering it but respectful and fitting, as they used waggishly to observe, that so elevated a personage should be honored with the most elevated location. And the effect of this policy, together with the low prices at which the lands were put, and other inducements held out to draw in settlers, soon became visible in the rapid increase of the population, and consequent improvement of the town. So unexampled in these new settlements was its progress, indeed, in both the particulars we have just named, that within twenty years from the time when the sound of the axe was first heard in its woody limits, the inhabitants were found to number nearly three thousand; while fields were every where opened in the wilderness, and buildings raised in such neighborly contiguity, that the whole town presented the appearance of a continuous village. It is not very surprising, therefore, that, through such an influx of settlers, coming from all parts of the country, and including many interested and active partisans of the York jurisdiction, a majority should soon be obtained, who were induced to depart from the views of the first settlers respecting the independence of their community, and adopt the more fashionable form of subordinate government, which prevailed in all the towns around them. And accordingly we find them, at their annual meeting in 1772, voting the district of Guilford, as they termed it, to belong to the county of Cumberland and province of New York, and thereupon proceeding to reorganize the town, agreeably to the laws of that province. This change, however, does not appear to have been followed by any material alteration of their internal polity, or to have been productive of any great civil discord, till about the time of the opening of the American revolution; when the town became the prey of contending factions, of so fierce and lawless a character as to convert this once Arcadian abode of virtue, simplicity, and rural happiness, into a theatre of violence and social disorganization, which never, perhaps, found a parallel within the limits of order-loving New England. Sometimes the York party and tories,—for, in this town, it so happened that the two were identical,—and sometimes the whigs and friends of the new state of Vermont, were in the ascendant; while scenes of such disorder and outrage were constantly occurring between the belligerent parties, that his honor, Judge Lynch, for many years, appears to have been not the least among the potentates of this notable republic. Nor was order restored to the ill-starred town till after the close of the war; when every refractory spirit, whether tory or Yorker, was punished or awed into submission by the fiery energy of the iron-heeled Ethan Allen, who, then being relieved from the pursuit of more important game, came thundering down upon the town with his hundred Green Mountain Boys, proclaiming to the disaffected, with demonstrations which they well knew how to interpret, that the peaceable and instant submission of the place to the new authorities of the land should alone save it from being "made as desolate as the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah".

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