"Yes, yes, Lightfoot, you shall go now, and as fast as you desire, this time," responded the latter, throwing himself over the bars, and patting the animal on the neck, as he passed on to the barn for his saddle and bridle.
To equip his willing steed, examine the trusty pistols, which, like his foe, he carried about his person, let down, pass through, and replace the bars, occupied him but a moment, and he was about springing into his saddle, when he was hailed from the house.
"Halloo, there, Woodburn, is that you?" exclaimed a cheerly voice, as a stout-built, crank, honest-looking young man, without hat or coat, came out of the door, and with a free and careless air made his way towards the other; "but what is your hurry? Nothing unpleasant has befallen you in your affair over yonder that makes you feel like being off in this sly and hasty manner, has there?"
"No, Risdon, not quite so bad as that yet," replied Woodburn, taking all in good part.
"How much better, then? Come, Harry, I have taken stones enough out of your path, and thrown them into that of your rival there, to earn a candid answer to such a question."
"True, sir; but you ask more than I am permitted to know myself. I can neither get accepted nor rejected. She, however has given me fresh reason to admire her. She is no common girl, friend Risdon."
"There is not a finer or fairer in all the Green Mountains; but what is that fresh reason you name?"
"The discovery that at heart she is warmly with us in the good cause."
"That is, you hope, and therefore believe so, eh?"
"I have a much better reason than that, sir, for my assertion. She has, within this hour, told me so herself."
"Ah! Well, then, it is indeed so; for Sabrey Haviland never uttered aught but perfect truth and sincerity in all her life. Why, God bless her for her spunk and independence, living and visiting, as she mostly has, from a child, in that circle of high-toned and bitter tories. And it argues well for your suit, too, Woodburn, which till now I have considered rather an unpromising one; for it tells me that she will struggle hard to get free from the fetters which Peters and her father have fastened on her, and by which, counting on her high sense of the sacredness of all promises and contracts, they suppose have secured her beyond the least fear of escape."
"Do you allude to any thing other than the mere consent which she formerly gave to Peters's proposals of marriage, and which, I had supposed, constituted the only engagement existing between them?"
"Yes, a far stronger case, which I have learned by way of my wife, since I last conversed with you on the subject."
"Ah! What is it?" eagerly demanded the lover.
"Why as I gathered it, the case was this," answered the other. "The old man, as well as Peters, you know, must always do things, if possible, after the English custom; and both thinking more of property than women, they got up a regularly-written marriage contract, or settlement, by which one bound himself to give the other his daughter, with such and such a dowry, and the other to marry the daughter, and settle such and such sums on her and her heirs, all to be void in case the marriage fell through by fault of the girl. But to provide against this, they made another part to the instrument for her to sign, in which they made her solemnly promise and covenant to marry Peters, and none else; otherwise she was to forfeit her birthright in her father's estate. This they somehow or other at last induced her to sign and seal thus binding herself hand and foot forever, with but one single advantage, which, it seems, she had the wit to get added to the contract before she would sign it; and that was, that the time of fulfilling the contract, or day of the marriage, was to be left to her."
"What a detestable conspiracy for a father to enter into against the rightful liberty and happiness of a daughter!" exclaimed Woodburn, after a pause, during which surprise and indignation kept him silent. "That, then, explains the hints she has several times thrown out to me respecting some peculiar trials and difficulties to which she was subjected. But was she of age when she signed that paper?"
"No; but she probably, in her great scrupulousness, would long hesitate to break the engagement on account of that, or the fraudulent means they doubtless used to draw her into the shameful affair. Nevertheless, I would persevere. Her right to stave off the fellow, with her known wish to get rid of him, may yet procure her an honorable release; or she may be brought to take a different view about the binding nature of a promise obtained under such circumstances; or, as a last resort, that paper may be got out of his possession by some scheme or other. So I think you will worst him in the long run, in spite of his present advantages of the father's help, his own wealth, and——"
"And his recent promotion," interrupted Woodburn, "which is to be the stepping-stone to the dukedom of Vermont, the reward for betraying his country, and the glittering bait, which, in anticipation, is already held out to this besieged, but bravely resisting, girl!"
"What do you mean, Woodburn?" bluntly said the other, in surprise.
"I mean," replied the former, "that Peters has lately received a colonel's commission in the British service, and is even now secretly but actively engaged, I suspect, in trying to seduce the people with British gold, and raise troops among us to co-operate with Burgoyne."
"You astonish me. Why, the hypocritical rascal has been giving out word about here, that, as he had friends and interests on both sides, he had concluded to remain neutral! Are you sure you have been correctly informed?"
"Quite sure. But while you may conjecture the source of my information, remember that it is to work no injury to the family of my informer."
"Ay, I understand, now—'tis true, then; and you are correct, too, in your suspicions about his present movements. That will account for the existence of the hard dollars that have so strangely made their appearance about here within a few days. But will he be suffered to prosecute his plans here among us? What better is he than a spy?"
"He must be nabbed, then; and we will let him find his duke's coronet in a crow's nest, on the limb of some old hemlock, to which we will soon have him dangling in the air, unless our authorities wish to give him a more respectable gallows. What say you to that, Harry?"
"That you are not the first to think of it—that is, so far as to have him captured. He rode away from Haviland's in this direction, and at a moderate pace, just as I, unperceived by him, reached there, about an hour ago, on his way, doubtless, to one of the tory haunts in Manchester. My mare has a fleet foot, Risdon; so you now understand why I was in a hurry to be off, don't you?"
"I do; but Heavens! Woodburn, you are not going to give chase alone?"
"Yes; no horse but mine probably could overtake him before he reaches his associates; besides, since it was hinted to me that he would seek my life I am willing to give him a chance to take it, where neither he nor I shall have help or witness."
"Are you armed?"
"With dirk and pistols, as he only is."
"A rather hazardous push, Harry. But go, and God prosper you to take him, and with him that mischievous document. And one thing more: if you live to reach Manchester, tell that Council of Safety, that if they don't do something soon, we, the people, will set up for ourselves in war-making. I, for one, don't believe I can keep my hands off my rifle three days longer."
"Ay, ay," said Woodburn, springing into his saddle. "And now, Lightfoot, here is a loose rein for you. Go!" he added, striking with his heels the body, and with his hands the mane of the impatient animal, that, at these well-understood signs, gave an irregular plunge or two ahead, and then shot off like an arrow up the road.
"What heroes from the woodland sprung, When, through the fresh-awakened land, The thrilling cry of freedom rung. And to the work of warfare strung The yeoman's iron hand!"
Leaving Woodburn to the hot and eager pursuit that patriotism and private animosity had prompted him to undertake, we will now precede him a few miles on the road, for the purpose of introducing and accompanying another old acquaintance, who was also destined to become an actor in the wild and stirring adventures of the night.
Near the southern confines of Manchester, about nine o'clock, the same evening, a youth of the probable age of twenty, of a sandy complexion, and of a rather slight, but evidently tough, wiry frame, with a short rifle on his shoulder, and powder-horn and ball-pouch slung at his back, was making his solitary way on foot along the main road towards the town just mentioned. As he now reached the Batenkill, where the stream, here first beginning to find a more peaceful flow, after its headlong descent from the Green Mountains, intersected the road, he suddenly paused and began to muse, with the air of one who has been struck by some new thought tending to divert him from his settled purposes; and, slowly passing on to the bridge, which, after the rude construction of the times, had been thrown across the river at this place, he took a seat on one of the side-timbers, or binders, as they were usually termed, and, in accordance with an old and inveterate habit, generated probably by the peculiar circumstances of his early life, began to commune with himself aloud.
"I wonder what this new business is they want you should do Bart? Harry said it was a secret matter when he handed over the paper," he continued, pulling out and abstractedly unrolling a small wad of white paper, "a kinder private commission, or something, which he would explain about, after I had gone and got his letter to the girl, as he met me on my way back. But why don't he meet me fore this time? It's pesky strange he should hang back in a woman affair so! Why, he would go—like enough has gone—but then how could he miss me? O Lord, Bart, what a stupid pup! He passed you when you was napping it in the bushes at that cool spring! I'll bet my old hat on't! Well, we shan't see much more of him to-night, likely, seeing it is love he's doing, and such a moon as this holds the candle; and we may as well be trying to find out this business without him. So let's be digging out what the paper says. Harry and the rest of 'em don't know I can read writing; but I can, when driv to it; though I think we won't let 'em know that, Bart; for no knowing what cunning things we may find out if they don't mistrust it. Now let's look. Why, I can see as plain as day!' he added, holding up the writing to the bright moonlight, and beginning to spell out the well-known bold and distinct characters of the secretary of the council, as follows:—
"TO BARTHOLOMEW BURT:—
"You are hereby appointed by the Council of Safety to go through this and the neighboring towns, bordering on the British line of march; to spy out the resorts of the tories; to mark and identify all inimical persons; to gain all the information that can be obtained respecting the movements of the enemy at large; and make report, from time to time, to this council or some field officer of our line.
"IRA ALLEN, Secretary." [Footnote: Those who may doubt the probability that such a commission would be issued by this body, would do well to consult that part of the journal of their proceedings, at this period, which has been preserved and published, in which will be found several similar ones, to serve as specimens of the many contained in the part that was lost, and to show how searching were the operations of these vigilant guardians of the cause of liberty in Vermont, and how various the instruments they made use of to effect their objects.]
"Good! grand!" exclaimed the excited soliloquist, starting up and snapping his fingers in high glee. "This will be a great thing for you, Bart. Yes, and then how gentlemanly and respectful-like it sounds to be called Bartholomew, in that way! Bart, we'll go it for them; and have a touch of the trade this very night, if you please. But where shall we begin? Let's see, now. Why, there's old mother Rose's haunt up the great road here, where, I do think, she must hatch out tories, same as a hen does chickens, they are so thick about there. Then there's Josh Rose courting that up and a coming sort of girl you saw at Howard's t'other day, when you called with Harry for a drink of water. Now wouldn't the fellow be apt to let out secrets there that we could get hold of, and put us on some good scent? Ah! that's it; so now up the river for Howard's, as a beginning, hit or miss, Bart."
While this singular genius is proceeding on his proposed destination, in the hope of accomplishing something to show himself worthy of the curious trust that had been so unexpectedly reposed in him, we will occupy the breathing spot, thus afforded in our narrative, in apprising the reader, more definitely than we have yet done, of the main incidents that had marked the checkered fortunes of the two adventurers whom we have now again brought upon the scene of action, since we left them.
When Woodburn and Bart left the state, under the circumstances described in the closing chapters of our first volume, they proceeded directly to Cambridge, where the revolutionary army was then gathering for the siege of Boston, enlisted, for two years, into the continental service; and actively participated in all the most important movements of the army in the campaign that immediately succeeded. They were at Bunker Hill, on that memorable day of fire and blood, so glorious for the yeoman patriots of New England, and so fearful for her foes,—
"When first, as at Thermopylae, The battle shout of freemen rose; Firm as their mountains, and as free, They nobly braved encountering foes."
And in the following autumn, they, in the same company, in which Woodburn, for bravery and good conduct, had been made a subaltern officer, marched with that division of the army which Arnold, with almost unequalled energy and fortitude, and amidst privation and suffering untold, led through the snow-clad wilderness of morass and mountain, to the distant Quebec. And there, in the onset, in which the high-souled Montgomery fell, they were together cut off from their company and made prisoners; when, after having, for nearly a year and a half, endured the sufferings of a British prison-ship, they together escaped at Halifax, wandered, half naked and starving, through the seemingly interminable forests of Brunswick and Maine, to the American settlemens, and finally reached home; not there, however, long to repose, but soon to repair, with yet unbroken spirit, to the new scene of action, at which their countrymen were beginning to rally to meet the formidable invasion of the hitherto victorious Burgoyne.
We will now resume the thread of our narrative. A walk of twenty or thirty minutes brought Bart to the log tenement of Howard, who was a soldier in the continental service, now absent on duty, having left his house and business in charge of his wife a woman no less noted, in her neighborhood, for energy in conducting her domestic affairs, than for the patriotic spirit with which she espoused the American cause. She and her daughter, a rustic beauty of eighteen, of keen perceptions, and even rare good sense, when her frolicsome disposition would allow her to exercise it, were now the only permanent inmates of this secluded cabin, which consisted of but two rooms, with a front entrance leading through an entry into either of them, and another door at the end of the house opening into the one usually occupied by the family as both sitting-room and kitchen.
"A light in both rooms, by the pipers!" exclaimed Bart, as, after having cautiously approached, he paused to reconnoitre the house. "The fellow is there at his traps, as sure as a gun! Now what's to be done, Bart? 'Twon't do to go in and show yourself, and have that torified scamp carry away word that you are mousing round the country nights, will it? No, but I'll tell you what, if it want for the name of sneaking and evesdropping, we would creep round back of the room where they be, and hark through the cracks; like enough get a peep, and so learn something. But such things they expected of you, didn't they, Bart? Must be so, I think. Then suppose we throw the name and blame of it on the council, and try it, mister?"
Taking a wide sweep round the house, Bart soon approached that part of it, on the back side, in which he rightly conjectured the young people were sitting; and gliding up to the wall with steps as noiseless as those of a mousing fox, he discovered a crevice between the logs, from which the moss calking had fallen out so as to permit a small pencil of light to escape. Guided by this, he quickly gained, after applying his eye to the aperture, a distinct view of the couple within, and was enabled, at the same time, to catch every word of their variously modulated conversation. They were seated at different sides of a light-stand, on which a candle was burning, she assiduously engaged, to all appearance, with her needle on some light sewing work, and he diligently, with his penknife, on a pine chip, which he was essaying to shape into a human profile, that of his mistress, it might be surmised from the sly glances with which he seemed occasionally to scan her features. Though now dressed in his smartest fustian, he yet appeared awkward and ill at ease; while the timid and hesitating air, with which he seemed to regard his fair companion, indicated much conscious uncertainty respecting the place he might hold in her affections. She, on the contrary, seemed quite self-possessed, and wore the air of one not particularly solicitous about pleasing, which gave her as much advantage over him in her manner as she obviously possessed in her person; for, besides a good form and a wholesome roseate bloom, she had one of those polyglot countenances which seem almost to supersede the necessity of speaking—a trait she very prettily exhibited while listening to the forced hints and innuendoes of her lover's conversation, as she occasionally lifted her head, now with a blush, now with a smile, and now with a frown, that caused his eyes to drop to the floor as quick as those of a rebuked schoolboy. Thus far, she had not opened her lips; but now, as her suitor, turning in his chair, brought a hitherto shaded arm into view, and displayed upon his sleeve a common brass pin, (usually denominated in those days the Canada pin, as this article, then almost excluded from the toilet by the war, rarely found its way into this section except through the intercourse of the tories with that province,) her attention was suddenly excited; and turning a sharp and searching look upon him, she said,—
"Where have you been lately, Josh?"
"Why?" he replied, evidently surprised at the question and manner of the girl.
"That, sir," she responded, significantly pointing to the pin. "Such articles don't get here but in one way, in these hard times, which compel us to put up with thorns for pins, and half tories for beaux," she added, with a meaning and roguish look.
"Won't you accept it, Vine?" he said, obviously disconcerted but pretending not to understand her allusions.
"Not unless you tell me honestly how you got it, sir," she replied, decisively.
"O, picked it up somewhere; don't remember now," he evasively answered.
"That, now, is a thumper, I know," she rejoined, with a pretty toss of the head. "But you don't put me off so. The fact is Josh, I suspect you have been among the tories to-day. Now be honest, and tell me, sir."
And for the next ten minutes the determined girl plied her reluctant and perplexed companion, by all the means which her ingenuity could invent, to accomplish her object; teasing, coaxing and threatening by turns, till, being unable to resist any longer, he replied,—
"Well, I will tell you; and it can't do any hurt either, for they will all be out of reach before morning."
"Who will be out of reach?" eagerly demanded the other.
"The men that my brother Samuel enlisted. You knew he had got a captain's commission in General Burgoyne's army, I 'spose."
"We heard so; but has Captain Samuel Rose been in town to-day?"
"Yes; for I may as well tell the whole, now I've begun. The captain has been all day at the house of brother Asa Rose, who lives out of the way, there, in the woods, over beyond the great road, you know. Well, he had agreed to meet all he had enlisted in this section there at sunset, and lead them off to the British camp, after people were abed. I was there just before dark, and saw them; sixteen in all, besides the captain, all armed and equipped, and he in full uniform; and he looks complete in it, too, I tell you."
"But what was you amoung them there for?"
"O, I wanted to see Sam, and bid him good-by, you know, as he was going off, never to come back, for aught I knew; that was all, upon honor, now."
"Perhaps it was; but one thing I wish you to understand, Josh Rose, and that is, if you take up for that side of the question, openly or secretly, your visits here——"
"O, I shan't; no notion on't, not the least in the world; so don't worry; though candidly, Vine, I don't believe it's much use for your folks to think of standing out any longer. Why, hundreds are joining the British every day, and what will be left, in a short time, can do nothing towards stopping such an army as Burgoyne's."
"What are left will be apt to try it, I think, sir."
The subject was now dropped; and the girl, after a thoughtful pause, commenced on a theme more agreeable to her suitor, and for a short time, was unusually sociable and gracious; when she rose, and, carelessly remarking she must be excused a moment, left the room, and passed out through the front door, with noise enough in opening and closing it to leave the other in no doubt as to the direction of her exit.
"Well, Bart, what do you think of that?" whispered our listener to himself, as now, on the departure of the girl from the room, he withdrew from his peeping-hole. "Now, I pretend to say, I wouldn't take a gold guinea for what we have got through that crack, nor two either, if our legs will carry us to the village and rally help quick enough to have that batch of tories nabbed before they are off. But let's jest edge along against the mother's room, and see if there is any discovery to be made there, before we start."
Being equally fortunate in finding an opening into the room to which his attention was now directed, Bart cautiously peered in; when his eye soon fell on the solitary occupant, a fine, resolute-looking matron, quietly employed in knitting by the light of a torch stuck in one of the stone jambs of the broad fireplace. He, however, had scarcely time to note these circumstances before the door was softly opened, and the girl who had just left the other room entered on tiptoe, and whispered in her mother's ear something that seemed to produce an instant effect on the hitherto sedate and listless countenance of the latter; for, starting to her feet, she stood gazing at the other with a flashing eye, and listening with the keenest interest, as some further particulars were added to the communication.
"Are you sure he was not fooling you?" said the mother.
"Very sure," replied the daughter, significantly holding up the Canada pin.
"Well, Vine," rejoined the former, with the air of one whose resolution is taken, "you whip back to your post the same way you came; and see that you keep him here till—say about midnight," she added, exchanging a meaning glance with the daughter, whose hand was already on the latch to depart.
No sooner had the intermingling tones of conversation in the other room apprised the woman that her daughter had there joined the unsuspecting suitor, than, hastily seizing bonnet and shawl, she noiselessly left the house and glided out into the road. After hesitating a moment here, respecting the course she should take, apparently, she made up to the log-fence enclosing an adjoining field, threw herself over it with the lightness of a boy, and, striking off directly west, almost flew over the ground till she reached the boundaries of their little opening; when she fearlessly plunged into the dark and pathless recesses of the wood lying between her and the main road, to which she was evidently directing her course.
"There! just as I told you," muttered Bart, who, inwardly vexed that the secret he had been hugging, as exclusively his own should be shared by another, for fear measures might be taken to deprive him of the sole honor and profit he had promised himself of communicating it, had been jealously noting what had occurred. "Just as I told, Bart; the old woman has got your story, and there she goes, streaming off with it, like the house afire, for the great road, through woods, swamp, and all! Well, it's too late to try to stop her now, to save her the trouble of going, cause you'd frighten her, likely; besides, she'd find out you'd been listening. But we'll follow and keep track of her; may be she'll get lost, and we can cut by her; or may be we can seem to come kinder accidentally on her, and contrive to get employed to do her errand, and so let her go back."
With this resolution, he immediately gave chase; and by occasionally pausing, after entering the forest, to listen to the rustling of her garments as the intrepid woman rushed through the tangled thickets on her way, or the cracking of dry twigs under her rapid tread, he was enabled to trace her course and keep within hearing distance, though not without exertions which drew forth many an exclamation of surprise at the speed with which, at such a time and place, she got over the ground. At length, they both reached the opening on the other side of the forest opposite to a good-sized house on the main road.
"I vags," exclaimed Bart, pausing and wiping the perspiration from his face with his sleeve, as he emerged from the wood, "if the perlite Frenchman, they tell of, who thought women had no legs, had followed this one through a mile-swamp at the rate she has gone, he would think a little different about the matter, I guess. But never mind the tramp, Bart, but still keep your eye on her. There she goes smack into that house over yonder, which is—let's see, now—Why, that is Major Ormsbee's, who, I remember now, Harry told me, was her brother. Well, Bart, seeing you are fairly beat in this business, let's work along over into the road against the house, and see what comes of it."
Scarcely had Bart gained his proposed situation in a nook of the fence, before the major, followed by his son, came bustling out into the yard.
"Jock!" he said, hastily turning to his son, "you run to the barn, and saddle and bring out my horse, while I slip over to Captain Barney's. But who have we here?" he added, espying and approaching Bart. "Who are you, friend?"
"Well, you may call me any thing but a tory and I won't complain, major."
"That's right. O, I believe I know you now—the comical chap I have seen with Woodburn, at Warner's encampment All right. Glad you happen here just at this time—we have business on hand."
"I know it."
"Know it! how? You didn't come with my sister?"
"No; after her; but got at the wrinkle about the gang down yonder before she did; and am now on my way to the council, or the camp, with the news."
"That I propose to do myself. I have a fleet horse, and it will be best I should go with the news myself. Besides, I wish to put you, with the few others I can raise hereabouts, on the track at once. You shall lose nothing by it; so turn in here, and go with me."
Content with this assurance of an officer known to be in the confidence of the council, and quite willing to make one in the expected affray, Bart cheerfully complied. And the two hurried on to the house the major had named; where, fortunately, they found not only the owner, but another fearless patriot, by the name of Purdy, to both of whom the news just received was communicated; when a hasty plan was devised among them for the capture of Captain Rose and his band of recruits, who, it was supposed, had not yet left the neighborhood, even if they had started from their place of rendezvous.
The dwelling of Asa Rose, which had been selected by the tory captain as a secluded and safe rallying-point for his band, was situated in the wood, about three fourths of a mile west of the main road, and the residence, thereon, of the old widow Rose, who has been already mentioned, and who was the mother of a hopeful brood of either open or secret loyalists, as their father, an extensive land-owner, who died about the beginning of the war, was before them. This old establishment of the Rose family, well known through the country as the harboring-place of the disaffected, was a little over a mile from the bridge over the river, at the south, and about half that distance from the residence of Major Ormsbee, at the north, where our handful of spirited friends were now rallying; while from the road, about half way between the two, diverged the path, which wound round south-westerly to Asa Rose's, and from which the tories were expected to emerge on their way out of the neighborhood.
"Here comes Jock with my horse," said the major, taking die reins from the boy, a sturdy youth of sixteen, who had not forgotten to bring his gun with him. "Well, captain," he continued, leaping into his saddle, "you understand the arrangement; three of you to take the path to their rendezvous, then to go on to old mother Rose's, and, if they are there, give the signal: the long howl of a dog, remember; but if they are not there, to join the rest, and scout round, watch and delay them while I, on my way, start out Pettibone and others, and send them directly through the woods to Asa Rose's to get into the rear All understand, do you?"
"Ay, ay, major."
"Well, then, God prosper you all, till I can get on with the platoon of Warner's boys for the rescue."
So saying, the major dashed off at full speed towards the village; while Barney and his men, with no less spirit, hurried on to their respective destinations, in the opposite direction. The place where the latter were to separate being soon reached, appearances examined, and no discoveries made, the captain, with Purdy and young Ormsbee, struck off from the road, and proceeded cautiously along the bushy outskirts of the path before mentioned as leading to the supposed rendezvous, leaving to Bart the task of going on and reconnoitring the old establishment on the main road, at which, it was believed, the tories would be sure to call, on their way out, to take a last treat from mother Rose's ever-ready bottle, and perhaps some provisions from her cupboard, to invigorate them for their long night march to the British camp. A short walk now brought Bart in close vicinity to the house he was appointed to reconnoitre; when, gliding silently along under cover of the fences, tall weeds, and other screening objects, he quickly made a circuit round the buildings, contriving, as he did so, to peer into the barns, sheds, and even into most of the rooms of the capacious old dwelling. He perceived, however, no indications of the presence of any but females about the establishment; though, from the movements of these, and especially those of the old woman, who was busily engaged in cutting up large quantities of bread and cheese, and in replenishing her junk bottles, he became satisfied that the company, of whom he was in search, were shortly expected. Having made these observations, he retired from the house, crossed over the road into the opposite field, and was marking out a course for himself through the wood, which would intersect the path taken by his companions, and enable him to join them somewhere near the tory rendezvous, when his ear caught the clattering of horse-hoofs, approaching, at a furious pace, up the road from the south, And so rapid was the advance of the coming horseman, that Bart had scarcely time to gain the covert of a clump of shrubbery standing by the fence, over against the house, before the former made his appearance, and, turning into the yard, galloped up to an open window, and addressed a hasty inquiry to the mistress of the house; when, hardly waiting for the negative reply that appeared to be given, he suddenly wheeled about, and, regaining the road, pursued his course with renewed speed.
"Why!" exclaimed Bart in surprise, as he caught a view of me man's features; "as sure as a gun, it is Harry's old troubler, that he thought he'd killed once, and felt so guilty about it, till he heard he didn't. But what can the fellow be up to here, in such a hurry, just at this time? Don't like the looks on't, exactly, Bart, hasn't this tall tory got wind of our movement, somehow, and come on to warn the gang, that, not finding here, he has gone to meet? Let's be off and try to trace him. But hark! Do you hear that? Another coming from the same quarter! yes, and scratching gravel too, like Mars, I should think, by the way his horse's feet strike the ground! Here he comes! What! it is, by mighty—it's Harry and Lightfoot in full chase! Go it, Lightfoot! Catch him, Harry! Stuboy! stuboy!" he added, in low, eager shouts of exultation, as the recognized horseman passed, like a flash, by his place of concealment.
Springing forward to a small elevation in the field, which commanded a broken view of the road to the path before described, and even a small portion of the latter, Bart tasked both eye and ear to the utmost, in trying to trace the dimly-discerned forms of the receding horsemen, now obviously but a short distance asunder, his object being to ascertain whether Peters would keep on in the main road, or, as he suspected his intention to be, strike into the path to Asa Rose's, and try to reach the tories before he should be overtaken. For one moment, in which he lost sight of both pursuer and pursued, Bart stood in doubt; but the next, the changing direction of the still audible sounds, and the slight glimmerings of the sparks from the horse's hoofs, now seen extending out in a line nearly at right angles to the course they had been pursuing, sufficiently apprised him that his suspicions were correct. Waiting, therefore, no longer than to ascertain this, he turned and plunged into the wood on his left; and taking the course he had already decided on for joining his companions, and being now incited to his utmost exertions of speed by his anxiety to reach the other road in time to warn Woodburn of the trap into which his antagonist was doubtless intending to draw him at the tory rendevous, or to be ready to lend any needed assistance in case a collision took place between them before reaching it, he made his way through the opposing obstacles of the thickets with a rapidity, probably, that a wild Indian could not have equalled, till he suddenly found himself in the path of which he was in quest, within a few rods of the small opening where stood the suspected log-tenement of Asa Rose. His first act now was to stoop down and examine the soft ground in the road, to ascertain whether Peters and his pursuer had passed the place. A moment's inspection, however, confirming him in the negative, he rose and bent a listening ear in the direction of their expected appearance; but no sounds reached him indicative of their approach. While standing here in doubt respecting the course next to be pursued, his attention was attracted by a commotion at the house; when, stepping forward towards the edge of the opening, he caught a glimpse of the whole body of the tories, with their leader at their head, just leaving the house and moving silently, and with a quick step, in the road towards him. Stealing softly away from his post of observation, he retreated rapidly along the path, some hundred yards into the wood; when he fortunately encountered Barney and his two men, to whom he hastily communicated all the discoveries he had made since he left them.
Fearing, from the non-appearance of Peters and his pursuer, of whom, strangely, nothing had yet been seen or heard, that the former had given the latter the slip in some by-path, which would enable him to reach the tories in the rear, or otherwise apprise them of the danger of proceeding, Barney instantly adopted the bold resolution of attempting the immediate capture of the whole band by stratagem, trusting to the firmness and ingenuity of himself and his men to keep, or get them forward, till the expected reenforcement should arrive.
"We must multiply ourselves, and then act according to circumstances," he said, after apprising his men of his project, which they eagerly seconded.
"I will multiply into a platoon of ten, and be their orderly, if you will let me have my own way in the managing of 'em, captain," said Bart, entering with great spirit into a plan in which his peculiarities so well fitted him for taking a leading part.
"Well, then," replied the other, "take a station in the bushes five or six rods ahead; the rest of us will take our coverts here, on different sides of the road. You must all act for yourselves, and on the hints of the moment; but I will take the lead, and give you such clews as the case may require."
Scarcely had this fearless little band settled themselves in their respective stations, before the tories, marching in close Indian file, made their appearance, and came forward wholly unsuspicious of danger. They were permitted to advance unmolested till they were nearly all between the two points of ambush; when Captain Barney, stepping partly out from his concealment presented his gun, and exclaimed,—
"Stand! Surrender, or die!"
"Halt!" cried the surprised, though not frightened, tory captain, who was not only a fine-looking, but cool and capable young officer—"halt, till we see what all this means."
"You will soon find out what it means, unless you surrender,'" rejoined Barney, in a bold and confident tone. "I give you one minute to decide. Attention there!" he continued, as if addressing a numerous band of concealed forces—"attention there, right, left, and front platoons! Every man at his station and ready for the word!"
Purdy and Ormsbee now made a simultaneous movement in the bushes, on the different sides of the road, by stepping about, hitting their guns against the trees, and thrusting out the muzzles at various openings towards the enemy; while, at the same time, the clicking sounds, as of the irregular cocking of a dozen muskets, with as many distinct movements of men, apparently, were heard in the direction of Bart's concealment in front.
"Stand to your arms!" exclaimed Rose, to his men, who now began to show signs of fear and uneasiness.
"Don't all take aim at the captain, you fools!" shouted Bart, from his covert, to his men of straw; "don't do that, I tell you! There's enough of 'em to furnish each of you a separate mark, nearly. There, that looks more like it! All cocked and ready?"
"Hold up there, Sergeant Burt!" cried Barney; "don't fire yet. Let us spare their lives if we can. Purdy," he continued, turning to the man concealed on his right, "you may give the signal, now, for the reserve platoons, in front and rear, to advance, and close up on the road. The minute is nearly out, and I perceive we have got to make a demonstration before they will surrender."
The signal howl was then accordingly given, and, to the great joy of the assailants, immediately answered by Pettibone, who, having reached his destination in the rear of the house, and seen the tories decamping, was now, with another man, cautiously advancing towards the scene of action in the wood; while nearly at the same moment, as it strangely happened, the sharp reports of three pistols, fired in quick succession, rang through the forest a short distance on the road to the north. The noise of fire-arms which, to the assailants, portended a rencounter between Peters and Woodburn, and filled them with anxiety for the fate of the latter, was token by the tories as an answer of the signal from the pretended corps in front, and so completed their dismay that some of them threw down their arms, and began to cry out for quarter.
"The minute is out; shall we fire, Captain Barney?" exclaimed Bart, in a tone of impatience.
"Your answer, Captain Rose," sternly demanded Barney—"your answer this instant, or——"
"I yield," said the reluctant tory leader—"We surrender ourselves prisoners of war."
"'Tis well, sir," responded the former. "Lay down your arms, then, here in the road, advance twenty paces, and wait further orders."
While this order, which was thus given for the double purpose of enabling the victors to get between the tories and their guns, and to give time for Pettibone and his associate to come up, was being carried into effect, Bart, who had been burning with impatience for a chance to go to the assistance of his endangered friend. Woodburn, slunk noiselessly from his post, and made his way, with all possible speed, towards the spot from whence the noise of the firing appeared to proceed.
But let us now return to note the issue between the belligerent horsemen. Woodburn having come in sight of his antagonist soon after crossing the river, and the latter then taking the alarm, the chase had proceeded, as witnessed by Bart, till the parties struck into the by-road leading to the tory rendezvous; when the former, concluding that Peters would not have turned in here without the expectation of finding friends and defenders near, now redoubled his exertions to overtake him, and bring on an encounter while it would have to be decided by individual prowess, and before his foe should reach assistance to render the pursuit futile or dangerous. But notwithstanding his efforts, he soon lost sight of the other in the short turns of the winding and thickly-embowered path which they soon entered. Expecting, however, that the next turn in the road would reveal the object of his pursuit, be dashed ahead some distance; when, becoming satisfied that his antagonist had given him the slip by riding out of the road into some nook or side-path in the wood, he retraced his way nearly to the opening, vainly endeavoring to discover the concealment of the fugitive. Vexed and disappointed at being thus balked, Woodburn was on the point of giving up the chase when he caught a glimpse of the other, emerging from a thicket into the road, not a hundred yards distant, and setting off on a gallop in the direction first taken. Incited to fresh exertion, Woodburn now shot forward after his flying foe with a velocity which none but a horse trained to the rough paths of the wood could equal, and which, consequently, soon brought the parties in close vicinity of each other. Peters, now seeing no further chance to escape, suddenly pulled out a pistol, and, turning in his saddle, discharged it at Woodburn, who, wholly unharmed by the badly-aimed instrument, instantly returned the fire. The bullet of the latter, grazing the person of the former, entered the head of his startled and rearing horse, just back of the ears, and, after two or three fearful plunges onward, brought him to the ground. Leaping from his falling horse, the desperate loyalist gained his feet and discharged another pistol at Woodburn; when, perceiving his opponent still unhurt, and about to make a rush upon him, he leaped over the body of his dying horse, still floundering in the edge of the bushes, and, in the noise thus occasioned, and in the screening smoke of his own fire, made good his escape into the forest.
"Come back, miscreant! coward!" shouted Woodburn, dismounting, and leaping forward to the place where the other had disappeared—"come back, and decide your fate or mine."
But the new-made tory colonel, who was more a coward from conscience than nature, in the present instance, perhaps, did not see fit to accept the challenge for a further personal combat. And Woodburn, judging that any attempt to pursue him in the woods would be useless, reluctantly gave up the chase, and turned to go back to his horse; when Bart, running up and peering an instant at the dying horse and then at his friend, rushed by the latter, and, throwing himself on the neck of his loved pony, fell to hugging and fondling her in an ecstasy of delight.
"O Lightfoot! Lightfoot!" he exclaimed; "lucky divil that you are, not now to be sprawling and kicking, like your tory brother there in the bushes! Yes, that you are, Lightfoot; and you shall have an oat-supper to-night that would make a horse, laugh, for catching up with the rapscallion."
"Bart!" said Woodburn, in surprise; "how did you get wind of this? But no matter. You have come too late."
"Know it—couldn't help it, though—had other fish to fry first, that musn't cool. Captain Rose and sixteen other tory prisoners are on the road here, just below."
"Prisoners! how? By whom taken?"
"O, Captain Barney, and Bart, and I, and Mr Stratagem and one or two others"
"What, only three or four of you to seventeen?"
"No; I was a flanking party of ten in the bushes, and sergeant of 'em—cocked all their guns for 'em, by cocking and uncocking my own—talked for 'em all, out of seven corners of my mouth at once, and kept 'em from firing till the word, you know. We heard your firing, and called you the front-guard; and—and we took 'em—every dog of 'em."
"Bravoes! and no fool of an exploit on your part neither, Bart, if all this is so. But are the prisoners secured? Had we not better hasten to join the escort?"
"No, two or three more came up just as I left, and there's enough now to manage in that quarter; but the advance-guard here must be kept up till we get 'em out to the groat road, lest the sneaks slink away-into the woods as they pass along the road and slip through our fingers as your smart trooper did just now. Let's see—about eight strong we will have this guard, I guess. I will be rank and file, and you shall be the officer. Come, mount! They'll be poking their heads along in sight in a moment. Ay, there they come! Advance-guard!" he now added, in a loud, commanding tone, as the slow tread of the prisoners, advancing along the devious and closely-embowered path, became audible—"advance-guard! Attention the whole! Prepare to march!—march!"
And accordingly he then, as Woodburn mounted and rode slowly on behind, commenced the enactment of his assumed part, always keeping within hearing, but never within distinct view, of the prisoners; now jabbering in as many voices as the most expert ventriloquist, and now sternly commanding, "Silence in the ranks!"—now getting up a seeming scuffle among his men, and now driving them, with thwacks and curses, to their places; and now again softening his tones and cracking jokes with his men,—Smith, Johnson, &c.,—who, in as many different tones, were heard to return various sharp and comical retorts, which raised shouts of laughter and made the forest ring with the sham merriment And thus he proceeded, to the secret amusement of the victors all if whom perfectly understood the artifice, till they emerged from the woods into the open grounds on the main road, when they were met by Major Ormsbee with a small detachment of regular soldiers. The tories were then, for the first time, permitted to know the smallness of the force that had captured them when, amidst showers of gibes and shouts of laughter, at their expense, from the Green Mountain Boys, the chapfallen creatures were wheeled into the main road, and hurried on at a lively pace to the village of Manchester, to be kept as prisoners of war, or tried as spies, as the higher authorities there should see fit to decide. [Footnote: This band of tories were, the next day after their capture, marched to Arlington, where the question was raised, and sharply discussed, whether they should be considered as prisoners of war, or tried as spies, the latter being insisted on by Mathew Lyon, and some others of the more bold and ardent friends of the American cause, who declared that Captain Rose, at least, should be tried and hung as a spy. A jury, however,—Eli Pettibone, Esq., presiding as civil magistrate,—was allowed the prisoner; when, more probably, from sympathy for the manly but misguided young officer, whom they had known as a pleasant neighbor, than from want of proof, he was acquitted as a spy, and, with the rest of his band, removed to Northampton jail as prisoner of war. Considerable favor, also, seems to have been extended to the other brothers, some of whom married into whig families, through whose influence, it is said, they retained their estates, none of the extensive Rose property being confiscated, except that of Captain Samuel Rose, which is now the residence of the Hon. J. S. Pettibone, from whom these particulars have been obtained, his father being one of the captors and his uncle the magistrate, above named.]
"Captain Woodburn!" exclaimed the clear, animated voice of one coming out of the door of the honored tavern before described, in the village of Manchester, as the person thus addressed, who had just arrived with those escorting the prisoners, was describing the capture to a crowd gathered round him in the yard—"Captain Woodburn, your most obedient! I am glad my patience in waiting for your arrival is rewarded by the good news which Powell, our landlord here, has just told us you bring. But come, sir, a word in your ear, if you please."
Woodburn turned and confronted the bright and smiling countenance of Ira Allen, who was beckoning him from the crowd.
"Certainly, Mr. Allen; but why honor me with that appellation?" responded the former, stepping aside with the ardent young secretary.
"Because I have the warrant for so doing in my pocket—a captain's commission for you, my dear sir, if you will believe me."
"Yes, we have done something in the council at last worth talking about—voted to raise a regiment of Rangers forthwith, and appointed all the commissioned officers, Samuel Herrick heading the list as colonel."
"A gallant fellow, who will honor the post. But how about the means of paying and supporting such a force? You lately held taxing the people, without their consent, too bold a measure, I thought."
"We did, but have nevertheless adopted a bolder one."
"What is it?"
"Decreed the confiscation of the estates of the tories, appointed the necessary officers to execute the decree, and despatched messengers to them with commissions, instructions, and with orders to put the machine immediately into motion. By to-morrow nigh many of those on our black list will—"
"Your black list?"
"Yes, already mostly made out for operations. But what is there to startle you in that?"
"Nothing; and yet I cannot forbear asking if that list includes one in whose family you may guess I feel some interest."
"I fear so, and regret that the proofs are so strong as to require it."
"Could not action in that case be deferred? An angel is pleading with him to remain neutral."
"If she were a whig angel, Woodburn, I know not——"
"She is, she is—firmly, devotedly."
"Indeed! Well, for your sake, Woodburn, I am glad of it. And as the political hue of petticoats has already been permitted to have an influence, in some instances of the kind, in making up the list, it may have in this case. But the old man's enmity to our cause is so notorious, that I fear his estate must go, though the daughter, if she prove true, will not be forgotten on the question of a future restoration of her share of the property. But I am neglecting my chief business with you. We have fixed your present destination for the other side of the mountain, where among your old acquaintances, it was thought, you could raise a company most expeditiously."
"But where is the money to come from to pay my recruits: Even in case these estates are sold, who among us, these times, has money to purchase them?"
"The answer to that question involves a secret which is known to but a few of us, and which must not be further revealed. Suffice it that there is yet among us abundance of money, besides the British gold that is beginning to be scattered along our border to meet our present requirements. You will be supplied in season."
"I am content, and ready to depart."
"How soon can you start?"
"This hour, if necessary."
"Retire, then, and obtain a few hours' sleep; but be off before day. Here are your commission and instructions, by which you will see that your subalterns are to be of your own appointing. Good-night, and God speed you on your way. Remember that we expect much of you, and that I stand voucher for your good conduct. And remember, also, my dear fellow," added the speaker, in a low, confidential tone, "that the interests of your fair friend could not be in better keeping."
"You have laid me under deep obligations to you, Mr. Allen for all this," began Woodburn, with grateful emotion.
"Yes, to do well; but not a word of thanks will I hear. So off with you to your rest. Begone, sir!" said Allen, pushing the other away, with that winning smile and kindly playful manner, with which he ever so wonderfully contrived to gain the hearts and control the actions of all whom he wished to make friends.
"It is not much the world can give With all its subtle art; And gold and rank are not the things To satisfy the heart."
The day following the occurrences noted in the preceding chapter was an eventful one to the Haviland family, developing circumstances calculated to hasten the crisis to which the conflicting feelings and conduct of the father and daughter had been for some time silently tending, and to give a new turn to their respective destinies.
It was late in the afternoon. No event had thus far during the day occurred to mar the usual tranquillity of the family; and Haviland, yet uninformed of the untoward affair which befell his party the last evening at Manchester, and little dreaming of the bold and decisive measures adopted by the Council of Safety, was seated at a table in his usual sitting-room, examining, with a satisfied and triumphant air, a map of New York, on which he was tracing out the intended route of the British army in its hitherto victorious way from the St. Lawrence to Albany. At length he began to muse aloud, partly to himself, apparently, and partly to his daughter, who, with a pensive brow, was seated at an open window in the same room, quietly engaged with her needle-work.
"As soon as General Burgoyne can clear the road of the trees and other obstructions, with which the rebels, in their impotent spite, have filled it, so that he can move on to the Hudson, how that grand army will sweep away the feeble and undisciplined bands that may venture to oppose its victorious march! And when a junction of the British armies is formed at Albany, what can this infatuated people think of doing then? With the north completely cut off from the south, as will then be the case, what can these two sections, which together can hardly raise a respectable force, do, when thus divided and prevented from all concert and cooperation? Ay, what will they do then? Come, Sabrey," he added, turning with an exulting air to his daughter, "perhaps you, who appear to have so high an opinion of rebel prowess—perhaps you can answer the question?"
"I may be better prepared to answer the question, perhaps when I see the junction you anticipate really effected. Burgoyne has not reached Albany yet," replied the other, with playful significance.
"Be sure not; but what is to prevent him? What force can the rebels oppose that he will not scatter like chaff before the wind? None! I tell you, girl, their doom is sealed!"
"It might be, if they would consent to let you fight their battles for them, father. But the battle which they are preparing to give Burgoyne they will choose to fight themselves, I imagine. A few Bunker Hill lessons, on his way, might materially alter the general's prospects."
"Bunker Hill? Pooh! Why, we routed them even there behind their breastworks. Besides, we never had so fine an army as this in the field before. I only wish I was as sure of some good commission in Burgoyne's army, as I am that he will march triumphantly through to Albany, and thus bring this unnatural war to a close."
"Would you think of going into that army, father, should you receive such an appointment?" asked the daughter, in a tone of surprise and expostulation.
"Why, I should be proud to be there, Sabrey, in an army that contains so much of the first talents and chivalry of England."
At this stage of the conversation, a man rode up to the door, and, dismounting and entering the house, handed to Mr. Haviland, after inquiring his name, a gorgeously-sealed packet.
Haviland, after examining the seal a moment, bowed low to the stranger, and inquiringly observed,—
"From General Burgoyne, I believe?"
The messenger, nodding in the affirmative, and saying he was directed to wait for an answer, the former broke open the missive, and found in it, by singular coincidence, an answer to the prayer he had a few moments before indirectly uttered a commission, or appointment in the commissary department of the British army. After perusing the paper a second time, he turned, and, with a consequential air, handed it to his daughter, whose countenance instantly fell AS she glanced over the suspected contents.
"You cannot seriously think of accepting this appointment father," she said, with a look of concern; "you cannot think of leaving your quiet and comfortable home, and engaging, at your age, in the fatigues and dangers of the camp?"
"Why not, Sabrey?" replied the other, reprovingly. "From my knowledge of the country, I can be of great use in procuring the supplies which the army will need, as the general doubtless foresaw; and I consider it my duty to the king to lend my feeble aid when called. The post is not, it is true, a very high one; but it is honorable and lucrative, and I shall accept it."
'If this is Miss Sabrey Haviland, I have a letter for her also,' here interposed the messenger, rising and presenting the letter in question.
Sabrey broke open the proffered letter, which proved to be from her friend Miss McRea, and ran thus:—
"You remember your promise, Sabrey, to visit me the first opportunity. That opportunity now occurs. Captain Jones and other friends have presented your father's name at head-quarters for promotion; and he has now, I am informed, received an appointment. If he accepts, as I am sure he will, I hope you will accompany him, and remain with me. I have just received one of those letters so precious to me: he says the army will probably move on to Fort Edward next week, the obstructions in the road being mostly removed; so that, by the time you arrive, I shall probably be enabled to introduce you to the beautiful and accomplished ladies of whom he has so much to say,—such as the Countess of Reidesel, Lady Harriet Ackland, and others, who accompany their husbands in the campaign. But you will perhaps say that he is interested in praising these ladies for the love and heroism which prompt them to brave such fatigues and dangers for the sake of their lords, since he is warmly urging me to consent to an immediate union, that I may follow their example. He says, in his last letter,—and I think truly,—that I cannot long remain where I am, in a section which he evidently anticipates, will soon become a frightful scene of strife and bloodshed; and that I must therefore go away with my friends, and leave him, perhaps forever, or put myself under his protection in the army. And he seems hurt that I hesitate in a choice of the alternatives. On the other hand, my connections and friends here think it would be little short of madness in me to yield to my lover's proposal. The people about here are greatly alarmed at the expected approach of the British army, which is known to be accompanied by a large body of Indians, Many are already removing and nearly all preparing to go The crisis hastens, and yet I am undecided. Prudence points one way, love the other. What shall I do? O Sabrey what shall I do? Should you come on with your father, I think I should feel a confidence in going with you to the British encampment. Come then, my friend, come quickly, for I feel as if I could not go on without friends, and especially a female friend, to accompany me; while, at the same time, I feel as if some irresistible destiny would compel me to the attempt. And yet why would I hesitate to take any step which he advises? Why refuse to share with him any dangers which he may encounter? And why should my anticipations of the future, which have never, till recently, during my happy intimacy with Mr. Joes, been so bright and blissful, be clouded now? I know not; I know not why it should be so; but lately my bosom has become disturbed by strange misgivings, and my mind perplexed by dark and undefined apprehensions. I must not, however, indulge them; and your presence, I know, would entirely dissipate them. I repeat, therefore, come, and that quickly. Adieu.
"Yours, truly, JANE McREA."
The messenger in waiting, having been invited into another room to partake of some refreshment, and the father and daughter being thus left again by themselves, the latter now handed the other for his perusal the affectionate but too truly boding letter of her fated friend.
"And what answer do you intend to return to this kind and pressing invitation of your friend, Sabrey?" asked Haviland, after attentively reading the epistle.
"That I do not think it advisable to accept it, at this time, father," answered the girl.
"Why not advisable?" asked the other, in a censorious tone. "I see nothing to object to in the step, going, as you will, under the protection of a father; while it will introduce you to a circle which few American girls can ever reach."
"I feel quite willing to forego the honor of such an introduction," coolly returned the daughter. "And were it otherwise, the very letter that brings me the invitations unfolds enough to deter me from the undertaking."
"You wholly mistake your friend's meaning," responded the former. "Her apprehensions are merely the natural effect of maiden timidity. I think, as her lover seems to do, that the safest place for her is with the British army. So I think it will be for you; for I know not what punishment will be inflicted on these settlements for their rebellious and treasonable conduct And it is my wish to separate myself and family from them, before the day of reckoning arrives. I shall, therefore, expect you to attend me."
As the daughter was about to reply a domestic came in and announced the arrival of Colonel Peters; and the latter, the next moment, with a dark and sullen brow, unceremoniously entered the apartment. He did not, however, deign immediately to unfold the cause of his evident ill-humor, but contented himself with listening to the news, which the elated Haviland was prompt to impart in relation to his own promotion, the invitation received by his daughter to accompany him to the army or its vicinity, and his thus far rejected advice to her to accede to the proposal. The cold countenance of Peters brightened with selfish delight at the recital; for in the old gentleman's appointment, his determination to accept it, and his intention of taking his daughter with him, if she could be so persuaded, the former saw the triumph of his machinations to involve the family inextricably in the royal cause. But that triumph would not be complete, unless the daughter, whose predilections for Woodburn and the American cause were more than suspected, could be kept within the scope of loyal influence. He therefore secretly resolved that, if her father left the settlement to join the army, she should not be left behind, but should be induced or compelled to accompany him. He consequently was not slow to add his advice and entreaties to those of the father. This he did for a while with some show of respect and kindness; but finding her still immovable, he at length became irritated, and assumed a tone of dictation so inconsistent with the natural delicacy of a lover, that she declined any further conversation with him on the subject.
"Where will you go, perverse and blinded girl?" now interposed the father, reproachfully. "You would not stay here alone and unprotected, would you?"
"I should not hesitate to do so on account of any molestation which American troops would offer me," replied Sabrey, with a significant emphasis on the word American. "And should others approach, I would go to my connections on the other side of the mountains."
"Miss Haviland may have her private reasons for wishing to remain in this section of the country," said Peters, with an ill-suppressed sneer, turning to the father.
"Will you please explain your meaning, sir?" demanded the girl with spirit.
"I mean," replied Peters, "that she who would hold clandestine meetings with one whom her father has seen fit to eject from his house, might see the advantage of remaining where her interviews could be enjoyed without molestation."
"Sabrey Haviland, is that true?" asked the old gentleman with a gathering frown.
"She will hardly deny, I think," said Peters, "that the fellow was here soon after I left last night. At all events, he was seen to leave the premises in pursuit of me. By whom he was informed of the direction I took, I know not; but I know he overtook me, beset me like a ruffian, and shot my horse by a ball intended for the rider."
"Is all that true, I repeat?" again fiercely demanded Haviland of his daughter, in a burst of rage.
But without deigning one word of reply either to the insulting insinuations of Peters, or the angry and ill-timed demand of her father, Sabrey, with cheeks glowing with offended delicacy and just indignation, rose from her seat, and was about to leave the apartment, when her step was arrested by the altered voice of her father, who, quickly becoming sensible of the harshness of his conduct from its visible effects, now spoke to her in a softened and more expostulatory tone.
"Surely, Sabrey, you are not going to deny my right, as a parent, to question you, or at least ask you for an explanation respecting charges which have the appearance of involving your character?"
"I might not," said she, coolly, but respectfully; "and indeed, I should not, at another time, have refused to answer your question so far as I could, however harshly it was put to me; but I must still decline to do so in this presence!" she added, glancing towards the abashed Peters, with an air of scorn to which her usually serene and benignant countenance never before, perhaps, gave expression.
"Perhaps, Miss Haviland," said Peters, stung by the remark and manner of the other, and now rallying for the revenge to which such minds are prone to resort—"perhaps Miss Haviland, on a little more reflection, may be willing to acknowledge that I, also, am not wholly without a right to ask for an explanation in an affair which she seems to admit requires one."
"I am not aware, sir," promptly responded the maiden, so much aroused by the cool arrogance of the other, as to forget her determination to hold no more conversation with him—"I am not aware, sir, of having admitted any necessity of an explanation And had I done so, I should be very far from acknowledging your right to require it of me."
"It is possible," rejoined the former in the same strain—"it is possible Miss Haviland may be willing to qualify her last remark a little, when she is reminded of the existence of a certain marriage contract, to which she voluntarily became a party."
"I need no prompting to make me mindful of that evidence of my youthful indiscretion, sir," responded Miss Haviland; "nor should I be likely to forget the particular provisions of an instrument, the thought of which has cost me, as my entreaties to be released from it should have apprised you, so many painful regrets. But, while mindful of all this, I have yet to be informed of the provision which, till the contract is consummated, gives you any control over my actions, or right to require me to account for or explain them."
"If the instrument, which I have somewhere about me, I believe," replied the other, with his usual cold indifference, as he took the document from his pocket, and began, with a businesslike air, to glance over the contents—"if the instrument does not express, or rather if it is not admitted to presuppose and give me, any of the rights I have named till it is consummated, then it is time that I should insist on its consummation, which, as few others would have done, I have so long forborne to urge."
"I perfectly agree with Colonel Peters," interposed Mr. Haviland, catching at the last suggestion in his growing alarm for the success of his favorite scheme, which the unexpected state of feeling here displayed taught him might be endangered, if not speedily consummated. "I perfectly agree with him, that this business has already been sufficiently delayed; and I think, as the family is now about to break up, that the final ceremony had better be performed before we go, or, at the farthest, when we reach the army, where, as Sabrey would perhaps prefer, it might take place at the same time as that of her friend, who is similarly situated."
"You forget," said the maiden, now freshly aroused at this combined attempt to make her forego her last remaining privilege in the abhorrent negotiation—"you both forget that the very instrument, by which you claim to dispose of my hand, expressly leaves to me, and to me only, the right and privilege of deciding upon the time for that ceremony, by which you would now, it seems, so summarily consummate your unmanly scheme. And thank Heaven!" she continued, turning to the nonplused suitor with an air of decision and fearlessness which the excitement of insulted feeling could only have given her—"thank Heaven, I had the forethought to insist on a privilege now so precious to me; for let me assure you, sir, that distant will be the day when I shall fix on a time for consummating a contract, wrung from girlish inexperience, to gratify selfish ambition or mistaken views in the first place, and now claimed to hold me like a sold article of merchandise, for the use and control of one whose feelings, principles, and whole character are every way uncongenial with my own."
"What!—how!" exclaimed the irritated and evidently astonished Haviland, who, in his obtuseness, even now, could not perceive what objection his daughter could have to a match esteemed by him so advantageous. "What can this mean? Why, the girl must be demented! You to decide on the time! Why, reasonable time is all that was meant by that, if it is not so expressed!"
"That is all; nothing more," eagerly chimed in Peters.
"If a part of the instrument is to be construed differently from what is expressed, and as you choose, why not other parts, and as I choose?" calmly asked the unmoved girl. "If so, then its power to bind me shall cease with this hour."
"What folly!" again exclaimed the old gentleman, balked and chafing worse than before. "Why, don't the infatuated girl know that, to say nothing about losing prospects which no other young lady in the country would reject—that by marrying any other man, she will forfeit her birthright in my estate, and make herself, as she will deserve to be, a beggar?"
"I have no thought of marrying any other man while in my present embarrassing position," quickly retorted the former, with an offended air. "But should I wish to do so, I should hardly be deterred from it by either of the considerations you have just named, I think. And, indeed, if the mercenary and ambitious motives, which you would have actuate me, were alone to be my guide in such a step, I could see but little temptation for the sacrifice in the honors and wealth which are so much to depend on a triumph that, for all your boasts, I believe will never be accomplished; while the failure, if the same justice is meted out to you which you seem to be meditating for others, will leave you with a branded name, and no estate here to give or withhold."
"Silence! audacious girl," exclaimed the baffled loyalist, unable longer to endure the calm but scorching rebuke involved in the reply of his daughter. "I will listen to no more of your railings. This comes of being allowed to mingle with an ignorant, rebellious populace. But that evil shall, at least, be remedied. You will attend me to the army, where, I trust, your eyes may soon be opened to your folly."
"You may perhaps compel me to go, sir," responded the still unawed maiden; "but if you do so, let me warn you against all hope of thereby rendering my feelings less repugnant to the scheme we have been discussing, or of changing my views of the cause in which you are about to embark; for I will now openly declare, what I have often before left you to infer, that I have no sympathies for those who come to oppress and enslave my country; nor will I ever aid or sanction their ignoble purposes—not even to the withholding any intelligence I may gain of their movements, which may avert disaster or peril from our struggling people."
"Hurrah for the tory's daughter!" now burst on the ears of the astonished group, from a band of armed men standing immediately beneath the open but thickly vine-clad windows without, whither, it seemed, they had approached unperceived, and thus become unintentional listeners to the last part of the foregoing dialogue, which they were still hesitating to break in upon, when their admiration of the heroic girl's declarations led to the irrepressible burst of applause just mentioned—"Hurrah for the tory's daughter! She shall be remembered for that!"
The party within instantly rose to their feet at so strange and unexpected a salutation. Peters, aware, from the experience of the last night, that his capture was sought, was the first, as might be expected, to take the alarm. With a hasty step towards the window, and an equally hasty glance through the screening foliage at the new-comers, he hurriedly retreated through a door leading to the rear of the house. Haviland, scarcely less alarmed, though having no conception of the main object of the visit, advanced, with evident perturbation, to the front door, when he was met at the threshold by the secretary of the Council of Safety, who, bowing politely, proceeded to apologize for the noisy outbreak of his attendants, which, contrary to his wishes, he said, had been made to announce his arrival.
"Attendants, sir?" exclaimed Haviland, casting a flurried glance at the file of soldiers in the yard—"attendants—armed men led up here to my door? Who are they? What is then business, and yours, sir? This affair needs explanation, sir."
"Well, sir, if so, I am here to give it," composedly replied Allen. "But, as you appear somewhat agitated, let us walk in and talk over the matter calmly."
Mechanically complying with the suggestion, Haviland turned and led the way into the room, where his daughter still stood, mutely awaiting the development; when the secretary, after bowing with marked respect to Miss Haviland, with whom, it appeared, he was slightly acquainted, resumed,—
"The Council of Safety, sir, having determined on defending the state to the last extremity, in the present crisis, have perceived, with deep regret, that there are those in our midst who hesitate not either to take up arms against their countrymen, or, what is no better, secretly to aid the enemy, and harbor and conceal in their houses hostile emissaries, trying to seduce our people. And not perceiving the policy or justice of longer permitting their cause thus to be endangered, the council have decided on a measure for promptly remedying the evil—a measure which they had less hesitation in adopting, as they believed, from the repeated threats of the loyalists, they would only be anticipating their opponents by inflicting penalties, that, in case of the conquest of this country, will be visited on themselves. They have passed a solemn decree, sir, to confiscate, for the public use, all the estates of both of the classes of loyalists I have named, among one of which, at least, they have abundant proof, I regret to say, to warrant them in classing Esquire Haviland. And they direct me to permit him to take one of the horses, lately his own, and depart, with the least possible delay, for the British camp, where, they think, he more properly belongs."
The arrogant loyalist, who had hitherto looked upon the Council of Safety with utter contempt for either their powers or their efficiency, was now perfectly thunderstruck at the announcement of so bold and unexpected a measure; and, for some moments, his mouth seemed wholly sealed against any remonstrance to a step which, not for public good, but for his own aggrandizement, he was conscious of intending to recommend to the British government in relation to the estates of the leading rebels, and especially those of the treasonable body by whom, as had just been so truthfully told him, his selfish designs had now been anticipated. Soon rallying, however, he wrathfully muttered,—
"They dare not do it; their audacity will not carry them to that length. But if they do," he continued, with louder and more menacing tones—"if they do attempt to carry out their plundering purposes, I will bring down upon them, within eight and forty hours, a British force that will give them enough to do to take care of themselves and their own property, without meddling with that of others."
"That is what we supposed you would be glad to do, in any case," quietly responded Allen. "It but swells the proof against you, and goes to confirm the justice of the decree."
"O, do not say any more, father," interposed Miss Haviland, with much feeling. "Do not, I beg of you, further and more inextricably involve yourself. You know how gladly I would have saved you from this; how often warned you of the consequences of persisting in your course. Perhaps it is not too late to retract, even now. Who knows but the council, who have done this but from a sense of duty to their country, and with no ill will against you personally, may yet be induced, if you will send in a pledge of neutrality, to reverse their sentence as regards you, and still leave you in possession of your property and a quiet home? I myself, feeble girl as I am, would go before them to intercede for you; and perhaps this gentleman would assist me," she added, with an appealing glance to Allen.
"Most gladly," replied the latter, touched at the magnanimity of the girl, in her distress—"most gladly, and with great hope of success."
"Do you hear that, father?" said the other, eagerly; "do you hear what I feel—I know—may yet be done for you? Then do not reject my petition, but retract, and give up your intention of joining these invaders of your country."
"No," replied the old gentleman, after a moment of apparent wavering—"no, never! Let the plunderers take possession of my estate here for the short time they will be enabled to hold it, if they will. To-morrow morning I start for the British camp."
"It is as I feared," observed Allen, turning to the daughter; "but your efforts to rescue your father, Miss Haviland, and the noble stand you have taken on this occasion and before, are, let me assure you, appreciated by myself, and will not fail to be so by those of more controlling influence. And although this property will, in a few days, be sold by those duly appointed, and now here to guard and dispose of it, yet the government, which has the power to confiscate, will have the power to restore; and I have no fears that your own interests will eventually be made to suffer by a measure which may now appear as harsh to you as it appeared necessary to the upright and patriotic men who felt themselves constrained to adopt it. In this you may trust, I think, as regards the future. As for the present, I am only empowered to offer you an asylum in some friendly family of the neighborhood, with ample means of support, or, if you prefer, a safe conveyance, with a female attendant, should you desire it, to any family in a more distant part of the state."
"My daughter will probably go with me, sir," said Haviland, resentfully.
"No, father," said the girl, firmly; "that army is no proper place for a young lady and especially one of my views. I shall for the present, go into the family of our neighbor Risdon; but in a few days, I will gratefully accept of Mr. Allen's offer of a conveyance, and, as I proposed to you a short time ago, go to my connections on the other side of the mountains."
"Your wishes will be attended to in this or any other respect as soon as you shall please to signify them, Miss Haviland," said the secretary, as, bowing a respectful adieu, he now departed with part of his armed attendants, for other and similar visits which remained to be accomplished that night among the unsuspecting tories of that vicinity.
Within an hour or two after the departure of Allen, or as soon as the growing darkness would enable a skulker to approach unseen, a man, who was of the latter description evidently, might have been discovered slowly and cautiously making a circuit round the house, but at so respectable distance from it as to escape the observation of the guard now stationed at three or four commanding points about the premises. When he had reached a point nearly opposite to the back door, he ventured up to the border of the intervening garden, and gave a low, significant whistle. After a momentary silence, a slight rustling was heard in a thick patch of corn occupying a portion of the garden, and Peters, who, it will be recollected, passed out in this direction, and who, perceiving his retreat cut off by men already posted in the fields, had here lain concealed till now, cautiously emerged from his covert, and came forward to the spot where the other stood awaiting his approach.
"Well, Redding," said Peters, in a low voice, as he came up "when I asked you this morning to come here to Haviland's to-night to see me, before I went to the army, I didn't exactly expect you would have to call me out of a corn patch to receive my orders. But how came you to know or suspect I was here? You have not ventured in there, I take it?" he added, leading the way into the field, which the guard had now left.
"No," replied the other; "I caught a glimpse of the fellows in the yard as I came in sight, and, mistrusting what was to pay from what I had just heard of their movements this forenoon in Manchester, and other towns thereabouts I struck off across the pasture, where I luckily encountered the old squire, who walked out there, after the leader of the gang had left, and who told me of your concealment, and all."
"Yes, he came to the back door, here, the first chance he could get, to see if I had escaped, when, contriving to apprise him where I was, I had got a moment's talk with him just before. But what have you heard about their movements in other places to-day?"
"Why, I met Asa Rose going post-haste to warn our friends in this direction to be on their guard. He says they have seized on the estates of all the Rose family, and every other leading loyalist, as far as they could hear, in all that section; and, in several instances, put the owners themselves under guard. What do you say to all that, colonel?"
"Glad of it. Though an act of lawlessness and audacity which I did not once dream of their attempting, and which, even now, they will not dare to carry out, should they have time to do so before their brief career is arrested, yet I am glad the rebel fools have done it; for, between you and me, Redding, I have had my doubts whether the British government, which is ever too merciful, would take their estates from them, when we come to subdue them, as you know we have talked; but now vengeance will be swift and certain. Their estates will all be seized and given to the deserving."
"Ay, that's it!" exclaimed the perfidious minion, with a chuckle of satisfaction; "it will give us our revenge, and at the same time supply us with the needful. I have a good many scores to settle with the people about here; and I know of the farm of a certain rebel that I shall ask for my share, as I think I justly may, seeing how active I've been this summer.
"Yes, yes," replied Peters, rather impatiently; "but there must be no more wavering and turning with you. What you ask you must earn, remember."
"You see if I don't! only name what you would have me do, colonel!" eagerly responded the other.
"Well, I will now," said the former, coming to a halt. "Yes, as we are, by this time, fairly out of reach and hearing of these foiled rebels, who have so kindly yielded me a pass through this side of their watch, thinking, doubtless, that I could not have been in the house when they surrounded it, but should be there this evening—yes, I will give you my orders now, which will embrace a fresh item or two above what I intended before some of the occurrences of this afternoon. Well, in the first place, you are to proceed to Castleton, and join the northern company there collected and ready for operations at the Remington rendezvous, You will then become the guide and assistant of the leader of that force, which is to move on to some secret and safe place, to be selected by you (as you know the localities, and the leader don't) in the woods near the Twenty Mile Encampment, where, acting is the advanced corps of our planned expedition to the Connecticut by that route, they will remain concealed as much as possible, till further orders, watching all movements of the rebels, and drawing in every trusty loyalist that can be approached. And mark me, Redding, while there, or elsewhere, remember, that accursed Woodburn is a doomed man, and is to be taken, if found, and kept for my disposal. And I have another order, which must be left still more to your especial management. Haviland's daughter, with whom you know, I suppose, how I am situated, has got some dangerous notions into her head, and, refusing to hear to her father, who wishes her to go with him to the army, has determined to go to her relatives, over the mountain, in a carriage the rebels have promised to provide her. She will be along that road, probably, soon after you get to your rendezvous. She must be stopped, and conducted, with good treatment, mind you, back, through some secret route, to the British camp, where her father, though he knows nothing of my plan, will be glad to receive and keep her. And now I will be off to my horse, which I luckily left at the house of a friend, on the cross road, about a mile to the west of us."
"Will you go far on your journey to-night?"
"About seven miles, to the house of another friend, where I am to be joined by the squire in the morning, and, with him, proceed directly to the army."
"How soon are we to hear from you?"
"Within ten days, or sooner. I shall, with all possible despatch, organize and prepare the force designed for the purpose; when I shall sweep on through Arlington and Manchester, and, after teaching them a few lessons in that quarter, proceed at once to join you. There! you now know all; go, and remember that secrecy and vengeance are the watchwords."
"Ay, ay; I am your man for all that, colonel," responded the heartless tool, as the two now separated to depart on their different destinations.
"What nearer foe is lurking in the glade?— But joy! Columbia's friends are trampling through the shade!"
One of the earliest and most noted of the houses of public entertainment in Vermont was that of Captain John Coffin, situated in the north part of Cavendish, on the old military road, cut out in the French wars, by the energetic General Amherst, with a regiment of New Hampshire Boys, and extending from Number Four, as Charleston on the Connecticut was then called, to the fortresses on Lake Champlain. This tavern, at the time of the revolution, being on the very outskirts of the settlements on the east side of the Green Mountains, was long the general resort of the soldier and the common wayfarer for rest and refreshment, before and after passing over the long and dreary route of mountain wilderness lying between the eastern and western settlements of the state. And to the soldier, especially, it was a favorite haven; the more so, doubtless, from the congenial character of its frank, fearless, patriotic, but blunt and unpolished landlord, whose substantial cheer and hearty welcome, money or no money usually caused him to be looked upon as a friend, as well as a good entertainer. To this then widely-known establishment we will now repair, to note the occurrences next to be related in the progress of our story.
On a dark and cloudy afternoon, about ten days after the events related in the last chapter, a company of five persons were assembled in the rudely finished bar-room of the inn just described. Of these, three were strangers, or pretended strangers, to the house and each other; having dropped in at different intervals during the afternoon. Of the two others, one was the landlord, whose burly frame, rough, open features, and fear-nought countenance need have left none in doubt of either the physical or moral traits which experience proved he possessed. The other, a somewhat tall, thin, gaunt man, of a weather-beaten visage, and a sort of sly, scrutinizing look, was an old acquaintance of the reader. As of old, his large powder-horn and ball-pouch were slung under his left arm, and his long, heavy rifle, standing by his side, was resting on the sill of the open window beneath which he had seated himself, so as to enable him to note what might be passing without as well as within. The manner in which the latter and the landlord occasionally exchanged glances, implied a previous and familiar acquaintance, the usual manifestations of which seemed to be repressed by the presence of the three guests first named, who were evidently objects of the secret suspicion of the former. But all this, for some time, might have passed unheeded by any but close observers; for few remarks, and those of the briefest and most common-place kind, were offered; and an inclination for silence and reserve was manifest among the company.
A circumstance at length occurred, however, which quickly awakened the landlord from his apparent apathy, and brought some of the leading characteristics of the man at once into view. A very large and powerfully-made black dog, which belonged to the house, had just marched into the room, and laid down to sleep in the middle of the floor; when one of the strangers, whom we have noticed, in returning from the bar, where he had been for a drink of water, trod on the animal's tail, either through accident or design—probably the latter;—at least the landlord seemed to suspect so; for his countenance instantly flashed with indignation, and, turning abruptly to the aggressor, he said,—
"What was that done for, sir?"
"Done for?" replied the other, indifferently. "Why, it was done because the dog was in my way. If he don't want his tail trod on, he must keep out from under foot; that's all."
"Well, sir," rejoined the former, in no gentle tones, "I don't know who you are; but whether whig or tory, gentle or simple, I shall just take the liberty to tell you, that if I was sure you did that intentionally, I would pull your ears for you; for, if any living being has a good right to remain undisturbed, and do as he likes in this house, it is that dog. Roarer, come here, my old friend," he added, turning to fondle the creature, that now, dropping the menacing attitude he had assumed towards the aggressing stranger, came up and thrust his huge snout into his master's lap. "Yes, old fellow, while I live, you shall never want a friend to avenge your wrongs, though I have to fight a regiment to do it! And aint I right in that, Dunning?" he still further remarked, turning to the hunter.
"Der yes, if needful," replied the latter; "but the ditter dog. I'm thinking, would ask no favors, if you would give him leave to der do his own work on meddlers.
"O, that wouldn't do, you know, Tom," rejoined the former, "for, if I but said the word, Roarer would tear him in shoestrings, as quick as you could say Jack Roberson! No I'll settle the hash myself. And I am now ready to hear the fellow's explanation," he added, again turning sternly to the aggressor.
But the last-named questionable personage, not relishing the course matters were taking, now, in a subdued and altered tone promptly disclaimed any intention of touching the dog, and expressed his regret at what had happened.
"O, that's enough," said Coffin, instantly cooling off. "All right now, Roarer. You may lie down again, sir," he continued, waving away the dog, that had faced round, and still stood suspiciously eyeing the offender. "Yes, that's enough; we'll call the matter settled. But by way of explaining to you, who are strangers, what I have said about that dog's claims to my friendship and protection, I must tell you a story, which will show you how much the noble creature is deserving at my hands.
"Six years ago, the seventh day of last March, as I was returning from the settlements on Otter Creek, a distance of from twenty to thirty miles, through the then entire wilderness, with the snow nearly five feet deep on a level, and the weather so cold and stormy, that I was compelled to travel with great-coat on, as well as snow-shoes, I undertook to cross one of the ponds in Plymouth on the ice, which I supposed perfectly sound and safe for any thing that could be got on to it. But for some reason or other, there seemed to have been one place, concealed from view by the snow, so thin and spongy, that the moment I stepped upon it, I went down some feet below the surface into the water, while the snow and broken ice at once closed over me. And although I succeeded in forcing my way up through the slush, and getting my head above water, yet I soon found it, hampered as I was with snow-shoes and great-coat, impossible to get out. As sure as I tried to raise myself by the treacherous support at the sides, so sure was it to give way, and precipitate me back into the water. But still I struggled on, till chilled to the vitals, so benumbed that I could scarcely move a limb, and growing weaker and weaker at every effort, I could do no more; and I saw myself gradually sinking for the last time. O heavens! who can describe my sensations—who conceive the thousand thoughts that flashed through my mind at that horrible moment! But just as I was on the point of giving up in despair, I caught a glimpse of my dog (that had taken a circuit wide from me after some game) coming on to the pond. I raised one faint shout—it was all I could do,—and, though nearly a half mile off, he heard it, and came on, with monstrous bounds, to the spot. In a moment he was there; and, after giving me one look,—I can never forget that look,—he slid down to the very verge of the hole to try to assist me. With a struggle, I made out to raise one hand out of the water within his reach. He seized the cuff of my coat, and, drawing back with the seeming strength of a draught-horse, he, with one pull, brought me half out of the water. With a desperate effort on my part, and another on his, the next instant I was lying helpless, but safe, on the ice, while the dog fairly howled aloud for joy! I said safe; for as hopeless as some might have viewed my situation, even then, wet, benumbed, nearly dead with cold and exhaustion, and many miles from any human help or habitation, as I was, yet rallying every energy I had left me, and rolling, kicking, and pawing, to put my blood in motion, and regain the use of my limbs, I soon got on to my feet; when, seizing my gun, that I had hurled aside as I went down, I made for a dry tree in sight, fired into a spot of spunk I luckily found on one side of it, kindled a fire, warmed and dried myself, set forward again, and reached home that night; but with feelings towards that dog, sir, that I can never know towards any other created being—not even, in some respects, towards my wife and children. Yes, sir; I will not only fight, but, if need be, die for him."