by Mary Addams Bayne
CHAPTER I. THE
COMING OF THE
GETTING TO WORK
CHAPTER VI. ONE
CHAPTER VII. THE
CHAPTER IX. THE
AFTERNOON IN THE
CHAPTER XV. THE
CHAPTER XVI. A
CHAPTER XVII. AT
CANE RIDGE AGAIN
CHAPTER XIX. THE
CHAPTER XX. THE
LONE GRAVE IN
THE BAR SINISTER
CHAPTER XXV. THE
PACKAGE OF OLD
AT THE “BLUE
AUNT DILSEY TO
CHAPTER XXXI. A
EXIT JAMES ANSON
THE CUP OF COLD
[Illustration: Abner gently checked his mare, and sat watching
A Centennial Story of Cane Ridge
MARY ADDAMS BAYNE
Illustrated by O. A. Stemler
THE STANDARD PUBLISHING COMPANY CINCINNATI, OHIO
COPYRIGHT, 1907, BY THE STANDARD PUBLISHING CO. CINCINNATI, O.
To my husband, J. C. Bayne, who in this, as in all else I have
attempted, has given loving, loyal, unstinted support and
Abner Dudley (Logan,) a young schoolmaster from Virginia.
Major Gilcrest, ex-Revolutionary soldier and prominent churchman.
Mason Rogers, pioneer settler and warm advocate of Barton Stone.
Barton Warren Stone, preacher at Cane Ridge meeting-house.
James Anson Drane, young lawyer and land agent.
Betsy Gilcrest, only daughter of Major and Mrs. Gilcrest.
Abby Patterson, niece of Major Gilcrest.
Sarah Jane Gilcrest, wife of Major Gilcrest.
Cynthia Ann Rogers, bustling wife of Mason Rogers.
Aunt Dilsey, negro nurse and under-house keeper at Oaklands.
David Purviance, Simon Lucky, Matthew Houston, Wm. Trabue, Shadrac
Landrum, Thomas Hinkson, members of Cane Ridge Church.
Richard McNemar, tried by synod for heresy.
General Wilkinson, Judge Innes, Judge Murray, Judge Sebastian,
supposed Spanish intriguants.
Graham, detective in employ of Federal Government.
Henry Clay and Joseph Hamilton Daviess, opposing counsel in the Burr
Polly Hinkson and Molly Trabue, rustic belles.
Richard Dudley, of Virginia, foster-father of Abner Dudley (Logan.)
John Calvin, Martin Luther, Silas, Philip, Matthew, sons of Major
and Mrs. Gilcrest.
Henry, Susan, Lucindy, Lucy, Tommy, Barton, the six children of
Mason and Cynthia Ann Rogers.
Uncle Tony, Rube, Tom, Rache, Aunt Dink, slaves belonging to the
A Story of Early Kentucky
MARY ADDAMS BAYNE
CHAPTER I. THE COMING OF THE
The spirit of Indian Summer, enveloped in a delicate bluish haze,
pervaded the Kentucky forest. Through the treetops sounded a sighing
minor melody as now and then a leaf bade adieu to the companions of its
summer revels, and sought its winter's rest on the ground beneath. On a
fallen log a redbird sang with jubilant note. What cared he for the
lament of the leaves? True, he must soon depart from this summer home;
but only to wing his way to brighter skies, and then return when
mating-time should come again. Near a group of hickory-trees a colony
of squirrels gathered their winter store of nuts; and a flock of wild
turkeys led by a pompous, bearded gobbler picked through the
underbrush. At a wayside puddle a deer bent his head to slake his
thirst, but scarcely had his lips touched the water when his head was
reared again. For an instant he listened, limbs quivering, nostrils
dilating, a startled light in his soft eyes; then with a bound he was
away into the depths of the forest. The turkeys, heeding the tocsin of
alarm from their leader, sought the shelter of the deeper undergrowth;
the squirrels dropped their nuts and found refuge in the topmost
branches of the tree which they had just pilfered; but the redbird,
undisturbed, went on with his caroling, too confident in his own beauty
and the charm of his song to fear any intruder.
The cause of alarm was a horseman whose approach had been proclaimed
by the crackling of dried twigs in the bridle-path he was traversing.
He was an erect, broad-shouldered, dark-eyed young man with ruddy
complexion, clear-cut features, and a well-formed chin. A rifle lay
across his saddle-bow, and behind him was a pair of bulky saddle-bags.
He wore neither the uncouth garb of the hunter nor the plain homespun
of the settler, but rather the dress of the Virginian cavalier of the
period, although his hair, instead of being tied in a queue, was short,
and curled loosely about his finely shaped head. The broad brim of his
black hat was cocked in front by a silver boss; the gray traveler's
cape, thrown back, revealed a coat of dark blue, a waistcoat ornamented
with brass buttons, and breeches of the same color as the coat,
reaching to the knees, and terminating in a black cloth band with
He rode rapidly along the well-defined bridle-way, and soon emerged
into a broader thoroughfare. Presently he heard the high-pitched,
quavering notes of a negro melody, faint at first and seeming as much a
part of nature as the russet glint of the setting sun through the
trees. The song grew louder as he advanced, until, emerging into an
open space, he came upon the singer, a gray-haired negro trudging
sturdily along with a stout hickory stick in his hand. The negro doffed
his cap and bowed humbly.
Marstah, hez you seed anythin' ob a spotted heifer wid one horn
broke off, anywhars on de road? She's pushed down de bars an' jes'
skipped off somewhars.
No, uncle, I've met no stray cows; but can you tell me how far it
is to Major Hiram Gilcrest's? I'm a stranger in this region.
Major Gilcrest's! exclaimed the darkey. You'se done pass de
turnin' whut leads dar. Didn' you see a lane forkin' off 'bout a mile
back by de crick, close to de big 'simmon-tree? Dat's de lane whut
leads to Marstah Gilcrest's, suh.
Ah, I see! but perhaps you can direct me to Mister Mason Rogers'
house? My business is with him as well as with Major Gilcrest.
I shorely kin, answered the negro, with a grin. I b'longs to
Marse Mason; I'se his ole uncle Tony. We libs two mile fuddah down dis
heah same road, an' ef you wants to see my marstah an' Marstah Gilcrest
bofe, you might ez well see Marse Mason fust, anyways; kaze whutevah he
say, Marse Hiram's boun' to say, too. Dey's mos' mighty thick.
The stranger turned his head to hide a momentary smile.
You jes' ride straight on, continued Uncle Tony, pointing
northward with his stick; fus' you comes to a big log house wid de
shettahs all barred up, settin' by itse'f a leetle back frum de road,
wid a woods all roun' itdat's Cane Redge meetin'-house. Soon's you
pass it, you comes to de big spring, den to a dirty leetle cabin whar
dem pore white trash, de Simminses, libs. Den you strikes a cawnfiel',
den a orchid. Den you'se dar. De dawgs an' chickens will sot up a
tur'ble rumpus, but you jes' ride up to de stile an' holler, 'Hello!'
an' some dem no-'count niggahs'll tek yo' nag an' construct you inter
Miss Cynthy Ann's presence. I'd show you de way myse'f, on'y Is'e
bountah fin' dat heifer; but you carn't miss de way.
With this he hobbled off down the road in search of the errant
heifer. Meanwhile our traveler rode steadily forward until, in another
half-hour, he came in sight of a more prosperous-looking clearing than
any he had seen since leaving Bourbonton. To the right of the road some
long-horned cattle and a mare and colt were grazing in a woodland
pasture; to the left, in a field, several negroes were gathering the
yellow corn from the shock and heaping it into piles. In an orchard
adjoining the cornfield a barefooted, freckled-faced little girl was
standing under an apple-tree with her apron held out to catch the fruit
which another barefooted, freckled-faced little girl in the branches
overhead was tossing down to her. In the center of a tree-shaded yard
stood the house, a spacious, two-story log structure, with a huge rock
chimney at each end.
As the stranger drew rein at the stile, he was greeted by a chorus
of dogs, followed instantly by the cries of a number of half-clad,
grinning little darkeys who came running forward from the negro
quarters in the rear.
Doan be skeered o' Ketchum, Mistah; he shan't tech you, called the
largest of them, a bright-skinned mulatto, quieting the snarling dog
with a kick.
Reckon Marse Mason's somewhars 'roun' de place, suh, added the
darkey in answer to the traveler's inquiry. Miss Cynthy Ann she's in
de settin'-room. Jes' walk in dar tru de passage-way, an' knock at de
fust door you comes to. I'll tek yo' hoss, suh.
The stranger crossed the low, clapboard-covered porch and entered a
wide, dusky hall running through the entire length of the house. The
hum of a spinning-wheel guided him to a side door, at which he knocked.
In answer to a loud Come in, he stepped into a large room made
cheerful by a gay rag carpet on the floor. A comely, middle-aged woman
sat at a side window, at work with her needle on some coarse homespun
material. Near her a bright-faced, rosy-cheeked girl, clad in short,
linsey dress and homespun apron, had charge of the spinning-wheel in
the center of the room. In one corner a negro girl was carding wool;
and on the wide rock hearth two little boys were parching corn in a
Glad to see you, suh, exclaimed Mrs. Rogers heartily, hastening
toward the stranger with outstretched hand. Susan, she said to the
spinner, who came forward with a modest courtesy and a shy Good
evenin', set a cheer an' tek the gentleman's hat. Racheto the
negroput by yer cardin' an' tek thet spinnin'-wheel out to the
loom-room. Tommy an' Buddy, stop litt'rin' up the h'arth, an' run wash
yer faces. Heah, tek this skillet with you, an' then see ef you kin
find yer pap. He's down whar they're geth'rin' cawn, I reckon.
Seizing a split broom as she spoke, she brushed the hearth, then
gave a tap with her foot to the smouldering logs, which broke into a
blaze and sent a shower of sparks up the wide chimney.
The days is gittin' cooler, 'spesh'ly ez night comes on. Draw up to
the fire, suhan', heah, tek this cheer; it's comf'tabler then
that'n', she said hospitably, ejecting a big tortoise-shell cat from
the depths of a cushioned rocker which she pulled forward.
My name is Dudley, madam; Abner Dudley, said the guest as he
exchanged the straight, split-bottom chair for the rocker. I learned
from Squire Osborne, of Bourbonton, that a teacher was wanted in this
neighborhood. I had intended going to Major Gilcrest's to-night, but
made the wrong turning, and then met your old servant, who directed me
You're welcome, I'm shore, 'spesh'ly ef you're a schoolmastah. We'd
begun to think we warn't to hev no school a'tall this wintah. Folks
'roun' heah air beginnin' to tek big stock in schoolin', she went on
as she resumed her seat and began to sew.
So Squire Osborne told me, answered Dudley. I'm glad the people
are interested in educational matters.
Yes; Mr. Rogers, Hirum Gilcrest an' John Trabue air plum daft about
it. Preachah Stone said last time he preached fur us thet we sartainly
air progressin', an' I'm glad on it, too, though I never hed edvantiges
myse'f. When I wuz a little gal down in Car'liny, I went to school long
'nough to l'arn my a-b-c's. Then the redskins broke up the school, an'
we didn't hev no more tell I wuz a big gal an' 'shamed to go an' l'arn
my a-b abs 'long with the little shavers. When I wuz 'bout sixteen,
'long comes Mr. Rogers, an' I didn't keer nothin' more 'bout school.
You know, when a gal gits marryin' in her haid, thar ain't no room left
in it fur book-l'arnin'. Mason he wuz a sprightly, well-sot-up young
fellah, an' soon's I laid eyes on him (it wuz at a house-raisin'
party), I wuz ready to say 'snip' ez soon ez he'd say 'snap.' Folks
them days didn't fool 'way much time a-courtin'. A man'd see a likely
gal, an' soon's he'd got a piece o' ground cl'ared an' a cabin raised,
they'd be ready to splice. So Mason an' me wuz married, an' moved up to
Kaintuck. Thet fust wintah, while we wuz a-livin' in the fort, Mason he
broke his laig out huntin', an' while he wuz laid up a spaill, he
l'arned me to read an' write an' ciphah some. I reckon ef it hadn't 'a'
been fur thet crippled laig o' his'n, I'd nevah l'arned even thet
much. She dropped her work for a moment as she reviewed this incident
of her early married life.
Doubtless, madam, you underrate your stock of learning. I dare say
you made rapid progress, said Dudley, politely.
Oh, I l'arned the readin' an' writin' all right, but, la! I nevah
hed no haid fur figgahs. I jogged 'long purty brisk with the addin' an'
subtractin', but them multiplyin' tables floored me. To this day I
allus staggers at the nines, an' ef you wuz to ax me how much wuz seven
times nine, I'd haf to count on my fingahs before I could tell whuthah
it made forty-eight or fifty-seventhough I know it's one or tuthah.
But times is changed, an' I want my childurn edicated in all the
How many children have you?
Six livin'. We lost our fust two. Henry is goin' on seventeen, an'
he jes' natch'ally teks to booksknows more'n his pap now, I reckon.
Why, he kin figgah ez fast ez I kin ravel out a piece o' knittin', an'
I nevah in my borned days heard nobody, 'cept mayby Preachah Stone,
whut could read lak him. He kin run 'long ovah them big names in the
papah an' them generalgies in the Bible lak a racin' pony. Susan, our
eldest gal, is a little the rise o' fourteen, an' wuz counted the best
spellah in the school last wintah. The twins, Lucindy an' Lucy, air
real peart, too, fur ther age, jes' turned intah ther ninth year.
Tommy, he's only five, but his pap'll sign him, too; fur we want him
brung 'long fast in his books befoh he's big 'nough to holp with the
That leaves only your youngest, I believe, said Dudley. What is
His real name is Barton Warren Stone, aftah our preachah. Mason he
sets a big store by Preachah Stonesays he's the godliest man to be so
smart an' the smartest man to be so godly he evah seen; an' you know
them two things don't allus jump togethah.
No, indeed, acknowledged Dudley; they're not so often found in
company as one might wish.
Jes' so, assented Mrs. Rogers. Well, ez I was a-sayin', Brothah
Stone hed been preachin' fur us onct a month at Cane Redge
meetin'-house 'bout a year when our youngest wuz borned; an' nothin'
would do Mason but he must be called fur the preachah. It's a
well-soundin' name, I think myse'f. So we writ it down in the big
Bible, but, la! he might ez well be called aftah Ebenezer or Be'lzebub
or any the rest o' them Ole Testament prophets. 'Bart,' or 'Barty,' is
all he evah gits o' his big name, an' most times it's jes' 'Sonny' or
'Buddy.' But I reckon you're nigh 'bout starved, aftah ridin' so fur,
she added, folding her sewing and rising briskly. Heah, you kin look
ovah last week's paper tell the men folks gits in. We air mighty proud
o' that paper. It's the fust evah printed in Kaintuck. Mason an' Henry
sets up tell nigh onto nine o'clock readin' it, the fust night aftah it
comes. It's printed at Lexin'ton by John Bradford. He usetah live out
heah, but, ten or twelve year ago, he moved intah Lexin'ton an' started
up the 'Gazette,' an' I reckon it's 'bout the fines' paper whut evah
wuz; leastways, it makes mighty fine trimmin's fur the cup'od shelves.
When his garrulous hostess had departed, Dudley, instead of reading
the paper, looked about him. The chinked log walls of the room and the
stout beams overhead were whitewashed, and the four tiny windows were
curtained with spotless dimity. The high-posted bedstead was furnished
with a plump feather bed, a bright patchwork quilt, and fat pillows in
coarse but well-bleached slips. Underneath the four-poster was a
trundle-bed with a blue and white checked coverlet. In an angle by the
fireplace was a three-cornered cupboard, and between the front windows
stood a chest of drawers with glass knobs. On the chest lay a big
Bible, a hymn-book, and several more well-thumbed volumes. A large deal
table with hinged leaves, a rude stand covered with a towel, several
rush-bottomed chairs, and the rocker constituted the chief items of
furniture. On the tall mantel, beside a loud-ticking clock, shone
several brass candlesticks, flanked by a china vase, a turkey wing, and
a pile of papers. Suspended from a row of pegs near the bed were
various garments, and over the back doorway a pair of buck horns
supported a rifle, near which hung a powder-horn.
Presently a heavy step was heard on the loose boards of a back
porch. Lucy, called a loud voice from without, fotch some hot watah
and the noggin o' soap. Lucindy, find me a towel. Further commands
were lost in a loud splashing and spluttering; and in a few minutes
Mason Rogers, red-faced, red-haired, and huge of frame, entered the
room, pulling down the sleeves of his coarse shirt as he came.
Howdy? howdy? Glad to see you, suh, he exclaimed, extending his
hand. My wife says you're a schoolmarster; and you air ez welcome ez
rain to a parched cawnfield. Whar'd you say you hailed frum? He seated
himself as he spoke, tilting his chair against the mantel.
From Virginia, sir.
From Virginny! Then you're twict ez welcome. I wuz borned an'
raised in the old State myse'f; and I'll allus hev a sneakin' fondness
fur her, though she wouldn't loose her holt on us ez soon ez she
oughter, an' she hain't treated us egzactly fair 'bout thet Transylvany
College bus'ness, nuther.
Oh, Dudley said pleasantly, Virginia's the mother State, you
know, and Kentucky a favorite child whom she grieved to have leave the
Well, hev it your own way, suh, answered Rogers, genially, drawing
from the pocket of his butternut jeans trousers a twist of tobacco and
helping himself to a generous chew. 'Pears to me, though, she acted
more lak a stepmothercouldn't manidge us herse'f, but wuz jealous uv
us settin' up fur ourse'ves. Still, that's all past an' gone. We got
our freedom ez soon ez it wuz good fur us, I reckon; so I shan't hold
no gredge agin her'spesh'ly ez it won't mek a mite o' diffruns to her
ef I do. Whut part o' Virginny air you frum, suh?
Culpeper County, near
Culpeper County! ejaculated Rogers, bringing his chair to a level
with a bang and planting a hand on each knee. Why, thet's my county,
an' thar ain't another lak it on the livin' airth. Cynthy Ann, he
called, striding to the back door, you an' Dink skeer up somethin'
extry fur suppah, can't you? This young feller's frum Culpeper
County.Hi, thar, Eph, give the gentleman's hoss a rubbin' down an' a
extry good feed, an' let him have the best stallWhut you say? Dandy
an' Roan in the best stalls? Turn 'em out, then. Don't stand thar
scratchin' yer haid an' grinnin' lak a 'possum, but stir yer stumps
'bout thet hoss! Returning to his chair and resuming his former
attitude, he said in a milder tone: I 'low you b'long to the
lawyer-makin' class o' schoolmarsters; all the teachers we've had yit
b'longed to one o' two kinds. Either they wuz jes' school-keepers, kaze
they wuz too 'tarnal lazy to do anythin' else, or they wuz ambitious
young fellers whut aimed to mek the schoolmarster's desk a
steppin'-stone to the jedge's bench. Now, you don't look lak one o' the
lazy kind; so I reckon you air a sproutin' lawyer, hey?
No, sir, I've no ambition of that kind. My intention is to look
about, while teaching, for a good tract of land. I want to settle in
Kentucky, not as a lawyer, but as a farmer.
Now you're talkin' sense! Lawyers an' perfessionals air gittin' ez
thick in Bourbon an' Fayette ez lice in a niggah's haid. Ev'ry othah
young fellah you see, ef he hez any book-l'arnin', thinks he's a second
Patrick Henry or John Hancock. But whut we need hain't more lawyers an'
sich lak, but more farmahs an' carpentahs an' shoemakahs. An', ez fur
land, thar's a track uv 'bout three hundurd acres back thar on Hinkson
Crick whut ole man Lucky, I heah, will sell fur one dollah an' two bits
a acrelays well, is well watered an' well timbered, an' the sile
fairly stinks with richness. All it needs is cl'arin' up. I've been
castin' longin' eyes on it myse'f, but I couldn't manidge no more land
jes' now, I reckon. So my advice fur you is to buy uv Lucky right away.
An', I tell you whut, ef you hain't got money 'nough by you jes' now,
I'll lend it to you, an' tek a morgitch on the land. I tell you this is
the fines' country in the univarsehealthy climit, sile thet'll grow
anything, an', to cap all, the fines' grazin' in the world. Nevah seed
nothin' lak it! Talk 'bout yer roses an' honeysuckles! they can't hold
a candle to the grass 'roun' heah. It has a sortah glisten to it an' a
bluish look when it heads out thet beats any flower thet blows fur
purty. I hain't no Solomon, nor yit among the prophets; but, mark my
word, in twenty year from now, this'll be the gairden spot o' creation.
A clock-tinkah frum Connecticut, whut wuz heah last spring, got sortah
riled at us, an' said we Kaintucks wuz ez full o' brag ez ef we wuz
fust cousins to the king of England; but, Lawd! hain't we got reason to
brag? Hain't ourn a reasonabler conceit then thet uv them ole
'ristercrats 'roun' Lexin'ton an' Bourbonton, allus talkin' o' ther
pedergrees, an' ez proud ez though they wuz ascended frum the Sultan o'
Asia Minor or the Holy Virgus hisse'f?
Indeed, you have reason to be proud, agreed Dudley, warmly; in
only a few years you have made a howling wilderness to blossom as the
You may well say this wuz a howlin' wilderness. Why, suh, jes'
twenty year ago, in the spring o' 1780, when Dan'l Boone come to
Kaintuck frum Car'liny, 'bout fifty uv us frum thet State come with
him, through Cumberlan' Gap by the ole Wilderness road, an' we fit
Injuns an' painters an' copperhaids all 'long the way.
Did you settle at Boonesborough first?
Some did; but me an' Cynthy Ann (we wuz jes' married then) an' the
Houstons an' Luckys an' Finleys an' Trabues pushed on up to whar
Bourbonton is now. We built a fort near a big spring, an' called it an'
the crick near by aftah ole Matt Houston. Thar wuzn't anothah house in
this region, 'cep' at Bryant Station; and look at us now! Lexin'ton,
nearly two thousand populationthe biggest town in the Statean'
Bourbonton a-treadin' right 'long on her heelsovah four hundurd
people now, an' a-growin' lak a ironweed. But in them ole days the only
road wuz a big buffalo trail whut hez sence been widened an' wucked up
inter 'Smith's wagon road,' runnin' 'long nigh Fort Houston; an' we
settlers would kill buffalo an' sich like, an' tan the hides. Then
'long in 1784 some uv us concluded, ez the Injun varmints hed 'bout all
been kilt or skeered away, that we'd open up farms. Boone come 'long
agin, an' we axed him whar to settleyou know, he'd roamed all ovah
these parts, an' knowed all the best places. He told us to come out to
this redge whut sep'rates the waters o' Hinkson an' Stoner Cricks; an'
he named it Cane Redge, fur, ez he said, the biggest cane an' the
biggest sugar-trees in Kaintuck growed on it. So we come; an' a
rough-an'-tumble life it wuz at fust. He crossed the room and drew
back the curtain from one of the windows. Thet ole smoke-house out
thar undah the buckeye-tree wuz my fust home heah, suh. Until aftah the
fust craps wuz in, none o' the settlers' cabins hed anythin' but dirt
Cissy, he said to Susan, who had just entered, tell yer ma to git
out the boughten table-cloth an' them blue chaney dishesan' say,
honey, you must set the table in heah. I hain't gwineter sot Mr. Dudley
down to eat in the kitchen the fust night he breaks bread with us.
Welt, ez I wuz a-sayin', he continued to Dudley, resuming his
seat, our cabins hed dirt floors, an' the walls warn't chinked; an' ez
fur winder glass, why, bless yer soul, we hardly knowed thar wuz sich a
thing. The only cheers we had wuz stools made o' slabs sot on three
laigs. Our table wuz made the same, an' our bed wuz laid on slabs whut
rested on poles at the outsides, with the othah eends o' them let in
between the logs o' the hut. Henry wuz a baby then, an' he wuz rocked
in a sugar-trough cradle. But, pshaw! heah my tongue's a-runnin' lak a
bell clappah; I reckon these ole 'membrances don't intrust you much,
Indeed they do. It is more interesting than a romance. But tell me,
how did you acquire so many negroes? You surely didn't bring them with
Lawd, no! Why, we wuz pore ez Job's turkey, an' hardly owned a shut
to our backs, let 'lone niggahs. Aftah the country wuz more cl'ared up,
folks moved in frum Virginny an' even Pennsylvany, an' brought slaves
with 'em. Then the Yankee dealers begun to fotch 'em in an' sell 'em at
Lexin'ton an' Louisville an' Limestone. Rube an' Dink wuz the fust I
ownedbought 'em o' ole Jake Bledsoe in the spring o' '87. Now I own
nigh on to twenty darkeys, big an' little. The place is fairly runnin'
ovah with the lazy imps, an' it keeps me an' Cynthy Ann on the tight
jump frum sun-up tell dark lookin' aftah 'em.
How long have you owned Uncle Tony? He talks like a Virginia
So he is. He's not only frum my own State, but frum my county an'
townole Lawsonville. Cynthy Ann 'lows Tony's done got the measure o'
my foot, an' thet I spile him dreadful. I reckon I hev got a sneakin'
likin' fur his ole black hide; but whut could you expaict when he's the
only pusson, black or white, I've laid eyes on frum Lawsonville sence I
run away to Car'liny nigh thirty year ago? I'll tell you sometime how I
happened on Tony; hain't time now, fur I smell the bacon a-fryin', an'
I reckon suppah'll be dished up in no time now.
Did I understand you to say Uncle Tony was from Lawsonville?
Egzactly! Do you know the place?
Why, it's my native town, said Dudley.
Whut! exclaimed Rogers. Shake agin, suh, striding over to
Dudley, who also had risen. Then you're jes' lak my own kin frum this
time on. Frum Lawsonville! he repeated, a tear on each swarthy cheek
as he grasped the young man's hand.
Say, he continued eagerly, after a moment's silence, is the ole
forge whut stood at the crossroads, jes' on the aidge o' the town,
still thar? And the little brown house jes' behind it with the big
mulberry-tree in the yard? That's whar I wuz borned, an' many's the
hoss I've shod at the ole forge.Tommy. addressing the little boy who
was passing the door of the room, run to the spring-house branch an'
fotch some mint, an' then a gourd o' watah. We'll celebrate with a
toddy, I reckon, suh, he said to Dudley, as he went to the cupboard
for a glass, sugar, and a demijohn of whiskey. Tell me, is ole Jeems
Little still livin'? He usetah keep the red tavern in the middle uv the
town. An' say, whut's become o' Si Johnson an' Mack Truman? We wuz boys
together, an' many's the game we'veGood Lawd! he broke off joyfully
as he mixed the toddy, I hain't been so happy sence the day I wuz
convarted an' chased the devil outen the persimmon-tree!
Presently the family and their guest were seated at the supper table
bedecked in all the splendor of the boughten cloth and blue chaney
dishes, and loaded with corn dodgers, roasted potatoes, bacon, hominy,
pickled cabbage leaves and honey. Just as the others were taking their
places, Henry Rogers entered, and, after bashfully greeting the
stranger, took his place at the table. He was a tall, raw-boned,
sandy-haired lad of seventeen, with stooping shoulders, slouching
figure, big feet and toilworn hands. His large-featured, freckled face
was kept from commonplaceness by its frank gray eyes, broad brow, firm
chin and refined mouth.
Try an' mek out yer suppah, suh, Mrs. Rogers urged as she handed
Dudley a cup of steaming coffee. I'm feared thar ain't much fittin' to
eat. Ef we'd knowed in time, we might hev killed a shoat.
Try some o' this middlin', chimed in Rogers on the other side,
passing the dish. Tilt up the plattah an' git some gravy; it's
better'n the meat. Wish 'twuz time fur 'possum. My mouth fa'rly watahs
fur a taste o' possum meat. 'Tain't jes' a fashionable dish now, I
reckon, he continued, reaching out for a potato; Susan heah kindah
turns up her nose et 'possum, an' I reckon Mar'm Gilcrest would die
away et the sight uv 'possum meat on her table, but
The mention of Mrs. Gilcrest acted as a challenge to Mrs. Rogers.
Jane Gilcrest's a fine somebody to turn up her nose et 'possum! A
purty mess her table'd be, fur all its silver spoons an' fine chaney,
ef she hed the settin' uv it.Tommy, don't spill thet gravy on the
tablechoth. I'll send you'n' Buddy to the kitchen ef you can't eat lak
white folks!She puffs herse'f on bein' a Temple, an' claims they wuz
uv the bluest blood in Virginny. Frum the way she spouts 'bout her
generalgies, her fambly tree must be ez fine an' big ez thet ole elm
down thah by the spring-house; but be thet ez it may, she's a pore limb
offen any fambly tree, with her sheftless ways.Rache, fotch in some
moah hom'ny.Gilcrest's got the finest house in these parts, and
Yes, interrupted her husband, the logs is weathahboa'ded an' the
walls plarstahed, an' thah's big porches with pillahs an' lots o' fine
fixin's 'roun' the cornish. The weathahboa'din' an' shingles an' door
an' windah frames wuz brung frum Pittsburg to Limestone on flatboats,
an' wagoned through frum thah. Sam Carr did the wag'nin'! 'Twuz a big
undahtakin', but he made money on it.
The furnicher's ez fine ez the house, went on Mrs. Rogers. Thar
is a boughten cairpit in the parlor, an' mahog'ny sofy an'
cheers.Lucindy, wipe yer knife on yer bread befoh he'pin' yo'se'f to
buttah. Can't I nevah l'arn you no mannahs?
They have a big music-piece with ivory keys, and Miss Abby's
teaching Betsy to play on it, said Susan, forgetting her shyness, and
her blue eyes shining at the recollection of this wonder.
Yes, it's all mighty fine, an' I'm shore I don't begrudge any uv
it: an' now thet Miss Abby hez come to live thar an' Betsy's gittin' to
be a big gal, things is bettah looked aftah, Mrs. Rogers conceded.
The heft o' manidgment falls on Betsy an' Miss Abby, fur Jane hain't
no more faculty then a grasshopper.Lucy, don't eat with yer fingers
lak a niggah. Whut's yer knife fur, ef it ain't to eat with?I wuz
ovah there last spring, 'long in April or May, an' axed Jane ef she'd
got her soap grease made up. She looked et me onconsarned lak, an' says
she really didn't know; ole Dilsey allus looked aftah sich things.
Think on it! a wife an' mothah an' housekeepah not knowin' ef the
year's soap grease wuz wucked upan' it late on in spring, too. Jane
she knits some, an' she kin do a lot o' fine herrin'-bonin' an' tattin'
an' tambour wuck; but spinnin' an' weavin' an' mekin' candles an' soap,
an' sich useful emplements, she don't consarn about no more'n my
Lucindy an' Lucy.Henry, ef you eat any more o' thet bacon, you'll be
squealin' lak a pig, befoh mawnin'. Hev some more honey, Mistah
After supper was over, the table cleared, and the two little boys
stowed away in the trundle-bed, the rest of the family gathered about
the broad hearth.
Heah. Mrs. Rogers said to the twins, you don't go to the kitchen
to play. You fooled 'way so much time out in the orcha'd this evenin'
thet yer stent hain't nigh done. Set right down on them stools, an'
don't let me heah a word outen you tell them socks is ready to hev the
heel sot. Ha'f a finger length more you've both got to knit. She
measured the unfinished socks, and then handed each little girl her
task. Henry, you'll put yer eyes out readin' by thet fire, an' me an'
Susan needs all the candle-light fur our wuck. 'Pears lak you ain't
nevah happy 'less you've got yer nose in some book. Heah, Cissy, them
britches' laigs is ready to seam up. Mek yer stitches good an' tight,
else you'll haf to rip it all out an' do it ovah. Snuff the candle,
fust, an' hand me thet hank o' thread an' the shears, befoh you set
Le's see, said Rogers to his guest, taking a corncob pipe from the
mantel and lighting it with a fire coal. This is Friday, an' school
oughtah begin Monday. Bettah draw up a subscription paper to-night, an'
ride 'roun' with it airly to-morrow. I'll send Henry 'long to show you
the way. Set right down heah by the table an' draw up yer writin's.
Henry, light anothah candle. As he spoke, he went to the tall chest of
drawers and took out paper, a bottle of pokeberry ink, and a bunch of
I see you kin mek a pen, he continued, as Dudley took out his
knife, selected a quill, and proceeded in a businesslike way to point
it. Now, whut kind uv a fist do you write? Hope you kin mek all the
flourishes; ha'f the folks in Bourbon County jedge a man's book
l'arnin' by the way he writes. That's hunkey-dorey! he exclaimed,
looking over the writer's shoulder. Thet'll fetch 'em!
When the clock pointed to half-past eight, Mrs. Rogers rolled up her
work, declaring it time for all honest folks to be abed. Thar's lots
o' wuck to be did to-morrow, an' the only way to git it did, is to tek
a good holt on the day at the start, an' set it squarely on its laigs.
CHAPTER II. GETTING TO WORK
This process of 'setting the day on its legs' is certainly a noisy
one, was Abner's first thought next morning as he awoke in the gray
dawn to find that the place beside him in the big feather bed had
already been vacated by Henry.
Above the clatter made by dogs, chickens and geese in the yard
below, could be heard the stentorian tones of Mason Rogers evoking his
black myrmidons. Hi, thar, Rube, Tom, Dink, Eph! Wake up, you lazy
varmints! From the negro quarters came, in answer to each name, Yes,
suh! Comin', Marstah! The creaking boards of the back porch, the
slamming of doors, the clatter of cooking utensils, and the admonishing
voice of Mrs. Rogers attested that she, too, was taking holt on the
day in earnest.
Dudley slipped into his clothes and hastened down the steep stairway
in search of such toilet accessories as his attic apartment did not
afford. When he reached the porch, the twins provided him with a basin
of water, a noggin of lye soap, and a towel; and telling him he would
find the coarse comb on the chist of drawers in the settin'-room,
hurried to the poultry-yard, where the chickens were already off their
roosts and clamoring for their morning meal.
His toilet completed, Dudley started for a ramble before breakfast.
At first a faint pink light began to tinge the eastern sky, but
presently, from over the crest of the hills across the road, the sun
arose like a red ball, dispersing the chill gray mist, and the new day,
fresh and radiant and vibrant with the songs of birds, the crowing and
cackling of chickens, and the lowing of cattle, was fully inaugurated.
If the stranger found the scene in front of the house quietly
beautiful, no less interesting was the more homely one to the rear. In
the stable lot Susan and Rache were each stooping beside a long-horned
cow, milking. In another enclosure Eph was struggling to head off a
determined little calf from its mother, a fierce-looking spotted cow
which a negro woman was trying to milk. At the window of the barn loft
could be seen a negro man tossing down hay to the horses; and in a lot
across the way a number of hogs, in answer to Henry's loud Soo-e-ey,
soo-e-ey! came clamoring and squealing for the corn nubbins he was
tossing from the sack across his shoulders.
Soon after breakfast, Abner, accompanied by Henry, set out with the
How many signers did you git? inquired Rogers that night when the
family were again assembled around the fire.
Forty-three down, four more doubtful, and two more promised
Who air the conditionals?
The Hinkson children.
Whut's Bushrod Hinkson mekin' conditions fur, I'd lak to know?
exclaimed Mrs. Rogers. I'll bet it's jes' his stinginess. He'd skin a
flea fur its hide an' taller, any day.
He will send his children only on condition that I work out a
certain problem which it seems the last two schoolmasters could not
Pshaw! ejaculated Rogers. Is he still pipin' on thet ole sum?
It's in po'try, ain't it?
Yes, replied Dudley, taking a slip of paper from his pocket and
A landed man two daughters had,
And both were very fair;
To each he gave a piece of land,
One round, the other square.
Twenty shillings to an acre,
Each piece this value had;
But the shillings that could compass it
For it just ten times paid.
And if once across a shilling be an inch,
As which is very near,
Which had the better fortune,
The round one or the square?
Kin you wuck it? asked Rogers, anxiously.
Oh, yes, I think so. It doesn't seem a very complicated affair.
Bushrod Hinkson sartinly is the crankiest ole somebody I evah hearn
tell on, was Mrs. Rogers' verdict. What diffruns would it mattah ef
you couldn't wuck thet fool sum? His two shavers hain't no fu'thah
'long in ther books then my twins, air they, Susan?
Lawdy! ejaculated Rogers. I hope you kin wuck it, an' shet him up
fur good an' all. He thinks he knows it all when it comes to figgahs,
an' kin siphah fastah'n a hoss kin gallop. It's time somebody took him
down 'bout thet ole po'try sum. I'd lak to choke him on it.
Reckon Gilcrest put you through yer gaits, too, didn' he? Rogers
asked presently, removing his cowhide shoes, stretching his legs out in
front of the fire, and proceeding, as he explained, to toast his feet
befoh goin' to roost.
Yes, sir, answered Dudley, and he looked so stern and eyed me so
keenly from underneath his grizzled eyebrows that I felt as though I
were before the Inquisition.
Jes' so! Rogers assented, although he had probably never heard of
the Inquisition. Hiram's three hobby hosses air 'good roads, Calvinism
and slavery.' Which o' them ponies wuz he ridin' this mawnin'?
He took a gallop on all three, laughingly answered Abner; but he
rode the doctrinal steed longest and hardest.
Egzactly! said Rogers, taking a chew of tobacco. He's daft on
good roads; kinder rabid on slavery; but when it comes to the 'five
p'ints,' he's rank pizinous. I s'pose he rid the good-roads hoss fust.
He ginerly does.
Yes, he took a preliminary canter on it. Then he looked at me
searchingly and asked if I was opposed to slavery. I rather think he
suspected me of being here on some secret mission to stir up
insurrection among the negroes; but when I said that I thought they
were much better off as slaves than they were in their native heathen
condition, he relaxed considerably. He then worked around to church and
doctrinal matters, and was argumentative and dictatorial about
'predestination,' 'effectual calling,' etc.; but I finally told him
that though not a church-member, I had been reared under strict
Presbyterian influences. This delighted him, and he said I was
doubtless well grounded, and that if I was one of the 'elect,' I would
be called in the Lord's own good time.
I'm glad you got through so well. Hiram's a good man at bottom, but
ez full o' prejudice ez a aigg's full o' meat. He even claims thet
Stone hain't sound on orthodoxy, which means he ain't so streenous
'bout God Almighty's fav'rin' some folks to etarnal salvation, befoh
the foundations o' the world, and others, jes' ez good, to everlastin'
damnation. Brother Stone he's mighty quiet an' mild-like, but kindah
hints thet God Almighty's too just to hev fav'rites. I tell you, thar's
trouble brewin' on this very p'int; and thar's gwintah be a tur'ble
split 'foh long in Cane Ridge meeting-house.
Did you see the rest o' the folks at Gilcrest's? Mrs. Rogers
No, ma'am, the interview was held at the stile block; but Major
Gilcrest asked me to return after seeing the other patrons, and take
dinner; and he also said something about my boarding with him.
Boahdin' at Gilcrest's! said Rogers. Not ef me an' Cynthy Ann
knows it! Of course you'll stop with us.
Yes, added his wife, me an' Susan's been all maw-nin' a-fixin' up
the north room fer you, so's you kin hev
You are certainly most kind, Mrs. Rogers. I'm sure I'll be pleased
with everything which you and Mr. Rogers arrange.
Well, said Rogers, again taking up the subscription paper and
making a calculation, you've done fine gittin' up a school, an' will
mek a purty little sum outen yer wintah's wuck'bout one hundred an'
thirty dollahs, I mek it. Now, how many acres et a dollar an' two bits
a acre kin be bought fer thet? 'Bout one hundred an' four, hain't it?
Yes, one hundred and four acres, if there were no other expenses,
Whut othah expenses kin you hev wuth namin'? You've got a
saddle-bag full o' clothes an' books, hain't you?'nough to last
through the wintah; so whut
But my board! You haven't said how much that will be.
Well, now, said Rogers, with a sly wink at his wife, how much do
you reckon 'twould be right ter pay?
About five shillings per week. I'm told that is the usual
Five shillin's! The granny's hind foot! Why, boy, whut you tek me
an' Cynthy Ann fur? We shan't tek five shillin's nor yit five cents. A
boy like you, not much older'n our William, ef he'd 'a' lived, an' frum
Lawsonville, too! Didn't I tell you you'd be jes' lak my own frum this
time on? Board, indeed! Heah's plenty o' cawn pone, hom'ny, bacon an'
taters, I reckon; 'sides cawn an' oats an' stable room fur yer nag. All
we ax is thet you nevah say board to us agin. But, ef you like, he
added kindly, you kin holp Henry an' Cissy some o' nights in ther
books, an' mek a hand to wuck roads, one Sat'dy in each month tell snow
Early Monday morning, while the frost yet glistened on grass and
hedge row, Abner, accompanied by Susan, Tommy and the twins, set out
for the schoolhouse, a mile distant. At the same time, by a dozen
different paths through woods and fields, other children with dinner
pails and spelling-books hastened toward the same goal, regardless of
nuts, wild grapes and other woodland attractions; for each wanted to be
first to reach the schoolhouse on this, the opening day.
Cane Ridge schoolhouse was a large hut of unhewn logs, with a roof
of rough boards and bark. The windows were covered with oiled paper
instead of glass, and the scanty light thus admitted was augmented by
that which came in through frequent gaps in the mud-daubed walls. Wind,
rain and snow likewise found free admission through these crevices; but
on winter days the climate of the schoolroom was tempered by the
blazing logs piled in the mammoth fireplace occupying one entire end of
A rude platform opposite the fireplace was the master's rostrum,
whereon was his high, box-like desk of pine and his split-bottomed
chair. Just back of his seat upon the floor of the platform stood a row
of dinner pails, and above on wooden pegs hung the children's hats and
bonnets. On each side of the room was a long writing-desk, merely a
rough board resting with the proper slant upon stout pins driven into
the walls. Here on rude, backless benches sat the larger boys and
girls. At the right-hand side of the room, on a lower bench in front of
the older pupils, sat the little boys with curving backs and swinging
feet, and with eyes that beamed all day long with fun or apprehension.
Opposite them, on a similar bench, was a row of little girls in linsey
dresses and tow-linen pinafores.
Every grade of home was representedthe shiftless renter's squalid
hovel, the backwoods hunter's rude hut, the substantial log house of
the prosperous farmer, and the more pretentious dwelling of such men as
Gilcrest and Dunlap and Winston, who claimed kinship with the flower of
In the pioneer schools grammar, history, geography, and the
sciences, if taught at all, were usually treated orally; but in the
main, spelling, reading, writing and arithmetic were the only branches
studied. As reading-charts for the little ones, the alphabet was pasted
upon broad hickory paddles which were frequently used for outside as
well as inside application of knowledge. Readers were coming into
vogue, but in most schools the pupils in reading advanced from
alphabetical paddle to spelling-book; from spelling-book to Pilgrim's
Progress or the Bible. Sometimes the Bible was the only reading-book
allowed by the parent, and many a child in those days learned to read
by wrestling with the jaw-breaking words in Kings and Chronicles; for,
as Bushrod Hinkson declared when he refused to buy a reader for his
son, The Bible's 'nough tex'-book on readin', an' when a boy hez
learned to knock the pins frum undah all the big words in the 'Good
Book,' he'll be able to travel like a streak o' lightnin' through all
kinds o' print.
[Illustration: Cane Ridge Meeting-house.]
CHAPTER III. CANE RIDGE MEETING-HOUSE
The third Sunday in October was the regular once-a-month meeting-day
at Cane Ridge Church. Early in the morning a note of preparation was
sounded throughout the Rogers domain, and by nine o'clock the entire
household was en route for the place of worship. On chairs in the wagon
drawn by two stout farm horses sat Mr. and Mrs. Rogers and the four
youngest children, while young Dudley, Henry and Susan rode horseback.
Uncle Tony, by reason of age, and Aunt Dink, by reason of flesh,
instead of walking with the other negroes, were allowed to sit on the
straw-covered floor of the wagon behind the white occupants.
As the cavalcade neared the church, a big, weather-stained log
structure, they saw that, early as it was, a crowd had preceded them.
Other wagons were stationed about in the shade, and many horses were
tethered to overhanging boughs.
While waiting for service to begin, Abner stood near the church and
looked around with some curiosity and not a little surprise; for nearly
every grade of frontier society seemed representedaristocrats and
adventurers; mistresses and slaves; farmers and land agents;
ex-Revolutionary officers and ex-Indian-fighters; lately established
settlers and weather-beaten survivors of early pioneer days.
Visiting together near the woman's entrance were a number of
matrons, some in homespun gowns, calico split bonnets and cowhide
shoes; others in more pretentious apparelbombazine gowns, muslin
tuckers, and dress bonnets of surprising depth and magnitude. Near
the other entrance, comparing notes upon fall wheat-sowing or
corn-gathering, was a cluster of farmers in shirt sleeves, homespun
trousers and well-greased shoes. Upon the horse-block a group of merry
belles, divesting themselves of mud-stained riding-skirts, stood forth
in bright arraybeads and ribands, flaunting chintzes, clocked
stockings and morocco slippers. Some distance off, upon the roots of a
wide-spreading elm, sat two barefooted, swarthy, scarred old hunters
with raccoon skin caps, linsey hunting-shirts and buckskin breeches.
Near by, a group of urchins listened with open-mouthed absorption to
blood-curdling reminiscences of days when upon this now peaceful slope
the scream of the wildcat and the whoop of the Indian were more
familiar sounds than the songs of Zion and the eloquence of the
revivalist. Less in accord with the quiet beauty of this October
Sunday, a squad of loud-voiced, swaggering, half-intoxicated young men
lounged under the trees, recounting incidents of yesterday's cock-fight
or betting upon the wrestling-match next muster day.
In contrast to the other vehicles, the Gilcrest family coach, with
its span of glossy-coated bays, presently drew up before the church.
The negro driver sprang from his high seat, and, bowing obsequiously,
let down the steps and opened the door of the coach, from which
emerged, first, Hiram Gilcrest in all the glory of Sunday broadcloth;
next, two small boys, then a negro woman bearing in her arms the
youngest scion of the house of Gilcrest, an infant in long clothes.
Lastly came Mrs. Gilcrest, a fragile, faded woman in rustling brocade
and satin petticoat. Close behind the coach rode a horseback party of
fourBetsy Gilcrest, two of her brothers, and a young woman in long
black riding-skirt and loose jacket, her features hidden by the gauze
veil depending from her dress bonnet of corded white silk.
Betsy, rosy and dimpling, unencumbered by riding-skirt, dust-jacket
or veil, tossed her bridle to her brother, John Calvin, and sprang from
her saddle to the stile. Her movements were light and graceful, and she
looked like a woodland nymph in a gown of light, gaily flowered chintz,
and a large hat encircled in a wreath of bright leaves. As her
companion, the girl in the corded silk bonnet, drew up, several
gallants from the group of young people near by hastened eagerly
forward to her assistance. After doffing riding-skirt and loose jacket,
she stood a moment upon the block, adjusting her attire, a robe of
misty lavender sarcenet with a pink crepe scarf loosely knotted across
I wish she'd throw back that veil, thought Abner, as he stood with
Henry a little apart.
That's Major Gilcrest's niece, come from Virginia to live with
them, explained Henry, seeing Abner's admiring gaze fixed upon the
girl. She's as pretty as a rosebush covered with pink blossoms; there
ain't a girl comes to Cane Ridge that can stand alongside her. She
makes even Sally Bledsoe and Molly Trabue look like common hollyhocks.
By this time every one save the group of young people and a few
stragglers out in the shade had entered the church, from which at this
moment a loud voice was heard announcing, Hymn 642; while at the same
time Deacon Hiram Gilcrest, standing at one door, and Deacon Bushrod
Hinkson at the other, admonished all loiterers to come in.
As soon as the congregation was seated, Mason Rogers, in a voice of
much power and sweetness, started the hymn already announced. Others
quickly joined in, until soon the building was filled with a swelling
volume of melody which made the walls resound and the cobwebs tremble.
The negro nurse on the doorstep crooned the hymn as she held the
sleeping baby. Uncle Tony, sitting on the steps of the pulpit platform,
swayed his body and nodded his head in rhythmic motion. He could not
carry a tune, but now and then would join in with a single note which
rang out clear and loud above all the rest. Other negroes from their
places in the gallery over the doorways opposite the pulpit, though
they knew not the words of the hymn, added the melody of their
plaintive voices. Little girls seated by their mothers on the woman's
side of the low partition, and little boys by their fathers on the
other side of the church, joined in with piping treble. Deacon
Gilcrest, his stern features relaxed, kept time with his hand (down,
left, right, up) as he thundered forth a ponderous bass. Old Matthew
Houston from one amen corner added his quavering notes; while from
the other, Squire Trabue, his chair tilted back, his face beaming, sang
with little regard to time or tune, but with melody in his heart, if
not in his voice. Near the central partition Susan Rogers and Betsy
Gilcrest, happy and bright-eyed, sang from the same book, their voices
clear, true, and sweet as bird notes.
As the music arose in a swelling wave of melody, Abner Dudley looked
through the congregation for the girl in the lavender sarcenet.
Presently he discovered her seated near a window and singing with the
rest. Her veil was thrown back, and from the depths of the scoop
bonnet, with a wreath of roses under its brim, shone forth a face of
radiant loveliness. From her broad, white brow the shining brown hair
was parted in rippling masses; she had darkly fringed blue eyes, a
well-rounded chin, and skin whose tints of rose and pearl were like the
delicate inner surface of a sea shell.
Abigail Patterson, of Williamsburg! he mentally ejaculated. What
is she doing here? Henry said that she was Major Gilcrest's niece, too.
So this is the 'Miss Abby' whom the Rogers children talk so much about,
and whom the Gilcrest children are always quoting. And to think that I
had pictured her a prim old maid.
It was not until the preacher, who until now had been hidden by the
high pulpit, stepped forward, that Abner was aroused to a sense of time
and place. He looked up as the clear tones of the speaker rang through
the building, and saw for the first time the man who was destined to
exert a powerful influence upon his careerBarton Warren Stone. At
this time, Stone was about twenty-nine years old, of slender build,
refined features, earnest mien, and childlike simplicityan Israelite
indeed in whom was no guile. This third Sunday in October was the day
for the regular quarterly communion service, and the emblems of the
sacred feast were spread upon the table in front of the pulpit.
Extending his hand, the speaker reverently pronounced his text: Put
off the shoes from off thy feet; for the place whereon thou standest is
holy ground (Ex. 3:5).
[Illustration: Barton Warren Stone.]
After pausing a moment that the words of the text might have due
impressiveness, Stone proceeded. He explained that the command in its
spiritual significance was still as imperative upon God's people when
they entered the house dedicated to his service, as it had been in its
literal sense to Moses when he had stood face to face with Jehovah at
the foot of Mount Horeb. The speaker's musical accents fixed the
attention of every hearer, and his words impressed every heart with the
solemnity befitting the place and the hour.
As soon as the people were dismissed for the noontide intermission,
they scattered about the grounds, talking, laughing, and setting out,
upon the table-cloths spread upon the grass, the luncheons which they
had brought with them.
While these preparations were in progress, Dudley started off with
Henry to look after the horses. Before reaching the grove where they
were tethered, he was hailed by Major and Mrs. Gilcrest with a cordial
invitation to break bread at their tablean invitation which he,
thinking of the beautiful niece, gladly accepted. He followed his host
and hostess to a cluster of trees under which Abby Patterson and Betsy
Gilcrest, assisted by their dusky servitors, had already spread a
repast which an epicure might have envied. But to one, at least, of the
guests it mattered little what viands were served; for young Dudley was
soon enthralled by the witchery of the blue eyes, rose-tinted
complexion and low-toned voice of the girl beside him. He was conscious
the while of little else save an unreasoning animosity for a young man
in powdered queue, flowered satin waistcoat, frilled shirt, and silver
knee buckles, who sat at Miss Patterson's other hand, between her and
Miss Gilcrest. This man, James Anson Drane, of Lexington, lawyer and
land agent, notwithstanding Dudley's jealous fancies, divided his
attentions almost equally between the two damsels, and seemed quite as
content with Betsy's lively sallies as with Abby's gentler, more
dignified conversation. As for the two gay youths, Thomas Hinkson and
William Smith, who sat opposite, if Abner thought of them at all, it
was only to pity them that the width of the table-cloth divided them
from the angelic being at his right; although they had for their
companions, Molly Trabue and Sally Bledsoe, who in their own buxom
style were accounted beauties.
Later, the young people started on a ramble through the woods.
Dudley offered his arm to Miss Patterson, thus separating them in a
measure from the rest of the company, who finally joined other groups
of strollers, until at last he found himself alone with her.
The air, odorous with the elusive fragrance of bark and crisping
leaf, breathed a delicious languor. The summer green of the chinquapin
burrs had given place to a richer coloring; the sumac and blackberry
bushes flushed red in the sunlight. Not even when clad in the tender
freshness of springtime beauty could the woods have been a more
favorable place in which to indulge in tender fancies than now when
panoplied in crimson and gold and burnished bronze, the scarlet fire of
the maple and the gaudy yellow of the hickory contrasting with the
sober brown of the beech, the dull red of the oak, and the dark gloss
of the walnut. A redbird arose from the grass at their approach and
circled away into the blue ether, and a rabbit, startled by the
crackling of a twig, scattered away into the deeper undergrowth.
Presently, Dudley and Abby reached a shady spot where a large
spring, clear as crystal, bubbled up from a hillside cleft. Outside
this leafy nook, myriads of gnats and bright-winged flies buzzed in the
sunlight; the soft breeze murmured faintly through the treetops, and
the far-off echo of laughter and merry shouts of other strollers
accentuated the quiet of this little retreat. They seated themselves
upon the gnarled roots of a big tree that guarded the spring. Abby,
untying her bonnet, tossed it upon the grass, and the sunlight glinted
upon her lavender gown and gave a warmer radiance to the wavy masses of
To-day is not the first time I have seen you, Miss Patterson,
Abner said presently; I recognized you the instant I saw you in church
Indeed! she exclaimed, looking at him searchingly. Are you not
mistaken? I have no recollection of ever seeing you before; and I have
a good memory for faces, too.
As to your having seen me, that's a different matter, he replied,
but I've a vivid recollection of you. It was at the Assembly ball at
Williamsburg just four years ago this month.
Ah, that Assembly ball! she exclaimed sadly. That was the closing
scene of my happy young girlhood. Trouble followed quickly upon trouble
immediately after that night, until, within six weeks, I had lost
everything that made life sweet. But, she asked with a quick change of
manner, if you were at that ball, how happened it I did not see you?
Were you not among the dancers?
On the contrary, Abner laughingly replied, I was there as an
uninvited guest. Not for me were the delights of minuet, cotillion and
Roger de Coverly; for I had neither the costume nor the courage to
penetrate into the ballroom. With several fellow-students, I had stolen
from the college that night to witness the gay doings at the Capitol.
As I stood in a doorway wishing I could exchange my sober college garb
for that of a gentleman of fashion, you were pointed out to me as the
belle of the ball; and memory has ever since treasured the radiant
picture of the girl in a richly flowered brocade gown, who, with bright
eyes glowing, powdered head held high, and with little feet that scarce
touched the floor, led the dance with a handsome young soldier in
Ah! those were happy days! she said sadly. I wonder you
recognized me to-day; I've had so much to change and age me.
Changed you certainly are, he replied; but, if I may say so, it
is a change which has but enhanced your claims to the verdict I heard
pronounced upon you that night'the most beautiful woman in Virginia.'
As for having aged, I can not agree with you. Beauty that owes its
charm even more to sweetness of expression than to perfection of
coloring and regularity of features never grows old. Besides, four
years is not a long period, even when reckoned by youth's calendar.
Some authorities, moreover, with whom I heartily agree, assert that no
woman is older than she looks. According to that, you can not be more
But, she replied archly, another and equally reliable theory is
that a woman is as old as she feels. That would make me at least
thirty-six. So, perhaps, between two such conflicting opinions, it
would be well to take middle ground and place my age correctly, at
twenty-six. But here! she added laughingly, you have actually
inveigled me into confessing my age, and that, you know, is what no
woman likes to doespecially when, as I suspect to be the case here,
the woman is several years older than the man. I am forgetting, too, to
do the honors of our spring, which is said to be the largest and most
unfailing in Kentuckyat any rate, it is known all through this
section as 'the big spring.' Boone declared this water to be the
coolest in the State. I wish it was like that magical fountain of
Lethe, and that a draught from it could make me forget my old life.
But, there! I will not look back, although your reminder of that
Assembly ball has stirred old memories to the depths. That road out
there was once a buffalo trail, and the buffaloes, doubtless, always
stopped at this spring to quench their thirstat least, old hunters
declare that this was their favorite camping-ground. It was also a
favorite resort of the Indians, and a battle was fought here between
them and the white settlers, before the terrible massacre at Bluelicks
had aroused the whites to determined and well-organized resistance and
war of extermination. You should get old Mr. Lucky or Mr. Houston to
describe the battle at this spotthey were in it. But now you must
drink of this spring before you can be properly considered a member of
this community in 'good standing and full fellowship.
See! she added, offering him a drink from an old gourd kept in a
cleft of the rock for the use of chance passers-by. This water is
almost ice-coldand just look at this mint. Uncle Hiram declares it to
be the finest flavored he ever tasted. He never comes here without
carrying away some for his morning julep. I will take a handful to stow
away in the lunch-basket; it will save him a trip here after service
Before drawing on her lace half-hand mitts, she held out her
hands, and asked him to pour water from the gourd upon them. Then she
drew from the swinging pocket at her belt a tiny embroidered square,
but before she could use it, Abner rescued it, and, substituting his
own handkerchief, dried her hands himself. Her loose sleeves fell back
to the dimpled elbows, and as he lingered over his task, he noted the
delicate tracery of blue veins along the inner curve of her white arms.
He saw, too, the freckles upon her rounded wrists, and that her
well-formed hands were sun-browned and hardened by work.
Are you counting the freckles? she asked demurely, smiling at him
from the depths of her white bonnet. I fear you will not have time to
make a complete inventory of all the freckles, needle-pricks and
bruises; besides, it is some time since I heard voices, and we are far
from the meeting-house. Uncle Hiram would think it no light offense to
be late at afternoon serviceand there is Betsy yonder by the big oak
on the hill, waving and beckoning frantically. Let us join her at
Yes, we must hasten, assented Dudley, consulting his big silver
watch, after thrusting his wet handkerchief into the bosom of his coat.
David Purviance, a young licentiate awaiting ordination at the next
session of presbytery, preached the afternoon sermon, and handled his
theme, The Final Perseverance of the Saints, in a masterly manner.
But Abner Dudley gave little heed to the discourse; for his thoughts,
stirred by the vision of the beautiful girl across the aisle, were
wandering in an earthly paradise.
Through the deepening twilight he rode home alone that evening in a
tumult of bewildered feeling, scarcely able to realize that only that
morning he had been on that same road with Henry and Susan; for in the
interim he seemed to have entered an entirely new world of thought and
CHAPTER IV. WINTER SCHOOL-DAYS
Soon beautiful, misty Indian summer had vanished before the stern
approach of winter. The chestnut burs had all opened; the wild
grapevines, clinging to fence rails along the roadside and twining in
drooping profusion over the trees in wood and thicket, had long ago
been robbed of their glistening, dark clusters of frost-ripened fruit.
The squirrels had laid in their supply of nuts; the birds had given
their last Kentucky concert of the season and had departed to fill
their winter engagements in the Southland; and the forest trees waved
their bare arms and bowed their heads to the wind that wailed a
mournful requiem for departed summer.
By this time the wheat had been sown, and the last shock of corn
gathered. The school forces were, therefore, augmented by the advent of
a dozen or more larger boys and young men, eager to gain all the
learning that could be compassed in the months which intervened before
early spring plowing and seeding would call them again to the fields.
In the icy gray dawn of these winter days the boy whose week it was
to build the schoolhouse fire, would resist the temptation to snug down
again in the soft folds of the big feather bed for another trip into
delicious dreamland, and would hurry from his warm nest to attend to
his morning chores, so that as soon as the early breakfast was over he
could hasten through the snow-covered fields to the schoolhouse. There
he would pile the fagots high in the big fireplace, eager to have them
blazing and crackling before the clap of the master's ferule upon his
desk at eight o'clock should summon the school to its daily work.
Cane Ridge school, under the gentle yet energetic sway of Abner
Dudley, presented a busy scene. The click of the soapstone pencil upon
the frameless slate, the scratch of the quill pen across the
bespattered copybook, the shrill tone of the solitary reader as he
stood with the rest of the class toeing the mark before the master,
or the shriller tones of the arithmetic class reciting in concert the
multiplication table, kept up a pleasant discord throughout the short
day. The rear guard of this army of busy workers, the rows of
chubby-faced little boys in short-legged pants and long-sleeved aprons,
and of rosy-cheeked little girls in linsey dresses and nankeen
pantalets, sat on their slab benches, droning mechanically a-b, ab;
e-b, eb, and looked with wonder at the middle rank of this army,
adding up long columns of figures or singing the long list of capitals.
Those of the middle rank, in their turn, as they gave place before the
master's desk to the three bright pupils of the vanguard, wondered no
less to see them performing strange maneuvers called parsing and
conjugating, or battling successfully against Tare and Tret, or that
still more insidious foe, Vulgar Fractions. Ahead of this vanguard, on
a far-off, dizzy peak of erudition, was Betsy Gilcrest, the courageous
color-bearer of the armyactually speaking in an unknown tongue called
Latin, and executing surprising feats of legerdemain with that strange
trio, x, y and z, who had somehow escaped from their lowly position at
the tail end of the alphabet, to play unheard-of antics and to assume
characters utterly bewildering.
There was not one of those fifty pupils who did not soon find a warm
place in the master's heart; but, though he took care by special
kindness to the others to hide his partiality, yet soon pre-eminent in
his regard were the four advanced pupils, Henry and Susan Rogers,
plodding, thoughtful, thorough; John Calvin Gilcrest, shrewd,
retentive, independent; and Betsy Gilcrest, bright, original and
Betsy at sixteen was a capable, well-grown girl, such as the freedom
and vigor of those pioneer days producedglowing with health, instinct
with life, and of saucy independence to her finger-tips. She possessed
a fund of native wit which might, perhaps, often have taken the turn of
waywardness, had not her scholarly pride held her girlish love of fun
and frolic somewhat in check. Kindly-natured, bright-faced Betsy,
champion of the poorest and meanest, helper of the dull and backward,
idol of the little children, and object of the shy and silent but
sincere adoration of all the big, uncouth boys! She was an exceedingly
winsome lassie, with a light, graceful figure, and a richly expressive
face framed in by a wealth of clustering dark hair. The sparkling light
in the great brown eyes, the saucy curve of the scarlet lips, and the
dimple in the rounded cheek betokened a laughter-loving nature; while
the proud poise of head, the exquisite turn of sensitive nostrils, and
the firm moulding of chin indicated dignity, refinement, and force of
character. In her stuff dress of dark red, her braided black silk apron
with coquettish little pockets, and her trim morocco shoes, she
presented a striking contrast to the linsey-clad, coarsely shod girls
on each side of her at the rude writing-desk, or even to her especial
chum and chosen friend, Susan Rogers, in homespun gown, cotton
neckerchief and gingham apron. It was well for the young schoolmaster
that his heart was fortified by its growing love for Abby Patterson,
else he could not, perhaps, have withstood the charming personality of
Betsy Gilcrest, and a deeper regard than would have been in keeping
with their character of master and pupil might have mingled with his
interest in this warm-hearted, brilliant girl.
The fashionable people from Lexington who visited at Oaklands, the
home of the Gilcrests, wondered that Major Gilcrest sent his only
daughter to this backwoods school, and his wife sometimes urged that
Betsy be sent to some finishing-school in Virginia, or at least to the
fashionable female seminary at Lexington, or to the lately opened young
ladies' college at Bourbonton. Probably, had Betsy seconded the hints
of these friends and the rather languid suggestions of her mother, this
might have been done; but this independent child of nature loved her
home and the humble little schoolhouse by the spring; and her father,
whether at the pleading of his daughter, or because of his ingrained
dislike of any suggestions from outsiders, continued to send her to the
little neighborhood school. In so doing he was building better than he
knew; for humble as was the Cane Ridge school, there was in it an
atmosphere of happiness and refinement more real than could be found
amid the superficial culture, genteel primness and underlying
selfishness of most of the fashionable female seminaries of that day.
The young Virginian schoolmaster was teaching these boys and girls far
better things than could be found in any text-booksindependence of
thought, reverence for learning, and love of purity and truth; and it
was lessons such as these that made these Bourbon County boys and girls
reverence their master and love their backwoods school.
CHAPTER V. SETTIN' TILL BEDTIME
One night in November the Rogers household had gathered as usual
around the hearth in the spacious living-room. The fire roared and
crackled merrily, dancing on the whitewashed walls, and shining
brightly on the brass andirons and the glass doors of the cupboard.
The candle-stand stood in the center of the room; on one side of it
sat Abner Dudley, reading aloud from the Kentucky Gazette; on the
other, Mrs. Rogers, seated in the cushioned rocker, was patching a
linsey jacket for Tommy, who, with his youngest brother, was playing
jackstones on the floor behind the stand. To supplement the light from
candle and fire, a huge hickory knot had been thrust into the
fireplace, against one of the andirons. By its light Henry was weaving
a basket, the floor around him littered with the long, pliable osier
slips which the twins were sorting for his use. In the opposite corner,
on a low stool, the negro girl, Rache, nodded over a piece of knitting.
Mason Rogers, enjoying his after-supper pipe, was engaged in mending a
set of harness. Susan, dreamily staring into the fire, held her sewing
idly in her lap until her mother's voice aroused her.
Come, Cissy, don't set thah with folded hands, ez though you wuz a
fine lady. Ef you can't see well 'nough to do the overcastin' on thet
jac'net petticoat, git out yer tettin' or them quilt squares. Rache,
you triflin' niggah, wake up. You don't airn yer salt. I declar' I'll
hev you sold down South the nex' time ole Jake Hopkins teks a drove to
Alabam'. I reckon you won't hev much time fur noddin' down in them
cottonfields, with the overseer's lash a-lippin' yer back ever' time he
sees you idlin'. You'd better mek yer needles fly, fur nary a thing
'cept a switch an' some ashes will you git in yer Chris'mas stockin',
ef all them socks fur Rube an' Tom ain't done by then. Lucy, you an'
Lucindy leave 'lone them strips; you're jes' hend'rin' yer brothah. Git
yer nine patch pieces. Gre't, big gals lak you ortn't idle.
Some one's comin'! exclaimed Mr. Rogers, the first to notice the
barking of the dogs outside. See who 'tis, Henry.
Heah, Lucy, gether up them twigs, bustled Mrs. Rogers, as she
swept the hearth. Rache, tek thet harnish out. I declar', Mason, I
wish you'd do sich wuck in the kitchen or stable. Folks'll think I
ain't no sort o' housekeepah.
How's Mrs. Gilcrest? asked Mrs. Rogers a moment later, as she
shook hands with Major Gilcrest and nodded to his boys, Martin Luther
and Silas. Wish she'd come with you, but I reckon she's feared to be
out in the night air.
Why didn't Betsy come? Susan asked.
Oh, Abby had company; Drane and Hart rode out from Lexington to
spend the evening. Abby felt that she couldn't entertain two beaux at
once, so Betsy stayed to help her.
Don't pull the house down, childurn, Mr. Rogers called cheerily,
as his four youngest and the Gilcrest boys were hurrying off to the
kitchen for a game of romps. Hold out yer apurns, gals, an' tek some
apples 'long, he added to the twins. You kin roast 'em on the
I hear, Mr. Dudley, said Gilcrest presently, that you use the
Bible as a reading-book in your school.
Only in one instance, replied Dudley. Eli and Jacob Hinkson use
the Bible as a reader because their father refuses to get them any
Ah! exclaimed Gilcrest; I must remonstrate with Hinkson.
I'll be obliged if you will. I said all I could to him with no
It's a wrong use of the Word, said Gilcrest.
Oh, I don't say that, Dudley replied. If the text were not such
hard reading for the little fellows, I'd be satisfied to have the Bible
the only reader used in school.
No, no! Gilcrest objected with an emphatic shake of his head.
Such a course would tend to lead the young mind into error.
On the contrary, returned Dudley, thoughtfully, might not the
seed of the gospel, thus sown, fall unconsciously into the child's
heart and bear fruit for good when he is older?
No! It's dangerous to place the Bible in the hands of the
Do I understand you to mean that children should not read the Bible
at all? asked Dudley.
The mysteries of the Scriptures are not for the child to tamper
with. When I was a schoolboy in Massachusetts, the New England Primer
was the only reading-text, and I wish it were in vogue in our schools
now; it contained the Lord's Prayer and the Shorter Catechism, and
that's all a child should know about the Bible until after he is
But, asked Dudley, how can a child learn the way of salvation if
not by Bible reading?
By study of the catechism, of course, answered Gilcrest. Once
rooted and grounded in that, he will not be liable to fall into error
later on, and put wrong interpretations on the Holy Scriptures. I'd
rather have the Bible a sealed book to the unconverted, so that the
Spirit may work untrammeled and sovereignly on his heart.
Ah! I see now why the priests in olden times chained up the Bible
so that the common people could not have access to it, observed young
Dudley, with a sarcasm which was entirely lost on Gilcrest. But isn't
it the idea of this age and country that there should be a 'free Bible
for a free people'?
Yes, for a 'free' people, retorted Gilcrest, but not for those
who are still under bondage to sin. Besides, those who have not been
well instructed in the catechism, know nothing about 'rightly dividing
How about that passage, asked Abner, 'All scripture is given by
inspiration, and is profitable forforfor'?
Henry kin say it fur you, interrupted Mason Rogers, thinking that
the schoolmaster's Biblical knowledge had failed him; he's mighty
peart on quotin' Scriptur.
Whereupon Henry, who up to this time had been a silent but
interested listener to the discussion, repeated the passage.
Precisely! Gilcrest exclaimed. All Scripture is profitablebut
to whom? To 'the man of God.' To suchthe elect, the calledhow are
the Scriptures profitable? Why, as Paul says, to reprove and correct
when he goes off into forbidden paths, and to instruct him further in
righteousness. Only the regenerate, the elect, are referred to; for
they only can do good works. Moreover, the very passages that are 'a
savor of life unto life' to the called, are 'a savor of death unto
death' to those out of Christ.
Egzactly! I see that p'int, anyway, said Mason Rogers, as he sat
with chair tilted back, meditatively nibbling at the stem of his
unlighted pipe. Sartain Scriptures air made to suit sartain diseases,
lak doctah's physic; an' ef took when the systum hain't jes' in the
right fix fur it, they might kill, instid o' cure.
Here Mrs. Rogers, who until now had been dutifully silent, intent on
her sewing, remarked, Well, Hirum, Preacher Stone hain't o' yo' way o'
thinkin'; he's allus urgin' Bible readin'.
Ah! Sister Rogers, Stone has much to learn and to unlearn. He's too
broad in his views. In fact, I sometimes question whether he believes
in Calvinism at all.
Well, whut ef he don't, so long ez he lives right an' preaches
right? asked Mrs. Rogers. When I heah him preach, I feel lak I want
to be bettah. An' hain't thet whut preachin's fur, to mek folks want to
live bettah lives? Whut diffruns whuthah he b'lieves in Ca'vinism, or
not? It's jes' a big, onmeanin' word, anyway.
That won't do, Sister Rogers. Calvinism is the stronghold of the
Christian religion. Furthermore, it's a logically constructed system of
belief, and if you are loose on one point, you're loose on all. Every
departure from Calvinism is a step towards atheism. The downward grades
are from Calvinism to Arminianism; from Arminianism to Pelagianism;
from Pelagianism to deism; from deism to atheism.
Pshaw! exclaimed Mrs. Rogers, undaunted. It teks a scholard to
undahstand all them jawbreakahs. Common folks lak me nevah'd git the
meanin' intah ther head pieces. An' I say thet the sort o' preachin' to
do good is them plain, simple truths whut Bro. Stone gives us.
Yes, Hiram, Cynthy Ann's right, said Rogers. The gospel ez Stone
preaches it seems plain ez the nose on yer face, but when the 'five
p'ints' is discussed, I git all uv a muddle.
But, Mason, asked Gilcrest, you surely believe in the Confession
of Faith of your church, do you not?
Why, I s'pose I do b'lieve itleastways, I subscribed to it when I
jined the chu'ch; but I'll be fetched ef I understand it.
We've hed 'nough talk on religion fer one spaill, I think, now put
in Mrs. Rogers. Let's hev some apples an' cidah. Susan, see whut them
childurn air about. They're mekin' 'nough fuss to tek the roof off. As
she spoke, there came from the kitchen the sound of loud peals of
laughter, much scampering, and the cry, Pore Puss wants a corner!
indicating that the children were having an exciting game.
Presently Gilcrest, as he took another apple, said, glancing at the
Gazette on the stand: So Aaron Burr came within one of the
Presidency! I'm glad the House decided in favor of Jefferson. He is bad
enough, but Burr would have been even worse. Are you a Federalist or a
Democrat, Mr. Dudley?
How could a Virginian be anything but a supporter of the great
Jefferson? replied Abner. Could I have done so, I should have
remained in Virginia until after the election, so as to cast my vote
for Jefferson; but it was necessary for me to come to this State.
An' glad we air thet you come, said Rogers, heartily.
Being a Virginian ought to make you a Federalist, I should say,
suggested Gilcrest. You forget that a greater than Jefferson was born
Then, as Massachusetts is your native State, said Dudley, I
suppose your Federalistic convictions are modeled according to the
hard-and-fast principles laid down by Adams, rather than the more
elastic federalism which Washington taught. That is, if place of birth
really has anything to do with shaping one's political views.
One could not have a better leader than John Adams, Gilcrest
Whut! exclaimed Rogers. Afteh them Alien an' Sedition outrages?
Why, man! Gilcrest retorted, those very laws were for the saving
of the nation.
Though a Democrat, I'm inclined to agree with you there, Mr.
Gilcrest, Dudley said.
Ha, Mr. Dudley, said Gilcrest, pleasantly, I've hopes of your
conversion into a good Federalist yet. You're young, and your political
prejudices haven't become chronicas is the case with Mason here.
My motto, rejoined Rogers, is, 'Our State fust, then the nation.'
The Federal Government didn't do no gre't shakes towa'ds he'pin'
Kaintucky when redskins an' British skunks wuz 'bout to drive us offen
the face o' the livin' airth.
But, Mason, remember that at that time our nation was battling for
independence, and could ill spare aid for us in our struggle for
supremacy in this western frontier.
Jes' so! retorted Rogers. An' whar'd you an' me an' the rest uv
us who wuz strugglin' fur footholt heah hev been, ef we'd depended on
the Federal Government to fight Caldwell, McKee, Simon Girty, an' ther
red devils? We had to do our own fightin' then, you'll agree, Hiram.
Why, Major Gilcrest, Dudley exclaimed, were you an
Indian-fighter? I thought you were a Revolutionary soldier.
So I was, Gilcrest answered, from the battle of Lexington until
badly wounded in Virginia by Arnold's raiders in the spring of '81.
Then, early in the next year I came to Kentucky.
You surprise me, Abner replied. I thought you did not settle here
until after Indian depredations had ceased.
Ha! ha! laughed Gilcrest. You thought I came like Abram from Ur
of the Chaldees, bringing family, servants, goods and chattels, did
you? No, I made that sort of migration several years later. I first
came alone, to spy out the land, and to find a suitable location
wherein to plant a home and rear a family. Descriptions of this new
country beyond the mountains had led me to picture it a paradise of
peace and plenty and tranquil beauty; but when I came, I found the
picture obscured by the red billows of savage warfare. Why, the first
time I ever saw Mason here, he was equipped with knife and tomahawk,
rifle, pouch and powder-horn, and just setting forth to the relief of a
No wondeh, exclaimed Rogers, thet you found me an' ev'ry otheh
able-bodied man uv us should'rin' our guns an' gittin' knives an'
tommyhocks ready! You see, Abner, the Injuns undeh ther white leadahs
wuz thet year mekin' a stubbo'ner an' bettah planned warfare than eveh
befoh. Ruddell's an' Martin's stations hed been demolished, an'
follerin' close hed come, airly in the spring, the defeat at Estell's,
an' a leetle later, Holder's defeat; an' heah in August, on top o' them
troubles, comes accounts uv more massacrein's an' sieges. If eveh the
right man come at the right hour, it wuz you, Hiram, Rogers continued,
when you rid inteh Fort Houston jest afteh we'd got the news. Ez
soon's I clapped eyes on you I sized you up ez a fellah afteh my own
hearta man ready to go whar danger wuz thickest, a man whut would
stand by a comrid tell the last drap uv his own blood wuz spilt. Will
you eveh furgit thet seventeenth o' August, Hiram, an' the tur'ble days
whut follehed on its heels?
Never, while life lasts, replied Gilcrest. And, as for a comrade
in time of peril, one could not want a braver or a truer than yourself,
Mason. You see, he continued, turning to Dudley, it was this way:
Early that morning had come tidings that the Indians, a few days
before, had surprised the scattered families around Hoy's, and had
butchered many ere they could reach the fort. Hardly had this tidings
been related before two more runners, half dead with fatigue,
half-crazed with horror, came panting in from Bryan's to tell how
Caldwell and Girty and their hordes of savages had surprised and
surrounded that garrison. These two runners had managed to steal out
under shelter of the tall corn back of the fort at Bryan's, to bring
messages from Colonel Todd, imploring Fort Houston to come to the
rescue. Other messengers had carried the same appeal to other stations.
Ah! he continued enthusiastically, the men of Kentucky were brothers
indeed in those trying times! And the garrisons of Houston, Harrods,
St. Asaph's and all the other forts, responded as one man to that cry
Did you leave the women and children in Fort Houston? asked
No, indeed, answered Rogers before Gilcrest could speak. 'Twuzn't
safe. Houston's wuz li'ble to be attacked in our absence. Besides, it
wuzn't ez big an' strong ez Bryan's, whar the stockades wuz
bullet-proof, the gates uv solid puncheons, an' the houses within built
afteh the ole block-house pattern. So we tuck our women an' childurn
with us. Cynthy Ann, with our little William in her lap, rid behind me
on the nag, an' I carried befoh me in the saddle a little chap
belonging to one uv our men, who hed a sick wife an' a two-weeks-ole
baby to look afteh. Thet was a sad, sad trip fur me an' Cynthy Ann, he
murmured with a sudden break in his voice and a wistful look at his
wife. The hurryin' gallop oveh eighteen mile o' rough country with the
br'ilin' sun a-scorchin' down on us all the way, cost us the life uv
our fust-borned, our purty little William. I tell you, he added
excitedly, ef the men o' thet day showed up brave an' faithful, our
women, God bless 'em, wuz even braver an' more endurin'.
They were indeed, Gilcrest heartily agreed with an appreciative
glance at Mrs. Rogers, and it was their heroic self-sacrifice and
noble endurance that made it possible for us to subdue this wilderness.
When I reached here that summer of '82, and saw the terrible life of
the pioneer women, I was thankful I had left my betrothed bride in
Virginia. It took women of stout courage and nerve, such as you, Sister
Rogers, to be really a helpmeet to a man in this wilderness of twenty
years ago. A woman of weak nerve or faint heart would have succumbed
under the hardships and danger.
Like pore Page's wife, added Rogers.
Pore Mrs. Page! exclaimed Mrs. Rogers. I'll nevah furgit her hard
She was the wife of one of the Page brothers who were with us at
Blue Licks, was she not? asked Gilcrest.
Yes, Rogers answered. The two brothers hed come oveh the
mountains the spring befoh, an' hed built a cabin an' made a sort o'
cl'arin' out in the wilderness 'bout two mile frum Houston's, on the
road to Bryan's. One uv the brothahsI can't re-collect his fust
namewuzn't married; but the otheh hed a wife an' a four-year-old boy
when they come, an' anotheh child wuz borned to 'em 'bout two weeks
befoh thet last Injun raid. They hed been warned agin an' agin thet it
wuzn't safe outside the fort; but still they lived on out thar till
thet tur'ble August mawnin'when they runs pantin' inteh Houston's
with the tidings thet the savages hed attacked ther cabin. They'd been
roused in the night by the stompin' an' nickerin uv the hosses. It wuz
a starlight night, an' peepin' out uv a loophole in the front uv ther
house, they seen redskins skulkin' in the shadow o' the trees. They
couldn't tell how many ther wuz, but nigh a dozen they thought, an'
they didn't know how many more might be hidin' in the bushes. So they
decided it wuz no use to try to defend themselves, an' that ther only
chance to save ther scalps wuz to steal out befoh the Injuns got to the
door. You see, they couldn't git to the hosses, fur the red imps wuz
between the house an' whar the hosses wuz in the woods which grew up
close to the cabin in front. But at the back the trees wuz all cl'ared
off, an' ther wuz a gairden patch next to the cabin, an' then a
cawnfiel'. The only door wuz in front, an' thar wuz no windah either in
the backonly two little loopholes. One uv the puncheons in the floor
hed been left loose a purpus, an' they took it up without mekin' any
noise. Then, afteh waitin' tell they saw thet the Injuns hed skulked up
nearly to the door, they crawled through the gap in the floor, an' then
frum undeh the house into the gairden, an' then to the cawnfiel', an'
stole through it to the woods on t'otheh side. Then they run fur ther
lives, expectin' ev'ry minit to be attacked. It wuz a meracle they eveh
reached the fort alive. Pore Mrs. Page wuz 'bout tuckered out. You see,
her baby wuz barely two weeks old; besides, she 'peared to be a pore,
weak-sperrited creeter, anyway; an' the long run an' the skeer hed
well-nigh done fur her. It wuz her little boy, the four-year-old
shaver, whut I toted befoh me as we hurried to Bryan's. On the road, we
hed to pass the Pages' cl'arin', an' thar, still burnin', wuz the
remains o' their cabin which the redskins hed fired. Ther gairden an'
cawnfiel' wuz trompled an' blackened an' ruined; an' jes' on the aidge
uv the woods by the roadside thar lay ther pore cow, still breathin',
but welterin' in her own blood. The red devils hed split her wide open
with a tommyhock. Mrs. Page fainted away when she saw thet, an' wuz
most dead when we got to Bryan's. She got bettah, though, an' the next
day when we sot out in pursuit uv the Injuns, her husband went with us.
But, pore woman, she an' her baby both died thar in the fort befoh we
Abner Dudley, listening with fascinated attention, was thrilled into
strange excitement by the tantalizing impression of his having once
been, as a little boy, a spectator or a participator in just such an
episode as Mr. Rogers was describingof the terror-stricken little
family fleeing through the woods at night. He also seemed to recall the
picture of a burning cabin, and of a slaughtered cow lying on the
roadside. Still another picture seemed to flit before himthat of a
group of women and children alone within high log walls, and of a
bewildered, heart-broken little boy being lifted by one of these women
from a rude pallet where lay a dying mother and a still-faced, tiny
Often before to-night Dudley had had dim, fleeting fancies or
imaginings of such a scene which always, when he would have recalled
more clearly, would vanish entirely. Realizing how impossible it was
that he, born and reared in a quiet Virginia village, could ever have
lived such a scene, he had always, when tormented by the fancy,
concluded that the impression was evoked by the memory of some tale
heard in early childhood of the horrors of pioneer life. So now,
instead of trying to follow up these tantalizing fancies, he dismissed
them again from his mind.
When we got to Bryan's, Rogers was saying when Abner again began
to listen, Girty an' Caldwell an' ther Wyandottes hed fled. The
stockade hed held out agin 'em, an' all inside wuz safe. But, land o'
liberty! whut a ruination all about the outside o' them walls! Oveh
three hundurd dead cattle an' hogs an' sheep lay strowed 'round through
the woods; the big cawnfiel's wuz cut down an' tromped an' ruined; so
wuz the flax an' hempfiel's; an' the tater craps an' the other gairden
stuff wuz pulled up. No wondeh we thusted fur vengeance. So us rescuin'
parties an' the Bryan Station fo'ces, afteh a night consultation, set
out et daybreak nex' mawnin' to folleh up an' punish. We thought ef we
hurried we could soon ketch up with the enemy; so we didn't wait, as
some o' the oldeh men advised, fur the reinfo'cements whut Gen'ral
Logan hed already started.
Had we waited, interrupted Gilcrest sadly, no doubt the story of
savage butchery enacted at Blue Licks two days later, might have had a
Maybe so, assented Rogers, or ef, when we did git to the springs
thar on the banks uv the Lickin', we'd heeded the counsels uv Boone an'
Todd an' Trigg, instid o' the lead o' thet red-headed, hot-blood
Irishman, Hugh McGary, when he plunged his hoss inteh the river, an'
wavin' his knife oveh his haid, challenged all whut wuzn't cowa'ds to
folleh him. My soul! my hair rises yit when I think uv whut come next.
On we all reshed afteh McGary inteh the river, an' up the redge on
t'otheh side; fur, of course, Todd an' Boone an' our otheh rightful
leadehs, whose advice we'd disregawded, wouldn't fursake us when they
seed we wuz detarmined to rush it. Et fust, without ordeh or caution,
we hustled forwa'duntil the foes sprung out uv ambush. Good Lawd!
Ev'ry cliff, ev'ry bush an' cedah-tree wuz alive with them red devils;
an' it seemed lak all hell hed bust loose on us. Still, Boone an' the
otheh commandahs, afteh the fust minit's surprise, managed to rally us
in spite o' the hell fire whut rained on us frum behind ev'ry tree an'
rock. So when we'd reached the backbone uv the redge, we formed in some
sort uv ordeh. Boone, fust in command, took the left wing; Todd, the
centah; Trigg, the right; an' the Lincoln County men undeh Harlan,
McBride an' McGary a sort o' advance guard. But 'twuz no use then. We
only fired one round. Befoh we could reload, them devils wuz on us with
tommyhocks an' scalpin'-knives. Then, a hand-to-hand fight fur a minit.
Afteh thet, our menall whut wuz left uv uswuz mekin' back towa'ds
the river, with the yellin', whoopin' swarm o' hell's imps at our
Who can depict the horrors of that day! Gilcrest ejaculated. It
has been estimated that at least one-tenth of all the able-bodied men
in Kentucky either fell on that battlefield, or were carried captive to
meet lingering death by torture. You see, he continued, we had
thought we could have a better chance at the enemy on foot than on
horseback, so we had dismounted before forming into line; and then we
were so closely pursued that few had time to reach the horses.
An' thet, said Rogers, taking up the narrative, give the savages
anotheh big edvantidge; fur they jumped on our hosses an' galloped
afteh us, while we had to mek to the river on foot.
Yes, said Gilcrest, and if it hadn't been for you, Mason, I'd
never have reached the river. A fierce Wyandotte brave mounted on one
of our horses had picked me out as his special prey, and I, exhausted
by my long, hot run, and already slightly wounded, could never have
reached the ford but for your timely aid.
Fo'tunately, Rogers put in, I, who hadn't been so close pressed,
hed hed time to reload my rifle. So we left thet Injun varmint rollin'
in the dust with a bullet in his back, an' you an' me jumped on thet
hoss an' swum the river. But, pshaw, Hiram! talk 'bout my savin' yer
life! Thet wuz nothin' to some o' the brave things you an' others done
thet day. Do you re-collect how two uv our men afteh they'd got safe
oveh the river, instid o' mekin' fur the bresh, stopped thar on the
bank in full range o' the Injuns on t'otheh side, an' rallied the men
an' made 'em halt an' fire back at the whoopin' red demons, so's we
pore wretches whut wuz still swimmin' fur life could hev some chance to
escape? It wuz Ben Netherlands an' one uv the Page brothehsMarshall
Page, I believe 'twuzwho did thet.
Marshall Page! ejaculated Abner Dudley.
Yes, it was Marshall Page, I think, answered Major Gilcrest; but
why your exclamation, Mr. Dudley? Do you know any one of that name?
I can't recall that I do, answered young Dudley; but the name
seems familiar, and, in fact, I have a dim impression, absurd though it
may seem to you, of having heard or experienced many incidents such as
you and Mr. Rogers have been describing. But my impressions may be
Your impressions, said Gilcrest, are doubtless only the faint
memory of some tale heard in your early childhood. Such harrowing
incidents as Mason and I were recalling were common enough in the
pioneer days, and have furnished the theme of many a fireside recital.
As for Marshall Page, you very likely have known some one of the name;
for I believe there are still many Pages living in Virginia and
Maryland; but you can not have known the man I meaneither Marshall
Page or his brother, whose Christian name I can not recall just
nowfor he was killed there on the banks of the Licking while bravely
helping his comrades to escape. Which brother was it, Mason?
Blest ef I know, Rogers replied; but one, whicheveh it wuz, wuz
killed at the Licking, an' the otheh wuz captured by the savages. Seems
to me, though, I heard aftehwa'ds thet he escaped befoh they got to the
Injun town way back in Ohio, an' thet he turned up agin at Bryan's thet
fall, an' took the little Page boy back across the mountains to his own
people. Wuzn't thet the way uv it, Cynthy Ann?
Yes, Mrs. Rogers answered, Mary Jane Hart, who kept the little
boy with her at the station afteh his motheh died, tole me about it the
nex' summeh when she come oveh to Houston's one day, an' uv how she
hated to part with him; fur she hed no childurn uv her own then, an'
hed took a mighty fancy to the pore little fellah.
Speaking of Netherland's and Page's brave deed, here spoke Major
Gilcrest, Mason, do you remember Aaron Reynolds' equally brave and
self-sacrificing rescue of young Patterson that day?
And the two veterans, spurred by each other's promptings into
livelier recollection, painted in vivid colors many more of the
stirring incidents of that most tragic event in the annals of pioneer
Kentucky, the battle of Blue Lick Springs.
Young Dudley and Henry Rogers, their fighting blood aroused by the
realistic portrayal, sat by with kindling eyes and quickened pulses,
while each in his heart pictured some deed of daring heroism which
himself might have achieved had he been in that memorable battle.
Mrs. Rogers' sewing lay unheeded in her lap as she rocked slowly to
and fro, her gaze fixed upon the fire. She, too, was painting pictures
and seeing visions of the long agopictures which included not only
the heroic band of Kentucky's defenders in the midst of the bloody
horrors of that battlefield, but also that band of devoted women shut
up alone with their helpless little ones in that lonely station, not
knowing what terrible fate was befalling husbands, brothers, kinsmen
out in the wilderness, nor what even greater evils from lurking foes
might at any moment beset themselves within their stockade fortress;
and her brave lip trembled and the visions in the fire became dimmed
and blurred as she thought of that terrible ride under the scorching
rays of the August sun, and of the eighteen-months-old babe, her little
William, who, already ailing before the departure from Houston's, and
unable to bear the merciless heat of the long journey, had died in her
arms at Bryan's two days laterhours before her husband returned from
that ill-fated march to the Licking.
No, she thought, as she wiped the tears from her eyes, and resumed
her sewing, our men didn't hev all the strugglin's an' the trials; we
women fought our battles, too; an' ours, afteh all, wuz the hardest
CHAPTER VI. ONE HUNDRED YEARS AGO
The household at Oaklands presented a singular admixture of diverse
elements working together harmoniously, and blending into a home life
that was thrifty, stirring, and, at the same time, genial and refined.
In Hiram Gilcrest, notwithstanding a certain air of Puritanical
bigotry, there was a strong leaven of integrity and sound sense which
won him much respect from his neighbors. Seeing him in the midst of his
family, one thought him like a tall, vigorous New England fir-tree,
standing sentinel over a garden of blooming children, and protecting
and sheltering the delicate, listless wife who seemed like a frail
hothouse flower which, too late in life, had been transplanted from the
artificial warmth of a greenhouse into an outdoor garden.
The sons, reared in the new and hardy soil of Kentucky, were like
sturdy young shrubs. Betsy, in her youthful bloom and piquancy, was the
type of the fragrant, spicy garden pink; and no one could look at Abby
Patterson without thinking of a June rose.
During the winter Abner Dudley was often at Oaklands. The
undemonstrative yet hearty interest of Hiram Gilcrest, the serene
cordiality of Miss Abby, and the boisterous greeting of the children
made the young Virginian feel himself a welcome guest. But, whether he
discussed affairs of church or school, state or nation with his host,
or listened to Mrs. Gilcrest's somewhat languid conversation, or
parried the sparkling quips and gay repartees of Betsy, he carried away
from these visits very little realizing sense of anything save the
presence and personality of Abby Patterson, whose serene gentleness and
blooming beauty had power to stir within him all impulse of soul and
Another frequent visitor at Oaklands was James Anson Drane, the
young lawyer and land agent of Lexington. In him Dudley at first feared
a formidable rival; but it soon became apparent that Betsy Gilcrest,
not Abby Patterson, was the magnet which drew the young lawyer to
Oaklands. Hiram Gilcrest and Drane's father had been close friends. For
this reason James was ever a welcome guest; and he ingratiated himself
into still greater favor with Major Gilcrest by agreeing with him on
all points, whenever religion or politics was the topic of discussion.
Abner Dudley distrusted this easy acquiescence, and had a suspicion
that the views which Drane expressed so glibly were not his true
sentimentsa suspicion which Betsy Gilcrest appeared to share, as
testified by the scornful toss of her head, the contemptuous smile that
flitted across her lips, and the sarcastic light that flashed in her
eyes whenever the bland and brilliant young lawyer fluently argued in
favor of federalism and Calvinism.
No distinctions of rank and culture disturbed the homogeneous
character of society at Cane Ridge. Friendships were warm and constant;
and just as these men and women had toiled and struggled together in
the first days of settlement, so now they and their children lived,
worked, and enjoyed their simple pleasures in cordial harmony. Although
staunch Presbyterians in doctrine, these people did not, as a rule,
oppose dancing. Mason Rogers was the fiddler of the neighborhood, and
as much esteemed in that capacity as in that of song-leader at church;
and even Deacon Gilcrest, notwithstanding the Puritanical stiffness of
his mental joints upon questions of creed, relaxed considerably upon
matters of social pastimes; nor did he assume superiority over his
neighbors on account of his greater wealth and education. On the
contrary, he encouraged his niece and daughter to mingle in all the
social functions of the community. Hence, the young schoolmaster was
likewise a frequenter of these gatheringsdrawn thither by the hope of
seeing Abby Patterson, who, although she did not participate in any of
the more boisterous games, was frequently present as an onlooker; and
while the crowd of merry young people were romping through
Rise-up-thimbler, Shoot-the-buffalo, or Skip-to-me,Lou, Abner
had the opportunity he coveted, a quiet chat with Abby in some retired
corner of the room.
One form of merry-making which was in high favor among the women of
that day was the quilting-bee. These quilters of the long ago must have
been accomplished needlewomen, as evidenced by the heirlooms in
diamond, rose, basket, and other quaint designs which have
descended to us from our great-grandmothers.
One Saturday in November there was a quilting-bee and a
corn-shucking at farmer Trabue's. Early in the afternoon the matrons
and maids of Cane Ridgeeach with thimble, needles and scissors in a
long reticule dangling from her waistcongregated in Mrs. Trabue's big
upper room, where the quilt, already swung, was awaiting them.
To Polly Hinkson, who was considered highly accomplished in such
matters, was accorded the honor of marking the quilt into the pattern
previously decided upon, an elaborate and intricate design known as
bird-at-the-window. The marking done, women and girls seated
themselves around the quilt, and began to work, taking care to make the
stitches short and even, and to keep strictly to the chalk line
defining the pattern.
With an accompaniment of laughter, jest, good-natured gossip and
innocent rivalry, the work went merrily forward all afternoon until the
evening shadows began to gather in the upper room. Then the nearly
finished quilt was rolled upon its frames; and the older women repaired
to the kitchen to assist the hostess and her dusky handmaidens in
supper preparations, while the girls doffed aprons and reticules,
smoothed out Sunday merinoes or bombazines, and readjusted combs and
fillets, to be ready for the evening gayeties; for by this time the
beaux were arriving.
In the kitchen, with its smoke-begrimed walls and its blackened
rafters, from which dangled sides of meat, bunches of herbs, and
strings of pepper, the supper was spread. Keeping guard at one end of
the long table was the roast pig, brown, crisp and juicy, stuffed with
sage dressing; around its neck a garland of sausage, in its mouth a
turnip. At the other end of the table, facing the pig, was a turkey
replete with gravy and rich stuffing, and garnished with parsley. Down
each side of the board stretched a long line of ediblessparerib,
potatoes, cabbage, beans and hominy, pitchers of milk and of cider;
within this double line, another of pies, white loaf bread, corn pone,
flakey biscuit, pickles, honey and apple-butter. In the center of the
board rested the masterpiece of culinary art, the tall stack cake
shaped like a pyramid, and at its apex a wreath of myrtle. Ranged
around this pyramid stood glasses of foaming, yellow float.
Immediately after supper the entire company assembled in the barn
for the shucking bout. Several scaffolds had been erected at suitable
intervals in the barn, their tops covered with dirt and rocks on which
were big billets of blazing hickory to furnish light for the workers.
The corn was apportioned as equally as possible, and then at a given
signal a lively contest began.
You don't seem to be trying for the championship, laughingly
remarked Abby Patterson to Abner Dudley that evening as they sat side
by side in the long line of busy shuckers. See how William Hinkson,
Jed White and John Smith are working; and look how swiftly Thomas Miles
is reducing his heap. I do believe he will win the contest.
He may, for all of me, was Abner's smiling rejoinder; I'm well
content to be among the laggards, so long as you are sitting near me.
Besides, the prize is not one I should dare claim.
Is there a prize? asked Abby. I did not know that; this is the
first shucking party I ever attended. What is the prize to be?
A kiss from any girl the winner may choose from among the shuckers,
I believe, Dudley answered demurely.
Oh! murmured Abby, blushing warmly. I now understand.
The girl of my choice, Abner added with a meaning glance at his
companion, and with a decided emphasis upon my, is far too refined
and womanly to permit my taking such a reward. Hence, I do not aspire
to be a champion shucker, nor a fortunate finder of red ears of corn.
It is rather difficult, is it not, Betty, he continued presently,
with a humorous twinkle in his eyes, as Miss Gilcrest came across to
where he and her cousin were seated, to find the logical connection
between the championship as the fastest corn-shucker, and the privilege
of kissing the girl of one's choice?
The custom isn't founded upon logic, but solely upon the consent of
the parties, was Betsy's ready rejoinder; and who but a pair of old
sobersides like you and Cousin Abby would sit here discoursing on
'logical connections,' while all this fun is going on? 'Logical
connection,' indeed! she exclaimed merrily, with a saucy toss of her
At any rate, those hilarious folks over yonder certainly appear to
care but little as to whence the custom originated or upon what
principle, logical or otherwise, it is perpetuated, Dudley added,
nodding towards the center of the barn, where a number of noisy boys
and girls were circling around Thomas Miles, who had just won the
championship, and was now claiming his reward from the lips of the
blushing, screaming, struggling, but by no means displeased, Mary Hitt.
It is wonderful, isn't it, Abner continued, as Betsy danced away,
how Betty always contrives to evade taking part in those detestable
kissing games, and yet maintains her popularity with all those boys and
girls? She's a rare combinationself-willed and impetuous, yet
big-hearted and lovableand how pretty she is growing!
Pretty! Abby exclaimed warmly. She is more than pretty, she is
lovely; and there is a certain force and dignity about her, too, that
contrasts curiously with her piquant wit and coquettish ways. It would
be a bold man indeed who would attempt a familiarity with her.
Returning home after school one February afternoon, schoolmaster and
pupils found an unusual stir and commotion agitating the Rogers domain,
news having arrived that the neighbors would gather there that night
for a dance.
Soon after six o'clock, a loud hail from the stile block proclaimed
the first arrivals, a big sledload of merry folks. Others followed
quickly, until in half an hour the spacious family room was overflowing
with life and laughter and excited chatter. Hoods and wraps were
quickly thrown aside, rumpled dresses smoothed out, loosened ribbons
readjusted, refractory ringlets reduced to order, and presently the
sitting-room was deserted, and the entire company had assembled in the
loom-room across the yard, where the dance was to be held.
Why do you wound me and slander yourself by such language? Abner
Dudley asked, gloomily, in answer to Miss Patterson's request that he
leave her quietly in her corner, and choose some fairer, fresher,
merrier partner for the first dance. I shall not dance at all unless
you favor me, he stoutly asserted.
In that case, I suppose I must yield, Abby answered
good-naturedly; I should hate to mar your pleasure of the first
Kentucky dance you ever attended, and she rose smilingly and took his
A proud and happy man was Abner as they crossed the room to take
their places among the eager groups who were standing about impatiently
waiting while Mason Rogers fitted a new string to his fiddle.
'Fairer than Rachel at the palmy well,
Fairer than Ruth amid the fields of corn,
Fair as the angel that said hail, she seemed!'
quoted Abner, bending his head to look into the face of the girl
beside himthe grandiloquence of the quotation and the blunt
directness of the flattery atoned for by the earnest sincerity of his
voice and glance.
Abby was indeed a fair and gracious vision as she stood there,
straight and lissome as a young palm-tree. The somber plainness of her
winter gown of dark merino and the soft, clinging texture of her muslin
tucker accentuated the delicate fairness of skin, the dainty perfection
of feature, and the exquisite beauty of the white throat. Her quiet,
rather pensive face was just now unusually animated, and the faint
sea-shell tint of her cheek was deepened into a glowing crimson.
This homely scene is a contrast to that Assembly ball, isn't it?
Dudley said presently; and how different my position now from that of
the forlorn youth who that night stood afar off, gazing with useless
longing at the brilliant scene within the ballroom! Little did I then
dream that to-night in far-off Kentucky I should be leading the reel
with the peerless belle of that assembly.
There stands the 'peerless belle' of this assembly, returned Miss
Patterson, looking across to Betsy Gilcrest, the center of a group of
boys and girls. Dear little girl! continued Abby; she appears in her
airiest, sauciest mood to-night, and is clearly bent on enjoying life
to its fullest extent. No one holds her head so prettily as Betty; no
one laughs and chatters with such innocent gayety. Is she not
A momentary look of vexation flitted across the young man's face.
What is Betsy's witchery to me, and why does Abby always try to divert
my attention when I would give our conversation a personal meaning? he
thought gloomily. Of course, he admitted, glancing at Betsy with
reluctant admiration, she is bright and winning, and extremely
attractive, at least to the youths of this community; but she is not
the rose, and I
Ah! It is easy to see what is the attraction here for that
bepowdered, beruffled, fashionable swain, as well as for the Cane Ridge
youths, Miss Patterson interrupted, as James Anson Drane presented
himself before Betsy, and bowed over her hand with a courtly grace
befitting a far more brilliant scene than this country dance in the old
Do you think she favors him? asked Dudley, anxiously, a momentary
fierce pang of dislike or distrust or envy shivering through him as he
looked at the debonair young lawyer.
At any rate, laughed Abby, there can be no doubt of his
intentions. As for her, she continued, looking earnestly at Abner, I
have in mind a far more suitable lover, who will, I hope, some day win
that heart of gold.
Who is this fortunate one destined to 'win that heart of gold'?
Dudley carelessly inquired, feeling but little interest just then in
any topic save that which concerned himself and the girl at his side.
Do I know him?
Only slightly, I believe, Miss Patterson replied, looking down
with a demure smile; not nearly so well as I hope you will some day.
Abner flushed warmly, and his pulse leaped high with hope; for he
interpreted the words to refer to a closer relationship between Abby
and himself. Of course, he thought jubilantly, I shall become well
acquainted with Betsy's prospective husband, when Abby shall have
Whoever he may be, said Abner, heartily, since he has your
approval, I wish him Godspeed with Betty; for, he added in a lower
key, and frowning slightly, as he looked at Mr. Drane, I can not, for
the life of me, cordially like or trust yonder fine gentleman. But what
about this other lover for Betty?
At present, Abby answered with a meaning which Abner was far from
construing correctly, he thinks his affections are centered in a far
less worthy object; and he is blind to his heart's best interests.
Let us hope that this blind Romeo may soon be restored to sight,
laughed Abner; or else, that dear little Juliet yonder will be carried
off by some clearer-visioned wooer. But see, Mr. Rogers has at last
restrung that fiddle and tuned it to his notion; so now for our dance!
No stately minuet or mincing cotillion was the order of the evening.
Instead, the countre dance, the gauntlet, the four-handed
reelold-time, energetic country dancingshook the rafters overhead,
and made the puncheon floor vibrate. Such jigging, such cutting the
pigeon wing, such swinging corners! No languid, lazy gliding, but
hearty motionup and down, round and round, faster and faster, as the
twinkling bow sawed across the strings to the tune of Coon Dog, Roxy
Ann, Billy Batters, or Niggah in the Cawnfield.
Rousing music it wasenough, as Rube and Tom declared, to mek
even a one-legged fellah git up an' hump hisse'f.
Mason Rogers at one end of the room, his eyes beaming, his face
shining, made the fiddle hum and sing. Interspersed with his music came
energetic promptings, Balance all! Swing yer pardnahs! Ladies,
chain! Gals to the centah, an' boys all around! Sometimes he
admonished some laggard or blunderer, Hurry, thah, Sammy! Bill, to
the left! his feet the while tapping the floor, and his body swaying
rhythmically as his right arm swung the bow and the fingers of his left
hand twinkled over the strings. A further incentive to merriment was
the excited admiration of the negroes gathered outside at doors and
windowsnot only the darkeys of the Rogers household, but many from
neighboring domains as wellheads bobbing, eyes rolling, teeth
glistening, as their feet beat time on the frozen ground. Sometimes a
dusky swain caught some dusky maid around the waist and swung her
merrily; and all promised themselves jes' sech a dance in the big
cabin, nex' Sat'day night, with Marse Bushrod Hinkson's Jake fur
CHAPTER VII. THE HOUSE-RAISIN'
Soon after coming to the neighborhood, Abner Dudley, heeding the
advice of Mason Rogers, had gone to see the tract of land lying on
Hinkson's Creek. He found it to be all that Rogers had said of ita
rich, well-watered, well-timbered body of land. Early in November he
had purchased of Simon Lucky his head right to four hundred acres,
for four hundred and fifty dollars. He had enough money for the first
payment, and Mason Rogers became security for the rest of the purchase
price. After making a rough survey of the land, and recording the
transfer in the land office at the county-seat, Dudley, with his ax,
notched the corner trees of his purchase, and thus took formal
Well, Abner, said Rogers the evening after he and young Dudley had
returned from Bourbonton, whither they had gone to record the deed of
transfer, you've got four hundred acres uv ez good land ez thar is in
Bourbon County, or in Kaintucky, fur thet matteh, an' now you kin push
yer way right on, an' in a few years you'll be inderpendent rich. Ef I
wuz you, I'd buy up a lot o' hogs, an' turn 'em loose in the woods, ez
soon's you git yer place fenced in. They'll be no expense fer ther
keep; they'll fatten on the mast undah the trees, an' be an advantidge
ev'ry way. Henry'll holp you Sat'days to cl'ar off breshwood an' cut
down trees, so's to let in the sun to dry yer ground in time fer yer
spring plowin'. I'll spar' you Rube an' Tom this wintah sometimes, when
thar ain't much a-doin' at home, an' you kin hev the ox team, too, to
haul off the bresh. You'd bettah begin nex' Sat'day to girdle 'bout a
dozen o' them big oaks ovah thar on yer west slopeit'll mek splendid
Spring in this favored locality was neither coy nor capricious, but
came on with a steady step and an assured air, as though confident of
her welcome. By the middle of February the icy fetters of winter's
binding were loosened from creek and pond. Then came the fierce winds
of March to melt the snow and to dry the earth; and presently woods and
fields were springing into new beauty under the gentle touch of April
shower and sunshine.
The school term ended in March. The same need which called Abner and
the larger boys to the fields, provided tasks in garden, poultry-yard,
loom-room and springhouse for the girls.
Books is all very well fer wintah times, said Mrs. Rogers to Susan
one afternoon as she sat on the back door-step, marking a basket of
eggs to set. But now thet warm weathah's tekin' holt in arnest, thar's
more important things ter think 'bout. Thar's all thet soap grease to
mek up soon's I kin git the leach bar'l sot up'sides hens to set,
gairden to plant, the turkey hens to watch so's they don't steal ther
nests; an' Brindle an' Crooked Horn an' Spot all comin' in fresh nex'
week, an' ther new calves to look aftah, 'sides all thet buttah an'
milk an' cheese. The days hain't nigh long 'nough fer all the wuck
thet's to be did. Heah, these aiggs is marked. Put 'em undah them five
hens whut's been a-cluckin' an' takin' on fer a week or more. Eph made
the nests fer you this mawnin'a whole row o' 'em back o' the
loom-room in a fresh place, so's the chiggers won't pester the hens.
Hev you boys picked thet basket o' chips? Mrs. Rogers then asked of
Tommy and Buddy, who at this moment came around the corner of the
house, prancing and dancing, each astride a stick horse. Whut! You
hain't? Drap them sticks this minit, or I'll w'ar 'em out on yer backs!
Cl'ar out to thet woodpile, fast ez yer laigs'll carry you. Ef you
don't look sharp, nary a step do you go to the sugah-camp ter-morrow,
an' nary a mouthful o' thet maple sugah shell you hev.
It was an unwritten law of the community that whenever a farm was
opened up, a house should be immediately built upon it. In fact, a man
was not considered to have positive possession of his land until a
house of some description was erected thereon. So, although Dudley was
to continue to live with the Rogerses at least for the spring and
summer, as soon as the first plowing was done and the corn planted, he
proceeded to build his house, the logs for which had already been cut;
for Mason Rogers, in common with the other old settlers, held to the
superstition that if the timber for a house was cut in the full moon of
February, the future inmates of the house would never be molested by
bedbugsAn', Mrs. Rogers had added when her husband was recommending
this course to Dudley, ef you gether pennyrile when it's in blossom,
an' dry it, an' keep sprigs o' it b'tween yer bed-ticks, an' 'long the
cracks o' the walls, you won't be pestered with fleas, nuther.
It was another unwritten law of these early times that every
ablebodied man should assist in a house-raisin'. Therefore, one clear
April morning about forty men and boys assembled with axes, mauls, and
other rude tools, near the site of the proposed cabin. This site was a
gently sloping, wooded prominence near the center of the farm. A pretty
locality it was. Through the trees at the back there was a glimpse of
Hinkson Creek, and across the newly plowed fields to the right and left
could be seen the shadowy blue of some distant, low-lying hills. In
front, several walnut, oak and elm trees had been left standing to
preserve the wild beauty of the place.
The first day was spent in preparing materials and laying the
foundation logs. The men laughed and jested and shouted merrily as they
worked; and by noon the timbers were prepared, and the rock hauled for
the two mammoth chimneys. Well it was that the hardest part of the work
was already done, for some of the party, not content with the efficacy
of hard cider, had brought whisky, and at the noon repast many of the
men imbibed so freely that they were incapacitated for active service,
and spent the afternoon lounging on log heaps, dozing off the effects
of their potations or singing maudlin songs and making still more
maudlin jests. However, the whisky of those days was pure, and though
it did inebriate, its after effects were not so injurious, nor did it
render its votaries so quarrelsome as does our so-called pure Bourbon
of to-day. By the next morning even the most intoxicated had slept off
the effects of their indulgence, and all reassembled at sunrise for the
raisin'. Four corner men were chosen, whose business it was to
notch and place the logs handed them by the rest of the men, as needed.
Meanwhile, boards for window and door frames were placed in readiness,
so that by the time the walls were a few rounds high, the sleepers were
laid and the chimneys being built.
The cabin was considered unusually commodious and elegant for a
young householder. It was built of white oak logs and was forty feet
long by eighteen wide. Moreover, it was a double house; that is, the
two large rooms were separated by a passageway. The puncheon flooring
was planed into delightful smoothness, and the mantels were of
beautifully grained walnut, prepared by Abner during winter evenings.
The house was to set with the sun; and on the second day, by the
time the sun's rays shone squarely across the newly laid threshold,
walls were raised, rafters laid, and door and window frames adjusted.
The noon recess was a merry time. Lunches were eaten with greater
relish, and cider and whisky circulated even more freely than on the
previous day. Nevertheless, by four o'clock the work was completed, and
the last helper had departed homeward.
The cabin was, of course, not yet fit for occupancy; the walls were
not chinked, nor the hearthstone laid. Doors were still unhung and
windows unglazed; but as Abner stood alone that evening in his doorway,
leaning on his ax and looking across his rich lands, his heart swelled
with a feeling of proud proprietorship. He pictured how inviting this
wilderness home would look when its interior walls should shine with a
plentiful coat of whitewash, and when hop vines and morning-glories
should cover the rough exterior, and convert doorways and window frames
into bowers of beauty.
In a few years, he mused, if I am as prosperous as I see reason
to hope, this log cabin will be replaced by a mansion as commodious as
any in Bourbon County. Flowers will bloom in my trim gardens; and my
broad fields will whiten with a wealth of grain. A home that shall be a
fit setting for the jewel of my love shall make her forget her former
luxurious life in Virginia, as well as the toils and privations of the
first days with me; and our children shall take their places with the
highest in the land.
From that October day when Abby Patterson had raised her veil in the
old church and revealed the features of the beautiful girl who had
entranced his boyish fancy at the Assembly ball four years before, a
veil seemed lifted from his own vision. Love had dawned, and in its
light life was invested with a deeper and more beautiful significance.
What if she is a few years older than I? he would ask himself. Is
she not above me in everything else as well? So that, if she accepts my
love, it will be through no worthiness of mine.
CHAPTER VIII. LOVE'S YOUNG DREAM
Like ships that sailed for sunny isles,
But never came to shore.Hervey.
All through the early spring Abner toiled with the might of a
hopeful heartlove lightening every task and enduing him with the
strength of two. His farm was soon enclosed, and divided into fields
and woodland stretches by neat rail fences. Planting-time was over. The
young corn was rank and tall, and its luxuriant green foliage almost
hid the brown ridges and furrows.
One day in May Abner stood at the threshold of his unfinished cabin,
and gazed with unseeing eyes over fields and woods and growing corn.
Alas for visions of domestic joy! The day before, he had asked Abby to
be his wife. So gentle, so sad, and withal so tender, had been her
manner, that at first he had refused to accept her decision. Believe
me, dear friend, she then said, there is no answer possible save the
one I have given. Though I honor you above any one else I have known
during my life in Kentucky, I have no love to give you. Besides, I am
too old, too grave, too disposed to melancholy, to make you happy. You
need a younger, stronger, more joyous nature than mine. At present you
can not understand this; some day you will, and then you will see that
a far more suitable matea girl self-reliant, buoyant, and with a
wealth of love in her pure, warm heartis waiting for you. Ah! you are
blind, blind, that you do not see how Happiness is holding out her hand
A dim, shadowy wonder as to whom she could mean flitted an instant
across the young man's mind; but he was too eager, too absorbed, to
entertain the thought, and renewed his pleading. Then Abby, after
looking at him a moment in wistful silence, rose from her chair, and,
standing before him, laid her hands upon his shoulders, and, looking
earnestly into his face, said: Abner, I have no love to give you; for
long ago all the love of which my heart is capable was given to
another. He is dead now; but I am as much his as though he stood here
before me to-night. As I loved him at the first, I love him now, and
must love him to the end. For some, and I hope it will be so for you,
love reblossoms into new beauty and vigor; but not for me. My heart can
have no second springtime.
Abner Dudley was of too manly a nature to grow morbidno
healthy-minded, strong-bodied man does thatbut for a long, dark
season he went about his work with a cherished sadness in his soul. The
spring was gone from his step, the light from his eyes, and he was so
quiet, so little like his former cheery self, that Mason Rogers,
noticing his depression and attributing it to overwork, urged him to
take a rest spaill.
Tain't wuck whut's ailin' you, Abner, said Mrs. Rogers. Thet
nevah. hurt nobody yit. It's stayin' so much in them damp woods. You're
gittin' peaky ez a sick kitten, an' saller ez a punkin; you'll be down
with fevers an' agers nex'. You need dosin' on boneset an'
life-evehlastin', an' I'll brew you a cupful this very night. Drink it
bilin' hot, then soak yer feet in hot watah with a lot o' mustard
pounded up in it; then go to bed an' sweat it out, an' you'll be all
right by mawnin'. Thar's nothin' lak a good sweat to drive fevers an'
agers outen the systum.
Abner thanked his kindly hostess, but could not help laughing
secretly at her diagnosis and prescription. Truly, thought he, it's
but a step from sentiment to bathos. 'Fevers an' agers' instead of
disappointed love! Boneset tea and a mustard foot-bath for a broken
heart! I really must pull myself together.
This perfect unconsciousness of the simple household was helpful to
the young man. Furthermore, his work necessitated his living much out
of doors, and this helped him still more; for none but those who have
the unseeing eye and the unappreciative heart for the beauty of woods
and fields, summer sunshine, glinting stream, and joyous bird notes,
can long be wholly without benefit from nature's ministry. Thus Abner
had within reach two mighty remedies for sadnessthe balm of nature's
beauty, and the bracing tonic of hard work.
For some time he kept aloof from Oaklands; not only because of Abby,
but because, when in Betsy's presence, certain tones of her voice when
speaking to him, and a wistful look in her eyes, troubled him with a
vague, half-conscious sense that she, young though she was,
comprehended his trouble.
In July, Abby, taking advantage of the proffered companionship of a
family who were returning to Virginia, went for a protracted visit.
After arriving in Norfolk, she decided to make her home with a cousin
there. It was many a day before Abner Dudley saw her again.
CHAPTER IX. THE GREAT REVIVAL
In the summer of 1801, Cane Ridge became a storm-center of the great
religious agitation which at that time was sweeping over the Western
In the spring of that year, Barton Stone, leaving his Bourbon County
churches for a time, had gone to southern Kentucky to attend a meeting
conducted by McGready, McGee, and other noted revivalists, upon the
edge of a barren tract in Logan County where multitudes encamped, and
where worship was in progress in some parts of the grounds during the
entire meeting, which lasted over a week.
This southern Kentucky revival was followed by others of a like
nature throughout other portions of the State, and like a wind-driven
fire through the dried grass of a prairie was the effect of such
meetings. In the prevalence of this excitement, sectarianism, abashed,
shrank away, and the people, irrespective of creed, united in the
It was decided to hold a camp-meeting at Cane Ridge. The woodland
slope surrounding the meeting-house was cleared of its thick
undergrowth for a space of several hundred yards, and three-fourths of
this space was soon covered with long rows of log seats with broad
aisles between the rows. In front, a spacious platform was erected, and
over all was a roof of loose boughs supported by posts.
The meeting began Thursday night before the third Sunday in August.
Before sunrise on that Thursday, the roads were thronged with
carriages, wagons, ox-carts, horseback riders, and persons on foot, all
moving toward the woodland rendezvous. Many came from distant parts of
Kentucky; many from the neighboring States. A Revolutionary officer,
skilled in estimating large encampments, declared that the crowd
numbered between twenty-five and thirty thousand people.
Enthusiasm gathered intensity with each succeeding hour. There was
no fixed time for intermission. Each family cooked, ate, slept at any
time its members chose, and returned to the services, which began at
sunrise and continued until long after midnight. Sometimes several
preachers were each exhorting a large audience in different parts of
the ground at the same time, while singing, shouting, praying and
groaning were the constant accompaniment of the fervid, chantlike
At night the vast encampment, illuminated by scores of bear-grease
lamps, hundreds of rush-lights, and thousands of tallow dips, presented
a spectacle of weird sublimity. In the improvised auditorium lights
suspended from overhanging boughs fell upon a concourse of earnest
worshipers whose voices, rising in the solemn melody of a hymn, mingled
with the fervid petitions of the preacher, the shouts of the newly
converted, the sobs and shrieks of the newly convicted. Pine knots set
in sockets upon the rostrum revealed in unearthly radiance the face of
some impassioned speaker, silhouetting his form with startling
distinctness against a background of forest. In the shadowy depths
beyond the rostrum could faintly be seen, by the light of smoldering
campfires, the long, ghostly line of tents and wagons, and here and
there the fitful gleam of torches, like giant fireflies in the
surrounding gloom. Enclosing all this was a black and seemingly
illimitable expanse, from which could be heard the occasional hoot of
an owl or the baying of a hound, mingled with the unceasing voice of
the trees, now rising almost to a scream, now softly sighing, now
wailing as in a dying agony.
In an environment of such great natural solemnity, and under the
spell of tense religious fervor, it was not strange that the very
atmosphere seemed surcharged with a mystical and awful force, and that
many of the campers were soon the victims of those singular
manifestations called, in the parlance of the times, the falling
exercise, the jerks, the trance, and the ecstasy. The various
phases of this strange disorder attacked indiscriminately the credulous
and the critical, the fervid and the frivolous, the religious and the
reprobate. A strong man, while quietly attending to the exposition of
some text; a young girl, while listening with blanching lips and
quickening pulses to the impassioned appeal of the exhorter; or a
careless onlooker, while laughing and jesting, might suddenly be
affected by this terrifying malady. Some scoffer might perhaps at one
moment be sneering or denouncing the demonstrations as demoniac, and
the next be attacked with great violence. Nor were the campers alone
affected. New arrivals, while yet upon the outskirts of the encampment,
were sometimes seized with violent and inexplicable sensations. The air
seemed charged with an irresistible electrical force.
Many farmers of the neighborhood attended the meeting, taking
advantage of the comparatively leisure season between summer harvesting
and fall wheat-sowing. Mason Rogers was among this number, his wife
declaring that the hull thing would likely fall through ef Mason
warn't thar to holp lead the singin'. Ez fer me, she said cheerfully
to her children, I'll stay to home most o' the time to cook things fer
you-all ter eat up thar et the camp. Some day when I kin spar' time,
I'll be ovah to heah the preachin', an' ter see whut's goin' on. You
kin go, too, Susan, ef you want to, seein' ez you air 'titled to a
leetle play-spaill arter wuckin' so spry all summah. You kin find a
place to sleep with Betsy in Gilcrest's tent, or with Molly an' Ann
Trabue. I reckon yer pap an' Henry an' Abner kin git a shakedown in
some uv the wagon-beds, or else on the groun'; 'twon't hurt 'em this
dry weathah. No, Tommy, nary step do you go; you an' Buddy's gwintah
stay right heah. Camp-meetin's hain't no place fer brats. Maybe,
though, ef you're good, I'll tek you ovah with me some day; or I'll let
you go 'long with Rache an' Tom some mawnin', when they tek the baskets
uv vi'tuls fur the folks to eat.
CHAPTER X. AFTERNOON IN THE GROVE
One afternoon toward the close of the revival, Betsy and John Calvin
Gilcrest and Henry and Susan Rogers took their lunch-baskets to a shady
grove near the big spring, with the intention of spending the afternoon
in the woods.
I'm completely worn out, declared Susan, throwing herself down
upon a grassy knoll and tossing her bonnet aside. I've had enough
excitement for one while.
And I, too, assented Betsy, as she uncovered her lunch-basket.
Every nerve in my body is on the war-path. We'll be having the
'jerks,' if this meeting lasts much longer.
If you do, remarked John Calvin, as he attacked the wing of a
fried chicken, I suppose you'll think it an 'evidence of conversion,'
as old Daddy Stratton shouted out this morning when Billy Hinkson fell
to the ground foaming at the mouth.
'Evidence of conversion,' indeed! rejoined Betty. I never felt
further from it in my life. My head is like a ragbag stuffed to
overflowing with all sorts of odds and ends of doctrinal wisdom, and
when I want to get at any one sensible idea, out tumble a dozen or more
that are of no use whatever.
My head's all confused, too, acknowledged Susan. Yesterday Dr.
Poague preached on 'Saved by Grace,' and showed that all we have to do
is just to sit still and wait for the Lord's call. I felt real
comfortable under that discourse. But last night old Brother Steadman's
text was, 'Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,' and he
made me dreadfully uneasy. Now, are there two plans of salvation, or
Why, two, of course, said John Calvin, with laughing assurance.
One teaches that if you mean to get to heaven, you must keep your
horse everlastingly hittin' the road; the other, that the best way to
get there is just to sit still. I like the 'sittin'-still plan' best,
myself, he declared, with boyish frivolity.
This is what puzzles me, said Betsy, ignoring her brother's
irreverent summary of the two seemingly conflicting doctrines, grace
and works: if it be true, as so many of our learned brethren teach,
that nothing good that one can do merits salvation, then it seems to me
that, in accordance with every principle of justice, nothing bad that
one can do ought to merit damnation. Therefore, why should not I do the
thing that pleaseth me best, whether it be good or bad? If I'm one of
the 'elect,' nothing will keep me out of heaven, anyway.
If you're of the elect, Betsy, you won't ever want to be wicked,
Henry said gravely, speaking for the first time.
Then, I fear I'm not of the elect.
Oh, yes, I hope you areonly you're not yet converted. When you
are, you'll see things differently. Henry was of a devout, reverent
temperament, with a vivid imagination in spite of his quiet,
self-contained manner. He had been greatly stirred by what he had seen
and heard during the last ten days.
But, Henry, began Betsy, argumentatively, if I'm among the chosen
at all, I'm as much chosen now as I will ever be; for I'm a sheep, not
a goat'Once a sheep, always a sheep,' you know.
Well, sis, teasingly interrupted John Calvin, if you're a sheep,
you're surely one of the black ones; and it'll take a mighty heap o'
scrubbin', I tell you, to get you white.
And you, rejoined his sister, playfully, I fear must be a
goatjudging by the way you're always butting in, and interrupting
Oh, answered John Calvin, lightly, I ain't bad enough to be
classed with the goats, nor good enough to be a sheep, even a black
one. That other parable about the wheatfield fits my case better. I
reckon I'm just one of those useless tares.
His sister retorted: The parable also declares that 'he who sows
the tares is the devil,' and I hardly believe you are prepared to call
your parents the devil, although they put you into the church by having
you baptized in infancy. Then, resuming her conversation with Henry,
she said, If I am of the elect at all, Henry, I am elected already,
before conversion, am I not?
To be sure, Henry replied. God chose his people before the
foundation of the world.
Bosh! exclaimed Susan, impatiently. You don't know what God was
doing before the foundation of the world, and I doubt if any of those
wise brethren up at the camp do, either.
Besides, added the irrepressible John Calvin, the catechism says
we're made of the dust of the earth; and before the foundation of the
world, there wasn't any dust. So, the elect must mean some other
folksnot us of this world, at all.
Doubtless the inhabitants of Mars or Jupiter, observed Betty,
laughing in spite of herself at John's flippant remark.
Betsy, presently said Henry very earnestly, I've watched you and
Susan closely all during this revival, and I do believe that you both
are really under conviction. The belief in your own wickedness and in
the total depravity of the human heart is the first link in the
chainas Brother Weaver says.
But I do not believe in 'total depravity,' maintained Betsy,
stoutly. If the human race was utterly depraved to start with, how
could one keep growing worse and worse all the time?
Ah, Betty, said Henry, I reasoned just as you do, once; but now I
understand these things better. Although I am of myself utterly vile
and worthless, the mercy of God has taken hold of me and clothed and
hidden me in the righteousness of his dear Son, and now I
Henry, interrupted Betsy, with sudden sweetness, for the time
sobered by his earnest face and voice, you mustn't feel hurt by
anything I have said. You know I jest over the most solemn subjects,
and see the ludicrous side of everything; but I can be impressed by
real earnestness, and I have never doubted that you are sincere in all
Yes, said Susan, I'd sooner doubt my own eyesight than your
sincerity, Henry. I can understand and believe in that at least; but in
other things I must be a bigger simpleton than even the 'wayfaring
man'; for the way of salvation is anything but plain, if it includes
the doctrines of our churches. I can't understand them at all.
Understand them! exclaimed Betsy. Who can? Why, whenever one of
our learned ministers is on the subject of 'reprobation,'
'predestination,' or 'effectual calling,' his reasoning is so subtle
and his logic so ingenious that it must puzzle the elect angels
themselves to understand his arguments.
But you surely believe in the beautiful doctrine of grace? Henry
asked earnestly. You believe that the saints will persevere and get
home at last to glory, don't you?
We'll tell you more about that when we get there ourselvesif we
ever do, replied Susan.
If the saints do persevere to glory, remarked John Calvin, some
of 'em are makin' a mighty poor start of it here below. Look at Sam
Ruddell, drunk half his time, and too lazy and mean to do any honest
work at any time; yet he claims to be one of the elect, and the church
accepts him as such.
And, Henry, Betty pursued mischievously, in spite of your hopeful
view about Sue and me, I, for one, am not under conviction, if every
truly convicted penitent believes himself a 'sinner above all
Galilee'that's the orthodox phrase, isn't it? I'm not nearly so bad
as Sam Ruddell, nor as Zebuel Simmons, who beats his wife.
Ah, but my dear little girl, said Barton Stone, who, with Dudley,
had just come up, and had laid his hand gently upon the girl's
shoulder, you must remember that training and environment are the
measure of guilt or innocence.
You'll think me a reckless girl, I'm afraid, Brother Stone, Betsy
answered, laughing and coloring. I shouldn't have made that speech had
I known that you and Mr. Dudley were within hearing. But, nevertheless,
I do not believe that I am the chief of sinners; others who have had
just as good opportunities are as bad as I am, I'm sure.
Besides, if everybody who gets up in meeting and says he's the
chief of sinners, is really so, there would be more chiefs in this
neighborhood than in all the Indian tribes taken together, put in John
Calvin, pertly, unabashed by the presence of parson and schoolmaster.
The trouble with so many ministers, said Dudley, as Betty, Susan
and John Calvin strolled away, is that they seem to think that
furnishing people with doctrine is equivalent to awakening them to
conviction and supplying them with faith.
Too true, assented Stone rather sadly. Dogma and doctrine contain
very little of the true essence of faith. But the time is coming when
people will begin to search the Scriptures for themselves; and then,
just as the walls of Jericho fell before the blasts of the trumpets, so
will the whole superstructure of human theology, whose four
corner-stones are bigotry, intolerance, superstition and speculative
doctrine, crumble into nothingness. Even now the walls are beginning to
tremble. When this human-built edifice shall have fallen, and all the
debris shall have been cleared away, then shall arise upon the one true
foundation, Jesus Christ, a glorious structure, pure, consecrated and
untrammeled, the church of the living God.
Do you really believe, inquired Dudley, that there will ever be a
union of all the sects of Christendom?
A union of sects? Never! replied Stone, emphatically. Such a
thing is impossible from the very nature and meaning of sect. But
union, or rather unity, of Christian people there will surely be. Our
Saviour's prayer was that all his people might be one. That petition
will certainly be answered.
We seem very far from the realization of that prayer now, said
Yes! assented Stone. That evil spirit of intolerance, the curse
of the Corinthian church, besets the churches to-day. We must first
overcome that foe before unity is possible. But some dayand I pray
that it may be in my day, he continued with flashing eyeswhen the
storm and stress of this battle are over, there will ring out, mingling
with the shouts of victory from every rank and company of the Lord's
hosts, this one clear, dominant note, 'Unity of all of Christ's
After a moment, he continued: Clergy nor presbytery nor synod has
the right to stand between the people and the Bible, with authoritative
creeds and confessions of faith; for the Bible is its own interpreter;
and 'Equal rights to all, special privileges to none,' is a doctrine
that will some day be adopted in religion as well as in civil and
Ah, Stone, Dudley replied, that is indeed laying the ax to the
very root of the tree of denominational intolerance. If you make public
such opinions, you will be branded as a heretic.
I can stand that, Stone answered simply. 'Orthodoxy' and
'heresy,' he continued after a pause, are in truth variable terms in
religion. The 'orthodoxy' of this generation may perhaps be considered
by the next as ignorance and superstition; and what is to-day denounced
as 'heresy' in the father, may become 'orthodoxy' in the son.
Henry Rogers, who for some time had remained a deeply interested but
silent listener, sitting with his back against a tree, his hat shading
his eyes, presently asked Stone what he thought of the singular
manifestations at the camp-meeting.
I hardly know what to reply, said Stone. Many things connected
with this revival are mystifying to me; and, besides, he went on,
smilingly, your question places me in an embarrassing position, as,
you know, I was largely instrumental in starting the meeting at this
place. If I say I do not believe that these manifestations are
conducive to good, you, Henry, I can see by the quickening sparkle in
your eye, will immediately impale me upon one horn of my dilemma by
asking me why, after seeing a similar excitement at the southern
Kentucky revival, I should help to start this one. And if I say I do
not believe that these manifestations are the work of God, there sits
Abner, ready to confound me with arguments, psychological,
philosophical and common-sensical. So what am I to answer?
But, Stone, Abner exclaimed, you surely do not deny the work of
the Spirit in conversion, do you?
Certainly not, Stone replied. The Bible plainly teaches that
without the unceasing instrumentality of the Holy Spirit there can be
no real conversion; but nowhere in the Bible can I find it taught that
we should seek in supernatural signs and special revelations, rather
than in the clear and unchangeable testimonies and promises of the
gospel, for evidence of our acceptance with God. In fact, I can find in
the New Testament no account of any miraculous manifestation being sent
for the sole purpose of converting any one, although there are
instances where a miracle did attend the conversion.
What about Paul?
The voice and the great light were, I think, sent more for the
purpose of making him an apostle than for the purpose of converting
Abner smiled. You certainly dispose of Paul's case in a cool,
offhand way; but how about the 'Philippian jailer'?
You misunderstand me, said Stone; whether Paul and the Philippian
jailer were miraculously converted or not, I am not prepared to say. My
statement was, that when a miracle did accompany any case of
conversion, it was sent for some other purpose. Incidentally the
miracle may have converted the jailer, but I do not think it was sent
for that purpose.
Then, in the name of reason and common sense, what do you think it
was sent for? asked Dudley.
To free the two apostles. Through their imprisonment the gospel was
enchained. For example, suppose some malicious boy hurls a stone to
break a neighbor's window, and, in so doing, hits some one inside the
house. He did not therefore throw the stone for the purpose of hitting
the person, did he?
You're a Stone too many for me, laughed Abner. Your subtle
reasonings and hair-splitting distinctions are too much for me to
attempt to disprove, on such a broiling hot day as this.
Brother Stone! Brother Stone! shouted a voice from the brow of the
hill back of them. Looking up, they espied among the trees a man waving
Coming! shouted Stone in reply. I have an appointment at three
o'clock with some of the brethren, he explained. It must be fully
that hour now; so I must hurry back. After all this excitement is over,
I will talk further with you, Dudley, on the subject we were
discussing. Will you return with me now?
No, replied Abner, throwing himself down at full length on the
grass under the big elm, and drawing his hat over his face. I'd rather
stay here and commune with nature. I want to think over what you've
been sayingand see if I can't find arguments to confute you.
CHAPTER XI. LIGHT DAWNS
After Stone and Henry had disappeared through the woods, Dudley did
not long ponder over the late discussion; he found in his environment
too much food for other thought. He was on the same spot where, ten
months before, he had first been alone with Abby Patterson. Yonder was
the fallen log upon which she had sat toying with a spray of goldenrod,
her white bonnet beside her, the soft wind playing with her brown hair,
the sunlight through the overhanging boughs dancing over her head and
hands, and making little patches of brightness on her lavender gown.
The pungent odor of mint was in the air now as then when she had
gathered some for her uncle's glass of toddy. The water sparkled and
danced in the sunshine, trickling down the mossy rocks into the spring,
and yonder in the cleft was the old gourd from which he had poured
water on her hands.
Somewhere in his reading he had come across the story of the man who
always thanked God for the blessings that passed over his head. Often
in the last few weeks he had had a dim consciousness that perhaps it
was best for both that Abby had not yielded to his pleadings; but
hitherto he had thrust the thought from him, as though it were
disloyalty to Abby and to love. But though the recollection of Abby had
still a tender, half-sad sweetness, Dudley's nature was too vigorous
and buoyant long to give way to melancholy and vain regrets. As he lay
there in the forest solitude, a renewed hopefulness filled his soul,
and he felt that he, too, could thank God for the blessing that had
passed him by. He got up, intending to return to the encampment, but a
recollection of something Abby had said in their last interview, about
his being blind to the good that fate was ready to bestow upon him,
suddenly arrested him. What could she have meant? he wondered, as he
seated himself on a stump, pulled his hat over his eyes, and, with a
stick in his hand, idly traced lines and figures in the dust at his
A slight noise presently made him look up, and there, standing under
the big oak on the little prominence above himjust where she had
stood that October afternoon, beckoning to him and Abbywas Betsy,
again looking down upon him. She did not beckon this time; but as he
looked up she turned quickly away, though not before he had caught the
wistful, steadfast look in her eyes, and had seen the quick flush that
covered her face.
Like lightning came the thought, Was it Betsy whom Abby meant? and
as quickly the truth was flashed upon him with all the force of an
electric shock. In an instant, old things had passed away, and a tumult
of feeling stronger than anything he had ever known leaped into life.
It was not alone the realization of Betsy's love, coming to him in that
flash of intuition, that set his nerves tingling and made the hot blood
pulse madly through his veins; but, with a rapture that approximated
pain in its intensity, there rushed into his soul an answering love,
tender, deep and fixed.
It is supposed by many people that man's love is founded upon
uncertainty as to any answering passion in the woman's heart, and that
a true woman never gives her love unsought; but there is more proof to
warrant the contrary beliefthat it is her love, unspoken, carefully
hidden from all eyes, yet revealed by the mysterious telepathy of
spiritual sympathy, that calls his love into being. A man of noble,
generous nature is often thus kindled into responsiveness, and his love
thus evoked is often the most reverent and the most lasting.
In a moment Abner had to some extent regained his self-possession,
though his pulses still beat riotously. He hastened after Betsy, who
turned as he approached, her face still flushed, her eyes glowing with
unwonted fire. She greeted him in her usual nonchalant manner, and
walked demurely beside him, swinging her bonnet carelessly.
You seem to have forgotten, sir, that a big camp-meeting is in
progress in these woods. You reminded me of Daniel Boone or Simon
Kenton, sitting on that stump with your 'monarch-of-all-I-survey' air,
as though you were alone in the heart of some vast wilderness of which
you were the sole proprietor. What schemes were you hatching? and what
were you doing with that stick? Working out some abstruse mathematical
problem, or calculating how much money your year's crops will bring?
This is no time for such worldly thoughts, while all these hair-lifting
wonders are occurring yonder. Your leisure moments should be employed
in pious meditation, or in repenting of your sins.
Too much agitated by the revelation which had just come to him to
answer her light banter, he walked silently by her side. She, surprised
by his silence, glanced into his face. What she saw there arrested her
footsteps and brought a startled look into her eyes. For a moment they
stood still in the pathway, gazing into each other's facessoul
revealed to soul in the look. Then her eyes fell, a trembling seized
her, and a wave of crimson swept over cheeks and brow and throat. In a
voice hoarse with feeling, he exclaimed, Betty! Betty! and stretched
out his arms toward her. Tremblingly she threw out her hands as though
to repel his approach; and then, turning from him, ran down the path
toward the encampment.
Abner was in no mood for the noise and excitement of the revival;
so he turned aside into a ravine where many of the campers' horses were
tethered. Here he encountered Henry, to whom he said abruptly, saddling
his mare as he spoke, I'm sick of all this; I'm going for a gallop.
It's a pity to miss to-night's service, Henry answered. The camp
breaks up to-morrow.
No matter, Dudley replied as he sprang into the saddle. I'm off
Better take a snack before you go. You must be hungry, called
Henry, but Dudley, already beyond the ravine, gave no heed.
In his overwrought mood hunger and slumber were equally impossible,
and the quiet of his attic room would have been as intolerable as the
glare of the torchlights and the singing, shouting, and wild ravings of
the encampment. He rode on and on through the moonlight, over hills and
fields and roads, until his mare, flecked with foam, was breathing
uneasily. Then he allowed the reins to drop loosely over her neck, and
rode slowly back until he reached his own unfinished cabin. But the air
of the unused house was oppressive, and the walls seemed to stifle him.
Freeing the mare of saddle and bridle, and turning her out to graze, he
threw himself down on the sward in front of the house. Even then he
could not sleep, but for a long time lay gazing into the clear,
star-studded sky; for the sudden broadening of the perspective of his
future kept him wide awake. He wondered at his long blindness, and with
an agony of uncertainty questioned whether Betsy's sympathetic
comprehension of his old feeling for her cousin might not now hinder
the fulfillment of his dearest hope. But at last the solemn serenity of
the summer night stilled his unquiet spirit, and he fell asleep.
When he awoke, the flaming radiance in the eastern sky indicated
another sultry day; but at this early hour there was a dewy freshness
in the air, and all nature was astir and joyous. Upon the bark of a
hickory-tree a crimson-crested woodpecker was tapping for his
breakfast; under the edge of a half-decayed stump a colony of ants had
already begun the day's labor. Lark and bee were on the wing; squirrels
ran up and down the trunk of a big elm, leaping from branch to branch,
where redbird, thrush and linnet were making the woods merry with their
CHAPTER XII. COMMENT AND CRITICISM
On Friday the campers returned to their homes, and Cane Ridge
neighborhood settled down to its usual routine.
It's high time thet fo'ks should come to ther senses, said Mrs.
Rogers, as she and her husband and young Dudley sat in the yard after
supper that evening. I don't see how you all stood it stiddy fur two
weeks et a stretch up et the 'campment. Ev'ry time I sent the niggahs
up thah with the fresh vittuls, they'd come back with ther eyes fa'rly
bulgin' out o' ther haids, an' whut little wits they hed knocked sky
west an' crooked. They brung me sich 'counts uv the goin's-on thet at
last, thinks I, I'll go an' see fur myse'f. I knowed you an' Henry
could tek keer uv yo'se'ves; but I wuz consarned 'bout Cissy, an' felt
it high time to be lookin' artah her. I soon found her, an' when I seed
she still hed her haid on her shouldahs, I wuz easier in my mind; but
I'll nevah fergit thet fust visit. The meetin' hed been goin' on six
days, an' things hed got in a good weavin' way. Thah wuz no less than
five preachahs holdin' forth to oncet in diffrunt parts uv the grounds;
so I tells Cissy thet ez thah wuz no tellin' when I'd git thah ag'in
we'd meandeh 'roun' permiscous lak an' tek in all we could. Fust, we
went to the arboh whah thah wuz a big geth'rin'hardly even
standin'-room in the aislesbut we manidged to squedge in on a seat
close up in front. The platform wuz crammed with preachahs, an' ole
Brothah Ranson wuz holdin' fo'th et a gran' rate. His subjec' wuz
'Fleein' frum the wrath to come,' an' he wuz pow'rful. The pictures he
drawed uv the tormints uv the lost, writhin' in the midst uv the fire
an' brimstone in the bottomless pit, wuz 'nough to set a snowbank
afire. I felt ez hot ez ef I wuz danglin' ovah thet pit myse'f; an' ef
one o' the angels hed happened to peep ovah the battermints o' heaven
et thet minit, he'd been scorched hisse'f by the billers o' flame whut
riz mountain high frum thet sea o' tormint. But somehow, the fo'ks
didn't git ez much rousement on 'em ez I'd looked furreckon they'd
done hed so much preachment thet they wuz kindah tuckahed out. Oh, yes,
thah wuz considahble groanin' an' wailin' an' sich like, an' a whole
passel o' sinnahs come furwa'd to be prayed fur; but I could see thet
Brothah Ranson wuz disapp'inted et the lack o' 'citement, an' thet he
wuz fixin' to mek a big jump uv some sort. Fust, he prayed a
ha'r-liftin' pertition; then, soon's thet wuz ovah, he swung hisse'f
out to the aidge o' the platfo'm, stomped his foot, waved his arms, an'
hollahed out, 'Ev'rybody whut wants to 'scape the wrath to come, an' to
meet me in heaven, clap yer hands an' shout Glory! altogethah.' Thet
fotched us shore 'nough.
Yes, said Mr. Rogers, I hearn o' thet meetin', but I wuzn't thah.
I wuz list'nin' to Brothah Rice et t'othah eend o' the camp.
Did you shout with the rest, Mrs. Rogers? Dudley asked.
I should say so! she answered. Ev'rybody did, an' sich a
hullabaloo ez it wuz'nough to raise the dead. I thought fur a minit
thet judgment-day hed come, an' wouldn't been s'prised to heah the toot
o' Gabr'el's horn then an' thah. No wondeh fo'ks hed jerks an' fits an'
swoondin' spaills et the camp! My ha'r wuz all creepy, thah wuz goose
flesh all ovah my arms, an' hot an' cold chills a-chasin' one 'nothah
up an' down the spines o' my back.
How'd Cissy behave in all thet rumpus? asked Rogers.
I got Cissy outen thah none too soon, Mrs. Rogers acknowledged
with a wise shake of her head. Her face wuz ashy, an' she wuz all o' a
shake an' a quake. I took her ovah to some trees whah a watah barr'l
stood, an' made her tek a good swill, an' wet her hankchief an' mop her
face. Then I walked her off to a quiet place an' says to her, 'Cissy,
the Lawd knows I want to see you become a child o' grace, but I don't
intend to hev religion jerked an' shouted an' skeered intah you.
'Tain't fittin', to my notion, to see a modest young gal a-mekin' a
show uv herse'f, an' the Lawd nevah intended it, nuthah. Ef you're
'lected to salvationan' I believe you air, fur he's a marciful an'
gracious God, an' you're a nice, innercent, well-behaved galyou kin
be called in a quiet way; an' when he does call, whut you got to do is
to heah an' obey. Thet's all thah is to convarsion, anyway. So I reckon
you'd bettah come 'long home with me this evenin', outen all this
fuss.' But she begged so hard to stay, an' promised so faithful not to
git wrought up ag'in, thet I let her stay.
After a short pause, Mrs. Rogers continued: But I stick to it thet
the Lawd nevah intended his people to go stark, starin' crazy ovah
religion, no more'n ovah anything else. All them ravin's an' jerkin's
an' holy-laughin's an' holy-dancin's air onseemly in any fo'ks, sinnah
or saint. The Almighty don't want to be pestered with no sich
tekin'-on. When he calls, listen; whut he says do, you jes' git up an'
do. Thet's religion, an' nuthin' else.
You're 'bout right, Cynthy Ann, Rogers assented, as he lay at full
length on the grass. To my mind, the main p'int is to love God, an' do
yer duty by yer neighbor an' fambly.
An' do it quiet, too, added his wife. You nevah heah uv a woman
tekin' spasms an' jerks ovah lovin' her husban' or childurn, or a gal
ovah lovin' her sweetheart. Then, why must fo'ks raise sich a
cavortment 'bout lovin' Godhollahin' an' whoopin' an' sprawlin'
'roun' on the ground lak Sal Fox did thet las' time I wuz et the camp?
She'd been a-jerkin' an' a-rollin' an' a-foamin' et the mouth wussen a
mad dog, tell she wuz clean tuckahed out, an' thah she lay in the straw
'roun' the altah, her pink caliker dusty an' tore lak she'd been
a-chasin' through a briah patch, straws stickin' out all ovah her haid.
Thah stood ole Brothah Stratton prayin' ovah her, her sister Jane an'
Poll Tribble snifflin' an' snufflin' an' fannin' her, an' sayin' they
feared she'd nevah come outen her trance. Thinks I, 'I'll fotch her
out.' I walks up, an', pokin' her with my foot, I says, 'Git up, Sal!
Hain't you 'shamed yo'se'f, layin' heah with yer haid lookin' lak a
rat's nest, an' yer laigs a-showin'?' Daddy Stratton he prayed loudah,
Poll she fanned fastah, an' Jane she sniffled an' snuffled harder'n
evah, while Sal she jes' lay thah lak a dead corp. I knowed she heard
me, though, fur she kindah flickahed her eyeleds, an' then lay
stiffer'n evah. So I says, pokin' her ag'in, 'Ef I hed sich pipestems
ez them laigs o' yourn, I'd keep 'em hidan' heah comes Jed White,
too!' With thet she sets up, smoothes down her dress, an' winds up her
ha'r, spry ez a ant; fur Jed's her beau.
Oh, well, Sal nevah 'sperienced religion befoh, said Rogers, so
it went hard with her, 'cause, befoh this, she's allus resisted the
Speret. But whut I can't stand is them Methodis' folks whut fall in an'
out uv religion so of'en'speri'ncin' a change o' heart ev'ry day in
the week, an' mekin' the Lawd out a reg'lar Injin givah, bestowin'
grace at ev'ry revival, an' tekin' it away soon's meetin's ovah. While
the rousement lasts, the road to glory stretches out befoh 'em, an'
they're ready, ez the hymn says, 'to bid far'well to ev'ry fear an'
face a frownin' world.' Then by the nex' week they can't mustah up
'nough strength to hoe a row o' cawn. Oh, yes, they're mighty happy
while the meetin' lasts. They're on the way to the land o' promise,
singin' ez they journey on, ez how they'll 'b'ar the toil, endure the
pain, supported by His grace.' Soon's the revival's ovah, they're ready
fur anothah kind o' journey, an' lak ez not, they will jine in a
drinkin' spree, an' end up in a free fight an' a gen'ral fisticuff.
Now, thahs Jake Simmons, a lazy, no-'count skunk whut won't even tote
in a back log to keep his fambly frum freezin'. He's got religion ha'f
a dozen times, an' teks on a leetle crazier ev'ry time. When I seed him
a-rollin' an' stompin' an' cavortin' an' axin' the brethren to pray fer
him, thinks I, 'Whut you need, Jake, wossen the prayers uv the saints,
is a big blacksnake whip larruped ovah yer back.' The Lawd does the job
up right when he really convarts a man. It's 'onc't in grace, allus in
grace,' ez the catechism teaches.
But, said Dudley, who until now had listened silently to this
discussion, the Bible speaks of wanderers from the fold. No doubt Jake
is a wandering sheep.
Maybe he is, Mrs. Rogers agreed; but, ef so, he looks an' acts so
lak a goat thet the angel Gabr'el hisse'f don't know the diffruns.
An' ef he is a sheep, added Mason, he's so hidebound an' so
fleece-growed, an' hez been herdin' with the goats in the devil's
pastur' so long, thet he hain't wuth fotchin' home to the fold.
As soon as the fall wheat-sowing was finished, Abner Dudley resumed
his school, but under such changed conditions that he could not feel
the same enthusiastic interest as during the previous term. John Calvin
was now the only advanced pupil; Henry had entered Transylvania
University, and neither Betsy nor Susan were in school.
Cissy's goin' on sixteen, an' hez eddication 'nough, said her
mother. It don't do gals no good to be too book-l'arnedjes' meks 'em
uppish an' no-'count.
Mr. Rogers submitted to his wife's decree. I boss the boys, he
said, but I reckon Cynthy Ann knows whut's best fur the gals; though,
ez fur ez I'm consarned, I'd like Cissy to be ez eddicated ez any uv
them high-flyers 'roun' Lexin'ton.
Susan was ambitious and loved study, and, although she did not
openly rebel against her mother's ruling, went about her household
tasks in a dejected way which greatly tried bustling Mrs. Rogers.
Now, Cissy, she said, coming to the girl's room one night and
finding her sobbing over disappointed hopes, don't you s'pose yer own
mammy'll do whut's best fur her dautah? You mustn't think 'cause I'm
sharp an' stirrin' with you thet I don't love you. She seated herself
on the side of the bed and began to stroke Susan's hair. 'Tain't no
use fur you to tek on so. You must jes' trust yer mammy, an' by an' by
you'll see I'm right. I can't spar' you frum home this wintah, but you
kin study o' nights, an' Abner'll holp you with yer books. So cheer up,
lak a good gal; an' nex' time the packman comes 'longan' I'm lookin'
fer him 'most any dayI'll buy you some ribbon fur yer hair an' a
string uv beads. Soon's we git the heft o' the fall wuck did up, you'n'
me will mek you one o' them fine quilted silk petticoats, lak Betsy's,
to w'ar under yer red calaminco dress. Thah now!and she kissed the
girlsay yer prayers, an' go to sleep. Then she murmured as she left
the room, Pore gal! 'Tis hard on her; but I jes' can't spar' her this
wintah. I know she's ez purty an' ez good a gal ez kin be found
As the weeks went by, Betsy Gilcrest did not sing over her work in
her old light-hearted way. Mrs. Gilcrest was not an observant woman;
but Aunt Dilsey, the old black mammy, noticed the change in her
idolized young mistress. The keer ob dis place an' all de man'gin' o'
dem noisy boys an' lazy niggahs am too much 'sponsibility fur sich
young shouldahs ez hern. Ole Dilsey does whut she kin to spar' de
precious chile frum worry an' care; but one ole niggah lak me carn't do
ebbrythin'; an' 'tain't no wondah Miss Betsy's gittin' pale an' peeky
CHAPTER XIII. COURT DAY
The old-time county court, held once a month, usually on Monday, was
an interesting feature of early statehood.
Judging by the crowds that always assembled at the county-seat upon
court day, one would have supposed that if legal business were the main
feature of the occasion, a surprising amount of litigation was
necessary to the well-being of the commonwealth. But legal business was
often the least important feature of these gatherings, which seemed to
combine the characteristics of picnic, county fair, muster day and old
From an early hour upon court day, all was excitement, noise and
confusion in and around the county-seat. The discordant bleating and
lowing of sheep and cattle filled the air, and droves of swine, after
the manner of their kind, refusing to be driven quietly to the
market-place, wandered into byways, or sought refuge in stable lots and
house yards. In fence corners and under trees, along every approach to
the town, horses were hitchedmany of them with heaps of provender on
the ground before them, that they might feed at any hour which suited
their appetites; and vehicles of every known pattern, from family coach
to ox-cart, thronged the highways. It was a gala time for the
slave-buyer, stock-trader, horse-jockey, and itinerant packman, as well
as for the politician and the militia men. Not only was there much
trading and political speech-making, but also horse-racing,
cock-fighting, gambling and drunkenness; for society, even in the good
old times, contained a large rioting element.
At Fayette County court, however, the chief interest was usually the
political; and the most popular rendezvous was the tree-bordered
enclosure surrounding the court-house, until the noon hour; then the
center of interest was the tavern, which, though but a two-storied log
house, having only eleven rooms to serve all purposes of dining-hall,
office, kitchen and guest chambers, was a famous resort. The sleeping
apartments were large, and each was furnished with four beds. Always as
many as two guests to a bed, and frequently as many as three, was the
economical rule of the housean arrangement which, though possibly
inconvenient in some respects, was one likely to encourage a spirit of
Abner Dudley accepted Major Gilcrest's invitation to accompany him
in his coach to Lexington upon a certain court day which was an
occasion of unusual excitement. Tidings that the trade of the
Mississippi River was again endangered had just been received. The
treaty of 1795, which secured to Kentucky the right of navigation of
the Mississippi and the right of deposit in the New Orleans Bank, had
now come to a termination by limitation of treaty; and the Spanish
Intendant of the province of Louisiana had issued a proclamation that
there should be no renewal, although it had been plainly stipulated in
the former treaty that the privileges should be renewed. The
indignation which this act of broken faith produced in Kentucky was
greatly augmented by tidings which had just reached the State that
Louisiana had been ceded by Spain to France by the treaty made secretly
in 1800, but not made public until 1802.
The failure of all former efforts to induce Kentucky to sever her
allegiance to the Union and to join her fortunes with Spain had not
destroyed the hopes of the Spaniards and of self-seeking Kentucky
agitators. Thus the revival of the old troubles over the navigation of
the Mississippi afforded an opportunity of which treacherous
conspirators were not slow to avail themselves.
During the noon repast at the tavern, Dudley and James Drane had
been neighbors at table; and when the meal was concluded, the two had
linked arms and strolled up and down the wide portico running the
length of the tavern, and serving to-day as a reception-room for the
tavern and as a political arena for groups of excited men who were
hotly denouncing Spain and all her works. Other groups near by were as
earnestly, but far less noisily, insinuating that Spain was the best
friend Kentucky could have, and that her interests lay in the direction
of an alliance with the foreign power.
Somewhat apart from the larger groups three men were talking in low
tones. Presently, at a sign which, unperceived by Dudley, passed
between his companion and one of the men, Drane, saying that he desired
to introduce Abner to three of the most agreeable and gifted men of the
age, drew him toward the trio at one end of the porch, and presented
him to General Wilkinson, Judge Sebastian and Judge Murray. Immediately
after the introduction, Drane excused himself and withdrew. Before any
conversation, save the usual exchange of introductory courtesies, had
passed between the three distinguished Kentuckians and our young
Virginian, Hiram Gilcrest came through the door opening from the hall.
Seeing Dudley in what was apparently a confidential conversation with
the three older men, Gilcrest stood a moment in the doorway, frowning
heavily; then, turning, he strode through the hall to the negro
quarters of the hotel. Here he found Uncle Zeke, his coachman, and
ordered him to prepare for a speedy return home. When he returned to
the porch, he walked up to the group of which Dudley was one, and said
to him, after a somewhat curt salutation to the other three, I am
sorry to cut short your day's pleasure, but I find that a matter of
grave importance necessitates our leaving immediately.
On the homeward drive Gilcrest explained the reason for this hasty
retreat. You were in the company of three of the slyest and most
dangerous intriguers of these unsettled times. They are brilliant,
daring men, and I fear many of our adventurous young men are being led
away by their specious arguments and schemes for future greatness. You
have never been in their company before to-day, have you? with a keen
glance at his companion.
Dudley explained that he had only exchanged a few words of ordinary
civility with the three before Gilcrest had interrupted the
conversation. He did not, however, mention that Drane had brought about
the meeting, and had spoken of the men in glowing terms.
CHAPTER XIV. BETSY SAYS WAIT
Rarely ever since that August afternoon when Abner and Betsy had
stood a moment in the pathway, gazing into each other's souls, and she
had hurried away from him, could he by any pretext or maneuver succeed
in being for one moment alone with her. Always when in her presence,
either as one of the quiet home circle at her father's house, or at
church, or at a neighbor's, he was conscious of a change in her manner
towards himself. Much of her old, light-hearted gayety had vanished,
and in its stead were a new quietness and reserve, without any trace of
embarrassment, it is true, but with a demure dignity which made her
seem to repel even such advances as ordinary gallantry would prompt any
young man to make to a pretty girl.
Dudley tried vainly to win her back to her former attitude of
cordial ease. Occasionally he noticed a merry chord in her voice and
something of the old, sparkling playfulness of manner; but if he sought
to answer her quips in the same vein of pleasantry, she would color
warmly, answer gravely, and then seem to shrink from him. Never could
he get her eyes to meet his. Once or twice, in some rare opportunity
when he found himself for a brief moment alone with her, he had tried
with the most delicate and insinuating skill to approach the subject of
his love for her; but at the first hint she, like a fish that sees the
line gleaming in the sunlight, would dart away to another topic, or
would find some ready excuse for leaving him. Furthermore, the very
power of his love made him likewise often constrained and ill at ease
in her presence; and as the months dragged on, it seemed to him that
not only was he making no progress toward winning her, but that he was
losing even her former frank regard. He frequently questioned the
reliability of the revelation which had come to him that afternoon at
the spring; for although it had given him unmistakable knowledge of his
own feelings, it had, he feared, erred in its interpretation of hers.
Nor was the element of jealousy wanting to complete his torment at this
period. Betsy was developing into the recognized beauty and belle of
the county, and not only did the rustic swains of the neighborhood
court her favor, but the fashionable beaux from Lexington and Frankfort
found abundant attraction at Oaklands. The one feared most by Abner was
James Anson Drane, who, besides being well-to-do and of good family,
was handsome and gallant and stood very high in Major Gilcrest's good
graces. In fact, it seemed to Dudley in his moments of deepest
despondency that Drane had everything in his favor, while he himself
had nothing to plead in his own behalf save the might of his love, and
that between two such suitors as Drane and himself no girl would
hesitate to choose the former.
Under the sway of these feelings, Abner's first instinctive dislike
of Drane, which had been lulled to sleep by the young lawyer's
courteous bearing, awoke into more than its former vigor. At times the
schoolmaster felt ready to believe anything of James Anson Dranehe
was a schemer, a traitor, and was doubtless even now plotting against
the Government. He would marry Betty, of course, and would wreck her
happiness, and bring financial ruin and political disgrace upon the
Gilcrests. Nevertheless, although Betsy's reserve, his own lack of
opportunity for wooing her, and his jealous distrust of Drane, made
Abner alternately chafe and despond, yet through all these moods there
ran the fiber of a proud, buoyant spirit which would not allow him to
give up; and hope, though for a time baffled, retreated only to advance
again with new courage.
While returning from Bourbonton one May afternoon, Abner, lured by
the beauty of the day, turned from the public road, and chose instead a
sequestered bridle-path which, with many a devious turn and twist,
wound through the forest whose giant trees, though centuries old, were
now again clothed upon with youthful freshness and beauty. Through this
green canopy of arching boughs, where sunshine and shadow intermingled,
one caught glimpses of the sky, a dome of azure velvet flecked with
fleecy white. A soft wind blew from the south, laden with the faint,
elusive fragrance of anemone and violet. From every bush and treetop
came the light-hearted carol of linnet and thrush and redbird; and in
the open spaces between the trees the sportive sunlight gleamed and
smiled so joyously that every blade of soft, green grass seemed to
quiver with gladness. The day was so golden, so filled with the tender
hope and promise of the Maytime, that Abner, yielding to its charm, for
the moment forgot his doubts and perplexities. His path led in the
direction of a shallow creek; and as he drew near the stream, he spied
upon its bank a girl who had stopped to let her horse drink. It was
Betty on old Selim. Abner gently checked his mare and sat watching her.
Her white scoop-bonnet was hanging from the pommel of the saddle, the
bridle-reins drooped carelessly upon old Selim's neck, and her hands,
encased in white linen half hands, were crossed in her lap. She was
looking out across the country with a far-away, dreamy expression. Her
lover noticed every detail of her beautythe regal poise of head, the
lovely outline of throat and shoulders, the rosy oval of face, the
piquant cleft of the chin, the arch curve of the upper lip, and the
ripe fullness of the lower. Presently her horse, more awake to outside
influences than was his mistress, caught the sound of a breaking twig,
and, raising his nose from the water, pricked up his ears and neighed.
Old Selim spied me first, said Abner, riding to Betty's side.
She looked up for an instant, then her eyes fell before a scrutiny
whose blending of admiration and passionate feeling she could not fail
Yes, she answered lightly, laughing and striving to regain
self-possession, Selim is glad to see you, I know; he is getting
impatient for his supper, and there's no knowing how long I might have
sat here day-dreaming, had you not appeared. Shall we ride on?
And is not Selim's mistress glad to see me, too? asked Abner, as
he rode by her side.
Oh, of course, was the reply; but it is getting late, and we had
better hasten on.
After riding a few moments in silence, he said, laying a detaining
hand on her bridle: Betty, why do you avoid me so persistently, and
why are you so reserved with me? Is it because, knowing that you are
becoming all the world to me, you would by avoidance and reserve spare
me the pain of refusing my love? It is now nearly ten months since I
first began to realize what you are to me, and that knowledge has
No! no! do not speak! Please, please do not! she remonstrated, her
face flushing and then paling.
Why will you not let me speak? he continued gently.
Oh, notnot now, she murmured stammeringly. III could not
bear it. I can not listenyet, she ended, her eyes filling with
Her manner, though it had something of a proud reserve, was not
wholly unrelenting. In her voice there was a winning cadence which
seemed to bid him hope. He understood her at once. She did not want to
silence him entirely, but it was too soonthat was what she meanttoo
soon after his feeling for her cousin. She owed it to her own womanly
dignity that his love should be put to the proof of time. She must not
be too easily won. Yes, Abner felt that he understood her. Instantly
the look of deprecating humility vanished from the young man's face,
and in its stead there flashed into his eyes an eager, courageous
light; for renewed hope was sending the warm blood leaping and dancing
through his veins; and the humble, dejected suppliant of the moment
before was transformed into the hopeful, assured lover.
For a time he said nothing, but, with his hand still upon her
bridle, they rode on silently through the twilight of the forest aisle,
where all was so still and peaceful that their fast heart-throbs seemed
almost audible. Pledges more definite and binding might afterwards be
exchanged, yet in the hearts of these two lovers this solemn temple of
nature was forever consecrated as the place of plighting.
I will wait, Betty, he said presently; but do not keep me too
long in suspense. Remember how long I have already waited for you. When
may I speak?
Oh, II don't knownot for a long time yet. Then, regaining her
old, saucy air, and flashing into his eyes one glance, half tender,
half defiant, she snatched her bridle-rein from his hand, and, with a
flick of the switch across her horse's neck, rode on. As she galloped
off, she looked back for an instant to say archly, Spring is very
beautiful; but I like autumn better, and November is my favorite month,
for Thanksgiving Day comes then. No! no! do not follow me, sir, she
added saucily, as he rode quickly towards her. Your road lies straight
on, pointing with her switch to where the roads forked. Mine leads
down this lane to Oaklands.
Very well, he answered with grave sweetness, I will leave you
now, but I shall remember what you have said, and hope that my own
thanksgiving day may, in truth, come next Novemberthough it is a
weary while to wait.
CHAPTER XV. THE WAITING-TIME
The Cane Ridge revival of the August before had been followed by
many others of a similar nature throughout the country. Although there
was much that was fanatical and grotesque in these meetings, much good
was undoubtedly accomplished. With all the fanaticism, there was in
them the wholesome leaven of gospel truth which did much to arouse the
churches from their deathlike indifference. Better than this, the
revivals were a bond of union between the different religious sects;
for, in the prevalence of enthusiasm, even such rigid upholders of
creed as Gilcrest and Landrum felt more concern about the salvation of
their children than about the tenets of their church. In fact, from the
beginning of the awakening, Books of Discipline and Confessions of
Faith had been gathering dust, and soon would have been completely lost
to view, had not the more strenuous churchmen at last in alarm put
forth their hands to stay their tottering ark of creed, mistaking it
for the ark of God. But though for a time the orthodox element held its
peace, apparently well pleased to see members of other denominations
joining cordially in the revivals, each sect finally became fearful
lest other churches might draw away disciples from its own ranks. The
tocsin was sounded, 'To your tents, O Israel!' Our creed is in
jeopardy! There must be no more union meetings! Thus the old
denominational war waged with renewed fierceness.
Though Barton Stone was, like John, gentle and tender, yet he was
also, like Paul, ready at need to wield the double-edged sword of logic
and truth to cut down sophistry and combat unbelief. Therefore, to
those dominated by sectarianism, as well as to the indifferent and the
scoffer, his work was unacceptable; but between the high-water mark of
orthodoxy and the low-water mark of willful unbelief, there were many
who heard him gladly.
His June appointment at Cane Ridge was an occasion never to be
forgotten by those present. Indeed, his sermon that day was well
calculated to make the more orthodox members of the congregation writhe
in their seats.
He chose as his text the familiar sixteenth verse of the third
chapter of John, announcing at the same time that his topics would be
God's love as manifested in the gift of his Son; the gospel, the power
of God unto salvation; faith, the first requisite, which all who willed
Stone began by portraying, forcibly and tenderly, the love of God,
emphasizing the fact that he willed not that one of his creatures
should perish. His love included the whole world, and Christ, instead
of being surety for an elect few only, had satisfied the demands of the
Father's love by dying for all mankind. Thus by the righteousness of
one the free gift came upon all men unto justification, and Christ, by
office, became the Saviour, not of a few only, but of all who would
He said that the only way to reconcile the two passages of
Scripture, John 6:44 and John 12:32, was to believe that the Father
recognized no other means of drawing men to him than that of holding up
his Son in the gospel; and that, therefore, all who believed on Christ
and received the Word were elected to salvation.
Stone next pointed out what he considered to be a marked contrast
between the teachings of the Scriptures and that of the Confession of
Faith of his church upon this point. He then spoke of regeneration, or
the new birth, and said that the declaration, born not of
corruptible seed, but of incorruptible by the word of God, showed
clearly that the Word must first be believed in order to produce this
effect; consequently, faith preceded regeneration. Furthermore, this
faith was wrought in the heart by no outside or miraculous influence,
but was freely given to all who would believe. He explained the
passage, Faith is the gift of God, by saying that the object of
faith, the man, Christ Jesus, is the gift of God.
A strange sermon, indeed, to be preached at that time, to such a
people, by an ordained minister of the Presbyterian Church! As he
spoke, several of the staunch supporters of orthodoxy shook their
heads, and looked frowningly at the daring young preacher. Many
recalled an incident of his ordination in that very house three years
before. Stone, who had long entertained doubts upon the doctrines of
predestination, regeneration and effectual calling, as set forth in the
Confession of Faith of his church, had, on the day before the one set
for his ordination, called aside two of the pillars of the Transylvania
Presbytery, and with characteristic honesty had made known to them his
difficulties. After laboring in vain to remove his doubts, the two men
asked him how far he was willing to receive the Confession. So far as
I see it to be consistent with the word of God, was the answer, which
they declared to be sufficient. No objection was raised to his answer
when given before the presbytery the next day, and, after making
satisfactory replies to all other questions propounded, he was
When Stone had finished his discourse, he called upon Gilcrest to
lead in prayer. With an angry shake of his head, and a frown upon his
stern features, the old man declined. Old Brother Landrum was then
asked to pray. In a voice which shook with emotion, he besought pardon
for the error in the sermon just heard and enlightenment for the mind
of the preacher that he might have a better understanding of the
mysteries of the gospel. When he began further to petition that the
Lord would in his own good time and way manifest himself to the
unconverted elect in the congregation, he was interrupted by David
Purviance: Not to the elect alone, O Lord, he prayed, but unto
allall within these walls; for thou, O God, art no respecter of
persons, and salvation is free, free to all who will accept!
Notwithstanding the evident disapproval of some of his flock, Stone
continued to preach sermons of a like nature. A few who heard him were
stunned by his boldness and shocked by his ruthless defiance of the
established order of things. Others found his words forcibly
convincing. Still another class, though not exactly understanding his
reasoning, had so great love for the young preacher and so great
confidence in his ability that they were his warm advocates. Of this
blindly trustful number, none were stouter in their adherence than
To Hiram Gilcrest these sermons seemed the undermining, blowing up
and pulverization of the whole structure of sound doctrine. One day, in
the course of a discussion with Mason Rogers, Gilcrest angrily
maintained not only that the church should take action against their
minister, but that his transgressions should be reported at the next
meeting of the synod. Rogers, of course, defended Stone. Hot words
ensued on both sides, and the friendly relations between the two old
neighbors were somewhat strained.
One afternoon Gilcrest, who was so full of the subject of the
parson's iniquities that he could think or speak of little else,
encountered Dudley, to whom in no measured terms he denounced Stone.
Abner would gladly have avoided argument with Gilcrest upon any
subject, and especially upon this, which he felt did not concern
himself personally; but Gilcrest was not to be evaded.
You know, Major Gilcrest, said Dudley at last, that I'm not a
church-member, and therefore it is not fitting for me to discuss the
No matter, answered Gilcrest; you're a man and capable of
reasoning, and can surely see the fallacy of this fellow's doctrine.
But Stone is a personal friend of mine, Abner urged.
What of that? asked Hiram. It's not the man, but his doctrine,
that I abhor.
Thus driven to bay, Abner had no alternative but to reply that from
what he could learn by his own study of the Bible, Stone seemed to be
right. This was literally throwing down the gauntlet to Gilcrest, and
the discussion waxed hot and stormy.
This is a fine way to win the daughterto be locking horns with
the father in theological combat, Dudley soliloquized ruefully as
Gilcrest rode off; but he laughed, too, as he thought how little like
one saved by grace and sanctified by the Spirit the old man had
appeared as, with frowning brow, loud voice and vehement gesticulation,
he had stormed and raved against the offending Stone. What a fool the
old fellow did make of himself, thought Abner; but not a bigger one
than myself, considering all things. 'Never discuss theology with your
intended father-in-law,' is a safe maxim for lovers to follow.
Later in the summer, Abner Dudley received from his uncle, Dr.
Richard Dudley, of Williamsburg, intelligence of a surprising nature;
namely, that an uncle of Abner's mother, Andrew Hite, of Sterling
County, Virginia, had died, leaving a will by which Abner was heir to
all his worldly possessions.
Richard Dudley urged upon Abner the necessity of coming at once to
Virginia in regard to this inheritance. Accordingly, Abner, merely
telling the Rogers family that he was summoned to Virginia on important
business, set out one August afternoon. He went first to Lexington, and
from there on horseback to Limestone. His companions on this horseback
ride of sixty-five miles were Judge Benjamin Sebastian and Judge
William Murray, against whom Hiram Gilcrest had seen fit to warn him.
Nothing, however, of the negotiations and intrigues in which Sebastian
and Murray may or may not have been concerned, had at this time been
made public; and young Dudley saw no reason why the mere suspicions of
so prejudiced a man as Hiram Gilcrest should deter him from accepting
the company of two such agreeable men.
Soon after taking the boat at Limestone, Sebastian and Murray told
Abner that they intended spending the night at the island home of
Harman Blennerhassett, and urged him to do likewise. He readily
accepted; for he had heard of this secluded island paradise with its
romantic surroundings, beautiful grounds and vast library, and of the
gracious hospitality of the scholarly Irish recluse and his charming
wife. He found the home and his host and hostess all that had been
reported, and greatly enjoyed his little visit. The next day, leaving
Sebastian and Murray still guests of the Blennerhassetts, Dudley
continued his journey by boat to Pittsburg, and thence by horseback
across Virginia to Williamsburg.
CHAPTER XVI. A SINGULAR WILL
Upon reaching Williamsburg, Abner, of course, examined the will of
his late granduncle. It was dated May 2, 1782, when Andrew Hite, being
dangerously ill, thought death imminent.
Stripped of all legal verbosities, the purport of the document was
that the testator bequeathed all of his earthly possessions, consisting
of six hundred and forty acres of land in Henderson County, Kentucky;
Crestlands, a Virginia estate of some three hundred acres, and all
slaves, cattle, horses, goods and chattels pertaining to this estate,
to his niece, Mary Belle Hollis Page, youngest child of Andrew Hite's
sister, Mary Hite Hollisprovided, so read the will, Mary Belle
Hollis Page, wife of Marshall Page, is still living at this date, the
second day of May in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred
and eighty-two. If, however, said Mary Belle Hollis Page, wife of
Marshall Page, is already deceased, I, Andrew Thurston Hite, of
Crestlands, Sterling County, Virginia, do give and bequeath all my
worldly possessions above mentioned to her legitimate offspring, if
any. In case my niece, Mary Belle Hollis Page, be already deceased and
has left no legitimate offspring, I give and bequeath all houses,
lands, slaves, live stock, goods and chattels of whatsoever nature of
which I die possessed to my niece, Sarah Jane Pepper, of Chestnut Hall,
Caxton County, Virginia, only child of my half-sister, Sarah Melvina
Thornton Pepper, deceased.
Dr. Richard Dudley, of Lawsonville, husband of Frances Hollis,
deceased, sister of Mary Belle Hollis Page, was named as sole executor
of this will. A codicil dated twenty years later, June 30, 1802, the
very day of Andrew Hite's death, stated that all subsequent wills
having been rendered null and void by the death of the testator's
adopted son, Stephen Balleau Hite, were destroyed, and that the
testator, Andrew Thurston Hite, decreed that the will dated May 2,
1782, should be his last will and testament. This codicil also named
Richard Dudley, late of Lawsonville, now of Williamsburg, as sole
Contrary to his own convictions and the dictum of his physicians,
Andrew Hite recovered from his illness in 1782, and five years later
adopted a lad, Stephen Balleau, and reared him as his son. This
Stephen, grown to manhood, but unmarried, was killed in a duel, four
months before the death of his adopted father, then an old man of
seventy-six years. After Stephen was killed, Andrew Hite seems to have
lost all interest in life, and to have neglected making any provision
as to the disposal of his property, until the very day of his death.
Then, instead of making a new will, he on his deathbed, in the presence
of his physician, his old body-servant, and a neighbor, simply added
the codicil to the will made twenty years before.
This strange will still holds good, I presume, eccentric though it
be, Abner said to Dr. Dudley, after reading the document.
Certainly, his uncle replied; for your mother was undoubtedly
living at the date specified in the will.
Yes, Abner said, that can be established by your testimony, which
is corroborated by the inscription on her tombstone at Lawsonville and
by the record in your family Bibleboth of which give the date of her
death as that of August 21, 1782, three months after the will was
And, added the doctor, even should the will not stand, you, the
only child of your mother, are justly entitled to this bequest; for all
that Andrew Hite possessed, save that Kentucky land which he in my
presence promised your mother at his death, came through his father,
your great-grandfather, Abner Hite; and Sarah Jane Pepper is connected
only through her mother, Andrew Hite's half-sister, Sarah Thornton, who
was not a descendant of old Abner Hite. Therefore, you need have no
uneasiness on the score of either the justness or the validity of your
claim; and you should at once take steps to put you in possession of
That I shall certainly do, said Abner; and I shall do so, not as
Abner Dudley, but as Abner Dudley Logan. In fact, Uncle Richard, aside
from all question of this bequest, I had already determined to assume
my full name; for, much as I honor you who have been a second father to
me, I think it but justice to my own father's memory, now that I have
arrived at man's estate, that I should wear his name. You know I wished
to do so before I went to Kentucky; but you were so averse to the idea
that I yielded for the time, contrary to my convictions of justice to
my father's memory and against my own preference. But now I am fully
resolved to be known in future by my full name, Abner Dudley Logan.
Dr. Dudley sat silent with downcast eyes, a gloomy, perplexed look
upon his face; and his nephew went on:
Uncle Richard, I wish you would tell me more about my father and
about my mother's early life. You have always been singularly reticent
on the subject. Why! I was a boy of eleven or twelve before I even knew
that my real name was Logan, and then I discovered it by accident; and
it was not until I read this will of Uncle Hite's that I learned that
my mother had married a second time. The time has now come, I think,
when you should tell me all that you know of my father and mother.
Of your father, said Richard slowly, and, it seemed to Abner,
reluctantly, I know little more than the facts already in your
possession. Briefly told, your mother's history is this: Her mother,
Mary Hite, married John Hollis, of Plainfield, New Jersey. To this
union were born eight children, of whom your Aunt Frances, my first
wife, was the eldest, and your mother, the youngest. The six children
intervening died in early childhood. Your grandfather, John Hollis,
died when your mother was two months old, and his wife survived him but
one month. Her half-sister, Sarah Thornton, who had just been married
to Jackson Pepper, of Chestnut Hall in northern Virginiaa widower
with one sontook your mother to raise as her own child. This Sarah
Thornton Pepper died ten years later. She had but one child, Sarah Jane
Pepper. Your mother, after her aunt's death, still lived at Chestnut
Hall until she was about sixteen. Then she greatly offended Jackson
Pepper by refusing to be betrothed to Fletcher Pepper, the son of
Jackson's former marriage. Her home was rendered so unpleasant by
Jackson Pepper's anger and Fletcher's persistence in his suit, that she
went to live at Crestlands with her old bachelor uncle, Andrew Hite,
until a few years laterin 1775, I thinkwhen he went with a party of
adventurers to Kentucky. He expected to be gone a year, and, before
setting forth, he took your mother to Morristown, New Jersey, to find a
temporary home with some of her Hollis connections, two maiden ladies,
her father's cousins. When, however, Andrew Hite returned to Virginia,
he, instead of recalling his niece and settling down with her at
Crestlands, joined the Continental army. So your mother continued with
her distant relatives at Morristown until the winter of 1776-77. After
the battles at Trenton and Princeton, Washington's army, as you know,
went into winter quarters at Morristown. In this army was a young
soldier, John Logan. He and your mother met and immediately fell in
love with each other; and in March, after an acquaintance of only five
weeks, they were married. It was an ill-advised, imprudent marriage.
Mary had nothing of her own, nor had John Logan; and, besides, he must
necessarily be away from his young wife a great deal, and leave her
unprotected and illy provided for while he was encountering the dangers
and hardships of a soldier's life. Mary's relatives at Morristown were
bitterly offended because of her marriage to a man of whose antecedents
she knew nothing, and who was poor, and, still worse, a hated
Continental soldier, for they were strong Tory sympathizers. They would
have nothing whatever to do with Mary after her marriage. In the
spring, when Washington left his winter quarters, Logan, of course,
went with the army, and his wife was left alone at Morristown with a
poor old couple of whom your father had rented lodgings. After the
departure of the troops from Morristown, Logan very rarely could find
opportunity to visit his wife, nor could he make adequate provision for
her comfort. You were born there in the home of the old couple at
Morristown, February 25, 1778. There your mother continued to live
until after your father fell in the battle of Monmouth Court-house in
June, 1778. Then she made her way with you, her four-months-old babe,
back to your Aunt Frances and me. She lived with us until after the
death of your Aunt Frances in March, 1781. Then that fall, and about
five months before my marriage to Rachel Sneed, your mother was married
to Marshall Page, and both she and he died the following August.
What of this Marshall Page, my stepfather? asked Abner. Where was
he from? Was he a man calculated to make my mother happy?
He was a brave, honest, hard-working fellow, acknowledged Richard,
from Maryland; but he had only a limited education, and had not been
gently reared. I was not well pleased with the marriage; and had your
Aunt Frances lived, I do not think Mary would have married him. But as
I was a widower, and no blood relation to your mother, my house was
hardly any longer a suitable refuge for her and her babe. When she and
Marshall Page died the following summer, wemy second wife, Rachel,
and Itook you as our own. It was your mother's dying request that you
should, if possible, be spared all knowledge of her sad history, and be
reared as our own child.
Nobly have you and Aunt Rachel tried to fulfill that dying
request! said the young man in a choked voice and with tears in his
eyes, as he arose and threw his arm across his uncle's shoulder.
And nobly have you repaid our love and care, my boy, the older man
answered huskily. You have given us filial love and obedience, and
have never crossed our wishes in anything, except when you persisted in
going off to Kentucky, instead of staying here and becoming a lawyer.
But there! there! you were right, I dare say. You had no liking for a
legal profession, and that new country across the mountains is a better
place than this old, aristocratic State for a young, energetic fellow
who has nothing but his native ability and a good education to assist
him forward. So enough of these saddening recollections, he added in a
more cheerful tone, rising briskly and crossing the room to a table
whereon were scattered various papers. Now for the business pertaining
to this fine fellow, Abner Dudley Logan, as he must be called in
future, I suppose, and who has just come into a rich inheritance.
Of which inheritance, said Abner, joining his uncle at the table
and picking up one of the papers, the most valuable part, I'm inclined
to think, will prove to be this Kentucky land. As for this Virginian
estate, I fear from what you tell me that I can realize very little
That is true, agreed Richard. Owing to the recklessness and
prodigality of Stephen Hite, and the neglect and mismanagement of Col.
Andrew Hite during the last ten years of his life, the estate is
well-nigh worthless. Besides being heavily mortgaged, the land is worn,
and the grand old brick mansion built over a hundred years ago by your
great-grandfather, Abner Hite, is sadly out of repairin fact, is
almost in ruins.
'Lord of Crestlands, an ancestral estate in the proud old dominion
of Virginia,' sounds rich and grand, laughed Abner; but is only as
'sounding brass and tinkling cymbals,' after all, without money to lift
mortgages and to repair the breaches made by the prodigality and
carelessness of my predecessors. And, uncle, how about the negroes I am
to inherit? taking up the copy of the will, and reading therefrom, 'I
give and bequeath all houses, lands, slaves, live stock, goods and
chattels of whatsoever nature of which I die possessed, etc.' How many
of these dusky retainers are there remaining in my ancestral halls?
Only three, the doctor answered, out of the troops of slaves
which Andrew Hite owned twenty years ago. The others, I find, have been
sold from time to time, to pay the gambling debts and for the other
vicious habits of the precious Stephen, I presume. And of the three
negroes still left, two are old and decrepit, which leaves but one of
marketable value. But, Abner, my boy, jokingly added Dr. Dudley, when
you have realized a fortune out of that Henderson County land which you
think so valuable, you can use this wealth to lift mortgages and to
rebuild this home of your forefathers; so that you will be, after all,
'lord of Crestlands,' the ancestral home of the family.
That plan doesn't appeal to me, said the young man, stoutly. For
one thing, I do not consider Crestlands as my ancestral estate. My
Grandmother Hite lived there only until her marriage, and neither
Hollises nor Logans had part or lot in it. No, my ancestral halls shall
be of my own rearing, he said promptly. I intend indeed to be one day
known as 'Logan of Crestlands;' but not of that ramshackle old manor
house in southeastern Virginia, but of a new Crestlands in that
transmontine paradise, Kentucky. Crestlands! he said musingly. Yes, I
like the name. It has a pleasing sound, and I mean that in its
symbolical sense it shall be appropriate; for I intend that life in
this home I shall found shall be one of purity, truth, love, and high
And from the light in your eyes, and that hopeful, exultant smile,
I suspect, said Uncle Richard, that you have found the fair damsel
who is to reign queen of this goodly domain, this new Crestlands. Is it
I see visions and dream dreams of such a consummation,
acknowledged the young man, flushing warmly; but at present I am on
probation with this lady fair. I shall know my fate when I return in
November for her verdict. But, uncle, whatever my hopes in that
direction, there's another hope almost equally dearthat my loving
foster parents should share my prosperity. Leave this old home which
must be lonely to you and Aunt Rachel now that I am gone and your
daughters both married and gone from the home nest. You have toiled
hard, and have borne the burden and heat of the day, and now in your
declining years I would have your life all ease and sunshine. Come to
me, and share my new home. I promise you comfort, cheer and happiness.
Will you not come?
No, my boy, answered his uncle. 'Ephraim is joined to his idols.'
I am too old to transplant to a new soil, however vigorous and genial
it may be; and your Aunt Rachel would never consent to go so far from
her daughters and their children. But some day, when that saucy,
black-eyed siren (I'm certain she is saucy and black-eyed) shall have
come to reign as mistress of your hearth and home, I'll cross the
mountains, old as I am, to spend a few months with you. But all this is
far in the future, and we have too much business still to transact
before we can hope to get you thoroughly established in your rights, to
plan so far ahead.
As to this Kentucky land, Uncle Richard, said Abner, presently,
when and how did Uncle Hite acquire it?
Back in 1775, I believe, when he went out there on that exploring
trip. Under the provisions of the 'Henderson grant' made that same
year, Andrew Hite purchased, as I see from these papers, a tract of
four hundred acres in that part of the Green River valley now known as
Henderson County. But, instead of remaining in Kentucky and settling on
his land, he returned to this State and joined the army. Now, this
'Henderson grant' was annulled in 1778 by the Virginia Assembly, but
the next year, when the war burdens were beginning to press heavily on
the country, the Assembly enacted a new land law which, besides
arranging for the sale of lands in her western territory, also offered
as military bounty tracts of these western lands to her soldiers. So,
Hite, then a colonel in the Continental army, applied for and received
from the State of Virginia this same land he had purchased under the
old Henderson grant, and sixty acres adjoining. His title, therefore,
was made doubly secure, and he seems to have been little troubled, as
so many others were, by rival claimants. He was wounded in the battle
of King's Mountain, and after his wound had healed, before rejoining
the army, he managed to make another short visit to Kentucky. Upon his
return, on his way to join Lafayette at Yorktown just before
Cornwallis' surrender, Hite stopped at Lawsonville. It was soon after
your Aunt Frances died, and when your mother was on the eve of marrying
Marshall Page. After the war, Hite went to France, where he found this
waif, Stephen Balleau, and brought him home as his adopted son, a year
or so later. That is all I know about Andrew Hite. After that flying
visit to Lawsonville I never saw him, nor heard anything more directly
of him, until I was notified last May of his death, and asked to be
present at the reading of his will.
This paper shows me, said Abner after a pause, that Uncle Hite
placed the management of his Kentucky affairs in the hands of an
attorney, Anson Drane. Now, I know a young lawyer of Lexington named
James Anson Drane. It must be the son of this old attorney.
Yes, said Dr. Dudley, handing his nephew another document, and
from this paper you will find that this son, your James Anson Drane,
was employed after the death of the father to act as Hite's factor. So
your first step, when you return, will, of course, be to communicate
with this young Drane.
CHAPTER XVII. AT CANE RIDGE AGAIN
Abner returned to Kentucky early in October. At Pittsburg, on his
return journey, he had again fallen in with Judge Sebastian, who
intrusted him with a packet containing a sum of money, and with a
package of books, requesting him to deliver them to Judge Innes.
Arriving at Lexington, he delivered the money and books, and then went
on to Cane Ridge, reaching Mason Rogers' about nightfall.
The next morning he set out for his farm, intending, after he had
looked after affairs there, to ride on to Bourbonton to post a letter,
as it was the day on which the once-a-week mail-coach passed through
Over three months had elapsed since he had seen Betsy Gilcrest; and
although he meant to obey her hint and wait until November to renew his
suit, he felt that there was no prohibition against his seeing her.
Accordingly, he purposed to return from Bourbonton by way of Oaklands.
On the way to the farm he met James Drane. Abner had not made known
to the Rogers family the nature of the business which had called him to
Virginia, nor did he now say anything to the lawyer about consulting
him professionally; for he had resolved that Betsy should be the first
to be told of his good fortune. Drane, after congratulating Abner upon
his safe return, and expressing an intention of calling soon to learn
the particulars of the visit to Virginia, added that he must now hasten
forward, as he had business to transact at Bourbonton. Whereupon,
Abner, thinking to save himself a ride to the village, handed him the
letter to post, and then went on towards his farm.
As soon as Abner was out of sight, Drane took the letter from his
pocket. When he saw its address, Judge Benjamin Sebastian, he uttered
an ejaculation of surprise and pleasure. He rode on slowly for a time,
in deep thought, then turned and galloped rapidly towards Oaklands. In
a field adjoining the road was Hiram Gilcrest, superintending some
negroes gathering corn. Drane, riding up to the fence, hailed Gilcrest,
who advanced to meet him. Drane then took the letter from his pocket,
and, showing its address, said, You see, Major, my suspicions
regarding your neighbor are well founded.
Has Dudley returned? asked Gilcrest in some surprise.
Yes, last evening. He passed through Lexington yesterday. While
there he doubtless gathered important information from others of the
band, and this morning he asked me to post this letter, which, of
course, transmits this information to Sebastian.
After some further conversation, Drane exacted a pledge from
Gilcrest of absolute secrecy in regard to the letter, and, declining an
invitation to dine at Oaklands, rode away.
Much to Abner's chagrin, he found, on arriving at Oaklands an hour
after the interview between Drane and Gilcrest, that Betsy was on a
visit to her friend, Mary Winston, who lived near Lexington. Mrs.
Gilcrest, however, was unusually animated, and evinced great interest
in his recent journey, and questioned him about people and places,
changes and fashions in Virginia. Yet Abner could not but notice the
lack of cordiality in Major Gilcrest. Thinking this due to recollection
of the discussion just before the trip to Virginia, Abner tried to
avoid all topics even remotely approaching church matters. He described
his visit to Blennerhassett Island. Gilcrest, becoming interested,
melted perceptibly, for a time; but when the young man, in the course
of his narrative, mentioned the names of his two traveling companions
from Lexington to Blennerhassett Island, Gilcrest's manner not only
lost its lately recovered geniality, but became harder and more frigid
After striving vainly to bring his host back to a more pleasant
mood, Abner felt that he could not, in the face of Gilcrest's
increasing sternness and coldness, prolong the visit. Although it was
raining heavily, he declined Mrs. Gilcrest's timid invitation to remain
to dinner, and left a little before noon. As he rode home through the
rain he thought over every trifling incident of his hour at Oaklands.
He recalled every topic of conversation, without finding a clue to the
enigma. He's harking back to my old transgression in upholding Stone,
was his conclusion. Interest in the account of my journey did for a
time beguile him into forgetfulness of my offense, but his mind at last
reverted to it; hence his return to the Frigid Zone. It was a regular
freeze-out toward the end. If he were not Betty's father, I'd have
nothing more to do with him. But what a fool I was to discuss
theological matters with him in the first place! After all, this church
trouble is no affair of mine, and Stone did not need my advocacy; he's
quite able, single-handed, to play St. George to the dragon of
sectarianism that trails its length through this region. A pretty time
I'll have now, trying to reinstate myself in the old gentleman's good
graces! I hope to heaven something will happen to call him out of the
way the first of November; for see Betty then I will, no matter what
When James Drane, after his talk with Gilcrest, reached the main
thoroughfare, instead of choosing the turning towards Bourbonton, he
took the opposite course towards Lexington. As soon as he was in his
office, and had barred his door, he carefully cut around the seal of
Abner's letter. It contained merely a few lines stating that the money
and books had been delivered to Innes.
The devil take it! he ejaculated. This shows nothing as to
whether Sebastian and Murray took advantage of their opportunity to
sound the schoolmaster; and I now very much doubt if the
self-sufficient young prig can be drawn into our schemes. However,
showing the address to Gilcrest this morning did my own personal cause
a good turn. Now, how to follow up this advantage? I wonder if I could
counterfeit Sebastian's peculiar chirography. From an inner locked
drawer of his escritoire he took a small metal box, and from a number
of papers contained therein he selected a letter which he examined
No use to try imitation, when the original document will serve my
purpose as well or better, he finally concluded. The initials fit
perfectly; and, thanks to Sebastian's cunning and to our cipher code,
this letter is so obscurely worded that Gilcrest can gain from it no
knowledge of our plans. But I'll have to wait some time yet in order to
tell him a plausible tale. In the meanwhile, it would be well to try my
skill at counterfeiting Dudley's writing. His precise, schoolmasterly
hand would surely be easier to imitate than Sebastian's queer, crabbed
characters, and there's no telling how or when my skill may be of use
to me. But how to get more material to work upon? This short note to
Sebastian isn't enough. Couldn't I get Dudley to copy some law papers
for me? He rose and paced the floor in deep thought. Finally he
succeeded in elaborating a plan which would suit his purpose.
CHAPTER XVIII. DRANE PRACTICES
One morning in October, Drane, who at this time seemed to have
business demanding his frequent presence at Cane Ridge, passed by the
Rogers' homestead just as Abner was coming from the house. The two
conversed for a time at the stile, then Drane, as he was preparing to
ride on, asked, Any commissions I can execute for you in town,
No, Abner replied, I believe not; I was in Lexington myself
Thursday. But stay, he added, you may post a letter, if you will be
so kind. Wait a minute, and he ran to the house and soon returned with
a letter which he handed Drane.
This missive, which the lawyer opened as soon as he was in the
privacy of his room, was addressed to Chas. M. Brady, Williamsburg,
Virginia, and read as follows:
CANE RIDGE, Oct. the 5, 1802.
Honored Sir;I was in Lexington again on Thursday; saw
and del'v'd y'r enclosure containing recommendations, etc. But
owing to the absence of two of the trustees, John Meeks and
Power, I can accomplish nothing. Judge Barr favors y'r
but he is so handicapped that he can do very little. I learn
a trustworthy informant that Ezra Spaiter, of
also an applicant for this professorship. Therefore, it would
be advisable to open negotiations with Ingraham, for I know
he is strongly in favor of Spaiter. Nor do I think it would
well to make application through Brown, who, I learn,
withdrawing altogether from the University. Consequently, I
that you make no further move in this matter until you are
of Power's return. I will see him and Tarr as soon as possible;
and you may rest assured that I will do all I can for you.
Y'r ob't, humble serv't to command,
Abner Dudley Logan. To Charles M. Brady,
Now, what does this mean? Drane thought as he saw the full
signature, Abner Dudley Logan. Has the fellow been adopting an alias?
I must investigate this matter. But meanwhile I've another task before
me, and he spread the letter before him on the table, drew forth
writing materials, and set to work. The next evening and the next found
him similarly engaged, until by dint of repeated effort and close
observation, aided by natural aptitude for such work, he produced a
fair counterfeit of Abner's writing. While thus engaged, another scheme
presented itself to his fertile brain. To carry out this scheme, he
first made a copy of the letter to Brady. The wording was the same as
that of the original, and the penmanship so good an imitation that only
a suspicious and close observer could detect the difference.
As this Brady is far away, and probably not so well acquainted with
the schoolmaster's fist as Gilcrest is, it will be safer to send my
copy to him, Drane decided, and manipulate the original for the
Major's benefit. If this, in conjunction with that other document I
shall show at the same time, doesn't put an end to that upstart's
chances with Gilcrest's daughter, I'm much out of my reckoning. Ah,
Betty! bewitching, tormenting Betty! I'll have you yet in spite of your
stand-off airs and half-veiled scorn of James Anson Drane.
The next afternoon found this unscrupulous plotter closeted with
Major Gilcrest in the pleasant library at Oaklands.
First pledging Gilcrest to absolute secrecy, Drane submitted a
letter beginning with the address, Dear A. D., and signed with the
initials B. S. Much of the letter was couched in language so obscure
as to bear no precise meaning without a verbal interpretation which,
the letter stated, would be given by the bearer, S. Swartwourt, to whom
A. D. was referred. The letter alluded to the confidence the writer
had hitherto placed in A. D., and to the former correspondence
between them. It also mentioned an enclosure from Gen. W., written in
cipher, to which cipher B. S. stated A. D. had a key. B. S. ended
his letter with the request that the enclosure from W. be shown to
Messrs. M. and A., and then promptly forwarded to T. P.
Before showing this communication from B. S. Drane had torn off
that part which bore the date, May 2, 1802, and at the bottom of the
page had added in a fair likeness of the handwriting of B. S., the
date, Oct. 12, 1802.
It will be remembered that at this period there was a renewal of the
old rumors in regard to Spanish intrigues, and that Gilcrest on April
court day had seen Abner in what had appeared to be a confidential
conversation with Wilkinson, Sebastian and Murray; and also that Abner,
when calling at Oaklands after his return from Virginia, had mentioned
traveling in the company of Sebastian and Murray and stopping with them
at Blennerhassett Island. Moreover, early in the year, Gilcrest,
through his friend, Dr. Bullock, of Louisville, had been apprised of a
conspiracy in which Thomas Power, a Spanish emissary, and the three
prominent Kentuckians, Wilkinson, Sebastian and Murray, were suspected
of being involved. So great was Gilcrest's infatuation for Drane, he
had violated his promise made to Bullock, and had hinted of these
intrigues to Drane, who thus had much material to work upon in his
attempt to prejudice Gilcrest against Betsy's lover.
How in the world did this paper fall into your hands? was
Gilcrest's first query, after examining the communication of B. S.
Wait, Drane answered, until you have seen this, placing before
the old gentleman the following torn and crumpled fragment:
Honored Sir:I was in Lexington again
and del'v'd y'r enclosure containing reco
owing to the absence of two of the
Power, I can accomplish nothing. Jud
but he is so handicapped that he ca
a trustworthy informant that Ez
also an applicant for this pro
be advisable to open negotiation
he is strongly in favor of Spai
well to make application through B
withdrawing altogether from the Uni
that you make no further move in th
ed of Power's return. I will see him
and you may rest assured that I will
Y'r ob't, humble serv't to
After this, too, had been examined, Drane explained. A short while
before, he said, he was returning from a ride to Frankfort, and as he
was on the road just by the woodland pasture belonging to Mason Rogers,
had dismounted to dislodge a stone from his horse's foot. As he was
preparing to remount, he spied a folded paper peeping out from some
underbrush on the roadside. He had examined it. It was this enigmatical
letter from B. S. to A. D. I had my strong suspicions, Drane
continued, as to the identity of both writer and recipient; but, of
course, not being sure that the document belonged to Abner Dudley, I
did not think it wise to give it to him. Furthermore, it seemed that in
view of what you had revealed to me in regard to certain malignant
conspiracies with the Spanish Government, it behooved me to be
cautious. It was too late in the day to see you; so I returned home,
resolving that at the first opportunity I'd advise with you. The very
day after finding that letter, last Thursday afternoon, Dudley rushed
into my office and asked for writing materials. I furnished what he
required, and he sat at my desk to write. He made several attempts and
ruined several sheets of paper, which he tore up and tossed into the
fireall save this scrap, indicating the fragment shown above, which
lay on the floor under the desk and escaped his notice. He finally
wrote a letter to suit him. This he sealed and directed, and then,
saying a messenger was waiting, he thanked me hurriedly and rushed out.
I have little doubt that this messenger was the 'S. Swartwourt'
mentioned in 'B. S.'s' letter; for Swartwourt was in town that
Thursday. I had seen him at noon at the tavern in close converse with
William Murray, Isaac Adamson (in all likelihood, the Messrs. 'M.' and
'A.' of 'B. S.'s' letter), and Abner Dudley, who is as certainly 'A.
D.' as 'B. S.' is Benjamin Sebastian; and that torn fragment before you
is that shameless young hypocrite's answer to Sebastian's letter of
You are undoubtedly correct in your surmises, said Gilcrest when
Drane had finished. The 'Power' referred to in this torn piece, and
the 'T. P.' referred to in the letter signed 'B. S.,' both mean that
vile and most dangerous diplomat, Thomas Power; and, see, Dudley
mentions 'the enclosure,' too, which he had probably shown to Murray
and Adamson, and then forwarded to Thomas Power. Notice, too, the
expression in Dudley's letter, 'he is strongly in favor of
Spai'meaning, of course, Spain; and also this line, 'withdrawing
altogether from the Uni', which last word, with its missing letters
supplied, would be Union. Why, man, this is a most dangerous conspiracy
against the Federal Government! We must be very wary indeed, if we
would succeed in bringing the whole matter to light. But how careless
of Dudley, he continued after a moment, to lose that letter by the
roadside! It is unlike his usual caution, and certainly not in keeping
with the diabolical cunning and consummate skill with which the movers
in this plot appear to be working. However, as the enclosure was
already forwarded, and as the letter itself without the verbal
interpretation is so obscure as to have no real meaning for one not in
the scheme, I presume Dudley was not as cautious as he would have been
had he dreamed that any one in this neighborhood had an inkling of
these nefarious plots they are concocting.
After some further consultation and further pledges between Drane
and Gilcrest as to caution and silence, the former prepared to leave.
No, James, said Gilcrest, when the lawyer reached out to get the
two documents, you are impetuous and rather thoughtless; and besides,
you are frequently away from home; so I had better take these papers
into my charge for safe-keeping. You'll be showing them to some one,
or, rather, somebody may get at them while you are out of town,
But, Major Gilcrest, remonstrated Drane, secretly much frightened
at this unexpected move on the part of his confidant, II found them,
and they belong to me. I assure you they will be perfectly secure with
But they'll be safer with me, persisted Gilcrest.
James argued and remonstrated as much as he dared without
endangering by overeagerness his own nefarious little plot; but he
could not shake the old gentleman's purpose, and at last he had to
depart, thoroughly discomfited. Much enraged he was, too, as he rode
homeward, and fully determined, as he said, to regain possession of
those two documents, in spite of that blamed, stubborn old blockhead,
CHAPTER XIX. THE BETROTHAL
For I'll believe I have his heart,
As much as he has mine.
Betsy came home the last week in October. Even her mother, the least
observant of women, noticed her daughter's unusual silence and
restlessness for the first few days after her return, and, attributing
it to loneliness, wished Betty had brought Mary Winston home with her
for a visit.
Rantin' 'roun' 'mong fine folks doan seem to 'gree wid you, honey,
old Aunt Dilsey said one morning when she found Betsy in the parlor,
her hands folded listlessly on the unheeded sewing in her lap, as she
gazed dreamily before her. You'se all onsettled sence you'se come
home. Things would go tah rack an' ruin heah, wid yo' ma allus ailin',
an' you so no-'count, ef 'twan't fur ole Dilsey tah keep dese lazy
niggahs frum gwinetah sleep en thah tracks. I usetah think you'd be a
he'p an' a comfo't to yo' old brack mammy, an' turn out ez fine a
man'ger an' housekeepah ez Miss Abby; but you hain't been yo'se'f sence
thet camp-meetin'. I 'lowed et fust 'twuz too much 'ligion wuckin' in
you, an' thought it would bring you all right to go to Miss Mary
Winston's fine place; but you'se come back wussen evah. You hain't
gwinetah be sick, is you, chile? One minit you looks lak thah warn't a
drap o' blood in yo' body, then suddent lak, you flash up an' look so
narvous an' so excited thet I fears you'se tekin' the fevahs.
No, mammy, I'm not the least sick. Nothing ails me, except that I
feel the change a little from the gay times I've been having at
Maybrook. I'll be all right presently.
Soon after dinner upon the first day of November, Betsy, evading
Aunt Dilsey's watchful eyes, called Jock, the old house-dog who was
dozing in the south porch, and set off for a ramble. The balmy air and
the brisk walk refreshed her, and by the time she reached the bars
separating the upper from the lower woods, she felt lighter hearted
than she had for a long time. Her eyes glowed with exercise, a bright
tinge showed in her cheeks, and her red cloak and brown quilted bonnet
lined with crimson made a warm bit of color in the landscape, and
blended harmoniously with the rich shades of the trees. Nature was
steeped in that tender, dreamy haze peculiar to Indian Summer, and the
air held a pleasing odor like that of burning leaves. The songbirds had
gone away to winter homes in the South, and the stillness of the forest
was broken only by the dropping of nuts from the hickory-trees.
The first day of November! she thought, as she stood leaning on
the bars, with old Jock lying at her feet. I wonder how soon he will
come, and she smiled tenderly. Not to-day or to-morrow, I know; for
he has gone to Lexington again, so Susan said, and will not be back
until the last of the week. It has been four months since I saw him.
Perhaps I should not have kept him so long in suspense, but a girl
should not be too easily won, and he must never know how nearly I came
to complete surrender when he rode by my side that May day. How hard it
was to resist the pleading tenderness of his eyes! Oh, Abner, Abner!
how I love you! she murmured, leaning her head upon the bars.
Approaching footsteps made no noise on the carpeting of leaves and
moss in the pathway over which she had come; and Betty, absorbed in her
love and yearning, did not look up, even when Jock gave a joyous bark
of welcome to the young man standing behind her.
[Illustration: I have come for my answer, Betty.]
I have come for my answer, Betty, he said, laying his hand over
hers clasped on the topmost bar.
Her eyes lit up with gladness as she raised her face, suffused with
crimson, toward him; but she uttered no word of welcome.
You surely expected me, he said; you did not think I'd wait one
hour beyond the time, did you? Ah, sweetheart, did you but know what a
torment of suspense and longing these last six months have been,
you'dBut now it's November, your favorite month, you said, because
Thanksgiving comes in it. So now, my darling, say the word that alone
can give me a thankful heart. You'll listen to me now, won't you,
dear? he asked of her as she still stood in trembling silence.
I suppose I must, sir, she said, dimpling and blushing, with a
saucy toss of her head. I can't very well stop my ears, seeing that
you have imprisoned both hands. Oh, don't! don't! I haven't pledged
myself yet, she stammered, as he, raising her hands, drew them around
his neck, folded her in his arms, and kissed her brow. Then, still
holding her closely in one arm, with the other he turned her face to
meet his, murmuring, Not just your forehead, sweetnessO sweetheart!
darling! wife! as his lips closed over hers in a clinging kiss. It is
thus I take my pledge. You are mine, mine, you bewildering, tormenting
No! no! she protested stammeringly, as she struggled to free
herself. Oh, you're tootooyou hold me so close! You lose count of
time and season, sir, she added presently with an attempt at
playfulness, and trying to assume an ease and nonchalance she was far
from feeling. This is November, remembersolemn, quiet Thanksgiving
time. The summer of fulfillment hasn't come yet.
Yes, it has, boldly asserted her lover. Winter is past, and
summer is hereglorious, satisfying harvest timeandandit is thus
I garner in my wealth, he murmured with tender rapture, gathering her
still closer, and kissing the sweet eyes and throat and mouth. No more
half-way measures between us now! No more tormenting reserve! You trust
me, sweetheart? You give yourself to me, do you not?
I don't seem to have much liberty of choice, she replied with a
resumption of her old sauciness, as she again freed herself from his
embrace. As you have already stolen my heart, I may as well trust you
with the restand I do, I do, she added solemnly. My welfare, my
happiness, my life itself, I commit to your keeping, placing both
hands in his. I give all unreservedly. You are worthy the trust.
No, she said presently, in answer to the inevitable question as to
when she had first begun to love him; I shan't tell you that. You're
too conceited and masterful as it is.
But you have promised to tell me everything, he said teasingly.
No, some things are better left unsaid, and if I were to tell you
that, I'd never be able to get the upper hand with you again.
But you know you always did obey me, he answered, smiling
reminiscently, though it was often with a sweet rebellious look in
your eyes; and besides, a wife is bound to obey her husband.
I don't know about that, sir. If that is the rule, I mean to be the
exception that proves it; for I fully intend that you shall be the
submissive one in our future relationship.
In that case, fair lady mine, the sooner you marry me, the better;
for even with so competent a ruler as yourself, it will take long and
close application on my part to learn the role of submissive husband.
You see, my position of schoolmaster has weakened my natural talent for
meekness and submission, so that at present these qualities are far
from being in perfect condition.
You needn't tell me that, rejoined Betsy, with a demure smile and
nodding her head sagely. Cupid hasn't so blindfolded me but that I can
still see a wee bit out of the corner of my eyewell enough, at least,
to perceive that my lover has several imperfections in addition to a
lack of meekness.
That, my dear, isn't the fault of Cupid's bandages, but it is due
to your always having held me at a distance, he answered placidly,
drawing her nearer to him. Seen at close range, these little
peculiarities of mine, which you have labeled defects, will turn out to
be budding virtues of the finest quality.
Ah, then, most perfect and approved good master, you must give me
back my pledge. I could stand a few faults and minor vices in my future
lord; but such an array of excellencies appals me. I wed you not, Sir
Paragon, she said, looking him full in the face and then dropping him
a mocking little courtesy.
'By my troth and holidame,' I could have better spared a better
Betty! Abner exclaimed with mock fervor. No, no, sweet mistress mine,
rather than resign this dimpled hand of thine, I'll begin at once to
uproot all my promising little sprouts of virtue, and plant in their
stead an assortment of fine, robust misdemeanors, for which, in truth,
the soil is well adapted.
Very well, then, she said with an air of resignation, I foresee
that I shall have to grow a few additional faults myself, to compete
And I don't think, my dearest, that you'll have much difficulty in
doing so, was his audacious rejoinder, as he pinched her cheek.
Natural aptitude counts for a great deal, you know.
Methinks, my lord, too much happiness hath weakened thy brain; what
nonsense thou dost chatter, and she laughed with joyous abandon.
Oh, anybody can talk sense, but it takes a heap o' sense to talk
nonsense sensibly, he said suavely, with a fine air of
self-complacency. Until to-day I did not know I had it in me to be so
brilliant a conversationalist. Happiness is bringing out all my latent
abilities. Ah, Betty, sweetest, dearest, most bewitching of girls, he
added, fervently, how happy you have made me!
They were now seated on a fallen tree, he indulging in a blissful
sense of happiness realized, she sitting quiet and somewhat pensive.
Presently he asked: Of what are you thinking? Your brown eyes are
filled with something that is almost sadness. Have you any regrets, any
unfilled wish? I haven'texcept that November might have come sooner.
Yes, I have a regret, said Betty, laying her hand upon his
shoulder and looking wistfully at him. I give you everythingmy
present, my future, and my past; but youI know you love me now, but I
am not the one you loved first. That is what makes me sad. I want your
past as well as your present and future. Perhaps you think I didn't
see. You supposed, when you were so miserable after Abby went away,
that I didn't understand! Many and many a night have I lain awake,
sorrowing over your sorrow and my inability to help you.
Listen to me, Betty dear. My feeling for your cousin, though pure
and tender, was as nothing compared to what I have for you. Even when I
was most under the spell of her beauty and sweetness, I thought of you
as one who might well stir the pulse and thrill the heart of any man
not made armor-proof by love for another.
But you did love Cousin Abby? she questioned with another wistful,
Yes, I did, in a dreamy, poetical way. Or, rather, I was in love
with love and romance, and all that, and she seemed the embodiment of
beauty and poetry. But I never touched even the outer edges of her
susceptibilities, and it was this complete unresponsiveness that healed
my wound, even before I was aware. A man, warm-blooded, ardent, as I
am, must have an answering love to keep his own alive. There was
nothing in that first romantic feeling that need give you a pang of
regret. It was a mere boyish fancy; this, dear, is the love of my
manhood. And in fact, my darling, I don't believe there is so much as a
kiss to choose between your love for me and mine for you. If there is,
he added humorously, this will restore the balance, and he kissed her
fondly. And now, my dear girl, he went on, speaking soberly, but with
a glad light in his eyes, I have great news for you; but first, let me
ask, by what name do you propose to be known when we are married?
Well, exclaimed the girl in some bewilderment, I said awhile ago
that happiness had addled your brains; but I really did not suspect the
trouble to be so serious as this. By what name, pray, should I be known
but that of Mistress Betsy Dudleyugly though it be? Oh, I see! she
cried, thinking she understood his meaning. You don't like the name
Betsy. Neither do I. It's perfectly horrid; and it is my standing
grievance against my parents that they saddled upon their innocent babe
so uncouth a prenomen. If father did wish to honor his mother by
endowing his first-born with the name, why could he not have softened
it into Betty, or Bettina, or Bessie, or, better still, have christened
me Elizabeth, instead of insisting, as he always does, that I shall be
called Betsy? I'll tell you what, she added archly, when I'm married,
I shall insist that everybody shall address me as Elizabeth. Isn't that
more to your taste, my lord?
Elizabeth what? he persisted.
Upon my word, I begin to think you really are daft! Why, Elizabeth
Dudley, of course, she said, flushing and looking shy and embarrassed;
that is, unless you mean for me to wed some saner man than this Abner
Dudley, Esquire, she added saucily.
Would not the name Elizabeth or Betty or Betsy Logan suit you
better? asked her lover, who then proceeded to tell her all.
She was greatly astonished, and rejoiced to learn of his brightened
worldly prospects; but when he told her his full name, her countenance
He was too absorbed to note this, and went on: The question now is,
my dearest, how soon will you marry me? I need you now. Every day,
every hour, I long for you, my pet. So I shall speak to your father at
once. For some time he has been rather cool with meever since last
summer, when I argued with him about Barton Stone's views. But he's too
just and reasonable to refuse me your hand, upon no other objection
than that I did not side with him in a church quarrel. I will see him
No, no! Betsy interrupted, do not speak with him yet; and please
do not let him know that your name is Logan. Let me tell him that, and
also about your new inheritance.
But, my dear girl, why should not I tell him?
I can't make it plain to you, I'm afraid, answered Betty; but I
have an instinctive feeling that things will not run at all
smoothlyjust at first, you knowwhen he learns your news.
All the more reason, then, Abner said, for my telling him at
once, and thus get over this rough part as soon as possible.
No, please let me speak to father first, urged Betsy.
I fail to see why you should wish to do so, Abner said; and it
certainly is my duty to speak to your father myself. Nor would it be
manly in me to shirk this duty off upon you.
As I said, Betsy persisted, I can't make my meaning clear to you.
In truth, I can't understand myself why I wish this; but of one thing I
am quite sure, both my father and mother, for some unknown cause, are
greatly prejudiced against the name 'Logan.' Mother, in particular,
abhors it. At some period of her life, she must have had some terrible
knowledge of some one of the nameyou know there are many Logans in
this State and in Virginiabut whatever the reason for her extreme
aversion to the name, that aversion certainly exists. Therefore, it
behooves us to be very tactful in telling father and mother that you
are a Logan. Just now I feel sure it would be unwise to tell them; for
mother is unusually weak and nervous this fall, and father is so
harassed over this church trouble that he is irritable and
unreasonable, even with mother and me. We can't very well be married
before spring, anyway; and long before then father'll be as cordial as
ever with you; and he and mother will be fully reconciled to your new
name, too. I'm your promised wife, andandI love you with all my
heart. Isn't that happiness enough for you for awhile?
But, dearest, I think your parents should be told at once that you
are my betrothed wife. I don't like any appearance of secrecy. I'm too
proud of my love for that.
No, Betsy still urged, I know father better than you do. Please
be guided by me in this, and say nothing to him for awhile.
But I can not delay much longer to make public that my name is
Logan, and about my newly acquired property. There's business to be
transacted in regard to this Henderson County land; and your father
must inevitably soon hear of my name, from some one; and it would be
better from me than from an outsider.
However, Abner finally yielded to Betsy's pleadings, and agreed that
they should take no one into their confidence at present in regard to
their engagement; and that he should tell the Rogerses and James Drane
about his real name, and of the inheritance left him by the will of the
late Colonel Hite.
And you mustn't even come to see me, said Betty. In father's
present mood it would only irritate him to have you come. Besides, if
you did come, they'd be sure to find us out; for we couldn't act toward
each other just in the old, quiet, friendly wayat least, I couldn't
andandoh, I know it will be hard, this restraint, this secrecy; not
to see you, and not to let every one know that we are pledged to each
other. But for my sake, and because it is for the best, you will be
patient, won't you?
I will try; but Heaven send your father a speedy change of heart
toward your poor lover! Abner fervently exclaimed as he kissed Betty
CHAPTER XX. THE LONE GRAVE IN THE
That same evening, Abner took Mr. and Mrs. Rogers into his
confidence concerning his name, and the business which had called him
to Virginia. The good couple were greatly excited, and they could not
have been more delighted had the inheritance fallen to one of their own
A few days later, Abner went to see James Drane.
So old Colonel Hite is dead, and you are his heir, was Drane's
astonished exclamation when his client had explained his business, and
had shown a copy of the will. I congratulate you most heartily upon
your good fortune. Of course, I know all about this Henderson County
tract; for my father was employed to survey it, and to record the
claim, and afterwards to transact all business pertaining to it, until
his death, five years ago; then I was employed as agent. I have here in
my escritoire all papers relative to the business, and copies of all
correspondence which passed between father and Colonel Hite. Colonel
Hite visited Kentucky in '80 or '81, when I was a small boy; but I
remember the circumstance. From what I can recall of him as he appeared
then, and from what I gather from his correspondence since, I judge him
to have been a very eccentric man. For several years after the tract
came into Hite's possession, my father had considerable difficulty with
rival claimantssquatters, you know, who claimed it by right of first
settlement; but all such difficulties were adjusted long before the
agency fell into my hands, and now I can foresee no trouble, nor any
very great delay, in establishing you in your rightsto this part of
your inheritance, at least. As to the Virginian estate, of course, you
have already placed your interests in the hands of some competent
attorney in that State, and have complied with all the necessary legal
formalities. Now, in regard to this land of which I have been acting as
factor, Drane continued, examining some papers which he had taken out
of his desk. Samuel Whitaker, whose claim adjoins the southeastern
boundary of the Hite section, pays a yearly rental of forty-six dollars
for 258 acres of the Hite land; and Daniel Pratt, who owns the
homestead adjoining the southwestern boundary, holds a ten years' lease
(three of which are unexpired) to 285 more acres. The remainder of the
sectionninety-seven acreslying on Buffalo Creek, is low and swampy,
and has never been reclaimed.
A few more business details were explained, and then Abner told the
lawyer, as he had already told the Rogerses, that for the
presentuntil all business relative to the winding up of the Hite
estate was completedhe preferred to be known only as Abner Dudley. He
then took his departure, leaving with Drane a copy of the will.
When his client had gone, the lawyer barred his door, and then
carefully examined the will. Although he had had the art to hide his
feelings during the interview just closed, he was more astonished and
puzzled than he had ever been before. Several months before this, in
looking through some documents pertaining to the Gilcrest property, he
had made two startling discoveries: First, that Mrs. Gilcrest's maiden
name was Sarah Jane Pepper, instead of Jane Temple, as even her own
children supposed it to be. Second, that she was a widow when Hiram
Gilcrest married her, and that her first husband had been a John Logan
who was killed in the battle of Monmouth Court-house. At the time when
Drane had made these discoveries, Gilcrest had explained that Mrs.
Gilcrest's first husband had been a worthless, bad fellow, and that for
that reason her desire was that her children should be kept in
ignorance of her ever having made this first marriage. On this account,
and for another reason which Gilcrest did not confide to Drane, she had
led her children to believe that her maiden name was Jane Temple, her
maternal grandmother's maiden name.
Abner had stated that his father was John Logan, a soldier in the
Continental army, who was killed in the battle of Monmouth Court-house.
It may be a mere coincidence, thought Drane, that two men named John
Logan were killed in that battle; but, then, why should this fellow
have, until now, worn the name of Dudley? Then, there's the unusual
wording of the will, and he seized the document and read the words,
'to her' (Mary Belle Hollis Page) 'legitimate offspring, if any.'
'There's something rotten in the state of Denmark', was Drane's
conclusion; but how to discover it? Let me see, I'd better not mention
this to old Gilcrest yet awhile; and certainly I must let no inkling of
my suspicions escape to this Abner Dudley, or Abner Logan, or Page, or
whatever his right name may bewhy, good Lord! I don't believe he has
a legitimate right to any name whatsoever. And this is the fine
gentleman who dares lift his eyes to the peerless Betty! I needn't have
run the risk I did in forging that letter, it seems; this will, I
suspect, settle the schoolmaster's pretensions even more effectually,
and with no danger to myself, either. But here, if his father and
Madame Gilcrest's first husband were one and the same man, I must work
very cautiously until I ascertain the exact date of the John Logan
alliance with Sarah Jane and that of his connection with Mary Belle. It
would be a pretty kettle of fish if I should take old Hiram into my
confidence, and it should afterwards be revealed that Sarah Jane was
the paramour and Mary Belle the true wife. Pshaw! that's not probable.
Then, there's Hite's singular expression, 'to her legitimate
offspring.' What a fine thing it would be to discover that Mrs.
Gilcrest is Hite's lawful legatee. To do the schoolmaster justice,
though, I believe him entirely innocent of intentional deception in
this matter; but I'd stake my reputation for acuteness that this old
Richard Dudley knowsonly, of course, he bases his nephew's claim upon
the fact that Mary Hollis Page was still living at the time Hite made
this insane will. Abner Dudley, or Abner Logan, as the case may be,
stated that she died in August, 1782. My first step must be to
ascertain if this be correct. Let me see, Tom Gaines used to live in
Lawsonville, and is still living in Culpeper County. I'll write him for
information. On account of his connection with our Spanish schemes he
can be trusted to mention my letter to no one. I'll write him
immediately, and, while waiting his reply, I'll hover about Oaklands as
much as possible, and try to ascertain the date of the Logan-Pepper
alliance; and at the same time make another effort to recover
possession of Sebastian's letter and that dangerous little specimen of
The postal system of our country was a slow business in that day and
time; but, in due course, Drane had Gaines' reply. From this he learned
that a certain old tombstone in the Lawsonville graveyard bore this
MARY BELLE HOLLIS PAGE
born Feb'y 16th, 1758
died Aug. 21st, 1782.
Other information contained in Gaines' letter was this, Mrs. Page
had not died at Lawsonville, notwithstanding the tablet erected there
to her memory. She had married Marshall Page in October, 1781, and she
and her husband and the little Abner had migrated to Kentucky. Late in
the next year, a brother of Marshall Page, who had accompanied them to
Kentucky, returned to Lawsonville with the little boy, Abner Logan, and
the intelligence that Marshall Page had been killed by Indians, and
that Mary Page had died at Bryan's Station. The child had been
committed to the care of Mrs. Page's relations in Lawsonville, the
Dudleys, who had adopted him. Drane's informant also wrote that it had
always been the impression with the people of Lawsonville that Mary
Hollis had not been legally married to Abner's father, but that she had
been entrapped into a form of marriage with John Logan at a time when
he had a wife still living.
By the heavens above, this is the strangest affair that ever came
within my ken! said James Drane after reading Gaines' letter. Why, I
verily believe that the dainty schoolmaster is a bastard; and, what is
more, that he has no claim to the Hite fortune. He certainly has not,
if my surmises concerning that half-forgotten episode of that hamlet in
the Cumberland Mountains be correct.
The episode to which he referred was this. He, when a boy of ten,
had once accompanied his father on a visit into southwestern Virginia.
On the third day of their journey night had overtaken them near
Centerton, a little settlement of five or six cabins in the Cumberland
Mountains. They had stopped for shelter at one of these cabins, owned
by a family named Wheeler. The next morning there was a terrible rain
storm which had detained the travelers in the village until the
following day. While there James had seen a neglected grave marked by a
wooden slab, on the mountain-side, just back of the Wheelers' cabin. He
was filled with boyish curiosity concerning this lonely grave, and had
asked its history.
Several years before, so Mrs. Wheeler had told him, some emigrants
on their way into Kentucky had stopped at the Wheeler cabin. The wife
of one of these emigrants had been bitten or stung on the cheek by some
poisonous reptile while the party was camping in the mountains the
night before. The poor woman was suffering horribly when they reached
the Wheelers', and she died there the next day from the effects of the
venomous wound in her face. They buried her under the trees back of the
cabin, and her husband cut her name, age and the date of her death upon
that oak slab, and placed it as a headstone to mark the last
resting-place of his wife. He and the other emigrants then continued on
This sad story and the lonely grave on the mountainside had made a
deep impression upon the lad, James Drane. He now recalled the story,
and he was sure that the name upon that slab was Mary Page. Moreover,
he believed that the date recorded on the wooden slab was that of a day
of the spring of 1782. After much reflection, Drane decided to tell
Major Gilcrest of these discoveries and surmises.
To say that Hiram Gilcrest was amazed at the story which the lawyer
related would but feebly express his state of mind. If our suspicions
are correct, he said when he had thought over Drane's story, as to
the date of this woman's death, and if this son of hers is
illegitimate, he has no rights at all, under the provisions of this
will, to the Hite estates. My wife, in that case, is the heir; and, by
heaven, she shall have her rights! It is not that I care so much for
the monetary value of what this Andrew Hite left. I am not prompted by
mercenary motives; for I have plenty to keep my wife and children in
comfort, nor would I covet aught that lawfully or justly belonged to
another; but I do not mean to be cheated, or to allow my wife to be
cheated, out of her just rights by the crafty schemes of this Dr.
Richard Dudley in behalf of his base-born nephew. I must say, though,
that I have considerable commiseration for this young fellow, who is, I
believe, not a partythat is, an intentional partyto this fraudulent
scheme, notwithstanding his undoubted entanglement in those political
plots of Sebastian, Wilkinson and Powers. I protest, I was never in all
my life so deceived in a man as I have been in Abner Dudley, or Logan,
if he pleases; and I flatter myself, too, upon being a pretty good
judge of character. I was much taken with him when he first came to
this community. I liked his face, his conversation, and his general
bearing, and would have taken oath that he was one to be trusted in all
We must move warily in this matter, James, was the Major's
caution, after musing awhile, until the affair is in shape to be
proven in court. I would spare my wife all agitation, if it were
possible. She is in an extremely weak, nervous condition, and until it
is absolutely necessary to do so, I wish her to know nothing of this
matter; and even when it must be brought up in court, I want to spare
her all the details of the affairif that can be done; for any mention
of the matter will cost her much excitement and will bring before her
again all her old troubles.
After further consultation and many admonitions from Gilcrest as to
caution and secrecy, it was agreed that the lawyer should go at once to
He started the next morning. Reaching there three days later, he
could find no trace of the Wheelers. Their cabin was now occupied by
another family who knew nothing of the former occupants except that
they had moved away eight years since, and that their present
habitation was supposed to be somewhere in the mountains of northern
Georgia. No one now living at Centerton could give any information
about the grave on the mountain-side. Drane visited it. It was now but
a sunken spot covered with a tangle of vines and weeds. The slab was
still there, but it was prone on the ground, face downwards, and was
much worn and defaced. Drane copied in his note-book all of the
inscription that was legible:
Ma-ch 9 1-82
CHAPTER XXI. GILCREST'S ATTITUDE
Several weeks wore away, and still no one except Major Gilcrest, his
daughter, the Rogers family and James Drane was aware of the change in
Abner's worldly prospects. As to his business affairs, he felt no
uneasiness; for he knew that his interests in Virginia were being
looked after by Dr. Dudley; and in regard to the Henderson County land,
he agreed with Drane that as it was still in the hands of tenants,
nothing need be done at present towards making known his ownership. But
he became extremely impatient over the unsettled state of his love
Major Gilcrest, instead of growing more like his former self, became
sterner, if possible, and had little to do with his neighbors. Betsy,
strong in the belief that time would effect a favorable change in her
father's attitude, still pleaded with Abner not to speak with him.
James Drane was often at Oaklands, and Abner, aware of this, while
he, Betsy's betrothed husband, was prohibited from visiting her, grew
more and more moody and impatient, and sometimes in his despondency he
pictured the girl as listening with growing interest to Drane's
entertaining talk, and yielding more and more to his fascination.
With her headstrong old father so set against me, and so
confoundedly wrapped up in Drane, it would be no great wonder if Betty
were finally stolen from me, thought Abner bitterly, one afternoon
when he knew that the lawyer was at Oaklands. He had little heart for
social gayeties of the neighborhood, although he sometimes went to
these gatherings in the hope of seeing Betsy. Yet these meetings amid a
crowd of young people were very unsatisfactory.
I reckon Betsy holds herse'f above common fo'ks, now she's visitin'
'mong the big bugs, Abner heard Mrs. Rogers say one day in answer to
Lucy's remark that Betsy never came to see them now.
No, ma, Susan ventured, Betsy is not one to change. She loves us
as well as ever, I feel sure.
Well, ef she ain't too stuck up to notice us, her ma's too proud to
let her, retorted Mrs. Rogers. I allus said thet in spite uv Jane's
meechin' ways, she felt herse'f above us. We ain't got blue blood in
our veins. We ain't kin to the Temples an' Blairs an' Goodloes, and the
rest uv them ristahcrats.
Mrs. Gilcrest always treats me well when I go there, answered
Susan, and as for Betsy, she continued, her cheeks flushing and her
eyes shining, she's the truest, sweetest girl that ever lived.
Then, why don't she come to see us lak she usetah? demanded Mrs.
Susan said nothing, but involuntarily glanced at Abner. Their eyes
met; Susan quickly averted hers, and he thought, I wonder if Susan
Thah's her pap, too, Mrs. Rogers went on, he's gittin' crusty an'
stiff-lipped ez a sore-eyed b'ar.
Hiram ain't hisse'f jes' now, interposed Mason; he's plum crazy
kaze folks ain't ready to jump on Brothah Stone an' t'ar him limb frum
limb. Hiram's daft on whut he calls pure faith an' docturn, an' is
allus boastin' thet his ancestry wuz burnt et the stakes, way back in
them dark ages, fur ther religion.
Religion! sich carryin'-on ain't no religion, exclaimed Mrs.
Rogers. 'Tain't nothin' but stubbunness an' devilment, an' it'd be a
good thing, I say, ef Hirum could be tied up an' sco'ched a bit
Well, well, he's a good man et bottom, replied her husband. We
hev lived neighbors ovah twenty year, an' he's allus been ready to do
us a good turn, in sickness, in health an' in trouble. As fur his wife,
I wondah, Cynthy Ann, thet you kin find it in yer heart to say aught
ag'in her. Hev you furgot thet wintah the twins wuz borned, an' I wuz
crippled up with rheumatiz, an' the niggahs down with the measles, how
she sent ole Dilsey (though Jane hed a young baby herse'f, an' could
ill spar' the niggah) to wait on us? Ez fur Betsy, with a sly look at
Abner, I agree with Cissy; she's the smartest, purtiest gal in these
parts, an' good an' true ez she is purty.
One Saturday afternoon in February, Betsy did come to see Susan
Rogers. Mrs. Rogers had gone to spend the afternoon at a neighbor's,
and Abner, who had been felling trees at his own place, did not return
to the house until just as Betsy was leaving. With a timidity born of
self-consciousness, Betsy grew still and embarrassed, and soon
afterwards rose to go. It gets dark so early now, she said, and I
came alone through the fields.
Abner caught up his hat while she was donning cloak and hood.
Let's walk part way with Betsy, cried Lucindy. Come, Lucy, an'
you too, Cissy. Maybe we'll meet ma comin' home. But Susan said she
must attend to supper; nor would she let the twins go.
Instead of taking the short cut through the fields, let's go around
by the woods, dearest, Abner proposed as soon as he and Betsy had set
out on their walk.
Very well, we have plenty of time, she agreed happily. There's no
telling when we may have another such chance, and I have much to say to
you. You may walk as far as the upper woods with me, if you are good.
No farther than that? he asked reproachfully.
Only to the bars this time, I think, dear, she answered gently,
slipping her hand into his.
In spite of her loving little gesture, he still looked gloomy. Oh,
these long, wretched weeks when I have so hungered for a sight of your
face and the sound of your voice! he presently exclaimed. And now
when I am at last alone with you, you appoint boundaries and limits,
and place restrictions upon my walk with you! and he grasped her hand
in a tighter clasp and looked at her somewhat sternly. Oh, my
darling, he broke off, as she turned a wistful, tearful gaze upon him,
forgive my harsh words, and he gathered her into his arms and kissed
her tenderly. It is only because I love you so passionately, my life,
my sweetest one. Won't you speak to me, dearest? he asked, as she
'Speech is silver, silence is golden,' according to some wise
authority, Betsy at last said meaningly and rather reproachfully,
although she smiled faintly and looked at him with love-lit eyes.
But the oracle, when he uttered that bit of questionable wisdom,
wasn't, I dare say, walking with his sweetheart after dreary weeks of
separation, said Abner, squeezing her hand. If he had, he would have
preferred silvery speech to golden silenceor, rather, the utterances
of his beloved one would have been to him as doubly refined gold; and
I'm perfectly certain that his sweetheart could not have compared with
my piquant, peerless Betty. Besides, you declared awhile ago that you
had much to say to me.
So I had, Sir Flatterer, the girl answered with a radiant smile,
her momentary sadness completely banished by his fond words, but at
the present moment the delight of being in your improving society has
robbed me of all desire to talk. And what greater proof could I give
that I love you? she continued with an arch glance. It is surely a
mighty power indeed that makes a chatterbox like me to revel in
How I love this dear old forest! was Abner's exclamation
presently. Every tree, every stick and stone, every foot of ground,
seems sacred. Do you not love it all, my darling?
I do indeed, she acknowledged. In fact, she added laughingly, I
think, by rights, this woods belongs exclusively to us and our love,
and I consider any one else guilty of sacrilegious effrontery in even
walking through its sacred precincts. But you don't appear in
especially radiant spirits, my friend, even though we are together in
our hallowed woods, she said presently as he walked silently by her
How can I be in radiant humor, Betty? he retorted sadly. This
restraint and concealment are becoming unendurable to me. We are nearly
to the bars now where you say I must turn back, and I must first have
some serious words with you. For three months and more, I have obeyed
your behest and have kept aloof from your house; but patience ceases to
be a virtue. I am no nearer winning your father to a more cordial frame
of mind than I was at first. On the contrary, in the few times I have
encountered him of late, he has appeared to be getting colder and more
formal, and I really believe this is due in a great measure to his
suspecting that there is a secret understanding between you and me. He
is a straightforward man and likes straightforward courses. Moreover,
how can I ever win his consent to our marriage unless I ask him? That's
only common sense; and furthermore, anything underhanded or clandestine
is as obnoxious to me as to him.
Oh, she begged with a frightened look, please wait a little
longer. He's sure to be in a more pliable humor after awhile, when this
horrid old church difficulty is settled. Oh, Abner, my love, I know it
is hard, but
How hard, he interrupted gloomily, you are far from realizing.
These miserable weeks of suppression and concealment have worn my
patience and self-control to the breaking-point. Now, he went on
firmly, I will wait no longer. I will see your father to-morrow.
Patience, forsooth! he ejaculated in answer to her further pleading,
when I'm debarred from entering your home, must be satisfied with an
occasional stolen interview like this; when, too, I know that James
Drane is a frequent and welcome guest at Oaklands! How can I help being
moody and bitter and harassed? Sometimes I think I have overcome my
former dislike for Drane; for he is, to give him his due, invariably
cordial to mein fact, he seems to seek and to enjoy my companybut
when I think of him as a favored guest at your father's house while I'm
prohibited from entering its doors, and while you, my betrothed wife,
beg me not to come near the house, is it any wonder I am harassed? He
was at Oaklands again yesterday, was he not?
Yes, he was; but that is of no moment, Betty answered frankly. He
is dad's friend, not mine. I treat him courteously, of course; but
Your father may consider himself the magnet that draws Drane to
Oaklands, sneered Abner; but I know better, and so do you, my girl.
The attraction for him is very different. The fellow's in love with
you. That's plain. 'He who runs may read.'
And he who reads had better run! retorted Betsy, now thoroughly
nettled, if this reading construes anything I do or say into
encouragement of this lawyer. And her eyes snapped wickedly, she drew
herself up haughtily, and her face grew pale and set.
No, dear, Abner replied, undaunted by her anger. I do not mean
that. You must not catch up my words in that way. I know the truth and
steadfastness of your nature too well to believe that you encourage or
coquette with Drane or any other man. My meaning is this: your father
likes Drane and thinks so highly of his brilliant prospects that the
mere fact that he is a possible suitor for your hand will dispose your
father to think with the less favor of my pretensions. And indeed,
Betty dear, though I do not for a moment think you encourage the
fellow, still what I have said of the situation is true in regard to
his feelings and intentions; he wears his heart upon his sleeve.
That he does not! returned Betty with spirit; not all of his
heart, at any rate; only such portions as are fit for public perusal.
There's much in his heart that would, I'm convinced, make queer
reading, if one could see into the depths of that well-controlled organ
of his. You see, I haven't got over my original instinct of distrust of
James Drane, if you have. Let him make love to me! Bah! I'd sooner
listen to the uncouth love phrases of the veriest clodhopper in Bourbon
County than to his honeyed, courtly utterances. Oh, there comes
father! she broke off abruptly, looking across the woods.
When Major Gilcrest came up to the couple, his conduct fully
justified what Abner had been telling Betty. He nodded curtly to the
young man, asked Betty where she had been, and appeared little pleased
when she told him. Then, reminding her that it was getting late and
that her mother would be anxious, he advised her not to linger.
When the three reached the stile, Gilcrest, instead of inviting
Abner in, gave him another cool nod, and with a wave of his hand
indicated that Betty was to enter the house. Abner, however, detained
him a moment to request an interview on the morrow, which Gilcrest
hesitatingly granted, and in a way that boded ill for the lover's
At the appointed hour next morning, the young man, screwing up his
courage to the sticking-place, knocked at the door of Oaklands. The
servant ushered him at once into her master's private office. Gilcrest
received his caller with extreme hauteur. Abner at once made known his
Gilcrest heard him through without question or comment. Then, after
a pause, he said, I have other plans for my daughter, Mr. Dudley.
Butbutififshe herself stammered poor Abner, striving to
find the right words for Betty as well as for himself.
There are no 'buts' nor 'ifs' about it, sir, Gilcrest answered
haughtily. Betsy will do as I wish. She's at times rather self-willed,
and no doubt has been led away for the moment by some romantic
nonsense; but she's a sensible girl in the main, and knows what's best
for her. If she doesn't, I do, and I'm master of my own household, I
Has she other suitors? Abner ventured.
That, sir, if you will permit my saying so, is no affair of yours.
She shall not marry any one against my will, you may be sure; and when
she does marry, it will be a man whose social position and worldly
prospects are such as to preclude all suspicion of his seeking her from
any selfish motives.
Sir, Abner broke forth hotly, do you mean to insinuate that I
have self-seeking motives in wishing to marry your daughter?
I mean to insinuate nothing, young man.
But you do, sir; by God, you do insinuate that my love is founded
upon self-interest, and that is something I can not permit.
Come, come, Mr. Dudley, keep your temper, and don't talk to me
about not permitting. Let your motives be what they may, we will not
discuss that. Suffice it to say, I refuse my consent.
At least tell me this, Major Gilcrest: do you object to me
personally, or is your refusal due to other reasons? I'm of as good
blood as yourself, and I can maintain your daughter in comfort.
Understand this, young sir, once for all, replied Gilcrest, I
decline positively to accept any proposal from you. If you will have a
plain answer, I now tell you that aside from any other matrimonial
views which I may or may not have for my daughter, I should in any case
decline the honor of an alliance with you. I bid you good morning, sir.
Polly, open the door for Mr. Dudley.
From an upper window Betsy was watching for Abner; and the angry
flush on his face, and the way he flung himself into the saddle, told
her that he had fared ill. She raised the window, and he looked up. He
gazed at her yearningly, then, with a wave of his hand toward her
father's room, rode down the long avenue.
Betsy waited in her room an hour, then sought her father. He was
fumbling with some papers, too busy to take any notice of her. Finally,
as he would not speak, she went to him. Father, why have you sent
Major Gilcrest was proud of his only girl, and, in his own way,
extremely fond of her; but he would listen to no plea in behalf of her
lover. He gave no reason, but simply said that the young man was no
suitable match for her, and that she would one day be thankful that she
had not been allowed to marry him.
Betsy, at first gentle and pleading, grew indignant. Her father,
even more indignant, finally ordered her to her room, forbidding her to
hold further communication with her lover.
Next day, Abner wrote her. He assured her of his unchangeable love,
and bade her have courage. He wrote also to Major Gilcrest, stating
that although he would not at present seek Betsy or urge his claim in
any way, he nevertheless considered that they were pledged to one
another, and that he would never give her up unless she herself asked
for her release.
One day, a month after this, Betsy from her window saw Mr. Drane
riding up the avenue. She got her bonnet and stole out the back way to
where her horse was saddled. Coming back after a gallop, she met Abner,
and they rode together a short while. Then her father overtook them.
Without even a bow to her escort, Major Gilcrest told his daughter she
was wanted at home, and, laying hold of her bridle, compelled her to
ride on with him. This was intolerable to Betty's lover, and, after
tossing all night in a tumult of indignation, he again sought her
CHAPTER XXII. BANISHMENT
When Abner reached Oaklands next morning, Gilcrest, just returned
from a ride to the lower farm, was standing on the stile-block, and a
negro boy was leading his horse toward the stables. Gilcrest scowled at
the young man as he rode up, and gave him no word of greeting, nor
asked him to alight.
Abner began at once: Major Gilcrest, I have come this morning to
have a talk with you.
Very well; state your business, was the curt rejoinder.
It is private business and of grave importance. Can we not seek a
more retired place than this?
Either here, or not at all, sir, answered Gilcrest.
Major Gilcrest, no man has a right to treat another as you have me
without some cause, and I demand the reason for your conduct.
I'm answerable to no one save myself and my God for my conduct,
returned Gilcrest. Demand, indeed! he continued with a short laugh.
What right has a popinjay like you to demand?
Well, then, I do not demand; I entreat you to assign some reason. I
am willing to believe your motives to be good, but that you are
laboring under some mistake.
I have good reason for what I do, Mr. Dudley. Your conscience, if
it be not already too much seared and deadened, ought to tell you why.
I know more than you think, young man.
My conscience certainly acquits me of any serious misdemeanor,
answered Abner. So far as I can see, my only offense is in loving your
daughter and seeking her hand in marriage; and surely that is not an
unpardonable crime. When I came to this community you treated me most
cordially, inviting me to your house, and treating me when I did visit
you with the utmost kindness, and even affection. In fact, up to the
time of my return from Virginia, we were on terms of intimate
friendship, notwithstanding the difference in age and position. But
since my return all this is changed, and I'm convinced that this change
is due to some far graver cause than disapproval of me as a suitor for
your daughter. The matter is inexplicable to me; and so guiltless do I
feel, that I'm certain you are but laboring under some egregious
Young man, I'm laboring under no mistake.
Then, what are your reasons for this course? Abner asked again.
That you have no right to ask. Moreover, it is quite unnecessary;
for, in spite of your pretended ignorance, you know quite well to what
As God in heaven is my judge, I do not, sir, exclaimed Abner.
Do not call upon your Maker to witness your false protestations. Do
not add blasphemy and perjury to the rest of your iniquities. Marry my
daughter! You! I'd see her in her grave first! By this time he had
worked himself into a frenzy; his face was purple and the veins of his
forehead were swollen and knotted like cords.
Abner, still apparently cool, though he could with difficulty
restrain himself, replied stoutly, Nothing which I have done or
intended can justify your language to me, Major Gilcrest.
Don't lie to me! roared Gilcrest, Don't I know what you have been
about, plotting vagabond! and he shook his cowhide riding-whip in
Abner's face, causing the horse to rear and plunge.
The young man quieted his horse, then looked straight into
Gilcrest's eyes, his own blazing and his face gray with passion. Hiram
Gilcrest, put down that whip. By God, sir, you shall retract your
I retract nothing, shouted Gilcrest, still brandishing the whip.
Get out of my sight, before I demean myself by striking you!
Abner leaned over, and with a sudden movement snatched the whip from
Gilcrest's hand, then flung it far over the fence into the adjoining
field. Trying to master his anger and speak calmly, he said: Now
listen to me, Major Gilcrest. I love your daughter with an honorable
lovestop! stop! You shall hear me through! I love your daughter, and
the dearest wish of my life is to make her my wife; yet I should have
accepted your decision, painful though it would have been, hoping that
in time I could overcome your objectionsbe quiet! You shall listen to
me!but now, when you will give no reason for objecting to me, and in
addition to this injustice heap opprobrious epithets upon me, I tell
you emphatically that I shall pay no regard whatsoever to your wishes.
Only Betsy herself shall decide. So long as she loves me and considers
herself my promised wife, I will see her whenever I can, and will write
to her whenever I have opportunity. But when she wishes to be free, I
will then, and not till then, return to her her plighted word. As for
you, you have forfeited all claim to consideration; you have grossly,
wantonly insulted me, and without the shadow of reason.
Out of my sight, you impudent impostor! cried Gilcrest, choking
with rage and shaking his fist at the young man. You sneaking bastard,
with no right to the name you bear!
You are so led away by passion, old man, that you are scarcely
responsible for what you saybastard and impostor, indeed! he
ejaculated, quivering with indignation. Those epithets are as false as
foul, and you know it. You shall not
If they are false, prove them so, you insolent puppy! shouted
Not even your gray hairs should protect you from the chastisement
you deserve, were you not Betty's father; but I love her too well to
forget consideration for you, on her account.
Out of my sight! Go! this instant! cried the old man, beside
himself with fury. If you ever set foot on this place again, my
negroes shall drag you through the hog wallow. I would not demean my
own hands by touching you.
Abner, feeling that, if he heard any more, he would forget his
antagonist's gray head, his age and fatherhood, and strike him, wheeled
quickly and rode away, leaving Gilcrest still shouting and
gesticulating until horse and rider were out of sight.
CHAPTER XXIII. MASON ROGERS'
Ever since Stone's memorable sermon in June of the preceding year,
Deacon Gilcrest, who really believed that the young minister was
subverting the truth and teaching dangerous heresies, had urged that
the synod investigate the matter, and that until such investigation
should be made, Stone should not be allowed to occupy the pulpit at
Cane Ridge. But the majority of the members were convinced of the truth
of Stone's teachings, and had, moreover, too warm a regard for their
minister to permit them to listen to Gilcrest.
These were bitter days for the old man. In the main just and
kindhearted, despite all his narrowness and vindictiveness, it was no
small element of his trouble that his brethren with whom until now his
opinions had been highly esteemed and his influence paramount, should
pay no attention to his views. Especially did he sorrow because of
Mason Rogers. The intense regard which these two men, so contrasted in
culture and worldly position, had always felt for each other, was both
strong and pathetic. More in sorrow than in anger had Gilcrest argued,
reasoned and pleaded to bring Rogers to his own way of thinking. Rogers
did not attempt to combat any of Gilcrest's arguments, and rarely
protested against anything he said, except when he attacked his own
beloved minister personally. Each valued the other too highly to lose
self-control in these talks, both seeming determined that no matter
what their differences of opinion with respect to church and minister,
they themselves would live in neighborly harmony. But what neither
minister nor religious difference could effect was presently brought
about by the schoolmaster.
Abner, knowing the long friendship between Gilcrest and Rogers, and
not wishing to be the means of causing a rupture, for some time told
his kind host nothing of Gilcrest's altered demeanor toward himself.
But after the encounter at the stile-block he informed Rogers of his
engagement to Betsy and of her father's opposition and bitter enmity.
Rogers accordingly went to Oaklands.
Several days had elapsed since Abner had been so grossly insulted.
Gilcrest had had time for reflection and for realizing that he had said
many things in that stormy interview which good feeling and prudence
should have forbidden. He was at heart a gentleman, and since his
passion had cooled he bitterly reproached himself for his brutal taunt
in regard to Abner's probable illegitimacy; for Gilcrest was sure the
poor boy was entirely ignorant on this point. Gilcrest also acquitted
him of being knowingly a party to any fraud in claiming to be heir to
the Hite estate. The Major likewise reproached himself for lack of
caution; for until he and Drane had made full investigation into Mary
Page's history, it behooved them to be absolutely silent concerning
Mrs. Gilcrest's claim. Moreover, it was essential that for the present
his suspicions of Abner's connection with political plots should not be
revealed. So now that Mason Rogers was here, eager to set matters right
between Betsy's father and her lover, Gilcrest was in a quandary. He
refused to give his reasons for opposing Abner's suit; but he hinted
darkly of nefarious schemes and dangerous, even treasonable, plots in
which the young man was implicated.
I nevah hearn tell uv sich an outrageous thing in my borned days,
exclaimed Rogers, I thought too high uv you, Hiram, to believe you'd
listen to whispers an' insinerations ag'in sich a man as Abner.
But, Mason, I tell you I have not heeded mere whispers and
insinuations; I have clear proof, proof, man, for what I hold against
Then, fur the sake uv common jestice, out with yer proofs!
I can not, Mason; I am pledged to silence; moreover, it would be
dangerous to the peace of the commonwealth, and frustrate the ends of
justice, to reveal anything now. I had intended to let no hint of my
suspicions reach him, but when he presented himself as a suitor for my
girl, and would demand my reasons for refusing him, and was altogether
high-headed and arrogant and impudent, I was carried away by
indignation, and hinted that I had knowledge of his intriguing
High-headed he may be, said Rogers, an' who hez a bettah right,
I'd like to know? But arregent an' imperdent he ain't; an' not even
you, Hiram, shell call him so to my face, 'thout me denyin' it.
Mark what I tell you, my friend, interrupted Gilcrest; I could
with truth say even harder things of that young man. He has hoodwinked
you finely, but the time is not far distant when you yourself will say
that I am right.
The time won't nevah come, said Rogers with homely dignity, when
I shell hev cause to think anything but good uv that deah boy. He's eat
o' my bread an' sot et my h'arth fur three year come nex' October, an'
he's lak my own son.
Ah! he's deceived you grandly, retorted Gilcrest with a sneer,
losing all patience. I tell you he's a political schemer and traitor,
and if he ever dares show his face on my premises again, I'll have him
Yes, Hiram Gilcrest, I am deceived, Rogers answered slowly, but
with rising anger, an' it's in you, not him. I've stood a heap frum
you lately. I've held my lip while you've been dissercratin' religion,
an' tryin' to turn ole Cane Redge chu'ch upside down, inside out, an'
wrong eend foremos'; but, blame yer hide! I won't stand ev'rything, an'
I draw the line et yo' abusin' Abner Dudley.
Why, Mason, old friend began Gilcrest.
Don' you 'Mason' an' 'ole friend' me, Hiram Gilcrest! I'm done with
you. Ef Abner hain't good 'nough to set foot on yo' place, you hain't
good 'nough to set foot on mine; an', by glory, ef you evah do, I'll
sick the dogs on you. You need hoss-whippin' to fetch you to yo'
senses. You've got so et up with proud flesh an' malice, kaze you can't
be high cock-o'-the-walk in Cane Redge chu'ch, thet you're gittin'
rabid ez a mad dog.
Not even from you, Mason Rogers, will I stand such words,
exclaimed Gilcrest, furiously.
Then, don't stand 'em! retorted Rogers. Set down on 'em, or lay
on 'em, or roll ovah on 'emjes' ez you please! I'm done with you,
and, without once looking back, he strode wrathfully out of the house.
He was in a towering rage as he rode homeward, but, before reaching
his own gate, he had cooled down sufficiently to plan what he should
and should not say at home about his visit to Oaklands.
'Twon't do to tell Abner whut thet ole sea skunk hinted 'bout plots
an' treasons. Hiram'd be tortured by Injuns befoh he'd tell out plain
whut he'd promised to keep secret; an' ef Abner knowed he'd hinted et
sich damnation things ag'in him, he'd t'ar up the airth to mek him
tell; fur Ab in his own way's ez stubbo'n an' sot ez the ole Scratch
hisse'f. With the two uv 'em to manidge, I'm betwixt tommyhock an'
buzzard, so to speak, an' I won't hev a minit's peace tell I wollop 'em
both, an' mek 'em behave therse'ves. So I reckon I'll hafto talk in
kindah gen'ral terms, or in par'bles, ez Brothah Stone would say, when
Abner axes me 'bout my intahview with Hiram.
The opportunity for Rogers' diplomatic use of par'bles came that
evening. The angel Gabriel hisse'f couldn't mek heads or tails o' whut
Hiram means, he said in answer to a question from Abner. He don't
know hisse'f whut he means. He's bittah an' sore ag'in ev'rything an'
ev'rybody whut hain't ready to fall on Brothah Stone, an' eat him ha'r
an' hide. You teched him up fust on thet p'int; then while he's still
kindah riled with youfur it teks him a long time to fergit a man's
darin' to sot up opinions 'ginst his'nup you prances ag'in 'bout
Betsy. No, you didn't beg him sortah bashful an' meechin' lakI know
you so well, Abbut you jes' demands his gal's hand in marridge. This
riles him still futhah. Then, instid o' bein' meek an' lowly, an'
smoothin' him down, an' axin' him to please be so kind ez to reconsidah
the mattah, you puts on yo'
I'm-ez-good-ez-you-an'-a-blamed-sight-bettah air, an' axes him to
explain his conduc'.
But indeed, Mr. Rogers, I was both respectful and deferential to
Oh, yes, ez meek ez Moses, I s'pose you think yo'se'f, ejaculated
Mason, with a shrewd smile.
I don't know exactly how meek Moses really was when he was courting
Jethro's daughter, Abner began.
Oh, go to thundah with yo' Moses an' yo' Jethro's daughtah!
laughed Mason, impatiently. Mayby you thought you wuz meek an'
differential; but don't I know you? Then, thah's anothah p'int, he
added after a pause. Thah's thet sneakin' fellah, Drane. Buttah won't
melt in his mouth, an' maple syrup hain't ez sweet ez his ways. He's
rich an' fine ez a fiddle, too, an' is all respect an' 'umbleness with
ole Hi, who thinks jes' kaze the daddy, ole Anson Drane, wuz a honest
man, thet the son is natchelly obleeged to be honest too. But with all
this drawin' uv the wool ovah ole Hiram's eyes, Jeemes hain't
succeedin' egzactly with the gal, an' he's cute 'nough to see whah the
hitch is; so he uses his influence with her pap to belittle an'
backbite the one she does favor. Mark my words, thet slick-tongued
lawyer is et the bottom uv a lot o' this devilment.
I never did thoroughly trust that fellow, exclaimed Abner, but
I've no proof against him; so what can be done?
No, you hain't no proof, returned Rogers, thoughtfully, and mayby
we mistrust him wrongful. So, fur the present, he added with quaint
humor, whut you got to do is to jes' fire low an' save yo' waddin'.
'Sides, ef Betsy loves you, an' you're both patient, things is bound to
come out right in the eend.
As for patience, Abner rejoined, just think how long I've waited
already. This state of things must not go on much longer, for Betty's
sake as well as for mine.
See here, my boy, said Rogers, quickly, a new gentleness in look
and tone, you hain't thought uv this thing in all its bearin's.
Yes, I have. I've thought of nothing else for months, Abner
No, thah's one p'int you've ovahlooked, pursued the older man.
It's how ole Hiram will treat her, ef you an' her persists in goin'
ag'in him; an' ef you love Betsy strong an' tendah, you'll hafto begin
to think on it. Why, boy, that's the only way to spell loveto kiver
self out o' sight, an' think only uv the peace an' well-bein' uv the
gal whut hez given her heart intah yer keepin'. Hiram's a kind fathah
usually, an' thet gal o' his'n is lak his very eyeballs to him; but
thet very love an' pride he hez fur her will mek him more ovahbearin'
an' obstrep'rous, ef she persists in open disregawd o' his wishes an'
commands; an' thah's no tellin' how mean he might git. He might even
lock her up.
If I thought that cried Abner. But he's not so much of a
villain as that, for all his dictatorialness and his insulting
treatment of me.
But he hain't in his senses jes' now, I tell you, replied Rogers,
judicially. Thah's no tellin' how much uv a brute he may act, an' it's
her we should be thinkin' uv.
By heaven, Abner exclaimed, starting up, if I thought he'd ever
mistreat Betty, I'd
I'd run away with her, he answered, facing Rogers as he spoke. If
a father abuses his authority, he no longer merits consideration on the
ground of his fatherhood.
Well, my boy, said Rogers, kindly, I advise patience an'
prudence; but ef the wust comes to the wust, an' he begins to act mean
to the gal, you'll do right to tek her away. I'll holp you all I kin;
leastways, I'll wink et whut you do. Betsy's too fine a galbless her
sweet faceto be made onhappy jes' bekaze her ole daddy's et up with
spitefulness ag'in you an Parson Stone.
Rogers, knowing his wife's old feeling against the Gilcrestsa
feeling compounded of envy on account of the superior social position
of the family at Oaklands, jealousy on account of the friendship
between her husband and Hiram Gilcrest, and resentment against
Gilcrest's treatment of Stonedid not give her an account of his
encounter with Gilcrest, but merely told her that Betsy and Abner loved
each other, that her father did not favor the match, and that he had
forbidden Betsy to have anything more to say to the young man.
Reckon Hirum an' Jane expaict a dukedom or a king ter marry ther
gal, remarked Mrs. Rogers, scornfully. Abner not good 'nough! He's
wuth the whole kit an' bilin' o' Gilcrests an' Temples; an' ef Betsy
lets 'em threaten an' coax or skeer her inteh breakin' her word to him,
she hain't the gal I tek her to be. But, pore thing! she must be havin'
a hard time. An' who'd 'a' thought uv them two a-lovin' each othah lak
thet? Come to think on it, though, it's a wondah I hain't suspicioned
'em foh this; but, la! they're both so young. Abner hain't more'n
twenty-four or twenty-five, an' Betsy hain't but two yeah oldah'n our
You furgit, Cynthy Ann, thet Betsy's ez old or oldah then you wuz
when you fust begun to mek eyes et me, observed Mason, with a droll
La, now, I wouldn't wondah ef Cissy didn't know all about Abner an'
Betsy right 'long; her'n' Betsy wuz allus so thick, commented Mrs.
Rogers, ignoring her husband's remark.
CHAPTER XXIV. THE BAR SINISTER
Not even to Mason Rogers could Abner bring himself to mention Hiram
Gilcrest's most insulting insinuation; but the memory of that base
epithet, bastard, cut deeper and deeper into the young man's soul.
What could the vicious old man possibly have heard or imagined about
my history to lead him to utter so foul a charge? he thought again and
again. 'A bastard who has no right to the name he bears,' those were
his very words. I wonder I did not throttle him then and thereif he
is the father of my betrothed wife. But, by heaven, he shall apologize
and that right humbly, or else I'llbut pshaw! the old fellow was so
enraged that he didn't know what he was saying. The epithet was simply
a gratuitous insult which he in his anger was scarcely responsible for.
But what could have turned him so completely against me? Thus Abner
tormented himself, his thoughts ever revolving about the puzzling
question. At times he would find some comfort in the belief that the
allusion to his parentage meant nothing but that Gilcrest was
senselessly enraged when he made it. Then again, when he remembered
that it was by accident that he himself had discovered his father's
name, or when he thought of Richard and Rachel Dudley's singular
reticence, and of Dr. Dudley's evident uneasiness and reluctance when
pressed for the details of the life of Mary Hollis and John Logan, a
sickening foreboding of he knew not what would seize him. There's
something about my father's and mother's life that Uncle Richard has
always concealed from me, he would conclude, and whatever it is, I
must learn it. It's no use to write; I must see uncle face to face, and
demand a full revelation. Much as I dread another long, lonely journey,
it must be made, and that at once, if I am ever to know peace again.
Everything is at a standstill: my hopes of Betty, my farm work, my
other business. In no direction can I proceed, until I have solved this
mystery. There may be nothing in itsurely there isn't, and I am
tormenting myself unnecessarily. Still, if what Gilcrest said, meant
nothing more, it certainly indicated most forcibly his extreme
animosity to me; and I am convinced that the solution to his altered
demeanor can best be discovered by another journey to Williamsburg.
It was getting late in the season, and farm work was pressing; but
Mason Rogers promised that he would superintend the two negro men Abner
had hired from Squire Trabue for the corn-planting, and that he and
Henry would do all in their power to see that affairs at the farm on
Hinkson Creek went on smoothly.
In addition to the facts already narrated in regard to Abner's
parents, this was the story he heard the evening of his arrival in
Williamsburg, as he and his uncle sat together in Dr. Dudley's office:
After an absence of several months, John Logan came to see Mary in
the spring after the birth of his child. Mary had endured great
privations and had led a lonely life during the last few months.
Moreover, she was weak and nervous and broken in health. When her
husband paid this brief visit, she bitterly reproached him for having
drawn her into so imprudent a marriage, and for the hardships of her
lot. Logan, who was weary and careworn, and had suffered many
privations with the struggling army during the disastrous spring
campaign, was in no mood to endure patiently Mary's tears and
upbraidings. Hard words were exchanged, and he took his leave after but
a partial reconciliation. She never saw him again. Late in June, she
received tidings of his death on the battlefield at Monmouth. The
comrade who brought this tidings was by Logan's side when he fell, had
received his last messages, and brought Mary a letter from Logan,
written the night before the battle. In this letter Logan acknowledged
that he had wronged Mary, asked her forgiveness, and promised that if
his life was spared he would try to atone to her and to their little
son for all the wrong, assuring her that in spite of everything all the
love of his heart was hers and their babe's. He also urged her to find
refuge until the war was over with her sister Frances at Lawsonville.
Mary wrote Frances, telling of her sad plight, and asking shelter
for herself and her babe. Richard Dudley could not come for Mary, but
he sent a trusty messenger with money for her journey; and he assured
her of a loving welcome and a home for herself and her boy.
She left Morristown at once, and on her way to Virginia, she stopped
at Philadelphia. While there, she learned of a young woman in that city
claiming to be the widow of a soldier, John Logan, who had been killed
at Monmouth Court-house. Mary, in great foreboding, went to see this
woman, who proved to be her cousin, Sarah Pepper. The two had heard
nothing of each other during the years that had elapsed since Mary had
quitted Chestnut Hall. Sarah was not penniless, but otherwise her
condition was as pitiable as Mary's. The story she told Mary was this:
She had first met John Logan in the summer of 1776. They fell in love
with one another; and on account of her father's opposition and his
threat of disinheritance if she did not renounce her lover, she and
Logan were secretly married on her seventeenth birthday, November 19,
1776, at the house of Samuel and Ellen Smith, tenants on the Pepper
estate. Her father was in Maryland at the time. The only one beside the
Smiths, who was privy to this marriage, was Sarah's former nurse, Aunt
Myra, a negro belonging to Jackson Pepper.
Logan remained in the neighborhood, meeting his wife at the Smiths'
until early in February, when he left to join Washington's troops at
Morristown. A week after his departure, Jackson Pepper returned home,
and died suddenly of apoplexy a month later.
But even before Logan left the neighborhood, poor Sarah had cause to
bitterly repent the step she had taken. Logan had proven a
violent-tempered, dissolute, selfish man. He was constantly in want of
money, and when Sarah supplied him, he would resort to the tavern in
the village, and drink and gamble with a lot of low companions whose
society seemed more congenial to him than that of the poor, deluded
In April, Logan returned to the neighborhood, and he and Sarah were
then quietly but openly married. Immediately afterward she quitted
Chestnut Hall, and went to live in Philadelphia, her husband returning
to his regiment. She only saw him after that at infrequent intervals
and for a few hours at a time. His only object on these occasions
appeared to be to extort money from her. Then, in June, came tidings of
his having fallen in the battle of Monmouth.
Were there two John Logans? Abner asked huskily, his lips pallid,
the shadow of a great horror upon his face.
That was what both these poor women at first thought, answered Dr.
Dudley, sadly; but they were soon convinced otherwise.
How was that? asked Abner, feeling as if the ground which had
hitherto seemed solid was giving way under his feet.
Your mother, Richard continued, had with her a miniature of your
father. She showed it to Sarah, who recognized it as that of the man
she had married. A further description of the man tended to prove this
more conclusivelyage, height, build, all corresponded. Logan,
according to both women, was very tall and slender, had wavy dark hair,
dark gray eyes, was a native of Kenelworth, Pennsylvania, and was
twenty-eight years old at the time of his death. Soon after your mother
came to us, I wrote to an old resident of this village, Kenelworth, and
learned from him that he knew of but one family of Logans who had ever
lived in the place. That was the family of Ezra Logan, who had been
dead several years, and had left two daughters and one son. Both
daughters had married and removed to a distant section of the country,
and the son, John Logan, had been killed at the battle of Monmouth, in
My God, my God! Abner exclaimed, turning faint and sick, while the
perspiration stood in great drops upon his forehead and about his drawn
lips. He threw himself into a chair, and buried his face in his hands.
My poor lad! my dear son! said his uncle, sobbingly, standing over
the stricken boy, and laying a hand tenderly on the bowed head. Would
that you could have been spared this. I have tried, God knows I have
tried, to hide this from you.
Yes, yes! muttered Abner, grasping his uncle's hand, but not
looking up, you have done the best you could for me. You are all I
have left now, you and Aunt Rachel. All else is gone. I a bastard! My
father, whose memory I have revered as that of a brave soldier who gave
his life for his country, a dastardly libertine! And my precious young
motheroh, my God in heaven! I can not bear this. Would that I were
lying by your side, my poor, innocent, deceived mother; or, better
still, that I had never been born! I have no name, no place in the
world! and as he thought of Betty, his heart was wrung with such agony
as few can ever feel.
After a time, when the first storm of grief and horror had subsided
somewhat, he again spoke. Uncle Richard, if that clandestine marriage
with Sarah Pepper was valid, why the open marriage five months later?
he asked, clinging to this straw of hope.
Your poor mother asked that, my boy, Dudley replied, and Sarah
told her this: Several years before Sarah met Logan, her father had
disowned and driven from home his son, Fletcher, on account of
dishonorable conduct. The will, made soon after Sarah had been
forbidden to have anything to do with Logan, left everything to her
who, as this will read, 'had been a loving and dutiful daughter, ever
ready to yield her own will in obedience to her father.' When the
purport of the will was made known, after Jackson Pepper's death, Logan
urged upon Sarah that the clandestine marriage ceremony must never be
revealed, lest Fletcher Pepper should try to break the will on the plea
that Sarah had not been a dutiful and obedient daughter.
But why, asked Abner, if she had discovered in the interval
between the two marriages that this man Logan did not love her, and was
a reckless, bad man, did she still wish to have more to do with him?
Why, instead, did not she still hide the fact of the clandestine
marriage, and refuse to go through with the open ceremony?
Because, answered Dudley, she had discovered in the meanwhile
that she was to become a mother; and on that account, although she had
managed to hide her condition from every one except the negro woman,
old Myra, she dared not refuse to be openly married to Logan. As soon
as this second marriage ceremony was performed, she left Chestnut Hall,
taking the faithful Myra with her. They went to Philadelphia, where
they were strangers; and there, in September, 1777, Sarah gave birth to
a child which, mercifully, was born dead. She told your mother all
this, and also that once Logan, in one of his rages, because she had
been unable to supply him money, had struck her, and had taunted her
with having been his mistress before she had become his wife, asserting
that the secret marriage was a fraud, the man who performed the
ceremony not having been a real clergyman. He also told her that he had
always loved another woman, and that his only motive in marrying
herself had been that he might get control of her wealth. Then, at
other times, when he was in better humorso Sarah told your motherhe
would deny all that he had asserted when angry, and would assure Sarah
that the clandestine marriage was valid. Your mother, remembering that
Logan in that last letter to herself had acknowledged that he had
wronged her, was convinced that the clandestine marriage to Sarah was
valid; and in that case, of course, her own marriage, three months
later, was not.
Was no trace of the scoundrel, if scoundrel he was, who performed
the clandestine marriage ceremony, ever found? asked Abner.
Sarah never succeeded in locating him; but, years after, I, by
accident, ascertained that without a doubt
What? eagerly asked Abner, his heavy, bloodshot eyes lighting with
I found, my boy, answered Richard, sadly, not what you hope, but
the contrary. Thomas Baker was the man's name, and he was undoubtedly
an ordained clergyman when he married Sarah Pepper to John Logan,
November 19, 1776.
What became of Sarah Pepper, or Sarah Logan? Abner inquired after
a long, miserable pause.
Dr. Dudley did not know where she was, nor whether she was still
living. She had written once, he said, to her cousin, just before
Mary's marriage to Page, and had said in her letter that she herself
was on the eve of marrying again; but Dudley could not now remember, if
he had ever heard, the name of her intended husband. But, Richard
continued, the letter is no doubt in the package which your mother
left with your Aunt Frances. When you feel equal to the painful task,
you should go over these papersthey are in that old oak box in the
garretand then, perhaps, they had better be destroyed. You know, he
continued presently, in explanation of his being unable to give any
information about Sarah Pepper's whereabouts, I never saw Mary's
cousin. I married your Aunt Frances, who was seventeen years your
mother's senior, at Plainfield, New Jersey, just before the death of
John Hollis and his wife, and before Sarah Thornton, your mother's
aunt, married Jackson Pepper. I brought my bride to Lawsonville, and
she never saw her Pepper connections, who lived, as you are aware, in
quite another part of the State.
There is another fact in regard to your mother which I had better
tell you now, Abner, Dr. Dudley went on after a time. She did not die
at Lawsonville, although I erected a stone there to her memory. He
then related to his nephew what James Drane had already learned from
Tom Gaines; namely, that Mary Hollis and her second husband, with her
little son, then four years of age, had emigrated to Kentucky in the
spring of 1782. Dudley likewise told Abner that Marshall Page had been
killed the following August, at Blue Licks; that Mary had died at Bryan
Station two days later; and that Marshall's brother had brought the
little Abner back to the Dudleys late in that same year.
CHAPTER XXV. THE PACKAGE OF OLD
I think you once told me, Uncle Richard, Abner said, later in the
conversation with his uncle, that Andrew Hite visited Lawsonville
while my mother was living with you.
Yes, he did, Dudley replied, a week or so before she and Page
Did he learn of the cruel deception of which she was the victim?
Yes, I told him that, and of her approaching marriage and intended
removal to Kentucky. She was in poor health, and I feared a decline,
but she and Page thought her best chance for recovery was to marry, and
to find a new home far from anything that could remind her of her
connection with your father.
This, said Abner, explains Andrew Hite's will. He thought that my
mother, being his nearest relative, had the first claim upon him; but,
in case she died before he didwhich doubtless appeared probable,
owing to her frail healthhe preferred that his property should go to
his half-sister's child, rather than to me, the bastard son of a
dastard father. I have, therefore, morally no claim whatsoever to this
inheritance, and I will never touch a farthing of it. Oh, why, he went
on bitterly, was I not told, years ago, my true history? Had I always
known it, the burden of shame which is my only lawful inheritance would
have gradually adjusted itself to my strength, and would not now have
such crushing weight. It is the contrast between what I thought I was
and what I am that is the bitterest ingredient in my cup of misery.
I deserve your reproaches, my poor boy, said Richard Dudley,
sorrowfully; but Heaven is my witness that my only motive in keeping
this from you was to spare you shame and sorrow.
Ah, I know that, cried Abner, and it is ungrateful and cowardly
to reproach you, my more than father. It was the suddenness of the
shock that made me utter that unmanly plaint. Forgive me. I know you
have been actuated in all that you have done by your regard for me.
As to this inheritance, said Dudley presently, it is lawfully
yours. It was left to your mother, and you inherit it, not directly
from Andrew Hite, but from her.
No, no! The whole tenor of the will was to cut me out of all share
in the estate. It would be infamous in me, knowing what I do, to claim
it. Besides, my mother died before coming into possession of this
property. How, then, could I inherit through her, when it was never
Who, then, is heir under the will? argued Dudley. Not Sarah
Pepper; for it is clearly set forth in the document that she inherits
only under the condition that your mother be dead, leaving no
legitimate heirs, before the date of the will.
Then, the will must be declared null and void, firmly asserted the
young man. It is a mad will, anyway.
In that case, retorted the doctor, you being the only child of
your mother, the next of kin, are, as you once pointed out, the
rightful heirat least, you are co-heir with Sarah Pepper.
But Abner stoutly adhered to his determination to have nothing to do
with the property. It, therefore, became imperative to ascertain the
whereabouts of Sarah Jane Pepper, or her heirs, if any.
That night Abner looked through his mother's papers. He found
several letters beginning, My Darling Wife: or, My Own Mary:.
The signature to each of these epistles was, Your affectionate
husband, John Logan. The tone of each letter was thoughtful tender,
solicitous. These do not read like the letters of a villain, Abner
thought, a momentary gleam of hope penetrating the thick gloom; but
then, the evidence to the contrary is conclusive. I must not allow
myself to hope. I do not wonder, though, that my poor mother was
deceived; for such words as these would mislead any simple, trusting
heart like hers. He did love her, I suppose, as well as his craven,
selfish nature would admit of his loving any one.
The last letter in the package gave the young man, alone in the low
attic room, a shock of amazement. It was dated Chestnut Hall, February
1, 1782, and was signed, Your affectionate cousin, Sarah. It stated
that the writer had returned to Chestnut Hall, after the death of the
faithful Myra, and that she was now living alone with the negro
attendants, in the home of her childhood; that she was betrothed to a
man who held the rank of major in the Continental army. This man, she
wrote, had been badly wounded the spring before in a skirmish with
Arnold's raiders, near her home. He had been carried to the Hall, and
she had nursed him back to complete recovery; and he was now in
Kentucky looking for a suitable location for their future home. He
intended to return in the course of a year, marry her, and remove to
the new home across the mountains. The name of this man was Hiram
Gilcrest. The letter likewise said that Major Gilcrest knew her to be a
widow Logan, whose husband had fallen in battle, but that she had told
her future husband none of the miserable details of her connection with
John Logan except that he had treated her with great cruelty. She had
extracted a promise from Major Gilcrest that no one in their new home
in Kentucky should know that she had been a widow, and in order that
this fact of her widowhood might the more easily be concealed, she had
induced him to agree that if ever the question arose as to her maiden
name, it was to be given as Jane Temple. Another motive, Sarah wrote,
for this change of name from Pepper to Temple, was in order to prevent
anybody knowing of her relationship to Fletcher Pepper, who had
rendered the name of Pepper odious to all who had ever heard it, by his
desertion of the patriot army to join the traitor Arnold.
Showing Abner Logan's and Mrs. Gilcrest's Claims to Andrew Hite's
Abner Hite and Jane Temple Daniel Thornton and Jane Temple
| (widow of Abner Hite)
+-++ +-++ | | | |
Silas Andrew Mary Sarah
(d. in (inherits (m. John (m. Jackson Pepper)
childhood) estate) Hollis) |
| | | +-++
+++ | | | | | |
Frances 6 other children Mary Belle Sarah Jane
(m. Richard (d. in (m. 1. John Logan (m. 1. John Logan
Dudley) infancy) 2. Marshall Page) 2. Hiram Gilcrest)
| | | | | |
Abner Dudley Logan | Betsey
| John Calvin
Until he read that letter, Abner had, half unconsciously, clung to
the hope that even though his father had been a dastardly villain who
had wrecked the happiness of two trusting women, it might still be
possible to establish his own legitimacy. Now, even that shadowy hope
must be abandoned. What! he thought despairingly, prove my right to
wear my father's name at the cost of the fair repute of Betty's mother!
Never, never! Rather will I accept the bar sinister for my own
He could bear no more. Thrusting the papers roughly aside, he rushed
down the stairs and out into the darkness. Here, throwing himself face
downward upon the ground, his hands dug into the sod, he cursed the day
upon which he was born. But at last the soft serenity of the starry
June night soothed him into a better mood. He arose, and, with a prayer
for strength and guidance, re-entered the house.
My first duty must be to write to Major Gilcrest and Betty, was
his first waking thought next morning. My precious, loving Betty, I
must give you up; for even should you, after knowing my history, be
willing to marry me, I love you too well to allow one so sweet and
pure, so high in worldly position, to link her fate with a base-born
earthworm such as I am. O Father in heaven, give me strength to do the
right! Uncle Richard must take the necessary steps toward establishing
Mrs. Gilcrest in possession of the Hite estates, he concluded after
more reflection. Not that she has any claim under the will, but
because she (barring myself) is Andrew Hite's next of kin. However, all
this is Uncle Richard's affair, not mine; but I hope the business can
be accomplished without revealing to any one that dark page in Jane
Gilcrest's early life. Betsy, at any cost, must be spared the
Abner wrote to Major Gilcrest, renouncing all claim to Betsy, and
enclosing a note for her, which he requested her father to give to her.
After this duty was performed, the young man fell into a state of
dull despair which benumbed every faculty. Holmes has said, A great
calamity is as old as the trilobites an hour after it has happened. It
stains backward through all the leaves we have turned over in the book
of life, before its blot of tears and of blood is dry upon the page we
are turning. For weeks after Abner had learned the secret of his
birth, it seemed to him that this blighting, blackening misery which
had laid low his pride, and killed every hope, permeated, not only all
his past, but all his future. He seemed to have been born for nothing
else but to experience this agony of loss and shame. He could make no
plans. The future stretched out before him a desert waste; for, with
the downfall of family pride and the loss of Betty, his ambition
likewise had perished.
He was finally aroused by a communication from James Anson Drane.
This communication stated that, owing to certain facts which had
recently come into the writer's possession, he must decline to act any
longer as Mr. Logan's agent. These facts, as Mr. Drane wrote, were as
follows: The Mary Belle Hollis Page named in the will of the late
Colonel Andrew Hite, of Crestlands, Sterling County, Virginia, had died
and been buried at the village of Centerton, Virginia, March 9, 1782,
nearly two months prior to the execution of the will; she had left no
legitimate issue; and, therefore, Sarah Jane Pepper, daughter of Sarah
Thornton, and now the wife of Hiram Gilcrest, of Cane Ridge, Bourbon
County, Kentucky, was the sole lawful heir to the estates of the said
Colonel Andrew Hite, deceased.
Mr. Drane then went on to give an account of the manner of Mary
Page's death, and to explain that it was not until immediately after
her burial at Centerton that her husband, Marshall Page, accompanied by
his brother and sister-in-law and his little stepson, had gone on into
Kentucky. Enclosed in Drane's letter was a loose slip of paper
containing a copy of the half-effaced inscription upon the oak slab
which marked the grave at Centerton. The slip was headed Copied at
Centerton by James Anson Drane, from the slab marking the grave of Mary
Belle Hollis Page.
This communication served to awaken Abner from his apathy; for the
statement conveyed in it respecting the time and place of Mary Page's
death, if not proven false, would tend to very seriously reflect upon
the integrity of Richard Dudley, executor of the Hite will, and would
probably render him liable to arrest and trial on the charge of being
party to a fraud.
Abner was thoroughly convinced that the statement in Drane's letter,
concerning Mary's death, was false. He had full confidence in Richard
Dudley's clear-sightedness and uprightness. Moreover, his own intuition
and his faint recollection of episodes in his own early life made him
sure that his mother had died that August night in the stockade
fortress of Bryan Station. These dim, tantalizing recollections which
had been first partially aroused that November night by Gilcrest's and
Rogers' recital of the horrors of the famous Indian uprising of 1782,
had been kindled into stronger life by what his uncle had recently told
him of the attack upon the cabin of the Pages, the flight to Bryan's,
the death there of Mary Page, and the return of her little orphaned boy
to his Lawsonville people. But, although his faith in his uncle's honor
and in his own intuitions and memories were to himself confirmation
strong as Holy Writ, they would not be accepted as evidence in a court
of law. Hence it now behooved him and Dr. Dudley to learn something
more of Marshall Page's brother.
Neither Richard nor Rachel Dudley knew anything of the mannot even
his Christian name.
This Page and his wife did not start for Kentucky from
Lawsonville, Dr. Dudley said. They came from Maryland, and joined
Marshall and Mary at some appointed placeI do not now recallon the
road, many miles from Lawsonville.
But when the man returned with me, asked Abner, did you not then
learn his full name, and something of his history?
I did not see him, was Dudley's reply. I was away from home, and
he stayed only an hour or so after committing you into your aunt's
care. She was too shocked by the tidings he brought and by her pity and
care for you, cold, sick, half starved, and bewildered as you were by
the long, rough travel, to think of anything else.
Could it be possible, thought Abner, that the man deceived the
Dudleys in regard to the woman who had died at Bryan's, and that it was
his own wife instead of Marshall's? No, that could not be, he
concluded; he could have had no possible motive for the deception.
Surely, there must be numbers of persons still living who were in the
siege of Bryan Station, or the battle of Blue Licks, and who could not
only remember this man's full name, but other circumstances that will
be of service to us now. Mason Rogers can, I'm certain, find some
person or persons who can give the evidence we need. I will communicate
with him; and, in the meanwhile, I will go to Centerton.
Abner returned from Centerton without having gleaned any information
that would throw additional light upon the mystery. He was further
perplexed that no reply to his letter to Rogers had reached
I suppose I will have to go to Cane Ridge for information, he
concluded when another month had passed bringing no word from Rogers,
although my soul revolts against revisiting the place of my lost
happiness. But go I must, unless I soon hear from Mr. Rogers. I will
tell everything to dear Mr. and Mrs. Rogers. They are noble-hearted,
discreet and sympathetic, and they will still be my staunch friends. I
will also while there make some disposition of my farmI think I can
easily find a buyer or a renter for it. Afterwards, I do not know what
I shall do, nor does it matter much, either, what becomes of a
nameless, basebornno, no! he broke off, ashamed of his momentary
weakness. I will not let such unworthy sentiments master me. It is
unmanly to give way like this, and is a wrong to my noble, unselfish
foster mother and father. And even if they were not still left me, I
must still be true to myself, and rise above the shameful circumstances
which would pull me down. It would not do for me to return permanently
to Cane Ridge. It would try my strength too far, to be daily in the
neighborhood of my lost darling; nor would it be kind to her and her
family for me to do so; and it would be a source of embarrassment and
trouble to the Rogers family, and would perhaps estrange them still
more from their old neighbors at Oaklands. But I will not hide my head
in some far-away, obscure corner where my birth and antecedents are
unknown. No! Here is my battleground. Here, where I received the blow
which bereft me of my love and my position, will I fight the fight, and
attain the victory. I will take up the study of the law, as Uncle
Richard always wanted me to do; and I will strive to become useful and
honored in my profession. I can nevermore be happy; but I can, and I
will, make the name of Logan an honored one, in spite of all.
CHAPTER XXVI. SPRINGFIELD PRESBYTERY
Against the jealousy and strife which arose after the religious
excitement induced by the revival meetings of the previous year, Barton
Stone and other ministers lifted up their voices in protest, urging
that the bitter discussion of doctrinal points should cease. This only
turned the tide of warfare against themselves, and they soon became the
objects of bitter invective, because they had ceased to teach
speculative theology, and labored instead to show the people a more
liberal view of the redemptive plan.
Among the ministers who at this time taught a free salvation offered
to all men on the same conditions, was Richard McNemar, a member of the
Presbytery of Ohio, which had carried him through a trial for preaching
what was deemed to be anti-Calvinistic doctrine. By this presbytery his
case was referred to the Synod of Lexington. Stone and three other
ministers of the same views, perceiving in this trial of McNemar a blow
aimed against themselves, drew up a protest against such proceedings.
Then, declaring their freedom from synodical authority, they withdrew
from the jurisdiction, but not from the communion, of the organization;
although several unsuccessful attempts were made, before the synod
convened, to reclaim them in view of their record as able and
In due time the synod met in Lexington, and took up McNemar's case.
Stone and the other three ministers presented the protest to the synod
through its moderator. A committee was sent to confer and to reason
with the protesting ministers. One immediate result of the conference
was that Matthew Houston, a member of the committee, became convinced
of the justice of the views of Barton Stone and his associates, and
became an advocate of their cause.
After prolonged discussion, the synod suspended the five ministers,
upon the ground that they had departed from the established creed of
their church. The ministers insisted, however, that as they had already
protested and withdrawn from the jurisdiction of the synod, that body
had no power to suspend themno more, to quote Stone's words, than
had the Pope of Rome to suspend Luther after he had done the same
thing; for if Luther's suspension was valid, then the entire Protestant
succession was out of order, and in that case the synod had no power;
so that the act of suspension in this case was utterly void.
The action of the synod created great excitement and much dissension
throughout the country, and not only churches, but families, were
divided. Many persons, convinced that the turmoil was produced, not by
the Bible, but by human, authoritative creeds, were henceforth set
against such creeds, as being disturbers of religious liberty and
detrimental to Christian unity.
At the first regular appointment at Cane Ridge, after this action of
the synod, Barton Stone tendered his resignation of the ministry of
that church. It was not accepted, however, for he had, during his six
years' ministry, labored to good purpose, and, with the exception of
Hiram Gilcrest and Shadrac Landrum, the church-members were all in
harmony with their minister.
As soon as the church refused to accept Stone's resignation, Hiram
Gilcrest demanded that his name and that of his wife should be stricken
from the church books. The church would have granted them letters of
dismissal, but these he would not accept. Shadrac Landrum, though
equally bitter in his opposition to Stone's teaching, did not, when it
came to the test, withdraw from the church. Thus Gilcrest stood alone;
and it was a bitter day for the stern and narrow, but conscientious,
old man, when he found himself thus deserted by his only ally, and
turned adrift from the church of which, until two years before, he had
been the most influential member.
Soon after their separation from the Lexington Synod, the five
ministers constituted themselves into a separate organization, which
they styled Springfield Presbytery. In a pamphlet entitled The
Apology of the Springfield Presbytery, they stated the cause which had
led to the separation from the Lexington body; their objections to
confessions of faith of human origin; their abandonment from henceforth
of all human authoritative creeds; and their adherence to the Bible
alone as the only rule of faith and practice. It has been asserted that
this pamphlet was the first public declaration of religious freedom in
the western hemisphere, and the first in the world since that of Martin
Luther was set at naught by the act of nullification of Augsburg. The
pamphlet produced much inquiry throughout the country. It was speedily
republished in several other States, and it soon found many adherents
among both preachers and laymen of all denominations.
Under the name of Springfield Presbytery, the ministers who
belonged to the organization continued to preach and to plant churches
for about one year. Later, perceiving that the name and the
organization itself savored of a party spirit, they, in the words of
Barton Stone, with the man-made creeds threw overboard the man-made
name, and took the name 'Christian' as the name given to the disciples
by divine appointment first at Antioch. Thus divested of all party
name and party creed, continues Barton Stone, and trusting alone to
God and the word of his grace, we became at first a laughing-stock and
a byword to the sects around, all prophesying our speedy
annihilation.... Yet through much tribulation and opposition we
advanced, and churches and preachers were multiplied.
 See Appendix, p. 269.
This was the beginning, in the dawn of the nineteenth century, of
that great reformatory or restoratory movement, of which another writer
says: The first churches planted and organized since the grand
apostacy, with the Bible as the only creed or church book, and the name
'Christian' as the only family name, were organized in Kentucky in the
year 1804;" and of these churches so planted and organized, Cane
Ridge, Bourbon County, was the first.
 John A. Gano.
CHAPTER XXVII. BETSY DECLINES THE
For Betsy Gilcrest the year of 1803 dragged along in dreary
monotony. All through the radiant freshness of June, the rich glow of
July, the intense, white heat of August, and the mellow charm of early
autumn the temperature in her veins had been steadily declining; for
she had no message from her betrothed.
In June her father had received Abner's letter. Its manly
resignation of Betty, and its undertone of hopeless sadness, touched
Major Gilcrest; for now that his soul was no longer vexed with
apprehension for his daughter's future, his better nature asserted
itself, and he felt the most profound pity for the unfortunate youth in
his undeserved disgrace. For the time, Major Gilcrest even forgot his
suspicions that Abner had been in league with Wilkinson, Sebastian and
Powers in any traitorous designs against the Government.
A note for Betsy had been enclosed in the letter to her father. He
thought best to withhold this note, lest its tender sadness might have
the opposite effect to that which he desired; and, instead of causing
her to forget her lover, it might make her cling the more tenaciously
to the memory of her lost happiness.
During all these months Major Gilcrest had taken no steps toward
establishing his wife's claim to the Hite inheritance; nor had James
Drane made any move toward this end, since his letter declining to act
as Abner's agent. The reason for this stay of proceedings was due to
Mrs. Gilcrest. Her husband, while refraining from entering into full
particulars, had told her enough of his hopes and intentions to cause
her the greatest apprehension. If this claim was pushed forward openly,
she thought, not only must the world learn her real maiden name, and
that she had been a widow Logan, but, what was far worse to the weak,
timid woman, her husband would learn that she had deceived him all
these years about her clandestine marriage, and regarding all the
shameful details of her connection with John Logan. She begged and
prayed Major Gilcrest to make no claim to the inheritance. They did not
need it, and the publicity and comment and surmise that would follow,
if he tried to enforce her claim, would kill her, she said. He did not
consent at once, but finally, when she became so agitated as to fall
really ill, he, fearing that further agitation in her weak condition
might prove actually fatal to her, decided to make no public move in
the matter, for the present, at leastuntil her nerves and strength
had recovered their usual tone.
Thus time wore on, and each succeeding day as it passed, bringing no
tidings to poor Betty, carried hope and love and happiness further from
her grasp. Oaklands had never before seemed desolate and drear; and she
could not have believed, had she been told, that she could ever look
with ungracious eyes upon the stately home of her childhood. She missed
the boisterous gayety of her brothers. John Calvin and Martin were
students at Cambridge University, Silas and Philip were absent all day
at the neighborhood school, and only little Matthew was left at home.
None of the family were allowed to attend services at Cane Ridge
meeting-house; Betsy was forbidden to hold intercourse with the Rogers
family; and she had no heart for any of the little merrymakings of the
neighborhood. Her parents urged another visit to Mary Winston, but to
this Betsy would not consent; for at the Winstons James Drane would be
an almost daily visitor, and Betsy now shared fully her lover's
distrust of the young lawyer.
One morning in early October, Betsy, sitting languidly with her
sewing in the long side porch, saw Mr. Drane ride up the avenue. She at
once gathered up her work and slipped away to her room, where she sat
expecting every moment a summons to come down. When an hour had passed,
she supposed that the visitor had departed, and she was folding up her
work, intending to go for a ramble through the woodsfor her chief
solace now was to revisit the spot where she, nearly a year before, had
plighted her trothwhen little Matthew came with a message from her
father that she was to come down at once to the parlor. An' I mussen
tum back wid oo, pappy says, added the little fellow; I'se to doe to
Mammy Dilsey an' det my face washed, an' my hair turled, an' a c'ean
Who's there, baby, besides father? and where's mother?
Her's dere too, an' Mistah Drane, an' he tissed me, an' say I'se a
fine 'ittle man, an' he will tek me a nice wide on his pitty b'ack
hawse; so huwy up, sisser, an' tum an' see him, so's we tan doe
When the girl entered the parlor, she saw at once that this was to
be a momentous interview. Her mother, dressed in her best silk gown,
but looking pale and nervous, was talking to Mr. Drane, who was seated
beside her on the sofa; while her father, looking more bland than she
had seen him for a long time, was slowly pacing the floor.
Mrs. Gilcrest gave her daughter an appealing, deprecating look as
the girl entered, and then sank back on the sofa with her hands
twitching nervously. Drane rose at once, and, stepping briskly across
the room to meet Betsy, bowed long before her, and then extended his
hand. After a moment's hesitation, she gave him hers in return, which
he with graceful gallantry carried to his lips. Then, still holding her
hand, he led her across the room and placed an arm-chair for her facing
her father. After a slight hesitation, Drane was about to leave the
room, but Major Gilcrest quietly invited him to remain, whereupon the
young man retired to a position in a window-seat.
My daughter, said Gilcrest, in his most stately manner, our
esteemed young friend has done us the honor of seeking an alliance with
this family by a marriage with yourself; and, like the honorable
gentleman he is, he has, before addressing you, laid his proposal
before your parents. I have desired him to remain in the room that he
may hear me tell you that there is no one to whom I would more
willingly intrust my daughter's future. You have known him long, and, I
dare say, esteem him highly; for he has everything to recommend him to
your favor. Your mother and I have given our cordial approval, and we
will now leave him to plead his cause with you. Knowing him as I do,
and knowing you, I feel sure he will not plead in vain. Come, my dear,
he said to his wife, we will now withdraw.
If Gilcrest by this confident manner thought to overawe his daughter
and surprise her into acceptance, he was speedily undeceived.
Stop, father! Stop, mother! Betty cried, rising from her chair and
facing her father, her lips firmly set, her face pale, determination in
every line of her graceful figure. What I have to say to Mr. Drane
must be said in your hearing. Gilcrest, surprised at the firmness of
her voice and the determination and dignity of her bearing, stood
still, facing her; Mrs. Gilcrest sank limply into the nearest chair.
Betsy continued: I am sensible of the honor Mr. Drane does me in
seeking my hand; but I am surprised at his persisting in a suit which
he must know is displeasing to me. More than once has he so plainly
intimated his intentions that I could not fail to understand, and just
as plainly have I intimated that I could not favor his suit. I now, in
your presence, say what I have so often hinted to himthat I can never
be his wife.
Tut! tut! girl, have done with these unseemly airs! said her
father, sharply. You are not capable of judging. Your parents know
best what is good for you.
No, sir, said Betty, firmly, in this matter which involves my
whole future, not even my parents shall choose for me. And you know,
too, that my love is given and my troth plighted to another.
Stop such maudlin raving! Your 'troth plighted'! Tut! you do not
know what you are saying; and as for your love, it is but the puling
sentimentality of a silly girl, which you will soon outgrow.
Sir, said Betsy, turning toward the crestfallen young lawyer, I
beg that you leave us. I have given you my answer; it is irrevocable.
Though humbly thanking you for the honor you would confer upon me, I
can not be your wife.
No, no! don't go, James. The girl does not know her own mind; but,
by heaven, she shall be made to hear reason! exclaimed Gilcrest,
furiously. Wait, man, I beg of you; I wish to confer further with you.
As for you, you undutiful, foolish girl, you may leave the room while I
talk with Mr. Drane.
No, said James, it will be better for me to leave you now, and,
bowing low, he took up his hat and departed.
But, James, Iwe stammered Hiram; but the discomfited suitor
was out of hearing.
Gilcrest turned angrily to his daughter. You self-willed,
troublesome baggage! he ejaculated.
Father, said Betty, quietly, it is of no use for you to storm in
this way. I have always been a dutiful daughter; but in this matter I
mean to decide for myself.
Why don't you speak to her, Jane? he asked, turning to his wife.
Why do you sit there listless and dumb? Have you no influence over the
girl? But Mrs. Gilcrest was dissolved in tears, and leaned back
tremblingly in her chair, saying never a word.
Is everything going against me? groaned the old man, pacing the
room excitedly. I'm thwarted and set at naught on every handchurch,
neighbors, friends. I'll sell out and go back to Massachusetts. To
think that my only daughter!Truly a man's worst foes are often those
of his own household.
I grieve to cross you, father, answered Betsy, for you have until
lately been fond and indulgent.
Trying to control himself to speak gently, he continued: Betsy, my
daughter, believe me, I know what is best for you. As James Drane's
wife, you will be tenderly loved and indulged in every luxury, and have
every whim gratified; and I do think that my heartfelt desire in this
matter should incline you to at least consider well before you reject a
man whom any other girl in the State would be proud to accept.
Dear father, said Betty, going up to him and laying her hand
beseechingly upon his arm, I can never marry James Anson Drane.
The old man wavered as he saw the tears in his daughter's eyes, and
felt the clinging touch of her fingers. There, there! he said
soothingly, as he tenderly touched her wet cheek, dry your eyes, dear,
and be comforted. It is only your welfare and happiness I seek. We'll
say nothing more just now; after awhile you'll see differently; and I
predict that before many months have gone by, you will not only be
reconciled to marrying James, but will be happy in the shelter of his
love, and will thank me for having urged you to accept him.
Never! exclaimed Betsy, drawing back defiantly. I shall never
again listen to him, nor to you even, upon this subject. I dislike him
exceedingly, and I love Abner Dudley with my whole heart. Marry James
Drane! The very thought of such a thing fills me with loathing. I have
no confidence in his truth and integrity. I would beg my bread rather
than be his wife.
I'll lock you up! cried Gilcrest, exasperated beyond bounds, his
momentary tenderness completely vanquished by the girl's words. I'll
starve you on bread and water, you insolent, outrageous fool!
O Hiram! Hiram! don't! wailed Mrs. Gilcrest. Don't be so hard. I
can not bear it! Oh, what shall I do! what shall I do! and she wept
and trembled, and wrung her hands, until her husband and her daughter
This is your work, he said to Betsy, as he bent over his
hysterical wife. You are breaking your mother's heart, you obstinate
vixen. Ring the bell for Dilsey, at once. Remain where you are, until I
return, he added to Betsy when Aunt Dilsey had obeyed the summons, and
was assisting him to carry his wife upstairs.
His anger had cooled somewhat when he returned to the parlor half an
hour later. I can not, of course, force you to marry any one, he said
to his daughter; nor for the present will I urge upon your
consideration the suit of Mr. Drane, against whom you have taken so
unreasoning and unjust a prejudice; but there's another point upon
which I must do my duty without shrinking. I command you to give up
thinking of Abner Dudley, now and forever.
I can give you no such obedience, Betsy replied. I am his
promised wife; but even though loving him as I do, I would give him
back his troth, if you could show just and adequate reason why I
should. Instead, you give no reason whatever.
Is not my wish reason enough? he asked, desiring to spare her the
humiliating knowledge of Abner's low birth, and the fact that he had
given her back her freedom.
No, sir, it is not. I am no longer a child, to be made to obey you
blindly and unquestioningly.
Then, if you will insist upon knowing my reasons, you willful girl,
you shall be enlightened. Your precious lover has renounced you; and,
what is more, he will never show his face in this community again.
No, no! It can't be true. He is loyal. I will believe in him above
all the world. He will return. I know he will, cried Betsy, shrinking
and paling, but still strong in her faith.
But he has renounced you, Betsy, my daughter. He has written me
that he must give you up.
Let me see the letter, said Betsy, still unbelieving.
Gilcrest crossed the hall to his office, and in a few seconds
returned with Abner's letter. I would have spared you this, my child,
if possible, her father said as she eagerly seized the letter.
Oh, what lie is this they have told you, my persecuted, darling
Abner? she exclaimed. You, my proud, high-minded, noble lover, a
bastard! Never, never, never! It's all a vile plot to cheat you of your
betrothed wife and your inheritance. Ah! I know whose work this is. It
is that smiling, treacherous Judas, James Anson Drane. I feel it, I
You rave, my miserable, deluded child, Gilcrest said sadly, but
even though you are for the moment well-nigh bereft of reason by the
shock of hearing that your lover has given you up, you must not in your
bitterness utter so wicked, so utterly unfounded an accusation against
an honorable man who loves you truly and would make you his wife.
Nothing her father could say could induce her to believe that Abner
was not laboring under some delusion about his being base-born. She
could give no reason for this belief, she said; but her own heart and
her own instincts told her it was all a mistake, or else a scheme to
separate her and her lover. This will all be cleared up, I feel that
it will, she said again and again, and he will come back to me soon,
and without a stain upon his name. I intend to write to him at once,
and tell him that though all the world should forsake him, I will still
be true to him, and will believe, too, in his right to wear an
Her father reasoned and pleaded in vain. He finally lost all
patience, and grew angrier than he had ever been with her. Go to your
room, you unreasonable fool, he finally said. Go! No longer offend my
sight by your presencebut listen, first, and remember I will be
obeyed. I forbid your writing one line to that base-born vagabond.
Further, I forbid your leaving these premises or holding any
communication with any one except members of this household, until you
pledge me your word of honor to have nothing more to do with Abner
Then, I'm a prisoner for life, answered Betty; for so long as I
live and breathe, I shall love him. I mean to write to him as soon as I
can manage to escape your vigilance and tyranny long enough to post a
letter to him, and when he comes back to claim me, I will marry him in
spite of you and that villain, James Drane.
CHAPTER XXVIII. AT THE BLUE HERON
Upon the evening preceding Abner's contemplated return to Kentucky,
to wind up his business there, and to hunt for evidence in regard to
the Page brothers, he strolled down to the Blue Heron, a tavern in an
adjacent street. Entering the tavern, he found himself in the midst of
rather an exciting scene, occasioned by a bet just made as to the
relative height of two men who were standing leaning on the bar. Both
men were of unusual height. At a casual glance the younger of the two,
a frequenter of the tavern, would appear to be the taller, by reason of
his extreme slenderness of build. The older man was a stranger. The two
took their places in the center of the room, back to back; and it was
then found that the older man was the taller by nearly an inch. Upon
being measured, his exact height was ascertained to be six feet, two
Seems like I've shrunk some sence I wuz a young man, said the old
fellow in a jocular tone, as he pocketed the stakes; for then I
measured six foot, two an' a ha'f, in my sock feet. Thar wuz only one
feller in our reg'ment taller'n me, an' that wuz John Logan'long
John' we called him to 'stinguish him frum t'other John Logan, who wuz
oncommon tall too, but nigh two inch shorter than 'long John.'
For a moment Abner was unable to utter a word; then, under cover of
the noise made by the hilarious group standing at the bar, drinking at
the expense of the man who had lost the wager, he drew the old man to
one side, and asked, Were the two John Logans you speak of related?
Not thet I knows on, strangeryes, sence I come to think on it,
they wuz said to be cousins. I remember, too, thet they hailed frum the
same placesomewhars in Pennsylvany.
Can you tell me any more about them? asked Abner, by a mighty
effort managing to control his excitement, and to speak calmly.
I don't know much uv Jack Logan, as the shorter uv the two wuz
called, replied the stranger, who gave his name as Sam Butler, 'cept
thet he wuz a fine feller, an' a brave soldier who wuz killed on the
same day, in the same fight, as long John wuz. They both fell at
Monmouth Court-house. But I knew long John well. He wuz my messmate an'
marchin' comrid, an' we slept many a night side by side on the ground,
under the same blanket, when we wuz fortunit 'nough to hev blankets to
kiver us. Why, I wuz by his side when he fell, killed by a bullet
through his heart. I drug him offen the field, an' thet night holped
bury him in the trench whar we laid so many uv our men whut lost ther
lives in thet hot, awful fight.
Where was he from?
He wuz borned in Kenelworth, Pennsylvany; but his folks moved
'round consider'ble. They wuz sort o' sheftless, I should jedge, an'
never stayed long in any place.
Was he married?
He hed a wife in Philadelphy, though I hed never hearn him speak uv
her. After he wuz dead, I found in one uv his pockets a worn letter,
months old, frum her, dated Philadelphy; and I got her word uv his
death, though frum her letter I gethered thet they hedn't been gittin'
on well together, an' thet she 'peared to think he had misused her, an'
keered nothin' fur her. He wuz a reckless, drinkin', high-tempered,
rough feller; but, Lordee! how brave, when it come to fightin'! He
wuzn't feared o' old Nick hisse'f or eny uv his imps.
What was his wife's name?
Blest ef I kin re-collect, stranger. It's twenty-odd year ago, an'
you see, I
Was it Mary?
No, I don't think thet wuz it.
Was it Sarah?
Yes, thet's it. SarahSarah Jane, thet's it. I'm pos'tive it wuz
Sarah Jane. Did you know eny uv her people?
Yes, I think so, Abner replied, but I'm still more interested in
the other John Logan.
Well, sir, ez I said, I knew nothin' uv him, more'n whut I fust
told you; but, stop, Peter Stump wuz his comrid, an' he
Is this Peter Stump living, and, if so, where? was the next
Why, yes, he's alive an' a-kickin'; leastways, he wuz last Monday
three weeks ago, when I seen him at Pockville. He lives two mile south
uv thar, on the road to Richmond.
That night our much-tried hero went once more to the old box in the
garret, and took from it the miniature of his father, and the letter to
Mary, written the night before the battle. With these in his pocket,
Abner the next morning went to Pockville. He had no difficulty in
finding Peter Stump, and was soon in possession of information which
filled him with renewed life and joy. Stump recognized the miniature as
that of his messmate, John (or Jack) Logan. Stump remembered the other
John Logan, and said that in features and sometimes in expression the
two Logans were much alike, but that in complexion and disposition they
were utterly dissimilar. Jack Logan was of dark and sallow complexion,
had curly black hair, and was about six feet, one inch in height. He
was reserved, quiet, sober in his habits, and peaceably inclined. The
other John had a ruddy complexion, hair a shade lighter than his
cousin's, and a temper so fiery and quarrelsome that he was forever in
some broil with his comrades. He was a hard drinker, too, and a
gambler. He was nearly two inches taller than Jack Logan, and was the
tallest man in the regiment. Jack Logan, up to the beginning of the
war, had always lived in Kenelworth, but the other John Logan, although
born in Kenelworth, had lived a wandering life. Other facts which Stump
revealed explained the message in Jack Logan's last letter to Mary.
Stump and Logan had been close friends, and the former had learned from
his friend the reason of the hasty marriage. Mary Hollis, at the time,
was living with her cousins, two old maidens, who were ardent British
sympathizers, and, therefore, did their utmost to prejudice the young
girl against her lover, until he, fearing that if his sweetheart
remained under the influence of her Tory relatives, she would finally
be estranged from him, persuaded her to marry him at once. It was just
after the battles of Trenton and Princeton, and Logan, elated by these
two victories for the American cause, was inclined, like many other
hopeful young patriots, to believe that the war would soon be over. So,
although he knew that for the present he must be separated from his
bride much of the time, and that he was but poorly able to provide for
her, rashly persuaded her to marry him. As the months went by, and the
Continental army, instead of achieving fresh victories, was suffering
loss and increasing hardship, Logan grew more and more remorseful and
unhappy about his young wife and infant son. The night before the
battle of Monmouth, he seemed to have a premonition of his fate on the
morrow, and was more than ever troubled over the future for his wife
and babe. He wrote his wife, asking forgiveness for having persuaded
her into the imprudent marriage, promising that if his life was spared,
he would try to atone to her for all she had suffered, and begging her
in any case to find shelter with her sister until the war would be
over. After Logan was killed, Stump had himself managed to convey this
letter to Mary at Morristown; but he could only stay a few minutes with
her, as his regiment was hurrying eastward. During the Virginia
campaign several years later, when Stump's regiment was with Lafayette
around Yorktownabout twenty miles from Lawsonvillehe had intended
to ask for leave of absence, and go to see how it fared with his former
comrade's widow; but, hearing that she had married again and removed to
Kentucky, he did not go to Lawsonville.
When Abner Logan returned to Williamsburg the day after his
conference with Peter Stump, he found a letter from Mason Rogers. Mr.
Rogers wrote that he had questioned several men who had been in the
fight at Blue Licks and who remembered the Page brothers well. The
elder brother was Marshall, the name of the younger was Marcemus.
Rogers further wrote that two women who had been in Bryan Station
during the siege and who were now living in Fayette County, remembered
that Marcemus Page, after his escape from the Indians, had come back to
Bryan's for the little orphan boy whom he took to the mother's people
in Virginia. These witnesses could swear that it was Marshall Page's
wife who had died at the station in August, 1782, while the men were in
pursuit of the Indians. Moreover, one of the women remembered that
Marcemus Page had told her that he intended, after placing Marshall's
little stepson in the care of the boy's Virginia relations, to go on to
Maryland. The woman also said that Marcemus had told her that his own
wife, who had died that spring on the way into Kentucky, was a native
of Maryland, from Charles County.
After hearing what these women said, Rogers, knowing that Barton
Stone was a native of Charles County, Maryland, had then gone to see
him. Stone, though but a lad when his family had removed from Charles
County, remembered the Page family. There were two brothers, Marshall
and Marcemus, and Marcemus had married Mary Beale, a cousin of Stone's
mother; and soon afterward had left Maryland with his wife to join his
brother somewhere in Virginia, intending to go on with him to settle in
the backwoods of Kentucky.
After receiving Rogers' letter, Abner Logan lost no time in
returning to Kentucky. The day following his arrival at Cane Ridge, he
sent Major Gilcrest a note asking for an interview. The messenger
brought back the note unopened and the verbal message from Gilcrest
declining to hold any intercourse with Abner or to receive any written
communication from him.
Rogers then advised communicating with the Major through a lawyer,
but Abner felt that he must see Betty before he could decide upon this
course. He contrived, through Aunt Dilsey, to convey a note to the
girl. She wrote back that she would meet him that afternoon at their
former trysting-place. Here, accordingly, the two lovers met, after a
separation of over half a year, and renewed their vows of love and
Abner gave Betsy a full account of everything, and consulted with
her as to the best way to communicate with her father; for it was
imperative that Major Gilcrest should immediately be made acquainted
with Abner's true history and his right to the Hite inheritance. Betsy
urged her lover not to place his affairs in the hands of a lawyer until
she had first tried what she could do with her father. She also thought
that her mother, first of all, should be told everything. To this Abner
That night Betsy had a long talk with her mother. Poor Mrs.
Gilcrest, who for many years had been oppressed by the dark secret of
her early life, felt now, when she had learned all that her daughter
had to reveal, as if a great burden was lifted from her spirit. She
rejoiced not only in the certainty that her own clandestine marriage
was valid, and that her cousin had been a lawfully wedded wife, but
also because of the knowledge that Abner Logan, whom she had always
greatly liked, was the son of her well-beloved cousin and foster
sister, Mary Hollis, and that he was in every respect a suitable mate
In her relief and joy she felt that she now had courage to confess
all to her husband. The next evening she nerved herself for this
Mrs. Gilcrest could not have chosen a less favorable occasion for
her purpose; for Major Gilcrest had just learned, through one of the
servants, that Betsy had met her lover the afternoon before. He was
furiously exasperated that his daughter had thus set at naught his
commands; and he raved in so frenzied a style of disobedience,
deception, and of the infamy of any girl who would hold clandestine
meetings with a man, that poor, cowardly Mrs. Gilcrest's newly acquired
valor evaporated before the fire of her husband's wrath, and she dared
not confess the secret she had withheld during all their married life.
She did, however, intercede for Abner, venturing her conviction that in
birth and character he was fit to wed with Betsy. But the poor creature
was so cowed by her habitual awe of her lord and master, and by his
present irascible temper, as well as by the burden of her own yet
unconfessed secret, that the stammering, incoherent tale she told of
the two John Logans, of the time and place of Mary Hollis' death, and
of Abner's being Andrew Hite's legal heir, was anything but convincing.
Her feeble attempt at explanation and intercession, instead of
softening the obstinate Major, only wrought him up to a still higher
pitch of exasperation.
Mrs. Gilcrest's effort to enlighten her husband having failed, young
Logan engaged an attorney, through whom the lord of Oaklands was
perforce convinced of Abner's legitimacy and right to the Hite
But there still remained in the secret drawer of the Major's
escritoire those documentary proofs against A. D.'s political
integrity, and in the Major's mind those convictions of the young man's
connection with dangerous Spanish intrigues. More than that, there was
the Major's ingrained obstinacy and his aversion to confessing himself
in the wrong. So that, although he was not unduly covetous of the Hite
inheritance, and although, had he not been so harassed and imbittered
by his daughter's defiance, he would have rejoiced that Abner Logan was
well born and prosperous, just now he was in a humor the reverse of
rejoicing or yielding. Therefore his opposition to Betsy's suitor was
as firm as ever; and the two lovers appeared as far as ever from the
attainment of their hopes.
CHAPTER XXIX. AUNT DILSEY TO THE
Send Miss Betsy to me at once, was Gilcrest's order to a negro
girl who was sweeping the hall one cold, snowy morning in December, as
he strode into the house, whip in hand, clad in overcoat and
riding-boots. Where's your mistress?
In the settin'-room, marstah.
Then send Miss Betsy to me there. Put down that broom, and go at
oncemove quickly, nigger! With a grim look he went into the
sitting-room, where his wife was dawdling over her tambour frame; and
Polly sped up the stairs. In the upper hall she encountered Aunt
Whut's the mattah, gal? asked the old negress. You look lak a
rabbit skeered outen a bresh heap.
Marstah's stompin' an' ragin' 'roun lak a mad bull down thah,
panted the girl. He say teh fotch Miss Betsy to him to oncet in the
settin'-room. She's gwine kotch it sho 'nough this time.
'Deed she hain't, long's her brack mammy's heah teh p'otect her!
Marse Hi's losin' his las' grain o' sense; but he bettah min' how he
capers 'roun'. He's been pussecutin' thet bressed chile long
'noughall kaze she's true teh her 'fections, an' woan give in when he
say she shan't hev thet nice, rosy-cheek, perlite young gemmin she's
begaged to. Ole Dilsey's done kep' still long 'nough; it's time fer her
teh lay down de law a bit. I hain't feared o' Marse Hi, ef he does
stomp an' rumpage. You heahs me, doan you?
In this, as in all other large households throughout the Southern
States, the black mammy was an indispensable part of the family. The
real mother usually gave her children careful attention and
superintended their training; but she took upon herself little of the
drudgery and burden of their upbringing. A subordinate nurse was the
children's guardian and companion when they went out for play or
exercise, but the black mammy ruled over this negro and was the
highest authority on all matters pertaining to the nursery. Even the
real mother humored this foster mother in the management of the
children; and when, as in the case of Mrs. Gilcrest, the mistress was
frail of health and unassertive by nature, the black mammy's authority
became almost paramount. And such was the nature of Dilsey's authority.
Silas Gilcrest, Hiram's father, had bought Dilsey from a
Massachusetts slave-ship when she was a child of twelve years. She was
just from Africa, and could not speak a word of English. Silas Gilcrest
brought her at once into his own house, where she served first as nurse
to the infant Hiram, and later as upper house servant. Her skin was
black as ebony, but she was of superior intelligence and of stout and
loyal heart. She nursed Hiram Gilcrest in his babyhood, was his
caretaker and faithful attendant in boyhood, and his loyal adherent in
early manhood. When he married, she went with him from Massachusetts to
Virginia, and from there she and her husband and two children
accompanied Hiram and his wife to Kentucky.
When Betsy, Hiram's first-born, was laid in old Dilsey's arms, she
had just buried her own baby, and all the mother love of her passionate
nature went out to this tiny scion of the house of Gilcrest.
Thenceforward, the unreasoning, self-sacrificing devotion which in
former days Dilsey had lavished upon Hiram was transferred to his
As time went on, and her cares and responsibilities multiplied with
the advent of each new baby to her master and mistress, Mammy Dilsey,
though still faithful and devoted, became more and more self-important
and dictatorial. She felt herself superior in education and position to
the other negroes, and almost, if not quite, as important a part of the
household as the master himself. As for Mrs. Gilcrest, Dilsey's regard
for her was compounded of admiration and pitying patronage. She loved
and tended and ruled over all the children, but Betsy was her idol, for
whom she would cheerfully have laid down her own life. Throughout
Betsy's disagreement with her father, Dilsey had been her confidant and
comforter; and her indignation against her master for the past few
months had only thus far been restrained from actual outbreak by
Betty's entreating her to be silent, lest by want of tactful patience
she might still further provoke the irascible spirit of the master of
Oaklands. On this particular morning, however, Aunt Dilsey's spirit was
stirred within her, and she felt it high time to assert herself.
When Betsy reached the sitting-room she found her mother crying
helplessly and her father fuming up and down the room.
What do you mean by this, girl? he asked, flourishing a folded
paper in her face. Did I not command you to have nothing more to do
with that worthless fellow? And here you are actually writing to him,
and bribing my servants to fetch his letters and to take him your
answers! What do you mean?
I mean, sir, Betsy answered, facing him bravely, that I'll not
submit to your tyrannical treatment any longerkeeping me a prisoner
in these grounds, and forbidding me to hold any communication with the
man I love and honor and mean to marry. I have been for weeks under
restraint; not even allowed to walk about the yard without a spying
black slave at my heels. More than this, two weeks ago you intercepted
a letter addressed to me, and you now hold in your handwithout any
right whatevera note of mine to Mr. Logan. What if I did 'stoop to
bribe a servant' to carry a message to my lover? That is little in
comparison with your keeping me in durance, and intercepting my
letters. And you talk to me of 'stooping' and of dishonor!
Betsy! Betsy! my dear, my dear! wailed her mother, don't use such
language. Oh, oh, you and your father are killing me!
Mother, mother, have you no feeling for your daughter, that you
have said no word to help her in all these months? Are you so under the
thrall of that tyrant that you meekly submit without a protest to such
treatment of me? Yes, she said, turning to her father, who stood
motionless, his eyes blazing, his face white with passion, you are a
tyrant, but I defy you. You shall not break my spirit. I mean to marry
Abner Logan as soon as he says the word.
Be silent, before I strike you! cried her father, advancing toward
her. Go! Fling yourself into your lover's arms as soon as you please.
I wash my hands of you, you willful, passionate hussy!
Stop! stop! this instant, Hiram Gilcrest, shrieked his wife,
rising from her chair and stamping her foot. Then she rushed to him,
caught his arm and actually shook him, crying: You shall not heap such
abuse on my child! I have been silent long enough.
If the portrait of old Silas Gilcrest, hanging above the mantel, had
opened its mouth and spoken, father and daughter could not have been
more astounded than at this outbreak. In the whole course of her
married life this was the first time that Jane Gilcrest had ever
asserted herself, or raised her voice against her lord and master.
Yes, you are a brute to use such language and to treat your daughter
so! And now, I suppose you'll beat me, next; you look as though you'd
like to fell us both to the earth with that whipoh! oh! oh! she
shrieked, and fell back in a swoon.
Betsy, white, unnerved, and more frightened than she had ever been
in her life, sprang to her mother's aid, who recovered from her faint
only to go into violent hysterics. Gilcrest stood dazed and motionless,
staring at his wife, with the riding-whip unconsciously clenched in his
[Illustration: At this juncture the door was flung open by old
At this juncture, the door was flung open by old Dilsey. She stood a
second on the threshold, as though paralyzed at the tableau before her.
Mrs. Gilcrest leaned back in her chair, moaning and trembling; Betsy
crouched by her side, in reality trying to pacify her mother, though
apparently seeking shelter from her father, who stood before them with
the uplifted whip. Then, her black eyes blazing, the negress sprang
forward with the swiftness and fierceness of a tiger; and charging upon
her master with such force as almost to throw him down, she seized his
arm and wrenched the whip from his grasp.
I said you had done gone plum crazy, she cried, but I nebbah
thought I'd lib teh see the day you'd raise yo' arm ag'in yo' own wife
an' chile. Don' you dar' tech 'em! I'll p'otect 'em wid my life's
Shut up, you old harridan! returned Gilcrest. Nobody's going to
strike your mistress, or her daughter either. Take your Miss Jane to
her room, and attend to her.
I doan lebe dis room tell I speaks my min' 'bout yo' ongodly
carryin' on an' yo' shameful 'buse ob my sweet lamb, my own Miss
Shut up, I tell you! again cried Gilcrest.
I woan shet up. I will speak my min'!
I'll cowhide you, you black witch! shouted her master,
Whip me? Ole Dilsey? 'Deed you woan! Ef you lays de weight ob a
fingah on me, I'll t'ar you limb f'um limb! She faced him, arms
akimbo, eyes snapping, and defiance in every line of her tall figure
and in every fold of her red turban. Does you think I'se feared ob
you? Me, whut nussed an' tended you when you wuz a pore, sickly baby,
an' bossed you, an' spanked yo' back sides many a time when you wuz a
streprous, mis-che-vous boy?
Leave the room this instant! cried Gilcrest, white with anger.
Nary step does I budge tell I frees my mind, answered Dilsey with
determination. Hain't you no bowels ob marcy fur yo' own flesh an'
blood? Is you done persessed by de Debble, dat you treats dat pore lamb
so, whut hain't done nuthin' but be true to her sweetheart? Yo' fust
borned chile, too, yo' leetle gal whut you kissed an' cried obah fur
joy when ole Dilsey fotch her to you; an' you tuck her in yo' arms, de
tears runnin' down yo' cheeks an' yo' voice trem'lin' an' a-shakin', ez
you thanked de good Lawd fur yo' purty black-eyed baby gal, an' fur
bringin' yo' pore young wife safe frew her trial!
There, there, Dilsey, said Gilcrest, moved in spite of himself by
her rough eloquence. You have entirely misconceived the situation. I
had no intention of striking either your mistress or Miss Betsy. Leave
off your foolish raving, and help me get your Miss Jane to her bed.
Don't you see she is not able to stand? Then to his daughter he added,
If all this excitement and trouble make your mother really ill, it is
your fault, you rebellious girl.
CHAPTER XXX. YOUNG LOCHINVAR
So light to the croup the fair lady he swung,
So light to the saddle before her he sprung;
'She is won! we are goneover bank, bush and scaur;
They'll have fleet steeds that follow,' quoth Young Lochinvar.
The next afternoon, Major Gilcrest, from the window of a back room,
saw his daughter coming in alone through the shrubbery, and strongly
suspected that she had been meeting Abner Logan again. Gilcrest,
however, said nothing to her, and she went upstairs. She remained in
her room, busy over some needlework, about an hour. Then, as it was
getting too dark to sew, she put aside her work to go downstairs; but
just then she heard the key turned in her door, and found it locked
from the outside. She was a prisoner in her bedchamber.
She remained there for two days, without seeing any one but the
negro girl Polly, who three times a day came to the room to replenish
the fire and to bring her meals. From Polly, Betsy learned that Mrs.
Gilcrest was ill and confined to her room, and that Major Gilcrest was
preparing for a journey, and purposed taking his daughter with him. He
sent by Polly a curt note which further enlightened Betty of his
intentions. She was directed to pack her clothes and be in readiness to
start with him for Massachusetts as soon as her mother's health would
allow him to leave home. He also informed Betsy that he meant to leave
her in Massachusetts at a boarding-school.
Instead of obeying her father's command, Betsy spent her solitary
hours in trying to hit upon some mode of escape from her prison, or at
least for some means of communicating with her lover.
On the third night of her imprisonment she retired early, feeling
that she would need all her strength for the morrow's struggle; for she
was fully resolved that no power on earth should be strong enough to
compel her to leave home with her father. She was exhausted, and soon
fell asleep. In the night she was awakened by some one shaking her and
calling her name softly. She opened her eyes, and found Aunt Dilsey
standing over her with a lighted candle in one hand.
Sh, sh, honey, don't mek no noise!
How did you get here? asked Betsy, sitting up in bed and now
I stole de key f'um de nail in de hall, an' den slipped up de
sta'rs. I allus walks jes lak a cat, you knows, so Marse Hi didn't heah
me. But nebbah min' dat now. Git up quick, an' do whut I tells you.
I'se gwineteh he'p you 'scape to Marse Abner, dis berry hour. He's
waitin' fur you on his nag down to de bars at de eend ob de leetle
woods pastur', an' he'll tek you straight to de preachah's house, an'
you kin be married right off.
But, mammy, began Betsy.
Shet up, chile, an' do ez I says. It's yo' on'y chance; fur onct
Marse Hi gits you 'way f'um heah, it'll be many a long day foh you sees
yo' sweetheart ag'in. I tell you yo' pap's thet desprut dar's no
tellin' whut he woan do teh keep you an' yo' sweetheart 'part. So doan
let me heah no 'jections, but jes' listen to me. You'se to slip out
frew de ole log-room heahyou carn't git out frew de hall; fur yo'
pap'll heah you, shore, kaze his door's open, an' you knows he allus
sleeps wid one eye an' bofe years open. But you go inteh de log-room,
an' clamb out by de windah. See! Heah's a rope I done mek outen
bedclothes. We'll tie it to de bed-post, an' it's plenty long 'nough to
reach most to de groun' frew de windah, whut hain't more'n twelve or
fou'teen foot f'um de groun'. 'Sides, dar's notches all down de wall
outside whah de chinkin's done fell out. So you kin hold ontah de
ropes, put yo' foots in de gaps, an' git down ez easy ez ef 'twuz on
The chamber Betsy occupied was in the ell of the house, and
communicated through a closet with the upper room of the old log house
of two rooms which had been left standing when the new house was built.
The lower apartment of this old structure was now used as a
But why not go down through the window of the lower room? asked
Kaze I carn't fin' de key to de door et de foot ob de sta'rway
intah de loom-room. But you woan hab no trouble, noways, climbin' down
dat wall. So hurry, an' while you dresses, I'll pack up some ob yo'
clo's in a bundle. I'se done shet ole Jock an' Ponto up in de woodhouse
to keep dem f'um barkin' an' rousin' yo' pap. Soon's you'se down safe,
I'll go out an' lock yo' door ag'in, slip down de sta'rs, an' Marse,
when he fin's you'se skipped, will think you'se 'scaped by yo'se'f.
But, anyways, I doan much keer ef he does fin' dat ole Dilsey holped
you; I hain't feared. He woan dar' tackle me.
It seems hard, said Betty, that I must steal out of my father's
house in this way like a thief; but it's my only chance.
Aunt Dilsey's plan worked successfully. Betsy, by means of her
bed-quilt rope and the chinks in the wall, had no difficulty in making
her escape. Old Dilsey, as soon as her young mistress reached the
ground, softly dropped the bundle after her, and then the girl sped
across the snow through the side yard to the little woods, where at the
bars her lover awaited her. She climbed up behind him on his brown
mare, Bess, and in a short while reached Barton Stone's house.
Logan had already related the circumstances of the case to the
minister, who said that the young couple were fully justified in the
step they had taken; and so they were married. Stone and his wife urged
them to remain the night with them, but Abner said that Mr. and Mrs.
Rogers were expecting them. Accordingly they rode away, and reached the
Rogers home about midnight. Late as it was, the entire family were up
and fully prepared to receive them.
CHAPTER XXXI. A NOVEL BRIDAL TOUR
The next morning the young couple, accompanied by Susan Rogers, with
Rache in the capacity of serving-woman, set out on their bridal tour, a
three-mile ride over the snow, to their future home. A stout sledge
drawn by a yoke of oxen was the primitive equipage of the bridal party.
The wedding presents, though the gifts of but one family, were many
and useful, if not beautiful and costly. A feather bed and a pair of
fat pillows were Mrs. Rogers' most valuable gift. No, Betsy, she said
as she tied them up in an old quilt, we hain't robbin' ourse'ves;
we've got more beds an' pillahs then we hev people to sleep on 'em;
besides, hain't we got plenty geese?
Nevah you mind, Betsy, chuckled Mason Rogers; Cynthy Ann knows
better'n you do whut she kin spar' tow'ds settin' you an' Ab up to
housekeepin'. The real offus uv a bride is to be ornamental. So, all
you got to do this mawnin' is to set up on thet ther sled, an' look
A coarse but well-bleached tablecloth, a gourd of lard, a cheese,
half a loaf of cake, a skillet and a coffee boiler completed Mrs.
The gifts of her husband were no less generous: a side of meat, a
supply of meal, potatoes, hominy, sugar, a jug of cider vinegar, and
another of molasses, concerning which gifts he declared, in answer to
Abner's protest: Of course, you'n' Betty kin live on love; so I jes'
put in them eatables fur Susanpore gal, she ain't got no husban' yit
to mek her fergit she's got a stommick. Besides, even you an' yer bride
will find livin' on love a weak'nin' exper'ence artah the fust few
days; an' this snow looks lak it hed come to stay all wintah. The roads
'tween heah an' Bourbonton won't be broke through 'nough fur you to
haul a load o' things frum thar befoh March, mayby. Allus feed yer
husban' good, Betty. With all the men whut evah I seen, the stommick
'pears to be the seat o' the affections; an' Abner hain't no exception.
He kin mek an ash cake or a hunk o' middlin' disappear 'bout ez fast ez
the nex' one; an' when it comes to tacklin' a stack o' flitters
seasoned with maple merlasses, he kin beat all creation, unless 'tis
Tommy an' Buddy, an' the amount o' vittels them two shavers kin manidge
to stow 'way is 'nough to mek a pusson think ther laigs is holler.
These two cheers, he continued as he tied them in place on the sledge,
air fur me an' Cynthy Ann to set on when we come ovah nex' Sunday to
pay our bridal call an' to fotch Cissy an' Rache home. Abner hain't got
but two cheers, Bettyone fur Susan, an' one fur you an' him; but me
an' Cynthy Ann's done got pas' the time when one cheer kin 'commerdate
us both comf'table. Whut you got thar? he asked the negro Tom, as he
came forward, while Rube lingered bashfully in the background.
Me an' Rube wants tab gib somethin' ter spress our 'gratulatins ter
Miss Betsy an' Marse Ab; so we presents dese ax-handles whut we'se made
oursel's, an' dis bowl whut we'se hollered outen a ash-tree fur a nice
bread-tray; an' we wishes you bofe much joy in de road you'se dis day
sotten out on in double harnish. Grinning and bobbing, he presented
the offerings, and then stepped back to make room for Uncle Tony.
Marse Ab, you'll 'cep' dis bunch o' brooms f'um ole Tony; kaze he wuz
yer fus' 'quaintunce when you come ter dis kintry. Dese brooms will
'min' you ob yer ole home; kaze dey's tied wid de same twist an' loop
jes' ez dey mek brooms wid in ole Virginny. An' I wishes you 'n' yer
purty bride all de hap'ness an' prosp'ity whut kin come ter us pore
morsels trablin' frew dis vale ob tears.
Well, Ab, said Mason, gleefully, as Abner, after gratefully
thanking the darkeys, proceeded to find a place for the things on the
well-loaded sled, you'd bettah walk straight now; a broom's a
dangerous weepon in a woman's hands. You know the ole sayin' 'bout
brooms, Betsy? 'In fair weathah use one eend; in foul weathah use
Susan's contributions were a pair of blankets and a supply of
tow-linen sheeting and toweling, all of her own weaving. The twins, not
to be outdone, begged Betsy to accept all their nine-patch pieces,
which only lack a few more squares, they said, to mek a quilt big
'nough fur any bed.
Tek 'em, Betty, laughingly urged Mrs. Rogers; Lucindy an' Lucy
air only too glad ter git 'em off ther hands; they know they'd hev ter
finish thet quilt this wintah, ef them pieces stayed heah, an' they
hate sewin' wussen a mad dog hates watah.
We want you to have these, too, said Lucy, handing to Betsy a pair
of plaster-of-paris angels. Lucindy an' me bought 'em of the packman
with our own money. They'll look mighty sweet settin' up on your
mantel-tree. One of 'em's got its wing broke off, but thet won't show
much when it's set facin' the room.
Ha! ha! ha! laughed Rogers. The twins presents you with angels,
an' Tommy an' Buddy contributes live stock. The two little boys
advanced, Tommy with a curly black pup under his arm, Buddy with two
half-grown kittens in his apron.
Yes, yes, tek 'em, urged Mrs. Rogers; you'll do me a favor to tek
thet mis-che-vous pup, an' will save them kittens frum a grave in the
hoss-pond; I've done said I'd drown the whole litter. Heah's a sack fur
the kittens, an' you kin put the pup undah this heah kittle; 'twon't
smothah undah thar; an' 'twon't mek no diffruns ef it does.
Every negro on the place, elated and excited by the romantic event
of a runaway marriage, brought offerings. Rache gave gourds and a
cymbling bowl; Eph, a string of red-pepper; the other little darkeys,
gifts of maple sugar, walnuts and hickorynuts; while Aunt Dink
presented a large blue-flowered platter which until now had been the
chief ornament of the chest of drawers in her cabin, and was none the
less precious to her because of the big crack through the middle and
the nick out of one corner.
The coach and four is now waiting with the bride's outfit already
packed in the boot; so bride, bridesmaid and waiting-woman will please
take their places, laughed Abner, happily, helping Betsy, Susan and
Rache into the sledge. You've loaded us so heavily with your generous
gifts that I fear the bridal equipage will break down before reaching
the end of the first stage, and bury bride, bridesmaid, waiting-woman
and dowry in a snowbank.
At this moment, out came little Buddy again, carrying a tiny
arm-chair which he had long since outgrown, and insisting that it
should make part of the bridal outfit on the sledge.
That's right, sonny, said Rogers, as he placed the chair. They
don't need it yit awhile, but 'tis likely it'll come in handy in a year
or so. Hold on thar a minit, Rogers exclaimed, as Logan was hastily
preparing to start off. Rushing into the house, he emerged in a few
minutes, carrying a pine cradle with deep, sloping sides and broad,
rough rockers. Heah's a companion piece fur thet cheer. Hope you'll
hev use fur it befoh we do ag'in, and nothing would do but that the
cradle should be placed on the sled. Ha! ha! ha! Rogers laughed
uproariously as he surveyed the outfit. This turnout looks lak a
emigrant wagon mekin' a journey frum Cumberlan' Gap to the
Good-by's were exchanged, and the train started. The bride with her
two attendants sat bravely on the sledge surrounded by her household
goods, while the groom stepped proudly on to guide his awkward team,
his own faithful dog, Toby, following at his heels. His house was not
on the main thoroughfare, and the shrubs and tangled vines, weighted
down with snow, bent over the narrow, little-used roadway, making it in
places almost impassable; but the cavalcade proceeded safely, if
slowly, until about half the journey was accomplished. Then, as they
were going down a steep hillside with a considerable slant to the left,
the groom came back from his post at the head of the team, to the side
of his bride. Susan was looking out across the landscape; Rache was
engrossed with her efforts to keep the various small articles from
falling off the sledge. The moment seemed propitious; he leaned over to
give Betty a reassuring kiss and embrace. Just then the vehicle ran
over a stump which was hidden, but not protected, by the snow, and it
careened sharply to the left. Abner, on the right, instantly threw his
weight to stay the tottering ark. This only added the proper impetus,
with, as the result, a complete overturn.
[Illustration: Out tumbled bride, bridesmaid and servant in the
Out tumbled bride, bridesmaid and servant in the snow, with feather
bed, chairs, table utensils, skillet, kettle, coffee boiler, buckets,
brooms, provisions on top. The two kittens, escaping from their sack,
and frightened out of at least four of their eighteen lives, scampered
madly up the nearest tree, in which house of refuge they sat with
arching backs and bristling tails, spitting and hissing. The pup,
liberated from his kettle, and confident that Toby was somehow to blame
for this melee, charged rashly at him. Toby, resenting this
insinuation, met the curly pup with gaping jaws and bristling back. A
terrific dog-fight ensued, in which the self-confident puppy was routed
with great damage. During the excitement, it fortunately never occurred
to the mild-eyed oxen to make a bolt with the sledge; on the contrary,
they stood still in their tracks the whole time, gazing with placid
indifference straight before them. No one was hurt, and the wintry
woods rang with the merry laughter of the party as they righted the
sledge, collected the scattered wedding outfit, and replaced it
securely. The vanquished puppy was again confined in his iron dungeon.
The kittens, after much coaxing, at last ventured upon a limb low
enough for them to be reached by Abner's long arm; and the bridal car
then proceeded, without further hurt or damage, to the future home.
Betsy, though the child of rich parents, was used to work and to
household management; but here was housekeeping to be begun under an
environment quite different from that to which she had been accustomed
in her father's well-ordered house. It was a heavy draft upon the young
bride's faith and love to gaze undaunted at the prospect before her;
but she was of a brave and hopeful spirit, and soon her blithe laugh
chimed in with that of Abner and Susan, as they talked over the
ludicrous mishap on the wedding tour. Presently, however, as Abner
looked around the uninviting interior of his future abode, and then
glanced at his young bride, he was sobered.
An empty hovel with unwhitewashed walls, stoneless hearth, and
dirt-encrusted windows and floors, is certainly no fit welcome for you,
my dearest, he said to her as they stood alone a moment, while Susan
and Rache were taking a survey of the inner room. Do you regret the
step you have taken?
Regret? Not for one instant, she bravely answered. 'Better a
dinner of herbs where love is, than a stalled ox and hatred
therewith'and how dare you slander my new abode by calling it a
hovel? she added playfully. Instead of belittling this commodious
mansion, set to work at once, sir, and build us a fire.
In a short time Logan had collected fuel. His flint yielded the
ready spark, and fagots and logs soon blazed cheerily in the wide
fireplace in each room.
That big kettle which pa insisted upon our bringing, does come in
handy right at the start, exclaimed Susan. We'll have it filled and
hung on that crane, so that Rache can scrub the floors; and while the
water is heating, let's get something to eat. I'm as hungry as any bear
that ever prowled through these woods.
I'll lay the hearthstones, whitewash the walls, and put up some
shelves over in that corner to-morrow, said Abner.
When that is done, the windows cleaned and curtained, and the
things all arranged, it will be quite a cozy place, added Susan.
Yes, assented Logan, it will do, I suppose, until I can get to
town to buy whatever we need.
Oh, it's good as it is, and we will soon make it a very inviting
home, interrupted Betty. Don't worry because you haven't a stately
mansion for your bride. It's bad enough to have a wife thrust upon you
in this unceremonious style, without your impoverishing yourself to fit
up a luxurious home for her all at once.
The work went merrily forward during the next two days, although the
season was hardly propitious for housecleaning. Rache, who enjoyed it
all as much as any one, declared with a grin, It's de fust time I evah
hearn uv folks doin' ther spring cleanin' when de snow am two foot
deep, an' it am so sinful cold thet it mighty nigh freezes de nose
offen yer face.
The floors, by dint of repeated scrubbings, were soon, as Rache
declared, clean 'nough ter eat on. The walls and rafters were
whitened, and the windows curtained with snowy dimity. At the foot of
the bed, in one room, stood a packing-case to serve as a wardrobe, a
valance of calico tacked on its top, concealing the true nature of the
contrivance. Another box, set on end and similarly attired, served as a
dresser; still another as a washstand. This room was sitting-room,
parlor, library, and Susan's sleeping apartment. The other room was
dining-room and kitchen, where Rache was accommodated with a pallet
upon the floor in front of the fire; while, for the present, the rude
loft over the two rooms, reached by means of a ladder in the
sitting-room, was the bedchamber for bride and groom.
Consternation reigned at Oaklands when Betsy's flight was discovered
the morning after the elopement. Her father, after giving orders that
everything on the place which could be considered her personal property
should be packed and sent to her immediately, then assembled the entire
household, struck Betsy's name from the family Bible, and commanded
that no one in his presence should ever again mention her name, and
that no one on the premises should ever dare to hold any communication
with her. Later, that same day, he drove to Lexington, sought a lawyer,
and made a will disinheriting her.
Upon the third morning after the marriage there came to the new home
a sled driven by a negro man from Oaklands. On the sled was Marthy, a
negro woman of thirty-five; also a huge packing-case containing Betsy's
clothes, books and ornaments, some bed quilts which she had pieced
herself, some bright-colored rugs she had woven, besides china and a
set of silver spoons which had descended to her from her maternal
grandmother. Behind the sled rode Sambo on Betsy's saddle-horse,
driving a young cow which was also considered the girl's property. The
two negroes, Marthy and Sambo, had belonged to Mrs. Gilcrest, to do
with as she pleased, and she sent them as a gift to her daughter.
CHAPTER XXXII. EXIT JAMES ANSON
Treason doth never prosper, ... for, should it prosper, none
call it treason.
During the spring of 1806 the country became greatly agitated over
rumors of secret expeditions and conspiracies of a most startling
nature, in which many men of prominence were concerned. The old
difficulty over the free navigation of the Mississippi River, and the
schemes which grew out of this difficulty, although already settled in
a large measure by the purchase of the Louisiana Territory, had been
too much agitated in Kentucky not to leave much material for
conspirators. Hence, Kentucky became the stage upon which were enacted
many of the incidents of that dramatic episode of American history
known as Burr's Conspiracy.
Opinion was then, as it will ever be, somewhat divided as to the
exact nature of the schemes which Aaron Burr was at that time maturing.
According to his own statements and to the extracts from his journal of
that period, his designs were not actually treasonable; but they were
certainly dangerous to the future well-being of the States along the
In 1805 this brilliant, ambitious and fascinating man, whose term as
Vice-President had just expired, and who had, by his ill-advised attack
upon the administration and by his duel with Alexander Hamilton,
forfeited much of his political prestige, as well as the sympathy of
most of his adherents in the North, came to Kentucky. He spent some
weeks at Frankfort in an apparently quiet manner, and next proceeded on
a tour down the Mississippi, visiting all important points from St.
Louis to New Orleans. The following year he again appeared in the West,
this time paying several visits to Lexington and Louisville. His
headquarters on both these Western tours was the romantic, ill-fated
island home of Harman Blennerhassett, where he was met more than once
by many prominent men of Kentucky and other Western States. Soon after
these visits, rumors began to be circulated that boats were being built
in Kentucky and Ohio; provisions and military accoutrements ordered,
which, when furnished, were stored on Blennerhassett Island; and that
some daring military expedition was planned in which many were to be
Presently the Western World, a newspaper published at Frankfort,
came out with a series of articles in which the old Spanish intrigues
and these later projects of Aaron Burr were blended in a confused
manner. Mingled with hints and vague innuendoes, some facts were stated
and some names given that created no little sensation. Sebastian, a
judge of the Supreme Court; Brown, United States Senator from Kentucky;
Innes, a judge of the Federal Court; Wilkinson and Adair, generals in
the regular army, and many other Kentuckians of more or less
prominence, were implicated by these articles, which also plainly
denounced Aaron Burr as a traitor and his scheme as a treasonable
design against the United States Government. Truth and error in these
articles were so mixed together that no one was able to separate the
two, and people all over the country were bewildered and excited.
Friends of those implicated resented the attacks, and demanded a
retraction of the charges; but the paper sturdily adhered to its
policy. Other papers began to take up the matter, until the public
awoke to the fact that some dangerous movement was on foot; and the
unsettled condition of the country, and the unsatisfactory relations
between the United States and Spain, caused these rumors to arouse
In November, 1806, Joseph Hamilton Daviess, United States attorney
for Kentucky, brought at Frankfort an indictment against Burr for high
treason; and Wednesday, December 2, was set for trial. Burr succeeded
in convincing Henry Clay and John Allen, another able lawyer of the
Lexington bar, of his innocence, and secured them as counsel.
Shortly before this movement of Daviess, however, Graham, a
detective in the United States employ (though not known to be such at
the time), came to Kentucky; and, after spending some time in Fayette
and Woodford Counties, came out to Cane Ridge. He represented himself
as a land agent, and in this capacity called on Abner Logan one evening
about sunset. He was invited to stay the night, and accepted. After
supper, taking up a copy of the Western World which was lying on the
table, he naturally turned the conversation upon the charges which the
paper had been making. He said that, as a stranger in the State, he was
of course ignorant in a great measure of the charges, whereupon Logan
enlightened him as well as he could, discussing the matter with him at
some length. The next morning Graham took his departure, and the Logans
attached no importance to the visit.
James Anson Drane had by no means severed his friendly relations
with Hiram Gilcrest. He was at this time employed by Gilcrest to settle
some old and troublesome land claims, and this business called him to
Oaklands on the Thursday before the day set for Burr's trial at
Frankfort. While Drane and Gilcrest were in the latter's library, one
of the little negroes about the place brought Drane a note which the
little darkey said had been left at the kitchen door by a peddler. The
two men were seated at a center table littered with papers and
documents. As Drane read the note, Gilcrest noticed that he appeared
greatly disturbed; his cheeks and lips turned ashy pale, and the hand
holding the note shook with agitation. He quickly commanded himself,
however, thrust the note into his pocket, and explained that he was
called to Lexington at once on urgent business. Gilcrest, seeing that
the business must be of a grave and peremptory nature, did not urge
Drane to stay, but gave the order for the lawyer's horse to be brought
immediately. Telling his host that he would call again in a few days,
Drane gathered up his papers which were scattered about the table, and
hurried into the hall for his hat and great coat. He tried to thrust
the papers into his breast pocket, but there were too many for one
pocket, and, in taking some of them out to put in a different
receptacle, the little note which he had just received fluttered to the
floor unperceived either by himself or his host.
Shortly afterwards, Polly, the housemaid, brought her master a
crumpled slip of paper, explaining that she had found it on the hall
floor, and thought it might perhaps be something important. Without
glancing at the address, or thinking much about the matter, Gilcrest
opened the paper and read the contents before he realized that it was
the note which had been handed to Drane a few minutes before. It read
thus: A sincere and disinterested friend warns 'A. D.' that he is to
be summoned as a witness in the trial of Bat F, and advises him
to leave the country at once, taking with him or destroying all
compromising papers which he may have in his possession.
After gazing at the note in amazement for a few moments, Gilcrest
crossed over to the secretary in one corner of the room, and took from
a locked receptacle the two papers which James Anson Drane, four years
since, had exhibited to him in that room.
As Gilcrest now sat musing with the two documents in his hand, he
recalled several points which, had he not been so completely under the
influence of the wily lawyer, would have aroused grave suspicions. One
was the exceeding reluctance Drane had shown in regard to leaving the
two papers at Oaklands; another was the singular fascination which, of
late, the old mahogany secretary had seemed to hold for the lawyer; and
still another was this, that once when Drane and Gilcrest were in this
room, the latter had been called out. Returning unexpectedly, a moment
later, he found Drane with his hand on the knob of that little locked
inner drawer, as if he were trying to pull it open. At the time, Drane
had averted suspicion by saying that he was examining the peculiar
mechanism of the old and valuable secretary, and admiring its beautiful
carving and workmanship.
Major Gilcrest now also remembered that for several months prior to
the showing of the two papersin fact, ever since Logan's visit to
VirginiaDrane had been dropping hints and insinuations against Abner.
But Gilcrest recalled, too, that even earlier than this, Logan had
once, in a conversation at Rogers' house, expressed the greatest
admiration for Aaron Burr; also that he had been seen in what appeared
to be close counsel with Wilkinson, Sebastian and Murray at the tavern
on court day, and that he had visited Blennerhassett Island in company
with Sebastian and Murray. So that for several years Gilcrest had
entertained no doubt that his son-in-law was to some degree implicated
in this treasonable movement. But now, having read that anonymous
warning which Drane had dropped in the hall an hour since, Gilcrest was
altogether puzzled. There could be no doubt that the initials A. D.
in the anonymous note stood, not for Abner Dudley, but for Anson Drane,
who probably for greater security had dropped his first baptismal name
in the correspondence with the intriguers. Can it be, he thought,
that both men are implicated in this nefarious matter? For even if
this letter from B. S. to A. D. was written to Anson Drane instead of
Abner Dudley, this torn fragment, which is undoubtedly in Logan's
handwriting, seems suspicious; but, perhaps, if I had the whole letter,
the references in it would bear an entirely different construction to
that which I have placed.
Early Friday morning Gilcrest called for his horse, and rode to
Lexington. Arriving there, he went straight to Drane's office, but
found it locked. He then made inquiry at the young man's tavern, where
he was told that Drane had left town very hurriedly the evening before,
and had not said when he would return.
That was the last time that James Anson Drane was seen in Kentucky.
When the day set for Burr's trial in Frankfort arrived, Drane was
sought in vain. Later, when Burr, Blennerhassett, and other
conspirators, were arraigned at Natchez, and still later at Richmond,
Drane was again in demand, but he had completely disappeared; and his
exact connection with that famous episode of American history, the
Aaron Burr conspiracy, was never known. About twelve years later, a man
said to be very like him was reported as an influential and wealthy
lawyer of St. Louis.
Upon the same Thursday that Drane received at Oaklands the anonymous
warning, Abner Logan, while at work in a field near the road, received
from a passing packman a note which, the bearer said, had been given
him for Logan, by a man whose name the peddler had forgotten, but who,
as the peddler said, lived down that way, pointing vaguely down the
road. The messenger was not Simon Smith, the packman who periodically
visited the neighborhood to sell his wares to the housewives
thereabout, but a stranger. The note which he gave Logan was worded
exactly as the one Drane had received an hour earlier at Oaklands.
Abner's first feeling upon reading this missive was bewilderment as
to the identity of the friend who had sent it; his second, indignation
that any one should think him in any way implicated in the Burr affair.
'A sincere and disinterested friend,' indeed, he thought; it's some
ruse to get me into this queer business.
Before receiving the anonymous communication, Logan, being desirous
of hearing Clay and Daviess speak, had partly promised Mason Rogers,
who felt a lively interest in the trial, to go with him to Frankfort.
Logan now fully determined to let nothing prevent his going; and,
fearing to alarm his wife, he resolved to say nothing of the warning he
Upon the following Tuesday evening Graham, the detective, came to
Oaklands, and spent the night there. He was able to supply to Gilcrest
at least one missing link of evidencethe fellow to the torn piece of
letter to Charles M. Brady. This, with one or two other documents of a
more or less compromising nature, Drane had overlooked in his haste to
get out of the vicinity of Frankfort; and Graham, when he searched the
apartment a few hours after Drane's escape, had found the papers in the
Early Wednesday morning Logan, in company of Mason Rogers, Samuel
Trabue and William Hinkson, set out on horseback for the State capital.
On the way they were overtaken by the Gilcrest coach-and-four driven by
Uncle Zeke. In the coach sat Hiram Gilcrest, a strange gentleman from
Louisville, and the pretended land agent, Graham. As the vehicle passed
the four equestrians, Gilcrest gave a distant salutation to Trabue and
Hinkson, who were riding on the left, but did not turn his head to the
right where rode his son-in-law and his former bosom friend, Mason
The trial at Frankfort did not come off, because of Daviess' failure
to secure the attendance of some important witnesses; but those people
who were gathered at the court-house were by no means defrauded of
entertainment; for they heard a brilliant debate between Henry Clay and
Joseph Hamilton Daviess. The crowds that filled the floor, windows,
galleries and platform of the big court-room remained for hours
spellbound while these two renowned men, each stimulated by the other's
thrilling oratory, and glowing with the ardent conviction of the
justice of his cause, met in intellectual combat. Henry Clay was the
leader of the popular political party in the State, and had the
sympathy of the audience on his side. Daviess was a Federalist, and his
prosecution was regarded by many of his hearers as simply a persecution
of an unfortunate and innocent man who, from motives of political
hatred only, was here arraigned as a traitor. Daviess, however, was
made strong by his full conviction of Burr's guilt; moreover, this very
infatuation of the audience, and the smiling security and
self-assurance of the suspected traitor who sat before him, spurred
Daviess to brilliant effort. But all was in vain, for the present at
least; for, on account of the non-appearance of proper witnesses, the
prosecution was dismissedto the great rejoicing of the friends of
Burr, who were at that time so under the spell of his fascinating
personality that even had the court found a true bill against him, they
would still have believed him innocent. To show their admiration and
sympathy, these friends and admirers gave a grand public ball at
Frankfort the next evening to celebrate Aaron Burr's triumph over his
enemies. This ball was followed by another equally brilliant given by
the friends of Daviess, to show their admiration of him and their
belief in the justice of his suit against Burr.
Logan and his three companions returned from Frankfort late Thursday
afternoon. On Saturday, as Logan was leaving the house after an early
breakfast, he was astonished to see Hiram Gilcrest on horseback at the
front gate. Abner hastened down the walk to meet him; but, instead of
accepting the invitation to alight and enter the house, Major Gilcrest
with stern dignity replied that he preferred to remain where he was,
having called that morning, not to pay a visit, but to atone for an
injustice of which he had for a number of years been guilty.
Logan, thinking that the injustice had reference to Gilcrest's
opposition to his daughter's marriage, replied that no explanation or
apology was necessary, as the very fact that Major Gilcrest was there
at Crestlands was apology enough. He again invited the Major to come
in, urging the pleasure it would be to Betsy to welcome her father in
her own house, and to have him see her little son William, now a fine
little fellow two years old, and the tiny baby daughter. Hiram,
however, again refused the invitation.
Mr. Logan, he said, I have for some years back been greatly in
error with regard to you, as the result of the base representations and
lying statements of James Anson Drane, in whose character I have been
most woefully deceived. Handing Logan the anonymous note that Drane
had dropped in the hall, the letter from B. S. to A. D., and the
two torn parts of the letter to Charles Brady, he then entered into a
full explanation of all the circumstances which had influenced him to
think Logan a political traitor.
When Gilcrest had finished his explanation, Logan replied that he
was fully satisfied, and that he could not wonder that, under the
circumstances, Major Gilcrest had been deceived. But now, he went on,
smiling cordially and extending his hand, let us forget all hard
feelings, and be to each other henceforth as father and son should be.
Betty will be wild with happiness to welcome her father into her own
But the stubborn old fellow would neither grasp his son-in-law's
hand nor accept the invitation to enter the house. No, Mr. Logan, he
said firmly, I am an honorable and, I hope, a just man; and my sense
of honor and of justice prompted me to apologize for an unjust
suspicion of you; but, sir, and his deep-set eyes flashed as he spoke,
though you are exonerated from all blame in this political intrigue,
you are still guilty of a far greater wrongthat of alienating the
affections of my child, my only daughter, of basely abducting her from
her father's house, and well-nigh breaking that father's heart. That
wrong, sir, I can never forget, and for that, sir, I can never forgive
Butbut, Major Gilcrest, I beg of you, began Abner, earnestly;
but Gilcrest would not listen, and, with a wave of his hand to command
silence, he continued: No explanation, no apology, no reparation, or
prayer of either you or your wife, can atone. I shall never under any
circumstances enter your door; but I will no longer forbid my wife to
visit her daughter, nor object to you and your wife returning those
visits. I bid you good morning, sir, and the proud and unyielding old
man rode away.
Several years later, Logan, while on a trip to Louisville, again
encountered Graham, and learned from him that the strange peddler who
had delivered the anonymous note to him and the one to Drane was Graham
himself in disguise. He had employed this ruse to ascertain which of
the two young men was the guilty one. When, in the guise of a land
agent, he had in 1806 visited that region, his suspicions had already
been slightly aroused against Drane. He had therefore managed to be
much in the company of the young lawyer, who, if he suspected that
Graham was other than he claimed to be, had the art to hide his
suspicions, and in pretended unconsciousness and innocence had also
managed to instill into the stranger's mind much doubt of Logan. These
doubts were in a measure allayed by Graham's visit to Logan; but, to be
entirely sure as to which was his man, he had resorted to the device of
sending the two warnings, intending that the one who took alarm should
be arrested. Drane, however, had been too swift in his movements, and
had thus escaped.
CHAPTER XXXIII. THE STRANGER
One Thursday in June, several years later, Major Gilcrest was
returning from a business trip which had called him to a distant
county. His road led him by a little log schoolhouse on the banks of
Shanklin Creek. Here he found a meeting in progress in the locust grove
surrounding the schoolhouse.
When last he had been through this region, the little school
building had been used occasionally as a Presbyterian meeting-house,
there being no church building in the neighborhood. Accordingly,
Gilcrest, thinking this a meeting of brethren of his own faith and
order, tied his horse to a sapling, and, joining the congregation in
the grove, sat down on a log not far from the speaker's stand, just as
a minister was finishing his discourse. When he had concluded, a man
who seemed to be the moderator of the meeting rose to speak.
We are sorry indeed to announce that our beloved Brother Elgood,
who was next to have addressed us, is providentially hindered from
being here to-day. This is a great disappointment; for we who know how
powerful and eloquent Brother Elgood is, had hoped to be greatly
edified by his discourse. It still lacks an hour and ten minutes to
noon; and while we await the time for dinner to be spread in the
grounds, another brother, a stranger from a distant part of the State,
will speak. Thereupon, a tall, ungainly man of about forty years rose
from a seat at the back of the platform and came forward. He was clad
in copperas-dyed jeans trousers, ill-fitting cotton coat, and homespun
shirt. He wore neither stock nor waistcoat, his trousers were baggy and
too short for his long legs, and his cowhide shoes were covered with
dust. His face was pale, his eyes deep set, his hair long and
straggling, shoulders stooping, form gaunt to emaciation. The
moderator's mode of introduction had not been one to reassure a timid
man, nor to prepossess an audience favorably toward a speaker. The
stranger came forward with ungraceful hesitation, and stood silently
facing his audience. The people stared an instant at the uncouth
figure; some laughed, and many turned to leave the auditorium, thinking
that a stroll about the grounds, chatting with friends, would be a more
agreeable pastime until lunch was served than to sit before this
Suddenly the stranger regained self-possession, and, drawing his
figure up to its full height, he pointed a long forefinger at a group
of people standing near, who were evidently making sport of him, and
called out, Thus cried Job unto his revilers, 'Suffer me that I may
speak, and after that I have spoken, mock on.' His penetrating tones
reached every one in the grove. Some who had risen to leave, sat down,
curious to know what manner of man this might be; but many more, after
a moment's hesitation, started off again. He then cried in still louder
tone, 'Hear, O my people, and I wilt testify unto thee, O Israel, if
thou wilt but hearken unto me!'
Many more, now smiling and willing to be amused, returned to their
places; but the speaker, seeing many groups still hesitating in the
distance, cried out for the third time, with all the strength of his
powerful lungs, 'Hear my words, O ye wise men; and give ear unto me,
ye that have understanding; for the ear trieth words as the mouth
Then, as the last straggler returned to his seat, the speaker said
with a winning smile which utterly changed the expression of his gaunt
visage: And now, friends, you are doubtless beset with curiosity as to
who this strange fellow in butternut jeans and cowhide shoes may be;
but it mattereth not who he is, whence he came, or whither he goeth.
The message, not the man, is the important thing.
Without a Bible he quoted his text, 'Behold, I lay in Zion a chief
corner-stone, elect, precious; and he that believeth on him shall never
be confounded' (1 Pet. 2:6); 'Other foundation can no man lay than that
is laid, which is Jesus Christ' (1 Cor. 3: 11).
He described the church of apostolic daysits trials, its zeal, its
simplicity, its oneness of aim. The multitude of them that believed
were of one heart and one soul, and continued with one accord in
prayer and supplication. He pointed out that this unity was not merely
a spiritual and invisible union, but tangible, visible, organic, a
union in which caste and nationality were ignored, and where Judean and
Samaritan, Israelite and Gentile, Greek and barbarian, rich and poor,
free and bond, formed one common brotherhood, working together with
such harmony and power that, despite stripes and imprisonments,
persecutions and tortures, they multiplied and strengthened, until
idolatry was crushed, paganism vanquished, heathen philosophy
confounded, and unbelief abashed.
For a time, Hiram Gilcrest sat upon his log and listened to the
speaker's vivid eloquence with a satisfaction which amounted to
enthusiasm. Would that this man, Gilcrest mused, had been our pastor
at Cane Ridge, instead of that mischief-brewer, that pestilent heretic,
Barton Stone. Then our church would not have been led off into this
schism. But as the stranger proceeded in his discourse, Gilcrest awoke
to the fact that he was listening to what was in his opinion most
To-day, the preacher said, the church is so bound by the shackles
of dogma and doctrine, so crippled by doubtful disputations over 'mint,
anise and cumin,' that she is well-nigh powerless to carry on the task
assigned to her, the evangelization of the world. Sectarianism, with
her vermin swarm of envy, hatred, error, waste and confusion,
devastates the land. In the kingdom of the 'Prince of peace' is heard
the drum-beat of party warfare, where theology prevails against
Christology, dogma against devotion, partyism against piety; and where
the dictation of ecclesiastic councils is obeyed rather than the voice
His musical tones fixed the attention and thrilled every heart.
Without gesture or excitement, his manner was quietly forcible, until
he reached the second head of his theme. Then his spirit seemed to
overleap all impediments; and, as if inspired, he proclaimed the
sovereign efficacy of the sacrifice upon Calvary.
The existence and development of the church, he said, rests not
upon the acceptance of any system of opinion or tradition or
interpretation, but upon the acknowledgment of Jesus as Redeemer and
Messiah. 'Upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell
shall not prevail against it,' was the reply of Jesus to Peter's
confession, 'Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.' This is
the one basic truth upon which rests all the testimony of prophet and
apostle. This is the one sure foundation upon which the whole
superstructure of the Christian life must be built. It is the one
inspired creed and summary of the entire purpose and plan of the
Since the foundation of our faith, he continued, is not a set of
doctrinal tenets or a system of theological opinions, but a divine
personality, it follows that the spirit of Christian unity must be as
liberal and as broadly catholic as the spirit of Christ; and if we, the
scattered hosts of the Lord's people, are ever to be brought together
into one common bond of fellowship, we must each first learn to magnify
our points of agreement upon all matters of Scriptural interpretation
and exegesis, and to minimize our points of difference. Let us bear in
mind that whether our own particular system of theology be based upon
Calvin's predominating doctrine, the sovereignty of God and the
unchangeableness of his decrees; or whether we, like Arminius, lay
greater stress upon the doctrine of the freedom of the human will and
man's individual responsibility; whether we be Calvinist or Arminian,
Presbyterian or Methodist, Baptist or Quakerwe all worship the same
God, and through the same Mediator. Therefore, laying aside all malice
and envying and evil speaking and sectarian strife, let us preserve the
'unity of the Spirit in the bonds of peace.'
Thus the stranger reasoned, and ere he had finished, Hiram Gilcrest,
stripped of the armor under which he had so long battled for his stern
creed, was left helpless and wounded; and the sharpest item of his
defeat was this, that the Wellington of this Waterloo was proclaiming
substantially the same doctrine as that of the hated Stone.
His armor broken, his weapons captured, himself wounded, the old man
sat with bowed head, too weak and crushed to quit the field until the
sermon was finished. Then, unheeded, he threaded his way out of the
throng. Awe at last stole over him as he rode slowly along the quiet
lanes, with his hat slouched low over his face; and he was conscious of
a deeper meaning in his favorite texts of Scripture than he had
hitherto felt. Presently, however, he returned to his own habitual and
(to him) more reassuring reasoning. That fellow seems to think the
whole ocean of God's eternal purpose and decree can be caught up and
held in one little pint cup; and in his self-confident ignorance he
looks upon the Lord's ways as though they were a child's reading-book
which any man could learn at once. Even if there be truth in what he
says, the simple gospel is too mild and too broad to be used thus
freely. It would make the road to salvation toe easy for the
transgressor. The Westminster Confession and the Shorter and Longer
Catechisms are the skillful condensation and concentration of all
Scripture truth. They are the framework of the church; and one might as
well try to build a house without beams and rafters as to try to hold a
church together without creeds and covenants and confessions of faith.
He said nothing to any one of that sermon in the grove; but the next
few weeks he searched the Scriptures as he had never done before. At
first he sought to find texts to bolster up his preaccepted tenets, but
as the weeks went by, and he grew more and more absorbed in the search,
he began to study the Bible impartially and comprehensively; and,
instead of being satisfied with fragments of truth taken here and there
from disconnected texts, he studied the different passages with
reference to their connected meaning. Reading, studying, pondering
thus, his reason and judgment could not but admit the force of what
Barton Stone and the other New Light ministers were teaching. Yes,
his reason and judgment were at last convinced; yet this did not
produce submission and a desire to acknowledge his error, but rather a
feeling of resistance and defiance.
CHAPTER XXXIV. THE CUP OF COLD WATER
In August of that same summer, Hiram Gilcrest, the man of strong
nerve and iron constitution, whose boast it had been that he had never
known a day's real sickness, was stricken down with disease, and after
a few days of wasting illness, he was muttering in the delirium of
He had never forgiven his daughter and her husband their runaway
marriage. True, since the partial reconciliation of five years before,
which had removed the ban of total non-communication between the two
households, Betsy had occasionally visited her mother; but always, when
at Oaklands, her father's manner, cold, distant, formal, had made her
feel that not as a child of the house, nor even as an honored guest,
but merely as a stranger, would she ever again be received in the home
of her childhood. This was a great sorrow to her, the one dark cloud in
the otherwise serene sky of her married happiness; and Logan, although
he cared little on his own account for the cold looks and haughty
demeanor of his father-in-law, loved his young wife too tenderly not to
sorrow at her sorrow.
Now that Major Gilcrest was ill, however, Abner and Betty forgot all
his harsh injustice, and hurried to the bedside where he lay battling
for life against the fire that filled his veins, sapped his strength
and consumed his flesh. Mason Rogers, too, although he and Gilcrest had
not spoken to each other since their stormy interview eight years
before, now hearing of his old friend's illness, forgot all harsh words
and thoughts, and hurried to Oaklands to offer assistance. Of
Gilcrest's six children, only Betsy and Matthew, the first-born and the
youngest, were there. Silas and Philip were in Massachusetts, students
at Cambridge; John Calvin and Martin Luther, who had been among the
first of those brave Kentucky volunteers to march to the defense of the
territory of Indiana against the depredations of Tecumseh and the
Prophet, were now with General Harrison at Vincennes.
During the day, Betsy, who had left her three little children in the
charge of the negress Marthy, shared with Aunt Dilsey the care of the
sick man; and during the night watch Abner was his most constant
attendant. Although Gilcrest was too delirious to recognize any one, it
soon came to pass that no one else could influence him as could his
once despised son-in-law; for poor Mrs. Gilcrest could not bear the
sight of her husband's sufferings, and was hardly ever allowed to enter
All that the medical erudition of the time prescribed was done for
the patient. He was bled twice a week, and smothered in blankets; he
was poulticed and plastered, blistered and fomented; he was dosed with
concoctions of fever-wort, boneset, burdock, pokeberry, mullein root,
and other medicaments bitter of taste and vile of smell; and kept hot,
weak, and miserable generally. Our forbears are represented to this
generation as a brave, vigorous and healthy race; and no wonder, for
disease in that heroic age was simply a question of the survival of
the fittest; and the stringent remedies prescribed under the old
dispensation were well calculated to eliminate all but the strongest
members of the race.
August and September passed, and still the master of Oaklands lay
helpless, while fever raged in his gaunt frame with unrelenting
violence. One thing was constantly denied him, fresh, cold water;
although he pleaded with such pitiful agony that his nurses wept when
they refused him. In delirium he talked of the old spring at his
far-away childhood homeof the babbling music of the water as it
sparkled over its pebbly bed and trickled down the rocky hillsideand
again and again he pleaded for one draught of its reviving freshness.
Water! water! was the burden of his plaint from morn till night, and
from night till morn; and when too weak to speak, his hollow, bloodshot
eyes still begged for water.
Finally he was given up to die. He can not last through the night,
was the verdict of the two physicians to the mourning ones around the
bedside. His fainting wife was carried from the room; and his daughter,
not able to endure the sight of his dying agonies, allowed her husband
to lead her to her old room, where she threw herself across her bed in
a paroxysm of grief. Oh, father, father, my poor, dear old father!
she wailed, if only you could speak to me again before you die, and
tell me that you forgive me and love me. And my brothers, so far away!
Oh, if you could be with us in this dark hour! It is so hard, so hard!
The doctors had left. Aunt Dilsey was upstairs in attendance upon
her stricken mistress. The night wore on, and when the gray dawn was
just beginning to creep into the chamber where Hiram Gilcrest lay
unconscious and scarcely breathing, Mason Rogers and John Trabue, worn
out with their long night's vigil, stole into an adjoining room to
snatch an hour's rest. Only Abner Logan and William Bledsoe were left
in attendance upon the dying man. Presently he opened his eyes and
fixed his gaze on Abner.
Do you know me, Mr. Gilcrest? asked Logan, tenderly touching the
shrunken, parched hands.
Water! water! was the reply; for God's sake give me water! Have
mercy, and let me have one drop before I die!
You shall have it, sir, said Abner, his eyes filling. Then, to a
negro boy who was just entering the room, he cried, Run quickly to the
spring-house, and fetch a bucket of water.
Are you not rash, Logan? whispered Bledsoe. You know the doctors
have all along forbidden that.
But they have pronounced him dying; in any case the water can make
no difference, and I can not resist his plea any longer.
The water was brought, and Abner gave the sick man one sip, which
was all he would take. To his fever-parched palate the water tasted a
vile draught; and he turned from it in loathing and despair. With a
tiny mop Logan then moistened the parched mouth with a solution of
slippery elm. Presently the moan for water was again uttered, and now
the fevered palate at last began to feel its coolness. With unnatural
strength he seized the gourd, and drained its contents. Bless you, my
boy! he exclaimed faintly; then fell back on his pillow exhausted, and
dropped immediately into a deep sleep.
He's gone! exclaimed Bledsoe, as he saw the perspiration gathering
upon his brow. He will never wake from this stupor, and again the
sorrowing family were summoned. The solemnity of death reigned in the
chamber, where the watchers restrained their weeping, and waited in
awe-struck silence the approach of man's last grim foe.
He may live, Abner said at last as the moments passed and Gilcrest
breathed on in quiet slumber.
If he does, responded Bledsoe, that water will have saved him.
Gilcrest slept on. Dawn gave place to full day, morning glided into
afternoon. Late in the evening he awoke of his own accord, weak as a
new-born babe, but with the fever gone and the light of reason once
more in his sunken eyes.
During the long weeks of convalescence that followed, while his body
was slowly regaining vigor, his heart, too, was gradually expanding
into a new spiritual life. He had ample time for reflection as he sat
propped with pillows in the cushioned chair in his quiet room; and in
those long hours of solitude and feeble helplessness, he first began to
feel the need of a religion more healing and cheering than that which
showed God only as an avenger, stern, partial and dictatorial.
Gradually, and as naturally as a plant turns to the sun, his mind
turned to that all-loving Father who, being touched with a feeling for
our infirmities, ever tempers his righteous judgments with tenderest
mercy, and is ever yearning to deliver all from the penalty of sin.
CHAPTER XXXV. CONCLUSION
Upon the third Sunday in November, while the congregation in Cane
Ridge meeting-house was singing the opening hymn, Hiram Gilcrest
entered, and, walking slowly down the aisle, seated himself upon the
steps of the pulpit platform. All eyes were turned upon him, and for a
moment there was a perceptible pause and break in the singing. Then
Mason Rogers lined out the fifth stanza, and the congregation sang with
Let us pray, said Barton Stone, coming forward with uplifted hands
at the conclusion of the hymn; but Gilcrest arose, and, arresting him,
stood facing the assembly. Brethren, he said, before we pray, allow
me a few words. I have been a professor of religion for over forty
years, and for twenty years of this time I was identified with this
church. My walk was orderly, my conversation seemly. I gave tithes of
all that I possessed, I was instant in season and out of season, and
ever jealous for the well-being of the church. In things outward and, I
thought, in things spiritual, I was a Christian; and though I was as
self-righteous as any Pharisee, I was not a hypocrite, for I was
self-deceived. In all these years I was as Simon the sorcerer, still
'in the gall of bitterness and the bond of iniquity,' having neither
part nor lot in true Christianity. But, brethren, the Lord in his mercy
did at last reveal unto me the dark places of my soul wherein lurked
pride, prejudice, vindictiveness, and all uncharitableness; and, like
the publican, I cried, 'God be merciful to me, a sinner!'
For several years I have had at times an idea that in the position
taken by this church in 1803, you were perhaps right and I wrong. A
sermon by a strange preacher in a distant county last June further
tended to convince me of this; but still I struggled with stubborn
hardihood against the truth that was threatening to crush me. It was
reserved for the Lord's own stroke to smite the rock and bring forth
the sweet waters of repentance and confession. To-day I am here not so
much because I have surrendered one jot or tittle of my former
doctrinal tenets, as because of the conviction that no system of dogma,
however true and logical, is of importance compared to this, that the
professed followers of Jesus Christ should be a united people. I now
see that whether the doctrines formulated by Calvin or those
promulgated by Arminius be true, the acceptance of either
interpretation of these disputed points does not constitute the vital
essence of salvation. They are but matters of opinion, instead of the
one supreme article of saving faithbelief in the redeeming efficacy
of the sacrifice upon Calvary.
As I now understand the position taken by this congregation in
1803, I see that so far as it may be considered a distinctive religious
movement, it is distinctive only in its denial of the binding authority
of human organizations, and in its renunciation of humanly devised
creeds as unscriptural and as opposed to the simplicity and unity of
Christian people. Therefore, leaving out of the question all matters of
opinion upon doctrinal theology, and standing, as you do, upon the one
sure foundation-stone, faith in and reliance upon our crucified
Redeemer, I come to you to-day, begging forgiveness for my opposition
and vindictiveness, and asking that my own and my wife's name be
replaced upon your church book, and that we be restored to your
Before he had finished, Barton Stone was beside him grasping his
hand, but too overcome to utter a word. The congregation sat a moment
in breathless silence, tears of sympathy and thankfulness in the eyes
of even the most stolid. Then Mason Rogers, striding down the aisle,
and facing the people, with one arm thrown over the shoulders of his
old friend and comrade, lifted up his voice in thanksgiving. He prayed
in his own homely words, but with fervency and fire as though his lips
had indeed been touched with a live coal from the altar.
Amen! and Amen! were the exclamations from all parts of the
building. Then, in a clear, full voice, he started the hymn:
I'm not ashamed to own my Lord,
Nor to defend his cause.
The congregation quickly joined in; and as the melody of noble old
Arlington resounded through the building, the people left their
seats, and, filing down the aisle, each in turn grasped the hand of the
returned brother, and welcomed him again into fellowship.
Thus, like a sincere and peace-loving Christian, Hiram Gilcrest once
more took his place among his brethren, humbly and lovingly, with never
again a trace of his former spirit of prejudice and dogmatic
As for the various other characters of this story, little more need
Barton Stone labored for many years in various fields of usefulness
in Kentucky, Tennessee, Indiana and Missouri. In 1843 he returned for a
last visit to Cane Ridge. He was then an old man, bent and palsied, and
so feeble that he had to be helped into the pulpit; but his eyes
kindled with the old-time light, his bent form straightened with
something of the old-time vigor, and his voice became full and vibrant
as he stood facing that assembly where many seats were now occupied by
the children and grandchildren of those who in this old meetinghouse
forty years before had as a church renounced all human authoritative
voice in matters of religious worship, and had resolved that
henceforward the Bible should be their only rule of faith and practice,
and belief in Jesus as the Christ their only creed. Stone preached this
last sermon from the text of Paul's farewell to the brethren at
Ephesus, And now behold I know that ye all among whom I have gone
preaching the kingdom of God shall see my face no more. He was truly
the old man eloquent as, standing for the last time in that pulpit, he
reviewed the past, spoke approvingly of the present, and admonished to
future zeal. He died in 1844 in Missouri, and the following spring his
remains were brought to Kentucky by the members of Cane Ridge Church,
and reinterred in the old churchyard.
Cane Ridge meeting-house is still used as a regular place of
worship. Its log walls have been weather-boarded, its clapboard roof
replaced by one of shingles, and its rough-hewn puncheon benches have
given way to more comfortable seats. The quaint little window over the
pulpit and the slaves' gallery opposite have been removed, and more
modern heating appliance substituted for the old fireplace. Otherwise,
the building is the same as it was one hundred years ago.
To one who knows the history of its venerable walls and of those who
rest in its old-fashioned graveyard, where, underneath the arching
boughs of walnut and pine, oak and maple, there sleep Barton Stone and
many others who took part in the first great religious movement of the
nineteenth century, it is indeed a hallowed place. What Geneva was to
Calvin, Wittenberg to Luther, Edinburgh to Knox, and Epworth to the
Wesleys, this beautiful nook of Bourbon County is to that great
reformatory or restoratory movement inaugurated in 1803, whose plea was
and still is the restoration of the simplicity, the freedom and the
catholicity of apostolic Christianity; and whose dominant effort has
ever been for the union of God's people upon the only efficient
platform of Christian union, faith in Jesus the Christ, the Son of God.
 J. T. Sharrard.
Mason Rogers and his bustling, kind-hearted wife lived to a ripe old
age, happy in home, children and children's children, and in the
affectionate regard of all who knew them. The warp of their daily life
was plain and homely, but the bright threads of integrity and
loving-kindness running through it, made it into a beautiful pattern,
approved of all men.
Henry Rogers, after finishing his course at Transylvania, dedicated
his splendid talents to the ministry, winning many souls to Christ,
enduring many trials, encountering much opposition from those professed
Christians in whom the spirit of sectarian intolerance still held sway.
Bravely he endured, and nobly he deserved, at the end of his long life
of unselfishness, the plaudit, Well done, good and faithful servant!
The strong bond of friendship between the Gilcrest, Rogers and Logan
families was made still closer and stronger when John Calvin Gilcrest,
at the close of the war of 1812, returned to Kentucky and married Susan
For Abner and Betsy Logan, the years as they sped onward brought an
ever-increasing measure of happiness; for their love for each other had
that steady, faithful, fireside quality which endures, and fills the
daily life with peace and charm long after the first blaze of passion
has sunk into the smouldering glow of sympathetic affection.
Where once had stood their first humble log cabin, there arose in
the course of a few years the new Crestlands, a stately mansion of
brick with spacious rooms, broad halls and pillared porches. This
noble, historic homestead is to-day occupied by the fifth generation of
Logans. Its founder, Abner Logan, realized his ideal; for his home
became a center of peace and order, love and contenta radiating
point, ever widening into increasing circles of beauty and usefulness;
and the name, Crestlands, is still a synonym for hospitality,
integrity and Christian culture in that green and beautiful portion of
God's Country called Cane Ridge.
(SEE CHAPTER XXVI.)
In June, 1804, the several ministers of the new organization met at
Cane Ridge meeting-house, and drew up the Last Will and Testament of
Springfield Presbytery. A copy of this quaint and remarkable document
is here subjoined:
THE LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT OF SPRINGFIELD PRESBYTERY
The Presbytery of Springfield, sitting at Caneridge, in the
of Bourbon, in more than ordinary bodily health, growing in
and size daily; and in perfect soundness and composure of mind;
knowing that it is appointed for all delegated bodies once to
and considering that the life of every such body is very
do make and ordain this our last Will and Testament, in manner
form following, viz.:
Imprimis. We will, that this body die, be
dissolved, and sink
into union with the Body of Christ at large; for there is but
body, and one Spirit, even as we are called in one hope of our
Item. We will, that our name of distinction, with
title, be forgotten, that there be but one Lord over God's
and His name one.
Item. We will, that our power of making laws for
of the church, and executing them by delegated authority,
cease; that the people may have free course to the Bible, and
the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus.
Item. We will, that candidates for the Gospel
henceforth study the Holy Scriptures with fervent prayer, and
license from God to preach the simple Gospel, with the Holy
sent down from heaven, without any mixture of philosophy,
deceit, traditions of men, or the rudiments of the world. And
none henceforth take this honor to himself, but he that is
of God, as was Aaron.
Item. We will, that the church of Christ resume
her native right
of internal governmenttry her candidates for the ministry, at
their soundness in the faith, acquaintance with experimental
religion, gravity and aptness to teach; and admit no other
their authority but Christ speaking in them. We will, that the
church of Christ look up to the Lord of the harvest to send
laborers into His harvest; and that she resume her primitive
to try those who say they are apostles, and are not.
Item. We will, that each particular church, as a
by the same spirit, choose her own preacher, and support him by
freewill offering, without a written call or
members, remove offences; and never henceforth delegate
of government to any man or set of men whatever.
Item. We will, that the people henceforth take the
Bible as the
only sure guide to heaven; and as many as are offended with
books, which stand in competition with it, may cast them into
fire if they choose; for it is better to enter into life having
book, than having many to be cast into hell.
Item. We will, that preachers and people cultivate
a spirit of
mutual forbearance; pray more and dispute less; and while they
behold the signs of the times, look up, and confidently expect
redemption draweth nigh.
Item. We will, that our weak brethren who may have
to make the Presbytery of Springfield their king, and know not
is now become of it, betake themselves to the Rock of Ages, and
follow Jesus for the future.
Item. We will, that the Synod of Kentucky examine
who may be suspected of having departed from the
Faith, and suspend every such suspected heretic immediately; in
order that the oppressed may go free, and taste the sweets of
Item. We will, that Ja, the author of the
lately published in Lexington, be encouraged in his zeal to
partyism. We will, moreover, that our past conduct be
into by all who may have correct information; but let
beware of speaking evil of things which they know not.
Item. Finally we will, that all our sister
bodies read their
Bibles carefully, that they may see their fate there
prepare for death before it is too late.
Springfield Presbytery, }
June 28th, 1804. } L. S.
ROBERT MARSHALL, }
JOHN DUNLAVY, }
RICHARD MCNEMAR, }
B. W. STONE, } Witnesses.
JOHN THOMPSON, }
DAVID PURVIANCE, }
There seemed to be throughout the United States at about this time a
growing realization among Christian people of the fact that the one
essential principle of Protestant Christianitybelief in and
acceptance of Jesus as Redeemer and Christwas already held in common
by all evangelical denominations. Hence, soon after this there began in
widely separated parts of the country various other movements similar
in aim and method to that inaugurated in Kentucky by the dissolution of
the Springfield Presbytery.
It is only needed that these various movements become known to each
other in order to become united. This union was effected in 1882; and
rapidly crystalized into a body whose only distinguishing name is
Christian or Disciple, and whose differential character lies not in
its advocacy of any new doctrine or theological tenet whatever; but in
its rejection of that which in the way of human speculation, human
interpretation and human dogma has been added to the original simple
and all-comprehending faith of the apostolic church.