The Hawks of Hawk-Hollow, Volume 2. Robert Montgomery Bird
I will discover such a horrid treason,
As, when you hear't, and understand how long
You've been abused, will run you mad with fury.
— Beaumont and Fletcher—The Prophetess.
It has been seen how the rejoicings at the promontory were
interrupted in their very beginning, by the sudden discovery of the
refugee, so Drad for his derring-doe and bloody deed, that his mere name had thrown all present into confusion. The
crowning climax was put to the general panic, when some of the late
pursuers were seen returning, early in the afternoon, whipping and
spurring with all the zeal of fear, and scattering such intelligence
along the way as put to flight the last resolution of the jubilants.
The news immediately spread, that Oran Gilbert had burst into
existence, not alone, but with a countless host of armed men at his
heels; that he had attacked and routed the pursuers, hanging all whom
he took alive, especially the soldiers; and that he was now, in the
frenzy of triumph, marching against thedevoted Hillborough, with the
resolution of burning it to the ground. Such dreadful intelligence was
enough to complete the terror of the revellers; they fled amain—and
long before night, the flag waved, and the little piece of ordnance
frowned in utter solitude on the top of the deserted head-land. It is
true that there came, by and by, couriers with happier news, but too
late to arrest the fugitives; and as these riders made their way
towards the village, expressing some anxiety lest it should be
attacked, they rather confirmed than dispelled the fears of the few
inhabitants of the valley. From one of the coolest and boldest, Captain
Loring, who fastened on him at the park-gate, learned that there had
been no action indeed, and that the fugitive had made his escape; but,
on the other hand, it appeared that there were refugees in the land,—
that they had hanged a soldier named Parker, and made good their
retreat from the place of execution—that the greatest doubt existed
among the pursuers in relation to the route they had taken and the
objects they had in view, some believing, on the evidence of a certain
quaker, who had been their prisoner, that they were marching by secret
paths against the village, while others insisted that this was a feint
designed only to throw the hunters off the scent, and to secure their
escape,—that, in consequence, the party had divided, pursuing the
search in all directions, in the hope of discovering their route,—and,
finally, that it was now certain, the band, whose number was supposed
to be very considerable, was really commanded by the notorious Oran
Gilbert. From this man also, Captain Loring learned a few vague
particulars in relation to the two greatest objects of his interest,
namely Henry Falconer and the young painter, who had fallen into a
quarrel in consequence of some misunderstanding about their horses, the
officer havingused harsh language not only in regard to the
unceremonious seizure by Herman of his own steed, but in reference to a
similar liberty the refugee had previously taken with the painter's,
which, Falconer averred, was an evidence of intimacy and intercourse
betwixt Mr. Hunter and the outlaw it behooved the former to explain,
before thrusting himself into the company of honest men and gentlemen.
This quarrel, it seemed, had been allayed by the interference of
Falconer's brother officers; and the informant had heard something said
of a proposal to drown the feud in a bowl. As for the man of peace,
Ephraim, it appeared, that his spirited assistance during the chase,
and especially his success in exposing the secret haunt of the tories
in the Terrapin Hole, the scene of Parker's execution, had not only
removed all suspicion in relation to his character, but had highly
recommended him to the favour of his late captors.
With such news, the Captain strode back to his mansion, and
awaited, with his daughter and kinswoman, the return of the officers to
the Hollow, and their appearance at the hall, which he doubted not,
they would instantly make, after returning. He waited, however, for a
long time, in vain; and by falling sound asleep, as he watched the sun
creeping beneath the western hills, escaped the intelligence, which was
soon after brought to the house, that the officers had returned to the
Hollow, and instead of reporting themselves forthwith under his
hospitable roof, had made their way to the widow's inn, where they were
carousing with a zeal commensurate with the spirit they had exhibited
during the troubles of the day.
This unexpected termination of a day of heroism—a termination that
surprised and irritated Miss Falconer as much as it perhaps
secretlypleased the Captain's daughter—was a consequence of the late
quarrel, or rather a mode of burying it in oblivion, devised by captain
Caliver, who had contracted an esteem for the painter, and preferred
'his ease in his inn' to all the delights and blandishments that might
be expected in the society of Gilbert's Folly. As the superior officer,
he had taken the command into his own hands, and besides arranging his
forces so as to watch all the approaches to the valley, and despatching
lieutenant Brooks to the village, to communicate with the authorities
there, he declared his resolution to erect his head-quarters in the
Hollow, at a place like the Traveller's Rest, where, while still
commanding the road, he would be near enough to protect the females and
non-combatants in the Captain's house. "And besides," he added
facetiously, while riding up to the little inn, "as we men of the sword
are protectors of widows as well as orphans, we will thus protect a
forlorn old woman from mischief, and put a penny into her pocket, and
drink our wine at our ease—for you remember, Falconer, my young
brother, you swore by all the gods you would have some of the
wherewithal smuggled up to this identical old woman's whiskey-house!"
"I swore it 'by the eternal Jupiter,"' said Falconer, with a grin;
"and, by the eternal Jupiter, I am as ready for a blow-up now as
another time; only that we must blow fast, so as to run up to Hal, to
be scolded before bed-time, as soon as Brooks comes: and as for Mr.
Hunter here, why he and I can blow out one another's brains in the
"If thee talks in this evil-minded, blood-thirsty manner," said
Ephraim Patch, indignantly, "I give thee warning, I will have nothing
to do with thy wholesome wines and thy goodly brandies, whereofthee has
spoken, and whereof much good may be said, in regard of them that are
faint and weary. If thee will eat, drink, and be merry, all in a civil,
Christian way, without drawing any weapons more dreadful than corks,
pulling only at the bottle instead of the pistol, and neither swearing
profanely nor drinking foolish irreligious healths, thee shall have me
in company to give thee good counsel, whereof thee has considerable
much need, as well as thy long-nosed friend here, (not meaning any
offence,) which thee calls captain, and the youth also, friend Hunter.
Verily, I am both hungry and thirsty, and will sooner enjoy the
creature comforts in this quiet hovel, than even the satisfaction of
bringing the breaker of laws into the hands of justice. Verily, the
thought of these goodly wines doth make my mouth water; and I shall
rejoice, even to the bottom of my spirit, if they have already reached
the house of the widow."
We do not design to relate the joys of the banquet shared by the
four worthies, and some two or three young men of the county, who had
shown themselves men of spirit, and remained bravely by the side of the
officers, resolved, as they said, to contribute their aid to the
defence of the Hollow. It is only worthy of remark, first, that the ill
blood between young Falconer and the painter gradually wore away, and
was succeeded, on the part of the former, by a sudden friendship, which
bade fair to ripen into fondness, and on that of Hyland, by what was at
least a show of reciprocity; secondly, that honest Ephraim, gradually
displayed as much spirit in the feast as he had before manifested in
the fray, and became, to the surprise of all, the soul of mirth and
drollery, so that young Falconer, clapping him on the back, swore, with
the favourite oath of his friend Caliver, he 'had never seen a jollier
old broad-brim;' and thirdly,that this capricious young gentleman grew
so enamoured of his company, that he ceased to talk, as he did at
first, of the necessity he was under of paying his sister and friends a
visit at the Folly, until he was roused to recollection by the sudden
retreat of his new friend from the cottage. The painter was detected in
the very act of stealing, or as they chose to call it, sneaking from
the apartment; and Mr. Falconer, uttering a loud 'Hillo! halt,
deserter!' volunteered to bring him back to the punishment immediately
ordered by the captain of cavalry, of a glass of salt and water. He
rushed from the room, and plainly beheld the youth, in the light that
flashed from the window, spring from the porch, and dive into the
midnight shadows of the oak trees—for it was now completely dark As he
retreated, he stumbled over some obstruction in the path; but instantly
recovering himself, he leaped over the little brook, and was soon out
"Hillo, Hunter, my boy!" cried the lieutenant. "Why zounds! there
he goes up the road like a light-horseman! Why, gad, here the fool has
dropped his handkerchief;—no, gad's my life, 'tis a paper. Hillo,
painter! you've dropped something! A letter, as I'm
alive!—Ehem—hiccup! —a very handsome constellation that Great Bear!
never saw the Pointers shine so brightly in my life. —Gad's my life,
and adzooks, as Captain Loring says, 'tis the lights in the Folly,
after all! and here am I, carousing like an ass, instead of playing off
the Romeo to Catherine by starlight. Now Hal will scold like twenty
housekeepers, Catherine will look sulky, and as for the Captain, why I
suppose he will fall into one of his patriarchal rages. Gad, but I feel
rather warmish and particular; but this cool night air is a good thing
for settling one's nerves. I warrant me, that rascal Hunter has gone up
there before me. A very handsome, well behaved dog, and I like him
With such expressions as these, the young man, whose brain, never
one of the strongest, was at present whirling in confusion, began to
make his way towards the Folly, without troubling himself to think what
amazement or affliction his absence might cause his friends. Indeed, he
was fast verging towards that happy state in which man shows his
loftiest contempt of the world and the world's ways, and his disregard
of all those restraints and encumbrances which society has imposed upon
the free-born lord of creation. He had left the hovel without his hat;
but what cared he for such a superfluity, of a fine summer night, even
although beginning a walk over hill and hollow, of full a mile in
extent? Had he left it even without his boots, it is questionable
whether he would have noticed the deficiency, until recalled to his
senses by the roughness of the road. In a word, the wine he had already
swallowed, had made serious inroads upon a brain that was always 'very
poor and unhappy for drinking;' and, as it frequently happens in such
cases, the exercise of walking more than counteracted the effects of
the cooling air; so that, by the time he had trudged half the distance
towards the paddock, the young gentleman was in the happiest spirits
imaginable, wholly insensible of his condition, and almost unconscious
of the purpose that had drawn him so far. He even began to sing along
the road, and by the time he had reached the gate, was trolling a song,
of a character ludicrous enough to come from his lips, but which,
perhaps caught originally from those of some wag or philosopher of the
camp, was now suggested by the spirit of happy indifference it breathed
to all sublunary concerns, and was therefore in excellent harmony with
his own feelings.It was the song of Poor Joe, and was sung with
wondrous emphasis and gusto.
Poor Joe! I've no wealth but content at command,
I am otherwise poor as a rat;
But while the world covets one's houses and land,
I'm sure 'twill not rob me of that,
I'm sure 'twill not rob me of that.
I've no money, no money to squander in wine,
To aid me in soft'ning my lot:
But then, if the shame of a poor man be mine,
The shame of a scoundrel shall not,
The shame of a scoundrel shall not.
No sweetheart to flatter, no wife to applaud,—
Poor Joe! he may house him or roam;
But, sure, if he meets with no angel abroad,
He'll hap on no devil at home,
He'll hap on no devil at home.
Poor Joe! I've no friends, as, if richer, I might,
But for that I'll not bitterly grieve;
If there's none, with the gabble of love, to delight,
Why then there are none to deceive,
Why then there are none to deceive.
Poor Joe! I am ragged, my hat is grown old,
My elbows peep out to the storm;
But why should I fear for the wet and the cold,
When content and a blanket can warm,
When content and a blanket can warm!
Apparently, he found the madrigal just one stanza too short, at
least for his present mood; for which reason, so soon as he had
finished the last of all, he began to repeat it, with even more
expression than before, and had just reached the second line,—
"My elbows peep out to the storm,"—
when one of his own elbows was suddenly seized upon, and a voice,
bitterly reproachful, muttered in his ear,
"Are you mad? Are you mad, brother? are you mad?"
"What! Hal? sister? is that you? Gad's my life, I knew you would
scold me; but if you would only consider—But, now I think of it, egad,
what brings you out here of a dark night, singing Poor Joe, like an old
soldier? Adzooks, as the Captain says, I am quite astonished!"
"Brother, you are—Oh, that you should be so insensible to
interest, if not to shame!" cried Miss Falconer, with deep feeling.
"Brother, brother, you"—
"If I have, may I be shot!" cried the young officer, hastily, as if
the instinct of long habit had taught him what his sister intended to
say; "that is, Harry, my dear, nothing to speak of; and it is all on
account of Caliver, who, betwixt you and me, is so deuced
soft-headed,—he is, egad,—one must always sit by, to take care of
him. As for me, Hal, why I can drink a hogshead of any such wishwashy
stuff as these French wines; I can, by the eternal Jupiter, as Caliver
says; and at the present moment I am"—
"Ruined, irretrievably ruined!" cried his sister; "and by your own
folly—by your own miserable, infatuated dissipation. You have lost
"Lost Catherine Loring? my Catherine Loring?" cried the young man,
in alarm. "Have the Hawks carried her off?"
"What if I say yes?" replied Harriet; and then added, with a tone
that brought the youth still farther to his senses, "and I must add,
that even a base and renegade Gilbert is worthier of her than you,—my
brother,—the son of Richard Falconer! Oh, shame upon you, brother!
shame upon you!"
"Harry, you are joking with me!" cried Falconer, with a voice
somewhat quavering and querulous. "We've driven the dogs the lord knows
whither; and as for that story of the village, why that's all a fib: so
as to carrying Catherine off, I don't believe a word of it."
"And yet you have lost her,—lost her, perhaps, beyond all
redemption. Oh Harry, brother Harry, were you but enough in your senses
to understand me!"
"I am, sister, I am," cried Falconer; and indeed the devil,
drunkenness, was fast giving place to the devil, fear: "I have been
drinking; but I swear to heaven."
"Swear no more: you have done so a dozen times already."
"I have done so, sister; but I swear again, and I call heaven to
witness, that if you have spoken the truth, and Catherine be really
lost, I will never drink more till I have recovered or revenged her.
But for pity's sake, speak; what is the matter?— I am sober now. What
has brought you out here in the dark? Where is Catherine? What is the
"You shall hear," cried Miss Falconer, hurriedly: "perhaps it is
not yet too late. You have a rival, brother, a dangerous rival!"
"Oh, gad now, sister! lord, is that all?" exclaimed the young man,
bursting into a laugh: "why, you don't think I shall go jealous,
because I have a rival? Gad, Harry, you're the most absurd sister in
the world.—I wonder what the deuce has become of my hat?—A rival,
Hal? One of these village clotpolls! A dozen of 'em, if you like: the
more the merrier. I'll invite 'em all to my wedding."
"You are mad!" cried Harriet. "Wedding, indeed! Perhaps you will
never be married. What think you of a rival that has her heart?"
"Her heart? Catherine's heart?" exclaimed the gay-brained soldier;
"why, it has been mine these two years!"
"And now," said Harriet, "it is another's.— Brother! rouse from
your dream of confidence and security. It is as true as that the stars
are above us: Catherine Loring loves another."
"It is true—she confessed it with her own lips."
"Confessed it, sister!" said the young man; and then added, with a
spirit that surprised her, "If that be so, why then good luck to her:
she shall have her freedom. I don't think I shall break my heart; and,
certainly, I shan't force her to marry me. But, Hal,—look you, sister
Hal,—I did not think she would cozen me. She confessed it, did she?
Why, that's enough. I'm an honourable man; but after being cheated and
jilted, I don't care much—But if I don't kill the scoundrel, Hal!—I
say if I don't kill him, you may have leave to call me a fool and
chicken twice over!— Confess it!"
If this display of spirit surprised Miss Falconer, the manifest
distress with which her brother spoke, incredible as it may seem,
greatly gratified her. His greatest fault in her eyes,—that is, aside
from his dissipated habits,—was that easy indifferenceof disposition,
or indolence of feeling, which kept him reckless and passive when she
would have had him ardent and energetic. She knew him to be insensible
of the full value of that prize it was her ambition to secure him; and
had he been any but her brother, she would have hated him for what
seemed the feebleness of his affection, as indicated by the little
pains he took to secure that of Catherine. It was obvious, from this
homely burst, in which magnanimity, pride, indignation, anger, and
distress, were all so characteristically jumbled together, that the
young gentleman had really feeling enough at bottom, and that, in a
great measure, of the right kind; and the discovery brought a ray of
hope into her mind.
"Brother," said she, "if you really love Catherine, you may yet
"What! after confessing she loves another?" cried he, sulkily.
"Now, Hal, for all your wisdom, you don't know me—I won't have her.
"No—she did not confess—I will explain. Perhaps 'twas only a
dream;—it was in her sleep."
"In her sleep!" cried Falconer, and then burst again into a roar of
laughter. "In her sleep!" he ejaculated, giving way to a second peal.
"Well! you have scared me with a vengeance!—But I forgive you—you
have brought me to. Of all the cunning doctors in the world, give me
yourself, Harry; you are infallible. And so she confessed in her sleep,
poor soul, did she? Oh, Hal! Hal! Hal!" And here the capricious youth
gave full swing to his merriment.
"Thus it is," said his sister, impatiently; "one extreme or the
other, ever. Listen, brother; for I am serious. Your wild habits have
greatly weakened Catherine's affections. Another comes, in the
meanwhile, with attractions, I will not saysuperior to your own, but
perhaps every way equal, who ceases not, neither by day nor by night,
to influence her imagination and engage her heart. Judge of his
success, when you know that she has admitted him to intimacy, nay, to
confidence; judge, when I tell you that she trembles at the sound of
his voice, turns pale at the echo of his footsteps, blushes when he
speaks, looks glad when he is by her, and weeps when he is
absent,—and, finally, who hides the secret from her own waking
thoughts, yet babbles his name over in her dreams, and sheds tears, and
smiles with her tears, when she murmurs it. Is not such a man,—the
object of such emotions, himself so passionately enamoured, that his
visage betrays the thought of his bosom, even when he knows he is
suspected and watched,—is not such a man a dangerous rival?"
"Sister, you know better than myself," said Falconer, uneasily; "if
you think so"—
"I do, brother; I believe, that, this moment, without knowing it
herself, Catherine's mind is dwelling upon your rival; and if he be not
driven away, you will lose her."
"Point him out to me, sister Harriet, and then, by"—
"No fighting! no fighting, brother!" cried Harriet, in some alarm,
and speaking with eagerness. "Not a hair of the young man's head must
be harmed; we have done him injury enough among us, perhaps, already.
We must frighten him away: if I know him, we can legally expel him from
the valley. Arrest, imprison him, banish him;—do any thing; but harm
him not—that is, do him no harm with your own hands. If he have
forfeited his life to the law, let the law take it. Now, brother, know
your rival—it is the youngest brother of this dreadful Oran Gilbert."
"Saints and devils!" cried Falconer, with vivacity, "a Hawk of the
Hollow! and dare to love Catherine Loring?"
"I could be sworn to it," said Harriet. "The circumstances that
pointed out the assassin of my father, were but clews of thistle-down
to the chains of evidence that led me to the knowledge of this skulking
raven's character. The first circumstance was as strong as the last; an
idle, thoughtless, nay, an accidental, pencil mark on a drawing opened
my eyes in an instant; and heaven's light immediately streamed through
them. But think him not the coarse cut-throat his name would indicate;
he has had a gentleman's breeding, and such is his bearing. I doubt not
that he is a confederate of his brother, perhaps even a spy; and, I am
persuaded, it was he who counteracted our scheme of seizing the
reprobates, and brought the poor soldier, Parker, to the gibbet. He
must be arrested and examined. He knows he is suspected—he knows that
I suspect him; but will, in his audacity, remain, in the assurance that
no real proof can be brought against him.—That man, that painter,
brother,—that Hunter? where did you leave him?"
"Leave him?" cried Falconer: "why, is he not here? Sure, he led the
way hither; and sure I followed after him. A rare fellow, sister! I was
going to blow his brains out; but, egad, I know him better, and, gad, I
am coming on fast to adore him. Adzooks, as the Captain says, I picked
up his letter, and"—
"His letter?" cried Harriet, eagerly; "where is it?"
"Here," said the lieutenant, drawing it from his pocket, wherein he
had safely bestowed it.
"To the light! to the light!" cried the maiden, snatching it out of
his hands, and running with the speed of a frighted deer towards the
mansion, followed by her bewildered brother. A candle blazedin one of
the windows that opened on the porch, and in the chamber it lighted,
had she been disposed to look, Miss Falconer might have seen the
gallant Captain Loring sitting upright in his armchair, but fast
asleep, and filling half the house with the melody of his nostrils. To
this window ran Miss Falconer, and hither she was followed by her
brother; who, to his amazement and indignation, found her devouring the
contents of the paper with the avidity of a malefactor poring over his
own respite from a death of ignominy.
"Gad's my life, sister Hal!" cried the incensed soldier, "you have
disgraced me for ever! What, reading the young fellow's letter?"
"Reading my letter!" cried Harriet, turning upon him a look
inexpressibly fierce and triumphant. "Was not this suspicion as
prophetic as the other? The dead Parker speaks to me, and from his
grave affords me proof even stronger than I sought. Oh, villain!
villain! audacious, inconceivably audacious, villain! Their lieutenant?
His intimacy with, his designs upon Catherine Loring, revealed even to
his ribald companions? and made their theme of speech! their jest! Oh,
what a rival have you suffered to approach your betrothed wife, Harry
Falconer! This convicts, doubly convicts him.—What ho, uncle! Captain
Loring, awake! Where is Catherine? Uncle! uncle!"
"Devils!" cried Falconer, "do you mean to say that Hunter is the
man? Why he's a gentleman!"—
"Adzooks, and adsbobs, what's the matter? Send out scouts to beat
the bushes: tree 'em, my boys, tree 'em; never show an inch of Adam's
leather to an Indian.—Adzooks, is that you, Harry my dear?" were the
words of Captain Loring, roused as suddenly from his slumbers as he
hadoften been in his early woodland campaigns. "What's the matter? Have
you caught that scoundrel Oran, or any of his gang?"
The answer to this question astounded the old soldier; and while
Miss Falconer poured into his ears the story of the transformation of
his beloved Herman the painter into Hyland Gilbert, a brother and
leader among the Hawks of Hawk-Hollow, he seemed for a moment, like the
devotee, rapt in a holier passion, to have
Forgot himself to marble.
In the meanwhile the unlucky author of this commotion had brought
his destinies to a crisis in another quarter, and with another
"Not all the wealth of Eastern kings;" said she,
"Has power to part my plighted love and me."
The painter had long since made his way to Gilbert's Folly. As he
hurried through the park, he discerned the figure of Miss Falconer; and
notwithstanding the obscurity of the hour, he knew her at once, and
avoided her. There was a moon in the sky, but new, and low in the west;
and, besides, it was struggling with clouds that robbed it of half its
lustre; yet it cast ever and anon light enough to enable a good eye to
distinguish objects on the more open portions of the lawn.
Not a little pleased at the prospect, thus offered, of enjoying a
tête à tête with the Captain's daughter, though it might be only for a
moment, he entered the house and the little saloon in which he had
spent so many happy moments. It was empty, but the door leading to the
garden was open; and the broad gravel-walk, fringed with low shrubs and
roses, was lighted by the taper in the apartment. As he stepped out,
his eye fell upon Catherine Loring, who was that moment approaching
from the garden, her step hurried, and her countenance displaying
agitation, which was increased the moment she beheld him.
"Oh, Mr. Hunter!" she cried, running eagerly towards him, "I am
very glad to see you, and I am glad we are alone. We are all going mad
here at the Folly, and it is right you should knowit. You have—I am
ashamed to say it, for I know you have not deserved her dislike—made
an enemy of my cousin Harriet; the strangest suspicions have entered
her head; and she may offend you, unless you are put on your guard. You
must forgive her: by and by, you will laugh at her folly, and so will
she; but at present she seems half-distracted by the events of the day,
the disasters of her father, and her fears for the future. Did you not
meet her? Alas, she will be here in a moment!"
"Fear not," said the young man, in hurried and altered tones, but
with an effort to be jocose; "she is down by the park-gate, studying
the stars, and reading my own foolish history among them. Miss
Catherine,—Miss Loring,—I am aware of your friend's dislike. I am not
surprised—she will tolerate your having no friend less interested than
"You must not speak thus, Mr. Hunter," cried Catherine, but in too
much hurry of spirits to rebuke. "I did wrong to show you her letter:
that, I fear, is the chief cause of her anger; and your being a
stranger, and so great a favourite with my father—oh, and a thousand
reasons more she has found, or fancied, for supposing you are—that is,
that you have deceived us, and that"—
"That I am—an impostor," said Hyland, hesitating an instant at the
word, but pronouncing it at last firmly.
"Such is indeed her strange aberration," cried Catherine,
apparently overjoyed that the idea so repugnant to herself, had been
conceived by the suspected person, and without distress or anger;
"and,—and—but this is the maddest and most insulting suspicion of
all, (yet you must not be offended:)—she thinks, you—really, I could
laugh, but that she has frightened me half out of my wits —she thinks,
you are even a tory in disguise!—a refugee,—(ah, now I have said
it!)—a comrade of these wild and lawless men, come to spy upon us, and
murder us—(is it not too ludicrous?)—a spy, an enemy, a traitor—nay,
even a Gilbert—a Hawk of the Hollow! I can laugh, now that I have said
it. And now, too, I am sure you will not be offended, the suspicion is
so very ridiculous: yes, I am sure you will forgive her."
"I do," said the young man, sadly and falteringly, "for her
suspicion is just,—at least, it is just in part—I am an impostor."
"Heavens!" cried Catherine, "what do you tell me?"
"That I have deceived and imposed upon you —at least in name. I am
neither spy nor refugee, indeed, neither cut-throat nor betrayer,—but
I am Hyland Gilbert, a son of him who built this house, and a brother
of those whose name fills it with horror. Miss Loring, Miss Loring!" he
cried, impetuously, seeing that Catherine recoiled from him with
terror, "is the name so dreadful even to you? In nothing else am I
criminal—do you think I would do you a hurt?"
"Surely not, surely not," cried Catherine, gasping almost for
breath, and speaking she scarce knew what: "I do not think you would
hurt me. No, oh no! I have done you no harm, and my father has been
good to you."
"For God's sake, Miss Loring—Catherine— compose yourself," cried
the young man, both amazed and shocked at the impression his words had
produced on a mind almost unhinged by long and brooding sorrow. "What,
I harm you? I would die to protect you from the least evil."
"And you are a Gilbert, then? a foe to the land of your birth, a
disguised enemy, an associate of thieves and murderers?" cried the
maiden, withsudden energy, and in a passion of tears' "oh, Mr. Hunter,
I thought better of you!"
"Think better of me yet," he exclaimed, catching her by the hand,
"for as there is a heaven above us, I have done nothing to deserve your
hatred. All that I have done—and it is nothing but concealment—was to
do you service, and to obtain your friendship."
"Go—stay no longer here—you must come no more," cried Catherine,
weeping bitterly; "and would you had never come, for I thought you were
my friend—my friend, and my poor father's. I don't believe you are a
bad man, or that you will do a wrong to any one; but you must go. Yes,
go," she added, wildly, "for you are in danger. They will arrest you;
and then what will become of you? It was Harriet's talking of this,—of
arresting you,—that made me tell you, that you might show her how much
she was deceived. Go, go! and never return more. A moment, and the
officers will be here: Harriet has sent for them. Go, Mr. Hunter, go!"
"I will not, Catherine," cried the youth, giving way to the most
vehement emotion: "I know that they are sacrificing you; and I will
remain till you are rescued, come what will. You hate this young
Falconer; you do, Catherine,—you cannot conceal it: he is unworthy of
you—he shall never marry you."
"You will drive me mad! For heaven's sake, Mr. Hunter—is this the
way to show your friendship?"
"My love, Catherine, call it my love. I love you, Catherine Loring,
and I will save you, even against your will. Say that you hate Henry
Falconer, the wretched son of a still more wretched father—say
that—nay, place but your hand on mine, and you shall"—
"Never!" cried Catherine, wildly; "I love you not—I hate you!
Release me. Is this the way you repay my father's good deeds? Go, Mr.
Hunter: you have made me more unhappy than before."
"I will make you happy, Catherine. I have wealth—nay, and
reputation, Gilbert though I be. I will go to your father, I will
demand you at his hands"—
"Kill me, first—kill me, rather than speak to me thus!" cried the
unhappy maiden, in unspeakable agitation. "Is this the way to talk to
me? You should know better, for I am to be given to another. Oh, that
you had never come to our house! Go—I forgive you—I will tell nobody.
If they find you, they will kill you: Harriet has shown me they can
take your life. Hark! they are coming! I hear their voices! I hear my
father's! I forgive you, Mr. Hunter; yes, I forgive you— but I will
never see you more! no, never!"
"Never! I swear it—never, never! I am vowed and betrothed. If you
stay longer, I shall die! Oh, have pity on me, and go: have pity on me,
for my father's sake,—pity, pity!"
These wild and hysterical expressions were concluded by a shriek;
for at that moment the ill-fated girl, who had been all the while
struggling, though feebly, to make her way into the little saloon,
beheld Miss Falconer, followed by her father and the young lieutenant,
rush into it. As she screamed, she burst from the grasp of the
impassioned lover, and, running forwards, threw herself into the
"Oh, the hound! the villain!" cried the veteran; "he has been
killing her! Shoot him down, run him through, knock him on the head!
Here, you Aunt Rachel! Phœbe! Daphne! Dick! Soph! and thesquad of you!
Oh lord, Harry, my dear, the dog has murdered her!"
"No, father, no, no, no!" cried the maiden, clinging, almost in
convulsions, to his neck; "I am very well, father,—a bat flew in my
face,—a snake came into the garden, and I don't know what! But it is
very foolish, father,—I am always very foolish!" And with these
incoherent expressions, in which even the whirl and tumult of a
suffering heart could not repress an instinctive effort to distract
notice from the young man in the garden, she fell into a state of
pitiable prostration, which engaged the whole attention of her father
Will you walk out, sir?
And if I do not beat thee presently
Into as sound belief as sense can give thee,
Brick me into the wall there for a chimney-piece,
And say,—I was one o' th' Cæsars, done by a seal-cutter.
—Rule a Wife and have a Wife
In the meanwhile, Herman,—or Hyland Gilbert, as he must now be
called,—(so soon as he beheld the maiden, wooed so wildly and vainly,
fly to her parent for refuge,) turned from the illuminated path, and
taking advantage of his previous knowledge of the garden, soon
succeeded in making his way out of it, and, as he thought, without
being observed. He hurried through the park, torn by a tempest of
passions, and had almost reached the gate, when he was suddenly roused
by a tap on the shoulder, which brought him to a stand. The moon had
set, and the light of the stars, breaking through ragged clouds, was
not sufficient to make him acquainted with the visage of the intruder;
but the first word of the salutation that accompanied the touch, told
him he was now confronted with his rival.
"An excellent good night to you, my fine hail-fellow-well-met!"
cried Harry Falconer; "you'll be jogging, will you? A word in your ear:
there's star-light enough to be civil by, soft moist grass for sleeping
on, and, gad's my life, as good barren clay at your feet as ever
gentleman rotted under. Now you may be surprised to hear it, but I have
the prettiest pair of pistols in my pocket that wereever made for a
lady's finger; somewhat dwarfish, to be sure—but, egad, as good, at
six paces, for blowing one's brains out, as a battering piece at
point-blank distance. So douse kit, as the cobbler says, and let's
begin.—Harkee, sir, no skulking! Don't put me to the painful necessity
of calling hard names. No sneaking!"
"You are a fool," said Hyland, sternly. "If you will renew your
quarrel, come to me in the morning."
"By your leave, no," said the lieutenant, laying hand on his
collar. "As to being a fool, adzooks, as the Captain says, I am, or
was, for supposing you an honest, respectable sort of a vagabond young
man; whereas, on the contrary"—
"Remove your hand, or—Well, sir," cried the young Gilbert, "what
will you have? Must I cut your throat? Trust me, my fingers have been
itching to do it all day; and, at this moment, they are hotter than
ever. Begone, therefore, while you may, and while the devil is yet
behind me. This is no time nor place for quarrelling."
"The best in the world," said the officer; "and to end your
scruples at once, know that I give you choice only of two alternatives.
Being a cursed Hawk-Hollow Gilbert"—
"You have a certain claim to the gallows; but being also an
exceedingly well-behaved, genteel, handsome young dog, who have done me
the honour to court my sweetheart, you have an equal claim to die in a
gentlemanly way. So take your choice—a pistol, six paces, and a shot
at one-two-three; or yield yourself a prisoner, and die by a drum-head
"What if I say,—Neither?" replied Gilbert. "Away, molest me not."
And he turned again to depart, but was again arrested by the hot
"Oh, gad," cried this worthy, "one thing you must say."
"Look you, Mr. Henry Falconer," said Hyland, with a trembling
voice, "I have never yet harmed a human creature, and I would not
willingly hurt even you, though I have a double cause to wish you ill.
Provoke me no farther. You have been drinking, and are now beside
"Never think it," said the lieutenant, dropping his tone of
bagatelle, but speaking with characteristic impetuosity. "You have
presumed to be impertinent to a certain lady, who shall be nameless;
for which reason I will forget that you are a low and contemptible
scoundrel, worthy only"—
"Give me the pistol," said Hyland, "and your blood be on your own
head. I will abide no more from the son of your father."
"Spoken like a man," cried Falconer, instantly stepping off six
paces on the grass, and counting them aloud as he stepped. Then
turning, he added, with a furious voice, as if giving way to his
passions, "Now, you rascal, prepare to fire as soon as you hear me
count three; and if I don't teach you manners, you gallows dog, may I
never more smell gunpowder. Ready, you rogue! fire! One,—two,—three!"
The instant the last word escaped his lips, he fired his own
pistol, and Hyland staggered backwards, as if the shot had taken
effect. Immediately recovering himself, however, he cried, with an
agitated voice, "Let that satisfy you—I will not hurt you," and threw
his own undischarged weapon away. The act of generosity was not
appreciated by his rival, who, inflamed by a rage to which he seemed
now to have given himself up, uttered an oath, and whipping out the
sword healways carried at his side, rushed upon him, crying, "Villain,
you don't escape me so easily!"
Thus attacked, and with a fury that seemed to aim at nothing short
of his life, Hyland, who was entirely without arms, avoided the lunge
aimed at his heart, and immediately closing with his adversary, they
fell together to the ground.
In the meanwhile, the pistol-shot had reached the ears of the
captain of cavalry, and one or two of the late banqueters, who were, at
that moment, making their way to Gilbert's Folly, in obedience to a
summons from Miss Falconer, which, although meant only for her brother,
the domestic entrusted with it, had communicated, in his absence, to
captain Caliver. It found that worthy gentleman, as well as all others
present, somewhat incapable of understanding it; but as it related to
the Hawks of the Hollow, and seemed to require the presence of the
lieutenant or his friends at the mansion, it was obeyed by all, not
even excepting the gallant Ephraim; although, as it afterwards
appeared, this mysterious individual had, after setting out, separated
from the party, which was now but three in number.
"By the eternal Jupiter!" cried Caliver, toiling and stumbling up
an ascent that led to the parkgate, as the sudden explosion, followed
immediately after by angry voices, broke the solemn silence of the
night,—"by the eternal Jupiter, halt!— there's the tories! They're
beating up the old cock's quarters!"
"Let us retreat," cried one of his attendants, "and get our
"Halt—hark!" exclaimed the solider, "there's Harry Falconer's
voice! the dogs are murdering him! Prepare to charge, and hold your
tongues. —Now follow me, and I'll have a whole regiment on
them.—Halloo!" he cried at the top of hisvoice, as if really calling
upon a competent force of both horse and foot; "Make bayonet work of
it, you light-infantry dogs! Horsemen, over the fence, and surround the
vagabonds!—No quarter! —Double quick-step, march! Charge the
villains!" And with this valiant stratagem, the officer ran boldly up
the hill, followed by his two companions, —though not until they had
heard behind them, or fancied they heard, the clatter as of a party of
horsemen descending the hill they had already left.
As Caliver rushed into the park, he again heard the voice of his
friend, and rushing up, beheld, to his great amazement, the band of
tories dwindled into a single individual, lying across Falconer's
breast, and in the very act of transfixing him with his own weapon.
"By the eternal Jupiter! what means all this?" he cried, dragging
Hyland off his prey. "What! my jolly gentleman-volunteer, hah! What
means this, you absurd young cut-throats?"
"It means," cried Falconer, rising and darting at his foe with
unexampled fury, "that I've nabbed a tory lieutenant, and I'll have his
He took his adversary at a disadvantage, for Hyland was still held
by the captain; and before this bewildered peace-maker could interfere,
the combatants were again rolling together upon the ground, only that
their positions were reversed, for Falconer was now uppermost, and
armed with Caliver's sword, which he had snatched out of the captain's
hand, not knowing, nor indeed caring, what had become of his own.
At this juncture, a new feature was given to the battle-field.
"Enemies!" cried Caliver's two attendants; and the cry was echoed by a
fierce yell, like the war-whoop of a savage, coming from the gate,
through which galloped they knew not howmany dusky figures, looking to
the eyes of the revellers like the fiends of darkness themselves. The
astounded captain, deserted in a moment by his attendants, looked up,
and beheld with still greater amazement, the apparition, as it seemed,
of Ephraim Patch astride his gallant gray; only that this impression
was put to flight by the spectre urging the steed right upon him,
crying at the same time in a voice of thunder, "Down with the rebel
dogs! trample them to death!" and the next moment, the unlucky officer
was struck to the ground by the blow of a hoof, and there lay
"Victory!" cried the valiant rider, springing from his steed, and
cheering his companion (for he had but one,) who was at that moment
dashing after the two volunteers. "Victory!" he exclaimed, rushing
towards the original combatants, and immediately proceeding to knock
young Falconer on the head with the butt of a pistol, crying at the
same time to Hyland, whom he assisted to rise, "Up, brother actor and
Hawk of the Hollow,— 'my name is Harry Percy!' 'The trumpet sounds
retreat, the day is ours!' "
"Good God!" cried young Gilbert, bending over his adversary, "you
have killed him!"
"Quarter!" murmured the lieutenant, faintly, "quarter, if you be
"Hell and furies!" cried Ephraim, thrusting the pistol into his
face, "you die, were you the king's son!" and he would have killed the
unlucky youth on the spot, had it not been for Hyland, who dashed the
weapon out of his hand, exclaiming, "Touch him not, on your
peril!—What! can you stand?" he added, addressing Falconer: "Away—you
are safe. You would have taken my life—I give you yours. But,
remember, Henry Falconer," he whispered in his ear, as he led him a
little way, "remember this: you are seeking Catherine Loringagainst her
will. If you persist, it were better for you had you never been born.
Away with you, ere those come who will not be so merciful."
The young officer, confused by the blow he had received, and
perhaps terrified by the appearance of enemies so unexpected and of a
character so incomprehensible, stole away and concealed himself among
some neighbouring bushes. He heard the crash of hoofs over the avenue,
as if he who had chased away the volunteers, were now returning to his
unknown companions, then a murmur of voices, and finally a renewed
sound of horses' feet, whereby he perceived that the midnight
assailants had left the paddock. He then crept from his concealment,
and made his way towards the mansion, to which, as was evident from the
flashing of lights in the windows and on the porch, the alarm had been
And I remember the chief, said the king of woody Morven: I met him,
one day, on the hill; his cheek was pale; his eye was dark; the sigh
was frequent in his breast; his steps were towards the desert.
A month swept over the valley, and found it restored to its
pristine quiet and loneliness. The confusion resulting from the
developments of the eventful 4th had subsided, and men began to
remember the occurrences of that day almost as a dream. Had the
refugees really been in the Hollow? The discovery of Parker's
body,—the recovery of his last letter, which had remained in Hyland's
hands in the hurry of separation from his brother, to be, by a natural
fatality, converted into testimony against himself,—the nocturnal
scuffle in the park, from which captain Caliver and the junior officer
had come off with injuries, though not serious ones,—and, finally, the
sudden disappearance of the painter and the eccentric Ephraim,—were
the only evidence to establish the truth of such a visitation. No
outrage had been perpetrated either upon life or property; nor could
the keenest search of the county volunteers, assisted by several
detachments from the lines, sent to scour the whole country, detect a
single vestige of the audacious outlaws. That they had fled was
manifest enough, but how and whither no man could tell. It appeared
from the letters of Parker, that the chief object of Gilbert's return
to his native valley was the rescue of young captain Asgill, of whom we
have before spoken, out of the hands of his jailers; and it is now well
known, that, among the devices to secure the life of this unfortunate
captive, 'a plan was, in case of the worst, arranged for his escape,'
and secretly persisted in, until it became evident that the humanity of
the American Commander-in-chief was his truest safeguard. There
remained, therefore, no longer occasion for the services of Oran
Gilbert, to whom an exploit of this nature, requiring a man of crafty
and daring spirit, had been so properly entrusted; and it was at first
hoped, and then confidently believed, that he had withdrawn entirely
from the neighbourhood, and, after disbanding his followers, returned,
in spite of the vigilance of his foes, to New York; and, indeed,
certain secret intelligence was received from that city, that he had
been long since ordered to return, the project of rescue being now as
unnecessary as it was hopeless of success. That he had committed no
outrage upon the unprotected inhabitants of the county was supposed to
be owing not more to the necessity of avoiding all acts that might give
the alarm, and so draw attention towards him, than the positive
commands of the British Commander, whose course in the present
conjuncture of affairs, was to the full as forbearing as that of his
These considerations restored confidence to the county; and nothing
remained for the good citizens but to weave the chain of mysterious
circumstances attending the visitation into a web of wonderful history,
and to speculate upon the character and fate of the painter and honest
Ephraim. As for the latter, ingenuity was for a long time at fault,
until the story of Mr. Leonidas Sterling became generally known; when
an opinion, hazarded at first almost in jest, grew into a settled
belief,— namely, that these twain were one and the sameperson, and
that he who had deceived so well as the ranting preacher, had deceived
still better in the semblance of the zealous quaker. The successful
fourberies of this modern Scapin obtained for him a higher degree of
credit than he had ever won, while contracting his genius into the
representation of the kings of fiction; and he was remembered and
spoken of with a degree of good humour, that perhaps explained the
unwillingness of his city friends to proceed rigorously against him,
when his treasonable practices were discovered.
As for the young Hunter, or Gilbert, as he was now universally
called, he was remembered with no such favour. To be a scion of the
tory family, was enough to condemn him, even although (as had been the
case) he might have passed his days afar from the contamination of his
brothers' example, and shared neither in their acts nor their hostile
spirit. But to be an associate,—an officer of the very gang commanded
by Oran,—was a sin of inexpiable die, to which a double blackness was
given by his dissimulation and audacity. He had resided among them as a
friend and brother, and yet was all the time playing the part of a spy
and betrayer; and he had capped the climax of effrontery by taking part
in the jubilee of liberty, and even profaning with hypocritical lips
the sacred manifesto of Independence,—or so, at least, he would have
done, but for the interruption caused by Oran's appearance. This seemed
to them little short of impiety, a sacrilegious mockery, indicative as
much of his contemptuous disregard of the holy instrument as of his
daring character. In this spirit of indignation they proceeded to
canvass his whole history, raking up every little act that could be
remembered, and perverting each into a manifestation of villany; the
worst of whichwas his attempt to carry off Captain Loring's
daughter,—for so much they made of his parting interview with the
young lady,—and then, being baffled in the base attempt, waylaying and
attempting to murder her affianced husband. In a word, he was proved to
be a monster of treason, perfidy, and ingratitude; and few had the
courage, fewer still the disposition, to say a word in his defence. It
must be confessed that Dr. Merribody once, in a fit of unusual
generosity, declared to a whole throng of raging villagers, 'that the
scoundrel was an honest man and a gentleman after all, for he had
faithfully paid his bill, and even asked for it, before it was
presented;' but this impulse of magnanimous friendship vanished when he
came to remember how much he had been imposed upon in relation to the
youth's true character, by some deception Elsie Bell thought fit to
play upon him, under colour of admitting him to the secret. The poet
also, who, in the loss of Hyland, wept that of his warmest admirer,
contended 'that he sang better, and had a more refined literary taste,
than any body he ever knew.' Nay, even Captain Loring, who had begun to
esteem him as the apple of his eye, was converted into a furious foe,
which was owing, in a great measure, to the discovery of the young
man's political inclinings, though his anger was sharpened and
augmented by Miss Falconer, who took occasion, for a purpose of her
own, to reveal what the Captain had never dreamed of himself. She gave
him to understand, what was indeed nothing more than true, that his
ungrateful protegé had endeavoured to detach Catherine's affections
from her brother, and divert them upon himself,—an assurance that
infuriated the old soldier, whose wrath was not much mollified when
Miss Falconer succeeded in making him aware how much his own
extravagant patronageof the impostor might have been construed into
almost positive encouragement of his presumption. But bitter as was the
worthy veteran's anger, it was as capricious as his love had been.
Whenever he laid his eyes upon the unfinished painting, which he
commonly did a dozen times a day, he would begin to bewail and admire
together, and swear 'that his young Haman What-did-ye-call-it, for all
of his roguery, was the finest painter that was ever known; and,
adzooks, he thought there must be some mistake about his being a tory
and a Gilbert.'
The occurrence of these incidents had naturally made the poor widow
an object of suspicion, as having connived at the presence, and aided
in the concealment and flight, of the outlaws; and she was even
threatened with the vengeance of the law, until Harry Falconer, to the
surprise of every body, stepped forward as her champion, and made such
interest for her as left her again in her lonely and quiet desolation.
Whether this display of generosity was prompted by his own erratic
feelings, or was derived from the secret influence of the Captain's
daughter, Elsie knew not. Catherine visited her no more; and within a
week after the explosion of the 4th, she left Hawk-Hollow with her
friend Harriet, and was absent for a considerable period. Elsie saw
her, as the carriage rolled by; her face was very pale and haggard, as
if she had been suffering from sickness. When she returned, young
Falconer and a brother officer, both mounted, pranced along at her
side. She looked from the carriage as she passed, and kissed her hand
to the widow, while her eye sparkled as with its former fire. But Elsie
beheld her not; as she looked up, her eye caught the outlines of a dark
and stern countenance behind that of Catherine, on which were the
traces of age and broken health.
She started from her seat, and gazed eagerly after the rolling
vehicle, but it was soon swept out of sight. She remained upon her
feet, until she had seen it enter the park, and draw up before Captain
Loring's door, when she again sunk upon her chair, muttering to
"I saw him last a black-eyed boy, with a cheek like the rose-leaf,
and hair like the wing of a crow; and now he comes with a cheek as
withered even as mine, and locks frosted still whiter. So let it be
with the villain; honour may fall on the snowy head, but what lies in
the bosom? And can he walk over the knolls where Jessie walked, and
smile on those around him? There is thunder yet in heaven, and a long
reckoning yet to settle. Ah well, ah well, we shall see what we shall
see, and I shall live to see it; for she cursed him in her death-gasp;
and I cursed too, and I prayed God I might live to see the two curses
light upon him together; and together they will light, and I alive to
see it!" And muttering thus in one of those occasional moods of
darkness which had, perhaps more than any thing else, served to fix the
stigma of the sibyl upon her, Elsie gathered up her wheel and spindle,
and retreated from her favourite seat on the porch, to which she
returned no more during the day.
The person upon whom she invoked this malediction was the father of
Miss Falconer, who, with Catherine and himself, made up the contents of
the carriage. As he stepped upon the porch of Gilbert's Folly, from the
vehicle, and received the rough welcome of Captain Loring, it was with
a firmer bearing than would have been expected from his apparent age
and infirm health. He was of tall stature, and, although greatly
wasted, preservedan erect military bearing. His countenance, though
hollow, withered, and of the sallowest hue, was, even yet, strikingly
handsome, and his eye was of remarkable brilliancy, though of a stern
and saturnine expression. His brow was very lofty, though not ample,
and his mouth singularly well sculptured, and indicative of decision.
On the whole, his appearance was at once commanding and venerable; and
even those who were freest to whisper the tale of early profligacy and
maturer corruption, could not deny him the deference due to his
gentlemanly air and deportment. A close inspection of his countenance
would have revealed no traces of the workings of an unquiet spirit. The
first glance showed him to be of a temper thoughtful, reserved—nay,
severe and moody; but the second could discover no more. A perfect
self-command, a mastery not merely of his countenance, but of his
spirit, lifted him above the ken of petty scrutiny; and if he wore a
mask in his commerce with men, it was like that iron one of the
Bastile, which when put on, was put on for life, and was, at the same
time, of iron. He was a man upon whom even his children looked with
fear,—not that fear indeed which lives in constant expectation of the
outbreaking of a violent spirit, but the awe that is begotten by a
consciousness of the inflexible resolution of the spirit that rules us.
This inflexibility is power, and power is ever an object of secret
dread, even with those who love its possessor.
The austerity of his mind was not accompanied by rigid manners, nor
even coldness of feeling. No one could be more courteous, and, at
times, even agreeable, than Colonel Falconer. He received the welcomes
of his kinsman with much apparent pleasure, and himself assisted
Catherine from the carriage, and conducted her into themansion,
congratulating her, with gentleness and kindness, upon her return. "Yet
you must grant," he added, "that even the smoke of a city can sometimes
renew the health, when the air of the country fails. I would I might
profit by these mountain breezes, as I know you will, when you have
once recovered from your fatigue. But let me see you but happy with my
graceless Harry, I shall not complain of my own infirmities."—
On the third day after the arrival of Colonel Falconer, the
solitude of Hawk-Hollow began to be broken by the appearance of divers
carriages, filled with gay and well dressed people, the destination of
all whom appeared to be Gilbert's Folly. A few individuals, the more
favoured of the villagers, were seen mingling their equipages
occasionally with the others; but it was plain that the majority of
visiters were strangers, and had come from a distance.
The object of such an unusual convocation of guests at Gilbert's
Folly, could not long remain a mystery; and indeed it was known,
several days before, that it was to do honour to the nuptials of Henry
Falconer with the daughter of Captain Loring. The wealth and standing
of the bridegroom's father were sufficient to secure him the means of
giving eclat to the ceremony, at a day when that ceremony was always
one of festivity; and accordingly there appeared guests enough, and of
sufficient figure, long before night, at the mansion, to convince those
who took note of such circumstances, that it would be such a wedding as
had never before been known in all that county.—And such indeed it
proved; though not even the most imaginative could have foreseen from
what unusual circumstances it was to owe its claim to be remembered.
Upon that day, while all others were laughingand smiling, a deep
and moody dejection seized upon the spirits of the bridegroom's father;
and although he displayed his wonted courtesy in receiving his guests,
(they should be considered his, for the bride was without kinsfolk, and
her father had invited none to partake of his joy, save a few
villagers,) the task of continuing to trifle with them during the
entire day became intolerably irksome, and perhaps the more so that his
habits had for so many years accustomed him to solitude and privacy.
Worn out at last, he exchanged the noisy apartments of the mansion for
the shaded garden-walks; until, finally, driven from these by an
increase of his melancholy and the presence of a bevy of maidens,
seeking flowers to decorate their fair persons, or perhaps that of the
bride, he fled from them to the more unfrequented walks in the park.
"Why should I mingle with this mockery?" he muttered to himself,
"and on this unhappy spot? Let me look upon those scenes I have not
beheld for twenty-four years, and see if they have yet power to move
me.—There are none here to miss me; and they will feel the freer and
gayer, when frightened no more by my death's-head countenance.—I would
the silly Captain had spared the poplar-row: and yet I know not,—the
old white-oak, where—Faugh! that should be forgotten. There is
something new at least in the forest. The shrubs have become
maple-trees and beeches, the old oaks and sycamores have rotted in
their places, and nothing is the same save the rocks and the
water.—Why should I fear, then, to revisit scenes that have changed
like myself? I shall never look on them again, after this day."
He composed his countenance into its ordinary expression of severe
and frowning calm, and directing his steps through the grounds, as one
familiarlyacquainted with their most hidden retreats, made his way
towards the Run, until he had reached the path along its rocky borders,
previously trodden by Catherine and his daughter. He even sat down
under the sycamore, where Catherine had begun the story of the wild
Gilberts, and his own early adventures; and here, as if there were
something in the spot to conjure up such memories, he mused long and
painfully on the same dark subjects. Perhaps, also, as he looked upon
the turbulent water rushing at his feet, he pictured to himself the
resemblance it bore to the course of his own life,—a current, which,
although now sunk into the composure of a river just losing itself in
the vast ocean, had dashed so long in a channel full of rocks and
'Are not thy waters sweeping, dark, and strong?
Such as my feelings were, and are, thou art;
And such as thou art were my passions long.'
The current of his early life had been indeed as wild, as tortuous,
as tumultuous, as that before him; and as he looked backwards upon its
broken course, he saw that the freshes of passion had left as many
ruins around it as now deformed the margin of the streamlet.
When he rose from his meditations, it was with a brow indicative of
a deeply suffering mind; and as he strode onwards, still pursuing the
course of the brook, a spectator looking at him from a concealment,
might have detected on his visage the workings even of an agonized
spirit, though it was observable, that, even in this solitude, where
there seemed to be so little fear of observation, he still struggled to
preserve an air of serenity. The roar of the waterfall fell upon his
ear, and perhaps as the voice of an old acquaintance; it did not
rousehim from his dream of pain, but seemed, although he essayed to
approach it, to plunge him deeper in gloom; and he would perhaps have
crossed the rustic bridge without being conscious of the act, had not
his footsteps been suddenly arrested by a figure that started suddenly
in the path, and recalled him to his senses. He looked up, and beheld a
young man, in a hunting suit and leather hat, with the rifle and other
equipments of a woodman, standing before him. The texture of his
garments was coarse, and there was nothing in them to indicate any
superiority in the wearer above the young rustics of the country; but
he wore them with an air of ease, a savoir s'habiller, by no means
common to the class. His figure was light and handsome, and so was his
face, though the latter was miserably pale and thin, and marked with
the traces of grief, and the former considerably emaciated. As he
stepped into the path, he dropped the butt of his rifle upon the earth,
as if for the purpose of arousing the abstracted comer by the clash;
and when the Colonel looked up it was not without some alarm at
opposition so unexpected.
"Fear not," said the young man, eyeing him with a mournful, yet
steadfast gaze, "I design you no hurt."
"And why should you?" cried Colonel Falconer, returning his gaze,
with one that seemed meant to rend him through. As he looked, however,
he faltered, turned pale, and thrust his hand into his bosom, as if to
grasp at a concealed pistol. The act was observed by the stranger, and
he instantly repeated his words,—
"Fear nothing,—at least fear nothing from me: I desire to serve
you, not injure.—Accident, or Providence, has given me the means. You
are Colonel Falconer?"
"And you?" cried the gentleman, with an agitated voice.
"I—what matters it what I am?" said the youth; "I am neither
footpad nor assassin,—let that satisfy you. What do you in this place?
Cannot even conscience make you wiser? Methinks, there is not a rock or
a bush in this dark den,—there should not be a rustle of the leaf or a
clash of the waters, but should tell you what you should expect, when
treading the soil of a Gilbert."
"If you meditate violence, young man," cried Falconer, whose
agitation visibly increased, the more he regarded the figure before
him, and who now spoke with an emotion amounting almost to terror,
"heaven forgive you. But heaven will not —there is no pardon in store
for the young man who assails the gray hairs of the old."
"False, Colonel, false!" cried the youth, with a laugh of singular
bitterness, "or surely you had never lived to tell me so. There was a
man of gray hairs, Colonel Falconer, who once lived among these woods,
and very happily, too; but a young man struck him, and struck him to
the heart, Colonel; and the young man lived to have a head as white and
reverend as he whom he slew! Yet fear not; again I say, fear not: I
came to save, not to kill. Hear me, and then away. Begone from this
place, and begone with such speed as becomes a man flying from a loosed
panther. Mount your horse and away,—away instantly; and in return for
the good deed of one who has perhaps saved your life, speak not a word
to any human being of what you have heard and seen in this place."
"Stay," cried Colonel Falconer, recovering from his terror, yet
speaking with a choking voice, "I owe this caution to a"—
"To an enemy," cried the other, turning from him.
"Stay, I charge you,—I command you,"—and as the Colonel spoke, in
a sudden revulsion of feeling, he grasped the arm of the youth, who had
already placed his foot upon the fallen sycamore, for the purpose of
crossing the stream. To the surprise of Colonel Falconer, he discovered
that even the strength of his aged arm was superior to that of the
young man, who seemed to have been enfeebled by long sickness. He
struggled to release himself, but not succeeding, he turned upon his
captor, and shedding tears, said,
"If you will seize me, I have no strength to resist, nor any means
of defence but this—and I will not use it." As he spoke, he cast his
rifle to the earth. "You have but to will it, to complete the ruin you
"Alas, young man, unhappy young man," said Colonel Falconer, "I
know you, and would recompense your humanity, if such it really be. You
should not, at least, perish like the rest of your mad and infatuated
brothers, and yet you are rushing upon the same destruction; you have
not been gently nurtured, to live the life of a bravo and outcast. I
have heard of you, of your generous acts —of at least one,—nay, two;
for Henry Falconer confessed you had both spared and saved his life. I
can save you, young man,—I can and will;— and,—think of me as you
please,—I will do it for your father's sake. You were not meant for
this dreadful life, on which you are embarking."
"Such as it is," said Hyland Gilbert, picking up his rifle, for the
Colonel had withdrawn his hand, "I am driven to it by you and yours.
Now, Colonel Falconer," he added, leaping on the tree, "mock me no more
with a sympathy I despise as much as I hate him who offers it. I am not
your prisoner, and I will not be. I am weak and almost helpless—thank
your son for that, and the skill that was exercised at the expense of
one who had scarce ever fired a pistol in his life—I am weak, but I am
armed and desperate. Follow me no further, for I trust you not. Follow
me not, or be it at your peril."
He made his way across the bridge, but slowly and painfully; and
Colonel Falconer observed more clearly than he had done before, that
all his motions were laborious and feeble, and that, notwithstanding
the arms he carried, he was entirely at the mercy of any one who chose
to assail him. A thousand different feelings took possession of his
breast, and among them pity for the unhappy condition of one, who, if
he had inherited a deep hatred for himself, was not without a claim
upon his feelings, and feelings deeper even than gratitude. He had
been, of course, made acquainted with the extraordinary developments
effected by the cunning, or perhaps the good fortune, of his daughter;
and he was especially interested in the account of the discovery of the
youngest Gilbert in the person of a young man, who, until that
discovery was made, had so recommended himself even to strangers by the
gentleness of his manners, and the apparent blamelessness of his life.
Partaking little in the suspiciousness of his daughter, he judged the
actions and character of the youth with more leniency and justice than
others, though he kept his inferences locked up in his own breast; and,
happily perhaps for Hyland, Miss Falconer had not thought fit to
apprize him of what she deemed the presumption of the youth in becoming
the rival of her brother. He saw in him, therefore, a young man in no
wise resembling his fierce brothers, from whom he had been separated in
early infancy, and one whom perhaps a meredesire to revisit the scenes
of his childhood had drawn to Hawk-Hollow; and he thought, with
justice, that nothing but the revealment of a name universally
detested, by exposing him to sudden danger, had driven the young man to
seek refuge among men of blood, whom he would otherwise have avoided.
The confession of Henry Falconer, (whose jealousy was rather wrath at
the presumption of his rival than any unworthy suspicion of his
mistress,) that he had fought a duel with the 'confounded tory
lieutenant,' as he always called him,—that his antagonist had endured
his fire, and although hurt, as he believed, had refused to return
it,—and, finally, that he had very generously interfered to save him
from one of the gang, who was on the point of blowing his brains
out,—was additional proof to Colonel Falconer that this orphan son of
a man he had deeply injured was not by choice among the refugees, but
forced among them by the ill will and violence of his own children. The
wrong he had done to one member of Gilbert's family had, indirectly at
least, produced the destruction of all but this one; and he was now on
the point of sinking into the abyss which had swallowed the rest,
though worthy of a better destiny, unless a hand were stretched forth
to save him.
These considerations,—a memory of the wrongs he had done and the
reparation he should make, together with the present prospect of the
poor youth in a state that might make him the prey of any enemy who
might meet him, and some sense of the generosity of the warning he had
just given—excited Colonel Falconer's feelings, and moved him with an
impulse, which caused him at once to cross the brook, pursuing the
fugitive, and intreating him to stay. Whether it was that his motive
was misunderstood, and that the young man,in the agitation of his
spirits, supposed that he was followed merely for the purpose of being
arrested, or whether it was because he found himself in a spot
peculiarly calculated to arouse his most vengeful feelings, it is
certain that he became excited to anger by a pursuit designed only in
kindness. He clambered up to the little enclosure of the grave, and was
about making his way through the narrow passage betwixt the two rocks;
when, hearing the pursuer close at his heels, he turned round,
displaying a countenance so fierce and intimidating, that it instantly
brought the Colonel to a stand.
"Villain!" he cried, throwing aside his rifle, and drawing his
knife, "God has sent you to your fate—you are treading on Jessie
If the words had been thunder-bolts, they could not have sooner
unmanned his pursuer. He started, shivering from head to foot, and
looking down, beheld the dreary hollow, from which some pious hand,
perhaps that of Hyland himself, had plucked away the weeds, leaving the
stalk of the rose-bush flourishing alone at its head.
"Oh, holy Heaven!" cried Colonel Falconer, dropping upon his knees,
and wringing his hands, while he gazed with an eye of horror upon the
couch of his victim, "the grave of Jessie Gilbert!"
"Of the mother and the babe!" cried the young man, advancing
towards him, with looks of vindictive fury; "and here, gray-headed
though you be, you deserve to die. To this place of shame, man of
ingratitude! you consigned the victim of your villany; and here it is
fitting she should have her revenge."
But if Hyland Gilbert was a moment disposed to play the part of the
avenger, it was only for a moment. His wrath was instantly disarmed by
a burst of grief from the wronger, so overpowering, so agonizing, that
he at once forgot his dreadful purpose, and felt himself melting with
"She has had—she has had her revenge," cried the wretched man;
"death had been too cheap a retribution, and therefore it has been
ordained in a life of misery,—and such misety, oh heaven! Would to God
I had died in her place, though it had been with a world hooting me to
the scaffold. Yes, Jessie, I am a villain, and thou knowest, how much
greater and viler than ever was thought, even by thee. But thou shalt
have justice," he added, beating his breast, "yes, thou and thy
murdered babe, though I give up my children to be sacrificed to thy
"My father was right," muttered Hyland, as the foe of his family
poured forth the wild expressions of a remorseful spirit; "he charged
me to leave the destroyer of his peace to God and his fate; and God has
made his fate an existence of retribution.—Arise, Colonel Falconer,"
he added, sternly; "profane this holy resting-place no longer with the
mockery of repentance. Fly, and secure your wretched life for further
remorse; for here it is in a danger of which you do not dream. Begone,
and remember what I charged you—Hah! do you hear?" he cried, as a
whistle as of a bird came from the forest behind and below the rocks.
"Up for God's sake!" he cried, seizing the penitent by the arm, as if
fear had supplied him with new strength, and hurrying him across the
brook. "Begone, or you are a dead man. To the bushes, quick—to your
horse, too, or your carriage. Dally not a moment, but begone. Say
nothing of what you have seen or heard; and fear not for your children
or friends—no harm is designed any of them. Away—save your own life,
for no other is in danger."
With these charges, pronounced in the greatest haste, he took his
leave, recrossing the brook, while Colonel Falconer, torn now as much
by fear as he had been a moment before by anguish, fled through the
wood, and over the hill, until he had reached the mansion. Here calling
for his servant, and ordering a horse to be saddled instantly for
himself, and another for the attendant, he prepared to leave the house,
which he did in a few moments, and almost without being observed, the
wedding-guests having retreated to the garden and the pleasant walks
The bridegroom's doors are open'd wide,
And I am next of kin;
The guests are met, the feast is set,
May'st hear the merry din!
— Coleridge—Ancient Mariner.
The Colonel galloped through the park and down the hill, until he
had approached nigh enough to Elsie's cottage to see that its porch was
darkened by the bodies of several men, moving about in what seemed to
him extraordinary commotion. He grew pale, and finally, drawing up his
horse, beckoned to his servant, a young and active mulatto, with an
exceedingly bold and free visage, to approach:
"Give me the larger pistols, Reuben," he cried, "and do you take
the smaller holsters—'Pshaw, they are fiddling and dancing! It is
He resumed his course, and drawing nigher to the little inn, saw
that the group, which he at first eyed with trepidation, consisted of
his own son, and two or three young gentlemen of the bridal party, with
a man of strange and even ludicrous appearance, from whom they appeared
to be extracting no little diversion. He was a tall man, with a French
military coat of white cloth, faced with green, and on his head a
chapeau-de-bras, which was, at that time, though the common cap of the
Gallic auxiliaries, esteemed quite a curiosity in the confederacy.
Instead of a white underdress, however, he had on breeches of broad
blue andwhite stripes, which, being very tight, gave a pair of legs
more remarkable for brawn than beauty, an appearance quite comical, and
the more especially that they were decked off at the extremities with
rose-coloured shoes, and were kept moving about as briskly as those of
a house-fly or a monkey. In the particular of shoes, as well his
silver-fringed rich waistcoat, and a cane with a head half as big as
his own, he bore no little resemblance to the valet-messenger of a
French field-officer,—a sort of humble aid, whose business was to
fetch and carry written orders in a review, but who was sometimes
mistaken by our simple-minded ancestors for a general-in-chief, in
consequence of the splendour and gravity of his appearance; and such a
menial Colonel Falconer supposed him to be, discarded by his late
master, or driven from service by that sudden spirit of independence so
apt to appear in foreign servants, when brought to the land of liberty.
Besides his cane, he had a fiddle and bow in his hand; and from these,
as well as the prodigious grace, restlessness, and activity of his
motions, it was judged that he had betaken himself, in his distresses,
to that honourable profession, to which three-fourths of the wanderers
of the Grande Nation seem to have been born,—in other words, to that
of the dancing-master. It did not seem, however, that he had yet
profited much by the change of profession, for his attire was in
somewhat a dilapidated condition, and his cheeks pinched and hollow.
Such as he was, however, he seemed to be the happiest creature in
existence; and as Colonel Falconer drew nigh, he saw that he was one
while engaged flourishing his bow, the next his leg, and ever and anon
his tongue,—the last with intense volubility,—as if in spirits
irrepressibly buoyant and exuberant. The unruly member was hard at
work, as the Colonel approached, and had it not been for the clatter of
his horse's feet, he might have heard him deliver the following highly
flattering account of himself:
"Yes, Missare Ou-at-you-call-it, and jentlemans, I am a man of
figure in mine own land; and you laughs, par de deb'l! I come invite
myself to de marriage, néanmoins, juste like Ménélas in l'Iliade
d'Homère, mort de diable, parce qu'il etait jentleman. You are
soldiare! Et moi, by mine honneur, and so am I; for autre fois, jadis,
(ou-at de deb'l you call him?) I use de sword for de violon, ride de
horse, chargé sur mon ennemi, in ou-at you' Shakaspeare call de 'war
'Ah! cruel souvenir de ma gloire passée!
Œuvre de tant de jours en un jour effacée!'
Yes, missares, I am jentleman-soldiare, ou-id fiddle. How de deb'l
you make mariage wi'sout de fiddle, Paimable violon, Pinstrument des
amours? Ecoutez! you s'all hear. How de ladies and jentlemans s'all
dance when dey hears, 'Qu'elle est grande, qu'elle est belle!' "—And,
in a rapture, he forthwith began sawing his instrument, and singing,
with a voice exceedingly cracked and enthusiastic, the words of the old
chorus of shepherds,
'Ah! qu'elle douce nouvelle!
Qu'elle est grande! qu'elle est belle!
Que de plaisirs! que de ris! que de jeux!'
nor did he cease, even when the merriment of his auditors became as
uproarious as his own harmony.
In the midst of the chorus and the laughter, young Falconer looked
up, and beheld his father, who had suddenly checked his horse at the
entrance of the little oak-yard, and was looking towards him. He was
struck with the unusual agitationof his parent's countenance, and ran
towards him; but before he could speak, the Colonel demanded quickly,
as if with an effort to change the current of his own thoughts,
"What do you here, Henry! Is this a place, is this a sport for a
"'Pon my soul, pa," said the hopeful son, "I find it more agreeable
than up among the tabbies. This fellow, this Monsieur Tiqueraque, as he
calls himself, is decidedly the most agreeable person I have seen
to-day,—a gentleman fiddler, who swears by all the gods of a
Frenchman, he has trudged twenty miles on foot, to have the honour of
dancing at my funeral—that is, my wedding; but the lord knows, pa, you
look as solemn as if to-day was to be the end of me. Pray, sir, what is
the matter? I hope you are not offended? Egad, sir, I am acting under
orders,—under Harry's, who has taken as much command of me as if she
were my wife, instead of my sister. She ordered me away, to be out of
Catherine's sight,—the lord knows why, but women are all mad, and I
think Catherine is growing as whimsical and absurd as the rest."
"Get you back to her, notwithstanding," said the father; "a maiden
is privileged to be capricious on her wedding-day. Get you back; your
absence is improper. And hark you, Henry, my son—delay not the
ceremony on my account: the clergyman must be now on the way, and will
soon arrive. Wait not a moment for me. A sudden affair, not to be
deferred even to the nuptial rite, calls me to Hillborough:—Say thus
much to Captain Loring and the rest; say that I will be back within a
few hours; and add, that I charge them not to delay the ceremony a
moment for me. God bless you, my son—I must away."
So saying, he put spurs to his horse, and followed by Reuben, was
soon out of sight.
"Well done, dad!" cried the young soldier, staring after him; "I
wonder what's in the wind now? He has seen one of his spectres, I
warrant me.—Adzooks, as the Captain says, if one were to believe that
Reuben and black Joe, they are thicker in our house, about two in the
morning, than is comfortable,—especially in dad's chamber. Won't stay
to the wedding? why that's comical, egad! But that's his way. Well, now
for that mad fool, Tiqueraque: he shall have his will, were it only on
account of his striped breeches; he shall go among the fiddlers,
though, gad's my life, he saws like a knife-grinder. I never saw two
such legs before: egad, I beg my pardon, I did! 'List, list, oh list!'
Such legs in Hamlet! Well God bless us, and by the eternal Jupiter, as
Caliver says, I had no idea it was so stupid a thing to be married. "Eh
bien, monsieur," he added, turning to M. Tiqueraque, "I have no doubt
you are a gentleman born and bred; so, gad's my life, you shall fiddle
at the wedding, and get drunk into the bargain; but, by the eternal
Jupiter, you must not be in a hurry!"
"Si fait, monsieur," cried the wanderer, drawing a note of
indignation from his instrument; "Mort de ma vie, dronk! I s'all do no
such sing. But I s'all see de leddees?" he added, in a transport that
quite dispelled his temporary wrath. "Ah, Missare Ou-at-you-call-him, I
s'all be very happy now! I love de leddees, particulièrement de leddees
of figure, and not the contree pauvrettes, wis big feet and te'es like
de old horse.—Ah ça, I s'all be very happy, and I s'all sharge only
"Bring him along Tom, fiddle and all," cried the bridegroom,—"and,
you Ned Cascable-nose, if you love me, gad, steal somebody's horse,
ride down the road, and see what the deuce has become of the parson. We
can get married verywell without dad; but, adzooks, as the Captain
says, a parson is quite essential. I swear, gad's my life, 'tis a very
ludicrous thing, one's wedding-day."
And thus, as the party bent their steps towards the mansion,
rattled the bridegroom, a youth of the lightest heart and emptiest head
in all Pennsylvania, of a mind entirely too contracted for
eccentricity, yet full of those foibles of character which commonly
pass for such,—incapable of any stretch of sentiment or elevated
emotion, and indeed rude, boisterous, and unreasonable of manners,—yet
with a certain native good-humour and spirit prevailing through all his
acts and conversation, that recommended him to the favour of such as
were not choice in their friendships, and preserved him the affection
of those whom the ties of relationship compelled to love. Such was the
man whom Colonel Falconer, or rather his daughter, (for she was the
guiding and ruling spirit throughout the whole attempt to unite such
adverse elements together,) had chosen as the husband of Catherine
Loring; and the inhumanity of the choice was rendered excusable only by
the natural desire she had to contribute to his happiness, and the
undue importance she attached to those good qualities he really
possessed. Still the attempt was cruel, for it set at naught the
disinclination of one whom feebleness of character, a sense of
destitution, operating, however, only through the person of a bereaved
parent, a knowledge of his desires, and a consciousness perhaps that it
was too late for escape, had put into her power. It is not to be
supposed that Miss Falconer saw, that in effecting her brother's
happiness she was destroying that of her friend; or that seeing it, she
would have persisted in her object. On the contrary she was sincerely
attached to Catherine, and fully believed shewas consulting her
welfare, though at the price of some temporary pain. It was her
peculiar disposition to pursue every object with an avidity and
resolution that became the stronger for every interposing obstacle; and
she willingly blinded her eyes to such difficulties as she was not
forced to see. She turned her looks, therefore, from her friend's
distresses, and soon ceased to believe that they existed. But the match
was one not made in heaven, nor destined to be accomplished; and fate,
in frustrating the whole ill-advised scheme, was preparing a heavy
retribution for all who had laboured to promote it.
I come not for your welcome, I expect none;
I bring no joys to bless the bed withal,
Nor songs, nor masques, to glorify the nuptials.
— Beaumont AND Fletcher—The Elder Brother.
It was late in the afternoon when Colonel Falconer rode by the
Traveller's Rest; and his disappearance, though accounted for in the
apology he had commissioned his son to deliver, was considered the more
remarkable, as within an hour's time the presence of the clergyman was
expected, for whom captain Caliver and lieutenant Brooks, as two of the
principal attendants on the bride-groom, had gone in great state. There
were many conjectures secretly hazarded as to the true cause of the
Colonel's desertion, when the delay of an hour might have enabled him
to discharge his duties to his son and destined daughter; and had
Captain Loring been favoured with any jealous kinsmen, alive to the
honour of his family, or been himself of a suspicious and cavilling
mood, it is quite possible a defection so extraordinary might have
caused some unpleasant feelings, and even an interruption of the
ceremonies in hand. But such was not the case, and the matter was left
to be canvassed by the friends and connexions of the bridegroom alone;
who, after satisfying themselves that the Colonel had been summoned
away by no sudden messenger, and that, if a necessity had really
existed for his departure, it must have existed long enough previously
to allow him time tomake his own explanations in person, agreed to
attribute the proceeding to one of those fits of moody eccentricity, by
which, it appeared, he was often affected.
By the time this subject of wonder was exhausted there arose
another, which produced, in the end, still greater surprise and
discussion than the other. This was the non-appearance of the clergyman
at the appointed hour; and indeed the sun set, before any tidings were
had either of him or of the officers, and then not until messengers had
been sent off with led horses, on the vague presumption that some
accident might have happened to the carriage on the way.
Another subject of discussion was the conduct of the youthful
bride, who, although during the greater part of the day exhibiting
uncommon spirits, and running over the grounds with other frolicsome
maidens, herself the most frolicsome of all, yet displayed, on one or
two occasions, a disposition to wander by herself, and even stray into
the woods; and once, when she had strayed further than usual, and was
pursued and arrested, she shed tears, though none could tell for what
reason. As the time drew nigh when the clergyman was expected, she
manifested a great unwillingness to be withdrawn by her bridemaids,
according to custom, but insisted she would walk in the garden, and
that so obstinately, that it required all the influence Miss Falconer
had over her to induce her to retire to her chamber; and here she wept
so bitterly as to amaze and even alarm her youthful attendants. Her
parent, however, being summoned to the chamber, she embraced him, dried
her eyes, smiled, laughed, suffered a garland of snowy rose-bays, the
latest of the season, to be fastened in her hair, and, so long as he
remained in her sight, betrayed no other symptom of distressor
agitation; for which reason her late tears were remembered without
surprise, as being natural to the occasion.
It was not until after nightfall that the clergyman made his
appearance, with the officers. Accidents of a common nature, but
unusual in number and fatality, had detained them on the way. First,
they had broken down, before reaching the village, in consequence of
the loss of a linchpin, or some other essential atom in the economy of
the coach; then, after attempting to return, it was discovered that a
horse had lost a shoe, and that some portion of the harness had given
way. In short, their difficulties were of such a nature, that they were
on the point of abandoning the carriage altogether, to seek some other
conveyance among the neighbouring farms, when 'a very excellent,
contriving blockhead,' as lieutenant Brooks called him, came to their
assistance, and inspired them with new hopes of accomplishing their
journey. This was no less a personage than honest Dancy, of the
Traveller's Rest, who chanced to be returning from the village on foot,
and was glad to offer his services, on condition of being allowed to
ride home on the box with the venerable Richard. Nay, not content with
again setting the vehicle in motion, he even volunteered, in the warmth
of his gratitude, to divide with Richard the labour of driving,—a
proposal highly acceptable to the latter, who had much of his master's
affection for an afternoon nap, and could take it as well upon a coach
box as in the chimney corner. The only ill consequence of this exchange
was, that, before they had proceeded a mile further, the zealous Jehu
interrupted an exceedingly interesting account captain Caliver was
giving the clergyman of his midnight encounter with the Hawks of the
Hollow, by suddenly overturning the coach into a gully,whence all
thought themselves fortunate in escaping without broken bones. But now
arose a greater difficulty, or rather a series of difficulties, than
before; for, first, it was questionable whether their force was
sufficient to raise the unlucky vehicle, or whether, being raised, it
was in a condition to carry them further; and, secondly, the reverend
functionary, frightened and resolved to trust his neck no longer to a
structure so ill-fated, declared, that, whatever might be the event, he
would enter it no more, but would rather finish the remaining four or
five miles on foot. In a word, they were reduced to the necessity of
applying at a neighbouring farm-house for assistance; and getting
horses and saddles as they could, they continued, and at last
concluded, the journey, but in such plight as caused no little surprise
and merriment among the expectant guests.
In the meanwhile, the tedium that might have been produced by these
unforeseen circumstances, was put to flight by the appearance and
activity of the French dancing-master, who, although carried to the
house only for a whim, was soon found to be the most efficient
adversary of ennui that could have been found. He was no sooner in the
house than he snuffed his way, with the unerring accuracy of a
setter-dog, to the kitchen, where he fell upon the ruins of the dinner
table with the zeal of the hungriest of that species; and then, having
succeeded in first gaining possession of a flagon of wine, or some
stronger liquor, he threw aside his cane, clapped his hat under his
arm, and seizing upon his fiddle, bounded with a hop and a skip first
into one apartment, then another, and finally into the porch, in all of
which were gathered some of the guests, and in all, as he entered,
drawing a savage note from his instrument, and exclaiming,—
"Attendez, jentlemans and leddees! now we s'all dance; ou-y for no
we no dance? Now for de Contre-danse and de Menuet!—Each jentlemans
and his leddee—Mon Dieu! de jentlemans and leddees will be very well
content. Attendez; I am de maître de bal, and I know ou-at is de
matiéres de mode, begar, ou-at you calls fashionable."
The appearance of the man was itself diverting, but was rendered
still more so by his sudden assumption of the character and authority
of master of ceremonies, to which he seemed to consider he had the best
right in the world, and which he was, in the end, suffered to exercise,
for no better reason than that there was no other person appointed to
such an honour. He evidently held, that the chief ceremony and pleasure
of a wedding lay in the practice of his own art; and he addressed
himself to the task of marshalling and animating the dancers with such
zeal and enthusiasm, that several forgot they were beginning the ball
at the wrong end, seized upon partners as forgetful, or as waggish, as
themselves, and set Monsieur Tiqueraque's heart in a blaze of rapture,
by dancing outright. What was begun in jest, came at last to be
practised in earnest; and when the clergyman with the military
groomsmen rode up to the door, they had some reason to fear lest their
ill fate had deprived them of the most impressive portion of the
Their appearance was hailed with the greatest joy, and the more
especially when they declared they had met Colonel Falconer, and
received from him the same charges he had delivered to his son,
—namely, that the rites and rejoicings should not be delayed on his
account, even for a minute. They retired for a little space to refit
their disordered attire, and a few moments afterwards reappeared,
conducting, with the other attendants, the youthful pair whose
destinies were now to beunited. The bride was very pale, her eyes red
with weeping, and her brows contracted into that expression of
imploring distress so frequent on her countenance; her lips quivered
incessantly; and ever and anon her frame was agitated by that
shuddering sob which remains as the last convulsion of tears. Yet she
walked into the room without faltering, and suffered herself to be
placed beside the lover, and surrounded by the guests, without
betraying any agitation sufficient to excite remark. All that was
observed was, that she kept rolling her eyes about her a little wildly,
as if in part be wildered by the sudden transition from her quiet
chamber to an apartment full of lights and human beings. At last, her
eyes fell upon the clergyman, and she surveyed him with a gaze so
fixed, so peculiar, so strongly indicative, as he thought, of a
troubled and unhappy spirit, that his own feelings became disturbed,
and he began the rites with an agitated voice.
In the meanwhile, the wedding guests pressed closer around, and the
domestics, thronging at the doors of the apartment, began to steal
reverentially in; and among them, it was noticed that there were
several strange faces not before observed. One of these, however, was
recognised by Captain Loring as belonging to a young farmer residing
near the valley, and he did not doubt that the other intruders were
people of the same class, who had stolen softly into his house,
attracted by the opportunity of witnessing a ceremony so much more
splendid than any ever before seen in the neighbourhood of Hawk-Hollow.
Such intrusions are indeed not unusual in certain sequestered parts of
With her eyes still fastened upon the clergyman, Catherine listened
to the words of the ceremony, until the usual demand was made, "Dost
thou takethis man to be thy husband?" She opened her lips to reply,
but, though they moved as if in speech, and every sound was hushed as
in the silence of death, not a word, not even the whisper of an accent,
came from them. The demand was repeated, and with as little effect; she
spoke not a word, but she rolled her eyes around the circle with double
wildness; and Miss Falconer, throwing an arm around her waist,
murmured, in hurried tones,
"She is ill—the ceremony cannot go on."
"Kate, my dear, adzooks!" cried Captain Loring, "what's the matter?
Are you ill, my girl? What, can't you speak? can't you say Yes to the
parson? Ah, adzooks, that's a girl! that's my Kate Loring! You hear
her, parson? She says, yes!"
"Patience, sir," said the clergyman, surveying the bride, who at
the sound of her father's voice, seemed to recall her powers, and
opened her lips, as if to speak. "Be not precipitate, young lady," he
added, directing his discourse to Catherine, and speaking with a kindly
voice: "this is a question too solemn to be answered lightly,—a
profession embracing too much of the sacrament of an oath to be made
except with deliberation. Take, therefore, your own time, and answered
according to your heart and your reason—'Dost thou take this man to be
thy husband?' "
The words of reply were almost upon Catherine's lip, when a
whistle, sounding loudly from an open window, and startling the whole
company, was echoed by a sudden cry from the room itself; and at the
same moment, the bridemaids starting away in affright, a young man,
pallid in visage, and roughly clad, rushed into the circle, and
displayed to the eyes of the bride the features of the younger Gilbert.
She uttered a scream, and to the confusion of every body present, flung
herself immediatelyinto his arms, crying with tones as wild and
imploring as his own, "Oh, Herman, save me!" and fell into a swoon.
"Death and furies!" cried the bridegroom, recognising his rival at
a glance, and springing at him like a tiger.
"Kill the villain!" exclaimed his sister, in a transport of
indignation, endeavouring to tear her friend from the embraces of the
intruder. But the efforts of the brother and sister were counteracted
by a new and unexpected enemy. The French dancing-master, who,
notwithstanding the violent enthusiasm with which he entered into his
proper duties of fiddling and animating the guests, had yet wisdom
enough to conduct himself with proper decorum, the moment his reverend
colleague appeared, and had been for the last few moments entirely lost
sight of, now darted with a hop and a pirouette to the bridegroom's
side, and roaring with a voice loud enough to add to the terror,
"Sacre! ou-at! marry a leddie against her ou-ill!" he struck his violin
over young Falconer's head with an energy of application that brought
him to the floor, and dashed his instrument into a thousand pieces.
"Sacre!" he continued, triumphantly,—"I s'all help myself to the most
beaut'ful leddee here!" And, as he spoke, he snatched up the astounded
Harriet, and vanished from the apartment.
In the meanwhile, the outrage, of a character so extraordinary, had
not been confined to the persons of the wedding pair and the
bridegroom's sister. At the very moment when Hyland Gilbert darted into
the circle, many of the guests, hearing the whistle that seemed to have
conjured up the spectre, turned to the window, and beheld three or four
savage-looking men spring through it into the room, while as many
others, remaining in theopen air, thrust long carbines and rifles among
the guests, as if upon the point of firing on them. At the same time,
others made their appearance at the door, armed in the same way; and,
to crown all, the little six-pounder, which had remained in the Hollow
ever since the eventful 4th of July, and stood upon the lawn near the
house, charged by Captain Loring's own hand, and ready to be fired the
moment the ceremony was over, was suddenly let off by some unknown
hand, rattling the glass in the windows, and shaking the house to its
foundation. These circumstances were enough to inspire all with dread;
which was still further increased when the assailants, singling out the
few military officers present, rushed upon them before they could
betake themselves to their arms, and beat them all to the floor, with
the exception of the captain of cavalry, who sprang from a window on
the opposite side of the apartment, uttering a single ejaculation of
surprise,—that is to say, 'By the eternal Jupiter!'—and was seen no
more until the assault was over, and the actors in the outrage had
vanished. The whole scene, though one of unexampled confusion and
terror, was over in a few moments; and such was the panic, that scarce
a being present remembered, or indeed conceived, the true nature, or
had noted all the circumstances attending the assault. That wild men
with arms in their hands, had been among them,—had struck down several
persons present, then rushed over the whole house, as if in search of
some object of prey whom they expected, but found not, among the guests
below, and then had betaken themselves to flight, without doing further
mischief—was all that was at first known; and it was not until a
distant yell at the park-gate, followed by the faint sound of hoofs,
proclaimed the departure of the enemy, that the gentlemen present were
able to tear themselvesselves from the grasp of the frighted women, and
examine into the effects of such a visitation. It was soon found that
the officers, who had endured the brunt of the attack, had owed this
distinction less to the animosity than the fears of the assailants,
who, seeming to apprehend resistance from no others, had made it a
point to seize them, before adventuring upon the main objects of the
outrage. They were but little hurt, the assailants having studiously
avoided all bloodshed; and even the bridegroom, thought stunned and a
little disfigured by the blow so heartily bestowed upon him by Monsieur
Tiqueraque, soon recovered his wits, and joined the rest in eager
search after the bride. She had vanished, as well as his sister; and by
and by, when the distraction caused by such a discovery, and the
ravings and lamentations of Captain Loring; had a little subsided, it
was found that the girl Phoebe had also disappeared.
"She is won! we are gone, over bank, bush, and scaur;
They'll have fleet steeds that follow," quoth young Lochinvar.
In the meanwhile, and almost before her disappearance had been
noticed by a single person, so great was the confusion at the moment
the outlaws burst into the room, Hyland Gilbert had borne the
insensible Catherine into the porch, and strove to carry her from the
house. His strength was scarce fitted to sustain such an exertion; for,
in truth, although none of the dwellers of Hawk-Hollow were apprised of
his mishap, until he revealed the secret to Colonel Falconer a few
hours before, the bullet of his rival, in their encounter on the night
of the fourth, had taken effect, and he was yet labouring under the
effects of an unhealed wound. He was now, however, animated by a new
feeling; for as he clasped the burthen to his heart, he remembered that
the outrage had been sanctioned not merely by passive acquiescence on
Catherine's part, but had been preceded by a direct appeal, as it
seemed, to his affection, though wrung almost by frenzy from the
unhappy girl, in the moment of her greatest need. "Heaven be thanked!"
he muttered to himself—"I am not a villain; and this deed of violence
has preserved her happiness, as well as my own miserable life."
"What! brother?" cried a harsh voice in his ear, as he attempted to
stagger forward, and foundhimself arrested by the hand of Oran: "What,
man, am I not both doctor and brother?—a good doctor, too? You shall
look up now, and be healed in a day—heart-whole, body-whole! I knew
what it was was killing you."
Fierce and abrupt were the accents of the refugee; but there was
mingled with them a tone singularly expressive of affection.—"And were
you not a fool to doubt," he added, "when you had the love of the
maiden? But come, Hyland; this duty is not for you—give her here to
"Never, Oran, never!"
"Foolish boy, you are sinking under her weight. You must ride
unburthened, or be captured. When the fresh air opens her eyes, and she
can sit a horse herself, you shall ride at her side. Quick! and get you
after her to the horses."
With these words, and without regarding the opposition of the
feeble lover, he drew the lady from his arms, and putting her into
charge of another, bade him 'see to her, and the rest,' and then
immediately darted back to the house.
"Perhaps it is better," muttered Hyland, conscious of his inability
much longer to support his precious freight, yet resolved she should
not be long sustained in the arms of another. "I have saved her,—I
have saved myself; ay, and I have prevented murder, too. Go, Oran; the
victim is beyond your reach. Ah! Catherine, thou hadst been dearly
purchased, had it been with blood,— even with the blood of a
He was still pursuing after his mistress, and had nearly reached
the park-gate, when his ear was saluted by a piercing scream from
behind, and the voice of Miss Falconer, which he instantly recognised,
calling for help. He ran back, and discovered her struggling in the
arms of Monsieur Tiqueraque, who was bearing her along at a great pace,
and all the time uttering, with a volubility not a little inflamed by
his frequent visits to the bottle, in which he had quite distinguished
himself, a thousand exhortations to the lady to be pacified, with as
many eccentric commendations of her beauty and his own good qualities.
"Tuchou! taisez vous, ou-at de deb'l! mon ange, ma petite, ma
maîtresse, avec les yeux noirs d'un diablotin!" he heard him cry, "ou-y
for you fear? comment diantre, ou-y for you squeak? You are the mos'
fine leddee of all, and I am the mos' excellent jentlemans, and I s'all
love you, begar, mos' extremely. Fi donc! you mus' know, I am
jentlemans in disguise, and have you love 'is sis mon's, and s'all make
you very good lovare. O ciel, begar, I do so sink you ver' beautiful,
and I s'all give you on' douzaine kiss extreme fine, mon dieu, if you
s'all no squeak no more."
"What, Sterling, are you mad!" cried Hyland, seizing this
incorrigible adventurer and exemplary wooer by the arm. "Release the
lady instantly— you have made a mistake."
"Diablezot! none in the world," said the man of many coats,
changing character with the facility of an 'old stager.'—The sudden
transformation operated even more effectually than the voice of the
detested Gilbert, in frightening Miss Falconer into silence. "And
harkee, Mr. Lieutenant Hawk," he went on, with great equanimity, "stick
to your own prizes,—follow your own Blowselinda."
"Rogue, do you resist me?—Come, sir, you have been drinking!"
"Drinking in your teeth!" said Sterling, in whom 'the good familiar
creature' had the effect of rather sharpening than changing any of his
characteristics. "'Back and syde, go bare, go bare,"' as old Gummer
'Now let them drynke till they nod and winke,
Even as good felowes shoulde doe;
They shall not mysse to have the blisse
Good ale doth bringe men to.'
"But 'this is my right hand, and this is my left' what more would
you have? Do you think I am to be kept on your cursed Adam's ale of the
mountains for ever? 'Dost thou think, because thou art virtuous, there
shall be no more cakes and ale?' And finally, Mr. Lieutenant
Chicken-hawk, dost thou opine thou shalt have thy bottle and thy wench,
"In a word, scoundrel," said Hyland, clapping a pistol to his head,
and thus bringing the madman to his senses, "unhand the lady, or I will
blow your brains out."
"No words, sir. Get you to the horses; and thank your stars I do
not report your villanous conduct to the Captain."
The volunteer, who had indeed made freer with one item of the
bridal cheer than became a man, who, as he had hinted, had been
confined to a beverage of the mountain brook, since his association
with the band, grumbled a drunken oath or two betwixt his teeth, and
immediately slunk away, leaving his captive to be disposed of by the
"You are free, Miss Falconer," said the young man, speaking with a
smothered voice. "The evil you have done me I forgive you; the cruelty
you meditated and practised against another, I leave to be judged by
heaven and your own conscience.—False friend! treacherous kinswoman!
your victim is beyond the reach of your inhumanity."
"You are a villain, sir!" cried Harriet, exasperatedout of her
fear,—"the worst of villains,—an ungrateful one!"—
What more she might have said and done, on the impulse which
restored her all her native energy, it is impossible to say; but just
at that moment her ears were struck by the wailing of a female voice;
and looking round, she saw, obscurely, for the night was very dark with
clouds, though a new moon was in the sky, a horseman ride by, bearing a
woman across his saddle-bow, and apparently greatly embarrassed by her
struggles. Her first idea was that she beheld her un-unlucky friend,
not yet snatched beyond her reach; and accordingly she darted forward,
and with extraordinary intrepidity, seized the bridle-rein with one
hand, while with the other she grasped at the captive's garments,
bidding her leap down, and crying out loudly for help.
"You are insane, Miss Falconer!" said Hyland, endeavouring to draw
her aside; "Catherine is safe, and this is but Phœbe, who follows her."
"Oh! Miss Harriet!" cried the serving-maid, with a piteous voice,
"don't let 'em murder me; and oh! Mr. Hunter Gilbert! sure you won't be
so barbarous! and sure I never did you any harm in my life, and sure"—
But her words were cut short by her ravisher suddenly spurring his
horse, as Harriet, in surprise and disappointment, let go her hold, and
immediately darting out of the park.
By this time there was a great flashing of lights on the porch, as
if the wedding-guests were recovering from their confusion, and
preparing to avenge the outrage, before it was yet too late. This
Harriet saw, and she observed besides that the dusky figures which had,
ever and anon, for the last few moments, been flitting by, towards the
road, one or two of them being on horseback, andwho, she doubted not,
belonged to the refugee band, had ceased passing, as if the last had
already left the park. It was at this moment that she felt the touch of
Hyland Gilbert's hand on her arm, as he endeavoured to draw her from
Phœbe; and as she jerked away, she became sensible how feeble was the
grasp of this detested foe. An idea, worthy of an Amazon, entered her
mind; and forgetting the act of generosity which had but an instant
before relieved her own person from the clutches of a drunken and
lawless desperado, she laid hands upon her deliverer, thinking only on
vengeance. As she seized him, she screamed loudly for assistance,
calling upon her brother, Mr. Brooks, and others, by name; and had they
made their appearance, or any one of them, it is certain she would have
secured her prisoner. He was confounded by an exhibition of spirit so
unexpected; and not knowing how to release himself, unless by such an
exertion of his remaining strength as he could scarce think of
exercising at the expense of a woman, he was reduced to extremity; when
a horseman, coming from the house, suddenly galloped up, stretched out
his hand, and with a single effort, jerked her from the ground to his
"Quick," he cried to Hyland; "why do you tarry? To your horse, and
So saying he spurred onwards himself. The voice, breathing out the
harsh accents of the trader,—the refugee, the man to capture whom she
had launched so boldly among the billows of stratagem, and almost of
war,—froze the blood of the maiden, and the sight of his grim
features, revealed in the glare of distant lamps, completed the
overthrow of a courage which had supported her in a struggle with one
so little to be feared as Hyland. Her brain whirled, her senses became
bewildered, as she felt the steed bounding beneath her, and knew that
every leap, while it separated her still further from her friends,
placed her yet more completely in the power of the refugee. But it
formed no part of his schemes to add her to the number of his captives.
He checked his steed at the park-gate, dropped her gently on the grass,
and uttering a yell, to draw the attention of another horse-man,
approaching from the house, galloped through the gate and was soon
buried in the darkness. The second horseman, who was no other than the
captain of cavalry, rode up to the spot, dismounted, and uttering many
ejaculations of surprise, took the lady in his arms, and with her
returned to the mansion. He found its inmates still in extreme
agitation, the women weeping and screaming, the men swearing, and
bustling, and vociferating for arms and horses, with which they
designed to do they knew not what, and Captain Loring roaring like a
"Mount horses, gentlemen," he cried, "and by the eternal Jupiter,
we'll recover the prisoners. A rum one, that Mr. Gentleman-volunteer!
Come, mount, mount, and keep the chase warm, till a better force can
follow us. There's a regiment of foot billeted in the village
below—let some one gallop down for a reinforcement; the rest follow
me. If we can't fight the vagabonds, why, by the eternal Jupiter, we
can dog them."
The proposal of captain Caliver was responded to by such as could
think without alarm of following the fierce marauders, by midnight,
into their native forests; and in a surprisingly short space of time,
they set out, six in number, to pursue on the course of the fugitives,
and keep them within striking distance, until assistance should arrive.
A messenger was immediately despatched to the village, and some two or
three of those gaping supernumeraries, whose intrusion into the house
has been already mentioned, volunteered to carry the alarm among the
neighbouring settlements, and thus rouse the whole country to pursuit
The little party of six, headed by young Falconer and Caliver,
issuing from the park, began the chase by galloping up the road,
already made familiar to the leaders by the memorable adventure of the
4th. Assistance was nearer at hand than they thought; and almost before
the trampling of their horses had died on the ear, a large party of
mounted men, with Colonel Falconer at their head, halted at the gate.
In obeying the counsel of the young refugee to leave Hawk-Hollow
without delay, this individual had not been governed alone by fears for
his personal safety. The appearance of Hyland Gilbert so near to the
scene of festivity, convinced him, as strongly as did his urgent
exhortations to fly, that the ferocious band of Hawks, though supposed
long since to have effected its escape, was yet lying concealed in the
neighbourhood, meditating some deed of violence, though what that was,
unless to burn Gilbert's Folly to the earth, as the only way of
wreaking vengeance upon him, he could not pretend to divine. It was
enough, however, that such an enemy was at hand; and, accordingly, when
he rode to the village, it was with the purpose of summoning such a
force to the valley as should protect its inhabitants, if it did not
effect the still better object of ridding it from such visitants for
ever. He sought the commander of the regiment already spoken of; and
his representations, added to the weight of his character, were enough
to cause that officer to take instant measures for the protection of
Hawk-Hollow. A party of sixty picked men, mounted for the occasion, was
put under his disposal; whileseveral other companies were ordered to
follow on foot. While on the road, he was met by the messenger sent by
the captain of cavalry, with the stunning intelligence of the outrage,
as it has been already related. Inflamed by the news, the party put
spurs to their horses, and were soon in the Hollow. They paused at the
park-gate, just long enough to communicate with the house, and
ascertain that the pursuit was already begun by the bridegroom; and
then resuming their route, they were in a few moments beyond the
swelling ridge that shut in the Hollow to the north.
Thought he, 'This is the lucky hour;
Wine works, when vines are in the flower
This crisis, then, I'll set my rest on,
And put her boldly to the question.'
You saw the mistress, I beheld the maid:
You loved, I loved.
—Merchant of Venice
The outlaws were, in the meanwhile, proceeding on their course with
a celerity that left them little to dread from pursuit; and, indeed,
all their measures indicated that their plan had been laid with as much
forethought as audacity. The captive maidens, after being borne for the
space of a mile or more, in the arms of their captors, were placed upon
horses previously in waiting; and then, supported by an athletic
attendant on each hand, were hurried forward with even greater rapidity
than before. Before this arrangement was effected, and while they were
yet in the neighbourhood of Hawk-Hollow, a change came over the spirit
of one of the prizes, not more advantageous to herself than it was
agreeable to the wild band who were somewhat weary of her lamentations.
This was Phoœbe, whose terrors, instead of abating, grew more
clamorous, with every bound of the steed that bore her; and which,
having begun with sobs and piteous ejaculations, increased to something
like positive outcries; until, at last, the man who carried her, losing
all patience, and unlockinglips that seemed previously made of stone,
muttered, or rather whispered in her ear, but in no very amiable
"Consarn the woman! what are you squalling a'ter? Hold your foolish
tongue, Phœbe Jones, or"—
But the sound of a threatening voice was by no means fitted to
allay the damsel's fear, or paralyze the member it had set so
vigorously in motion. She interrupted the menace with a still louder
shriek, adding, "Oh lord, good gentleman, pray don't murder me!"
"Gentleman!" cried the other with a kind of snort, evidently
designed for a laugh; "Well, I reckon, I am a sort of, as well as
another. But what's the contraction? Who's talking of murdering? I'm an
honest feller, Phœbe Jones, and you know it; and these here refugees
are all honest fellers, too, as ever you'd wish to see. Now, Phœbe,
just scratch your nose, and be quiet; for you know I won't hurt you."
"Lord!" said Phœbe, in surprise, "don't I know that voice?"
"Why, I reckon," replied the other, with a more strongly marked
chuckle than before; "but, mind you, no talking above breath; for
that's agin orders, and captain Gilbert's a screamer."
"Captain Gilbert!" said Phœbe, in mortal terror. "Oh Dancy Parkins,
don't let him kill me, and I'll never abuse you no more!"
As he spoke, she banished so much of her fear as to fling an arm
around the horseman's neck, as if to insure the protection she
entreated; and the action, as well as the appeal, went so effectually
to his heart, that he answered forthwith, "Well I won't,—I won't let
him hurt you, I won't, consarn me!—You see, Phœbe Jones," he added,
with the same giggle which had marked the manly assurance of
protection, "I'm the man for you, a'ter all:I told you, you'd be coming
round, some day or other, for all your saying you despised me."
"But an't I to be murdered, Dancy?" demanded the wench, dolefully:
"Oh! that ever I should be among the bloody Hawks! They say, they scalp
women and children, as if they were no more than great Indians!"
"They're not half such fellers as people say," replied Dancy: "the
only murdering I ever knowed of among them, was that of Andy Parker;
and that I uphold to be salt for gruel,—fair grist for cheating the
miller. He chalked me down like a fool, me and Tom Staples, being all
old friends, or sort of; and so hanging was good for him. But I tell
you what, Phœbe—give us a buss, and we'll be married, as well as our
"I won't do no such thing," said the damsel, stoutly. "I don't like
you no better than I ever did; for I don't see you're any better-to-do
in the world than you was; and, besides, I won't have no tory."
"I reckon," said Dancy Parkins, "I'm no more a tory than the
lieutenant—that's him you used to suppose was Mr. Hunter, and a poor
painter; and there's your betters, the Captain's daughter, jumps at
"She don't!" said Phœbe, with indignation; "and don't you go to
say, Miss Kitty Loring will have any such vagabondy, poor fellow."
"Poor!" cried Dancy; "why he's as rich as a king, and a mighty fine
gentleman, too, for all he's consorting just now with these here
refugees. He's got a grand plantation, as big as all Hawk-Hollow, with
a thousand niggurs, where he raises sugar by the ship-load, and
molasses beyond all reckoning, and, as I hear, good Jamaiky spirits.
He's to make me a sort of I-dunna-what-you-call-it; but I'm to manage
the niggurs, and make a fortun'.They say, no man ever sets foot on a
sugar plantation, without making a fortun' out of it,—that is,
excepting the niggurs. So, Phœbe Jones, there's no great use in
despising me. It's a fine country, that island of Jamaiky; and consarn
the bit of a hard winter they ever hear of there. So now, Phœbe, don't
be a fool and refuse me no more; for I'm mighty well-to-do in the
And thus the enamoured Dancy pursued his claims to the love of his
prisoner, who had been hard-hearted enough to frown upon him of old,
while a labourer on Captain Loring's estate, and before the Captain's
daughter had, by rewards and promises of further favour, prevailed upon
him to take charge of the meaner fields of the widow. There was some
presumption, at least Phœbe thought so, in his daring to raise eyes to
her; for besides being without any personal attractions whatever, he
was, to all intents, a gawky and stupid clod-hopper, with but little
prospect of ever rising beyond the condition of a mere hireling, or, at
best, a peasant of the lowest class; and accordingly, the damsel
repelled him with extreme scorn, as a person unworthy to brush the dust
from her shoes.
But the case was now altered, or seemed to be. In the first place,
the scornful beauty was in his hands, and had wit enough, though by no
means overcharged with that brilliant commodity, to perceive that his
friendship was better than his enmity; and, in the second, his
appointment ot the important and lucrative office of
He-did-not-know-what-to-call-it, on a sugar plantation, where they
raised molasses by the ship-load, and good Jamaica spirits, was a
circumstance to elevate him vastly in her consideration; for her
affections not being of a romantic or sentimental turn, she ever held
herselfready to bestow them upon any body who, in her own favourite
phrase, 'was well enough to-do in the world to make a lady of her.' She
listened, therefore, with complacency to his arguments, which he
pressed with as much ardour as he was capable of; and by the time they
reached the place where she was to exchange a litter in his arms for a
seat on a side-saddle, she had so far recovered from her fears, that
she might have told him in the words, and with more than the sincerity,
"Well, thou hast comforted me marvellous much."
In the course of his communications, for he became wondrous frank
and confiding, as he perceived her grow more favourable to his suit, he
made her acquainted with some of the mysterious causes that led to the
outrage, and the extent of his own agency in it.
When the young Gilbert fled from Hawk-Hollow, it was with a
sorrowing spirit and a bleeding frame. The wound was, it is true,
neither dangerous, nor, in fact, very severe; but he was left to endure
it among woods and rocks, afar from assistance, except such as could be
rendered by his wild associates, who were themselves reduced to
extremities, so keen and fierce was the spirit with which they were
hunted, though unsuccessfully, during the first week after their
The sufferings of the young man were, in consequence, neither light
nor few; and they were aggravated by anguish of spirit, which became a
withering despair, when Dancy Parkins, the only individual with whom he
could communicate in the valley, brought him intelligence that
Catherine had been taken away, and, as was currently believed, for the
purpose of being united to her affianced lover, afar from the reach of
danger or opposition. His condition became such that it was no longer
possible to remove him from the concealment where he lay, even when the
abatement of all pursuit opened a path of escape to his companions, and
when they looked daily for orders to proceed, or disband,—the removal
of the chief object for which they were sent to the district, and the
commands imposed upon them to commit no outrages, leaving no argument
for remaining longer.
While he lay in this dangerous condition, the fierce Oran, whose
bosom yearned over him as the youngest, and, after himself, the last of
his father's children, read the secrets of his spirit; and, seeing no
other means of saving his life, he formed, so soon as the sudden return
of Catherine to the valley appeared to render the scheme feasible, the
bold resolution of carrying her off, and thus defeating the only
scruples in the way of Hyland's happiness. His own heart was a rock,
and he smiled grimly as he thought of the affection of woman; but he
had learned to love his brother, and knew that the passion he derided
was consuming his spirit within him. "I will give him his gew-gaw
puppet," he muttered, as he sat one night watching by Hyland's
couch—(it was a bed of fern spread on a rock, on the naked hills, with
only a thatch of hemlock boughs to shelter him from winds and dews, and
a fire in the open air to light the wretched den:) "I will give him his
wish.—He mutters her name in his sleep, and he sobs as he speaks it.
Poor fool! he said true—he is unfit for this life of the desert, and
his heart is warm to all God's creatures. Why should I seek to make it
as fierce and bitter as my own? Let him to the island again, and the
girl with him—it will be better: he was made to be happy."
When he first announced his scheme to Hyland, the youth, to his
surprise, strongly and vehemently opposed it, as being a violence and
wrong not only to Catherine, but to himself: but when the news was
brought him that the wedding-day was fixed and nigh at hand, and he saw
that he must act now or never, his resolution and feelings experienced
a sudden change. He thought over again and again all the evidences he
had traced of Catherine's aversion to the union, and he added the few
and precious revealments of her regard for himself: he remembered her
wild and broken expressions at that hour of parting which had made her
acquainted with the depth of his love, and perhaps taught her more than
she had dreamed before of the condition of her own: he pictured her in
his imagination, the fair, the beautiful and the good, driven into the
arms of one as incapable of appreciating her worth as he was
undeserving her love: he thought of his peaceful island-home, and the
paradise it would become, when she whom he adored should sit with him
under its arbours of palms, or walk over its shelly beaches: he thought
these things, and persuaded himself that fate called for, and heaven
would sanction, the violence,— that he acted not so much for himself
as for her,— and that she would forgive the friendly audacity that
brought her release and happiness together.
He rose from his leafy couch, and in secret and by night crept back
to the valley. The presence of Colonel Falconer filled him with
affright and horror; for that had been concealed from him, and he knew
by the devil of malice that glittered in Oran's eye, that his father's
hall was designed to be stained with the blood of his father's foe.
Accident gave him the means of preventing this dreadful catastrophe,
while wandering over thosescenes which reminded him of Catherine, and
debating in fear and anguish of mind, whether even she was worthy to be
purchased at the price of murder. This obstacle removed, there still
remained another. Fear and disaffection, resulting in a measure from
inactivity, had thinned his brother's band; and they refused to strike
a blow so bold and dangerous by daylight, when the smallness of their
number could be seen at a glance, and their retreat as easily
intercepted as followed. An effort was made to delay the ceremony until
night, by throwing difficulties in the path of the clergyman; and this
duty had been committed to Dancy, who succeeded beyond the expectations
and even the hopes of his employers; while men were stationed in
different parts of the grounds, to take advantage of any accident which
might carry the bride afar from her attendants. At the very moment when
Catherine wandered farther than usual from her friends, and wept at
being hindered and recalled, she had approached the concealment of one
of the party, and would have been seized on the spot, had not the man's
heart failed him. It seemed as if destiny were driving her towards a
path of escape, of which she had an instinctive perception, just at the
moment when it was closed against her footsteps.
These particulars,—or at least the leading outlines,—Dancy
communicated to the object of his own fervent but unromantic
affections; and Phœbe was astounded with the discovery of her
mistress's private attachment, if such it was, and still more so when
Dancy, taking that for granted, assured her of his belief that
Catherine was privy to the whole design. However, she did not trouble
herself to pursue Catherine's story much farther. She heard enough to
satisfy her that Mr. HunterHiram Gilbert, as she called him, 'who
painted such lovely fine pictures, and had a thousand niggurs to raise
sugar, and molasses, and Jamaica spirits, was as good a husband as one
might meet of a summer's day; and for her part, she did not know, she
could not say, she would not pretend to be certain,—but she was quite
sure she never meant to say, that Dancy Parkins was altogether
Beshrew me but I love her heartily;
For she is wise, if I can judge of her;
And fair she is, if that mine eyes be true;
And true she is, as she has proved herself;
And therefore, like herself, wise, fair and true,
Shall she be placed in my constant soul.
—Merchant of Venice
When Catherine recovered her consciousness, or rather woke from
utter insensibility, (for it was long before her mind regained its full
tone,) she was mounted upon a horse on which she was supported by two
men, one riding on each side, who sustained her on the saddle, and
directed the steps of her palfrey. She began to speak, but her words
were wails, low and faint, and half lost amid the sough of the breeze,
and the crash of pebbles under the horses' feet; and, indeed, it was
soon apparent that she had exchanged a state of dreamless lethargy only
for one of partial delirium. To this condition she had been fast
verging for several days, during all which time, both asleep and awake,
her mind had been in a state of constant tension, enduring jar after
jar, and blow after blow, until its fraying fibres were one by one
giving way, and a few narrow threads alone were all that kept it from
the snap that ends in madness. Sleeplessness is a disease, which
sometimes is prolonged, until insanity or death puts a close to the
scene. The mind does not always slumber with the body: and in such
instances, the spirit consumes amid the visionsand dreams of night, as
fast as amid the torments of day, until it lapses into the oblivion of
dissolution or mental derangement. Such had been the case with the
Captain's daughter: even slumber had brought no release to her spirit;
and the last shock, combining in effect with a long train of benumbing
influences, had reduced it to a condition in which it hovered between
imbecility and distraction.
Though retaining an impression of the scene in which she had lately
played so chief a part, it was faint, vague, and broken by other
recollections of other scenes; and though some of her accents betrayed
a childish joy at feeling herself in motion through the open air, she
was apparently incapable of forming any but the most imperfect and
bewildered conception of where she was, whither going, and for what
purpose. Occasionally, she murmured words that seemed those of grief
and entreaty; and, at such times, her father's name was on her lips, as
if she implored those riding at her side to carry her to him. By and
by, however, her words became fainter and fewer; then she uttered sobs,
and those only at intervals; and at last, these ceasing also, she sank
again into unconsciousness, and was maintained on her seat only with
the greatest difficulty.
In consequence of this unexpected impediment, the speed of the
fugitives became gradually less and less; but as they were already at a
considerable distance from the valley, and had no reason to apprehend
immediate pursuit, this circumstance created no alarm, and was, in
fact, a cause of no little private satisfaction to many, the road being
exceedingly rugged, and the night waxing darker and darker as the moon
sunk lower in the west. Suddenly, however, as the headmost of the party
toiled slowly over the crest of a hill, the windswept from the rear a
sound of voices, followed almost instantly by the explosion of
fire-arms, and these again by loud shouts.
" 'Sessa! let the world slide!' " cried the voice of Sterling,
"whose cow's dead now? So much for not killing the men, and carrying
off the women!"
"Peace, parrot!" said Oran Gilbert, lifting Catherine from her
horse, (for he was one of those who supported her,) and flinging her
into the volunteer's arms. "Bear her to the top of the hill,— nay,
gallop on till you strike the river, and"—
"Figs and furies!" cried Sterling, with drunken astonishment; "do
you make me a chamber-maid?"
"Away, fool! follow the other,—follow Dancy."
And with that, the refugee, turning his horse, galloped down the
hill towards the scene of conflict, leaving Sterling, not yet
completely sobered, to make his way after Dancy Parkins and Phœbe, who
were in full flight, as well as he could, cumbered by the weight of
Catherine, and perplexed by certain indications which White Surrey gave
of misliking the additional burthen imposed upon him.
" 'Sessa, let the world slide!' " he exclaimed, "here's a coil with
a wench, dead or half-witted! Ha! she stirs!
'Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon,
Who is already sick and pale with grief.'
Shame on thee, White Surrey! hast thou no more respect for the
ladies? Now were not this the lieutenant's white-faced Rosalind—Oons!
they are at it! Well, the better part of valour shall prevail; and so,
fair soul, we'll be jogging. But where's that bottle of brown Sherry I
clapped into Tiqueraque's pocket? Paucas palabras! I willhave mercy
upon thee—'thou shall taste of my bottle; if thou hast never drunk
wine afore, it will go near to remove thy fit.' 'Slife, I will be
merciful, and medicinate thy lips a little. Marry, I am 'a brave god,
and bear celestial liquor.' Now, White Surrey, my brother, handle thy
legs peaceably, or I will knock thee over the mazzard.— Fight, Hawks!
and sing, Leonidas!"
The worthy volunteer, with these words, after having taken a
bountiful draught from a flagon which was the first thing he laid hands
on in the moment of assault, and sprinkling, doubtless with a humane
and generous motive, some of its contents upon the face and lips of the
maiden, gave spurs to his horse, and was soon beyond the reach of
bullets and the sound of shouts.
The commotion, such as it was, was soon over. The party of Caliver
and Falconer, urging their horses to the utmost, had suddenly, and
unexpectedly to themselves, found themselves in contact with the
stragglers of the tory band; and as these fled the moment they observed
the pursuers, the gallant officers fired their pistols and rushed
forward with renewed ardour, until checked by the opposition of the
main body. They were met with fury, and, being overpowered, were almost
instantly put to flight; after which the retreat of the outlaws was
In the meanwhile, the shots and yells with which the contest began,
the change of position, or perhaps the wine which had been sprinkled on
her lips, woke Catherine from her torpor; and slowly collecting her
senses, she became at last sensible of her situation. Her recollection
of the events of the evening was still confused; but she remembered
enough of the bridal, and its violent termination, to know that she was
afar from her father's roof, and that each moment saw her carried
stillfurther. She felt, too, that she was grasped in the arms of some
powerful horseman, whose character might be imagined from the
heartless, or drunken, nonchalance with which, while supporting a
fainting and almost lifeless female, and hearing the uproar of mortal
conflict just behind him, he yet trolled to the night-air some further
stanzas of that quaint, joyous, and uproarious old ballad, of which he
had given a specimen before in the paddock.
'Back and side go bare, go bare,'—
'Both foot and hand go cold;
But, belly, God send thee good ale enough,
Whether it be new or old.
I cannot eat but little meat,
My stomach is not good;
But sure I think that I can drink
With him that wears a hood.
Though I go bare, take ye no care,
I am nothing a-cold,—
I stuff my skin so full within
Of jolly good ale and old.
Back and side go bare,'
'Now let them drink till they nod and wink,
Even as good fellows should do;
They shall not miss to have the bliss
Good ale doth bring men to:
And all poor souls that have scoured bowls,
Or have them lustily troll'd,
God save the lives of them and their wives,
Whether they be young or old!
Back and side go bare,'
"Oh my father, my father!" cried Catherine, in sudden terror, "for
what dreadful fate have I given up thy love and protection?"
Her accents, feeble as they were, reached the ears of Sterling; and
ceasing his song, he lookeddown upon her face, saying, with a ludicrous
assumption of gravity,
"How now, fair Titania, queen of moonshine, do you speak? 'Oh,
speak again, bright angel!' So much for twenty drops of brown Sherry!
these asses did nothing but talk about cold water."
"What are you, sir? and why—why do you, thus hold me?"
"Egad, for no very good reason I know, seeing that I could not hold
my own prisoner, and am but a milk-livered loon to hold the game of
young Sparrow-Hawk. Thousand devils! knew I but where to turn White
Surrey's snout, I should exit by side door, and so vanish, wench and
all, were it only to give him a Roland for his Oliver."
"I know not what you mean," said Catherine, her terror restoring
her to full consciousness—"I know not what you mean," she repeated,
with increasing alarm, as the moon, peeping side-long through a rent in
the clouds, threw a level and ghastly ray on the countenance of her
supporter, revealing features which her fears converted into those of
an evil being;—"but, oh sir! I conjure you to free me. Do me no
harm,—suffer me to escape,—let me dismount, though it should be but
to die on the way-side."
Unfortunately,—not for her prayer, for no idea of granting that
could have ever entered the volunteer's brain,—but unfortunately for
the maiden herself, the same ray which revealed his visage to her gaze
fell brightly upon her own, which, although pallid as death, yet
displayed a pair of eyes to which the excitement of terror gave unusual
lustre, and which instantly converted the drunken indifference of
Sterling into admiration. He stared at her for a moment, and then burst
out, in the words of Romeo, and with an emphasis that preserved, along
with his usual dramatic extravagance offervour, some little touch of
" 'Two of the fairest stars in all the heaven,
Having some business, do entreat her eyes
To twinkle in their spheres, till they return!'
Oho, Master Brook, sweet young Hawk! never trust me if I do not
take thy minion in fair exchange for my own:—
'Follow your function, go!
And batten on cold bits.'—
Sweet and beautiful, and thrice beautiful and as many times
angelical, fair soul!" he added, addressing himself to Catherine, "that
I have so long remained insensible to thy charms, trust me, it was in
part owing to the stupidity which I find growing upon me among the
'ruthless, vast and gloomy woods,' and in part also to the great grief
of mind with which I have been mourning the loss of another very
tenderly beloved damsel; but chiefly because thine eyes refused their
light, and yonder moon in like manner. But now, 'by yonder blessed moon
I swear,' I perceive you are ten times handsomer than the other, ass
that I was to suppose the contrary; but, however, I was then thinking
of the lieutenant and sour grapes.—Sweet, angelical soul, you said
something about escaping, and doing you harm, and so on? Now, as to the
harm, rest easy; but look as frightened as you please,—for what's so
pretty in a maid as pretty fear? But as to escaping,—you would escape,
then? go free from these villanous, green-coated, axe-handed,
ox-headed, timber-tongued Hawks of the Hollow, eh? You would give them
the slip, eh?"
"Assist me but to escape,—nay, only permit me to fly; heaven will
bless you for ever, and my father—oh, my father!—he will never think
he has sufficiently rewarded you."
Such were Catherine's eager expressions,—for although frighted at
the strange, and, to her, inexplicable apologies and commendations of
the man, she caught at his closing words as at those of a friend. What,
therefore, was her terror, when the drunken ruffian, exclaiming, "Why
then, 'Sessa, let the world slide!' we will give Monsieur the Hawk
Junior the go-by, and roam the world together," added other words to
make yet more plain the sudden design he had formed of carrying her off
for his own exclusive benefit, and concluded by attempting to draw his
arms more closely around her.
"Yes, thou adorable, delectable creature!" he cried, overflowing
with affection, "I am tired of these rude vagabonds, who give one
nothing to drink but brook-water, with which trout, eels, sunfish,
terrapins, and other vermin, have been making free the lord knows how
long; and beds of leaves on a rock, where one may feel snakes creeping
under him all night long. Wherefore I will decamp, and thou shalt
decamp with me, and be my love; and I will love thee to thy heart's
content; and we shall lead the merriest, drollest moonlight life of it
under a bush, that was ever dreamed of in romance or enacted in
tragedy. We will laugh and play, and drink and dance—
'Nor will we miss to have the bliss
Good ale doth bring men to'—
and will be the most loving turtles that ever cooed in a
As he spoke, he again attempted (for White Surrey, charmed with the
melody of his master's tongue, and knowing well, when it was running,
he might take such a liberty, had changed a jogtrotinto a contemplative
walk,) to cast his arms round the maid, who, now awake to the
wretchedness of her situation, uttered a shriek, and making a sudden
effort, succeeded in throwing herself to the ground; after which, she
fled away with all her speed. The object of her terror was not slow to
follow; he uttered an oath and a laugh, and leaping down, pursued her
with such vigour that he was soon at her side; for the ground was rough
with rocks and bushes, and her strength almost immediately failed her.
It is not certain that the wretch mediatated any purpose beyond the
mere recovery of his prize; for, however rude and familiar his new-born
admiration, he had hitherto betrayed no inclination to carry it to the
point of absolute rudeness. On the contrary, he seemed rather to be
enacting a part, according to his constant custom, only that the wine
he had drunk rendered him in all things more extravagant than usual.
But harmless or not as his intentions might have been, it is
certain that the fear of them drove the unhappy Catherine to
desperation, and filled another, now fast approaching, with the most
dreadful alarm. This was Hyland Gilbert, who, hearing her cries from
afar, came rushing up in time to see her, in the dull light of the
moon, drop on her knees before the volunteer, beseeching him, in tones
that might have melted a heart of stone, to have pity on her.
"Villain! you die!" cried Hyland; and leaping from his horse, and
rushing forward, he clapped a pistol to his ear, and drew the trigger.
It flashed in the pan; but before Sterling could take advantage of the
failure, the young man dashed it in his face, and drew another.
"Hell and darkness!" cried Sterling, furiously, "young malapert, I
will twist your neck." Andseizing him by the throat, he cast him
violently to the earth. Of a joyous, and even good-humoured
temperament, there was yet a spice of devilish vindictiveness in the
man's breast; and while boiling under the indignity of the blow, and
smarting with rage at such high-handed interference in his humours by a
pragmatic boy, he did not fail to remember that this was not the first
time he had been baffled by him during the night. Besides, he was
inflamed with liquor, which was enough of itself to goad him into any
act of vengeance.
But he was not destined, that night, to shed the blood of Hyland
Gilbert. The shrieks of Catherine had been heard by others as well as
her unhappy lover, and the flash of the pistol hastened them to the
spot, where he lay struggling in the grasp of Sterling. A hand more
mighty than his own was soon laid upon Sterling's neck, and as he was
lifted aloft, and then tossed among the flints, like some mean but
vicious breast, which the hunter disdains to kill with a weapon, he
heard the voice of the tory captain exclaim,
"What, you dog! touch your officer, and a sick man!—What means all
this, Hyland? What! has he harmed the girl? If he have but touched her
with a finger—Paugh!—Away with you, men! why stand you here gaping?
On, and quickly."
The party rode on, leaving, however, besides the group already in
front, one man who led the horse on which Catherine had been mounted
before. The refugee cast a look to the maiden,— she was sobbing in the
arms of his brother. He strode to Sterling and assisted him to rise,
not however without saying, with the sternest accents of a voice always
"But that heaven, or some other power, hasmade me to-night cold to
blood, I should strike you, villain, where you stand!"
"You may do it," said the other, with great tranquillity. "Take
your fill to-night; we will run up the reckoning at another time."
"How, drunken fool! do you threaten me!"
"Faith, not I. Henceforth, I am a man of peace —that is, when we
have played the play out. You're a hard manager—but, now I remember,
we are not on the boards! We will forget and forgive."
"Forgive, rogue! you struck him that was feebler than a child; and
you—By heaven! if you have touched that girl but rudely, you were
better fling you into the river; than await the thanks in store for
"A pest upon girls, and the devil take the whole sex!" said
"Peace! and get you to your horse."
"Ay, presently," replied Sterling; and as Oran leaped on his own
black steed, Catherine having been already lifted to the saddle, he
pulled a pistol from his bosom, and aimed it at the unsuspecting
outlaw. Oran Gilbert bounded forward, and Sterling lowered his hand.
"A miss were certain death," he muttered, "and the shadow was on
the moon. 'Sessa, let the world slide'—to-morrow comes after to-day,
and the longer we fast the richer the feast.
'Nor shall we miss to have the bliss
Good ale? good devils!—
'Nor shall we miss to have the bliss
Good blood doth bring men to!'—
Now were White Surrey but visible, I should know what to do: but
the beast lifted up his heels,and was gone a-larking the moment I
dismounted. —And these dogs have left me to shift for myself, without
even a horse to help me! Wisdom is at as low an ebb among them as
gratitude. Necessity and vengeance harp on the same string. Fare thee
well, Oran the Hawk; but fly as high and as wildly as thou wilt, I see
the little bee-bird that shall bring thee to the ground, bleeding."
With these words, he sat down upon a stone, and there remained
until the tramp of the retreating horsemen was no longer brought to his
If you have ears that will be pierced; or eyes
That can be open'd; a heart that may be touch'd;
Or any part that yet sounds man about you;
If you have touch of holy saints or heaven;
Do me the grace to let me 'scape: if not,
Be bountiful, and kill me. You do know,
I am a creature hither ill betray'd
By one whose shame I would forget it were.
— Ben Jonson—
Catherine was now so far recovered as to be able to comprehend her
situation in full; and although Hyland Gilbert rode at her side, thus
assuring her of protection from all further rudeness, her terrors
increased, and were mingled with the most insupportable anguish of
spirit. It was in vain that he conjured her to be composed, and vainer
yet when he sought to pacify her by expressions indicative of affection
"Take me to my father, Herman," she cried, clasping her hands, and
even endeavouring to grasp his own. "Oh, take me but back, and I will
forgive you—I will forgive all!"
"Be composed, Catherine, I entreat you"— But her only answer was,
"My father! my poor father!"
"You shall see him, Catherine. I take you not from him, but from
"I will never marry him," cried the unhappy girl: "take me but back
and I will tell them all, and it shall go no further. Take me but
back,and I will forget all,—I will forgive all. Take me but back, and
let me die."
In this manner, her mind overcome by but one thought and one
feeling, she murmured prayer after prayer, and adjuration after
adjuration, until her entreaties became almost frenzied, and Hyland,
alarmed and shocked, half repented the act which had brought her to
such a pass. Her agitation was not diminished, when Oran, who rode at
the other side, and had for a long time maintained a stern silence, and
apparent disregard of what passed between them, at last uttered an
interjection of impatience, and bade Hyland ride away, and leave her to
"The folly but grows upon her in your presence," he said: "it must
"Leave me not, Herman!" she cried, starting so wildly from the rude
Oran, that, had he not arrested the effort, she would have leaped from
the horse, in the effort to reach him whom she felt to be her truest
protector: "leave me not, Herman, for the sake of the mother who bore
you!—leave me not in the hands of any of these rude men!"
"Fear not," said Hyland, and he conjured Oran himself to depart.
"Let the girl come to her," he added; "perhaps Phœbe's appearance may
But even the presence of Phœbe, now quite content with captivity,
(so successful had been the arguments of her wooer,) failed to banish
her agitation; and at last, bewildered and in despair, incapable of
devising any other means to give her comfort, Hyland checked his horse
and hers, and assisted her to dismount.
"Do with me what you will, Catherine Loring," he said:—"I am a
fool, a wretch, perhaps a villain."
"Oh no, no!" said the maiden; "only take meback, and all will again
be well—all will be forgotten."
"Nothing again will be well with me," said the young man, "and
nothing, I fear me, with you. Catherine, there is but a moment to
decide. In snatching you from the altar, I did the only thing in my
power to secure happiness to both,—or at least, to secure us from the
misery that was falling on us like a mountain. You hated Henry
"I did—No, no! not hate; it was not hate," murmured the Captain's
"You hated him, Catherine, and—why should I fear to speak it?—you
loved another—you loved me, Catherine—By heaven, it is true! I felt
it, and I knew it; else how could I have done this thing? It is
true—and hide it not from yourself, since your own weal, as well as
mine, depends upon your resolution this moment."
"Speak not to me so, oh, for heaven's sake do not," cried
Catherine, weeping—"I never gave you cause. Take me only to my
"To wed with Henry Falconer, and pronounce a vow your heart
"I will never marry him—never, never!" said Catherine, with
vehemence: "I would have told him so, only that my father stood by, and
I knew it would kill him."
"Catherine, hear me—I am neither traitor nor outlaw, and though
associated with such for a moment, it is for your sake only.—I have
wealth, Catherine,—substance enough and a fair name. Share these with
"No, no! oh speak not so," said Catherine; "speak to me only of my
father, and take me to him. He loved you well, Mr. Hunter, and you have
not well repaid him."
"Choose, Catherine," said Hyland, gloomily; "if you will return to
him, it shall be so:—I am not the ruffian to force you a step further
against your will."
"Heaven for ever bless you!" cried the maiden. "Oh be quick, lest
it be too late—Take me back, take me back!"
"Yes, take us back, take us back!" cried Phœbe, whose weak mind,
yielding with facility to the contagion of Catherine's example, was now
as full of terror as before.
"Think once more, Catherine," said the young Gilbert, with a
faltering voice—"Of myself I speak not—I will not think what your
return may cause me; but think of what wretchedness it must inevitably
bring to you.—Catherine, there is sunshine for us in the island.—Say
but the word—you will fly with me!"
"Never!—Oh my father! take me, Herman, to my father!"
"It is well," said the youth, sullenly; but motioning as if to
assist her to the saddle, "you shall return to him."
"What fool's play is this? and why do you loiter?" cried Oran
Gilbert, riding back to the group, who had been left by their sudden
pause far behind: "To horse and to the river!"
"It cannot be," said Hyland: "we have erred, —we have done a great
wrong, and must repair it. Brother, this maiden must be returned to her
"Madman! what do you say? Have her silly, girlish whimsies to
frightened you? Away with you to the front, and I will fetch her!"
"I have said it, Oran," rejoined Hyland, in a firm, though deeply
dejected voice. "I have agreed to take her back, and I will do so. If
you will allow me a guard, I will not delay the band amoment; and will
answer for the lives of those entrusted to me."
"Fool and madman!" exclaimed the brother, in a fury, "must I force
you to your senses? What ho, there, Hawks! two of you return; and Dancy
Parkins, lift that girl to the saddle, and bear her off."
"Fear not," said Hyland to Catherine, who, with woman's
inconsistency, threw herself into his arms, the moment she heard the
dreaded order. —"You but frighten her, brother!—Make me not more
wretched than I am, by forcing me to shed the blood of any of your
people.—I will shoot any one who touches her."—
"Myself, boy?" cried his savage brother, leaping from his horse.
Then pausing, for at his approach, Hyland lowered the weapon he had
raised to make good his words, he said sternly,
"Choose for yourself.—Bear her along, and be rewarded by smiles in
the morning; take her back and die, like a mad wolf, in the trap that
has before maimed you. Mount horse, Dancy Parkins, and begone; and you,
Hyland Gilbert, mount and follow, or stay where you are and
perish.—Will you on?" he added, with inexpressible fierceness.
"When I have put this lady in safety, but not before," replied
"Die then for a fool, or help yourself as you may," said the elder
brother; and mounting his horse, he instantly galloped out of sight.
None now remained with Hyland save the two maidens; for even Dancy,
awed by the voice of the refugee, had deserted the once-willing Phœbe.
He turned his eyes towards the retreating figures, as if doubting
whether they could wholly desert him; but he heard the tramp of the
steeds ring farther and fainter each moment, and it was plain that the
incensed Oran had abandoned himto his fate. He assisted Catherine to
mount, and Phœbe likewise; then taking Catherine's bridle in his hand,
he turned the horse's head, and began to retrace his steps without
uttering a word. A moody silence possessed him, and even Catherine's
voice, now sobbing out her broken gratitude, failed to draw from him
more than a few sullen monosyllables.
"It shall be as you will," he said; "but let us speak no
more.—What matters it now to utter vain words?"
The dejection, nay the despair, of spirit conveyed by every tone,
smote Catherine to the heart; and had he possessed the art, or the
will, to take advantage of the feeling which his evident desolation
produced in her bosom, he might yet have won her to his purpose, and
borne her afar from parent and friend. But he had neither; he heard her
trembling attempts at kindly utterance, (for it was now her part to
play the soother,) with apparent indifference; and even when she turned
her weeping face towards him, and, in the impulse of real affection,
laid her hand upon his, he drew away as with scorn or anger.
Their flight had carried them almost to the base of the mountain;
and, obscure as was the night, it was plainly distinguishable at that
spot where the convulsions of chaotic ages have riven it from the
summit to the base, thus hollowing a pathway for a broad river under
the shade of its majestic crags. As they turned from it, a pale light
glistened among the pines and oaks of the eastern hill, but so faint
and dim that one could scarce pronounce it the peep of day-spring.
Such, however, it was; fast as had been the flight, it had been over a
road where absolute rapidity is, even at this day, rather to be desired
than expected; and, had she continued with the wild band, Catherine
would have seenthe sun steal into the sky, ere they had buried her in
the savage recesses where they found their own cities of refuge.
As the day dawned, however, and long before the sun was yet seen,
wreaths of mist began to curl along the mountain top, and even to creep
over the river; and before they had ridden much more than a mile, it
was seen rolling along these lesser uplands that give such beauty to
the whole district, and settling upon the moist woodlands.
This was a circumstance which one in Hyland's situation might have
deemed providential, if desirous of avoiding observation. But it is
questionable whether, while brooding over his melancholy thoughts, he
gave much reflection to the peril that might attend his return to the
haunts of men. Peril should, at least, have been anticipated; for
whatever had been the check given by the band of outlaws to the first
pursuers, it was not a moment to be doubted, from the audacity of the
pursuit, as well as the greatness of the outrage, that the chase would
be resumed the moment the pursuers could add to their numbers. But
dejected as was his spirit, he was not yet reduced to such a state of
stupor as to be wholly unmindful of his safety; and of this he gave
proof by suddenly halting upon a naked hill, strown over with rocks,
and wholly desolate, though breathing into the mist a world of rich
odour. It was, in fact, covered with a growth of sweet-fern,—a shrub
around which the early thoughts of affection had shed an interest not
to be attached even to the rose or violet, though henceforth that
interest was to be of a melancholy and painful character. It was the
hill on whose summit he had, scarce an hour before, preserved her from
the grasp of a villain; though this she knew not, for the mists
concealed objects from the eye, and it was not yet sunrise.
As he paused, he bent forward to listen, and drew a pistol from his
saddle-bow, but instantly returned it, muttering, "It is no matter—if
they take me, let it be without bloodshed."
"Herman,—Mr. Hunter, what is it?" cried Catherine. "You will not
"Now I must, or never," he said. "You are safe,—your friends are
at the bottom of the hill; and unless you would have them murder me in
your sight, I must begone. Farewell, Catherine Loring: if you can be
happy, God grant that you may be so. I have done you a great wrong; but
I bear that in my bosom which will avenge you. Farewell,
Catherine,—farewell, and for ever."
"Herman, Herman!" murmured the maiden, turning upon him a
countenance of death, and gasping for utterance.
"Farewell, Catherine," he said, wringing her hand; "they are upon
us. God bless you—farewell."
He rode away—it was but a step: the trample of a body of horse was
now plainly heard—he looked back upon her—his countenance was bathed
in tears. She stretched forth her arms, and murmuring, in a broken
voice, "I will go with you—take me, Herman, take me!"—was in a moment
locked in his own embrace. He snatched her from the saddle, and, as she
clung to his neck, dashed the spurs into his good roan steed. Had the
words been pronounced a moment earlier, nay, but an instant, he might
have made his escape, and borne her off in safety. But the decision was
as late as it proved to be fatal. Phœbe had already heard the trampling
of the approaching horsemen, and Hyland had called them friends. She
could scarce repress a cry of delight; but when, catching Catherine's
last words, she looked round and beheld her, as she thought, in the act
of being again snatched away, she raised her voice in a scream that was
heard by the most distant of the approaching party, and was echoed by a
shout coming from fifty voices.
Again Hyland struck the spurs into his horse, and the fire sparkled
from his hoofs as he dashed down the hill; but fire flashed immediately
after from the hoofs of twenty others, fresher and perhaps fleeter.
"Shoot not, or you will kill the lady!" roared a voice in his ear.
"Surrender, dog, or die!" shouted another, who was indeed no other
than Henry Falconer; and almost in the same instant, as three or four
closed upon the unfortunate fugitive, a strong arm snatched the
fainting Catherine from his grasp, and a pistol, held by Falconer, was
thrust into his face.
The young Gilbert was weak with wounds and sickness, and worn out
with toil, watching, and grief; his native spirit was thus in a manner
crushed and prostrated; and he would perhaps have yielded himself
passively up, if not too bitterly goaded by the taunts and violence of
his captors. Such was the opinion of two of them, who, supposing he had
already yielded, withdrew their hands, that they might give assistance
to the fainting Catherine, whom captain Caliver had so fortunately
redeemed from the midst of the fray. But Gilbert had not yet rendered
himself. The sight of his rival, exulting in his capture, and menacing
him with voice and weapon, inflamed his dying passions. He turned with
sudden fierceness, checked and spurred his steed at the same time, and
thus caused him to vault into the air with a violence which would have
speedily released him from Falconer's grasp, had not his purpose been
rather to attack than fly. As he executed this feat, he presented his
own pistol, and drew the trigger. Theexplosion of two pistols at once
was followed by the rush of a dozen men to separate the combatants; and
the next moment both were seen rolling upon the ground, Falconer lying
clear of the melée, and Hyland in the hands of the vengeful Sterling,
whose horse, White Surrey, had overthrown the youth, together with his
" 'Sessa! let the world slide!' " cried the renegade, with a voice
of thunder, but a countenance ashy pale. "Here's work for the
hangman—I have him fast enough. Victoria!"—
But at this moment, a sudden alarm was sounded, and all who could
starting up, they heard a wild yell sound from the base of the hill to
the north, and the words, pronounced by a voice strong and clear as a
trumpet, "Royal Refugees! charge! and bear them to the ground!"
"Huzza!" shouted the captain of cavalry, "here's the rat running at
the lion! Now open your mouths and swallow 'em! By the eternal Jupiter,
we are five to their one; and more fools they for not knowing it. Sweep
them from the earth! charge them! on!"
The refugee had relented; the sound of the pistols had quickened
his steps; but he dreamed not of the force now arrayed betwixt him and
his abandoned brother. A sheet of fire from twenty pistols blazed
through the mist, as twice as many enemies rushed against his little
band. They broke at the first fire, and the sounds of pursuit, both hot
and fierce, were soon lost in the distance. —It was not until many
hours had elapsed that the result of the contest, although it could be
easily imagined, was fully known. Two of the refugees had been killed,
and one was taken prisoner; while the others, abandoning their horses,
which were worn out, and hence easily captured, succeeded in making
their escape to the woods.
In the meanwhile, those who remained upon the hill busied
themselves in securing the unfortunate Hyland, who was unhurt save by
the fall of his horse, aiding the maidens, and raising young Falconer
from the earth. This unlucky youth muttered a few words as they lifted
him, but, to their horror, almost instantly expired. A pistol bullet
had penetrated his throat, dividing the great jugular, and even
shattering the spine. His battles were fought, and his dream of folly
In the recovery of Catherine and the servingmaid, the company of
pursuers had effected the chief object of the expedition; but it was
still felt to be a matter of great importance to destroy the relics of
the refugee band which had haunted the county so long. The greater
number of the pursuers, accordingly, devoted themselves to this object,
while enough remained on the hill to take charge of the rescued
females, the prisoners, and the dead.
The life of Hyland Gilbert, whom his captors, exasperated by the
murder, as they called it, of Falconer, were at one time on the point
of tearing to pieces, was saved through the firmness of lieutenant
Brooks; but he was treated with much indignity, and even cruelty, being
straightway bound both hand and foot to his horse, and thus carried
away like the meanest and most desperate of felons. A pair of rude
litters were hastily constructed, in one of which was carried the
Captain's daughter, while the other supported the clayey corpse of the
These things effected, and the honest Mr. Sterling assuming the
station assigned him in the centre of the party, where, although
enjoying all appearance of liberty, he was yet esteemed a kind of
honourable—or, as the phrase should be, dishonourable—prisoner, the
melancholy cavalcade pursuedits way back to Hawk-Hollow, within a few
miles of which, its leaders stumbled upon Captain Loring and a party of
footmen, over whom he had assumed the command. It consisted of no less,
indeed, than that identical company of volunteers who had won such
immortal distinction on the fourth of July, by their valiant attack,
with empty muskets, upon the flying Oran. The reappearance of their
enemy was enough to recall them to the field of battle, though they
came somewhat of the latest; and uniting themselves with a party of
countrymen and domestics whom Captain Loring had previously assembled,
and whom he was now gallantly leading to the field of honour, they
yielded to his energy the obedience he seemed to consider a matter of
right, and thus constituted him commander-in-chief, without much regard
to the claims of their own elected officers.
The morning was still misty, so that lieutenant Brooks and his
party stumbled upon this formidable detachment without seeing it, or
suspecting its existence; and had it not been for the sharpness of his
ears in detecting the tones of Captain Loring's voice upon a hill he
was just ascending, it is highly probable the magnanimous volunteers
would have wiped out the disgrace of their flight before a single
enemy, by pouring a warm and well-directed fire into a superior body of
He paused a little,—for he rode at some distance in front of his
party,—and distinctly heard Captain Loring's voice giving the
following orders to his volunteers:—
"Hark!" said the veteran; "adzooks, you may hear their horse now as
plain as the cocking of a sentinel's musket at midnight. Halt, ye
vagabonds, and prepare for action. When I say prepare, I mean, adzooks,
be ready to swinge 'em. You, Dan Potts, John Small, and Peter Dobbs,
detach yourselves to the right, six rods from the road, and lay by to
flank 'em: Dick Sturgem, Sam King, and Absalom Short, wheel to the
left, and do the same thing—and mind you, you scoundrels, don't any of
you be frightened; for, adzooks, I despise a coward above all created
things. And harkee, you scoundrels, no gabbling; hold your tongues like
soldiers, and talk with your muskets: that's what old general Spitfire
used to tell us—'Sons,' said he, 'a soldier should always keep his
tongue in his musket.' So be off, and stand fast, flanks; and bang away
as soon as you see any thing to bang at. Centre, attend: as soon as you
hear the flanks at it, you are to crack away, and give no quarter—no
quarter, you scoundrels, do you hear!"
At any other moment, the young lieutenant would have been amused at
the enthusiasm and tactics of the veteran of the Indian wars; but this
was not a moment for jest. He rode forward, hailing the Captain by
name; and the old soldier soon forgot his rage and his followers
together, to weep in the arms of his recovered child.
But is this law?
Ay, marry is't; crowner's-quest law.
We draw a curtain over the scene of distress displayed in Gilbert's
Folly, when the body of Henry Falconer, late the gayest of its inmates,
was laid at the feet of his father and sister; and pass to that which
followed, when a justice of the peace, acting in the place of a
coroner, assembled a jury of inquest around the bloody couch, to
determine from the melancholy story of the dead, the fatal
responsibility of the living. The official was a personage who
exercised, along with the duties of a magistrate, the equally dignified
functions of mine host of the Green Tree Tavern; and was, indeed, no
less a man than that rival of Elsie Bell, whose formidable opposition,
many years before, had completed the downfall of the Traveller's Rest.
He was now a man of substance, portly in person, and inflated by the
dignity of office into a certain dignity of manner; his step was like
the roll of a ship, and when he breathed, it was with a forcible and
majestic expiration of breath, like the snort of a war-horse. He had
been noticed, as he advanced in the world, for the independence,—or,
to speak more strictly, the tyranny with which he conducted himself
among his guests; not, indeed, that he ever beat, or even committed
them, as, in virtue of his office, he might have done; but because,
ashe said, he heartily 'despised peing pottered mit 'em.' He was not
austere or quarrelsome of disposition, but he was a lover of his ease
in his inn; and his despotism was shown less in violent opposition than
in contemptuous indifference of all humours save his own. He abhorred
all faultfinding, but as he equally detested the trouble of
reprehending it, he devised a scheme by which discontent was either
nipped in the bud, or severely reproved as soon as made manifest, and
all without any labour on his own part. He caused to be painted on his
sign-board, having daubed off the green tree to make room for it, the
following cabalistic legend,—
Der ist glücklich, welcher zufrieden ist.
which he was accustomed to translate, viva voce, to all incapable
of understanding it, in a quaternion as remarkable for its expressive
simplicity as for its philosophic comprehensiveness:
He vich is vise
Neffer grumples nor cries;
He vich is neither vise nor ciffil
May go to the diffil.
This,—that is to say, the original morceau,—as he justly
conceived, contained a standing answer for all grumblers, and by being
in such a conspicuous situation, served as a warning to them
beforehand; while, at the same time, if a guest chanced to forget its
existence, it only needed the philosophic Schlachtenschlager (for that
was the dignitary's name,) to point to it with his finger, and demand,
'Fat does that mean?' to bring him to reason. At all events, his
translation was always at hand, in case of extremity, and was of such
supreme efficacy in laying all evil spirits by the heels,that he used
to declare with triumph, 'It fas neffer needs to say it twice.'
Such was the functionary who now introduced his assistants into the
chamber of death, exulting in his own importance and his success in
completing the number against all the difficulties resulting from the
confusion into which the county had been thrown by the second
appearance of the refugees.
"I do afer, on my faith, gentlemen," he said; wiping his brows, as
he entered, "I had more trouple making you up than is goodt for
nothing. As for that Jake Sheeps fat run afay, I fill commit him, the
"Ay, Squire, when you catch him," said one of the party, who,
although as coarse in appearance as the others, (all being, save
himself, ordinary farmers and ignoramuses, such as could be picked up
in a hurry,) but who soon proved himself possessed of more brain than
all the others together, —"when you catch him, Squire. But harkee,
Schlachtenschlager; concerning this forcing me on a jury of
inquest,—'tis a sort of a breach of privilege. As an attorney at law,
I should be considered exempt; for if there's no statute for exemption,
why there's custom, my old boy, and I'll mulct you in damages.
Botheration, Squire, you should know enough law to steer clear of a
"T'at for your law!" said the magistrate, "and your lawyer too: I
knows my pusiness. And if you grumples and calls me 'old poy,' it vill
pe vorse for you; for old poy means the tyfel, and if you calls me
tyfel, mine friend Affidafy"—
"Tush," said the lawyer, it means no such thing. But as you have
nabbed me, why make haste with this stupid business, and be done. Look
at the body, guess your guess out, and let me be gone."
" 'He vich is vise,' "—
muttered the justice; but was interrupted by Mr. Affidavy crying,
"The devil take your verses. Come, let's to business. Now, Squire,
you 'know your business,' —you never, I reckon, held an inquest before
in your life;—how do you begin?"
"How do I pegin?" said the official, scratching his head; "fy, I
reckons, ve must have a talk apout it, and then say, the man vas
"The deuce you must? Why that's prejudging the case altogether. How
do you know the man was murdered? where's your witnesses?"
"Vitnesses!" said Schlachtenschlager; "fy, I reckons the case is
clear enough mitout 'em."
"Ah, I thought you'd say so," cried the other; "but that won't do.
Where's the murderer?"
"Vy, I committed him."
"Where's the prisoner, Dancy Parkins?"
"Vy, I committed him along mit the other."
"Where's the informant, that vagabond—(I reckon, he'll be a
witness for the Commonwealth) —that stripe-coat fellow,
Stirk—Stick,—no, Sterling's his name?"
"Vy, I committed him, too."
"The devil you did? Well, where are the officers, the soldiers, the
volunteers, and all the rest that were present?"
"Vy, chasing the refugees, to pe sure."
"Well, so I thought. Now, I'll tell you what you'll have to do:
just send off as fast as you can for that fellow Sterling, and Dancy,
and half a dozen others, and adjourn till they come; which will give me
time to run down to the Traveller's Rest, and administer on old Elsie
Bell's estate, or see what there is to administer on."
"Administer on old Elsie? fat the tyfel! is the old fitch teadt?"
"As dead as a herring," said Affidavy; "and there's another job for
you. They say, some one told her, the defunct here, Colonel Falconer's
son, was shot by young Gilbert; and the harridan screeched, and fell
dead with fright."
"Mine soul!" said the justice, "they're all typing. There's the
Captain's daughter here,—they say she's tying too. I vant to take her
teposition; but Dr. Muller says she can n'ither speak nor hear."
"Well," said the attorney, "you see there's nothing to be done here
at present. So, adjourn's the word, and down to hold an inquest on old
Elsie. She has been looking up in the world lately, and they say she'll
leave something. I intend therefore to administer, or see about it—and
by the way, Squire, we may discover something there in relation to the
murderer. He lived in her house; and, there's no doubt, the tories made
it a place of rendezvous. We can come up here and finish afterwards."
"Fell, I don't know," said Schlachtenschlager; "it's all vone,
except for the trouple of going and coming. But fere's Jake Musser?" he
added, in sudden alarm; "I declare ve're not all here!— Fy, Jake, fere
have you peen?" he continued, as the individual, whose absence he had
just discovered, entered the apartment.
"Vy, at Elsie Pell's;—I stopped a moment to get a trink; but old
Elsie vas sick, and the plack girl vas in a fear, and"—
"Sick!" cried Affidavy, "a'n't the old goose dead? 'Pshaw! why then
we'll go on with the inquest, and say no more about it. I thought there
was a job there for somebody; but, it seems, it is only for the doctor.
Well, Squire, are you ready?"
"Yes," said the official; "but now, Mr. Affidafy, fat shall we do
"Tush," said the man of law, "that's neither here nor there."
"Fy, you said, it wouldn't do mitout 'em!"
"Oh, that's according to circumstances, and here we have
circumstances enough to hang the whole county."
"Fell, then," said the magistrate, "we'll pring it in a case of
murder. Are you all agreedt? Fat says you, Peter Pork?"
"Why, I dunna," said Peter, "but I reckon so."
"Fat says you, Thomas Pork?"
"Why, I dunna; but I go with Peter."
"Fat says you, Jacob Musser?"
"Fy, the same: but I reckon the Captain mought send us up something
to dtrink.—It's a very pretty pody."
"Never mind the pody, Jacob. Fat says you, Jack Darpy?"
"Why, I'm no so clear in the matter;—I'm ag'in' all hanging."
"Fy, that's none on your pusiness," said the magistrate, assuming
an air of dignity; "for you see, John, the coroner's jury is not the
"Well, Squire," said the nonconformist, "I reckon I know that as
well as any body. But, you see, I've had a talk with the quakers on
this matter, and I'm coming to think it's ag'in' the law of scriptur'
to bring a man to the gallows. And you see, the matter all rests on our
shoulders; for if we say murder for our 'quest, why then the grand jury
sings the same song for their indictment, and the petty jury just
follows suit. It's just like sticking three bricks on an end; if you
kick one, why down goes the second, and clack goes t'other. And
moresomover, what Squire Affidavy says I stick to: Idon't know the
man's murdered, not an iota, without some one to swear on black and
"Fy, take a look at him, John," said the Squire in a heat; "he's
deadt, a'n't he? and he has a pig hole in his neck, ha'n't he? and fat
more fould you haff? You're always preeding trouble, John Darpy!"
"Well, I dunna," said John; "the man mought ha' shot himself; for
they say he was a peeler at the bottle, for such a young un; and when
folks drinks, there's no saying what'll come of it: it's just as much
as saying, 'Clear the course, here goes for the devil!'—Squire
Affidavy, what do you say to that?"
"Hem"—replied the man of law, looking at his elbows, which were
somewhat of the whitest, with an attempt at humour, that faded in a
moment before a look of sullenness and anger, "I say, that you're a
fool, though you stumble upon wisdom now and then by accident. But none
of your sly winks and blinks: we all know you have not brain enough for
drinking. But stop; we've carried this joke far enough, and the fun is
over. Send down stairs for the girl Phoebe Jones: she was on the ground
when the shot was fired, and we must take her testimony."
"Fy, now I remember, so she fas," muttered the magistrate; but
added, with a sigh like the sough of a north-wester, "Put it is a great
trouple to swear a voman."
The testimony of Phœbe was, however, by no means so satisfactory as
was expected. It is true, she professed herself able to swear that Mr.
Hunter Hiram Gilbert shot Mr. Falconer; but it soon appeared she was as
ready to swear he had shot herself, and some dozen other unfortunate
persons into the bargain. In truth, the dreadful conclusion of an
adventure which she had been brought, at one moment, almost to consider
an innocent and agreeable frolic,—the condition of her mistress, from
whose bed-side she had been summoned,— and the spectacle of the
ghastly corse of the bridegroom before her eyes, more than half turned
her brain. She answered therefore by yea and nay, and just as the
question indicated the reply; until Mr. Affidavy, a man of some little
tact in his profession, although low and debauched habits had ruined
his prospects and reputation together, thought fit to interfere, and by
a little management, made it obvious, even to the dull brain of
Schlachtenschlager, that the girl, although an actor in the tragedy,
knew no more of its details from her own observation, than they
They were relieved from their dilemma, however, by the sudden
appearance of lieutenant Brooks, who delivered a brief and clear
account of the catastrophe, as far as he had witnessed it himself; and
his testimony left it no longer to be doubted that the unfortunate
defunct had fallen in consequence of a pistol-shot fired from a weapon
in the hands of Hyland Gilbert. He produced the instrument, which, as
well as the pistol discharged by the deceased, he had picked from the
ground, and now delivered, along with their fellows, and a pair taken
from Sterling, to the magistrate, averring that they were in the
condition in which he had found them.
"A very pretty pistol," said the official; "but how is this Mr.
Lieutenant? did the young fellow fire them all?"
The soldier stared his honour in the face, and smiled; but his eye
fell on the body of his friend, and the flash of humour faded into
"This weapon," said he, touching one, "I presume to be that by
which Mr. Falconer was slain. It was picked from the ground by Mr.
Gilbert'sside; the fellow to it, was found in the holsters attached to
Gilbert's saddle. This," he added, pointing to another, "belonged to my
unfortunate friend, and was that with which he shot at the prisoner."
"Fat!" cried the official, "did he shoot, too?"
"Undoubtedly: I plainly distinguished two explosions, the one
immediately after the other."
"Fy then, mine Gott!" said Schlachtenschlager, looking round upon
his assistants with an air of unutterable sagacity, "this, mine
friends, does ferry much alter the case. It vas not murder, but a
fight. Who fires the pistol first?"
"Sir, that is impossible to say. But allow me to suggest a doubt
whether that is necessary to be inquired into. With deference, I should
suppose the object of this inquest would be simply to determine who
shot the pistol that killed the deceased; leaving all other questions
to be determined by other tribunals."
"'Pshaw!" said Affidavy, who seemed to derive no little private
amusement from the ignorance of the magistrate, when suffered to run
its own course; "you have spoiled the sport. The young gentleman is,
however, right, Squire, and"—
"Holdt your tongue, Mr. Affidafy, and let me mindt mine own
pusiness," said the magistrate, in some wrath; "sure I know fat I am
about! And hark ye, Mr. Witness, you are a very goodt young man, and an
officer, and a gentleman; put you must not tell me fat I am to do, nor
fat I am not to do."
"Surely not," replied the witness; "I will not be so presumptuous."
"Right; you are a very goodt young man, and an officer, and a
gentleman; and you have very goodt sense.—Fat do you think I must say
in thiscase? for, mine Gott, it puzzles me! Mine own opinion is, that
somepody shot this young man."
"It cannot be doubted, sir."
"And that that somepody fas him fat shot the pistol fat fas not
shot by the young man fat fas shot."
"Very true, sir."
"Ferry fell, sir," continued the official, with dignity; "now show
me the man, and you shall hear fat I have to say for mine inquest in no
"The man you speak of is by this time lodged in the county prison
under a warrant issued by yourself. There were two pistols discharged,
one by the deceased, the other, as I can swear to the best of my
belief, by the prisoner; and I can bear witness in like manner, that my
unfortunate friend owes his death to the pistol discharged by the
"Fy then, the case is clear enough, and I vonder you couldn't say
so much before. Do you swear to all this?"
"Fell now, come;—fat fas the reason of all this running afay, and
"That, I beg leave to suggest, is a question entirely irrelevant."
"Is it? Fell then, fy don't you answer it?"
"Pshaw!" mumbled Affidavy, who was perhaps wearying of a sport he
did not himself direct. "Squire, you may discharge the witness: we have
laid our heads together and agreed upon a finding."
"Fat! mitout me?"
"Certainly. You don't think you are to make the verdict?—The
witness will be pleased to retire," he added, and the lieutenant,
looking once more on the dead, immediately withdrew.
"We find, Squire," the attorney went on, "that the deceased came to
his death in consequence of a pistol-bullet shot into his neck by
Hyland Gilbert, otherwise called Herman Hunter. If you want to be
learned about jugulars, carotids, parotids, and so on, we will call in
Dr. Muller, and have him examine the wound."
"Fy, I don't know any thing about them things; put I don't see that
you say any thing apout murder?"
"Not a word: as you said yourself to Jack Darby here, the coroner's
jury is not the hanging jury."
"Fell now, the matter's finished, and I am ferry glad. I suppose it
is all right?"
"Entirely—the young Hawk is as dead as a chicken."
"It is a clear case then, Mr. Affidafy," said the dignitary, with a
long and tempestuous breath, indicating the satisfaction he felt at
being released from labours so overpowering, "they fill hang the young
"Why that depends upon circumstances, Squire."
"Oh the tyfel! it is all 'upon circumstances' mit a lawyer?"
"It is a good case on either side," said Affidavy; "and not so bad
on the prisoner's as might be supposed,—that is, if he had but money
to make it an object to take up his cause."
"Mine Gott, he has money! There fas his fatch; 'twas goldt, and
worth forty pound."
"Eh! indeed? has he a gold watch?"
"And there fas a purse of guineas"—
"And there fas a—fat you call it?—a pill of exchange on New York,
and a letter of credit,— mine Gott, it fas mitout limit, except time;
put I toubt me, it fas not goodt."
"Botheration!" cried the man of law, in a fervour, "who'll lend me
a horse to ride to town? I remember now, there was a story that the
youngest son of the Gilberts had a rich aunt in Jamaica."
"Fell, if he had?"
"Why then, I'll certainly volunteer him the aid of my professional
skill; and, murder or no murder, I'll bring him off."
"You don't say so, Mr. Affidavy?"
"Botheration, I do. A letter of credit without limit? Who has it?
did you save it?"
"No; I gave it pack to him; put I took an inventory of all in his
"Well, Squire, you're an honour to the profession. Lend me a
"Fy, if I had you put down to the Creen Tree, and you fould promise
to keep soper"—
"Tush, I will. But let's be off, and in a hurry. You are a merciful
man, Squire Schlachtenschlager—It is a pity this poor friendless young
fellow should be hanged for nothing."
"That is, mitout paying nothing to the lawyer? Ho, ho!—Put it
toesn't do to laugh by a teadt pody, fen his fader, and moder, and all
his friends is feeping and crying. Fat is to pe done mit these Hawks?
Can't nopody catch pig Oran? I fill give one pound of mine own money
for refard; for, I do afer, he toes give me much trouple. Fell,
gentlemen, all is right. Now fill ve all go to the Creen Tree, and ve
shall have some prandy to dtrink. Fere is some pody to light mine pipe?
A fery padt piece of pusiness, and fery pottersome. I vonder fere they
fill pury the young man? Fell, gentlemen, let us pegone."
Your mountain Sack, your Frontignac,
Tokay, and twenty more, sir,
Your Sherry and Perry, that make men merry,
Are deities I adore, sir;
And well may Port
Our praise extort,
When from his palace forth he comes,
And glucks and gurgles, fumes and foams.
Hickup, gurgle and gluck.
If one were to judge the traits of the vulgar from the indulgence
they exhibit towards certain vices, or certain instances of their
occurrence, it would be easy to show that man is, at bottom, a
good-natured animal. It is certain that he betrays an extraordinary
leniency in the case of a vice which all unite, in the abstract, to
condemn; and that many men derive an importance from the sacrifice of
reputation and mind to the Imp of the Bottle, which they might have
failed to purchase by a life of wisdom and sobriety. It is not uncommon
to find, in some rural districts, men of gross and degraded habits,
whom a rational creature would spurn from him with contempt, and who
are indeed the butts of ridicule or objects of commiseration, even
among their own immediate neighbours; but who, strange to say, are
regarded with a species of admiration, growing directly out of their
profligacy. Such, we are sorry to say, are some of the rustic
professors of law and physic, who, possessing a little talent, but no
industry, prefer whiling the period of probationary idleness at the
door, or in the bar-room, of the village tavern, to devoting it in the
closet to that labour which is the only stepping-stone to distinction
and fortune; and thus contracting a love for something more than
idleness, and slipping, little by little, towards the bottom of the
hill, are seen at last, downdraughts, with swollen visages and seedy
garments, mingling among the coarse and base, themselves perhaps the
coarsest and basest. You will see such a man gibed and laughed at by
the lowest of his companions, as something that even they can despise;
for whatever may be the hatred with which the humble regard the more
lofty, they are the first to appreciate the degradation of a downfall;
but the next moment you will hear them talk of him with praise. Is it
'the poor doctor at the Cross-Roads?' 'Oh, he is a ruined man, to be
sure, and a sot; but he cures, when another man fails; somewhat
dangerous now and then, when too 'far in for it,' but a marvellous hand
at 'rheumatisms and the fever.' Is it 'crusty Ned Jones, the lawyer?'
'Drinks like a fish, but with more sharp stuff in his brain than all
the bar beside; a devil of a fellow to corner a witness, break a will,
pick a flaw in an indictment, and set a jury a-sobbing: great pity he
drinks,—but he's a tremendous orator, and all the better for a glass
or two, in a hard case.' We have heard of a lawyer, a lover of his
glass, who reformed his habits, and lost his practice.
The worthy Affidavy, who played so prominent a part in the jury of
inquest, was one of this unfortunate class of beings, although he had
commenced the world with as fair prospects as could be derived from a
moderate share of talent, and some native energy of character, and was
yet inthe prime of his years. He had sunk into poverty and neglect, was
any man's fellow, and every man's scorn; yet the lower he sunk, the
loftier became men's opinions of his natural parts and his professional
knowledge; and Squire Schlachtenschlager was wont to say, 'he pelieved
Affidafy mate petter speeches now than he tidt afore, fen he fas a
soper man.' While such generous opinions prevailed, the lawyer had
still 'something to do' in the way of his profession; but the sad
condition of his outward man showed that this was far from being
profitable. Indeed, if the truth must be told, his admirers, though of
humours sufficiently litigious, were oftener inclined to employ than
able to pay; and those of better estates, however they marvelled at the
sagacity, and applauded the speeches of the man of buckram, were rather
shy of applying to him for assistance, until they felt their cases to
be growing desperate. The consequence of this state of things was, that
Mr. Theophilus Affidavy was compelled to resort to many shifts to
obtain a subsistence, that added little to his reputation; and would
indeed have been hooted from the county, had he not been protected by
the armour of imputed genius, which his habits seemed to fasten around
The account he received of the wealth of the unfortunate Hyland
produced a strong effect upon his acquisitive propensities; and he saw
at a glance, that if his counsel could be of no benefit to the
prisoner, it might undoubtedly be of some to himself. "He is a Hawk of
the Hollow," he muttered to himself, "and so every one will be against
him. Good! There will be much apparent merit therefore in undertaking
his defence. His case is bad,—awful bad—better! To volunteer in such
a case, will infer at once the possession of extraordinary skill,
worthy of extraordinary reward. He has money—excellent! But,
botheration, the other Jack-brains will find that out, and dive at him
before me. Must have Schlachtenschlager's horse, if I have to steal
him—nobody else will lend me one. An old ass; but can twist him round
my thumb as easily as a tape of tobacco."
Such were the reflections of the attorney, as with his brother
jurors, one of whom had given him a seat in his little Jersey wagon, he
followed Schlachtenschlager, to share the feast this worthy had
prepared for his associates at the Green Tree.
The soliloquy of the lawyer seemed to infer a doubt of the
performance of the promise Schlachtenschlager had so generously made of
lending him a horse. This doubt was engendered by a sudden change in
the sky, which, from having been perfectly clear and placid, suddenly
began to be covered with clouds, and these of an appearance so gloomy
and menacing that full half the jurors became alarmed, and, excusing
themselves from accepting the proffered hospitality, hurried to their
homes, leaving the revels to be shared by those who dwelt in the
Squire's immediate neighbourhood. The attorney, wonderful to be said,
had as strong an impulse to be gone as others, although fully sensible
of the excellence of the magistrate's potables, and of the painful
sacrifice he should make in tearing himself away; but on the other
hand, he perceived that a violent thunderstorm was brewing, and he knew
the Squire to be a prudent man, who loved his beast as he loved his
wife, and indeed a great deal better, and would be loath to lend him
after the storm had once set in. For this reason, as soon as he had
reached the inn, he reminded the Squire of his promise, swore he would
drink but a single glass, and then be off, without waiting for the
The Squire scratched his head, and replied,
"Vy, Mr. Affidafy, I don't know. The veather vill be padt, and I
don't like it: it vill pe padt on the horse. So, Affidafy, ve vill vait
a little and see; and, pesides, my poy," added the dignitary, clapping
him on the shoulder, as if to atone by condescension for the
disappointment he inflicted, "ve fill not forget the dtrinking, and the
jollymaking. Py mine heart, my poy, ve fill have petter fun for you
than trampling about in the rain mit a stumpling horse. Fat, man, fy
we're all Deutschers put you! Here's Jake Musser, and Hans
Fackeltrager, and Alberick Klappermuhle, and Franz Beschwerlich, and
Simson Kleiber, and mineself; and then there's you. Mine Gott, ve fill
be jolly; for I will proach a parrel of Nierensteiner,—mine soul! it
is as goodt as any in the whole Rheingau! and I do keep it for
mineself. And ve fill dtrink and ve fill sing, as if ve fas all in the
Rheingau itself; for my voman, Gott pless her, she is cone to the
fillage, and the poys is out a looking after the ploodty Hawks. Aha,
Affidafy, my poy! you shall see fat it is to dtrink Rhine wine, mit six
goodt Deutschers to help you. Fat do you say, poys? can you sing the
Rheinweinlied in a t'under-storm? Aha, you see, Affidafy! Fell, if ve
are few, vy ve fill be merry."
It was in vain to pursue his desire, at such a moment; and indeed
the attorney's blood tingled with joy at the thought of the flowing
bowls, offered in such an oration. "Very well, you old fool," he
muttered to himself, "I will drink till your cursed sour old cider
trash, that you call Rhine wine, has opened your heart; and then,
botheration, I will bubble you out of the best horse in your stable.
Well, it is well it's no worse: it will rain, and that cats and dogs."
The indications of the weather were not falsifiedby the event. In
less than half an hour after all were safely housed, the heavens were
covered with pitchy clouds, from which were discharged dazzling
thunderbolts. Then came a terrific blast of wind, rending boughts from
the trees, and making the chimneys rock on the housetop; and this again
was followed by a furious driving rain, falling in such torrents as
promised in a few hours to swell the smallest brooks into impassable
rivers. This continued until nightfall, and was then only terminated to
be succeeded by deceitful intervals of calm, broken in upon, even when
least expected, by violent gusts of wind and rain.
It is not our design to pursue the conversation, nor to describe
the revels of the six Deutschers and their American companion, under
the roof of the Herr Schlachtenschlager. Secure from the tempest, they
defied its rage, and made even the roar of the thunder and the plash of
the rain contribute to their enjoyment. Armstrong has described, in a
few lines that find a responsive chord in every bosom, the luxurious
addition to the comfort of a warm bed, produced by the tumult of a
"Oh! when the growling winds contend, and all
The sounding forest fluctuates in the storm,
To sink in warm repose, and hear the din
Howl o'er the steady battlements, delights
Beyond the luxury of vulgar sleep."
The same cause is said by those who are philosophic in such
matters, to add peculiar zest to the hissing of the tea-kettle, and the
rattle of the punchbowl. Perhaps, then, it was the violence of the
storm, rather than the excellence of the liquor, which betrayed the
worthy Sclachtenschlager and his guests into a degree of conviviality
somewhat inconsistent with the melancholy duties they hadjust rendered
to the commonwealth and the dead. But whatever was the cause, it is
very certain they forgot the dead and the commonwealth together, and by
nightfall were seven of the happiest men in all the rebellious colonies
of America. By that time Affidavy was as glorified in his spirit as the
rest; and suddenly starting up in the midst of a crashing peal of
thunder, he hiccuped, and then roared,
"Success to the Rhine wine, sweet or sour! and the devil take him
that won't sing its praises as loudly as e'er a rascal of the Rheingau
itself! So up, you German pigs, and let's sing! up, you Hanz, Franz,
Alberick, Jake, and Simson! up, you old rogue Schlachtenschlager, for
you can sing like a cherubim! and up, you jolly dog, Teff Affidavy, who
is up already, and can sing as well as the best! join hands, bring
flowers, crown the cup, and sing the Rheinweinlied like seven
angels—the Rheinweinlied, you hard-headed, jolly dogs, in broad
Deutsch! and after that, we'll sing it in my own translation,
botheration, which is better than the original, for all that ass,
Jingleum, says he made it. Are you ready?"
"Ready!" responded the happy six; and in an instant every man was
singing, at the top of his voice, the famous Rheinweinlied—a song of
such noble and heart-stirring capacity, at least so far as the music is
concerned, that if it be objected to it, that it has sometimes set a
singer beside himself, it may be wondered how any one can hear it and
keep sober at all. The winds blew, the rain fell, and the lightning
flashed, while this jolly company rose round the table, and sang in
concert the praises of old father Rhine.
Bekränzt mit Laub den lieben vollen Becher,
Und trinkt ihn fröhlich leer.
In ganz Europia, Ihr Herren Zecher!
Ist solch ein Wein nicht mehr.
Ihn bringt das Vaterland ans seiner Fülle:
Wie wär er sonst so gut?
Wie wär er sonst so edel, wäre stille
Un doch voll Krafft und Muth?
Am Rhein, am Rhein, da wachsen unsre Reben;
Gesegnet sei der Rhein!
Da wachsen sie am ufer hin, und geben
Uns diesen Labewein.
So trinkt ihn denn, und lasst uns alle Wege
Uns freum und fröhlich seyn!
Und wüsster wir wo iemand traurig läge,
Wir gäben ihm den Wein.
"Bravo! bravissimo! bravississimo!" cried Affidavy. "Here's to you,
you dogs—' Ihr Herren Zecher!' And now for my paraphrase. All you that
don't know it, why you may sing the German lingo over again: the two
will go very well together."
So saying, he burst forth on the following rifacimento of the
original; the others, in general, holding fast to their own more
sonorous expressions; the effect of which Babel-like intermixture of
languages was to increase the noise, if it did not add to the spirit of
The right Rhine wine!
We'll crown the cup with roses,
And quaff about, and laugh about,
Till all eyes wink!
Such joys divine
Sure mother Nature owes us:
So laugh about, and quaff about,—
Come, drink, boys, drink!
'Tis that the vine produces:
How else should be this jolly wine
So good, so good?
Long as we stand,
We'll put it to its uses:
So laugh about, and quaff about,
As true souls should!
Oh Rhine! old Rhine,
With milk and honey flowing!
There grows the tree so well love we,
The Vine, the Vine!
There clusters shine
On branches ever growing:
So laugh about, and quaff about
The good Rhine wine!
Come, drink, ha! ha!
And, sure, we'll all be merry;
Come, drink, ha, ha! come, laugh, ha, ha!
Oh! ha, ha, ha!
As full are we
As e'er a Rhine-wine berry:
So laugh about, and quaff about,—
Oh! ha, ha, ha!
It may be supposed that Affidavy had long since, in the joy of
revelry, discharged from his mind allmemory of the case which had so
inflamed his fancy, and was content to leave it to be snapped up by a
more fortunate rival. How far this was from the truth may be inferred
from a phenomenon that presented itself about an hour after nightfall,
at which period he appeared on the porch, followed by
Schlachtenschlager and the rest, all singing with as much zeal as
before, but vastly out of time and tune. A saddled horse stood at the
door, on whose back some assisted the attorney to clamber, while others
were seen holding by railing and pillar, and venting much good counsel
with a deal of bad music. The Squire himself stood embracing a pillar,
now poking forth his bare noddle to the drops trickling from the
porch-roof, and now withdrawing it, to utter divers 'teufels!' and
'donners!' as the cold element profaned his visage of dignity, yet
still maintaining his stand, and expatiating on the merit of the
service he was rendering his guest.
"You see, Affidafy, man," he cried, "I'm a goodt-natured fellow:
put there's my horse, my pest horse, and it's a padt night; and,
Affidafy, man, you're as dtrunk as a chudge, poor man. But ho, ho!
that's no matter, for ve're all so:
'As full are ve
As ever vas a Rhine-fine perry:'
Very goodt that, Affidafy!—Fell, ve're all mortal sinners; and,
mine Gott, there is but little left in mine parrel, and Nierensteiner
costs money. Fell! goodt pye, Affidafy, my poy, goodt night. Take goodt
care of the horse, for he's my pest horse, Affidafy, for I'm a
goodt-natured fellow as ever it vas. Goodt night, Affidafy!"—And
"Goodt night, Affidafy!" muttered all, as the attorney, fetching a
desperate reel in the saddle, waved agraceful adieu, and turned to
depart. Instead of replying, however, to the farewell, he burst out
'The right Rhine wine!'
and the others obeying the invitation, again opened their lips, and
chanted Bekränzt mit Laub, till he was out of sight. Then they
staggered back into the house, to continue their orgies; where we will
leave them, to follow the course of the attorney.
If thou beest a man, show thyself in thy likeness: if thou beest a
devil, take 't as thou list.
The violence of the storm was over, but the ferment in the elements
was not yet allayed. The clouds had broken, and ever and anon, through
their ragged gaps, the eye might trace fields of blue sky, studded with
stars, which were as suddenly swept out of sight, as gusts came roaring
from the tops of distant hills, discharging brief but furious showers.
On such occasions, it was not easy to pick a way along the road,
which was washed into gullies and scattered over with the riven
branches of trees, besides being, in the hollow places, converted into
pools; so that it might have been considered difficult to proceed, even
by the light of day.
It was fortunate, perhaps, for Affidavy, that he was in no
condition to be daunted, either by difficulties or dangers, of which,
indeed, it is most probable he remained profoundly unconscious, from
the beginning of his ride to the end. He se forth on his dark journey,
trolling at the top of his voice some snatches of the jolly chorus, in
which he had borne no mean part, and plying his heels about the ribs of
his horse in such a way as to drum out a kind of barrel-head
accompaniment, as agreeable to himself as it was perhaps advantageous
to the animal;—for this, instead of being Schlachtenschlager's best
horse, as he had said, was a drowsy, lazy, pacific, and somewhat
worthless beast, which the Squire's man, supposing that any one might
servethe lawyer's turn on such an occasion, had considerately
substituted for the better one which his master really designed to
provide. On this animal, then, Affidavy departed, bidding defiance to
storm and peril, and singing as he went. Sometimes, however, he
launched into harangues, as if declaiming before a court and jury,
especially when, as was sometimes the case, the beast he bestrode took
advantage of his abstraction, to pause before some gully or pool of
water, and even, now and then, to stand stock-still in the middle of
the road, where there was no obstruction whatever. Nay, he once or
twice, relying upon the indifference of his rider, took the liberty of
turning his head, and jogging backwards; and how the manœuvre was
detected and counteracted by one in Affidavy's happy condition, we are
wholly unable to say. But counteracted it was, and by midnight,—that
is to say, after a ride of three hours, the attorney found that his
steed had borne him the full distance of two and a half miles from his
master's house; at which rate of travel, it was quite evident, he might
expect to reach the village, perhaps three or four miles further, some
time before noon of the following day. At midnight, however, the horse
was brought to a stand by an unforeseen difficulty. It was in a hollow
place or glen, thickly wooded, that was crossed by the road at right
angles; at the bottom of it flowed a watercourse, small and shallow on
all ordinary occasions, but which the violent rains, assisted by
certain accidental obstructions, had now swelled into a broad and
formidable pool. The trunks and branches of trees, swept down by the
earlier wash of the flood, and lodged among rocks and the standing
stems of other trees on the lower side of the road, had made a sort of
dam, through which the waters could not escape so rapidly as
theycollected; and, in consequence, they had swelled so high, as to be
already heard falling over it like a cataract.
When Affidavy arrived at the brink of this flood, his steed came to
a sudden halt, of which the rider took no notice for a considerable
time, his mind being wrapped up in the remembrance of the joyous
potations from which nothing on earth, save the prospect of a good
case, could have drawn him, and his ears still tingling with the uproar
of the Rheinweinlied. This he trolled over with great fervour, and in
the midst of it, plying his heels as usual, the horse, after one or two
snorts by way of remonstrance, took heart of grace, and crept into the
"Botheration," cried the attorney, as he felt the cold element
sweeping over his legs, "will it never have done raining? H—h—hip,
Durgan.—Gentlemen of the jury, I appeal, not to your hearts, for I
disdain taking advantage of,—of your weakness, —nor to your heads,
for—for—who the devil ever supposed a juryman had one?—Botheration,
it rains cats and dogs all round, and my legs are growing marvellous
cold. That old Schlachtenschlager! he, he! a great old ass, and his
Nierensteiner nothing but sour old crab-cider.—A gold watch worth
forty pounds,—a purse of guineas— bills of exchange—long
credits.—Dispute the jurisdiction of the court—Hillo! what's all that
smashing in the court? I insist upon order—Who says I am out of order?
Drunk! I despise the thing! Hillo, Schlachtenschlager! what's the
matter? Never mind the rain—strike up: let it blow its worst,—strike
up, old boy.
'Come, drink, ha, ha!
And, sure, we'll all be merry;
Come, drink, ha, ha! come laugh, ha, ha!'—
In the midst of the attorney's song, and just when he had reached
the middle of the pool, there happened a catastrophe, which might have
frightened any other man out of his propriety. This was nothing less
than the sudden giving way of the dam of logs, the disruption of which
was followed by the escape of the whole accumulated body of waters, and
that with a fury that nothing could resist. In an instant the attorney
was swept from his horse, soused head over ears in the flood, and would
have been drowned had he not been luckily dashed into the crotch of a
low and twisted buttonwood, and there left astride a horizontal bough,
by the retreating waters. The whole thing was effected in a trice,
indeed with such magical celerity, that he failed to notice the main
point of the casualty, which was the loss of his horse; and supposing
himself still at ease in the saddle, he plied his heels with their
accustomed vigour against the regardless trunk, wondering somewhat at
the immobility of his charger, and the rush of the current at his feet.
"Botheration," he cried; "hip, Durgan, get up; dzick! That's a fine
fellow! Will it never be done raining?
'Come, drink, ha, ha! come laugh, ha, ha!
Hip, horsey, hip!" And thus he went on, now spurring the timber
flanks of his charger, and now trolling forth the drunken chorus, in
the midst of the stream, where he would perhaps have remained until
morning, or until sleep had caused him to relax his hold, had not his
extraordinary outcries reached the ears of a traveller, who rode to his
assistance, the water being already reduced to its ordinary level, and
finding him incapable of helpinghimself, pulled him from his seat, and
dragged him to the other side of the stream.
"Botheration, what's the matter?" cried the attorney, who seemed to
recover his senses a little, upon finding himself on his feet; "where's
Durgan? Sure, o' my life, I did'nt come here on foot! Odds bodikins!
where's Schlachtenschlager?— Hillo, there! botheration, you sir! what
are you doing with my horse?"
"Your horse!" exclaimed the traveller. "Are you drunk yet?"
"Drunk! I defy the insinuation," cried Affidavy, "and demand
protection of the court.—Down, you rogue, or I'll indict you for
horse-thieving. A pretty prank to play upon an honest man, riding for
life and death! Botheration, Sir Sauce-box, whoever you are, give me my
horse, or I shall lose the best case was ever entrusted to a lawyer— a
gold watch worth forty pounds—bills of exchange —letters of
credit—and a purse of guineas!"
"Now were you not drunk," said the traveller, "and more of a beast
than the animal that bore you, I could tell you of a case much more to
your interest to be engaged in."
"Hah! a case? what sort of a case? Odds bodikins, I'm your man!"
"You are drunken Tef Affidavy?"
"Drunken! That's actionable. Tef! Tef Affidavy! Theophilus
Affidavy, Esq.—Esquire, do you hear?"
"Ay, it is all one. Theophilus Affidavy, sober, might be the man
for my money, with twenty guineas to begin upon; but Theophilus
"Twenty guineas!" cried the lawyer: "God bless all our souls!
twenty guineas for a retaining fee! Why then I'll be Theophilus
Affidavy, sober, or Tef Affidavy, drunk, or any thing else that can be
wished of man or angel. Out with your money, and state the case."
"Ay,—when you are sober."
"Sober! Twenty guineas would fetch me to, if I had been swimming in
Schlachtenschlager's whiskey-barrel for two weeks on a stretch.
Botheration, I'll take another dip in the slough there, and come out as
clean as a peeled orange. But are you sure that a'n't my horse?"
"Quite; and if your beast belongs to the Squire, you may make your
mind easy that he is now safe in his master's stables. I saw a saddled
horse on the road, galloping as if a wild-cat was on the back of him."
"Good!" cried the attorney at law; "if I had drowned him, there
would have been the devil to pay with old Schlachtenschlager. Hold
fast, till I duck the devil out of me." And without waiting to say
another word, he ran into the brook, where he began to splash about him
with great spirit, the stranger, all the time, sitting by and observing
him in silence.
There is, in all cases of drunkenness, a certain degree of
voluntary intoxication, as it may be called, in which the mind yields
itself a prisoner, before it is entirely overcome by the strength of
the enemy. This is evinced by the rapidity with which many good souls,
in jovial company, work themselves into frenzy; but still more by the
facility with which they shake it off, when there is any special call
for sobriety. In half the instances, even where the conduct is most
extravagant, the individual retains a consciousness, more or less
perfect, of his absurd acts, is aware that they proceed from a madness
partly simulated, and sensible of some power in himself of controlling
them, though not easily disposed to the labour of exercising it. We
will not pretend to say that Mr. Affidavy, while he sat bestraddling
the sycamore, was altogether conscious of his situation; but it isquite
certain, he retained so much power of curing his folly, even in that
extremity, that a less counter stimulus than the offer of a
twenty-guinea fee would have sufficed to bring him to his senses. He
frisked about in the water for a few minutes, dipped his head under two
or three times, and came out, not entirely sober indeed, but, as he
said himself, 'as fit for business as he ever was.'
"If you doubt, stranger, whoever you are," he said, "I'll sing you
a song, or—No, hang it, we've had enough of that,—I'll make you a
speech to court and jury extempore, and right to the point. But come
now, jingle your money, and let's begin: or, if it's all one to you,
we'll jog back to Schlachtenschlager's and borrow a dry shirt, and so
give counsel like a gentleman."
To this proposal the traveller demurred, and requesting the lawyer
to follow him, rode up to the brow of the hill, where he dismounted,
and suffered his horse to range at will through the bushes, he himself
taking a seat on a stone, and inviting Affidavy to do the same.
"A botheration strange fancy this, of yours, certainly," said the
lawyer: "are we to sit here, like two stray ducks, and be soaked for
"Look over your head," said the stranger: "there is not a cloud
left in the heaven. No, not one," he muttered as if to himself; "and
come weal or wo, come death or come life, the sun will shine to-morrow
as bright as ever."
"Tush, you're right; the storm has given us the go-by," said the
lawyer. "But concerning the case, and that twenty-guinea fee—What's
"Guineas," said the other, rattling a purse apparently well filled
with his namesakes, upon the stone.
"Excellent!" said the lawyer; "but that won'tdo for a jury. Come,
sir, your cognomination, compellation, and so forth? your proprium
vocamen, style and title,—Tom, Dick, or Harry, as the case may be? and
then for the case! Quisnam homo est? unde et quo? No man is drunk who
can quote Latin, for it is cursed hard stuff to remember. In the king's
lingo, who are you? and what's the case in question?"
"Who I am, we will pass," said the traveller, "that having nothing
to do with the case. As for the case itself, I am told, it is one of
"The devil it is!" cried Affidavy. "Why here's hanging work
thickening in the county! But what are the circumstances? Who's killed?
and who is the killer?"
"The first was a young man, named Henry Falconer,—the second
another young man, called Hyland Gilbert"—
"Hah! why, that's my case, that I've been labouring after all
night! and I assure you—But God bless our two souls!" he added
suddenly, springing to his feet as if in alarm, "who are you sir? An
honest man, sir? I hope, an honest man, sir, and no bloody-minded Hawk,
sir! for if you are, sir, I give you warning, sir, if you make an
attack upon me, sir, that I carry pistols, sir, and, sir"—
"Peace, fool," said the other, with a stern voice. "Sit down, and
fear nothing. If you had twenty pistols, what care I for them?—I," he
added, with a laugh both jocose and bitter, "that am armed with
"Right, sir; but if you are a tory, sir—I don't mean to insult
you, sir,—but as to aiding and abetting a gentleman of the tory party,
sir: why, sir, I am a man of principle, sir, and I must have time to
"Go to the brook and wallow again: you shall have five minutes to
reflect, or rather to sober, for you are not yet in your senses. Why,
fool, do you think I will hurt you? or hark! is there a tory bullet in
the clink of an English guinea? Come, sit down, and listen. You have
nothing to do with tories, save to take their money.—There is one
lying in prison in yonder village below, who needs the help of a
lawyer. Yourself then, Affidavy, or another."
"Oh, if there be no treason in the matter," said the attorney, "why
then—that is, if you will take that cursed tomahawk away, for I dare
say you've got one about you, Mr.—that is to say, captain—Zounds, Mr.
Oran Gilbert! I know you very well; and I hope you won't murder me, or
do me any mischief, if it were even for old times' sake; for we were
very good friends in old times."
"Ay," said the refugee; "and for that reason, I have offered you
twenty guineas, and employment on a business that may bring you as
many— perhaps five times as many more, which any one else will be as
happy to accept."
"Botheration, there is no occasion," said Affidavy, creeping
timorously back. "I see what it is; I'm not afraid of you, but you have
a cursed bad name. I don't agree with you in principles, that is, in
politics; but it sha'nt be said, I refused my professional services to
an old friend in distress"—
"With twenty guineas in his hand," said the tory.
"Ay; and with as many, or five times as many at the back of them"—
"In case of success."
"Oh, yes, certainly. I understand the case now: your brother,
"We will drop all titles,—brother, captain, andevery one else,"
said the tory. "The young man, Hyland Gilbert, is a prisoner."
"Was he hurt?"
"A bruise or so."
"And he shot Henry Falconer?"
"As dead as a herring: I sat on the body myself."
"And he will be tried for that, as for a murder?"
"Ay, faith, and hanged too, unless'—
"Unless we can prove him innocent, or establish a legal
"Or snatch him out of his den, some such bright midnight as this?"
"Tush," said the lawyer, waxing in courage, "I have nothing to do
with that. But cheer up. There's a way of managing these cases, and I
have thought of it already. But concerning that bill of exchange and
letter of credit? They say, the younker has money enough—a rich estate
in the Islands?"
"Fear not for your reward," said Oran Gilbert. "Do what's expected
of you, and you shall have gold enough to content you."
"Here then is the state of the case," said Affidavy: "if the young
man be tried in this county, were it but for killing a farmer's dog, he
will die. The name—saving your presence—the name of Gilbert will be
hanging matter with any jury. But I'll be short—he bears the king's
commission, does he not? the commission of a lieutenant among the royal
"And what then?" said Oran.
"Why then, he must dispute the jurisdiction of the civil tribunal,
and claim to be considered a prisoner of war. The attack upon the Folly
is somewhat of a civil offence, to be sure; but hewas taken, as we may
say, in battle; and, in battle, he killed the man for whose murder he
will be certainly arraigned, if proceedings are not quashed in the
beginning. As a commissioned officer of the crown, however"—
"And what if he be not a commissioned officer," said the refugee,
with a low voice.
"Why then," replied Affidavy, "I have to say, gentlemen of the
jury—Pshaw! that is,—hemp seed and a white shirt—you understand me?
But with the commission—we will produce that, and then"—
"You shall have it," said the refugee; but added,—"It will do no
good. A court civil or a court martial,—how should a Gilbert look for
mercy from either? What turn would the king's commission serve me, if a
prisoner? Look you, Affidavy, there are better ways of ending the
matter. An hundred guineas are clinking in the bag these came from: it
is but the opening of a jail-door to earn it."
"Ay! are you there, Truepenny?—Sir, I'm a lawyer and a gentleman;
and as to aiding and abetting in any jail-breaking—zounds, sir! for
what do you take me?"
"For a wiser man than you would have your neighbours believe,—for
a man too wise to boggle long at a choice betwixt a hundred guineas
held in comfort at home, and empty pockets, with hands and heels tied
together, in a cave of the mountains."
"God bless our two souls," said Affidavy, "what do you mean?"
"To have your help, or take good care no one else has it," said
Oran, laughing. Then, laying his hand upon the lawyer's arm, he added,
with the same untimely accompaniment to accents full of sternness,
"Look ye, Affidavy, you have heardtoo much for your own comfort, unless
you are ready to hear all. You are a friend, or—a prisoner."
At these words, the lawyer was filled with dismay, and indeed
struck dumb. The terror that beset him, when he first conceived with
whom he was confronted on the dark and lonely hill, recurred with
double violence; he thought of nothing less than being tomahawked and
scalped on the spot, and would have taken to his heels without further
ceremony, had his strength availed him to shake off the grasp of his
"Fear naught," said Oran, detaining him on his seat, and speaking
decisively: "We were old friends once, as you say, Affidavy: I
remember, you robbed Elsie Bell's strawberry-patch, when you were a
boy, and I thumped you for it. So, fear nothing.—Why, man, am I a
snake, or a beast, that I should hurt such a creature as you? Know me
"Well, I will," said the attorney, still trembling. "But,
botheration, sir, this is a strange way of stating a case to a lawyer!
As to opening jail-doors, Mr. Oran Gilbert, why I won't oppose: if you
were to bribe Bob Lingo, the jailer, why, I say, I'm mum. But what more
can you expect? Botheration, sir, I'm no turnkey! I'll be mum, sir; but
as to joining you in any such prank, God bless our two souls, why that
would ruin me! And why should you think of such a thing? 'Tis needless,
sir,—as needless as dangerous. The king's commission is our pillar of
safety: with that in his hand, the prisoner can demand, ay, and force
his claim to be admitted, to be treated as a prisoner of war; and then,
sir, if the matter comes to a courtmartial"—
"When it comes to that," said Oran, "what is to save him from being
tried and condemned as a spy?"
"What?" said the lawyer; "why a very simple thing. We will hire
some one to swear he did not receive the commission until after his
flight from Hawk-Hollow: and as for the change of name, intentions, and
all that, why we shall have time to coin any lies that may serve our
purpose. As to treason, we escape all arraignment there, his domicile
being clearly within a foreign jurisdiction."
"In a word," said Oran Gilbert, "and to end your scheme at once, he
is not a commissioned officer. Fool that he was," continued the
brother, bitterly, "he refused, and to the last, the warrant that would
have been his best friend."
"Whew!" said Affidavy, "this alters the case with a vengeance.
Refused the commission?"
"Ay; and it is now in my own hands."
"Oho, is it? Why then, all's one. We'll clap it into his
hands,—fill up the blanks, if it needs, produce it in court, and who
is the wiser?"
"You can, at least, try him with it," said the refugee; "but I know
what it will end in. You will see him refuse it, even in prison."
"Why then," said Affidavy,—"Hum, ha—we won't be particular.
Jail-doors will open sometimes; and in case of an hundred guineas down
on the nail—(a dangerous business, captain!)— and something more in
prospect—(you understand, captain?)—Reputation, captain, reputation!
'T may bring me by the heels, captain.—Another hundred therefore,
(say, to be paid at New York; for I don't care if I turn tory along
with you, provided I am not set to fighting:) an hundred on the nail,
and another at York city, and I don't care if I close with you. And
then, we must have fifty or so for Bob Lingo; (no managing such an
affairwithout money.) A deused dull county this, and business all worn
out. So, captain, an hundred on the nail, and"—
"It is enough," said the refugee; "you talk now like a man of
sense; and here are the twenty for earnest. Let us proceed; I have more
to tell you."
Then rising, and whistling to his horse, which obeyed the summons,
and followed him with great docility, he led the way with Affidavy
along the road, exchanging counsels with this precious limb of the law,
on the subject that had drawn him so near to the head quarters of his
What foolish boldness brought thee to their mercies,
Whom thou, in terms so bloody, and so dear,
Hast made thine enemies?—
Therefore, by law thou art condemn'd to die.
On the following morning, Affidavy presented himself at the prison,
and demanded access to his client.
"Client!" said the jailer, with a stare. "Why now, Affidavy, man,
(begging your pardon for being familiar,) there's none of your birds
roosting in my hen-house."
"A smaller on that, Lingo,—come, what will you lay?" said the man
of law, seizing upon the official's hand, and shaking it with great
apparent friendship. "Come, stir about, Lingo; clink, clink, stir bolt,
clash key, and open. It's long since we've had a crack together; but
we'll have a jolly rouse yet. Ah! that knotty old Schlachtenschlager!
my head is in a reel yet; must have something to steady my nerves."
"Well, squire," said Lingo, a coarse-featured, shag-headed
personage, with a fist like the butt of an oak-tree, and altogether a
low and mean look which might have been supposed to sink him below the
notice of the attorney, had not Affidavy's habits made him long since a
fitting associate for even a meaner man; "Well, squire," he said, with
an air as if even he regarded his visiter with some little contempt, "I
don't care if I treat you to adrop; though my whiskey's none of the
"Curse your whiskey!" said the man of law, pulling a guinea from
his pocket. "Do you see this yellow boy, my lad of knuckles?
Botheration upon you, I came here to spend the day with you, and I
intend to treat you royally. So, call your boy, Hanschen, and let him
fetch me a quart of cognac from old Brauntweinpunsch's, for he keeps
the best in all Hillborough. And do you take care of the change for me,
and help yourself, if you like, while I am holding counsel with the
"Icod," said Lingo, balancing the coin in his hand, "I never stick
at a good offer; but I should like to know where this little feller
came from. Howsomever, 'tis none of my business; and so Hans shall go.
But, who's your client, squire? I'm glad you've got a job, for you're a
devil of a feller at a speech,—I always said that for you. Which
prisoner do you wish to see?"
"Why, the young Hawk of the Hollow, to be sure."
"Odds bobs, squire," said Lingo, "scratching his head, "you're too
late for that cock-robin, I'm thinking."
"Too late! He ha'n't broke jail already! cried the alarmed
"Broke jail already!" echoed Lingo, with a grin. "I dunna what you
mean by that; but if he breaks jail at any time, while I'm king of the
ring, you may call me Jack Robinson. No, the matter's not so bad as
that: but he sent yesterday for young Pepperel"—
"God bless our two souls!" ejaculated the lawyer.
"And they say," continued Lingo, "he is tohave old Timberkin
likewise; for, it seems, the younker has money."
"What! old Long-tongue Timberkin? Zounds, we'll have the whole
crow's-nest at the picking! Oons, man, let me in to him."
"Well, I dunna," muttered Lingo, leading the way, however, to the
prisoner's cell; "I reckon, 'twere as well to save his money for
something else; for it's a clear case with him, eh, squire?" And as he
spoke, he made a gesture with his finger around his throat, the meaning
of which was not to be mistaken. "Howsomever, here you are. When you're
done with him, just knock at the door, and I'll let you out."
The next moment, Affidavy found himself alone with the prisoner. He
sat, apparently half stupified, on a low bed, beneath a grated window,
from which a silvery light fell upon the crown of his head, his
shoulders, his knees, and his hands that were clasped upon them, while
his visage, and nearly all his person, were lost in dusky shadow. A
little table with food and water was at his side, but both were left
apparently untouched. His limbs were unfettered; and this circumstance
Affidavy might have referred to the humanity of the jailer, had he not
perceived at a glance how unnecessary was such a precaution with one
whose bodily powers were as much enfeebled as those of his spirit.
Indeed, there was a look of such utter wretchedness about the
unfortunate youth as might have softened a harder heart than the
jailer's; and even Affidavy began to survey him with a touch of pity.
He raised his eyes, when the door was opened, but cast them again on
the floor; for indeed there was so little in Affidavy's appearance to
excite attention, that he supposed him to be some assistant of the
jailer, or perhaps a common officer, come on some errand of duty, with
whichhe would be soon made acquainted. This suspicion was dispelled by
the attorney; who no sooner heard the bolt shoot back into the stone
door-post, than he advanced, declaring his name and character.
"Affidavy?" muttered the youth, with a dejected voice: "I thought
it was Mr. Timberkin, that Mr. Pepperel was to bring me."
"Pshaw, botheration," said the lawyer, "you were a goose to send
for such ninnies; we can do better without them. And what can these
fellows do for you? Where will you find them riding about of a stormy
night, picking up evidence, laying plans, and so on? However, we can
find them something to do: I'll sort them; I know what they are fitted
for. You stare at me—Very well; I understand what you mean. I come
from your friends, sir, and"—
"From my friends?" cried Hyland, starting up, wildly: "from whom? I
have no friends here— none, at least, but one; and, oh God of heaven!
they tell me I have killed her too!"
"Oh, you mean old Elsie," said the attorney: "hang her, (that is,
poor old soul!) she's not dead yet."
"But Catherine?—Miss Loring?—Captain Loring's daughter?" cried
the youth, with a voice and countenance of despair; "what news of her?"
"Aha! I understand," muttered Affidavy. "But don't be alarmed;
there's no death there.—A little fright and grief, sir,—that's all;
they never kill one." Hyland clasped his hands, and buried his face
between them; and the lawyer continued,—
"Quite a small matter, I assure you, and will blow by, when we get
you safely off."
"Get me off!" cried Hyland, again starting to his feet, in the
greatest agitation. "Is there anyhope of that? No, there is none!" he
exclaimed, vehemently: "I am a blood-stained man, I have taken life, I
am a murderer"—
"Tush and botheration, hush!" said Affidavy, clapping his hand over
the prisoner's mouth; "why need you be blabbing? That was confession
enough to end the matter, without plea or witness: 'tis just a charge
to the jury, a verdict in the box, and then a long face and the
"Misery! misery!" cried the unhappy youth: "and to this I have
brought myself! the death, the ignominy, of a felon! I know it, I see
it very clearly," he added with indescribable emotion, "I see how it
must end—good God, upon the gallows! But it shall not be; I will die
first—thank heaven, I am dying already! Put but the trial off—they
say the court opens this day!—put it off but a week; you shall have an
hundred guineas, five hundred, a thousand, all that I have!—only put
off the trial a week, that I may die before they drag me into the light
again! I deserve to die, I am willing to die, but not, oh heaven! not
upon a gibbet!"
"Zounds!" cried Affidavy, who strove in vain to interrupt this
burst of frenzied feelings, "you are taking the best way to reach a
gibbet, notwithstanding. You are mad, I believe; botheration, sir, if
you talk this way, there will be no saving you"—
"Saving me! Can I be saved? that is, not from death, but from
ignominious death? Hark you, sir,—they have taken away my money, but I
have enough more. Get me a knife, a pistol, a rope, a dose of poison"—
"Tush; if you do not cease this mad raving, and let me speak, I
will be gone; you are making the case desperate. Be silent, and listen.
Your case is bad, sir, very bad, I must confess, sir. Butyou have
friends, sir; and you may hope; yes, you may hope—if you are wise,
sir, you may hope. —You have—Now don't start, or cry out, or I'll
leave you—Ehem, sir, I must whisper—you have relations,—a brother,
"Oran!" cried the prisoner, who would have again started up, had he
not been held in his seat by Affidavy: "oh, heaven be thanked! he has
not deserted me! Have you seen him? where is he? what can he do for me?
will he rescue me?"
"Tush, you must be quiet. If you will speak, let it be in a
whisper. As for the trial, why we will stop that if we can. A British
officer, with a king's commission in his hand, taken in arms, cannot be
shuffled into a cart by a civil tribunal, for following his vocation,
and slitting a throat or two. Now, Mr. Lieutenant Gilbert, you
understand me? You have a commission."
"No, by heaven! I refused it: I am no officer, and this will not
avail me. I am no officer, I was none; nor was I so much even as a
volunteer. I refused the commission up to the last moment, and this is
the end of it: I would not be the enemy of what was my native
country,—of my countrymen; and now they are all enemies of mine! I was
not a member of the band; I never acted with it,— never save that
fatal once, and then I went not to make war,—no, not even upon the
poor wretch I killed—Would to God the pistol had been turned against
my own breast!"
"Tush," said Affidavy, interrupting what bade fair to end in
another violent paroxysm, that's wide of the question. The band looked
upon you as officer; and unless that fellow, Sterling"—
"The villain! it is he has ruined me!"
"Unless he can swear to the contrary, which he can't, (and,
botheration, there's a way of stopping his mouth altogether;) who will
be the wiser? Now if we could get Dancy Parkins admitted, along with
Sterling, as evidence for the commonwealth—However, we can't; and
we'll say no moreabout it: the prosecuting attorney swears he'll hang
him. His mouth is, at all events, sealed. We are safe enough. Here is
the commission: Now, sir, you will put a bold face on the matter,
insist upon your privilege, and"—
"Perjure myself with a lie? avow myself the enemy of my native
land? and so die worse and more degraded than I am? Never! Duplicity
has made me what I am; a deception that I thought innocent and
harmless, has brought me to this pass. Had I come without concealment,
then I had left without disgrace, without crime. Oh fool, fool that I
was! Talk of this no more: it was on this ground Mr. Pepperel thought
of defending me; but on this ground I will not be defended."
"Oho! and young ninny has been before me there, too?" muttered the
lawyer. "Well, botheration," he continued, falling into a deep study,
in which he held counsel only with himself,—"there is but the one
shift in which the rascals won't join me,—but one path in which I can
walk this goosehead off alone. Well now, all depends upon Lingo: the
rogue has a head as thick as a mountain, and a considerable deal
harder. 'Twere a shame to waste gold upon such a clod-headed pig. Give
him fifty guineas! God bless our two souls! it were a mere casting of
pearls before swine, and, in some sort, a robbing of my own pockets. A
shilling's worth of laudanum were a better fee, besides being cheaper.
But, we'll see."
Having concluded his meditations, he turned to the prisoner, who
sat surveying him with ananxious countenance, as if expecting some
better comfort from his thoughts, and then said,—
"Well, botheration, we'll have to think of another thing. It is
well you are not fettered."—
The young man writhed as if struck with a lash; but before he could
speak, Affidavy continued, though with an emphatic gesture for
silence,— "For that saves us all the vexation and danger of sawing.
You see this little instrument?" he said, displaying a file. "Now, be
quiet on your life, sir. You will understand from this, that there is
something in the wind boding you good. You are sick and wasted—you
were hurt in the scuffle, too; but put you beyond these stone walls,
with a saddled horse under you, could you ride him?—Why, botheration,
what makes you tremble so?"
"Oh heaven!" cried Hyland, "do not mock me! Nay, I will whisper.
Give me the file: I will cut the grating through."
"It does not need," said Affidavy, "and I have no notion of running
any risk by leaving it in your hands. But you must understand, sir,
(hold your ear close,) that this is a very ugly piece of business,
especially for me: if discovered, sir, I am a ruined man; the penalty,
sir, is the very next thing to hanging; ay, sir, and in my estimation,
somewhat worse; but that's according as we think of it. Now, sir"—
"I understand you," muttered Hyland. "You shall name your own
reward—half of my estate, if you will; nay, all—all, so you get me
but to the woods, where I can die in peace, and undishonoured!"
"Tush, we'll not think of death: you'll live and be happy. Then as
for reward, why, sir, I would not have you think me extortionate, or
capable oftaking advantage of your distress. No, sir, by no means; I am
a lawyer, sir, but an honest man."
"For God's sake, take what you will. Say nothing more; you shall
have your wish."
"Oh, sir," said Affidavy, "there is no hurry. As for taking all
your estate, or even half of it, sir,—sir, do not believe I will think
of that! No, sir; I am neither a buzzard nor a niggur's dog. But I must
be indemnified for losses: I ruin myself, sir,—I must sacrifice an
excellent practice, sir,—my reputation, sir, and my prospects. In a
word, sir, I must e'en take to my heels along with you; for after such
a prank as a jail-breaking, the county will be too hot to hold me. Sir,
I remember your father: he was a wronged man, sir; and my feelings will
not suffer me to see his youngest son too severely handled. I once knew
your brothers, sir, and I always thought they were badly treated. Sir,
I feel much grieved to see poor old Mr. Gilbert's son brought to such a
pass. Sir, my regard for your deceased parent makes me do what I do;
and, (not to whip the devil round the stump any longer, sir,) I must
confess, sir, that what I do is a very scoundrelly piece of business,
sir; which if any body had proposed to me in behalf of any other person
in the world, I should certainly, sir, have knocked the proposer over
the mazzard,—I would, sir, botheration."
"What needs more words?" said Hyland, too much agitated to think of
weighing the motives of his new ally in the balance of conscience or
interest. "Make your demand, and have it."
"Ah! sir," said Affidavy, with a snuffle through the nose, "it is a
sorrowful thing to be driven from home and friends, to wander an exile
over the earth! There's my poor Mrs. Affidavy,—the thing will break
her heart. However," he added, forthe prisoner began to wax frantic
with impatience, "I don't believe in breaking hearts, after all,—
especially Mrs. Affidavy's. Sir, you are a rich man, and a young man,
and a man without family or cares. I will not sell my humanity, sir;
no, botheration, I'm above that; but I will accept of your superfluity
what will indemnify me for the losses I endure in your service. Your
case is very bad, sir; and indeed, if you were even a commissioned
officer, it could not be much better. The indictment is already framed,
and will this day, or at furthest to-morrow, be returned a true bill by
the grand jury. You are a rich man, sir—had I pleaded your cause and
saved your life, I should have expected a fee of five hundred guineas,
(a small sum for a rich man's life;) and there's old Long-tongue and
Pepperel would have demanded as much more, each. But, sir, I'll save
you five hundred guineas; and leave these fellows to whistle. We'll say
a thousand guineas, then, and"—
"All, I tell you, all, all!" cried the unhappy prisoner. "Take any
thing, take every thing"—
"God forbid!" cried Affidavy, devoutly; "I will not prey upon you.
If you, from your own generosity, should think of adding five hundred
more to the fifteen hundred, why sir, I should thankfully receive them.
But I leave that to yourself, sir. At present, sir, I shall be content
with what I have named; and will take your note of hand for the amount.
You see, sir," he added, drawing from a huge and well thumbed
pocket-wallet, a slip of paper, which with an ink-horn, he immediately
deposited on the table, "I have drawn this entirely in your favour,
payment not to be demanded unless upon the successful completion of a
certain service not mentioned, and then in such way as will suit your
convenience. If I fail, sir, I am ruined, sir, and yet receive nothing.
Allow me to fill the blanks, sir, and then, sir, you can sign. I will
fill them first, sir, in order that you may see I take no advantage of
you, sir. Two thousand guineas, sir, is a small sum, a very small sum,
when one thinks of a gallows.—Sir, be not alarmed—your hand trembles,
sir; but I trust to your honour to recognise the signature—yes, sir, I
prefer your honour to twenty witnesses, sir. You shall escape, sir; or
damn it, sir," added the harpy, in the enthusiasm of gratitude, "I will
hang along with you!"
It was fortunate the worthy Affidavy had some bowels of compassion;
for had he filled up the blanks of his villanous contract with an
amount comprehending the whole worldly wealth of the poor prisoner, it
would have been subscribed with equal alacrity. What was gold in the
balance with life? what price could be held dear that procured a
remission from ignominy? Hyland clutched at the pen as at the bolt of
his prisondoor; and, in the same frenzy, subscribed, in addition, an
order committing his good roan horse to the disposition of his counsel,
which Affidavy declared to be necessary, Hyland neither asked or sought
to know how, to the success of the enterprise. This accomplished, and
the papers safely deposited away in the wallet, the attorney wrung his
client by the hand, and that somewhat wildly, giving him to understand
that he was to hold himself in readiness that very night to escape, and
recommending him to sleep a little during the day, the better to
support the toil of flight. He charged him, twenty times over, to be
silent and wary, to look as wo-begone and despairing as possible, and
above all things to hold no conversation that could be avoided, with
his other counsel. Then wringinghis hand again, with the most
convulsive sympathy, he knocked at the cell-door, was let out, and
would have run into the open air without ultering a word, so big was
his mind with the conception of his vast fee, had he not been arrested
by the astonished jailer.
"Ods bobs!" said Lingo, "have you forgot the brandy, squire?"
"Botheration!" cried Affidavy, with a wild stare.
"Ods bobs!" re-echoed Lingo, "is the man mad? Why, Affidavy, what
ails you? You look as white and wild as the prisoner!"
"Oh! ah! ay! the prisoner? yes, the prisoner," said the attorney,
rubbing his nose and chin with great zeal, and recovering his wits.
"Oh, ay, I remember: the prisoner, poor fellow! Ah, Lingo, Lingo! 'tis
a hard case, a sorrowful case, a heartaching case. I declare, Lingo, I
could sit down and blubber; I could, botheration, I could!" and here
the sympathetic counsel, to Lingo's amazement, burst into a loud
uproarious laugh, such as he had never been known to give vent to
"The devil's in the man, sure enough," said Lingo. "But I see, I
see," he muttered, surveying Affidavy sagaciously, "he has been blowing
it a little too hard, and now he's getting a touch of the Horrors.
Well, well, brandy's the best cure for that; and he shall have a snap
at his own medicine."
So saying, the jailer poured out a glass of cognac, the rich odour
of which had no sooner reached Affidavy's nostrils than his spirits
became composed, he stretched forth his hand, and the smacking of his
lips proclaimed the fervour of his satisfaction.
"Old Brauntweinpunsch for ever!" he cried."Ah, Lingo, you dog! you
know what's what! Ehem, sir, botheration and tush! God bless our two
souls, but I'm monstrous sleepy! Out all last night, Lingo, in the
rain; was upset in the brook up at old Schlachtenschlager's, and half
drowned, and hadn't a wink of sleep. I believe, I was dreaming all the
time the poor fellow up there was telling his story. Must go home and
nap a little— But no, I can't! Will finish the jug there, Lingo,
before the day's out, ehem. Can give us a bed, here, Lingo, man, in
case of necessity? What d'ye say? Rather full at Mrs. Affidavy's, and a
washday, too. Oh, you dog, botheration, we'll have a rouse under lock
and key to-night, won't we? Have something to tell you, and must be
near the prisoner. But mum, boy, mum's the word! We'll have a rouse to
the health of my client."
With that, the attorney made another long face, fell into a second
roar of merriment, and went flying from the prison.
If this should fail, And that our drift look through our bad
performance, 'Twere better not essay'd: therefore this project Should
have a back, or second, that might hold, If this should blast in proof.
It was night before Affidavy returned again to the prison; a
circumstance that might be supposed to puzzle the brain of the jailer
not a little, whenever he happened to cast his eyes upon the bottle
provided at the lawyer's own expense, and considered the notorious
degree of attraction existing between the material spirits of the one,
and the immaterial spirit of the other. Before he had yet determined
whether the phenomenon should be attributed to the disorder of mind he
was first disposed to suspect on the part of Affidavy, or to some
uncommon display of his zeal on the prisoner's behalf, Affidavy made
his appearance, and notwithstanding the lateness of the hour, was
immediately admitted,—not so much, however, as a man of law visiting
his client, as an old friend and crony, whom Lingo introduced for his
own private satisfaction. The attorney, nevertheless, after squeezing
the jailer's hand, and giving way to a grin of extraordinary
friendship, averred he must see his client, before indulging a moment
in pleasure; and assuring Lingo, with uncommon spiritand generosity,
that he designed treating him like a prince, bade him, out of the funds
he had placed in his hands, lay in a store of all drinkables he could
devise, with pipes and tobacco, and so forth, so that they might have a
jolly time of it together. Then, after remaining half an hour with the
prisoner, he returned to the jailer's private quarters, snapped his
fingures, as if exulting at being delivered from toil and restraint,
swore he was the busiest dog that ever slaved at a case, but would take
his comfort and his ease, without troubling himself farther for the
night, were all the gallows-dogs in the world calling on him for
assistance. "Drink, Lingo, you rogue," said he; "give me a pipe, and
snuff the candle; for I abhor taking the first whiff out of a greasy
old cotton-wick. Drink, you bigfisted, honest old sly-boots; and I'll
tell you all about the case."
"Well, squire, I'm for you," said Lingo, swallowing a draught that
showed him to be serious; "but I reckon I know all about the case; and
it's a clear hanging matter, as you must own."
"If I do, botheration on me!" said the lawyer. "There's two sides
to every case; and all killing a'n't murder, nor manslaughter neither,
for the matter of that."
"Well, it's well to keep a good heart—I always said you had good
pluck, Affidavy, especially in desperate cases: but there was old
Timberkin here this afternoon, who went off with a long face; and there
was Pepperel, who as much as confessed there was no hope for the young
one. And why should there be? For my part, I don't reckon it any great
matter to have plumped a bullet into one of the Falconer kidney; but
when it comes to a bloody refugee playing such outdacious tricks, why
there, Affidavy, I stick; it's clear ag'in allprinciple; and there's
ne'er a man of any jury you can pack in the country, but will
"Tush, drink—here's to you. You've been gabbling with Pepperel and
Timberkin—numskulls, Lingo—between you and me, numskulls. What do
they know about the case? what have they been doing to study it? Here
have they been all day laying their fool's pates together over it, like
two owls at mid-day over a dead bull-frog, not knowing what to make of
it. Drink, you rascal. Now had you but been at old Schlachtenschlager's
last night! Ah!—However, that's neither here nor there. Now,I,my
boy,botheration,I study my cases in another manner, and I have been
studying this hard all day. But how? Ay, there's the question, tush.
Riding about, hunting witnesses from post to pillar, serving subpœnas,
and all that, and smelling out the intents of the prosecution."
"What witnesses do you want?" said Lingo: "it's a clear case, and
the younker owns to it. I'm to swear myself, that he admitted the
murder: he made no deninal"—
"He's an ass," said Affidavy; "a fool and a madman, who would knock
his head against a post, sooner than go round it, were his skull no
thicker even than a pumpkin-shell."
"Oh, ay!" said Lingo, nodding over his glass, "I see what you're
at: you'll make it out a non cumpuss case? But that won't do, squire; I
swear ag'in' you there: there's no mad in him; there's more in some of
the witnesses. But I suppose you have been raking up for witnesses
about old Elsie Bell's? The lad begged I would send for her; but, they
say, she is in a dying way?"
"Bad enough, bad enough," said the lawyer: "and a good witness,
too; but we can do without her."
"Well, I reckon you'll want all you have," said the jailer; "for
they're strong for the commonwealth. There's Dancy Parkins, they've
taken him for state's evidence, along with this here gallivanting
fellow, Sterling, that came in for quarter, and a power of others
beside. I dunna why they're so easy on Dancy; but they say, he's not
deep in for't; and the prosecution's ag'in' hanging him. They say,
Colonel Falconer has sworn he will have the youngster's blood, if it
costs him the price of Hawk-Hollow twice over."
"Tush, what care we? The devil take Falconer, and the witnesses
too,—as undoubtedly the devil will. As for your Sterling, I can smash
his testimony as I would a rotten apple. Botheration, the man has a
neck of his own."
"Oh, ay, in the matter of the spying?" said Lingo: "but they say,
they will wink and let him off, if Colonel Falconer be so minded; and
they say, too, he was promised protection by the soldiers, and a clear
pardon, on condition he fetched 'em into all Oran Gilbert's
hiding-places. I don't see, for my part, how a soldier can promise any
such thing, seeing that a soldier is neither a judge nor a governor.
And moresomover, there's the matter of the attempt to do murder on
Colonel Falconer; for, I reckon, that can be proved on him; and how he
is to get clear of that, if the Colonel pushes him, I don't know.
Howsomever, his case is bad—the man has a bad conscience; though,
perhaps, 'tis only a small touch of the horrors,—for he has been
drinking hard ever since he has been in prison."
"Oh, the devil take him, base turncoat and betrayer," said
Affidavy: "I hold honour among thieves to be as good a rule as honesty
between friends. And between you and me, Lingo, he hasserved the Hawks
a turn they will not forget. You know how they hanged that soldier,
Parker? Well now, two pigs to a pound of butter, as the saying is,
you'll hear of this fellow swinging in a swamp, some time before
"Ay; when they get him," said Lingo, "and with all my heart. But,
you see, there's no talk of proceeding against him; and when the
trial's over, I reckon he'll show the county a clean pair of
heels—that is, if he ever gets over his hurts; for, you must know,
there's something of the staggers about him,—a sort of horrors, as I
said,—but I don't know; and if you stay here long enough, you'll hear
him squeal out in his sleep, like a choking dog. Ods bobs! he made a
squeak last night, and I thought the devil had him: so I runs into his
room, and there I sees him sitting on his bed-side, all of a shiver,
and as white as a sheet, singing out, as if he was talking to old
'Shake not your jolly locks at me,'
or something of that natur', I dunna what, but it was about locks
and bolts, and the lord knows what; but I fetched him a box on the ear;
and that brought him to, and he fell to groaning. And now, Affidavy,
here's to you; and I don't care if I do you a bit of a service, though
I don't see what good can come of it. If it will do your cause any
service, to knock this here testimony on the head, why a hint's as good
as a long sermon, as the saying is. Just 'validate him on the p'int of
his upper story, and call me and Hanschen to swear to his doings and
sayings; for I reckon, he's a clearer non cumpuss case than the
prisoner. Howsomever, that can't do no good; for I'm clear in for
swearingto the youngster's admitting he killed the deceased, which is
quite a settler of the whole hash."
"Tush," said Affidavy, "let him swear, and swear his best. There is
testimony enough to do the business, if we trust to that. The devil
take the case; I won't bother my brains with it any further. However,
Lingo, my boy, it was a queer thing of yours, that letting the prisoner
go clear of gloves and garters. He might break jail,—eh, my boy!"
"As how?" said Lingo. "No, squire, you don't come over me there. I
clapped the irons on him at first; but, you see, poor fellow, I saw he
was sick, and just as weak and heavy-hearted as a pipped poult, and no
more fear of dodging in him than an old horse: so I knocked the
clinkers off, and let him have the swing of the room, poor fellow; and
there he's safe enough. Moresomover, I never heard tell of his being
much of a Hawk, only in blood and name; and I have a sort of pity on
"Ah, yes," said Affidavy, with a melancholy stare; "if you were to
hear his story, Lingo, it would melt your heart; for you have a soft
heart, Lingo, a merciful heart, Lingo; and it will go well with you,
Lingo; for there's something said in the Bible about the merciful."
"Well," said Lingo, "I don't set up for much of that, nor for much
religion neither; but I never beats a prisoner, except when he's
contrary; and this here youngster seems much of a gentleman; and I have
a notion, if he's well treated, he may leave me something; for he has a
gold watch, (howsomever, the Sheriff's got it;) and, they say, he's
well-to-do in the world.—But, squire, drink on; it's getting late."
"Let it," said Affidavy; "here am I fixed for thenight; for how do
I know but that you may be in trouble before morning, and may want a
friend to help you?"
"Trouble! and help!" said Lingo, looking up with surprise. "If you
mean that Sterling and his squeaking, why, ods bobs, it only needs a
cuff or two to bring him about. Ods bobs, Affidavy," he added, with a
grin, "if you stay, I reckon, it's you may want a friend to help you. I
don't say nothing; but he that's got a speech to make before court and
jury to-morrow, should not be too free of the creatur' to-night."
Affidavy, who had not yet betrayed any strong symptoms of being
affected by his good cheer, shook his head mysteriously, and then
"There's no telling what might happen, Lingo. These refugees are
devils incarnate, as far as daring goes. The whole regiment here is out
in chase of them, and all the able-bodied men of the village in
company; so that there's nothing left to keep guard over us but old
women and young ones. Now, Lingo, we'll suppose a case—how many men,
armed with muskets and axes, would it take to sack your stone jug here,
smash open a door, and let out the prisoners?"
"Ods bobs!" said Lingo, "I don't know: but I reckon I could hold
out, me and Hanschen, until we had assistance. But, howsomever, that's
supposing a case that can't happen."
"Don't be too secure," said the attorney, with a solemn voice; "for
there's no saying what may happen, when there's such a man as Oran
Gilbert in the case. I reckon, an axe and a few crowbars, with an auger
or two, might soon make way through the yard-gate; and then, the
back-door would be but a mere joke; and then, Lingo, whysurrender, or
hard axe and soft head would be the end of it."
"Ods bobs!" said Lingo, "what puts such a notion as that into your
head? There's ne'er a tory, now, within forty miles of us!"
"Ah, Lingo! This is a wicked world, with a good many crooked ways
in it; and there's a deal of 'em lead to the jail-door. My own notion
is, that Oran Gilbert is lying where no one would think of disturbing
him. Now, Lingo, you and I are friends. You're an honest fellow, Lingo,
but, botheration, you're mortal. And so, Lingo, I shouldn't trust you
too far, if Oran Gilbert came to the wall-gate, about the time of
cricket-cry, chucked you over a purse with a matter of ten guineas or
so in it, while you stood peeping at the key-hole."
"Oho!" said Lingo, staring at the attorney with that sort of
perplexity which a stupid man betrays when endeavouring to fathom the
point of a jest, which he is sensible ought to be laughed at; "Oho,
squire, I see what you are after,—he, he, he!" he said, beginning to
giggle, and lifting a glass as he laughed. "I'm a mortal man, sure
enough, and might take a fee, as well as e'er a lawyer in the land. But
ten guineas is a small sum, Affidavy; and as for opening a jail-door
for such a small matter, why, Affidavy, that's only—he, he, he! And so
you've been retained by the tories? he, he, he! Well, I was wondering
where the yallow boy came from,—he, he, he!"
"Tush! retained by the tories? I!" said the man of law, somewhat
"Oh, squire, a joke for a joke's all fair; tit for tat, you know,—
'Tit for tat,
Butter for fat,
Kick my dog, and I'll kill your cat,'
as the saying is;" and the worthy Lingo again burst into a peal of
mirth, which allayed the sudden alarm of his companion. Affidavy looked
him in the face, and became satisfied from the air of stupid glee which
invested the jailer's features, that the liquor was suddenly beginning
to fill his noddle; and in this conceit he was confirmed by Lingo
adding, after another preliminary giggle,
"Well now, Affidavy, I'm an honest feller,—as you say, but I scorn
being a fool. I know what's what; and I wish somebody would chuck me
ten guineas over the wall-gate; I wouldn't ask him whether he was a
tory or true American; for, you see, a guinea's a guinea, and clean
stuff, no matter what pocket it comes from. But then, squire, as to
opening the gate for such a small matter, he, he, he! why, I'm too
honest for that. I'm a poor man, but, as I said, he, he, he! I scorn
being a fool; and so, he, he, he! as you and me is friends, Affidavy,
why, if the man was to chuck about fifty more to the back of 'em, why,
he, he, he! I don't know what might become of my prisoners."
"Fifty guineas!" cried Affidavy, grinning in return, but with a
sort of scorn; "that's putting your honesty at a higher price than your
soul, for which, botheration, I would not give half the money."
"He, he!" said Lingo, slapping his boon companion on the knee, and
nodding and winking in a manner meant to be exceedingly significant;
"but come now, what'll they give? for I'll stand to reason."
"Give! who give?" said Affidavy, affecting surprise. "Oh! the
tories, you mean. Tush, how do I know? Perhaps you might get twelve or
thirteen guineas out of them; and that's a good round sum."
"He, he, he!" said Lingo; "but what do you get yourself?"
"I!" said Affidavy, again alarmed. His trepidation was however
driven to flight by another fit of laughter, in which Lingo's honest
countenance indicated the most expressive innocence of all suspicion.
"Ods bobs!" said he, "I wouldn't sell a prisoner under fifty
pounds; and if they'd talk to me about that, he, he, he!"—and here he
could scarce proceed for laughing: "No, no; if you'll strike a bargain
for me for fifty pounds, in hard money, why then, he, he! they may take
my prisoners, and hang them, if they will. But it's all one; there's no
such luck for poor Bob Lingo: honesty won't fetch any thing worth
having now-a-days. Fifty guineas! a small sum: why one could get more
for letting a tory in jail. But, he, he, he! it's all one to Bob Lingo.
I'm 'mazing sleepy, squire! But I know what'll keep me awake, he, he!
I've got a barrel of wonderful fine cherry bounce; and, he, he! I'll go
fetch a pitcher of it, and we'll make a night of it, I warrant me."
With these words, he left the apartment.
"Bravissimo!" said the attorney, as soon as he had departed; "I'll
cheat the unconscionable rascal out of every penny. He's as drunk as a
He stole to the door, peeped out, and then, satisfied that Lingo
was beyond observation, proceeded to pour into a glass, from a little
vial he drew from his pocket, a goodly dose of laudanum, to which he
forthwith added sugar and brandy, muttering to himself all the while,
"Here's a dose forthe dog will make him sleep like a wood-chuck at
Christmas; but 'twont hurt him. Botheration, I'm sleepy myself, the
lord knows: but two thousand guineas! Two thousand devils! I'm a made
man, even if the young ass repents his bargain and makes me 'bate one
half!—Give him fifty guineas! pearls before swine! He'll sleep like a
top; and as for Hanschen, why he's fast already—Devils! what's
that?—Oh, the drunken fool has tumbled over a chair, and smashed the
pitcher!—Could hear the clink and clatter together. Am somewhat drunk
myself; but a little does me good."
Having completed the soporific potion so kindly designed for Lingo,
and not without producing some clattering of glasses, for he was far
from being sober, he sat down and prepared a second glass as much like
the first as possible, except that he took good care not to qualify it
from the vial, which he restored to his pocket. He then began to hum,
and kick his heels together, wondering what kept the jailer away so
long. "The town is already fast asleep," he grumbled, "and my three
jolly tories will be whistling at the gate like seven thousand
katydids. Poor Mrs. Affidavy! how she will stare and scold in the
morning! Odd rabbit her, she has a tongue might suit a judge on the
bench; and, botheration, it will be a lucky day for me, when I'm well
quit of her."
While he rejoiced over his prospect of deliverance, Lingo
re-entered the apartment, bearing a huge pitcher, from which he
contrived, at every step, to discharge, so wide and uncertain was his
gait, no mean quantity of its purple contents. Indeed, if appearances
were to be trusted, he was already so far gone in intoxication, that it
needed but one glass more to stretch him on the floor; andAffidavy
hailed his infirmity as the herald of success.
"Ods bobs!" said the jailer, staggering up to the table, and
depositing his burthen with so little dexterity that half its contents
went splashing over his friend, "here's stuff for you! But a jail's a
bad place to keep liquor. Ods bobs, I broke my shin over a fetter-bolt,
and, ods bobs, I broke my new blue pitcher; but, ods bobs, who cares
"Botheration," said Affidavy, "here I've mixed you a brandy
cock-tail, and you've spilled the bounce into it. However, I warrant,
it's all the better."
"Ay, I warrant me, old Teff," said Lingo, giving him an
affectionate hug round the neck, "and we'll drink it, my boy, like a
lord and a truehearted American. But, ods bobs, my boy, gi' me a chair;
for, d'ye see, I sprained my leg, and it's weak under me."
"Oh, ay," said Affidavy, dragging the jailer's chair round to his
own end of the table.—" But stop there, you fool, you've got my
"Hic—cup—where's the difference? he, he!" said Lingo, yielding,
however, the glass he had taken, and receiving that which Affidavy had
so craftily prepared. "Here's to you, old Teff Affidavy!"
"Here's to you!" said the lawyer; and both raised the glasses to
their lips. The attorney watched his victim with the eyes of a mouser
intent upon her prey. He saw him swallow one mouthful, and then a
second, and then—the jailer withdrew the vessel from his lips.
"Botheration!" murmured Affidavy to himself, "does the villain
He was soon relieved from his fear. Lingo laidthe glass on the
table, and turning to Affidavy, burst into a fit of maudlin weeping,
betraying, at the same time, a strong disposition to repeat the
fraternal embrace. As Affidavy felt no inclination to balk this
friendly intention, he laid down his own glass, and was instantly taken
round the neck by the jailer, who exclaimed, in the most pathetic
manner in the world,
"Ods bobs, old Teff, I don't know what will become of me!"
"Why, what's the matter?" said Affidavy.
"Why, ods bobs," blubbered the other, "one day, when I was a little
boy, I licked my father; and there's no good can come of it."
"Tush, you ass," said the attorney, "you might have trounced your
mother too, if you had been so minded. But, botheration on you, let me
go, and drink your cock-tail."
"Well, I will," said Lingo; "but it's a murdering piece of business
to whip one's father; and I've a notion to give myself up, and let 'em
hang me. But I can't hang without counsel, and I can't spare money to
pay a fee. Now, old Teff, my boy, you're my friend, and if you'll make
a speech for me for nothing—I always stuck up for your being the
'cutest lawyer in the county, and I'll lick any body that says No to
it—now if you'll make me a speech, I reckon I may get off for nothing,
with a clear 'quittal."
"Drink, you fool," said Affidavy; "I'll take the case, and charge
"He, he!" said Lingo, snatching up his glass, "we'll go 'em, then,
slick as a snake in a new skin. Here's to you, Teff, my old boy! and
the devil eat his liver that don't drink smash down to the bottom!
Hic—cup,—here's to you."
He swallowed his potation, and the attorney,without a moment's
hesitation, drained his own at a single draught. But scarce had he
withdrawn the glass from his lips, before he started up, exclaiming,
"God bless our two souls! what was in the glass? Ah, Lingo, you
fool, 'twas that cursed bounce you spilled in it! Vile trash, you dog,
"What! my bounce?" cried Lingo, indignantly; "as good bounce as was
ever brewed, and, ods bobs, a good deal better. But now, you jolly old
Teff, let's sing a song. Don't sit there staring at me, like a starved
cat; but sing, you old rascal; let's sing 'Vain Britons.' "
"The oddest taste in the world," said Affidavy, in obvious
bewilderment: "sure there must have been some mistake!"—And, in
effect, there was; for at the very moment when the jailer was embracing
his friend, and beseeching the favour of his counsel, he slid one hand
behind him to the table, and there kept it until he had effected a
mutual interchange of places between the two glasses; the consequence
of which was, that when the fondling fit was over, and the vessels
resumed, he himself got possession of the innocent draught, while
Affidavy caught up and swallowed that designed for his companion. Had
Lingo been in any condition but that in which he appeared, the attorney
would have conceived the trick in a moment; but a look at the jailer's
innocent visage was sufficient to banish all suspicion of foul play;
and in consequence, he could only stare about him in wonder and
perplexity, nodding his head up and down in a manner the most ludicrous
in the world, while Lingo testified his indifference and patriotism
together, by lanching out, in a quavering,drunken voice, upon a
camp-song, said to be then highly popular among the continental
'Vain Britons! boast no longer, with insolence and glee,
By land your conquering legions, your matchless strength by sea;
For lo! at length Americans their sword have girded on,
And sung the loud Huzza! huzza! for war and Washington!'
'Sent forth by North for vengeance, your gallant champions came;
With tea, with treason, and with George, their lips were all on
Yet, sacrilegious though it seem, we rebels still live on,
And laugh to scorn your empty threats, and so does Washington.'
'Still deaf to mild entreaties, still blind to England's good,
Your knaves, for thirty pieces, betrayed your country's blood:
Like Æsop's cur, you'll only gain a shadow for a bone,
Yet find us dangerous shades, indeed, inspired by Washington.'
The third stanza of this patriotic roundelay (there are a dozen
stanzas altogether,) was sung by Lingo with especial emphasis,
particularly the second and third line, and might have conveyed to the
attorney some inkling of the true state of the question between them,
had not his senses been already overpowered. The strength of the
draught, aided not a little by the vigilance of the succeeding night,
was too much for Affidavy's brain; and before the stanza was concluded,
he slipped from his chair to the floor, and there lay like a log.
The jailer concluded the song; then springing up, he burst into a
hearty laugh, exclaiming, "Ods bobs, I've outlawyered the lawyer! and
there he is, as fast as a poker. Now, you old fool," he added, without
a vestige of intoxication remaining, (and indeed his drunkenness had
been all assumed) "if there was too much stuff in the mixing, why
e'entake the consequence, for it was all of your own brewing."
Then stooping down, he examined Affidavy's pockets. The first thing
he laid hands on, was the vial of laudanum, which he smelt at with
great glee; he then filched out a leathern purse, containing, according
to his own verbal inventory, "sixteen guineas in gold, two Spanish
dollars, a French crown-piece, and an English shilling—Oho old Teff!"
The next thing discovered was the pocket-wallet, from which he drew to
light the note of hand which the cormorant had caused the prisoner to
sign in the morning. All these different items he deposited under lock
and key, in a closet, from which he also drew a pair of horsepistols,
and an old horseman's sword, all of which he proceeded to buckle round
While thus engaged, some one softly approached, tapped at the door,
and being bidden to enter, disclosed the features of his assistant
"Done him up!" said Lingo, pointing to the prostrate figure; and
then demanded, "All ready?"
"Fy, dtare's Sturmhausen, Schnapps, and tree oders, mit guns and
"Ods bobs, then, we'll nab'em; for they can't muster half so many.
Have you chained the prisoner?"
"Yaw; and he turned pale, and fainted afay. Then I put polts on
Tancy Parkins; and now I fill go fix the t'oder, Shterling."
"Never mind him; he's safe. Now, Hans, you must fight like a
bull-dog, if there's any fighting at all. But not a word about the
lawyer here. Here's a pistol: take a swig at the bounce, and we'll
carryit down to the boys, to warm their hearts a little. If we catch
that Oran, ods bobs, I don't know' what the reward is, but it will be
the making of us."
"Yaw," said Hans; and picking up the pitcher, he followed the
jailer into the yard. Here they found five stout men, with whom the
jailer conversed in whispers, and then, after all had drunk of the
pitcher, he led them towards the gate, saying, as he bade them lie down
on either side of it,— "Now mind ye, men; I hold to the lock, and
here's my cue: If any enters, why I claps the gate to behind them, and
then outs with the key; and then you're to jump up and on em, taking
'em alive, if you can. But mind ye, you're not to stir, till you hear
me give the signal to fall on; and the signal is, You're welcome,
gentlemen. Don't forget it. Now, 'taint sure they'll come; but if they
do, ods bobs, we've got 'em!"
Having thus received their instructions, the whole party squatted
down on the ground, and awaited the issue of their adventure in
silence. The village jail was a small, though strong, building of
stone, and the yard, therefore, on the rear, in which the prisoners
were sometimes allowed to air themselves, was of no great extent. It
was surrounded, however, by a high and strong wall, the gate to which
was of heavy double planking, strengthened with bars of iron; and the
lock was of weight sufficient to make any prisoner despair of forcing
It was perhaps midnight, when these silent guards,—seven in
number, including the jailer and his assistant,—took their places. The
night was perfectly clear, and so far unfavorable to the assailants, if
assailants they really were; of which, it must be confessed, honest
Lingo could not affect to be certain, his whole information amounting
to no more than the few ambiguous phrases he had caught from Affidavy.
But then this fellow, under a stupid countenance, concealed an
astonishing fund of quickness and cunning, of which the attorney little
dreamed; and long before Affidavy had opened his lips on the subject,
Lingo had seen and noted enough to give edge to the native
suspiciousness of his character. The appearance of Affidavy himself,
claiming to be one of the prisoner's counsel, instantly set his wits to
work; he marvelled who had retained him, since he knew he had not yet
seen the prisoner. Then the appearance of the guinea, a rare coin in
such hands, and devoted with such magnificent nonchalance to the
purpose of doing honour to him, was not without its virtue in stirring
his conjectures, especially when it came to be added to the invitation
Affidavy so coolly gave himself to repeat his visit, and spend the
night in the jail. He ascertained without trouble, that the attorney
soon after leaving the prisoner, had ridden into the country, where he
remained all day, without once seeking a conference with either of the
prisoner's original counsellors; and one or two other little
circumstances he discovered, which prepared him to understand, and make
the most of what Affidavy afterwards divulged in the form of
All his discoveries, however, went no further than to induce a
belief that some design for rescuing the young Gilbert was on foot; but
where, and in what manner, the enterprise was to be attempted, he was
left to infer as he could. He did not doubt, indeed, that the attempt
was expected to be made with his connivance, and that Affidavy had been
bought to bribe him into compliance; though the covetousness of this
unworthy and degraded limb of the law had led him upon a devicefor
dispensing with the jailer's services, and so clapping the additional
reward into his own pocket. This circumstance convinced him the force
of the conspirators could not be very great; and besides, he had good
reason to suppose that not more than two or three could succeed,
whatever might be their boldness, in making their way to the village,
while the band was so closely beset at a distance. "At all events," he
muttered to himself, as he sat by the gate, listening for the sound of
footsteps, "if there should come even a dozen of them, and there's not
so many left in the gang, I can let in just as many as will serve my
turn, and then slap the door to on the rest.—Hist! It sounded like the
tramp of a horse; yet 'twas only the splash of the river over the
stones. Well now, if they shouldn't come, here's so much trouble for
nothing, and the lord knows how much cherry-bounce. Silence there, you
Hanschen! you're asleep. Ods bobs, men, don't scratch your heads so
He kept watch for perhaps the space of an hour, without hearing the
stir of man or beast, or indeed any other sound besides the rush of the
river, which rolls down a pebbly declivity hard by, and the chirping of
numerous field-crickets on the trees of neighbouring gardens; when
suddenly one of these insects; tired, as it seemed, of its dewy perch,
which it had exchanged for the dry planks of the gate, or perhaps just
waked up in the key-hole, began its nocturnal cry with a zeal and
energy that instantly captivated the jailer's attention. It now struck
his recollection that the attorney had, in some way or other, drawn
these minstrels of the night into his suppositions; and he began to
fancy the sound might be a signal made by the tories, though he could
not imagine how the organs of a human being could be ever taught to
imitate a cryso peculiar. He felt his own inability to answer it in the
same tone; and not knowing how otherwise to bring the affair to a
point, he replied by a goodly whistle, which his companions supposed to
be the signal of the enemy, and therefore prepared to start up at a
moment's warning. The whistle was instantly followed by a slight tap on
the gate, and Lingo, waving his hand to his backers to be silent,
boldly turned the key. Then slipping the bolt aside, he saw three human
figures on the outside, ready to enter. "Two to one," he muttered to
himself, opening the gate wide enough to admit one to pass at a time.
One actually entered, and was moving aside, without speaking, to make
way for the others, when Lingo's scheme was defeated by a sudden
rattling of chains at the window of Hyland's cell, and by a voice
crying out, "Beware! beware! you are betrayed!"—"Up and on 'em!" cried
Lingo—"Gentlemen, you are welcome!" and as he spoke, he made a grasp
at the first comer, which was answered so effectually, that he
instantly found himself sprawling on his back, with such a blaze of
lights dancing in his eyes, that he thought his whole brain had been
converted into a ball of fire. The next instant, there was a loud cry
of voices, and a roar of pistols, which, reverberating from wall to
wall, filled the narrow yard with the most dreadful din; and Lingo
started up just in time to behold a tall figure darting through the
gate into the open air.
"Fire and furies!" he cried, rushing after the fugitive; "I'll pay
you for that touch of the tomahawk, you bloody tory!" and the next
moment coming up with his chase, he struck him a blow with his heavy
sword, that brought him to the ground. Then pouncing upon him, and
assisted by another who ran to his assistance, crying that'all were
taken,' he dragged the prisoner into the yard and secured the gate.
"Lights, Hanschen!" he cried, "Yaw," said Hanschen; "but fat's the use?
Here's one teadt, and anoder tying. And here's Sturmhausen has his
headt proke; and here's me mit my finkers chopped off by the tamt
schelm rogues. But I have kilt vone, mine Gott be thank'd! and I fill
hang the t'oders!"
Before Hanschen had wholly delivered himself of his private ills
and triumphs, a loud huzza was set up by the others, upon hearing that
all the three assailants were secured. Lights were instantly brought
into the yard, and, sure enough, there lay three men on the ground, one
of whom was stone dead, his head blown to atoms by Hanschen's pistol, a
second writhing to all appearance in the agonies of death, and a
third—but what were the surprise and mortification of the jailer, when
in this third, the man he had cut down with his own hands, he beheld
the visage of his prisoner, Sterling.
Upon this discovery being made, all was again confusion; the gate
was a second time thrown open, but only that they might behold the
whole village in commotion, the alarm having been given by the previous
tumult. It was plain that the third individual, and he perhaps the most
important of all, had made his escape. To add to the confusion of the
scene, the wounded tory, upon hearing some of those who raised him
pronounce the name of Sterling, suddenly snatched a pistol from one,
and discharged it at this unlucky personage, with a bitter oath. It was
struck from his hands, however, so that it did no hurt to any one.
The jailer, now in fear lest the other prisoners might have broken
from their cells, ran to those occupied respectively by Hyland Gilbert
and Dancy Parkins, both of whom he found in fetters, the former, in
truth, secured by a bolt to the floor, so that, although he had some
freedom of motion, he could not approach the window near enough to look
out, and must therefore have been led to give the alarm to the rescuers
by hearing the crash of the bolt in the gate. This was additional
evidence of the guilt of Affidavy; but at that moment, the jailer did
not trouble himself to think of that discomfited personage. He stared
at the prisoner, heard his beseeching demand, 'Who had been taken? who
had been hurt?' answered it by a profane oath, and then ran to
Parkins's cell. He then stepped to that occupied by Sterling, and found
that this individual, seduced perhaps by the sounds of wassailing
below, had employed his time in removing with a knife a hinge from his
door, by which means he had made his way into the yard, where he took
advantage of the commotion so unexpectedly displayed, to make a bold
dash for freedom. What had seduced this wretch, who was in no immediate
peril of death, or even trial, and who had freely rendered himself into
the hands of justice, to attempt his escape, Lingo could not imagine;
and in truth he did not attempt to solve the mystery. He satisfied
himself that he had given him a severe, perhaps a serious cut, betwixt
the neck and shoulder, and then had him carried into his cell, not
without some very hearty curses upon his enterprise, and its effects in
robbing him of a more valuable prize. These were borne by the
adventurer without any reply save ghastly looks; and indeed Mr.
Sterling was a greatly altered man, presenting an appearance even more
wo-begone and wretched than that of Hyland, the victim of his anger. As
if to mark the jailer's indignation in the strongest way, the wounded
refugee wasdeposited in the same chamber, as well as the body of his
Upon examining into the condition of the defenders, it was found
that Hanschen had received a cut over the hand, which, as was
discovered afterwards, had been inflicted not by a foe, but by one of
his fellow-defenders; and this had deprived him of a finger, and
perhaps of the service of two others. Another man had been hurt by a
bullet in the leg, and a third had been stunned, like Lingo, by a
stroke on the head. As for Lingo himself, he discovered, with some
surprise, that the blow which prostrated him had left a wide and ugly
gash on his crown, though not one from which he had cause to apprehend
serious consequences. The only ill effect it produced was, to sour his
temper to an uncommon degree; so that after peace was restored in his
dominions, and his aiders and abettors all discharged for the night, he
betook himself to the sleeping Affidavy, and bestowed some three or
four such kicks upon his ribs, that it was a wonder he left a sound one
in his body. But even these failed to rouse the stupified attorney; and
at last, calling to Hanschen for assistance, he dragged him up into
Sterling's cell, where he deposited him on the floor, betwixt the dead
man and the dying.
"Now here are four bites for the devil together," he said; "and if
they all die before morning, it's all one to Bob Lingo."
With these words, he descended to look after his wound, which was
Speak; is't fitting?
Yes; is't fitting?
What's to be done?
I'd have thee undertake Something that's noble to preserve my
memory From the disgrace that's ready to attaint it.
The attorney's sleep was long and sound; and, by and by,
notwithstanding the exciting nature of the midnight events, sleep
visited the eyes of all others in the prison, even those of the hapless
Hyland. The misery of his situation was complete. His hopes of escape,
confirmed almost to certainty by Affidavy in his last visit, in which
the whole plan was explained to him by this honest gentleman, threw him
into a frenzy of joy; and it was with unspeakable agitation that he
listened to the subdued murmurs below, which told him the first and
most critical scene of the conspiracy had already begun. How the
attempt of Affidavy upon the head of the jailer terminated has been
already seen; how the scheme might have eventuated, had this rapacious
wretch followed out the plan he had proposed to the others, which was
to bribe the jailer into connivance, it is not so easy to say, Lingo
being perhaps too much of a philosopher in his way, to refuse a good
price for his honesty. But Affidavy, while he held the bone inhis
mouth, hungered exceedingly for the shadow, or, to speak more strictly,
for that smaller morsel destined for the jaws of his friend; and, in
consequence, adopted the foolish device of the 'hocussed' cup, in which
he encountered so signal a failure. While Hyland sat in his cell,
devoured by expectation, the door was opened, and the jailer's
assistant entered, bearing a heavy set of fetters, which he forthwith
proceeded to fasten upon his limbs. This was the first moment they were
ever thus dishonoured; but the unhappy youth thought not of the
disgrace; he saw at once that the scheme of flight was defeated, and
that his hopes had been encouraged, only to be blasted. The agitation
of his spirits threw him into a swoon; rousing from which, he gave
himself up to despair, until his thoughts were diverted into a new
channel by an unexpected commotion below, which was indeed caused by
nothing less than the entrance into the prison of the five men whom
Hanschen had secretly summoned to his assistance. He heard them pass
into the yard, and inferred at once that the scheme for his escape was
intended to be turned against his unsuspecting friends. For this
reason, he gave the alarm, the instant he heard the gate swinging on
its hinges, and would have done so sooner, had he been able to approach
the window, so as to look out upon the proceedings of the jailer. Let
his sufferings be imagined, when he heard the sudden din of pistols and
voices, followed by execrations and groans, without knowing aught of
the result of the rencounter, except that it had been fatal to his own
hopes. He saw the jailer look into the apartment, his visage stained
with blood, and then depart without satisfying his painful curiosity;
and then followed a long period of silence, equally oppressive and
distracting. Great as was his distress, however, it contributed in the
end to stupify his mind; and towards morning, he fell into an uneasy
slumber, to add the tortures of the ideal to those of the material
world. From this he was aroused by a noise, as it seemed, at his
window; and starting up, he distinctly heard a voice pronounce his
name. It was but a whisper, and that fainter than the lowest chirping
of the insects; but he recognized at once the tones of Oran; and,
scarce repressing a cry of joy, he rushed towards the window. The chain
was still upon his body, and its clash, with the rattling of the ring
by which it was attached to the floor, told to Oran, as well as to his
own spirit, how vain was the effort. The cell which he inhabited was in
a corner of the building, and the wall of the yard was perhaps within
six or seven feet of the window, which was more elevated, and therefore
overlooked it. It was possible for a man, standing on the top of the
wall, and of sufficient strength of body to support himself,
lizard-like, while leaning towards the window, almost to reach it with
his arms; and Hyland, who had noted these circumstances before, easily
understood the situation of his visiter, which besides being extremely
dangerous, was also exposed to observation.
"I cannot approach, Oran," he cried in the same whispering tones;
"I am chained to the floor."
"Hold forth your hand," muttered the refugee, "and cast me the end
of your neckcloth. You shall have files and aquafortis; and to-morrow
night you shall be free. Cast out the neckcloth."
"I cannot," replied the prisoner, with a voice of despair; "I
cannot reach the bars, even if I had files to cut them. What shall I
do? Oh, brother,brother! why did you leave me? Speak, brother, for
Heaven's sake, speak! Can you help me?"
The refugee remained silent, apparently struck dumb, either by the
reproach of his brother, or by the discovery of his inability to help
himself; and Hyland, imagining that his silence was owing to some
sudden alarm, held his own peace, awaiting the event. In a short time,
however, the refugee spoke again: the whisper was as low as before, but
it was broken by some strong tumult of feeling.
"I can not help you, Hyland," he said,—"unless, unless—But hold;
I will fling a file through the bars, and you can saw yourself free.
Throw your bed on the floor under the window, that it may make no
noise. Are you ready?"
"I am," said Hyland; and the next instant he heard the steel
instrument strike upon the bars of the grating, whence it fell ringing
among the stones in the yard. A second was cast with better effect, and
entering the window, fell upon the couch. But as if fate now designed
to tantalize the unhappy youth into distraction, he no sooner sought to
obtain it by dragging the bed towards him, than he heard it fall off
upon the floor, where it remained beyond his reach, and must remain
until discovered by the jailer. This mishap being communicated to Oran,
drew from him an exclamation, in which Hyland was made aware of his
"God help you!" he cried, "I can do no more."
"Yes, Oran, yes!" exclaimed the prisoner, "you can help me yet.
Throw me a knife"—
"Hah!" said Oran, "and you will use it on the jailer? ay! as he
bears you to the court house, in the morning! Strike him in the
throat—I will be by, and, perhaps—Well, well, you will at least die
like a man, not like a dog. Will you kill him?"
"No!" said the youth; "God pardon me the blood I have shed already:
I will never more harm a human being—no, not even to save my wretched
body from shame. Yet throw it to me, throw it to me!"
"And for what?" muttered Oran, in tones scarce audible.
"For what?" replied the prisoner. "Oh God, do you ask me, brother?"
"For your own bosom then? Ay, can we do no more? And the lawyers,
then, can give you no hope, not even for money?"
"None, none: I am condemned already—The knife, the knife!"
"The dream's out!" said Oran, with what seemed a laugh. "When I was
a little boy, and the rest were but babes about me, I dreamed, one
night, that there were seven of us together, though there were but four
of them born, and that I killed them. And so they say I have indeed!
Well, boy, I have killed you, as well as the rest, and now I am alone.
You shall have the knife—yet be not in a hurry. Something may turn up:
Sir Guy may demand a military trial—But no, I am lying to my own
heart: you must die, Hyland, you must die! for even I cannot help you."
"The knife will help me."
"Take it!" said the refugee, with a voice so loud as to show his
feelings had got the better of his caution,—and indeed his accents
betrayed the most vehement agitation; "take it!" he cried, flinging it
against the window with a motion so reckless or perturbed, that it did
not even strike the bars, but coming in contact with the stone
framework, it rebounded and fell, like the file, to the ground below.
"Ha ha! you see, brother! there is no hope for you,—no, not even in
"Brother!" cried Hyland, "you can help me yet."
"It is false!" said the other: "my band is broken, my body
bleeding, and now, if they would send a boy against me, why a boy might
"Listen, brother—it is my dying prayer," said Hyland, "and nothing
else can be done. Before midnight of the coming day—perhaps earlier—I
shall be a doomed man—doomed to death— doomed to the gallows?
Brother, don't let me die on the gallows! Where is Staples? He can send
a bullet through the eye of a leaping buck; I have seen him kill a
night-hawk on the wing. Brother, you will be my heir—give him what you
will, give him all, and let him come to-morrow night on the square, and
when he sees a candle held at this window, let him fire at it,—let him
aim well,—at the candle, brother, at the candle! Oh heaven! do you not
"I hear," said Oran. "A wild freak that, but good! ay, boy, good,
good, good! But Staples— ha, ha! Choose another: take the whole band;
one will be as ready to serve you as another."
Had not the prisoner been prevented by his own feelings from giving
note to any thing save the mere words of the refugee, he might have
detected the traces of some extraordinary emotion in the unusual
abruptness of his expressions. He even failed to observe the
incongruity between Oran's invitation to choose an executioner from his
whole band, and the late declaration he had made, that the band was
broken up. He repeated the name of Staples, adding, "Let it be Staples,
brother, for he is the boldest and truest: he fears nothing, and he
"Call him out of the yard then," said Oran; "he lies there cold as
"Ashburn then, Tom Ashburn!" cried Hyland, after an exclamation of
dismay at the intelligence; "he is the next boldest, and a true shot."
"Another, another! They fished him out of the river at the Foul
Rift, yoked fast to the carcass of his horse."
"He lies, with Staples, dead in the yard here."
"Good God! is there none left then to save me from this horror. Oh
brother, send any one. Is there not one?"
"There is one," said Oran, and his teeth chattered as he spoke;
"there is one, and only one; but he shoots well too, and is as bold as
any. Farewell, young brother—the streaks are in the sky: we will never
see one another more. Reach forth your hand, brother, and let me touch
"Alas, Oran, I am chained to the floor."
"Ay,—I forget: 'tis all one. Say that you beg God to forgive me,
and that you forgive me yourself—let me hear you say it."
"Wherefore, Oran? Alas, wherefore?"
"For what I have done to you; for what— But it is nothing. But say
it, though; say it, or hope for no friend in the thing you speak of."
"God forgive you then, Oran," muttered the brother, almost
mechanically; "I forgive you myself."
"It is enough," said Oran—"Farewell." And these were the last
words Hyland ever heard him utter. He descended from the wall—how the
prisoner knew no more than how he had climbed it,—and that so
suddenly, that although Hyland called to him again, the moment the
farewell had past his lips, he was already beyond hearing. Finding that
he was really gone, the prisoner fell upon his knees, and strove to
invoke forgiveness of the acthe meditated: for he rightly felt that it
must be but a form of self-murder.
He then threw himself on his couch, looked back upon the events
that had marked his existence in the valley, and wept over the misery
they had entailed upon one whom his love had wrapped in the same
destruction with himself.
Convict by many witnesses and proofs,
And by thine own confession.
The Master of Fiction has compared the course of a supposititious
history to the career of a stone, rolled down the side of a mountain;
which, at first, labouring and stumbling along, in a slow and
hesitating manner, as if on the point of being arrested by every petty
obstruction, gathers force as it descends, and at last pitches onwards
with impetuous leaps, which soon conduct it to the bottom. To give the
figure the completeness of an allegory, it may be added, that when the
moving body has once acquired a little superfluous momentum of its own,
it communicates it to other stones, and these again to others, which,
increasing in number as they grow in velocity, are at last seen
rattling down to the vale below, in a perfect avalanche, as confounding
to the sense as it is hurrying to the spirits. In this manner, a single
incident begins its weary course along the declivity of story, stirring
up others as it rolls onward; until, in the end, there is such a mass
in motion, that, if all were to be described as fully as at the
starting, it would require a Briareus himself to do them justice. It
is, then, difficult to keep pace even with the original event, the
course of which is as violent as the others; and this can be done only
byimitating the hurry of the moving body, and marching, in great leaps,
to the end.
We must pass by, with a word, the confusion caused throughout the
whole village by the rencounter in the prison-yard; the steps that were
taken in consequence to follow the refugee who had escaped; the
proceedings that were had in relation to the bodies, (for the wounded
Staples expired within a few hours after his surrender;) and, finally,
those that paved the way for the trial of the unfortunate Hyland.
The morning broke; the hour of trial approached; the village was
thronged with the idle and the curious; the court was opened, the grand
jury empannelled and charged, and in a short time returned into court a
formal bill of indictment against Hyland Gilbert, with some two or
three aliases, for the wilful murder of Henry Falconer.
The details of the trial it is not our purpose to narrate. There
were the usual preliminary flourishes, thrusts, and counter-thrusts, on
the part of the counsel, with those applications for postponement and
arguments against it, that weary the patience of the good citizens who
come to a tribunal of life and death as to a raree-show; and perhaps
with some such feelings as conducted the ancient Romans to the
amphitheatre. There was even an attempt made by the prisoner's counsel
(of whom the unlucky Affidavy was not one—at least, he did not make
his appearance,) to oppose the jurisdiction of the court, precisely as
Affidavy had boasted he would do, but with so little zeal and energy,
that it was soon seen the prisoner was to derive no benefit from such a
plea. In fact, from the beginning to the end, the counsel for the
prisoner conducted the case in so spiritless and desponding a manner,
as to convey the most melancholyprognostic to those who judge of the
goodness or badness of a cause by the colour of a counsellor's
complexion. It seemed as if they were themselves too well satisfied of
his guilt to think of contending for his innocence; and it was soon
seen that they had good cause to despair; for the prisoner, upon being
formally arraigned at the bar, rose up, and despite the opposition of
his counsel, insisted upon pleading Guilty to the indictment.
From the consequences of this rashness—a result of mingled remorse
and despair—the unhappy young man was saved by the humanity of his
judges, who directed the plea of Not Guilty to be entered, as, we
believe, is usual, or at least frequent, in such cases.
Upon being asked 'How he would be tried?' he answered, with the
same readiness, "By God and my country;" and the elder of his counsel
making some trivial remark on the latter word, coupled with the hint
that his domicil was strictly within a foreign territory, he repeated
the word with great vehemence, insisting 'that he was born upon the
soil on which he stood, and whether he lived or died, and whether it
owned the sway of the royal government, or assumed the state of a free
Republic, it was still as much his country as before, since still the
land of his birth.'
He was directed to resume his seat; but the readiness with which he
seemed to abandon all the little hopes remaining to him softened the
hearts of his judges, and brought tears into the eyes of many who came
to see, in a Gilbert and refugee, some dread-looking monster, and
beheld only an emaciated youth, evidently nurtured on the lap of
gentleness. Indeed, there was no little confusion produced on several
occasions, by the compassionhis appearance excited; one instance of
which happened, when Captain Loring, summoned entirely without the
knowledge of Hyland, along with two or three others, for no imaginable
purpose, but to testify to the mildness of his disposition and the
excellence of his previous character, entered the witness's box, and
laid eyes on the youth for the first time since his arrest. He no
sooner beheld his wretched plight, than forgetting half his own wrongs,
he began to blubber and stretch out his arms, and declare, 'after all,
adzooks, he didn't believe his young Herman had committed the murder,
for all they said of him.' Then being reproved, and something in the
rebuke reminding him of his daughter, he burst into a rage, reproaching
the young man for his deceit and base outrage, from which he was only
diverted by a second rebuke, to begin to blubber and defend as before.
In short, it was soon found that his testimony was not to be obtained,
and as his wits were pretty generally thought to be infirm, he was
directed to be removed. This was, however, at a later stage of the
trial, and after the more important witnesses had been examined. These
comprehended those individuals who were present at the scene of blood,
the chief of whom were captain Caliver, lieutenant Brooks, and the
adventurer Sterling. The evidence of the two former might have been
esteemed sufficient of itself to convict the prisoner, and there seemed
a degree of cruelty in bringing into the court, merely to confirm their
testimony, a man enduring so much bodily suffering as this wretched
Sterling. It seemed, that he had received some serious injury, when
hurled so roughly by Oran Gilbert among the rocks; for it was remarked,
soon after the cavalcade was formed that conducted the body of young
Falconer to Hawk-Hollow, that he became wan and troubled, and
occasionally a little wandering in his behaviour. He had grown worse
during the three days he was confined in prison, and had caused no
little trouble by his groans at night. In addition to all this, he had
bled freely from the cut he received from the jailer, while attempting
to escape; that attempt, as he averred on a previous occasion, having
been made in his sleep, he being occasionally afflicted with the
infirmity of somnambulism. When he appeared in court, all were struck
with his haggard appearance; the light of cunning had departed from his
eyes and mouth, being superseded in the one by a certain wild, yet
torpid and smouldering ray, such as might be looked for in the organs
of an expiring maniac, while the other was distorted with pain, of
which it was hard to say whether it existed most in mind or body. Upon
being called upon to declare what he knew in relation to the prisoner
and the deceased, he swore, to the surprise of every one, 'that he knew
nothing to prove the prisoner's guilt, but much that spoke in favour of
Even Hyland, who had leaned his head down in passive despair, was
startled at a declaration so unexpected; his counsel became a little
animated, and the Deputy Attorney General reminded the witness, 'that
he was now in a court of justice, speaking to truth upon oath, and not
upon the boards of a theatre, delivering the tricksy paradoxes of a
"Very true," said Sterling, with a ghastly smile; "but that day is
Upon being asked what he meant by the last expression, he replied,
'that he alluded to his original profession of the stage, on which he
once had his day, like others.' He then proceeded to state, thatwhile
pursuing his vocation, some years before, in the island of Jamaica, he
had several times seen the prisoner, then a young man of eighteen or
twenty, the heir of a rich widow, his kinswoman, and occupying a highly
favourable situation in society, and being, as far as he knew, of
estimable character. He next encountered him in the month of May, at
the tavern of Elsie Bell; although he did not immediately recognise
him. The third time he saw him was at the Terrapin Hole, among, or near
to, the refugees, among whom, as he caused it to appear, he had himself
stumbled by accident; the consequence of which was that he was induced
to join the band, to protect himself from a peculiar peril in which he
was placed. On the evening of that day, he accompanied the leader of
the band to the park of Gilbert's Folly, where the prisoner was found
struggling in mortal combat with the deceased. A conflict ensuing, of
which he could say but little, having spent several hours previously in
drinking, he did himself attack the deceased with a pistol, scarce
knowing, in his intoxication, what he did, and would have killed him,
had he not been restrained by the prisoner, who took the pistol from
his hand, and assisted the deceased to make his escape; "and this the
prisoner did," added the witness, with a firm voice, "although, at that
moment, he was bleeding from a pistol-shot, received but a moment
before from the deceased, with whom he had fought a duel, and by whom
he had been treated with some unfairness and much barbarity."
He then continued to state, that the design having been
communicated to him of carrying off Miss Loring, he himself, esteeming
it rather a wild frolic than a serious outrage, had obtained permission
to co-operate in an assumed character; andthat what confirmed him in
the belief that no wrong was meditated to any one, was his overhearing
a conversation betwixt the prisoner and Oran Gilbert, in which the
former insisted that no one should be injured, particularly naming the
deceased and his father, Colonel Falconer. At the time the band broke
into the house, he, being again overcome by wine and in a mischievous
mood, knocked down the deceased with a fiddle; and had the prisoner
been moved by any malicious impulse, he could have easily killed him at
that time. As for the murder itself, all that he could say was, that at
the moment the pistols were discharged, he was himself nearer to the
prisoner than was any other person on the ground; and yet he could
neither swear upon his knowledge nor to the best of his belief, that
the prisoner had fired the pistol that terminated the deceased's
career. There were several pistols fired, he knew not by whom, nor did
he believe any man could say by whom, for the morning was still dark,
and all were in confusion. It was as likely that the deceased had been
killed by his own (the deceased's) pistol, as by the prisoner's; for
being notoriously an expert shot, nothing but accident could have
caused him to miss the prisoner, at whom he aimed, and who was so night
at hand; and the accident that diverted the pistol from the prisoner,
might have turned it against the neck of the deceased himself. Finally,
he was convinced, that, be the matter as it might, there could have
been no malice aforethought on the prisoner's part, or he would have
taken advantage of those moments to execute his purpose when he could
have done so without risk or discovery.
This testimony, which was justly esteemed extraordinary, coming as
it did from one who had been admitted as evidence against the
prisoner,produced a remarkable effect throughout the whole court and
jury, as well as the spectators; and was indeed more like a harangue
designed for the prisoner's benefit than any thing else. It was
delivered with pain, but still firmly, and at the close, the witness
appearing to be exhausted, he was allowed to retire, while the Deputy,
saying, 'he was gratified to hear such mitigating circumstances
advanced in the prisoner's favour,' added that he would summon two
witnesses to prove the murder from the prisoner's own voluntary
confession, and would then produce two pistols, the only ones
discharged, one of which he would prove had been fired by the deceased,
the other by the prisoner.
The jailer and his assistant were called, and both swore, that the
prisoner had repeatedly called himself a murderer.
Honest Schlachtenschlager, who had officiated as coroner, was then
summoned, and appeared in court, bearing five pistols, being those
delivered to him by Brooks, while sitting on the inquest. These being
handed to the latter gentleman, he immediately identified one as the
weapon discharged by the deceased; the second, he averred, he had taken
from the ground at the prisoner's side, and the other, its fellow, from
his holsters: the remaining pair belonged to Sterling, and had been
taken from him before or after the murder, he knew not which, and had
been by the witness given into the possession of Schlachtenschlager.
"Yes," said Schlachtenschlager, "that fas fat the young man said.
T'at pistol mit the colden star on the preech, and the plue parrel, fas
the ploodty feapon."
Here the worthy magistrate was directed to hold his tongue, his
evidence not having been required, and his commentaries being wholly
superfluous. But he had said enough to give a new and unexpected turn
to the whole proceedings; for the prisoner, who had been staring from
the pistols to the witness, with a sort of passive recklessness, no
sooner heard the words 'golden star,' and 'blue barrel,' uttered than
he started up as if seized with a fit of madness, his eyes staring out
of his head, his arms outstretched, and his whole figure displaying the
influence of some extraordinary conception.
"The golden star! the blue barrel!" he cried, in a voice that
thrilled every bosom. "Oh heaven! have I been mad up to this moment?
Ha, ha, ha! what a fool! what a dolt! Give me the pistol!"
"Sit down," said one of the judges; and even his own counsel
endeavoured to force him back on his seat.
"I won't sit down," he cried in the same tones. "The pistol! the
pistol! my life depends upon it! Oh, heaven be thanked! I am an
innocent man. The pistol! look at the pistol: there is a shot in the
vent, and it will not fire! I remember now, it flashed when aimed at
Sterling. Call Dancy Parkins—examine it, look at it, prick it with a
needle, —blow in it, pour water in it—it could not harm him! No!
heaven be thanked! no, no, no!" And so great became his agitation, that
he fell to the floor in a fit of convulsions.
This singular announcement produced unspeakable agitation. The
court was ordered to be cleared, and the prisoner to be withdrawn a
moment, until restored to his senses. Dancy Parkins was then called,
and upon being shown the pistol, swore positively to the effect, that
one of them (he knew not which,) had become useless in consequence of a
leaden shot, or some other substance, getting into the vent; that the
day before the attemptupon Gilbert's Folly, he had been directed by the
prisoner, upon whom he attended, to remove the obstruction; that he had
received it for that purpose, but finding the removal more difficult
than he anticipated, and being hurried by other circumstances, he
returned it to the prisoner's holsters, intending to resume the task at
another time; and then being separated from him, for the purpose of
intercepting the clergyman, had forgotten it entirely. He knew not
which of the two pistols it was; but if, as he supposed, the prisoner
had not attempted to fire both, one would be found charged: the other,
that is to say, the one out of order, he had himself taken care to
empty of its contents before attempting to remove the shot from the
The pistols were immediately examined, and one found well charged.
The other was empty; and, as had been said, and as was hoped by almost
every man present, it was discovered that there was some foreign body
in the vent, which rendered it wholly unserviceable.
"This is indeed extraordinary!" said a judge on the bench.
"With your honour's permission," said the Deputy, who had been
whispering to one of the under functionaries of justice, and now looked
up in some perplexity, "I will recall the witness Sterling to the
stand; though I humbly submit, I know no more than your honour what he
has to say more. Yet he desires to be recalled."
"Ay, let him come," said Hyland, clasping his hands with joy. "He
remembers the circumstance; for I showed him the pistol, and he told me
the shot could be only taken out by a drill."
At this moment, the current of feeling was strongly in the
prisoner's favour, and the condition of his weapon rendering it
impossible that it could have discharged the fatal bullet, there was
scarce a man present who did not believe him innocent, and believe so
with pleasure, notwithstanding his unhappy connexion with the outlaws.
But it was destined to be seen upon what a reed they had based their
commiseration and belief, when Sterling, appearing again, craved to
mention a circumstance which was now recalled to his memory by the turn
of proceedings, and of which his previous forgetfulness should be
rightly attributed to illness and disorder of mind. He remembered well
the conversation of which the prisoner spoke; he had said, that nothing
but a drill would remove the obstruction; but—and here he spoke with a
degree of agitation that showed his reluctance to advance any thing
against the prisoner—it happened that the conversation terminated in
himself offering to remove the difficulty, by taking the pistol with
him to Elsie Bell's, where some instrument might be found to serve the
purpose; that he had, accordingly, taken it, leaving one of his own
pistols with the prisoner, but had found neither leisure nor
opportunity to repair it; that the circumstances of flight had
prevented a re-exchange; and finally, that the incident had not been
again thought of by him until the present moment. He was not himself
disarmed until after Falconer's death; he had a pistol in his hand at
the moment, which he dropped, while seizing upon the prisoner; and
taking it up again (as he supposed) afterwards, it was probable he had
then, without observing it, regained his own; and this might perhaps be
the weapon with which the unfortunate shot had beenfired. He was
disarmed a few moments afterwards, and was then seized with
indisposition, which prevented his examining into the matter, or indeed
thinking of it.
This testimony was as decisive as it was wholly unexpected. It
struck the prisoner dumb, and his looks of horror were esteemed the
best proofs of guilt. It was in vain that he afterwards exclaimed that
the witness had sworn falsely; he had no testimony to disprove the
story, and it was one that all others found apt and true, especially
when Sterling's pistols having been examined, one of them was
discovered to be empty. No one had dreamed of doubting the prisoner's
guilt, until the moment when his sudden burst of animation at the sight
of the weapons, threw all into confusion; and such was the change of
feeling produced by Sterling's testimony, that it soon became the
general impression that the prisoner had been playing a part in first
acknowledging himself guilty, and then affecting to be surprised into a
belief of his own innocence. Such an opinion as this could not, indeed,
long prevail; for it was manifest, upon considering the circumstances,
that the prisoner must have been as ignorant as others of the true
condition of the pistols, unless he had previously, as if in
anticipation of arrest, founded his whole scheme of bloodshed upon the
accident of the obstruction; in which case he must have fired the other
pistol, which was still loaded, or used some third one, which he had
cast out of sight, although instantly surrounded by many different
persons. The testimony of Sterling afforded the only and the best
solution of the riddle, as far as it related to the crime; while in
regard to the prisoner himself, all that could be imagined to account
for his changeof deportment, was to suppose that even he had forgotten
the original exchange of weapons,—that he was inspired with the hope
of escape, upon the presentation of his own as that by which the murder
had been committed,—and that that hope, thus accidentally excited,
still nerved him to assert his innocence.
The contest was however over, the hour of grace was past, and the
jury, after being charged in a manner highly unfavourable to him, were
sent out to form a verdict, the character of which no one thought of
doubting. It was even supposed that a few moments would suffice to
terminate their deliberations, and that they would shortly return, to
pronounce the word of doom. In this, however, the spectators were
disappointed: some merciful, or doubting member of the panel had thrown
a difficulty in the way of others; and, the prisoner being remanded,
the court was adjourned until such time as they should be found to have
agreed upon a verdict.
In the meanwhile, expectation was still on the stretch; the
spectators from a distance still lingered in the village, the villagers
themselves wandered up and down, or collected together at their doors
in groups, all awaiting the tap of the bell that should call the court
together to receive the verdict, and all agitated by the thousand
rumours that were supposed to have made their way from the jury-room.
It was twenty times, at least, in the course of the night, reported
that the jury had already agreed, and twenty times there was a rush of
people towards the court-doors, anxious and eager to behold the bearing
of the prisoner, while listening to the word that should consign him to
the death of a felon; but twenty times curiositywas disappointed; and
the morning came without bringing the jury from their place of
But long before the night had passed away, a new feature was added
to the story of Hyland's fate, and new characters mingled in the drama,
bringing with them new revolutions.
Peace: thou hast told a tale, whose every word
Threatens eternal slaughter to thy soul.
— Heaven is angry, and, be thou resolved,
Thou art a man remark'd to taste of mischief:
Look for't; though it come late, it will come sure.
The appearance of the refugees, with the fierce though unavailing
contest they had attempted with the pursuers on the night of the
outrage, had spread the alarm far and wide; and this was not diminished
by the daring assault on the prison, as it was called, the real
character of that enterprise not having yet generally transpired. One
consequence of the alarm was, to draw to the scene of commotion the
governor, or President as he was then called, of the commonwealth, who
happened in the neighbourhood upon some tour of duty, and arrived after
nightfall, so that his person was not generally known before day. One
of the first persons upon whom he laid his eyes, after entering the
hotel, was his old and distinguished acquaintance Colonel Falconer,
with whose unhappy loss he was already acquainted, as well as with many
incidents of the trial. Upon saluting him by name, the Colonel became
greatly agitated, and besought him not to repeat the word, if he would
not have him murdered before his eyes; with other expressionsindicative
of a disordered mind, which the dignitary attributed at once to his
melancholy bereavement. He then accompanied him to a private apartment,
where he attempted to soothe him by condoling with him on his loss, but
found him incapable of listening to argument or entreaty. The death of
his son did not seem to affect him so deeply as the malice of the
murderer, of whom he spoke with a bitterness and vindictiveness of
feeling that shocked his hearer. It has been seen how his heart
softened over this unhappy youth, when he met him at the water-fall,
and deemed that he owed a life to his virtue. The death of his son had,
however, converted his feelings into a new channel; and he saw in the
humanity that drove him from the Hollow, only the evidence of a
coldblooded design to withdraw him from the scene, that his son might
perish unaided; and this design he contrasted with his own friendly
resolutions. In short, the demon of revenge had entered his spirit,
along with that of fear; for, it seemed, the repeated discoveries of
Oran Gilbert penetrating even to the haunts of his foes, had infected
him with terror on his own account. The sight of the governor, in whose
hands lay the power of life and death, seemed to throw him into alarm,
lest he had come with the design of pardoning the murderer; and he
lanched at once into a strain of vehement complaint, in which he
mingled denunciations against the prisoner with personal calls upon the
governor for justice.
In the midst of this scene, which the magistrate strove in vain to
bring to an end, the door of the chamber was thrown open, and the
figure of Elsie Bell entered the apartment. She had risen from a bed of
sickness,—it might have been supposed from a bed of death, for her
appearance was morelike that of a moving corse than a living being: and
as she tottered up to Colonel Falconer, who stood aghast at the
spectacle, her bloodless cheeks, livid lips, and eyes shining, almost
without speculation, through the gray locks that had escaped from her
head-dress, filled even the governor with awe.
"Where is Richard Falconer?" she cried, "I heard his voice but now;
and it called for justice!"
Her looks wandered from the governor, upon whom they were first
fixed, to the object of her inquiry; and it is impossible to describe
the expression of mingled triumph and horror with which she surveyed
him. She raised her shrivelled hands, and shaking them with a fierce
but palsied motion, cried,—
"Yes, Richard Falconer, you called for justice, and now you have
it. It has come, at last, in blood, and in blood richer than that of
your own bosom. The death-bed curse of a ruined woman will not be
forgotten,—it curses for ever!"
"For God's sake, governor," cried Falconer, trembling from head to
foot, "leave me, or take the wretched creature away."
"Yes, leave us," said the widow: "let no one look upon him more,
let no one look upon him now. Away, if you have pity for him who has
none for himself."
The governor looked at Falconer, and perceiving that, although
incapable of utterance, he made earnest gestures to him to depart, he
left the chamber without speaking a word, but with a look indicating
amazement and suspicion. He was no sooner gone than Elsie, stepping up
to Falconer, laid her hand on his arm, now seemingly as palsied as her
own, and said, with accents that sounded in his ear like the cry of a
"You asked for justice—ay, I heard the words with my own ears! you
asked for blood,—the blood of him who has shed that of your son! You
called for justice—it was for justice on your own head! Richard
Falconer," she continued, "well may you tremble; the curse of Jessie
Gilbert is now upon your soul, and it will be on it for ever."
"Woman," said Falconer, endeavouring to shake her off, but in vain,
"you will drive me distracted."
"I will do you no such mercy," said Elsie: "Hearken—the last words
of Jessie Gilbert were a curse,—the curse of a broken-hearted woman
upon her betrayer: she died cursing you, and now the curse you feel,
without knowing half its dreadfulness. Richard Falconer, you ask for
the blood of Henry Falconer's murderer. Miserable man.!" she added,
relaxing her grasp, and clasping her hands with horror, "it is the
blood of your own son,—the blood of the child of Jessie Gilbert!"
"Hah!" said Falconer,—but said no more. He gazed in the face of
the speaker, and read a dreadful confirmation of her words, while she
continued to utter, as in a kind of insane exultation,
"Is not this revenge for Jessie Gilbert? The brother kills the
brother, and the father kills the son!—ay, as he before killed the
mother! Now, Richard Falconer, repent and die—the victim is avenged!
It is true!"
"It is false! false as hell!" said Falconer, recovering speech; "or
what, oh God of heaven! what am I!"
"The avenger of your own black and heartless villany," said the
woman. "Hearken, Richard Falconer, and you shall know all. When Oran
Gilbert knew the shame of his sister, he swore itsmiserable fruit
should never see the light; and I knew he would slay it, even out of
hatred of the father. That night! that night! it was a night of horror.
Jessie Gilbert lay dead, with a babe wailing on her bosom; and the
mother, the broken-hearted step-mother gave to my hands her own
untimely and still-born offspring—the brothers raved at the door,
calling for the child of shame. I had mercy—mercy on your child,—not
because it was yours, but because it was the babe of Jessie. I laid it
in the arms of the step-mother, and it lived. She kept the secret, and
the father of her you betrayed kept it also, though he sent it afar
from his sight. Thus was it saved—thus was the child of sorrow
preserved, that he might imbrue his hands in the blood of his brother,
and then perish at the call of his father!"
"Wretch!" said Falconer, sinking on a seat, "and this dreadful
secret you kept, that I might be made the most miserable of men? And
you incited on the unhappy Hyland to the murder of his brother?"
"I did what I could to save him,—not for your sake, though,
Richard Falconer, but for the love of Jessie. I warned the boy of his
danger—nay, I would have told him of his birth, but that I knew it
would kill him; and I loved him for his goodness. Why should I have
filled him with shame, staining him who was innocent of his father's
crimes, with the disgrace of his birth?"
"Elsie Bell," said Falconer rising and advancing towards her, "I am
a villain.—My poor Harriet! my poor Harriet" he added, and as the
widow looked into his face, she was amazed to see it streaming with
tears. "But for her, but for her," he added, "but for her and my
wretched Henry—but for my children, Elsie, I might, I wouldhave done
justice to Jessie's memory. Oh God! had I but known of this thing
before! But why, now, should it be known? You revenge the murdered
Jessie not on me, Elsie, but on my poor Harriet. The stain you feared
to cast on the name of Hyland, you fling on the forehead of my
daughter. Elsie Bell, Elsie Bell," he exclaimed, in unspeakable
agitation, while drops of sweat rolled from his temples and mingled
with his tears, "if I tell you what you know not, though it show me to
have done worse by Jessie Gilbert than you dream, it will destroy my
remaining child. And why should I destroy her? Why fling her before the
world as a creature to be scorned, for the sake of a wretched
fratricide? I will not do it,—I will say no more—what have I said?
When they are dead, —when all are dead, then let me lay bare my
baseness, and think of the memory of Jessie. But this child,—this
wretched, this blood-stained Hyland,—I will save his life,—the
governor shall grant me his pardon; it cannot be that he will refuse
me—But I will never see him, no, never— Hah! hear! what is this? They
are bringing him forth! Hark! they are shouting aloud for his
condemnation!—Oh heaven support me! To this I—I have brought him!"
But we have not the courage to pursue further the agonies of the
wretched father, whom a sudden commotion in the street, with loud cries
of "To the court! to the court! the jury have made a verdict!" one of
twenty false rumours to which expectation gave birth,—threw into new
transports of anguish. At last, moved by an irresistible impulse, he
started up and ran into the streets, through which he made his way to
In the meanwhile, Hyland strode (for though securely fettered, he
was no longer chained to thefloor,) to and fro in his cell, a changed,
we might almost say, a happy, man. The sight of his pistols in the
court had introduced a new set of associations, from which he perceived
clearly, that, although he had so long esteemed himself the author of
Falconer's death, that young man had, in truth, fallen by some other
hand. The story told by Sterling of the exchange of pistols between him
and the prisoner, was, as Hyland had pronounced it, a sheer
fabrication; although he was unable to devise any reason Sterling could
have for swearing falsely; his original testimony having made it clear,
that he was not actuated by motives of malice. He remembered that he
had raised a weapon against his rival, which, as others were,
discharged at the same moment, he did not dream had failed to go off;
although he now recalled to mind that the same one—he had taken it
from the same side of the saddle—had flashed in his hands, when aimed
at the head of Sterling. Remembering these circumstances in connexion
with Dancy's declaration that he had restored the pistol, entirely
empty, to the holsters, he saw at once, however others failed to see
it, that Providence had interposed to save him from the crime of
bloodshed, and that he was therefore, save in intent, wholly innocent.
This persuasion was enough to banish his despair, which was founded
chiefly on remorse; and perhaps, in great measure, also, his
apprehensions; although in a cooler moment, he would have perceived
upon how weak a foundation he built his hope of escape, so long as the
falsehood of Sterling was not exposed.
Twenty times he endeavoured to throw himself upon his knees, to
thank Heaven for its signal interposition in his favour; but his
devotions were checked by the tumult of his mind, which increased
atlast into such distraction, that although he received a visit from
his jailer, whose errand had no unimportant bearing upon his interests,
he failed to take any advantage of Lingo's good will, or even to
understand the purport of his communications. The fact was, the note of
hand which he had drawn from Affidavy's pocket, besides affording
confirmatory evidence of that worthy individual's connexion with the
attempted rescue, had made a strong impression upon Lingo's cupidity;
and his object in the visit was nothing less than to intimate his
willingness to serve the prisoner in the same way, and on much more
reasonable terms. But he found the prisoner in no condition to treat
with him on such a delicate subject; and after unmasking his battery,
and uttering several broad hints in regard to his friendly intentions,
he was forced to give over in despair, resolving, however, to open
negotiations at a more favourable moment.
In the meanwhile, Hyland still paced to and fro through his
dungeon, till his feeble limbs refused to support him longer. He then
threw himself upon his couch, and becoming more collected, pondered
bitterly over his situation. He heard the rush of the people towards
the court-house, which was at no great distance, as well as their
shouts 'that the jury had descended!' and he felt at once, with a
thrill of fear, that he still lay hovering on the brink of a precipice.
He started up in an agony of mind not to be controlled, and throwing
himself upon his knees, began to invoke heaven with wild exclamations;
when the door of his cell was thrown open, a bright lamp flashed in his
face, and looking up, his eye fell upon that of Colonel Falconer, who
entered the room, followed by the tottering Elsie. The door was closed
behind them, and Falconer stood rooted to the floor, surveying his
wretched offspring, who seemed petrified at his appearance, while Elsie
stepping up to him, held the lamp to his face, and bade the father look
upon the features of his son.
"It is Jessie's face over again," she muttered, "and as pale, as
ghastly, and as distracted as when she cursed her betrayer. She cursed
him, but do not you, Hyland—the curse has fallen upon all. Now,
Richard Falconer, behold your son, and remember Jessie Gilbert!"
"His son!" cried Hyland, starting to his feet; "his son! Are you
mad? Oh, Elsie, I am half distracted myself. Why do you bring that man
"Because," said Elsie; "he claims to see his offspring."
"His offspring! Vain old woman!"
"Would that you were not," said Colonel Falconer, with clasped
hands. "I am now punished enough. Alas, wretched boy, you have killed
your father's son. Hearken to this woman, and then add to the crime
that already stains you, a malediction upon your parent."
"It is true, Hyland, it is true," said Elsie. "As there is a heaven
above you, you look upon your own father, and you have killed your
"I have killed nobody," said the youth, impetuously; "and if you
would have me still innocent, drive that man away. His son! sooner make
me the way-side beggar's—nay, make me believe myself a murderer
rather. His son!"
"Ay," said Colonel Falconer, with deep emotion, "the sinful son of
a sinful parent.!"
"Stand away! approach me not!" said Hyland,for Falconer was
approaching. "Your misfortune has turned your brain. Touch me not, for
I remember my sister!"
"Your mother, boy, your mother!" said Elsie.
"Be it my mother, if you will: what then have I but more cause to
curse the author of her shame?"
"The author of her death, not shame," said Falconer, with a
smothered voice. "Murderer of your brother, even for your sake I will
take that veil of disgrace from your mother's memory that must be hung
round the brows of my daughter. Do not curse me, my son—Elsie Bell, I
deceived you all, and it was the deceit that killed my poor Jessie.
This boy was born in wedlock,—the child of the abandoned and
broken-hearted, yet wedded, wife of her destroyer."
"Your wife! gracious heaven, your wife!" said Elsie, on whom these
words produced as strong an effect as upon the bewildered Hyland. "Now,
Richard Falconer, if you have spoken the truth, you are indeed a
blacker villain than ever men believed you."
"I am," said Falconer; "for with the lie I killed my wife and laid
her in a grave of dishonour. You were made to believe it was but a mock
ceremony that united us: it was a legal and honourable tie, and broken
only by the death of Jessie. And for what purpose? You know, Elsie
Bell, you know very well, yes, surely you know," he added, with much
agitation, and as if afraid to speak further. But Elsie sternly
affirming her ignorance of any cause he had for destroying the peace
and good name of her whom he acknowledged his lawful wife, and Hyland
now regarding him with a look of mingled fear and entreaty, he essayed
to speak; and again the sweat-drops, oozing from his temples,
betrayedthe anguish and shame of mind with which he exposed an act of
unexampled duplicity and baseness. His confession was indeed one which
no light remorse could have wrung from his spirit; but it was made, and
made without concealment or attempted extenuation, although it
undoubtedly revealed a strong if not just reason for his failure to
rescue from shame the memory of his betrayed wife. He had begun the
world as a needy adventurer; but was early patronized by a gentleman of
great wealth, with whose daughter, an only child, he soon presumed to
fall deeply in love; the consequence of which was the withdrawal of his
patron's favour, and immediate expulsion from his house. It appeared,
that he had not failed to make some impression upon the lady's heart;
but she was a spoiled child and coquette, and he left her with but
little hope of ever deriving any advantage from her tenderness. He
betook himself to the army, was transferred, in course of time, to the
frontiers, and in less than two years after his departure, found
himself recovering from the wounds he had received at the Moravian
town, under the roof of Gilbert's Folly. The youth and beauty of
Jessie, his gratitude for her kindness, and still more, perhaps, for
her affection, which the simplehearted maiden gave him almost at first
sight, and had not the power to conceal, touched his imagination, if
not his feelings; and in a moment of excitement, and folly, he
proffered her his hand, and was married. The marriage was secret—it
might be added, accidental; for the freedom of manners, at that day,
and in that country, allowing such license, he often, as he recovered,
found himself galloping with the merry maiden on visits among the
settlements a dozen or more miles distant; and it was upon one of these
occasions that he gave his love and faith togetherto the thoughtless
maiden. The knot was, however, no sooner tied, than he was seized with
fears and regrets: he had already received overtures towards a
reconciliation by his old patron, and without well conceiving in what
manner he could profit by a return of friendship in such quarter, he
persuaded himself, and his bride also, that his interest demanded some
temporary concealment of their union. To this Jessie was easily induced
to accede; for having no distrust in her lover, she saw in such
concealment only an additional frolic, such as she esteemed her
marriage to be. She feared no censure from her parent, who had indeed
long since signified the pleasure with which he would receive so
gallant a gentleman for his son-in-law; and she looked forward with
merry anticipation to the hour when she should present herself to him
as a bride of a month's standing. She consented therefore, not merely
with readiness, but alacrity, to preserve the wedding a strict secret;
and in that fatal consent paved the way for her own ruin and untimely
end. We will speak the remainder of the mournful story in a word. The
overtures from the patron were renewed, and were accompanied by the
smiles of his daughter. Falconer looked upon Jessie with anger, perhaps
with abhorrence,—she stood in the way of his fortune. The old love
smiled again, and forgetting that now the smile came too late, he
yielded to the intoxication of his original passion, threw himself at
her feet, and became, even with her father's consent, an accepted
lover. The state of his mind can be now better imagined than described;
love, avarice, and ambition together, as well as a consciousness that
he had involved himself beyond all retreat, urged him to persevere in a
suit both dishonourable and criminal; and Jessie was now thought of
only to be hated. Months passed by, and the jest of the frolic was
over; yet the marriage was not divulged; the young bride begged to
disclose the secret, and every entreaty filled him with new alarm and
anger; until the accidental death of the regimental chaplain by whom
they had been united, and the previous decease of the only witnesses to
the ceremony, put him upon a scheme for relieving himself from his
bonds worthy rather of a fiend than a human being. His witnesses were
two soldiers of his company, whom he had bribed to silence so
liberally, that they quarrelled together in their cups, and fought, and
that with such fury, that one was killed on the spot, and the other
died before he could be brought to a trial. The chaplain was drowned
five months after in attempting to cross a flooded river. There
remained therefore no witness of the union, and the only testimony
remaining, to wit, the certificate signed by the unfortunate chaplain,
was already in Falconer's hands. Opportunity—the devil that seduces
beyond all other fiends—destroyed every vestige of honour and humanity
in his bosom; he fled from his betrayed wife, leaving her to believe
that the ceremony of marriage between them had been only a brutal
mockery, contrived by a villain for her ruin. He left her to believe
this, to madden, and to die; and before she had drawn her last
sigh,—nay, upon the morning of that dreadful midnight that saw her
expire,—he had yielded to the fate he had encouraged, and taken a
second wife to his bosom.
"I lived, I prospered," he cried, when he had brought his dark
confession to a close; "and two fair infants sat upon my knee; but
their looks were curses to me—their birth was infamous; and I myself,
though men knew it not, was in the eye ofGod and the law, a
felon!—Now, Hyland, son of the wronged Jessie, I have defended your
mother's memory; but I am not less a villain. Expose me to the world,
curse me, for I deserve it—yes!" he added, with wildness, and even
falling upon his knees before the horror-struck son,—"expose me and
curse me, but have pity upon my child,—have mercy upon your
sister,—the sister of the brother you slew,—my poor, wretched,
"God forgive you, sir," said Hyland, with tears. "Leave me—I
cannot call you father: but I will not disgrace your daughter. No, I
will not—but my mother—And she was my mother then?— my mother's name
must rest no longer in infamy. Go, sir; I forgive you—that is, I will
not upbraid you; but I cannot, I cannot call you father. I am innocent
of Henry's—of my brother's death— Yes, I will call him brother, for
surely he never wronged my poor mother. Take this much comfort—my hand
never fired the pistol that killed him; and, whether I live or die, it
will soon be seen that I am innocent of his blood."
"God grant it," said Colonel Falconer, but with an accent showing
how vaguely the thought of Henry now sat on his bosom. "God grant it—
but—hark! what is that? They cry again! It is the descent of the jury!
Oh Heaven, I am punished indeed for that act of baseness! Farewell, my
son: I do not ask you for forgiveness—but touch my hand, grasp my hand
"I cannot," said Hyland, recoiling with such horror, that the
unhappy father bowed his head with shame. He then snatched up the
light, unconscious of what he did, and moved towards the door, as if to
depart; but a louder cry from the street striking his ear, he again
turned round, and looked Hyland in the face.
"They are calling for your blood," he said, "but they do not know
you killed your brother!— What! not touch my hand? Well, it is but
justice,—I will not trouble you more."
With these words, he turned to depart, still holding the lamp; but
had scarce moved his foot, before there was heard, at a little distance
without, the sound, as it seemed, of a rifle, or other small arms.
"Oh Heaven! my father!" cried Hyland, starting up, with a voice
that thrilled Elsie to the brain,— "I have killed my father!"
The lamp fell from Colonel Falconer's hands, and all was in
darkness. As Hyland rushed to where he had stood, his foot struck
against a prostrate body; and reaching down, he found his hand slipping
in a puddle of warm blood.
"Elsie! Elsie!" cried the distracted youth, "a light for God's
sake! It was meant for me, but it has struck my father! Why did I
forget? Oh, I thought not of my folly.—Help me, Elsie—he groans."
"Enough,—let me lie where I am," said Falconer, with a voice
almost inaudible. "There is retribution for all."
"Call the jailer!—Quick, jailer, quick!" cried Hyland, as the door
opened, disclosing the broad and wondering visage of Hanschen: "help me
to place him upon the bed; and then, oh for God's sake, quick for a
But Hanschen answered only by slapping to the door, without
uttering a word; and making his way as fast as he could towards the
cell of Sterling, in which was, at that moment, presented a scene of
not less fearful character than that which had passed before Hyland's
Let me sit heavy on thy soul to-morrow.
— King Richard III.
It was not until long after noon of the day of trial that Affidavy
woke from the stupefaction into which he was plunged by the cup he had
so craftily qualified; and then it was some time before he could summon
his recollection, and conceive where he was. He found himself in a cell
obviously of the prison; for the single window that lighted it was
strongly grated, and the door fast bolted on the outside. There was a
bed hard by, in which, as was apparent from its condition, some one had
passed the night; but who that might have been he knew not, no one
being now visible. As for himself, he found that his couch had been
nothing better than the hard floor; and close by where he lay, he
discovered a pool of coagulated blood. He was seized with alarm, and
finding the door refuse all egress, he ran to the window, and beheld in
the yard which it overlooked, a sight that, besides filling him with
new terror, conveyed an inkling to his mind of his true situation and
its cause. This was nothing less than the dead bodies of two men, lying
stiff and gory upon a bench, without even a cloth to conceal them from
the light of day.
"Botheration, and God bless my soul!" he cried, "I'm a ruined man!"
"Done up,—as clean as a skinned eel," said a voice at his back;
and, looking round, he beheld his friend, the jailer, enter the cell,
with a grim smile on his visage, which was not much improved in beauty
by a red handkerchief, that swathed it round from jaw to top-knot.
"Done up, Teffy, my boy, as slick as a new bolt. Who'll you have for
your counsel?—or do you think of pleading your own cause? Ods bobs,
you can make a good speech;—I always said that for you."
"Counsel!—cause!—speech!" echoed the man of law;—"God bless our
"Amen,—or e'er a one of 'em," said Lingo, with solemn utterance;
"for I'm thinking it will go hard with one of us. Howsomever, I'm glad
to see you in your senses. Sorry you had so hard a bed of it; but
howsomever, when they hang your client up there, I'll give you better
quarters. I reckon, it will be imprisonment for life with you; though
some says, they are to try you on the capital charge of aiding and
'betting with the tories, which is clean hanging treason."
"God bless our two souls!" said Affidavy, with an air of wo and
terror so irresistibly ludicrous, that Lingo, perceiving his utterance
failed to supply any further expressions, burst into a loud laugh, and
threw himself on the vacant bed, where he rolled over and over, giving
way to mirth and triumph together.
"Blarney and ods bobs!" he cried, after he had amused himself
awhile in this fashion; "and so you thought to come the humbug over me,
old Teff! Ha, ha, ha! I always said you could make a good speech, and
so you can; but as to pulling straws with Bob Lingo, why I never said
no such thing, for I won't lie for no man. How did you like the
cock-tail, with the cherry-bounce and doctor'sstuff in it? Ods bobs,
did you think I could go any such liquor as that? But now you see what
you've come to,—clean done up, broke, smashed, pounded into hominy,
and cribbed under lock and key. So much for not playing fair, and
making honest snacks of the plunder! Where's them seventeen guineas in
goold? and the note for two thousand more? Oh, you old ox-fly! would
you have sucked the poor young feller's blood?"
At the mention of these valuables, Affidavy, who stood mute with
surprise and dismay, clapped his hands into his pockets, first into one
and then the other, and groaned to find them empty. "You've robbed me,
Bob Lingo!" he said.
"As clean as ever I curried a horse," said the jailer, betaking
himself to his own pockets, and displaying both the money and the
treacherous note, the latter of which he moved before Affidavy's eyes
with peculiar glee, saying,
"Here's evidence that'll be a smasher; and then the bottle of
laudanum! Oh, you old Teff," he cried, shaking his fist, but more in
exultation than anger, "when you mean to p'ison any of your friends,
don't you go for to get the p'ison the same day; lay it up a month
before-hand. Ods bobs, if you wasn't as poor as a rat, I'd have an
action ag'in you on my own account, for an attempt to murder. But, ods
bobs, I do think now you look like a singed cat,—I do, Affidavy!"
Here he burst into another roar, having indulged which, he rose,
and satisfied with the terror he had inflicted, proceeded very cooly to
inform the discomfited prisoner that his case was not so bad as he
thought; that he had not 'blowed him' yet; and that he didn't know
whether he would, for he was a merciful man in his way. "I smoked you,
Affidavy," said he, "as soon as I heard you talkof your client, and saw
you show that 'ere guinea, —'specially when you fell so much in love
with me of a sudden, and with the jail here. I sent Hans after you, and
he saw you ride out on the prisoner's horse; and, ods bobs, I thought
of sending some so'diers to dog after you; but they was all out in the
bushes already. Then I went to the doctor's shop, to get some laudanum
for an aching tooth, and said he, 'Vy there's Affidafy has peen pying
laudanum for an aching tooth, too!'—Oho! said I; and then, old boy, I
was ready for you. And you see the end! while you was lying snorting
here like a corn-fed pig, we was knocking the tories on the head at the
yard-gate. And then we had the coroner on 'em, and you no wiser; and
the magistrates and all the town inquiring into the fuss, and you no
wiser; and there, indeed, there's your client, poor fellow, they're
trying in court as hard as they can, the evidence all over, the
speeches half done, and still, Affidavy, my boy, you no wiser. Ha, ha!
I do think you look like an apple-dumpling that's tumbled out of the
pot, and staring up out of the ashes!"
"Well, Bob," said Affidavy, with an attempt at a laugh, that ended
in a groan, "I knock under to you: you've beat me hollow. But now, if
you please, and with many thanks to you for not blabbing, I'll take
that wallet, and the guineas; and as for the silver, why I don't care
if you keep it."
"No, I reckon not," said Lingo, with a grin. "But, I'm thinking,
you'll just take the silver yourself, and be thankful I let you off so
easy. What, man, do you suppose I'll run the risk of defending you from
a prosecution—a criminal prosecution, d'ye see—by holding my tongue,
for nothing? Don't go to be such a fool."
"Well then," said Theophilus, with a groan, "do as you like, and
let me out."
"Not so fast, neither," said Lingo; and then added, with a nod of
the head, "I reckon there's more of the shiners where these come from?"
"Well," said Affidavy, "what then?"
"Why then," said Lingo, "I don't care if I run a risk with you, and
"Will you?" said Affidavy. "Then, ehem, humph!—You know what I
mean; and there's a thousand a-piece on that note!"
"The ready, old boy, the ready! hang all your paper promises; I go
for the ready."
"Well then, let me out, and I'll state the case to one we know of.
But, I fear, the ready's not to be had—We'll take a second note of the
"Ods bobs! are you there with your notes still? Now if you come to
that, I reckon I can do all that without assistance, and no snacks
neither. And so good by to you."
With that the jailer, giving the attorney another nod, flung out of
the cell, taking good care, however, to lock the door behind him;
leaving Affidavy to suspect, as he did, that Lingo was resolved to
manage the case, and reap the harvest, on his own account.
"Oh the villain!" sighed the disconsolate attorney. "But I'll be
even with him yet. Let me see —hum—good! the rascal is already
implicated, having concealed my—faugh! So he will not dare to accuse
me now. Well, I'll see through it by and by. That cursed laudanum! I do
think it has turned my brain into a dough-cake—Very well— Was there
ever such an ass!—That I should let such a jolterhead get the upper
hand of me!—I wonder what's the matter with my ribs!—Nothing to
drink!—no, botheration, nor to eat, neither.— Very well, Bob Lingo;
I'll remember you."
He then sought to relieve the perplexity of his mind by walking
about; but the excessive and unnatural debauch had bereft him of
strength, so that he was soon compelled to sit down upon the bed, where
he found the stupor, which had not yet entirely deserted his faculties,
returning and growing upon him, in spite of all his efforts to resist
it. In a word, he became again very drowsy, and fearing lest some
additional evil should befall him if caught again napping, he rose up
and looked from the window, to divert his mind from its lethargy. He
saw, from the ruddy hue of the sunshine on the neighbouring roofs, and
the golden tinge of the floating clouds, that the day was already
declining; by which he perceived how long he had already slept, and
wondered that, after such a siege of slumber, he should so soon feel
any inclination to sleep again. But, while he wondered, he found the
clouds and house-tops blending their outlines together on his vision,
while the hum of the village grew confused in his ear. He stalked about
again, then again sat down on the bed; when, fearing lest that should
seduce him into slumber, and being incapable of remaining longer upon
his feet, he betook himself to a corner, where he sat down on the
floor, pursuing his meditations; and there, after much nodding, musing,
and scratching of head, he fell, in spite of all efforts to the
contrary, fast asleep.
He slept long and soundly; and the shadows of night had been long
gathered over the earth, before certain sounds in the narrow apartment,
mingling with his dreams, imparted to them the horrors of nightmare,
and then suddenly dispelledthem. He was awakened by a human groan,
hollow and sepulchral, but so loud that he deemed it was breathed just
at his ear; and looking up, he beheld a spectacle that caused his hair
to bristle with terror. It was, as he perceived, dark night; but a
lamp, standing upon a little table near the bed, poured a dim and
ghastly light over the cell, sufficient to reveal the few objects it
contained. Upon the bed sat a tall man, in his night-gear, with a
visage of death-like hue, and eyes staring out of his head, which he
rolled now to the right hand and now to the left, as if gazing upon
objects invisible to the attorney; although Affidavy was accustomed to
declare afterwards, when good cheer made him communicative, that he
distinctly saw at the right hand of the sick man, and not fifteen feet
from himself, a figure as of a man swathed in a bloody sheet, that
stood gazing the other in the face, and gradually melted into the
obscurity, as he himself surveyed it more intently. Be that as it may,
there was enough of the ghostly and terrific in the appearance and
expressions of the sick man, to keep the attorney cowering with fear in
his corner, without any addition of horrors from the world of spirits;
and accordingly, Affidavy sat looking on and listening, without the
power to move, or even to rise.
The sick man continued to roll his eyes, occasionally uttering deep
groans, and now and then muttering expressions that showed the horror
of his mind, without, at first, clearly disclosing the cause.
"Ay, wave your hand," he heard him say, as if addressing some
phantom revealed only to his own senses; "wave your hand, and point to
the bloody throat: it was well aimed, boy, well aimed, and itwas well
done. I care not for you: it is the other that moves me; for him I
killed with a lie, and there he sits smiling! His face is black and
swollen, yet he smiles; his arms are bound behind, yet he smiles; a
rope is round his neck, yet he smiles.—Ay, smile, boy, smile! that
smile is heavier on my heart than the frown of the soldier!— A smile!
men would call that poor revenge; but we, boy, ha, ha! we know better!"
He then fell back upon the bed, and lay for a moment quiet; so that
Affidavy had leisure to recall his spirits, and penetrate the mystery,
which had at first so deeply appalled him. His first thought was, that
he was enclosed with some wounded refugee, captured in the toils to
which he himself had unwittingly brought him; but remembering presently
that he had seen two bodies stretched in the yard below, and had good
reason, from Lingo's expressions, to believe the third man had made his
escape, he perceived that this must be some prisoner of an earlier
date; and he knew that, the night before, there were but three in
Lingo's charge. With the person of the unfortunate Hyland he was
already well acquainted, and Dancy Parkins was, it might be said, his
old acquaintance. His thoughts reverted immediately to Sterling, whom
he had never seen; and he remembered, at the same time, that Lingo had
hinted to him the ease with which he might weaken this man's testimony,
if that were desirable, by convicting him of insanity. "Oho, the dog,
Lingo!" said he to himself; "he has shut me up with a madman then? Now,
if he should be dangerous, God bless our two souls!—Ha! there, he's
rising again! God bless our two souls!"
"They are gone then?" muttered the wretch,in whose sunken features,
hollow voice, and altered spirit, one would with difficulty have
recognised the humorous, bold, and reckless adventurer; "they are gone;
but it will not be long. Hah!" he added, fixing his eye, with a fearful
stare, upon the vacant wall, "you come again, and frowning! Yet I fear
not: other men have shed blood, and lived happy. It is not for you, but
for the other— him that lies across my feet smiling! Hah, what!" he
screamed, rather than said, as his eye, wandering towards the foot of
the bed, suddenly fell upon the figure of Affidavy, in his corner, now
cowering low with terror, "are there three? Devil! you lie!" he
exclaimed, leaping out of bed, "there were but two—him that I shot,
and him that I killed with false witness. Ha, ha, ha! these are
juggling fiends! devils of legerdemain! that make a man worse than he
is! You look me in the face —Well! I look back:—do you think to
fright me? Look at me then, and say, if you dare, that I hurt you!"
And with these words, he advanced towards Affidavy, who now
perceived that his right arm was swathed in bandages across his breast,
as if maimed by some injury. But his left hand he brandished with
menacing gesticulation, and his countenance was covered with a ghastly
frown; so that Affidavy feared nothing less than that he should be
immediately torn to pieces. From this apprehension, which deprived him
of the power of raising a finger in self-defence, he was relieved by
the sudden appearance of the jailer, who, entering the cell with an
oath, seized upon the madman, and shook him with violence, until he
groaned with pain, suffering himself to be pushed back upon the bed.
"I'll have the law of you, Bob Lingo!" said the attorney, starting
up from an ecstasy of fear to lanch into a tumult of rage; "I'll have
the law of you, you villain! and what's more, I'll chouse you out of
your fees and bribes,—your cheating and tampering with the prisoner,
Hyland Gilbert: he's an innocent man, you rascal, and you know it! and
here's this man Sterling has avowed the murder himself."
"Ods bobs!" said Lingo, "what do you mean?"
"I mean what I say," cried Affidavy, whom rage, the desire of
requiting upon Lingo some of the disappointments he had himself
endured, and a sudden prospect that seemed to open on him of retrieving
his lost fortune, had restored to the possession of his faculties. "I
mean, that my client, Hyland Gilbert, whom you cheated out of my
services, is an innocent man; and that there lies the true criminal. He
has confessed the whole matter; murder and perjury—murder and perjury,
you villain! do you hear that? and I'll make him depose the
particulars, you cheating, covetous, conniving rapscallion! and so
chouse you out of all your expected fees, you rascal! botheration, I
will!—Harkee, you Sterling!" he said, now advancing boldly towards the
object of his late fears, "you've blabbed all, and so you may as well
confess at once. I overheard all you said; and my testimony will settle
the matter; so, for the good of your soul, confess. You're a dying man;
the devil's as good as got you already—you'll not last a day longer;
so confess, confess, and don't damn yourself for ever, by hanging an
innocent man. What! do you pretend to deny it?" he continued; adopting
a course of persuasionfounded on what he had witnessed of the
prisoner's hallucinations—" do you see that young man there, with the
bloody throat, frowning? Look— I know him well—it is young Harry
"Ay," said Sterling, rolling his eyes to the wall; "but where is
"Why, they are hanging him; and all because you swore falsely
"Is he alive yet?" muttered Sterling; "I thought he was dead. Send
me a priest, and I'll confess."
"A priest! A magistrate, you mean."
"It is all one—I am a dying man; there is something wrong
here,—here," he murmured, striking his forehead. "I will do
reparation—ask me what you will; but drive Henry Falconer out of the
room; ay, and take that young Hawk off my feet—he chills them to the
"It was your pistol killed Henry Falconer?" cried the lawyer.
"Ay; I shot him over Gilbert's shoulder. I fired at both; either
would have served me. But who was the third one? Old Falconer did not
"A justice of the peace, Lingo! do you hear?" said Affidavy,
grinning with triumph. "I reckon I'll sort you, you covetous, cheating
"Come, squire, don't be mad," whispered the jailer, with two or
three significant winks: "We'll go snacks yet."
"What, you rascal, do you think to bribe me to keep silence? Oho!
you cormorant, I've got the play now in my own hands; and we won't go
snacks: I work on my own foundation. You've heard the man's words here;
deny them if you can. Send for a squire, or refuse at your peril; I'll
bawl out the window, and raise the town."
"There's no need of being contractious," said Lingo, coolly. "I
sent Hanschen for old Squire Leger an hour ago; for I reckon I was a
leetle before you! The man asked for him of his own accord, while you
was a snoozing in the corner; for it's a gone case with him, and he
The lawyer was petrified at this announcement; it was a new and
mortal disappointment; for he designed to make profitable use to
himself of his discovery; and to complete his confusion, the door was
opened at that moment, and Hanschen entered, ushering in the worthy
Schlachtenschlager, whom he had lighted upon by accident, after
searching in vain for the other magistrate, after whom he had been sent
an hour before. The attorney groaned; with one hand he grasped the
Squire's extended palm, and the other he shook in the face of Lingo,
who grinned, and winked, and nodded at him, with the most provoking
good-humour. But Affidavy was not a man to be disheartened even in such
an extremity; he no longer dreaded an exposure of his
extra-professional services on the prisoner's behalf; and he perceived
that there was still a field, although a narrow one, on which to
display his zeal. Trusting therefore to his skill to make his client
sensible of the full merit of his labour, he addressed himself to the
task of shriving the discovered felon, with a tact and sagacity that
were soon perceived to be as useful as they were really indispensable.
It was found that Sterling was in a very critical state, his bodily
powers being completely wrecked, and his mind so much unhinged that he
could scarce answer two consecutive questions without wandering. The
causes that had brought him to this condition it was not easy to
imagine, unlessby supposing he had received some fatal internal injury
during his struggle with Oran Gilbert; or by referring all at once to
the horror of mind with which, it seemed, he had been affected from the
moment he felt himself a homicide. A homicide he was, as was soon made
apparent; for being led on and assisted by the questions of Affidavy,
he confessed, without any reluctance or attempt at equivocation, that
he had sworn falsely in regard to the exchange of pistols betwixt
himself and Hyland, such exchange never having taken place; and that
he, and no other, had shot the pistol that killed young Falconer. The
reasons for this act were but imperfectly developed; and the strongest
seemed to be a bitter hatred he had conceived against the deceased, in
consequence of an indignity offered him long since in the theatre, from
which he had been hissed, chiefly through Falconer's instrumentality.
Such a cause for vengeance may be understood by those who remember the
rivers of blood poured out at Lyons, ten years after, to satiate the
rankling fury of a Collot d'Herbois. It will be remembered in what
manner he volunteered, while in the swamp with Oran Gilbert, to take
the life of this unlucky youth; as well as the attempt he made upon it
the following night, in the park, when he discovered him struggling
with Hyland. It appeared, besides, that after having rendered himself
into the hands of the pursuers, and confessed his true name and
character, the reckless lieutenant pursued him with divers jests and
jeers, which were the more intolerable that his quarrel with the
Gilberts had left his mind in a state of furious passion; and an
additional incentive was offered by the scuffle between the two rivals,
in which any execution of vengeancewould be so readily imputed to
accident, if traced to him at all. He succeeded beyond his
expectations; the object of his hatred lay a corpse before him—but
from that moment Sterling was another and a changed man. His mind was
filled with horror—not remorse, for to the last he testified nothing
like penitence—but with a nameless and oppressive dread, which was
increased tenfold by the reflection that this act had, or would in the
end, deprive a second fellow being of life, that second being the
unfortunate youth whom an extraordinary accident had imbued with a
belief that he was himself the murderer. Hence the singular turn of his
testimony, and his attempt to throw a doubt upon the prisoner's guilt;
until the sudden discovery of the damaged pistol struck him with a
fear, until then unfelt, for his own safety. He dreaded lest his own
weapons, which had been taken from him immediately after the
catastrophe, and from which, in the agitation of his spirits, he had
forgotten to remove the evidences of guilt, should be examined, and
thus suspicion diverted upon himself. To prevent this, he invented the
falsehood concerning the exchange, and thus screened himself from
suspicion, at the expense of a second act of murder. But from that
moment his horror became insupportable; and after struggling with it in
vain, and becoming persuaded that his own fate was drawing nigh, he
summoned Lingo, made a deliberate confession of his villany, and
desired that his deposition might be taken, before his madness, of
whose approaches he seemed conscious, should render reparation
It was now taken, and with difficulty, but it was conclusive; and
so intent became all present upon the strange and impressive story,
and, after it wasconcluded, so eager were all to confirm it by inducing
repetitions of the most important circumstances, that even the sudden
sound of fire-arms on the square, followed by the outcries in Hyland's
cell, were unheard and unnoticed, until Hanschen suddenly rushed among
them, with the intelligence, as he expressed it, 'that there fas
murdter going on in the Hawk's room.'
All started up, leaving Sterling to rave, perhaps to die, alone,
and made their way to the prisoner's apartment, where Colonel Falconer
was found weltering in blood in the arms of Elsie and his son, a
rifle-bullet having penetrated his side, and lodged in the body; and it
was soon gathered, from the remorseful expressions of Hyland, that it
had been shot by a refugee—the last act of friendship that could be
rendered to a helpless and hopeless comrade.
"It was shot by Oran Gilbert," said Elsie Bell, "for there is none
left but him! Yes, Richard Falconer, I said it would come sooner or
later! It is well for you, too,—you will not see the death of your
"He is innocent!" said Affidavy, snatching at his client's hand.
"Botheration, my boy, we've found the true murderer! He has confessed,
and you are an innocent man. The pistol was shot by Sterling! We'll
clear you, or secure a free pardon."
"By Sterling!" murmured Colonel Falconer. "Then, oh heaven! then is
my son guiltless of his brother's blood!"
"I am, father, I am!" said Hyland; "but, wretch that I am, my
madness and folly have killed my father!"
"I die content.—I will do you justice, my son—I am not so faint
as before—They shall carry me to—to—I forget—it is no matter—Well,
With these words he fell into a swoon, in which he was at first
esteemed dead; but a surgeon having been sent for, and now entering the
cell, he declared, upon a hasty inspection of the wound, that it was by
no means mortal, and that there was every reason to prognosticate a
speedy recovery. The sufferer was then carried to the inn, and put to
bed; but with no such assurances of life as had been pronounced in the
prison. A consultation was called, the result of which was a more
rational declaration, that his days were already numbered.
Farewell ye dungeons dark and strong,
The wretch's destiny;
M'Pherson's time will not be long
On yonder gallows-tree.
— M'Pherson's Farewell.
The singular discovery of Hyland's innocence was long before
morning bruited over the village, and besides exciting a double
interest in his fate, produced no little curiosity in regard to the
movements of the jury, who were still deliberating over the charge, as
well as to the course to be pursued by the court, in such a strange
conjuncture of circumstances.
Expectation was not, however, kept long at stretch. An early and
formal representation of the discovery being made by the prisoner's
counsel to the presiding judge, the court was straightway convened, and
the jury ordered to be recalled, for the purpose of receiving the new
testimony. This, consisting of Sterling's deposition and the evidence
of witnesses as to its authenticity, it may he supposed, was sufficient
to terminate their deliberations in a moment. Had the confession been
made at a later period, it would undoubtedly have saved the prisoner's
life; but it occurred at a time to save his good name,—to save it, at
least, from the reproach, which, however undeserved, must ever follow
upon even unjust conviction. His true story and character, and, in
fact, his real parentage, were now becoming generally known; new
friends, as well as many an old one, were labouring in his service, and
all were desirous to see the end of a prosecution, that had caused him
so much unmerited suffering. The trial was therefore despatched without
difficulty; the evidence was given; a few brief and impressive words,
indicative of their gratification at the defendant's happy escape from
his difficulties, and their own from a share in wrong-doing, were
pronounced by the bench; after which the whole matter was submitted to
the jury, who, without leaving their seats, immediately returned a
verdict of acquittal. The defendant was then discharged, in the
ordinary way, by proclamation, and shed tears of genuine transport to
find himself released from the ignominy that had before, as strongly
almost as his remorse, crushed him to the earth. He had scarce stepped
from the bar before he found himself in the arms of Captain Loring, who
hugged and blubbered, and swore 'adzooks, he always thought him an
honest fellow, for all of their talking; and adzooks, it was no wonder
he loved him, since he was of his own blood and bone, though he didn't
like his having so much Gilbert blood in him; and if he had only told
him as much before, it would have been much better for him, and,
adzooks, for his poor Kate, and, adzooks, for the picture!'
At the bed-side of the dying Falconer he found his father's
daughter. His sister!—With what strange and contradictory emotions he
received the hand of the being, to whose unhappy hostility he owed the
long series of sufferings and indignities that had brought him almost
to the grave. And she,—with what feelings she must have herself seen
in the object of her greatest hate, one towhom nature had given the
strongest claims on her love. But the place in which they met called
for other than selfish emotions: it was at the deathbed of their common
It is not our design to pursue further in detail the history of
this unfortunate man. The bullet of Oran Gilbert (for it was now known
that the shot could have been fired by no other, all the members of his
band having been either killed or captured,) had been well aimed,
though he who fired it deemed it was speeded against the breast of his
own brother. The better victim lingered but a few days, and then
expired; so that the same grave which received his unlucky son closed
over the guilt and sorrow of the parent. He lived long enough to remove
the veil of shame from the sepulchre of the betrayed wife, and to do
her reparation in the person of her son; but it was, as he had before
declared, at the expense of his daughter. She never more lifted up her
head. A sense of her parent's baseness, and the disgrace now attached
to her own origin, with perhaps the bitter consciousness that her cruel
design upon the happiness of her friend had caused the ruin that
surrounded her, weighed her to the earth; and two years after her
father's death, she was herself borne to the grave, the last victim of
the retribution which so often visits the sins of the father upon the
heads of his children.
It remains but to reveal the fate of two other prominent persons in
the story, before exchanging the gloom pervading the last act of the
tragedy, for the sunshine that should mark the close.
The prisoner Sterling, notwithstanding his own expectations of a
speedy dissolution, lingered a full month before he expired; and in all
that time displayed the workings of the hallucination which hadbeen the
consequence of his crime. He saw before him continually—for day and
night were now alike to him—the ghastly figure of young
Falconer,frowning at his bed-side; and frequently the phantom of the
elder brother was added, in imagination, to the terrors of the other.
He died in this fearful frame of mind; and thus carried to the
after-tribunal the guilt which escaped the punishment of man.
The fate of Oran Gilbert remained for many months wrapped in
obscurity. He must have fired the shot that struck a bosom he had so
often coveted to pierce, from the open square behind the prison; yet he
effected his escape from the village without pursuit and almost without
observation, the discharge of the rifle having excited but little
notice at a moment when all the crowded throngs in the streets were
rushing towards the court. The alarm, however, being soon given, many
men armed themselves and started in pursuit, though without any
knowledge of the direction in which he had fled, and, indeed, without
at first being aware whom they followed. The first traces of him were
discovered in the Hollow, at Elsie Bell's cottage, which it seems he
had entered before day, and there rested for awhile, to the great
terror of the little negro girl Margery, who was at that time the only
inmate of the hovel, and to whom he appeared little short of a demon,
his countenance being wild and dreadful, and his words and actions, at
least in her opinion, distracted. It was from the circumstances
developed here, that the pursuers found they were upon the track of
Oran Gilbert himself, now deprived of all followers, and flying with
the dreadful persuasion at his spirit, that his hand had slain the last
of his father's children.
It appeared from little Margery's account, that,after wildly
searching the house over, he asked for Elsie, and being told she was in
the village, sat down upon a chair, whence the girl soon saw blood fall
upon the floor; and, in fact, upon examination, it was found that a
considerable quantity of gore still lay by the chair on which he had
rested. He then called for water, and a napkin, the latter of which he
put upon his right side, securing it under a leathern belt; after which
he drank freely of the water, and going into Elsie's private apartment,
he took from the wall a little sampler, a relic, as it appeared, of his
deceased sister, tore it to pieces, and scattered it over the floor. He
then proceeded to the chamber so long inhabited by Hyland, where
finding many little sketches, and other neglected scraps, he destroyed
them in like manner. After this, he descended to the room below, took
up his gun, which he charged with great care, and hunted about until he
had found a strong and sharp-pointed knife, which he stuck in his belt;
and then, drinking again from the pitcher, he left the hovel, without
uttering a single word, and Margery heard him ride away, apparently
towards the mountain.
This was enough for the pursuers, whose numbers had been increased
by volunteers along the way; and they instantly resumed the road,
though with no great hope of coming up with the fugitive, who had
foiled them so many times already. They knew, however, that the land
was full of parties still in search of him, none of which had perhaps
been so close upon his track as themselves. They were also inspired by
a discovery that was made when they came to examine the marks of his
horse's feet in the moist earth bordering the runlet in the oak-yard,
and this was, that the animal had cast a shoe; for which reason, they
supposed, the rider would be soon compelled to abandon him, and seek
shelter in some fast place among the woods, where he might be
surrounded, and perhaps taken alive. They rode on therefore with new
spirit, and coming at an early hour in the morning upon the river bank,
led by the tracks of his horse, which did not seem once to have left
the road, they descried him, or at least a horseman they supposed to be
him, riding along the bluff, at a slow gait, indicative of the daring
or recklessness of his character.
He rode a black horse, apparently of great native strength and
spirit; but, it was now obvious, the animal had been of late taxed
severely, and beyond his powers; for which reason, it was not doubted,
the fugitive could be overtaken, before he reached the mountain, which
was still distant three or four miles. The party proclaimed their
discovery and their hopes, by setting up a great shout. At this, to
their surprise, the refugee checked his wearied steed, and turned
round, as if for the purpose of making battle,—a display of andacity
and resolution that went far to cool the ardour of many who had been, a
moment before, the bravest of the whole party. They saw him fling the
rifle he carried into the hollow of his left arm, and then, with his
right hand, remove from his visage the long locks of black hair that
had, a moment before, swung wildly in the wind; and they fancied they
beheld, even at the distance which separated them from him, a smile
writhing over his pallid features, like that of the panther at bay.
"Well done, old Oran the 'Awk!" cried one of the party, taking a
long rifle from his shoulder, and advancing to the head of the others,
who had come to an universal halt. He was a man of middle age, with a
face as bleak and weather-worn asthe rocks at the river's edge, tall
and gaunt of frame, but sinewy, and of a certain bully-like look about
the fists and eyes, that showed him to be no inconsiderable man in his
degree. "Well done, old Oran the 'Awk!" he cried; "I up'old you to be
game, chock-full; and so, if you're for a pull ag'in' current, why, I'm
clear for showing fair play. So men, just 'old by, like honest fellers;
and, my logs 'gin' his, I'll show him what long shots is; for he and me
was good friends of old."
"Go it, Dan Potts, the raftsman!" cried several of his companions,
handling their own arms, as if to try their virtues at a distance,
while others cried out, to advance in a body without further delay, but
set no example themselves, the appearance of the outlaw being
uninviting to all save the bold raftsman, who continued to move
onwards, though slowly and cautiously, as if well aware of the danger
of a personal contest with one who had been, as he said, his good
friend in old times. But the refugee, without regarding the challenge
of the raftsman, took advantage of the hesitation of his companions to
change his own plans, and by suddenly turning his horse and spurring
off with unexpected speed, he gained a considerable space before they
could recover from their surprise and follow. They darted after him,
however, with what activity they could; and cheering one another with
their voices, they rode on at such a pace that, in a few moments, the
whole party was sweeping betwixt the yawning jaws of the Gap, up the
course of which he directed his flight.
The mountain is here perhaps two thousand feet or more, in
elevation. Its course is oblique to the river, which itself is bent and
twisted out of its path by the irregular protrusion and retrogression
of cliffs and promontories. The right bank of theriver, looking to the
east, is fenced by a dizzy and inaccessible wall of crags; while the
mountain on the other side, presenting a similar wall to the south,
dips down, westward, to the water in an angle more practicable to human
daring, though the whole declivity is covered over with loose rocks,
the remnants of some stony avalanche, tumbled from pinnacles above by
the same convulsion that thrust the mountain from the bowels of the
earth, or shivered it, already uprisen, asunder. A few withered
hemlocks are here and there seen springing from between these
disjointed fragments, which are, in other places, veiled by patches of
flowering-raspberry, alder, and other shrubs; though, in general, the
eye reposes on rocks entirely bald and naked, or, at best, tufted with
mosses, lichens, and ferns. It presents a scene of dreary sterility and
gloom; but its savage wildness can be only appreciated by those who
clamber up to its summit over those loose and ever-precarious rocks,
which afford the only footing.
Into the gorge bounded by these frowning limits the refugee was
seen to urge his steed; when suddenly, to the amazement of the
pursuers, he turned from the road, dashed through a wall of rosebays
that hedged it in, and the next moment plunged into the river, swimming
his horse right towards the opposite mountain. The cause of this
extraordinary step was soon perceived; for the next instant a troop of
horse in the continental uniform, came dashing down the Gap, uttering a
wild hurrah, that made the rocks ring. It was one of the many parties
of military by whom all the passes of the county were guarded; and it
seemed the fugitive had rushed almost amongst them, before he
discovered their presence. Nothing remained forhim, thus checked in
front, and retreat cut off behind, but to fling himself into the river,
and seek refuge among the dens of the eastern mountain; and this he
attempted, though the chances were ten to one that he should be shot
from his horse, before he reached the opposite bank. In fact, he had
scarce swum beyond the middle of the stream, before the two parties
rushed to the water's edge and let fly a volley, which, had it not been
fired almost altogether from pistols, must have brought his flight to a
bloody close. The water was seen bubbling around him, as the bullets
pattered like rain-drops over its surface; but he still swam on, as if
unhurt, and some dozen or more of the boldest riders present spurred
their horses into the river to follow.
"Well done, old Oran the 'Awk!" cried Dan Potts, waving over his
head the long rifle he had not thought fit yet to discharge; "it's agin
my conscience to shoot an old friend in the back, 'specially when
there's no tree to cover him."
"Bang away, Dan Potts," cried others; "shoot, for the honour of the
"The county be d—d," said Dan Potts; "I shoots from my own raft."
And with that, he raised his weapon, and taking deadly aim right
betwixt the refugee's shoulders, drew the trigger. But at that moment,
the horse, which had until now breasted his way gallantly through the
deep water, flung himself aloft in terror or in agony, and rolling
backwards, plunged his rider into the water, so that he escaped the
shot entirely, as perhaps the animal did also, though that could never
be known with certainty.
"I swog! and may I wreck my next raft on the Foul Rift, if I
didn't!" said Dan Potts, "but I hit the' oss on the 'ead, and cuss the
bit of his master!Neversomever, I'll try for a spell ag'in, and the
next'll be a right-down rusty!"
With these words he spurred his horse into the river, with which
his employment as a raftsman had doubtless made him familiar; for,
whether it proceeded from this circumstance, or some other advantage he
possessed over the others, he was soon at the head of the swimmers, and
leading the pursuit.
In the meanwhile, Oran Gilbert was seen to spring erect on his
horse's back; but the animal never raised his head again from the
water, and Oran, abandoning him entirely, trusted to his own courage
and strength of arm to reach the rocks that were now close at hand. In
this attempt he succeeded. He was seen to issue from the water, and aim
his rifle, which he still retained, at the advancing Potts.
"Try it ag'in, old 'Awk!" roared Dan, as he saw the imperfect flash
expire, without being followed by any explosion; "try it ag'in, old
boy; or out knife and be ready!"
The only answer the tory deigned the bravado was, to fling his now
unserviceable and burdensome piece into the river, and then rush up the
mountain with all his speed. He was soon lost sight of among the rocks
and bushes; a piece of good fortune which he owed to a simple
expedient. As he clambered up, he took care to spurn from its lodgment
every stone that shook under his foot, which rolling down the
declivity, became a source of extreme confusion and peril to the
pursuers, (as such are indeed yet to the laggards in a mere party of
pleasure,) who were thus forced to loiter in the ascent, after having
previously lost some time in securing their horses at the bottom of the
hill, until there remained little hopes of overtakinghim. The raftsman
was the only individual who, in this conjuncture, was able to proceed
with any spirit. He pressed upward, dodging the descending rocks with
infinite address and agility, and was soon lost sight of; until,
finally, even his voice, with which he continued to cheer the others,
was no longer heard.
The mountain was, however, climbed at last; but the refugee had
vanished. The only practicable path conducts you to the summit of the
hill along the edge of the southern precipices; and the last step is
from a shelf that overhangs the wooded abyss below, whence, peeping
over the brink of the cliffs at their most tremendous height, the eye
looks over many a league of blue hill and misty hollow, of living wood
and winding river,—a scene whose loveliness is made more impressive by
contrast with the savage desolation that reigns around the point of
view. A broad table of stone, shelving downwards, and in part
overhanging the abyss, lies like a parapet upon the extreme brink of
the precipice; and it is from this, lying upon his breast, clinging
with foot and hand to its crevices and the stunted bushes that grow
upon its surface, and advancing his head beyond the naked verge, that
the adventurous spectator looks down into the dizzy gulf below,—if he
have indeed the courage to look.
Upon this platform the raftsman was found reposing, his elbows
resting upon the parapet stone, and his countenance betraying wonder
mingled with perplexity. Upon being asked what had become of the
fugitive, he pointed to certain marks of fresh blood that lay on the
stones where he stood, hard-by the parapet, which was itself dabbled
with blood; and, in addition, the black lichens with which it was
overgrown, were torn up, as bythe struggles of some human being sliding
down its inclined surface towards the horrible abyss beneath; and a
shrub springing from the verge, was snapped off, as if broken by a
"I once," said the raftsman, "chased a two-year buck off this here
very rock; and I reckon, you may see some of his bones among the bushes
below. I was hunting with Oran Gilbert; we were boys together; and, I
remember, he said, 'It was a brave jump for a hard-pushed beast, and a
wise one, too.' Now let any man run his nose over the rock's edge, and
tell me what he sees swinging to a bush some fifty or sixty fathoms
below; for, to my eyes, it has much the look of a green hunting-shirt,
or a big rag of it. There's a stream of blood running up along the
rocks, and here's the ending of it. There was some old wound bursting
out on him afresh, and, to my thought, the man was not able to run
further; and so he remembered the deer, and took a jump;—and I must
say, it was a brave fancy of his, and a wise one too."
To this conjecture confirmation was given, when one of the party,
having peered over the rock, declared that he saw the flutter of some
garment, hanging on a bush many a weary foot below. The stones were
hunted over again; a track of blood was plainly distinguished, and had
been remarked before, staining the rocks for some distance below; and
on this platform it ended. The closest search could not detect any mark
to show that the fugitive had proceeded a step further; it was believed
at once, that, having reached this spot, and found himself incapable of
proceeding further, the pursuers, headed by Potts, pressing him close,
he had thrown himself from the rocks, preferring a death in keeping
with his savage career, to falling alive into the hands of his foes.
There was no otherway to account for his disappearance, the presence of
blood on the parapet, and the wave of the garment below; and, indeed, a
second, and then a third person, looking down, they swore they could
see, among the bushes at the bottom of the cliffs, something that
looked like a human form, as they doubted not it was. It was
accordingly resolved to descend the mountain without delay, which,
after uttering a loud shout of triumph they did, with the single
exception of the raftsman; who, declaring himself overcome with
fatigue, sat down upon a stone on the platform to rest, and was soon
lost sight of by the others. As the last man left the shelf, he
beckoned to him with his hand, nodded his head, and took other means to
arrest his attention; but these being disregarded, or perhaps
unperceived, he ceased his signals, and muttered half to himself, half
"Well done, Tom Wolf; you're no fox, and a man must ha' said,
'Fifty guineas!' aloud, to fetch you. But I was a fool to think on't;
no 'alves and no quarters, is my cry; and a man mought as well take the
money and the credit into his own hands, without sharing; for, I
reckon, the creatur's clean done up, and can make no more fight than a
'possum. Neversomever, there's no varmint of the woods or water can
stand by him for a trick; and so we'll look sharp, Dan Potts, and see
what'll come out of it. I reckon I shall make them 'ere fellers stare!
They say, the governor has offered five hundred dollars for him, hard
money, dead or alive. Five hundred dollars isn't to be made, every day,
a-rafting. There's a big hole under that stone; and, I remember, he
boasted he had been down in it afore; which was like enough, for he was
always a ventur'ing devil."
It may be gathered from these expressions what cause had prevented
the raftsman leaving the shelf with his companions. Immediately beneath
the projecting portion of the table-rock, so often mentioned, there is
a cavity or niche in the face of the cliff, visible, on a clear day,
even from the foot of the mountain, and inaccessible from the top only
because there are few men in the world of sufficient nerve to attempt
reaching it, by climbing over the face of the cliff,—an exploit the
very thought of which is appalling. It occurred to the ancient comrade
of the refugee, that the latter, persuaded he must be captured, unless
he could throw his pursuers off the scent, or delay the chase for a
time, might have bethought him of the stratagem of causing them to
believe he had thrown himself from the rocks, while, all the time, he
was lying snugly and safely in the cavity beneath the shelving rock,
from which he might be expected to sally out, the moment the pursuers
had descended. This was rather a conceit in the raftsman's mind than a
positive suspicion; but it was sufficient to impel him upon a new
course of action, a main incentive to which was the prospect it seemed
to open to him of securing the rewards that had been offered for the
apprehension of the noted outlaw.
He sat down therefore upon a stone opposite to the parapet, and
scarce twenty feet from it, holding his rifle ready cocked upon his
knee, his knife loosened in the sheath, and his little hunting-axe
lying at his feet; and he sat thus without fear, knowing that, even if
the refugee were armed and in the pride of his strength and daring, he
could not ascend to the shelf, without being entirely at his mercy. He
sat in silence, expecting each moment to see the fierce eyes of the
outcast peering over the rock, or to hear the rattling of stonesalong
the face of the cliff, denoting that he had left his hiding-place, and
was beginning to ascend. He sat watching, however, a long time in
vain;—and was beginning to believe that his suspicion was groundless,
and that the desperate Oran had in truth leaped from the cliff, when
suddenly there rose beyond the verge of the rock the apparition of a
human head, but so spectral, so pale, so ghastly with blood, and so
wildly unnatural of expression, that he was seized with a sudden fear,
and beheld the whole body succeed it, and the refugee himself (for it
was he) stand erect upon the parapet, before he could raise his piece,
and charge him to surrender.
"I have you, Oran, old friend!" he said, at last; "so down knife,
and take quarter. If you move foot or hand, I'll fire upon you."
The outlaw heard his voice, and beheld the threatening weapon,
without any manifestation of surprise. He bent his eyes upon him with a
stare that curdled the raftsman's blood. "Fire!" he said, and laughed;
and then suddenly drawing the knife he had taken from Elsie's cottage,
he made a fierce spring from the rock right against the uplifted rifle.
The attack was so unexpected and energetic that Potts had scarce time
to pull the trigger, before the tory lighted on the shelf at his feet.
He drew it, however, with the certainty that the next moment the
assailant would be lying dead at his foot—he drew it, and not even a
flash burst from the treacherous powder; it snapped in his hands; and
before he could exchange it for another weapon, nay, before he could
even draw his knife, he found the blade of his opponent glimmering at
his breast. He caught at his wrist, the only expedient that saved him
from a mortal thrust: and being of great nerve, he strove, at the
sametime, to hurl the tory upon the rock. But great as was his
strength, and feeble as he had supposed the powers of Oran to be, the
attempt was foiled, and he began in his heart to curse the
covetousness, that had deprived him of a helper, in such a time of
need. As he caught the wrist of Oran in his left hand, he sought, with
the other, to snatch his own knife from the sheath; but the motion was
anticipated, and his own right hand grasped in Oran's left; so that the
two stood for an instant facing one another, entangled, as it might be
said, like two wild bucks, that have, at the first blow, interlocked
their antlers together, and thus remain glaring at each other, waging
battle only with their eyes. In that instant, the raftsman beheld
enough to make him repent the temerity with which he had sought to
bring the refugee to bay. Instead of being weakened by loss of blood,
or exhausted by the toil of ascending the mountain, it seemed as if he
was suddenly imbued with new strength, as well as additional fury, by
the mere presence of a foe; and there was that in his countenance,
which expressed, along with a native love of conflict, the malignant
ferocity of a maniac. Indeed, his appearance was so fearful, and his
ability to resist to the uttermost so manifest, that the raftsman felt
strongly moved to call for a parley and propose a mutual release; but
the desire came too late. The tory perceived the fainting of his heart,
"I never did harm to you or yours, Dan Potts," he said; "but you
shall never say so more. You would sell the blood of a dying man—you
must first win it."
With that, he relaxed his grasp on the raftsman's right hand, as if
for the purpose of seizing him by the throat; and Potts took instant
advantageof the motion, to snatch his knife from its sheath. The motion
was a trick of juggling, such as the outlaw had learned among the red
associates of his boyhood, and perhaps practised in similar encounters
before. The next instant, he had thrown the whole weight of his body
upon the raftsman's breast, and directing the half-drawn blade at the
same time with his hand, Potts fell upon the rock, his own weapon
buried to the handle in his side.
"Go!" shouted the victor, leaping up, and dragging his victim
towards a corner of the shelf, where no parapet intervened betwixt them
and the abyss,—"to your fellow bloodhounds below!— Something in
memory of Hyland Gilbert!"
He struck the body with his foot,—it rolled crashing over the
slender twigs and decaying flakes of stone on the brink of the
precipice, and then disappeared, with not a sound to indicate its fall
upon the shivered rocks below. The next moment, the victor ran from the
platform, and was buried among the forests that darken the long and
desolate summit of the ridge.
It was perhaps two hours, or more, before the party of pursuers,
descending the mountain to the river, and making their way along the
lesser elevation of rocks, heaped at the foot of the great southern
precipice, from which they have fallen, reached the spot where they
expected to find the mangled corse of the outlaw. Their astonishment
and horror may be conceived, when, instead of that, they lighted upon
the body of the raftsman, known by his garments, for scarce a vestige
of humanity remained, and sought to penetrate the mysterious cause of
his fall. The true reason was rather supposed than inferred; but their
suspicions were confirmed when the mountain was re-ascended, and his
axe and cap found lying on the shelf, as well as a new track of blood,
leading along the ridge. This was followed, until it led them to a
spot, where, it was evident, the fugitive had rested awhile and bound
up his wounds. But here the trace entirely failed, and was never again
recovered. The mountains were hunted over and over for weeks, but not
the slightest vestige of the refugee rewarded the search.
In the course of the ensuing winter, a party of hunters, following
a wolf, were led to the banks of one of those little lakes, that lie,
like dots of sapphire and crystal, along the broken ridges of the
mountain. In this remote nook, in a hollow, surrounded by jagged rocks
and hemlock-trees, were found several rude huts, or wigwams, of boughs,
now in ruins, such as the hunters make, when they 'camp out' in the
wilderness, with the remains of fires in front of each. This place was
supposed to have been one of the chief retreats of the refugees. At
some distance from the huts, on the edge of the lake, they fell upon
the bones of a human being, scattered about among the stones and
bushes, as if rent asunder by wild beasts; and near them was discovered
a rusted rifle, which, being taken to the valley, was recognised as the
weapon of Potts, the raftsman, which had not been found either upon the
platform where the party of pursuers had left him, or near his body.
This circumstance induced a suspicion that the bones were those of Oran
Gilbert, who had armed himself with the raftsman's piece, before
leaving the platform. There remained no other memorial of his fate, and
no other circumstance was found to identify the skeleton with the man
once so much dreaded and detested; but it was not doubted that
hither,into the savage wilderness, he had dragged his mangled frame,
and perished miserably.
The close of Hyland's story may be readily imagined. His sufferings
he might have considered as being retributive in their nature,—since
his return to the land of his birth had no worthier cause than a desire
to take part in the conflict against her liberties. This desire had
been indeed cooled by personal observation of the feelings and
principles which supported his countrymen through a long period of
disaster and suffering; and the last blow was given to the unworthy
ambition by the love for one of his country's daughters that soon
entangled his spirit. The giving way to wrath and the lust of blood,
though but for a moment, had been followed by the last and heaviest of
his griefs, not the lightest of which was his temporary belief in his
own guilt, and his consequent remorse. But the shadow had now departed
from him, and for ever; and it was soon perceived by all who chose to
ponder over his history, that his greatest crime had been his
affection, and the ill-judged deed of violence into which it had led
His meeting with the Captain's daughter, after his liberation, was
one of mingled joy and grief; but it was the last one marked with
tears. The bloom returned again to Catherine's cheek, and, in course of
time, the gay and merry spirit, native to her bosom, revisited its
former cell; and if a shadow ever again darkened her countenance, it
was only when, sometimes wandering along the brook and by the
waterfall, (whence the bones of Jessie had been long since removed, to
be deposited near those of her step-mother in the village church-yard,)
she remembered the trials of sorrow, and the scenes of blood, through
which she had been conducted to final happiness. She wept, indeed, when
Harrietdied, for she had forgiven her; but that was the only grief that
clouded a long period of peace and sunshine.
Our inquiries after the fate of the less important personages of
our tradition have never been very satisfactory in results. Americans
are a race of Utilitarians, all busied in the acquisition of profitable
knowledge, and just as ready, if not as anxious, to forget all lore of
an useless character. The little anecdotes of a district last but for a
generation; the fathers tell then to the children, but the children
find something better to think about, and so forget them. We know
nothing of the latter years of Elsie Bell, but can readily believe they
passed in comfort and peace. Her little cottage has long since vanished
from the earth, the running of newer and better roads in other places
having long since diverted all travel from the precincts of
Dancy Parkins, we suppose, under the auspicious patronage of the
new master of the valley, pursued his claims to the love of the fair
Phœbe; but as that was a matter of much more consequence to him than
the reader, we never cared much to inquire his fate.
Our curiosity in relation to the career of the unworthy limb of the
law, Theophilus Affidavy, Esq., has been somewhat stronger; yet we
could never find that a single act of his life, or even his name, has
been retained by those who dwell near the scene of his exploits. His
adventure in the brook, with his ride on the back of the buttonwood
tree, has, by some strange accident, travelled into an adjacent county,
where it is told as a very good story, though the honour is supposed to
attach to an individual of another name and profession.But it is with a
strange story as with an old pun; it finds fathers, as it travels.
As for Captain Loring, all we have to say of him is, that he lived
long enough to rejoice over the union of his daughter with Hyland
Falconer as much as he would perhaps have mourned over her early grave,
had her destiny wedded her to the unlucky younger brother. He lived
also to see, with a rapture that lasted to his dying day, the painter
resume the brush, and put the last finish to 'the grand picture of the
Battle of Brandywine, and Tom Loring, dying.'